SHAFAQNA – Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Md., said it was a “mistake” for President Obama not to condemn the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) more harshly after they beheaded two American journalists they had captured. “I think the president made a mistake when he did not come out as strong after we had an American’s head cut off, not one but two,” said Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday. “I think he should have stood up and very strongly said we are not gonna take it, we are going to come after you to bring you to justice. And I think the president realized that he had to be stronger.”
Henry Kissinger discusses ISIS, Ukraine, and Russia
In a separate interview, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said the U.S. response to the murders should go beyond “a normal response to provocation.”
“Something has to crystallize out of this violence and it won’t happen without our leadership. We cannot do it all by ourselves,” he said.
Mr. Obama delivered an angry statement after the first journalist, James Foley, was murdered, saying that ISIS’ ideology was “bankrupt” and that “no just God would stand for what they did.” But Ruppersberger said the better response came from Vice President Biden, who pledged last week that the U.S. would follow ISIS “to the gates of hell” after the second journalist, Steven Sotloff, was murdered.
“That’s what we needed to hear and we are doing that,” Ruppersberger said. He did say, however, that the U.S. was reacting to ISIS by working to organize a coalition of other countries who can get involved.
“We also can’t be sheriff to the whole world; we have other issues that we are dealing with, too,” he said.
Marco Rubio: Obama’s response to ISIS “presidential malpractice”
But Ruppersberger said the president has “absolutely not” committed “presidential malpractice” in the Middle East, as Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said in a separate interview on “Face the Nation”.
When Mr. Obama speaks to the nation about ISIS on Wednesday, Ruppersberger said the president needs to “reassure the American public and the world that we are standing up” and will have a strategy.
He said that if the U.S. conducts airstrikes in Syria – a move Rubio backed – the U.S. should make sure they have sufficient intelligence to take out the militants’ leadership.
“You wanna kill a snake, you cut its head off and I believe that’s what we have to do to find out where their leadership is and go after it,” he said.
He wasn’t as ready to second Rubio’s position that the U.S. should bomb oil refineries in Syria that ISIS has captured and uses to fund their activities.
“I am willing to do what we need to do, but I don’t want to tell ISIS what we are going to do before we do it. And I think that is what concerns me, to just say go in and bomb them,” he said, citing Afghanistan and Pakistan as models.
Ruppersberger said that while there is not any intelligence that there will be an imminent ISIS attack on the homeland, he is very concerned about foreign fighters in Syria coming back to the U.S. and carrying out an attack here.
That threat “can change in the next day and that is why we are so vigilant,” he said.
He also said there should “absolutely not” be U.S. combat troops sent to the Middle East to deal with ISIS.
“That is not where we need to be,” he said. “We have more resources than anyone in the world from an intelligence perspective, from the ability to use our resources to take out groups like ISIS.”
“We are not taking over another country, we are not going to do that and the American public do not want us to do that either,” he added.