Review Category : Poltics

Obama’s Plan to Arm Syrian Rebels Gains Congressional Support

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The House of Representatives could vote as soon as Sept. 16 to authorize President Obama’s request to arm and train Syrian rebels, the office of the House Majority Leader announced Thursday.

House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday Obama “made a compelling case for action” during his primetime address to the nation Wednesday night, but questioned whether the mission the president laid out is aggressive enough to reverse the Islamic State’s momentum.

“A lot of our members think a lot more needs to be done than what was laid out last night,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “I’m not sure that we’re doing all that we can do to defeat this terrorist threat, and if our goal is to eliminate ISIL, there’s a lot of doubt whether the plan that was outlined by the president last night is enough to accomplish that mission.”

Boehner said that although members are being briefed on a range of options that the president is contemplating, he supports Obama’s request to train and equip Syrian rebels. The speaker added that the Free Syrian Army has “been very well vetted” by U.S. intelligence officials, but warned they could be wiped out without timely U.S. assistance.

“Today they’re in a fight against [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], they’re in a fight against ISIL, and they’re in a fight against another al Qaeda affiliate in eastern Syria,” Boehner said. “And they’re about to get run over.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered support for Obama’s plan and predicted easy approval of authority to train Syrian rebels.

“I expect this proposal to pass Congress with broad, bipartisan support,” Reid, D-Nev., told reporters Thursday at a news conference flanked by Sens. Dick Durbin, Patty Murray, and Chuck Schumer, each of whom offered their full support for the president.

On whether the Obama-requested measure will be broken off as a standalone measure or included in a broader spending or authorization bill, Reid said “that’s a decision the House is going to have to make.”

He also called on lawmakers of both parties to “close ranks” and support Obama’s plan with a unified voice.

Asked if he and his colleagues have given extensive thought to what happens after the U.S. either does or does not destroy ISIS, Reid didn’t have a specific answer.

“Let’s not be negating everything that’s been accomplished over the last few days,” he said. “Let’s just not rush into things.”

And Boehner made clear that there is a tough road ahead.

“An F-16 is not a strategy and airstrikes alone will not accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish,” Boehner said. “The president’s made clear that he doesn’t want U.S. boots on the ground. Well, somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”

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Obama’s Plan to Arm Syrian Rebels Gains Congressional Support

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The House of Representatives could vote as soon as Sept. 16 to authorize President Obama’s request to arm and train Syrian rebels, the office of the House Majority Leader announced Thursday.

House Speaker John Boehner said on Thursday Obama “made a compelling case for action” during his primetime address to the nation Wednesday night, but questioned whether the mission the president laid out is aggressive enough to reverse the Islamic State’s momentum.

“A lot of our members think a lot more needs to be done than what was laid out last night,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “I’m not sure that we’re doing all that we can do to defeat this terrorist threat, and if our goal is to eliminate ISIL, there’s a lot of doubt whether the plan that was outlined by the president last night is enough to accomplish that mission.”

Boehner said that although members are being briefed on a range of options that the president is contemplating, he supports Obama’s request to train and equip Syrian rebels. The speaker added that the Free Syrian Army has “been very well vetted” by U.S. intelligence officials, but warned they could be wiped out without timely U.S. assistance.

“Today they’re in a fight against [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad], they’re in a fight against ISIL, and they’re in a fight against another al Qaeda affiliate in eastern Syria,” Boehner said. “And they’re about to get run over.”

On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered support for Obama’s plan and predicted easy approval of authority to train Syrian rebels.

“I expect this proposal to pass Congress with broad, bipartisan support,” Reid, D-Nev., told reporters Thursday at a news conference flanked by Sens. Dick Durbin, Patty Murray, and Chuck Schumer, each of whom offered their full support for the president.

On whether the Obama-requested measure will be broken off as a standalone measure or included in a broader spending or authorization bill, Reid said “that’s a decision the House is going to have to make.”

He also called on lawmakers of both parties to “close ranks” and support Obama’s plan with a unified voice.

Asked if he and his colleagues have given extensive thought to what happens after the U.S. either does or does not destroy ISIS, Reid didn’t have a specific answer.

“Let’s not be negating everything that’s been accomplished over the last few days,” he said. “Let’s just not rush into things.”

And Boehner made clear that there is a tough road ahead.

