December 8th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
1 year 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. Jim

    Funny – a terrorist crying terrorism.

    December 8, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. How? How?

    How is this a conspiracy by Republicans?
    "Sen. Dianne Feinstein, DEMOCRAT-California, agreed that the Obama administration has lost ground in the ongoing battle with global terrorism."

    December 8, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. sammy750

    The real threat to this nation are the Republicans. They are the TERRORIST. There only mission is to take down Obama. They are not doing anything to promote growth in this nation. They are undermining this nation with their actions and words. The voters need to know where the real threat is. It is the conservatives who want to destroy the country.

    December 8, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Robert

    Both parties are the same. It's all smoke and mirrors to keep the public's mind distracted from the real truth of national failure.

    December 8, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. Jenny

    This isn't about "taking down Obama." That's absurd. It's about our survival as a free nation.

    December 8, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. HEYDUDE

    WOW....the libs are blind

    December 9, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  7. Rob

    So why do you let them in the US then, you IDIOT. Have you been to Dearborn, Michigan lately?? Hopefully next time a pro-US President will be elected.

    December 9, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. ed

    2 words- Radical Islam.

    December 9, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  9. abmri60

    Dirty deals with Saudi Arabia....

    December 9, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  10. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    IRAN should be told that if they try to destroy man with a nuclear program they are destroying themselves as The Earth belongs to God (Psalm 24: 1; 33: 6,9 ; "the Heaven and Heaven of Heavens cannot contain Thee"
    1st Kings 8: 27). "from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God" (Psalm 90: 2)
    They that HATE go to the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20: 12-15) and get Nothing.
    Those that LOVE to the Street of Gold (Revelation 21:7, 21) and get EVERYTHING.

    December 9, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  11. ron

    it's just a way to keep the U.S. spending money for security and defense which is the results of the military contractor lobbyiest in Washington and the politicians wallets full

    December 9, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. K. A.

    Our government uses the terrorism excuse to continue to suppress our freedoms. All this money we have spent stopping this practically nonexistent terrorism threat could have better been spent fixing our nation's real problems such as: our broken healthcare systm, terrible education system, and poverty of many citizens. Now those are the REAL threats.

    December 9, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  13. MaryM

    To Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas and republicans: Republicans need to realize that the Majority of Americans are sick and tired of you hate and fear and doom and gloom. One can only hope that republicans will change before you reach your precipice.

    December 9, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  14. Bob Head

    Sammy750 Stop with the politics. There is enough blame to go around irregardless of party.

    December 9, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  15. qwerty101

    File this one along with "everyone should be on statins".

    December 9, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  16. Joe

    So if the story is about foreign terrorism, why does the graphic appear to show some 'good old boy' types? Is it to make people think the 'wildfire' is the threat of homegrown terrorism, though the story is clearly not about that?

    December 9, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  17. M.Miller

    First of all, the Sunni-Shia conflict has grown to gigantic proportions BECAUSE we invaded Iraq and destabilized the entire region. Secondly, McCaul falsely quotes Obama as saying "since bin Laden has been killed the threat is no longer existing." Obama has NEVER said the threat is no longer existing. This is another lie in the long string of lies the GOP/Tea Party hawks have included in their talking points to stir fear and to continue over funding their military industrial complex. The lone wolf threat is far more serious in this country because of the lack of background checks for gun purchases and THAT'S a fact McCauly doesn't want to talk about. More Americans die annually from gun violence than have ever been lost to terrorists. McCauly you can take your lies and misquotes and put them where the sun don't shine.

    December 9, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. vesuvyo

    There will always be terrorists, so the "threat" will never go away. We've stamped out the biggest treats. McCall is seeing many more smaller threats that now qualify as the "biggest threats." He chooses not to recognize that this is what success looks like. There are lots of small, insignificant threats that are worth watching, but require no action for now. They've always been there and always will be.

    December 9, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  19. Friends

    Obama is seen as "Weak" in the eyes of other countries. He has weakened the United States as we know it. Liberals have weakend the USA entirely.

    December 9, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. M.Miller

    Hey CNN, I think it is your responsibility as a journalistic source to call out people like McCauly on their blatant lies. Obama has clearly NEVER said the threat is no longer existing. To print that lie under the heading "Threat of Terrorism is Spreading like wildfire overseas" is just irresponsible journalism. Shame on you.

    December 9, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    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.

    "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."

    Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, 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.
    ------------------------–
    Let me get this straight. The Dept. of Homeland Security has been under the direct control of House Reublicans since 2011, and the Republicans, who control the department's menagerie of budgets, are blaming Pres. Obama for the departments decline in its' effective since 2011 when Republicans took it over. That's the reality of it, right?

    December 9, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  22. FrankinSD

    "since bin Laden has been killed the threat is no longer existing." Typical Republican drivel. Take issue with something that the President has never said. CNN should be better than this. If I want straw man arguments, I can watch Fox.

    December 9, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  23. Edwin

    @Rob, you are a racist if you equate Islam with terrorism. Dearborn has a large population of Muslims, but it does not have a significant number of terrorists. Why? Because the local police understand that Islam is not the enemy – extreme ideologies are, and hatred of the U.S. is. The mass killings (by all sorts of people, including some Muslims) that occur elsewhere do not tend to happen in Dearborn as often as they do in other cities and states.

    December 9, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  24. Bhawk1

    Just weeks ago the Cons were yelling impeachment if intervention in Syria took place. They cut the Pres legs out from under him on Iran by doing so. They scream and cry about the NSA and spying on everyone around the world and now they wake up to what is happening and the position they put the US in. None of these DAs have read the idea of the small foot print war ideas and how these things have to be thwarted. Small things have a tendency to grown into large things. The Cons have encouraged guns and government hate so much and they may have to chose between protection our Constitution or the supporting the possible rebellion they are fermenting here. Today is the date in 1957 the John Birch Society was founded and the beginning of their REDS everywhere and conspiracy to take over. One would think that after 55 years they would have taken over or they are just liars.

    December 9, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  25. Ted Ward

    Most of the junk is going to hit the fan for the next president thanks to Obama's spineless, clueless, lame and cowardly lack of capacity to confront and deal with what needs to be confronted in the world. Apologizing only goes so far, like nowhere. Obama spends his time dividing and messing up America instead of leading America, and proactively protecting it. Allowing Syria and Libya to descend into pre-9/11 like chaos is unforgivable since it was so avoidable. All that was needed was leadership instead of avoidance.

    December 9, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
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