Patterico's Pontifications


Impartial Bystander Cited by John Kerry as Authority that the Syrian Rebels Are A-OK Turns Out to Be Paid by the Syrian Rebels

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:52 pm


Charles C. Johnson:

The woman whose opinion lawmakers are relying on to go to war in Syria is also a paid advocate for the war-torn country’s rebels.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry encouraged members of the House of Representatives to read a Wall Street Journal op-ed by 26-year-old Elizabeth O’Bagy — an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War — who asserted that concerns about extremists dominating among the Syrian rebels are unfounded.

“Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al-Qaida die-hards,” O’Bagy wrote for the Journal on Aug. 30. “Moderate opposition groups make up the majority of actual fighting forces,” she wrote.

But in addition to her work for the Institute for the Study of War, O’Bagy is also the political director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a group that advocates within the United States for Syria’s rebels — a fact that the Journal did not disclose in O’Bagy’s piece.

O’Bagy portrays herself as a “paid contractor acting in an advisory role” and insists that she is not a lobbyist. I don’t care. This is a black eye for the WSJ and for anyone relying on this woman.

The New York Times has a story about the brutality of some of the rebels Obama wants to help out.

The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men.

The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.

“For fifty years, they are companions to corruption,” he said. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.”

The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet.

This accompanying video, portrayed by sensationalistic news organizations as brutal, depicts the poem reading (while the execution is not actually shown on the supposedly brutal and supposedly uncensored video):

Meanwhile, the vote is not looking good for Obama, as whips do their counting.


Taranto Destroys Obama on Not Setting the Red Line

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:33 am

James Taranto has an excellent piece taking apart Obama on his “I didn’t set the red line” lie.

First he quotes Obama:

I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation. But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical. That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people.

We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.

Taranto then notes:

The context makes clear that when Obama refers to “a red line for us,” the antecedent is not the world but the U.S. or the administration (which are interchangeable for the purpose of a discussion of executive action). He said the use of chemical weapons would change “my calculus” and “my equation,” not the world’s.

As The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper notes, the president’s denial that he set a red line contradicts previous statements from his own subordinates. “We go on to reaffirm that the President has set a clear red line as it relates to the United States that the use of chemical weapons . . . is a red line that is not acceptable to us, nor should it be to the international community,” an unnamed “White House official” said during introductory remarks in an April 25, 2013 conference call with reporters.

Lest there be any question, the official went on to say in response to a question: “The people in Syria and the Assad regime should know that the President means what he says when he set that red line. And keep in mind, he is the one who laid down that marker.”

So, Marco Rubio votes no. A lot of no votes lining up in the House. Rand Paul is a certain no and I it seems Ted Cruz will also vote no, describing Obama’s proposal as an effort to use the U.S. military as “Al Qaeda’s Air Force.”

Not looking good for the guy who didn’t set the red line. Lucky for him it isn’t his credibility on the line!

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