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David Petraeus says efforts to beat extremists online fall short

WASHINGTON -- Former CIA Director David Petraeus says the U.S. isn’t doing enough to stop the Islamic State from using the internet to spread its propaganda and recruit new members.

During congressional testimony before the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday, Petraeus said the so-called counter-messaging efforts are not adequate. He didn’t mention any specific programs.

His remarks came a day after The Associated Press published an investigation that found a counter-propaganda program aimed at thwarting the Islamic State’s use of social media for recruiting is plagued by incompetence, cronyism and skewed data.

The program, known as WebOps, is run by defense contractors at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

Petraeus says the U.S. must work more closely with internet service providers and social media platforms. He says a prior collaboration succeeded in blocking large amounts of child pornography.

The former CIA director also says President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees is blocking a senior Iraqi military official from traveling to the U.S. to meet with his American counterparts.

He’s telling lawmakers that Gen. Talib al-Kenani, commander of Iraq’s counterterrorism forces, can’t meet in person with officers from U.S. Central Command. The command in Tampa, Florida, oversees U.S. military operations against the Islamic State extremist group in Iraq and Syria.

Petraeus also says al-Kenani’s family lives in the United States because of threats they face in Iraq.

But Petraeus didn’t dispute the need for Trump’s order. He says the long-term effects of the policy will be determined by whatever changes are made to the immigration system.

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