Hell-bent on arming opposition forces in Syria—despite strong evidence that they’re run by Islamic terrorists—John McCain displayed behavior unbecoming of a United States Senator during a recent meeting with Syrian Christian leaders touring Capitol Hill.
The delegation of Syrian clergy came to Washington to raise awareness among lawmakers of the growing crisis among the region’s minority Christian community. Christians make up about 10% of the Syrian population and they are being targeted and ruthlessly murdered by radical elements of the rebel forces, according to the visiting church officials. They say the media and human rights groups in the west have been largely silent on the ordeal of the Christians in Syria.
A number of churches have been destroyed or burned, children were killed when rebels fired mortar rockets at an Armenian Christian school in Damascus and countless others have been abducted by Islamic fighters, the Syrian delegation reveals in a statement published by the research group, Westminster Institute, that brought them to Washington. Eleven nuns have also been abducted and are still in captivity and two bishops are still missing after getting kidnapped during a humanitarian mission.
But Senator McCain, an Arizona Republican, evidently doesn’t want to hear negative stories about the rebels he’s working to arm. So he stormed out of a closed-door meeting with the Syrian clergy officials last week. Held in the Senate Arms Services Committee meeting room, the reunion also included senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Graham is a Republican and the rest are Democrats.
McCain marched into the committee room yelling, according to a high-level source that attended the meeting, and quickly stormed out. “He was incredibly rude,” the source told Judicial Watch “because he didn’t think the Syrian church leaders should even be allowed in the room.” Following the shameful tantrum McCain reentered the room and sat briefly but refused to make eye contact with the participants, instead ignoring them by looking down at what appeared to be random papers.
The outburst was so embarrassing that Senator Graham, also an advocate of U.S. military intervention in Syria, apologized for McCain’s disturbing outburst. “Graham actually apologized to the group for McCain’s behavior,” according to the source, who sat through the entire meeting. “It was truly unbelievable.”
Not really, for those familiar with McCain’s history on this matter. The veteran lawmaker is enamored with a controversial young “Syria expert,” Elizabeth O’Bagy, who has managed to convince him as well as the president and secretary of state that Syrian rebels are mostly moderate and not terrorists. While persuading the U.S. of this, O’Bagy concealed that she was a political director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a group that advocates for Syria’s rebels from Washington D.C.
Before getting exposed by conservative media outlets, O’Bagy claimed to be an objective analyst at a Washington D.C. think-tank that studies military affairs when in fact she had a “reputation as the leading expert on the armed opposition in the Syrian revolution,” according to SETF. In September O’Bagy was abruptly fired from the think-tank for padding her resume and McCain graciously hired her. “Elizabeth is a talented researcher, and I have been very impressed by her knowledge and analysis in multiple briefings over the last year,” McCain said in a statement to the political news publication that broke the story in late September.
Besides the fact that a Syrian Islamist group is essentially steering U.S. policy, a number of domestic and international media outlets have confirmed that terrorists—mainly Al Qaeda—are running opposition forces in Syria. For instance the New York Times published a piece that reveals Islamist rebels—including the most extreme groups in the notorious Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda-aligned force—are running the show in Syria. “The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion,” the story says. “Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.”
Incredibly, last month an international news agency reported that Congress secretly approved U.S. weapons flow to what officials describe as “moderate” Syrian rebel factions. The White House refused to comment on the back-door operation, but the story cites U.S. and European officials who say the weapons deliveries have been funded by the U.S. Congress, in votes behind closed doors, through the end of government fiscal year 2014.
Alarming evidence has surfaced that indicates a U.S.-based group that advocates for Syria’s rebels is defining and steering policy in the Obama White House and perhaps in Congress as well.
This insanity is circulating among conservative media and blogs as the mainstream press largely ignores it. It’s so crazy that it’s almost unbelievable. Pushing for U.S. military intervention, a 26-year-old woman (Elizabeth O’Bagy), considered a Syria expert, has convinced the president, secretary of state and some federal lawmakers that Syrian rebels are mostly moderates and not terrorists.
O’Bagy has accomplished this by claiming to be an objective analyst at a Washington D.C. think-tank that studies military affairs while concealing that she’s the political director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a group that advocates for Syria’s rebels from Washington D.C. In a recent exposé, a conservative news magazine calls SETF a Syrian Islamist Organization. When it hired O’Bagy in May, the group bragged that she has a “reputation as the leading expert on the armed opposition in the Syrian revolution.”
As the Syria crisis escalated, O’Bagy became a regular on a number of television news shows, including CNN and Fox. A few days ago the Wall Street Journal published a lengthy piece where O’Bagy makes a case for U.S. military intervention in Syria by asserting that concerns about Al-Qaeda terrorists running the rebel operations are unfounded. After all, the United States doesn’t want to support the very jihadists that want to murder its citizens. O’Bagy’s opinion piece made such an impact that Arizona Senator John McCain read a chunk of it during a recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
Here is a portion of the excerpt that McCain read at the hearing: “Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al Qaeda die-hards. The jihadists pouring into Syria from countries like Iraq and Lebanon are not flocking to the front lines. Instead they are concentrating their efforts on consolidating control in the northern, rebel-held areas of the country.
“Moderate opposition forces—a collection of groups known as the Free Syrian Army—continue to lead the fight against the Syrian regime. While traveling with some of these Free Syrian Army battalions, I’ve watched them defend Alawi and Christian villages from government forces and extremist groups. They’ve demonstrated a willingness to submit to civilian authority, working closely with local administrative councils. And they have struggled to ensure that their fight against Assad will pave the way for a flourishing civil society.”
When he finished, Senator McCain asks Secretary of State John Kerry if he agrees with that assessment. Kerry responds that he does and confirms that Syria is a secular state. Of interesting note is that the now-famous opinion piece only identifies O’Bagy as a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War and completely omits her position at SETF.
In the midst of this madness a British newspaper confirms this week that in Syria “jihadists” are “now the largest and best armed faction in the opposition.” The report goes on to say that the “more moderate elements have become progressively weaker through a lack of supplies and defection of members.”