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CBS "Early Show" - Transcript

Interview

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Date:
Location: Afghanistan

MS. LOGAN: Senator Obama told us that he'd been talking to U.S. commanders and Afghan leaders on the ground here in Afghanistan, and his assessment of the situation is that it's precarious and urgent and requires immediate action.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

SEN. OBAMA: There's starting to be a growing consensus that it's time for us to withdraw some of our combat troops out of Iraq, deploy them here in Afghanistan. And I think we have to seize that opportunity. Now is the time for us to do it.

MS. LOGAN: What will those extra troops do in Afghanistan? What will their specific task be, and how will it be any different from what they were already doing?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, in talking to the commanders here, a couple of things. Number one, if they have more troops, they're going to have more mobility and more flexibility in terms of going after al Qaeda targets and Taliban targets. I think along the borders, especially, there are a whole host of activities that right now are not being done because folks aren't freed up from the immediate day- to-day battles that are having to take place.

The commanders are clear that they can use those two and maybe three brigades immediately. And one of the things that I think it's important for us to do is to begin planning for those brigades now. If we wait until the next administration, it could be a year before we get those additional troops on the ground here in Afghanistan, and I think that would be a mistake.

MS. LOGAN: Senator Obama told us more U.S. troops would only be part of the solution, and an Obama administration would make pressing Pakistan a priority, pushing the government there to get more serious about clamping down on al Qaeda and Taliban extremists operating out of its remote tribal areas.

(To Sen. Obama.) How do you compel Pakistan to act?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that the U.S. government provides an awful lot of aid to Pakistan, provides a lot of military support to Pakistan. And to send a clear message to Pakistan that this is important to them as well as to us, that, I think -- that message has not been sent.

MS. LOGAN: And under what circumstances would you authorize unilateral U.S. action against targets inside the tribal areas?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, what I've said is that if we had actionable intelligence against high-value al Qaeda targets and the Pakistani government was unwilling to go after those targets, that we should. Now, my hope is that it doesn't come to that; that, in fact, the Pakistani government would recognize that if we had Osama bin Laden in our sights, that we should fire or we should capture him and --

MS. LOGAN: Isn't that the case now? I mean, do you really think if the U.S. forces had Osama bin Laden in their sights and the Pakistanis said no, that they wouldn't fire? They wouldn't go after him?

SEN. OBAMA: Oh, no. I think, actually, this is current doctrine. There was some dispute when I said this last August. Both the administration and some of my opponents suggested, "Well, you know, you shouldn't go around saying that." But I don't think there's any doubt that that should be our policy and will continue to be our policy.

MS. LOGAN: But it is the current policy.

SEN. OBAMA: I believe it is the current policy.

MS. LOGAN: So there's no change, then.

SEN. OBAMA: I don't think there's going to be a change there. I think that in order for us to be successful, it's not going to be enough just to engage in the occasional shot fired. We've got training camps that are growing and multiplying.

MS. LOGAN: Would you take out all those training camps?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think that what we'd like to see is the Pakistan government take out those training camps.

MS. LOGAN: And if they won't?

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think that we've got to work with them so they won't.


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