Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 15, 2014

Obama's Mercenary Attacks On Syria Are Breaking The Law

According to the Washington Post the U.S. administration is discussing to increase the numbers of CIA trained mercenaries in Syria:

The Obama administration has been weighing plans to escalate the CIA’s role in arming and training fighters in Syria, a move aimed at accelerating covert U.S. support to moderate rebel factions while the Pentagon is preparing to establish its own training bases, U.S. officials said.

The proposed CIA buildup would expand a clandestine mission that has grown substantially over the past year, U.S. officials said. The agency now vets and trains about 400 fighters each month — as many as are expected to be trained by the Pentagon when its program reaches full strength late next year.

The piece mentions training in Jordan and Qatar.

Hurriyet reports that training is also to start in Turkey:

Officials from both the United States European Command (EUCOM) and the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and high-ranking Turkish military officials agreed on a number of points about the training of Syrian opposition fighters in Turkey.

Free Syrian Army (FSA) members, including Syrian Turkmens will be trained at the Hirfanlı gendarmerie training center in Kırşehir, sources told to the Hürriyet Daily News. U.S. officials will also take part in the training.

The U.S. will primarily provide weapons and ammunition for the Syrian opposition, with the costs of the training also expected to be provided by Washington.

Around 2,000 Syrian fighters are slated to be given military training, which is set to begin at the end of December.

No journalist seem to have asked the administration on what legal basis this training and inserting of mercenaries against the Syrian government is taking place. What please in international or even U.S. law allows a U.S. president to send a proxy mercenary force against the state of Syria or any other state?

The administration knows very well that the legal ground it is standing on is very, very weak. The people it trains are criminals and do not observe basic laws of war or human rights. The administration's solution to breaking the law is trying to change it:

The Obama administration has asked Congress repeatedly to exempt its military effort against the Islamic State from a longstanding ban on U.S. assistance to torturers and war criminals, ..
Two similar exemption requests were quietly rebuffed by Congress in a defense bill passed in September, Senate aides said. That bill provided $500 million to train the Syrian rebels and a $1 billion counterterrorism fund for the Middle East.
In both cases, the Obama administration sought to exempt the funding from all human rights restrictions, records show.

Congress so far rejected any change or exception from the Leahy amendment:

The 1997 Leahy Law, named after Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, bars the U.S. from funding military units suspected of "gross human rights violations," which include murder, torture and extrajudicial imprisonment.

All the groups of the Fee Syrian Army the CIA and the Pentagon are training have committed such crimes and are cooperating with terrorist groups.

Reuters recently lauded the success of the Fee Syrian Army in the South where, as we reported two month ago, FSA mercenaries trained by the CIA came from Jordan and, under Israeli artillery protection, captured the Golan height to proceed from there towards Damascus. Reuters deceptively writes:

Assad's forces control Damascus, the Mediterranean coast and much of the area in between. Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot, controls the east, while Nusra controls much of the northwest and is expanding at the expense of moderates.

The southern provinces near the Jordanian border are an exception, where rebels calling themselves the "Southern Front" still control territory and have managed to resist Assad while avoiding direct clashes with the Nusra Front.

The FSA/CIA in the south did not only avoid "direct clashes with the Nusra Front" it intensively cooperated with the it. Nusra fighters have been the storm troopers in every battle in the south. (The Syrian army has started a wide counter offensive against these attacks in the south and will likely stop them before they endanger Damascus.)

Extensive human rights violation documented since early 2012 and strong cooperation with terrorists groups are the mark of the anti-Syrian mercenaries the CIA and Pentagon are training. Such training then is illegal under U.S. national law. Obama knows this and that is why he is trying, unsuccessfully for now, to change that law.

Would not Obama's obvious breaking of the law be a nice basis for impeachment procedures?

International law forbids the attacks on sovereign Syria Obama is committing with sending mercenaries to fight the Syrian state. Obama himself just yesterday offered such reasoning:

We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace; that an effective security order [..] must be based -- not on spheres of influence, or coercion, or intimidation where big nations bully the small -- but on alliances of mutual security, international law and international norms that are upheld, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

Typical Obama platitudes of course - but one wonders why no mainstream media journalist is, for ones, questioning the administration for offering such while doing the opposite of what it proclaims.


