CIA has been spending 1 billion a year on Syria rebel training program in Jordan. (TL).
WASHINGTON — Key lawmakers have moved to slash funding for a secret CIA operation to train and arm rebels in Syria, a move that federal officials said reflects rising skepticism of the effectiveness of the agency program and the Obama administration's strategy in the Middle East.
The House Intelligence Committee recently voted unanimously to cut as much as 20 percent of the classified funds flowing into a CIA program that officials said has become one of the agency's largest covert operations overseas, with a budget approaching $1 billion a year.
“There is a great deal of concern on a very bipartisan basis with our strategy in Syria,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence panel.
He declined to comment on specific provisions of the committee's bill but cited growing pessimism that the United States will be in a position “to help shape the aftermath” of Syria's civil war.
The cuts to the CIA program are included in a preliminary intelligence spending bill that is expected to be voted on in the House next week. The measure has provoked concern among CIA and White House officials, who warned that cutting money to the CIA effort could weaken U.S.-backed insurgents just as they have begun to emerge as effective fighters.
The White House declined to comment.President Obama this week expanded the military's role against the Islamic State, presenting plans to deploy U.S. advisers to new bases in Iraq, while announcing no change to the limited American-led bombing campaign that began in Iraq and Syria last year. A separate Defense Department program authorized to train moderate fighters to combat the Islamic State has not yet begun.
But the sudden contraction of Assad's sphere of control has focused renewed attention on Syria and the CIA program set up in 2013 to bolster moderate forces that still represent the United States' most direct involvement on the ground in Syria's civil war. The cost of that CIA program has not previously been disclosed, and the figure provides the clearest indication to date of the extent to which the agency's attention and resources have shifted to Syria.
At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA's overall budget, judging by spending levels revealed in documents The Washington Post obtained from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
U.S. officials said the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years — meaning that the agency is spending roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program.
The CIA declined to comment on the program or its budget. But federal officials defended the scale of the expenditures, saying that the money goes toward much more than salaries and weapons and is part of a broader, multibillion-dollar effort involving Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to bolster a coalition of militias known as the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army. Hmmm........Obama 'Admin' Deal of the Century.......FSA a.k.a. Al-Qaeda ofshoots Al-Nusra and consorts. Read the full story here.
Nevertheless, House is about to cut it down cos even MP aides know it ain't no 'moderates' who could take over #Syria pic.twitter.com/sHSgCZoGPn— маяковский (@moscow_ghost) June 13, 2015