WASHINGTON – Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, was invited to Washington, D.C., to speak about immigration, and the media showed up in force to hear him address his legal troubles – but the governor ended up issuing a major foreign-policy address, calling on President Obama to destroy the terrorist army ISIS before it’s too late.
“ISIS is not going to stop,” Perry said. “They need to be eliminated; they need to be eliminated now.”
He emphatically warned ISIS must be destroyed by airstrikes while the U.S. still has the opportunity to eliminate the group in both Iraq and Syria.
“They’ve seen glimpses of our air power. They must see much more of it,” he advised.
When asked if he thought ISIS might have already crossed America’s porous southern border, Perry warned, “I think there is a very real possibility that they may have already used that” as a means of entry.
Tying the issue of border security directly to national security, the Texan said there was obviously great concern “individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states” may be entering the country because the border is so far from secure and because the U.S. has no idea who is crossing.
“We know that there are individuals from countries that have terrorist ties that are being apprehended, and we had reports of record-high numbers of those individuals who were coming in back in the summer,” Perry told National Review, which co-sponsored the event.
“What rational observer doubts that such an attack is not part of their plan?” he wondered during his speech. “And who thinks it’s a good idea to wait and give them more time instead of eliminating this menace this right now?”
He added, “Beheadings, rape, enslavement, crucifixions. That’s the character of this enemy. In case we miss the point, they post pictures online and call it a preview of what we can expect in America.”
Noting the terrorists have already vowed to attack America, Perry implored, “We must take them at their word.”
Warning the fate of the nation hangs in the balance, Perry insisted the nation’s leadership must seriously consider the consequences of doing nothing, because, “No politician has the right to put politics before the security of Americans.”
Perry stopped just short of calling for U.S. ground troops to return to Iraq, but urged, in the weeks to come, the administration should greatly increase its military commitment there, including sending more special operations forces and advisers.
Perry notably did not rule out the need to send troops back to Iraq, emphasizing, “We need to retain all of our options.”
He implied Obama was making a mistake by telling the world, and the terrorists, he would not reintroduce ground troops, because “signaling to enemy what’s off table is bad strategy.”
The governor warned against picking and choosing when the U.S. must go to war.
He realized the nation was war-weary 12 years after the Iraq invasion and “three years after we were told the war there was over,” and not enthusiastic about the prospect of re-engaging.
“It’s not what we expected, but it’s where we are,” observed Perry, adding national security demands the U.S. deal with problems as they come up.
“The administration wishes – and who doesn’t – that this was just a humanitarian crisis,” he said. “And when they talk about limited air strikes, they place great emphasis on limited. Yet clearly more strikes will be necessary … nothing less than a sustained air campaign to degrade and destroy ISIS forces. The Iraqi people are up against a terrorist blitzkrieg.”
Perry predicted the president and the public will hear warnings of mission creep from Democrats in the coming weeks, and he acknowledged that is often a legitimate concern.
“But, in this case, we should be more worried about an ISIS version of mission creep,” he said. “It may be a team of terrorists arriving with papers. Or it may be a team sneaking across border. But who thinks such an attack is not part of their plan?”
The event at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, began with a panel discussion on illegal immigration. Perry followed with a speech that, before quickly segueing from border security to national security, touched upon his Texas legal troubles.
The governor said he was confident he would prevail in court and that it was a fight worth having, because, “There are fundamental principles at stake here, namely a governor’s power to veto legislation and funding and the right of free speech.”
“I can assure you, I will fight this attack on our system of government,” he said. “And with my fellow citizens behind me … I aim to defend our Constitution and stand up for the rule of law in the state of Texas.”
Perry was indicted Friday in the left-leaning political district of Travis County on two felonies after vetoing funding for the state’s public integrity unit and after its chief, Rosemary Lehmberg, refused to resign following her arrest for drunken driving in April 2013.
After his speech, Perry answered a pointed question from an NBC journalist who asked how his indictment for a veto could be politically motivated when it was issued by a judge who was appointed by a Republican.
Perry responded that when David Axelrod, Lanny Davis and many other Democrats called the indictment “outrageous, totalitarian and McCarthyite, I agree with them.”
As for illegal immigration, Perry suggested, instead of seeking comprehensive immigration reform, Obama could easily solve the current crisis by simply enforce the laws on the books.
He asked, “How about we start with comprehensive border security?”
The governor said defending the border is “not a political option, it is a constitutional obligation. Until they do that, all talk of reform is pointless, because Washington has no credibility otherwise.”
He said chaos is not the right environment for discussing a long-term immigration solution and that Obama’s immigration policy had brought nothing but “chaos and grief.”
Obama is considering using an executive order to grant amnesty to as many as 6 million illegal immigrants.
Some speculate he will do that by simply removing the age limit from the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals, or DACA, policy the president enacted by executive order to grant asylum to more than half-a-million illegal immigrants who arrived in the county as minors.
The New York Times reported an estimated 290,000 illegal immigrants, including 52,000 unaccompanied children, have crossed the border illegally in the Rio Grande Valley to cities around the county, just in recent months.
“There are more people coming across the border than we sent to invade France in World War II,” marveled Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, speaking to WND last month shortly after returning from a tour of the border.
“That is an invasion of our nation, and most of them are coming into Texas,” he said. “We need to take quick action.”
He believes Congress could modify a 2008 law that was designed to protect minors from Central America from falling prey to sex-traffickers by allowing them to stay in the country during a lengthy legal process involving hearings before immigration judges. Stockman said that law, ironically and sadly, has backfired, by luring unaccompanied and unprotected minors onto American streets.
It wasn’t really the 2008 law that triggered the sudden flow of minor immigrants, the congressman said. He believed it was Obama’s decision, after Congress refused to pass the DREAM Act, to unilaterally implement the bill’s key provision and not deport minors who are in the country illegally.
“Look at the numbers,” he said. “As soon a Obama announced the DREAM Act, the numbers shot through the roof.”
Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth