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Monday, September 22, 2014

Panetta: 'We pay the price' now because Obama didn't arm Syria rebels

  • Panetta said 'we pay the price' because Obama decided to overrule his secretary of state, CIA director and chairman of the Joint Chiefs
  • Asked if Obama made a mistake by refusing to arm moderate Syrian rebels early on, Panetta said 'that would've helped'
  • He also clashed with Obama's Iraq policy, saying that leaving some troops behind 'would've given us greater leverage over Iraq's government
  • In August Hillary Clinton said it was a 'failure' to leave Syria's rebels to fend for themselves, and 'left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled'
  • Bill Clinton now says 'it was an argument she lost within the administration'

Former Obama administration Pentagon chief Leon Panetta said Sunday that the president overruled nearly his entire national security team and decided not to arm moderate Syrian rebel groups early on, a decision that helped the ISIS terror army gain power.

Panetta also said he favored leaving a residual force of U.S. troops behind in Iraq instead of withdrawing them, another opinion Obama ignored.

Panetta, who was Obama's CIA director for two years before leading the Pentagon for two more, told CBS Newsthat entering the Syria conflict earlier, and ensuring that moderate groups gained power instead of the most extreme jihadi elements, could have prevented ISIS from growing and prospering.

'I think that would've helped,' Panetta said. 'And I think, in part, we pay the price for not doing that in what we see happening with ISIS.'

And a less complete troop pullout in Iraq 'would've given us greater leverage over Iraq's government,' he emphasized.

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