Nightly News   |  September 07, 2013

Grisly footage attempts to make case for Syrian strike

The Obama administration showed some lawmakers videos of what it believes is the aftermath of the Syrian government’s chemical attack on its own citizens. The graphic images include bodies squirming on the floor and people struggling to breathe. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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>>> since we first saw the images of syrian civilians suffering the effects of what many believe to have been a chemical weapons attack, the white house has insisted that the atrocity demands a response. convincing the world and the american people of that necessity has been difficult toshgs say the least. tonight, disturbing images you have not seen before meant to move america to action. nbc 's peter alexander is at the white house and has the story. peter, good evening.

>> reporter: harry, good evening to you. these videos are among 13 youtube clips provided to nbc news by a u.s. government official. they were shown to members of a senate intelligence briefing last week. we should let you know these videos are quite graphic. they are paralyzed with pain and fear, a little boy barely conscious, a young girl almost unable to move. rows of bodies, many of them children. the only sound the gron growns of victims and prayers for the dead . u.s. government officials tell nbc news that the intelligence community has authenticated the videos as evidence of chemical weapons attack on august 21st . nbc news cannot independently verify the video's authenticity, but there are no visible injuries. among the symptoms, foaming at the mouth and uncontrollable shaking, consistent with exposure to a deadly nerve agent. senate intelligence committee chairwoman dianne feinstein requested the videos from the cia and spoke about them thursday.

>> and we received that this morning. and it's horrendous.

>> reporter: the videos the latest element in the administration's campaign to convince congress and the american people of the need for limited military action in syria. the course of voices against u.s. intervention have growing from new york's times square today to the white house . still, the president hasn't wavered, personally calling members of congress friday while flying home in russia on air force one.

>> we cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we've seen out of syria. failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again.

>> reporter: today's weekly address a preview of the national address the president will deliver tuesday night, a strategic visit for the white house trying to better clarify the stakes.

>> if he can convince everyone that there is a plan and that if things go wrong there's a plan "b appoint ", i think he can actually sell people on this.

>> reporter: the president's biggest obstacle could be members of his own party.

>> if the president loses this vote in congress, it's cost him credibility in the united states but also credibility around the world.

>> reporter: leading up to a senate vote that could come next week, the white house is fanning out its forces, the president's chief of staff making the rounds sunday morning, joe biden hosting key republican senators that night, and president obama doing six national interview on monday, the eve of his remarks to the country. and the president will make more calls to congress members this weekend. harry, nbc news has also determined that those graphic videos have not been seen by members of the house yet. they will be shown those videos during the next classified briefing scheduled for monday.