TODAY   |  September 08, 2013

White House shares graphic videos in case for Syria strike

The Obama administration showed video footage with extremely graphic images in closed-door briefings last week, which is all part of an effort to make the case that a military attack on Syria would be justified. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> we do want to begin with what could be the most important 48 hours of president obama 's time in office. his push for congress to approve military action in syria .

>> we just showed you some of the horrifying video. the aftermath of those alleged chemical attacks against the syrian people . we know that the video itself very, very difficult to watch especially on a sunday morning, but it is part of what the administration is using to try and make its case to congress and the american people .

>> we want you to have all that information as well. peter alexander with more on this today. peter, good morning.

>> reporter: erica and craig, good morning to you. these videos are among 13 youtube clips pro-vlade ed d to nbc news by a u.s. government official. they were shown to members of the senate intelligence committee last thursday during a classified briefing. before we play them, again, we warn you, these videos are quite disturbing. they appear almost lifeless, frozen in fear and pain, rows of bodies, many of them children. the only sound the groans of victims and prayers for the dead . u.s. government officials tell nbc news the intelligence community has authenticated the videos as evidence of chemical attacks with the nerve agent sarin in a dozen damascus suburbs on august 21st . nbc news cannot independently verify the video's youauthenticity. dianne feinstein requested a compilation of the videos from the cia.

>> it's horrendous.

>> reporter: they'll be shown to house members in a classified briefing tomorrow.

>> everything that i have seen points towards a chemical weapon .

>> reporter: two days before the president's crucial national address, the white house hopes these videos will help shift congressional and public opinions.

>> we cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we've seen out of syria .

>> no more war scham.

>> reporter: but it's an uphill battle with protests from atlanta to indianapolis this weekend. in europe, secretary of state john kerry is trying to shore up frie french support and is meeting today with arab leaders, also divided over how to respond to syria .

>> this concerns every american's security. this is not remote. this is not some far off place where something happened.

>> reporter: in the coming days, the president will become his own best advocate. white house aides say he'll call members of congress again today and tomorrow he'll sit for a half dozen interviews to are air on the eve of his remarks to the country.

>> if he can convince everyone that there is a plan and that if things go wrong, there's a plan "b," i think he can actually sell people on this.

>> reporter: and this week the president will also get an assist from the pro- israel lobby , apac, expected to send out hundredses of lobbyists to press lawmakers to support u.s. action in syria .

>> so, peter, obvious ly the administration is hoping these videos could be a game changer, but are they seen as actually being one?

>> reporter: i think that's a good question. the administration certainly hopes they will help change minds. but be very clear, none of these videos do anything to change the fact they don't indicate who is responsible for the attack, both syria and its ally, russia, claim that the rebels may have manipulated this. the administration says it isn't possible. but what's really at stake right now, the question for most lawmakers, is what the u.s. response should be, whether, in fact, u.s. national interests , national security , is at stake and whether u.s. intervention would make things better or make them even worse.

>> peter alexander at the white house this morning, thanks.