CIA head in hot seat: Why won’t you define ISIS as ‘Islamic extremists?’

CIA Director John Brennan found himself in the hot seat on “Fox News Sunday” when host Chris Wallace grilled him about Islamic extremists and ISIS.

In a wide ranging interview held at the CIA’s private museum—which like the rest of the agency, is not open to the public—Brennan showed off some old-school spy tech:  a carefully constructed model of Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Then Wallace got to the point, asking if America is treating Iran as a friend in our battle against the Islamic State.  When asked which is a greater threat to the U.S., Iran or ISIS, Brennan responded, “I think they are both threats.”

But Brennan later backed off, arguing that stopping ISIS gives America common ground with Iran.

Wallace pressed, quoting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, “the enemy of your enemy is not your friend, he’s your enemy,” to which Brennan replied, “I wouldn’t consider Iran an ally right now.”

Brennan argued that ISIS is “a phenomenon that we’re going to have to deal with,” acknowledging that “over the next decade, this is going to be a long, hard fight.”

Related post: CIA Chief warns that Islamic State is ‘a phenomenon that has snowballed’

Yet Brennan still maintained that neither he nor the president misled the American people in 2012 by claiming victory over Al Queda.  He refused to link the two groups by their brand of Islamic extremism, “it’s an ideology of violence, it’s not a religious ideology,” Brennan said.

Wallace pressed his point, quoting Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, “you cannot defeat an enemy unless you define it,” then asked if Brennan was prepared to say ISIS are Islamic extremists.

Brennan responded, “I am prepared to say they are extremists, they are violent terrorists who misrepresent what the Islamic religion is about.”

It’s just two words, “Islamic extremists,” and it appears nobody in the Obama administration is willing to say them with respect to ISIS.


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