This is a rush transcript from "Sunday Morning Futures," June 15, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST: Good morning. Is America headed back to Baghdad?
Good morning, everyone. I'm Maria Bartiromo. This is "Sunday Morning Futures."
President Obama saying all options are on the table, short of putting U.S. boots back on the ground. But are there other options viable as the situation escalates across the Iraqi-Syrian border.
We'll ask Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. We'll also talk to Congressman McKeon about the committee's hearings on the exchange of our one soldier for five Taliban leaders. Has the president broken the law?
Plus, an upset in the GOP, Eric Cantor primaried out by the Tea Party. Now the race is on to replace him as House majority leader. We'll ask the party chairman how it all shakes out.
Happy Father's Day to all of you dads with control of the remote this morning as we look ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures."
Hi, everybody. The militant group that seized much of northern Iraq now drawing closer to Baghdad. Security forces in the capital city are digging trenches around its perimeter in an attempt to disrupt any further advances. Meanwhile, the White House is still weighing its options for how to respond to this insurgency.
Joining me now is California Congressman Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Mr. Chairman, good to have you on the program. Thanks for joining us.
REP. BUCK MCKEON, R-CALIF., CHAIRMAN OF HOUSE ARMED SERVICES CMTE: Thanks for having me, Maria.
BARTIROMO: First, the Iraqi situation: do you think we will return to Baghdad?
MCKEON: The president will be reviewing all of his options. He likes to look at all the options and then act on none of them, hoping that the crisis will go away. This isn't going to go away.
Some people, I know, will want to play the "I told you so" game. I don't think that's appropriate at this time. We need to concentrate on the thousands of Americans who are in harm's way in Iraq. Their protection needs to be number one priority. We need to get them out safely. And then I think the president should look at his whole Middle East strategy.
This lead-from-behind, hands-off approach just isn't working. We need to lead from in front. We need to be strong. We need to stop cutting our national security resources. I think that it's gonna be interesting to see how this plays out.
BARTIROMO: Congressman, I want to ask you about the status of forces, what we did wrong, how we arrived here. But stay right there. First let's get the real timeline here. Because we have got a lot to talk with you about, Congressman McKeon. But first let's turn right now to what prompted this new insurgency in Iraq. Fox News senior correspondent Eric Shawn with that.
Over to you, Eric.
ERIC SHAWN, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Maria. And good morning, everyone. What went so wrong? Well, President Obama says his administration has been watching, quote, "with concern" for several months. But it now seems, on his watch, Iraq has unraveled in an unstoppable sectarian civil war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Over the last year we've been steadily ramping up our security assistance to the Iraqi government with increased training, equipping and intelligence.
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SHAWN: Seeds of Iraq's destruction were sown with Shiite prime minister Nouri al-Maliki refusing to moderate his crackdown on the Sunnis, and $14 billion of U.S. military assistance could not stop those Islamic terrorists from taking more than one-third of the country.
The administration pulled out the last American troops back in 2011 after al-Maliki refused to sign that status-of-forces agreement that could have kept some U.S. forces there. And the terror group's leader, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, was freed from U.S. custody in 2009.
And now, even a top Iranian Quds force general, Qasim Suleimani, is reportedly now in Baghdad helping the Shiite government.
Some say if only a deal was hammered out by the administration with al- Maliki, this catastrophe could have been prevented.
Dexter Filkins, writing in The New Yorker, quote, "The negotiations between Obama and Maliki fell apart in no small measure because of the lack of engagement by the White House. Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers working in non-combat roles would have provided a crucial stabilizing force that is now missing from Iraq. President Obama wanted the Americans to come home and Maliki didn't particularly want them to stay."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPTAIN BOB WELLS, U.S. NAVY (RET.): All we needed was 2,500 to 5,000 troops for counterterrorism missions. We're really good at those.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN: Now Iraq could be split in two or thirds with the Kurds, and the legacy of so much American blood and sacrifice now appears in vain, as an Iraqi prime minister and the U.S. president are seemingly unable to prevent Iraq from tipping into total failure. Maria?
BARTIROMO: Eric, thank you so much. We are back right now with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon.
Congressman, go back for us -- talk to us about this status of forces, as well as what we should have done differently to, perhaps, avoid this.
MCKEON: Well, the thing that hung the agreement up was protection for our troops. If we left them behind, we didn't want them charged by the Iraqis for any potential crimes that they might perceive. I think that it was a real mistake. I think everybody knows that. We felt it at the time. The military advisers, members of the Armed Service Committee felt it would be a disaster if we did not leave a supporting force behind.
But the president and his team were unable to lead the negotiations to the point where we were able to leave a force. And now we're paying the price for it. We don't want to make the same mistake in Afghanistan.
BARTIROMO: So what now, Congressman? You -- you have said all Americans should be gravely concerned by the turn of events in Iraq. How do you see this playing out?
MCKEON: Well, I don't know. I -- I was concerned -- you know, I love to play golf. But I didn't think it was a time yesterday for the president to leave Washington. I think it's -- that's been one of the problems we've had with him is the lack of engagement. I think he needs to be pulling all of his people together with him in the White House and hammer out what their strategy should be going forward.
I think the first priority should be the protection of our people there, getting them out safely. I was glad that Secretary Hagel moved our aircraft carrier closer to where they could be of more support. I really don't know what options they are considering right now. I hope that we can -- that we can get out without losing people.
BARTIROMO: Let me switch gears, Congressman, ask you about Bowe Bergdahl. You began hearings last week on the subject, the release of our one soldier for five Taliban detainees. What have you learned?
MCKEON: Well, what we learned from that hearing was that they broke long- term precedent. They did negotiate with terrorists. We're less safe than we were a couple weeks ago because of that. They kept Congress in the dark for months, in violation of the law.