Review Category : Poltics

President Obama: Overcoming Fear ‘Most Powerful Tool’ to Fight ISIS

Alex Wong/Getty Images(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) — The “most powerful tool” to fight ISIS is to prevent the group’s recent terror attacks in Paris from injecting fear in communities or governments around the world, President Obama said Sunday during his trip to Malaysia.

“We do not succumb to fear,” Obama said during a news conference closing out the final leg of his nine-day, three-nation trip overseas. “The most powerful tool we have to fight ISIL is to say that we’re not afraid. To not elevate them and to somehow buy into their fantasy that they’re doing something important.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, the president sought to reassure allies that the U.S. will continue as an effective leader of the global coalition to destroy ISIS.

“Destroying ISIL is not only a realistic goal,” Obama said, using a preferred acronym for the terror group. “We’re going to get it done and we’re going to pursue it. It’s going to get done.”

Obama, who is set to visit Paris at the end of the month for a major climate conference, said world leaders would be sending an important message by not letting last week’s attack in Paris, in which 130 people were killed, prevent them from attending.

“I think it is absolutely vital for every country, every leader to send a signal that the viciousness of a handful of killers does not stop the world from doing vital business,” he said.

The president also decried news headlines that sought to label the recently-deceased ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, as a “mastermind.”

“He’s not a mastermind,” Obama said. “He found a few other vicious people, got [his] hands on some fairly conventional weapons, and sadly, it turns out if you’re willing to die, you can kill a lot of people.”

The president added that ISIS “cannot strike a mortal blow” to the U.S., France, or even Malaysia.

“They’re a bunch of killers with good social media,” he said. “Our way of life is stronger. We have more to offer. We represent 99.9 percent of humanity and that’s why we should be confident that we will win.”

Obama also gave his first public acknowledgment of ISIS being behind the downing of a Russian airliner over Egypt late last month, killing more than 200 people. An image included in the latest issues of an ISIS magazine shows a soda can and what explosives experts told ABC News earlier this week are a blasting cap and an electric initiator.

The ISIS magazine said the image showed “the IED [improvised explosive device] used to bring down the Russian airliner.”

“I do think that as a consequence of ISIL claiming responsibility for bringing down their plane, there is an increasing awareness on the part of [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin that ISIL poses a greater threat to them than anything else in the region,” said the president.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice said after the press conference that the U.S. agrees ISIS took down the plane.

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Democrat John Bel Edwards Elected Governor of Louisiana

iStock/Thinkstock(BATON ROUGE, La.) — The state of Louisiana has elected a new governor.

On Saturday night in a run-off election to replace Bobby Jindal, Democrat John Bel Edwards defeated Republican Sen. David Vitter.

The win marks the first Democratic statewide victory since 2008.

“I love our great state and it’s wonderful people,” said Edwards to a crowd at his campaign headquarters. “I am especially grateful tonight to my beautiful wife.”

Vitter meanwhile in his concession speech: “We came up short, let me re-phrase that – I came up short, you all were fabulous.”

The senator also told supporters he would not seek re-election in 2016.

Vitter, originally the frontrunner, suffered from questions about his character and could not recover from a prostitution scandal in 2007 that became a discussion point in the race.

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Hillary Clinton Knew American Killed in Mali, Describes Her as ‘Loving Mother’, Mali) — Hillary Clinton knew Anita Datar, an American woman who died in the violent hostage crisis in Mali, describing her a “loving mother” and the representation of “the best of America’s generous spirit.”

“I knew Anita as the loving mother of a wonderful 7-year-old boy and the former partner of David Garten, one of my senior policy advisers in the Senate,” Clinton said in a statement Saturday.

“My prayers are with the Datar and Garten families, especially Anita and David’s son,” Clinton said. “My heart breaks thinking of the burden he will now bear on his small shoulders and the courage he will have to show in the days ahead.”

