As President Obama seeks congressional authorization for a limited military strike in Syria, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) lauded the administration's move to debate the issue with other lawmakers.
But Casey also said that he believed the president has the legal authority to conduct a strike without getting the go-ahead from Congress. He also said he thinks Obama should take action, regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C.
"I think he should act," Casey said.
The senator said he has been clear about his stance for a while, but he also noted that action does not have to come in the form of a military maneuver to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"You could engage in humanitarian support for the opposition, strategic advice, diplomacy," Casey said. "You could deploy a lot of our non-military assets and still have that be the goal, that he be defeated."
Casey said there is clear proof that al-Assad has used chemical weapons against rebel forces and civilians on more than one occasion, a clear violation of international law. Beyond sending a message that use of chemical weapons is unacceptable, Casey said it is in the nation's security interests to act.
"Mr. Assad and the Syrian regime have been closely confederated with Hezbollah and Iran, both of which plot against us everyday," he said. "In the case of Iran, a government, and in the case of Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, who by the way, has killed the second largest number of Americans besides al-Qaida," said Casey. "So we have to send a signal to Mr. Assad, as well as other countries that we won't tolerate this and the international community won't tolerate it."
Congress is not expected to take up the issue until it returns from summer recess the week of Sept. 9.
Casey made his comments on 90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh program.