Even as Congress is contemplating military action in Syria, few are asking questions about the cost of even a brief campaign against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
During yesterday’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, a few representatives brought up the cost of limited strikes in Syria. But those concerns were hardly the focal point of the hearing, nor will it play a factor for many members when they cast their votes on the issue in the next week or so.
We know from the Obama Administration intervention in Libya that even a limited airstrike campaign can come with a hefty price tag. In 2011, the administration spent over $1 billion to help depose Muammar Gaddafi. That was a seven month air strike campaign that didn’t involve troops on the ground.
CNN Money reported yesterday that the budget implications of military strikes against Syria would be relatively small, provided the United States doesn’t get sucked into a broader campaign involving troops on the ground. And despite what the Obama Administration is saying, no one guarantee that American soldiers won’t eventually be pulled into the conflict.
After another round of reports that Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his own citizens in the bloody civil war raging in Syria, President Barack Obama has ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to begin drawing up plans for air strikes in the Middle Eastern country:
A U.S. official said the Pentagon has crafted military options for limited U.S. air strikes in Syria that would send a message to the regime of President Bashar al Assad not to continue using chemical weapons against its civilians. There has been no presidential decision to use the military options, and U.S. intelligence continues to investigate an apparent large-scale chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime this week that may have killed as many as 1,000 civilians.
The official said the military options developed for consideration by the White House are limited in scope and would be intended to “deter or prevent” the Assad regime from the further use of chemical weapons. The options are not intended to remove the Syrian president, who has tenaciously hung on to power as Syria’s two-year civil war has raged on.
Traveling on a plane to Malaysia, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel confirmed to reporters that Obama had asked the Pentagon to provide military options in Syria in light of the reported use of chemical weapons against civilians by the civilian government.
During his press conference on Friday, President Barack Obama was asked two questions by Ed Henry, the White House correspondent for Fox News, one about the implementation of ObamaCare and the other about the efforts to bring to justice the terrorists who attacked the American compound in Benghazi.
“[O]n September 11th we’ll have the first anniversary of Benghazi. And you said on September 12th, ‘Make no mistake, we’ll bring to justice the killers who attacked our people,’” noted Henry. “Eleven months later, where are they, sir?”
President Obama’s didn’t waste any time in invoking the name of Osama bin Laden, who was killed by Navy SEAL team in May 2011, and pointed to the recent indictment of Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspect in the Benghazi attack, which claimed the lives of four Americans.
“Well, I also said that we’d get bin Laden, and I didn’t get him in 11 months,” Obama told Henry. “So we have informed, I think, the public that there’s a sealed indictment. It’s sealed for a reason. But we are intent on capturing those who carried out this attack, and we’re going to stay on it until we get them.”
Henry pressed the President, asking if investigators were close to other suspects in custody. However, President Obama declined to elaborate on any possible arrests, though he insisted .
“I will leave it at that. But this remains a top priority for us,” he said. “Anybody who attacks Americans, anybody who kills, tragically, four Americans who were serving us in a very dangerous place, we’re going to do everything we can to get those who carried out those attacks.”
Nearly a year after the terrorist attack on the American compound in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four Americans, the United States has finally filed charges in the effort to bring the attackers to justice.
Ahmed Abu Khattala, who is suspected to have led the attack, has been charged with murder, though prospects of arrest and negotiations with the Libyan government over where he will be tried seem tenuous:
Federal law enforcement authorities have filed murder charges against Ahmed Abu Khattala, a prominent militia leader in Benghazi, Libya, in connection with the attacks on a diplomatic mission there last Sept. 11 that killed the United States ambassador and three other Americans, according to senior law enforcement and United States officials.
The authorities have identified roughly a dozen others who they said they believe participated in the attacks, and have filed charges under seal against some of them, the officials said.
Despite making progress in the investigation, some F.B.I. agents who are leading it from Tripoli, the capital of Libya, have grown frustrated that there have been no arrests, the officials said. Apprehending the suspects will most likely take significant negotiations between the State Department and the Libyan government over who will try to do so and where the suspects will be tried.
It is not clear that either government knows the whereabouts of all the suspects.
A little more than a week after President Barack Obama hit Republicans for their focus on what he called “phony scandals,” Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s The Lead, reported last night that the CIA had “dozens of people” on the ground in Libya the night of the attack that claimed four American lives and that the Agency going to great lengths to keep them from talking to the media:
Four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault by armed militants last September 11 in eastern Libya.
Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret.
CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.
Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings.
The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress.
It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.
In exclusive communications obtained by CNN, one insider writes, “You don’t jeopardize yourself, you jeopardize your family as well.”
Another says, “You have no idea the amount of pressure being brought to bear on anyone with knowledge of this operation.”
