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Lieberman: The United States Must Pre-Emptively Act In Yemen

First Posted: 03/18/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 04:00 PM ET

Northwest

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, (I-Conn) a renowned hawk and one of the foremost champions of the invasion of Iraq, warned on Sunday that the United States faced "danger" unless it pre-emptively acts to curb the rise of terrorism in Yemen.

"Somebody in our government said to me in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, Iraq was yesterday's war. Afghanistan is today's war. If we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war," Lieberman said, during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday". "That's the danger we face."

The Connecticut Independent, who heads the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, made his remarks just days after a Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- a Nigerian with apparent ties to terrorist networks in Yemen -- failed in his attempt to blow up a plane above Detroit, Michigan.

In his appearance on "Fox News Sunday", Lieberman also argued that the botched attack should compel the Obama administration to abandon efforts to transfer suspected-terrorists out of the holding facility at Guantanamo Bay, saying that the complex is now well above international standards.

"I know the president made a promise he'd close Guantanamo because of what it represented in world opinion," Lieberman said. "But today it's a first-class facility. It's way above what's required by the Geneva Convention or our constitution. It would be a mistake to send these 90 people back to Yemen because, based on the past of what's happened when we've released people from Guantanamo, a certain number have gone back into the fight against us. Yemen now becomes one of the centers of that fight."

The frame adopted by the Lieberman in discussing Gitmo will undoubtedly produce shudders among the civil libertarian crowd and even the Obama administration, which insists it has taken every precaution before transferring suspected terrorist to their home country. The senator's calls for pre-emptive action in Yemen (however vague), meanwhile, seem likely to be echoed in the days ahead as a growing number of neoconservative and conservative foreign policy voices have used the attempted airline attack to call into question the tactics Obama has applied to curb terrorism.

"This is an international movement of radicalization," Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday." "The Obama administration came in and said we're not going to use the word terrorism anymore. We're going to call it man-made disasters, trying to, I think, downplay the threat from terrorism. In reality, it's getting much more complex. Radicalization is alive. It is well. They want to attack the United States. That threat is here in the United States. It is lone-wolf individuals, it is people that have become radicalized, that have had some contact with al Qaeda, and then it is the threat that comes from al Qaeda central. Homegrown terrorism, the threat to the United States, is real. I think this administration has downplayed it. They need to recognize it, identify it. It is the only way we are going to defeat it."

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