Blumenthal, Ayotte on Obama's national security team picks
Key senators on 'Fox News Sunday'
- Duration 11:28
- Date Jan 13, 2013
Key senators on 'Fox News Sunday'
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Obama has announced that a national security team he wants for his second term and bruising confirmation battles are shaping up over several -- Especially for a senator Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense.
Joining me an hour to two key members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Republican Kelly chaos and Democrat Richard Blumenthal and senators welcome back to Fox News -- Thank you thank you -- before we got to national security I wanna pick up very briefly on the conversation that we just found in the last segment about -- senator I got eleven -- rating.
From the NRA is senator Blumenthal you have -- -- rating from me and our right.
Which when you look at the ideas that Vice President Biden is talking about and that is gonna submit to the president on Tuesday.
I want to ask you both what you can support for instance senator -- can you support the idea of universal.
Background checks Chris let me just say I think I think it would be important that we have a thoughtful discussion about this.
We haven't talked didn't hear a lot of discussion this morning with your prior -- about also are mental health system.
My background before serving in the senate -- was a homicide prosecutor.
So I do come at -- from our perspective that taking away the rights of law abiding citizens is not gonna stop a deranged individual or or criminal.
That said should we look at improving our background check system I'm willing to listen to what proposals come forward on that.
But again I don't know that that wouldn't have stopped what happened in new town and I think we need to be very thoughtful.
And how we go forward with what happens and make sure that.
What -- is done actually is a solution to to the -- Senator Blumenthal you of course represented Newtown Connecticut the scene of that horrific school shooting would would the strength of the gun lobby which we demonstrated in the last segment.
What are the chances that the Biden plan or some of the big elements and it.
Can get through congress not only do I represent the state of Connecticut new -- Chris but I really live through that.
Very -- Painful grief in the weeks afterwards speaking with.
Families and with the new -- community.
And anyone who lived through that.
Period of time has been changed and I think the nation has been transformed in the debate and the discussion and conversation we're having about.
Gun violence prevention now I think the nation is ready for more thorough background -- -- that we cover the 40% that.
Now are not covered I think the nation is ready for a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazine and most important Chris I think there's common ground here.
In the need for better enforcement of the existing laws let me give you one very very.
Important example we have no background checks now on purchases of ammunition.
It is against the law.
For a fugitive felon a deranged person someone seriously mentally.
Someone under a court order for -- -- -- to purchase ammunition.
And firearms but there are no background checks on -- of ammunition so someone can walk into -- Wal-Mart.
By a shopping cart full of ammunition.
Walk out pay no questions asked that's why I have proposed.
That we have background checks not only on firearms purchases but also ammunition and prohibit.
The Teflon tipped.
Bullets I think the bullets along with a firearms are what we need to focus on and my background also -- law enforcement.
All right you know I was attorney Jennifer what do I do wanna listening to -- wanna get to national security.
As I said you are both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee which will be holding -- hearings on Chuck Hagel as new Defense Secretary.
Let's look at some of the issues the critics have raised about a on Iran hagel voted against sanctions he says unilateral measures isolate -- He opposed naming the Revolutionary Guards as terrorist because he says President Bush might have -- that as cover for military attack on Israel.
Hagel said the US should talk to Hamas he opposed declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organization he also said this is the quote.
The Jewish lobby intimidates.
A lot of people up here senator I got.
How troubled are you by the -- nomination.
Chris let me say this I'm very troubled I think that -- hearings on this nomination.
Are -- -- be consequential.
I have not made up my mind but here's where we are you put up his prior positions.
It makes me wonder -- it reflects is -- why the president nominated senator hagel.
A one of things that troubles me that she didn't put up is also the reaction of Iran one of the greatest threats that we face is that Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons -- his prior.
Statements seemed to suggest that we could he thinks we can contain Iran well that's against 99.
Senators we recently voted in.
Richard Blumenthal is a great supporter of that.
That dot our policy cannot -- to -- to contain a nuclear armed Iran.
Iran this week kind of reacted favorably somewhat there were some statements that were favorable to his nomination.
In fact they said they were hopeful that -- his nomination they hope that we would change our policies.
What I want to make sure is that Iran is actually not hopeful but they're fearful.
As a result of our nominee from the secretary defense perspective because I think that will cause them to stop marching toward acquiring -- nuclear weapon.