News broke last week that the Obama Administration decided further its involvement in the Syrian civil war by arming rebels fighting against Bashar Assad’s regime. The development was well-received by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), two of Washington’s most hawkish politicians. But increasing our intervention in Syria remains a hot topic among conservatives, especially among two who may seek the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2016.
This past weekend at the Faith Freedom Coalition’s conference in Washington, DC, two very distinict foreign policy agendas were put before conservatives. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) took a skeptical approach to Syria, explaining that intervention there doesn’t serve America’s interests. And it would seem that Americans overwhelmingly agree with that sentiment.
Since he got back from his Memorial Day trip to Syria, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has come under fire from many conservatives who are having a hard time understanding why he wants to get the United States involved in yet another perilous military engagement that would align us with al-Qaeda.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been a voice of reason when it comes to the prospect of intervention in Syria, noting that our history of arming so-called “rebels” hasn’t worked out so well. He has pointed to Libya as example of how our intervention, lead by President Barack Obama and hawkish Republicans, has caused us further problems in the region and that Syria is very likely to turn out with the same ending.
In a column at the National Review, Andrew McCarthy, — a former Assistant United States Attorney who prosecuted the “Blind Sheik,” Omar Abdel Rahman, on terrorism charges in 1995, explained why Republicans to ignore McCain’s call for the next war:
There is a stubborn fact Republicans may want to consider as McCain, their wayward foreign-policy guru, tries to browbeat them into Libya Act II — because, you know, Act I has worked out so well. It is this: The Obama administration’s shocking derelictions of duty in connection with the Benghazi massacre cannot erase the GOP fingerprints all over the Libyan debacle. Obama is the one who took us over the cliff, but only after McCain shoved him to the very edge.
On Friday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) delivered a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library where he called for a more inclusive Republican Party, praised the Gipper, and slammed the policies of President Barack Obama and the recent scandals that have plagued his administration. The speech has also been labeled as a potential presidential platform for Paul in 2016.
After his speech, Paul took some questions from audience members. One question in particular sticks out due to the current events in Syria. He was asked his thoughts on what the top priority should be foreign affairs. He explained that the “top priority for the country — constitutionally, historically, and appropriately — is defense of the country.”
“That being said, Reagan’s motto was ‘peace through strength’; it wasn’t ‘war through strength.’ There are some, sometimes in our party, who mistake war for defense,” Paul continued. “And if you don’t believe in eternal and perpetual war doesn’t mean that you don’t believe in a strong national defense — and this is an important distinction.”
Paul went onto explain that American foreign policy has been inconsistent in this region of the world, using Moammar Ghadafi, the Libyan dictator who was deposed in 2011, as an example. “There’s some in our party who wanted to give arms to Ghadafi, and then a year later wanted to give money to rebels to overturn Ghadafi,” he said. “There’s a certain inconsistency.”
As you may have heard, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spent his Memorial Day palling around with his new al-Qaeda buddies in Syria. He wants Congress to appropriate funds to help these terrorists rebels, one of whom was responsible for kidnapping Lebanese pilgrims, as they fight Bashar al-Assad for control of the country.
But Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) warned Americans of the dangers of intervening, in an op-ed at CNN, noting that our history of arming so-called “rebels” and hasn’t exactly worked well for the United States.
Paul recaps the history of our involvement in Iraq in the 1980s and 1990s, both in support of and opposition to Saddam Hussein, has had the effect of empowering Iran in the region. He goes to recap our more recent problems in Libya, where our support of rebels included helping elements of al-Qaeda:
In 2009, members of the U.S. Senate — Republicans Lindsey Graham and John McCain and an independent, Joe Lieberman — would travel to Libya to meet with Gadhafi to offer further aid. Sen. McCain said: “We discussed the possibility of moving ahead with the provision of nonlethal defense equipment to the government of Libya.” President Obama would eventually meet with Gadhafi to reconfirm the same relationship established during the Bush administration.
While the scandals that have emerged out of the IRS and the Justice Department have taken center stage over the last two weeks, the Obama Administraton’s refusal to come clean about Benghazi still remains very much an issue.
The Heritage Foundation offered a new video this week that highlighted how President Barack Obama, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other administration officials tried to spin the incident at the American outpost in Benghazi as a protest against an anti-Muslim YouTube video gone awry.
After it was revealed that it was in fact a pre-planned terrorist attack by an al-Qaeda, during which four Americans were killed, the White House and Obama Administration tried to shift away from their initial talking points. Americans have since discovered that there was political influence within the administration to avoid discussion of terrorism. While President Obama has labeled questions on the early narrative as a “side show, Heritage notes that each new answer has brought new questions.
Check the video out below: