McCain added that it's impossible to reconcile the administration's two positions that Syria's Bashar al-Assad is using chemical weapons against his own people, and that Obama does not want regime change. He said the administration's comments call into question the effectiveness of any military strike against Syria.
"It's turned into a very difficult for the president to take and there's a suspicion, obviously, that this will be a cosmetic kind of an action," he said.
Administration officials are expected to brief members of Congress Thursday on what is known about Syria, and possibly what steps the administration wants to take. McCain said the War Powers Resolution requires Obama to consult with Congress before engaging in hostilities, and added it is in Obama's interest to hold these talks.
But he also criticized the administration for the several leaks of information, which have indicated missile strikes will happen in a matter of days, and have indicated certain targets. McCain called those leaks "really shameful."
McCain said further that opponents of military action are wrong to say that action would aid a rebel group that is rife with al Qaeda agents.
"That is a lie, that is not true," he said. "We have a viable free Syrian army … they are operating on their own, they are still a majority, and to say that it would be al Qaeda-influenced is not true."