The rapid growth of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni extremist group, was a consequence of the Obama administration failing to act on intelligence — not a failure of information-gathering, a senior Republican told reporters on Wednesday.
Speaking at a Christian Science Monitor editorial breakfast, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers said, "This is not an intelligence failure, this is a policy failure," The Hill reports.
"It was very clear to me years ago that ISIS was pooling up in a dangerous way — building training camps, drawing in jihadists from around the world. We saw all of that happening," he said.
Rogers is not alone in charging that U.S. officials have long known of the emerging strength of the terrorist group, which recently captured the Iraqi key city of Mosul.
According to Jamie Dettmer of The Daily Beast,
the prime minister of Kurdistan, Nechirvan Barzani, warned both Baghdad and Washington "months ago" of "the threat ISIS posed to Iraq and the group's plan to launch an insurgency across Iraq."
"The Kurds even offered to participate in a joint military operation with Baghdad against the jihadists. Washington didn't respond — a claim that will fuel Republican charges that the Obama administration has been dangerously disengaged from the Middle East. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki dismissed the warnings, saying everything was under control," wrote Dettmer.
Rogers' assertion is a direct contradiction to the claim made by Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday that "nobody expected" ISIS to advance so rapidly against Iraqi forces.
"We don't have people embedded in those units, and so obviously nobody knew that. I think everybody in Iraq was surprised. People were surprised everywhere," Kerry told Fox News.
The administration and Democratic lawmakers have maintained that the rapid rise of ISIS was unforeseen and could not have been predicted.
Asked on CNN
whether policymakers knew ISIS had the capability to take a third of Iraq, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said no, adding that "it is a real wake-up call for the United States, because they do want to develop the caliphate."
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