OTR Interviews

McCain: The rise of ISIS 'didn't have to happen ... We're paying an incredible price for Pres. Obama's leading from behind'

Veteran senator has a message for Pres. Obama: Bring the full weight of American airpower on ISIS now


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 2, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This FOX News alert. ISIS, a bunch of savages. Apparently, executing a second American, a journalist, in the most gruesome, barbaric manner, cutting off his head. Today, posting a horrific video on line. ISIS claiming the latest victim is an American, Steven Sotloff.

This comes two weeks after ISIS beheaded U.S. journalist, James Foley, and days after Sotloff's mother made a desperate plea to a top ISIS leader for mercy on her son. They showed none.

For the latest, FOX News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge joins us -- Catherine?

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS CHIEF INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Greta. I have seen the video. It runs about two minutes and 45 seconds. It begins with a message, a title. It's called "A Second Message to America." This is seen by investigators as more evidence that it is, in fact, the execution of Steven Sotloff. The first message to America was the execution video posted by ISIS of journalist, James Foley.

Then when we look at this video, we see it's really a carbon copy of the Foley video. You see on the left the individual we believe to be Steven Sotloff. He gives a statement, clearly speaking under duress where he denounces American foreign policy. Then you see the executioner there on the right, the similar posture to the Foley video, where he speaks in a somewhat more aggressive and offensive tone, saying, "Obama," as opposed to "President Obama," and saying that he is to blame for the execution of this American citizen.

It's noteworthy that at the end, another individual is shown. This is believed to be a British national hostage. You see him there. British media is reporting that this individual was unknown as a hostage, but they believe he's an aid worker. There's a clear warning at the end, Greta, from the executioner that any nations who join a U.S.-led coalition, there will be more executions to follow. So again, this is down-and-out propaganda. And it's used to try and change the policy here in the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any way that this is -- assuming this video to be authentic, assuming it to be an American, do we know when about this happened?

HERRIDGE: It's not clear from the video, at least to our eyes, when it was shot. When you do a comparison of Steven Sotloff in the video posted today and then the Foley video from two weeks ago, it does seem that some time has elapsed because, in the second video, Sotloff has more of a stubble, a beard, and his hair is a little longer.

But the thing that has the attention of investigators is they seem to be learning from their mistakes. This video is shot at a slightly different angle. It's harder to see whether the executioner is, in fact, the same British citizen. And the voice of the executioner is somewhat treated or modulated so it's harder to discern who it belongs to.

VAN SUSTEREN: Catherine, thank you.

HERRIDGE: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: After President Obama admitted he does not yet have a strategy, at least not yet, to deal with ISIS in Syria, Senator John McCain insisting the time to confront ISIS is now.

Senator John McCain joins us. Good evening, sir.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN R-ARIZ.: Good evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: ISIS, what are we going to do about it?

MCCAIN: Kill them. They've got to be destroyed. And you've got to have a goal, the president does, and we have to have a strategy to fit that goal and policies that will implement it. We have none of the above.

The president, incredibly, the other day said that the world is messy and it's social networking that -- I mean, that to me was one of most unbelievable comments ever made. But first of all, we have to understand that ISIS obliterated the boundary between Iraq and Syria. You've got to go after them in both places. And you can't do it with half measures. You need use full weight of American air power. That will require some more boots and support on the ground. And it can succeed. We can stop them.

And finally, Greta, all this didn't have to happen. We could have left a force behind in Iraq that would have stabilized Iraq. We are paying an incredible price for the president's leading from behind, whether it be in Iraq, Syria, Libya, or a number of countries in the Middle East. We are seeing the chickens coming home to roost.

VAN SUSTEREN: Throw a little more salt in the wound if we'd also help finance a Free Syrian Army, the moderates who might not have seen ISIS become so successful in Syria. Because now, like a metastasis, they have spread into Iraq.

MCCAIN: Hillary Clinton described already, the meeting in the White House over two years ago. Everyone in the national security team recommended arming ISIS. The president, by himself, turned it down just like by himself, he decided not to strike Syria after he said they crossed the red line. There's no credibility. If the president and John Kerry keep talking about coalitions, how are you going to form coalition with people who do not trust you? Who know are you totally unreliable? First there has to be restoration of American credibility.

VAN SUSTEREN: I haven't seen Democrats come out in support of President Obama's policy. I'm not sure what the policy is. He admitted no strategy in Syria. So I'm not sure what there is to support. I think everyone's in a big mystery on this. But it almost seemed like -- like General Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Hagel, about two weeks, when they were so strong on Syria, it almost seemed they were going rogue because the president wasn't in town, and now they have dialed it back a little.

MCCAIN: They were reeled back in. That's why president gave the press conference that he did. Maybe some folks were little bit out here too far. Look, 192,000 people slaughtered in Syria, and this is a -- this world is a messy world? I mean, I have to tell you -- I've told you this before -- I'm heartbroken about what's happened in Syria. And we have to stop ISIS, not stop them, but we have to defeat them. There's no doubt in my mine or anyone else's that we have to defeat them. Interesting rhetoric from the State Department and the White House, we don't know of a specific threat. We don't know of a specific threat, but I have known no national security expert that doesn't believe they are going to pose a direct threat because that's what they're capable of doing.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think the president's thinking?

MCCAIN: I think that he's trying to stick to his campaign, two campaigns, 2008, 2012, where he said we're going to lead from behind, we're going to get out of everywhere, and there's going to be this tide of wars receding. Bashar al Assad, it's not a matter of whether but when he leaves power. You can go through the long list of things the president said and stood for which have been completely wrong. And as you and I have discussed before, Bill Clinton changed his strategy, Jimmy Carter changed his, George W. Bush changed his after seeing that we were failing in Iraq. He can, too. Apparently, he -- I don't understand because the facts on the ground dictate it.

But could I say one word about Ukraine? If we do not help Ukrainians, there's going to be a worse slaughter, a land bridge to Crimea and Moldova and the Baltic countries are going to be threatened. Incredibly, we will not give the Ukrainians sensitive intelligence information or supply them with weapons. Maybe the Germans may be. I'm grateful for the Germans for the first time in a long time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think he has a plan or strategy, he's just not telling us? Or do you think he has no plan and is winging it?

MCCAIN: There are plans developed in the Pentagon, the CIA, the State Department. I know for a fact there's all kinds of plans out there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can't make a decision?

MCCAIN: Just like there are targets that they could have struck if he wanted to. It's up to the president to decide to turn -- to pull the trigger. -- to pull the trigger. Obviously, he's not ready to do. That's a shame.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

MCCAIN: Thank you.