Yesterday, Joel Gerke of the Washington Examiner reported that President Obama "waived a provision of federal law designed to prevent the supply of arms to terrorist groups." The mainstream media largely ignored the story, but the reaction was swift and fierce by some, including Libertarian mogul Glenn Beck, as reported today by Joe Newby of the Examiner.
"Today I come to you with the news that our President actually waived the restriction on countries supplying arms to international terrorists, specifically Al‑Qaeda. And the reason why he waived that is because we’re providing arms to international terrorists, specifically Al‑Qaeda...”
National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden wrote in a statement that while President Obama "signed a Presidential Determination exercising his authority to waive certain restrictions under the Arms Export Control Act," the action will ensure that "certain non-lethal assistance inside or related to Syria," is given to the rebels, such as "defensive chemical weapons-related training and personal protective equipment to select vetted members of the Syrian opposition," for example.
Although the presidential waiver would enable the United States to send protective and defensive gear and assistance to Syria, it would also enable the President to send all munitions-related equipment to the rebels, many of whom hold radical Islamic beliefs, as reported by Ben Farmer, Defence Correspondent, and Ruth Sherlock in Beirut of the Telegraph.
Last week, Ernesto Londoño and Greg Miller of the Washington Post reported that even before Obama made his waiver,
"The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures."
It seems that by waiving the pesky bit in the Arms Export Control Act, Obama is just now legalizing his prior action, but also being a bit disingenuous by saying that America is only sending "certain non-lethal assistance." The WaPo piece also notes that "non-lethal" assistance has already been sent to Syria, as well. The authors write,
The arms are being delivered as the United States is also shipping new types of nonlethal gear to rebels.
Of course, this is not the first time that weapons supplied by the United States would certainly fall into the "wrong hands." Last year, the New York Times reported,
"The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants..."
Were American-supplied weapons used in the Benghazi attack? After all, the New York Times piece revealed,
"During the frantic early months of the Libyan rebellion, various players motivated by politics or profit — including an American arms dealer who proposed weapons transfers in an e-mail exchange with a United States emissary later killed in Benghazi — sought to aid those trying to oust Colonel Qaddafi."
According to a "former Defence Department Official,"
"Within weeks of endorsing Qatar’s plan to send weapons there [Libya] in spring 2011, the White House began receiving reports that they were going to Islamic militant groups."
Despite assurances from National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden that equipment will only be given to "select vetted members of the Syrian opposition," it is not a stretch to believe that munitions shipped from the United States could ultimately end up in the hands of radical Islamists.