Entries in Sen. John McCain (7)


Leaders Debate Effectiveness of No-Fly Zone in Syria

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The announcement that President Obama is planning to step up aid to the Syrian rebels, including sending small weapons and ammunition, is a significant change in the administration's policy on Syria.

But with 90,000 people already killed, a refugee crisis being called the worst in the world, and evidence of Iran and Hezbollah's growing involvement in the crisis, critics question whether the move will be enough to make a difference on the ground.

On Thursday, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two of the most outspoken critics of the Obama administration's Syria policy, applauded the decision to provide arms, but called for the U.S. to go further and establish a no-fly zone

"The goal is to end the war. And the only way this war is going to end quickly and on our terms is to neutralize the air assets that Assad enjoys," Graham said on the Senate floor. "We can crater the runways. There are four air bases he uses. We can stop the planes from flying. We can shoot planes down without having one boot on the ground."

McCain and Graham are not the only ones calling for a no-fly zone. Some of America's allies in the region, including Turkey, also have said they would support the action as way to help strengthen the opposition's position on the ground and allow more humanitarian aid to get through.

But the administration maintains a no-fly zone is not the easy solution some are claiming.

"People need to understand that the no-fly zone is not some type of silver bullet that is going to stop a very intense and, in some respect, sectarian conflict, that it's taking place on the ground," National Security Advisor Spokesman Ben Rhodes told reporters on Friday.

So what exactly is a no-fly zone?

A no-fly zone is just what the name indicates; it's an action that stops planes, usually military, from flying in the skies of a designated area. The idea is to keep the military from a rogue nation from using its air power to attack other areas in its own territory or beyond.

No-fly zones are usually authorized by international bodies, like the United Nations or NATO, and the air forces of participating countries are authorized to a nation's air capabilities. They can disable runways at air bases, striking at air defense systems and possibly going as far as shooting down any military aircraft violating the no-fly zone.

The effectiveness of the ban hinges on enforcement, as was the case in Libya, where NATO enforced a no-fly zone though it was the U.S. that bore the brunt of the operations.

It was considered a success that gave the opposition the space and time to take control of the country and overthrow Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

Many critics of the administration's Syria policy have questioned why President Obama is so reluctant to push for a no-fly zone in Syria, as well.

The administration has said Syria is very different from Libya.

"It's dramatically more difficult and dangerous and costly in Syria for a variety of reasons," said Rhodes. "In Libya, you already had a situation where the opposition controlled huge portions of the country and you could essentially protect those portions of the country from the air. You do not have the same types of air defense systems that exist within Syria."

Experts say that Syria's air force is more capable than Libya's and, more importantly, has a complex air defense system that could target military aircraft enforcing a no-fly zone. But that doesn't necessarily preclude putting elements of a no-fly zone in place.

"A no-fly zone is not a monolithic thing," Joseph Holliday, a fellow at the Institute for the Study of War who focuses on the Syria crisis, said at a United States Institute for Peace event last month.

Holliday said that there is a "spectrum" of military options within a no-fly zone, from a full-scale air campaign to finding other creative ways to restrict the Syrian air force's capability. Still, Holliday, who tracks Syria's military capability, warned that the Assad regime seems to be keeping some military fighter jets in reserve specifically to deal with any possible foreign threat.

The Syrian Air Force is "not on its way out," said Holliday, who added that Syria retains "one of the densest air-defense systems in the world."

Administration officials have also questioned whether a no-fly zone would be an effective way to help the opposition defeat Assad and stop the slaughter of civilians.

"In Syria, when you have a situation where regime forces are intermingled with opposition forces and they're fighting, in some instances, block-by-block in cities, that's not a problem you can solve from the air," said Rhodes.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters in April that he doubted a no-fly zone could be effective in limiting civilian casualties

"About 10 percent of the casualties that are being imposed on the Syrian opposition are occurring through the use of air power," said Dempsey, who noted that the remaining 90 percent are by direct fire or by artillery. "So, the question then becomes: If you eliminate one capability of a potential adversary, will you be inclined to find yourself in a position to be asked to do more against the rest?"

Dempsey said the United States needs to be careful not to get drawn deeper into the conflict without having clear military objectives. If a no-fly zone was ordered, Dempsey said, the Pentagon would have to factor in the need to knock out Syrian air defenses and develop a search-and-rescue plan for any U.S. fighter pilots that could be downed. Military planners also would have to consider the prospect that Syria might launch retaliatory attacks both within Syria and beyond.

"Now, none of these reasons are reasons not to take action," Dempsey said. "But they all should be considered before we take that first step."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sen. John McCain Asserts Benghazi ‘Cover-Up’

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., described the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi controversy as a “cover up,” following exclusive reporting by ABC News that showed the State Department was involved in editing the CIA’s Benghazi talking points used in the days after the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Libya last year.

“I’d call it a cover-up,” McCain said Sunday morning on ABC’s This Week. “I would call it a cover-up in the extent that there was willful removal of information which was obvious.”

McCain criticized White House spokesperson Jay Carney for his characterization of the edits to the talking points, which were eventually used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on five Sunday talks shows the weekend after the Benghazi attack.

“For the president’s spokesman to say, that, ‘Well, there was only words or technical changes made in those emails’ is a flat-out untruth,” McCain said. “That’s just not acceptable.”

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., disputed McCain’s assertions, saying it was “absolutely not” a cover-up, and that the talking point revisions reflected efforts to form a “consensus document that avoided all of the difficult issues.”

“I think this was the classic issue of interagency’s battle about who will say what,” Reed said this morning on This Week.

McCain also singled out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who he suggested would have been aware of the State Department’s emails requesting changes to the talking points.

“I think the secretary of state has played a role in this,” McCain said. “She had to have been in the loop some way, but we don’t know for sure.”

McCain said Clinton should return to Capitol Hill to testify again, calling for a Congressional select committee to further investigate the issue.

“We need a select committee that interviews everybody,” McCain said. “I don’t know what level of scandal, unquote, this rises to, but I know it rises to the level where it requires a full and complete ventilation of these facts… We’re still uncovering information which frankly contradicts the original line that the administration took.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


McCain and Kerry Introduce Libya Resolution 

Scott J. Ferrell / CQ-Roll Call Group (WASHINGTON) -- Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced a resolution Tuesday morning authorizing force in Libya.

Countering efforts in the House to cut off funds for the operation in Libya, the resolution grants President Obama a one year time frame from which he can use American forces in a supporting role as part of NATO's efforts against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. The resolution does not support the use of U.S. ground troops in Libya.

Senator Kerry defended the Obama administration's claim that the U.S. has taken limited military action thus far in Libya and that the involvement is consistent with the War Powers Resolution. Critics, however, are arguing the opposite. Last week, a bipartisan group of 10 House members filed suit in U.S. District Court challenging the president's authority regarding his use of force in Libya, insisting the War Powers Act had been violated. The Obama administration insisted in a report it didn't need to consult Congress on the use of force in the North African country because American lives weren't at risk. House Speaker John Boehner said that report didn't "pass the straight-face test."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


State of the Union: We Can Work With This, Sen. John McCain Said

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Reducing the corporate tax rate, eliminating pork barrel spending, free trade and medical malpractice reform are a few of the laundry list of issues Sen. John McCain said he could work on with President Obama.

“There [were] a number of areas that the president has clearly shifted his opinion on,” the senator told Good Morning America.

Free trade seems the most promising, McCain said, and he was hopeful about revisiting healthcare and medical malpractice.  On Tuesday night, in a State of the Union that McCain said had a “much different feeling,” Obama signaled his willingness to revisit healthcare -- just not repeal it.

So what will be the “real crunch” in the coming months? Raising the debt limit, per McCain, which he says the GOP is willing to compromise on.

“We need to get back down to at least 2008 spending. Some of us would like to see us go down to 2006. Between the last two years, discretionary spending went up some 80% if you count the stimulus package as well. We’ve got to get the spending level down,” he said.

But is McCain willing to go that far to make it happen, including cuts to education, research and infrastructure?  In a word, yes.

“I am also willing to take up sooner rather than later entitlement reform. You and I could do social security reform on the back of an envelope. Medicare reform is much, much more difficult, but we really need to sit down and work. When we recognize those kinds of cuts that are going to have to be made I hope that drives more towards entitled reform,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich to Sarah Palin: 'Slow Down'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Former speaker of the House and potential 2012 presidential contender Newt Gingrich had some words of advice for Sarah Palin on Good Morning America Tuesday morning.

“I think that she has got to slow down and be more careful and think through what she’s saying and how she’s saying it,” Newt Gingrich said.

A new USA Today/ Gallup poll puts Palin’s favorable rating at 38 percent following her reaction to the shooting in Tucson, her lowest since she was announced as Sen. John McCain's running mate.

“There is no question that she has become more controversial, but she is still a phenomenon. I don’t know anybody else in American politics who can put something on Twitter or put something on Facebook and automatically have it become a national story,” Gingrich said about his possible 2012 rival. “So she remains, I think, a formidable person in her own right.”

While Palin’s numbers fell Obama’s approval rating has risen in the wake of the shooting.

Gingrich praised Obama for picking Bill Daley as his new chief-of-staff and he called the president’s speech in Tucson “very effective” and “what a president should do in a moment like that.”

But the former speaker of the House was highly critical of Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius.

HHS is set to release a report stating that 129 million people could have preexisting conditions and therefore their health care insurance could be in jeopardy.

