December 8th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
12 months ago

Homeland Security chairman: Threat of terrorism spreading like 'wildfire' overseas

(CNN) - The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said the threat of terrorism overseas is "getting worse, not better."

"I personally see it spreading like a spiderweb, like a wildfire, through Northern Africa and the Middle East," Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, told CNN's Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."

"As that threat increases overseas, so too does it increase to the homeland - and that's my basic concern as Homeland chairman, is to keep that threat outside the United States."

Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees told CNN earlier this month on “State of the Union” that terrorists have gained ground in the past two years and that the U.S. is not any safer than it was at the outset of 2011. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, agreed that the Obama administration has lost ground in the ongoing battle with global terrorism.

McCaul said that though policies put in place as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks have prevented a similar large-scale event on U.S. soil, President Barack Obama is pushing a false narrative about the nation's safety in the world.

"When the President of the United States talks about the, downgrades the threat, his narrative is that al Qaeda is on the run, and since bin Laden has been killed the threat is no longer existing - I think is a false narrative and premise because, as we see this threat all throughout northern Africa, as we saw Egypt fall, Libya, now Syria is a great culmination of the Sunni-Shia conflict."

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Feinstein’s and Rogers' comments surprised him but acknowledged that low-level attacks by lone-wolf actors, like the Boston Marathon bombing, are still "very threatening."

But is the U.S. more effective now at keeping terrorism off its shores?

"I think we are better now than we have ever been, but we are never going to be 100% safe," Schiff said, pointing to the ongoing conflict in Syria, a country that he said has become a "magnet" for those looking to join Jihad.

McCaul agreed: "I think Syria is now the training ground for the world. … These rebel forces are more of a threat than anything."

CNN's Jason Seher contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Homeland Security • House • Mike McCaul • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (289 Responses)
  1. Zolicon

    I have been warning of this for the past 5 years already and it is happening just like I have said it will.

    December 8, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  2. Thomas

    Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas
    McCaul is married to Linda Mays McCaul. She is the daughter of Clear Channel Communications chairman Lowry Mays and sister of its CEO Mark Mays. In 2011, Roll Call named McCaul the wealthiest member of the United States Congress,

    Michael McCaul to host Rick Perry fundraiser.

    December 8, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  3. Tampa Tim

    How can anyone believe a lying republican? Reptiles have more credibility.

    December 8, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    If we could just find a reason for the republican war machine to get us into more wars, they would finally be happy. The Bush Doctrine did not work, but still they beat the war drums.

    December 8, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. Ace

    Oh Please.

    Don't drag us into another war.

    Let's keep the money in the United States.

    Fix our roads, our education system, and remove our debts.

    We don't need to pay billions to "Defense Contractors" lets pay billions on the country itself.

    December 8, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. jinx9to88

    Just in time before budget talks for the GOP to ask for additional $100 billion in defense spending while the poor and hungry gets screwed over the Christmas holidays.

    December 8, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. onealydragon

    Now aint that a frigging surprise. A republican saying the prez aint doing a good job. I dont know if I should leave a dump or howl at the moon

    December 8, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. onealydragon

    Funny, the house meets with all the departments and their leadership to go over what is happening and the lawmakers APPROVE the funding.

    December 8, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. Tampa Tim

    The boy who cried "wolf," and chicken little have found a home with the brain dead right wingnuts.

    December 8, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Tommy Mack

    Terrorism is a TACTIC, not an enemy... and it will ALWYAS be with us. The questions are: Why does someone(s) want to strike at us, and what can we do to stop them as much as possible. That's the balancing act any society must grapple with.

    This won't change no matter who's in office. Period.

    Oh, and for the record, our "mass shootings" we have here in the states qualifies for a "acts of terrorism". Just sayin'.

    December 8, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. ask2learnwhy

    The U.S. is no safer than it was Sep 10, 2001.
    The Righteous Mind and certainty of acting for God combined with a personality that needs the thrill of killing and destroying and maiming means this need to fight terrorism will be ongoing for a very long time.