“An F-16 is not a strategy and airstrikes alone will not accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish,” Boehner said. “The president’s made clear that he doesn’t want U.S. boots on the ground. Well, somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”

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Sens. Jeff Flake, Martin Heinrich to Star in Discovery Survival Show

Discovery Channel(WASHINGTON) — Congressmen from opposing parties have a hard time getting along sometimes. Here’s one way to solve that: abandon them on a deserted island.

From the people who brought you Naked and Afraid comes Discovery Channel’s Rival Survival, where two politicians are forced to set aside their political differences and work together for six days on an uninhabited island in order to survive.

Rival Survival will feature Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., on the remote island of Eru, which is known for its shark-infested waters.

A Discovery Channel official told ABC News that the show was the senators’ idea. The two released a joint statement.

“Both of us know just how frustrated people are with Washington right now. We can both attest that no one is more frustrated than those of us trying to get things done in this environment,” Flake and Heinrich said. “We recognize how difficult it can be to cut through the partisanship. So we decided to do something completely out of the ordinary and frankly a little extreme to show the world and our colleagues that even if you have serious differences, if you want to survive you have to work together. ”

Flake is a conservative Republican who, in 2001, was elected into the House of Representatives, where he served six consecutive terms before being elected into the Senate in 2013. According to his website, he has “long fought the expansion of the national government and the growing national debt,” and favors tax reform. In 2013, Flake joined Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the “Gang of Eight” and introduced a bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill.

Heinrich is a Democrat from New Mexico who served on the House from 2009-2013 before joining the Senate in 2013. He serves on the U.S Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and describes himself as an “avid sportsman” who wishes to preserve New Mexico’s public lands and wildlife.

A Discovery Channel official told ABC News the show was filmed in August during congressional recess.

“The senators were not given help,” the Discovery spokesperson said. “It’s the same producers that do Naked and Afraid and they were treated the same way, but got to keep their clothes.”

Rival Survival premieres on Discovery Channel Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 10 p.m., one week before Election Day.

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Former Chef of Disgraced Gov. McDonnell Says Wife Was ‘Not Balanced’

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The executive chef of disgraced former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell said the former first lady of Virginia would regularly yell and swear at her staff along with routinely flaunting their lavish lifestyle.

“She was not balanced,” Todd Schneider told ABC’s 20/20 in an exclusive interview in which he revealed sordid details about what life was like behind closed doors at the Virginia governor’s mansion during McDonnell’s term. “You had your Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…every day you didn’t know what you were walking into.”

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell were convicted last week on corruption charges. A Richmond jury found Bob McDonnell guilty on 11 of 14 corruption counts and his wife was found guilty on nine corruption counts and obstruction of justice.

The charges stemmed from granting favors to a wealthy Virginia businessman in exchange for more than $177,000 worth of lavish gifts, vacations and loans. The pair was acquitted of bank fraud charges.

“The first lady’s office was right next to my kitchen so we were very close,” Schneider said. “I could see everything that was happening and almost hear everything…we all talked in the kitchen.”

Prior to working for the McDonnells, Schneider was a chef to the stars, cooking for Steven Spielberg, Garth Brooks and the Clintons, among others. It was his willingness to please that made him a favorite with the McDonnells.

“I was very close with Maureen and the governor,” he said. “I was basically living with them. I was basically part of the family.”

When he first met the McDonnells, Schneider said they were “fun, outgoing, very charismatic,” but he said the stresses of being a governor’s wife made Maureen McDonnell increasingly unpredictable, overly demanding and frequently verbally abusive.

“She would just say anything that came out of her mouth, but she really talked down to you, and she would swear at you,” Schneider said.

The first screaming incident with Maureen, Schneider said, happened with the director of the governor’s mansion.

“They were upstairs with guests and Maureen got upset and called her a f****** bitch, and screamed and her, and called her an idiot, and the director came down crying,” he said.

Afterwards, Schneider said he pulled Maureen aside: “And I just [said], ‘you cannot talk to people this way. You are the first lady of Virginia.’ ‘Well, she’s an idiot,’ and I go, ‘but you can’t do that.’”

According to Schneider, this was just one of her frequent blow-ups. Another example of her wrath, he said, was that Maureen wanted her bed sheets ironed and starched, and would berate the housemaids if the beds weren’t made correctly.

“If the sheets were about an inch on either side, she’d strip the bed and make them come back up and make it again,” he said.

But he said Maureen was usually cordial to him.

“She didn’t berate me as much as she did the other people, I think just because we were closer,” Schneider said. “I think it depended who you were.”

