McCain: Terrorist Takeover in Iraq an 'Existential Threat to the United States'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stressed that the terrorist takeover of Iraq is "an existential threat to the United States of America."

"They are the richest and most powerful radical extremist force in history and they are dedicated to attacking the United States of America. That's the view of the director of National Intelligence, General Clapper," McCain said this morning on CNN.

"And our failure to help the resistance in Syria, which I have been begging for, is also one of the causative factors. As you notice, they're now going back and forth between Iraq and Syria. This is an existential threat to the United States of America."

The senator added that "we can't ignore the lessons of history, nor can we distort history."

"Many people are saying now, well, this was inevitable, we never should have gone in in the first place, and maybe we shouldn't. But that ignores the fact that, thanks to the surge and the sacrifice of so many Americans, we had this conflict won in Iraq," he said. "And then by taking the action the president did, it caused us to lose. And that's what I said was going to happen back in 2011 when I begged them to stay with a residual force."

Not only did Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant forces seize U.S.-made military equipment left by fleeing Iraqi soldiers in Mosul, but they got quite the cash windfall as well.

"This ISIS group is now the wealthiest terrorist organization in the world. They looted the Mosul banks for $430 million, in addition to taking about 200 caches of U.S. military equipment," Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) told MSNBC.

Moran, like some other Dems on the Hill in the wake of the fall of Iraq's cities, has used the opportunity to slam George W. Bush.

"With regard to John, Senator McCain, you know, he backed going into Iraq in the first place. Bush 41 did not. It was Bush 43 who had a very different approach to this. Bush 41 said, don't go into Baghdad. Leave Saddam there because as bad as he is, he's probably better than the alternative," Moran said. "And it turns out Bush 41 knew what he was doing. Bush 43, unfortunately, didn't. And unfortunately, to some extent, Senator McCain may not have known what he was doing when he pushed us to get into Iraq in the first place."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), though, stressed that the something has to be done to "stop and slow their momentum."

"And you have to remember who we're dealing with. This is an up-close and personal look at what the whole al-Qaeda political aim is and that's to gain ground, hold it, institute Sharia law, the very tough Muslim brand of legal enforcement that puts women back in the house, means that women can't come out of the house without a male escort. I mean, this is as bad as it gets. And we've seen them fight in other places. That's why this is so dangerous," Rogers told NBC.

"...Because if you believe al-Qaeda is still planning operations, they are. If you believe that this group wants to do terrorist activities outside of the area, including Europe and the United States, they do. And so you can't just allow them to get safe haven. And they're getting stronger by the day. They're getting weapons, they're getting money. That gives them huge swathes of land to train al-Qaeda operatives to come over to the United States or Europe or somewhere else."


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