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tv   FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace  FOX  May 8, 2011 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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>> chris: i'm chris wallace, and this is "fox news sunday." the world's most wanted man is dead. we'll talk about the daring raid that got usama bin laden, and where the war on terror goes now. with the president's national security advisor tom donilon. then, almost ten years after 9/11, should the u.s. resume enhanced interrogation? is it time to pull out of afghanistan? and can we trust pakistan? we'll get answers from former vice president dick cheney. it's a "fox news sunday" exclusive. and we'll ask our sunday group how this week's dramatic
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events changed the 2012 presidential race. all right now on "fox news sunday." and hello again from fox news in washington. the daring raid that took out usama bin laden raises new questions about where we go now in war on terror. we'll talk with former vice president cheney in a few minutes. but first, president obama's national security advisor tom donilon. mr. donilon, welcome to "fox news sunday." >> chris, nice to be here. >> chris: let's start with that iconic photo of the situation room as the bin laden raid was going down. there you are in the middle of that tense scene. what was happening at that moment? were you watching aerial surveillance or were you also getting video from the commandos on the ground? >> a couple of things in response to that. first of all, i can't get into exactly what we were receiving technically. but we were able to monitor the operation in real-time. and receive briefings frommed
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a miller and leon panetta at the c.i.a. second, i'm not sure what we were monitoring at that very moment. but i have looked at the picture obviously, since then. and clearly, everybody was deeply concerned about the success of the mission and the safety of our operators. the president visited with the special forces operation yesterday at fort campbell and received a minute-by-minute briefing yesterday from the operators -- not from the brass, from the operators yesterday from every minute of the operation from the point they left afghanistan to the point they returned to afghanistan after the assault on the compound and the killing of usama bin laden. as i look at it now, though -- and you know i worked for three presidents -- my eyes go to the president who made this decision. we ask a lot of our presidents. this had been a project, the hunt for usama bin laden that had gone across two administrations. indeed, many of the same people who worked on this
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under the bush administration worked with me today on this project. it looked at the president and a week ago thursday the president received his last briefing on this. the options were put on the table. as you can predict, there were disagreements and divided counsel. at the end of the day, we ask the president to make the decision. the president stands up in the situation room, and walk i across the rose garden and makes that decision. that's why i focus because he had obviously weighed this through a rigorous process. the decision was on his shoulders. >> chris: let's go kind of in a quicker fashion through some of the issues that have come up since then. the navy seals have information in the compound, computers, hard drives, dvds. does it take actionable intelligence, hard leads on either al-qaeda operations or personnel? >> still looking at it at this point. the size is quite notable. the largest cache of intelligence information
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gotten from a senior terrorist that we know of. secondly, to give you a sense of the size,atitis size of a small college library. it will need to be translate and assessed and reviewed. we're in the process of doing that. we have released some evidence today. the point to a very important point -- i may want to get to other issues, but it's important for the viewers to know, though. the significance of the raid and the assault last sunday, usama bin laden was not just a symbolic leader of al-qaeda. in fact, he had operational and strategic roles he was playing. that's clear in the information we have been able to seek to date. >> chris: you talk about the information, has anyone been caught? has any operation been stopped because of the information you picked up? >> i don't want to comment on that at this point. >> chris: the administration released video this weekend of bin laden watching himself on television. and apparently dyeing his beard during some of his appearances. what do you think that shows?
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>> think it shows attention to his own image and attention to the propaganda aspects of al-qaeda operation. i think that's what it shows. >> chris: since the raid, the c.i.a. director leon panetta and former counterterrorism chief jose rodriguez both say enhanced interrogation, including waterboarding, provided some of the information that led to that raid on the bin laden compound. are they right? >> well, i can answer it this way: the national security advisor am not going to comment on specific piece of intelligence from specific sources. i can tell you this, and it's important i think, an operation like this is a result of hundreds of pieces of information and intelligence over time. it can represent to you no single piece of intelligence led to the result that we saw -- >> chris: i understand that, sir. but what i'm asking you is any of the information, any of the fruits of enhanced interrogation was that part of the jigsaw puzzle? >> it doesn't really work that way. it works in terms of a whole
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mosaic of everything put together. we got information from detainees, from human sources from technical sources, from other leads on services that all come together. i want to say this, this is very important. this was the work of intelligence professionals, as i said, over multiple administrations. it was a real success. and what it shows i think to the world -- and i monitor obviously the reaction of these kind of things around the world, right? the message that the world is hearing is one of perseverance, dedication, determination, the united states does what it says it will do, even if it's across a couple of presidencies and more importantly we have the capability to do so. and this being a national achievement, the first person that the president called when he found out, when he was informed by me, that our forces were safely back in afghanistan was president bush. >> chris: we'll stipulate -- we'll all stipulate that bin laden was a monster. but why is shooting an unarmed
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man in the face legal and proper while enhanced interrogation including waterboarding of a detainee under very strict controls and limits, why is that over the line? >> well, let me talk first about the first half of the statement you made. again, the president met with the operators yesterday in fort campbell, kentucky. here are the facts. we are at war with al-qaeda. usama bin laden is the commander, and the only leader of al-qaeda in his 22-year history. this was his residence and operational compound. our forces entered that compound and were fired upon. pitch black. it's an organization that uses i.e.d.s and suicide vests and boobytraps and all manner of other destructive capabilities. >> chris: let me just make my point. i'm not asking you why it was okay to shoot usama bin laden.
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i fully understand the threat. i'm not secondguessing the seals. what i am second guessing is if that is okay, why can't you do waterboarding or enhanced interrogation of khalid sheikh mohammed, who was just as bad an operator as usama bin laden? >> because, our judgment is that it's not consistent with our values, not consistent and not necessary in terms of getting the kind of intelligence we need. >> chris: but shooting bin laden in the head is consistent with our values? >> we are at war with usama bin laden. >> chris: we're at war with khalid sheikh mohammed. >> it was a military operation, right? it was absolutely appropriate for the seals to take the action, force it to take the action they took in this military operation. >> chris: but why is it inappropriate to get information from khalid sheikh mohammed? >> i didn't say it was inappropriate to get information from khalid sheikh mohammed. >> chris: you said it was against our values. >> i think the technique there has been a policy debate and the administration made our views known on that. >> chris: let me ask you about one aspect of this and we'll move on. the obama justtition
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department -- obama justice department reopened investigation of half dozen people who were involved after 9/11. this has been a closed investigation. it was reopened by your justice department on the issue of whether or not they were using undue force. we talked earlier with vice president cheney who says that investigation is an outrage. question: with interrogation, and you certainly have agreed, however it came. with interrogation such a key part of this raid, why not end that investigation? >> well, what i said was the interrogation is one part of a mosaic of hundreds of pieces of information over time that builds an intelligence case. it's not just the c.i.a., it was multiple agencies which is another important aspect we don't have time to get into, the teamwork in the intelligence community. >> chris: but what about the investigation? >> i'll get to it now. that is not something i can comment on that. is an issue for attorney
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general and national security advisor. not law enforcement officer. >> chris: do you think the people who protect the country, the c.i.a. officers continueed investigation -- this has been going on for more than two years. a year ago eric holder said it's about over and it's still going on. do you think that's appropriate? >> i work as closely with the intelligence community as anybody in the white house, as you know. i have the highest regard for the intelligence professionals. they have -- we have seen in the last week, they have one of the really great achievements in the history of intelligence. so i have the highest regard. i am quite familiar with the tenacity and the skill in which the case was put together in this specific case, i can't comment on it. i'm not a law enforcement official. >> chris: we're running out of time. i want to ask you about three different countries. ask for quick answers. they may be longerren than they should be. obama administration is making demands of pakistan. you're asking for the name of top intelligence operatives to
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check whether or not they were helping bin laden. you want access to bin laden's wife who was shot in the raid. you want the tail section of the blackhawk helicopter returned. question: have they agreed to any of those requests? is the president prepared to cut off aid, billions of dollars in aid to the pakistanis if stonewall? >> they also want access to any other information they gather at the compound. as we discussed earlier in the conversation, that's a treasure trove of intelligence, and we have made those requests. the discussions are ongoing, as we sit here today. it is important, by the way, for the pakistanis to investigate what happened here. we don't have evidence at this point that the political military intelligence leadership of pakistan knew about the bin laden operation and about it in pakistan. but the issue is front and center in pakistan right now. it does need to be investigated. one last point on pakistan, you need to look at this relationship in its totality, and in terms of our stra
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teegic interest. as national security advisor it's my job to pursue our interest. we have had our problems with pakistan but we have also had tremendous amount of partnership and cooperation with them in the effort against terrorism, including al-qaeda. >> chris: afghanistan. the president plans to begin drawdown of u.s. forces in afghanistan in july, given that there are now according to reports fewer than hundred members of al-qaeda in afghanistan. given the fact that you have had more threats, more attacks or attempted attacks on the u.s. homeland from yemen in the last two years than afghanistan, does it make sense to keep 100,000 troops on the ground in afghanistan in a long-term counterinsurgency operation? >> a couple of points. the principal goal of the effort in south asia, including afghanistan is strategic defeat of al-qaeda. absolutely. we took a big step toward that on sunday night. first point. the second point, we also have as a goal not to have afghanistan become or again a
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safe haven or a place where an organization like al-qaeda could have the operational space to plan against us. we are making progress, chris, on both of those goals and we made a lot of progress on goal number one on sunday night. with respect to the drawdown pace and numbers that will be decided on decisions going forward. with respect to the al-qaeda in the arabian peninsula in yemen, when the president came in office he decided to intensify efforts against al-qaeda, including globally. we intensified the effort in south asia, as you know and have had a tremendous amount of success on pressuring the organization. we have efforts globally as well against places like aqap. >> chris: we have a few minutes left. libya, where the war between gaddafi and the rebels seems now to be a stalemate. an administration official recently defended the president's decision to turn over the lead of the operation to nato. here was the comment. obama may be moving toward something resembling a doctrine. one of the advisors described
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the president's actions in libya as leading from behind. question: can you honestly say that the idea of leading from behind is working? >> i don't know who that advisor was. the advisor has not been in meetings with the president on foreign policy, that i know, that it would have been reflected. i'm in all the meetings on foreign policy. on libya, we acted militarily in an emergency humanitarian situation to protect thousands of civilians in a town called benghazi. we have succeeded in doing that. we have established in that case after our lead putting the coalition together, including arab partners. we provide base support and it's a perfectly good division of labor. >> chris: perfectly good division of labor even though gaddafi is still in power and we have a stalemate? >> gaddafi is in power today. we have done the following, though. we have protected civilians under threat in benghazi and other towns in eastern libya and organized the international community to put
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pressure on him. time will not be on gaddafi's side, chris. >> chris: mr. donilon, we have to leave it there. thank you for coming in. >> thank you for having me. a pleasure. >> chris: please come back, sir. >> i will. >> chris: up next, our exclusive interview with former vice president dick cheney on the death of bin laden, role of enhancement interrogation and the way forward in pakistan and afghanistan. ♪ [ male announcer how could a luminous protein in jellyfish, impact life expectancy in the u.s.,
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>> chris: from the moment this country was hit on 9/11, dick cheney became the point match in the war on terror. when usama bin laden finally met justice this week, we wanted to know what he thought. i sat down earlier with the former vice president at his home to discuss where the war on terror goes now. mr. vice president, welcome back to "fox news sunday." >> good to see you again, chris. >> chris: over the last two years, no one has been more critical of president obama's conduct of the war on terror than you have. at one point you said that he was raising the risk of another attack. how much credit do you give him for taking does it change your mind about the way he has been fighting this war? >> well, i think you've got to give him a lot of credit for making the decision to have the seal team six conduct the raid that got bin laden. there is no question that was his responsibility. i think he handmed it well. i give -- handled it well, i give him high marks for making that decision.
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i still am concerned about the fact that i think a lot of the techniques that we had used to keep the country safe for more than seven years are no longer available. that they've been sort of taken off the table, if you will. when the president first came in to office he moved to close guantanamo and he has had to give up on that now. he also suspended the enhanced interrogation program. and substituted provisions of the u.s. army manual for that purpose. so, it's not clear to me today if we still have an interrogation program that we can put somebody through. should we capture a high-value detainee that had crucial information. >> chris: i am going to get to enhanced interrogation in detail in a moment but i want to ask more of a an overview of war on terror. president obama tripled the number of troops we have in afghanistan from what it was when you guys left office. he has more than tripled the number of drone attacks in pakistan.
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when you left office, one could argue we were losing in afghanistan. today, one could argue we're winning there. >> i certainly hope we're winning there. i think it's very important for us. to do whatever we need to do to be successful. i'd give him high marks for the drone program. it's one we started and it worked very well. he has done good well with it as well, too -- he has done good work with it, as well, too. i am concerned since we've got bin laden there will be a rush to get out of afghanistan, pack up troops and say the task is done and we can leave. i'm not sure that's wise at all. >> chris: one more question around the raid. the president decided not to release a photo of bin laden after he had been killed. he said that we don't take out the trophy, we don't spike the football. what would you have done? >> well, it's his call to make. i didn't really have strong feelings about it one way or the other.
