tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC August 30, 2013 10:00am-11:01am PDT
unprecedented steps to declassify and make facts available to people who can judge for themselves but still, in order to protect sources and methods, some of what we know will only be released to members of congress, the representatives of the american people. that means that some things we do know we can't talk about publicly. so what do we really know that we can talk about? well, we know that the assad regime has the largest chemical weapons program in the entire middle east. we know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year. and has used them on a smaller scale but still it has used them against its own people, including not very far from where last wednesday's attack happened.
we know that the regime was specifically determined to rid the damascus suburbs of the opposition and it was frustrated that it hadn't succeeded in doing so. we know that for three days before the attack, the syrian regime's chemical weapons personnel were on the ground, in the area making preparations. and we know that the syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons. we know that these were specific instructions. we know where the rockets were launched from and at what time. we know where they landed and when. we know rockets came only from regime controlled areas and went only to opposition controlled or
contested neighborhoods. and we know, as does the world, that just 90 minutes later all hell broke loose in the social media. with our own eyes we have seen the thousands of reports from 11 separate sites in the damascus suburbs, all of them show and report victims with breathing difficulties, people twitching with spasms, coughing, rapid heart beebeat heartbeats, foaming at the mouth, unconsciousness and death. and we know it was ordinary syrian citizens who reported all of these horrors. and just as important, we know what the doctors and the nurses who treated them didn't report. not a scratch. not a shrapnel wound. not a cut. not a gunshot wound. we saw rows of deadlined up in
burial shrouds, the white linen unstained by a single drop of blood. instead of being tucked safely in their beds at home, we saw rows of children lying side by side, sprawled on a hospital floor, all of them dead from assad's gas and surrounded by parents and grandparents who suffered the same fate. the united states government now knows that at least 1,429 syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children. even the first responders, the doctors, nurses and medics who tried to save them, they became victims themselves. we saw them gasping for air, terrified that their own lives were in danger.
this is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons. this is what assad did to his own people. we also know many disturbing details about the aftermath. we know that a senior regime official who knew about the attack confirmed that chemical weapons were used by the regime. reviewed the impact and actually was afraid that they would be discovered. we know this. and we know what they did next. i personally called the foreign minister of syria and i said to him, if as you say your nation has nothing to hide, then let the united nations in immediately and give the inspectors the unfettered access so they have the opportunity to tell your story. instead, for four days they
shelled the neighborhood in order to destroy evidence. bombarding block after block at a rate four times higher than they had over the previous ten days. and when the u.n. inspectors finally gained access, that access as we now know was restricted and controlled. in all of these things that i have listed, in all of these things that we know, all of them, the american intelligence community has high confidence, high confidence this is common sense. this is evidence. these are facts. so the primary question is really no longer what do we know? the question is what are we, we collectively, what are we in the world going to do about it? as previous storms in history
have gathered, when unspeakable crimes were within our power to stop them, we have been warned against the temptations of looking the other way. history is full of leaders who have warned against inaction, indifference an especially against silence when it mattered most. our choices then in history had great consequences and our choice today has great consequences. it matters that nearly 100 years ago in direct response to the utter horror and inhumanity of world war i, that the civilized world agreed that chemical weapons should never be used again. that was the world's resolve then. and that began nearly a century of effort to create a clear red line for the international community. it matters today that we are working as an international community to rid the world of the worst weapons.