Posted by b on November 15, 2014 at 18:46 UTC | Permalink


While Obama and the US figures out how to bring ever more bloodshed to Syria, Russia and the junta in Cairo (the Egyptian Generals only out of their own fears of Islamist insurgency) will try and bring peace:

The Moscow / Cairo Initiative A New Push for Peace in Syria and Why Obama Wants to Kill It by SHAMUS COOKE Why are there no serious peace talks to end the war in Syria? After robbing over 130,000 people of their lives, and evicting over 9 million refugees from their homes, the Syrian war has infected nearly every region of the Middle East. Yet among the U.S. and its regional allies there are no public discussions about a viable peace plan, only war talk.

It’s hard to talk peace when the United States is still maneuvering for war, having recently given $500 million to arm and train Syrian rebels, while also brokering a deal with Saudi Arabia to open a new Syrian rebel training camp, in addition to the one already functioning in Jordan. Instead of using Obama’s vast Middle East influence for peace he has used it to push war.

Posted by: guest77 | Nov 15 2014 18:59 utc | 1

standard US procedure, they're doing it in the Ukraine with polish mercenaries and operatives from greystone/blackwater .. of course when they do it there isn't a fuss, when Russian volunteers help the Novorussians we never hear the end of it

Posted by: Joggy | Nov 15 2014 19:38 utc | 2

Don't worry, when the Republican-controlled Congress takes over in January, you can be sure they'll earn their keep with prompt impeachment proceedings. Then Biden will be Pres and won't that be a wonderful thing.

So yeah, it's criminal, but so is jaywalking and hardly anyone gets busted for jaywalking. I realize you're asserting this for posterity, but it won't make a difference. This is the Peace President as witnessed by the prize he was awarded very early on in his first term. He received that prize not for what he had done up to that point, but for what he would do in the future, and that was to withdraw from Iraq and not put "boots on the ground" in various hotspots such as The Levant and Ukraine. He earned his prize — with loopholes, of course. There are always loopholes.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Nov 15 2014 20:00 utc | 3

a journalist actually asking questions? are you out of your mind!!!!!

ain't gonna happen.. meanwhile we are in year 3 or 4 or whatever it is with this war on assad and regime change.. but i am sure don bacon or someone is going to come and tell me it isn't about regime change.. whatever.. i know bullshit when i see it n- ps - welcome back cold n. holefield..

b quote "The administration knows very well that the legal ground it is standing on is very, very weak. The people it trains are criminals and do not observe basic laws of war or human rights." obama knows all this while expressing his eloquent bs.. i think most americans know this too.. folks are tired of this bs, but the war machine and the financial capitalists aren't going to take a 'no war' stance on anything as it doesn't serve their interests.. all those propaganda outlets will be continuing on with the lies and bs too.. it is hard not to be cynical in the world today.. i guess i am just too idealistic.

Posted by: james | Nov 15 2014 21:05 utc | 4

"murder, torture and extrajudicial imprisonment" : I thought those were all-American values in the "post 9/11" world. This country is a sad joke compared to what our founding fathers envisioned. I see Cold Handjob is back. I had hoped he was in an auto accident, or something.

Posted by: Jim T | Nov 15 2014 21:42 utc | 5

The Yahoo article outlining the administration's efforts to undermine the 1997 Leahy Law is really something, particularly on a day when another news meme concerns something of a pack effort down in Brisbane to scorn Putin over Ukraine. How shameless, how mendacious all this activity.

Posted by: jayc | Nov 15 2014 22:07 utc | 6

Obama pressed Maliki to redo the SOFA agreement, increased the reckless drone bombing across the Mideast, surged to more quagmire in Afghanistan, was saved by Putin from going into Syria...hardly a peace president.

Posted by: truthbetold | Nov 15 2014 22:09 utc | 7

hardly a peace president

It depends on your definition of peace. Remember when Bill Clinton said it depended on what the definition of IS is? Now we know — IS means convenient pop-out-of-the-cake Islamic State. Bill was being prescient.

