December 1st, 2013
09:00 AM ET
4 years ago

Rogers: Obama administration 'screwed up' Syria deal

Washington (CNN) – Two and a half months after the U.S. backed off its threat to launch a bombing campaign against the Syrian regime, not everyone in Congress is happy with the easing of tensions.

In an interview that aired Sunday morning, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told CNN's Candy Crowley that the the sweeping, Russian-brokered agreement prematurely closed the door to a more wide-ranging armistice between the regime and opposition forces. The agreement requires Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal by mid-2014.

"If you were ever going to get a deal for a peace deal, a cease-fire, that got screwed up," Rogers said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Rogers' criticism came amid reports the U.S. has offered to help destroy some of the most lethal parts of al-Assad's chemical stockpile.

In the immediate aftermath of the agreement, President Barack Obama praised the accord as "welcome progress" and an "important, concrete step" toward reducing violence in the war-torn Middle Eastern nation. "The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity and a threat to the security of people everywhere," Obama said on September 14. "We have a duty to preserve a world free from the fear of chemical weapons for our children."

While Rogers readily admitted that taking chemical weapons off the battlefield qualified as a success, the Michigan lawmaker insisted the administration, by not pushing harder for a cease-fire, enabled the Syrian dictator to keep killing with conventional weapons.

"They were too quick to try to get a deal," Rogers said.

He argued the U.S. negotiating team dispatched to Geneva, Switzerland, ultimately left al-Assad with "the protection of the Russian government" and an "indeterminate amount of time" to continue massacring opposition forces and civilian dissidents. Rogers said the United States, in quickly coming to terms with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, undermined its credibility with allies in the region, including the Arab League, Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

But he said the most serious damage done by the agreement was that it undermined America’s credibility with moderate rebel groups fighting the Syrian regime. "The opposition felt that the United States walked away from them," he said.

Rogers' Intelligence Committee counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, did not directly criticize the Obama administration's handling of the Syria situation, but she did say the ongoing conflict - and the influx of jihadist fighters into the country - make it increasingly difficult to "separate the bad guys from the good guys."

Filed under: Mike Rogers • Obama administration • Syria
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Azzy

    More fantasy in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

    December 1, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. Don Wilkerson

    Did any of the Obama naysayers actually review the individual votes of congress when Obama sought out the okay to carry out a limited mission in Syria, He barely got Senate approval and was far behind in the house when the matter was dropped.
    We Americans can't have it both ways. And when we get our way and still complain we are hypocritical.

    December 1, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Stephen Mc

    There are terrorists on both sides here, like picking the lessor of two evils

    December 1, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. 1-trupatriot

    Another war monger too eager to send the children of OTHER American parents into a war zone only to fill their own bank accounts. Having money invested in Defense Contractors then pushing for more wars is purely insane and something the GOP is very guilty of. They care only about making profits off wars, no matter where because THEY make money from it. War profiteering is a crime the GOP is proud of. It's how they stay rich. It is a disgusting disgrace for any American elected official and especially when they want to send American kids to die for another country whine families here in America are left to bury their sons and daughters. Try sending your own kids and then after they are killed, tell America it was truly worth it! Of course be sure to check into your contractor kick backs first and see just how much money your kids life was worth first.

    December 1, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. penguin

    Rogers on the intelligence committee. Now there's an oxymoron

    December 1, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. rs

    Just more endless blather from the party of nothing. The GOP has a solid record of meaningless nothingness for the last 5 years.

    December 1, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. cmack

    Nothing the Obama administration does will appease the republican leadership. Mr. Rogers does not seem to understand the complex negotiations that require both sides to sacrifice. The world no longer succumbs to the West; we live in a different world from Mr. Rogers.

    December 1, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. Fair is fair

    Name one thing this president hasn't screwed up!


    December 1, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  9. Namebadtobone

    President will go and campaign for Syria some money and blame everyone else.

    December 1, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  10. Name: Roger Huguez

    So sick and tired of hearing (reading) politicians on either side whining about some policy and blaming the party of current administration. I don't want to hear it. (There are good and bad policy decisions in every presidency. What should we do, play the musical chair blame game like it's some kind of contest?) That's why people are disguted with congress/government. Find the problem, take the initiative, try to fix it and move on or simply, get out.

    December 1, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Get rid of chemical weapons , then cut a deal .

    December 1, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. Tony

    Astute observations...

    December 1, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  13. sonkarlay

    The president got Osama that George lie about for 8years, health care for Americans, toke out every high profile terrorist in the world, so named what every republicans have done for this world today

    December 1, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Richard Broderick, Jr.

    The Trillion Dollar pool of needless blood has not yet dried around the NeoCONs feet.

    Leave Syria to the Syrians to sort out.

    December 1, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  15. john doe

    The people who voted for this current president can't even point to Syria on a map. And I doubt they know anything about chemical weapons.

