tv The Flag CNN September 5, 2013 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT
i'm chris cuomo in for piers. welcome to the viewers in the united states and around the world. welcome to "syria in crisis" a live town hall special. all right. this is your chance to ask questions and tell us what you think. we've got a power packed panel of experts here and we want your questions. you can tweet them, use my name at chris cuomo. now tonight will be all about laying out america's concerns, putting them on the table and getting as much information and analysis as we can on the
important information whether or not to bomb syria. the first thing, how we got here. remember, march 2011 in the wake of the arab spring violence starts in syria after a group of teens and children are arrested for writing graffiti. dozens are killed when security forces cracked down on demonstrations sparking what we know as the civil war. august 20th, 2012 another flash point, president obama says this about potential u.s. involvement. >> red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. that would change my calculous. that would change my equation. >> that was the now infamous red line statement that takes us to august 21st, 2013, rows of dead children and estimates of lives lost exceeds 1300. that takes us to august 23rd, 2013. we interview president obama and he's cautious, reluctant to
commit the u.s. to another conflict. >> we are already in communications with the entire international community. we're moving through the u.n. to try to prompt better action from them, and we've called on the syrian government to allow an investigation of the site because un inspectors are on the ground now. >> the tone decidedly calm and deliberate because i asked him the questions. however, within days, the president, the president won the noble peace prize for extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diploma see. he changes the tone and says hi -- he intends to punish. the votes not to autorise in britain. president obama announces he'll seek congressional approval for
strikes on syria. and just yesterday, the president said this -- >> i didn't set a red line. the world set a red line. the world set a red line when governments representing 98% of the world's population said the use of chemical weapons are aboar rent and passed a treaty forbidding the use when countries are engaged in war. congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. >> we've got a lot to get to tonight but want to begin with the latest perspective frommed at minute station. it's their job to make the case to americans and the congress, so here is the latest from the white house. joining us now tony blinken. thank you for joining us. >> thanks, chris. >> there are a lot of considerations causing reluctance in the united states, the country and around the world. one of the major ones is the
intelligence of the situation that chemical weapons were used and the assad regime that used them. i want to play you something that former secretary of defense donald rums field said to me on new day. take a listen to this and then explain it for me. take a listen. >> if intelligence were a fact, it would be called a fact, and not intelligence. >> do you agree with that statement mr. blinken, that when it comes to national security intelligence is not necessary a fact? >> look, there are two things going on here. there are intelligence assessments and assessments are pulling together what we know, that is facts and trying to understand what they mean. and so an assessment, you know, by definition is someone's best understanding of what the facts mean, but there are lots of facts here that make up this case and we know and we released unclassified intelligence over the last week. we know that rockets were launched from an area controlled
by the syrian government. we know they landed in an area controlled by the opposition. we know there was an explosion of social media coming out with the attack, with people demonstrating the symptoms of the chemical weapons attack. we now have from analysis that was done of soil and blood and hair, that sarin was used and intelligence conversation of key players in the assad regime this happened. when you put that together -- some of this we had to go to congress. they are the people's representatives and have to make that judgment but a lot of this we put out in public and what is really striking, chris, is the public information, especially social media contemporaneous with the attack and facebook, twitter, videos that came out is overwhelming and actually, i don't think there is a lot of doubt around the world about whether chemical weapons were used. >> there has to be doubt. you hear it from the russian
president. you hear it from communities abroad. let me ask it to you simply. can you guarantee that chemical weapons were used and they were used by the assad regime? >> the intelligence community, nobody will use guarantee -- >> why would you attack if you can't guarantee the basis -- >> because we believe beyond a reasonable doubt, let me use that that's familiar to a lot of people, beyond a reasonable doubt that the assad regime used chemical weapons against it's own people. beyond a reasonable doubt. the case is clear, compelling, based on intelligence, based on facts, based on a lot of public information. >> these are tough questions. thank you for answering them. you know how much it matters, that's why i'm chasing you about it. >> thanks a lot, chris. >> beyond a reasonable doubt, a standard we have in the united states of america because it is better to let 100 guilty men go free than punish one innocent man, right?
