The “Three Amigos” — the nickname for Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) (who replaced former senator Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut) — have been right about a lot of things lately. They wanted a stay-behind force in Iraq. They challenged President Obama’s excuse that he wasn’t responsible for the failure to set up a status-of-forces agreement, as contemplated, to extend beyond 2011. They wanted early action to dislodge Bashar al-Assad. They were skeptical of the interim deal with Iran. They warned that the Russian reset was a mistake and Vladimir Putin was a threat to former Soviet states. They decried the foolishness of defense cuts and the failure to stand up to China. All three have argued that it is folly to dismantle anti-terrorist architecture, such as the National Security Agency’s data-mining programs. Given the collapse of the Obama foreign policy and the state of the Middle East, their foreign policy judgment over the last few years has been rock solid.
They also serve as a fact-check squad to expose the administration’s historical rewrites. Graham blew the whistle on Hillary Clinton’s claim that the Obama administration “had” to get its troops out. In a speech to a GOP group this past week Ayotte explained the danger in returning to a criminal justice model for our fight against jihadist terrorists:
As a former prosecutor, I’m all for the constitutional rights of defendants in this country. But that system was not designed to gather intelligence. It has a different purpose. When we try someone in a criminal court, our purpose is to seek justice for the crime for which they are charged. Yes, the police interview that individual when they are charged with murder or some other crime. But their job isn’t to find everything that they knew, or every connection that they’ve ever had. It’s a very, very different purpose. This administration has melded those two together and put us in a place where we are less safe. . . . This is the number one responsibility we owe to the American people when we capture a terrorist: make sure we gather the intelligence that a person has to prevent future attacks on this country. That is how we are going to prevent another 9/11. Intelligence is how we are going to do that. And when we lose opportunities, we are really not doing a service to the American people. In fact, for political reasons, I think we are not doing the right thing.
On Afghanistan she warned, “After all of the sacrifice we have made for so long in Afghanistan, the Taliban is just going to wait us out. I think the recent prisoner transfer actually played into that mind-set of the Taliban because five of their key people were part of that swap. It really plays into the narrative of the president announcing, ‘Here is exactly when we are going to get all the way out.’ Even if you have the belief that this was the timetable on which you were going to get out of Afghanistan, do we really need to tell our enemy that? It’s ridiculous. It’s totally ridiculous, and there is nothing driving it other than politics. I think that after all the work we’ve done in Afghanistan, there is a real chance that we will risk the gains we have made there.” Indeed.
For all that and for showing leadership nationally and within their party we cans say, well done, senators.