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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript


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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript


BLILTZER: Senator Barack Obama is joining us now. Senator Obama is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us on this -- on this horrible day. Give us your thoughts as you've been listening and watching what's going on from Amman, Jordan.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, obviously it's heartbreaking, you know. I want to extend sympathies to the Jordanian people, as well as the families that have been affected.

You know, I think it underscores a point that was just made earlier, and that is that it's very difficult for us to be able to prevent 100 percent these kinds of suicide bombings. We can do better than we're doing, both in this country and in countries like Jordan. But ultimately, our strategy has to involve working with these nations to get sound intelligence, to try to prevent, you know, cells from being able to execute these kinds of horrendous attacks. And we've got to do a better job of public diplomacy so that you're not seeing the kinds of recruitment of these suicide bombers that has become all too commonplace.

BLITZER: The hotels that were targeted, the Days Inn, the Radisson, the Grand Hyatt, the Hyatt hotels, correct me if I'm wrong, Senator. I think they're based in your home state of Chicago. The Pritzker family created that hotel chain. This hits home to a lot of people in Illinois and Chicago specifically

OBAMA: Absolutely. I -- you know, we're going to be calling up the Hyatt organization. Obviously, there may have been staff that were affected. Certainly, the economic loss, although not as significant in the big picture as the -- you know, the personal losses, is -- is still something that they're going to have to grapple with.

But long term, part of what we have to recognize is that we are vulnerable to these same kind of attacks here in the United States. And I hope one of the lessons that we're learning is that, unless we do a better job of intelligence, unless we're working, not only in terms of big military strategies and -- and tanks and airships, but human intelligence on the ground and working in cooperation with other countries, that we're going to continue to have enormous vulnerabilities to these kind of attacks.

BLITZER: Well, what lessons, Senator, pop off -- you know, come -- come to mind, the lessons that we should be learning in the United States, based on what has just happened today in Amman, Jordan?

OBAMA: Well, I think it's too early to tell. We are going to have to evaluate how this happened. But, look, we live in an open society. And you know, unless we're willing to endure bag -- baggage checks going into malls and supermarkets and movie theaters, there's going to be a certain level of vulnerability. What we have to do is to improve our human intelligence capacity.

And one of the concerns that I have had, at least, is that the revamping of our intelligence operations, the coordination between FBI, CIA, the reorganization within the CIA, how that works with Homeland Security -- all of that is a little opaque right now. We haven't seen as much aggressive, sharp movement within our own government as I would like to see happen.

BLITZER: Senator Obama, thanks very much for spending a few moments with us. Appreciate it.

OBAMA: Absolutely.


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