THE TOPLINE: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Wednesday that the White House failed to act on intelligence showing the Sunni extremist group, the Islamic State in Iraq in Syria (ISIS), was gaining strength prior to its advance into Iraq.
Rogers said the White House has been receiving the same intelligence on the group that he has for the last three years, as ISIS established a foothold in Eastern Syria and began gaining strength, but had done nothing.
“It was very clear to me years ago that ISIS was pooling up in a dangerous way — building training camps, drawing in jihadists from around the world. We saw all of that happening. We talked for a long time — nothing happened to disrupt that,” he said.
“Then we saw them cross the border and go into Fallujah, nothing happened. That was six or eight months ago. ... Not responding is a decision,” said Rogers.
The chairman said the group now could be even better situated to attack the U.S. than al Qaeda was before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“This al Qaeda threat is getting worse by the day, not better by the day,” he said. “And the fact that they hold a billion in cash and gold bullion, and if you think about 9/11 took about $200,000 and maybe a year and a half of planning — that’s a lot of dangerous cash laying in the kitty.”
BERGDAHL ON FULL PAY: Senior Army officials said Wednesday that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has been receiving fully pay since being freed from Taliban captivity on May 31.
Although he was also receiving pay for the majority of his five years in captivity via direct deposit, it was temporarily stopped due to his account going into inactive status. Army officials said his pay has been restarted.
Bergdahl may be required to return that money if an Army investigation finds that he was captured by the Taliban in 2009 because he was away without leave (AWOL) or planned to desert.
The administration secured Bergdahl's release by swapping him for five Taliban commanders being held in Guantanamo Bay.
Critics of the swap say the trade was not worth it since Bergdahl may have deserted his post.
Bergdahl is currently receiving outpatient care at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, as Army investigators look into the circumstances of his disappearance leading to his capture.
Bergdahl will be questioned by the Army's investigating officer after his reintegration is completed in a few weeks.
A previous investigation into the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance was "inconclusive," one Army official said of the classified inquiry.
During his time in captivity, Bergdahl was deemed "missing/captured," which allowed him to continue earning payment until his account was determined inactive.
Officials would not comment on whether he has spoken to his parents yet, or his mental state, but said Bergdahl has been "cooperative to date."
THE LIBYAN CONNECTION. Libya has become a “magnet” for terrorists since the downfall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, a Pentagon official told lawmakers Wednesday.
“Clearly Libya has become a magnet... for extremists, terrorists to go there,” according to Derek Chollet, assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs.
Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said the Obama administration had taken its eye off the ball after the U.S.-led ouster of the country’s decades-long dictator.
“Today, terrorists are using Libya as a training ground,” said Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.).
“As disappointments go, Libya ranks pretty high on the list,” added Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).
The Defense Department is seeking to improve security in Libya by training between 5,000 and 8,000 general purpose forces, but that work by U.S. Africa Command has yet to start.
There are also concerns that some of Gadhafi’s arms stockpiles, which included shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, might have been taken to Syria and other countries, according to Anne Patterson, assistant secretary of State for near eastern affairs.
“Libya is a morality tale about how limited our reach can be,” Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) said.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
-Senate Dem: Obama should ask Congress to approve force in Iraq
-Pentagon finalizing 2015 war spending request
-Al-Maliki rejects calls for unified Iraqi government
-NSA says it has no record of Snowden challenging spying
-Visiting Obama, Israeli president warns Iraq might split apart