Saturday, October 18, 2014

ABC7/NewsChannel 8 Town Hall generates lively discussion over ISIL terror threat

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) – Town Hall meetings being town hall meetings, they often veer from the planned tenor and morph into riveting-yet-unexpected identities all their own.

So it went during the ABC7/NewsChannel 8-sponsored “Your Voice, Your Future: The New Terror Threat” which was broadcast live Thursday night by NewsChannel 8 at Arlington’s Artisphere Theater.

Albeit with a catch.

Namely, that the lively discussion among the six distinguished panelists more or less agreed that:

A): The terror threat isn’t really new and that:

B): Whatever terror threats that are out there pose no immediate threat to the United States – not now and quite probably never, at least regarding the Islamic State, or ISIL/ISIS, despite its spate of self-ballyhooed beheadings and other acts of well-funded, orchestrated bids to expand its influence in the Middle East.

Basically, the distinguished panel quibbled over mostly minor disagreements but didn’t get into anything resembling a shouting match.

On hand were the following: Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a CIA-trained senior operations officer; Zainab Chaudry, Maryland outreach manager for the Council on American Islamic Relations; Michael Steele, political analyst and former Republican Party chairman: Col. Douglas Macgregor, decorated combat veteran of Desert Storm; Faheem Younus, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Men's Association; Omri Ceren, managing director for press and strategy at the Israel Project; and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Co-host and ABC7 News anchor Leon Harris got things rolling by asking the panelists whether there’s a coherent, realistic strategy to combat ISIS. Only Norton raised her hand.

Then the question was put to the audience. Only a few members raised their hands.

That pretty much set the tone for the remainder of the one-hour session, basic point of argument being what should be the role of the U.S. in taking on ISIS and should the nation be doing more than carrying out bombing missions, or even having them at all?

The half dozen or so questions from the audience were thoughtful enough, and the panelists often went into painstaking detail to make their assorted points.

Nothing groundbreaking but nonetheless informative.

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