that's why we signed agreements like the start treaty, the new treaty, the chemicals weapons convention which more than 180 countries, including iran, iraq and lebanon, have signed on to. it matters to our security and the security of our allies, it matters to israel, it matters to our close friends, jordan, turkey and lebanon, all of whom live just a stiff breeze away from damascus. it matters to all of them where the syrian chemical weapons are and, if unchecked, they can cause either greater death and destruction to those friends. and it matters deeply to the credibility in the future interests of the united states of america and our allies. it matters because a lot of other countries whose policies challenge these international
norms are watching. they are watching. they want to see whether the united states and our friends mean what we say. it is directly related to our credibility and whether countries still believe the united states, when it says something, they are watching to see if syria can get away with it because then maybe they, too, can put the world at greater risk. and make no mistake, in an increasingly complicated world of sectarian and extremist violence, what we choose do or not do matters in real ways to our own security. some cite the risk of doing things. but we need to ask what is the risk of doing nothing? it matters because if we choose to live in a world where a thug and a murderer like bashar al assad can gas thousands of his
own people with impugnity even after the united states and our allies said no and then the world does nothing about it, there will be no end to the test of our resolve and the dangers that will flow from those others who believe that they can do as they will. this matters also beyond the limits of syria's borders. it is about whether iran, which itself has been a victim of chemical weapons attacks, will now feel emboldened in the absence of action to obtain nuclear weapons. it is about hezbollah and north korea and every other terrorist group or dictator that might ever again contemplate the use of weapons of mass destruction. will they remember that the assad regime was stopped from those weapons current or future use, or will they remember that the world stood aside and created impugnity?
our concern is not just about some far off land oceans away. that's not what this is about. our concern with the cause of the defenseless people of seyri is about choices that will directly affect our role in the world and our interests in the world. it is also profoundly about who we are. we are the united states of america. we are the country that has tried not always successfully, but always tried to honor a set of universal values around which we have organized our lives and our aspirations. this crime against conscience, this crime against humanity, this crime against the most fundamental principles of international community, against the norm of the international community, this matters to us. and it matters to who we are.
and it matters to leadership and to our credibility in the world. my friends, it matters here if nothing is done. it matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens. america should feel confident and gratified that we are not alone in our condemnation and we are not alone in our will to do something about it and to act. the world is speaking out and many friends stand ready to respond. the arab league pledge, "to hold the syrian regime fully responsible for this crime." . the organization for islamic cooperation said we needed "to hold the syrian government legally and morally accountable for this heinous crime.
turkey said there's no doubt that the regime is responsible. our oldest ally, the french said the regime "committed this vile action and it is an outrage to use weapons that the community has banned for 90 years in all international conventions." . the australian prime minister said he didn't want history to record that we were "a party to turning such a blind eye." so now that we know what we know, the question we must all be asking is what will we do? let me emphasize, president obama, we in the united states, we believe in the united nations. and we have great respect for the brave inspectors who endured regime gunfire and obstructions to their investigation. but as ban ki-moon, the secretary general has said again and again, the u.n.
investigation will not affirm who used these chemical weapons. that is not the mandate of the u.n. investigation. th they will only affirm whether such weapons were used. by the definition of their own mandate, the u.n. can't tell us anything that we haven't shared with you this afternoon or that we don't already know. and because of the guaranteed russian obstructionism of any action through the u.n. security council, the u.n. cannot galvanize the world to act as it should. so let me be clear. we will continue talking to the congress, talking to our allies and most importantly talking to the american people. president obama will ensure that the united states of america makes our own decisions on our own timelines based on our values and our interests.
