Dec 05 2006

LINDSEY GRAHAM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to add my voice to many others who have praised you for your leadership. I've really enjoyed being on this committee and you've made it a real pleasure to serve here. Dr. Gates, thank you for your willingness to serve. It looks like we're going to be working together for at least a couple more years. Things are going pretty well for you right now. Iran, do you believe the Iranians are trying to acquire lethal weapons capability? ROBERT GATES: Yes, sir, I do. GRAHAM: Do you think the president of Iran is lying when he says he's not? GATES: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: Do you believe the Iranians would consider using that nuclear weapons capability against the nation of Israel? GATES: I don't know that they would do that, Senator. I think that the risks for them, obviously, are enormously high. I think that they see value. GRAHAM: If I may? GATES: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: The president of Iran has publicly disavowed the existence of the Holocaust, has publicly stated that he would like to wipe Israel off the map. Do you think he's kidding? GATES: No, I don't think he's kidding, but I think there are, in fact, higher powers in Iran than he, than the president. And I think that, while they are certainly pressing, in my opinion, for nuclear capability, I think that they would see it in the first instance as a deterrent. They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons: Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west and us in the Persian Gulf. GRAHAM: Can you assure the Israelis that they will not attack Israel with a nuclear weapon if they acquire one? GATES: No, sir, I don't think that anybody can provide that assurance. GRAHAM: Is Iraq the central battlefront in the war on terror? GATES: I think that it is one of the central fronts in the war on terror? GRAHAM: What would be the others? GATES: I think that what we have seen since the destruction of Afghanistan or since the destruction of the Taliban regime is a metastasized terror threat from the jihadists, where indigenous radicals in countries like Britain, like Spain and like the United States are in fact planning terrorists operations and activities. So I think that while Iraq certainly is an important front in the war on terror and particularly now that all these other bad actors are there that I indicated -- described earlier -- I think we face a more disbursed threat that's really a very amorphous kind of second front. GRAHAM: Would a loss in Iraq in terms of a failed state affect the war on terror? GATES: I think it would create the conditions where you could have a replication of what happened in Afghanistan, and yes, it could be. GRAHAM: Why is Al Qaida in Iraq? What do they fear? Why are they fighting in Iraq? What is their goal? GATES: I'm no expert on it, Senator, but I believe that they would -- they are very eager to see us leave the region -- not just Iraq, but leave the region... GRAHAM: Are they threatened by democracy? GATES: Absolutely. GRAHAM: Is it the terrorists' worst nightmare for a democratic state to be formed in Iraq where a woman can have her say about her children and people of religious differences can live together under the rule of law? GATES: I certainly hope it's one of their worst nightmares. GRAHAM: Well, according to them, it is. Now, do you believe the terrorist Al Qaida goal and other terrorist organizations, to expand on what you said, includes not only driving us out of Iraq but the region? GATES: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: Do you believe it includes toppling of all moderate regimes in the region? GATES: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: All regimes that are unfaithful to their view of religion? GATES: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: Do you believe it is the ultimate destruction of the state of Israel? GATES: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: Do you believe in the Powell doctrine? GATES: I am very familiar with it, and I would say... GRAHAM: Do you believe in it or not? GATES: Well, sir there are different -- there are eight elements to the Powell doctrine. GRAHAM: Well, let me sum up the one: You go to war with overwhelming force. GATES: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: Do you believe we have the overwhelming force we need to do all the missions required of us to bring about a democracy in Iraq at this point in time? GATES: I need to talk to the commanders to find that out. GRAHAM: The jobs assigned to the military leadership commanders would include, do you agree, eventually trying to disarm the militia because you can't have a democracy with armed religious and political parties. GATES: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: Do you also believe it includes training the Iraqi army. GATES: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: Do you believe it includes rebuilding the police force, because I think it's a miserable failure and we need to start over, virtually. GATES: It's not entirely clear to me, Senator, that that should be the responsibility of the Department of Defense. But we have -- as best I can tell, the department has that responsibility now. GRAHAM: To provide security for economic development – 40 percent of all money spent on economic development projects now are security-related. That would be one mission of a military commander in Iraq, to give security to the economic development, to get this country up and running? GATES: Yes, sir. GRAHAM: Is there any doubt in your mind that the current level of troops are overwhelming when it comes to fulfilling all those missions, including defeating the insurgents? Could you honestly tell this committee and this country that the number of troops we have to do all the jobs I've described, including defeating the insurgents, is overwhelming? GATES: No, sir, I do not believe it is overwhelming. GRAHAM: If we redeploy to a friendly country, under these circumstances, do you think it's likely that the terrorist organizations that we've just talked about would come after us in that country, trying to prove to the American people there is no safe place for you in this region? GATES: Probably so. GRAHAM: Do you believe, if we set timetables or a policy to withdraw at a date certain, it would be seen by the extremists as a sign of weakness; the moderates would be disheartened and it would create a tremendous impediment to the moderate forces coming forward in Iraq? GATES: I think a specific timetable would give – would essentially tell them how long they have to wait until we're gone. GRAHAM: Thank you.