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we did, of course, release the photographs of saddam hussein's sons. we thought it was important to drive home the point to the iraqi people they were dead. in this particular case, they decided they didn't need to do that. i wasn't part of that decision, but i can't quarrel with it. >> chris: after looking at all the information, for the last week, since the take-out of bin laden. and i'm sure talking to some of your friends in the intelligence community, how big a role did enhanced interrogation play in all of the information that led up to the identification of that compound? >> well, i think we'll know more in the days ahead. a whole range of issues with respect to the bin laden operation. but as best i can tell from the people i talk with and have worked with, we talk about jose rodriguez who ran the insurgency, the counterterrorism program.
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michael mukasey, the attorney general. leon panetta all have said one way or the other the enhanced interrogation program played a role. that is to say some of the early leads came out of that program. my guess is that is probably the case that it contributed. just as did a number of other factors. >> chris: which raises the question, if we were to now capture another new high value target, which is certainly more likely given this apparent trove of information, that they recovered in bin laden's compound, should the president reinstate enhanced interrogation including waterboarding? >> well, i certainly would advocate it. i'd be a strong supporter of it. we went to a lot of trouble to find out what we could do, how far we could go, what was legal and so forth. out of that emerged what we called enhanced interrogation. it worked. it provided some absolutely vital pieces of intelligence. there is a study that was done by the c.i.a. in the national
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archives, some of it has been declassified now, that shows that enhanced interrogation of khalid sheikh mohammed provide a vast treasure trove if you will of intelligence. it was a good program. it was a legal program. it was not torture. i would strongly recommend we continue it. >> chris: now you say it's not torture. even waterboarding? because leon panetta has said waterboarding is torture. >> i disagree. the lawyers disagreed when we asked them for their opinion. and where we should draw the line in terms of what we could and couldn't do. waterboarding and all of the other techniques that were used are techniques that we use training our own people. this is stuff that we've done for years with own military personnel. to suggest that it's torture i just think is wrong. >> chris: so you would put it back on the table if you were the president and they got another new high-value target? >> if it were my call, i'd have the program ready to go if we captured a detainee who
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has vital information about next attack or new development. i think the program provides us with the capacity to collect the intelligence. again, that program together with our terrorist surveillance program, those two things i think are the most important steps we took that kept us safe for seven years. >> chris: as you know, the obama justice department reopened an investigation of half dozen c.i.a. officers for whether or not they used undue force in interrogation after 9/11. this is an investigation that had been closed in 2007 during the bush administration. now, last june, attorney general holder said that this investigation was close to its end. it's still going on. >> correct. it's unfortunate. these men deserve to be decorated. they don't deserve to be prosecuted. and the fact of the matter is, there was a complete investigation done. it was done by a career attorney in the justice department. concluded that nobody had violated the law, and the
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matter was closed. the obama people came in, holder reopened it and the investigation, i understand, is still underway today. these are our government employees. they did nothing wrong. as best as any of us knows. it was, in fact, matter they followed the policy set by the president of the united states. left the decisions and left the policy. now we're in a situation where the obama administration won't abide by the findings of the career lawyer who checked it out originally in the first place, but they have kept it open and refused to close it. >> chris: so you are saying. >> i'm saying -- >> chris: close it now? >> i'm saying it's an outrage that we would go after the people who deserve the credit for keeping us safe for seven-and-a-half years. and that these men, all devoted, capable officials shouldn't have to look over their shoulder and worry if they follow the orders of this president to carry out this
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interrogation program at some point down the road when there is a change in policy they can expect to be prosecuted. >> chris: is it conceivable to you that no one in the pakistani government knew that bin laden was in that compound, in that very sensitive area 30-miles from the capital? what should doe about pakistan going forward? >> i don't know what they knew there are a lot of suspicions at this point. the fact of the matter is we have had a good relationship with pakistan over the years. although sometimes there have been conflicts. this is clearly one where there are questions that will be asked. >> chris: do you have questions? >> i have questions. i'd like to know more about it. but i also think it's important for to us remember we have a broad range of issues and we work with pakistan together. i can remember going to pakistan in the 1980s when i was on the intel committee. we were running a covert action program to support the
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afghan against soviet and doing it with the afghan president and we were admitted together in the program that was very successful and it worked. we have lat of interest in that part of the world. we have an interest obviously in india and pakistan together and the potential that may be represented in terms of the possible conflict. we had a.q.con, for example, operated in afghanistan. ran black market to provide nuclear technology to the libyans. so we have a lot of interest that we need to be able to work with the government of pakistan. and we need to make it clear, obviously, that we don't appreciate it, if in fact as a matter of policy they were providing safe harbor or sanctuary for bin laden. in the end, we got him. that's what counts. going forward, we need to have a clear understanding that we don't appreciate it. >> chris: you mentioned earlier afghanistan and that you hoped there wasn't going to be a rush for the exit now that bin laden is dead.
