November 22nd, 2015
11:47 AM ET

Nunes: What the Obama administrations says about ISIS "just doesn't jive with what we see on the ground"

SOTU

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Representative and chairman of the permanent select committee on intelligence (R-CA), joined anchor, Jake Tapper to discuss the Obama administration’s strategy against ISIS.

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666; Zachary Lilly – Zachary.Lilly@turner.com

 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

 

Nunes reacts to possible ISIS threats inside the United States: “No credible threat that we know about, Jake.  That's the real issue here is that because so many of the terrorists have gotten good at their operational security, we just don't know what we don't know.   And there's nothing specific except for the threats that they've been putting out there on the internet.  So, at this point we have to take everything seriously… We did had many of these people identified, but there are so many thousands and thousands of them and they're all over western Europe and even in the United States and then with the technology that they're using today and the rules and lessons they've learned through fighting us over the last 15 years they've gotten very good at hiding from intelligence services across globe.”

Nunes on the investigation into intelligence reports: “ Well, we are involved in this investigation.  We're working closely with the House armed services committee and the defense appropriations committee and we're trying to gather all the facts. So, we have heard from a lot of whistleblowers and other informants who have given us information, and not just related strictly to the latest allegations, Jake.  These go back for four years. And I'll tell you it's really from the members on the intelligence committee.  We travel to many of these countries and we meet with the people on the ground.  And it's almost all the time what we hear and see on the ground, when we talk to the folks that are actually doing the work and then what we see in finished intelligence product - and I think more alarming, what we hear the president and his senior officials saying to the public, it just doesn't jive with what they're saying in public and what we see on the ground.”

Nunes on recently passed House legislation regarding refugees: “What the House passed is definitely needed, because from the information that I see and if I was in the shoes of ISIS or al Qaeda, I would definitely try to get people into these types of refugee programs.  So, the House legislation is needed. I agree that there needs to be a longer look at what needs to happen in the long run with the visa waiver program and who is allowed to get into the United States, but that's going take more time. But in the short-term we can put in so that the FBI and other intelligence agencies would have to clear who gets into this country.  I think it's a very small ask and why the president is opposing it seems a little deaf to me.”

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

 

JAKE TAPPER:  Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

ISIS has released a new video warning of an impending attack on New York City, this just days after the terrorists vowed to strike Washington, D.C.  New York City mayor Bill de Blasio led a chorus of officials trying to reassure Americans that there is no imminent threat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY:  It's important to note that there is no credible and specific threat against New York City.  NYPD has been working very, very closely with the FBI and our other federal partners.  And I again repeat there is no specific and credible threat of New York City.

(END VIEO CLIP)

TAPPER:  Joining me now is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Congressman Devon Nunes.  Congressman, thanks for joining us.  Is that correct?  Is there no credible threat against New York City or Washington or anywhere in the U.S.?

REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R) CALIFORNIA:  No credible threat that we know about, Jake.  That's the real issue here is that because so many of the terrorists have gotten good at their operational security, we just don't know what we don't know.   And there's nothing specific except for the threats that they've been putting out there on the internet.  So, at this point we have to take everything seriously.

TAPPER:  Several terrorists involved in the Paris attacks were apparently known to U.S. authorities.  Did the U.S. have any intelligence at all that might

have stopped the atrocities?

NUNES:  No.  That's the challenge.  So, you're exactly right.  We did had many of these people identified, but there are so many thousands and thousands of them and they're all over western Europe and even in the United States and then with the technology that they're using today and the rules and lessons they've learned through fighting us over the last 15 years they've gotten very good at hiding from intelligence services across globe.

TAPPER:  Brussels is on a security clamp down right now as you know, the threat is deemed so serious that the government shut down the subway, urged citizens not to go to the train station or airport.  U.S. citizens are being told to shelter in place.

What can you tell us about this threat?  And why it's being taken so seriously?

NUNES:  I actually just spoke to a friend of mine over there about an hour ago.  What they're reporting on the news is that some of the - local news there is that few of the fugitives, possibly one of the fugitives from - that was involved

in the attack in France they believe he's in Belgium somewhere.  So, they're asking people to stay in place, not - try - I think all the public events they closed down.  Like you said the subway is closed down.

So, hopefully they can track - the Belgian authorities can track thnis fugitive down and bring him to justice.

TAPPER:  The New York Times is reporting that the investigation into the Pentagon possibly falsifying intelligence reports or for finessing them Iraq about ISIS is expanding.  The accusation being that intelligence officials were

saying that the U.S. air campaign was not being as effective and ISIS was much stronger than everyone thought and that it was being finessed so that by the time it got up to the president or secretary of defense level they were getting reassuring views.

Have you seen any evidence that happened?

NUNES:  Well, we are involved in this investigation.  We're working closely with the House armed services committee and the defense appropriations committee and we're trying to gather all the facts.

So, we have heard from a lot of whistleblowers and other informants who

have given us information, and not just related strictly to the latest allegations, Jake.  These go back for four years.

And I'll tell you it's really from the members on the intelligence committee.  We travel to many of these countries and we meet with the people on the ground.  And it's almost all the time what we hear and see on the ground, when we talk to the folks that are actually doing the work and then what we see in finished intelligence product - and I think more alarming, what we hear the president and his senior officials saying to the public, it just doesn't jive with what they're saying in public and what we see on the ground.

TAPPER:  Well, are you seeing on the ground?

NUNES:  Well, specifically you look at ISIS, right.  So ISIS being contained.  We didn't go in and go after ISIS until two reporters got their heads cut off.  And then the president said, well, this is our strategy.

We challenged the White House and the advisers that, well, this looks like

a containment strategy, this looks like mission creep.  And they said, well, no, no, no this is not a containment strategy.

Well, then just a week ago right before these Paris attacks the president of the United States goes on and says our containment strategy is working.  And you know what we've been saying is if you want to track down, kill, and defeat ISIS, if you only have a containment strategy within Iraq and Syria, you really don't understand the problem, because North Africa is full of ISIS fighters.

At the same time you have al Qaeda growing in numbers.

So the president to have a successful strategy is going to admit that they've got it wrong and they need to relook at a larger strategy that deals with North

Africa, the Middle East, all the way to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and then work closely with our NATO allies with what appears to be a command and control

structure that ISIS has created successfully in Europe.

TAPPER:  Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said this week on CNN that the U.S.

needs to temporarily suspend the visa waiver program between the U.S. and Europe that allows Europeans to come into this country without applying for visas.

Given that the attackers, the terrorists, were largely Europeans not refugees does that make sense in some ways than what the House passed limiting, or blocking, really, Syrian refugees?

NUNES:  Well, what the House passed is definitely needed, because from the information that I see and if I was in the shoes of ISIS or al Qaeda, I would definitely try to get people into these types of refugee programs.  So, the House legislation is needed.

I agree that there needs to be a longer look at what needs to happen in the long run with the visa waiver program and who is allowed to get into the United States, but that's going take more time.

But in the short-term we can put in so that the FBI and other intelligence agencies would have to clear who gets into this country.  I think it's a very small ask and why the president is opposing it seems a little deaf to me.

TAPPER:  All right, House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes, congressman from California, thanks so much.  We appreciate it.

NUNES:  Thanks, Jake.

###END INTERVIEW###


Topics: ISIS • Jake Tapper • State of the Union
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