we know that after a decade of conflict, the american people are tired of war. believe me, i am too. but fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about. and history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator's wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency. these things we do know. we also know that we have a president who does what he says that he will do. and he has said very clearly that whatever decision he makes in syria, it will bear no resemblance to afghanistan, iraq or even libya. it will not involve any boots on
the ground. it will not be open-ended and it will not assume responsibility for a civil war that is already well under way. the president has been clear, any action that he might decide to take will be limited and tailored response to ensure that a brutal and flagrant use of chemical weapons is held accountable and ultimately, ultimately, we are committed, we remain committed, we believe it's the primary objective is to have a diplomatic process that can resolve this through negotiation. because we know there is no ultimate military solution. it has to be political. it has to happen at the negotiating table and we are deeply committed to getting there. so that is what we know. that's what the leaders of congress now know and that's
what the american people need to know. and that is at the core of the decisions that must now be made for the security of our country and for the promise of a planet where the world's most heinous weapons must never again be used against the world's most vulnerable people. thank you very much. >> good day. i'm andrea mitchell. that's secretary kerry at the state department making a bold, strong statement about their claim of the evidence that chemical weapons were used by the assad regime. kerry says there is "high confidence in the intelligence gathered" and noted that the members of the syrian regime were at the site of the chemical attack making preparations just days before and important thing he alluded to, what apparently were intercepted communications as well. at the same time, we have new and highly disturbing video, fair warning, shot by the bbc. this has surfaced of another
attack just this past monday on a school there. rebels claim that the assad regime bombed that area with a napalm-like substance killing ten, injuring dozens more, many of them children. joining me now from turkey is nbc's chief foreign correspondent richard engel and terrorism expert and former director of the counterterrorism center michael lighter. first to you, michael. what the secretary laid out was a very strong intelligence case. if it is to be believed, it is high confidence, now he used many terms of art. i want to drill down with you, he alluded to intercepted communications in real time. people being told in the regime to put on their gas masks, but people obviously the targets in rebel-held civilian areas not being told to make any preparations and showing no blood, no other sign of injury. >> exactly. it's those two last points that i think are most critically new that the secretary of state
presented. that they had indications of the regime's elements responsible for chemical weapons doing the preparations for three days prior, rockets coming, we know where those come from. because we had very good technical intelligence and those sorts of things. and then reaction after the fact. all this includes the regime elements putting on gas masks and the like. there really was no doubt in anyone's mind that chemical weapons were used, nerve agents were used. that was obvious from the video. what we have is the direct linkage to the regime. that was the piece that was most infer engs. we have firmly concluded and affirmed. this is as strong a case they can make. >> richard engel, what we know from two sources, you had checked out, mahir assad, the brother of assad, the commander
of the damascus suburban region, was also overheard on at least one of those intercepts in communication in almost near time or after the attack. richard in. >> yeah. we've been told that at least one of these locations that was used to fire chemical weapons was from the kos un mountain area on the outskirts of damascus. that it has a pace on it and the base is controlled by the fourth armored division. it's led by bashar al assad's brother and that he is believed, according to multiple sources, to have been partially responsible for this attack because it was from one of his bases that at least some of these chemical weapons were fired into rebel-held parts of the damascus suburbs. a lot of information in that speech from secretary kerry.
i also heard what was new, he put a number on it. he said more than 1400 people had been killed. that is an enormous number. much higher than the estimates coming out from doctors without borders or other organizations the they said hundreds or 450. this is almost what the rebels have been saying from day one. they've put the number around 1400. there are other estimates higher than that. one of the consistent numbers we've had was around 1400, including more than 400 children. so very specific information coming from the secretary. >> richard, i'm glad you pointed that out. he's saying 426 children and 1429 people. this is a very large number indeed. also to both of you, the british intelligence assessment released yesterday in advance of that devastating for the prime minister eight-hour debate in commons, they issued an intelligence assessment which referred to a redacted name of a
commander. we understand that that was the brother and that that was part of their evidence as well. of course, all the evidence is shared and it's common sourcing for whether it's coming from the nsa or from the brits. that that was part of their argument as well. micha michael leiter, you said that he was making a case that was so strong, it was conceivably an argument for more than a couple of hundred of cruise missile strikes in two days perhaps. the limited strike that we're told is contemplated should the president order it within the next couple of days. >> from my perspective, he really did. the case that chemical weapons were used by the regime and caused mass casualties is -- frankly, the weapons of mass destruction, i think it misses the nature of the intelligence in those two situations. i did feel this case was so broad, such a moral
condemnation, which i find entirely appropriate, you wonder whether now that the administration has defined a narrow window that's likely to pursue, whether or not that action, that operational action really matches the moral condemnation that we just heard. >> richard engel there in syria, we know that there's been a lot of panic across the border where you have been and that people are crossing over. some people are leaving to try to escape from what they anticipate now is a highly telegraphed american strike. we know it will not include any participation by the uk, the french have said they will help. but we've heard strongly as secretary kerry mentioned from jordan and saudi arabia and turkey not the arab league formally but they are supportive of it. what other reaction are you hearing from your many sources there? >> well, a lot of people obviously haven't heard that speech that was just given or
haven't had a chance to react to it yet. like the both of you, i heard the secretary making a very strong case for not just limited action. he was making a -- >> exactly. >> a broad moral argument on why the united states needs to stop bashar al assad from being able to use chemical weapons again. that sounds like more than a few cruise missiles. i think if there was doubt that the united states was going to do something, i think the doubts maybe should be disappearing at this moment. people here as this goes on, they've been watching the debates, watch what happened in the british parliament, syrian man came up to me a few minutes ago, assume being i'm american and know what's going on in washington, are the americans going to hit or not? i think if he had heard that speech, i think his answer would have been a lot more clear. it seems like the decision may have been taken. >> they will say that it has not been formally taken because that is an act that will then lead to immediate action. but clearly, this is what they are telegraphing.