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but does nation-building there still make sense when there are more al-qaeda members in pakistan, when you could certainly argue there is more of a threat coming from yemen? do we still need tens of thousands of troops in afghanistan? or could we do what we need to do to protect the u.s. homeland with just small units of special forces? >> it's entirely possible. we could change some aspect of our policy. i'm not -- today, i don't have enough familiarity with the specific details of what is being considered. i think all of that is likely to be reviewed and that's fine. what i don't want to see happen is what happened again in 1980s. after we solved the soviet problem, everybody left afghanistan and we ended up ultimately, the taliban took control, usama bin laden showed up, it became a safe harbor. they trained 20,000-some terrorists to launch an attack against the united states. if we turn and walk away from pakistan or afghanistan, or that part of the world
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generally, i'm fearful that we're headed for trouble down the road. we have a vested interest in what is going on in that part of the world. we need to tend to that interest and safeguard our strategic capabilities there. i think we need to maintain relationships, working relationships with pakistan, afghanistan and the rest of them. i don't think we need to run for the exits. >> chris: in libya, the president has turned over command to nato. one of his advisors says that the policy and even says it might be the obama doctrine is to lead from behind. i'm sure you read this. i see the cheney smile there. what do you think of the president's libya policy? >> i've been confused by it. i think most people have been. it's not clear exactly what the policy is. the idea that you can turn something that important over to nato and have nato deal with libya and pursue a lot of interests there doesn't work very well.
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frankly, nato only function effectively when the united states is involved to lead nato. and i think it's unfortunate that we haven't been more forth right and more forceful in terms of our approach. >> chris: when you say forceful, would you tange out gaddafi or arm the rebel -- take out gaddafi or arm the rebels? how far would you go? >> if you make a decision to use military force to support the insurgents against gaddafi and that you want gaddafi gone, it's not enough to simply sit on the sidelines and say get rid of gaddafi. what are you going to do about it? how are you going to achieve it? are you prepared to use the resources of the united states to make that happen? it looks as though, policy and the administration has been, is to hope for gaddafi's departure, not be prepared enough to make sure it happens. >> chris: would you be prepared to do enough to make sure it happens? >> i'll leave that to them. i think gaddafi -- i think the world would be better off
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without him. it's not clear to me that this administration is up to the task. snore -- >> chris: finally, how are you doing? how is your health? >> it's going pretty well. i had a rough patch there for a while last year. but i have undergone major surgery last summer. i've been blessed with wonders of modern medical technology and i'm getting ready to go fishing at the end of this month. working on a book. spending a lot of time with family. i haven't got many complaints, chris. >> chris: you know, i notice you have this pump. you have a battery permanently attached it to. it wonder about going fishing. i take it you don't electrocute yourself. is there anything you can or can't do that you used to be able to do? >> they don't like to have you switch with it. it is battery powered and a pump that supplements the action of your heart and
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restores the normal blood flow to your body. that is crucial. i was in-stage heart failure when i went to the hospital. they fixed it. i am a great believer in the technology. you do have to be sensitive to it. you have a lot of gear you always have to have with you and you have to be prepared to have your batteries charged. you get used to it. easy to handle. >> chris: finally in this regard, are you considering a heart transplant or have you ruled that out? >> i haven't decided, chris. >> chris: do you have any. >> i haven't decided yet. i'm not prepared to make any medical announcements today. >> it sounds like me asking you a political question. well, we are so happy to see that you are in such good shape. i must say, because there was a time when you looked awfully gaunt. dick cheney is back. a little lighter but in fighting trim. >> i needed to get lighter, too. >> chris: thank you, sir. always a pleasure and honor to talk to you. >> thank you, chris.
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>> chris: and again, our thanks to the former vice president. up next, our sunday panel on president obama's big victory in the war on terror. and whether he has turned a corner as commander in chief. host: does the buck stop here? sfx: buck's blustery exhale. host: could switching to geico 15% or more on car insurance? host: does it take two to tango? ♪
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bottom line is our strategy is working and there is no greater evidence of that, than justice finally being delivered to usama bin laden.
