VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press
OBAMA: CONGRESS, WORLD CREDIBILITY ON LINE
WASHINGTON (AP) -- With Congress deep in debate over support for a military strike on Syria, President Barack Obama left open the possibility Wednesday that he would order retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack even if the House and Senate withhold their approval.
"As commander in chief, I always preserve the right and responsibility to act on behalf of America's national security," a traveling Obama said at a news conference in Sweden. In a challenge to lawmakers back home, he said Congress' credibility was on the line, not his own, despite saying a year ago that the use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line."
The president spoke as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee struggled to draft a resolution authorizing a strike against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Secretary of State John Kerry told a House panel without elaboration that U.S. intelligence could prove that Syria had used chemical weapons 11 times.
In the Senate, members of the Foreign Relations Committee sought a compromise that would give Obama the support he seeks, satisfy lawmakers who are determined to tilt the balance against Assad in Syria's civil war, and reassure members of Congress and the public that there will be no U.S. combat presence on the ground.
A bipartisan measure unveiled Tuesday evening would set a 90-day limit on Obama's ability to order a strike and included a ban on U.S. combat operations, but Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters he wants a change elsewhere in the measure. "Without the provision for reversing the momentum on the battlefield, then conditions are not created for the departure of" Assad, he told reporters after a closed-door committee meeting.
It was unclear when the panel might vote, and an Associated Press survey showed that in the Senate at large, nearly 70 lawmakers were undecided or had not stated an opinion on a resolution along the lines that Obama is seeking.
US SPIES MISSED SIGNS OF AUG. 21 SYRIAN WMD STRIKE
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials say intelligence agencies did not detect the Syrian regime readying a massive chemical weapons attack in the days ahead of the strike, only piecing together what had happened after the fact.
Senior U.S. officials say intercepted communications of commanders telling Syrian military units to prepare for the strikes against a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21 were in the hands of U.S. intelligence agencies, but had not yet been "processed."
That explains why the White House didn't warn the regime as it had when detecting previous preparations for chemical strikes.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the intelligence publicly.
A spokesman for the director of national intelligence confirmed Wednesday that U.S. intelligence did not detect the massive chemical weapons attack beforehand.
SAMSUNG UNVEILS SMARTWATCH AHEAD OF RIVAL APPLE
BERLIN (AP) -- Samsung unveiled its highly anticipated digital wristwatch Wednesday, beating Apple to what could become this year's must-have holiday gift item.
So-called smartwatches, which can perform tasks such as displaying email and Twitter messages on a device worn around the wrist, have been around for several years but have failed so far to inspire great interest among ordinary consumers. But with smartphone behemoths Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. joining the fray - and Google pushing its Google Glass gadget - experts see a chance of wearable computers breaking into the mainstream.
That is, if consumers can get used to talking to their watch, secret agent-style.
"With Gear you're able to make calls and receive calls, without ever taking your phone out of your pocket," Pranav Mistry, a member of Samsung's design team, told reporters at the launch in Berlin ahead of the annual IFA consumer electronics show there.
The Gear uses Google's Android operating system, just like many of the phones and tablets made by Samsung. The South Korean electronics company said the Gear can act as an extension to a smartphone by discreetly alerting users to incoming messages and calls on its display screen, which measures 1.63 inches diagonally. The strap, which comes in six different colors, holds a basic camera that can be used to shoot photos and video. The Gear works with popular social media and fitness apps such as Twitter and RunKeeper.