US Court Rules Trump's Tweet Did Not Declassify CIA Program on Syrian Rebels

© REUTERS / Rodi Said/File PhotoU.S. forces set up a new base in Manbij, Syria May 8, 2018
U.S. forces set up a new base in Manbij, Syria May 8, 2018 - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US Federal Judge Andrew Carter ruled on Friday that US President Donald Trump’s tweet last year about CIA funding for Syrian rebels is not enough to declassify records about the covert program as requested by the New York Times in a lawsuit, according to the court document released on Monday.

“Plaintiffs, the New York Times Company and Matthew Rosenberg, bring this action challenging Defendant Central Intelligence Agency’s Glomar response to Plaintiffs’ request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act … for any records related to an alleged covert CIA operation to arm and train Syrian rebels,” the court document said. “The parties cross-move for summary judgment. For the reasons outlined below, Defendant’s motion is granted, and Plaintiffs’ motion is denied.”

Last July, the Washington Post reported that Trump decided to end a CIA covert operation to arm Syrian rebels fighting the Assad government. Trump responded to the report by saying it contained fabricated facts, but he did confirm an end to the program, describing US payments to the rebels as "massive, dangerous, and wasteful."

In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines prepare to build a military site during a sandstorm in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists. - Sputnik International
US May Keep Bases in Syria Despite Ending Support for Rebels
A day later, Trump clarified via Twitter that he was not involved in the decision-making to end the program, however, he said it had been suggested to him.

Following the Washington Post report, the New York Times filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the CIA requesting details about the covert operation and then filed a lawsuit against the agency when it did not provide an immediate response.

The New York Times argued that Trump’s statements via Twitter declassified the CIA program and should invalidate the agency’s position that it could not confirm or deny the Washington Post report.

The Washington Post reported in 2015 based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden that the CIA training project in Syria was one the agency’s largest covert operations, with a budget approaching $1 billion a year.

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