Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said President Barack Obama's speech on counterterrorism last week was "disturbing" in that it ignored threats to the homeland while continuing a narrative that al-Qaida has been greatly diminished.
McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Obama's rhetoric "defies the reality in terms of the threat level that we've all been briefed on."
The president has decided on a narrative that al Qaida is on the run and defeated and that the United States can declare victory and return to a pre-9/11 mentality, McCaul said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.
McCaul said that while the core of al Qaida has been "denigrated tremendously," Obama diminishes the threat to the homeland.
"Al Qaida has evolved into a franchise global movement, if you will, that inspires and also is very tactical," McCaul said. Evidence of their work has been seen in Egypt, Libya and Syria, and Jordan and Saudi Arabia could be next, he said.
"This Arab Spring could be turning into a winter that, I think, poses a great risk to the homeland as well," McCaul warned.
McCaul said he doesn't favor the U.S. military occupying countries, but he also believes that the United States can have a counterterrorism footprint to respond to the future Osama bin Ladens of the world.
Obama spoke in his speech of repealing the authorization for the use of military force, McCaul said. "You're basically tying the president's hand, on his own, I guess, because he's not going to want to use any special forces to go after any future threats."
On Obama's call to close the military prison holding terror suspects in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, McCaul said he'd take an opposite approach to the president, whom he accused of wanting to shut down the prison before finding a solution of what to do with those held there.
A big worry, and one that keeps him up at night, he said, is the threat of cyber-warfare.
"Our financial sector continues to be under siege every day from Iran," he said. The Iranian government is behind attacks aimed at shutting down America's critical infrastructures, such as oil, gas and the financial sector.
If terrorist groups get the ability for such attacks, a successful cyber-attack could have the same impact as Hurricane Sandy had on the Northeast, he said.
"If Congress fails to act on this we will have that on our hands," he said.
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