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Obama Hasn't Made Case For Striking Syria, Rumsfeld Says

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2011.
Michael Reynolds
EPA /Landov
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2011.

As the U.S. and its allies seemingly move closer to some type of military action in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons to kill hundreds of his own people, one of the policymakers who led the U.S. into war with Iraq is saying the Obama administration has not made the case for why striking Syria is in the USA's national interest.

"There really hasn't been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation," Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense when the U.S. attacked Iraq in 2003, said Wednesday evening on the Fox Business Network's Cavuto. The most important issues in the region, Rumsfeld added, are "Iran's nuclear program and the relationship between Iran and Syria — the Assad regime — with respect to funding terrorists that go around killing innocent men, women and children; including Americans."

Rumsfeld's comments came shortly after President Obama appeared on The PBS NewsHour. During that interview, the president said the U.S. has concluded that the Assad regime is responsible for last week's chemical weapons attack. While he had not yet made a decision about how to respond, Obama added that:

"If, in fact, we can take limited, tailored approaches, not getting drawn into a long conflict, not a repetition of, you know, Iraq, which I know a lot of people are worried about. But if we are saying in a clear and decisive but very limited way — we send a shot across the bow saying, 'stop doing this' — that can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term, and may have a positive impact on our national security over the long term and may have a positive impact in the sense that chemical weapons are not used again on innocent civilians."

Some of the morning's other headlines about the crisis in Syria include:

-- "British Prime Minister's Call For Action In Syria Stalls." (Morning Edition)

-- "Britain To Release Intelligence On Syrian Chemical Weapon Attack." (

-- "AP Sources: Intelligence On Weapons No 'Slam Dunk.' " (The Associated Press)

-- "U.N. Inspectors To Leave Syria By Saturday." (Voice of America)

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.