Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Will all the moderates raise your hand?

Congress has imposed on the executive branch, and in particular the CIA, a nearly impossible task of identifying and training only "moderate" Syrian opposition forces. The difficulties of sorting out the warriors who will be helpful to U.S. interests today -- and then tomorrow -- are outlined by this report in Newsweek.

“Vetting is a word we throw a lot around a lot, but actually very few people know what it really means,” said the former CIA operative, who had several postings in the Middle East for a decade after the 9/11 attacks. “It’s not like you’ve got a booth set up at a camp somewhere. What normally happens is that a case officer will identify a source who is a leader in one of the Free Syrian Army groups. And he’ll say, ‘Hey...can you come up with 200 [guys] you can trust?’ And of course they say yes—they always say yes. So Ahmed brings you a list and the details you need to do the traces,” the CIA’s word for background checks. “So you’re taking that guy’s word on the people he’s recruited. So we rely on a source whom we’ve done traces on to do the recruiting. Does that make sense?”
I understand the goal of supporting moderates but I don't see how we can confidently accomplish it.

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