In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Bob Corker called for a "surgical" U.S. response against an alleged use of chemical weapons by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Corker, who is ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also offered his take on the U.S. relationship with Egypt and the level of insight members of Congress have to continuing news of surveillance methods employed by the National Security Agency.
Beginning with Syria, the senator and former Chattanooga mayor said his "sense" was that Syrian troops had used chemical weapons last week—an action that killed hundreds of people in Damascus suburbs and appeared to be the worst chemical attack in more than two decades, according to a Reuters report. Corker, who visited refugee camps on the Syrian border earlier this month, said he hoped President Barack Obama would seek authorization from Congress to respond with force to the attack, but emphasized his opinion that no U.S. troops should be on the ground.
"I do think it's always good to be cautious, but my sense is this has happened [and] I think we will respond in a surgical way, and I hope the president—as soon as we get back to Washington—will ask for authorization from Congress to do something in a very surgical and proportional way, something that gets their attention, that causes them to understand that we are not going to put up with this kind of activity," Corker said.
Discussing the recent upheaval in Egypt, Corker said the U.S. aid relationship with the Egyptian army should be reshaped but not in a way that jeopardized American interests in the region.
"No doubt there will be some suspensions, but we're going to keep that relationship," he said. "It is in our national interests; we have first priority in the Suez Canal. It's important to Americans; it's important for us to have security in that region."
Corker was also asked for his thoughts on continuing revelations about the level of surveillance employed by the NSA on U.S. citizens in the name of national security. Host Chris Wallace asked Corker if he knew the full extent of the government's methods for surveilling Americans.
"No," Corker said. " ... I'm not on the intelligence committee, and obviously they're privy to information I'm not, but absolutely not."
Corker mentioned a letter he sent to Obama this week, requesting a full Senate briefing on NSA surveillance by Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the NSA. Corker said it was the responsibility of members of Congress to be aware of the programs, to "ensure that they are in balance."
He said he hoped Congress could review the techniques upon return from August recess.
"I hope as soon as we get back, there will be a briefing from top to bottom so that can happen," he said.
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