Nightly News   |  September 03, 2013

Rice: No expectation to lose vote in Congress

In an exclusive interview NBC’s Brian Williams sits down with National Security Advisor Susan Rice to discuss what a possible strike in Syria entails.

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

>> now, with that as the background, a short time ago, we spoke exclusively with susan rice , the white house national security adviser. she's been an integral part of the formation of this syria policy. tonight she flies with the president to the g-20 summit. tonight she joined us from washington prior to the departure. first off, what happens given this current policy, if you lose the vote in congress. what does the president do then?

>> well, brian, we have no expectation of losing the vote in congress. we are quite confident and indeed today. we've had a series of very constructive bipartisan meetings that the president led, with the leadership of the house and senate. and the leadership of the major national security committees, a number of key leaders have come out of those discussions, making plain their support for this. on a bipartisan basis.

>> can you blame the americans? and i'm hearing from a lot of veterans this same question. who wonder, since when did we start announcing our intentions to the enemy. potentially giving the enemy time to prepare?

>> we have not announced our intentions to the enemy. in fact the united states has been making clear for years that it is unacceptable to use chemical weapons . when president obama made the statement last summer, he was speaking on behalf of the american people and the congress, which had ratified the chemical weapons convention , and on behalf of the international community , where 185 nations have made plain that the use of chemical weapons is absolutely unacceptable.

>> ambassador rice, the estimates are, 100,000, maybe 110,000 people have died in this civil war thus far. do you draw that bright a distinction between the death by an incendiary bomb by a school and death by chemical weapons , that appears to be the administration's bright line on this?

>> all of this is horrific. all of us as human beings feel terrible when we see the extraordinary loss of life that is occurred in syria. between chemical weapons , that can kill with indiscriminate abandon, people who are innocent are employed in conflict. it is of a greater magnitude. if terrorists get ahold of those weapons, other dictators get ahold of those weapons, they can be used on a massive scale.

>> what about the measurable chance as recent history has taught us, that military action could in this case, make things worse?

>> it's always a risk that military action can evolve in a complicated way, we think that's a very limited risk in this case. in the first instance, assad and his backers in iran and hezbollah, do not have any interest in seeing this escalate. they know that the united states will stand up for our own national security , our own defense. and that of our partners and friends in the region. it's not in their interest to escalate, and i don't think they would do so. we also have to ask, what if we don't act. what message does that send to those who would use violence against us or others with impunity. what can we say to the seville yarns who have been gassed, who will likely be gassed again and again. if assad concludes that he can get away with this?

>> ambassador susan rice , national security adviser at the white house , thank you very much for being with us tonight.

>> thank you, brian.

>>> there is more of our conversation with ambassador rice. we have put it on our website tonight. that's nbcnightlynews.com.