House Authorizes Obama’s Plan To Arm and Train Syrian Rebels

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I really really want to be wrong about thinking this is a huge mistake, but I have a very bad feeling about arming people with values and loyalties antithetical to ours with American weapons. My greatest fear is that these weapons will eventually be turned on American soldiers, and will lead to more Christians and ethnic minorities being slaughtered in the Middle East.

Why on earth do we think this is a good idea?

Via USA Today:

A wary Congress voted Wednesday to authorize President Obama’s mission to arm and train Syrian rebel forces as part of the administration’s effort to dismantle the threat posed by the Islamic State militant group.

The bipartisan 273-156 vote came after days of debate in which lawmakers across the political spectrum expressed doubts about the scope and merits of the mission but conceded that the potential threat to the U.S. is too great to ignore.

Roll call of the votes, here.

The authorization is limited in scope to training up to 5,000 members of the Syrian opposition in Saudi Arabia. It provides no new funding and requires the administration to provide status reports to Congress. The Obama administration said the mission may be funded by international contributions, but the resolution authorizes the Pentagon to shift funds from other accounts if necessary.

Lawmakers expressed doubts about the ability to vet the Syrian rebel forces and warned that the arms provided to them could ultimately land in enemy hands. “We don’t know if somehow down the line they will turn our guns right back on us,” said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who opposed the resolution.

Sanchez also said there was not enough of an international coalition behind a strategy that is still being formed. “I’d like to know who our coalition is, and what they’re going to do before I vote for any plan,” she said.

For once I agree with Loretta Sanchez.

Select Committee on Benghazi Hearing Live Feed

The House Select Committee on Benghazi is holding its first hearing, titled “Implementation of the Accountability Review Board recommendations.” The hearing began at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Providing testimony are Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr, whose position was created after the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and two security experts who served on a State Department independent panel.

Live feed via Rollcall:

Here is Chairman Trey Gowdy’s opening statement:

Gowdy’s final comments:

SEE ALSO:

Twitchy: Early Observations from Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi hearing

Hot Air: Benghazi Hearings About To Force The Press To Pay Attention.

NRO: Clinton ‘Correct the Record’ Site Lies About the Record on Benghazi

Watcher’s Council Nominations – War? What War? Edition

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Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

This week’s contest is dedicated to Senator Ted Cruz – for courage under fire.

Council News:

The Council In Action!!

 

 

 

Congress Should Vote No On Arming the Syrian Rebels

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday on giving the Obama administration the authority to arm and train Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The authorization was introduced on Monday as an amendment to a stopgap funding bill and is expected to pass. It will then be sent to the U.S. Senate for approval.

The idea is to pass the amendment as quickly as possible and without a debate on the $500 million the White House said it needs to pay for it.

I’m all for fighting ISIS, but I’m hoping and praying this amendment fails. 

As Representative Rick Nolan, an anti-war Democrat from Minnesota said, “No matter who we give our arms to, they inevitably end up being used against us.” Nolan plans on voting against the amendment.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Boehner apparently believe the risky gambit is worth a try.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, said he expected it would pass with bipartisan support. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the chamber’s top Republican, said he supported the plan and was pleased it expires on Dec. 11, the same day as the spending bill.

“I’d like to take another look at it in a couple of months and see how it’s working out,” McConnell told reporters.

House Speaker John Boehner faces the objections of fellow Republicans who do not want to give the Democratic president what he wants and those who think Obama has not gone far enough, He said he saw no reason for Congress not to back arming the rebels, although he had reservations over the broader strategy.

“If our goal here is to destroy ISIL, we’ve got to do more than train a few folks in Syria and train a few folks in Iraq and drop some bombs,” Boehner told reporters, using an alternative name for the Islamic State group.

What if the “folks” we train in Syria have been fighting alongside ISIS? What if indeed some of them have signed a pact with ISIS not to fight each other? What if the rebels we train use the weapons to attack the Assad Regime instead of ISIS? What if many the rebels can not be trusted because in their culture it is permissible to lie to infidels?

Via Patrick Poole at PJ Media, an FSA brigade commander said that his forces were working with two U.S. designated terrorist organizations, the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, near the Syrian/Lebanon border.

