Sen. Bob Graham (Fla.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is now a presidential candidate-and he sounds like it.
Last week, Graham said the terrorist attacks in Riyadh that killed at least 34 people, including seven Americans, would not have happened if President Bush had prosecuted the war on terrorism more aggressively.
“It could have been avoided if you had actually crushed the basic infrastructure of al Qaeda,” said Graham. “They would not have had the capability to launch such a sophisticated attack.”
“I think from the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, which was in early October of 2001, until about February or March of 2002, we were making good progress in dismantling the basic infrastructure of al Qaeda,” said Graham. “Then we started to redirect our attention to Iraq, and al Qaeda has regenerated.”
Aside from implying that the U.S. military cant walk and chew gum at the same time, Grahams statement also fatuously implied there was some kind of military or law enforcement action that might have preempted the Riyadh attack.
What did Graham have in mind-a preemptive invasion of Saudi Arabia?
HUMAN EVENTS Assistant Editor David Freddoso asked members of Congress if they agreed with Grahams unique analysis.
Sen. Bob Graham said yesterday that the administration hasnt done enough to “crush the basic infrastructure of al Qaeda.” Do you agree?
REP. MELISSA HART (R.-PA.): From what I heard, Bob Graham also blamed the attack on President Bush, is that correct?
Well, yes, basically-that he [Bush] hasnt done enough, and that were dilly-dallying in Iraq-
HART: I think that Bob Graham is wrong and over the line. And clearly running for President, but Im just not sure how being so destructive in his comments hes going to help his presidential campaign. Hes been serving here in the Congress the three years Ive been here, and weve done all kinds of things. Weve not only confined al Qaeda, weve been successful with capturing a lot of the key people. So hes somehow forgotten about that.
Citing the tragic attack in Saudi Arabia, Sen. Graham said yesterday that the administration hasnt done enough to “crush the basic infrastructure of al Qaeda.” Do you agree?
REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS-JONES (D.-OHIO.): Well, many of us believe that at the time we decided to go to war in Iraq, we had unfinished business with al Qaeda. I dont want to say necessarily that they didnt do enough to crush it, but I think that by going towards Iraq, we missed some opportunities to narrow in on al Qaeda, and that we may well have been distracted.
What, specifically, looking at what weve done on terrorism-what could Rumsfeld or Ashcroft have done to fight terrorists so that something like what happened in Saudi Arabia would be prevented?
JONES: Thats a speculation. I come from Cleveland Ohio, and we just had this incident at Case Western Reserve-
Yes. [A crazed gunman on campus.]
JONES: Well, there was no way you could anticipate what was going to happen, and I hope the response of the university wont be that were going to have an armed camp at the university. Just as Im hoping that our continued response to the war on terrorism will not be that we give up all of our civil rights, or that we invade or give people the opportunity to look at all of our personal information or search us.
Citing the attack in Saudi Arabia, Sen. Graham said that the administration hasnt done enough to “crush the basic infrastructure of al Qaeda. Do you agree?
REP. PATRICK KENNEDY (D.-R.I.): Sen. Graham is the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee. I think its a pretty serious allegation, but one that clearly couldnt have been made half-heartedly, or in a vacuum. I mean, when youre attacking the President of the United States on national security, youd better be pretty strong, sure of yourself, backed up with pretty good evidence. So I cant imagine-he wouldnt make a comment like that without a strong conviction that the administration has not done otherwise, too. But Im not on the Intelligence Committee, and I wouldnt pretend to know as much as Sen. Graham knows, so Im not going to step out on a limb like that. . . .
But as far as anything that could have helped prevent the Saudi Arabia attack-anything in your mind that you see is deficient?
KENNEDY: ‚?¶ Youre always going to have it held against you that whenever there is an attack you could have stopped it. But in deference to the administration, you dont know all the ones they do end up stopping.‚?¶I think Sen. Graham is privy to a lot more intelligence information as the ranking member than I am, and if he says he thinks-you dont make a charge like that as a United States senator and a member of that committee on the fly.
Citing the attack in Saudi Arabia, Sen. Graham remarked that the administration hasnt done enough to “crush the basic infrastructure of al Qaeda.” Do you agree?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D.-WASH.): Who is it that you write for?
HUMAN EVENTS, the National Conservative Weekly.
MCDERMOTT: Yeah. Im probably not the best one to comment on that.
But is there anything that you-looking at the war on terror by the administration-think that we should be doing or should have done militarily or in terms of law enforcement, that we should have done but havent done in fighting al Qaeda, that could have prevented the attack in Saudi Arabia?
MCDERMOTT: Well, I dont know what they did.
Well, they blew up a compound-
MCDERMOTT: No, no, no. I know that. Im saying, I dont know what the administration did.
Oh. Would you say that the Afghanistan campaign was a good use of resources to fight al Qaeda?
MCDERMOTT: Doesnt make any difference what I think now.
But you know, youre known for speaking your mind.
MCDERMOTT: Well, thats true.
Do you think the war on terrors been gone about all wrong, from the beginning?
MCDERMOTT: The President made a decision to go to war. Apparently he likes better to go to war than he does to do the follow up. So well see how it comes out.
Sen. Graham remarked basically that President Bush and the administration have not done enough to “crush the basic infrastructure of al Qaeda.”
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R.-ALA.): No, I dont agree with that. We would like to do it all at once-so would President Bush, so would everybody in the administration. But weve been dismantling al Qaeda, one by one, as the President said. Weve made great progress. That doesnt mean that theyre not dangerous, because there were thousands of those people trained. But the Presidents always said this fight would go on for years and years, and hes absolutely right.
Based on your service on the Intelligence Committee, is there anything specific that-even if youre not able to say what it is-is there anything specific, or is this just purely presidential politics?
SHELBY: Well, Ill leave that up to everybody else. But you know, Sen. Graham and I are friends. Hes running for President. And I can tell you this, that this administration has nothing to hide, and theyve got a great record to be proud of.
Citing the attack in Saudi Arabia, Sen. Graham remarked that the administration hasnt done enough to “crush the basic infrastructure of al Qaeda.” Do you agree with that assessment?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D.-N.Y.): Well, I know that theres very little substantiation to the administrations claims‚?¶Its tough to find a list of al Qaeda detainees or al Qaeda most wanted that weve actually gotten. On a certain level, it may be unreasonable to expect that there will never be any terrorist attacks. But its very difficult to quantify anything theyve done to make us safer.
Your senator, Bob Graham, said yesterday, citing the attack in Saudi Arabia, that the Bush administration hasnt done enough to “crush the basic infrastructure of al Qaeda.” Do you agree?
REP. ADAM PUTNAM (R.-FLA.): No. Sen. Graham is a thoughtful, bright, highly respected man, whose comments since he announced for President have become ever more liberal, ever more reckless, and ever more corrosive in our national fight against terror.