It was a speech that Barack Obama - a war-stopping, Nobel Peace Prize-winning President - never wanted to give.
A year after he pulled back from threatened military attacks on Syria over chemical weapons, Obama told America he now would launch airstrikes against ISIS targets in the country wracked by civil war.
The nationally televised address on Wednesday night, which lasted less than 15 minutes, promised far-reaching impact that could embroil the nation in another Middle East conflict.
"This was a very difficult speech for him," CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger said of a President who campaigned on ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "He's inserted us into the middle of a Syrian civil war."
The plan to "dismantle and ultimately destroy" the Sunni jihadists who have taunted America by beheading two captive U.S. journalists calls for what CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto described as a "tremendous turnaround" in Obama's previous policies in the region.
After previously rejecting calls from top advisers to arm and train some of the Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad and ISIS, Obama now seeks specific congressional approval to do so.
He also threatened airstrikes on ISIS targets in a major expansion of a campaign in Iraq previously limited to protecting U.S. advisers working with Iraqi forces and preventing the slaughter of minority groups by the extremists also known as ISIL and the Islamic State.
"I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are," Obama said. "That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."
In addition, 475 more U.S. military advisers are headed to Iraq, raising the total of American forces there to 1,700 for a mission originally described as limited.
See more on this developing story on CNN.com
The United States is offering its help, but making clear that the Nigerian government must take the lead in finding more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
Officials told CNN the Obama administration is sharing intelligence with Nigerian authorities and could provide other assistance, but there is no planning to send U.S. troops.
With a World Economic Forum gathering set to begin Wednesday in Abuja, the Nigerian government came under mounting pressure to save the girls abducted in the country's remote northeast and threatened with being sold into slavery.
On a trip to Africa, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States "will do everything possible to support the Nigerian government to return these young women to their homes and to hold the perpetrators to justice."
In Washington, U.S. officials offered few specific details on American help being provided.
"We are going to keep working with the Nigerians privately on that," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. "Obviously they have come out very publicly and said that they are, you know, making every effort to find these girls. I just don't think we are going to outline how we are helping them. What we are focused on is making sure they can find (the girls) and bring them home to their families."
See the latest on this story on "Early Start."
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Senate Democrats dropped the filibuster bomb Thursday, and now the question is what kind of fallout will result from the so-called nuclear option.
By a 52-48 vote, the Senate ended the ability of minority Republicans to continue using filibusters to block some of President Barack Obama's judicial and executive nominations, despite the vehement objections of Republicans.
Majority Democrats then quickly acted on the change by ending a filibuster against one of Obama's nominees for a federal appeals court.
“The historic rules change strips Republicans of their power to block the president's executive and judicial nominees, except the Supreme Court.
“Instead of 60 votes to break a filibuster, it’s now 51 votes – a simple majority,” CNN’s Dana Bash reports.
Obama later cited what he called "an unprecedented patter of obstruction in Congress" during his presidency for the move led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"A deliberate and determined effort to obstruct everything, no matter what the merits, just to refight the results of an election is not normal," Obama said of the change. "And for the sake of future generations, it cannot become normal."
Finger pointing over the technical blunders that gummed up the Obamacare website launch will ensue on Thursday, it appears.
Contractors who helped develop the embattled HealthCare.gov website blame each other and the government, but not themselves, in testimony prepared for the first congressional hearing on the problems engulfing the online enrollment system.
House Energy and Commerce Committee members will grill officials from CGI Federal, Optum/QSSI, Equifax Workforce Solutions and Serco at the hearing to examine technological problems faced by people trying to buy health insurance under President Barack Obama's signature reforms.
Complaints of inability to log in, lengthy delays, incorrect information relayed to insurance companies and other problems have plagued the website since it opened to much fanfare on October 1.
It seems like a long time since Vice President Joe Biden whispered a bit too loudly to President Barack Obama that his imminent signing of the 2010 Affordable Care Act was "a big f-ing deal."
Biden was right - it was big then, and is even bigger more than three years later. However, most of the talk today is about problems with Obama's signature health care reforms that are emboldening hyper-partisan critics on the political right and raising public doubts about the system's viability.
How could it be that the administration, with so much time to implement the overhaul the health insurance overhaul, ended up botching the roll out of the most controversial provision - the individual mandate requiring people to obtain coverage or face a fine.
Some reasons are political and others are technical, but all point to a mix of presidential over-promising, rabid political opposition and the arcane contracting process used by the government to choose which companies got the job of devising a website enrollment system unprecedented in its size and complexity.
The president's healthcare sign-up web page was supposed to handle tens of thousands of people at once. But in a trial run days before its launch, just a few hundred users flatlined the site.
The result? The website crashed shortly after midnight as a couple thousand people tried to start the process, two people familiar with the project told the Post.
The report is the latest criticism of the problem-plagued site - criticism so acute that even the President said there was " no sugarcoating" the difficulties Americans have faced trying to sign up for insurance coverage.
After all the bickering and grandstanding, the billions lost and trust squandered, it was much ado about nothing
The partial government shutdown's finally over. The debt ceiling debacle has been averted. Obamacare remains virtually unscathed.
The hardline House Republicans, whose opposition to the President's signature healthcare law set this all in motion, got pretty much zip - except maybe their reputations marred.
"To say we as Republicans left a lot on the table would be one of the biggest understatements in American political history,"Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tweeted.
But it's all temporary - the cliched kicking of the can. In a few months, Congress will come back to fight the same battles.
For now, though, thousands of furloughed federal workers will return to work Thursday, the U.S. can pay its bills, and an economic superpower can again boast a functioning government.
Pundits will conduct a post-mortem of the bitter stalemate. And the public will look ahead to what's next.
CNN's Athena Jones says the House and Senate budget chairs will meet Thursday to talk about the big challenges ahead like getting a fiscal budget for 2014.
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The country crashes into the debt ceiling at midnight, and there is no deal yet in Washington.
The deal-making resumes Wednesday, as the government slides into day 16 of the shutdown.
Legislators dropped hints on their way home Tuesday that Senate leaders will present a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the partially shuttered government.
And a Republican member of the House of Representatives is holding out hope that Speaker John Boehner could break with a Republican tradition to put that deal on a fast track.
After adjourning the Senate for the night around 10 p.m. Tuesday, majority leader Sen. Harry Reid sounded upbeat. "We're in good shape," the Nevada Democrat said.
Senate staffers burned midnight oil to draft a framework bill, and a spokesman for Reid said he and his counterpart, minority leader, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, "are optimistic that an agreement is within reach."
The Senate isn't in session until noon Wednesday, but it's possible that statements may go out in the morning in an effort to assure the markets of progress.
As night fell over the Capitol on Monday, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid struck a tone of optimism.
Talks with his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, to end the partial government shutdown and avoid a U.S. default had made tremendous progress, he said.
"Perhaps," he added, "tomorrow will be a bright day."
That, indeed, is the hope among investors, world leaders and regular Americans weary of the government stalemate.
Financial markets that began the day Monday with falling stocks ended higher at day's end, with Wall Street heartened by news of a possible deal.
President Barack Obama is ready to talk even on Republicans' terms, he insisted Tuesday, so long as Congress acts first to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling - even for a short period.
At a news conference, Obama indicated Republicans could essentially set the agenda for budget negotiations, but only if Congress agrees first to a short-term spending plan to fund the government and to raise the federal borrowing limit to avoid a possible first-ever U.S. default next week.
"I will talk about anything," the president said.