By James Harrison
Political junkies tuning in to Saturday cable news shows might have caught Rep. Scott DesJarlais, the recent author of a bill to ban the U.S. from offering lethal aid to Syrian rebel groups, debating the topic with one of his Democratic colleagues on Fox News.
DesJarlais, a member of the House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform, discussed U.S. involvement in the ongoing conflict with Rep. Elliot Engel, D-N.Y. Engel, who is ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, argued in support of U.S. intervention in the 27-month conflict, which has killed more than 90,000 and displaced millions.
DesJarlais said he feared weapons and training being offered to vetted rebel units could possibly be used against the U.S. in unforeseen future conflicts.
"I don't know how we can say that it's easy to vet rebels or that we can assure Americans that these weapons won't in turn be weapons that we're fighting against in the near future," DesJarlais said. "And I don't know how you say that we're not getting involved when we're giving people weapons and telling them to go kill somebody else. That's directly getting involved. It certainly would be in this country."
Last month, the White House announced its intentions to offer assistance, including lethal aid to rebels fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Another Tennessean in Congress, Sen. Bob Corker, has repeatedly called for cautiously arming rebel groups and written his own bill outlining a process by which he would do so.