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McCain on Iraq

Reported by Eleanor - September 19, 2004 -

Fox News Sunday (Sept. 19, 6:00 p.m.) interviewed John McCain about Iraq and the CBS memo.

This is a summary key points:
Wallace: The NY Times reported that U.S commanders will take control of the sanctuaries of the insurgents by the end of the year.
McCain: Yes, the sooner the better.
Wallace: Was it a serious mistake to allow safe havens inside the country?
McCain: The serious mistakes were: Not enough troops; allowing the looting; not securing the borders; saying we would take Fallujah and then pulling out. We must equip and train the Iraqi army. We can and must win. Failure has enormous consequences.
Wallace: It was another bloody week with 50 attacks a day. The Viet Nam analogy is the TET offensive. Could that be an attempt to defeat Bush or to play a role?
McCain: It's not about defeating Bush, but swaying the American public before the election, loving to see a repeat of the Madrid bombings.
Wallace: What about the July Intelligence estimate?
McCain: It's very serious. The situation is deteriorating. There's certain to be more casualties. It's for a noble cause. It's tough going between now and the election. We have the will and ability to prevail.
Wallace: (Shows Bush being upbeat about Iraq.) Is this straight talk? Is he leveling about how tough it is?
McCain: Perhaps not as straight as we would like. Not artillery or air strikes, but boots on the ground will get rid of the sanctuaries - the most difficult kind of fighting. We would like the president to be more clear.
Wallace: Could we de-classify intelligence and let people make up their own minds?
McCain: We should have hearings in the Armed Services Committee. Correct the mistakes we made - mistakes are made in every conflict - correct and prevail.
Wallace: What do we do now?
McCain: Take out the sanctuaries as quickly as possible. Enlarge Army and Marines. Keep casualties down. Reduce strain on Guard and Reserves.
Wallace: Kerry is talking of a secret plan to call out more Guard and Reserves after the election.
McCain: About 40% are Guard and Reserves. More of an over-all plan should be articulated by the president.
Wallace: How confident are you that Iraq will hold elections in January?
McCain: More straight talk. There won't be an election until we get rid of the insurgents' sanctuaries. Yes, we'll do it by January.
Wallace: What advice do you have for Dan Rather and CBS?
McCain: Get to the bottom of it quickly, and get it behind you. They can't stand the sustained publicity.
Wallace: Do you believe it's a fraud?
McCain: The country can't stand to refight the Viet Nam war - reopen old wounds. We need to close the wounds - can't erase deaths. The pundits have control.
Wallace: Did you tell Kerry not to make Viet Nam a big issue? Didn't Kerry open the door?
McCain: (Hesitates) It makes sense to let others talk about it. His service was honorable. We don't want to talk about every detail - every medal. Vets have made peace. It's unfair to veterans to reopen it.

The memos were rehashed for another ten minutes during the panel discussion.