Chad’s Morning Brief: Rift Widens Between President Obama and Military Officials on How to Take on ISIS, How Serious is the Threat of ISIS Crossing the Border, Other Top Stories
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of September 19, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
According to the Washington Post, Military officials and President Obama aren't completely agreeing with each other when it comes to military strategy.
Flashes of disagreement over how to fight the Islamic State are mounting between President Obama and U.S. military leaders, the latest sign of strain in what often has been an awkward and uneasy relationship.
Even as the administration has received congressional backing for its strategy, with the Senate voting Thursday to approve a plan to arm and train Syrian rebels, a series of military leaders have criticized the president’s approach against the Islamic State militant group.
Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who served under Obama until last year, became the latest high-profile skeptic on Thursday, telling the House Intelligence Committee that a blanket prohibition on ground combat wastying the military’s hands. “Half-hearted or tentative efforts, or airstrikes alone, can backfire on us and actually strengthen our foes’ credibility,” he said. “We may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American boots on the ground.”
Mattis’s comments came two days after Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took the rare step of publicly suggesting that a policy already set by the commander in chief could be reconsidered.
Despite Obama’s promise that he would not deploy ground combat forces, Dempsey made clear that he didn’t want to rule out the possibility, if only to deploy small teams in limited circumstances. He also acknowledged that Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander for the Middle East, had already recommended doing so in the case of at least one battle in Iraq but was overruled.
The White House and Pentagon have scurried this week to insist there is no hint of dissent in the ranks, though in some cases their efforts have focused only more attention on the issue.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tried to reassure the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday that civilian and military leaders at the Pentagon were in “full alignment” and in “complete agreement with every component of the president’s strategy.”
Some lawmakers were skeptical. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, suggested that Obama should listen more closely to his commanders. “I think it’s very important that he does follow the advice and counsel that he receives, the professional advice of the military. They are the ones best suited to do that.”
“I realize he’s commander in chief, he has the final say and the final obligation and responsibility,” McKeon added. “I would also request that he not take options off the table.”
Obama’s strategy received a boost with the Senate’s passage of his plan to train and arm about 5,000 Syrian rebels to help fight the Islamic State, a jihadist movement that controls large parts of Iraq and Syria and has threatened to destabilize much of the region.
ISIS and the Border
According to FOX News, some believe that there is a serious threat of ISIS entering the United States through the border. However, not everyone agrees with that.
The union representing America's immigration caseworkers warned Thursday of the "real and serious threat" that Islamic State terrorists could gain entry to the United States, either by slipping through the southern U.S. border or exploiting "loose and lax" visa policies.
Kenneth Palinkas, president of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council, issued the warning in a written statement. He's the latest to raise alarm that the Islamic State may be planning to infiltrate the U.S., though top security officials have said they see no evidence of such a plot at this stage.
Palinkas specifically alleged the administration has made it easier for terrorists to "exploit" the country's visa policies and enter the homeland.
He complained that the administration has "widened the loophole" they could use through the asylum system, and has restricted agents from going after many of those who overstay their visas.
Further, he warned that executive orders being contemplated by President Obama would "legalize visa overstays" and raise "the threat level to America even higher." He said there is "no doubt" many are already being "targeted for radicalization."
Palinkas' union represents 12,000 workers with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which handles immigration documents.
His statement, though, also backed recent claims from lawmakers and others that ISIS is already looking at the southern border. Palinkas cited the threat that "ISIS has already or will soon slip across our porous southern border."
On Wednesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said at a House hearing with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that he had "reason to believe" that four individuals were apprehended trying to cross into the U.S. from Texas on Sept. 10, and that they "have ties to known terrorist organizations in the Middle East."
Johnson said he had "heard reports to that effect" but could not speak to their accuracy.
Johnson, though, stressed that the government had "no specific intelligence or evidence to suggest at present that ISIL is attempting to infiltrate this country though our southern border."
At the same hearing, National Counterterrorism Center head Matthew Olsen also said: "There has been a very small number of sympathizers with ISIL who have posted messages on social media about this, but we've seen nothing to indicate there is any sort of operational effort or plot to infiltrate or move operatives from ISIL" into the U.S. through the southern border.
Still, Johnson said the U.S. needs to be "vigilant" and aware of the possibility of "potential infiltration by ISIL or any other terrorist group."
Warnings have been circulating for weeks about that possibility.
In August, the Texas Department of Public Safety put out a bulletin that said ISIS social media messages showed "militants are expressing an increased interest in the notion that they could clandestinely infiltrate the southwest border of US, for terror attack."
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