Entries in John McCain (29)


Sen. McCain Secretly Visits Syria, Meets with Rebels

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Sen. John McCain crossed the Syrian border to meet with rebel forces Monday, ABC News has confirmed.

McCain, one of the strongest critics of President Obama’s handling of the bloody two-year old conflict between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces, is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Syria since the civil war began.

The trip was first reported by The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin.

McCain traveled across the border from Turkey to Syria with Gen. Salem Idris, leader of the rebel forces known as the Supreme Military Command. Idris has become the principal interlocutor between the international community and the highly localized Syrian rebel movement.

ABC News confirmed that in meetings with rebel forces during McCain’s several-hour visit to Syria, rebel leaders called for more support from the U.S., including assistance in the form of heavy arms, airstrikes against the Syrian national army, and the enforcement of a no-fly zone.

McCain has also called for the administration to enforce a no-fly zone and provide additional assistance to the Syrian rebels.

McCain has made clear his belief that President Obama's not doing enough to help the Syrian rebels and that they are running out of time and ammunition.  Obama has been reluctant to send weapons, and is instead urging a negotiated peace.

The Obama administration announced in April that it would provide $123 million in non-lethal aid to the rebels.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


McCain Calls on Obama to Begin Preparations for Military Action in Syria

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Thursday called on President Obama to start preparing for possible military action in Syria, in light of the news that U..S intelligence agencies have detected Assad’s government is potentially preparing for use of their chemical weapon stockpiles.
“We are deeply distributed,” Sen. John McCain said Thursday at a press conference on Capitol Hill, “these reports may mean that the United States and our allies are facing the prospect of imminent use of weapons of mass destruction in Syria. This may be the last warning we get.”
McCain said the option of military intervention is an option that the United States must be ready for.
“We urge the President of the United States to make whatever military preparations necessary to show Assad that the United States is fully willing and able to impose the consequences that he has spoken of in the event that these weapons are used.”
“We’ve sat for too long on the sidelines,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said, appearing at the same press conference Thursday afternoon, “the need for engagement and more than that, urgent action, is clear and now.”
Lieberman said the message to President Obama, who has said that there will be drastic consequences for Assad and his government if they use chemical and biological weapons, is: “We’re with you.”
“There is strong support across Congress if the president takes the strong action,” Lieberman said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John McCain Wants Patriot Missiles to Build No-Fly Zone over Syria

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Speaking at a forum in Washington, D.C., Sen. John McCain talked about the current situation in Syria, speculating that President Bashar al-Assad would ultimately lose his battle to stay in power.

However, the Arizona Republican added, "The question is will Assad fall with the help of the West or without the help of the West?"

McCain has been an outspoken proponent of the U.S. arming rebel fighters in Syria, a proposal the Obama administration and the rest of the West has been reluctant to heed.

Believing that opposition forces need all the help they can get against a much more heavily armed Syrian military, McCain has come out in support of Patriot missiles lined up at the Turkish border that would presumably enforce a no-fly zone over Syria.

McCain's take on this scenario is that, "Pilots are not going to fly into certain death.  I don't care how brave they are.  You shoot down one or two of them, and they're not going to fly there again.  They may like Bashar al-Assad, but they like to live a little more."

NATO is concerned that providing Patriot missile batteries will also push them into the fighting that has gone on for 20 months with over 35,000 lives lost.

However, McCain contends that a no-fly zone, like it was done over Libya, can be accomplished "without boots on the ground."  The senator argued that the conflict is dragging on because the rest of the world is ignoring the rebels' pleas for help.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Calls McCain’s Allegation of Benghazi Cover-Up ‘Nonsense’

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Tuesday rebuffed as “nonsense” the insinuation by Sen. John McCain and other Republicans that the administration had engaged in a “cover-up” of botched security planning and response at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, surrounding the attack on Sept. 11.

“Any allegations of cover-up are nonsense, and I’ve said so repeatedly,” Obama told anchor Ron Steele of KWWL-TV in an interview.

“Look, these are our people that we send into harm’s way.  There’s an investigation being done as we speak, and not only will we find out exactly what happened, but we will bring to justice those who carried out this attack,” he said.

McCain has been harshly critical of the administration’s security procedures and crisis response in Benghazi, telling Face the Nation on Oct. 28, “I don’t know if it’s either a cover-up or the worst kind of incompetence.”

Obama has said he will hold accountable any member of the administration who “didn’t do their job” before, during or after the Benghazi attack.  But he says he will await completion of the investigation before passing judgment.

White House officials have said Obama is not -- at this stage -- actively engaged in or receiving updates on the internal review, but that he expects a “rigorous” summary of the findings at a later date.

The president, who has repeatedly faced questions about the Benghazi attacks in local media interviews, sought to cast the incident as an unfortunate aberration in a region where he has worked to restore “America’s respect and resolve.”

“The broader story is that in Libya as is true in many other parts of the world, America has stood by democracy, stood by the aspirations of the people of Libya, and that’s why when this attack happened you saw tens of thousands of people on the streets of Libya who are claiming that America is our friend,”  he said.

“And that’s the kind of leadership that Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was tragically killed, was all about.  And that’s what our administration has been all about.  We’ll find out exactly what happened and we will bring those who carried this attack out to justice.  But that should not detract from the fact that four years after I took office America’s respect and resolve around the world is unquestioned and that’s a big step forward,” Obama added.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rubio, McCain Criticize Administration’s Calling Libya Attack ‘Spontaneous'

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Republicans said that the White House’s delay in calling the assault on the consulate in Libya an act of terrorism set back efforts to truly confront the attack.

“On Sunday, to hear Ambassador Rice talk about how somehow this was all the result of a YouTube video, I think that is increasingly being debunked, and quite frankly I think that sets us back in our efforts to confront what this really is about,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said to cameras, referring to Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Rubio’s comments came after the full Senate received a one-hour briefing on the attack in Benghazi from Secretary of State Clinton Thursday evening.

The administration has said -- repeated as recently as Sunday -- the attack was a spontaneous reaction to the protests over the anti-Muslim video. But for the first time Thursday White House press secretary Jay Carney publicly characterized the deadly assault a “terrorist attack.”

“It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack,”  Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Florida. “Our embassy was attacked violently and the result was four deaths of American officials. So, again, that’s self-evident.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Thursday said he is “stunned” that the administration ever thought the attack was spontaneous.

“It shows the level of -- abysmal level of their knowledge about fundamental aspects of terrorist attacks and militant operations which had mortars, heavy equipment and rocket-propelled grenades, not exactly a spontaneous demonstration.”

McCain said that he “learned nothing” from the briefing by Clinton Thursday and still has many more questions for the administration.

“Why is it that we believe that this video is a problem?” McCain asked, ticking through his questions for the Obama administration. “What was the security of the embassy? Are there al Qaeda elements involved? Was this organization that’s been reported to be operating in Benghazi al Qaeda-affiliated and involved in the attack? There are 20 more questions that I have.”

The House of Representatives received a similar briefing from Clinton Thursday as well.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John McCain Goes Hard After Administration's Syria Policy

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Never one to mince words about his disagreements with the White House over foreign policy, Sen. John McCain went on the offensive again on Monday to blast President Obama for failing to get the U.S. involved in the Syrian conflict.

The Arizona Republican who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential race has been quick to call out the commander in chief for allowing rebel forces in Syria to be greatly outmanned and out-equipped by the national army.

However, Monday's tirade reached new levels of acrimony even for McCain as he described the administration's policies to remain on the sidelines as "feckless," "disgraceful" and shameful."

According to McCain, "Because of our feckless foreign policy, we now have the danger of chemical weapons being transported to Hezbollah."  On Monday, a Syrian government spokesman seemed to confirm the existence of chemical weapons but later explained he was only talking in hypotheticals.

The GOP lawmaker added, "The president does not believe in American exceptionalism and doesn’t want America to lead."

In spite of his disagreement with Obama, McCain appeared to concur with the general sentiment of the White House that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will eventually have to step down.  The U.S. is reportedly working with Israel and Turkey in preparing for that possible scenario.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


McCain Blasts White House's Inaction over Syria

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- More than 14,000 people have died since the uprising in Syria began over a year ago, and Arizona Sen. John McCain wonders how many more lives will be lost before the U.S. takes action.

During an appearance Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation, McCain blasted the Obama administration for its lack of action regarding the situation in Syria, calling the U.S. performance so far “shameful and disgraceful.”

The Arizona Republican said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “massacred” 14,000 people, and the U.S. needs to start supplying arms to the opposition.

McCain, who just returned from a trip to Afghanistan and Lebanon, said the U.S. has played no leadership role in the crisis, and the president needs to start speaking out on behalf of the people of Syria.

Sen. McCain says he isn’t calling for American boots on the ground, but feels the U.S. does need to get arms to the opposition so there’s a balance because “it’s not a fair fight, Russian arms are pouring in, Iranians are on the ground,” assisting the Assad government.

