Foreign and Defense Policy

Obama’s Syrian ‘Fast and Furious’

Image credit: Biden_Obama (Wikimedia Commons)

Image credit: Biden_Obama (Wikimedia Commons)

Imagine if the Obama administration participated in the creation of an arms pipeline to al Qaeda in Syria – a “Fast and Furious” program running Saudi and Qatari weapons to our terrorist enemies in the Middle East. Then imagine that Vice President Joe Biden looked the American people in the eye during the vice presidential debate last week, and lied about it.

It would make Susan Rice’s blaming the Benghazi attack on a YouTube video pale by comparison.

Yet that is precisely what has happened. The New York Times reported on its front page Monday:

Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.

That conclusion, of which President Obama and other senior officials are aware from classified assessments of the Syrian conflict that has now claimed more than 25,000 lives, casts into doubt whether the White House’s strategy of minimal and indirect intervention in the Syrian conflict is accomplishing its intended purpose of helping a democratic-minded opposition topple an oppressive government, or is instead sowing the seeds of future insurgencies hostile to the United States.

“The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” said one American official familiar with the outlines of those findings, commenting on an operation that in American eyes has increasingly gone awry. (Emphasis added).

It is scandal enough that a gun-running program, in which American officials are helping to vet the recipients, is sending weapons to al Qaeda-linked terrorists. But the Times story completely ignores the deeper scandal here: In last week’s vice presidential debate, Joe Biden lied about it — twice!

In response to a question about Syria, Biden declared that the United States was working to isolate al Qaeda in Syria by ensuring that aid was directed to moderate elements of the Syrian opposition:

We are working hand and glove with the Turks, with the Jordanians, with the Saudis, and with all the people in the region attempting to identify the people who deserve the help so that when Assad goes — and he will go — there will be a legitimate government that follows on, not an al-Qaeda-sponsored government that follows on.

When Paul Ryan challenged Biden’s claim, saying that the administration’s inaction has allowed al Qaeda to get a foothold in Syria, Biden doubled down, declaring:

We are in the process now — and have been for months — in making sure that help, humanitarian aid, as well as other aid and training is getting to those forces that we believe, the Turks believe, the Jordanians believe, the Saudis believe are the free forces inside of Syria. That is underway.

Both of his statements were untrue. And if the Times story is to be believed, Biden knew his words were untrue when he uttered them.

According to the Times, “President Obama and other senior officials are aware [of the arms diversions to jihadists] from classified assessments of the Syrian conflict.” Yet Biden said exactly the opposite. He plainly asserted aid was going to “people who deserve the help” and “free forces inside Syria” and not jihadists.

Questions Biden needs to be asked immediately include:

• When were you first briefed on the intelligence findings that most of the arms intended for the “free forces inside Syria” are in fact going to “hard-line Islamic jihadists?”

• If the U.S. has know about these diversions for some time, why did you assure Americans during the vice presidential debate that they were not happening and that we had an effective program in place to make sure weapons got to “people who deserve help.”

• Who, if anyone, vetted your briefing book for the debate with the points asserting that the arms diversions to jihadists were not happening? Or did you make this up on your own?

This should be HUGE news, particularly in light of the Libya cover-up. Yet it has gotten precious little attention. It’s time for the media to start demanding answers from the White House.

What did Joe Biden know, and when did he know it?

3 thoughts on “Obama’s Syrian ‘Fast and Furious’

  1. “your briefing book for the debate”
    Do you know for a fact, Mr. Thiessen, that the VP even had a briefing book? If he did, he gave no evidence of having read it. He sounded like a man who had served in the Obama administration for four years, but was never trusted with any important information by the President or his staff. In the debate, he seemed to be making things up as he went along.

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