Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) on Sunday praised the work and life of journalist James Foley, a native of her state, as numerous lawmakers reiterated their disgust and concern over his “brutal” murder.
“Jim Foley was a brave journalist,” Ayotte said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “He was on the front lines. He had a passion for the truth, and I know that [his parents] are very proud of their son, as are all of us, for what he was doing to try to bring the truth to America about what was happening in Syria, in other conflict regions.”
Foley’s death led to international shock after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIS or ISIL, released a graphic video showing a masked militant decapitating Foley.
Since then, reports have surfaced naming a 23-year-old “British-born rapper” as a key suspect in the attack. Neither the United States nor Britain have publicly commented on the identity of the masked man, but earlier this week Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC it was “increasingly likely” that he was a British citizen.
Republican lawmakers and retired generals praised the White House’s condemnation of Foley’s murder, but said more immediate action needs to be taken.
“All of us are appreciative of the president’s comments about the tragic death of James Foley and what the administration people are saying, Hagel and General Dempsey, but so far they have not laid out a strategy. The president has got to come forward with a cohesive, comprehensive strategy—not only in Iraq, but also in Ukraine, also in other parts of the world,” said Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) on Fox News Sunday.
“This is an administration, which the kindest word I can use is feckless, where they have not outlined a role that the United States of America has to play, and that’s a leadership role,” McCain said.
Rep. Mike McCaul (R., Tex.) said ISIS represents “the greatest threat since 9/11,” and is a problem that has “been festering for the last year.”
McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said he “wholeheartedly agreed” with comments made by General John Allen, former commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, on the same program.
Allen contended that military action must “be more than simple pinpoint attacks.”
“It’s got to be a regional approach. It’s got to be a coalition approach, and while some aspect of the coalition can be focused on the humanitarian relief … it’s going to require a comprehensive approach to strike ISIS throughout the entire network of its organization, and some of that is in Iraq, but a lot of that, and particularly the support areas, is in Syria.”
“It’s going to take more than what we’re doing right now,” said Allen.
McCaul called for an expansion of airstrikes.
“This administration, thus far, has only dealt with containment. We need to expand these airstrikes so that we can ultimately defeat and eliminate ISIS, because I would far prefer to eliminate them [in the Middle East] than have to deal with them in the United States,” McCaul said.
Ayotte contended that if the goal is to defeat ISIS, the United States must provide Kurdish forces with military equipment and support the “moderate opposition” in Syria.
“I would say also the political solution is important,” Ayotte continued. “We need an Iraqi government that is inclusive. We also need Muslim leaders to condemn ISIS, to make sure that they are saying that ISIS has to go.”
General Jack Keane, the former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army, said on Fox News Sunday that the United States must “crack down” on allies who help fund extremist organizations.
“We know who they are. Some of them obviously are in Saudi Arabia. We’ve got to crack down on Qatar, who we treat as an ally … Qatar has helped funded and helped arm ISIS. They also, as we all know, fund Hamas. That’s got to stop and we’ve got to use our pressure against that country to knock that stuff off,” said Keane.
“Economically, ISIS is making money everyday on the black market with their oil fields, but they also are putting money in banks. We know where those banks are. We should go after those banks and the facilitators who are using them.”
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) pointed to Foley’s murder as a chance to “regroup.”
“This is an opportunity for the president to take a step back, change his presidential guidance on how we disrupt terrorism around the world. … We have missed dozens and dozens of opportunities to take really bad people off the battlefield,” Rogers said NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The White House called the death of Foley a “terrorist attack,” and said the administration will not be “restricted by borders” as they consider how to deal with the threat ISIS poses to American citizens and the nation.
While they encouraged an expanded mission to deal with the terrorist groups, lawmakers said the administration would need to return to Congress before progressing with military action.
“We believe that the administration should be in consultation with Congress,” said McCaul.
“So far, they have under the War Powers Act, but once that period of time expires, we believe it’s necessary to come back to Congress to get additional authorities and to update, if you will, the authorized use of military force.”