Feinstein: Intelligence Community Caught By Surprise When ISIS Took Down International Border
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said she's siding with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the need to confront the "vicious, vicious" ISIS movement head-on.
"They have announced that they don't intend to stop. They have announced that they will come after us if they can; that they will, quote, 'spill our blood.' They have indeed done that by beheading Mr. Foley and who knows how many others that are unknown," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told NBC on Sunday.
Feinstein said the U.S. should act in earnest when it takes over the presidency of the UN Security Council this month to put together "the beginning of a strategy to put together a coalition of the willing, if you will."
"I mean it's a savage movement. In this case they have money. They have direction. They have moved rapidly to cross the Syrian border, take over Mosul and then give a sermon from the mosque in Mosul. They took over the Mosul dam -- all that is changing now. But I believe their goal is Baghdad. I think it's very, very serious and we have to have a strategy to deal with it in Syria and in Iraq in this new caliphate and to prevent that caliphate from expanding," she said.
Feinstein said if she's learned one thing about President Obama it's that he's "very cautious -- maybe in this instance, too cautious."
"I do know that the military, I know that the State Department, I know that others have been putting plans together. And so hopefully those plans will coalesce into a strategy that can encourage that coalition. From Arab nations, you know, Jordan is at jeopardy, Lebanon is at jeopardy. The UAE and other countries are in jeopardy. So there is good reason for people to come together now and begin to approach this as the very real threat that it in fact, is," she said.
She also agreed that Obama's comparison of ISIS to a junior varsity team in January was "wrong."
"I think it's a major varsity team if you want to use those kinds of monikers, but I see nothing that compares with its viciousness. I've been on the Intelligence Committee now since before 9/11 and I've watched this evolution of non-state actors into world terror very carefully and closely," Feinstein continued. "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. I mean they cross 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."
The chairwoman said U.S. intelligence in Syria "has not been good for a number of reasons."
"But I do know that the breaking through of the borders was not known ahead of time. I think a lot of that hopefully has been repaired now. And I think the intelligence community is well aware of the need to get up and running in a major way both in Iraq and in Syria," she said.
Feinstein stressed that ISIS "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 where I believe they are infiltrating now."