White House defends proposed counterterrorism fund

Obama administration officials recently defended a proposed $5 billion counterterrorism fund against charges that it was hastily conceived.

The fund would allow the U.S. to equip and train American allies and indigenous forces to combat al-Qaeda and its associates in areas including southwest Asia and northern Africa, DefenseNews reports.

Critics said, however, that how the fund would be used and whether it is even needed is unclear.

"There is an intense search for what does this thing even look like?" a former White House budget official said, according to DefenseNews. "Is it train-and-equip money for Syrians rebels? Is it for humanitarian aid on the outskirts of Syria? Is it to spread among African countries?"

The official said the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of State were not consulted before the fund was announced in May, DefenseNews reports.

White House officials pushed back against claims that the fund is an ad-hoc counterterrorism effort with unclear agency control.

"As a general matter, this program is envisioned to build upon the excellent cooperation between state and defense and would incorporate existing tools and authorities that have proven instrumental in our counterterrorism efforts to date," Edward Price, the assistant press secretary and strategic communications director for the National Security Council, said, according to DefenseNews. "The charge that it would undermine such coordination is absolutely false."

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