News

Republicans pressure Obama to step up action on ISIS

Republicans pressure Obama to step up action on ISIS

ISIS: People holding flowers stand in front of a photograph of James Foley, the freelance journalist killed by the IS group, during a memorial service in Irbil, 220 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Aug.24. Foley, the U.S. journalist slain by Islamic State militants after being held in captivity for nearly two years, was remembered in a small ceremony in Irbil on Sunday. Photo: Associated Press/Marko Drobnjakovic

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans are calling for more aggressive U.S. action to defeat Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, accusing President Barack Obama of policies that have failed to thwart potential new threats on U.S. soil.

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.

“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 Leslie Adler)

Recent Headlines

9 hours ago in National

Trump looks to unify Republicans; Kasich reported dropping out

17-overlay

Billionaire Donald Trump assumed the mantle of presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Wednesday with a message on unity that also suggested he was not going to work too hard to placate some party establishment figures angered by his outsider candidacy.

13 hours ago in National

Takata recalls millions more air bag inflators

takata16125303396828

Automakers will recall up to 40 million more air bag inflators installed by Takata Corp by 2019, expanding the largest automotive recall in American history.

13 hours ago in Sports

Deflategate: Brady gets more time

tombrady276076991807

Lawyers for the New England Patriots quarterback have been given another two weeks to appeal his "Deflategate" suspension.

13 hours ago in Sports

Kentucky Bourbon Trail offers a lesson for reviving racing’s fans

derby16124571363511

Some of the best-known farms in Kentucky's scenic horse country are borrowing from another of the state's contributions to the good life — bourbon whiskey distilleries — in an effort to win new recruits to an aging and shrinking fan base.

13 hours ago in National

School safety: Drops in bullying, violent crime on campus

schoolsafety16124794280762

The latest government snapshot of school crime paints a picture of safer schools, with declines in violent crime, bullying and harassment because of sexual orientation.