we can understand the timeline now that the u.n. inspectors finished their work today, president u.n. briefed about an hour ago and said that there will be days before they have the chemical analysis in. they're not going to do a preliminary report publicly they say. but there is going to be communication. the inspectors will be leaving saturday a day sooner than planned. once they're out of syria, i think that's when the window broadly opens. the president has his own travel schedule going to sweden next tuesday. finally, michael leite, while boelt of us are clearly saying this was a strong argument from john kerry, there's a big legal debate among the lawyers, among former state department lawyers, from various administrations about whether you have a legal mandate to take action simply for humanitarian reasons. there has been plenty of precedent, we can talk about kosovo where there are mass killings but there's still a legal argument as to whether
under all of the terms and the war powers act and elsewhere whether that enables the president to act more or less unilater unilaterally. there will be another briefing of congress by conference call. michael leiter, thank you very much and richard engel, we'll hear from you all day. you're watching andrea mitchell reports on msnbc. we'll be right back. food. with special crunchy kibbles and great taste... ...it's a happy way to a healthy smile. new beneful healthy smile food and snacks individualization that your body needs. this labor day, don't invest in a mattress until
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and editor of atlantic live. thanks very much. chris, let's go through the poll for a second. more people would support taking action if they understand that it is limited action. let's go through those numbers. >> right. if you go -- if you start sort of generic open-ended question, do you support military action in syria. you get that number you mentioned. 50% would not support it. now, if you say what if the action was just limited to cruise missiles, now you find 50% of people saying they would support that. look, i think you heard secretary kerry address what the obama administration understands is fatigue to use his word within the american public as it relates to american involvement in foreign conflicts. kerry's line that fatigue doesn't absolve us of our responsibilities is clearly an attempt to say we understand you're fatigued about afghanistan, iraq, libya, other things. but look at what has happened here. look at what we know has happened here.
this is a call to action. we must respond. i think a lot of what john kerry had to say was aimed at what he knows and what president obama knows is a skeptical american public. >> and he said up front that iraq is -- that this is not that moment of iraq. he addressed all the mistakes that were made a decade ago. and also said that what if we don't act, history will judge us if we permit this kind of wanton killing to take place without acting as well as the effect on american national security on our own interests and on the way others view us as well as iran. do you think a forceful argument on that? >> well, i think that the joe biden and barack obama have invested a lot after the bush and cheney administration to come in and say these norms of the international order developing a stronger allergy to the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction across all chemical, biological
and nuclear weapons, this is something that matters and needs to be restored. it's a defining effort by this administration. so i think the other thing is people like me have been skeptical of the president's moves in places like libya and his ability to keep that a small footprint military action and he delivered on that. i suspect that people like chuck hagel and the department of defense, denis mcdonough, his chief of staff, barack obama himself, have no enthuse wrachl about going to war again in the middle east. that makes us more compelling. iraq had an administration that wanted o run into war without evidence. this is a presidency reluctant to do this. but feeling not responding when such an international norm is collapsing, to take his back to the nightmares that used to be commonplace in world war i is something that the nation and world can't countenance. i think when people hear this and weigh the equities, they'll be more supportive of where the
administration is going. >> a lot of questions are still being raised whether the administration handled the buy-in properly. now we have the poll, 79%, nearly 8 out of 10 people question, believe that there should be congressional approval. chris, the president did not get on that call last night. he delegated his national security team. but a lot of the members, some members were supportive afterwards. but a lot still are questioning why they have not called congress back. it's a push/pull because a lot of members of congress don't want to have to vote on this. we talked about iraq. that is overshadowing the debate here as well as it did in the house of commons. today on fox george w. bush spoke for the first time about this. let's watch. >> president has a tough choice to make. if he decides to use our military, he'll have the greatest military ever backing him up.
