Kerry’s Clapper Moment: The Least Untruthful Part of the Syria Testimony?


Many people cocked their heads when Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress this week that the Syrian rebel opposition is increasingly moderate and secular, while the jihadist forces aligned with al-Qaeda are faltering. That seemed wrong to many people who…uh, follow the news and official statements.

Here is Kerry’s statement:

The opposition has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution, which will be broad-based and secular with respect to the future of Syria.

Indeed, Kerry got ahead of himself. According to Reuters:

Secretary of State John Kerry’s public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.

…Kerry’s remarks represented a change in tone by the Obama administration, which for more than two years has been wary of sending U.S. arms to the rebels, citing fears they could fall into radical Islamists’ hands.

As recently as late July, at a security conference in Aspen, Colorado, the deputy director of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, David Shedd, estimated that there were at least 1,200 different Syrian rebel groups and that Islamic extremists, notably the Nusra Front, were well-placed to expand their influence.

“Left unchecked, I’m very concerned that the most radical elements will take over larger segments” of the opposition groups, Shedd said. He added that the conflict could drag on anywhere “from many, many months to multiple years” and that a prolonged stalemate could leave open parts of Syria to potential control by radical fighters.

U.S. and allied intelligence sources said that such assessments have not changed.

As far as I can tell, Kerry has not personally followed up on his statement. But if he does, I’m betting it may sound something like Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, when he was caught lying to Congress about whether NSA collects data on millions of Americans. Clapper’s excuse: it was the “least untruthful” answer he could think of.

21 thoughts on “Kerry’s Clapper Moment: The Least Untruthful Part of the Syria Testimony?”

  1. Aside from the relative strength of the moderate opposition and al Qaeda elements, there is also the question of who forms this moderate opposition. A synonym for moderate opposition that we keep hearing from senators is "vetted opposition". You had a good post on the limits of this "vetting" process back in May at….

    When I hear McCain and other hawks assuring us about how we can trust The Free Syrian Army, I am reminded of the Iraqi National Congress and Ahamad Chalabi – who was supposed to be our kind of guy, but turned out to be more of Iran's type of guy. A good article on how the war party seeks out so-called moderates like Chalabi can be found at

  2. This is literally the poster boy of Kerry's so-called "moderate opposition" in Syria:

    (So-called) "Free Syrain Army" 'Commander' Abu Sakkar.

    'Commander' Sakkar's flamboyant personality and penchant for eating raw human internal organs has apparently made him, among other things, a darling of the British lame-stream…as seen here:

    And here:

    The 'new' so-called "Syrian opposition leader" Ahmad al Jarba–current head of the stooge "Syrian National Coalition"–the sham exile group Obama "officially", on behalf of the United States, "recognized" and anointed the "Sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people"–Mr. Ahmad al Jarba even recently described the 'moderate' Cannibal Abu Sakkar as a "decent" guy and 'peaceful protester' who just somehow 'lost his way' due to the 'unusual' circumstances he's currently experiencing…

    …such as eating dead bodies and posting it on Youtube I presume…

    This is Kerry's idea of "moderate"…and yes, there are much worse elements of the so-called "armed opposition", believe it or not…

  3. This is what Putin accused Kerry of lying about, but in their dumb way the journalistic fraternity everywhere (including at have spun this into Putin claiming that Kerry said that there were "no AQ in Syria." Putin watched the whole debate on TV and he is an intelligent, trained observer. He couldn't possibly have said that or thought it. So what we have is journalists everywhere are morons, except possibly at, where people are generally very bright, if politically misguided (cough).

    1. To some extent I sympathize with mistakes on RT articles because of the clear language barrier some, but certainly not all, the journalists there seem to have (judging by typos and other such mistakes). I think if you look at the fact that they publish articles that NO ONE else does (i.e, the Kurdish massacre, Doctors without Borders' death-count for the August 21, 2013 chemical attacks, et c.) and the fact that they are willing to even say things that reflect badly for the Putin administration, shows their willingness to be a legitimate source of unbiased news.
      Having said that, lumping RT in with the likes of NY Times and other worthless sources is preposterous. You are comparing legitimate news sources with propaganda-style nationalist media.

  4. As far as I can tell, Kerry has not personally followed up on his statement. But if he does, I’m betting it may sound something like Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, when he was caught lying to Congress about whether NSA collects data on millions of Americans. Clapper’s excuse: it was the “least untruthful” answer he could think of.

  5. I remember in 2004 when antiwar people voted for Kerry because Bush "lied and they died". Now we have Kerry telling lies and if we get involved in war with Syria, there will be all the more deaths.

  6. I am beginning to think the guy is so brain dead that he is believing his own propaganda. Kerry is an embarrassment, certainly no better than Hillary Clinton, and has added nothing to peace in the Middle East.

    This business of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis is laughable and at best has thrown water on the dispute so that the Israelis can continue to expropriate land and expand their settlements- except that now it has become official policy of the Obama Administration not to criticize the building of new settlements.

    As for Syria, Putin was diplomatic when he said he lies. He should have said Kerry lies, Obama lies, Susan Rice lies, Ben Rhoads lies Samantha Power lies and Ambassador Robert Ford (now in Egypt but also appointed to handle Syrian 'peace negotiations') lies. They are a cynical bunch, many of whom lack experience or wisdom, others of whom (e.g., Robert Ford) are cold blooded killers.

    Congress must stop their lunacy before it is too late, otherwise Congress better be ready to get out of town.

  7. I think he fibbed to Sen. Boxer, too, when she asked if all the agencies agreed on their intell. And also shen she inquired why the Russians all insisted that there was no evidence of the Assad govt using chemical weapons. Kerry stuttered, stammered… and it sounded a LOT like Clapper's "least untruthful" bullshit.

    And the Democrat loyalist "bought it," of course. Strange that she would ask the right questions (that someone else gave her) but not know how to read non-verbal language (or, worse, did).

  8. If this chess game is about turning Democrats into Independents, the Republicans are winning.

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