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>> chris: president obama addressing troops at fort campbell, kentucky, friday and making it clear the war on terror goes on. it's time now for our sunday group. bill kristol of "the weekly standard." mara liasson of national public radio. paul gigot of the "wall street journal." and fox news political analyst juan williams. bill, how does bin laden's death change the war on terror? does it alter our mission in afghanistan? should we rethink how we go about protecting the u.s. homeland? >> it's a victory in the war on terror. it doesn't change the war, it doesn't change the challenge we face, which is both to obviously stop terrorist attacks and defeat terrorist groups and persuade states that might want to sponsor terrorist group not to do so and ultimately change the situation in the middle east that made bin laden possible. can't go in the rest of the 21st century with a bunch of illegitimate dictatorship, fostering extremism, nuclear proliferation and terrorism.
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the broader struggle has to continue. this was a big victory in a long war. >> chris: mara, i want to pick up on that. this happens in the course of the arab spring. when people in the streets peacefully protecting are accomplishing a lot more than bin laden and his thugs ever did with bombs. in that sense, does the bin laden take-down represent a kind of turning point for the whole issue of islam jihaddism? >> it does. turning point already happened. bin laden was on the past end of the turning point. he wasn't the future, he was the past. i think if there is any silver lining in getting him ten years later it's that the arab spring happened. and it was such a complete repudiation of usama bin laden and bin ladennism, i think it's pretty fitting that it happened. i think it's also part of the white house message that bin ladennism is in the past. and the arab spring proved that. >> chris: paul? >> it shakes up the war in a
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fundamental way, too, in pakistan. because this gives us an opening to work with pakistan to say look, we can make the cross border raids, and if you're not going to cooperate with omar and you know where he is -- and all of our intelligence people believe they know where he is. if you don't cooperate going after the khani network based in afghanistan, crosses the border, this can happen again. the pakistanis have had an embarrassment, frankly there is a chance here where we could really use this to advance our ability to really do a lot more and a lot better in afghanistan. >> chris: yeah, but, you know, juan, it was interesting, one of the few areas that both tom donilon, the president national security advisor and dick cheney agreed on, yeah, we're unhappy with pakistan, but there are real sharp limits to how far we want to push them because we have a range of relations and interests there. and, you know, we don't want to push them too far and alienate them. >> the key here is obviously they are still a nuclear
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state. secondly, they are under tremendous pressure from the terrorist forces within the borders, so to that extent we want to stabilize them because that's in our national interest, just on a basic level. speaker of the house boehner said that this week, for all the people who are saying run away from pakistan, punish them for what was obviously a security lapse of incredible magnitude, we have to look forward. in terms of making sure that we are able to control what comes in terms of the next step for pakistan. >> chris: now, i thought it was interesting, dick cheney's line. "we don't appreciate it." that was the big statement he wanted to make to pakistan. bill, what does the bin laden raid mean for president obama and for the public perception of him as the commander-in-chief? >> it was a success. if you are the president of the united states and you order a raid and it succeeds, you get credit as you should. it will help him. you know, i'm not sure how much. it will depend on how he follows up on this. if it turns out to open the
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door to go after other al-qaeda information and he gets information and aggressively pursues that. it sounds like we came close to get al-awlaki in yemen on thursday. it would have been an even better week if we got both of them. if he got good information and weakens al-qaeda elsewhere in afghanistan and pakistan and also in yemen and other places, if he pursuing aggressive foreign policy across the board, which he has a chance to do now, if he doesn't use it as an excuse to step back as some people are worried he might do in afghanistan, i think this could be very good moment for him. but only if he takes the lesson of the raid. the lesson of the raid is being aggressive and going after the bad guys works. >> chris: mara, you could envision a situation where barack obama runs for re-election in 2012 and it's almost a flip of what a normal democratic candidate does, where he is strong on national security, strong on protecting the country and the vulnerability is the economy. >> i think the vulnerability is the economy period. it just is. economy will be the number one issue in 2012. this really helps him, though. he is the president that got
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usama bin laden. that is never going to go away. even if he doesn't get any other terrorist figures and i think they will try, and this, even though he didn't get a huge bump, i don't think huge bumps are part of the political scene right now. i think it's his attributes and things that people care about making a choice for president, strong leadership, divisive. that's where he was on shaky ground before. that's the biggest improvement he got from this. >> chris: paul, i know you want to weigh in on this and i want to ask you another question. you can take your time and answer questions. >> are there rules here? >> chris: you are the guest. you can do whatever you want. >> right. >> chris: what do you make of the renewed argument over enhanced interrogation which we saw engaged in the first half of this show? what about the argument to the degree that obama's policies are working, it's because willingly or unwillingly he has ended up pursuing or enhancing the bush policies? >> that is right. fascinating big picture here to the degree the obama policies inherited and even expanded and built on what
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bush did. the architecture here of the war on terror, whether it by permanent detentions or almost permanent detentions. guantanamo, secret rules for state secrets. >> chris: drones. >> drones. those things -- >> chris: surge in afghanistan. >> he has taken those and inherited them. much like eisenhower took truman's cold war architecture built on it and said this is now permanent part of american policy, i think obama has done that with the bush anti-terror architecture. it has worked. enhanced interrogations is part of that. that is the one area where he differed from bush substantially and yet here we have evidence that his biggest success was built on that. >> we don't have any evidence. >> yes, we do. >> listen, this to me, this is so petty that somehow now republicans are trying to say we must be sure to credit president bush. president bush deserves credit for what he did. he kept the country safe after 9/11 and we did not have a subsequent attack.
