Representative Martha McSally (R-AZ) criticized the Obama administration’s ISIS policy, stating, “We have around two dozen people focused on countering violent extremism in the federal government. But we have roughly 10,000 IRS agents making sure you don’t take an improper charity deduction. Where we are putting our resources simply does not match up with the threats we are facing.” Saturday’s GOP Weekly Address.
Transcript as Follows:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris as they recover from last week’s horrific terrorist attacks. While we mourn this tragedy, let us be reminded those attacks could have happened here. This is not to instill fear, but to remind us to be vigilant. That’s why we’re calling on the administration to step up, provide global leadership, and put together a coherent and aggressive strategy to defeat ISIS.
I need no reminders about the threats we face. Before being elected to Congress, I served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a full colonel. I was the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat and the first to command a fighter squadron in combat in U.S. history. In my career, I flew 2,600 flight hours, including over 325 combat hours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I deployed to the Middle East and Afghanistan six times, serving in leadership positions for the initial air campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and counter-terrorism ops in Africa.
After I was elected, I had the privilege to be appointed to a task force on combating terrorist and foreign fighter travel. For six months, our bipartisan task force looked at this very threat. What we discovered is that 30,000 individuals have traveled from over 100 countries to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. We know about 4,500 are from Western and visa-waiver countries. And 250 of them are from America. Those are the ones that we know. We realize there are probably so many that we don’t know.
In addition, law enforcement has ISIS-related investigations in every single state right now, with cases increasing at an alarming rate. And ISIS is employing a sophisticated and unprecedented propaganda, recruitment, and social-media campaign. They use it to inspire or direct people to travel to ISIS-controlled areas to join the fight or remain where they are and commit terrorist attacks at home.
There’s an estimated 200,000 pro-ISIS social-media posts per day. They are acting at the speed of broadband, while we are acting at the speed of bureaucracy.
After our six-month investigation, the task force laid out 32 key findings and made over 50 recommendations in the report that we released in September.
And the number one finding—the most glaring weakness of all—is that this administration does not have a strategy to combat this dangerous threat. I have been focused on national security for over 30 years, and I can tell you that ISIS is the most potent terrorist movement we have faced. They showed this month the apparent capability to take down the first airplane since 9/11 and conduct the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II. France and Russia have shown resolve in response, but the world is waiting for America’s resolve and leadership—and a comprehensive strategy to win.
The administration has been leading from behind. In the military, we would call that following. Their reluctant approach is only emboldening ISIS to recruit more fighters as they claim they have been attacked by U.S. airpower for 15 months, yet the momentum is theirs.
Our strategy must include utilizing all elements of national power. We must unleash American air power to destroy their leadership, command and control, logistics, and their means of financing their terror.
For 17 months, ISIS has been exporting black-market oil to fund their operations, and we just finally started striking the fuel trucks with the mighty A-10 warthog, the airplane I flew. The aircrews have been doing the best they can under overly restricted rules of engagement. We need to take the gloves off, let them do their jobs now to destroy ISIS capabilities in Iraq and Syria.
Next, we need to show leadership again in the broader Middle East. Our close ally Israel and our Sunni Arab allies are rightfully confused and dismayed by this administration’s myopic focus on a nuclear deal with the Shia state sponsor of terror and their biggest security threat, Iran. The strategy must ensure actions against ISIS don’t strengthen Iran. A broader strategy includes partnering with the nearly 20 countries that have an ISIS presence to deny safe haven and counter the extremism ideology.
It must step up our efforts working with our allies, especially in Europe, to share information and close loopholes that facilitate terrorist travel.
And it means countering the radical extremism that we’re seeing in our own neighborhoods. We have around two dozen people focused on countering violent extremism in the federal government. But we have roughly 10,000 IRS agents making sure you don’t take an improper charity deduction. Where we are putting our resources simply does not match up with the threats we are facing.
This week, we sent the president’s desk a national defense bill, for the second time. It requires the president to put together a real strategy to defeat ISIS. We also give him all the tools he will need to execute that strategy.
Second, we passed a bill calling for a new standard of verification for those fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq to ensure ISIS isn’t posing as innocent victims, as they said they would. This is the first step to close one gap highlighted by the FBI director and our own security officials, and there are many other vulnerabilities we have identified that must be urgently addressed.
In short, we’re telling the administration to step up. Take this terrorist threat seriously. The fight against ISIS is a generational conflict, and we must lead now more than ever. Thank you.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett