The White House is strongly criticizing an announcement from Syrian President Bashar Assad that he's ordered a referendum on a new constitution as part of promised reforms.
Press secretary Jay Carney calls the move "quite laughable" in light of ongoing brutality by the Syrian military. He says it "makes a mockery" of the Syrian uprising.
The new constitution would allow participation by political parties other than Assad's ruling Baath Party. But Carney says Assad has never delivered on any promises of reform since the start of peaceful demonstrations against his regime, and his promises have usually been followed by increased brutality.
Carney spoke to reporters on Air Force One as President Barack Obama traveled Wednesday to Milwaukee.