Rep. Cantor: An Embarrassing Record On Foreign Policy

June 02, 2009 2:04 pm ET

On June 2, 2009, Minority Whip Eric Cantor issued a statement criticizing President Obama's handling of Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Yet a thorough examination of Rep. Cantor's record on issues of national security reveals many troubling facts.

Rep. Eric Cantor Criticized President Obama On National Security

On June 2, 2009, Minority Whip Eric Cantor issued a statement criticizing President Obama's handling of Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Yet a thorough examination of Rep. Cantor's record on issues of national security reveals many troubling facts.

Rep. Cantor: Dangerously Wrong On Terrorism

Cantor's FIRST Action As Chairman Of The House Task Force On Terrorism And Unconventional Warfare Was To Issue A Press Release On September 12, 2001.  Rep. Eric Cantor's first public action as chairman of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare was to issue a press release on September 12, 2001.  The release said: "As the Administration has indicated, the terrorist attacks are an act of war.  Therefore, retribution must be swift, sure, and overwhelming.  But retribution is not enough. In war one must destroy the enemy's ability to wage war... It is only through the destruction of international terrorism's supportive infrastructure that attacks like this can be prevented and terrorists emasculated." [Cantor Release via CQ Congressional Press Releases, 9/12/01] 

Cantor Voted Against Implementing The Recommendations Of The 9/11 Commission.  In 2007, Eric Cantor voted against passage of The Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007.  The bill would implement recommendations of the September 11 commission, including requiring Homeland Security grants based mainly on risk while ensuring minimum amounts for each state. It would create a new grant program to support the development of interoperable communications. It also would require all cargo bound for the United States to be scanned for radiation and density before being placed on a ship in a foreign port. The bill would authorize new sanctions on foreign individuals or entities that engage in the improper transport or sales of nuclear weapons materials. The bill passed 299-128.  [HR. 1, Vote #15, 1/9/07]

  • Cantor: "This Bill Includes Provisions That Are Dangerous To America." Eric Cantor released a statement about The Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 that said: "This bill includes provisions that are dangerous to America... Giving the United Nations our authority to prevent rogue governments from building weapons of mass destruction is a mistake. America and allied nations have been effective at keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of the terrorists and rogue regimes." [Cantor Statement on Democrats' 9/11 Bill, 1/9/07]

Rep. Cantor Attempted To Falsely Link Al Qaeda & Iraq

Cantor Asserted A "Meeting Between Mohammed Atta And The Iraqi Diplomat" Took Place. During a Cantor appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Paul Begala asked: "What evidence do you have of a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda?" Cantor replied: "Well, certainly the Czech officials maintain that there was a meeting April of 2000... April of 2001 that the meeting between Mohammed Atta and the Iraqi diplomat took place." [CNN, "Crossfire," 9/12/02]                                                                

  • Cheney Made The Same Assertion In The Build-Up To War. During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Dick Cheney said, "what we now have that's developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that's been pretty well confirmed, that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack." [NBC, "Meet the Press," 12/9/01]
  • Cheney & Cantor's Claims Were Widely Discredited. As reported by the New York Times: "The Czech president, Vaclav Havel, has quietly told the White House he has concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports that Mohamed Atta, the leader in the Sept. 11 attacks, met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague just months before the attacks on New York and Washington, according to Czech officials." [New York Times, 10/21/02]

Cantor Said Al Qaeda And Iraq Were "One And The Same." During CNN's "Crossfire," Paul Begala asked Eric Cantor: "Which is a greater threat to America: al Qaeda terrorists or the country of Iraq?" Cantor answered: "I think, Paul, you ask a good question, but really they're one and the same. And that is part of the threat that Saddam Hussein poses.  The president said today in his U.N. speech that Iraq is harboring al Qaeda terrorists. And if you look at the history and the involvement of Saddam Hussein in sponsoring terror, and the fact that he has coddled, supported, financed these individuals to go ahead and do what they have done. And after September 11, I can't think of anyone who doesn't realize that Saddam Hussein is not a threat to the United States in a great way." [CNN, "Crossfire," 9/12/02; emphasis added]

Cantor's Reason For War With Iraq: "The Reality That The American People Woke Up To On 9/12/2001." During a Cantor appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Paul Begala asked: "What has changed on the ground in Iraq in the last year that necessitates this war?" Cantor replied: "Well, I think, again, it is the reality that the American people woke up to on 9/12/2001.  I mean, we are facing a threat unlike which we ever thought was possible. And with this kind of brutal dictator in Saddam Hussein, coupled with the extraordinary reach of the international terrorists and the evidence, the incredible evidence, that we now have linking the two, how can we wait?" [CNN, "Crossfire," 9/30/02; emphasis added]

