Rep. McCaul Schools Koppel about Terrorism on Meet the Press

On Meet The Press, Ted Koppel doubled down on his claim from his Wednesday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, that America inflicted terrorism on herself. Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, countered Koppel’s claim by saying the threat of terror is real.

US intelligence officials intercepted a message between al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri and Nasser al-Wahishi, the leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, about a major terror attack. This is the same group that is responsible for the Christmas Day 2009 bombing and considered to be the most dangerous al-Qaeda affiliate.

This message led to the US and UK to close embassies in North Africa and the Middle East. Koppel said the government was overreacting and the plan could do more harm than good. The closings might even damage our relationships with the governments in these countries.

What does that do to our relationship in the rest of north Africa? What does that do in our relationship in the Middle East, with all of these governments? The terrorists have achieved more with one phone call than we have achieved with all our response.

While Koppel criticized the embassy closings as overreaction, McCaul criticized President Obama for his lackluster rhetoric. He said the threat is very real and does not think Obama should say the country should go back to the pre-9/11 mentality.

You know, well, listen. I think the threat's real. And what I call the narrative of the president, saying that Al Qaeda's on its heels; the struggles over, "Let's go back to a pre-9/11 mentality" -- I think is a very dangerous narrative. I get the same threat briefings that the president of the United States does, and I'm not seeing his rhetoric meeting reality. And the fact of the matter is, there is a spider web. You know, we were just focused on Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq; core Al Qaeda versus non Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda everywhere: distinction without a difference. It's all Al Qaeda.

Host David Gregory countered by asking for an example of this pre-9/11 mentality and McCaul brought up Obama’s hypocrisy on dealing with this war:

Well, I think it's the hypocrisy that he wants this rhetoric that the war is going to be over. He wants to sculpt a legacy where he is the peacemaker ending Bush's wars when, at the same time, he's ramping up drone strikes. Now, I favor drone strikes, but drone strikes are not going to kill an ideology.

Even faced with evidence the threat still exists, Koppel insisted America is overreacting and should not do anything. He even admitted the threat will always exist and there will always be terrorism. But McCaul shut him down by stating there is a difference between rhetoric and reality.

And how irresponsible would that be for us to do nothing? And with all due respect to Mr. Koppel, but I get these briefings, and I would be derelict in my responsibility if, in light of these threat briefings that I get, to do absolutely nothing and just say that this whole thing's over and to deny it.

Eighteen of the 19 US embassies reopened on Sunday, but the embassy in Sanaa, Yemen will remain closed. The consulate in Lahore, Pakistan is still closed because of a separate threat.


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