Senator Dianne Feinstein says the U.S. must confront ISIS now or deal with the militant group when it is a much more dangerous threat.
Feinstein, who serves as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, explained her position in an op-ed published on USA Today’s website Sunday evening. She focused on the two videos recently released by the militant group, depicting the beheadings of two American journalists; James Foley and Steven Sotloff. She said she believes the group has grown into a “significant military force” and controls large territories in Syria and Iraq.
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“The threat ISIS poses cannot be overstated. This is the most vicious, well-funded and militant terrorist organization we have ever seen, and it is very quickly consolidating its power,” Feinstein wrote.
“This is why I strongly believe the United States must lead an aggressive, international effort to confront and eliminate ISIS, including sustained airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. President Obama has now said that he intends to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS. I look forward to hearing the specifics of the president’s plan when he speaks on Wednesday. We either confront ISIS now or we’ll have to confront it later — when it will be a much stronger enemy.”
Feinstein continued saying that she understood that Americans are “weary” of conflict in the Middle East, but that it is important to understand how dangerous ISIS has become, having slain 693 children and detaining at least 2,250 women and children.
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“I understand that many Americans don’t want to become mired in another war. The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have claimed thousands of American lives and cost more than $ 1 trillion,” she said. “But Americans need to understand ISIS’ degree of viciousness as well as what will happen in the absence of U.S. leadership and action.”
She also argues that the organization has become a highly organized and sophisticated army of terrorists with control of money, resources, military vehicles, and even border crossings between Iraq and Syria.
However, the U.S. military has begun to forge an attack against ISIS. Officials said Sunday it launched airstrikes around Haditha Dam in western Iraq, targeting ISIS insurgents there for the first time in a move to prevent the group from capturing the vital dam.
Pentagon spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, tells CBS News that intelligence in the last several weeks showed ISIS was bringing in equipment and weapons to “further threaten the dam”, including “light vehicles, tactical vehicles, some weapons systems and perhaps even artillery.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that if the dam were to fall into the militant’s hands “or if that dam would be destroyed, the damage that that would cause would be very significant and it would put a significant additional and big risk into the mix in Iraq” including U.S. interests there.
President Obama, under increasing pressure to deal with the group, has said that he is ready to launch a strategy to defeat ISIS and will lay his plans out on Wednesday, including expanding a military campaign against them.