Things got so bad at the governor’s mansion, Schneider said, members of the staff wrote a letter threatening to quit if things did not change. But Schneider said the letter was never given to the first lady.

“The letter was delivered to the chief of staff and to the governor and to someone else,” he said. “They had a meeting with us and said, ‘everything’s going to be cool, don’t worry about it. We’ll take care of her, and it’s all going to be fine,’ and we went, ‘OK.’”

But things were far from being fine and Schneider said being in the governor’s mansion only emboldened Maureen to flaunt her connections and lavish gifts.

A frequent visitor, Schneider said, was Jonnie Williams, the founder and CEO of Star Scientific Inc., a pharmaceutical company that produced an anti-inflammatory pill called Anatabloc. Williams acknowledged under testimony that he contributed gifts and loans with the hopes of gaining access and federal testing for his company’s products.

When he came over to the governor’s mansion, “he got carte blanche,” Schneider recalled. “And he was treated very well. …He was there for a reason.”

According to Schneider, not only was Williams making regular appearances at the mansion, but so were the gifts he was buying for the governor’s family, everything from golf clubs and outings, to paid vacations, to a $20,000 designer shopping spree in New York City, to a $6,500 Rolex watch that McDonnell said in court that his wife gave him as a Christmas present.

“We knew things were getting better financially…you’d hear through the grapevine in the house where it was coming from,” Schneider said.

Schneider said the McDonnells would constantly throw parties and catering requests would come often and would be extravagant and short notice, so much so that he often had to borrow food from his own private restaurant and catering business.

“I had to call my restaurant and I had to say, ‘I need all this food,’” he said. “And we were invoicing them.”

But according to Schneider, the director of the mansion told him it was a conflict of interest for his private company to be paid for their services, and came up with an alternative plan.

“They said, ‘Well, why don’t we do this? We’ll do a barter system. You can take back what we owe you in food and we’ll call it that,’” Schneider said. “The voice down in me said, ‘Not kosher.’ But here you have everybody telling me it’s cool. So, I did it. And that’s what I was doing from then on…[and] this governor had parties every day.”

The McDonnell’s hired Schneider’s company to cater their daughter’s wedding, but when the $15,000 payment was due, the source of the check raised eyebrows.

“That’s what started it, was the check and the $15,000 that they received from Jonnie Williams,” Schneider said. “I said, ‘Copy it.’ For some reason, I don’t know why, something said, ‘Copy this check.’”

Before the McDonnells’ lifestyle unraveled, Schneider said he would come into his kitchen to find the mansion pantry raided — the governor’s friends and five children having cleaned it out of food and home goods bought with the mansion’s state budget.

Then, in a shocking twist, Schneider said he was accused of stealing food and charged with embezzlement. He pleaded no contest. In an attempt to help clear his name, he turned over documents and invoices, including the copy of the $15,000 check.

“I did everything I was told to do, and that’s why I was really hurt by everything that happened to me,” Schneider said. “I thought I was part of that family. We were so close.”

The McDonnells are scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 6, 2015 for sentencing. The maximum sentence for each corruption charge is 20 years in prison.

Watch the full story on ABC News’ 20/20 Friday, Sept. 12, at 10 p.m. ET.

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Former Chef of Disgraced Gov. McDonnell Says Wife Was ‘Not Balanced’

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The executive chef of disgraced former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell said the former first lady of Virginia would regularly yell and swear at her staff along with routinely flaunting their lavish lifestyle.

“She was not balanced,” Todd Schneider told ABC’s 20/20 in an exclusive interview in which he revealed sordid details about what life was like behind closed doors at the Virginia governor’s mansion during McDonnell’s term. “You had your Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…every day you didn’t know what you were walking into.”

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell were convicted last week on corruption charges. A Richmond jury found Bob McDonnell guilty on 11 of 14 corruption counts and his wife was found guilty on nine corruption counts and obstruction of justice.

The charges stemmed from granting favors to a wealthy Virginia businessman in exchange for more than $177,000 worth of lavish gifts, vacations and loans. The pair was acquitted of bank fraud charges.

“The first lady’s office was right next to my kitchen so we were very close,” Schneider said. “I could see everything that was happening and almost hear everything…we all talked in the kitchen.”

Prior to working for the McDonnells, Schneider was a chef to the stars, cooking for Steven Spielberg, Garth Brooks and the Clintons, among others. It was his willingness to please that made him a favorite with the McDonnells.

