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MSNBC: WH’s Explanation of Obama Saying ISIS Is Contained Isn’t What He Said


MSNBC hosts Brian Williams and Andrea Mitchell cast doubt on the explanation that President Obama was referring to ISIS’ geographical territory when he said ISIS is “contained” on Monday’s “MSNBC Live.”

Williams said, “of course, Andrea, there was much made over the weekend that the president had just said ISIS was ‘contained.’ That was kind of streamlined yesterday into, he meant geographically, but there’s no way this jumps over any definition of contained.”

Mitchell added, “Well, they say that he meant contained or constrained within Iraq and Syria, being rolled back geographically, but that — if you look literally at what he said, that doesn’t seem to be what he said, when he talked about containment.”

Mitchell further said, “ISIS is now able to operate overseas in a way that they have never previously acknowledged, and that means we don’t know what we don’t know regarding how safe the homeland is.”

Earlier Mitchell stated, “he’s not going to change the strategy. He said they would intensify the strategy, but he is resisting any suggestion about ground forces. He said that they would intensify the current military strategy, which is airstrikes. He described it as training and equipping the Iraqis, and standing up Syrian partners. But we know that both the training and equipping of the Iraqis has not worked. so far the Iraqis, other than the Peshmergas, have fled any engagement they’ve been involved with, and the Syrians have only been a handful, five or six people for all of the money that’s been spent. They have so far not trained Syrians on ground, or gotten Syrian allies on ground. So, there’s been a lot of criticism of that military strategy. And he was very defensive, Brian in his tone. He reacted to the political criticism. He reacted to a lot of the others saying that they need to do more, and he defended the intelligence gathering. He defended, saying, that once a month they meet and go through the entire threat nexus and said that there has been vigilant, robust, and constant vigilance, on the intelligence side. And if I may, just suggest that only an hour and a half to two hours ago, John Brennan, the head of the CIA, who one of his closest counterterrorism advisers, going back to his White House days as the top counterterror adviser, Brennan was suggesting that they do now have to go back to basics, and see what they may have overlooked.”

After playing a clip of Brennan saying, “it is clear to me that ISIL has an external agenda, that they are determined to carry out these types of attacks. This is not something that was done in a matter of days.” And “I would anticipate that this is not the only operation that ISIL has in the pipeline.” Mitchell continued, “And so he’s acknowledging now, something that the US has been very reluctant to acknowledge, that ISIL has external capabilities, and operations, similar to what we knew in the ’90s, and tragically in 2001, from al Qaeda. This is not something that we had anticipated before. We were always told that if ISIS did something in the United States, it was through a lone wolf. It was not the way al Qaeda, or al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, have operated, but this is a new game.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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