The exact nature of the restrictions is unknown because the committees voted privately on the basis of classified information. What is known is that the restrictions are sufficient to prevent the administration from delivering arms as planned, according to the source.
Administration officials stopped shy of saying the votes had thwarted the effort to arm rebel groups, but said it certainly didn't make it easier.
“They're raising a lot of questions without having alternative answers,” said one senior administration official.
“Whatever we do, we have to make sure we do it right,” Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday.
“If we are going to arm, we have to make sure we have control of what arms are out there and how people are trained to use those arms so they don’t fall into the hands of our enemy al Qaeda,” he said.
For those not on the Intelligence committees, however, there is a new concern that they are being shut out of the process.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, accused the administration of trying to covertly get the Syria military aid approved behind the closed doors of the Intelligence Committee.
“They should come and talk about this openly,” Corker told
reporters Tuesday. “It puts the Intelligence Committee in a very awkward place.
All of a sudden, they own it.”
Levin to talk Syria Wednesday: Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) will discuss his recent trip to Turkey and Jordan on Wednesday at a speech on the Syrian conflict.
Levin is speaking at the Carnegie Endowment Wednesday morning, where he is expected to discuss his push to get the Obama administration to do more to end the two-year civil war in Syria.
On Tuesday, Levin issued a statement with Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), after they visited Jordan and Turkey last week, calling for the president to prepare for stepped-up multinational action against Syria's Bashar Assad.
Levin was one of the key Democrats pushing for the Obama administration to arm the Syrian rebels earlier this year, and he has joined GOP hawks Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in their call for a no-fly zone.
McKeon: No ‘zero option’ in Afghanistan: The Obama administration is not considering leaving zero troops in Afghanistan after 2014, House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said Tuesday.
“This evening, senior Administration officials assured me that there is no 'zero option' scenario under consideration,” McKeon said in a statement. “I was assured that the United States has committed to post-2014 support to include troops on the ground. I was further informed that a 'zero option' would violate American commitments to the Afghan people.”
The New York Times reported Monday that Obama was considering pulling out all troops amid frustration with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Senate Armed Services Committee leaders also expressed skepticism about the notion of a “zero option,” and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he’d never heard it discussed by an administration official.
The White House said Tuesday that no decision is imminent on Afghanistan, and noted that the “zero option” has previously been considered by the administration.
US advisers: Afghan troops face ‘unrealistic expectations’: U.S. military advisers are expressing concerns that Afghan security forces are facing "unrealistic expectations" from Washington and Kabul ahead of the withdrawal of NATO troops.
The U.S.-led coalition handed over security responsibility to local forces last month and is scheduled to pull out all troops in 2014, with talks about leaving a residual support force underway.
But even though Afghan forces are taking the lead in combat operations across the country, and paying a heavy toll for it, some of the efforts to professionalize the Afghan National Security Forces will simply need more time, U.S. military commanders told The Hill.
Maj. Rich Schildman, executive officer for the main U.S. advisory team in eastern Afghanistan’s Khost province, said Afghan forces “are starting to feel the pressure."
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