Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Obama 'Too Cautious' on ISIS

Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 10:29 PM

By Todd Beamon

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President Barack Obama was "too cautious" in his remarks this week about the beheading to American journalist James Foley by Islamic State terrorists, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein said on Saturday.

"I've learned one thing about this president, and that is he's very cautious," the California Democrat told NBC's Andrea Mitchell in an interview for "Meet the Press" to be aired on Sunday. "Maybe in this instance, too cautious."

Story continues below video.

"I do know that the military, I know that the state department, I know that others have been putting plans together," Feinstein said. "And so, hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a strategy that can encourage that coalition from Arab nations.

"Jordan's at jeopardy, Lebanon's at jeopardy," she added. "So there is good reason for people to come together now and begin to approach this as a very real threat — that it in fact is."

President Obama has been broadly slammed by Republicans and conservatives since he admitted on Thursday that "we don't have a strategy yet" in battling the Islamic State (ISIS). His response was attacked as yet another example of the administration's weak foreign policy.

The omission also appeared to fly in the face of statements made the previous week by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, who said that a long-term strategy was being developed against ISIS because the threat had been clearly established.

Foley, 40, of Rochester, N.H., was kidnapped on Nov. 22, 2012, in northern Syria. He was beheaded Aug. 19 in a video ISIS posted on the Internet. Foley had earlier been kidnapped and released in Libya.

In her NBC interview, Feinstein avoided using the term "weakness" — as Mitchell suggested — in characterizing Obama's response.

"I know what you want me to say," the four-term senator said. "But I'm not going to say it in that sense."

Feinstein did say, however, that the president was "wrong" to describe ISIS as a "JV team" — "junior varsity" — in a New Yorker magazine interview.

"I think it's a major varsity team," she said. "I see nothing that compares with its viciousness. I've been on the intelligence committee now since before 9/11, and I've watched this evolution of non-state actors into world terror very carefully and closely.

"This is really the first group that has the wherewithal in terms of financing, the fighting machine in terms of a structure — heavy equipment, heavy explosives, the ability to move quickly.

"They crossed the border into Iraq before we even knew it happened," Feinstein said. "So this is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous — and they'll kill with abandon."

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