Sunday's News shows saw President Obama getting slammed for his lack of aggressiveness in fighting the terrorist group ISIS. This time, the hits did not come from the GOP; they came from well-respected Democrats, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Leon Panetta, who was the Secretary of Defense and the Director of the CIA in the Obama administration.
Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee appeared on the CBS News program Face The Nation and said "We need to be aggressive now [against ISIL]" and that the approach the administration was taking was not sufficient to do the job."
Host John Dickerson started the discussion by asking the senator if a recent briefing by Secretary of State John Kerry made her more confident about the administration's approach. Feinstein answered that it hadn't:
I don't think the approach is sufficient to the job. I think there are general principles, and the general principles in terms of the administration strategy, too, but I'm concerned that we don't have the time, and we don't have years. We need to be aggressive now, because ISIL is a quasi-state.
ISIL has 30,000 fighters. It's got a civil infrastructure. It's got funding. It's spreading in other countries. And it's a big, big problem. And now what you see, I think, in other places is a competition developing from other terrorist organizations.
But ISIL is something apart. It's enormously strong. And it has to be dealt with in a very strong manner.
Dickerson asked the senator if she thought the administration "has been too cautious or lacks of a sense of urgency?" While Feinstein said "No," she did concede that the ISIL operation has taken too long:
No, what I'm saying is, this has gone on too long now. And it has not gotten better. It's gotten worse.
There may be some land held by ISIL in Iraq and Syria that's been taken back, but, for all of that, there's much more they have gained in other countries, two attacks in Tunisia, four centers, Libya takeover, the Sinai, and it goes on and on.
So, I think we need a specific larger special operations plan. One -- a group of 50 is fine for what they're doing so far, but it's not going to solve the problem. And I think getting at the government in Raqqa in a way that one is not only able to get at the government, but change it, move ISIL out, that's where the head of the snake, so to speak, has to be cut off. That's Raqqa.
But it's in many other places, too. And we don't have a lot of time. There are needless deaths. We have over a million people that are refugees that are trying to save their families, trying to run from it. And we find it in Paris, and we find it in Belgium. And that's where they're running to. So, it makes no sense.
Over on NBC's Meet the Press, Leon Panetta, who spent four years in the Obama Cabinet first running the CIA then the Defense Department, said Obama's stated goals “to disrupt, dismantle and destroy ISIS” were correct, but "I think the resources applied to that mission, frankly, have not been sufficient to confront that.”
Answering Chuck Todd's question about whether Obama's strategy against ISIS was working, Panetta let loose:
Well, obviously there's a lot of concern about whether or not we've deployed the resources to be able to accomplish the mission that the President described. I think the mission that he said is the right mission, which is to disrupt, dismantle and destroy ISIS, that's the right mission. But I think that the resources applied to that mission, frankly, have not been sufficient to confront that. And for that reason, I think we have got to be much more aggressive and much more unified in the effort to take on ISIS.
Like his CBS counterpart, Todd asked about the speed of the mission, whether the U.S.was implementing the strategy too slow.
Look, if we're going to confront ISIS and, you know, clearly, we've been through acts of war these last few weeks that make it very clear that they are a clear and present danger, not only to Europe, but to this country, as well, then we're going to have to take some very specific steps here.
One is to unify this effort. As Richard Engel [NBC foreign reporter] pointed out, this effort is not coordinated, people are not working together, everybody's kind of doing their own thing on different targets. We need to unify the command, we need to set a Joint Command Center where all of these countries are together on their objective.
And secondly, we need to increase our effort there, we need to increase the tempo of our air strikes, we need to organize ground forces, particularly, the Sunnis and the Kurds and arm them so that they can take territory back from ISIS. And frankly, we need to increase Special Forces and our intelligence advisors, not only to guide these forces, but to go with them in order to ensure that we are successful in this effort.
What makes this criticism significant is that it didn't come from Republicans, it came from loyal Democrats. Don't, however, look for this to be pointed out by the mainstream media.
The video below shows the relevant part of the Panetta interview: