By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Sunday, December 6, President Barack H. Obama (D) addressed the nation about his plans to combat the growing threat from ISIS. US Representatives Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) and Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) issued their own statements in response to President Obama’s speech from the Oval Office.
Congresswoman Roby said, “Americans are rightfully concerned about the growing threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism, and I’m glad President Obama chose to address the nation. I’m disappointed that, once again, the president did not lay out a clear strategy for actually defeating ISIS. Repeating old talking points and deflecting blame does not demonstrate the kind of leadership Americans want and need in a moment like this.”
Congressman Byrne said, “Tomorrow is December 7th, a day that will live in infamy because our nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor by an enemy we failed to fully understand. I worry we are making the same mistake today when it comes to Islamic extremism. The President’s speech tonight offered nothing new in the way of a strategy to defeat this enemy. We need a clear strategy that will ensure our enemy is defeated in the Middle East, on social media, and here at home. More political speeches won’t solve the problem. We need action from our Commander-in-Chief.”
Rep. Roby said, “I agree that Congress should pass an Authorization of Military Force specific to ISIS, and I have co-sponsored a straightforward resolution that can move forward tomorrow. However, many in Congress are understandably reluctant to authorize military force when our Commander-in-Chief repeatedly fails to demonstrate a clear strategy for confronting and defeating the ISIS threat.
Rep. Roby added, “President Obama is wrong to use the terrorist threat to advance his anti-gun agenda. Trying to strip law-abiding Americans of their 2nd Amendment right to own firearms is no way to combat terrorism. I will fight any attempt by President Obama to erode our 2nd Amendment rights.”
Many Republicans think that raising the gun control issue is simply a cynical attempt by the administration to change the debate away from the failures of the Administration’s Syrian policy and it’s unwillingness to more thoroughly review people’s application to come to this country to prevent terrorists from legally immigrating to the United States, like Miss Tashfeen Malik who went from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia to San Bernardino, California without raising any red flags.
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said, “Our primary responsibility is to keep the American people safe from the real and evolving threat of radical Islamic terrorism. That will require the president to produce a comprehensive strategy to confront and defeat ISIS. The enemy is adapting, and we must too. That’s why what we heard tonight was so disappointing: no new plan, just a half-hearted attempt to defend and distract from a failing policy.”
Speaker Ryan said, “American families should have confidence that our leaders are working together to address this threat. That’s why this week the House will vote on a bipartisan bill to update our visa waiver program to reduce the risk of an extremist entering the country from abroad. This legislation builds on a recent bipartisan vote to strengthen the certification requirements in our refugee program. But the ultimate solution is a comprehensive plan to eliminate the extremist threat, and only the commander-in-chief can provide that. The horrific events of recent weeks remind us that any hope to contain ISIS has been a failure. Until we hear from the president what more can be done —with our military, our intelligence-gathering, and our international partners — we will remain one step behind our enemy. This is not just the next president’s problem. It is our problem, and we must confront it today.”
President Obama continues to claim, “So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas, or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home.” “We’ve hardened our defenses — from airports to financial centers, to other critical infrastructure. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies have disrupted countless plots here and overseas, and worked around the clock to keep us safe.”
Pres. Obama insisted, “We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us.” “First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary. In Iraq and Syria, airstrikes are taking out ISIL leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers, infrastructure.” “Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens. In both countries, we’re deploying Special Operations Forces who can accelerate that offensive. We’ve stepped up this effort since the attacks in Paris, and we’ll continue to invest more in approaches that are working on the ground.”
The President said, “We constantly examine our strategy to determine when additional steps are needed to get the job done. That’s why I’ve ordered the Departments of State and Homeland Security to review the visa Waiver program under which the female terrorist in San Bernardino originally came to this country. And that’s why I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.” “Here at home, we have to work together to address the challenge. There are several steps that Congress should take right away. To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security. We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures. But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — no matter how effective they are — cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do — and must do — is make it harder for them to kill.”
The President continues to resist the calls of those who argue that the only way to clear ISIS/ISIL out of Syria and Iraq is to go in house by house cave by cave and kill them where they live with American ground forces. Pres. Obama said, “We should not be drawn once more into a long and costly ground war in Iraq or Syria. That’s what groups like ISIL want. They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits.”
Critics say that ISIS has been having no difficulty recruiting from all over the globe now and that the President’s ineffective air campaign, which is so loathe to possibly injure a civilian that 80 percent of the sorties the pilots are not cleared to drop their bombs has only emboldened the terrorist state.
Pres. Obama said, “The strategy that we are using now — airstrikes, Special Forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country — that is how we’ll achieve a more sustainable victory. And it won’t require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil.”
Critics say that the President’s strategy will only delay more forceful action forcing the next President to actually deal with the ISIS Caliphate situation.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.