November 18, 2015 | PBS
FDD Chairman R. James Woolsey discusses the Islamic State threat in DC following the Paris attacks.
Watch the full segment here.
Ambassador R. James Woolsey, who led the department from 1993 to 1995 and currently chairs the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, admitted there was no hard evidence of an impending attack but warned that we shouldn’t rule one out.
“We used to say in the intelligence business that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” Woolsey told MetroFocus Host Rafael Pi Roman. “The fact that we don’t know something doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen…If I had to bet, and it’s based on nothing more than a hunch, I would say yes, they’ll come after Washington.”
Assailants with the terrorist group ISIS on Friday led coordinated attacks at six Paris locations that left 129 people dead and 352 others injured. As authorities work to hunt down and identify those involved, French officials confirmed at least one attacker entered the country posing as a Syrian migrant.
As the U.S. plans to accept next year up to 10,000 Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country, Woolsey says it could be difficult to keep bad actors from slipping through.
“Part of the problem is for a number of these countries — including as I understand it — Syria passports are very easy to forge,” he said. “They’re very easy to obtain and we have a great deal of difficulty doing the vetting. It’s not impossible, and I think one should be alert particularly to the situation of women and children fleeing all sorts of horrors that chase them in that part of the world, but it doesn’t mean you just open the gates and let people through.”
Woolsey said the massacre in Paris could prompt changes to surveillance and security measures similar to what the U.S. saw after 9/11.
“I think that it should transform things because it’s quite clear that we are at war with ISIS, or rather that they are at war with us. We haven’t decided yet,” he said.