State Department Spokesman Mark Toner began Wednesday's press conference by addressing the attack on the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey. He could not confirm that the attack was Islamic terror, but he could confirm there were no U.S. casualties. When asked whether the administration was going to ask Americans to cease travel to Turkey, Toner said they were simply reminding Americans to be up to date on current travel threats and information and bring their “street smarts” if they choose to go through with their travel plans in these high alert areas.
One reporter then asked Toner to address the “dissonance” that appears to exist between the CIA and the White House. While President Obama insists ISIS is contained, CIA Director John Brennan says the group is intensifying its global campaign. Brennan’s comments also don’t square with Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments on Tuesday when he concluded that ISIS was “desperate.”
What does Secretary Kerry mean when he says the terror cell is desperate weak? the reporter asked. Although Toner he said he’s “reluctant” to parse the secretary’s words, he did somewhat push back at the assessment. ISIS is losing territory on the battlefield, he said. They’re under pressure, “but that does not affect their ability to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe or elsewhere." They are "still capable" and in their desperation, even more likely to carry out their attacks.
The U.S. military is focused on a multi-front effort, to remove Daesh from battlefield while also stopping their ability to recruit and create terror networks elsewhere, Toner explained.