Maher: Bombing The Middle East Doesn't Stop A Squad Of 20 People From Attacking Us

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BILL MAHER: There seems to be a massive disconnect with between how bad the threat really is. Can I read some quotes with some people who I'm sure you're familiar with. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says, "we know of no credible information that ISIS is planning to attack the homeland at present." Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center: "Any threat to the U.S. homeland from these types of extremists is likely to be limited."

We also found out today that there were over 100 Americans who joined ISIS. The number is really 12. What you hear from the people who are trying to worry us here in America is that they hate us. They want to carry out these attacks. Well, you know what, they want to. Is this where we draw in the line in the sand? What they want to do? Of course, they want us. There are lots of people who want to hurt us. I feel it has to get beyond that level before we go to these steps.

JOHN FEEHERY, GOP STRATEGIST: What General Zinni is saying also is that this is a safe haven. And Khorasan was the group that we had to go after because they were the ones that were targeting us. There are three or four other terrorist groups that are coming after us --

MAHER: Safe haven.

FEEHERY: Like the Taliban was the safe haven for al Qaeda.

MAHER: What does it matter? But that plot was done in Germany. That plot wasn't done in Afghanistan.

FEEHERY: al Qaeda was in Afghanistan.

MAHER: No, no, the people who plotted 9/11 were in Hamburg.

RET. GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI: The people who executed it were in Germany; the people who planned it were in Afghanistan.

MAHER: So, wait, Libya now is a safe haven because that's a free for all. Should we go in there too?

FEEHERY: Well, we tried. Listen, I think the issue is --

MAHER: Should we do it now?

FEEHERY: I don't think so right now, it's a mess.

MAHER: But why? It's a safe haven for those people who were plotting against us?

FEEHERY: I support President Obama in what he's doing right now because I think it's the right thing to do for our national security.

MAHER: Sure, because he's bombing people.

[applause]

MAHER: Somebody here tell me why people who have a "safe haven" over there are better able to fight to plan attacks here in America. I don't see the connection.

ZINNI: Because there's no pressure on them there. We saw al Qaeda living amongst the Taliban, there was no pressure inside their sanctuary. So they were able to plot and get a global reach. If you watched in the late '90s how Osama bin Laden moved his ability to strike a notch up each time. He hit our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and then he hit us back here. He hit the U.S.S. Cole in between.

MAHER: We're talking about --

FEEHERY: We need to keep these guys on the run. That makes them safer.

CHARLES BLOW, NEW YORK TIMES: But that's a never-ending prospect. This idea that every ungoverned region of the world --

FEEHERY: But what do you want us to do?

BLOW: Let me ask this question. If we are supposed to be the military might in every ungoverned region of the world because that place may be a safe haven for terrorists and it is our job, not --

FEEHERY: But these people have a track record of going after America. Remember 9/11?

MAHER: But no one is answering my question. Why if they have a country of their own does it affect a squad of five or 10 or at most 20 people as in 9/11 from attacking us? It really doesn't.

And you know, the people of America kind of get this because this is interesting -- 47% of people say in America we are less safe than they were after 9/11 but they're for this bombing. So they're basically saying let's try the thing that made us less safe again.

ZINNI: I think that you've equated this with what can you touch me back here and that's the only thing we should react to.

MAHER: Right.

ZINNI: I don't agree. I think there are moral interests we have too. Watching genocide which we've watched in the Holocaust. We watched in Rwanda and Burundi. We watched in Cambodia. And when we say "we" it isn't just the United States. We have trouble getting a coalition together in the international community but we should be outraged by what these people are doing. We shouldn't sit back and say well, because we can't be everywhere and do everything, we then should do nothing and accept this and then feel a sense --

BLOW: But follow that logic. Then we should have been bombing Syria last year against Bashar al-Assad. If it's a moral obligation.

MAHER: We're not the world's policeman.

ZINNI: You had a civil war that it was wise for us to stay out of that civil war as bloody as it was.

MAHER: It's still going on.

ZINNI: It's still going on. This is brutalizing human beings for no purpose --

MAHER: But we're fighting on behalf of the guy a year ago who was intolerable. The guy with the poison gas. It's the guy with the poison gas against the people who cut heads off. Maybe we should just sit this one out. (HBO's Real Time, September 26, 2014)

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