“I was very close with Maureen and the governor,” he said. “I was basically living with them. I was basically part of the family.”

When he first met the McDonnells, Schneider said they were “fun, outgoing, very charismatic,” but he said the stresses of being a governor’s wife made Maureen McDonnell increasingly unpredictable, overly demanding and frequently verbally abusive.

“She would just say anything that came out of her mouth, but she really talked down to you, and she would swear at you,” Schneider said.

The first screaming incident with Maureen, Schneider said, happened with the director of the governor’s mansion.

“They were upstairs with guests and Maureen got upset and called her a f****** bitch, and screamed and her, and called her an idiot, and the director came down crying,” he said.

Afterwards, Schneider said he pulled Maureen aside: “And I just [said], ‘you cannot talk to people this way. You are the first lady of Virginia.’ ‘Well, she’s an idiot,’ and I go, ‘but you can’t do that.’”

According to Schneider, this was just one of her frequent blow-ups. Another example of her wrath, he said, was that Maureen wanted her bed sheets ironed and starched, and would berate the housemaids if the beds weren’t made correctly.

“If the sheets were about an inch on either side, she’d strip the bed and make them come back up and make it again,” he said.

But he said Maureen was usually cordial to him.

“She didn’t berate me as much as she did the other people, I think just because we were closer,” Schneider said. “I think it depended who you were.”

Things got so bad at the governor’s mansion, Schneider said, members of the staff wrote a letter threatening to quit if things did not change. But Schneider said the letter was never given to the first lady.

“The letter was delivered to the chief of staff and to the governor and to someone else,” he said. “They had a meeting with us and said, ‘everything’s going to be cool, don’t worry about it. We’ll take care of her, and it’s all going to be fine,’ and we went, ‘OK.’”

But things were far from being fine and Schneider said being in the governor’s mansion only emboldened Maureen to flaunt her connections and lavish gifts.

A frequent visitor, Schneider said, was Jonnie Williams, the founder and CEO of Star Scientific Inc., a pharmaceutical company that produced an anti-inflammatory pill called Anatabloc. Williams acknowledged under testimony that he contributed gifts and loans with the hopes of gaining access and federal testing for his company’s products.

When he came over to the governor’s mansion, “he got carte blanche,” Schneider recalled. “And he was treated very well. …He was there for a reason.”

According to Schneider, not only was Williams making regular appearances at the mansion, but so were the gifts he was buying for the governor’s family, everything from golf clubs and outings, to paid vacations, to a $20,000 designer shopping spree in New York City, to a $6,500 Rolex watch that McDonnell said in court that his wife gave him as a Christmas present.

“We knew things were getting better financially…you’d hear through the grapevine in the house where it was coming from,” Schneider said.

Schneider said the McDonnells would constantly throw parties and catering requests would come often and would be extravagant and short notice, so much so that he often had to borrow food from his own private restaurant and catering business.

“I had to call my restaurant and I had to say, ‘I need all this food,’” he said. “And we were invoicing them.”

But according to Schneider, the director of the mansion told him it was a conflict of interest for his private company to be paid for their services, and came up with an alternative plan.

“They said, ‘Well, why don’t we do this? We’ll do a barter system. You can take back what we owe you in food and we’ll call it that,’” Schneider said. “The voice down in me said, ‘Not kosher.’ But here you have everybody telling me it’s cool. So, I did it. And that’s what I was doing from then on…[and] this governor had parties every day.”

The McDonnell’s hired Schneider’s company to cater their daughter’s wedding, but when the $15,000 payment was due, the source of the check raised eyebrows.

“That’s what started it, was the check and the $15,000 that they received from Jonnie Williams,” Schneider said. “I said, ‘Copy it.’ For some reason, I don’t know why, something said, ‘Copy this check.’”

Before the McDonnells’ lifestyle unraveled, Schneider said he would come into his kitchen to find the mansion pantry raided — the governor’s friends and five children having cleaned it out of food and home goods bought with the mansion’s state budget.

Then, in a shocking twist, Schneider said he was accused of stealing food and charged with embezzlement. He pleaded no contest. In an attempt to help clear his name, he turned over documents and invoices, including the copy of the $15,000 check.

“I did everything I was told to do, and that’s why I was really hurt by everything that happened to me,” Schneider said. “I thought I was part of that family. We were so close.”

The McDonnells are scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 6, 2015 for sentencing. The maximum sentence for each corruption charge is 20 years in prison.