The Daily Star in Lebanon reported on Monday:

“We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in … Qalamoun,” said Bassel Idriss, the commander of an FSA-aligned rebel brigade.
“We have reached a point where we have to collaborate with anyone against unfairness and injustice,” confirmed Abu Khaled, another FSA commander who lives in Arsal.

It gets worse. 

According to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group that monitors Syria’s civil war,  moderate Syrian rebels and ISIS struck a cease-fire deal on Friday.

The groups agreed to a non-aggression pact in which they promised not to attack each other.

Rachel Roubein of The National Journal wonders how we’re going to know which Syrians to arm?

There isn’t a formal definition of a Syrian moderate, said Leila Hilal of the New America Foundation. But implicit in the word, she says, are a few criteria: a Syrian who is a nationalist and is fighting for a secular, democratic, and inclusive state.

That definition leaves a lot of room, Hilal said, and there are ample rebel fighters on the ground. Previously, the Syrian National Coalition could have used its Supreme Military Council to help determine who is a moderate, she said. But that group has essentially been disbanded, and now determining who exactly fits the “moderate” bill is done on an ad hoc basis.

***

“One of the problems is that whether or not someone is fighting under an Islamic banner or a Syrian revolutionary flag, they’re often working together on different fronts,” said Hilal, a senior fellow with New America’s International Security Program. “If they’re fighting to take over the military base or airport … different groups ideologically predisposed will be fighting together.”

A political framework is key, she said, rather than handpicking rebels to do the fighting.

“In my mind, in order to mount an effective counterterrorism strategy, you really need a robust nationalist force that isn’t just a select group of so-called moderates.”

Some lawmakers, such as GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, said the president is picking the wrong people to fight this war.

“What would giving more money and more weapons to these guys do?” Bachmann said Thursday. “It would build up ISIS. It wouldn’t defeat ISIS, it would build them up because the so-called vetted moderates, our supposed good guys, wouldn’t be fighting the enemy. I think what would happen is we would end up funding the enemy.”

There is of course a “high degree of confidence” in the vetting process that takes place before the US decides who to train.

“The Department of Defense works closely with the intelligence community, using all of its databases in the vetting process,” but the possibility that the weapons will fall into the wrong hands seems to me more like a probability in the fog of this brutal war.

On Fox News with Greta Van Susteren, Tuesday evening, John Bolton expressed his opposition to arming the Syrians among others, and said there is no way to win against ISIS without US boots on the ground.  He said it is a huge mistake to place the safety of America in the hands of the Iraqi army, the Free Syrian Army, the Sunnis, and the Kurds. (Personally, I could support the Iraqi Army and the Kurds – just not the Syrian rebels.)

“The fact is putting American safety in the hands of others who have failed before, like the Iraqi army for god sakes, is going to endanger us and cost us more in terms of American lives down the road,” he said.

 

 

Ted Cruz: Obama Regime’s Plan To Fight ISIS “Defined By Confusion”

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey answered questions about the Regime’s counter-terrorist effort in Iraq and Syria at a Senate Armed Services hearing Tuesday, spurring Republicans to criticize their inconsistent messaging.

Senator Ted Cruz said the Regime’s plan to combat ISIS is defined by its confusion.”

“We have been told the mission is to destroy ISIS, but the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today testified they plan to conduct an extended campaign of nation-building that will address underlying ‘grievances’ that have destabilized the region. We should have a mission to achieve what is immediately essential: striking ISIS to protect Americans. The lack of focus and determination to achieve that goal is extremely concerning.”

Sen. Cruz continued, “Whatever military action is undertaken in Iraq and Syria, President Obama should seek proper congressional war authorization; it is required by the Constitution. While he has the power to conduct operations as Commander-in-Chief against urgent threats, he does not have the power to unilaterally plan, fund, and execute a mission that could consume many years. President Obama should not rely on old authorizations of military force requested by President Bush to combat al Qaida and Saddam Hussein as license to conduct nebulous operations with the unattainable goal of achieving political reconciliation in the region.”