Posted by: Cold N Holefield | Nov 15 2014 22:15 utc | 8

Was it Sulla who said to Cicero "Don't speak to us about Laws. We have Swords"? Because it's kind of like that now. No president will be impeachment for expanding the empire. Maybe impeached because "4 Americans died" in Benghazi. But for moving weapons and terrorists from Libya to Syria?? No way.

Posted by: Lysander | Nov 15 2014 22:16 utc | 9

Why does the chickenshit US empire have to hire mercenaries to do these little pipsqueak tasks. Why don't they just get on with it and send in our boots to overthrow Syria and Russia and install some people who will get with the program. After all, Russia and Syria are just regional powers right. The US including NATO is the most powerful military force in the history of the world. You don't believe me?, just ask any neocon. What's that you say? They haven't been able to pacify Afghanistan or Iraq. Well, um, we just weren't serious enough about it. This time I'm sure it will be different because we'll really put our mind to it.

Posted by: Kraken | Nov 15 2014 22:54 utc | 10

They haven't been able to pacify Afghanistan or Iraq.

Maybe because pacification wasn't/isn't the goal. A destabilized, failed state was/is. From that perspective, it was/is a resounding success.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Nov 15 2014 23:42 utc | 11

@Cold #11:

I don't think there's much doubt that the neocons actually believed that the US could turn Iraq into a liberal, free marked democracy to serve as the shiny model for other Arab countries. A failed state was the fallback plan. Or even if the objective of neocons always was a failed state, I think that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, and Susan Rice really believed that they could do with Iraq what Truman did with Germany and Japan.

Posted by: Demian | Nov 15 2014 23:54 utc | 12

No journalist seem to have asked the administration on what legal basis this training and inserting of mercenaries against the Syrian government is taking place. What please in international or even U.S. law allows a U.S. president to send a proxy mercenary force against the state of Syria or any other state?

At least one Democratic senator, Tim Kain of Virginia, is now demanding that Obama get a new resolution from Congress before going to war in Syria:

Posted by: Seamus Padraig | Nov 16 2014 0:24 utc | 13

Don't hold your collective breaths waiting for the Empire to adhere to anything legal. the Empire does what it wants, to whom it wants, anytime it wants, all for Mega-corporate hegemony, and ever increasing profits. Attempted world domination isn't new, just this version.

Posted by: ben | Nov 16 2014 1:16 utc | 14

P.S.... If anyone expects impeachment, or face changing in D.C. to change Empire policies, don't.

Posted by: ben | Nov 16 2014 1:28 utc | 15


Have to agree. In retrospect it seems clear that since Clinton's destruction of Yugoslavia death, devastation, and destruction of those who assert TIAA has been the goal and it's been effected. I suppose you could go back further than that, to Bush XLI.

And it also seems true that the rule of law has been suspended by the USA, certainly and long ago internationally, and domestically as well. Although we frogs at home have been slow to notice the boil. When the grand jury lets the gun-thug murderer of Michael Brown walk in a few weeks the pot ought to be seen to be boiling at home as well. They don't need no stinkin' law.

Saker had an excellent recount of the the Šešelj Case saga. The EU is just as vile and full of shit as the USA. Although there is a tendency in the EU to claim that they are the victims of the US, it seems to me that they are in fact gleeful accomplices.

At this sorry point in time I think that control has slipped through the fingers of the greedy madmen and women in Washington DC, and its all getting away from them.

Grandpa [Uncle Sam] died last week
And now he’s buried in the rocks
But everybody still talks about
How badly they were shocked
But me, I expected it to happen
I knew he’d lost control
When he built a fire on Main Street
And shot it full of holes
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

I hope we all survive.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 16 2014 1:55 utc | 16

Posted by: Kraken | Nov 15, 2014 5:54:31 PM | 10

That's what WaPo is obfuscating. Putin's got 'em snookered.
And the Incredible Shrinking pseudo International Community were so full of impotent rage that they couldn't resist bypassing the official G20 agenda to put their knotted knickers on display by girlishly "ostracising" their Nemesis.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 16 2014 4:27 utc | 17

China/Russia red line?:

...Chinese military officers observe American war college journals often feature articles on how to win a war against China, and a February 2014 article in the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine entitled “Deterring the Dragon” was especially threatening.

