A Democratic lawmaker from Hawaii and one of the first female combat veterans in Congress said the U.S. counterterrorism mission is adrift and needs to be refocused to target and dismantle the Islamic State.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, an veteran of the Iraq war who also serves as Democratic National Committee vice chairwoman, said Sunday that she and other veterans joined the military after 9/11 to take on Islamic extremists who attacked the United States. Under the Obama administration, she said, that mission is now “lost.”
In an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz Sunday, Gabbard criticized President Obama’s response to the threat posed by the Islamic State, recalling how a White House official said last week that U.S. airstrikes in Iraq “are not an authorization of a broad-based counter-terrorism campaign” against the extremists.
“So if our mission is not to take out the Islamic extremists who continue to threaten and wage war against us, then I think we've got a real problem here," she said.
The administration, she said, should be doing more to stop the Islamic State in Iraq such as arming the Kurds.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., also an Iraq war veteran, said the Islamic State has made clear they want to strike the United States and Europe “and have the means to do it.”
“I think we have to have a goal of saying we need to crush ISIS,” he said.
While Kinzinger said he doesn’t want to reintroduce U.S. combat troops on the ground in Iraq, he criticized Obama for taking the option off the table publicly even if “you take it off the table privately.”
“It just shows the enemy what you're not willing to do,” he said. “And when you show them what you're not willing to do, it makes your movements all that less effective.”
Having U.S. Special Forces embedded with the Iraqi military to help as it “regrows its spine,” he said, is going to be “essential and important.”