President Obama is taking his time developing a strategy for dealing with the growing threat posed by ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – even as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and others have raised the alarm about the terror group’s potential threats to the U.S.
They’re not alone. David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, has raised the terror level to "severe" in the UK because an estimated 500 British Muslims have joined ISIS and could easily reenter the country. (At least 100 American citizens have also joined the barbaric army.)
While many lawmakers and analysts have said they appreciate the president’s deliberate and thoughtful approach ahead of the NATO summit next week, a prominent member of his own party has taken him to task for it.
This morning on NBC’s Meet the Press, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said President Obama was “too cautious” this week when he said the U.S. has not yet developed a strategy to deal with ISIS. At a fundraiser in New York City over the weekend, Obama also said, “[I] promise you things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago.”
“I think I’ve learned one thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious. Maybe in this instance, too cautious,” Feinstein told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “I do know that the State Department, the military, others, have been putting plans together. Hopefully those plans will coalesce,” she said, adding, “There is good reason for people to come together now and approach this as the very real threat that it is.”
Regarding ISIS, the extreme offshoot of al-Qaeda, she said, “I’ve seen nothing that compares with its viciousness…. This is really the first group that has the wherewithal in terms of financing, the fighting machine in terms of a structure, heavy equipment, heavy explosives, the ability to move quickly…. They crossed the border into Iraq before we even knew it happened. So, this is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous and they’ll kill with abandon.”
Feinstein said there is “no question” the group already has a home base in Syria, and that “they’ve expanded that base” into Iraq, and “part of it is a fighting base devoted to taking over cities. It failed to hold the Mosul Dam, thank God. I believe it is on its way to Baghdad, and I believe that they will try to attack our embassy from the West, which is a Sunni area, which I believe they are infiltrating now.”
ISIS “is a major varsity team, if you want to use those kinds of monikers,” Feinstein said, saying the president was “wrong” to characterize the terrorist group as a “JV team” back in January.
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