President Barack Obama "dropped the ball" on the Islamic State (ISIS) and now he's "trying to blame everyone but himself," New York Republican Rep. Peter King charged Monday, saying the intelligence community and lawmakers have known for months how dangerous the extremists are.
"A real leader, a true leader, does not blame other people," King told told NBC's Luke Russert on Monday's "The Daily Rundown," of Obama's statements Sunday that the ISIS threat had been underestimated.
"We've known for over a year how dangerous ISIS was," King, a member of the House Intelligence and Homeland Security committees said. "In fact, (Lt. Gen. Michael) Flynn from the Defense (Intelligence) Agency testified we should expect an offensive by ISIS."
was made in February, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, reports Business Insider
. It came four months before ISIS' made its major offensive in northern Iraq, taking massive gains.
In his remarks, Flynn said ISIS would "probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014." The terrorist organization would likely be helped "by itsability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria."
Flynn also warned that after U.S. troops were pulled out of Iraq at the end of 2011, ISIS had "exploited the permissive security environment to increase its operations and presence in many locations and has also expanded into Syria and Lebanon to inflame tensions throughout the region."
King on Monday told Russert that Obama should not blame the intelligence community because it was "very concerned about ISIS."
He admitted that nobody could have known the full threat of the militants' actions, but the intelligence community was concerned that ISIS was "a real threat."
On Sunday, Obama told "60 Minutes”
correspondent Steve Kroft that "the United States underestimated the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also acknowledged the Iraqi army's inability to successfully tackle the threat."
But King insisted that from his role on the Homeland Security committee, he knew about the ISIS threat in 2013.
"Then throughout fall and certainly of January in this year, we knew ISIS was a real threat," King said. "Then in February, Fallujah fell. We had a six or seven month lead-up to this."
But months later, in July and August, "the president was acting as if he just heard about (ISIS)."
Even in a worst-case scenario, said King, the United States did not know about ISIS until the fall of Fallujah in February, "that's seven months ago."
And the president had "all this time to work out a plan, to try to line up a coalition," King said. "Instead, instead, he didn't. (Like) last year with Syria, he threatened air strikes and didn't follow through."
Meanwhile, King believes "someone" has to put troops on the ground in the fight against ISIS.
"We have almost 2,000 troops on the ground as it is," pointed out King. "We are going to have to use special forces in some ways. We'll have to have spotters on the ground."
Further, King said Americans will have to be embedded with the Iraqi army to coordinate movements with the Kurds and provide leadership.
But Obama is "trying to pass it off," King said.
"If Isis is a threat to the United States security, then we can't say it's up to Iraq to defend the United States … cutting off your nose to spite your face or if Iraq doesn't do the job."
The United States will be the ones attacked, as "we should only be in there if it affects the U.S.," said King. "If it doesn't affect the U.S., we have to be willing to do whatever it is we have to do."
Obama also "dropped the ball" when it came to Syria, King said Monday. Two years ago, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus, and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged the United States to train and arm the Free Syrian Army, he pointed out.
Obama "was saying people just wanted us to throw guns and weapons towards them," but that was a false claim, said King.
"Are you really saying that Hillary Clinton and Panetta are willing to just give guns to anyone?, said King. "The fact is, the president dropped the ball. He dropped it in Syria, he dropped it with Isis. Now he's trying to blame everyone but himself."
Meanwhile, King said that if House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reconvenes the House to vote on airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, he would "definitely vote to authorize the strikes" himself.
However, he does not believe Congress should get "bogged down in a long debate and undermine what the president's trying to do."
Unless Obama believes there would be a solid majority of votes and he and Boehner can work a vote out, King thinks "it would be counterproductive to come back at this stage."
"You may have some guys trying to cover themselves in the election, and that could send a wrong signal to the world," King continued.
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