however, is it a good enough standard for when you decide whether or not to bomb. show of hands so far. beyond a reasonable doubt. is that enough? who thinks that's enough of a standard. hands up. anybody else? to start the night who feels we know enough there is enough proof on the ground for the united states to make a decision to bomb? who feels confident at this point? okay. let's start off now, this is as little about me as much as possible, more about you. mr. jordan valentine, what is your question? >> obama has taken the issue to congress. will he get the votes he needs? >> okay, who better to answer that than members of congress. they are from opposite parties but neither is sold on syria. joining me jason chaffits and joining me representative janice hann a democrat. you heard the question from jordan. thanks for joining me.
did you? >> yes, i heard the question. >> yes. >> i'll answer for you, i'll take it as a yes. here is what we know so far, the soft count, 23 yes, 109 no, 20 unknown and 281 undecided. it 24 yes, 18 no. that's where we are. you tweeted so far about 500 e-mails regarding syria, 499 say no and one says yes. right now you're both likely no votes. british intelligence has proof sarin gas was used. do you believe the case there is a legitimate case to go to war? still no? >> if there is a clear and present danger to the united states, then of course i want the president to act swiftly and decisively. in this case i see no clear and present danger to the united states.
it's an awful, terrible situation. it is a civil war and we have an obligation, chris, to consider then what happens. if we start bombing another country and we start killing people in syria, then what happens in what is truly a powdered keg situation with neighbors that don't like each other and suddenly we have u.s. men and servicewoman men with their lives on the line. i don't know the case is made yet. >> representative hann. i said war. the white house said this is not about war, this is a limited attack. there will be no reprisal. they don't believe the syrians or anybody else will attack. why doesn't that give you comfort. this is your party, your president's party. >> this is not giving me comfort and it's interesting, i think this is the first time jason and i may be agreeing on something, but the case has not been made to me that this war has anything to do with us, and it is so unpredictable, and we do not know after we have the first strike what is going to be next.
it could explode. they could retall yit against us, against israel, against our embassies. i do not think this is a war we should be dragged into. and my constituents as well overwhelmingly are saying absolutely no to dragging us into another foreign war. >> whether it's right or wrong your constituents don't know what you know. diane is chairman of the senate committee and she said my constituents are against me but don't know what i know. because you have extra information how come that doesn't give you comfort there is a basis and limited in scope, no boots on the ground, in and out? >> well -- >> well the only thing -- >> jason, go ahead. >> sorry. look, that's the concern is those that have looked at the intelligence, they are split. i don't think this is conclusive. you don't see the intelligence
unanimously supporting this at this time. i don't think questions have been answered. of course, we have the greatest military might in the entire world. if we're going to go to war, then we go with everything and fight to win but the president have not explained what steps two, three and four are. what other ramifications are and that is simply not good enough. we can't send a hallmark card and lob in missiles and say hey, we're punishing you for using sarin gas. >> here is the other case, america looks weak. the president said there is a line. the line has been crossed and if you don't take steps now, others will follow. you saw the human costen the ground. there were too many kids killed in the worst way. it has to stop. america is in position to stop it, and that is the mandate. >> personally, i don't think we look weak when we choose to not return violence with violence.
