Morning Joe | January 24, 2013
>>> a beautiful shot of washington. snowing this morning at 25 past the hour. here with us now from capitol hill , republican senator from wyoming and member of the senate foreign relations committee , senator john barrasso . good to have you on the show this morning, sir.
>> thanks for having me, mika.
>> i see you have a piece in "the wall street journal " on chuck hagel . we'll get to that in just a moment. i'd like to ask you, first of all, what productive information do you think came out of the hearings yesterday with the secretary of state?
>> i think we see a true commitment to make sure that something like this never happens again. that was my focus of the questions. so many instances over the decades when there's been a tragic incident like this, it seems that lessons are learned but are not actually then put into place to prevent a similar event from happening again. and what i'm hoping came out of yesterday's testimony is that people are truly committed to trying to connect the dots ahead of time because there were plenty of warnings ahead of time that something bad was brewing. and i also believe that in the future, the kind of cables that secretary -- that were being sent to the secretary but maybe not getting to her by ambassador stevens would actually get through so that the needs are known at the highest level.
>> and was there anything in her testimony that made sense to you, that actually made you understand more fully why things happened or made you feel like things would actually change?
>> well, as she said, no secretary of state wants to have to make the call to the family of an ambassador or someone serving our country overseas about the loss of life. and i think that was heartfelt, very sincere. i think anyone looking -- i'm sure that senator kerry, as he goes forward, wants to make sure that that kind of thing is always prevented in the future. i do think there are still questions. i think there were issues from the campaign, the run-up, what had happened in benghazi caused some of the narrative of the campaign, of the president's re- election campaign , to get involved in terms of saying that al qaeda has been decimated. al qaeda is on the run from what we were seeing on the ground is very different.
>> senator barrasso, it's willie geist . it's good to see you this morning.
>> thanks, willie .
>> senator mccain has put this whole benghazi affair to a very stark question. he says either the united states government is guilty of gross incompetence or there's some kind of cover-up at play. now that you've studied everything, you've heard all this testimony, do you suspect either of those is the case at the end of the day ?
>> well, i think that there absolutely should have been a connecting of the dots. it is so clear to me, willie , that people should have seen this coming. the ambassador saw it coming. but yet the messages were being blocked. security requests were being denied. and today here we are four months later. and there really doesn't seem to be, for the american people and for those who died, justice. either with regard to the terrorists -- no one's been brought to justice for that. now we see the uprising in africa that continues. maybe emboldened by the fact that no terrorist was really brought to trial or brought to justice as a result of the attacks in benghazi . and then in the united states , those who were in the pentagon, i guess they shifted some positions and maybe changed some titles, but it really doesn't seem that anyone has been held truly accountable for the mistakes that were made.
>> jon meacham ?
>> senator, hi, it's jon meacham . i know you're a student of history. and as you look forward to this session, there's the terror threats abroad you just mentioned. there are issues about gun and gun safety that i'm sure are very important in your state. and there's the overarching question of taxes and spending and entitlements. where do you put the challenges this session faces in terms of history? is this 1981 ? is this 2009 ? how are you feeling about the weight of what you have to deal with?
>> well, first let me say there is bipartisan agreement that your book on jefferson is absolutely fantastic.
>> all right.
>> that's among the leadership as well as the rank and file members of the united states senate .
>> i appreciate that.
>> people are reading it all over the place. from my standpoint, we're really looking at the greatest threat to our national security is our debt. it has to do with our children and our grandchildren's futures. as i travel wyoming and have telephone town hall meetings , the things that really come up, people are saying i'm not worried for me. i'm worried for my kids and grandk grandkids, and are we still going to have america in the future with this kind of debt? who will we owe our future to?
>> senator barrasso, i want to ask you about your piece in this morning's " wall street journal ." i can reduce it down for everybody. you're not a big fan of chuck hagel , as it turns out. the headline, "hagel's unsettling history." you have questions about his commitment to israel , questions about the way he thinks about iran, questions about his judgment back in 2006 and '07 in iraq. you say he has unpredictable judgment. you say, quote, time after time mr. hagel has shown himself to be out of the mainstream on important issues related to national security . in each case, later events have shown he was wrong. how do you boil down your own criticism of chuck hagel ?
>> well, i think you've done a great job summarizing it, willie . and last night north korea has come out and announced that they're looking at additional rocketry to deliver nuclear weapons with the united states as the aim. and senator hagel -- you know, his judgment on that in his previous statements were wrong there as well. as we look forward to the secretary of defense at a time with reduced budget abilities, even though chuck hagel says that the defense budget is bloated, secretary panetta who is leaving saying that some of these cuts are going to be devastating to our military. so you want to have people there with sound judgment and really an ability and a very strong way to lead our nation at a very difficult time. so i have just significant reservations about chuck hagel , as outlined in this. i just got back from afghanistan last week. talking to our men and women in the field. jane harman has talked about the issue of women in the military . i was at four different outposts with different people. men and women were doing the same jobs every place i was.
>> i think reading your piece, the lead, it's a very thoughtful piece. the lead, once again, is about netanyahu , the first name you mentioned in there. and i think it's important that we recognize that netanyahu is not the israeli messiah. he speaks not for all of israel . lord is one, i'm not sure it's bibi netanyahu . he represents a position that american jews and the congress of the united states as well need to recognize, i think, is not about all of israel . there just was an election there, very narrowly decided. 50% of the people voted against netanyahu 's coalition.
>> weakened a bit.
>> there's a good debate going on, and the senator is part of it. but maybe now we'll get a real look at what israel is and what its government is and what represents the united states ' interests.
>> senator john barrasso , thank you very much. great to see you.
>> thanks. thanks, mika. thanks for having me. thank you.
>>> coming up, "time" magazine goes inside how the new movie "zero dark thirty," their in-depth interview with academy award -winning director kathryn bigelow .
>>> and in just a moment, legendary quarterback john elway joins us on the set. " morning joe " back in a moment.