- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Republicans accused the Obama administration of having no strategy in Syria on Wednesday, but the administration fired back that it does have a strategy – it just can’t tell them what it is.

When asked whether military intervention in Syria was under consideration, Anne Patterson, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said she could not discuss even general answers to that in an unclassified setting. That prompted Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, to say that was the “most major, misleading baloney that I’ve heard in the U.S. Senate.”

He said he was sure there are no military options on the table since the administration has seemingly no strategy in Syria at all.

“I don’t see we have one other than letting people kill each other off,” he said at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We have no strategy in Syria. We haven’t had a strategy in Syria since day one.”

Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, also took issue with the witness’s inability to discuss many things at the public hearing and said classified briefings are often pointless because he doesn’t learn anything he hasn’t already read in the newspaper.

He asked for a classified briefing to answer the following questions: what military options are being considered; what role Russia and Iran will play in Syria; every description of help that’s been provided to the opposition; what actions, overt and covert, are being taken with Syrian rebels; what will happen to undisclosed elements of chemical weapons that may be found later; and what the consequences will be of missing the June 30 deadline to destroy all chemical weapons.

“We will have a classified hearing, here’s what we expect, and if you can’t do this then let us know so none of us are wasting our time,” Mr. Menendez said before laying out the questions he wanted answered. “I don’t want to go to a classified hearing with what I read in the New York Times.”

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