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. rs

    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.
    What a curious sense of reality you have! Does the phrase "leading from behind" resonate with you? That was what the GOP (through its usual lying liars: Palin, Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh, never mind our own Graham and McCain) all said when they wanted boots-on-the-ground war in these nations while the President pursued limited action (which so far has succeeded). Don't you get it? The GOP has no real "policy" for this stuff. They just complain endlessly about it all whether it fits their platform or not. The Romney flip-flop is the new GOP personified. Think and read before spewing their swill.

    December 8, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  2. manhandler1

    Exactly WHEN did Obama declare that the threat was contained? If that's what he thinks, why is he going after terrorist networks in Yemen, Pakistan and every other place they may be? Typical rubbish coming from a Republican

    December 8, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. DickPerry

    You need to scare the herd more. Crash a couple of planes into some buildings again and you will be funded for another decade.

    December 8, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  4. heh

    The real terrorists always have been in our own government. Who is supporting Al- Qaeda Rebels in Syria? Thats right OUR OWN GOVERNMENT. Meanwhile they are using the DHS Gestapo to flag every US citizen as a terrorist. BOTH parties are complicent in this hijacking of our country, along with their buddies in the Federal Reserve. They took over the United States in a Coup De Etat back in 1913 without even a shot fired in protest. Our country has become a nation of Banks and Corporations FOR banks and corporations. What you wanna protest this encroaching police state? Well you my friend are a TERRORIST. Now let me go and write laws that my lobbyists paid me to write.

    December 8, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. Wallaceboy

    If only we had Mitt. If you are paying attention it would be clear that Obama has no character, is focused on things apart from our nations best interest and is committed to the distraction of our way of life. Shame on you if you still drink the Obama Kool-Aid

    December 8, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  6. w

    Yep! The ultra-right-wing-conservative-"christian"-holier-than-thou-"family"-values-GOP-Tea-Party-fanatical-extremists have to keep the fear alive and growing (truth be damned!) or else how will they ever hope to keep getting voted into office!

    December 8, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Don in albuquerque

    This is great news for the USA!! Our number one export is death. So bring on the business. At least till the rest of the world figures out we are a global problem that they would be better off without.

    December 8, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. jar

    Maybe u should stop bombing them and stop starting these unnecessary wars.

    December 8, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. Rockney

    Exactly what the government wants ... Be Afraid! Be Afraid! Give up your rights and privacy to be "safe".

    December 8, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  10. mbowens

    ...climate change connection...anyone?

    December 8, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. omeany

    Yup, whenever the GOP is in trouble they always resort to playing the fear card. They are in trouble with women, minorities and gays and if they continue to try to wring the last drop of terror votes from a very war weary nation they will exhaust what very little voter base they have left. Once again GOP, Well Done!

    December 8, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. What will make every Republican head EXPLODE

    In the last minutes before handing over the reigns of the Presidency, Obama can singlehandedly wipe every Republican off the face of the Earth by making all of their heads explode with just one sentence:

    "Ya know, I wasn't born in Hawaii after all – HA HA!"

    December 8, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. And Same Sex Marriage Causes Meteors to Fall to Earth

    Yeah, yeah, we've heard this twaddle before. OOOO – and there's WMD in Iraq, too, right?

    December 8, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. THE EARTH IS FLAT - brought to you by Republicans

    Because the Bible can't be wrong, right?

    December 8, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. Yvan P

    Well said Robert, that pretty well show the face of the Repub. Anything to take power and steel money from Americans.

