GOP congressman: Obama must do more than contain ISIS

In his first Sunday show interview since becoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, said the administration must do more than just contain the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"ISIS is not in just Iraq and Syria. So if your strategy is to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS, and you're not looking at the broader picture of places like North Africa, Libya, essentially what you have is a containment strategy, not an effort to go ahead and defeat ISIS," Nunes said.

He added that many fighters are coming from North Africa on top of the flow of Western fighters coming in through Turkey to get training. They present an ever-increasing terrorist threat for the U.S. and its allies if they are not stopped, he said.

"I think we are containing ISIS within the borders of Iraq and Syria. Outside of that we're not doing much," Nunes said.

But he did praise the administration for a rare raid into eastern Syria that took place overnight Friday into Saturday. Officials said the raid killed militant Abu Sayyaf and seized his wife, laptop and cell phones.

"Many of us have been advocating this strategy for a long time, or using this tactic. Because it's just a better way to gather intelligence versus just air strikes. So it takes guts for the administration and our military to put an action like this together. It was successful," he said.

Nunes added that Sayyaf was known as the accountant for ISIS, so he said he hopes the seized technology will reveal more about how the group is making, moving and distributing its money.

He is at odds with the administration on other issues, such as the prisoner swap last year that traded five Taliban prisoners at Guantamo Bay for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who had been held captive by the group since 2009. Last week, Nunes sent a letter to the president urging him to work with the government of Qatar - which had promised to restrict the prisoners' movements for a year - to prevent them from going back to the battlefield.

"We know that they've been back. Once they got to Qatar that they have been in constant communication with some of their old pals," Nunes said. He believes they never should have been released.

He also disagrees with President Obama that the Gaunatamo Bay prison should be shuttered.

"I think one of the tragedies is is that we've been relying more on drone strikes, which is a very effective tool, don't get me wrong, and we need to have it in our arsenal. But when you go out and you vaporize our opponents, and they're not willing to bring them to places like Guantanamo and get actionable intelligence from them, that makes it harder to understand the enemy, thus harder to defeat the enemy," he said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for