    December 8, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  12. JayDavis

    While terrorism is real, "the war on terror" is an economic ploy that has sucked our country dry financialy almost exclusively for the benefit of the 1% with little real benefit for the average citizen...and at great cost to the average citizen. Living in a permanent state of undeclared war against an undefined enemy? We might as well go back to believing that Satan lurks behind every human action...like we did back in the Stone Age. It would make life simpler.

    December 8, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. JayDavis

    No one has done more to advance the cause of jihad than the Bush administration by its stupid policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Obama is stupidly staying the Bush course.

    December 8, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. dr

    Either our government is full of frightened "poosies" or they're looking to continue this increased control over our lives at the excuse of "Public Safety" and "National Security", both just excuses for fascism. It's funny but these so called "terrorists" don't concern me at all what does concern me is the power we've given this government and its law enforcement...hypocrites!

    December 8, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Fear.........Fear.......FEAR!

    December 8, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  16. JohnRJohnson

    Who could possibly be surprised that Republicans are, once again, employing the fear card as the 2014 elections near. These political creatures will go through any dumpster they can find in order to dig up votes.

    December 8, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  17. Daniel

    Gee, how did I already know, even before reading this article, that it would be a warmongering, trigger-happy, lunatic Republican crying wolf yet again to get everyone riled up over absolutely nothing except his schitzophrenic paranoid delusions of evil around every corner. What's wrong Mike McColl? Get a call from the CEO's of Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman letting you know they're profits are slipping and they need another needless war to continue reaping their massive profits at all costs? At least with Republicans you ALWAYS know they're a bird of only one color and they don't really keep anyone guessing.

    December 8, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. Mike

    The President never said the threat no longer exists. He's continuing drone strikes and special operations strikes agaist terrorists. Note the two special operations strikes just last month.
    Again, a partisan hack is using national security to take a small-minded swipe at the President.

    December 8, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. Sailor

    Is this statement to justify continuing a war and thus protecting the income of those profiting from it? If it is an accurate statement, maybe threats are expanding because the good ol'USA has possibly created a legacy of hatred thru its own response to the initial threat?

    December 8, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. qularknoo

    and who makes up these terrorist threats? what philosophy inspires them and drives them? what is their real goal? When the U.S. acknowledges the answers to these questions ... then and only then will we be able to effectively counter those threats.

    December 8, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. Richard L Smith

    Just what we need, more 'doom and gloom' thinking. Their mantra seems to be 'Invoke fear in the masses, that always works'. Idiots!

    December 8, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. Erik

    American People: Government fear-mongering spreading like wildfire at home

    The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said the threat of terrorism is "necessary to justify our existence and continue encroaching on the freedoms of the American people". "As that threat increases here at home my basic concern as Homeland chairman, is to ensure I keep spending billions of tax dollars to strip individual liberties one by one in exchange for the illusion of safety. As you know, Americans have little tolerance for risk so we as manipulative, self-interested bureaucrats can use this opportunity to take advantage of them. Safety first folks! Nothing is more important!"

    December 8, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. springthecat

    Yes, there will always be terrorists. It is far easier to organise in this age of advanced communication. But, my understandinf of the rebel situation in Syria is that there are multiple factions. There are Sryian rebels trying to change their government.....those that John McCain wished to send arms. Then there are the Al queda jihadists who first came to "help" the rebels, but had their own agenda and eventually made that known, much to the dismay of the Syrian rebels, who wish no part of Al Quaeda. So to use a blanket statement that claims the Syrian "rebels are more of a threat than anything" is just nonsense.

    December 8, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  24. danita

    Obama already took care of this... nothing to worry about!!! This woman can't be telling the truth.

    December 8, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. Richard L Smith

    Excuse me for yelling but WE NEED TERM LIMITS IN CONGRESS! Then a lot of these narrowminded Republicans and Democrats will just go away. TERM LIMITS! Serving in the congress should be an honor, NOT A CAREER!

    December 8, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
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