Pentagon chief: Homegrown terrorists 'losers with a keyboard'

Pentagon chief: Homegrown terrorists 'losers with a keyboard'
© Francis Rivera

Homegrown terrorists who support the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are in some cases “just losers with a keyboard,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said.

“Right here in the United States where we’ve had people, some of whom just losers with a keyboard who get excited by ISIL propaganda and decide to take off against our fellow citizens,” he said in an interview with PBS NewsHour that aired Thursday night, using an alternate acronym for ISIS.

Carter refuted that the United States is being reactive instead of proactive. But, he added, the military is looking to do more.

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“We’re looking for opportunities to put more on,” he said, regarding so-called “boots on the ground.”

Carter called ISIS the United States’s first “social media enemy.” But, the United States will defeat them, he said.  

“We have to be ingenious, and that’s why I’m committed to thinking and working and adapting so that we change our techniques and our avenues of attack so they don’t know we’re taking them by surprise, and we’re doing new things to defeat them,” he said. “We’re going to keep doing that until they’re defeated, which they will be.”

In the interview, conducted shortly after he made the historic announcement that all combat jobs would be open to women, Carter also discussed his decision-making process on that issue.

The Marines had asked to keep some jobs closed to women. The Marine commandant at the time of the request, Gen. Joseph Dunford, is now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In the PBS interview, Carter emphasized that he “listens to [Dunford] on everything,” but in this case came to a different conclusion than did Dunford.

Carter acknowledged that some women may not have the physical abilities necessary to compete for the jobs now open to them. But, he said, to have the best military, he needs to be able to recruit from the entire population.

“We have an all-volunteer military, and in order to have, as we have in the future what we have today, which is the finest fighting force the world has ever known, I need to be able to reach into the entirety of the American population because remember, it’s an all-volunteer force,” he said. “So I want to recruit from all pools.”