Dec 04 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement after John Bolton submitted his resignation as United States Ambassador to the United Nations. “John Bolton has done a tremendous job as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He’s been forceful in articulating our country’s positions. He’s been a coalition builder against rogue regimes and also pushed for much-needed and long-overdue reforms at the U.N. “It is a tremendous loss to lose John Bolton’s service during this critical time in the War on Terror. “The efforts by Senate Democrats to prevent him from continuing to serve as our U.N. Ambassador do a great disservice to our national interests. It also unfairly undermines President Bush’s prerogative to appoint his own people to his team. “There’s no doubt Bolton is extremely qualified and has done tremendous work in the position. Our nation has benefited by his service at the U.N.” ######

Dec 01 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on William ‘Billy’ Wilkins stepping down as Chief Judge of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in July. He said: “For the last twenty-five years Billy Wilkins has epitomized what a judge should be by his temperament, intellect, and sound judgment. Great judges not only have a keen understanding of law, but a keen understanding of people and how the law serves them. “Judge Wilkins has never forgotten his South Carolina roots and he’s made us all proud by his service at the highest levels of the federal judiciary. He is truly one of our state’s finest jurists and most distinguished public servants. We appreciate his years of service presiding over one of the most conservative circuit courts in the nation.” #####

Nov 29 2006

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint today announced more than $80,000 in grants to fire departments in Folly Beach and Salley. “Firefighters and emergency service personnel dedicate themselves to protecting the health and safety of South Carolinians,” said Graham. “These grants will help our local fire departments by providing them the means to obtain the best equipment and training available.” “South Carolina's firefighters risk their lives to protect our families each day and I'm proud they have been awarded these competitive grants,” said Senator DeMint. The grants were awarded for Operations and Firefighter Safety Programs. Fire departments may use these funds for training, wellness, and fitness programs; the purchase of firefighting and personal protective equipment; and modifications to fire stations and facilities. The grants awarded include: Folly Beach: Folly Beach Fire Department will receive $61,940. Salley: Salley Volunteer Fire Department will receive $18,240. The Assistance to Firefighters grant program awards one-year grants directly to local fire departments, enhancing their ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards in the community. The program supports departments by providing them the tools and resources necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and their firefighting personnel. Grantees share in the cost of the funded project at a percentage based on the population of their respective jurisdiction. Grantees that serve jurisdictions of 50,000 or fewer residents are required to provide a non-Federal cost-share of 10 percent while grantees that serve jurisdictions of over 50,000 provide a 30 percent cost-share. The match must be in cash without the use of in-kind contributions. In addition, the maximum amount of federal funds that an applicant can be awarded is $750,000 during any fiscal year. The grants are made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ####

Nov 28 2006

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint today announced more than $400,000 in grants to fire departments in Columbia, Greer, Lancaster, Spartanburg and Union. “Firefighters and emergency service personnel dedicate themselves to protecting the health and safety of South Carolinians,” said Graham. “These grants will help our local fire departments by providing them the means to obtain the best equipment and training available.” “South Carolina's firefighters risk their lives to protect our families each day and I'm proud they have been awarded this competitive grant,” said Senator DeMint. The grants were awarded for Operations and Firefighter Safety Programs. Fire departments may use these funds for training, wellness, and fitness programs, the purchase of firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment; and modifications to fire stations and facilities. The grants awarded include: COLUMBIA: The Irmo Fire District will receive $60,480. GREER: The City of Greer Fire Department will receive $51,300. LANCASTER: The Charlotte Road/Van Wyck Volunteer Fire Department will receive $39,900. SPARTANBURG: The Croft Fire Department will receive $93,888. The City of Spartanburg Department of Public Safety will receive $79,323. UNION: The Union Public Safety Department will receive $80,101. The Assistance to Firefighters grant program awards one-year grants directly to local fire departments, enhancing their ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards in the community. The program supports departments by providing them the tools and resources necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and their firefighting personnel. Grantees share in the cost of the funded project at a percentage based on the population of their respective jurisdiction. Grantees that serve jurisdictions of 50,000 or fewer residents are required to provide a non-Federal cost-share of 10 percent while grantees that serve jurisdictions of over 50,000 provide a 30 percent cost-share. The match must be in cash without the use of in-kind contributions. In addition, the maximum amount of federal funds that an applicant can be awarded is $750,000 during any fiscal year. The grants are made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ####

