The Obama administration ignored intelligence reports about terrorist group ISIS and could have acted to prevent the current crisis, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said Wednesday.
“It was very clear to me that years ago that ISIL, or ISIS, was pooling up in a dangerous way–building training camps, recruiting, drawing in jihadists from around the world,” he said, speaking at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast. “We saw all of that happening. … Nothing happened to disrupt that.”
He criticized those, like Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, who have characterized the recent developments in Iraq as surprising, saying “Some notion that we didn’t see this coming means that you weren’t paying attention to the intelligence that was afforded us. … This is not an intelligence failure, it’s a policy failure.”
Now the administration is scrambling to keep together an increasingly fractured Iraq, with Secretary of State John Kerry on a whirlwind tour throughout the Middle East trying to shore up support for a unified Iraqi government. He’s met with little success thus far, with Iraqi and Kurdish leaders dismissing his calls for cooperation. (RELATED: Iraqi PM Slams Kerry, Rejects Unity Government)
Rogers called out the administration for refusing to address the terrorist threat sooner, saying that eastern Syria was a known safe-haven for the past two-and-a-half years. “Not responding is a decision,” he said. “Not making a decision is a decision. … It was clear they were going to try to expand their interests.”
He also criticized the recent court ruling ordering the government to make it easier to challenge being placed on the no-fly list, noting that these groups have access to western passports and are actively trying to circumvent U.S. security measures.
Not all of Rogers’ fellow Republicans see things his way, however, with Senator Rand Paul saying last week that American over-involvement in the region has strengthened ISIS and led to “a jihadist wonderland.”
“[ISIS] would not be empowered and in Iraq if we were not providing safe haven in Syria by arming their allies,” he said. “We are where we are because we are arming the Syrian rebels . . . So those that want to get involved to stop ISIS in Iraq are allied with ISIS in Syria. So that’s the real contradiction to this whole policy.” Paul is on the Senate committees for foreign relations and homeland security. (RELATED: Obama Foreign Policy Ratings Lower Than Ever)