Datar, 41, was one of 18 guests killed Friday — according to the Mali Ministry of Interior — when gunmen stormed the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, a hotel popular with Westerners and the United Nations. Datar was a public health worker who once volunteered for the Peace Corps, her family said.

Clinton’s statement added that Datar “was a bright light who gave help and hope to people in need around the world, especially women and families. From her service in the Peace Corps to her career in international health and development to her work with Tulalens, an NGO she helped start to connect poor women with health care, Anita represented the best of America’s generous spirit.”

According to Datar’s family, she worked as a senior manager at the consulting firm Palladium Group and was a founding board member of Tulalens, a non-profit “connecting underserved communities with quality health services.”

Datar’s family said she served in the peace corps in Senegal from 1997 to 1999 and “has spent much of her career working to advance global health and international development, with a focus on population and reproductive health, family planning, and HIV.”

“Everything she did in her life she did to help others— as a mother, public health expert, daughter, sister and friend,” the family statement said. “And while we are angry and saddened that she has been killed, we know that she would want to promote education and healthcare to prevent violence and poverty at home and abroad, not intolerance.”

Clinton’s statement added, “As I said this week, America must wage and win an immediate battle against ISIS, al Qaeda, and other terrorist networks, as well as a generational struggle against radical jihadism.”

“We face a choice between fear and resolve,” Clinton said, adding that, “Anita’s murder should deepen our resolve.”

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Trump Says Immigration Database Would Be for Syrian Refugees, Not All Muslims

Scott Olson/Getty Images(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — Donald Trump said he wants a database and surveillance for all Syrian refugees allowed into the country, clarifying on Saturday that he does not want a database for all Muslims in the United States.

“I do want database for those people coming in,” the Republican presidential candidate said at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama. “Here is the story, just to set it clear: I want surveillance of these people. I want surveillance if we have to.”

Trump also said it would be necessary to institute surveillance of some of the country’s mosques.

“I want surveillance of certain mosques, OK?” Trump said, drawing applause from the crowd. “I want surveillance. And you know what? We’ve had it before and we’ll have it again.”

Trump’s clarification came after he told an NBC News reporter Thursday he would “certainly” and “absolutely” implement a database for the country’s Muslims. His answer to the reporter came after he had been asked earlier in the day if he thought a database or IDs for Muslims was necessary, and he did not reject the idea.

Trump said Saturday he didn’t properly hear the question posed to him by the NBC News reporter on Thursday, who he referred to as “a little wise guy” and whose question he said he thought was about building a wall along the southern border with Mexico.

In a tweet on Friday, Trump said that he had never suggested creating a database but that the reporter did.

I didn’t suggest a database-a reporter did. We must defeat Islamic terrorism & have surveillance, including a watch list, to protect America

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2015

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Republican Presidential Candidates Attack Obama’s Handling of ISIS at Iowa Forum

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Seven Republican presidential candidates speaking at a forum meant to focus on family instead focused much of their time criticizing President Obama’s policies on ISIS.

Sitting next to one another at the Presidential Family Forum in Des Moines on Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Rick Santorum avoided attacking one another directly. Instead, they focused on President Obama.

“The policies he’s advancing are helping the other team,” said Cruz, who called the president, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry “apologists for terrorists.”

Cruz called for Kerry’s resignation, drawing cheers from the 1,500 in attendance.

Huckabee went a step further, saying Kerry was “only doing the bidding of the person who appointed him.”

“I’ve got a better idea — instead of getting rid of John Kerry, I’d like Barack Obama to resign if he’s not going to protect America and instead protect the image of Islam,” he said.

Rubio continued the criticism, saying the president “hasn’t even defined what victory means.”

When asked why President Obama hadn’t used more aggressive tactics to fight ISIS, including establishing a ground force with Sunni and Kurdish fighters, Rubio replied, “well, he’s a bad president.”

Santorum referred to the Obama administration’s handling of ISIS as “delusional,” saying it cost lives in Paris, Mali, and in the United States.

Fiorina said more needed to be done to stop ISIS from gaining territory.

“What we must do is deny ISIS territory and that means we must cut off their supply lines, we must cut off their money,” she said.

Paul turned his focus to the three Democrats running for president and a question from their debate last weekend in Des Moines.

“Nobody on the other stage will even call it what it is — radical Islam,” he said.

The candidates were also asked how they would handle a terrorist attack in New York City’s Times Square on the anniversary of September 11 in 2017. While Rubio listed federal and statement departments he would reach out to, Carson said the work preventing another major terrorist attack on U.S. soil would have been done beforehand.

“In medicine, you know, we anticipate these kinds of things and we have a bunch of protocols already in place, so you already know how to activate the cascade of activities,” he said. “You don’t really have to sit there and think about what is the first call you are going to make.”

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This Iowa Man Plowed a Quarter-Acre Sign for Bernie Sanders

Mike Pattavina(WASHINGTON) — A Bernie Sanders supporter has taken an unusual approach to supporting the Democratic presidential candidate by plowing a roughly one-quarter of an acre area of his farm to spell out “Bernie.”

“I was on my tractor one day and thought, ‘Well, I’ll just try this,’” Mike Pattavina told ABC News about the sign plowed into his soybean field. “It worked out pretty good.”

The 68-year-old farmer said the “B” alone is 60-feet tall. Pattavina said he “free-handed” the lettering and the plowing would not affect the field because the soybean had already been harvested.
“It only took 20 minutes,” he said. “Maybe 30, max.”

Pattavina said he has farmed his whole life but this was the first time he has used his land for a political statement. He said his goals were simple.

“I just want people to see it, and maybe, hopefully, some people can see it from the air,” he said. “Just to show support for Bernie.”

The Sanders supporter said he was moved to make the sign after he had a few traditional ones stolen from his yard.

“I thought, ‘Well, I’d like to see them steal this one,’” he joked.

When asked about the reaction from his neighbors, he described his town of Clarinda, Iowa, as “ultra-conservative.” Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the county by 25 percentage points in the 2012 presidential election.

Pattavina said he plans to caucus for Sanders this February and volunteer for him — canvassing and knocking on doors — ahead of time. He said he likes the Vermont senator because he’s “honest.”
“I think he is for the working-class people,” said Pattavina.

Pattavina said he would vote for Clinton if she secured the Democratic nomination, but that he is not a fan of the former secretary of state.

“I don’t like the way she handled the Keystone [pipeline]. It took her a long time to come out against it,” he said. “I still don’t trust her. She’s got the big banks behind her, and I just don’t like that.

“That’s what I like about Bernie,” he continued. “He doesn’t have commitments to people.”

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2016’s Presidential Campaign Dropouts: A Closer Look at the Candidates Who Called It Quits

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — It is still almost three months before the first votes of the 2016 presidential primaries will be cast, but already the campaigns of three Republicans and two Democrats have come to a close.
This week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was the latest to call it quits.

“I’ve come to the realization this is not my time,” Jindal said in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday announcing an end to his nearly five-month-long White House bid.

Last month, long-shot Democratic contenders Lincoln Chafee, a former governor of Rhode Island, and Jim Webb, a former U.S. senator from Virginia, both cut short their presidential campaigns within a few days of each other. And in September two Republicans — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and, before him, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — pulled the plug.

“I believe that I’m being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field,” Walker said at a news conference on Sept. 21.
So what went wrong for these would-be White House occupants?

For one thing, four of the five drop-outs have one thing in common: They are all either former or current governors.

Perry and Chafee both once ran states and Walker and Jindal still do.

But 2016 appears to be shaping up as the year of the political outsider: In an ABC News-Washington Post poll last month Republicans and Republican-leaning independents by 57-39 percent say they’re looking for a political outsider rather than someone with political experience.

Cash flow played a major role in the demise of their campaigns too.

About a month before he quit the race, Perry, was struggling to make ends meet.