i was not a fan of mr. assad. he's an ally of iran and he's made mischief. >> so george w. bush. so that certainly is those decisions from ten years ago are overshadowing the debate and the american public opinion on this as well. steve clemons thanks so much and chris as well. in speaking out today about the crisis in syria this morning, former president bush gave an update on his health. earlier this month, of course, he underwent surgery to address a blockage in his heart. it was discovered during a routine physical. bush 43 known for active lifestyle is recovering and feeling good but not yet back on that mountain bike. >> i had a stent placed into my l.a.d. artery and i'm feeling pretty good. >> right. >> i wish i was a teenager so i could be out on my mountain bike
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♪ 'cause the rhyme is the reason ♪ ♪ break through, man, it doesn't matter who you're talking to ♪ [ male announcer ] completely redesigned for whatever you love to do. the all-new nissan versa note. your door to more. ♪ did we choose to live in a world where a thug and a murderer like bashar al assad can gas thousands of his own people with impugnity even after the united states and our allies said no, and then the world does nothing about it. there will be no end to the test of our resolve and the dangers that will flow from those others who believe that they can do as they will. >> in syria, people are bracing for a potential military strike, others crowding border checkpoints fleeing to lebanon and turkey. three days ago there was a travel advisory warning their citizens to leave syria by any
practical means. u.n. inspectors are scheduled to leave tomorrow a day earlier. ayman mohyeldin joins me now with. >> there's concern about growing possibility of a strike. a lot don't recognize the syrian's refugees in this country for a whole host of political reasons. that has made the job of the united nations organizes and agencies dealing with that more difficult because they don't have official camps like we've seen in skror dan and turkey and iraq. that's been one of the limit takes on the agencies coping with it. there is a growing sense of the political consequences of a possible strike. that's one of the points that secretary of state john kerry made in his speech right now. this is the broader argument. not only to prevent from the attacks but he made the groundwork argument for countries like iran, north korea
and groups like hezbollah that he considers a terrorist organization. making the argument that in the future there has to be a strong international response. that's going to resonate here in lebanon as people watched that speech. this lays the ground work for u.s. policy going forward. they don't want to see these types of weapons falling into the hands of organizations like hezbollah. certainly in the coming hours we'll probably get more reaction to the secretary of state's comments. it is certainly playing very loudly here across the region as this buildup continues. andrea. >> thanks so much, ayman. they're complaining that the president hasn't consulted congress. 54 house members led by barbara lee have written to mr. obama asking for a full congressional debate and approval prior to committing u.s. forces to action. congresswoman lee joins me now from berkeley. thanks very much, congresswoman. do you believe that it is a legal requirement or do you think this is a politically
important mandate that the president should follow? >> thank you very much. i think it's a political requirement. it's also a legal and constitutional requirement. our constituents, the country deserves to have congress institute its constitutional responsibility and engage in a full debate and then a vote as to whether or not the use of force makes sense. now, secretary kerry, of course, i believe presented a compelling case. he presented many facts. but members of congress need to present this to their constituent and to the public and engage in a full debate. we have to talk about the unintended consequences, andrei a secretary kerry was absolutely correct. there is no military solution and must be a negotiated settlement. a full debate would lay out what the alternatives could be, what a negotiated settlement could look like. and also, why there is no military solution and so this is absolutely a defining moment and
