Meet the Press   |  September 08, 2013

McCaul: 'This is an act of war'

Rep. Michael McCaul voices his own concerns about the Obama administration's proposed plan to intervene in Syria.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

is american credibility a real reason to go to war, even in a limited fashion?

>> well, we always are concerned about our credibility. the problem is, i think lobbying a few tomahawk missiles will not restore our credibility overseas. it's kind of a face-saving measure for the president after he drew the red line . that's what i'm very concerned about is that once we, as my colleague from california mentioned, once we're in, we're in. and once we hit, this is an act of war . little wars start big wars . and we have to remember that. and i think we have to be very cautious. and the other thing i'm very concerned, david, you haven't mentioned the program yet, it's who are we supporting in this war? we are supporting a rebel faction, the rebel cause, that has now been infiltrated and hijacked by many al qaeda factions. so the idea on the eve of 9/11, as we move into that, to have this vote ironically, that we're going to support a plan that could potentially put these chemical weapons in the hands of al qaeda that could be turned against americans. those images i saw of the children in damascus are horrific. assad is a brutal dictator, but i don't want to see those images broadcasted and shown in the united states with american kids.

>> congresswoman sanchez, a year ago it was the attack in libya on our consul there, murdering our ambassador. and this is also supposed to be a limited operation. but when the country disintegrated, the united states ' interests, on our own people, were targeted and killed.

>> well, as i said, the fact of the matter is that you can't just lob in a few missiles and say that that's the end. and it's the unknown consequence. if it's the irrational people, who will respond? how will it be? i think the risk is very, very high. and believe me, i understand why the president has come to the congress because the legal framework -- i mean, there are only two ways in which under the u.n. security -- under the u.n. charter which we are a part to, which is our law. that is our law. it says the only time you go and attack is one, if you have the u.n. security resolution on your side, which quite -- we haven't even gone to ask for that, as senator udall suggested, and secondly, that we have been directly attacked or we feel we are in imminent danger from that. and i believe that in both of those cases that doesn't exist. and by the way, great britain is also a permanent member of that security council , and they have said no force to be used. so you can't just blame russia on this. we have to really say let's go to the u.n. council and let's get this resolution out of them.

>> you know, congressman king, as i talk to people and i have over the weekend, what i get back is, gosh, this is just a mess. and as i'm talking to the three of you, i am hearing yes, you support the resolution, but you don't really trust the president to execute it. the other side seems to be, what's the point of what we're going to do? and then there's a third side. it is good heavens, let's just not get involved to the point where we get deeply involved where there's no way out. how does the president get to the other side of this and get this resolution passed, given all of these concerns?

>> it's going to be very difficult to get the resolution passed. i think doing nothing is worse because then we are going to allow it to spiral out of control. as far as what mike mccaul said, and i understand his concern about the rebel forces, but i'm on the intelligence committee . we've met extensively on this. i believe ways can be found to isolate the al qaeda elements in there. and someone who represents some of the 9/11 victims, i'm concerned about the spiraling out of control. as far as what loretta sanchez about the u.n., bill clinton attacked without u.n. approval. it's basically a useless organization on these matters. and again, whether it's harry truman or whether it's eisenhower or whether it's reagan, whether it's clinton, when forceful action has to be taken by the commander in chief, it can be taken. president obama should have taken it. he failed. when the moment came, he flinched p.

>> quick response from congressman mccaul before i left you go.

>> look, it's been a failed policy in the middle east . there's instability in egypt, libya, syria is the next shoe to drop. i don't want to see syria the vacuum being filled by al qaeda forces. very, very concerned about that. any action -- this is such a limited action as well. it's not going to achieve anything. and i think at the end of the day , it could inflame the region. it could get hezbollah and iran geared up against israel, which i'm very concerned about at the end of the day . i think the solution, quite frankly , david, is to get the international community involved, as the senator said, to rally behind the use of chemical weapons . there are no good sides, no good outcomes in syria , but the international community can secure and destroy these chemical weapons . that should be our chief objective here.