Jeff Miller, Perry’s campaign manager, told ABC News that the presidential hopeful was so strapped for cash that he had to stop paying all campaign staff in early primary states as well as at his headquarters in Austin. Shortly after those reports, Perry announced he would suspend his campaign on Sept. 11.
Just ten days later, Walker joined Perry on the dropout list.

The Wisconsin governor’s dramatic fall came just two months after polls showed him leading in the polls in the early caucus state of Iowa. Walker started the race strong, raising $7.4 million dollars. But he quickly burned through 87 percent of his cash reserves on staff salaries, doling out a million dollars over a course of three months.

Meanwhile, his candidacy was failing to gain steam.

In a national poll released by CNN/ORC on Sept. 19 — just two days before Walker would announce the end of his bid — he registered at 0.5 percent. And in Iowa, his numbers slipped from 19 percent to 5 percent in just six weeks.

From the start of his candidacy in June, Jindal struggled in both the money race and the horserace.
As of Sept. 30 Jindal had raised only $500,000 and was spending it at a rapid clip.

In addition, he never polled high enough to earn a spot on the main stage for any of the four GOP debates.

In the most recent national ABC News-Washington Post poll the Louisiana governor barely registered.
So where are they now?

Perry seems to be taking a breather from politics. In October, he road tripped from California to Texas in a 1972 Chevy Chevelle SS.

Gov. Scott Walker went back to his day job in Wisconsin, but was still taking donations.

“As things changed dramatically in the presidential race, “Walker for America” incurred a campaign debt and it is my hope that you and all of our supporters will chip in and make an online contribution of $10, $35, $50, $100, $250 or more so we can end this campaign in the black,” Walker wrote in an email to his supporters.

As for Bobby Jindal, he plans to work for his think tank, America Next, at the end of his term in January.

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Biden Says Sticking to American Values in Syrian Refugee Question Is ‘How We Win’

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Joe Biden stepped in for President Obama for this week’s address, highlighting the pair’s commitment to protecting the United States from terrorists at home and abroad.

Addressing the national concerns regarding the U.S.’s willingness to take in Syrian refugees in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris, Biden says that while those attacks “showed us once again the depths of the terrorist’s depravity,” now is a time for the world to “come together in solidarity.” Biden said he understood the fear and anxiety many Americans feel about the potential of a terror attack.

“I don’t dismiss the fear of a terrorist bomb going off,” Biden explains, saying that there is “nothing President Obama and I take more seriously though, than keeping the American people safe.”

He discusses the refugee screening process, calling it “the most rigorous screening of anyone who comes to the United States,” explaining the process, and noting the new layer of checks specifically for Syrian refugees instituted in the wake of terror concerns.

Biden also points out that the majority of the refugees seeking asylum are women and children.

“To turn them away and say there is no way you can ever get here would play right into the terrorists’ hands,” Biden says. “They want us to turn our backs on Muslims victimized by terrorism.”

But, the vice president says, “refusing to compromise our fundamental American values: freedom, openness, tolerance…that’s how we win.”

Read the full transcript of the vice president’s address:

Good morning everyone. This past week we’ve seen the best and the worst of humanity. The heinous terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, in Iraq and Nigeria. They showed us once again the depths of the terrorist’s depravity.

And at the same time we saw the world come together in solidarity. Parisians opening their doors to anyone trapped in the street, taxi drivers turning off their meters to get people home safety, people lining up to donate blood. These simple human acts are a powerful reminder that we cannot be broken and in the face of terror we stand as one. In the wake of these terrible events, I understand the anxiety that many Americans feel. I really do. I don’t dismiss the fear of a terrorist bomb going off. There’s nothing President Obama and I take more seriously though, than keeping the American people safe.

In the past few weeks though, we’ve heard an awful lot of people suggest that the best way to keep America safe is to prevent any Syrian refugee from gaining asylum in the United States.