i think america could look a lot stronger right now. if we charted a new course for ourselves and instead of using energy to bomb syria and have these collateral damage, why don't we use strength and might to bring back together the international community and finding another way to holds a sad accountable. i think we would be a greater country if we took care of problems at home, if we invested more in our own schools and bridges and roads and really helped people recover in this bad economy. so i think that's what would make this country strong. >> final question to both of you, is there anything that will change your mind on this situation between now and the vote? >> yeah, of course. i'm going to keep an open mind. i'm leaning, though. i want to hear the best intelligence that we have right up until the time we vote. it is important that the united states of america do the right
thing, but i'm not there to just, you know, pass off what the political establishment says. my job is to represent the people of utah and right now we're not convinced. >> representative hann? >> i don't think so. i've seen the evidence and read the classified documents and i don't believe there is anything that will convince me to vote in favor of military force at this time. >> no crisis -- >> only if i could be shown that we have explored all other diplomatic opportunities. >> when you see the pictures of those kids, though, there is no crisis of conscience? >> those were horrible pictures. i'm a mother. i'm a grandmother. i'll tell you, if we have a limited military strike, what's to say we won't also kill some innocent civilians and there may be a dad that doesn't come home or a brother or son that doesn't come home.
i don't believe we should return violence with violence. >> we talk about a lot of votes being tough. this is a vote that's actually very difficult for the most important reasons. thank you both very much for joining us. good luck going forward. all right. so we heard from representative, we heard from the white house, we heard from some of you so far tonight. i want to introduce you to the panel. we have a good group of people to figure this out. as an observer out country's air defense military operations. fran townsend cnn's national security analyst and a member of the dhs and cia external advisory boards and mr. phillip -- help me say your name. >> staff righter for the new yorker. one thing we got settled tonight. good. mr. newt gingrich, former speaker of the house and co-host of cross fire.
good to have you, newt. fran, help me with this. you've been guiding me through situations for a long time. the idea intelligence is not fact, to hear that said to the american people, to hear the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which we don't like in criminal trials, surprising to you. >> it was said by secretary rumsfeld and tony blanken not well, frankly. there are assessments. those aren't facts. we know some facts based on science. we know chemical weapons were used. the british came out and identified it as sarin gas. we know it killed people. we know from intelligence where it was fired from and the method of delivery. >> so intelligence still means that you know something. >> that's right. >> it sell means that. >> that's right. >> we can take comfort in that? >> right. >> that's not what mr. rums field and blacken said. >> there are facts that have been established so far. it may not have persuaded some people in the audience or
congress, but there are some facts we do know now. >> assuming we can make -- assuming the case to the american people that the intelligence is there, those are facts, these are chemical weapons used by the assad regime against it's own people. the second part is whether or not this plan makes sense. when we come back, we'll go to a member of the pentagon a spokesperson for them and he'll answer the question of what the plan is and why it makes sense and we'll take more questions from you. stay with us. i got this. [thinking] is it that time? the son picks up the check? [thinking] i'm still working. he's retired.
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flexpath from capella university learn more at capella.edu i don'without goingcisions to angie's list first. with angie's list, i know who to call, and i know the results will be fantastic! find out why more than two million members count on angie's list. angie's list -- reviews you can trust. not one of us who doesn't understand what going to war means and we don't want to go to war. we don't believe we are going to war in the classic sense of taking american troops and send america to war. [ applause ] >> that was secretary of state
john kerry testifying before congress. i'm chris cuomo in for piers morgan. nobody wants american boots on the ground in syria. how can that be presented and guaranteed as such? does a limited yet effective strike look like. mr. george little secretary for public affairs in the department of defense. thank you very much, mr. little, for joining us. >> thank you, chris. great to be here. >> help us with the first point of confusion, the idea of intelligence giving certainty. can you tell the american people you have no doubt about chemical weapons being used by the assad regime. is the basis for your attack solid? >> chris, our basis for what might be a military operation is absolutely solid. this is a common sense case. not just from our intelligence but public images. the camera footage and the photographs that are coming out of syria, we know this was a chemical attack. we know that it was perpetrated
by the assad regime. it's deplorable behavior and we're not alone in that assessment. the british, french and other haves penned the rows on the syrian regime and we're confident in the facts we developed. >> let's move onto the second point. the plan for the attack, obviously, you cannot give us details, we don't expect them. in terms of strategy, it seems to send mixed messages to people. you're going to bomb but don't topple the regime. we're hearing reports from abc news there is an expectation of a larger scale for this than originally thought. what can you tell us? >> let me be very clear about what this is and what it isn't. this is about defending an international norm against the use of chemical weapons against innocent populations. that's what this is about. and the president has directed us to plan for a limited operation, limited duration, limited scope and no boots on the ground. we're not talking about an iraq
or afghanistan style war. we do have a broader policy in place to bring about regime change and we're working through other means to do that. we're using the diplomatic track. the state department is doing an outstanding job working to build a moderate opposition more cohesive that can build a reconciliation process and help the syrian people to find a path for themselves and does not involve bashar al-assad's brutal regime. that's what we're doing. >> are you ready if there is a counter attack by syria or hasballah decides to do something or iran? do you have plans for those that involve no boots on the ground? >> we're clear eyed and been planning ourselves with turkey and israel and jordan and others. we understand that we can never take the risk down to zero, but we believe we can take steps to mitigate the risks, and that has factors squarely into the planning.
