Top Intel Dem: US should not be ‘provoked’ in Iraq by Foley slaying

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The Obama administration should fight the urge to expand its military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) following the execution of American photojournalist James Foley, a senior House member said Thursday.

“We shouldn’t allow this horrible act to provoke us into doing things that are counterproductive,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, on CNN’s "New Day." “There’s nothing ISIS would like more than having us reintroduce ground troops into Iraq, for example.”

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He said the U.S. “had to know that when we get involved with airstrikes, that ISIS is going to strike back at us in any way they can.”

Schiff admitted that resisting the temptation to ramp up U.S. military objectives in Iraq would be “very difficult, but I think it’s extraordinarily important we keep our focus on what we can achieve.” 

He said President Obama should continue authorizing targeted airstrikes against ISIS, providing material and intelligence to Kurdish and Iraqi security forces and working with international partners to “dry up” the group’s funding.

On Tuesday ISIS posted a video online depicting Foley’s execution. The next day, U.S. intelligence officials authenticated the video.

The gruesome execution prompted the president to make a forceful statement from Martha's Vineyard, where he is spending his vacation.

“We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what is necessary to make sure justice is done,” he said.

Late Wednesday the White House admitted U.S. special forces had mounted an unsuccessful rescue operation in Syria this summer to get Foley and other Americans being held by ISIS.

Schiff said his panel’s leadership was notified in advance of the failed rescue and that he was “glad” it had been undertaken because “we have to use every means at our disposal to try and rescue Americans who are held hostage. 

He also said the State Department’s request for around 300 more U.S. troops to provide additional security in Baghdad is “going to happen and it should happen.”

The decision, still being weighed by military planners, would likely bring the total number of soldiers in Iraq to more than 1,000.

However, Schiff also warned against the risk of “mission creep,” saying lawmakers needed to have a “heart-to-heart” with the administration about seeking congressional approval for America’s latest use of military force in Iraq.

Congress cannot “abdicate our responsibility here,” he said.