MR. MEHLMAN: Well, I think that Chairman Dean gets it wrong in terms of defending America. The fact is it's not the right-wing extremists, as he said, who talks about Iraq being central to the war on terror, it's the enemy. If you listen to what Osama bin Laden says, if you listen to what Mr. Zawahiri says, they both say their goal is to drive America out of Iraq the way we were driven out of Vietnam and to use that as a base to launch further attacks. They've said what their goal is if there's a failed state sitting in between Syria and Iran.
Representative John Murtha says to prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state, we should withdraw to "over the horizon", say to Kuwait, let the Iraqis take over the policing and security for their country, establish a quick response tactical military force in Kuwait with the capability to respond quickly to any immediate threat that the Iraqis need our help with and send the rest of the troops home. I don't think that this is a "cut and run" position and it certainly isn't a position that would guarantee a failed state in Iraq.
The second point that I disagree with, that he said "We want to be strong." Then why has his party voted against the Patriot Act, against the surveillance programs, similar to the kind of programs that were used in London to deal with the threat? Why has his program-why has his party been against missile defense? When issue after issue after issue, whether it's not giving the terrorists a victory in Iraq-whether it's the tools we need at home to figure out what the terrorists are doing, to make sure we're successful-on every one of these issues, unfortunately, the party of Pelosi and the party of Dean and the party of Harry Reid has followed what Nancy Pelosi said less than a year after 9/11, which is she doesn't think America is really at war.
The Democratic Party supported the Patriot Act and only objected to a couple of provisions that were blatant attacks on the civil rights of American citizens and the Constitution. In the end the Patriot Act, including these objectionable provisions, was approved and supported by a considerable majority of Democrats.
The only reason that the Democrats and many Republicans are against the missile defense system is that "it doesn't work" and the billions of dollars that have been spent on it have been wasted.
MR. GREGORY: Quote from Jay Rockefeller, "I fear many of our policies over the past five years have done more to inflame extremism than to diminish it. I believe the war in Iraq has diverted resources and undercut the Bush Administration's ability to protect our people against a terrorist attack." A view echoed in terms of money spent in the Iraq war by the 9/11 Commission's co-chairman.
MR. MEHLMAN: I would say, with all due respect to Mr. Rockefeller, tell that to the families of the 241 people who were killed in 1983 by Hezbollah, the people that were in the East African Embassies that were bombed in the 1990s. The fact is, for a generation terrorists have made war on America. From the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich to Mogadishu to Beirut to the East African bombings, to the USS Cole. What changed was that after September 11, this president recognized in fact we're at war. And the fundamental question Americans are going to have to answer is, "Do you believe we're at war?" And if you believe we're at war, then it's important to use every tool possible to win the war on terror, not to weaken coordination between law enforcement-the Democrats did by trying to kill the Patriot Act-not reducing our ability to interrogate the enemy, as they've done, and not oppose efforts to surveil the enemy, which is exactly what, if you look at the reports from London, the British officials were able to do to stop the attack.
I've already discussed the logical objections to the Patriot Act, the "warrantless" domestic surveillance program and the British officials using good old fashion police work, informants, moles and international cooperation that any good counter-terrorism agency would use. I don't think that there was a requirement for 167,000 troops to be in Iraq to break this case.
MR. GREGORY: The president has said he's running on a record, as are Republicans in this fall campaign.
MR. GREGORY: Here is part of the Bush record on national security. Five years after 9/11, bin Laden is still on the loose. Iran and North Korea, part of that "axis of evil," have only increased their weapons capacity. In Iraq, we were told we'd be greeted as liberators, now our generals say we're on the brink of civil war, 2600 U.S. troops have been killed, and anti-American sentiment, as, as the 9/11 Commission co-chair said, higher today than it was before 9/11. Is that really a record of success?
I couldn't have said it better.
MR. MEHLMAN: Well, I think a couple of things, David. First of all, let's remember, they both made this point, as did Mr. Chertoff, we face a movement, not a country. It's harder to beat a movement. When you face a country, if you bomb the barracks where the general is, then you've eliminated command and control. It's much harder to fight an enemy when its ability, say, to create an IED can be developed on a Web site. So it's a different kind of war.
But every one of the points you mentioned-North Korea successfully tested six missiles. The people want to vote for Democratic leaders who have been against missile defense. You mentioned Iran, Harry Reid said we should take the use of force off the table. How are we going to be able to negotiate and prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon-which Chairman Dean is right, is a terrible thing if it happens-if they don't think force is a possibility? How are we going to be safer as these movements go forward if we can't interrogate them in an aggressive and effective way, if we can't surveil them and figure out what they're doing, and if there's not good coordination? And finally, think about this: We know that 9/11 taught us how dangerous it was when you had a failed state in Afghanistan. Imagine a failed state on the second-largest oil reserves in the world. That's what would happen if we cut and run in Iraq, which, unfortunately-which is what the Democratic Party has now made their orthodoxy.
Just more repetition of the Karl Rove words with negative connotations that Rove wants to frame as the Democratic Party's position on security. These are highlighted and consist of the terms; against missile defense, can't surveil, failed state and cut and run.
GREGORY: This is what you had to say after his defeat: "Joe Lieberman believed in a strong national defense. And for that, he was purged from his party." Safe to say that you believe and have respect in Senator Lieberman's views on national security matters?
Lieberman wasn't "purged" from his party, he was voted out in a Democratic manner by voters who disagreed with his Republican clone views and his unwavering support of George W. Bush.
MR. MEHLMAN: On national security, I think he was part of the Harry Truman/JFK tradition, which unfortunately apparently isn't welcome to the Democratic Party.
What a bunch of crap. Those Presidents are heroes to Democrats.
MR. MEHLMAN: Look, the fact is that our mission in the war in Iraq is critical. We agree on that; we agree it's wrong to cut and run. But look, we're not coming in and saying "Stay the course." The choice in this election is not between "Stay the course" and "Cut and run," it's between "Win by adapting" and "Cut and run."
Let me tell you what we're doing. The fact is, before the successful Iraqi elections, the number of troops went up from 137,000 to 167,000. That's adapting to win. Recently, the increased troops in Baghdad, adapting to win. We changed how the training of Iraqi forces occurred to involve more Iraqis.
That's adapting to win.
Well it looks like the good 'ol tried and true term "stay the course" is an abject failure considering that the majority of the American people now believe that the War in Iraq is a failure. So Karl Rove had to roll out a new term to frame this failure as a success. Now it's "Win by adapting" or "adapting to win" which carry a positive connotation. The John Murtha Plan is also a plan to "Win by adapting" by letting the Iraqis handle their own security. I think that we'll hear the terms "Win by adapting" or "adapting to win" so many times between now and Nov. it will make you sick.