JIM WEBB and Tulsi Gabbard are, I’m almost sure, the only decent Democrats in public life. By “decent” I mean individuals whose value system and loyalties are not inverted and perverse. Democratic Congresswoman Gabbard of Hawaii is a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, also an Iraq War veteran. Gabbard is often interviewed at length on CNN, but, tellingly, never for the Faux News Channel, for she opposes the nutty No Fly Zones and the deposing of Bashar al-Assad. Nor is Gabbard prone to silly sentimentality.
I want to talk about what Evan just reported in a moment, but, first, U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren, he is the spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition’s operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. He says there is still a long way to go, in his words, before we can declare Ramadi completely clear.
You served in Iraq. Realistically, what are we talking about in terms of the Iraqi military getting the job done and liberating Ramadi?
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: Oh, there’s a few things that I think are happening there right now, as you have got the Iraqi counterterrorism forces, which are the Iraqi army’s most talented and most sophisticated fighters, and they’re saying that they have pulled in some of the Sunni tribes to be a part of this offensive effort, as well as using the United States Air Force for air cover as they conduct these attacks.
But I think one of the challenges they are having — and this is something, a tactic that we’re seeing in Iraq being used by ISIS, al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists groups, as well as in Syria, is planting these IEDs or threat mines that are making it difficult both for these — this offensive attack to continue at a high rate of speed, but also it makes it difficult for the civilians who, you know, may try to go back into this town after this battle is won. I think the key thing here, as we have seen in other battles
Previously in Iraq [it] is, what’s the plan next? What’s the governing plan? What’s the security plan for Ramadi? Who will be in charge of that? How will the people there be treated?
We have seen previously how in the Sunni territories, how critical it is that you have a plan for Sunni tribes to be a part of this or actually take the lead on this security and governing plan.
Otherwise, we will end up in a situation like we saw in Tikrit, where the people who lived there were persecuted, their homes were burned down by the Iraqi army and Shia militia who came through there. That’s going to be the key to being able to sustain this battle and this victory once it’s won.
BLITZER: Yes. And let’s see how long that takes and even if the Iraqis do retake Ramadi, if they can hold it for an extended period of time without ISIS coming right back in.
Congresswoman, stand by. We have much more to discuss. Let’s take a quick break. Our coverage continues in a moment.
BLITZER: We’re back with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Do you have any idea why this family was turned away at the airport? See that little girl’s drawing of Mickey Mouse. Pretty heartbreaking when you see that.
GABBARD: Yes, Wolf, I don’t have any further information on this and really am not in a position to second-guess the decisions that were made by our security folks on the ground.
I think this does raise a few issues though that we have got to take a look at, the first one being, as you know, I have called for a temporary visa waiver suspension in particular from these countries that have thousands and thousands of foreign fighters who have gone or traveled into Syria and are fighting alongside ISIS.
If that were in place, then people who want to travel to the United States from these countries would just apply for a visa, and if there were issues, they would have been raised long before they are in a situation where they are at the airport and about to board a plane, as this family was.
Secondly, I think we have got to be concerned about any potential blowback that may occur for our homeland security folks, those who are doing this job and saying, hey, if there is a red flag, will they be afraid to speak up and say something about it? Will they be afraid to do their job?
And that’s what we want to make sure that we prevent, because it’s something that we saw that happened in California in San Bernardino with the neighbors of those shooters who knew that there were some things going on, but didn’t speak up about it soon enough to prevent that attack.