• With: Sen. Lindsey Graham

    This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 6, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Allegations are rocking Washington tonight. Is the White House leaking information for political reasons to make President Obama look better politically? Now, according to President Obama's 2008 opponent, Arizona Senator John McCain, the answer is yes. Senator McCain says recent news stories about President Obama's attempts to derail Iran's nuclear program with cyber-attacks and reports of a terror "kill list" are damaging to our national security and politics are behind the leaks.


    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Such disclosures can only undermine similar ongoing or future operations. And in this sense, it compromises our national security. For this reason, regardless of how politically useful these leaks may have been to the president, they have to stop. These leaks have to stop!


    VAN SUSTEREN: White House press secretary Jay Carney says any claims that they are leaking information for political gain is grossly irresponsible.

    South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham joins us. Nice to see you, sir.

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Glad to be here.

    VAN SUSTEREN: All right, there are two -- I mean, first of all, the question is whether there are leaks. That's the first thing. The second thing is, if there are leaks, is it just sloppy or someone going rogue or is it being done for some political advantage? Neither is particularly good, but one is much worse than the other.

    GRAHAM: Well, I don't think you have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what's going on here. You've had three leaks of intelligence that paint the president as a strong leader. You talk about a May plot that was disrupted, where you have the Yemen underwear bomber trying to develop a new form of bombs that would be undetected, talked about a double agent that connected to Saudi Arabia and Britain. And that story was about how the Obama administration saved us all.

    You have another story about cyber-attacks against Iran, very specific programs that we're engaged in, in sharing the technology with Israel. Then you have the story about how the president looks over each drone attack and approves it himself.

    So I don't think it's an accident that you have three stories within about 45 days that paint the Obama administration as being effective in the war on terror at our national security detriment.

    VAN SUSTEREN: See, I don't understand what the motivation to do it politically -- I mean, if anything, give it to the president, he got Usama bin Laden. He certainly is not reluctant to send drones. You can see by the effects. You got the number two guy today with a drone. So I mean, that isn't exactly -- I would think -- back his short suit in his hand. His bigger problem is the economy. Unless you're trying to use the national security as a distraction from the economy...

    GRAHAM: You know, I...

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... it doesn't make any sense to me.

    GRAHAM: I'm with you. I would be the first to say, Well done on bin Laden. I'd be the first to say the drone attacks are good tactical programs. You're doing a good job with the drones.

    He did a lousy job of leaving Iraq early. You're not taking Assad on. And how do the Iranians ever believe we're going to do something with them if we leave Iraq in chaos and we won't deal with Assad and all we talk about us leaving Afghanistan?

    Strategically, this president's made a mess of things. But tactically, the drone attacks, the bin laden raid were all good things.

    But these leaks have one common thing. They're painting this president right before his election as a strong leader on national security. They're doing it in a way that our allies will not help us in the future. They're putting people at risk.

    This Pakistani doctor -- how do we know about this? Somebody leaked the fact that the doctor was helping us find bin laden, and he's in jail for 33 years.

    Senator McCain's right. There's a political advantage trying to be created from these leaks. It needs to stop. People's lives are at risk.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, but there's -- there's a difference between -- I mean, there's national security and there's also being a leader in the world so that we command respect so there'll be greater influence and remain a superpower...

    GRAHAM: Right.

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... and there's the economy. Those are three distinct issues, right?

    GRAHAM: Sure. Right.

    VAN SUSTEREN: And so -- I mean, national security is the one I'd say that he's got the least problem with because knock on wood...

    GRAHAM: Well...

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... and we're lucky and we haven't been hit by anything and he's gotten these -- he's gotten these terrorists.

    GRAHAM: I would argue that he's got a major problem, that he's handled Iraq poorly. We withdrew from Iraq. It's about to fall apart. The Iranians...

    VAN SUSTEREN: That's the -- that's the other category, I mean, how he's handled sort of world diplomacy and how we're seen.

    GRAHAM: You have strategic and tactical decisions. On the tactical level, getting bin laden was a great decision by the president. Tactically, these drones attacks have disrupted al Qaeda and the Taliban in the tribal regions of Pakistan.

    Strategically, we've let Syria get out of control. We fumbled the ball inside the 10-yard line on Iraq after we stabilized the country. He screwed that up, and quite frankly, all we do is talk about leaving Afghanistan.

    But the point of these articles -- how could you say it's not about making him look strong? These articles have a common theme. They talk about programs in the Obama administration, very sensitive programs, and they're trying to portray this administration as very strong on national security at the detriment of our own national security.

    VAN SUSTEREN: And I don't mean to undermine -- I mean, even Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein...

    GRAHAM: Dianne Feinstein's been a hero here.

    VAN SUSTEREN: She's -- she's upset about...

    GRAHAM: Absolutely.

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... Carl Levin...

    GRAHAM: We're going to have hearings about it.