August 21st, 2007
05:13 PM ET
12 years ago

Thompson: Time for a 'frank discussion' about fighting terrorism

Thompson addressed the VFW Tuesday.

(CNN) - Fred Thompson, the all but announced Republican presidential candidate, suggested Tuesday that the nation was in denial when it comes to the threat of terrorism.

“I don’t think that yet as a nation we have come to terms with the nature and the extent of the threat facing this country,” Thompson said while addressing the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, Missouri.

Calling terrorism “a global threat” to the United States, Thompson pointed out that he thought the United States was at a crossroads and told the veterans “it’s time that we had a frank discussion in this country at the highest levels with both parties as to what it’s going to take and the unity we’re going to need” to battle terror.

Thompson also faulted those calling for a troop withdrawal from Iraq, saying it would hurt the overall fight against terrorism.

“Some people in this country apparently think that if we can pull out of Iraq, our problems are going to be over. You and I know better than that. We know that Iraq is an important front in this war,” Fred Thompson said to an audience of combat veterans on Tuesday.

(Related video: watch part of Thompson's remarks at the VFW convention)

Citing recent reports out of Iraq’s Al Anbar province, Thompson said progress was being made on the ground.

Thompson’s remarks about the war on terror echoed themes frequented by President Bush in defending the war in Iraq at a time when the Republican presidential field is trying to win over the Republican Party’s conservative base.

Senators Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and John McCain, R-Arizona, spoke to the convention Monday.

Thompson is expected to formally announce that he is running for president sometime around Labor Day.

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, also addressed the VFW convention on Tuesday.

"We honor your service and we enter into a sacred trust with you from the moment you put on that uniform," Obama said to the nation's veterans. "That trust is simple. America will be there for you just as you have been there for America," he added.

"As a candidate for the presidency, I know that I am running to become commander-in-chief, to safeguard this nation's security, and to keep that sacred trust. There is no responsibility that I take more seriously," he said after weeks of being attacked for his foreign policy views by Clinton and other contenders for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

(Related video: watch the end of Obama's remarks at the VFW convention)

–CNN Associate Producer Martina Stewart

soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Independent Voter, TN

    Michael in San Diego:

    Thank you for reasoned comments. Prior to your posting, this string of talking points is something you would expect to hear on Air America.

    Islamic terrorism has been around since well before Bush took office. In fact I distinctly remember Sadaam donating $25000 to families of Palestinian suicide bombers of Israeli civilians back in the late 90's.

    we need to recognize that the Atlantic and Pacific are no longer enough to shield us from our enemies. And make no mistake about it, Muslim fundamentalists are our enemy and they are fired up about their chance to destroy our way of life and to impose Islam on the Western world. To deny or ignore this is irresponsible.

    It was nice to read some non-emotional and non-partisan remarks for a change.

    August 21, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  2. Kuro, Long Beach CA

    Fred, at this point, its turned into a religious war.

    Do you propose we remain until only one religion is left in Iraq?

    August 21, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Ryan, Provo, UT

    I'm a liberal and I wouldn't vote for Thompson in a million years, however I don't see how anyone can be opposed to a frank discussion regarding terrorism.

    I'm shocked at how many people flippantly dismiss any discussion of terrorism as "fear-mongering". Terrorism is a real threat to this country and it's incredibly naive to think we can ignore it and life will just return to normal.

    I agree that we've brought much of this threat on ourselves but there are a lot of complex religious, social, and political factors going on here and I can guarantee you that no one commenting here today is well-informed enough to know exactly what should be done.

    There has not been enough discussion of this issue from the democratic candidates and I would love to see the dems and republicans sit down and discuss this issue frankly and openly.

    August 21, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  4. andy riveria denver co

    It is about time and different then the usually Republican answer of "do what ever it takes to make sure the terroists win"

    The terroist pray every day for another Bush.

    August 21, 2007 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  5. jcw, Michigan

    There was the Hart-Rudman report that Bush and Cheney ignored. There was the 9/11 Commission that never had the full support of this administration. How many opponents to the Bush immigration policy lamented its lack of border security. I don't think it takes a non-candidate to say when we draw a line in the sand we shouldn't do it by burying our heads.

    August 21, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  6. Chris L., Kennewick, WA

    Jon Dempsey said, "If we really want to end terrorism against the U.S., we need to look at our foreign policy, our economic globalization, and the way we behave in the international community."
    BULL.
    Our foreign policy is in place to protect America, it's citizens, and it's interests. Period.

    August 21, 2007 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  7. Christian, Tampa FL

    When will the Republicans get it through their heads that the Iraq War is only hurting our efforts in the War on Terror? Al-Qaeda in Iraq CANNOT attack us. They don't have the means. Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan have regained strength and must be dealt with through some medium or other.

    August 21, 2007 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  8. KD, Dallas, TX

    Michael O'Leary you make great points here. I just want one clarification. We caused the degree of overlap with terrorism and Iraq.

    As much as we all despise dictators, at least Sadam had control of the different sanctions in that country. Darfur has much more severe issues and we don't even acknowledge them as a concern at all. Also, I have Palestinian friends who would add to the extremists point of view being our constant support of Israel and disregard of anything Moslem. Yes, extremist Moslems are pushing their views and jihad worldwide, but they have a specific hatred of Americans. One wonders if we would be better off, or if Iraq would be better off if we did pull out. I think we created such a BIG mess over there, that there really isn't going to be a good strategy for leaving. People like Thompson do cause me great angst. The last thing we need is someone elected that is a duplicate of Bush. I fear him, Cheney and Rove much more than I do the terrorists that seem so elusive to me. Having our elected officials make hugh changes to our freedom and constitution and push fear constantly down our throats is very disturbing to me and makes me wonder what the true agenda is.

    August 21, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  9. Anonymous, California

    The terrorists have succeeded in letting America be consumed by fear and record federal spending that has outpaced even more than what we spent during the height of the Cold War.

    FDR told us to not be afraid. The Bush Administration and most of the GOP relies on fear as a tactic to impose control and manipulate the public.

    We were supose to be united...instead we are more divided than ever and we have let the terrorists control our way of life.

    Continuing to preach fear and let our country be intimated should NOT be the answer.

    I do agree that we need more frank discussion...but what Fred is talking about is clearly more of the same failed Bush policies.

    August 21, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  10. Yvan,Indio,CA

    You are right Freddy about this country needs to have a frank discussion about terror. About this, let have this administration starts to stop lying , and using the treat emergency level for political gains. let have Juliani stop to use 9/11 dramatic event for political gain.Let have the Bush's administration lying about WMD in Irak, and justifying killing 1/2 million of Irakis. Instead of trying to give us a lecture about trying to have a frank discussion about terror, why don't you talk to your Republican Buddies and tell them to start to tell the true. Then after that you may want to go back to Law and Order TV serie. You just do not sound credeable Freddy. LOL

    August 21, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  11. AB Kings Mountain, North Carolina

    This Fred Thompson fellow has got to be the biggest joke I've ever seen! Somebody please tell him to close his piehole and quit embarrassing himself! Lol!

    August 21, 2007 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. Dick G; Chandler, AZ

    Fred Thompson’s suggesting that the people are in denial regarding the threat of terrorism seems a prime example of ‘blaming to cover the fault’. It fails to acknowledge that it was the Bush administration that aggressively and belligerently used subterfuge to justify moving the concentration from fighting terrorism to the attacking of Iraq for the sole benefit of a select few and at significant costs to the majority. His position ignores that there has been four years of lives lost, tax payers dollars spent and continual rationalizing and deceptive reporting by our government while the Iraqis, who really are the only hope for resolution, simply abandon their responsibility and consistently compete for sectarian advantage and self-interests. What Mr. Thompson’s rhetoric does demonstrate is that there is full intent to continue with ‘more of the same’, more of the pursuing of a private agenda for substantial benefit to a select few, who in return then provide support, contributions and facilitation, while the average American is subtly given little more than apathy, artifice and the costs. When the ‘smoke’ is put aside it seems easy to recognize that the Iraq War has very little to do with the War on Terrorism and a whole lot to do with financial gain for some very wealthy people and then with political maneuvering by Iraqi factions. I don’t think America can really take ‘more of the same’ with all of it’s shortcomings but it is obvious that the ‘select few’ aren’t going to let go easily.

    August 21, 2007 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  13. Buck, Indianola, IA

    This is the saddest bunch or retread comments i have ever seen:

    We're doomed

    Fred dubya

    Neocon

    Scary

    It hasn't worked before and it won't work this time. Fred Thompson is an honorable man with a histroy of public service. he is not the boogeyman, though that is how he will be protraited by the same crowd that same the same things about Reagan, Bush41 and Bush43. Keep reading the talking points and drinking the kool-aid folks. Patriotic Americans do not feast on their own and the politics stops at the waters edge.

    August 21, 2007 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  14. Ron H, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Fred Thompson sure has had alot to say over the last month, Abortion and his would be challenge on Roe vs. Wade, Gay Marriage, and now his views on the terror front. I think we all liked you better as Adam Branch on Law & Order, where you left the script writing to someone else and just delivered the clever lines.

    August 21, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  15. Glenn, Florida

    Just what the Republican Party needs! Another hawkish, conservative fanatic who has no concept of what it takes to run a country. I think Fred should continue with his mediocre acting endeavors.

    August 21, 2007 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  16. Sharon, Littleton, CO

    Fred Thompson for President? Gag me with a spoon! Just more of the same old tired neoconservative dogma. Either it's time for this good ole' boy to announce or go away. He's not a real presidential candidate – he just plays one on TV!

