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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/19/2014 (5 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Possible military intervention considered to halt incursion of Sunni Muslims in Baghdad

President Barack Obama told congressional leaders that he doesn't need Congress to act on the situation in Iraq. According to officials, the president told congressional leaders that he doesn't need new congressional authority to act. A recent White House meeting, according to some "sounded more like a listening session for the top Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate." Tensions are running high in Iraq as the embattled Shiite government tries to turn the tide of Sunni Islamist fighters toward Baghdad.

President Barack Obama is holding a press conference to discuss the crisis in Iraq today.

President Barack Obama is holding a press conference to discuss the crisis in Iraq today.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/19/2014 (5 months ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: President Obama, Iraq, policy, Congress


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to a White House statement, Obama went over U.S. efforts to "strengthen the capacity of Iraq's security forces to confront the threat" from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters, "including options for increased security assistance."

Spokesman Jay Carney had earlier spelled out one limit to any U.S. help, saying: "The President hasn't ruled out anything except sending U.S. combat troops into Iraq."

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According to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Obama "basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn't feel he had any need for authority from us for the steps that he might take."

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California agreed with McConnell's assessment, adding she believed congressional authorization for military force in Iraq back in 2001 and 2003 still applied.

Obama "did not give us an array of actions he was planning to take," Pelosi said. "He just talked about his perspective on what was happening there."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said they were working out details on possible U.S. steps that could include airstrikes on Sunni militants advancing through northern Iraq.

"I share alarm about the future of Iraq, and we are developing a full range of options to help stabilize the region," Dempsey said at a Senate subcommittee hearing.

Both Dempsey and Hagel agreed with subcommittee members that the Iraq crisis amounted to a threat to U.S. interests in the region. The situation also poses a future threat to the U.S. homeland if northern Iraq and neighboring Syria become a safe haven for al Qaeda-affiliated Islamists.

"Although currently a regional threat, they do have aspirations to attack Western interests," Dempsey said, calling the safe haven outcome outlined by Graham a "high-risk scenario."

"Yeah, to our homeland being attacked by this group," Graham countered, to which Dempsey responded, "not at this time but over time."

Conservative critic Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina noted that ISIS fighters have threatened to attack the United States.

President Barack Obama is holding a press conference to discuss the crisis in Iraq today.

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