National Security Brief: U.S. Considering Increasing Aid To Syrian Rebels

The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is considering providing more material support to rebels fighting the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. According to U.S. and European officials, the plan “could provide rebels there with equipment such as body armor and armored vehicles, and possibly military training, and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria’s opposition political coalition.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Washington are putting more pressure on the administration to act. While a top House Democrat said on Sunday that he will introduce legislation authorizing the White House to arm the rebels, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said on the Senate floor yesterday that the U.S. needs to do more. “There hasn’t been a more unified humanitarian response to what Assad has done to his own people,” Cardin said leaders of U.S. regional allies told him.

Reuters reports that “the United Nations expressed renewed concern on Tuesday that Lebanon could be drawn into Syria’s worsening two-year-old civil war, which the world body said had developed sectarian overtones and been aggravated by foreign fighters and extremist groups.”

In other news:

  • Chuck Hagel was sworn in this morning, officially marking today as his first day as the new U.S. Secretary of Defense. After a long drawn out Republican/neocon-led smear campaign against Hagel, the Senate confirmed his nomination on Tuesday.
  • Politico reports: A bipartisan group of former U.S. foreign policy officials, military leaders and lawmakers pushed on Monday for action on addressing climate change in poor nations, arguing it represents a major national security threat.
  • Reuters reports: The Pentagon unveiled a plan on Tuesday to ultimately enable the Defense Department’s 600,000 users of smartphones, computer tablets and other mobile devices to rapidly share classified and protected data using the latest commercial technologies.
  • USA Today reports: The White House on Tuesday released its strategy for combating makeshift bombs, the top killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and a threat to Americans at home that will last at least another decade, according to the document.