Secretary Kerry Briefs Senate Intel Members on Syria Plans; Cost Still Unknown

Stacy Kaper

Secretary of State John Kerry briefed Senate Intelligence Committee members Tuesday on the president's announced plans to provide small arms aide to Syria, but members who emerged from the two-hour classified meeting refused to discuss any details and specifically declined to answer questions on estimates of what the operation is expected to cost and where the funding might come from.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., who left the briefing room and came back, declined to comment both times he left, telling National Journal, "It's a hard job," referring to the responsibility of serving on the Intelligence Committee, as he gestured toward the door.

Committee members often defer to Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., who set the tone for how to discuss less sensitive information with reporters after closed-door briefings, but both refused to talk Tuesday.

"I have nothing to say about anything," Feinstein said. "Not even what day of the week it is or whether it is raining or sunshine out."

She even refused to respond to what the White House has shared publicly about its planned assistance to Syrian rebels. "I have no comment at all at this stage. None at all. I am sorry. I just can't," she said.

Kerry is expected to give a similar briefing to House Intelligence Committee members.