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AKIPRESS.COM - "I'll let you know what's going on, but I don't need new congressional authority to act," President Barack Obama told congressional leaders Wednesday about his upcoming decision on possible military intervention in Iraq, the US media report Thursday.
The White House meeting sounded more like a listening session for the top Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate about options for helping Iraq's embattled Shiite government halt the lightning advance of Sunni Islamist fighters toward Baghdad that Obama is considering, CNN said.
According to a White House statement, Obama went over U.S. efforts to "strengthen the capacity of Iraq's security forces to confront the threat" from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters, "including options for increased security assistance."
Earlier, spokesman Jay Carney spelled out one limit to any U.S. help, saying: "The President hasn't ruled out anything except sending U.S. combat troops into Iraq."
While the White House statement emphasized Obama would continue to consult with Congress, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the President "basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn't feel he had any need for authority from us for the steps that he might take."
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California agreed with McConnell's assessment, adding she believed congressional authorization for military force in Iraq back in 2001 and 2003 still applied.
Obama "did not give us an array of actions he was planning to take," Pelosi said. "He just talked about his perspective on what was happening there."
A few hours earlier, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said they were working out details on possible U.S. steps that could include airstrikes on Sunni militants advancing through northern Iraq.