Sen. Lieberman on Iraq Progress

Published November 27, 2007

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This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," November 26, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, attacks are down. Reports today Iraqi people are returning home. So why aren't Democrats who opposed the surge in Iraq acknowledging at least this progress in Iraq?

Reaction now from independent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman. The senator is just back from Iraq, has seen the progress firsthand.

Senator, good to see you. Thank you for coming.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, I-CONN.: Good to be back with you, Neil. Thanks.

CAVUTO: What have you seen?

LIEBERMAN: This is the third time I have been in Iraq since last December. And last December, Al Qaeda was winning — it's as simple as that — and we were losing. Today, Al Qaeda is on the run. We are winning.

What's more important, the normal people of Iraq are winning. They are returning to their homes. Their businesses are opening up again, and they have decided something that's critically important not just in Iraq, but in the larger war against terrorism. They have decided that al Qaeda is their enemy, and, ultimately, we are more supportive of their future than Al Qaeda is.

So, it's been, I think, one of the most remarkable turnarounds in modern military history. And it's time that everybody, including Democratic candidates, acknowledge reality and get off of this storyline of retreat and defeat that they have been too committed to.

CAVUTO: Well, maybe their silence is what's deafening, Senator, because the strategy has now shifted to talk about the economy and to talk, no doubt after today, the markets free falling. What do you make of that?

LIEBERMAN: Well, first off, I wish, you know — the critics of the war have been saying bring the troops home. Because of the success on the ground, we're going to begin to bring the troops home, 25,000 or 30,000 by next July.

They have said, transition the effort. Based on facts on the ground, we're beginning to transition the effort. So, I wish that we could finally have a moment of bipartisan support for success in Iraq, because it's in everybody's interest.

And now we have to work together locally. The economy is in some difficulty. I mean, there's basic strength in the American economy, but this subprime mortgage scandal, which I believe it really has been, has had much deeper ramifications than almost anybody thought at the beginning.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, is it your opinion, Senator, that it will be the economy deciding next year's race and not Iraq, that Iraq, because of the success of the troop surge, becomes less of a divisive issue and the economy does?

LIEBERMAN: Well, that's certainly my hope and my prayer. And the way things are going now that's exactly the case. We're going to see troops coming home.

There are going to be many fewer casualties, thank God, in Iraq. And people are going to begin to ask not only who can protect America in a dangerous world, but what we can do together to make the economy better, to fix the health care system, to do something, for instance, about climate change.

So, I think anybody who thought that this was going to be an anti- war election better think twice.

CAVUTO: All right, this on a day we're expecting announcement any moment, Senator, from Usama bin Laden with a warning, we're told, for Europe.

What do you make of his continued presence and his continued use of the media?

LIEBERMAN: Well, in a way, Usama bin Laden is using the media more frequently, I think because of the defeat his forces are suffering in Iraq.

Make no mistake about it, the main battlefield in the war against Islamist extremism and terrorism, Al Qaeda, is in Iraq, and they are being defeated. And they are being defeated because of the bravery, yes, of the American military, but they're being defeated because the Muslims of Iraq have turned against Al Qaeda. And I think the media and the tapes coming out from bin Laden are his way of swaggering and telling people he's still there.

But, in some ways, the more frequently he appears, the more it says to me that he's anxious about the future of his movement, not time for us to relax. These people are killers. They hate us and our value system.

But we have made progress. And the last thing we should do is to lose that progress by attaching conditions or demanding early withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.

CAVUTO: Senator Lieberman, always a pleasure. Thank you very, very much.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Neil. Good to be with you. Have a good one.

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