By Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- U.S. House Intelligence Committee head Mike Rogers blasted the White House on Sunday over its lack of a plan regarding the Islamic State terror group.
"It shows -- I think exemplifies -- that (the president's) foreign policy is in absolute free-fall," Rogers told Fox News. He was referring to President Barack Obama's announcement earlier this week that he still had no strategy to deal with the terrorists, although his administration says it was working toward one.
"We have a serious host of (foreign) problems presenting itself, and our traditional allies are now standing up and saying 'well, maybe America is not the best ones to lead us through these troubles,'" he said.
Indeed, earlier this week British Prime Minister David Cameron appeared to stand up to the Islamic State, saying what the Britain was now facing is "a greater threat to our security than we have seen before," and that the group must not be permitted to set up an Islamic caliphate in Iraq.
In response to whether he believed a White House spokesman who said the administration is still waiting for the Pentagon to present options, Rodgers said he did not believe it.
"The options have been presented ... over the last year. We had our Arab League partners show up and say 'help us deal with this.' The president rejected that ... and we watched (the situation in Iraq) progressively get worse."
"There had been plans on the table. The president just did not want to get engaged in any way," Rogers told host Chris Wallace.
The Islamic State has in recent weeks been on the move in Iraq, overrunning vast swaths of territory in the country's north as the militants go on a killing spree. While Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. air power have had some successes against the Islamic radicals, they remain unchecked in neighboring Syria, although Obama has now authorized the use of drones there.
The Islamic State poses a major problem for the United States, which aims to keep terrorism in check a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. The militants' territorial gains have Washington worried that its ultimate nightmare could come true -- that the group could carve out a haven in Iraq or Syria and use it as a staging ground for attacks against the U.S., much like al-Qaida did in Afghanistan.
Obama will confer with allies in Europe this week in an effort to get them on board with some sort of strategy to thwart the threat posed by the Islamic State. Rogers said while this is not wrong, the efforts are "very late in the game."
"Three years ago we had really good options in Syria ... Two years ago we had better options, not great options. Today our options are far more limited," he said. "And we're spending a lot of time talking about things that we won't do ... That's the problem. The president wants to tell you what he won't do. He's having a hard time putting a coalition together to talk about what they will do."
Rogers said he believed the number of Americans that have at least traveled one time to the Middle East and participated in training with the Islamic State is "in the hundreds," although exact numbers are unclear.
That number underscores growing fears that individuals with U.S. passports could re-enter undetected in a bid to attack the homeland.
Rogers said any attack by the Islamic State on the U.S. would be a major event, echoing a number of analysts that believe the group would hit the U.S. on a level not seen since the "9/11" attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Some analysts also contend that the militants would like to attack the West to prove they are the world's leading terror group and spur sympathizers to send recruits and money.
"The United States seems to be in this malaise of not being that concerned," he said, pointing to Cameron's recent statements that raised a red flag and outlined a plan to deal with the militants.
"I am very concerned," Rogers said, explaining the U.S. does not know every single American passport holder that has trained with the radical Islamist group.