President Obama said last Thursday that he doesn’t “have a strategy yet” to combat ISIS in the Middle East. Worse is what Obama didn’t say — not one word about how to prevent ISIS from attacking us right here in the U.S. That’s despite security experts warning Congress repeatedly that ISIS’s gory threats to spill American blood should be taken seriously.
Compare Obama’s inaction to Prime Minister David Cameron’s decisive action. After British security experts raised the terrorist threat assessment there to “severe,” meaning an attack is “highly likely,” Cameron called for revoking passports of British citizens returning from Syria and Iraq and cracking down on jihadist recruiters, even by censoring the Internet and rounding up extremist organizers. These proposals are sparking a lively debate in Britain over balancing security and civil rights.
Meanwhile, Cameron worked through the weekend on proposals he brought to the House of Commons Monday That’s the same weekend President Obama spent at a barbecue, two fundraisers, and the wedding of the White House chef. Also MIA are House Speaker John Boehner, still on his 14-state fundraising bus tour, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, busy politicking in Nevada.
When there’s a leadership vacuum in the White House, Congress needs to step in. That means getting to work on thwarting jihadists with American or European passports from importing ISIS-style terror here. A year ago, on August 23, 2013, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller raised that danger in an ABC News interview. In January and again in February of this year, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence told Congress it was a “huge concern” that ISIS training camps in Syria are preparing “people to go back to their home countries and conduct terrorist acts.”
Just days before breaking for August vacation, Congress was alerted again. On July 29, security expert Max Boot warned that ISIS is a “clear and present danger” to America, a warning repeated by several other expert witnesses.
Spasms of ISIS violence are already occurring in the West. On May 24, Mehdi Nemmouche, a Frenchman who spent 11 months fighting with ISIS in Syria before returning to Europe, opened fire at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, killing four.
It’s common sense that Americans who have gone to the Middle East to fight with ISIS should be barred from returning, yet so far nothing is being done. The U.S. already knows about Douglas McCain from Illinois, Moner Mohammad Abusalha from Vero Beach, Florida, and Mohammad Hamdan from Detroit. Who knows for sure how many more there are?
The U.S. government can and should revoke the passports of any Americans who have joined up with ISIS. Contrary to what many believe, international travel is not a fundamental constitutional right. Federal courts have ruled that citizens can have their passports revoked or be put on a No Fly List. The only condition is that they are given due process, meaning they are told about it and given a hearing after the fact.
Congress should also bar travel to countries like Syria, where terrorists run training camps. Anyone wanting to go would have to get U.S. government clearance. That’s the substance of a pending bill, H.R. 4223, intended to close off regions that could be launching pads for terror against the U.S.
These precautions won’t eliminate the danger entirely. ISIS is reportedly making fraudulent passports, but not taking these precautions is foolhardy.
Time is short. The House reconvenes on September 8th and will meet for only twelve days before its members take off again to campaign for the November elections. Reid plans to close up shop even sooner. With no time to spare, lawmakers will have to pass spending bills for the coming year, among other matters. In view of the ISIS threat, you’d think Boehner and Reid would have shortened the August vacation and called a special session. But golf and politicking seem to preoccupy them as well as the president.