Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Lawmakers Seek to Stop Obama Arming Terrorists in Syria

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Lawmakers have now introduced bills in both houses of Congress aimed at restraining President Obama and his lawless intervention in Syria on behalf of jihadist rebels, many of whom are openly fighting under the banner of al-Qaeda while massacring Christians and other minorities. If the legislation becomes law, it would make any military action — including the ongoing provision of weapons and training to opposition forces by the administration — contingent on congressional approval.

Of course, the U.S. Constitution already grants war powers to Congress, stating that wars must be declared by lawmakers — not the president. Obama, however, like previous administrations, has a long track record of ignoring his oath of office in virtually every field. In Libya, for example, he even launched an unconstitutional war to overthrow dictator Moammar Gadhafi without so much as a semblance of permission from Congress. 

While the U.S. government has been funding opposition forces in Syria since long before open warfare began, the president has stepped up that assistance, offering everything from training and money to military weapons. Obama’s “regime change” operation, backed by the highest echelons of the global establishment, recently culminated with a deeply unpopular announcement this month that the administration would be openly supplying arms and other military aid to rebel forces. Having U.S. troops set up a “no-fly zone” is also being considered.       

For some members of Congress, enough is enough. Murmurs about impeaching Obama over his unlawful war scheming have even been popping up since last year on both sides of the aisle. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) even introduced a resolution stating that the president’s use of military force without congressional permission constitutes an impeachable offense. After the decision to openly arm rebel forces was announced earlier this month, though, lawmakers in both parties and in both houses of Congress are taking action.

In the Senate, a bipartisan coalition of four senators introduced a bill last week to make any administration involvement in the Syrian conflict contingent on congressional approval. Sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the legislation would prohibit any military support for warring factions in Syria unless Congress specifically approves.

“The president’s unilateral decision to arm Syrian rebels is incredibly disturbing, considering what little we know about whom we are arming,” said Sen. Paul. The liberty-minded Republican with potential presidential aspirations, who recently blasted some of his Senate colleagues for voting to support weapons transfers to al-Qaeda allies, has been a leading critic of lawless foreign interventionism since his election.

“Engaging in yet another conflict in the Middle East with no vote or congressional oversight compounds the severity of this situation,” Paul continued. “The American people deserve real deliberation by their elected officials before we send arms to a region rife with extremists who seek to threaten the U.S. and her allies.” Sen. Lee, another leading proponent of liberty in Congress, expressed similar concerns.

More recently, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) announced Tuesday the introduction of the “Congressional Accountability and Oversight in Syria Act,” a similar piece of legislation containing much of the same language. The goal, according to the two congressmen, is also to prohibit the administration from taking military action in Syria without explicit permission from Congress. 

“What is the goal of providing weapons to the rebels?” asked Rep. Rooney in a statement about the legislation. “We know that the rebels have been infiltrated by al Qaeda and some of the same people we’ve been fighting for the last 10 years. Senior administration officials have told me they can’t give any assurance that our weapons won’t wind up in the hands of al Qaeda. So what’s our endgame?”

Indeed, as The New American has documented for well over a year, rebel ranks are infested with al-Qaeda-linked terrorists and violent jihadists from across the Middle East. The most effective fighting force in Syria, the al Nusra front, officially merged with the terror group earlier this year. Separately, opposition forces have come under fire for using chemical weapons, eating body organs out of Syrian troops, massacring civilians, firing on protesters, ethnic cleansing of minorities, and more.

“If the President wants to take us into Syria, he needs to come to Congress and convince us,” continued Rep. Rooney, who serves on the House Intelligence and Appropriations committees. “The President needs to make a convincing case that this is in our national security interest, and he needs to lay out a clear and comprehensive mission, including an exit strategy. He hasn’t done that yet.”

According to an e-mail survey of around 4,500 people conducted by Rep. Rooney’s office, his constituents — like most Americans — overwhelmingly agree that the United States should steer clear of the conflict in Syria. Almost 84 percent of respondents, for example, oppose sending arms to rebel forces. A stunning 97.4 percent said they did not support putting American troops on the ground.  

It is not the first time that Rooney, who tried but failed to cut off funds for Obama’s war on Libya, has spoken out about the administration’s lawless behavior in Syria. Last year, after then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the administration would seek “international permission” from the UN and NATO, instead of congressional approval to wage war on the Syrian regime, the Florida congressman issued a strongly worded statement demanding that Obama come to Congress.

“Once again, we’re seeing the Obama administration ignore the Constitution, the War Powers Act, and the role of Congress in determining when this country goes to war,” said Rooney, an Army captain. “It’s an insult to the American people for the Secretary of Defense to come before a Senate committee and say that the administration will seek ‘international permission’ to spend American resources and potentially put American lives on the line in Syria, but won’t consult with Congress.… The founders were clear not to leave this decision in the hands of one man, and rightfully so.”

The new five-page legislation, which cites older U.S. laws and United Nations efforts in Syria, expresses the sense of Congress that all sides and factions in the war should stop the violence. If enacted, it would prohibit any federal agency from providing aid to any group, movement, or individual unless and until the administration receives specific congressional authorization. The only exception, assuming the administration complies, would be humanitarian aid.  

According to cosponsor Rep. McCaul, who serves as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, the bill is also aimed at ensuring U.S. national security. Like other lawmakers from both parties and virtually every serious analyst in the world, the congressman from Texas has serious concerns about opposition forces in Syria and their well-documented links to terrorist groups.

“Arming the rebels in Syria potentially places those weapons into the hands of the Islamist extremists who have infiltrated their ranks and who continue to plot against the United States and our interests abroad,” Rep. McCaul said in a statement. “If the president believes American involvement in Syria is necessary, he will have to present a convincing plan to the Congress and make the case that providing assistance to Syrian opposition forces would not pose a national security threat to the United States.”

On the other side of the debate are establishment forces in both parties — especially RINO Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the latter of whom is currently embroiled in scandal after posing for pictures with rebel kidnappers in Syria. Among the warmongering wing of both parties, lawmakers are insisting that Obama get the U.S. government even deeper into the bloody Syrian conflict, which some analysts have suggested could become a regional or even global war.

Already, an estimated 100,000 people have been killed in the fighting, with over a million having fled the country so far. Fueled largely by foreign powers — the Obama administration, Sunni Arab dictators, al-Qaeda, and some European governments on one side; the Iranian regime, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Hezbollah on the other — the brutal war is expected to continue raging. Meanwhile, innocent civilians, especially Christians and Shia Muslims, are paying the steepest price.

Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is currently based in Europe. He can be reached at

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