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Tipsheet

In National Security Speech, Ryan Skewers Obama for ‘Shrugging Off ISIS’

House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled the House’s national security agenda at the Council on Foreign Relations Thursday morning, beginning by offering a postmortem for how President Obama allowed our international relations to become such a disaster.

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The speaker said India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to Congress on Wednesday was a “great moment” because it spoke to the growing friendship between India and the U.S. It was precious because it was so rare, he noted.

“Our friendships have frayed, our rivalries have intensified,” thanks largely to the current administration.

This is a “direct result of the president’s foreign policy,” Ryan said.

The speaker then referenced a number of the president’s broken promises. He drew a red line in Syria and backed away, he promised Iran would never get a nuclear weapon, but negotiated a deal that all but ensured they will obtain one. Even worse, Obama ignored the growing terror threat.

“He shrugged off ISIS until it threw off Iraqi government,” Ryan said. “All he did was create a void…Now our enemies are stepping in to fill that void.”

Following Ryan’s overview, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell moderated a panel with Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). One of the biggest security concerns is how ISIS can now communicate “in the dark,” McCaul explained. They have learned how to use end-to-end encryption.

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“It’s hard to disrupt that plot,” McCaul said. “Congress needs to deal with this.”

The congressmen then discussed specifics in terms of border security.

The border will be considered secure “when we can gain operational control,” McCaul said. Right now, “we’re catching less than half of what’s coming in.” We need to create a barrier to prevent illegal aliens and potential terrorists. This requires not just fencing, but technology, aviation assets and manpower.

Of course, none of these resources will be supplied if we don’t have the political will to do so.

“You have to have the will to enforce the law,” Goodlatte said.

The representatives doubted that a Hillary Clinton presidency would allow them to make these necessary changes. The former secretary of state, after all, will likely be an extension of the current administration.

“She is the architect” of much of the mess, McCaul said.

Her national security agenda has paved the way for an alarming amount of terrorist safe havens, he said. “We want to change that course.”

Another attendee, however, asked the representatives how they could support a GOP presidential nominee whose rhetoric may “threaten our democracy.”

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Goodlatte responded that he was encouraged that Trump wants a vice president who understands the legislative process, and was impressed by his list of potential SCOTUS nominees to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

This comment gave Mitchell an opportunity to mention Trump’s remarks about Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s race, asking the representative if it raises any concerns about Trump’s judgment or respect for the separation of powers.

Goodlatte avoided a direct answer, instead pointing to the GOP’s “tradition of respecting peoples right under our Constitution.”

The congressmen may prefer one candidate over the other, but their foreign policy document, they insist, is a document for all Americans.

Terrorists don’t check our party affiliation.  

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