“We have done a number of things in support of the opposition,” Brennan said, without going into detail. “There is a lot of humanitarian assistance that is going in there. What we want to do is to make sure that we understand exactly who are going to be the recipients of any type of aid.”
While al Qaeda will try to exploit the situation in Syria, “when you look at the Syrian opposition as a whole, the overwhelming majority of them are not of al Qaeda ilk. They are Syrians who are truly trying to gain control of their lives and their future,” Brennan said.
DEFENDING YEMEN OPS
Brennan also defended U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Yemen, where the use of drone strikes on suspected militants has raised criticism about the killings - including that of militant Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen.
He said U.S. counter-terrorism efforts in Yemen are conducted in concert with the Yemeni government.
“And contrary to conventional wisdom, we see little evidence that these actions are generating widespread anti-American sentiment or recruits for AQAP,” he said, referring to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group’s Yemen-based affiliate.
“In fact, we see the opposite. Our Yemeni partners are more eager to work with us. Yemeni citizens who have been freed from the hellish grip of AQAP are more eager, not less, to work with the Yemeni government,” he said. “In short, targeted strikes against the most senior and most dangerous AQAP terrorists are not the problem, they’re part of the solution.”
On another topic, Brennan denounced recent leaks of sensitive national security information, and disputed critics who said that some of those leaks came from the White House itself to burnish Obama’s image as commander in chief.
“There have been some devastating leaks,” Brennan said without mentioning specific instances. “It’s unconscionable what has gone out. The president has made his displeasure abundantly clear to his senior team” and that anybody responsible should be held accountable, he said.