MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Obama, if, God forbid a thousand times, while we were gathered here tonight, we learned that two American cities had been hit simultaneously by terrorists, and we further learned beyond the shadow of a doubt it had been the work of al Qaeda, how would you change the U.S. military stance overseas as a result?So let's recap: Obama would first make sure we could properly attend to the victims and the emergency in the United States. Then he would investigate to make sure the country isn't in further danger and to "potentially" take action. Then he would work on diplomatic relations to coordinate an international response.
SEN. OBAMA: Well, the first thing we'd have to do is make sure that we've got an effective emergency response, something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans. And I think that we have to review how we operate in the event of not only a natural disaster, but also a terrorist attack.
The second thing is to make sure that we've got good intelligence, A, to find out that we don't have other threats and attacks potentially out there; and B, to find out do we have any intelligence on who might have carried it out so that we can take potentially some action to dismantle that network.
But what we can't do is then alienate the world community based on faulty intelligence, based on bluster and bombast. Instead, the next thing we would have to do, in addition to talking to the American people, is making sure that we are talking to the international community.
Because as has already been stated, we're not going to defeat terrorists on our own. We've got to strengthen our intelligence relationships with them, and they've got to feel a stake in our security by recognizing that we have mutual security interests at stake.
MR. WILLIAMS: Senator, thank you.
Senator Edwards, same question: God forbid, two simultaneous attacks tonight, we knew it was al Qaeda. What would you change about U.S. military stance overseas.
MR. EDWARDS: Well, the first thing I would do is be certain I knew who was responsible, and I would act swiftly and strongly to hold them responsible for that. The second thing I would do, and some of these have been mentioned already, is find out how that this happened without our intelligence operations finding out that it was in a planning stage.
How did they get through what we all recognize is a fairly porous homeland security system that we have in this country that has not been built the way it needed to be built? You know, did the weapons that created this -- these two simultaneous strikes come through our ports? Were they in one of the containers that have not been checked? How did these weapons get here? And how do we stop this from happening again? I believe -- and this goes to the question you asked earlier, just a few minutes ago -- global war on terror. I think there are dangerous people and dangerous leaders in the world that America must deal with and deal with strongly, but we have more tools available to us than bombs. And America needs to use the tools that are available to them so that these people who are sitting on the fence, who terrorists are trying to recruit, the next generation, get pushed to our side, not to the other side. We've had no long-term strategy, and we need one, and I will provide one.
MR. WILLIAMS: We're out of time. Thank you.
Senator Clinton, same question.
SEN. CLINTON: Well, again, having been a senator during 9/11, I understand very well the extraordinary horror of that kind of an attack and the impact that it has far beyond those who are directly affected. I think a president must move as swiftly as is prudent to retaliate. If we are attacked and we can determine who was behind that attack, and if there were nations that supported or gave material aid to those who attacked us, I believe we should quickly respond. Now, that doesn't mean we go looking for other fights. You know,
I supported President Bush when he went after al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. And then when he decided to divert attention to Iraq, it was not a decisions that I would have made had I been president, because we still haven't found bin Laden. So let's focus on those who have attacked us and do everything we can to destroy them.
Edwards would somehow magically "be certain" he knew who is responsible and then he would "act swiftly and strongly" to hold them responsible. He would also work to strengthen intelligence (read: spy more) and fix our "fairly pourous" Homeland Security. (National identity cards anyone?)
Clinton would also "swiftly. . . retaliate." In particular I love the point where she says she understands the horror such an attack can produce and so...she would "retaliate."
Hmmm...disaster relief and diplomacy...versus war...versus war.