Over the past few weeks, as the administration gropes for a strategy for dealing with ISIS, we've been told repeatedly that the terrorist Army does not pose an "immediate threat" to the homeland. And for good measure, officials from the State Department and DHS--along with Democratic lawmakers-- were repeating that claim again today. More from Real Clear Politics:
Several members of Congress, joined by State Department and Homeland Security officials, said Wednesday morning that the terrorist group ISIS does not pose an immediate threat to the United States. However, they pointed to the possibility of future threats from Westerners now fighting in Iraq and Syria along with lone-wolf attacks inspired by the group.
“I am not willing to cede the point that ISIS does not represent a threat to the United States,” said the Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. “I did not say ‘imminent.’ I did not say ‘today.’ But I believe this hearing recognizes ISIS is a threat to the United States and the people of the United States.”
Jackson Lee’s comments were apparently meant to stave off criticism from liberal opponents of military action against ISIS, who note that intelligence sources have not found a specific, credible threat against the United States from the group.
When the Democrats trot out Ms. Jackson Lee to assure us that all is well, you know they've got a problem. Think of it this way: on the eve of the 9-11 anniversary, with ISIS expanding its influence around the world, Democratic leaders had to dig deeeeep into their bench to find someone willing to go along with the party line.
Unfortunately, the Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis at DHS apparently didn't get the "don't worry" memo. Testifying before the Senate today, Francis Taylor confirmed that ISIS militants are planning to enter the U.S. via our sieve-like southern border. Here's an account of Taylor's remarks from the Washington Free Beacon:
Francis Taylor told senators during a hearing that ISIL supporters are known to be plotting ways to infiltrate the United States through the border.
“There have been Twitter, social media exchanges among ISIL adherents across the globe speaking about that as a possibility,” Taylor told Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) in response to a question about “recent reports on Twitter and Facebook of messages that would urge infiltration into the U.S. across our southwestern border.”
“Certainly any infiltration across our border would be a threat,” Taylor said, explaining that border security agents are working to tighten measures that would prevent this from taking place.
“I’m satisfied we have the intelligence and the capability on our border that would prevent that activity,” Taylor said.
Calling Taylor an optimist might be the understatement of the decade.
Senator John McCain of Arizona was dubious of Taylor's claims, noting that conservative film maker James O'Keefe recently released a video of himself, dress in a bin Laden mask, sneaking across the southern border, not a border agent in sight.
Apparently, Mr. McCain is unaware that O'Keefe replicated his infiltration on our northern border, filming a man in jihadi garb (with a British accent) coming ashore in downtown Cleveland from Lake Erie, carrying containers labeled Ebola and ricin. The fake jihadist even strolled into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, carrying a duffel bag. He was never challenged by authorities. According to O'Keefe, Coast Guard vessels assigned to protect the city from maritime threats were tied up at the dock.
British-born terrorists--like the one who recently beheaded two American journalists in Syria--can enter Canada without a visa. From there, it's just a short stroll or boat ride into the U.S.
Members of the administration (and their friends in Congress) are correct when they claim there are no known plots or operations involving terrorists infiltrating our porous borders. But that's a particularly vile form of parsing--the rhetorical refuge of scoundrels and intelligence analysts. They conveniently ignore the fact that ISIS operatives are openly chatting about crossing our southern border to enter the United States. That chatter, which has increased significantly in recent weeks, should be sufficient grounds to seal off the border, out of an abundance of caution.
But the White House and its political allies don't see that as an immediate threat. So the border remains open and ISIS militants may well be crossing from Mexico and/or Canada. And it would be even easier for Americans who have been fighting for the terror group--or other western-born jihadists to simply return home, using the passport of their home country.
And the threat may have already arrived. Former CIA officer Bob Baer recently told CNN that a number of intelligence and security officials believe ISIS terrorists have already entered the U.S.
But there's no immediate threat.
Sleep well, America. Later this evening, President Obama will unveil his strategy for battling the terrorist organization. It will be interesting to see how much--or how little--he talks about the terror group's ability to strike us at home and what he plans to combat that threat.