Nov 20 2006

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on Congressman Charlie Rangel’s plan to reintroduce legislation establishing a military draft. Graham is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said: “Now is not the time for political stunts. It is time for all Americans to come together to ensure we win the War in Iraq. “Introducing legislation to institute the draft is a serious matter. Any suggestion America would not be fighting the war in Iraq if other people were being sent implies that Americans are not overly concerned about the men and women serving in the all-volunteer force. I strongly disagree with that line of thought. “The all-volunteer force is capable of defending our nation. I believe those who choose to fight the war in Iraq and create a democracy from a dictatorship are making us safer. “There’s no doubt we need more men and women in uniform. I believe with concentrated effort we can grow the all-volunteer force by offering better benefits and pay. The good news is enlistment and retention among those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan is sky high. The people in the military have a sense of purpose and know why they're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I respect Congressman Rangel’s service to our country, but I disagree with his thoughts on this matter. It’s also worth noting that Mr. Rangel voted against his own legislation to reinstitute the draft in October 2004. It failed in the U.S. House of Representatives 402-2.” ####

Nov 15 2006

Senate Approves Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill

Legislation Contains $56.6 Million for South Carolina Military Construction Projects

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint announced the U.S. Senate has approved the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2007 Military Construction – Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill. The legislation includes more than $56 million for military construction projects in South Carolina. “South Carolinians are very proud and very supportive of the military facilities in our state,” said Graham. “They are woven into the fabric of our community and are key components in defending our interests abroad. The projects funded in this bill recognize the contributions South Carolina makes to our military and demonstrates a commitment to providing state-of-the-art facilities for our men and women in uniform.” “It is important that we ensure the operational readiness and quality of life for our men and women in uniform and their families,” DeMint said. “These projects in South Carolina are vital to supporting our deployed troops and their loved ones who make enormous sacrifices here at home.” Projects in the bill include: Beaufort
  • $14.92 million to construct a new enlisted dining facility at the Marine Corps Air Station- Beaufort
Charleston
  • $10.2 million to replace the child development center at the Charleston Air Force Base
Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter
  • $16 million for a new enlisted dormitory
  • $9.3 million for construction and paving for an aircraft alert facility
  • $6.2 million for an aircraft support equipment shop and storage
The bill must now be approved by a joint House/Senate conference committee and signed into law by the President. ####

Nov 14 2006

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint today announced the Bamberg Job Corps Center will receive a $3,648,342 grant to construct a new physical fitness building and vocational shop. The project will include the construction of a 17,000 square-foot physical fitness building and a 4,500 square-foot vocational shop, as well as the demolition of three existing buildings. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor. ####

Nov 13 2006

WASHINGTON – According to published reports, the Democratic leadership in Congress will begin pushing for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in the coming months. U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today said he would oppose such a move and work to defeat such a proposal. “I will adamantly oppose any efforts by a Democrat-controlled Congress to mandate troop withdrawals or set deadlines for withdrawal from Iraq,” said Graham. “To start withdrawing troops would be equivalent to surrendering in the central battle front in the War on Terror. A misguided proposal such as this should hit a wall in the Senate. “This is not the time to withdraw from the fight,” said Graham. “It’s time to recommit ourselves to the moderate forces in Iraq and redouble our efforts to defeat the foreign fighters and insurgents. The terrorists know what is on the line in Iraq. They view Iraq as the central battle front. We must meet the challenge head-on and defeat them.” Graham has supported sending additional troops to Iraq to improve the security situation, enlisting sympathetic nations in the region to take ownership of the outcome and pushing the Iraqi leadership to move quickly to take over control of the country. He has also argued failure in Iraq empowers Iran and will lead to regional chaos. “I do believe we need to push the Iraqi government to disarm the militias and come up with political compromises allowing the country can move forward,” said Graham. “However, nothing can be achieved until the violence is reduced. That should be our goal in the coming months, to provide a better security situation on the ground. “The war in Iraq is front and center in our efforts to win the Global War on Terror,” concluded Graham. “We need to make a World War II-like commitment to winning in Iraq and ensure the American people fully understand what is on the line should we fail.” #####