    December 8, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  16. BeverlyNC

    Republicans yet again fear-mongering. They are just dying to get us into another war. So, as always, it starts with dire warnings of threats, unnamed dangers attributed to "terrorists" and then calls to spend even more money on our military. Actually threats have gone down as the diplomacy work of Hilary Clinton and President Obama has defused many explosive situations. Iran diplomacy has been an incredible success for they were our latest greatest threat, not only for their nuclear capability, but as being a supply source for radical groups in Syria, Pakistan making problems there worse.
    If you look at the reality of all the very few attacks in U.S. soil, they were mentally ill Americans, who were given access to guns. Overseas, they have still been "lone wolf" attacks. President Obama has nearly wiped out Al Qaeda by destroying its leadership.
    We can never not be vigilant but always fear-mongering and exaggerating threat as Republicans do is not sensible. We face more far more issues at home with an ever-growing poorer population, no emphasis on education, no funding for stabilizing and expanding our infrastructure and the Republican Party hurting the American People by working solely to destroy a real healthcare system for everyone. They ignore we are #1 in healthcare spending but 26th in the world in healthcare access and successful treatment.
    Our nation's security would be greatly increased with a war on poverty – not a war on the poor, strengthening education so we can compete with the children of other countries far ahead of ours, investing in technology for new energy sources so we are no longer dependent on other nations for any of our energy needs and protecting our data infrastructure from our outdated electrical grids to our most critical databases of information from destruction by outside forces.
    We need more internal protection and security for our people and their future than we need for more buildup of military contracts for items our military does not need, want, and billions are wasted.
    No more war-mongering Republicans. We need domestic leadership to solve our own critical nightmares.

    December 8, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. rl

    Now is that again going to be the republicon/TB party theme for 2014 and 2016. Terrorism is coming back and they will have color codes and want more invasion of privacy. The more they try this, the greater chance it will become a self-fulfuling prophesy and it will grow. How does this hold up with the House republicon/TB people wanting a war with Iran and no diplomacy. Our last wars for fun and profit, were darn good terrorist recruiting tools.

    December 8, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |

    more Guns Over People tea potty lies to feed ADolph Cheney's pockets.

    December 8, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. John

    When did President Obama or anyone else say that thee is no longer a terrorism threat? We all know that there is one, and that it will be with us forever. There will always be crazies and zealots, and as the world moves forward, it also makes weapons of serious destructive capabilities more readily available. Not going to change. But if someone believes that invading more countries and making more enemies we are somehow going to eliminate terrorism, I think they are seriously wrong.

    December 8, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Shaun Harper

    48 hours is all it took for the GOP to switch from the economy to terror. Voters outside of the SEC are not as dumb as Carl Rove and company think. Unemployment will be at 6.2%, GDP will be growing over 3%, and Obamacare will be up and running well by Nov 2014. Bye bye Speaker Boehner.

    December 8, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Mike

    Interestingly politicians love to point to the "Thwarted attempts" of another 9/11, yet the intelligence community can only point to the same 54(ish) plots since 9/11 that have been disrupted worldwide as a result of their efforts. NONE of which have even come close to the magnitude or the level of completion as the 9/11 terror attacks.

    Please remember when reading these types of propaganda pieces: No one in the intelligence community, got to those high ranking positions by being concerned about how our civil rights can be be better protected. As such, with no real and viable threats to point to, their best tactic is the use of a nebulous "around the corner" threat. Instead of using meaningful statistics and data to represent their position, they use terror tactics of their own to increase their budgets at the expense of the citizens they are suppose to be protecting...

    December 8, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. Larry L

    What a shock! A House Republican from Texas saying something negative about the President. Next they'll try to hold America hostage or sit and just do nothing... Wait... They've already done that...

    Maybe they should attack women, minorities, gays, immigrants, or the poor. Wait... They do that constantly...

    December 8, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  23. Brandon

    Key words "Texas Republican"

    December 8, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. Len

    We must be getting close to election season. The GOP is starting the fear mongering again. A rush to war....remember 2003!! Let us never forget the misinformation that was told to the American people. For all of you who believe we must go to war, make sure your son, daughter, grandchildren or you enlist in the military and put your skin in the game!!!

    December 8, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. RickFromTexas

    Leave it to the republicans to hear the same news we all hear and still get it wrong.

    I've been following the news for quite a long time and at no time have I ever heard Obama say that the threat is over. All he's done is talk about milestones being achieved in the war against terrorism, such as the killings of bin Laden and other terrorist leaders.

    As a result, America is perceived now as being stronger and more determined than ever. Hell, Bush had people in other countries throwing shoes at him and flipping him off, you don't see that happening anymore, do we? Somehow I doubt we'll see Obama parading around a Mission Accomplished banner anytime soon.

    December 8, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
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