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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript: Situation in Egypt

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BOB SCHIEFFER: And joining us now Senator Lindsey Graham. He is just back from Cairo where he and Senator John McCain met with both sides. He's in Clemson, South Carolina, this morning. Senator Graham, this has been a while since I've seen any pictures like this. And now we are seeing and you heard Charlie talk about the-- the Egyptian generals who are trying to say this is the--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (Armed Services Committee/R-South Carolina): Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --war against terrorists. And the fact is the head of al Qaeda's brother, that's Mister Zawahiri has been arrested now and we're told he was planning to bring in armed groups to oppose the generals. I mean isn't this just make it even more complicated in trying to figure out what we ought to do and-- and who we ought to be supporting here?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: In a way, yes. But in a way, no. I mean we can't-- after 2011, we sided with the protesters against Mubarak. There's no going back for our country to supporting strongman dictatorships. The Muslim Brotherhood corrupted their mandate. They won the election. The Egyptian people are not terrorists. They got a majority of the vote. But after a year of governing, they drove people away and this coup--and it was a coup--had-- has a lot of popular support. But where are we headed? We're headed for Algeria. The Brotherhood will go underground, al Qaeda will come to their aid, and you are going to have an armed insurgency, not protesters, on your hands in the next six-- sixty days or ninety days and we are going to have a failed state in Egypt and we are going to have to suspend our aid because we can't support the reaction of the military. Even though, the Brotherhood overplaying their hand started this, we can't support what the military is doing in response.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, we don't want to encourage government to-- to come to power there that has--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --al Qaeda-- al Qaeda elements in it, do we? I mean and if we cut off that aid--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: No.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --doesn't that just help that?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Bob, al Qaeda is never going to win at the ballot box. If there was a new election, the Brotherhood would get beat. They would be marginalized by the Egyptian people. The army is making these people martyrs. You're looking at Algeria where the opposition becomes an armed insurgency. The best way to solve this problem is to write a new constitution where everybody has a say and have new elections. If you had new elections, the Brotherhood would get creamed at the ballot box, but they are going to be a very formidable force on the streets. They're going to get aligned with al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is going to come uninvited into Egypt and you're going to have a failed state. That means gas prices go up for us, the Suez Canal gets compromised and Egypt becomes a staging area for terrorist acts against Israel. This is an absolute disaster in the making.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you've been very critical of the President. What would you do? You say you would cut off this aid, but beyond that, what would you do?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yes. I would tell the generals that we're going to suspend all aid until you allow a democratic transition and the aid is just a symbol for the relationship. It's not that much money. What would happen if we cut off the aid is that Western tourism ends in Egypt for the foreseeable future for as far as the eye can see. Western investment comes to a standstill. Egypt becomes a beggar client state of the Sunni Gulf Arab-- Arab Gulf states. Egypt's future is really damned and I'd make that point clear. It's just not about the aid, it's about the relationship. We're the strongest nation on Earth. Everybody that sides with us tends to do better than people that we oppose, so I would play to the best interest of the military. Stop this before it gets out of hand. We can't support where you're taking Egypt, not tell the Brotherhood, forget about the condition of Morsi being put back in as President before you have a new dialog. I would be firm with the military and the Brotherhood. We do have a lot of influence. If American business stops investing in Egypt and American tourists stop going to Egypt, their economy is going to be in ruins. There's a lot at stake here for us and them. If you had a winner-loser list from a failed state in Egypt, the Egyptian people and the American people would be on the loser list. We need to avoid that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you were there. You and Senator McCain talked to leaders--

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --on both sides, you talked to General al-Sissi.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Mm-Hm.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think he is actually running things now?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Absolutely. You know I saw a man very conflicted. He's having people whisper in his ear from the Sunni Gulf states, even Israel, "Crush the Brotherhood." If you think you can take twenty-five or thirty percent of the population and put them all in jail and kill them, you're making a mistake. That is Algeria. And we've sent mixed signals. John McCain and I called it a coup because that's exactly what it is but we wanted time to restart. When Senator-- Secretary Kerry said that the military was restoring democracy, they took that the wrong way. When they started jailing all the leaders of the former government that was a signal to me that they weren't interested into a transition, they were not trying to restore order, they were trying to grab power and somebody needs to look al-Sissi in the eye and say you are going to destroy Egypt, you are going to doom your country to a beggar state, you're going to create an insurgency for generations to come. Turn around, General, before it's too late. You're a better man than that.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me shift and just ask you about something that happened back here in Washington. Defense Secretary Hagel issued some new rules for dealing with sexual assault cases in the military. He's giving commanders the ability to transfer those accused of committing sexual assault to other units. He's also bringing a military lawyer into the process.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Right.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Some of your colleagues and, one, we'll talk to in just a minute, Congresswoman Jackie Speier said these are just baby steps and are not nearly what needs to be done. Are you satisfied with what the government's done on this very serious problem?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Bob, I've been a military lawyer for over thirty years and the idea of taking the power away from the commander to regulate the unit and impose discipline and give it to a military lawyer is not the right move. You can't solve any problem in the military without commander involvement. The steps that we're taking in the military are unprecedented. I wish we had a system like this in South Carolina where every victim had a lawyer. The culture in the military needs to change. It's unacceptable. Women are going through way too much harassment. Our commanders need to be held more accountable not less. But these steps of improving how you report a sexual assault, providing a lawyer for the victim to make sure they feel they can go through the system, having systems outside the command reporting chain to report a sexual assault I think are corrective actions that need to be made. Taking this out of the military justice system I think is the wrong move.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Senator, we want to thank you for being with us this morning.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Thank you.

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