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to somehow say it's because we were engage in enhanced interrogation and that led and very uncertain path that it leads directly to the murder of usama bin laden, it seems to me petty and it seems to me to an attempt tody min --dy min fish president obama -- [ overtalk let me finish the point. if we got some information from torture, we heard this from tom donilon it is not our value to pull out people's teeth and eyeballs and secondly we can get the information in other ways. >> chris: you made that point. bill? >> something that is not petty. eric holder's justice department for two years as cheney pointed out has been investigating and claiming, planning to prosecute c.i.a. -- investigating them they have lawyers, underthreat. it's outrage. int's not just politically, if barack obama tomorrow says i ordered the attorney general
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to stop the investigation, what is past is past. let's move forward as a united nation, a nation united, it would be well-received by everyone. >> chris: okay. we have to take a break here, but up next, mixed signals on the economy. and the g.o.p. seems to waiver on overhauling medicare. our panel tackles both when we come right back. searching for.. the one place that makes it easy to buy a new laptop. ♪ or get one fixed. ♪ with highly trained tech experts, staples makes trouble-shooting and repairing technology just the way you want it -- easy. easy to buy. easy to fix. easy to save. staples. that was easy. ♪
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they're always going to be some ups and downs like these a we come out of a recession. and there will undoubtedly be more challenges ahead. but the fact is that we are still making progress. >> we had a 1.8% growth rate the first quarter, which is beyond tepid. and so clearly we're just sort of bumping along here. >> chris: well, president obama and senate republican leader mitch mcconnell with different takes on where the economy is headed.
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we're back now with the panel. some mixed numbers on the economy this week. let's take a look at them. unemployment rose to 9%. the private sector added 268,000 jobs. that is the third straight month of gains over 230,000 there were sharp drops this week in the price of crude oil and other commodities. paul, where is this recovery? >> it's a minimum recovery, sort of mediocre, lackluster. it's there. there is no question. private sector finally creating new jobs. that is good. making up for the fact that the government is losing jobs, which i argue is a good thing that the government sector has been bloated. but this administration has been thinking, you know what? we're going to run as ronald reagan did in 1984 with a big booming recovery, expansion out of the recession. i don't think they are going to get that recovery. it's sort of bouncing along. the key figure that i watch is what are wages doing, what are average earnings doing? it's only increased by 1.9% over the last year. those gains, even those gains have been swamped by increasing food and gasoline prices.
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so that is why you get a sense from the public that they don't feel le these are boom times. so we have an expansion, it will increase a little in the rest of the year but right now it's just kind of blah. >> chris:ly say this, and the meeting actually -- i will say this, and paul gigot's newspaper, "wall street journal," owned by our parent company news corps, because i'm that kind of a guy. job creation this year so far has been stronger than government economists have predicted. no you get private forecasters who are saying that the unemployment could be below 8% by -- take a date at random -- election date 2012. if it's the low side of 8%, is that strong enough to be a plus for a president running for re-election? >> i still think it's optimistic, but any decrease is good. you have want to see trajectory headed in the right direction if you are president obama's re-election team. but there are a couple of things to keep in mind here. what we saw in terms of the bump in the latest jobs figure, the latest job figures
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that came from the private sectors, the biggest increase in private sector employment since 2006. that is a tremendous thing. added now a month of consistent job growth as you just heard from paul gigot. the other part we have to factor in here is a lot of people now are thinking they are going to get back in the job market. that's why we saw the unemployment rate bump up as we saw more jobs being created. the other side of this, though, is you have out there the possibility of some kind of deal working toward budget and debt ceilings coming. as you have those deals put in place, i think wall street will feel better about it. wall street has been doing fine. the big executives, your buddies are getting all the big raises. >> you don't know any of these guys, juan? >> they are chris wallace's. they take their pound of flesh out of the american economy so maybe they are starting to pay something back by hiring people. >> chris: would you defend me, please, bill? >> no.
