National Security Brief: Intel Committees OK Obama Plan To Arm Syrian Rebels


The Senate and House intelligence committees last week signed off on the Obama administration’s plan for CIA weapons shipments to vetted Syrian rebels, the Washington Post reports, despite, House committee chair Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said in a statement, “very strong concerns about the strength of the administration’s plans in Syria and its chances for success”:

Some lawmakers have criticized the proposal as insufficient to make a difference on the battlefield, and called for U.S. air support for the beleaguered rebels with attacks on Syrian airfields or establishment of a no-fly zone over rebel-held territory.

Others have objected to any U.S. military involvement in the Syrian civil war — a position supported in numerous American public opinion polls — and questioned whether the administration has a realistic long-term plan.

House intel committee member Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) said he wanted to make his dissent clear. “In my view, the modest chance for success of these plans does not warrant the risk of becoming entangled in yet another civil war,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey laid out a series of military options should the U.S. decide to get deeper involved in Syria, suggesting, as the New York Times reports, “that a campaign to tilt the balance from President Bashar al-Assad to the opposition would be a vast undertaking, costing billions of dollars, and could backfire on the United States.”

In other news:

  • The Hill reports that the House will vote on two amendments to the 2014 Defense Department spending bill that seek to place limits on NSA surveillance.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports: Iran has agreed to supply Iraq with natural gas in a four-year, $14.8 billion deal that offers Tehran a respite from sanctions and Iraq a needed energy source, and has already prompted concerns in Washington.
  • Los Angeles Times reports: A sophisticated Al Qaeda bomb built to take down passenger planes was designed to avoid detection by trained dogs and bomb detection machines at airport security checkpoints, according to John Pistole, chief of the Transportation Security Administration.
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