“CIA Faces 20% Cut in Syria Funds”
The Washington Post, June 13, 2015, p.A1
“Key lawmakers have moved to slash funding of a secret CIA operation to train and arm rebels in Syria, a move that U.S. officials said reflects rising skepticism of the effectiveness of the agency program and the Obama administration’s strategy in the Middle East. The House Intelligence Committee recently voted unanimously to cut as much as 20 percent of the classified funds flowing into a CIA program that U.S. officials said has become one the agency’s largest covert operations, with a budget approaching $1 billion a year. … But the sudden contraction of Assad’s sphere of control has focused renewed attention on Syria and the CIA program set up in 2013 to bolster moderate forces that still represent the United States’ most direct involvement on the ground in Syria’s civil war. The cost of that CIA program has not previously been disclosed, and the figure provides the clearest indication to date of the extent to which the agency’s attention and resources have shifted to Syria. At $1 billion, Syria-related operations account for about $1 of every $15 in the CIA’s overall budget, judging by spending levels revealed in documents The Washington Post obtained from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. U.S. officials said the CIA has trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years — meaning that the agency is spending roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program.”
Quickie analysis: Eye-opening for its scope and its dubious effectiveness.