This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, May 13, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Did the war on Iraq take our eye off the Al Qaeda ball? Our next says yes. Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, a member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.
Congresswoman, good to have you.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, D-TEXAS: Nice to be with you, Neil.
CAVUTO: Do you think that is bit of a leap to say that we are at fault for not aggressively pursuing Al Qaeda?
JACKSON LEE: Well, I think it is important, first of all, to extend our deepest sympathy to wounded Americans as well as those who lost their lives. And since we are just a few weeks away from our Memorial Day to acknowledge the brave men and women who lost their lives in Iraq, clearly I believe that the real question is, did Iraq do anything to add to our fight against terrorism? And I believe that the representation that was made to the American people, that this was in fact the giant killer of terrorism in the world, has failed. The Iraq war did not do anything to stop worldwide terrorism. And we do need to regain again the high moral ground, working with our allies who joined us after the heinous act of Sept. 11 to work with us in the war against terrorism. We don’t have that coalition anymore.
CAVUTO: But Congresswoman, I’m sure you will be quick enough to admit that the incidents of terror that we have seen, this tragedy notwithstanding, had dramatically lessened since Sept. 11. And we have stopped many a terror incident right in its tracks since our crackdown on Al Qaeda, and for that matter, on Iraq, have we not?
JACKSON LEE: Well, you raise a very good point, because of our alertness and astuteness we have put into practice new procedures. I think we can do more as a member of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, but we have put into effect new procedures that came about really, Neil, through the coalition after Sept. 11 in particular, not because of the Iraqi war. I think the attack on or the war against Afghanistan, which I supported enthusiastically, you never support war enthusiastically, but certainly whole-heartedly, had more to do with the war against terrorism than the question of Iraq. So I believe we were distracted by the war against Iraq. And we need to get back on track, stop the divisiveness between those who are for - against that war and regain the high moral ground.
CAVUTO: Wait a minute, Congresswoman, it is a valid point, it is a valid point, but step back and look at what happened here. If there were indeed 91 people killed in this attack, and seven were Americans, clearly, it looks like there were targets other than Americans. This could be an internal issue within Saudi Arabia over which we have very little direct control, do we not? I mean, in other words, you are trying to in a very polite sense, blame the United States for what could have been an act of terror on Saudi soil committed by Saudi citizens.
JACKSON LEE: I would like to take the words of Martin Luther King and paraphrase them, he said, injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. Terror anywhere is terror everywhere. And frankly I believe that we have an obligation to join the world in fighting terror wherever it is. We were distracted by the Iraqi war, but more importantly, Neil.
CAVUTO: Well, you are not claiming that the Iraqi war wasn’t a success, are you?
JACKSON LEE: Well, we were led to believe that the war in Iraq was going to solve all of our problems, it did not. In fact, it has enhanced our problems.
CAVUTO: I don’t think I remember, Congresswoman, anyone saying it would solve all our problems.
JACKSON LEE: I’m not going to suggest that there was not, in essence, a military victory, absolutely. But we have taken our attention away from the coalition after Sept. 11 where every single nation, almost, joined us in the war against terrorism. The president needs to regain the high moral ground in that fight. We are going to continue to see these kinds of attacks I believe until we focus our attention and regain the coalition that we had after Sept. 11.
CAVUTO: Congresswoman, thanks for coming by, always appreciate it.
JACKSON LEE: Thank you for having me.
CAVUTO: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas from the House Gallery.
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