December 8th, 2013
10:51 AM ET
9 years 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. John

    The cold war against communism is over. In order to continue the life of the cash cow, the leaders of the military industrial complex must find another menace to us all. Terrorism thrives on the illusion of a threat, thus striking fear in the citizens. The leaders of the complex do the same.

    December 8, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. Dwayne

    Saudi Arabia is next.

    December 8, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  3. jinx9to88

    These Representatives that vote for war should sign an amendment thats states their children have to pick up a gun and stand on the front lines in whatever country the US decides to invade. Why should peoples children have to go fight because of the war hungry GOP!! If the U.S. stops blowing things then Dick Cheneys buddies won't have work?

    December 8, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  4. sqeptiq

    Teapublicans have nothing else to sell so they sell fear!

    December 8, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  5. Ron

    Of course, contantly running around saying terrorists are everywhere, EVERYWHERE!!!, & they're going to get you!, is a bit like chicken little saying the sky is falling, the sky is falling! It makes people think they need your Homeland Security forces expertise, and might even need to expand them, & that does build job security for your people, doesn't it? It worked for the Secret State Police (Gestapo). It worked for the Ministry of State Security (Stasi) & many others. Every nation has had them, & led eventually to their shame.
    Sadly, some Americans even applaud that you are there, feeling up grandma, and their children at the airport. Checking our phone conversations & email. Making us remove our belts & the change in our pocket, to enter a government building in our own country. Data mining even our staunchest allies leaders. Telling us we'll all sleep a little better, if we just give up a LITTLE bit more of our freedom. It is a very slippery slope, isn't it? But does this truly benefit our people? Or the paranoid, and power mad? Hmmm?

    December 8, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  6. just saying

    we all know, thanks to the obama administration, that there is no such thing as a terrorism threat. he declared that ended when he took office. all we have now is work place violence such as ft. hood and violent demonstrations caused by videos such as benghazi.

    welcome to the wonderful world of liberal lunacy....

    December 8, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. Brian Smith

    IIsn't this what we want? I mean in order to justify outrageous anti-terrorism budgets we must be under constant impossible threat.

    December 8, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. shawn poland

    what a load of crap. terrorism starts with liars, and media that pushes the lies. when it isnt outright lies its a boogie man to fear. gee last i knew, creating a boogie man under the patriot act was illegal! gee that osama boogie man had been dead since late 2001, everything after it is a LIE! the media keeps the lies going, hence the media is a big part of the terrorism! the people are done paying for fake wars and are done paying for media that tries to sell it! gee how long til another 9/11 just so you evil people can say you were right????!!!! do it and we'll hate you more!!!! lie a buncha times and your never to be trusted again, especially those 'news' sources that push how to feel more than what really is! down with red and blue both!!

    December 8, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. Donna

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

    Funny, most Americans do not trust and believe anything Obama says after all the lies he's told about Obamacare.

    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.
    But it was Obama that attacked Libya, then wanted to attack Syria, until he got cold feet and nobody would go along with him. And he has openly stated, repeatedly that all options are on the table with regards to Iran, and that includes military action. Obama is the real war monger and beater of war drums.

    December 8, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. I love freedom

    The,big problem here is if we do not give them all of our money they will set up a false flag to get the sheep going back in the right direction.

    Remember that our country has been captured. They only care about control of the people and control of the resources.

    December 8, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  11. Faux Scandals

    The sky is falling,! the sky is falling!

    December 8, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. Robert N. constant

    Faced with a declining demographic and a smaller and smaller tent, Republicans are doing whatever they can to discredit the current administration, derail its programs and create the illusions of doom and gloom. Shutting down the government is one example, bringing the nation to the brink of default is another. Attacking the alternative energy power initiative in Arizona to keep solar energy from taking off is another direction as is the attempt to pass abortion legislation in Albuquerque , to energize right wing activists. In the foreign policy arena politicizing the administration's following CIA protocol on the Benghazi incident is another example. Tea Oarty extremists defending the traitor Edward Snowden has also to be added to the list.
    Unfortunately, the prime directive now for Republicans is to drag down and discredit the current administration in the hopes of gaining support. A clear pattern of talking points, often using the exact same language is obvious.
    Mitt Romney's Clear Channel radio continues to pollute the airways with Rush Limbaugh and his stream of hatred and despair. All in all, it is pretty obvious that the Tea Party extremists are grasping at straws.

