Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday as “intellectually dishonest” about the Obama Administration’s claim that it doesn’t need new congressional authority to arm Syrian rebels.
“You are intellectually dishonest if you argue that something passed in 2001 to [deal] with the people who attacked us in 9/11 has anything to do with sending arms into Syria,” Paul said during an afternoon speech on the Senate floor. “It’s intellectually dishonest and to say otherwise you are an intellectually dishonest person.”
Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday that the Administration would act under congressional authority passed in 2001 to fight al-Qaeda and its affiliates as it arms more moderate Syrian rebels for the battle against the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).
“The rebels have been all over the map,” Paul said. “There’s said to be 1500 different groups. It is chaos over there. We will be sending arms into chaos.”
Paul said the Senate should vote on a separate measure to expand military action in Syria instead of including it in the short-term government funding bill that the House passed Wednesday.
The issue of whether or not to train and equip the Syrian rebels opposed to ISIS has divided potential 2016 presidential candidates. While Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) oppose the measure, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) supports it.