>> do you want regime change right now? >> this military operation is focused on the objective of detouring and degrading the syrian regime's ability to use chemical weapons. that's what this debate is about. of course, we want regime change at the end of the day, but this question that we're debating as a nation right now is about chemical weapons and whether or not we're going to stand up against their indiscriminate use by a brutal regime. >> what do you feel the strongest mandate is for this to be the united states in an operation that seems largely solo in a practical sense, not having bigger allies with you? gives you the mandate to go at it alone? >> i think the mandate for this is very clear. there is a clearly established international norm against chemical weapons, as simple as that, chris. and many countries around the world have come out and rejected what the syrian regime has done and condemned. this is about standing up for
that norm and we believe it rooted and the legitimacy and we expect the syrian regime to stop the use of chemical weapons and we should send a clear message that what they did last month was absolutely intolerable and wrong. >> mr. little, let me go with this question, at this point, what do you think it will cost? >> we're working through that and will consult with congress. that is not a protracted military operation. we're not looking at tens and tens of billions of dollars dollars here. this is, even in a fiscal constraint environment, this is a military operation we could under take responsibly and at low cost. >> which would be? >> i don't have the figures on hand now. it depends on the precise parameters. the president has not decided to do that yet. so i can't put a precise cost on this, but we believe that it's
achievable, and at the end of the day, this was about the national security interest of the united states. if we allow saddam -- excuse me, bashar al-assad to use chemical weapons, then we're truly setting a bad standard and putting forces in harm's way because they could be confronting chemical weapons in the future. >> mr. little, thank you very much for the perspective. appreciate it. okay. we're going to come to the panel now and i want to do it motivating with a question from the audience. toby, you ready? >> my name is toby. i'm a veteran of operation iraqi freedom. we learned a lot of lessons from iraq, should this be a prolonged conflict how do you think we can avoid making some of the same mistakes we made early in the war? >> i'll direct this to you, rick. thank you for the question, toby.
