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George Pataki on the Iran Deal and the Syrian Crisis

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Former New York mayor and GOP presidential candidate George Pataki talked about the Iran deal, Lindsay Graham’s solution to the Syrian crisis, and suppressing Islamist propaganda.

The audio:

The transcript:

HH: It’s Hugh Hewitt. On this, the ninth day of September, 2015, a week from today at the Reagan Library, I’ll be a panelist at two debates. On the first debate panel will be former New York governor George Pataki. I welcome him back to the Hugh Hewitt Show now. Governor Pataki, good to see you. I look forward to seeing you next week in California.

GP: Great being on with you, Hugh. I’m looking forward to it as well.

HH: Now I have an interesting question that comes from a guest I have in studio. Nicky Woolf is from the Guardian and he’s writing a debate profile run-up sort of thing, and yesterday he asked me if I didn’t think my concern with the Looming Tower and national security and Islamists is because I was on the air on “9/11” and I broadcast[ed] for six to eight hours that day and I was traumatized by it. And I don’t know about that, but how does “9/11” impact George Pataki to this day?

GP: Oh, there’s no question it has had an impact on me everyday. I saw the consequences of our thinking that because radical Islam was isolated on the other side of the world, we didn’t think it posed a threat to us in America. And it did. And I will never forget that lesson, but I fear that too many Americans from the President on down have forgotten that lesson. We are at [a] greater risk of an attack today – in my view – than at any [other] time since September 11th.

HH: Now when people hear that, though. They wonder, what do you mean by an attack? Do you mean a lone wolf or a pack of lone wolves or a known wolf jihadi attacking one facility with small-arms fire or a mass destruction like “9/11?”

GP: I think both, but first of all, let me say I think that the concept of a lone wolf is bogus.

These are not individuals who wake up in the middle of the night and become inspired to become radical jihadists. They are inspired by internet propaganda, by social media, by mullahs preaching in prisons, or in the United States. The person who killed our Marine recruiters in Chattanooga – I don’t consider that a lone wolf. I consider that an outgrowth of our toleration of radical jihad propaganda in the United States which should be stopped. But in addition – there’s no question – that whether it’s Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or ISIS and others, they would like to carry out another mass attack like September 11th which is why we simply cannot allow them to continue to control territory, have weapons of mass destruction, social media capability, and thousands of people with western passports.

HH: Now Chris Christie earlier today – I think it was Christie, I won’t quote because I think I get him mixed up – condemned Lindsay Graham for wanting to use ground forces in Syria – American ground forces. I don’t know if it was Chris Christie so I want to withdraw it. What do you think of Lindsay Graham’s proposal to use American ground forces in Syria.

GP: I think Lindsay Graham is too quick to pull the trigger and say it’s America’s job to send our ground forces everywhere. But on the other hand, Hugh, I believe that we should not rule out using our forces. Not to stay on the ground as Lindsay has proposed in Iraq for another decade [with] thousands of troops. What I think we should do is first empower the Kurds, the Sunni, and Anbar who share our views; the Yazidis and others. Stop sending all our aid through Baghdad. Send it directly to the Peshmerga and to the Sunni on our side and arm and train them. Up our bombing raids against ISIS, and if need be, send in special ops, destroy their recruiting and training centers [and] planning-ups and then get out. No long-term wars. No ten-thousand boots on the ground. I’m very concerned that the vacuum that Obama has left in the Middle East is being filled not just by groups like ISIS, but I’m sure, Hugh, you’ve heard about how Russia is now getting far more active in arming and supporting Assad and Syria, and this is just another example of the negative consequences of his leading from behind.

HH: Now General Soleimani is the head of the Quds Force – the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s special forces – and he’s the mastermind of terror around the world. We’re about to give his regime a hundred and fifty billion dollars, at least a hundred billion dollars. How do you think that’s going to change how he and they deploy, act, and attack?

GP: It’s inconceivable to me that this administration has signed off and has actually advocated – as has Hilary Clinton, by the way – for a deal that gives over a hundred billion dollars to Soleimani, to the Quds Force, to others who are actively engaged in terror against America. Soleimani is not under an international travel ban, and yet two weeks he flies to Moscow. He wasn’t buying caviar. He was buying weapons and other things that he could use to expand Iran’s terrorist activities directed against Israel and directed directly against America. This is just ridiculous and I find it hard to believe that the Democrats have become so partisanly-ingrained behind Obama from Hilary down to over forty senator that they won’t look at this objectively and say this is not the right thing for America, this is not the right thing for the world.

