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. jed clampett

    @rolnthndr.... Who will protect the oil companies profits if we butt out???

    December 9, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Many states have language in their state consitutions that prohibit the formation of private armies. All armies are to be publicly created and organized. So, all of this "arm the people" talk is pure radicalism. Terror comes in many forms. Most people think physical violence when they think of terror, but by definition its' most basic form is mental. I find some of these radical words to be nothing but venom to terrorize the public.

    December 9, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. Skull Smasher

    Another great Obama fail.

    December 9, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  4. John Schwendler

    Been a Give Peace a Chance guy all my life. Now, i am tired of these antics by the SAME PEOPLE. Nuke 'em, turn the Middle East into a parking lot that will glow for the next 1,000 years, and maybe we'll have some peace and sanity for a few generations. How hard is it to get along with each other? Stop fooling around with these ignorant sand pests and blow them back before the Stone Age. There. Now I feel better.

    December 9, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. Name

    Y can't your news journals give respect to the office of the president n refer to the president as president Obama instead of Barack Obama news journals refer to other leaders as either senator or congressman so n so but not the president of the USA why not you don't have to agree or disagree with him just respect the office as mr president or president u still refer to all of the other presidents wether living or not or is this another racial thing that's bening done discretely

    December 9, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. CALiberal

    OMG the terrorists are everywhere. I think there is one hiding under my bed. I'm soooo afraid. We need to kill more people with drones, more laws and more prisons to protect me.
    Ah yes terrorists the 21st century boogieman.

    December 9, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. Me


    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?
    LOL, you do realize that the military is COMPLETELY VOLUNTARY now right??? Partisan hack! By the way, READ the article, Dems agreed the threat is increasing, it is not just the GOP!

    December 9, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  8. dike

    Leave the muslims and their countries alone and they will be fighting amongst themselves. Like Iran and Iraq, We had to interfere and stop the fighting then we fight with them alone wasting our resources and our people getting killed. Just leave them step back and watch as we live in peace.

    December 9, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. joe

    Whats the matter,the Bin Ladens arent making enough?

    December 9, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. Dr Albert

    I like Mike McCaul...he seems to be a very honest man. I don't think he was trying to be political in his statement about the presidents statement about terror. He just has a lot of information about the status of terrorist activities that makes him very credible.

    December 9, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  11. tHIRSTY

    Why don't we just stay out of it and let them wipe each other off the planet? Wouldn't bug me one bit

    December 9, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. elgatoblanco

    Be very afraid. Go shopping more. Stay American.

    December 9, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  13. ConcernedCitizenVoter

    Just another fear-monger republican trying to prep for the next election.

    look republicans, we know you're still reeling from Bush's "Mission Accomplished" banner and Cheney's "final throws of the insurgency" in Iraq comments, but you're just really reaching too far to overcompensate here. The only credible thing you have to complain about is Benghazi, but you've just beat that dead horse too hard, and compared with the many, many Embassy and Consulate attacks and deaths under Bush, Obama has a great track record by comparison.

    Just give it up. Trying to scare the hell out of people for political gain is never going to go over well. You can't dig yourself out of a hole!

    December 9, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. pappy

    And the support grom Americans is nonexistant. Too much spying until the threat level rises than government isn't doing enough. Damn if you do damn if you don't.

    December 9, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. M.E.

    Only an idiot would think we're actually at risk from middle eastern and african terrorists. The homeland security people use fear to wrangle more money for their department, plain and simple. The Pentagon uses the same political tactics. The reality is the biggest threat comes from our own shores and is extremely difficult to detect, so you may as well save your money and your blood pressure and just go about living life normally. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being killed by a terrorist and nobody worries too much about lightning.

    December 9, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC


    Syria is the new training ground? You mean the same Syria that our current administration flooded with money and weapons to aid the "rebels", a.k.a Al Qaeda, to overthrow Assad and establish democracy? That Syria?
    Psst. The U.S. never sent any weapons to any "rebels" in Syria. The Republicans made a big fuss because of it. Remember?

    December 9, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  17. tmb333

    The US willl never win the war on terror or the war on drugs. That was never the intended solution. The solution was to develop ways to line the pockets of supporters.

    The US needs to end both of these wars. Bring all troops home and secure the borders. If you chose to travel outside the US, you do it at your own peril. We will not come get you if you are kidnapped and will not respond if you are arrested or killed. After securing the borders, deport all those here illegally or on expired creditials.

    In the future, if a country requests our assistance advise them we will not be sending troops. Our only offer is to drop a nuke and eliminate all those involved. If we ever occupy another country again, we should take it over as part of the US.

    We should also take away the citizenship of third time violent felons and deport them to any other country besides here.

    Of course none of this will happen because our politicians pockets are lined with lobbyists' cash. They would never vote to cut the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, the illegal worker industrial complex or war on drugs industrial complex.

    Keep living scared Americans. They have you right where they want you.

    December 9, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  18. The REAL TRUTH...

    I'd be more inclined to believe had this come from a NON-REPUBLICAN chair.. not that I necessarily believe the words of a Dem, but given the GOP playbook since Jan 2009, anything that can be done to make the POTUS look bad, can and will be perpetrated by the GOP and the TP.. They've been cryin' wolf for so long now, that most intelligent Americans simply don't believe them (or care) any more.. Zzzzzz

    While the POTUS is far from perfection, I've never seen an opposition Party behave like these divisive attack dogs, putting themselves and ideology above their jobs, the country, the American people and trying to tear this great nation down – behaving like 4-yr olds, pointing fingers..while the sycophant lemmings blindly follow without question.

    December 9, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. Ignorant bliss

    Maybe we should stop supporting terrorists. The article specifically mentions Libya and Syria-both places where we have supported terrorists directly.

    December 9, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  20. NorCalMojo

    Was anyone really expecting Obama's drone policy to work?

    It keeps our own troops safe, but it can't be good for our reputation.

    December 9, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. Reggie

    The USA needs someone with Brains and the Balls to use them! That is the bottom line. The trick is before it's to late.

    December 9, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  22. Jim970

    Terrorism is so easy and so hard to combat. As long as humanity, or a part of it at least, devolves into uncivilized animals, we will all be at risk.

    December 9, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  23. KBNJ

    Some politicians are probably gearing up for a fight on the NSA – don't let them get away with it.
    Also, was the Boston bombing really a 'lone wolf' attack? Probably wasn't a well organized attack, but I'm not sure they acted without encouragement or even training.

    December 9, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. Aqeel

    Republicans will say the country is safe only when 100% of the US budget is spent on defense and arms. That's their only measure of safety and security.

    December 9, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. Mike

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

    - says the man who's entire organization, budget, and very existence depends on the continuing "threat" against the homeland.

    The threat isn't gone. But dwelling on the FEAR as a justification for even more draconian and useless "security measures" is just plain stupid. They live for the theater.

    December 9, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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