    August 21, 2007 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  17. Wynter, Loudon, NH

    Good Lord! Not a stereotypical republican platform speech. Sheesh! Thompson should feel ashamed to pull the Fear Card at a time when everyone and their dog knows that Iraq was a stupid mistake by Bush and Company. And its time, NOT to fear the world around us. It's time to work towards a solution. All the while NOT destroying our country's constitution in the process.

    Telling it like it is,
    Wynter

    August 21, 2007 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  18. John L Cerrato, Rockville Centre, NY

    Senator Thompson is wrong to say that Terrorism and the Iraq War are one. We began the war in Iraq to have a Regime change & find WMDs. Terrorist have joined the fight in Iraq as one of many different groups because the U.S. is still a target. We need to get out of Iraq and fight the war that really threatens us which is Terrorism.

    August 21, 2007 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  19. A. Chico-Juarbe, Arecibo, Puerto Rico

    I support Mr. Thompson's comments on the necessity have a frank discusion on the subject of terrorism. But I do not agree that Iraq is an important front on that war. Having said that, I would support his candidacy for the presidency of the U.S. He's not an official candidate yet and the democrats are showing just plain fear of him. That only shows that he is a really strong republican candidate. Imperfect, yes. But with a lot more backbone than any democratic candidate so far. ALL of them are NOW against the war in Iraq, but in 2003 they were absolutely silent. For all their tough talk, democrats are just crybabies in the political sense. Always complaining but never offering anything substantial about how to fix any problem. Just like wimps. Former President Jimmy Carter had more guts and character than any of the potencial democrats for the White House. But he was president at the wrong time. Too bad.

    August 21, 2007 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  20. Smith

    How can you have war on a tactic?

    August 21, 2007 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  21. Lynn Ensley McCaysville, Ga.

    J Fred, you missed your chance to do something honorable by cleaning up the Copper Basin in your great state, but you was busy reading your copy of my pet goat. Now you want to help Hallyburton screw the hose on to the Iraqi pipeline. Forget it Fred, Your fellow Tennesseeans would let you down anyway, just ask James K. Polk Andy Jackson and Al Gore.

    August 22, 2007 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  22. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Michael O’Leary, San Diego, CA ... "Practically, the US is their first target because the US is the biggest foreign obstacle to their goals (realistic or otherwise) of establishing an Islamist order in the arab world."

    Ummm .... wrong. The US is a target because it MADE itself a target with a history of intrusive Middle Eastern foreign policy decisions since at least the 1950's (google Operation Ajax sometime – which lead to the American hostages being taken by the Iranians in the late 1970's).

    Funny how the people who started this war on terror (that Dubya said we COULDN'T win) by masterminding the 911 attacks cite several foreign POLICIES that led to them attacking us, like building American bases on their land, support of Israel, etc. If you need more, let me know.

    Here's a hint: You don't go out of your way for DECADES to give people reason after reason to hate you and then say "Well ... umm ... they would have attacked us anyway" to justify your own ignorance.

    "our withdrawal from Iraq (though needed at some point) will not satisfy these extremists, modify their views toward us or anything else, nor will it make them go away."

    Wrong again! It WILL make them go away .. and by "them" I mean all the (as Ronald Reagan called them) "Freedom Fighters" who are attacking us because we continue to occupy their land to set up 1) a puppet govt to the U.S., 2) that they never asked for, 3) at gunpoint, 4) that will be partial to Israel, 5) so we can privatize THEIR oil.

    As Marwan Abu Ubeida, one of many terrorists in training, stated in a June 26th, 2005 posted interview with a TIME reporter "We expected them to bring Saddam down and then leave," he says. "But they stayed and stayed." Abu Ubeida believed there are "hundreds of others" like him, which was supported by the fact that al-Zarqawi's group announced before the interview that it had set up a separate brigade for Iraqi suicide bombers.

    While there will always be other that hate us regardless of what we do or don't do ... THOSE people above (a brigades worth of them) WILL be satisfied and WILL go away if we leave.

    Thanks for posting and thus allowing me to correct you.

    August 22, 2007 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  23. Mrs. America

    What scares me is that many people are going to vote for Thompson as the character he played on TV, whatever that is because I have never seen the show. Once he announces his run (his caginess also bothers me), more truth of his olden days in government will come to the forefront. I think we'll see Mitt Romney (Mormonism and all) in the republican spot. People are tired of being manipulated by fear, and Guiliani and Thompson seemed determined to play with the same deck (or lack thereof).

    August 22, 2007 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  24. Murray

    Just curious, don't know where I stand on Fred T. Wonder what you all think will happen if we pull out of Iraq right now?

    August 22, 2007 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  25. David, Los Angeles CA

    Thompson for president!!!

    August 22, 2007 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
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