HH: Now Governor Pataki, it appears as though Democrats will filibuster a vote on the Iran deal so it cannot even be defeated, requiring the President to veto it. I don’t know where Amy Klobuchar is. I believe Chuck Schumer will vote for cloture, but that’s a political cover for him. Should the Republicans in the Senate invoke the Reid rule, break the filibuster, in order to bring the Iran deal to a vote.

GP: I think we have to have a vote, but I think that we blew it, to be honest, the Republicans in the Senate when they really ignored the treaty provision of the Constitution. I don’t think, Hugh, in my lifetime, there has been anything that looks, smells, sounds, and acts more like a treaty than this Iranian deal. It’s multi-decades, it’s multi-national, it involves everything from international banking to nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. It’s a treaty. And if I were Mitch McConnell, what I would do is say, first of all, the Corker bill hasn’t been met because we don’t the terms of the side deals and the time for Congress act, vote yes or no on this deal. [It] begins when all agreements – including side-deals – even if they don’t include the United States as a party, has been turned over to Congress. That is not the case, and I would say, in fact, that since they haven’t done that, we’re going to treat this as a treaty. We’re going to have a vote on this as a treaty between Iran, the United States, and other countries, and vote it down.

HH: Alright, but now let’s deal within what’s going to actually to happen – they are going to try and bring Corker-Menendez to a vote. They are not going to be able to close debate because [of] a filibuster. They could invoke the Reid rule and break it. Should they?

GP: Well, I wouldn’t call it the Reid rule. I think this is sufficiently important that we should have a vote where the American people see who is actually going to support or oppose this deal. So yes, given as how – in my view – it is a treaty, I think it’s appropriate for them to treat it as such and to invoke a special rule saying [that] since this has the impact of a treaty, we are going to allow a vote with fifty-one members in favor.

HH: Alright, now I want to double back to something you said earlier – Islamist propaganda, which should be stopped in the United States – how would you do that?

GP: I think we have to be far more aggressive in monitoring social media – Twitter, Facebook, and the rest. I’m a great believer in the 1st Amendment and freedom of speech, but the Constitution clearly spells out that you cannot shout fire in a crowded theater. That’s not protected speeach. That is a crime. Urging an American to engage in violent acts against other Americans in the name of jihad is not speech protected by the 1st Amendment. It is beyond even shouting fire in a crowded theater and it is criminal speech that can be prosecuted, and I would do that.

HH: Now Governor Pataki, the Brandenburg Test – named for the Supreme Court case – is that speech can only be punished if it is made with the intent of inciting violence and has the present realistic ability of doing so. That is almost impossible to apply to an Internet post, and I think most constitutional scholars would agree with that. And so I don’t know how you would actually go about – unless you change the 1st Amendment – suppressing Islamist propaganda. I don’t know how you would do it. It’s just. . .

GP: Hugh, I don’t want to change the 1st Amendment, but I find it hard to believe that during World War II, a Nazi group or pro-Nazi group could be on the airwaves in America urging people to support Nazi Germany and since it didn’t constitute a clear–

HH: “The intent and the present ability to kill” clause. Yes.

GP: Yeah, and yet I can’t conceive that that would be upheld. I know the constitutional standard of a case that you’re discussing, but when you have incident after incident from Fort Hood to Chattanooga, and when you have someone on there saying it is not just appropriate, it is required by Sharia law to engage in violent jihad against non-believers including your fellow Americans, I believe there is a very reasonable chance this Supreme Court this is not protected speech.

HH: Should the federal government or the FCC legislate or regulate with specificity so as to provide at least notice to people as to what, in your opinion, ought to be criminal.

GP: Absolutely, and I don’t think you go about willy-nilly. I think – whether it’s by statutory rule, whether it’s by FCC regulation – there should be limits when you are encouraging people to engage in violent acts against their fellow Americans. I don’t think that constitutes protected speech.

HH: And one of the big disagreements is whether or not drones ought to be used against American citizens who are beyond the reach of the police power. What do you think about that, Governor Pataki? We got ten seconds.

GP: I think what Great Britain just did in using drones against British terrorists was the right thing. I think what we did in using the drones against Al-Malaki [and] Al-Iraqi was the right thing. If they are overseas enemy combatants engaged in terror, we should do everything in our power to kill them.

HH: See you next week, Governor Pataki, at the Reagan Library. Thank you, sir.

End of Interview


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