When judging the hyperbole emerging from Capitol Hill about the Islamic State, you must keep this in mind: “The threat ISIS poses cannot be overstated.”
That’s what Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, wrote in a USA Today op-ed on Sunday.
In other words, there can be no hyperbole.
In what is therefore, by definition, understatement, Feinstein called the Islamic State “the most vicious, well-funded and militant terrorist organization we have ever seen.”
She expressed sympathy for those who don’t fully appreciate its horror — yet. “I recognize the reluctance of many Americans to engage in another war in the Middle East. But it is imperative that every American is fully cognizant of how dangerous and deadly ISIS really is,” she wrote. “Americans need to understand ISIS’ degree of viciousness as well as what will happen in the absence of U.S. leadership and action… [W]e could suffer the consequences for decades to come.”
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez told Fox News on Sunday: “ISIS is a savage terrorist organization that has to be defeated before they can create the operational wherewithal to conduct a September 11th-like tragedy.”
This despite the fact that national security officials have seen no sign of domestic threats posed by the Islamic State.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) got all metaphorical on Fox News earlier today: “ISIS is, in kind of a scary way, it’s like something Ian Fleming created. It’s like Dr. No,” he said. “It’s the evil empire that is not a nation, just an evil group of people, or an evil individual at the head, that’s a threat to the free world. It’s like privatized terrorism; a public-private partnership.”
“It ought to be pretty clear when they start cutting off the heads of journalists and say they’re going to fly the black flag of ISIS over the White House that ISIS is a clear and present danger,” said Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
But here’s the thing: Democrats do actually come off as somewhat understated — in comparison to their GOP colleagues.
“It is a real menace to our moving forward as a peaceful society,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told a St. Louis radio audience today. “Where they are, in Syria and Northern Iraq, puts them on the back door of Europe.”
Writing in the National Review, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) called the Islamic State “an existential threat to America.” The U.S., he wrote, is “the target of the most lethal and powerful terrorist group ever to have existed.”
He warned: “The Islamic State has apparently gained control of several dozen kilograms of radioactive material from research institutions in Mosul, Iraq. It cannot be made into a nuclear bomb, but it could be used in a ‘dirty bomb’ to contaminate a wide area with radioactivity.” (Wrong.)
And the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Jim Inhofe (R-OK), told a TV station in August: “We’re in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in as a nation.” That’s ever.
“They’re crazy out there and they are rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city and people just can’t believe that’s happening,” Inhofe said, evidently incredulous about the naivete of his fellow Americans.
Photo: MGM Studios