Not hope that we'll change our policies they needed -- just -- to say you're leaning against his nomination at this point Chris I think it's fair to say that if you look at his prior positions.
He has a lot of questions to answer about this and -- and I deeply troubled by -- I guess I also wonder.
What message are we sending to Iran what message are we sending to Israel and I'm perplexed that the president has nominated him given the statements he made during his presidential -- That are a little simple question are you comfortable with -- fails positions on Iran and Israel.
I'm gonna wanna ask questions about those positions I'm not -- of them I am.
Not comfortable yet I want to ask him questions about those two issues but two points.
Have to be stressed number one.
Chuck Hagel is someone of stature he is a war hero he's a combat veteran he's a person of enormous.
Personal distinction in his record of public service in the senate but also.
In uniform and second.
You know there are.
Consequential issues that are equally important.
To ask about during this here for example the shift of focus to the Asian Pacific here are we gonna have.
Warfare capability as well as the air superiority.
Defend our strategy in that part of the world submarines the joint strike fighter tremendously important to our future I want to ask.
Senator hagel about his positions on those issues I think we have reached a point in this country unfortunately.
Positions are taken on nominees very.
Dramatic and staunch position before they have the opportunity to.
Give their -- position to make it clear you were not this is a democratic president naming his -- you are at this point not.
Prepared to say you support the -- nomination I think senator hagel will be approved -- I think the history of the nominee shows and I think.
His own qualifications.
Also demonstrate that he has the capacity but I want to know his positions.
On those issues and -- reserve judgment until I hear his response was.
I want to get.
To broaden this -- the bigger issue with all of the president's national security picks it seems to -- senator a -- Is he seems to have come down firmly on the side of pursuing a light footprint strategy in in his second term.
And then the wars were and limiting new interventions and relying more on drones and -- though.
You know special operations forces.
As well as multilateral action.
As you look at that you are you comfortable with that as -- foreign policy -- Well I'm concerned Chris about what this says.
And let's step by step back for a minute exit today on light footprint what happened in the consulate -- Ghazi.
The fact that security was not what it should have been there.
The fact that we you relied on local militias that there was a rise of activity by al-Qaeda inspired militias and the area and we didn't have.
The proper security there and then during that attack we didn't have the response within the seven hour period that we needed.
To obviously save lives but let's step back further from that what we seen as a pattern.
From the president on numerous occasions where none of us want to send men and women to war if we happen if we don't have to.
And obviously we want to bring them home as quickly as possible but example -- another example Iraq.
We we had he had the recommendations of his general -- Austin 152015181000.
Troops is a follow on.
And then it was pared down to 3000.
They couldn't negotiate -- status of forces agreement and I have al-Qaeda coming we have a cut al-Qaeda activity.
In -- in Iraq and as well as Iran playing a greater role we're seeing the same thing in Afghanistan right now.
The problem is is that the light footprint.
If you don't leave the proper follow on in Afghanistan and we've seen a pattern of where he wants to would -- during member during the fighting season during the election season.
When no military commander recommended it we're seeing the same thing now with a recent discussions with President Karzai.
And the worry is.
Is that but the light footprint approach can leave us in a situation where the Taliban comeback in power.
Where al-Qaeda is again given the launching pad to commit attacks against our country so I am concerned about the -- And and senator Blumenthal.
That generally speaking.
Light footprint last boots on the ground less intervention.
More drones small commando operations.
Very effective special operations force.
Is America's future in many parts of the world in fighting terrorism and the special operations.
And seals and drones can gather in terms of intelligence gathering.
As well -- effective fighting force can be tremendously.
Effective I think what we need to do.
Chris is defined the mission.
And that will in turn determine the size of the footprint for example in Afghanistan.
Fighting special operations as well as training.
Will require some footprints on the ground the question is how many.
And I think Kelly Ayotte is absolutely right to be focused on.
These issues by the way we work together on a very bipartisan way.
She and Senator McCain and senator Graham myself.
Senator Casey on Iran respect her for return on -- so as members of the Armed Service Committee.
We're gonna continue working together because there is no Republican or Democrat approach to national security RB.
We're gonna have to leave -- senator Blumenthal senator -- -- we want to thank you both thanks for coming in today it's always good talk with both of -- Thank you that's.