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House, Senate Flag Islamic State Risk  08/31 11:41

   Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees on Sunday prodded 
President Barack Obama to take decisive action against what they say are 
growing threats from Islamic State militants on U.S. soil.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees 
on Sunday prodded President Barack Obama to take decisive action against what 
they say are growing threats from Islamic State militants on U.S. soil.

   The lawmakers, one Republican and one Democratic, offered bipartisan 
pressure on the White House to turn back the hazard of Islamist fighters who 
have taken control of vast swaths of Syria and Iraq. Those militants now are 
looking toward the United States or Western Europe for its next targets, 
lawmakers said.

   Without offering specifics on any threats, the lawmakers said Obama soon 
needs to develop a comprehensive strategy to crush the fighters.

   "His foreign policy is in absolute free-fall," said Rep. Mike Rogers, a 
Michigan Republican who heads the House Intelligence Committee.

   In another TV interview, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who 
leads the Senate intelligence panel, said Obama is perhaps "too cautious" in 
his approach to combatting the Islamic State group.

   "This is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous," Feinstein 
said. "And they'll kill with abandon."

   The pair of lawmakers, who have access to some of the nation's most 
sensitive secrets and receive regular and detailed briefings from the nation's 
spy agencies, offered dire predictions of an attack on the United States or its 
European allies if the militants are not confronted.

   "They have announced that they don't intend to stop," Feinstein said. "They 
have announced that they will come after us if they can, that they will, quote, 
'spill our blood.'"

   The threat, Rogers said, could include Americans who have trained with 
Islamic State fighters. He said there are hundreds of Islamic State-trained 
Americans who can return to the United States with their American passports.

   "I'm very concerned because we don't know every single person that has an 
American passport that has gone and trained and learned how to fight," Rogers 

   Rogers said U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking the Americans who are 
known to have traveled to the region. Those people, he added, should be charged 
under existing laws that prohibit Americans from aiding terrorists.

   An attack on a Western nation is the next goal for the group, Rogers said.

   "ISIL would like to have a Western-style attack to continue this notion that 
they are the leading jihadist group in the world," Rogers said, using another 
name for the group.

   The top Democrat on his intelligence panel, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of 
Maryland, was more skeptical about an attack from Islamic State fighters in the 
United States. He said more needs to be known before judging whether they plan 
to commit terrorist acts here any time soon. Islamic State fighters are taking 
over territory and their priority for the moment seems to be to hold on to that 
land rather than export violence.

   "It is extremely urgent, but you don't just rush in," he said.

   Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who serves on the Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee, urged fast action and said Islamic State fighters "must be 
defeated, not contained."

   "This is a direct threat to the United States of America," McCain said.

   Feinstein said she has seen nothing that compares to the viciousness of the 
militants who have overrun large portions of Iraq, killed civilians and 
beheaded American journalist James Foley. The Islamic State group has 
financing, military structure and weapons unlike any other militants, she said.

   Obama said Thursday that he did not yet have a strategy for dealing with the 
Islamic State organization, a remark that brought criticism from Democrats and 
Republicans. In an interview published early this year by The New Yorker, the 
president appeared to minimize the Islamic State group by comparing it to a 
junior varsity basketball team. The White House later said he was speaking 
about a different threat posed by a range of extremists across the world.

   Feinstein said she thought the basketball analogy was wrong --- "I think 
it's a major varsity team" --- but would not say whether she thought not having 
a strategy yet, as Obama acknowledged on Thursday, projected weakness from the 
White House.

   "I think I've learned one thing about this president, and that is he's very 
cautious," she said. "Maybe in this instance, too cautious. I do know that the 
military, I know that the State Department, I know that others have been 
putting plans together. And so hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a 

   Feinstein spoke to NBC's "Meet the Press." Rogers appeared on "Fox News 
Sunday." Ruppersberger was on CNN's "State of the Union." McCain was 
interviewed on CBS' "Face the Nation."


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