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no. i will say this. i think we should all put aside the analogy of reagan in 1984. it won't be 1984 or 7% growth. the left should abandon the dream will -- that obama's reex-will be like reagan. conservatives should put aside that it will be carter in 1980. total collapse in foreign policy and failure of leadership and economy in horrible, horrible shape. it will probably be neither nor both. it will be in between and close, tough election. it puts burden on the republicans to have a coherent critique in foreign policy and economic policy of the president. it may be the economy falls apart. i hope it doesn't, but it could happen later this year. all kind of things could happen. but the odds are that republicans are going to have to win this election november 2012. i don't think it will be given to them on a silver platter. >> chris: mara, let me pick up on something that juan touched on; that is, negotiations are going on, have begun now between the white house and particularly house republicans about what
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to do about the debt limit, what to do about the budget. it was very interesting. there are conflicting reports about whether or not house republicans just passed the paul ryan budget are beginning to waiver on one of the centerpieces of his plan, which is an idea of a major overhaul of medicare and turning it in to a voucher system. where are the republicans on this? >> well, they passed that plan with almost, i think only four republicans didn't vote for it. so that is their plan. i think what they waived on is whether or not it should be part of these debt ceiling negotiations that are going on right now led by president biden. medicare is off the table. in those short-term negotiations so are taxes. any kind of big tax reform. i think if you are a republican and you believe that you are going to get the senate in 2012, which is a widely held assumption in this town on both sides of the aisle, why should you come promize on -- compromise on taxes before you have a strong hand after the election and why would you allow medicare,
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the one thing that might stop you from getting the majority in 2012 to be part of the discussion? we have narrow debt ceiling negotiation, process reform and maybe spending cuts, but the big issue is reform and radical reform of medicare and tax reform are 2012 debate suggests. >> chris: but it seems to be it's more than that in terms of the republican waffle here, paul. dave camp, who is the head of the house ways and means committee, that is the committee that paul ryan is just offering a budget, which is nonbinding. it doesn't create anything. it just sort of sets some ideas out there. dave camp from the ways and means committee would write legislation to change medicare. he said i want no part of this now. >> he said look, we can't pass a stand-alone bill. we have can't pass a stand-alone bill and the reason is because the president won't sign it. he made it clear. senate won't pass it, they made that clear. the only way to do significant medicare and entitlement reform is a process where the senate and the house get
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together and reconciliation -- >> chris: that doesn't mean the repeal of healthcare. i got to say it seems to me like house republicans are running scared on their own plan. >> they already passed it. as mara said, think own it. it's their vote. it's not as if they say we didn't make that vote. they made the vote. but the question is you have to admit at some stage political reality, you can't pass it. what do you do? you have to say what can we get out of negotiations? >> chris: let me ask it a different way. are the house republican leaders that you talk to worried that that medicare thing will be an albatross and they will end up being. >> they are worried and they should be because medicare has been a third rail of american politics and they have to defend the plan. they came back from the recess, the members did and it held up pretty well but there is a crucial open-seat election in new york state going on later this year, in a couple of weeks i think. that is an important one they have to win. they should be worried, but they can't walk away from what they voted for.
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>> let me tell you, they are trying to walk away and aggressively so this is the sea change in this regard. the tea party folks who have been the dynamic force driving the republican party and driving negotiations, obviously to the mid-term election victories and driving the discussion about budget and cuts, no longer have that power because of what happened at town hall meetings, and now you see boehner, cantor and others reasserting themselveses in terms of let's make this, let's do government. that is good news for america. >> chris: all right. we have to leave it there. thank you, panel. see you next week. don't forget to check out panel plus where our group picks right up with the discussion on our website. we'll post the video before noon eastern time. we'll be right back with a program note.
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>> chris: now a quick program note. next week we'll sit down with congressman ron paul, who has been called the godfather of the tea party, as he explores another run for the white house. that's it for today. to my mom and all the other moms out there, happy mother's day. have a great week. we'll see you next "fox news sunday." captioned by closed captioning services, inc
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