    December 8, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  13. Lori

    Couple of months ago, I remember the US was going to provide for the Syrian rebels, due to Obama's "red line".
    down the tube, long live 1984.

    December 8, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. rtrMicky

    Of course it's spreading like wildfire! How else are you going to scare everyone into believing we don't need to cut the budget of Homeland Security? Duh...

    December 8, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. karl from az

    I remember Obama saying there is NO MORE WAR on terrorism!

    December 8, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  16. Donna

    Roughly 74 percent of the centrifuges Iran now has on hand were installed since the Obama-Biden team assumed office

    Mission Accomplished Democrats!!! If Iran gets the bomb, we know whose watch it happened under.

    December 8, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. straighttalk

    Unfortunately, all politicians lie sometimes, but in the USA Government they lie all the time and there in lies the difference. Do not believe what you hear from Washington, it is a lie.

    December 8, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Rocky Rhodes

    No, Texas Republicans are just getting dumber.

    December 8, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. rs

    It is truly ironic that after "taking out" Saddam Hussein in Iraq (for whatever trumped up reason), and changing the balance of peer throughout the Middle East, and literally causing revolution in nearly every nation there, that members of the GOP now decry the rise of "terrorism".
    Perhaps it is fitting to apply the old adage that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". Sure, we know who don't like gaining power in the Middle East, but frankly, there is precious little we can do regarding the problem. We uncorked the bottle and the results have spilled out, horrifying or heartening as they appear.
    Also ironic is that as we are a nation that claims to support the emergence of democracy or self-government, how can we interfere as these artificially created nations seek to reinvent themselves? The world will no longer support or allow first-world nations meddling in the affairs of the developing world, and perhaps that is what we need to keep foremost in mind. We may assist, we may guide, and we can consult, but we can not keep people down, we cannot install fake leaders and we can no longer afford to be the world's policeman.

    December 8, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  20. William Cormier

    Hundreds of billions of dollars spent and we aren't any safer. Baloney. Whoever is commanding the Joint Terrorism Force needs to be relieved of duty. Get our men and women out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and don't spend another penny as it obviously is being spent to support the Military Industrial Complex rather than being used in a manner that would elicit success – not failure.

    December 8, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  21. John the Electrician

    Well if the whole freaking world didn't hat3 us, mabe it wouldn't be that way.

    December 8, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. straighttalk

    The US military complex does not want peace. Peace would mean less military, smaller budget. This would mean less money for military contractors like Haliburton and many others who live off the US budget. The USA must have a conflict(s) somewhere in the world at all times. Peace is not what the USA wants, war is what they plan for and desire.

    December 8, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  23. JimO

    The minute some terrorist does something you people will cry "where is the protection and demand answers or heads. You cry when they (government) do something and cry when they strike (terrorists). You want it both ways. Pathetic.

    December 8, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. rs

    just saying
    we all know, thanks to the obama administration, that there is no such thing as a terrorism threat. he declared that ended when he took office. all we have now is work place violence such as ft. hood and violent demonstrations caused by videos such as benghazi.

    welcome to the wonderful world of liberal lunacy….
    Please don't overlook the Right-wing lunacy of ensuring that anyone in the U.S. can buy weapons- often without background checks at "gun shows" and through straw buyers (as Fast and Furious so graphically demonstrated had you chosen to grasp it's real function). Where do these terrorist get their arms and money- that is the real whining point you should pursue.
    BTW- I would think after all the revelation of Republican lies and chicanery around Benghazi, you'd be smart enough to not go there.

    December 8, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  25. Tampa Tim

    Donna -if you check I think you will find that the US along with allies from NATO, stopped the killing of civilians and dealt with Libya. Remember how GOP was not happy, that we did not go it alone?

    December 8, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
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