Obama on Islamic State: ‘We Don’t Have a Strategy Yet’

Pressed on whether he would get congressional authorization before striking the Islamic State in Syria, President Barack Obama told reporters it hasn’t gotten that far yet.

President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 28, 2014. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” the president said.

“I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are and I think that’s not just my assessment, but the assessment of our military, as well,” Obama added. “We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them.”

Obama only said that his national security team is working up a plan for dealing with the Islamic State and shunned media reports that implied he is planning to move forward with a strike in Syria.

“There’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done,” Obama said.

After the press conference, Obama met with his National Security Council.

“Assad has lost legitimacy,” Obama said.

“We don’t think we have to choose between Assad and ISIL,” he continued. “We continue to support the moderate opposition in Syria to give the people a choice other than ISIL and Assad.”

Obama also took a question about whether he should have gotten congressional approval before embarking on airstrikes against the Islamic State.

“No and here’s why, it is not just part of my responsibility, but it is a sacred duty for me as commander in chief to protect the American people, and that requires me to act fast based on information I receive if an embassy of ours or a consulate of ours is being threatened,” Obama said.