Representative Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House of
Representative Intelligence Committee, urged the administration to
work with Arab partners on robust steps to disrupt the operations of
the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He said the group is
drawing support from Europeans and Americans who could travel
undetected to Western countries to carry out attacks.
"They are one plane ticket away from U.S. shores," Rogers said on
NBC's "Meet the Press" program.
"We have the capability to defeat (ISIS). We now have to have the
political will and we have to have the policy to do it. We have the
first. We don't have the second two."
Rogers and other Republicans including Senator John McCain have been
relentlessly critical of Obama's security policy, including
accusations that the president has shown a lack of leadership
against terrorism since ordering the military operation that killed
al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.
But a leading Senate Democrat cautioned against overstating the
dangers ISIS could pose to the United States.
“I don't think we can simply dismiss them. But to jump from what
they have done, which is horrific ... to the assumption that they're
going to be an immediate, and within days, a threat to us here in
our homeland, I think you don't jump to that," said Senator Jack
Reed of Rhode Island.
“The proper strategy is a comprehensive strategy, and its foundation
is political, not just military,” he added.
U.S. officials have identified ISIS as a major threat since it
emerged from Syria's civil war and swept into Iraq this summer.
Obama has ordered limited air strikes against the group in northern
Iraq. But alarm raised by the beheading of U.S. journalist James
Foley has been followed by calls for action to defeat ISIS,
including attacks on its operations in Syria. Officials have not
ruled out escalating military action.
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"The president has to articulate the challenge, what we need to do
to meet it and describe exactly to Congress what those missions are.
And unfortunately, so far, he seems to be strangely detached,"
McCain told Fox News on Sunday.
"I am heartbroken about what has happened to the Syrian people and a
lot of that is due to our total inaction, and that's going to be one
of the more shameful chapters in American history."
Rogers blamed Obama for a change in policy that he said has
inhibited the ability of U.S. intelligence and defense agencies to
"disrupt" ISIS operations and other militant groups overseas.
"We have missed dozens and dozens of opportunities to take really
bad people off the battlefield," he said. "This is an opportunity
for the president to take a step back, change his presidential
guidance on how we disrupt terrorism around the world."
(Additional reporting by Alina Selyukh and Eric Beech; Editing by
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