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Senator Lindsey Graham on Petraeus/Crocker Testimony

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," September 11, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: If, in fact, the circumstances on the ground are exactly what they are today in March of next year, will you recommend the continuation of somewhere between 130,000 and 160,000 American troops being shot at, killed and maimed every day there?

GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER OF U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ: Mr. Chairman, it's a pretty big hypothetical.

BIDEN: Well, I don't think it's hypothetical. If they're...

PETRAEUS: I would be very hard-pressed to recommend that at that point in time.

BIDEN: I would pray you'd be wise enough not to recommend it.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: General, I hear this statement more than any other statement from troops. "The reason I am here is I don't want my kids to have to come back." Do you hear that?

PETRAEUS: I do, sir. And I have a kid who, as you heard...

GRAHAM: Who's going to go, probably.

PETRAEUS: ... pin jump wings on, and they will. Yes, sir.

GRAHAM: (INAUDIBLE) he'll either be in Iraq or Afghanistan. You know that, don't you?

PETRAEUS: Sir, I do...

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: And the recommendations you're making make it more likely that your own son is going to go to war. You know that, don't you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: That was the scene on Capitol Hill today as General Petraeus faced off with members of the Senate. We have full coverage tonight on "Hannity & Colmes." Rich Lowry sitting in for Sean. Nice to see you again, Rich.

RICH LOWRY, GUEST CO-HOST: Good to be here, Alan.

COLMES: And joining us now with more from Capitol Hill, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who you just saw. Senator, thank you so much for coming on. Did you believe Petraeus? Do you think he made an accurate presentation?

GRAHAM: I think it was very accurate about the successes that we've achieved — they're undeniable — and about the challenges we face. And to those who question this man, and his integrity, and his service to our country, please understand he's got skin in the game. His own son will most likely be in Iraq sooner rather than later. So I admire him. I think Ambassador Crocker understands the region better than anyone I've met, and the strategy that they have produced has shown results we haven't seen before. And it's in our national security interest to allow them to keep doing their job.

COLMES: Well, you say results we haven't seen before, but what he's saying is at variance to what the National Intelligence Estimate says, about security, about internecine warfare over there. It's at variance with what the Government Accountability Office says. It's at variance with what the General Jones report said. So why should we believe him, when he said, in 2004 in the run-up to the election, that they're making great progress, security is getting better? He had all these rosy scenarios then which all turned out not to be true.

GRAHAM: Well, General Jones says the Iraqi army is better than it has been. The police at the national level need to be reorganized. He's right. The benchmarks about Iraqi government performance, I think they were accurately portrayed by the GAO.

COLMES: They weren't met.

GRAHAM: Well, they weren't, 11 of the 18. But here's the question: Have we from the surge obtained a security level we've never seen before? Is Al Qaeda diminished? One of the most vicious enemies we'll ever face on the planet, they have been the biggest loser of the surge. Sectarian violence is down.

Everything the general told us about what's going in Iraq, I believe I've seen it with my own eyes, and he is not cooking the books. To say he is, is an insult to him, to what he's done, and it needs to be rejected.

COLMES: Senator, saying that sectarian violence is down does not show the whole picture, because that ignores Shia-on-Shia violence, Sunni-on-Sunni violence, and you've got, again, various reports...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: ... reports at variance with this from both the GAO, from General Jones, and a number of things...

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: No, you don't. That's not true. Quit saying things that are not true.

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: No, that's not true. General Jones did not come and comment upon Shia-on-Shia violence. He was talking about the development of the Iraqi army and police forces. He gave high marks for the Army, low marks to the police forces.

General Petraeus described in great detail each region of the country. Anbar's violence has gone down about 80 percent to 90 percent. Violence still exists because we're still in a war.

Here's what I asked the general: Is it worth it to stay there knowing you're going to spend $9 billion a month for at least another seven or eight months? You're going to lose 70, 80 U.S. troops a month. You're going to be having 100,000 people in place probably a year from now. Is it worth it? And he said yes.

The cost of winning, my friend, is great. The cost of losing...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: ...what winning is…

(CROSSTALK)

GRAHAM: Can I tell you what it is?

COLMES: Please do.

GRAHAM: Winning is a stable, functioning, representative government that can contain Iran, will reject Iranian domination...