So let’s set the record straight how it works for a refugee to get asylum. Refugees face the most rigorous screening of anyone who comes to the United States. First they are finger printed, then they undergo a thorough background check, then they are interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security. And after that the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Defense and the Department of State, they all have to sign off on access.

And to address the specific terrorism concerns we are talking about now, we’ve instituted another layer of checks just for Syrian refugees. There is no possibility of being overwhelmed by a flood of refugees landing on our doorstep tomorrow. Right now, refugees wait 18 to 24 months while the screening process is completed. And unlike in Europe, refugees don’t set foot in the United States until they are thoroughly vetted.

Let’s also remember who the vast majority of these refugees are: women, children, orphans, survivors of torture, people desperately in need medical help.

To turn them away and say there is no way you can ever get here would play right into the terrorists’ hands. We know what ISIL – we know what they hope to accomplish. They flat-out told us.

Earlier this year, the top ISIL leader al-Baghdadi revealed the true goal of their attacks. Here’s what he said: “Compel the crusaders to actively destroy the gray zone themselves. Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one and two choices. Either apostatize or emigrate to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution.” So it’s clear. It’s clear what ISIL wants. They want to manufacture a clash between civilizations. They want frightened people to think in terms of “us versus them”.

They want us to turn our backs on Muslims victimized by terrorism. But this gang of thugs peddling a warped ideology, they will never prevail. The world is united in our resolve to end their evil. And the only thing ISIL can do is spread terror in hopes that we will in turn, turn on ourselves. We will betray our ideals and take actions, actions motivated by fear that will drive more recruits into the arms of ISIL. That’s how they win. We win by prioritizing our security as we’ve been doing. Refusing to compromise our fundamental American values: freedom, openness, tolerance. That’s who we are. That’s how we win.

May God continue to bless the United States of America and God bless our troops. May God continue to bless the United States, and God Bless our troops.

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Rep. Martha McSally Urges Obama Administration to ‘Step Up’ in Fight Against ISIS in Weekly Republican Address

Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., gave this week’s Republican address, urging the Obama administration to work with Congress to “step up” in the fight against ISIS.

“I need no reminders about the threats we face,” McSally explains, pointing to her 26 years in the U.S. Air Force. “The most glaring weakness of all,” she adds, “is that this administration does not have a strategy to combat this dangerous threat.”

“The administration has been leading from behind,” McSally jabbed. “In the military, we would call that following.” Criticizing the president’s “reluctant” approach as “emboldening ISIS to recruit more fighters,” she urges the full U.S. government to utilize all elements of national power.

McSally concludes her address by highlighting a bill sent to the president’s desk by the House of Representatives requiring a “real strategy” against ISIS and a new standard of verification for Syrian refugees.

“In short,” McSally says, “we’re telling the administration to step up. Take this terrorist threat seriously.”

Read the full transcript of the Republican address:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris as they recover from last week’s horrific terrorist attacks. While we mourn this tragedy, let us be reminded those attacks could have happened here. This is not to instill fear, but to remind us to be vigilant. That’s why we’re calling on the administration to step up, provide global leadership, and put together a coherent and aggressive strategy to defeat ISIS.

“I need no reminders about the threats we face. Before being elected to Congress, I served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a full colonel. I was the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat and the first to command a fighter squadron in combat in U.S. history. In my career, I flew 2,600 flight hours, including over 325 combat hours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I deployed to the Middle East and Afghanistan six times, serving in leadership positions for the initial air campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and counter-terrorism ops in Africa.

“After I was elected, I had the privilege to be appointed to a task force on combating terrorist and foreign fighter travel. For six months, our bipartisan task force looked at this very threat. What we discovered is that 30,000 individuals have traveled from over 100 countries to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. We know about 4,500 are from Western and visa-waiver countries. And 250 of them are from America. Those are the ones that we know. We realize there are probably so many that we don’t know.