the first one should be that we shouldn't calls a -- assad saddam because it brings memories for people but lay it out for us. how do you see this in a best-case scenario? >> we did something all stand off using cruise missiles, maybe air launch but keep out of syrian air space. if you look at the resolution, it's writ in a a way there is no way to preclude actually flying over syria, and what i didn't hear in all of this so far is what is the actual objective of this operation? >> is that unusual that you wouldn't have heard that at this point? >> yeah, normally what happens is the president defines an objective and says here is what i want to happen and the pentagon decides what happens they will use and how they will do it and proves it and they do it. now what they are being told is you'll use cruise missiles and because the way the resolution is written, there is reports it
may be b-2s, b-5 2s, but if it's to hit high assets, cruise missiles air launch cruise missiles won't do it. you need penetrating weapons. >> so show us on the maps what could you do? let's say everything works perfectly. what would you do to achieve the goals stated so far you'll stop the ability to use chemical weapons, detour anybody else from doing it and not topple the regime and hurt anybody you want to? >> chris, i think it's more confused than rick suggested. in an interview with george little, he says the military strategy as you described to detour and degrade the ability, the state department, another agency of the same government, their policy, their strategy is regime change and what nobody seems to be able to explain to any of us is how are these two things linked? >> nick, why don't you get in on
that? i've been following your work for a lot of years. you're a mentor for me in the business, and when you started making statements this may be necessary? >> a couple of thoughts. first of all, i think there is very little chance we're going to send aircraft over syria for the reason we have to take over the air defense first and i just don't think that will be in the cards. we'll do things from destroyers offshore or aircraft. >> okay. >> i think that the problem is operation desert fox, 1998, a three-day campaign against saddam's iraq and whether or not it accomplished much. some think it did, some think it didn't but it wasn't anything like iraq. and, you know, i guess where i come down on this is that i think we're very much focused reasonably on the risks of intervention, and that we have to be prudent about it but there is real risks of not getting
involved and think of alternatives. representative hann said we should go to the united nations. that sounds great, but we have tried that approach, and 100,000 people died as a result. 60,000 people at this rate are dying each year. we've seen this escalation of chemical attacks, and so i think the question becomes, you know, what are alternatives and given those, it seems to me that firing some cruise missiles from offshore to try to detour the chance that chemical weapons will be used again seems to be a less worse alternative than others. >> so we'll take a break here. we'll come back on the question of explaining to people how that will be accomplished, how you'll stop chemical weapons by using bombs and the regional fallout and we'll bring in mr. gingrich because i don't want him waiting out there too long. we'll ask him what we learned about the past and what the best course forward is. stay with us. [ male announcer ] this store knows how to handle a saturday crowd.
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all right. welcome back, everybody. i'm chris cuomo in for piers morgan. we have our panel here. that's the one thing i want you to take away tonight is the right way to say his name and worth knowing it right. we're taking your questions, as well. newt gingrich joining us. with a show of hands what we heard so far, show of hands people are confident the plan is
in place, intelligence in place, the best option how to help the people in syria is to bomb. show of hands. all right. let's continue with the conversation and get a question, natta? you have a question? >> yes, we established this is about international norms and the use of chemical weapons. they used phosphorus in iraq, are we the ones to take the high road and what is the end gain? >> mr. gingrich? let's bring you in, newt, from the perspective. you heard it and how do you think the white house handled it? >> i'm opposed to this campaign for the purpose for the point she made. 100,000 people killed in syria so far. we've had lots of children killed. these are tragedies.
we've also had tragedies around the world in row wanda, west africa, i don't agree with the president's comment in sweden the other day we're the world's 911. i think we ought to be very careful about the projects we under take. i can't imagine a limited campaign and secretary hagel yesterday and the house testimony said it would only cost tens of millions. that's a direct quote, tens of millions. well a tomahawk missile cost more. 30, 40, 50 missiles against a regime been in power 1970, his father took over 43 years ago, it strikes me that one of the middle of the public relations effort makes no sense. you see secretary kerry and the senate committee start by saying no boots on the ground, then answer a question by describing boots on the ground and retract boots on the ground and say, gee, i was just thinking out loud.
i don't get a lot of confidence -- >> okay, newt. >> when the secretary of state thinks out loud about a war. >> thank you for that part of it. nick, give me the other said. >> can i address the question? it's important and true we have violated human rights. why should we tell other countries that. what right do we have to talk about napalm in syria. it doesn't mean we shouldn't have kept quiet about the holocaust, and it is better to inconsistently stand up, some critically stand up and save some lives than consistently save none. >> phillip, let me ask you the question who we will wind up helping here. "the new york times" will have a cover with syrian soldiers, apparently, laid out and being shot by rebels. today's cover.