Nov 12 2006

Tuesday was a bad night for Republicans in Washington. However, if we learn from our mistakes the fortunes of the Republican Party and the nation can quickly improve. Rather than Democrats winning, Republicans lost. Voters didn’t pick a Democratic over Republican agenda. On many fronts, Republicans confused voters about what we stand for. Voters were not happy with the way we conducted ourselves when it comes to spending their hard-earned tax dollars or efforts to ensure we have a successful outcome in the War on Terror. They made it clear we’ve spent too much time talking about problems and not enough solving them. If there’s one lesson to be learned from Tuesday night it is Republicans win when we act like Republicans. We get into trouble when we don’t. Some of our successes such as cutting taxes, appointing conservative Supreme Court and federal court judges, banning partial birth abortion, and class-action and bankruptcy reform were washed away by corruption scandals and fiscally irresponsible behavior. Iraq did play a part. However, we must remember Senator Joe Lieberman was elected as an Independent in a very blue state despite his support for the war. Connecticut voters may have disagreed with his war position but they believe he took a principled stand putting the best interests of the country above political party. Conversely, many Americans believe the Republican majority chose self-interest over the common good. Here’s a roadmap for Republicans to reconnect with voters: * Budget reform and tax simplification are top priorities. We should push for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution to rein in Congress’ insatiable spending appetite. We should also seek a two year budget cycle allowing for more spending oversight. * Rein in the runaway practice of congressional earmarks which exploded on our watch. Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere -- a $250 million bridge to benefit 50 people -- is a classic example of how we’ve lost our way. Also, reforming earmarking and debating all budget items in public will deny corrupt lobbyists and politicians the dark corners in which they operate. * Because of President Bush’s tax cuts for families and small business owners, the jobless rate is at a five-year low and 6.8 million new jobs have been added since August of 2003. Our national economy is humming. We must push congressional Democrats to ensure the tax cuts are extended and the benefits of tax relief continue in coming years. * We need to return to Social Security reform. President Bush deserves credit for taking on this issue which must be solved for future generations of Americans. We should put all options on the table including innovation to solve Social Security’s looming bankruptcy. Hopefully, Democrats in the majority will feel the need to be constructive and say more than “NO” to solutions which lead to Social Security solvency. * Solve our immigration problems. Legislation should include better border security, employment verification requirements, punishment for those in the country illegally and a guest worker program. Both amnesty and the idea we are going to deport 12 million people should be rejected as unworkable, impractical solutions. * We must become energy independent. Our reliance on Middle East oil poses a threat to our economy and creates national security concerns as well. Global climate change is real and nuclear energy, hydrogen, and other alternative sources of energy provide us an opportunity to address both national security and environmental concerns. * The War in Iraq is front and center in our efforts to win the global War on Terror. We need to make a World War II commitment to winning in Iraq and ensure the American people fully understand what is on the line should we fail. Unfortunately, we have treated Iraq more as a police action than the central battlefront. * We need more troops on the ground in Iraq to improve the security situation, enlist sympathetic nations in the region to take ownership of the outcome, and push the Iraqi leadership to move quickly to take over control of the country. Failure in Iraq empowers Iran and will lead to regional chaos. * We need another 50,000 troops in the Army and Marine Corps and we must provide them with better benefits. Our soldiers are promoting freedom throughout the world and serving admirably in hot spots like Afghanistan and Iraq. We also have security concerns about dangerous situations in North Korea and Iran. We need more troops in uniform to help relieve pressure on our soldiers being sent overseas on deployment with increasing frequency and for longer periods of time. During difficult times the country deserves bold leadership on tough issues. The Republican Party, if it adjusts and chooses, is capable of providing that leadership. We will be fine in future elections if we return to these core principles. NOTE: This article appeared in South Carolina newspapers beginning Sunday, November 12.