Madison County Journal

The Obama administration so far has put forth no convincing argument that would compel U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper to vote for military action in Syria, he said on Wednesday.

"We're still looking for a plan," the third-term Republican told the Journal. "We want the president to tell us what is your plan. Not just your potential exit strategy, but your entrance strategy. What are you hoping to accomplish?"

Republican Sen. Roger Wicker was unvailable, but told the Sun-Herald he could support military action.

Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson expressed firm opposition to military intervention over the weekend.

Sen. Thad Cochran, a Republican as well, won't speak publicly on the issue, his office said.

Harper said that indications from Secretary of State John Kerry that "boots on the ground" may be needed is another reason why he isn't a current proponent of military action.

"I'm having trouble finding out who the good guys are," he said. "Are the rebels gonna be our friend? Do they have al Qaeda connections? I don't see any good actors here."

Harper said it was disconcerting that civilians are dying, especially children. But, he said the administration has offered no plans whatsoever that represent a long-term solution.

"At this point there's not a lot of trust in this administration," he said. "This is the same administration that called Benghazi and the IRS pony scandals. Now we're supposed to believe what they tell us.

"We need to know a lot more," he added.

Harper said on Monday he will be a part of a classified briefing where he will review classified evidence and documentation.

"I'll have to see a lot for me to even feel comfortable to even say a 'limited strike,'" he said. "At this point I haven't seen it. We're going to be fair to the process and we're going to look at what that classified information is."

Harper said he had concerns over military action and the results of such.

"What happens if we do an initial attack and they turn around and use chemical weapons again," he said.

"What happens if Iran says we're going to send some missiles into Israel. Those are things we've got to be looking at."

He said the civil war in Syria has been raging on for well over a year and asked why now is this in the best interest of the U.S.

"We haven't lost any friends or found friends over there as far as I can tell," he said.

As far as the administration's rhetoric over the last week, especially with President Obama calling chemical weapons a "red line" in the sand, Harper said it's just another example of how they have painted themselves in a box.

"They've looked wishy-washy on a lot of issues," he said. "Depending on who is saying it or what time of the day it is. They have been known to change their positions and their statements. They've gotten themselves in a box here and want us to help them recover."

The rest of Mississippi's congressional delegation has had less to say on the issue.

When contacted for comment, Chris Gallegos Cochran's office emailed, "Senator Cochran has not issued a statement on Syria or the resolution (to go to war) requested by the president."

While Wicker was unavailable Wednesday, he was quoted in Tuesday's edition of the Sun-Herald talking about the horrors of the Syrian regime.

"I think maybe a lot of people don't realize we already have troops in the region and the Patriot (anti-missile) batteries are there as part of a NATO initiative to defend Turkey should something go awry there," he told the Sun-Herald. "But also I went to a refugee camp and at the time the number of displaced people because of the Syrian civil war had reached 1.7 million.

"Now it's probably exceeded 2 million people.

"This is a human rights catastrophe, the likes of which we haven't seen in a long, long time.

"It threatens the very existence of Israel, the very stability of the Jordanian moderate regime."

He was quoted as saying he wouldn't be surprised if the Senate began taking a vote next week and said proponents and opponents were likely open for a full debate on the topic.

A Senate panel voted Wednesday to give President Barack Obama the authority to use military force in Syria in response to a deadly chemical weapons attack.

Thompson said the administration has "work to do with respect to shoring up the facts of what happened."

According to a poll by The Washington Post, many members of the House and Senate are either undecided or leaning toward no when it comes to military action.

Mississippi Rep. Steven Palazzo and Alan Nunelee are both in the "Lean No" category, with a quote by Nunelee saying, "I haven't seen that the U.S. is threatened by the events in Syria."