Rep. Cantor: Bush's Puppet

2003: Cantor: "It Is, I Think, Absurd To Say That This President Doesn't Have A Plan." During an appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Eric Cantor defended President Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq, saying: "It is, I think, absurd to say that this president doesn't have a plan. The American people are behind the president. The president took the lead post-9/11 and said we're going to have a national security strategy that, at its center, says rejection of terrorism, no matter where it exists. Going into Iraq is part of the war against terrorism. We have got to make sure that that country never, ever becomes a haven." [CNN, "Crossfire," 10/17/03; emphasis added]

Cantor Said Donald Rumsfeld Was "One Of The Greatest Public Servants In Recent History." During an appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Eric Cantor said: "You know, all this talk -- it is so unbelievable to me. I mean, Secretary Rumsfeld came to the Hill. He endured hours and hours of testimony. He was very straightforward, and I think he dispelled any notion of a cover-up...  This is just an irresponsible move and a political grab on the part of the minority party because, frankly, there is nothing else, nowhere else for them to go. It is a shame when they take somebody like Secretary Rumsfeld, who has been what I think one of the greatest public servants in recent history, and do this to this man." [CNN, "Crossfire," 5/8/04]

Cantor: "Look At The Incredible Record That Donald Rumsfeld Has Had Since 9/11." During an appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Eric Cantor said: "There's absolutely no indication whatsoever that President Bush is backing off of this. He's taking responsibility, standing by the secretary of defense. Look at the incredible record that Donald Rumsfeld has had since 9/11 in all that he has done in leading this country." [CNN, "Crossfire," 5/6/04]

Cantor Said Bush Should Have "The Authority And The Flexibility To Conduct This Effort The Way He Sees Fit." While discussing the potential war with Iraq during an appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Eric Cantor said: "I do think that Congress, when he comes to Congress -- and I think, frankly, he laid a good foundation today, making the case to the world at the U.N., providing the dynamics and putting them in place for Congress to act as soon as possible... We need to give him the authority and the flexibility to conduct this effort the way he sees fit." [CNN, "Crossfire," 9/12/02]

Cantor Defended Bush's Conduct In The Aftermath Of Valerie Plame's Outing As A CIA Agent.  During an appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Eric Cantor defended President Bush's conduct after the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.  Cantor said: "It was, I think, 10 weeks ago where the column first appeared, indicating something about Mr. Wilson's wife being a part of the CIA. And then we find Joe Wilson going around town discrediting the administration about, they perhaps leaked this information to discredit him.  And the fact of the matter is, what we've got here is a situation in our reports where it has been widely known that this individual, Mr. Wilson's wife, worked at the CIA... They were strictly anonymous sources now who have alleged that there was someone inside the administration who has done that.  But this president has taken the bull by the horns and has said there will be a complete and thorough investigation of everybody on his staff to get to the bottom of this. And the bottom line is, this is a man of integrity. He is the president that brought integrity back to the White House." [CNN, "Crossfire," 10/1/03]

  • Cantor: If President, "What I Would Do Is Exactly What The President Is Doing Now." During a Cantor appearance on CNN's Crossfire, Paul Begala asked: "If you were President Cantor and you picked up the paper and you found out that someone in your administration had blown the cover of a CIA operative in the war on terrorism, what would you do, sir?" Cantor said: "What I would do is exactly what the president is doing now. He's asking for a full and thorough investigation of the matter. But let's face it. There has been an awful lot of scandal-mongering over the past few days by the Democrats on this issue. And I think it just reflects a desperate situation on the part of the minority party in Congress, and certainly of the nine in line who are out there running, trying to get into the White House, that they are bankrupt of ideas." [CNN, "Crossfire," 10/1/03]

Cantor Said Bush Was "The Best President Israel Has Had In The White House." As reported by the Jewish Chronicle: "U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the sole Republican Jew in the U.S. House of Representatives and his party's deputy whip, said Pelosi was 'living in another world' if she believed Bush's policies had harmed Israel. 'There is near unanimity in those who are interested in the U.S.- Israel relationship that this has been the best president Israel has had in the White House,' Cantor told JTA. 'I don't think you hear a foreign policy speech by this White House and this administration that doesn't mention Iran.'" [Jewish Chronicle, 5/29/08]

