John McCain, others react to Syria's likely use of chemical weapons


U.S. Sen. John McCain talks with reporters on his way to the weekly Senate Republicans policy luncheon on March 19, 2013 in Washington, DC.


T.J. Kirkpatrick

Reactions to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's announcement about Syria's use of chemical weapons are pouring in, as Senator John McCain and others weigh in on the next move. 

The senators were briefed Thursday morning by Secretary of State John Kerry, who said that there were reports of two chemical weapons attacks

Senator John McCain, who has been pressuring the Obama administration to take action against Syria as a result of its rumored chemical weapons use, has already spoken out on several talk shows about the White House's cautious response. 

"I worry that the president and the administration will use these caveats as an excuse not to act right away, or to act at all, because the president clearly stated that this was a red line," Sen. McCain said on Fox News Thursday, according to the Guardian

He also spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, CNN's Jim Acosta reported

Other senators have also spoken out about the announcement, including the senate majority leader, Democrat Dick Durbin, who said that Obama's "red line" had been crossed. 

“From what I’ve heard our intelligence indicated with some degree of certainty that it has been crossed,” Durbin said, Politico reported. “That’s up to the commander in chief, but something has to be done." 

He did not mention what specific steps should be put in place in response. 

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's ranking republican, said that the President should consult the senate before taking action. 

“This assessment is deeply troubling, and if correct, means that President Obama’s red line has certainly been crossed,” Corker said in a statement, according to Politico.

“While more work needs to be done to fully verify this assessment — like making sure we understand the chain of custody of the evidence — it is becoming increasingly clear that we must step up our efforts," he added. 

Kerry, speaking to NATO ministers Wednesday, mentioned taking action against Syria should chemical weapons enter the picture. 

"Planning regarding Syria, such as what (NATO) has already done, is an appropriate undertaking for the alliance," Kerry said.

"We should also carefully and collectively consider how NATO is prepared to respond to protect its members from a Syrian threat, including any potential chemical weapons threat."

France, Britain, and other countries have also said that they believe Syria may be in possession of chemical weapons. 

A French official told CBS News that they are "taking [the allegations] very seriously" but do not yet have evidence to confirm Hagel's reports. 

"The main challenge is to go from clues to proofs and from proofs to accountability," the anonymous official told CBS. 

Britain has also said it has evidence of Syria's use of sarin, according to the Guardian. 

"We have limited but persuasive information from various sources showing chemical weapon use in Syria, including sarin," a Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement. "This is extremely concerning. Use of chemical weapons is a war crime." 

Here, a video of McCain's address to the Senate about the war in Syria last month: 

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