May 26th, 2013
11:13 AM ET
8 years 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.

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"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. CaesarXIII

    Let's blame Republicans for everything and then not look at our own party for their shortcomings and lies... I love government and voters with no logic.

    May 26, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. Nanette

    We can not stay in a constant state of war. We need to evolve, we need to get back to the pursuit of happiness rather than living in fear all the time. So much "chicken little" from our government that people in general have stopped listening to them. All their personal agendas make anything they say less than believable.

    May 26, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. TewksburyBob

    I am not sure I fully understand what is being proposed. If we keep the CIA diligent and strike surgically when we identify a threat, then I agree. If it means to be as bad as we were pre-911, then I do not agree.

    May 26, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. rs

    The GOP "worries" about "terrorism" and security- and that's why they are working so hard to kill American freedom by gerrymandering Congress, curtailing voting rights, demanding federal IDs (except for guns 'natch), the USA PATRIOT Act, charging families of college students to vote and more... the GOP will be the undoing of America.

    May 26, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  5. Calcommuter

    Dear Republicans: It's the 21st century. Defense has to change with the times. Just because your President is not in your party doesnt mean you have to disagree with everything! Your bosses in the defense industry will still make plenty of money to keep you going. Even drones have to run on some type of oil product, so you'll still receive your check from Exxon...

    May 26, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. yogi

    So GOP, what is your solution on defending against terrorism? Armed soldiers on every street corner, tanks all over the place, every person carrying semi automatics, because you never know when and where terrorists wil strike? Republicans glorify wars, the more the better. What a sad world they live in, filled with fear and hatred. Remember, eventually you will attract what you continue to fear. Live your life with love and compassion, and eventually everything around you will resonate with that vibration.

    May 26, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  7. LarryH

    Republicans worry about every possible change in the world. That's why they're called "conservatives."

    May 26, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. Beeleever

    Republicans are only concerned because the continuous warfare Nazi mentality, fighting on multiple fronts throughout the world continunously for profit, is threatened by people who are willing to recognize the threat against individual liberties, civil rights, and human rights that are a part of this traitorous and despicable agenda.

    Notice the words of Graham in the article:
    "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."

    See how Graham states that "our homeland is TRYING to be attached literally every day." This points toward the collusion between war profiteers and terrorists, the willingness to look the other way if it plays into their hands of oil and gas profits, or some other exploitation of resources. TRYING? The only ones who are trying to be attacked are the traitors for the continuous warfare campaign.

    It is time to restore all civil rights threatened by 9/11, restore the spirit of the law and the letter of the law in all actions by our country, and stop promoting the idea of continuous warfare with subsequent losses of human rights and civil rights as a necessary evil.

    I support the President's speech. To hell with continuous warfare and collusion for profit!

    May 26, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. SirBo

    As the opposition party to the incumbent president, the GOP is in the unfortunate position of having to disagree and present an opposing viewpoint every single time the president moves his lips. Even when the president advances a previously held GOP stance to placate them, as in some aspects of Obamacare, they still oppose it simply because Obama said it. To their credit, though, they've restrained themselves when it comes to the president's position on continued use of drones, because, you see, the GOP is ideologically and fundamentally for the use of military force as the only solution to conflicts in this world.

    May 26, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. cwiz

    Quite a few ignorant responses here. Just because you read a few news articles doesn't mean you understand politics. Get a college education, travel the world, talk to your legislators. Then see how well your statements stand against the truth. The people crying about Republics are hiding behind a manipulator who has blinded them from the truth. I'm not saying you have to care for the party. That's your own choice. But don't contribute to the ignorance of the nation by spreading your own ignorance. Do some research and stop stereotyping.

    May 26, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. Name

    I think this President is going one hello of a job...Stock market is up, War ended, Other nation Respect us more. Unemployment going down..Now he needs to focus on Oil & Gas Companies inflating prices...there no war, an Gas is still high. What's the excuse...

