The official's muted approach to the briefing dovetails with what senior intelligence community officials tell The Huffington Post is deep behind-the-scenes skepticism, ranging from ambivalence to outright opposition, from within the CIA to the administration's proposal to task the Department of Defense with arming the so-called moderate Syrian rebels.
The opposition derives from a number of factors. First, the CIA has already been covertly equipping Syrian rebels at the instruction of the White House, but has come to find the fighters increasingly disorganized and radicalized as the conflict goes on, with U.S.-supplied arms winding up in the hands of more radical fighters.
Meanwhile, some turf issues are at play. While officials in the CIA are skeptical of the broader strategy to arm and train the rebels, they are also wary of a plan that would give the Pentagon a responsibility that has so far rested with their agency.