Tags: Barack Obama | Edward Snowden | Iraq in Crisis | ISIS/Islamic State | John McCain | Middle East | NSA/Surveillance | Syria | War on Terrorism

John McCain: 'Mind-Boggling' Obama Can Call ISIS Fight a Success

By    |   Friday, 22 May 2015 06:31 PM

Sen. John McCain said Friday that "it's just mind-boggling" how President Barack Obama can call the effort against the Islamic State (ISIS) a success, considering the collapse of two major cities at the hands of the jihadist group over the last week.

"One thing is clear to the American people: The president's strategy is not succeeding, and in fact it's a failure, and beheading people is going to have an impact on the American people, as it already has," the Arizona Republican told CNN.

Obama said in an interview with The Atlantic published Thursday that despite "a tactical setback," he does not "think we're losing."

Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in Iraq, was taken by ISIS on Sunday. The terrorist group went on to capture the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria on Wednesday.

In light of those events, McCain called the statement by the president "mind-boggling ... while thousands of people are being butchered, burning bodies in the streets, executions, beheadings ... this is a disaster," he told CNN.

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McCain said that he and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina predicted the disaster, and "it's going to go on until we develop a strategy, and a strategy that will be implemented to stop this advance of ISIS, and of course, the chaos and slaughter that's going on."

McCain, like Graham, encourages sending about 10,000 "boots on the ground" to help win the fight, not just an air campaign.

In "75 percent of the flights, the combats are returning to the base without dropping a weapon," said McCain. "Do you know why? Because they don't have anybody on the ground to give them the targets that they need."

"This is an ineffectual air campaign among others, and if we don't train and arm and equip and have people on the ground and have a military presence with these units, they will continue to disintegrate, particularly the Iraqi army, which is now nonexistent," he added in the CNN interview.

McCain also addressed the current debate over whether or not Congress will renew the Patriot Act and continue to allow the National Security Agency to collect telephone metadata of Americans.

He believes legislation will likely be extended past the Patriot Act's June 1 expiration date, because "we can't shut down the entire operation."

"The House is going to come in for a few hours [after the Memorial Day break], and when they come back, it's a few hours before the expiration on June 1," McCain told CNN.

"I think one thing we are all in agreement on — we can't shut down the entire operation, so that leads one to the conclusion that some kind of compromise will be reached, even if it's a short-term extension," he added.

At issue is the USA Freedom Act, which allows telephone metadata to be collected only when a court order is issued to believe a caller may have been contacting a known terrorist. The Patriot Act, which was passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, allows the collection of metadata from all Americans' phones to be used to determine if terrorist related contacts are being made.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a candidate for the 2016 GOP nomination, spoke on the Senate floor for 10 1/2 hours this week to try to kill the provisions allowed in the Patriot Act, saying that the NSA's surveillance is an "infringement" on Americans' privacy rights.

McCain said on CNN that most people believe do not want a repeat of the 9/11 attacks, and "we have to use the means at our disposal to prevent that from happening."

Paul's filibuster-style speech will just delay "what we are going to do for 11 hours," said McCain, but "if we had the means we have today, we may have been able to prevent 9/11."

McCain says that lawmakers have to come together, and "there may have to be changes" as a result, "but to do away with the entire program that is being conducted by the NSA would put this nation at risk."

He agreed that many Americans are cynical about the NSA's collections of phone records, especially after the revelations made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"It has to be explained better to the American people, and that's a job for those of us in Congress and it's also a job for the president of the United States," McCain added.

McCain said that he believes the Senate will likely work on some voting agreements on Saturday before leaving town for the holiday weekend.

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Sen. John McCain said Friday that "it's just mind-boggling" how President Barack Obama can call the effort against the Islamic State a success, considering the collapse of two major cities at the hands of the jihadist group over the last week.
John McCain, Obama, ISIS, success, Patriot Act, USA Freedom Act, mind-boggling, Ramadi, Palmyra
Friday, 22 May 2015 06:31 PM
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