Senior House Democrat says Syria and Iraq are ‘apples and oranges’

The top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is rejecting the prospect that White House claims of Syria’s chemical weapons use could be a replay of botched intelligence before the Iraq war.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said administration claims of intercepted Syrian communications about the chemical attack are “good enough for me,” and that the situation isn’t comparable to inaccurate claims about an Iraqi arsenal a decade ago.

“I think to compare what's going now with Iraq is like comparing apples with oranges. There are children and civilians who have been brutally murdered by their own government using chemical weapons,” Engel told CNN late Friday.

He voiced support for likely Obama administration strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime.

“President Obama, in my opinion, rightfully said that if chemical weapon were used, that would be crossing the red line. I think the Syrians crossed the red line. And I think it's time for the United States to say that we will not tolerate these war crimes whereby people are murdering their own people,” Engel said, according to a transcript.

But while Engel is supportive, other lawmakers have said the White House needs to consult more with Congress about what appear to be planned strikes.

Senior officials including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and National Security Advisor Susan Rice plan to brief Senate Democrats and Republicans in separate calls later Saturday.

And Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office said Saturday that administration officials will offer a classified briefing to House members on Sunday afternoon.