‘TAKING A NAP’, ‘IRAQ IS COLLAPSING’: OBAMA TEAM ACCUSED OF UNDERESTIMATING IRAQ UNREST

FoxNews on June 12, 2014, reported that the Obama administration’s apparent miscalculation of the threat posed by Al Qaeda-aligned militants in Iraq drew severe criticism from top Republican lawmakers, who accused President Obama and his national security team of “taking a nap,” warning “the next 9/11 is in the making.”

Amid criticism from lawmakers, the White House appeared to open the door to the possibility of U.S. airstrikes, but stressed that sending American ground troops is not an option.

The administration once again appears to have been caught off guard by an explosion of violence in a country U.S. forces helped liberate from a dictator. Al Qaeda-aligned Sunni militants were advancing south and threatening to move on Baghdad after overrunning the northern Iraq cities of Mosul and Tikrit — with Iraqi government forces in rapid retreat.

GOP lawmakers vented that advances made by the militant Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are confirming their “worst fears” about what would happen in the wake of the Obama-ordered U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011.

“What’s the president doing? Taking a nap,” House Speaker John Boehner snapped, before abruptly ending his weekly press conference.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Iraq is “collapsing,” calling it another potential Benghazi and urging the president to address the American people.

“The next 9/11 is in the making,” Graham said.

White House and State Department officials earlier said the administration is considering sending additional aid, but have not specified what that might be. The Iraqi government reportedly is seeking U.S. airstrikes. Republican lawmakers and military analysts are urging the administration to quickly piece together a gameplan.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said that the current national security team is a “failure,” urging Obama to get a “new team.” He also took a shot at Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saying: “We need a new chairman.”

The escalating violence follows repeated assurances by the Obama administration that Al Qaeda is “on the run” and that its offshoots are not the threat they’re made out to be.

Yet in Iraq, militants with ISIS have made considerable gains since January. (They were listed in 2004 by the State Department as a terrorist organization under their old name, Al Qaeda in Iraq, shortly after the group formed.)

Gen. Jack Keane, former Army vice chief of staff and Fox News military analyst, said the administration has not put enough effort into forming a “comprehensive strategy” to partner with governments in the region to share intelligence and battle Al Qaeda affiliates.

“This caliphate exists, and it will be the most menacing thing in the Middle East if unattended,” Keane said.

He acknowledged that the administration has “decimated” the Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan to a degree. But he said: “The fact of the matter is the Al Qaeda and its affiliates … is on the rise in the Middle East and in Africa.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that, privately, administration officials acknowledge they were caught off guard by the sudden developments in northern Iraq, where security forces abandoned their posts and militants overran key locations.

Military leaders reportedly said they thought Iraq’s forces could hold off ISIS — they were wrong.

Amid the deliberations, congressional Republicans continue to fume over the administration’s response to the terror attack in Benghazi in 2012, for which nobody has yet been brought to justice, and have launched a formal select committee investigation.

The developments also follow President Obama foreign policy speech last month at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he backed a policy of restraint abroad and called for a wind-down of U.S. “military adventures.”

Few expect that U.S. ground troops would be dispatched to Iraq, no matter how dire the situation becomes.

At issue now, among other things, is whether to provide more military aid and approve airstrikes. Maliki reportedly has sought U.S. airstrikes, but so far has been turned down.

To date, the U.S. has provided considerable military assistance. The State Department said Wednesday that that has included: 300 Hellfire missiles, millions of rounds of small arms ammunition, machine guns, grenades, rifles and more. Officials say the U.S. also supplied Bell IA-407 helicopters and is set to send over F-16 fighter jets.

A statement from Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.,; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., blamed the current situation on the U.S. decision to withdraw all troops from Iraq.

“We call on the president to explain to Congress and the American people how he plans to address the growing threat to our homeland and our national security interests posed by the rapidly expanding Al-Qaeda safe haven in Iraq and Syria,” they said.

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