Current and retired American defense and intelligence officials tell The Daily Beast that the CIA and the Pentagon are not certain who exactly makes up the forces that have taken so much of Iraq. Moreover, these intelligence and defense officials says that they believe that some of the people fighting with Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are former U.S. allies who could be turned against the hard-core fanatics—if they can be identified.
“We don’t have boots on ground providing intelligence and we don’t have confidence in information that the Iraqi government provides, because they’ve [been] so heavy-handed in the use of force against Sunni villages,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee.
In other words, the American intelligence community is only now scrambling to draw up a potential target list in Iraq, and possibly Syria—even though the threat of ISIS has been visibly growing for years. And while the analysts are trying to figure out who they should zero in on, Obama administration lawyers are wrestling with what legal authorities the president might have to carry out an attack.