i'm very pleased that the president and the secretary coming forward with the evidence. because these are some horrific crimes against humanity and we cannot stand by and allow this to occur. but the question is, how do we move forward and how does congress exercise its legal and constitutional responsibility to represent the people of this country to make this critical decision. >> well, should the president and/or the speaker have called congress back? i know congress members all over the country are complaining about this. but they could have returned to first of all, get the classified briefing in person or they could have pushed for a congressional session. >> i think we should be called back even now, andrea. this is such an important issue. we should be there doing our job. this is our constitutional responsibility. we should vote. who knows what the outcome of that vote would be. but minimally, we should be called back in, we should engage in this debate, talk about what the regional implications are, what this means in terms of any
type of unintended consequences, any possible retaliation, what a military strike really would achieve and in fact, that's our job to engage in this debate and to vote. so there are 54 members and more members want to join us, of course, in this whole effort, communicating to the commander in chief and to the secretary that we think that we have a duty and responsibility to really engage in this. so that we can move forward and those who want to support the president in this effort would have a vote. they could cast that on behalf of their constituents. >> but finally, barack obama, as you know better than i do, was one of the leading democratic politicians against the iraq war. so if he says that this is different, that the evidence is there that no one is disputing that chemicals were used and that they have the evidence linking it to the assad regime, does that persuade you since he has always come at this from an anti-war perspective? >> i'm very pleased that the
president has come at this in a cautious manner. the secretary said this was not iraq, this was not libya or afghanistan. but also that has nothing to do with our constitutional responsibility as members of congress, andrea. there are members who would o vote for this. there are members who may not vote for it. the point is, we should engage in the discussion and a full public debate and talk about what the unintended and intended consequences could or should be and in fact, what the regional implications are and what the engagement of our military hardware and some military forces could be. i trust the president that he's not going to send boots on the ground. i know that he does not want to engage this country in another long-term, open-heended war. we get that. that has nothing do with members of congress representing the people in our country who would like to engage in this debate and cast a vote on their behalf. that's our constitutional and our legal requirement.
>> thank you very much barbara lee. by the way, as my colleague rachel maddow said last night, there was a lively house debate on this for eight hours yesterday. it wasn't here. it was over in london and parliament. thanks congresswoman. and coming up, inside the black budget of the u.s. intelligence community. how 16 agencies spent more than $52 billion and what the tock umts reveal about the inner workings. stay with us on andrea mitchell only on msnbc. asional have constipation,
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the "washington post" has for the first time published the classified details of the secret intelligence budget. in another major leak from edward snowden. the budget details the successes and failures of the 16 spy agencies that have been built up sin the september 11th attacks. this major story was written by bart gelman who joins me now from the "washington post." thank you very much.
