Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What happened to lethal aid to the Syrian opposition?

I don't know. The situation is confusing, not least because details about the assistance are supposed to be classified. The Wall Street Journal says that the aid, announced last spring, still hasn't been delivered. Another Journal report says that the Administration is considering shifting the job to the Pentagon.

Congress may be partly to blame, because the intelligence committees reportedly blocked delivery because it wasn't convinced that the equipment wouldn't fall into jihadist hands. Those committees have veto or at least delaying power over intelligence activities.

There are downsides to shifting to overt Pentagon management of the aid program. The CIA can use secret sources and channels, while the Defense Department is more open about its training activities. DOD is also much more bureaucratic about what it does, and thus slower and more cautious.

 I hope the proposed change isn't just a way to evade tight oversight by the intelligence committees in favor of the more forgiving oversight of the armed services committees.  At least the foreign policy committees would have a better chance of learning what's happening if DOD ran the program. Those panels are mostly denied access to CIA activities.

No comments:

Post a Comment