McCain’s call for American action came on the same day that President Assad accused the U.S. of fueling the violent uprising in his country.  Assad made his claim during an interview that appeared on a German TV station.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


McCain: Russian Empire ‘Nostalgia’ at Work in Syria

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Monday that the Kremlin’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could be made out of a desire to return Russia to the power it wielded in the 20th century.

“I don’t pretend to be able to get into President Putin’s mind, but there is a certain nostalgia in Russia for the old Russian empire,” the lawmaker said. “This is their last outpost and port on the Mediterranean.”

The ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee was speaking at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. The U.N. estimates 10,000 people have died since uprisings began in Syria in March 2011. Syrian opposition groups put the death toll at 14,000.

McCain alleged Russia’s decision with China to veto U.N. Security Council decisions in North Africa were tied to ripples of dissent in their own backyard, noting recent harsh crackdowns on the massive protests surrounding Putin’s reelection.

“This is in many ways to [Moscow] a test as to whether this disease called the Arab Spring will spread to other parts of the world, including places like Chechnya, which was put down with incredible, exceptional brutality,” McCain said.

Russian fought wars to prevent Chechnya from breaking away.

McCain says he is not looking to chill relations with Russia into a new Cold War, but argued that a “realistic view” had to be embraced regarding “our ability to do business with them.”

Last week the White House reported Putin’s government had been supplying the Assad regime with refurbished Soviet-era attack helicopters to use against civilian populations. Meanwhile, media reports have surfaced suggesting Russia could be gearing up to send marines to reinforce their main port in the country at Tartus.

Monday, McCain said regardless of the specifics, the Russian involvement had created a scenario that was “clearly [...] not a fair fight.”

McCain has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s role in Syria for months, calling for direct U.S. military action in the form of air strikes against Assad’s military. The former Republican presidential candidate has also advocated the arming of rebels against the regime, and the creation of “safe havens” from which they can coordinate resistance.

Telling his audience not to “go numb to the human tragedy” unfolding overseas, the senator asked once more if Obama would show the same “courage” former President Bill Clinton displayed during the American intervention in Bosnia.

Obama met with Putin Monday at the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. McCain said he hoped the two-hour bilateral discussion would “bring about some change” in the conflict.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John McCain Hesitant to Support Pick for New Ambassador to Iraq

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain could torpedo the Obama's administration pick to replace outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James F. Jeffrey.

The Arizona Republican has expressed reservations with Jeffrey's possible successor, Brett McGurk, because he failed to secure a small deployment of American forces in Iraq following the military withdrawal in late 2011.

McGurk will testify about his nomination before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday on which McCain is the GOP's ranking member.

Other lawmakers, including McCain's fellow Republicans, believe the career diplomat is qualified to serve as the country's top envoy to Iraq, having worked in both the George W. Bush White House and the current administration.

However, McCain told reporters Tuesday that McGurk should have done more during the final negotiations of the Status of Forces Agreement to ensure some American soldiers were left behind.

Mostly, McCain puts the ultimate blame on President Obama for "the unraveling of Iraq that's taking place."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Senators Keep Pushing to Arm Syrian Rebels

Alessio Romenzi/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two U.S. senators said Tuesday that the time has come to get tough with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who ignored a ceasefire plan in order to continue his onslaught against pro-democracy rebels.

Traveling in Turkey, Arizona Republican John McCain and Connecticut Independent Joe Lieberman renewed their call for arming anti-Syrian government forces despite misgivings by the Obama administration that such action could prolong the conflict.

Al-Assad was supposed to have ordered a withdrawal of soldiers and heavy artillery from population centers on Tuesday as directed by a six-point plan crafted by United Nations special emissary Kofi Annan.  However, when rebels balked at new conditions demands by al-Assad, the crackdown that has left more than 9,000 dead in the past 13 months showed no signs of abating.

Touring a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey, McCain and Lieberman urged the international community to provide weapons to al-Assad's foes to "change the balance of power on the ground."

Acknowledging White House concerns that the rebels may be too closely allied to al Qaeda militants, the senators said that doing nothing at this point would be worse, adding, "If responsible nations abandon the people of Syria, we should not be surprised if they increasingly turn to violent extremists for help."

Meanwhile, Annan said Tuesday that he doesn't believe his peace proposal has totally collapsed although al-Assad's seeming rejection of its provisions fits previous patterns of disregarding other ceasefire agreements.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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