The author, a retired naval commander, proposed laying offensive underwater mines along China’s coast to close China’s main ports and destroy its sea lines of communications. Even more egregious is the recommendation of sending special operation forces to arm China’s restive minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, at a time when Beijing is suffering from its worst terrorist attacks the past 20 months.

Nonetheless, the Middle Kingdom has a counter-measure, a famous strategy called “Sheng Dong Ji Xi (声东击西), meaning make feint in the east and attack in the west.

Currently, Washington’s eyes are on China’s eastern flank in the Pacific.

However, should Obama attempt to remove Assad and pave the way for an anti-Chinese Islamist regime that supports extremist groups to attack Chinese territory, coupled with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) perception that US would arm terrorists in Xinjiang to destabilize China, Washington should not be surprised if this becomes a “tipping point” for China to attack in the west, joined by Russia and Iran.

The author is a former director of China policy at DOD and claims that this is a huge blind spot due to Obama's China team being staffed with interns. When she's not writing articles like this she's sellng beachfront real-estate in Nebraska.

Posted by: Nana2007 | Nov 16 2014 4:37 utc | 18

sadly, the following is accepted as reporting.....

U.S. officials said.
A White House spokesman
Others said
a senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity

only Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the only one to put his name with his statement, said the ease with which those groups were overrun exposed problems that will be difficult to offset through remote training, even if it is ramped up.

which leads me to the conclusion that the warmongers are simply cowards, unwilling or unauthorized to own up to their own recommendations.

Missy Ryan contributed to this report...others suspected her of being a CIA spokesperson, perhaps this is just a trial balloon being floated to see who will react.

Posted by: dan of steele | Nov 16 2014 9:02 utc | 19

Someone mentioned "Impeachment", but would/will they try? One would love to believe that the Repuglicons have at least found the way, but that "love" is probably like the "pixie" dust that has engulfed Washington D.C. all these years. Truth be told, they all belong in the unemployment line, like every other traitor who has sold his/her country out for those bags of coin.

Posted by: Norman | Nov 16 2014 13:27 utc | 20

It is certain that the R's and FOX and Friends will begin murmuring about impeachment. It will serve - like the Ebola Scare and other distractions - as further distraction. There isn't any need to impeach the CIA President. He is performing as he is ordered.

The dissolution and reformation of the ME will continue unabated.

Who will stop it?

Posted by: fast freddy | Nov 16 2014 14:37 utc | 21

@ 21: " He is performing as he is ordered."

An apt discription of the American Presidency, and I suspect, most of the others around the globe.

Posted by: ben | Nov 16 2014 15:27 utc | 22

@20 Republicans really are crazy. McConnell and Romney might be part of the elite, but the underling class that makes up the GOP in out. They may not be as "articulate" as Ted Cruz, but the Tea Party was created to get those people under control.

In short, the power elite supported by GOP voters won't have a choice. Perhaps impeachment proceedings will be avoided because of timing, but there will be witch hunts. Democrats will stomp their feet about how they let Iraq war criminals go as if it's a badge of honor. The GOP underlings won't care because there has been enough turn over that they weren't involved, and they don't like McConnell or Boner particularly if investigations led to them.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Nov 16 2014 16:33 utc | 23

most of the others around the globe.

Except Putin. I believe he's the Don of his mafia criminal organization — Don Putin has a nice ring to it. If he's not, and he is taking orders and acting the part, he deserves an Oscar - this kind:

Putin's Oscar

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Nov 16 2014 16:39 utc | 24

cold - i think you hit the nail on the head suggesting creating failed states is all the usa is about... that must make your cold heart that much more frosty knowing the usa is the new 3rd reich wanting world domination and thinking that it is perfectly acceptable to murder and starve millions of people in the name of the great exceptional empire formerly known as 'the usa'..

Posted by: james | Nov 16 2014 18:36 utc | 25

You realize the desperation of American 1d1ots by the number of 1d1ot Holefield's posts.