“In addition, law enforcement has ISIS-related investigations in every single state right now, with cases increasing at an alarming rate. And ISIS is employing a sophisticated and unprecedented propaganda, recruitment, and social-media campaign. They use it to inspire or direct people to travel to ISIS-controlled areas to join the fight or remain where they are and commit terrorist attacks at home.

“There’s an estimated 200,000 pro-ISIS social-media posts per day. They are acting at the speed of broadband, while we are acting at the speed of bureaucracy.

“After our six-month investigation, the task force laid out 32 key findings and made over 50 recommendations in the report that we released in September.

“And the number one finding—the most glaring weakness of all—is that this administration does not have a strategy to combat this dangerous threat. I have been focused on national security for over 30 years, and I can tell you that ISIS is the most potent terrorist movement we have faced. They showed this month the apparent capability to take down the first airplane since 9/11 and conduct the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II. France and Russia have shown resolve in response, but the world is waiting for America’s resolve and leadership—and a comprehensive strategy to win.

“The administration has been leading from behind. In the military, we would call that following. Their reluctant approach is only emboldening ISIS to recruit more fighters as they claim they have been attacked by U.S. airpower for 15 months, yet the momentum is theirs.

“Our strategy must include utilizing all elements of national power. We must unleash American air power to destroy their leadership, command and control, logistics, and their means of financing their terror.

“For 17 months, ISIS has been exporting black-market oil to fund their operations, and we just finally started striking the fuel trucks with the mighty A-10 warthog, the airplane I flew. The aircrews have been doing the best they can under overly restricted rules of engagement. We need to take the gloves off, let them do their jobs now to destroy ISIS capabilities in Iraq and Syria.

“Next, we need to show leadership again in the broader Middle East. Our close ally Israel and our Sunni Arab allies are rightfully confused and dismayed by this administration’s myopic focus on a nuclear deal with the Shia state sponsor of terror and their biggest security threat, Iran. The strategy must ensure actions against ISIS don’t strengthen Iran. A broader strategy includes partnering with the nearly 20 countries that have an ISIS presence to deny safe haven and counter the extremism ideology.

“It must step up our efforts working with our allies, especially in Europe, to share information and close loopholes that facilitate terrorist travel.

“And it means countering the radical extremism that we’re seeing in our own neighborhoods. We have around two dozen people focused on countering violent extremism in the federal government. But we have roughly 10,000 IRS agents making sure you don’t take an improper charity deduction. Where we are putting our resources simply does not match up with the threats we are facing.

“This week, we sent the president’s desk a national defense bill, for the second time. It requires the president to put together a real strategy to defeat ISIS. We also give him all the tools he will need to execute that strategy.

Second, we passed a bill calling for a new standard of verification for those fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq to ensure ISIS isn’t posing as innocent victims, as they said they would. This is the first step to close one gap highlighted by the FBI director and our own security officials, and there are many other vulnerabilities we have identified that must be urgently addressed.

“In short, we’re telling the administration to step up. Take this terrorist threat seriously. The fight against ISIS is a generational conflict, and we must lead now more than ever. Thank you.”

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Twenty-Seven GOP Governors Urge Obama to Suspend Acceptance of Syrian Refugees

Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Twenty-seven Republican Governors have signed a letter to President Obama urging him to suspend the acceptance of Syrian refugees in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris last week.

“In the wake of this recent tragedy,” the letter reads, “and until we can ensure the citizens of our states that an exhaustive review of all security measures has been completed and the necessary changes have been implemented, we respectfully request that you suspend all plans to resettle additional Syrian refguees.” On Thursday, the Republican-controlled House passed legislation that would bring the refugee program to a halt, but President Obama has vowed to veto the bill.

“For years we have been proud to welcome refugees into our communities in their pursuit of a better life and future,” the letter from the Governors added. “However, we are deeply concerned that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria may have exploited the generosity of the refugee system to carry our [last] Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris.”

The governors cited FBI Director James Comey’s admission that certain aspects of the current vetting system are inadequate to thoroughly vet the number of refugees Obama has pledged to admit to the U.S.

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