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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript

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SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-South Carolina/Armed Services Committee): I didn't-- I didn't go to Libya, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I'm sorry. I'll take that back.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I didn't go to Libya. I went to Afghanistan, yeah.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But let me just ask you this. You put out a pretty strong statement you and John McCain and Joe Lieberman yesterday--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --about what's happening in Syria after we saw these--


BOB SCHIEFFER: --horrendous pictures of-- of people being shot and killed and demonstrators. You said it's time for the administration to do more than it's doing. What-- what needs to be done here?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: I get the regional partners to tell the Assad has to go and put everything on the table now including military force because if we don't turn this dynamic around the Red Cross can't go into the Syria. It's wholesale slaughter now. And we're about to get Qaddafi going. I think we need to turn our attention strongly to Syria with the regional cooperation like we have in Libya.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, when you say it's time to think about military force. You're talking about sending in U.S. troops in-- in to Syria?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (overlapping): No-- no-- no do--

BOB SCHIEFFER: What are you talking about?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Put on the table with the regional partners, Turkey is being overrun by Syrian refugees to put on table at the United Nations in an international way aid to the Syrian people. Humanitarian disasters are bound, what we did in Libya to protect the people against a rogue regime. If it made sense to protect the Libyan people against Qaddafi, and it did because they were going to get slaughtered if we hadn't sent NATO in when he was on the outskirts of Benghazi. The question for the world is have we gotten to that point in Syria? And I think we may not be there yet but we're getting very close. So if you really care about protecting
the Syrian people from slaughter, now is the time to let Assad know that all options are the table.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And-- and I think you also called for expelling the Syrian ambassador from the United States.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: It has gotten to the point where Qaddafi's behavior and Assad's behavior are indistinguishable. The reason we went in to Libya is to protect the Libyan people from wholesale slaughter when they protested Qaddafi started killing them in the streets. He took his army, turned them on his own people. That's exactly what's happening in Syria. If
we could have a power change, a regime change in Syria that breaks Syria from Iran, the world would be a much better place but it's going to take regional and international cooperation to get there. But if you really care about the Syrian people, preventing them from being slaughtered,
you need to put on the table all options including a model like we have in Libya.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me turn now to Afghanistan which is why we invited here this morning.


BOB SCHIEFFER: So you're just back. You were there what? A couple of weeks, you do your reserve training.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: About-- about-- about, yeah, I was there as Senator Graham and Colonel Graham spent eight days. Two years ago we about lost Afghanistan. We didn't have enough troops. President Obama made the right decision to send thirty thousand surge forces in. We're now on offense. The enemy is under siege in the south. They're recruiting
twelve-year-old suicide bombers. The places we'd lost in the south we now have back. The-- the Afghan people and security forces are getting much bolder against the enemy. So I'm very encouraged that we're on offense. We've got a long way to go but this has turned around in the
last year pretty dramatic on the security front.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Are we going to be able to start bringing these troops home as President Obama said we would do? Can we do that on schedule?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yes, sir. I think this in the next few weeks, I look at Secretary Gates and General Petraeus has said for a modest withdrawal somewhere in the three-- three to five thousand range, reducing surge forces from thirty by three to five thousand. But if the Afghan security forces, Bob, keep getting better their army and police are better today than any
time I've seen, the training programs work much better. We could stay on track to reduce our forces by 2014. The goal is to transition to Afghan control. There are nine-- ninety-eight thousand U.S. forces in Afghanistan. If progress continues in Afghanistan, where there are no safe havens for the insurgents, virtually no safe havens, we could have a substantial number of
our troops at home with the Afghans in the lead if we'll stay with the program we have today.

The biggest threat to Afghanistan is no longer inside the country. It is Pakistan's safe havens.

BOB SCHIEFFER: And what about Pakistan? CIA Director Leon Panetta was there and he kind of read the riot act to the intelligence service there. What about this?

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah. Well, I think it's the biggest threat to our efforts in Afghanistan. The-- when we provide information to Pakistanis about IED factories, in Pakistan on their side of the border being used to kill our troops, they give information to the enemy and these places are, before we can get there the Pakistani army can get there to neutralize these
threats. The IED factories are disassembled. And, quite frankly, Bob, I'm tired of telling a South Carolina family, sorry about losing your son in Afghanistan, to an IED made in Pakistan and there's nothing we can do about it. So my message to the Pakistanis, you got to choose who you're with and the safe havens in Pakistan are the biggest threat to our progress in Afghanistan. I appreciate the drone attacks but we need benchmarks and measurements in
terms of future cooperation with Pakistan and Afghanistan. We need to start measuring our progress in both countries and we're on a collision course with Pakistan. If this doesn't change soon, I would urge the President to use more aggressive military force against safe havens in the Pakistan side of the border being used to kill our troops and undermine progress in Afghanistan. This cannot sustain itself.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator Graham, thank you so much.


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