Syria strike on the way? Declassified report to build U.S. case, chart how chemical attack carried out

(CBS News) The declassified report on the Syrian chemical weapons attack -- to be released as early as Thursday -- will contain intelligence within the Syrian regime about how the attack was carried out and set into motion, including phone calls and other evidence, CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports.

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For the second time in four days President Obama has held a cabinet-level meeting at the White House to discuss the Syrian issue, and, according to Garrett, a good deal of that conversation is devoted to what intelligence has been gathered to prove an airtight case that the Syrian regime was responsible for the chemical weapons attack.

Garrett said on "CBS This Morning," "That is the kind of evidence the administration wants to put before the American public and the world to underscore its case -- to provide more evidence than (the) circumstantial case that Joe Biden ... and other administration officials have made this week."

Though an attack is not inevitable -- and never is where military action is concerned, Garrett said -- the actions this week he said were "on a very sustained momentum."

"The president is building the case not just within Congress, but also trying to communicate to other world leaders that this is a violation of an international norm that has been standing since the early part of the 20th century," Garrett said. "It cannot be ignored and some sort form of military punishment must be exacted to underscore the international community's revulsion about the use of chemical weapons to hold the Syrian regime accountable."

And the president doesn't necessarily need Congress' authorization to carry out a strike on Syria, Garrett said, then added, "As far as the United Nations is concerned, it's a test vote today about condemning the Syrian government for the use of chemical weapons. If that doesn't prevail in the Security Council, the administration will say, 'See, Russia vetoed that, stood in the way of that. We can still carry out military action under other parts of international law, specifically the Geneva Convention, and the Chemical Weapons Convention.' It will be those legal frameworks the administration will turn to if it doesn't believe it can obtain United Nations Security Council approval."

For Garrett's full analysis, watch his report above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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