CNN's Juliette Kayyem offered a suggestion over the weekend that the media, our politicians and the generals who have been taking to the airways ought to take heed of. Kayyem appeared on this Saturday's CNN Tonight along with host Don Lemon and former CIA operative Bob Baer, and took the generals and the Obama administration to task for the way the public is being talked to about the threat from ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
As she discussed here, if the administration really believes it is in our national interest to go after this group, then explain why and quit pretending that a bombing campaign is going to prevent someone from that group from crossing our border here or coming in some other way and committing an act of terrorism. Treat us like adults and quit trying to scare the hell out of everyone.
And quit giving the likes of Lindsey Graham, and John McCain and their ilk an excuse to show up on these Sunday shows and try to scare the bejesus out of everyone as well.
Transcript via CNN:
LEMON: Welcome back. Live from Ferguson, Missouri, tonight. Unrest here is not the only item on President Obama's agenda.
Earlier this year, he said of ISIS, "If a J.V. team puts on Lakers uniforms, it doesn't make them Kobe Bryant."
And then just yesterday, the president's own defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, said that the ISIS threat is, quote, "beyond anything we have ever seen."
So just how powerful is ISIS? Joining me now to discuss, Juliette Kayyem, CNN national security analyst; Bob Baer, CNN national security analyst and a former CIA operative. Good evening to both of you. I appreciate you coming on to talk about this.
Bob, you first. Really, the central question is, what's the best way to fight back against ISIS? Because U.S. officials are now telling CNN there are talks about increasing air strikes in Iraq and even the possibility of, quote, tailored air strikes inside Syria, against specific ISIS targets. But officials are stressing no decisions have been made now by the White House.
So do you think that we have to go to Syria?
BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I unfortunately think we do with air strikes. As long as we don't send troops in, you know, decapitate this organization. It is dangerous. It's the first time that an al Qaeda-like organization has actually owned territory and weapons. But what we don't want to do is get in a fight with Sunni Islam. So it has to be very limited, and ultimately, it's got to be the Iraqis and the Syrians who crush this organization.
LEMON: OK. So tailored and limited. Will that be enough, Bob? That's the question.
BAER: I hope so, because I just couldn't conceive of the United States ever sending its military back into Iraq to go into eastern Syria. It would be horribly costly and probably wouldn't work.
So let's keep our fingers crossed these limited air strikes slow this organization down and give the Iraqis and the Syrian forces time to crush them.
LEMON: Julia, I see you're shaking your head in agreement there. But I want to ask you this question. The former deputy director of the CIA fears that ISIS could carry out attacks in the U.S. Let's listen, and we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MORRELL, FORMER CIA DEPUTY DIRECTOR: If a ISIS member showed up in a mall in the United States tomorrow with an AK-47 and killed -- killed a number of Americans, I would not be surprised. Over the long term, I worry that this group could present a 9/11 style threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Nine-eleven style, Juliette. I mean, what are the short- and long-term threats ISIS presents against the U.S. where he would say "9/11-style"?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN ANALYST: Well, I mean, the honest truth is, is that this is true of any terrorist organization. I think the FBI, the deputy director's statements were sort of completely over the top and not very helpful from the perspective of how do you plan to protect the homeland?
Something is going on here where the generals are talking about expanding, you know, air strikes. There's fears within the homeland. What are we going to do? Every shopping mall could be attacked.
The White House either needs to get the generals in line so that they are on the talking points, which is, there are no immediate plans to -- for anyone to attack the United States, or if this is part of some concerted effort to prepare the American public for expanded attacks or expanded military strikes in Syria, talk to us like we're rational adults.
Some -- the split between what the generals are saying, sort of scaring everyone in the homeland, and what we're hearing about what the plan needs to be, consistent with what Bob was just saying, the split is confusing to the American public. So get the generals in line and stop all this talk about imminent threats and shopping malls.