fascinating detail here. first of all, you've detailed that it's $52.6 billion, 69% goes to the nsa, cia and the national reconnaissance center. how have you assessed from all that you have been reporting here the value we're getting, the bank for the buck? what are we doing well and not so well? >> they have some fairly frank internal report cards here. they talk about where they think they've had successes and where they have critical gaps. of course, the president and congress are most concerned about the gaps to start with because there are things that they need to know to do their jobs and they don't know them. for example, there are five of those critical gaps with regard to the north korean nuclear program, a subject of a great deal of concern to this government. there is no other country that has as many as five. there are others that have three or four. so the whole nuclear counter proliferation thing, which involves weapons of greatest concern to the united states is
a bunch of blind spots and that worries them. they've had big success this is that area as well. for example, they have -- they've used very clever and creative and interesting technologies and operations to find out things they didn't know about north korea and iran. the post has agreed to withhold a lot of those details and they should be withheld because you'd be alerting the other side to what's been found and you better go move it now. >> one of the gaps is pakistan. we were told the leadership in pakistan has control of its weaponry and in fact, there was talk at the time during a reign that there was a double key. they couldn't move things without us knowing about it. this seems to indicate that in later time frame, that these are real concerns about where the nukes are. >> there is. look, i mean, on the counter
proliferation idea, on the worries about nuclear weapons, biological and chemical, there is one section for pakistan and one for all other there's a se pakistan and all other threats. it is the gravest concern the u.s. intelligence agency -- that there is. they can't talk about that in public, they think, because the judgment of success of administrations has been. they need to take what they can get from pakistan. if they cut off aid and say you're not our friend anymore, then they'll have less visibility and less influence there. but if they say out loud in congressional testimony that we're very worried about pakistani nukes, that we're worried about the fact they seem to have a program of -- sort of a systematic program of nonjudicial killings and so on, then congress is going to cut off the funds. so what you have here is a disparity between what they really believe and what they
say. this is exactly what the transparency at a higher level into the budget allows there to be a public debate. is their strategy right of knowing there are big problems but still saying, yes, we want to keep paying them, you know, 20 some billion dollars we've paid in the last 12 years. >> bart, the latest chapter from the edward snowden files. thank you very much. >> thank you. and the widely celebrated irish poet seamus heaney has died. according to his family, he was considered one of the most important irish poets since yates. his work often focused on the sectarian violence that came under british rule, but he never succumbed to the pressure of writing just one side of the conflict. he was awarded the nobel for literature in 1995. not only praised by academics and critics, but by millions of readers who bought his work,
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which political story will make headlines in the next 24 hours? chris is back with us. we've been told the president, with he meets in 15 minutes with leaders from the baltic says, will speak about syria. his comments will be the most closely watched next indicator of the timing and of what kind of decision he's going to make. >> interesting coming after secretary kerry spoke for almost 20 minutes and really laid out, i think, in many ways what you could describe as the moral case for action in syria. interesting to see what the president has to add. as you say, these will be the
most closely watched remarks we've had on the subject thus far. interesting to see where he goes that secretary kerry didn't. my guess is president obama gets less into detail and talks more sort of the about maybe timetable and certainly the why of us needing to go in there. >> i think it's going to be the why. i think he'll say he's not made a decision yet, to keep that option open. and the intelligence briefing, for all of us, while we've been on the air, has been that the administration believes with high certainly that assad was in control and is in control of the weapons and of the decisions. thank you, chris. have a very good holiday weekend. that's it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." my colleague craig melvin has a look at what's next on "news nation." >> hey, andrea. breaking news, as you just medical examinered. in the next 15 minutes, president obama expected to make comments on syria just moments after secretary of state john kerry called bashar al assad,
quote, a thug and a murderer. also confirmed that the rockets used to launch those chemical weapons did come from the syrian regime. the question now, how soon before the united states takes action? also, missouri lawmakers on the verge of enacting a law that would exempt them from federal gun laws. we'll have more on what some are calling the most far-reaching states effort in the nation right now. and the green light. what the justice department's decision on marijuana laws in washington state and colorado could mean for other states. it's our "news nation" gut check. mom, dad told me that cheerios is good for your heart, is that true? says here that cheerios has whole grain oats that can help remove some cholesterol, and that's heart healthy. ♪ [ dad ] jan?
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[ male announcer ] look for the easy-open red arthritis cap. at humana, our medicare agents sit down with you and ask. hanging out with this guy. he's just the love of my life. [ male announcer ] getting to know you is how we help you choose the humana medicare plan that works best for you. mi familia. ♪ [ male announcer ] we want to help you achieve your best health, so you can keep doing the things that are important to you. keeping up with them. i love it! [ male announcer ] helping you -- now that's what's important to us. good friday. i'm craig melvin in for tamron hall. the news nation is following breaking news on the crisis in syria. president obama is expected to speak in a few minutes on syria. we will bring you his comments when those happen. meanwhile, within the past hour,