A week after U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria began, lawmakers continued to question President Barack Obama's strategy for defeating the militant group ISIS, which he admitted in a televised interview Sunday was more powerful than the U.S. initially believed.
Echoing sentiments also expressed by James Clapper, the head of U.S. intelligence services, Obama said the government "underestimated what had been taking place in Syria" during its civil war, allowing Syria to become "ground zero for jihadists around the world."
Speaking in a taped interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," Obama said the terrorists were remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq, which after being diminished by U.S. forces "went back underground."
"Over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos," Obama said, adding later the U.S. also overrated Iraq's security forces, which were quickly overrun by ISIS when it took over the northern city of Mosul this summer.
The President stressed that the issue in Iraq is not simply a military problem; it's a political one.
"This is America leading the international community to assist a country with whom we have a security partnership with, to make sure that they are able to take care of their business," he told "60 Minutes."
The President added: "If we do our job right and the Iraqis fight, then over time our role can slow down and taper off."
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Officials temporarily locked down the White House late Tuesday afternoon after a man followed a motorcade into a secure area of the heavily guarded complex, authorities said.
Around 4:40 p.m., the driver entered the restricted area, behind a motorcade that included President Barack Obama's two daughters, who go to school nearby, according to a source familiar with the incident.
Obama was inside the White House at the time, with his schedule indicating he was meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry.
The driver was stopped by uniformed officers at the outer perimeter of a checkpoint at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue and taken into custody, according to a U.S. Secret Service spokesperson. The Secret Service later identified the 55-year-old man as Mathew Evan Goldstein, who was charged with unlawful entry.
The source familiar with the incident said the driver holds a pass for the U.S. Treasury building, which sits next to the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue.
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President Obama arrived in Seoul, South Korea, Friday to news that North Korea may be counting down to a nuclear weapons test.
Such moves out of Pyongyang are no surprise and are typical for the North's behavior, Obama told reporters while in Tokyo, his previous stop on his Asia trip.
The President said he is prepared to deliver a firm response, if a test is conducted during his visit.
North Korea's heightened activity at its nuclear test site was already known. But now the final step needed for an underground detonation has been taken, a South Korean government official said Thursday.
The North has closed off the entrance to the tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, the official said.
That gives Pyongyang 11 days to either detonate a nuclear device or cancel the test. It would be the North's fourth test of a nuclear weapon.
We're expecting a live news conference from the President within the hour. We'll bring it to you when it starts on "Early Start."
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