On Monday, twelve years and five days after al Qaeda precipitated the worst domestic attack in modern history, President Obama waived two sections of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), allowing him to provide military assistance to “vetted” rebel grips in Syria. Though the AECA was designed to prevent arming terrorists, Obama announced that he had the authority to “waive the prohibitions in sections 40 and 40(a) of the AECA related to such a transaction.”
Section 40, “Transactions With Countries Supporting Acts of International Terrorism,” and Section 40(a), “Prohibited Transactions by the United States Government,” ban sending munitions to any nation described in Section 40 (d), “Countries Covered by Prohibition:” “The prohibitions contained in this section apply with respect to a country if the Secretary of State determines that the government of that country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”
Section 40(g), “Waiver,” grants the president the power to waive these provisions if he determines “the transaction is essential to the national security interest of the United States.” The same section requires the president to give Congress the name of any country involved in the proposed transaction, the identity of any recipient of the items to be provided pursuant to the proposed transaction, and the anticipated use of those items” at least 15 days before the transaction takes place.
In addition, he must provide a description of the items involved, the reasons the transaction is essential to our national security, the date of delivery, the name of every government “department, agency or other entity” involved in the transaction, as well as “every foreign government involved..and every private party with significant participation in the proposed transaction.”
Yet unless the Washington Post is inaccurate, Obama has dispensed with the notion that Congress gets their 15-day notification. Five days before the president announced his waiver, the paper revealed that the CIA and the State Department had already begun delivering weapons to Syrian rebels, along with vehicles, advanced communications equipment, and cutting edge medical kits.
Nonetheless, National Security Council Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden contended that this action will allow the president to provide, “where appropriate, certain non-lethal assistance inside or related to Syria,” (italics mine) ostensibly related to giving rebel forces “life-saving chemical weapons-related assistance” currently prohibited by the AECA. Hayden further noted that the AECA no longer applies to “international organizations…[and] select vetted members of the Syrian opposition, including the Supreme Military Council.”
The idea that the Obama administration can determine “select vetted members of the opposition” is utter nonsense. A new study by IHS Jane’s, a defense consultancy, estimates that, out of the approximately 100,000 rebels fighting the government of Bashar Assad, 10,000 are jihadists, including foreign fighters linked directly to terrorist organizations like al Qaeda. Another 30,000 to 35,000 are hardline Islamists who share the same sentiments, but are focused on the war in Syria, as opposed to the effort to realize a worldwide Islamic Caliphate. An additional 30,000 are so-called moderates, but even they belong to groups described by IHS Jane’s as having “an Islamic character.” Thus, non-Islamist, secular or nationalist groups comprise a minuscule minority.
Charles Lister, who authored the analysis, minced no words. “The insurgency is now dominated by groups which have at least an Islamist viewpoint on the conflict. The idea that it is mostly secular groups leading the opposition is just not borne out.”
Apparently that reality is irrelevant to the true believers. “Our intelligence agencies, I think, have a very good handle on who to support and who not to support,” said Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) on CBS last Sunday. “And there’s going to be mistakes. We understand some people are going to get arms that should not be getting arms. But we still should be doing everything we can to support the free Syrian opposition.” Sen. John McCain dismissed the IHS Jane’s report completely. “Not true, not true!” he exclaimed, contending there are “about 70 percent still who are Free Syrian Army.”
That would be the same Free Syrian Army that coordinates regular military operations with al Qaeda and other terrorist entities, and the same John McCain who, along with our equally clueless Secretary of State John Kerry, cited research by the now-discredited Elizabeth O’Bagy to back up their assertions. O’Bagy, who was subsequently fired from her “senior analyst” job at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) for lying about her education credentials, has now admitted that her original contention that she had defended her dissertation, and was only waiting for Georgetown University to confer her Ph.D. degree, was also a lie. She never enrolled in the Ph.D. program.
McCain remains undaunted. He insists his strategy is to provide “meaningful lethal assistance to moderate opposition forces.”
Unfortunately such silliness obscures the more ominous implication of Hayden’s contention that the AECA no longer applies to international organizations. That means the additional shipments the president intends to make to rebel forces also violates the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. Section 1021(b)(2) of the law, upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd District, allows for detention of citizens and permanent residents on “suspicion of providing substantial support” to groups engaged in hostilities against the U.S.
How this statute fails to apply to the “some people” Corker has essentially admitted are terrorists, is anyone’s guess.
The primary rationale for arming rebel factions is that the Assad regime crossed a “red line” by employing chemical weapons. The subsequent circus that ensued from those two words culminated in an agreement where Assad would submit a list of his chemical weapons cache within a week, allow U.N. weapons inspectors into Syria no later than November, and completely destroy the stockpile by the middle of next year. If Assad refuses to comply, the use of force may or may not be an option.
As advantageous as that deal is to Assad and Putin, highlighted by reports that Assad may already be moving his chemical weapons to Iraq and Lebanon to avoid detection, it may already be in jeopardy. Yesterday, Russia announced that it will present evidence provided by the Syrian government to the U.N. Security Council, revealing chemical weapons use by rebel forces in the Damascus suburbs. “We will present all this in the UN Security Council, of course,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to Interfax.
Earlier in the day, Russia denounced the U.N. report of the August 21 chemical attack in the al-Ghouta area of Damascus as “politicized, preconceived and one-sided,” according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. Likely this is due to the reality that British, French and US envoys said the report leaves no doubt Assad’s government was responsible, even though the investigative team itself refrained from blaming either side. Thus, it seems likely that Russia is building a case to veto any punishment that France, Britain and the U.S. might mete out to Assad for any violations of his promise to abandon chemical weapons.
Yet none of these machinations negates the reality that the president, members of his administration, and members of Congress will be engaged in arming America’s mortal enemies, even as they claim they can sift the secular/nationalist wheat from the terrorist chaff.
Radio host Glenn Beck cut right through that pernicious assertion. He made the irrefutably logical case that if we are providing military aid to the “good guys,” it shouldn’t be necessary to waive sections of a law aimed at preventing terrorists from being armed.
On Monday, the remains of a 49-year-old man killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 were identified using an advanced DNA technique. Only 1,638 out of 2,753 people murdered that day have been identified. They were murdered by the same group of Islamist savages that President Obama and the useful idiots in his administration and Congress would arm a dozen years later. How long before these weapons are inevitably turn on us?
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