The United States had an "intelligence miscalculation" in determining the gravity and extent of the rise and power of the Islamic State (ISIS), former House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax TV
The Obama administration did not understand that "ISIS had the capability of moving from Syria, expanding into the Levant, taking large pieces of territory in Iraq, and actually now establishing an Islamic state," he said on "America's Forum."
"There was a policy miscalculation and a State Department miscalculation and a DOD miscalculation and not understanding the full capabilities of ISIS."
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The administration also overestimated the capabilities of the Iraqi army, he said, by thinking it could withstand an attack by ISIS when it instead "collapsed."
"And then again, a misinterpretation or miscalculation in taking a look at when they thought ISIS was going to attack down south into Baghdad, what they actually experienced is ISIS going north and going to the Kurds, and with the weapons caches that they got from the Iraqi depots, the weapon depots, ISIS actually had greater weapons capabilities and they outgunned the Kurds, and then, you know, you can start getting into a calculation of what America's response has been," Hoekstra continued.
Former CIA officer Fred Rustmann, who appeared on the program with Hoekstra, added that the intelligence community was well aware of ISIS, which he characterized as a far worse global threat than al-Qaida because of its mission to form an Islamic caliphate.
"Al-Qaida were sitting around plotting terrorist attacks on us, whereas [ISIS leader] al-Baghdadi, who is a very charismatic leader, is calling for actually taking territory and forming this caliphate," Rustmann said.
"It's a worse threat because the worst kinds of terrorism are terrorisms that are state-ponsored. Well, he's going to start his own state, his own caliphate, and from there he'll have the wherewithal to launch terrorist attacks all around the world as well as taking territory."
Although President Barack Obama withdrew all troops from Iraq, the U.S. continues to have some intelligence there in the form of "eyes in the sky and the ears on the poles" and other intercept intelligence, but it's "still not a great situation, it's not as good as we were, and particularly for the airstrikes."
"We need ground controllers on the ground, we need people there to see where the targets are, and now they're starting to . . . go to hiding their little rat holes and they're going to be harder to find, so basically, we're too little too late," he said.
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