"We do not need to have boots on the ground in Syria," Hagan, a first-term Democrat, said. "I wish we could exert more pressure especially from a diplomatic standpoint to bring some sort of an end to the violence."
It is believed chemical weapons were used last week, though it's not certain whether the Assad regime was responsible. A team of UN inspectors was fired upon by snipers today outside Damascus.
Hagan said she is waiting to hear from the administration about what options are on the table. She said the situation is complicated by Syria's air defense missile systems and support from Russia. Asked how well she thought the Obama administration had handled the Syrian crisis over the past year, Hagan said: "I wish I could say Assad is no longer in power but that's not the case."
She said Obama should have open discussions with the intelligence committees and armed services committees in Congress before taking any kind of military action.
Hagan gave what will likely be a preview of her reelection campaign next year, particularly if House Speaker Thom Tillis wins the Republican nomination. She blasted the Republican legislature for an array of policies, including the voter ID bill, refusing a federal expansion of Medicaid, cutting off federal unemployment benefits and education funding. She called the voter ID bill "unbelievable suppression."
Hagan touched on other issues:
- Egypt. "I'm certainly questioning whether we should be giving any more aid at this point in time until we get better understanding from the Egyptian military that... To me it doesn't make sense to be giving aid at a point when the Egyptian military is using military force against its own people." She would not say whether the events there constituted a coup, which by federal law would require an end to foreign aid.
- Sex assaults in the military. She said "it's a serious problem" and said it's "reprehensible" that a commanding officer could overturn a guilty verdict. She said some female members of the military declined to drink liquids in the late afternoon or evening because they were scared to use the latrine at night because of the threat of sexual assault from other U.S. military members.
- The NSA. "We need to put more procedures in place to have the American public understand what it is that's being collected, how it's being collected, what processes the government has to go through in order to get access to the actual information." She added: "Right now I am comfortable with it (the balance of surveillance and privacy) but I do think more notice, more transparency needs to be put into place for the public."