May 26th, 2013
11:13 AM ET
1 year ago

New terror stance worries Republicans

(CNN) – The new era in America's war on terror - described by President Barack Obama in a major address Thursday - worries some Republicans, who say the phase-down could leave the country vulnerable to still-persistent threats from abroad.

In his remarks, Obama insisted the fight against terrorists must shift to reflect current threat levels, which he described as having evolved since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The global "war on terror," launched in the aftermath of those attacks, must end, "like all wars," the president maintained.

"I think this is the most significant foreign policy address ever given by this president," said Rep. Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. "At the same time I found many parts to it disturbing for many reasons."

Chief among his concerns was Obama's call for a return to what McCaul described as a "pre-9/11 mentality," a mindset the Republican argued could lead to a dangerous level of unpreparedness as threats emerge from sources other than al Qaeda.

"I couldn't disagree with him more on that," McCaul said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

In his remarks Thursday, Obama described al Qaeda as "on the path to defeat" in its longstanding bases of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but warned the terror group's affiliates in other countries still posed lethal threats to Americans.

But those groups, Obama said, are "less capable" than the larger al Qaeda, and are focused more on operating in the countries where they're based, rather than planning an attack on the American homeland.

Attacks on America are still being planned, the president warned, and "our nation is still threatened by terrorists." Yet the current threat has vastly changed in the decade-plus since the war on terror began, he said.

"We have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11," the president said.

McCaul said Sunday the intelligence he's seen as chairman of the homeland security panel suggests a more serious danger than Obama described.

"I think the rhetoric sort of defies the reality in terms of the threat level that we've all been briefed on," he said. "I mean, the narrative is sort of that, you know, al Qaeda is on the run, they're defeated, let's claim victory, war's over. And then let's go back to a pre-9/11 mentality."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, argued a scaled-down war footing could send the wrong message to potential enemies.

"What do you think the Iranians are thinking? At the end of the day, this is the most tone-deaf president I ever could imagine, making such a speech at a time when our homeland is trying to be attacked literally every day," Graham said on "Fox News Sunday."

"I've never been more worried about our national security as I am right now. This speech did not help," Graham added.

"I see a big difference between the president saying a war is at an end and whether or not you've won the war," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, added on CBS "Face the Nation." "We can claim it's at an end but this war is going to continue and we have tremendous threats throughout that are building, not declining, building."

In his address Thursday, Obama noted the difficulty in balancing Americans' freedoms during wartime, a task Sen. Dick Durbin argued Sunday would be made easier as the country's terror stance shifts.

"You find in a warlike atmosphere that you end up compromising some basic values and basic freedoms and liberties," Durbin, D-Illinois, said on "Fox News Sunday" in his defense of Obama's speech. "That's what the president reminded us. I'm not going to take lightly the terrorism threat against the United States. But if we're constantly thinking of this in the context of war, we stand a very real risk of doing things which compromise our values and freedoms."

Another Obama ally, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said on CBS the shift away from war that Obama advocated Thursday was a suitable reflection of how threats have changed in the past decade.

"I think the president did a very, very smart pivot realizing we're not going to let up on terrorists but at the same time we're going meet the changes in the world,” he said.


Filed under: Mike McCaul • Terrorism
soundoff (488 Responses)
  1. BHO123

    Yep, just as the Muzzies are going wild over in Europe, let's all let our guard down.

    May 26, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. patsynomore

    Obama goes up,Republicans go down... Regardless of position Republicans go the opposite...Frankly,it`s tiresome and stupid..

    May 26, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. elucidated1

    Lindsey Graham basically freaked out on Face the Nation today. . .telling everyone who will listen how much risk our country is in thanks to Obama. He is becoming one of the Democrats best friend.

    May 26, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. David

    Having a muslim raised and muslim named president is not healthy for this country.

    May 26, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Nigel Gray

    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"
    Benjamin Franklin

    May 26, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Peace

    I am worried about republicans.. Looking at their attempt to eliminate student loans and jumping to save big corporation than common man, this party that I like may soon go into extinction mode with common man. I am yet to see one attempt in the last 4 years from republican to help me a common man who voted for them.

    May 26, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. MissPO

    And if he were doing the opposite, they would have an equally negative response to that action. Why do we listen to them when all they want to do is anything anti-Obama? Boring. There was a time when you could actually learn something from people with different political views. Since Bush (Rove), they have been nothing but anti-"anything that comes from Democrats". Good luck with your Tea Party, folks. You have allowed them to ruin your credibility. Maybe there should be 3 major parties: Republicans; Democrats; Tea Party. Let them stand on their own!

