According to Homeland Security Chair Mike McCaul, Kerry’s claims that only 15 to 25% of the rebels are extremists do not match what the intelligence community has briefed him (they’ve said over half of the fighters are extremists).
Update: Meanwhile, the source Kerry cites for his estimates on numbers of extremists is a consultant for the rebels.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry encouraged members of the House of Representatives to read a Wall Street Journal op-ed by 26-year-old Elizabeth O’Bagy — an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War — who asserted that concerns about extremists dominating among the Syrian rebels are unfounded.
“Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al-Qaida die-hards,” O’Bagy wrote for the Journal on Aug. 30. “Moderate opposition groups make up the majority of actual fighting forces,” she wrote.
But in addition to her work for the Institute for the Study of War, O’Bagy is also the political director for the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a group that advocates within the United States for Syria’s rebels — a fact that the Journal did not disclose in O’Bagy’s piece.
This is unbelievable. The Wall Street Journal is a horrible newspaper. Their editorialists in particular have an uncanny record of being wrong about nearly everything. I certainly don't approve of their omission of O'Bagy's conflict of interest, but I'm certainly not surprised by it.
I am surprised that the Secretary of State--in a country that spends more on defense and intelligence than the rest of the world combined--ignores his own intelligence agency in favor of an editorial by the new 26-year old "Ahmed Chalabi" in a newspaper that is routinely hostile to his own party. It's an embarrassment, and yet another warning sign that going to war in Syria is a very bad idea.