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Transcript: Sen. Barbara Boxer on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published December 04, 2005 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a transcript from "FOX News Sunday" on Dec. 4, 2005:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BUSH: These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders, not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.
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CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: That was the president on Wednesday saying he's not going to let his critics here at home shake his resolve on Iraq.
Among those critics, our next guest, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, an influential member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and she joins us from our Chicago bureau. Senator, welcome. Good to have you with us.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER D-CALIF.: Thanks. Good to be with you, Chris.
WALLACE: After the president's speech this week, you issued the following statement, and let's put it up if we can, "Once we clearly state that we do not intend to stay in Iraq forever, the insurgency will be diminished and our brave men and women can begin to come home."
Senator, hasn't the president said exactly that over and over? In fact, let me give you an example of what he said this very week. Here it is.
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BUSH: Most Americans want two things in Iraq. They want to see our troops win, and they want to see our troops come home as soon as possible. And those are my goals as well.
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WALLACE: Senator, the president wants to bring home the troops also.
BOXER: Well, what he says and what he's doing are very, very different. And it's stunning to me that your former guest, Stephen Hadley, couldn't even say that the vice president was wrong when he said the insurgency was in its last throes.
I think the real problem here, Chris, is that the presence of our troops without any discussion about when they can come home and how we can begin them coming home is fueling the insurgency. Eighty percent of the Iraqis want us gone. Forty-five percent of the Iraqis tell the pollsters they think it's OK to use force against our troops.
So when you have a circumstance where the very presence of our troops is causing the problem, then you need to be a little more aggressive than the president is being in terms of when we will leave.
WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about that, because in reaction to the president's speech, you also had this to say about his policy this week, and let me put that up on the screen as well, "Our long-term presence in Iraq is fueling the very insurgency that the president vows to end."
Senator, what do you think would happen in terms of violence in Iraq, sectarian violence, insurgent violence, if we started to pull out now?
BOXER: Well, first of all, what's happening now, I have to tell you, Chris, that these last 10 Marines — now there were two more since those 10 — all came out of my state in terms of their base there, Twentynine Palms. So 24 percent of the dead have been based or have come from California. And the president failed to mention the 15,000-plus who are so badly scarred and wounded that their lives will really never be the same.
So we have to now look at this, and we have to begin bringing those troops back. We already see what's going on with the violence there. Now, we have put our brave men and women in there, and the reason the president gives is so that the Iraqis can stand up for themselves, so they can defend themselves, and I agree with that. Well, let's let them begin to do just that.
You know, every country has to defend itself. Every country has to want freedom for itself as much as we want it for them. So I think it's very important, and we had a real breakthrough here with 79 senators voting that it is time for the Iraqis to begin to take charge of their own country, and my prediction is if they do, I believe the violence will lessen.
WALLACE: Well, Senator...
BOXER: And the other point I think we have to...
WALLACE: Senator, can I just ask a...
BOXER: ... make is we can redeploy...
WALLACE: Yes, but I'm not finished. Can I just ask a question?
WALLACE: No, I just wanted to ask you, though, you talk about a clear timeframe for pulling the troops out. As far as the Iraqis standing up and defending their own country, I'm sure the president would say that that's his policy, too. You say you want a clear timeframe for pulling the troops out. What is a clear timeframe?
BOXER: I've never said an exact timeframe. I think you need to be flexible on it. But the fact is it's time to tell the Iraqis we will not be there indefinitely.
And I think one of the points that the Congressman Murtha made when he came up with his proposal is we're talking about a redeployment. Many of those troops will stay in the region. They could be called back for specific raids, to help clear out a town. They don't have to be there as targets. I think it's very important.
WALLACE: But, Senator, again, if I may press the question...
BOXER: You can. Sure.
WALLACE: ... what is a clear timeframe? I mean, the president would say that we're not going to have troops there forever. I mean, he's got a policy. You can argue with it or not, but he certainly intends to bring all of the U.S. troops home, as he said at the very beginning of this segment in the clip we played. So when you call for a timeframe for withdrawal, what does that mean?
BOXER: Well, I've said it over and over again. You have benchmarks. The president said — he admitted finally a little bit of an error. He said it was taking too long to train the troops, and they've gotten that down to a reasonable amount. So you have a timeframe based on their ability to stand up. They keep saying — the president says, and Rumsfeld says, that there's 200,000 Iraqi trained troops. Fine. Let them defend their own country. We cannot do this forever. No country survives when foreign troops are in there defending the country. They have to do this.
So there's no specific timeframe, but I would say the withdrawal ought to start now, right after the elections, December 15th. We've gone up before the elections, as John Kerry said. We can start bringing those troop levels down, and I'd like to start with the National Guard.
Chris, if there's ever an avian flu outbreak, if we have more natural disasters, our National Guard and their best equipment are gone. We need them here at home. The 9/11 Commission said that. We're not doing our job to protect our people here at home. We're spending $230 billion over there, Chris. It's breaking the budget. Yes?
WALLACE: OK. Let me ask you about the Democratic alternative in this.
WALLACE: Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman said this week that the president has a plan and the plan is working. Meanwhile, you have Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, saying that she backed Jack Murtha's call to start pulling troops out now. Let's watch these two statements.
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SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, D-CONN.: I saw real progress, economically, politically and militarily. We've got a plan. And as I found last week, I believe the plan is working.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: The status quo is not working, and that we need to have a plan that makes us safer, our military stronger and makes Iraq more stable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Where is your party on Iraq now? Is there a Democratic plan?
BOXER: Yes. And I think we showed it when we voted for that Senate resolution. Now, even Joe Lieberman voted — he was one of the 79 — to tell the Iraqis they have to start taking charge of their own country, and I think that's really where we are at this stage.
They have to take charge of their own country. They've got an election. Then they've got an election about the constitution. As that takes hold and they have people in charge, we need to stand down.
WALLACE: But Joe Lieberman...
BOXER: The time is now. It's not in the future.
WALLACE: Senator, because we're beginning to run out of time, Joe Lieberman said he thought it would be disastrous to start pulling our troops out now.
BOXER: Well, I didn't hear him say that at all. But let me just say he voted...
WALLACE: He said it would be grabbing defeat out of the jaws of victory.
BOXER: Well, you know, could I say this? Seventy-nine senators, Republicans and Democrats, sent a message to this administration: Get real. You know, we have heard it all. We were going to be there for six months. Mission accomplished. They're in the last throes of the insurgency. We hear it every single day.
And the truth of the matter is things are going very badly, and this administration keeps on keeping on, status quo, no change. The president gave a speech. He packaged his speech in a plan for victory. That's good that he packaged it. At least he's thinking of a plan for victory. But it was all the same. And my people in California and the people all over this country are not happy with the way things are going.
WALLACE: Senator, we've got about two minutes left, and I want to move, if we can, to the question of the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
WALLACE: A memo he wrote when he worked for the solicitor general's office back in 1985 was released this week, and let me put up a key quote on the screen right now, if I can. He said, "What can be made of this opportunity to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling of Roe v. Wade and, in the meantime, of mitigating its effect?"
Alito now says that those were personal views, the views of an advocate, and don't reflect what he would do as a judge.
BOXER: Well, look. Personal views are different than this. Personal views are whether you support the right of a woman to choose and your own personal feelings. He was talking about what he wanted the government to do, which is to start overturning Roe.
So I think it's very serious, but even more serious, for many people — many people — is the fact that he opposed the one person, one vote. So there's civil rights issues here. There's privacy rights issues here.
There's issues of whether the Congress can protect people so they can get family medical leave, so that they won't be facing fully automatic machine guns, so that government can control the sale of those. There are many issues with Samuel Alito, and I'm looking forward to hearing those hearings that will be coming about with the Senate Judiciary Committee.
WALLACE: We've got about 30 seconds left, Senator. If you don't like the answers you hear from Judge Alito, are you prepared to filibuster?
BOXER: Everything's on the table, because the rights, freedoms and liberties of your viewers and my constituents are on the line.
WALLACE: Senator Boxer, thank you so much. We're going to have to leave it there. Thanks for joining us today. And before we let you go, we want to note you're the author of a new book, a novel called "A Time to Run." Good luck with that, Senator.
BOXER: Thank you so much, Chris.
Sunday—we’ll get the latest on the battle over Trump’s cabinet picks and a preview the first orders of business for the 115th Congress from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It’s a Fox News Sunday exclusive.