Exclusive: Rep. Devin Nunes on how the US can defeat ISIS

House Intelligence Committee Chairman sounds off about 'strategic incoherence'


This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," February 4, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: We are also getting new reports tonight that critical Arab allies are complaining about the alarming rise of this terror group. In recent weeks, ISIS loyalists launched sophisticated attacks not just in Iraq and Syria, but in Egypt and stormed the capitol of Libya killing an American.

Yet just this weekend President Obama suggested this administration is doing everything possible to contain these terrorists.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: Help this goal of what you say is to defeat ISIS happen more quickly. Couldn't we be doing more?

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Anything that we're doing -- anything we could be doing, Savannah, we are doing.  


KELLY: In a ‘Kelly File’ exclusive, I had a chance to speak just before we came to air with Republican Congressman Devin Nunes. He's the new chairman of the House Intel Committee and as such he is now briefed on some of the nation's top secrets.

Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for being here. So, let's start with that. Is the President correct when he says that everything we could be doing we are doing to fight this group?

DEVIN NUNES, R-CALIF., HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, he's not even admitting who the enemy is or where the enemy is even located. You just mentioned about the attack in Sanai, the attack in Libya. We have no plan in place to deal with ISIS there, radical Islam there. So, this is an ongoing threat that I feel I have an obligation to not only to the Congress but to the American people that we have intelligence, we know that ISIS is in North Africa --

KELLY: So when the White House suggests that we're brushing ISIS back, when the administration talks about how we've sort of stopped their advance in Iraq and Syria, you're telling us that ISIS is actually growing and it's growing in the region. It's not just Iraq and Syria. Where specifically? And, you know, what areas most concern you?

NUNES: A lot of the fighters are coming -- in Iraq, are coming from North Africa. They're also coming from Europe. But they're now transiting back.

And so now they're causing problems in places like Egypt in the Sanai, places like Libya. So just in the last even today or just a few hours ago I met with both Egyptians and Libyans who are begging for the Congress's help because they're not getting anywhere with the White House or the State Department in terms of actually the President admitting that al Qaeda, radical Islam, ISIS that is running amuck in their countries.  

KELLY: What specifically do they want that we are not providing? I mean, we've heard this now about Jordan, that they want more from us. And we heard last night that we're not providing it. And we heard that confirmed today although the White House suggests it's helping. Now Egypt, now Libya. What do they want that we're not giving?

NUNES: Look, we are helping Jordan tremendously. We can definitely do more. But when you get to places like Iraq and you get to the Kurdish area. If it weren't been for two reporters getting their heads cut off, I don't think this White House would have ever engaged. And our closest ally in Iraq, the folks that we would have been able to count on, the Kurds, would have been completely overrun.  

KELLY: When you listen to the White House they seem to suggest, you know, this is a problem that we have to deal with in Iraq and Syria. And they're dealing with it. Every time these generals like they did last week going before the Senate Armed Services Committee to say these are three retired four-stars who said, we need to name it what it is, this enemy. Radical Islam. And we need to come up with a comprehensive global strategy to fight it. And if we don't, we're going to be in a lot of trouble. But when you say that the administration says we can't send 200,000 troops in everywhere and start, you know, unleashing the U.S. military on every conflict. That's not how things work. It's a slow process. It takes time. And we're focused on the right areas.  

NUNES: Well, you could at least get weapons to the Kurds. That might be a good place to start. The flow of weapons to the Kurdish area has been very slow, very, very weak. They've been in to see me. They're very frustrated. So, nobody is calling for 200,000. In fact, you know, I don't even think there's a plan. Maybe we need to have our military leaders come up with a real plan to battle this globally. That way you can actually start to once you admit you have a problem, then you can find solutions to that problem.  

KELLY: Let's talk about that. Because the former head of the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, was on with Charlie Rose last night and talked specifically about his personal belief on why we are not meeting this challenge. Here's what Lieutenant General Flynn told Charlie Rose.  


LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN: My personal belief on this is our failure to understand the deeply held religious beliefs that these guys have and how they are interpreting it and how they are acting it out. That failure to understand this really very, you know, menacing ideology has really led us to really sort of a mismatch in how we are executing a strategy and how we are executing even some of our campaign plans on the military side.  


KELLY: Your thoughts on that.  

NUNES: So look, when you go back to the campaign, President Obama ran on that he'd killed Bin Laden and al Qaeda was on the run. And I believe what General Flynn is referring to is that really in fact, what they did is they made up this name core al Qaeda. They had defeated some of the core al Qaeda guys, the main planners. But when you stretch it out from there, they failed to recognize that al Qaeda was really growing and in fact many people now refer to ISIS as al Qaeda 6.0. All of this has now led to the spread of radical Islam because you're still dealing with millions of young men with no job and no hope for any future. And then no leadership coming from the United States of America which leaves us now in a very vulnerable position moving forward.  

KELLY: Congressman Devin Nunes, good to see you sir. Thank you for being with us tonight.  

NUNES: Always a pleasure.  

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