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Aug 29, 2013

U.S. Officials say ‘no smoking gun’ implicating Assad in chemical attack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. and its allies have “no smoking gun” proving Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad personally ordered his forces to use chemical weapons to attack a rebel-held Damascus neighborhood, U.S. national security officials said on Thursday.

In secret intelligence assessments and a still-unreleased report summarizing U.S. intelligence on the alleged gas attack on August 21, U.S. agencies express high confidence that Syrian government forces carried out the attack, and that Assad’s government therefore bears responsibility, the officials said.

Aug 29, 2013

U.S. congressional leaders to receive Syria briefing on Thursday

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior Obama administration officials will brief congressional leaders on Thursday on the situation in Syria, congressional aides said, amid complaints by lawmakers they have not been properly consulted as the president deliberates about possible military action.

The briefing by senior White House and national security officials will be with leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, and the chairmen and ranking members of national security committees, Democratic and Republican congressional aides said.

Aug 28, 2013

U.S. intelligence committees say they’re not properly consulted on Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. congressional intelligence committee leaders believe the Obama administration has not properly consulted them as the president engages in final deliberations for possible military action in Syria, according to congressional officials.

One of the officials said the administration’s discussions with critical lawmakers, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein and her House counterpart, Mike Rogers, had been limited to “very brief status updates.”

Aug 26, 2013

U.S. lawmakers call on Obama to consult them on Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers urged President Barack Obama on Monday to consult them as he decides how to respond to last week’s apparent poison gas attack in the Damascus suburbs, with some complaining that they have not been fully informed.

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a tough statement on Monday, saying that the suspected chemical weapons attack was a “moral obscenity” and accused Syria’s government of covering it up.

Aug 23, 2013

Senior U.S. Democrat urges air strikes against Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee urged President Barack Obama on Friday to order air strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government after the apparent gassing deaths of hundreds of civilians.

Representative Eliot Engel cited Obama’s statement that the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces would cross a “red line” and cause the United States to act to halt such violations of international law.

Aug 22, 2013

Obama faces growing calls to act over Syria gas attack claims

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday faced growing calls at home and abroad for forceful action against the Syrian government over accusations that it carried out a massive deadly chemical weapons attack.

While the White House said it was “appalled” by reports of hundreds of people gassed near Damascus on Wednesday, it made clear that any U.S. response must await confirmation of the attack and again demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad give U.N. inspectors immediate access to the sites of the alleged attacks.

Aug 20, 2013

U.S. takes tougher line with Egypt but denies aid cut

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday adopted a harder line toward Egypt’s military-backed government, stressing that its bloody crackdown on protesters could influence U.S. aid to Cairo but denying reports that it has suspended the assistance.

The army’s clampdown on supporters of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi over the past week, the “suspicious deaths” of 37 prisoners in custody and the detention of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie on Tuesday have worsened relations between Washington and Egypt’s new rulers.

Aug 2, 2013

Obama open to making changes to surveillance, lawmakers say

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Thursday told lawmakers he is open to changing controversial surveillance programs in order to restore public confidence and provide assurance the government is not violating citizens’ privacy, participants at the meeting said.

“We understand the American people really do need to know what’s going on now and what’s going on in the past and get the right kind of assurances that their privacy has not been breached,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss, who attended the meeting.

Jul 31, 2013

New Snowden leak upstages U.S. move to declassify documents

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New revelations from former security contractor Edward Snowden that U.S. intelligence agencies have access to a vast online tracking tool came to light on Wednesday as lawmakers put the secret surveillance programs under greater scrutiny.

The Guardian, citing documents from Snowden, published National Security Agency training materials for the XKeyscore program, which the newspaper described as the NSA’s widest-reaching system that covers “nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet.

Jul 31, 2013

U.S. releases documents on phone surveillance programs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As Congress increasingly scrutinizes U.S. surveillance programs, the government on Wednesday released declassified documents on the mass collection of telephone data in a rare glimpse into the world of intelligence gathering.

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence released three declassified documents that authorized and explained the bulk collection of telephone data, one of the surveillance programs revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

    • About Patricia

      "Patricia Zengerle covers foreign policy and national security on Capitol Hill for Reuters. She recently covered the 2012 campaign and the White House and had been an editor in Washington, D.C., an editor in London, and a correspondent in Miami, Pittsburgh and New York. You can follow her on Twitter @ReutersZengerle"
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