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House intel chief: Obama's blunder in Iraq threatens U.S. security

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Barack Obama,Hillary Clinton,Iraq,National Security,Syria,Middle East,Mike Rogers

The crisis in Iraq and rise of the extremist group ISIS is the fault of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's reluctance to engage in an Arab League debate over the rise of extremists in Syria and President Obama's failure to act against them for three years, according to the chairman of the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence.

"This is a result of indecision, which I argue is a policy failure," said Rep. Mike Rogers. "This is not an intelligence failure, it is a policy failure."

During a media roundtable Wednesday sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, the retiring Michigan lawmaker added, "You can't blame the intelligence community, you can't blame Congress, this is a foreign policy failure of a magnitude that will risk the security of the United States of America."

In revealing comments about the genesis of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Rogers said that the Arab League of nations begged the United States to get involved three years ago, but the White House and Foggy Bottom balked. And for the next three years, he added, the administration didn't do a thing despite pressure from Capitol Hill and foreign capitals.

"We watched them pool up" in Syria, he said of the extremists eyeing the takeover of Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL. "We watched training camps get built and developed, we watched them get weapons, we watched them get finances, we watched Western passport holders show up at these camps, we watched it all. We heard their stated intentions," said Rogers.

Rogers, who sought more involvement from the White House, expressed amazement that the administration didn't act on the intelligence he was show in secret, and he blasted the president and his intelligence team.

"Ultimately it is the president of the United States. This is his policy of, I forget what he calls it, 'Don't do stupid — something,' " said Rogers. "It's almost laughable that that is even the mindset of a national security team."

He also blamed the president's decision to withdraw all American troops from Iraq. With the crisis at a boiling point, he has sent 300 back into Iraq.

"I think that was a major disaster," said Rogers.

And he rapped Clinton and the diplomatic team for not joining Arab League nations to address the emerging ISIS. "Having the secretary of State just show up for a chat isn't going to do it," said Rogers. "They need to see something. As one Arab League leader told me two years ago, 'If you're not going to sit at the table with us, you don't get to lecture us as what that table looks like.'"

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.