Long Island Rep. Peter King supports a cruise missile attack against Syria.
Noting that President Barack Obama has called the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict "a red line," King (R-Seaford) said Monday night that not acting now would damage America's credibility in the region.
"If we can't observe the red line on Syria, Iran may well feel emboldened," warned King, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee's subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence.
Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from Navy ships in the Mediterranean would be effective against chemical weapons depots and other strategic targets, King said.
The congressman said he doesn't support conventional ground or air attacks.
"Boots on the ground" would risk drawing the United States into a much larger war, and Syria's sophisticated anti-aircraft systems would put U.S. bombers at risk, he said.
King said he continues to have strong reservations about the Syrian rebels.
"I think a majority of the rebels are not allied with al-Qaida, but the most effective fighters and those most able to take control of the direction of the movement are supporters of al-Qaida," he said.
King said he doesn't agree with those who say the president needs congressional authorization to pursue military action against Syria.
"I just wished he'd done it two years ago when lesser measures might have changed the course of events," he said of Obama.