here it is. who winds up being benefitted by this? who takes over? do you improve the situation? are you helping al qaeda or having extremist elements? >> that gets to the obvious question that we don't know why this is being done. this is no stated intended outcome. we know about these unintended consequences being thrown around. how do we want this to end? over a year and a half ago when the death -- or around a year and a half ago when it was around 10,000, there was a meeting and the russians said there is one inevitable question, we never had an answer to that and that goes to the fact we don't have an answer for what we're trying to do here. when nick starts to say we have to hold up these international norms and stand up for human rights and talking about 60,000 a year -- everybody is talking about the larger war. there is a deep confusion in this debate about what the objectives are within
administration, within the selling of it to congress, within the press discussion of it and i think that we don't know who would be supporting here. we're not comfortable with the rebels. >> john mccain says he does know them, he is comfortable with it and -- no, it's a serious point. the senator went there -- >> he's playing on his ipad and not listening to the joint chief of staff anymore. >> newt, you're laughing. help me out here. the poker aside, senator john mccain knows this situation as well as anybody. he's been on the ground. what is your take on that, newt? >> i think anybody who thinks that an american politician, even one as experienced as john mccain has any deep understanding of the hatred, the rivalries, the clan violence, the religious conflicts that make a place like syria operate is rejecting all the evidence we have over the last 15 years. we occupied and totally dominated iraq.
we could not pass fie it. we have blown apart the gaddafi dictatorship. syria is a very complicated country with a lot of people who hate each other, and the idea they have been kept relatively peaceful until two years ago because the assad regime was so consistently brutal, the idea that we're going to go in and we're going to cleverly find the right people denies everything we've learned in the last 15 years about the middle east. >> we know something about the rebels and every journalist in syria, including me, finds rebels and you're betting your life on fighting the right ones and the fact there are so many journalist going in, means for the most part people do find rebels they can trust. it's difficult, complex, there have been tragic mistakes but not completely black boxed there. >> hold that point.
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back with me, my panel, the man only known as phillip now, great to have you with us. joining us in the audience tonight, we have a lot of people from syria. show of hand the for people who are syrian decent. okay. i want to go back to the new york times, the cover. i apologize, difficult for you to see, difficult for everybody to see. the men standing are rebel fighters. the men on the ground shirtless are syrian, members of the syrian army being used as an example. there is video and i want to play it. it tough to look at. you will not see the actual violence that takes place but you will hear it. here it is. [ gunshots] >> short description is the rebel is saying you're going to take our blood, we're going to take yours as well and they then
execute the men on the ground and put their bodies, we believe, in an unmarked grave, which we believe is a well. nick, this is horrible. we know that. who will be helped in this situation. these are rebels and people we want to help. help explain this situation. >> there is no question there are many rebel groups, particularly some jihods in the north and watching syria over the last 2.5 years as more people have been killed, everybody is more full of hatred and there is radicalization. >> how do we know who to help? >> i don't think we do. when you see the paralysis that has defined the obama
administration, syria policy all this time, it's that we don't know and the red line, you know, we always talk about when they go to sell something like this, they say we won't take options off the table down the road. the red line took off the table the option of not having to bomb, not being -- basically put him in this corner where now he feels he has to be seen responding to the use of chemical weapons and basically so far the biggest rational is we cannot not do something. >> fran and nick, weigh in from the perspective of the basis of the argument that phillip is making. just because it may have been a political statement made wise or unwise, why is the justification for it have to be bombing? >> i think you've seen the president walked back from the original language, it's not my red line but the international community and congress -- the president really doesn't want this to be about his political statement.