    December 1, 2013 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  16. max

    Barak Hossein Obama worst president ever,, you can see dishonesty in his eyes

    December 1, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  17. Jerry

    The obama doctrine left the world a more dangerous place and the Middle East on fire. Everything this administration has had anything to do with is a mess. God hep us.

    December 1, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  18. timverba

    Regarding Mr. Rogers assessment of the President's ability to reach a peace agreement: I do not recall the President ever asserting that there should be a peace agreement. The President has called for regime change from the Assad Family. However, there is an uncontrolled element of Al Quaeda among the rebel fighters against the Assads. Therefore, the President has been willing to let both sides weaken each other without the use of chemical weapons.

    December 1, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  19. john

    We will not get any respect until we kick some butt like we used to. We should have gone in there and earned some respect. Countries now think we arte pushovers.

    December 1, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  20. dmf

    GOP in Congress including Rep. Rogers were only interested in expansion of armed conflict in Syria . The Republican leaders and strategist are not affected by events leading up to unnecessary Iraq War ( 2003 – 2011 ) and ongoing war on Terrorism in Afghanistan ( 2001 – to date ) . The huge human costs , $4 trillion debt and other adverse impact on U. >S economy . President Obama has kept his 2008 election promise , to allow diplomatic negotiations and international efforts to resolve disputes between nations . Not extremists right wing conservative War mongers strategy per se . Syrian chemical weapons destruction program is a huge achievement of Obama administration . President and / or Sec. Kerry have not been given any kudos on this singular and historical success in public by GOP leaders likes of Sen McCain , Graham , Congressman Rogers and others .

    December 1, 2013 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  21. Craig Miller

    Sounds like Obama wanted a military intervention, bombing runs, cruise missile launches and other means neccessary to rid Syria of chemical weapons. Then he decides to consult with congress, more than likely because Britain hesitated and decided to vote their plan of action in parliament. Another reason Obama may have chosen to consult with congress is because majority of Americans surveyed did NOT want a military intervention. Long story short, now we have the people who were for a military intervention, angry, and they feel like the US is not doing enough. Well, about 1/3 of the US government spending is on defense. Lining the pockets of defense contractors is what were doing, paying them 10 TIMES the money of the next biggest (government) defense spender. Rediculous, the US is losing ground extremely quickly on technology as well, so its like the US government is paying 10 times more to the contractors who are only losing ground to other countries when it comes to technology.

    December 1, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  22. tekbit

    I see nothing but the PAC Castles growing and the Puppet Government failing. Welcome to England and the Mott&Bailey.

    December 1, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  23. JC

    The lack of educated opinions boggles my mind. The majority of liberals keep saying things like "the GOP is to eager to send other peoples kids to war." What are militaries for? Military intervention is sometimes a neccessary evil. You can't dodge every conflict and just say it's not our problem. Why are liberals so selective on who they think should have the benefit of human rights? For one, the civil war in Syria is our problem. The forces taking charge are extremists that want to kill us. We have sat back for almost 3 years and allowed Al Qaeda to regroup, and destroy any chance of a moderate government after Assad falls. The FSA was our only chance, but we've tossed them to the wolves. Once Al Qaeda takes control of the government the larges international war will take place that will decimate our global economy. You don't think that's worth fighting for? What about the children that can't go to school because of Assads snipers? What about the tend of thousands of kids that have already gotten a bullet between the ears? We should have helped them out two years ago when the only opposition was the FSA. Al Qaeda waited 6 months to see what we were going to do , and when we showed no interest they charged the border and took over the rebellion. The longer we wait the worse the invasion will be. It's already gotten to a point that it will take us a decade to restore order to the Middle East. The liberal ideology of fear of military intervention is odd to me. It's not liberal kids joining the military. The majority of soldiers are conservatives. Liberals will talk, but when it comes time to back it up they have no interest.

    December 1, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  24. Steve Hamilton

    Easy for Rogers to say. President Obama used president Kennedy's playbook that solved the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 to resolve the Syrian poison gas problem. In 1962, America woke up one day to learn that Russia had installed an ICBM bank in Cuba that could hit more than a dozen US cities. President Kennedy ordered every Navy ship it the Atlantic to steam to Cuba and embargo the island. Contemporaneously he ordered a flyover of about 1,000 military airplanes, one of which I flew, as a Naval aviator. Shortly thereafter, Kennedy and Kruschev had a few private, one-on-one meetings. Kruschev blinked and within 30 days the missiles were back in Russia. President Obama got Putin to blink the same way – by threat of force. today, the UN is overseeing the international poison gas control organization as it locates and sets up for destruction all of the poison gas in Syria. contrary to Rogers' assertion, it is not clear at all that there is a way that the president could have expanded the scope of the concessions he was able to get from Putin.

    This is egregious Monday morning quarterbacking.

    December 1, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  25. Mr. Mike

    The Obama administration just doesn't get it. When it comes to international politics Obama's team are idiots!

    December 1, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
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