COLMES: There's no evidence of movement in that direction.

GRAHAM: Well, there's plenty of evidence we're moving in that direction, because the Shiites are about to do with Iranian militia what the Sunnis did with Al Qaeda, and that's diminish their presence.

LOWRY: Hey, Senator...

GRAHAM: Al Qaeda is the biggest loser of this surge, and that's something we should celebrate, not minimize.

LOWRY: Hey, Senator, it's Rich Lowry. Thanks so much for being with us.

GRAHAM: Hey, Rich.

LOWRY: First of all, Alan is flat-out wrong when he says General Petraeus is not including Sunni-on-Sunni and Shia-on-Shia deaths in his numbers. He was asked about this yesterday, and he said, "Look, it was in my chart for total civilian deaths, which are down across Iraq."

But, Senator, just let me say one thing really quickly. I think something people admire you for on both sides is you always comport yourself in a civil and intelligent way when debating any issue. And what do you think it says about the state of this debate that one of the most liberal groups in the country ran a full page ad calling General Petraeus "General Betray Us?”

GRAHAM: It shows that there are some people in this country who have lost sight of what's going on in Iraq, what's going on in the world, and it's a new low. Taking a man who's lived his life with honor and integrity and accusing him of sending people to their death because of some unknown political agenda, accusing him of sending his own son into a war he believes has been lost or that he's lying about, you know, somebody who would do that should burn in Hell.

But let me tell you about General Petraeus. Those who have been around him all of his life as a military officer do not have the view of him that he is someone who would do these horrible, terrible things.

LOWRY: Of course not.

GRAHAM: It is a new low in politics, and this country cannot survive if we continue to do this to people in uniform.

LOWRY: Well-said. It's despicable. And now, let me ask you, because one of the things I thought that was most compelling about the testimony from the general and from Ambassador Crocker was this was not sugar-coating anything.

GRAHAM: Amen.

LOWRY: They were very, very truthful and upfront about the difficulties in Iraq, and it's very much a mixed picture. But what disturbs me about the debate, Senator, is some Democrats seem to be totally uninterested in hearing any good news from Iraq.

GRAHAM: Let me tell you what happened in April. April was the worst month in the world for America, because in America the majority leader of the United States Senate said the war is lost and the surge has failed. Once he said that, he is no longer listening to what's going on in Iraq. He's justifying statements in September that were made in April, very much like Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld would not hear that we did not have enough troops, no matter how bad it was getting. There was no adjustment until we lost an election. Harry Reid is doing exactly the same thing. The Democratic leadership is a stakeholder in our defeat because they declared the war lost.

And here's my question to anybody who's still listening: If we've lost, who won, Al Qaeda and Iran? Is that acceptable? The answer is, we have not lost this war; we're going to win this war based on a new strategy. And to go back to the old strategy would be stupid.

LOWRY: That's the irony. We tried the Rumsfeld approach. Sadly and unfortunately and tragically, it didn't work. And now Democrats want to go back to it! It doesn't make any sense.

(CROSSTALK)

LOWRY: Well, can I ask you on the statistics? There have been a lot of questions about that. Do you have any doubt that these statistics showing the decline in sectarian violence and all the rest of it, that those are on the up-and-up from General Petraeus?

GRAHAM: If I had any doubt, I would ask for him to be court-martialed. I believe not only is it on the up-and-up, it has been verified by my own experiences. I've been to Ramadi, July the 5th. Six months ago, you couldn't go to Ramadi or anywhere in Anbar without getting shot. It's not just Petraeus saying this. Talk to any person who's serving over there. They've never felt better. It is undeniably obvious we've made progress, with a long way to go, and to question his integrity is a new low in a country that can't stand to go much lower.

COLMES: Look, what MoveOn said was wrong, but look, the Pentagon and the administration's own definition of ethno-sectarian violence is at odds with what Petraeus said. Shia-on-Shia violence in the south is not included. Sunni-on-Sunni violence in the central part is not included.

LOWRY: That's not true. That's not true. He included those numbers in the civilian deaths, Alan.

COLMES: If the bullet goes through the back of the head...

(CROSSTALK)

LOWRY: ... and he said it is false. Why are you repeating things that are false?

COLMES: You've got three different...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: ... what Petraeus says. You've got the Jones report.

(CROSSTALK)

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