The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said the approach of the Obama administration to fighting ISIS is not “sufficient to the job.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday that Secretary of State John Kerry gave her committee “a more comprehensive sense of what the strategy is” last week.
“For the first time, I really learned the number of nations that have signed on to the Vienna agreement, the basic principles of the agreement,” she said. “And that’s involving both Iran and Russia. I think that is very crucial. The point there is — because the central point of all of this is Assad. And Assad has got to go, but the question is how and where and over what period of time, because, in the meantime, he’s putting out barrel bombs with chemical weapons on his people. He’s killed 250,000 people.”
“Russia is his great protector, but Russia now sees the challenge from Daesh, or ISIS, or ISIL. And so my problem with that is, you need a time agreement.”
What the administration has now, Feinstein said, is “general principles” of an ISIS strategy.
“But I’m concerned that we don’t have the time, and we don’t have years. We need to be aggressive now, because ISIL is a quasi-state,” she stressed. “ISIL has 30,000 fighters. It’s got a civil infrastructure. It’s got funding. It’s spreading in other countries. And it’s a big, big problem. And now what you see, I think, in other places is a competition developing from other terrorist organizations.”
“But ISIL is something apart. It’s enormously strong. And it has to be dealt with in a very strong manner… this has gone on too long now. And it has not gotten better. It’s gotten worse.”
The administration frequently notes that ISIS doesn’t hold as much land under the banner of the Islamic State as when the coalition swung into action.
“There may be some land held by ISIL in Iraq and Syria that’s been taken back, but, for all of that, there’s much more they have gained in other countries, two attacks in Tunisia, four centers, Libya takeover, the Sinai, and it goes on and on,” Feinstein countered.
“So, I think we need a specific larger special operations plan. One — a group of 50 is fine for what they’re doing so far, but it’s not going to solve the problem. And I think getting at the government in Raqqa in a way that one is not only able to get at the government, but change it, move ISIL out, that’s where the head of the snake, so to speak, has to be cut off. That’s Raqqa,” she continued.
“But it’s in many other places, too. And we don’t have a lot of time. There are needless deaths. We have over a million people that are refugees that are trying to save their families, trying to run from it. And we find it in Paris, and we find it in Belgium. And that’s where they’re running to. So, it makes no sense.”