At the hearing, Sen. Cruz specifically asked Secretary Hagel and General Dempsey what would be required to conduct a 90-day military strategy to destroy ISIS. General Dempsey stated that the military could be used to “confront them, destroy equipment and drive them underground.”  But he went on to say, “Truly there is no military solution to ISIS…it’s got to be part of a broader, whole of government, regional campaign.”

Sen. Cruz disagrees with the assertion there is no military solution to ISIS. In the hearing, Chairman Dempsey said that the military could be used to confront ISIS, destroy their equipment, and drive them underground in the next 90 days. Sen. Cruz believes that is plan that should be vigorously pursued.

Sen. Cruz also asked Secretary Hagel what legal authority President Obama has to conduct an extended campaign without congressional authorization. The secretary replied that the Obama Administration intended to rely on previous war authorizations from President George W. Bush to conduct extended military operations. He said, “The statutory authority is the AUMF of 2001 and if you wanted to add something to that the AUMF of 2003 [sic].”*

*Secretary Hagel was likely referring to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

Fox News commentator and Weekly Standard columnist Stephen Hayes said that the hearing showed that the military leadership and the White House are “not on the same page” on the threat posed by ISIS.

“This is an administration that still doesn’t understand exactly what it’s doing in this war or sort of war that it is about to prosecute,” Hayes said on “America’s Newsroom” in response to the hearing.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Senate committee the U.S. is ” at war” with ISIS while Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said he would consider recommending U.S. ground forces if an international coalition proves ineffective.

“You’ve had different accounts from Homeland Security; you had different accounts in leaked reports from other parts of the intelligence community. And yet, you have Chuck Hagel saying that ISIS presents an immense threat,” Hayes said.

You could sum up by saying that Obama is going about this in the most half-assed way possible.

SEE ALSO: 

White House Dossier: It’s Only Kinda Gonna Maybe Be Combat:

Poor President Obama. He’s trying so hard not to have a war. War is so George W. Bush. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. He learned all about Republican warmongers in college and, over bong hits with his poli sci professor, discussed how he was so much better than nutjobs like Ronald Reagan who would invade Granada and finance the Contras and so forth.

But now there are these bad guys in Iraq WHO WON’T LISTEN TO REASON and who want to hurt Americans. And the Iraqi army is too pitiful to defeat them. And so Obama had to send over American troops. But, goodness, they’re only going to offer “advice,” like, Hey, you point the barrel of the gun away from you. Stuff like that. But no combat! That’s for people like Bush and Reagan.

Meanwhile, the Regime has decided to put 3,000 boots on the ground…..in Africa ….. to fight the very infectious and deadly disease, Ebola: “I directed my team to make this a national security priority.”

Be very afraid:

  1. Ebola virus was isolated from semen 61 days after onset of illness in a man who was infected in a laboratory. The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms, is 2 to 21 days.

The Watcher’s Council Weasel Of The Week Nominations!!

weasel of the week

Hello and welcome to the Watcher’s Council’s new feature, ‘Weasel Of The Week’ feature, where we award the golden plastic Weasel to a public figure who particularly deserves to be publicly slimed and mocked for his or her dastardly deeds during the week. Every Tuesday morning, tune in for the Weasel of the Week nominations and check back Thursday to see which Weasel gets the votes and walks off with the statuette of shame!

weasel Smarty_2

Here are this weeks’ nominees…

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi !!

The Noisy Room : for her comments on Bill Maher’s show:

“It would be very important for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate,” Pelosi told Maher. “Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if the Republicans win the Senate.”;

The only thing that would be ‘endangered’ is Leftist Marxism and their unconstitutional mandates. If anything, civilization would take a much needed step forward with Republicans in full control. At least we would not be charging backwards towards a feudal state quite as fast, or embracing Progressivism quite as hard. Pelosi has not only ethical issues, she has sanity issues.

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NFL Commissioner ( at least at the time of writing) Roger Goodell!!

Virginia Right! : for his legendary inconsistency in punishment.

Ray Rice knocks his girlfriend out and initially received a 2 game suspension. Meanwhile, over in Indianapolis, Robert Mathis is prescribed a fertility drug by his doctor in an effort to have a child. Mathis gets a 4 game suspension. If only he had beat his wife instead of loving her enough to have a child.

