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Sen. Lindsey Graham defended Barack Obama over the president's remark that America could "absorb " another terrorist attack at the Washington Ideas Forum.
"He's right. Intellectually, we can, we must. We've absorbed every
attack since Pearl Harbor.... That's a tough thing for the commander in
chief to say, but for those who want to spin it out and say he's
indifferent is not the case. "
The senator went on to chastised Obama for refusing to negotiate with Graham over detention and interrogation policies. Later though, he defended the administration's decision to stick to its strategy in Afghanistan.
But, he said, the administration can't say that it's "done everything within reason" to prevent another terrorist attack. Graham has urged the president to authorize enhanced interrogation techniques that are "within our values" but not published. Obama signed an executive order banning all techniques not in the Army Field Manual. He repeated his criticism of the administration's approach to counter-terrorism.
"The process of reading Miranda warnings to people who have tried to blow up an airplane or Times Square is not the right way to fight a war," Graham said.
Moderator Greta Van Susteren turned to Pakistan and Afghanistan, pressing Graham to explain what "winning the war" means. Graham acknowledged that "we're running out of time."
"Here's what I think winning would be: to have a country were the Taliban would not rule," he said, which is the same goal the administration has set. Graham said the "glue of Afghanistan" will be the Army that the U.S. and NATO forces are training.
The exchange with Graham got testy when the discussion turned to Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan's president.
"Is he corrupt?" Van Susteren asked.
"There is corruption...." Graham began to answer.
Van Susterin repeated her question and Graham clenched his jaw.
"I am not going to stand up here while people are being shot at and criticize the president of Afghanistan," he said.
Graham called the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan "imperfect" but said they were far preferable to the Taliban, and gave Obama credit for its stolid commitment to the war.
"This is hard as hell," Graham said. "You've got a partner in Afghanistan who double deals. You've got a president in Afghanistan who is uncertain. That's why I don't beat on him 20 hours a day."
"If you lose in Afghanistan, Pakistan is going to go to hell. If you lose in Afghanistan, it's not going to be long, in my view, before Pakistan is a failed state."
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