Barack Obama's dirty war

Beating back the brutal Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant may require cozying up to unsavory groups in Syria — including some currently affiliated with the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front — and may collide with existing law if the groups the U.S. wants to train or co-opt have murky human rights records, former officials and analysts say…

Analysts say it’s not clear whether the administration can quickly find that many potential fighters who meet current vetting standards. In public statements, officials have been vague about what those standards are. The White House referred POLITICO’s questions about the vetting standards and any potential changes to the process to the Pentagon and State Department, neither of which responded to queries on the issue…

“When do we run out of doctors, lawyers and dentists? When do we run out of these Minutemen?” asked former National Security Council staffer Douglas Ollivant. “Then we start getting into really nasty groups.”…

“There are moderates. The problem is they coordinate with jihadists against the Assad regime,” Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said at the same think-tank discussion. “Syrian moderates are extremely difficult to deal with … because of their inability, or unwillingness because of the situation they’re in, to make clear distinctions” between groups the U.S. considers terrorists and others opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.