    May 26, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. katahdin

    Republicans are not "worried" about terrorism. They are only worried that they might not be able to use terrorism to strike fear into the hearts of Americans. Fear is the only thing they're good at.
    Oh, and to be fair, they're also deeply worried that the profits of defense contractors might suffer.

    May 26, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  13. snowdogg

    Way to go GOP... don't support the President on ANYTHING! Right-wingers are such losers.

    May 26, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  14. Name

    The Republicans are so stuck on trying so hard in making President Obama a liar. But they forget the the Biggest Liar of them all. George Bush, who took us to Iraq war on the Lie that he was the biggest treat to us...all in all Dick Chenny's buddys were the us Tax payers were left with the who's the LIAR now...

    May 26, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  15. Repub

    So lets not be worried let's just let the terrorists reorganize and close our eyes and hope for safety. At least there will be peace for a few year ehh

    May 26, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  16. Bob R., Marland

    The Peresident's new terror stance worries Republicans because the GOP stands to lose billions of dollars in defense contracts in their mostly southern states. They went to war against abolishing slavery for that same reason – they lost billions. (State's right my butt!) Bob Dole has it right when today he said that the GOP should be 'closed for repairs."

    May 26, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  17. James Routson

    As a veteran, conservative, and long time follower for 45 years of republican positions l finally came to the belief in 2012 that the MIC is the biggest danger to America today...period. Also for the first time in my life in 2012 I did not vote either republican...nor democrat. l wrote in Dr. Ronald Paul. Who ever stops the insanity of endless undeclared American wars will get my support. On this memorial day weekend lets start thinking about our young men and women we put in harms way instead of the MIC. I am not a fan of the president, but would be if he, or anyone else, will get our military out of harms way and stop the money flow to the MlC !

    May 26, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  18. Daniel

    Once again, ridding this country of this so called "conservative ideal" should be our very first priority. There is nothing worse than hypocrites and liars. We should absolutely legalize the death and decapitation of any and all republicans, conservatives whatever the f they think they are.

    May 26, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  19. Been There

    Many posters above spout the same pathetic, disproven talking points about the "racist" GOP, etc. etc. Listen up, Libs: This dangerously incompetent Prez Lite is going to lead us to American bloodshed, possibly after he leaves office. Just as 9/11/01 was facilitated by the weakness and lack of resolve on the part of a Democratic President (Clinton), future attacks are going to have been facilitated by this one, who only "got" bin Laden because of intel and procedures set in place under Bush. You may not like it, but it's the truth. Those who do it for a living know. Deal with it.

    May 26, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  20. GI Joe

    If/when President Obama stops the big wars, brings our kids home, and zeroes in on just the group of thugs plotting and planning, I'm sure the GOP will lose a lot of big donors in the vast military industrial complex and Haliburton kickbacks.

    May 26, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  21. Al Neuman

    Mission Accomplished. G.H.W. Bush! GOP loved it then.

    May 26, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  22. stmbarnes

    Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

    May 26, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  23. JOSH

    Who understand these teapublicans, they have been criticizing POTUS for the use of drones and the killing of four American citizens who decided on their own to fight against their own Homeland. Sen. Paul even stage a show against the President for the use of drones and now THEY ARE WORRY for the new stance in the use of drones Hello!!!!!!!!!! Can you teapubicans take a definitive stance? Are you with or against the American people? Do you stand by American citizens or traitors?

    May 26, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  24. Ron

    It's amazing the short-term memory of the GOP comgressional wingnuts. Let's see, what year was that when GW flew aboard an aircraft carrier in a 2 person jet and hung a huge banner something to the effect of victory. What complaints did Graham and McCaul raise then?

    May 26, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |

    First, Obama attacks and wealens the 2nd amendment. Then he goes after the first amendment,. Now he is trying to give our country to the muslims. Sounds like a plan to me.

    May 26, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
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