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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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November 10th, 2014
06:40 PM ET

GOP Congressman: Withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2011 hurt intelligence gathering today

(CNN) - Republican Congressman Peter King says withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2011 hurt U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities, which is why the U.S. is unable to determine whether or not the latest airstrikes effectively targeted key ISIS leaders.

"We have very little intelligence at all in Iraq. That's one of the hazards, one of the results, of taking all our troops out in 2011. That pretty much effectively ended both defense intelligence, central intelligence. We have virtually no intelligence on the ground at all," King, the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, told CNN's Jake Tapper.

"What we're looking for now is what you pick up in social media, what we can get from any sources we may have anywhere in that area. It's going to be difficult. We don't have the intelligence assets that he had prior to our troops being withdrawn."

The Pentagon has confirmed that the latest U.S. airstrikes near Mosul, Iraq targeted ISIS leaders. But it remains unconfirmed whether or not the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, survived or was even one such leader in the convoy targeted.

While acknowledging al-Baghdadi has other deputies prepared to step in, King believes wounding or killing the ISIS leader would be a "window of opportunity."

"It would be a significant short-term effect to have such an outspoken leader as this, dynamic leader as this, taken out. In the short term, it would create an opening for us to take advantage of it," King stated.

"It also could have a demoralizing impact on ISIS. But, again, that would probably last just a few weeks or so. But it would give us a window of opportunity and would also show people in the area that ISIS is not invulnerable, that the U.S. can get anyone it goes after, just like we got bin Laden. It's psychological and a short-term tactical victory."

For more of our interview with Rep. King, watch the video above.

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