Watch the full story on ABC News’ 20/20 Friday, Sept. 12, at 10 p.m. ET.

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Parties Prep Campaign War Chests for ‘Overtime’ in Louisiana Senate Race

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — If you think election season doesn’t go on for long enough as it is, get ready for some overtime.

Television viewers across most of the country can take comfort knowing that political TV ads will pass with Election Day on Nov. 4. But that’s not the case for Louisiana, where people can expect the airwaves to be pounded with aggressive political advertising for a full month after November’s Election Day.

That’s because the outcome of the Louisiana Senate race may not be known until December thanks to the state’s unique jungle primary system. In a race that could determine control of the Senate, incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu is locked in a tough bid for reelection against two Republican challengers and is expected to go to a runoff against her leading Republican challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy.

Republicans and Democrats alike are actively bracing for the likely scenario by setting aside money in their respective war chests to be used during the period after the general election in the lead-up to the runoff, ABC News has learned.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has already reserved nearly $3.4 million to spend on the political TV ads between Nov. 6 and Dec. 6, an NRSC official confirmed.

In Louisiana’s jungle primary electoral system, known more formally as a non-partisan primary, all candidates seeking an elected office run against each other on one ballot in the general election instead of having party primaries to decide on one candidate for each party. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates advance to a runoff election on Dec. 6.

An NRSC official told ABC News the group’s reserved funds are part of a strategy to support Cassidy in his race against Landrieu.

There is a second Republican challenger, tea party favorite and political newcomer Rob Maness, but he is not expected to pose a real threat to either candidate, though his presence in the race does increase the probability that the race will go to a runoff.

The NRSC official argued that the Democrats’ reserved funds tell a more interesting story, one of “panic.”

According to information collected by the NRSC’s media buyer, the Democrats have already set aside $7.9 million to spend in the runoff period, compared to the Republicans’ $3 million.

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Ted Cruz Booed Off Stage at Middle-East Christians’ Group

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — It’s not every day that you see a presidential contender getting booed off stage.

But that’s what happened Wednesday night when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, widely viewed as a likely Republican candidate for the White House in 2016, addressed a group called In Defense of Christians at a gala dinner for its inaugural summit at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, D.C.

The video suggests, and Cruz’s office concurs, that the senator was booed and jeered for speaking favorably about Israel.

The video is missing some context and begins after Cruz has already been interrupted and as an apparent organizer urges “respect for dialogue.” Audience members shout at Cruz, who says he is “saddened.”

“If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,” Cruz says, and walks off the stage to some applause and a good number of jeers.

The group says it advocates for Christian communities in the Middle East. Its advisory board includes former attorney general John Ashcroft, former transportation secretary Ray Lahood, and Arab American Institute president James Zogby, according to its website. Its executive director is a former State Department representative to UNESCO.

“Tonight in Washington should have been a night of unity as we came together for the inaugural event for a group that calls itself ‘In Defense of Christians.’ Instead, it unfortunately deteriorated into a shameful display of bigotry and hatred,” Cruz said in a written statement on the event.

Many in the audience applauded him, Cruz said in the statement, but a “vocal minority” shouted him down. As Cruz was making that point to the crowd Wednesday night, one man shouted that it was “most of us” who disagreed with him. In his statement, Cruz said he spoke to the group in the hopes of talking about persecution of Christians at the hands of ISIS, against which he has railed before.

“But bigotry and hatred have no place in this discussion. Anti-Semitism is a corrosive evil, and it reared its ugly head tonight,” Cruz said. “After just a few minutes, I had no choice. I told them that if you will not stand with Israel, if you will not stand with the Jews, then I will not stand with you. And then I walked off the stage.”

In Defense of Christians has not yet responded to an inquiry from ABC News about Cruz’s appearance.

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Washington Responds to Obama’s Speech Outlining Strategy to Combat ISIS

US Senate / ABC/Martin H. Simon / Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — Washington leaders responded quickly to President Obama’s Wednesday night speech outlining his strategy to deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, put out a statement on Wednesday night praising Obama for acknowledging, “the grave and growing threat posed by the spreading global epidemic of radicalized Islam.” Boehner went on, however, to note that, “a speech is not the same thing as a strategy.”

