On Tuesday’s “On the Record” on the Fox News Channel, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was interviewed by host Greta van Susteren about a full Senate briefing held moments earlier about the pending situation in Iraq and Syria involving ISIS given by the Obama White House.
Graham warned of a terrorist attack similar to that of Sept. 11, 2001 if the United States didn’t act as soon as possible to eliminate any threat they may pose to the American homeland.
Transcript as follows:
VAN SUSTEREN: I know it’s classified so we can’t hear all of it but we can hear some of it. Were you satisfied?
GRAHAM: I thought it was a good briefing and my takeaways that the ISIS is mounting an attempt to attack us abroad and at home — American interests.
VAN SUSTEREN: Us Americans?
GRAHAM: Yes. I mean it’s pretty clear that their agenda includes more than Iraq. They are going to go into Jordan unless someone stops them and that’s the last moderate voice in the Mideast. The takeaway was that this group is very much interested in hitting America.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why are we learning that now? I mean, I take it that they didn’t just decide last week to hit America.
GRAHAM: Director Clapper, the head of National Intelligence, told us about two months ago, six weeks ago that they represent a threat of homeland. Thousands of Europeans and some Americans have gone to Syria. This all started in Syria. So my belief is if we hit them in Syria where they are exposed that air strikes could really do damage to the leadership of this group in Syria. It might change the outcome in Iraq. And here is what I got from Iraq — there is a glimmer of hope that the Sunnis and the Kurds and the Shias feel threatened enough to form a new government that we could rally around, a government of the center. I think that has to happen before anything really changes in Iraq.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mike just reported that the president’s hesitation is creating problems.
GRAHAM: I think his hesitation to not strike ISIS months ago, maybe even 30 days ago, was a mistake they have got so much stronger. But now thinking this thing through, if you drop a bomb in Iraq and you don’t have diplomacy, a political solution, the bomb will do no good. If you don’t show some resolve, people won’t step up and form a new government. So it’s chicken and egg. I really do believe our focus inside of Iraq should be getting a new government formed that we can all rally around including the Iraqi people and then to help with air strikes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mike also says that Sen. [John] McCain says we should move right now with air strikes. Here is the problem — from what I understand from talking to the military experts is that you need intelligence on the ground to show where to hit.
GRAHAM: See, that’s the point. I think these troops going in on the ground will give us better targeting. But we know —
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you talking about these 300?
GRAHAM: Yes. The purpose is to find good information, not drop bombs randomly. Know what you are trying to do. You don’t want to blunder into this. We have made mistakes. But we are where we are. Syria is a different deal. We pretty well know where these training camps are at. We can deliver a really strong blow to ISIS in Syria which I think would help us in Iraq, give us some momentum.
VAN SUSTEREN: That may handle it in Syria, which is one problem. But if you have got ISIS already in Iraq and —
GRAHAM: Buys you time.
VAN SUSTEREN: Buys you time?
GRAHAM: Because their supplies are coming from Syria.
VAN SUSTEREN: American people are very war weary.
GRAHAM: I hope they are not too weary to defend ourselves.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do we get out of this? If we do the air strikes, what do you get? What do I get? What do the rest of Americans get?
GRAHAM: You can stop another 9/11. If you don’t do anything, another 9/11 –
VAN SUSTEREN: How convince the American people, because you know – of course you say “9/11,” we all get terrified. But give me more proof.
GRAHAM: Do you believe that the people who are shooting folks in the head, killing children in front of their parents, beheading people by the hundreds, if not thousands, would not attack us if they could?
VAN SUSTEREN: I suspect — I mean, I don’t have much — I suspect they would. But they are very busy over there doing — doing the dirty work over there.
GRAHAM: The stronger they are over there, the weaker we are here. So now is the time to blunt their strength. If they have a safe haven in Syria and Iraq, they will use that safe haven to attack America. There is some hope to Iraq around. But Jordan is next.
VAN SUSTEREN: But, you don’t think anyone just build Islamic state, that they want to go out — if they had all their great success in Iraq. Let’s say they built Islamic state, there’s Sharia law, you think they would want to come here to get us?
GRAHAM: They believe the biggest impediment to building Islamic state is the American presence in the Middle East. They are trying to drive us out. They are trying to destroy Israel, kill every Christian in the Middle East or drive them out. Make every Muslim bend to their will and they see us as impediment to that. They are telling us they are going to hit us.
VAN SUSTEREN: One quick question is, is that what you got out of briefing tonight.
GRAHAM: I got out of the briefing tonight the stronger they get in Iraq the more likely we are to get hit. There is a chance to turn it around. We better act quickly. And one thing I got out of the briefing — if we don’t help the King of Jordan who is the last moderate voice in the Mideast, God help us all.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor