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Transcript: Rep. Maxine Waters on 'FOX News Sunday'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published March 11, 2007 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript of the March 11, 2007, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: This week, the House Democratic leadership announced a timetable to bring U.S. combat troops home from Iraq by September 2008. But many of the 75 members of the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus say that's not soon enough.
Joining us now from her home state of California, the chair of that caucus, Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
Congresswoman, the bill being offered by House Democratic leaders continues funding our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it sets some conditions.
If the president doesn't certify that the Iraqi politicians are making progress, they can start to bring the troops home and, in any case, all combat troops would be out by September of 2008. Why isn't that soon enough for you?
REP. MAXINE WATERS: Well, there are a lot of bells and whistles in this bill. And they ask the president to not only certify, but begin in July by telling us whether or not progress has been made.
We have been listening to this president tell us about what he's doing and what's going on. We've been misled.
We were told that there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none. We were told that we would be welcome with open arms. That's not the case.
We were told that we would get revenues from the oil fields that would help to repair the bombings that we had done in Iraq and in Baghdad in particular. That's not true.
So first of all, there's not a lot of trust. Secondly, we just voted a non-binding resolution that said we do not support the surge or the expansion, and now we're going to fund it?
We believe that we should use funding to safely exit our soldiers from Iraq with a well-thought-out exit plan. We believe that that can be done. We are not talking about doing it overnight.
We think a reasonable timetable would perhaps be by the end of the year, and we want to see a clean, straightforward bill.
WALLACE: Congresswoman, is the Democratic leadership — Speaker Pelosi and the other Democratic leaders — are they being too timid?
WATERS: Oh, I don't know if that's the way to describe it. You know, this is the kind of process where you have a lot of people who think differently about the issues.
And for those of us who feel that we should be out of Iraq, we have a responsibility to the people, and particularly since we know that the people want us out of Iraq. Not only do all the polls show it, this last election in November was an election to send people to Washington to help get us out of Iraq.
So those of us who feel strongly about it — we have to be good advocates. We have to speak for the people, and that's what we're doing.
WALLACE: Congresswoman, this week the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, David Obey, was confronted by an antiwar protester who wanted him to vote against this spending bill that we're talking about here, which led to this exchange. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAVID R. OBEY, D-WIS.: It's time these idiot liberals understand that there's a hell of a difference between defunding the troops and ending the war. I'm not going to deny body armor. I'm not going to deny funding for veterans hospitals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Respectfully, Congresswoman, are you one of those — what Congresswoman Obey would call idiot liberals who would vote against this spending bill and thereby deny our troops body armor and medical care?
WATERS: I don't know. I think his language was quite unfortunate. That was a mother whose son has done two tours of duty in Iraq. He's apologized for having used that kind of language, and I would hope that he does not do that again.
I don't know what he thinks about my position and whether he would characterize me that way, but I would hope not.
WALLACE: But by voting against the spending bill, you would be voting against giving the troops body armor, against more funding for veterans and military hospitals.
WATERS: That's not true. That's absolutely not true. What you have in this bill is a requirement that the soldiers would be properly trained, they would have the proper equipment, and it basically backs the president up against the wall, and it dares him to use his waiver authority they give him.
Even though the bill says that's what we need, that's what we should have, then they say but, Mr. President, you can waive all of that if you want to. And of course, if he waives that, he has to go before the American people. It will make him look bad. That's one of the bells or the whistles in the bill.
I think we need a straight bill, vote up or down on the supplemental, and the only thing that I would say is use money in that supplemental to safely exit the soldiers out of Iraq.
WALLACE: Congresswoman — and I want to make it clear that you want to get all troops out of Iraq by the end of the year, but you also make it clear you want to fund it, as you say, to make it safe, to make it thoughtful.
But let's talk about your policy and what would happen if all U.S. troops are out of Iraq by the end of 2007. Don't you worry about a possible — it's been called genocidal blood bath between the Sunnis and the Shia once we're out of there?
WATERS: Well, let me just say this. And I don't think there's any problem with leaving some of our soldiers what we call over the horizon, in Kuwait someplace, to help respond to a major catastrophe of some kind.
But don't forget, the Sunnis and the Shiites were getting along before we went in with our occupation, and I don't think that we can use the argument that if we're not there, it's going to be a bloodbath, or they can't manage to do what they were doing prior to our being there.
Much of what is happening ...
WALLACE: Well, but, Congresswoman, prior to our being there, Saddam Hussein was in charge. So that was what was keeping the Sunnis and Shia away from each other.
I mean, once we're out, we're not going to come back if the Sunni and the Shia start fighting with each other.
WATERS: Well, I don't think we can say the only way that Iraq can be stabilized is if Saddam Hussein was there. I think that they're developing new leadership. We have given support to new leadership.
And they have to find a way to get along. I don't think that we can say that in order for us to leave, we've got to somehow make sure that history — years of history of not getting along all of a sudden is changed and that we're going to have to stay there until it happens.
They are going to have to figure that out. We can support them, but we cannot stay there forever in the middle of this civil war.
WALLACE: Congresswoman, let's talk about another issue if we pull out by the end of this year. What about the danger that Al Qaeda and other insurgent groups will set up terrorist havens in western Iraq?
WATERS: Well, the first place, we should have been more focused on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. We took our eye off the ball.
And we went after Saddam Hussein, a convenient target, because this president wanted to make sure that people understood he was fighting a war on terrorism and that was the best way to do it.
They knew that Saddam Hussein had a reputation for being a villain because he had invaded Kuwait before.
WALLACE: But Congresswoman, forgive me...
WATERS: But we should have been concentrating on Afghanistan.
WALLACE: Congresswoman, forgive me, though. I don't think you're — I understand that and that's a legitimate criticism, but it doesn't answer my question, which is we pull all our troops out of Iraq, as you would have under your measure, by December 2007 — what happens to Al Qaeda setting up terrorist safe havens in Anbar province?
WATERS: What happens if Al Qaeda decides to set up safe havens anywhere? Don't forget, there are cells in different places in the world. We have not done the job that we should be doing to find Usama bin Laden and to deal with Al Qaeda.
If we concentrate first on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, up around Tora Bora, where we know that we have a big concentration of activity of Al Qaeda, I think we'd do a much better job than concentrating all of our energy and our resources in Iraq.
WALLACE: Finally, we've got about — actually, less than a minute left.
What message do you think it would send to the terrorists around the world, to Iran, with its expansionist policies, if the U.S. showed that after a certain amount of time, a certain amount of loss of troops, that we were going to cut and run, that we were going to leave?
WATERS: Well, I think cut and run is a kind of language that has been used by this administration and others to intimidate those of us who are responding to the American people's desire to get our soldiers out of Iraq.
Our soldiers are dying every day. Civilians are dying by the thousands in Iraq. I just don't want to wake up one morning and find that they have bombed one of our compounds and hundreds of our soldiers had been killed.
We just saw a few weeks ago where they had a convoy that went past several checkpoints and went in to one of our areas and killed our soldiers. We don't have the cooperation there from the Iraqis.
Sunnis and Shiites alike that are in the military are all against us. They undermine us. They are not sticking with us during times of confrontation.
We don't need to have our soldiers in the middle of this civil war. It can't get any worse than this. And we need to get out before we have something of a major catastrophe happen to our soldiers.
WALLACE: Congresswoman Waters, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for coming in early today out on the west coast to talk with us. We appreciate it.
WATERS: Well, you're certainly welcome. Thank you.
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