By Justin Sink - 05/05/13 04:16 PM EDT
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday that conditions in Syria were "deteriorating by the day" and that the United States was left to choose from a menu of bad options in formulating its response.
"We're going to have to play for the best worst option at this point. That's the bad news, we've waited so long," Rogers said.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, agreed that while the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would "go down eventually," great uncertainty and risk could follow. But Ruppersberger also defended President Obama's cautious approach, saying the White House was working both deliberately and with an eye to the complexities of increased intervention.
"I think he understands that if we're going to be involved, we have all the facts and information. We can't be the sheriff to the whole world," Ruppersberger said.
Some Republicans have criticized Obama for not acting after initial intelligence reports indicated last month that chemical weapons had been used in the country. The White House has maintained the use of chemical weapons represented a "red line." But Obama has also said he needs more evidence to confirm they were used.
Speaking at a press conference in Costa Rica on Friday, the president said that it was unfair to say that just because the United States was not sending arms to the Syrian rebels that the administration was standing by.
"We're not waiting," he said. "We are working to apply every pressure point that we can on Syria."
But he also said he could not "foresee" a situation in which he would deploy boots on the ground, and said he would not be rushed into making a decision.
"I'm going to make those decision based on the best evidence and after careful consultation, because when we rush into things, when we leap before we look, then not only do we pay a price but oftentimes we see unintended consequences on the ground. So it's important that we do it right," Obama said.
On CBS, Rogers said that he agreed the country should not send troops to Syria, but nevertheless supported a more aggressive approach.
"U.S. leadership - and again this is not boots on the ground… could be hugely helpful to bringing the regime down quicker, nobler one, and to at least try to have a stabilizing force if this happens, and that's our biggest concern," Rogers said.
He also suggested that establishing a no-fly zone to prevent Assad's forces from carrying out aerial attacks could hasten the fall of the regime.
"It's a game changer when airplanes are falling out of the sky," Rogers said.