President Obama might be in denial about the reality of the situation in Syria, but Congress isn’t partaking in his delusion.
The House and Senate intelligence committees voted to place strong restrictions on aid for Syrian rebels, effectively ending Obama’s hopes of sending arms.
Lawmakers made their decision last month for fear that the administration plan would let weapons fall into the hands of terrorist groups, such as the many linked to al Qaeda.
The exact nature of the restrictions is unknown because the committees voted privately on the basis of classified information. What is known is that the restrictions are sufficient to prevent the administration from delivering arms as planned, according to a source familiar with the actions.
In June, the Obama administration announced it would arm the rebels because it had evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against them. The White House claimed this would not be problematic because it would only arm pro-democracy freedom fighters, and would somehow keep the weapons out of the hands of the Islamists and al-Qaeda members also fighting against Assad.
That claim was naive at best, but easily could have had deadly consequences. The Assad regime can’t be considered the “good guys” in this situation, but neither can the militants fighting against it, since so many terrorists have infiltrated the rebel movement. The idea that we could separate the democrats from the Islamists never made sense, and Congress was smart to recognize that.