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Obama shows he’s not up to the job of defeating ISIS

By Senator Thom Tillis

Senator_Thom_Tillis_Official_PortraitThe tragedy in Orlando last month was a direct assault on America and the values and freedoms we cherish.

The perpetrator of this terrorist act pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State, and the specific location he targeted, a gay nightclub, was no coincidence considering the Islamic State’s hateful and violent treatment of gays in the Middle East.

The Islamic State is a terrorist death cult that seeks to end the life of anyone who refuses to conform to its twisted, dystopian interpretation of Islam.

Given the known objective of the Islamic State, and following the most deadly terror attack on our soil since 9/11, the American people would expect our elected officials to rally together to address the growing threat of radical Islamic extremism in our homeland.

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Instead, what the American people got was political theater from our elected officials in Washington.

Shortly following the attack, the American people watched as President Obama delivered a televised speech calling for new gun control measures. Nowhere in his remarks did he call on the nation to unite to defeat radical Islamic terrorism.

Senate Democrats then followed suit by staging a late-night filibuster to demand gun control, a not-so-subtle attempt to draw attention to a divisive wedge issue they hope will rev up their political base heading into the November elections.

Not to be outdone, House Democrats staged an overnight “sit-in” on the House floor, disrupting the business of Congress and violating basic standards of decorum and civility.

During their made-for-TV spectacle, House Democrats demanded a vote on legislation that would strip law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment and due process rights. They apparently forgot the very same legislation was resoundingly voted down in the Senate only days earlier.

The insincerity fueling this political stunt was evident to anyone who saw the endless stream of fundraising emails coming from House Democrats, who literally used the backdrop of the House floor to fill their campaign coffers.

Democratic leaders may have been successful in earning gushing news coverage from the media, but it’s clear they were nothing more than a concerted effort to distract the American people. The president and his party don’t want to discuss the real threat of radical Islamic terrorism. After all, they won’t even call the threat by its name. And they certainly don’t want to explain why they still lack a coherent strategy to annihilate the Islamic State abroad so we don’t have to fight them here at home.

They don’t want to, in large part because they know the president’s rosy rhetoric doesn’t match the increasingly dire reality of the dangerous world we live in.

President Obama, while claiming we are defeating the Islamic State, is contradicted by his own generals and top law enforcement officers at every turn.

Take, for instance, last November, when the president publicly bragged that his non-existent strategy to defeat the Islamic State was succeeding, claiming, “from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them [ISIL].”

However, only weeks later, General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, succinctly stated, “we have not contained ISIL.”

In fact, the very next day following General Dunford’s remark, two radical Islamic terrorists — one born in the United States, and the other a permanent resident — committed a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., that left 14 innocent Americans dead.

And last month, only two days after the Orlando attack, President Obama once again insisted the Islamic State was on the run. “We are making significant progress,” he said. “This campaign at this stage is firing on all cylinders, and as a result, ISIL is under more pressure than ever before.”

However, shortly after making this audacious claim, the president’s own CIA director, John Brennan, offered a dramatically contradictory assessment, stating, “despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the groups terrorism capability and global reach.”

The CIA director’s comments were clear: the Islamic State still poses a threat that extends well beyond the Middle East, including our own homeland.

Every member of the Senate is well aware of this, because in addition to hearing these public statements, we also attend the classified briefings.

We know that the Islamic State’s propaganda is specifically geared to target, radicalize and inspire a wave of “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in America.

The Islamic State figures the easiest way to infiltrate and attack America is to convert our own citizens into terrorists who will do the bidding of their caliphate. We have seen the tragic consequences of the Islamic State’s strategy in San Bernardino and Orlando.

The president and Congress have an obligation to address this growing threat to our communities and do everything in our power, within the framework of the Constitution, to prevent future attacks.

It’s long overdue for our commander in chief to develop and execute a winning strategy to defeat the Islamic State in the Middle East and cut off its rapidly growing reach of influence in the West.

Unfortunately, this is a task that our current president, through his words and his deeds, has demonstrated he’s not up for. Let’s hope our next president is.

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