OTR Interviews

Congresswoman: Pres. Obama is 'detached, listening to the wrong people' on ISIS

Two weeks ago, Pres. Obama claimed the terror group was contained. Now, top general says they're not and there appears to be a different ISIS strategy unfolding. Rep. Martha McSally goes 'On the Record'


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 1, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Today Secretary of Defense Ash Carter saying 200 U.S. Special Operations Forces are being sent to Iraq to target ISIS.

Right now Arizona congresswoman and the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, Congressman Martha McSally, goes ON THE RECORD.

Nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: If it weren't so serious, it's rather disturbing that the president said ISIS is contained as the joint chief of staff says it's not contained. It's like who is on first. What is the problem here? I mean, doesn't everybody know?

MCSALLY: Well, yes, they are not contained. And General Dunford has asked to give his best military advice when he is testifying before Congress. So I'm glad that he actually admitted that.

That hearing went on for several hours and even though there is some increased deployments, there is still more of the same gradualism and incrementalism. This threat has been growing and metastasizing since they declared the caliphate 17 months ago.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's what's so disturbing. I mean, the president is commander-in-chief and we have some maps that we can put up on here to show him if he would just look at our maps to see where we have isolated ISIS. You could tell that look -- here's November 2015. That's the ISIL. Look at that map right there. That's where ISIS is. Now let's go back. Look at that, that's February 2015. I mean, how in the world is our commander-in-chief thinking that it's contained?

MCSALLY: And not only that, but they have got influence and up to 19 different countries. They have a very sophisticated social media campaign. We have what we know about is 30,000 foreign fighters from 100 different countries that are flowing into Iraq and Syria. We have 900 investigations in all 50 states in America.

Libya is now becoming another safe haven and exporting their terror. What we saw on the Sinai. This is more metastasizing, which also they admitted today that this is growing and metastasizing. And this administration has not seriously had a strategy to defeat and destroy them.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, look at side by side. President Obama just take 30 seconds to turn on "Fox News," he would know this is not contained. When he looks at February until just now.

All right, well, today the big news is that we are going to put special ops on the ground. But here is the thing that I thought was interesting is, and this is where the general is probably in conflict again with the president because General Dunford said that we are going to go where the enemy is. Meaning, they are going to ignore borders. So everyone can talk about dropping these troops, these special ops in Iraq. They are going into Syria.

MCSALLY: Well, they use them carefully worded phrasing to say that they would be positioned to be able to conduct unilateral operations in Syria. Again, this is just a small increase.

VAN SUSTEREN: He said we are going to ignore borders. We are going to where the enemy is.

MCSALLY: Exactly. And we have been calling. I've been calling for special operation troops, for unleashing air power, for doing more to defeat and destroy their command, their logistics capability. This appears to be a shift, but I'm concerned that it's more incrementalism.

They also admitted today that they considered the truck drivers of the oil trucks that we finally started bombing to be non-combatants. I just can't believe that. We drop leaflets telling them to get away from their trucks before we actually hit them.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, you say that it's a shift, but you know, I actually think that the military has been pulling its hair out, trying to get the president to, you know, open up his eyes because even former head of Defense Intel, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, over on CNN with Jake Tapper, he told Jake Tapper that leading up to the 2012 election, the president's advisors ignored intelligence predicting the rise of ISIS because it didn't meet their elective narrative and he called them JV. Of course, we know in January of 2014.


VAN SUSTEREN: What is going on with this president?

MCSALLY: It seems like this president campaigned on wanting to get out of the Middle East. He has been their reluctant commander-in-chief wanting to shift to Asia. Ignore this threat. Been very myopically, also focused on the nuclear deal with Iran, which is related to this because our Sunni, Arab partners in the region are more concerned about Iran, which is a militant Islam great state sponsor of terror and they are refusing to take action against ISIS.

VAN SUSTEREN: But he's almost got a viewpoint of one. If he's got the military people and if he's got the general now saying publicly something directly contradicting, which is actually a big deal. I mean, he has a viewpoint of one.

MCSALLY: I agree. He is detached. He is listening to the wrong people. His tone has been off. His understanding of the facts have been off. The American people are now deeply concerned about this threat and their impact on the homeland. And President Obama continues to think the largest enemy he has is the GOP.

So I'm glad to see that his military advisors are finally speaking some of the truth. But I'm still concern for the testimony today. It's more of the same sort of reluctance. The more of the same, maybe we're going to do a little bit more. And we learned in Vietnam that gradualism does not work. We need to look at them as a state. We need to identify their centers of gravity. Their critical capabilities and we would unleash American air power in a way that they have been reluctant to do in order to destroy them where they are.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman, thank you. And as always, thank you for your service as I always say to you. Nice to see you.

MCSALLY: Absolutely. Good to see you.