The Edmond Sun

April 29, 2013

Inhofe: U.S. knows where Syrian chemicals are kept

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — U.S. officials know where Syria’s chemical weapons are located and President Barack Obama should not have drawn a red line regarding their use, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe said Monday.

During a stop at an Edmond-area company that converts gasoline into CNG-burning vehicles, Inhofe discussed gun control and federal stockpiling of ammunition, the legal maneuvering in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, issues with the EPA and the situation in Syria.

On Syria, Inhofe said the United States knows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people, clearly crossing the “red line” established by Obama.

A growing number of fellow senators have been calling on Obama to back up his promise with action. Without American leadership, Iran and Russia will eagerly fill the vacuum, Inhofe said. Other countries are paying attention to the situation.

“They’re all watching and watching carefully,” he said.

Inhofe said Obama is being cautious about Syria and the chemical weapons issue.

“We know where they are and we know that they’re contained,” Inhofe said.

Taking them out by bombing them is not a good option, Inhofe said. Enforcing a no-fly zone against Assad, an unpredictable leader who is capable of deliberately sending a commercial airline into the zone, could be risky, Inhofe said.

Continued inaction by the president, after laying out a clear redline, will only serve to embolden Assad and his benefactors in Tehran to continue their assault against the Syrian people, Inhofe said. Inaction will allow the killing to continue and diminish American influence in the region, he said.  

Inhofe said he sees Iran as a greater direct threat to the U.S. than Syria. U.S. sources have said Iran will be able to put a nuclear weapon and a missile delivery system by 2015. He said that information was unclassified back in 2007. The U.S. has an adequate number of missile defense batteries on the West Coast, but none on the East Coast, Inhofe said.

On the Boston Marathon bombing, Inhofe said he believes the plot will be connected to activity going on inside the country. Inhofe said placing the defendant in civil court rather than prosecuting him under the Uniform Code of Military Justice where he could have been fully interrogated was an error. If he would have been identified as an “enemy combatant” interrogators would have had continued access, Inhofe said.

“Now he’s off limits,” he said. “You can’t get anything out of him. This guy knows this stuff.”

The perpetrators in the Boston bombing know what’s going to happen next, where the next terrorist attack will be, Inhofe said. Interrogators have had pretty good luck in getting information from the suspect, he said.

On gun control and ammunition, Inhofe and U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas on Friday introduced a joint bill aimed at significantly limiting the amount of ammunition federal agencies are permitted to buy and stockpile.

The legislation would require the Government Accountability Office to report on ammunition purchases by federal agencies and its effect on the supply of ammunition available to the public. The Department of Defense would be exempt.

It would restrict agencies from obtaining additional ammunition for a six-month period if current agency stockpiles are higher than its monthly averages before the beginning of the Obama administration.

“President Obama wants to do whatever he can to get existing guns out of private ownership,” Inhofe said. “The best way to do that — if you can’t stop the guns, stop the ammo. What good is a gun without the ammo?”

Inhofe cited a recent public hearing in the House during which lawmakers learned the Department of Homeland Security has two year’s worth of ammunition on hand and allots nearly 1,000 more rounds of ammunition for its officers than is used on average by U.S. Army officers.

Inhofe said he was surprised to learn the DHS has the right to buy up to 750 million rounds of ammunition during the next five years while it already has two year’s worth stockpiled.

Regarding the Environmental Protection Agency, Inhofe said the Obama administration is trying to put people out of business through regulations. Greenhouse gas regulations cause a loss of $300 billion to $400 billion in lost GDP per year, and the EPA will have to hire 230,000 extra employees and spend an additional $21 billion to implement its greenhouse gas regime, Inhofe has said.

Inhofe has cited as harmful ozone standards, boiler regulations, new EPA farm dust standards, a spill prevention control and countermeasure rule and federal efforts to take hydraulic fracturing away from states. | 341-2121, ext. 108