Rep. Cantor: The Uninformed War Monger

Cantor: "The Only Language These People Understand Is The Awesome Might Of The United States Military." During an appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Congressman Bob Filner said: "If you think this demonstration was going on that was you had so much problems with, wait until you see what happens if we have a preemptive unilateral strike... what do you think the Muslim and Arab community is going to say if we occupy Baghdad?"  Eric Cantor said: "This myth of the Arab street, now come on. That same argument was used during Afghanistan and we saw once we went in, the only language these people understand is the awesome might of the United States military." [CNN, "Crossfire," 9/30/02; emphasis added]

Cantor Said Declaring War Was The Commander In Chief's Responsibility.  During an appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball," Chris Matthews asked Rep. Cantor: "If the U.S. Congress were to discuss tomorrow morning whether to declare war on Iran, would you vote yay?" Cantor said: "This Congress is not going to do that because it's the commander in chief's role, Chris, and Steve knows that as well. It's not Congress that will ask for that. It is the commander in chief that will make that decision. Every president whether republican or Republican or Democrat since the War Powers Act was in place has interpreted it as being the commander in chief's role to do that." [MSNBC, "Hardball," 2/8/07]

  • The Constitution: "The Congress Shall Have Power To... Declare War." According to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States of America: "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States... To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water." [The Constitution of the United States of America via the Government Printing Office, accessed 8/11/08]

Rep. Cantor Looked Past Afghanistan, Focused On Iraq

Cantor Referred To Afghanistan As The "First Phase," Mentioned "Going After" Iran, Iraq, And Syria.  During an appearance on Fox's "Hannity & Colmes," Eric Cantor said: "The quest of our military men and women out there to make sure that we eradicate the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as the Al Qaeda network, and that's just the first phase."  He was later asked: "Should we be then focusing on these states that you mention in your report -- Iraq, Iran, and one or two others -- and should we going after those governments?" He replied: "Iran, Iraq, and Syria without a question because, if we are to win this war, we must go after the source of this international terror..." [Fox News, "Hannity & Colmes," 10/22/01; emphasis added]

Cantor Repeated The False Claim That Iraq Had Weapons Of Mass Destruction.  During an appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Eric Cantor said: "The weapons inspectors who have been in there and played the game of cat and mouse for seven years with Saddam Hussein, there is -- have come out and said that, yes, there were weapons of mass destruction programs. There was an Iraqi defector who confirmed the fact that Saddam misrepresented what he had, or didn't develop in the terms of biological weapons.  Clearly this man is dead-set on using weapons of mass destruction. He has done so across his borders, within his borders. He is coddling terrorists. He is a brutal dictator, the likes of which the world has very few of." [CNN, "Crossfire," 9/12/02]

  • Cantor: "We Know Those Weapons Are There. We Know That." During an appearance on MSNBC's "Buchanan & Press," Eric Cantor said: "There's no question. We've had an inspections regime for some time during the '90s that did not work. And it only worked when Saddam Hussein's son-in-law escaped from Iraq and let us know the true existence of the weapons of mass destruction's program, the nuclear program, that was being undertaken. We know those weapons are there. We know that, yes, they are a threat to the Western world. They are a threat to the United States. And he has got an obligation to make sure that he comes clean." [MSNBC, "Buchanan & Press," 1/23/03]

Cantor On Iraq: "In My View, We Cannot Act Fast Enough." While attempting to make the case for war with Iraq during an appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Eric Cantor said: "In my view, we cannot act fast enough. The risk of inaction is far greater than that of not. I mean, you've got a maniacal dictator. He's brutal. He has murdered his own people. Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to use weapons of mass destruction." [CNN, "Crossfire," 9/30/02]

Cantor: "Iraq Is Not Afghanistan. Iraq Is Sitting On One Of The World's Largest Reserves Of Oil." During an appearance on MSNBC's "Buchanan & Press," Eric Cantor attempted to make the case for war with Iraq by saying: "Obviously, that takes a lot of time, resources, and effort on the part of all parties. But you have to remember, Iraq is not Afghanistan. Iraq is sitting on one of the world's largest reserves of oil. And so there will be revenue. There will be revenue required from all the allies, not only the indigenous resources of Iraq." [MSNBC, "Buchanan & Press," 1/23/03]

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