GOP congressmen: Inaction on Iraq could mean another 9/11

Republican lawmakers criticize President Obama's handling of the Iraq conflict as young people demonstrate in the Senate corridor against another war. (Reuters)

Several top congressional Republicans sharply criticized the Obama administration's handling of the crisis in Iraq, where an insurgent group continues to march toward Baghdad.

If the United States fails to stop insurgents from taking control of Iraq, they warned, it could help terrorist groups launch attacks on American soil.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called for the United States to provide military support to the Iraqi government — stopping short of advocating specific military action but saying that the United States must engage in sustained and "disruptive" action to stop the insurgent group.

"If we've learned anything, it's that you can't fire missiles and then turn around and come home," Rogers said on "Fox News Sunday." "We have to ask ourselves one simple question: Is al-Qaeda holding land the size of Indiana a problem for the United States? We're either going to face it in New York City, or we're going to face it here."

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) leveled criticism at President Obama, saying the problems in Iraq stem from his inability to secure a status-of-forces agreement with the Iraqi government before the U.S. withdrawal in late 2011.

McCaul, while also stopping short of advocating specific action, said top U.S. officials need to do more and be more proactive.

"We're not leading right now as a nation," McCaul said. "The action needs to be now and not two years down the road."

Several lawmakers on the Sunday shows acknowledged that much of the blame for the  crisis falls on the Iraqi government, specifically Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"Al-Maliki is a flawed leader," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "There is no way that Maliki can keep this country together."

Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney echoed that sentiment on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The great majority of the blame has to be laid at the feet of the Iraqi leadership," Romney said.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said on "Meet the Press" that the United States must secure better intelligence before conducting any military action related to Iraq.

"Our intelligence has failed us miserably," Manchin said. "There is no will from the Senate to put boots on the ground. I'm open to airstrikes and technical support, drones, whatever it takes."

Wesley Lowery covers Capitol Hill for The Fix and Post Politics.
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Wesley Lowery · June 15