Videos the Obama administration showed earlier this week to a select group of senators in closed-door briefings to make the case that a limited military attack on Syria would be justified were obtained by NBC News on Saturday.
The footage of bodies writhing on the floor, people with their dilated eyes watery and dazed, and children seemingly gasping for air, sometimes with other, inert bodies nearby, are just some of the gruesome images that the administration says are consistent with exposure to nerve agents.
NBC News has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of these videos.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said at the Thursday briefing that the images — a grim presentation aimed to convince lawmakers beyond a shadow of a doubt that Syrian President Bashar Assad killed more than 1,400 people, including more than 400 children in an Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack outside Damascus — are what other members of Congress needed to see to be persuaded to authorize strikes designed to punish Assad and deter him from using chemical weapons again.
The intelligence committee briefing was part of an all-out push by the Obama administration to persuade Congress to authorize a strike against Syria, as many war-weary Americans continue to express their disapproval of any U.S.-led military action.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry met with European Union officials in an attempt to muster support for a possible military strike on Syria, amid international resistance over the plan’s effectiveness.
As leaders weighed possible U.S.-led military action, President Barack Obama was back in Washington preparing yet another pitch to the American public, scheduled to take place at the White House on Tuesday. Obama will also give interviews Monday to the three major networks as well as CNN, Fox, and PBS, the White House announced on Saturday.
Earlier this week, the president said he was mindful that memories of the buildup to the Iraq War were still fresh, both in the United States and among its allies abroad.
“Keep in mind I’m somebody who opposed the war in Iraq, and am not interested in repeating mistakes of us basing decisions on faulty intelligence,” he said Thursday. “But having done a thoroughgoing evaluation of the information that is currently available, I can say with high confidence that chemical weapons were used.”