there are international norms about prohibiting the proliferation of use of chemical weapons because it was tragically a thousand, 1500 in the august attack. that was not the first attack. there have been dozens of other uses of chemical weapons inside syria and by the way, as tragic as the august 21st large scale use of chemical weapons is, the ability to kill 10,000 or 50,000 is not out of the question. so that's what the president is trying to prevent. >> rick, what is the chance this can be quick on the military level and unpacking what happens with the fallout? >> depending what we want to do, if you want to detour him from using chemical weapons, we may have done that by having this conversation, by the president and raising awareness could have achieved that goal. but i don't think we can get ay with just that. so i think we'll be forced into something. but -- and i think they are
trying to walk back with the expectations will be and what are the objectives going to be because if you go in there in a meaningful way, you will be helping the opposition and as phillip said, the opposition isn't the organization, this are hundreds of groups who have competing interest and only work with each other when they have a mutual goal and go back to being on their own and sometimes against themselves. we could be setting up the second civil war of syria. >> chris, i think it's worse -- quickly, that even if you accept there are facts, that there were chemical weapons used and the assad regime, what the administration and president have not done a very good job at making the case is why is this in america's national interest and that's why you see a lack of support on both sides of the isle. >> that's the question i put to you. we'll talk about it after the break. tweet us at chris cuomo. we'll be right back. stay with us.
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to prove to you that aleve is the better choice for her, she's agreed to give it up. that's today? [ male announcer ] we'll be with her all day to see how it goes. [ claira ] after the deliveries, i was okay. now the ciabatta is done and the pain is starting again. more pills? seriously? seriously. [ groans ] all these stops to take more pills can be a pain. can i get my aleve back? ♪ for my pain, i want my aleve. [ male announcer ] look for the easy-open red arthritis cap. i'm chris cuomo in for piers morgan.
we have a great studio audience, a lot of members here are of syrian extract, they have family there. and we want to talk and hear their perspective, as well. and we're going to start with that. we have tom in the audience, right? tom, please, you have -- you're from syria, yes? and what is your take on the situation? what do you want to say? [ inaudible ] >> hold on, tom. they're not hearing you. they're not hearing you, but they're not hearing you at home. they're going to get you a better microphone. let's try this microphone. it's got to be better. >> as a syrian-american, syrians are seeing terrorists, new faces, new languages, they're killing christians, forcing archbishops to convert to islam.
they're eating livers, you know, threatening people, asking for ransoms. there are new faces from afghanistan, libya, chechnya. they're saying people we saw in the boston bombing, the same people are responsible in syria. we want to show america and the world the other side of the story that is not being covered. we are happy with our regime. we've been very happy with it. >> tom, you're saying you support the assad regime? >> 100%? and i think it's our right to decide our future and our regime. it's no one's business to decide. >> tom, it is an important point is the assumption that everybody wants change. >> if president assad thought the majority of people would support him, he would have an election. [ applause ]
>> the egyptian president fell down after a month and a half. the libyan president after a couple of months. certainly tunisia and all the other countries. the syrian president has been almost three years after what's happening. it's not the arabic spring, it's arabic fall that's falling on us because of all the negative impact. >> tom, thank you very much for that perspective. >> there is no doubt that there are significant communities within syria that support the president. a great portion of the christian community supports president assad. there's also no doubt that the majority of the country is sunni and is very unhappy with assad. and he would lose an election. >> i'm sunni, and my whole family lives in syria. and i can guarantee that bashar al assad does have support.
>> but obviously he -- if he really had support broadly in the country, he would not need to use guns, he could use ballots. >> we're going to come back with more from the audience right after this. just by talking to a helmet. it grabbed the patient's record before we even picked him up. it found out the doctor we needed was at st. anne's. wiggle your toes. [ driver ] and it got his okay on treatment from miles away. it even pulled strings with the stoplights. my ambulance talks with smoke alarms
thank you very much. thank you for the members of the audience. appreciate all the great questions. let's turn it over to anderson cooper right now. his show starts right now. see you tomorrow morning. good evening, everyone. we begin with breaking news. abc news is reporting that president obama's national security team is preparing for a military attack in syria much bigger than most anticipated. the most surprising part of the report, that a strike could include an aerial bombardment fired from b-2 and b-52 poppers flying from the united states. chris, this reporting that a u.s. strike could be much larger, what do we know about it? >> i'm getting some pushback from that, anderson. yes, they are saying that long-range bombers could be options that are considered or eventually used in any air strike on syria.