Gingrich called this study, released prior to a House GOP vote to repeal Obama’s health care legislation, “left wing propaganda” and dismissed its findings.

“These are people who claim they can cut $500 billion out of Medicare and not affect either doctors, hospitals or senior citizens. If you can believe that you can believe anything they are saying. These are folks who I think have consistently been dishonest about what they are doing,” Gingrich told me. “The Secretary of Health and Human Services has publicly threatened insurance companies that she would basically knock out of being able to bid on things and she’s been very overt in this. She’s behaved like a politician and basically threatening her critics.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


McCain Backs Obama's Tucson Message, Takes Some Blame for Political Debate

Arizona Sen. John McCain and his wife Cindy while attending the Jan. 13 funeral service of Christina-Taylor Green, the youngest of the victims from the mass shooting in Tucson. Photo Courtesy - Greg Bryan | Arizona Daily Star | POOL PHOTO(WASHINGTON) -- In an op-ed set to run in Sunday's Washington Post, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, embraces President Obama's message in Tucson, criticizes his own political rhetoric and makes a powerful statement for civility in the wake of the Arizona tragedy.  He also offers a defense of sorts for Sarah Palin's controversial statement on the Arizona shooting.

"I disagree with many of the president's policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country's cause," McCain says. "I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals. And I reject accusations that Americans who vigorously oppose his policies are less intelligent, compassionate or just than those who support them."

At the same time, McCain, who lost to Obama in the 2008 election, accepts some personal blame for the incivility of the political debate in recent years.

"Our political discourse should be more civil than it currently is and we all, myself included, bear some responsibility for it not being so," he says.

‪While not mentioning Sarah Palin by name, McCain tries to explain why she reacted the way she did in a video message this week after she was blamed by some for playing a role in the tragedy.  ‬

"Political leaders are not and cannot reasonably be expected to be indifferent to the cruelest calumnies aimed at their character," McCain says. "Imagine how it must feel to have watched one week ago the incomprehensible massacre of innocents committed by someone who had lost some essential part of his humanity, to have shared in the heartache for its victims and in the admiration for those who acted heroically to save the lives of others -- and to have heard in the coverage of that tragedy voices accusing you of complicity in it."

"It does not ask too much of human nature to have the empathy to understand how wrong an injury that is or appreciate how strong a need someone would feel to defend him or herself against such a slur," he says.

In conclusion the Arizona senator emphasizes, "It is not beyond us to do better; to behave more modestly and courteously and respectfully toward one another; to make progress toward the ideal that beckons all humanity: to treat one another as we would wish to be treated."

As one step in the push for Washington politicians to come together in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting, McCain has endorsed Sen. Mark Udall's call for both parties to sit together at the Jan. 25 State of the Union address, an idea that is now gaining more support with each passing day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal Gaining Momentum in Senate

Photo Courtesy - Pryor[dot]senate[dot]gov(WASHINGTON) -- The push to repeal the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy on gays serving openly gained a significant boost Wednesday when Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat from Arkansas, threw his support behind the effort.

In September, Pryor was one of only two Democrats to vote against the repeal. His fellow Arkansas senator, Blanche Lincoln, was the other.

Wednesday Pryor announced that after reading the recent Pentagon report on the repeal he will now support the effort to change the policy. The repeal is attached to the annual defense authorization bill.

“I have now carefully reviewed all of the findings, reports, and testimony from our armed forces on this matter and I accept the Pentagon’s recommendations to repeal 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” Pryor said in a statement Wednesday morning. “I also accept the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ commitment that this policy can be implemented in a manner that does not harm our military’s readiness, recruitment, or retention.”

“We have the strongest military in the world and we will continue to do so by ensuring our troops have the resources necessary to carry out their missions. Therefore I support the 2011 Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate Armed Services Committee and will support procedural measures to bring it to a vote this year.”

Pryor is not the only senator to decide to support the repeal after reviewing the Pentagon’s report. On Friday two moderate Republicans from New England – Sen. Scott Brown, R-MA, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, did the same.

“Having reviewed the Pentagon report, having spoken to active and retired military service members, and having discussed the matter privately with Defense Secretary Gates and others, I accept the findings of the report and support repeal based on the Secretary’s recommendations that repeal will be implemented only when the battle effectiveness of the forces is assured and proper preparations have been completed,” Brown said in a statement.

Collins said she too will vote in favor of repeal if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allows for sufficient debate on it and resolves the issue of the Bush tax cuts first.

On September 21 Senate Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, shot down the defense bill that included a repeal of the policy. Democrats needed 60 votes to advance the bill past a GOP filibuster, but only secured 56 votes. However, one of the no votes was from Reid, who only took that vote in a procedural move to allow him to bring up the measure again at a later date.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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