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South Carolina Jim DeMint on the Death of bin Laden

Monday, May 2, 2011

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HH: On the phone now, United States Senator Jim DeMint from the great state of South Carolina. Senator DeMint, thanks for joining us. First off, your general reaction to the killing of bin Laden?

JD: Well, it was a long time coming, but I think all of America is just relieved. I know I was traveling today, and folks in the airport and airplane, they just felt like justice had been done, and folks felt good about just being Americans today.

HH: Senator, there’s an insipient sort of politicization of this, with people speculating on its impact on President Obama’s 2012 reelection. I think it’s untoward, but it’s also everywhere. What do you think about this?

JD: Well, I appreciate the fact that he has pursued this. Obviously, we’ve got to give some credit to George Bush for making this a decade-long commitment. But we’ve got to give President Obama his due. He continued to pursue it, despite pressure from the left. And he did what even some Republicans said he shouldn’t do, and that’s stage an attack in Pakistan. So I’m here to give him credit for what happened, but I do think we need to realize that the Navy SEALs, the expertise that we had, has been developed over a long period of time, with our commitment to our defense and our military. That’s not something we’re seeing from this administration. So that is a missing link, but we need to remember the intelligence gathered to make this happen came from some of the interrogation centers that have now been dissolved. So there’s some questions that we have to answer, but Hugh, we need to give the President credit when it’s due. He pursued this, and he could have called it off, and we just have to be, we have to marvel at the expertise of our military and our intelligence people.

HH: Let me toss it to Guy Benson.

GB: Senator, completely agree with the last point that you made, and I am wondering is there any way that pressure can be brought to bear on the President, in a nonpartisan way, just to say Mr. President, congratulations, this is a great victory not only for you and your national security team, but of course for the country and the world. Part of the reason that this success was able to be enjoyed like it has in the last couple of days, is because of seeds that were planted ten years ago with harsh interrogations techniques in black site CIA prisons that Barack Obama, the candidate, made a big show of opposing – might he be vulnerable right now to arguments that perhaps he ought to reconsider his position, and his administration’s positions, on whether or not those might need to be reimplemented, reinstituted, for future crucial missions like this one.

JD: Well, if we’re going to succeed on that point, it’s going to be behind closed doors, because his whole constituency in the Democrat Party is going to push back against that. I think what he’s seen, and his people have seen, is as the information that comes from this harsh information has led to justice for many thousands of Americans, and thousands of people all over the world that this maniac has killed. So I think behind closed doors and the private hearings and the top secret meeting that we’ll have with some in the administration. It’s just something we’re going to work on, and hopefully, this is something the President maybe has come to believe behind the scenes. But he certainly couldn’t say that in public, because the whole constituency of the Democrat Party would not be with him.

HH: Now Senator, you raised something very interesting in your first remarks, which is the Defense Department budget is under siege right now. Do you think that this success, not just by the SEALs, though they are at the tip of the spear, but by the entire American military that has fought for ten years to bring him to justice, will that add some immunity to the Defense budget?

JD: Well, I hope it will. And particularly, the essential parts of the budget. There’s a lot of waste in the Pentagon, and so there needs to be, I mean, really everything on the table as we look at trying to save our country from a financial disaster. But the essential aspects of operating military, our troops and their weaponry, that doesn’t need to be touched. In fact, I think we can learn from this raid that a lot of the specialty units that are costly are really the weapon of the future as far as protecting Americans and the American interests around the world.

HH: Senator, last question, we’ve got about a minute. The body was disposed of in the North Arabian Sea, I believe. What do you make of that decision? Your colleague, Marco Rubio, thought it was a good one. Your colleague, Lindsey Graham, did not. What do you think?

JD: Well, it probably was. I think there’s no need to bring that body back to this country and create the kind of conflict of what to do with it and all of that. I think that settled that issue quickly. Obviously, we have to be able to prove definitively that he was killed, so we don’t end up with another Elvis sighting phenomenon coming from bin Laden. But I think that’s something they apparently know we have to do with DNA testing. But there’s no need to bring a target for these terrorists back to our country. It sounds like a pretty wise decision to me.

HH: Senator Jim DeMint from the great state of South Carolina, thank you, Senator.

End of interview.

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