President Barack Obama's failure to clearly communicate U.S. policy in the Middle East is contributing to the wave of violence in the region and may create more opportunities to attack American interests, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said today.
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) took issue with White House assessments that attacks on U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere were not expressions of anti-American hostility. He said his panel was reviewing security arrangements and intelligence to see whether a "smoking gun was missed."
"I think this is a convenient effort by all of the groups that have ulterior motives," Rogers said. "This is a mechanism to do what they've been trying to do all along."
Rogers said Obama must clearly outline the consequences of further violence, including cutting off foreign aid to governments that don't cooperate.
"I do think policies overseas have consequences," Rogers said. "You can't solve it by just stepping back and letting the cauldron simmer. It's a combination of showing strength and showing up."
The administration should call out countries that are fanning anti-American sentiment and condition foreign aid on cooperation, Rogers said, noting that last week's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans had the hallmarks of "an al-Qaida-style event."
"We shouldn't just give the money and hope for the best," Rogers said. "It's OK to ask for something that's in our best interest."
Earlier on the program, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice said the demonstrations were largely a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islamic video posted on the Internet and not evidence of a pre-meditated attack.
"What sparked the violence was a very hateful video on the Internet," Rice said. "It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States."
She said federal agents are continuing to investigate the attack on the consulate.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.