    May 26, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. JohnRJohnson

    Of course, it "worries" Republicans. After all, Obama is a Muslim who pals around with terrorists. Right? So anything he decides to do is going to be treasonous. The GOP has become a desperate, irrelevant regional political party.

    May 26, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. Nigel Gray

    "Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature."
    Benjamin Franklin

    May 26, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. CSD

    Of course it "disturbs" GOPPERS. It risks ending the "War Without End Amen" strategy that has pumped trillions into their owner's pockets. Halliburton cashed in 39 BILLION from Iraq alone. Think they are going to let that go?

    And just like the laughable "conservative" "right-to-life" plank that sees these idiots blathering about abortion – then cutting any and all programs they can that help poor kids – how can they take ownership of "holidays" like memorial day and veterans day if they can't send off kids to die for $$ and oil so we can "honor" them?

    Hear that? The drums of war beating towards Iran and Syria. Hey kids – get your insurance policies in order, we need to make more orphans and widows and heroes.

    May 26, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. NameTodd A

    Barry the Muslim, showing his true colors again, read his autobiography weirdo libtards, he says he stands with the Muslims in the final war, libtard America is a danger to the world

    May 26, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. pchelp, Juneau, AK

    Yes, freedom worries the GOP. That's why Bush worked so hard to take it away from us.

    May 26, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Nigel Gray

    "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."
    Patrick Henry, American colonial revolutionary

    May 26, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Mr. Hoffman

    The way I see it is, An opinion of course..Some on the Right just maybe secretly wishing for A major Terror attack on America or American's..I do believe that the current Commander and Chief of all U.S. Armed forces has a handle on Intel. regarding Terrorist Suspects, especially in a Post 9-11 era..

    May 26, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Nigel Gray

    "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."
    Patrick Henry

    May 26, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. MJ1959

    Just when I thought this administration couldn't get more clueless on a policy, they go and surprise me again. I guess nothing should surprise me anymore for the next 3.6 years.

    May 26, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. Nigel Gray

    "History, in general, only informs us what bad government is."
    Thomas Jefferson (1807)

    May 26, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. kimm hogue

    if in fact the U.S.A. is winning the war on terror and or have them on the run...it is time to ramp up and intensify, anyone knows that if you have your enemy weakened...just like sports you close them out!!! ya finish them
    i see no logic in scaling back...wow Obummer

    May 26, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  19. danielwalldammit

    How do you adopt a mentality as a point of policy?

    May 26, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. joe

    This president is intent in crippling and dismantaling this country byond repair, no one can do us more harm right now than what he is doing!!!!!

    May 26, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. Reggie from LA

    The GOP response to the "stance on the war against terror" is a bit light on specifics and rhetorical at best. Reminiscent of some "red meat" propaganda campaign. If you review what was said by the Republicans, you won't find much substance to back up their commentary. Go on. Do an honest critique. So now. We should do what actually? Continue to occupy and have our folks have their butts shot off so the U.S. can appear to be rattling sabres? Show Iran how tough we can be? We've done that in several regions already and it is costing lives needlessly and wrecking our economy. All answers, but no solutions. Typical Graham. McCaul appears to be falling in line. Vapid.

    May 26, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. trevor bryant of flagstaff arizona

    We have spent 4.3 trillion (with a T) on "homeland" defense and yet, terror attacks still happen. They are relatively minor. In fact, they are so minor in comparison to say gun deaths, or crashes from cell phones, that is is almost as if we wasted 4.3 trillion dollars building a moat on the INSIDE of our house, to protect us against dragons on the outside. By that I mean, an imaginary threat, that never really comes around except in our imaginations, not that what we did spend that 4.3 trillion on actually did anything to mitigate the very real threat of cell phones and our own guns. We worry about everyone else killing us, and yet, it is us we have more to fear from. Funny that. Guess it's just easier to hate someone else than hate ourselves (who apparently we have NO control over). We used to be a great country... not so much any more.

    May 26, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. Nigel Gray

    "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
    Abraham Lincoln

    May 26, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. Nigel Gray

    "To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men."
    Abraham Lincoln

    May 26, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. Don Doe

    President Barack Obama in a major address Thursday – worries some Republicans, and me too !!! President Barack Obama Is nuts, I said it.

    May 26, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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