House Speaker John Boehner’s 1,603-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill gives $500 million worth of weapons and other aid to the “vetted” Syrian rebels fighting against Bashar Al-Assad.
On page 426 of the massive bill, Boehner’s House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) specifically provides for funding for “vetted” rebels.
“The Secretary of Defense is authorized, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to provide assistance, including training, equipment, supplies, sustainment and stipends, to appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups or individuals for the following purposes: defending the Syrian people from attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and securing territory controlled by the Syrian opposition, protecting the United States, its friends and allies, and the Syrian people from the threats posed by terrorists in Syria; and promoting the conditions for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Syria,” the bill reads.
The next line notes that up to $500 million may be used to handle that section.
It specifically also states that “the term ‘appropriately vetted’ as used in this section shall be construed to mean, at a minimum, assessments of possible recipients for associations with terrorist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Jabhat al Nusrah, Ahrar al Sham, other al-Qaeda related groups, Hezbollah, or Shia militias supporting the Governments of Syria or Iran; and for commitment to the rule of law and a peaceful and democratic Syria.”
Most people in the U.S. government have had an extraordinarily difficult time deciphering which rebels against Assad are “moderate,” or “appropriately vetted,” if any. In fact, when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) visited Syria, he took a photograph with a group of rebels whose identities he had no clue of for more than a year after the meeting.
In addition to the McCain photo flap, several commanders of what Secretary of State John Kerry has called the “vetted moderate” Free Syrian Army have told local press in Syria that they’re working alongside ISIL. Kerry, according to this language put forward by Boehner and Rogers, would be working alongside and “in coordination with” whoever replaces outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to deliver these goodies to so-called “appropriately vetted” opposition–and determine who is actually “appropriately vetted.”
That’s why in a lengthy floor speech last year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)–who called this omnibus bill an “abomination” today on the Laura Ingraham radio show and is calling on all Republicans to vote against it–laid out why America shouldn’t be engaging in such behavior.
“So the idea that these rebels haven’t been armed before is ludicrous on its face,” Paul said on the floor of the U.S. Senate. “It is also ludicrous to believe that we know where all of the money, arms and ammunition will end up, or who will end up benefiting from these shipments. Why? Because we don’t know for sure who the groups all are,” Paul said. “Even when we think we do, loyalties shift and groups become amorphous, with alleged moderates lining up with jihadists. And finally, moderate groups have often sold their weapons or had them seized by the jihadist elements led by ISIS.”