Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 23, 2014

Posts in "Terrorism"

September 22, 2014

Should the U.S. Be Most Worried About ISIS, or Some Other Threat?

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Feinstein talks with an aide on the Senate subway in June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Everybody agrees ISIS is a problem for the United States, and the news coverage has put a tremendous focus on the group. But this weekend, some light was shined on the question of whether the group that calls itself the Islamic State is the biggest threat.

The New York Times wrote about the threat posed by Khorasan, which the national spymaster estimates might equal the threat posted by ISIS. House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. (@repmikerogers), said it might even be greater. And Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. (@SenFeinstein), placed Khorasan among the three most dangerous groups threatening the United States, alongside ISIS and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

There’s about to be more light shined on the question: On Tuesday, the Bipartisan Policy Center is set to release a report evaluating the overall threat from jihadists, and Carie Lemack, the director of the group’s Homeland Security Project, discussed some of the report’s highlights with Five By Five on Monday. Full story

Congress Vs. ISIS, National Security and the Elections in the Week Ahead

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Kaine speaks with a reporter by the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol in July. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A United Nations climate change summit that President Obama is scheduled to visit this week gives the White House a chance to push its fight against the Islamic State group before other countries. And a U.S. visit next week by new Indian prime minister Narenda Modi is giving think tanks and organizations a lot of reasons to hold India-related events in advance.

Then there are the subjects in the headline. Full story

September 17, 2014

Obama Reaffirms No Boots On The Ground But Chatter Continues

A day after the U.S. military’s top officer raised the possibility of boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, President Barack Obama clarified the administration’s plans during an address to troops at U.S. Central Command.

“As your Commander-in-Chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq,” Obama said on Wednesday, the day after Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there could be circumstances under which he’d recommend the president use combat troops to fight the Islamic State.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates seemed inclined to agree with Dempsey, telling CBS This Morning: “The reality is, they’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, or the Sunni tribes acting on their own.”

“So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy,” he added, noting that to say otherwise “traps” the president.

See below for more commentary and analysis on the issue:

Film Review: What War Feels Like For Soldiers

 Film Review: What War Feels Like For Soldiers

Movie poster for “Korengal: This Is What War Feels Like”

After finishing a deployment at a notoriously dangerous outpost in northeastern Afghanistan, Capt. Dan Kearney recalled what it was like to be stationed there.

“Bad guys come to you so you can kill them,” Kearney says in the film, “Korengal: This is What War Feels Like,” a documentary released in May from the Academy Award-nominated director of “Restrepo.”

Five by Five attended a screening of the film along with a panel discussion, sponsored by New America and featuring the film’s director, Sebastian Junger, Navy veteran Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., Command Sgt. Maj. La Monta Caldwell  and Blayne Smith of the veterans group, Team Red, White & Blue.

In the film, soldiers described themselves as “bait” for members of Al-Qaida and the Taliban when they were on patrol. “I pretty much never thought I’d make it out of the valley alive,” says Spec. Misha Pemble-Belkin.

Over the course of five years, 42 American soldiers lost their lives while deployed to the outpost, which the U.S. shuttered in 2010 after unsuccessful attempts to gain the trust of the locals and to drive off the Taliban and Al Qaida.

“What I want is for viewers to understand the experience of combat by soldiers,” Junger told Five by Five. “Soldiers really don’t debate the merits of the war, the morality of the way, the strategy of the war, they really are focused on the mission that they are given.”

Indeed, your blogger found “Korengal” to be a more personal look into the lives of soldiers than 2010′s “Restrepo.” The film included intricate details like soldiers describing the sound of bullets flying as well as how tedious the terrain was to traverse.

September 16, 2014

Sens. Levin, McCain Offer Rejoinders for Code Pink at ISIS Hearing (Video)

The anti-war group Code Pink is a staple at national security hearings, good for a handful of disruptions per, but largely they are just part of the scenery now. At Tuesday’s Armed Services hearing on the Islamic State group (aka ISIS or ISIL), two senators went beyond the usual “escort them out of the room, please/we might close this hearing to the public if you don’t stop” approach.

Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 3:49 p.m.
Terrorism, War

September 15, 2014

Presidential Politics and Defense, ISIS Hearings in the Week Ahead

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Rubio, July 9. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The first order of business this week on the Hill is passing a stopgap spending bill, which is of course of interest to the defense and national security world. You could also throw a rock and hit any given Iran nuclear event in D.C., so we’ll mostly focus on other things… Full story

September 12, 2014

ISIS and Twitter

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McKeon delivers an address during a National Press Club luncheon in February. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Islamic State terrorist group will have no safe haven if they threaten America, President Obama said in address to the nation on Wednesday night.

But they have been threatening America, in particular by using social media. Full story

September 11, 2014

9/11 Political Commercials

There is a fresh pair of 2014 election season ads up that are tied to Sept. 11.  One has already endured some backlash. Full story

September 10, 2014

Effective Middle East Coalition Against ISIS No Given for Obama

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President of Iraq Fuad Masum (R) greets U,S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) before a meeting in Wednesday in Baghdad. Kerry is visiting Iraq where he will meet with leaders, including new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, to talk about the threat presented by ISIS and other issues. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Ahead of President Obama’s big speech Wednesday evening on his plans for combatting the terrorist group commonly known as ISIS, CQ Roll Call’s Jonathan Broder spoke with a number of experts about the United States teaming up with Middle Eastern countries. They told him: It’s complicated. Full story

September 9, 2014

Benghazi, Judiciary Chairmen File Bill to Block Libyan Pilot Training in U.S.

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Gowdy speaks with the media on the East Front of the Capitol after a vote in the House, July 31. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A group of Republican House members — including the head of the special Benghazi investigative committee and the chairman of the Judiciary Committee — are now pushing legislation that would block the Obama administration from lifting a ban on Libyans training at U.S. flight schools, or receiving training in nuclear science.

Their objection: Libya is getting worse security-wise, so maybe the timing of the Department of Homeland Security’s regulatory change is poor. Full story

September 8, 2014

The Problem With Congressional Authorization of Military Force

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Nelson waits for the start of a May 6 Finance Committee hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is wrestling with its role in authorizing military action in Iraq, Syria and overall. And it’s not that it doesn’t matter. It’s just that it might not make a difference — at least not soon. Full story

Police Militarization, Congressional Comeback in the Week Ahead

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Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is back in town for a little while, with a blend of housekeeping and rowdiness on the national security front. That means a continuing resolution to keep the government funded until December, including some national security programs; a House resolution criticizing President Obama over the “Taliban Five”/Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap; and maybe a new war authorization stemming from the uptick of military action in Iraq.

Congress’ return also means Washington, D.C. will be humming again, and Five By Five will be back to its regular publishing schedule… Full story

September 2, 2014

Advice for the New NATO Chief

As President Barack Obama preps for a visit this week to a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Wales, and as Russia readies a revised military doctrine in response to NATO, a think tank is offering advice to incoming secretary general Jens Stoltenberg of Norway.

The Center for a New American Security policy brief, released Tuesday, includes steps for the new NATO chief in reckoning with Russia and the group widely known as ISIS. Full story

August 26, 2014

Should Congress Authorize Air Strikes in Syria?

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Kaine, at an April Senate Foreign Relations hearing. (Tom Williams, CQ Roll Call)

A pair of senior senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee want President Barack Obama to come to Congress for authorization of any air strikes in Syria targeting the group popularly known as ISIS, which has made big gains in Iraq. Others? Not so interested in Congress getting involved. Full story

August 21, 2014

How Obama Could Respond to James Foley’s Murder

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Royce, 2013 file photo. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama sent a tough message after an American journalist was murdered by the extremist group, Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), but the actions that the administration will take in response to the murder, and the timeline for them, are still not fully known.

But what are his options? Many of them range from vague to unlikely.

Full story

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