“While the president presented a compelling case for action,” Boehner said, “many questions remain about the way in which the president intends to act.” The Republican leader voiced support for U.S. military training and equipment of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian opposition, but questioned the timeframe in which such an action could be implemented.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called Obama’s strategy “strong” and “comprehensive,” while noting that any U.S. action will not be enough to eradicate ISIS on its own. “Iraq’s continued political progress toward a more inclusive government will be critical,” Hagel said, adding that the growing coalition’s, “use of all instruments of power — military enforcement, economic, diplomatic, intelligence, and humanitarian assistance” would also be key.

Also on Wednesday night, Secretary of State John Kerry said that he will be traveling through the Middle East and Europe in the coming days to, “continue the diplomatic effort to meet a unifying threat with a unified response.”

Boehner noted that the administration has worked to keep members of Congress apprised of the range of options Obama had been considering, actions that he hoped would continue. Still, he noted, “it is also a cause for concern that the president appears to view the effort against [ISIS] as an isolated counterterrorism campaign, rather than as what it must be: an all-out effort to destroy an enemy that has declared a holy war against America and the principles for which we stand.”

The president had been buffeted on the Hill and in the polls after his August 28 admission that, “we don’t have a strategy yet” for dealing with the terror group that captured large chunks of Iraq and Syria — gains made after Obama had dismissed them earlier in the year by comparing them to a “JV” basketball team.

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Obama Pledges to ‘Degrade and Destroy’ ISIS, Says Terrorists ‘Will Find No Safe Haven’

Credit: The White House(WASHINGTON) — President Obama addressed the nation on Wednesday, on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, to share the highlights of his strategy to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, the militant group that recently executed American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria and has terrorized civilians in Syria and Iraq.

“We continue to face a terrorist threat,” President Obama said from the White House. “We can’t erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain.”

Obama told the nation on Wednesday night that he plans to deploy 475 additional troops to Iraq.

“As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission — we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment,” he said. “We will also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL control.”

On Wednesday, as he did in a speech urging action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad one year ago, Obama aimed to reassure Americans that the actions taken to degrade a threat to the U.S. would not lead to a ground war similar to those the U.S. got involved in in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East — including American citizens, personnel and facilities,” Obama said. “If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region – including to the United States.”

Although the president said he has the authority to directly address the threat posed by the terrorist group, he emphasized, “I believe we are strongest as a nation when the president and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.”

Here’s what you need to know about the president’s plan:

AMPING UP AIRSTRIKES

- The president vowed to expand the air campaign beyond its original two missions: protecting Americans and providing humanitarian aid. Instead, airstrikes will be used a part of a broader effort to roll back ISIS in Iraq.

- The military will not be constrained by the Syrian border, Obama said.

- “We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” he said, warning terrorists, “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

- The administration will work with the Department of Defense to develop and advance whatever options are necessary to take targeted action wherever ISIS is – whether in Iraq or Syria.

STRENGHTENING TROOPS

- The president plans to send an additional 475 U.S. service members to Iraq to assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces there. Troops will build on the work of assessment teams already in place in Baghdad and Erbil, teams embedded with Iraqi security forces, and existing surveillance assets, but will not be introduced into combat.

- He will call for Congress to authorize and resource a train-and-equip mission for Syrian opposition. We have support from key countries in this effort. The president spoke with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on this subject Wednesday.

PREVENTING TERROR

- The U.S. will draw on a range of counter-terrorism tactics to prevent attacks on the homeland.

- It will also take steps to counter ISIS’ “warped” ideology, Obama vowed.

- President Obama aimed to make clear that ISIS is neither “Islamic” nor a “state.” He pointed out that ISIS began as an al Qaeda affiliate, and that “it is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple, and it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

- The U.S. will work to stem the flow of fighters traveling to and from the region.

PROTECTING CIVILIANS

- In the interest of protecting ancient communities, such as Iraqi Christians, the United States’ humanitarian efforts will continue, Obama said.

“It will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL,” the president admitted on Wednesday. “Any time we take military action there are risks involved, especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions.”

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Obama to Pledge ‘Relentless Effort’ to Destroy ISIS

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is set to address the nation Wednesday night in a major speech laying out his most detailed plan yet to confront the vexing problem of ISIS, the militant group that executed American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria and terrorized civilians in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

“Tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy,” Obama will tell the American people, according to advanced excepts of his remarks provided by the White House.

The speech comes exactly one year after another pivotal presidential speech urging targeted military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who allegedly used chemical weapons against his own people.

As he did one year ago, Obama will also seek to allay the concerns of war-weary Americans that this will not be a long-term commitment of troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years,” the president will say.

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