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Sen. Carper still weighing whether to vote for U.S. military action in Syria

Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware) says he’s still undecided on whether the U.S. should attack the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons.

The Senate is expected to take full vote next week on a measure that gives President Obama a 90-day window to order targeted U.S. military air strikes, but prohibits ground troops in the country.

White House officials assert that Syria killed more than 1,400 people with chemical weapons last month and must be held accountable.

Senator Carper, who voted yes to invade Iraq in 2002, says Congress has been misled in the past by faulty intelligence.

“We got hoodwinked once about ten years ago by an earlier administration on bad intelligence that alleged that the Iraqis — Saddam Hussein — had used chemical weapons. It turned out not to be true,” said Carper. “In this case, we want to make sure that the assertions, the allegations are indeed true.”

But Carper adds that there some differences between that vote and this one.

“Do I trust Barack Obama? Do I trust Joe Biden? Do I trust John Kerry to keep us out of a war? I do. They’re not guys anxious to start a war. They’re not trigger-happy,” said Carper. “Having said that, I trust them, but we need to verify and we need to verify and make sure the intelligence — what does the intelligence really say.”

Carper says intelligence briefings he’s had suggest the allegations leveled against President Bashar al-Assad and his regime are true.

Meanwhile, Delaware’s junior senator, Chris Coons (D-Delaware), helped vote the measure authorizing air strikes out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday.

“I am pleased President Obama sought authorization from Congress and that the Foreign Relations Committee thoroughly, cautiously, and deliberately debated the issue, making the final authorization resolution narrower than the initial draft,” said Coons in a statement following the vote.

Coons specifically cited amendments he joined in sponsoring that asked for explicit strategies for securing chemical and biological weapons and addressing refugees, as well as clarifying that the U.S goal in Syria is a negotiated settlement to the conflict there and use of the military should be limited to achieving that goal.

“I continue to believe it is possible for the United States to take action that responds to and deters future chemical weapons attacks, and is part of a strategy that will lead to a more stable and secure Syria,” Coons said in his statement.