Senator: Those Beheaded Journalists Would Totally Agree With Me on ISIS 'Caution'

Posted: Sep 09, 2014 10:28 AM

UPDATE - Udall has apologized, while an attorney for one of the murdered journalists' families appeared on CNN and pointedly challenged the White House's "official story" on the matter -- via MKH:

COOPER: When you’ve heard the administration’s response to all of this, what do you make of it from your vantage point?

BARFI: The administration has made a number of inaccurate statements. They’ve said that the families have been consistently and regularly informed. That is not true. I speak now only from the Sotloff family. I can’t speak for the other families. They said that these hostages were moved frequently. we know that most of the beginning of this year; they were stationary. We know that the intelligence community and the White House are enmeshed in a larger game of bureaucratic infighting and Jim and Steve are pawns in that and that’s not fair. If there continues to be leaks, the Sotloff family will have to speak out to set the record straight.

The discrepancy over the moving of the hostages is relevant; see Allahpundit's point below.


Vulnerable Colorado Democrat Sen. Mark Udall would like voters to know that he speaks for the pair of American journalists decapitated by ISIS when he endorses President Obama's "cautious" approach to combating the ruthless Islamist fighting force. While it's no surprise that Udall is vocally supporting the president -- he's one of the Senate's most reliable Obama rubber-stamps -- it's rather tacky to see a politician appropriate terror victims' legacy to make a fleeting political point.  He's not advocating a strategy to neutralize their murderers; he's trying to blunt bipartisan criticism of Obama's rudderless dithering:

“I can tell you,” Udall said, “Steve Sotloff and James Foley would tell us, don’t be impulsive. Horrible and barbarous as those executions were, don’t be impulsive, come up with a plan to knock ISIL back.”

Two problems with Udall's answer: First, even if the Senator had been close personal friends with both Foley and Sotloff before they were taken captive by ISIS (and he was not, to my knowledge), he'd have no idea how their attitudes may have changed toward the savages who kidnapped them and sawed their heads off. Invoking their memories in a political debate isn't inappropriate; 'speaking for' them to make a defensive political point is shallow and presumptuous.  Second, Udall is effectively lauding Obama's incoherent response to ISIS' lethal march this summer as a show of impressive caution and a rejection of impulsive action.  But the White House has been aware of this burgeoning threat since 2012, with the president being personally briefed on it for at least a year.  Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano confirmed this week that ISIS was on the administration's radar during her time in office.  The president's recent "no strategy" admission was so damning because it reinforced the image of a White House floundering badly in the face of a terrible challenge for which it had ample time to fashion an appropriate and strategic response.  Team Obama spent much of 2012 telling American voters that threats like ISIS had been crushed, bragging about "ending" the war in Iraq, and attacking Mitt Romney for recommending a residual force of American troops remain in the country to blunt a violent Islamist resurgence after our departure (which was once Obama's own position).  The president himself laughed ISIS off as a JV basketball team earlier this year, an assessment so misguided that the White House has resorted to lying about what he meant.  That JV squad, we're now told, could take three years to defeat.  They obviously didn't spring up overnight -- they were gaining steam and laying groundwork while people like them were supposed to be "on the run."

For his part, Udall also asserted that ISIS "does not present an imminent threat to this nation," which might come as news to the two Americans on whose behalf he's deigned to speak.  If he meant that there isn't any actionable intelligence that ISIS is plotting an imminent attack on US soil, he might be right.  Or he might not.  Tweets like these aren't reassuring.  President Obama will outline his hastily-conceived ISIS strategy in a speech on Wednesday, which may or may not include any new information, according to aides.  If history is any guide, Mark Udall will thoroughly agree with every word the president utters.  For an update on the 2014 Senate picture -- including the tight Colorado race -- click through to my extensive recap of fresh polling numbers.  I'll leave you with the White House doubling down yesterday on its discredited JV/ISIS spin:

UPDATE II - Good point from Allahpundit:

If Udall wants to play this game, here’s a thought: If not for Obama’s excessive “caution” in ordering the rescue mission earlier this year, Foley and Sotloff might be here to tell us themselves what should be done with ISIS. Believe it or not, quick military action can sometimes be a virtue.