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Yeah and hello again from Fox News in Washington.
Well after the rules and fight over health care reform in the Senate returns this week.
-- outside of potential -- a vacancy on the Supreme Court and then arms control treaty with Russia.
Joining us from their home states -- two senate leaders Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.
An independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
Gentlemen let's start with the new opening on the Supreme Court with the retirement of a Justice Stevens.
Senator Alexander you'll issued a statement on Friday in which -- -- deaths.
It in truly extraordinary cases I reserve the prerogative to vote no on confirmation.
Or even to vote to deny an up or down vote.
Senator what kind of nominee would you filibuster.
It's premature to talk about that before we even have a nominee but that comes out of the gang of fourteen discussion we had a few years ago basically.
I was deeply offended by how the Democrats change the rules on President Bush's Supreme Court nominees and I said that the time.
That as long as the president nominated nominated well qualified people -- be impartial that they should have an up or down vote.
And that I would vote to confirm the -- still my view I voted for justice Sotomayor of the president.
Pick someone from the fringe.
Instead -- from the middle or -- pick someone who.
Will apply their feelings instead of applying the law.
Then that might be an extraordinary case.
When I can't vote for that.
But back in 2005 senator Alexander.
When the Democrats were in the minority and as you point out they were blocking bush judicial nominees.
You took a very different view let's put it on the screen.
I have sad I will never filibuster a president's judicial nominees senator Alexander let's check.
Well what's changed the -- is a body of precedents I said that then then I worked with a gang of fourteen.
I think senator Lieberman was a part of that.
To try to say that except in cases of judicial.
We're gonna allow up or down vote I still believe in that that's my view -- there was no even discussion of the filibuster of justice so my New York.
And I was one of the Republicans who voted to confirm -- Senator Lieberman.
What do you make.
Of talk of a possible filibuster at this stage and should the president nominate a moderate to avoid a partisan battle.
In the Senate.
Well purses is up to the president I mean this is one of the most significant rights and responsibilities that the president -- with his.
Election and this particular president Barack Obama it is a lawyer -- has been or professor.
He is very aware of the importance of the Supreme Court in our system of government so I think he's gonna.
Think long and hard about this and take good advantage of it because it may have one of the more lasting effects of anything he does in his presidency is we've -- from.
Justice Stevens who was nominated by president -- look if if recent history is any guide.
And let's take President Bush and you've been the Sotomayor nomination -- President Obama.
President Bush nominated 22 people Justice Roberts and just to salute to who.
Had records generally.
There were thought to be conservative but -- not shall we -- provocatively.
The same was probably true of Sotomayor justice Sotomayor and and I would expect.
To avoid the a conflict the threat of a filibuster.
Are real knockdown drag out battle -- on election year that President Obama may also want to.
Are nominated justice but who who has the kind of capability.
That that he will feel comfortable with.
But will not have a record -- on the quarter on a court or off.
That will provoke -- filibuster.
And this is a fascinating moment because it may be.
For all these reasons and acknowledging affect the Justice Stevens became the leader of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court that President Obama may nominated someone in fact.
-- who makes the court slightly less liberal.
At least for awhile.
Well let's let's talk and obviously we don't know what there is a conventional wisdom here in Washington and there are.
According to that conventional wisdom there are three front runners at this point let's put them up on the screen.
Solicitor general Alain -- Kagan and Circuit Court judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland.
As senator Lieberman.
And and I I understand it's the president's choice -- -- but please don't give that answer is there anyone on that list that you would immediately rule in or conversely that you might rule out.
No because frankly.
Don't know enough about any of them -- the only one that I believe have actually been personally is his solicitor general lynch is a very.
Bright and honorable person from what I could tell from the few meetings we've had but -- I don't -- her.
Background in terms of the opinion she holds and that's why we have a Judiciary Committee -- will have.
Hearing so it's it's too early to -- the nominees -- also encourage frankly by the mention.
By some people of the possibility.
That President Obama may choose someone who is not a sitting judge at this time you know the the remaining eight justices.
On the Supreme Court.
Are all have all come to the court from appellate.
Judgeships -- maybe we need.
Somebody who's that a law professor or a a lawyer practicing lawyer or or -- person in public office with the governor or senator.
Looking at that list of of Kagan -- and and Garland is there anybody you talk about.
Reserving the right to filibuster in extraordinary circumstances.
Is there anybody on that list.
Who would immediately be filibuster -- -- conversely anyone -- that -- that would sailed.
-- -- -- that's a great question but I'm not about to start picking.
Nominees I would reject before the president even makes one I think what the thing to look for is is the president -- to insist on this.
Unusual standard used as a senator and has talked about as the president to pick -- justice whose.
On his side -- on your side I mean that's exactly what -- Supreme Court justice is not supposed to be.
Not supposed to be somebody you can particularly depend on her B on your side and a controversial case you.
You wanna Supreme Court justice who who will be impartial that's the oath and whose.
Judge but you can't predict one reason I voted for justice Sotomayor was she explicitly rejected.
That feelings or empathy standard of the president.
At the other big story this week of course is the signing of the new nuclear arms treaty with Russia in Prague this week.
If you say you may vote against it depending on whether President Obama will modernize our nuclear arsenal but that.
The administration issued a nuclear posture review this week in which it explicitly said it does not intend to build new.
Nuclear warheads or to engage in underground testing.
Is the president gonna have to back off that strategy.
To win your vote for the trade.
But not just my vote I think -- this look let me say first about the start treaty.
That any time who we're working on something -- quote Cold War enemies Russia.
Cooperatively it's a good sign and anything we can do to reduce the number of nuclear warheads in the world.
Is a positive development but in my opinion.
As we reduce the number of nuclear warheads America has in a world that is still dangerous very dangerous and in which the threat of the spread of nuclear powers particularly Iran.
Grows every day.
We have to make darn sure that our nuclear warheads are.
Are capable are modern and -- -- a lot of them are decades old so.
I feel very strongly that I'm going to be I'm gonna be real hesitant to vote for -- -- unless we have a commitment from the administration that they're prepared to modernize.
Our nuclear stockpile I want to go one step further -- -- decisions have over this.
-- was some of my colleagues I don't believe that there will be 67 votes to ratify the start tree.
Unless the administration does two things first commit.
Are on nuclear -- -- also as we have less nuclear weapons we know they're capable of god forbid we need them and secondly.
To make absolutely clear that some of the statements for Russian president Medvedev.
At the signing in Prague that.
Seemed to suggest that.
If we continue to build a -- missile defense in Europe that they may pull out of history.
It's just unacceptable to us we need that defense to protect.
Our allies and ourselves from Iran.
Set the senator Alexander.
The president's -- -- need eight.
Republicans to vote for the -- to get this super supermajority of 67 votes.
And if Lieberman has gone and is gonna need nine Republican votes what are the chances for that kind of bipartisan.
Support for this -- Well it depends on how the questions are answered the treaty is a step it's a modest step.
In a direction that has -- goes all the way back to President Nixon President Reagan.
First President Bush second President Bush with the Moscow treaty and -- Reducing the number of nuclear weapons that are deployed 15100 gives us plenty of blow -- -- to kingdom come and that's what we.
Choose to do but the questions are some of the ones mentioned by senator Lieberman and we need to take plenty of time to answer -- will we -- the same time modernize our own.
Force can we still verify as well as we did the first start -- there's new technology will we be able to build our.
Missile defense systems and then.
While the trading may be in the right direction and the nuclear summit that's coming to town may be an impressive group of people that nuclear.
Posture statement that the president put out is troublesome.
To me it made it takes away they ambiguity about our use of nuclear power ambiguity in foreign policy is sometimes very useful as we found.
If I get my mantra that in -- -- why if I press senator Alexander what are the chances.
At this at this point and particularly given the fact that he they have issued that nuclear posture.
That you could pick up eight votes.
For this for -- Republicans way to.
Or is it well first there's not a chance the treaty will be approved this year it took a year and a -- to approve the start one treaty and was Supreme Court pushing to the front of the agenda.
In the end in the Senate and jobs terror and and -- being her major issues we should be worrying about.
This is a treat for next year and we can answer your question -- we ask all the right questions and get the right answer.
I I want to switch to another -- there are also reports gentlemen that the administration is considering.
In its new national security review taking out all references.
To the phrase Islamic extremism.
Senator Lieberman you are making public here on FOX News Sunday today a letter that you.
Have just threatened to the president's top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan.
In what you say deaths the failure to identify our enemy for what it is violent Islamist extremism.
Is offensive and contradicts thousands of years and -- -- -- military and intelligence doctrine.
To know you're running mate senator what about the argument that needed.
We run the risk if we keep talking about Islamic extremism of turning off Muslim countries by appearing to attack their side.
Well I -- my letter to John Brennan has just stood there and kind of whatever the result of me getting so frustrated by previous attempts to complain about this the administration.
This proposed change in the national security strategy dropping the term violent Islamic alarmist extremism is not the first time it's happened.
Defense Department -- a whole report on the massacre by doctor -- sign of thirteen Americans of Fort Hood.
Clearly from the record he was motivated by.
And they didn't mention that term -- you you that this is not honest.
And then and frankly I think it's hurtful in our relations with the Muslim world.
And we are involved in a war -- as everybody says for the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.
We're not -- war against Islam it's a group of Islamist extremism of taken.
The Muslim religion and made it into a political ideology.
And I think if were not clear about that we disrespect the overwhelming majority of Muslims.
-- are not extremists and in the clear reality is that this war started when we were attacked.
On 9/11 and 3000 Americans were killed not -- some amorphous group of violent extremists are environmental.
Extremist or white supremacists extremists they were violent Islamist extremist motivated and organized by the -- ideology.
Preached by Osama bin Laden and -- and -- were honest about.
We're not gonna be able to defeat this enemy so I think it's just kind of blow the whistle on what I think is a terribly mistaken.
Policy it's absolutely orwellian and counterproductive.
To the fight that we're fighting at risk of great life every day -- To stop violent extremism and of of an Islamist base.
-- and we have less than two minutes left -- I wanna get you both on one more issue.
Along those lines senator Alexander after signing.
The treaty and talking with Russian president he had that have President Obama talked about imposing.
More sanctions on Iran this friend let's take a look.
We are going to be pushing very hard.
To make sure that both smart and strong sanctions end up being in place.
Soon to send a signal to Iran and other -- That this is an issue that the international community techsters.
Senator Alexander how confident are you that this new which would be the fourth round of sanctions against Iran.
Will be effective in getting them to stop developing a nuclear program.
Not very confident Chris but I think the president should proceed with -- -- -- signed letter along with other senators.
Suggesting that Iran is our most dangerous situation right now and and that's going back to the nuclear posture statement the president a couple of weeks ago I don't think that.
Taking -- -- ambiguity in our use of nuclear power is gonna scare Iran are scared North Korea I think only resolute in this on the part of the commander in chief.
Will will do that and the confusion in knowing.
Who terrorist is whether it's someone flying into it.
Detroit airport trying to -- -- at Christmas time or whether it's not being willing to.
Two to try a the 9/11 mastermind in a military court that kind of confusion -- senator Lieberman parts talks about does not help us.
In dealing in a forthright and candid way with Iran and others who -- presented -- -- -- we have about third.
-- seconds left the president is holding this nuclear security summit here in Washington over the next today is.
He's meeting with the Russian president he's meeting with the Chinese president in the next couple of days.
Do you have any sense that he is on the right track to get Iran to stop.
Well this summit and is a good idea because it's all about stopping the spread of nuclear weapons the non state actors terrorist groups and criminal gangs.
But so look we've been negotiated and Europeans have for three or four years with the Iranians we've been talking nice to them we've been offering them.
Opportunities to avoid a conflict and all they do is continue.
Two in a move ahead with a nuclear weapons program that will change the world as we know it and make it ever ever more dangerous.
We've got to adopt tough sanctions congress I think can do that this month -- in a conference committee.
And then the president I think has to be prepared to unilaterally apply those sanctions because it's either.
Tough sanctions on Iran which they respond to -- tough sanctions are our last.
Hope to avoid a very stark decision.
Either military action against Iran or -- world in which Iran has nuclear weapons and when that happens all the efforts that the president is making and others are start treaty.
Nuclear summit this week are going to be -- apart.
Gentlemen we're gonna have Q where we're gonna have to leave it there senator Lieberman senator Alexander I want to thank you both.
So much for joining us today please come back to thank you -- we'll do.
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