And now we find out that the elevator video of Rice actually hitting his girlfriend was probably seen – and ignored by Goodell. Until it went viral.

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Pop Singer Robin Thicke!

The Colossus of Rhodey : It’s bad enough he’ll never admit he (clearly) ripped off Marvin Gaye and his classic “Got To Give It Up” for his mega-hit “Blurred Lines,” but now he admits he never wrote the song in the first place!

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Maxine ‘No Justice No peace’ Waters, Democrat Congresswoman!

The Independent Sentinel : For telling the Council of Pakistan Affairs and Islamic Society of Orange County that Sharia Law is compatible with the U.S. Constitution and for telling them that anyone who disagrees is a bigot.

So much for free speech and the right to dissent.

Hillary-Clinton-magician-corrupt-thief-liar-steals-138880924775

Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton!!

Nice Deb : for having the nerve to run for president after her ignominious term as Obama’s Secretary of State.

Never mind the scandals, lies and duplicity that marked her tenure as First Lady during the Clinton years.

Under Obama, she presided over a State Department at a time in which the Middle East descended into chaos, our relationship with our allies weakened, and her “reset” with Russia failed miserably. During her watch, the State Department was awash in scandals from the Benghazi cover-up (with new revelations this week) to rampant sex crimes overseas and the subsequent whistle-blower retaliations that followed.

Her only “accomplishment” – if you can call it that is the fact that she was the most traveled Sec. of State in US history.

Being a Democrat, and thus a weasel, she understands that the MSM will crawl across broken glass to help drag her across the finish line in 2016. So she’s got that going for her and it’s no small thing.

Well, there it is! Are these worthy weasels or what? Check back Thursday to see which Weasel walks off with the statuette of shame!

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum.

And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council, and the results are posted onFriday morning.

It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere, and you won’t want to miss it...or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.

And don’t forget to share us and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that, y’know?

Freed Sudanese Mother Mariam Ibraheem: The US Embassy “Refused To Deal With Us”

*Mariam Ibraheem, the Sudanese suffragette who was finally freed last July after being sentenced to death for converting to Christianity,  says that officials at the US Embassy in Sudan initially “refused to deal with” her and told her to go to the UN.

She appeared on the Kelly File with Megyn Kelly, Monday evening to talk about her harrowing and inspiring plight.

“In the beginning, before I went to prison, Daniel and I first went to the US Embassy. The Consul refused to speak to us and hear the details of the problem. She refused to deal with us and told us to go to the UN. However, Ambassador Jerry Lanier stood by me, and his support made a big difference in my life” she stated.

Mariam told Megyn that she always knew God would help her. When asked why she didn’t just say what her Muslim oppressors wanted to hear so she could save her life,  she answered, “if I did that – that would mean that I gave up. And it’s not possible because it’s not true. It’s my right to follow the religion of my choice. I am not the only one suffering from this problem. There are many Mariams in Sudan and throughout the world. It’s not just me. I’m not the only one.”

The woman is a saint.

Via Fox News Insider:

Ibraheem told Megyn Kelly that she trusted in God, saying that her faith was the only weapon she had.

“I knew that God would help me, that God knew I was a victim of injustice,” she said through a translator.

“I put my life at risk for the women of Sudan,” she said, explaining that they are persecuted and treated very harshly.

The Ibraheem family is now living in New Hampshire. Ibraheem said she would like to help women and children in Sudan and Africa, and to promote freedom of religion.

She closed the segment by saying that she still needs prayers. Perhaps for other Christians suffering in Muslim lands – perhaps for her own “unstable situation” – perhaps for her baby who she has said in past interviews was damaged by the harsh circumstances of her difficult birth. Whichever the case. I say we all say a prayer for this remarkable woman.

*I like most everyone else on the internet, have apparently been spelling the heroine’s name incorrectly (Miriam Ibrahim) for the past six months. Monday night was the first time I saw her name spelled Mariam Ibraheem.

Linked by the Pirate’s Cove, thanks!

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