House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the Obama administration’s decision to send up to 275 military personnel to Iraq is necessary but the U.S. has “a very narrow window” to fix the deteriorating security situation in the country.
He also called the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a leader of the Benghazi branch of the terror group Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, a “little bright spot” in a “dire situation.” Khatallah allegedly was one of the organizers of the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attack on the U.S. consular facility in Benghazi.
“This is an important step. It’s done. It means we still have over a dozen individuals that we’ve been able to identify and believe participated in those events,” he told PJ Media at the National Association of Broadcasters Service to America Awards on Tuesday evening.
“They all need to be brought to justice but this was a little bright spot of good news in a very dire situation around the rest of the world and we should celebrate the intelligence folks, the FBI and military guys that put this together and effected arrest with no injuries. That’s pretty fantastic in a very dangerous place,” he added.
The National Association of Broadcasters honored legendary singer and songwriter Paul Simon with the 2014 Service to America Leadership Award at the event. The organization recognized General Motors and the General Motors Foundation with the 2014 Service to America Corporate Leadership Award.
Rogers and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) were on hand to honor stations in their respective states for outstanding service to their local communities. In total, five radio and television stations were honored, including WLEN-FM in Adrian, Mich., and KOBI in Medford, Ore.
Walden, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the White House should answer why the terror suspect was interviewed by several American media outlets months before his capture.
“I’m glad they caught him. He’s been interviewed by most national news organizations prior to this already I’m told so it’s good that our team finally got a hold of him so he can be prosecuted appropriately,” Walden said at the event.
President Obama announced in a letter to congressional leaders on Monday that he was sending a small force to Iraq for the security of American personnel in the country and the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Obama also has not ruled out U.S. airstrikes in the country.
“They’re going to go through a series of steps. It’s important that we get this right. I think we have a very narrow window to get this right,” Rogers said.
“We need to give political reconciliation breathing room and you do that by pushing back ISIS or ISIL, the Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant, and it’s important that we have some disruptive type activity to stop their advance, give the political reconciliation some breathing room,” Rogers added.
Rogers said this could be achieved through command and control, intelligence packages and training of troops.
“Now that will take some U.S. personnel but it is not troops, big boots on the ground, none of that,” he stressed.
Walden said the federal government has an obligation to protect the Americans serving in Iraq and the embassy but called Obama’s overall foreign policy dangerous.
“I hope it’s a big enough force to protect the embassy. These are really volatile times. The real question is what was the president doing? What did he know and why did he wait so long to react to the ISI? This has been coming for a year and his foreign policy is playing out on the world stage in a very dangerous way for the world,” he said. “Our friends don’t know that they can rely upon us and our enemies no longer fear us.”
Walden was asked if he thinks Obama will need to receive formal authorization from Congress for any further military action.
“He needs to follow the law,” Walden replied.