The screaming headline at right wing propaganda outlet Washington Free Beacon is just the beginning of the misleading idiocy in this article: U.S. Confirms ISIL Planning Infiltration of U.S. Southern Border.
Really? Infiltration of the US border with Mexico by ISIS is actually in the planning stages?
Well, uh… no, not really. Here’s what was actually said today at the Senate hearing to which the Free Beacon is referring:
Francis Taylor, under secretary for intelligence and analysis at DHS, told senators during a hearing that ISIL supporters are known to be plotting ways to infiltrate the United States through the border.
“There have been Twitter, social media exchanges among ISIL adherents across the globe speaking about that as a possibility,” Taylor told Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) in response to a question about “recent reports on Twitter and Facebook of messages that would urge infiltration into the U.S. across our southwestern border.”
Oh. So “planning” is a ridiculous fear-mongering overstatement; what Taylor actually said is that DHS has intercepted some communications in which ISIS members talked about it “as a possibility.” That’s a long way from being a plan.
But it gets even more ludicrous, because Sen. John McCain then cited… wait for it… James O’Keefe and his recent stunt crossing the border in a cheap Osama bin Laden costume as “evidence” that the border isn’t secure. Oh, my aching head.
James O’Keefe in his ridiculous bin Laden costume
“I’m satisfied we have the intelligence and the capability on our border that would prevent that activity,” Taylor said.
However, McCain was dubious, referring to recent videos released by activist James O’Keefe showing him crossing the border while wearing an Osama bin Laden mask.
Asked by McCain why agents did not stop O’Keefe, Taylor could not provide an answer.
“You can’t answer it because they weren’t there to stop him,” McCain responded.
John McCain and wingnut laughingstock James O’Keefe, together at last. Good grief.
And by the way, if you go to the Senate website for this hearing and download the full statement of Under Secretary Taylor, you’ll find that he actually said this:
At present, DHS is unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. Homeland from ISIL.
Here’s the full transcript of the President’s interview with NBC dunderhead Chuck Todd, and if you want to know why I refer to Todd that way, here’s a perfect example.
Obama mentioned Syria specifically four times before Chuck Todd blurted out, “You’ve not said the word, ‘Syria,’ so far in our conversation.”
I’m preparing the country to make sure that we deal with a threat from ISIL. Keep in mind that this is something that we know how to do. We’ve been dealing with terrorist threats for quite some time. This administration has systematically dismantled Al Qaeda in the FATA. We just yesterday announced the fact that we had taken out the top leader of Al-Shabaab the terrorist— organization in Somalia.
ISIL poses a broader threat because of its territorial ambitions in Iraq and Syria.
But right. And I—I want everybody to understand that we have not seen any immediate intelligence about threats to the homeland from ISIL. That’s not what this is about. What it’s about is an organization that, if allowed to control significant amounts of territory, to amass more resources, more arms to attract more foreign fighters, including from areas like Europe, who have Europeans who have visas and then can travel to the United States unimpeded, that over time, that can be a serious threat to the homeland.
In— in the more immediate term, it’s an imm— it’s a threat to friends, partners in the region and is causing all kinds of hardship. And we’ve seen the savagery not just in terms of how they dealt with the two Americans that had been taken hostage but the killing of thousands of innocents in— in Iraq thousands of innocents in Syria, the kidnapping of women the complete disruption of entire villages.
Not yet. But they— they can evolve. And I was very specific at that time. What I said was, not every regional terrorist organization is automatically a threat to us that would call for a major offensive. But what is absolutely clear in ISIL, which started as Al Qaeda in Iraq and arose out of the U.S. invasion there and was contained because of the enormous efforts of our troops there then shifted to Syria, has metastasized, has grown.
Well, they’re not a JV team. But keep in mind that we anticipated some of these problems in the speech that I gave at West Point you know, several months ago, where I specifically said, our goal should not be to think that we can occupy every country where there’s a terrorist organization.
Our goal has to be to partner more effectively with governments that are committed to— pushing back against the kind of extremism that ISIL represents. And that’s going to require us to do things a little bit differently. We’re going to have to work smarter.
We’re going to have to train the military there more capably. We’ve got to do more effective diplomatic work to eliminate the the schism between Sunni and Shia that has been fueling so much of the violence in Syria, in Iraq. And so we put together a plan that is compatible with the kind of work that we’re doing now.
You’ve not said the word, “Syria,” so far in our conversation. Obviously, if you’re going to defeat ISIS, you have used very much stronger language. It’s gone through the week during your trip to Wales. You got to go to Syria in some form or another.
Notice that Obama’s last mention of Syria came two sentences before Todd made his fatuous statement.
If one of the traits of a good interviewer is listening to the answers given by the subject, Chuck Todd fails. Miserably.
Here we go again, folks; you can see it coming already. During his press conference today, President Obama talked at length about the need to develop a strong, comprehensive regional strategy with US allies and partners to address the threat of ISIL.
So what are the right wing blogs going to be screaming about? At one point, Obama said these words:
We don’t have a strategy yet.
