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. pretar

    The NEEDS of the MANY outweigh the NEEDS of the few so if they are causing trouble death and detraction,
    blow em up…stop mucking bout, you want to be secure?, you have to be the bad guy? WEAR the BLACK HAT then! and just get it done…be bad, eliminate the entire area and show the world this is how its going to be, and stop trying to REASON with people who are insane…Geez you want to look like the peacekeepers but then you have to be the hammer??? can't be both and have any credibility in the world…they don't respond with love they respond to fear…so drop it on them and lets get this over with..

    December 9, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. Me


    Republicans yet again fear-mongering.
    Seriously, do none of you liberals know how to read???????? This information came from a liberal as well as a GOP member!!!!!!!!!!!! I knew liberals were not that bright but I thought they would at least know how to read.....

    December 9, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Dan Reynolds

    If we weren't where we should;t be it wouldn't be an issue. Bring all the troops home now. Whatever form of government or actions another country chooses means nothing until they declare war on us.

    December 9, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  4. nk

    Thats because openly fighting it has further radicalized the populace against our ideals.

    December 9, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  5. capiers

    Nicely said Rudy NYC

    December 9, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Cindy

    I am really amazed by many of the comments here. This information is out there people, has been for years. Terrorism will not likely take the form of incidents like we have seen in the past. Chemical and biological weapons are in the hands of these extremists and have been for years.

    The extremists are already here, again, have been for years but now they are really growing in number. Our borders to the north and south are very porous. We have so many vulnerabilities. As the video pointed out, all it takes is one or two people to cause a lot of damage.

    This is not a Republican or Democratic thing, it is a fact or series of facts. Quit your politically and racist charged hate campaigns as you are no better than the terrorists otherwise..

    December 9, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  7. TomTheTaxPayer

    Epic fail of the current administration. Either he doesn't understand the nature of the beast, or he supports it.

    December 9, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Skull Smasher

    Another great Obama fail.
    Try reading the article. Republicans have been running DHS since 2011 when they took over the House.

    December 9, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  9. MrTeflon

    Fear Sells
    the Security Companies must be drooling all over themselves at the Profits to be made.

    December 9, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. Oakspar77777

    "Mr. Obama is pushing a false narrative."

    Understatement of the decade.

    December 9, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. Me

    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.
    hahahahaha that is freakin hilarious, unemployment was going to be at 6% after Obumers first term, ya it was pretty close....LMFAO

    December 9, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. TR

    Wait a minute...weren't we just hours away from providing direct military support to the Syrian rebels? Literally, al-qaida and affilitated terrorist groups? Or is the drum beating again for another rally to overthrow another foreign government under the guise of anti-terrorism/homeland security?
    Meanwhile, joblessness abounds, taxes continue to rise, the value of the dollar falls and my home is underwater. Where are the priorities?

    December 9, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. charles

    Well, we go, expect plenty more of this scare tactic from the Republicans as we move closer to the election. This old scare tactic that the republicans use is getting old..........please Republicans can't you come up with something more original than trying to scare people into thinking that terrorists are getting stronger.........give it up already.

    December 9, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. TheHutMaster

    I call BS. These are mearly scare tactics. The real threat lies with the treasonious gasbags creating all this false fear. I say we rid ourselves of the TRUE threat, the criminals in the US Government.

    December 9, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. bruce

    sooooooo, does this mean we shouldn't arm the rebels? lol it's such a shame it takes months to years at the government level to point out FACTS that are seen by the everyday you and me, which are: Northern African and the Middle East despise the West, besides for the few that CNN can find for interviews, and that the rebels are not better, in fact often times they are much worse, than the regimes they aim to overthrow. THUS, it is in our best interest to stop picking sides and label the entire region as a threat and monitor it from that standpoint, while worrying about defenses at home.

    December 9, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. rufus

    Please, I will give up whatever I have to if you will keep me safe.

    December 9, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. John Geheran

    Obama "pushing the false narrative that the US is safer from the terrorist threat" is reminiscent of FDR and Harry Hopkins' giveaway to the USSR in the face of overwhelming evidence of Soviet oppression of its own people and long term ambition to overthrow the US government. This time around it's the Muslim Brotherhood who are calling the shots aided and abetted by a hopeless inept WH.

    December 9, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. Nicole Chardenet

    Feh. I worry more about the NRA terrorists who pee their pants in fear every time a black man, brown man or gay man comes near them.

    Or I would if I still lived there.

    December 9, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  19. Mike

    So, the idea will be to start another unprovoked war of aggression, preferably on a country that's in a weakened state due to internal conflict. Then the United States bombs them with impunity, kills many thousands of non-combatants and says it's for freedom at home. By the way... They're going to need more of your freedoms to fight that war with.

    December 9, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. MikeB

    I'm thinking the threat of 'loss of freedom' is spreading like wildfire in the U.S.

    December 9, 2013 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. Ally

    Dan Reynolds: "If we weren't where we should;t be it wouldn't be an issue. Bring all the troops home now. Whatever form of government or actions another country chooses means nothing until they declare war on us."

    Unfortunately, Ron; the face of warfare is changing. The biggest threats are no longer from "a country" as much as they are from independent terrorist groups. There will be no declaration of war. They will attack when they want to. And we must work to stay on top of the movement and organization of these groups. It's much more complicated than waiting for a country to declare war on you.

    December 9, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. brian

    So a legal election that has results counter to what the US "wants" is tantamount to a country "falling"

    December 9, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. jinx9to88

    I am beginning to think the GOP wants this Admin to start a war just so the GOP doesn't always look like the idiots for starting useless wars.

    December 9, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Nat

    Meanwhile, the liberals see the biggest threats in the homeland as gun nuts, 32 ounce soft drinks and styrofoam containers.....not necessarily in that order!

    December 9, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. QS

    The false narrative is the one the so-called "hawks" have fed this country for decades now – strength and safety through force.

    I will take diplomacy and cooler heads every day of the week and twice on Sunday over knee-jerk reactionaries whose first instinct in any situation is to shoot first and ask questions later.

    The other false narrative is the poorly-named "war on terrorism". The war must be waged on ignorance and the perpetuation of beliefs that harbor that ignorance.

    Sadly, however, the war on ignorance must first be waged in this country before we can hope to fight it elsewhere.

    December 9, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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