Chris Wallace vs. WH's Tony Blinken: "How Could The President Have Been So Wrong?"


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: All right. This week -- you talked about the Congress -- this week, the president told Congress that he has the power to carry out these strikes in part because of the Congress's 2002 authorization for the use of force in Iraq, but I have a letter here that Susan Rice sent to the Congress back in July of this year, just two months ago, in which she writes this, "With American combat troops having completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 18th, 2011, the Iraq authorization for the use of military force" -- excuse me -- "is no longer used for any U.S. government activities, and the administration fully supports its repeal."

How can you go to war based on an authorization that you say is no longer the basis for any U.S. government activities, and this authorization, you wanted it repealed?

TONY BLINKEN, WH DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Chris, there are two authorizations in question. The first one is the 2001 authorization to use force. That was the one that was voted by Congress in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. It said this, we can use all necessary means to go after those --


WALLACE: But you also said the Iraq authorization.

BLINKEN: Yes, let me just finish.

Two things, you're right, but there are two things. 2001 authorization to use force. It said we can go after anyone who was associated with the forces that attacked us on 9/11. Zarqawi, the founder of al Qaeda in Iraq was a colleague of Osama bin Laden before 8/11, very close to him. After 9/11, he formed al Qaeda in Iraq. They associated themselves with al Qaeda --

WALLACE: I understand that, sir. I'm asking about the 2002 Iraq authorization. Is it the basis or is it not the basis?

BLINKEN: It is a basis with 2001, but the 2002 authorization was focused Saddam Hussein. But it also said, that if there are terrorist forces in Iraq that the Iraqi government is unable or unwilling to deal with, that gives us authorization to act as well.

WALLACE: It's kind of embarrassing that two months ago, you wanted to repeal it?

BLINKEN: We still would like to repeal it. We think it would be very helpful is that, one, Congress work to give us a targeted, focused authorization. But while we welcome that, we don't need it. We have the 2001 authorization, and we have a basis in 2001 authorization.

WALLACE: Finally, President Obama spoke to the U.N. this week, but I want to ask you about his speech to the U.N., saying -- general assembly last year, in which he said we are ending a decade of war. Take a look at this.


OBAMA: Today, all of our troops have left Iraq. Next year, an international coalition will end its war in Afghanistan, having achieved its mission of dismantling the core of al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11.


WALLACE: How could the president have been so wrong?

BLINKEN: The president was exactly right. What we're re doing is totally different than the last decade. We're not sending hundreds of thousands of American troops back into Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere else. We're not going to be spending trillions of American dollars.

What we're doing is supporting local forces with some of our unique assets, air power, training and equipping them, assisting them, intelligence, they will be doing the fighting on the ground. We can't want it more than they do --

WALLACE: But, Mr. Blinken --

BLINKEN: And also --

WALLACE: Mr. Blinken -- and I know we're going over time here -- he said all our troops have left Iraq. In fact, he has just sent at least 1,600 troops back into Iraq. He said we've dismantled the core of al Qaeda. The Khorasan group which you struck in the first day is an offshoot of the core al Qaeda, and, in fact, follows the direct orders of the leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri.

BLINKEN: Chris, they fled. Because we were so successful and effective in Afghanistan and Pakistan, they fled, because we decimated the core of al Qaeda. They removed themselves. They went to Syria. But they use --

WALLACE: But they're still --

BLINKEN: Sure. And we said from day one, that there would be groups that would emerge in other parts of the world. We'd been relentless in going after them. What we're not going to do is fallen to the al Qaeda trap of sending hundreds of thousands of Americans back. That's exactly what they want. They want to bog us down, tie us down, to bleed us. We're going to be smarter about this.

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