Posted by: Scan | Nov 16 2014 20:39 utc | 26

I am not surprised that you people with your unrestrained enthusiasm for Bashar al-Assad pretend that his collaboration with the White House does not exist, nor that of Iran. I will give you credit that you are still opposed to US intervention even if the dictatorship you support does not. Maybe there is hope...

Posted by: Louis Proyect | Nov 16 2014 23:07 utc | 27

@27 yuck dude - your unrestrained enthusiasm for exceptional is a perfect fit for the exceptional nation that thinks it can destroy other countries around the globe with tacit approval from resident american idiots like you and cold.. fortunately not all americans are as stupid and supportive of indiscriminate murder as you 2..

Posted by: james | Nov 17 2014 3:18 utc | 28

Really, it is idiotic to say Republicans are the war mongers. It took 9/11 to enable the last Republican to really kick off a significant conflict.

Sadly, the kabuki theater of American politics dictates that the ostensible "war" party must be peaceful in action because said image energizes the opposition, whereas the ostensible "progressive" party is the one which screws its constituents the hardest.

Posted by: c1ue | Nov 17 2014 19:48 utc | 29

If the Republicans bring impeachment proceedings against Obama it will be because, domestically, he pushed Obamacare (not because it does not coincide with what the majority of Americans want, single payer, but because it isn't a big enough gift to the insurance industry) and reformed Immigration policy by fiat (not because it fails to address Americans' fears about employers outsourcing or insourcing jobs to cheaper labor, but because it may give more brown people the opportunity to vote for Democrats) and internationally, because he pushed our BFF Israel to give up even an inch of sacred soil (so he will deserve the cursing that God will mete out upon one who has failed to bless Israel quite enough) and because he has not been hawkish enough, quickly enough, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Nov 18 2014 3:52 utc | 30

Japan is slipping, China development credit is flatlining, India sold its Treasury for IMF/WB credits to go into mega-debt as its productivity is falling, they are exercising the 2008 Option; Russia's economy is tanking, the ruble is crashing; and Brazil's foreign debt to GDP ratio has more than doubled, while GDP per capita continues to fall.

Yes folks, you don't have to look any farther than BRICS to know the USEU's days are numbers and it's a New Ball Game, headed by I$I$ and their new 'almost gold fiat paper'.

Posted by: ChipNikh | Nov 18 2014 13:07 utc | 31

You said: "Japan is slipping, China development credit is flatlining, India sold its Treasury for IMF/WB credits to go into mega-debt as its productivity is falling, they are exercising the 2008 Option; Russia's economy is tanking, the ruble is crashing; and Brazil's foreign debt to GDP ratio has more than doubled, while GDP per capita continues to fall."

It is interesting how strongly you are influenced by MSM yakety.

Sure, there are going to be regular economic setbacks in the BRICS - but the reality is that they're still growing - on top of which Japan is NOT a BRIC.

Keep in mind that the name of the game is to have your currency be weaker than anyone else; a nation having a weak currency simultaneously discourages imports even as it encourages exports which in turn greatly helps balance of payments.

How then is a weak ruble a bad thing? China has been disparaged for years because it pegs its currency under the dollar.

India's debt to GDP was 84% in 2004 - it is 67% now. Brazil's debt to GDP is slightly higher (69%).

What's the US' debt to GDP? 106%

More importantly, however, is the actual scale. India's debt is $1.28T; Brazil's debt is $1.55T but the US' debt is $17.96T

The GDP of the entire world is around $72T - the US' debt is nearly 25% of the entire world's GDP.

That is a problem.

Posted by: c1ue | Nov 18 2014 14:52 utc | 32

I should note that the above applies if said debt is either in your own currency or offset by currency reserves - which is true for all of the BRICS countries.

A country like Ukraine whose debts are not denominated in its own currency AND has low currency reserves, a low exchange rate is a death knell. Even the Ukrainian debts which are denominated in hryvnia also often have contingencies where if the exchange rate falls to a certain point and/or debt to GDP exceeds a certain point, the loans are callable. Also bad.

Posted by: c1ue | Nov 18 2014 15:17 utc | 33

Reminder relating to b's most current post on the subject.

Posted by: really | Nov 30 2014 14:27 utc | 34

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