This will be the right wing’s next “You didn’t build that” — a deliberately distorted, out of context deception to enrage their base. It’s starting already:
But here’s the transcript, and for the record, I’ll pull out everything else Obama said about developing a strategy. I don’t expect this to affect the coming right wing freak-out (they’re impervious to facts), but for the record:
ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region, and that’s why our military action in Iraq has to be part of a broader comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners who are taking the fight to ISIL, and that starts with Iraq’s leaders building on the progress that they’ve made so far and forming an inclusive government that will unite their country and strengthen their security forces to confront ISIL.
Any successful strategy, though, also needs strong regional partners. I’m encouraged so far that countries in the region, countries that don’t always agree on many things, increasingly recognize the primacy of the threat that ISIL poses to all of them. And I’ve asked Secretary Kerry to travel to the region to continue to build the coalition that’s needed to meet this threat.
As I’ve said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I’m confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners. For our part, I’ve directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I’ll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy.
What is true, though, is that the violence that’s been taking place in Syria has obviously given ISIL a safe haven there in ungoverned spaces. And in order for us to degrade ISIL over the long term, we’re going to have to build a regional strategy. Now, we’re not going to do that alone.
But when we look at a broader strategy that is consistent with what I said at West Point, that’s consistent with what I said at the National Defense College, clearly ISIL has come to represent the very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectively. And that’s going to be a long-term project.
QUESTION: Do you need Congress’s approval to go into Syria?
OBAMA: You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think that it’ll be important for Congress to weigh in and we’re — that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are part of the debate.
But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are. And I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military, as well. We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard.
Now as we go forward, as I’ve described to Chuck, and look at a broader regional strategy with an international coalition and partners to systematically degrade ISIL’s capacity to engage in the terrible violence and disruptions that they’ve been engaging in, not just in Syria, not just in Iraq but potentially elsewhere if we don’t nip this at the bud, then those consultations with Congress for something that is longer term I think become more relevant.
But, as I said to Chuck, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. And in some of the media reports, the suggestion seems to have been that, you know, we’re about to go full scale on an elaborate strategy for defeating ISIL.
We are gonna work politically and diplomatically with folks in the region. And we’re gonna cobble together the kind of coalition that we need for a long-term strategy as soon as we are able to fit together the military, political and economic components of that strategy. There will be a military aspect to that. And it’s gonna be important for Congress to know what that is, in part because it may cost some money.
If those things are followed through on and we are able to combine it with a sound military strategy, then I think we can be successful. If we can’t, then the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat ISIS I think is unrealistic.
There you have it. The right will have their very predictable freak-out session, but maybe some people will refer to this post for the rest of the story.
This video is making the rounds today, because it’s a sad look at how extreme and insane the Republican Party has become in the Tea Party era. Marco Rubio, once considered a pro-immigration Republican who favored the DREAM Act, scolds a group of Latino protesters in front of an angry crowd of old white people, and then has them expelled from the room.
The GOP continues its slide into the worst kind of xenophobic craziness.
(h/t: Greg Sargent.)
Live from the Brady Press Briefing Room.
I first became aware of the “bring back Mitt” movement among establishment-type Republicans last month when Politico gave the world The Case for Mitt Romney in 2016. This was authored by definite partisan (a former Romney staffer and fellow private equity guy), but appeared in a not especially partisan outlet. This seems to be becoming a pattern.
Last week, The Washington Post published As Democrats avoid Obama, Romney is in demand on the midterm campaign trail. This is obviously not a place where one expects a GOP slant, but this story was written by former National Review Online scribe Robert Costa.
Now today we have the UK’s Telegraph (a conservative bent, but among the largest non-tabloid papers in the country) with Could Mitt Romney ride to the rescue of the Republican Party?. This week’s partisan author is Matt Lewis of The Daily Caller. The story includes a Pat Buchanan quote, complete with a thoughtful plug for his new Nixon book.
Of course, the next one of these stories to reconcile itself with the fact Romney was busy last summer making sure everyone understood he never really wanted to be president in the first place will be the first.
Senator Saxby Chambliss is the latest Republican to demonstrate that he’s not really opposed to torture — he just doesn’t want to call it that: Top Republican: Forthcoming Report on CIA Torture Is “Wrong”.
He said the term “torture” is only used by critics of the program and said he believed it would be disputed.
On the subject of waterboarding, Chambliss said it was “one of the specific issues that was investigated by the Department of Justice from the standpoint of, does it comply with the Geneva convention, and they made a determination that it is authorized, that it is not torture.”
And noted political daughter Liz Cheney also weighed in on the subject, calling President Obama “an utter disgrace” for using the word “torture.”
“This president is an utter disgrace. He’s got a situation where, as your last two reports showed, you’ve got crises erupting around the world. And he is expending more time, more energy, more passion, more aggressive activity in targeting and going after patriots, heroes, CIA officers and others who kept us safe after 9/11,” Cheney said on Fox News’ Hannity.
“He’s lying about what they did, he’s slandering them, he went to Cairo and did it in 2009. Today he did it from the podium of the Oval Office. It’s a disgrace. It’s despicable,” Cheney continued.
That’s right, in Cheney’s strange confused moral universe, not only is there nothing wrong with torture, the torturers themselves are “patriots and heroes.”
The utter disgrace is that after all these years and all the evidence that the US government turned its back on our most fundamental values and used torture against helpless prisoners, for absolutely no benefit, we still have Republicans denying and defending it. Shame on these people.
Live from the Brady Press Briefing Room.