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Fred Thompson: Dissent makes US 'weak,' carries 'heavy price'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Friday September 7, 2007


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In his first interview since declaring his presidential candidacy, Fred Thompson repeatedly warned against the perils of a "weak and divided" nation, raised the specter of unspecified terrorists with suitcase bombs, and expressed a willingness to employ nuclear weapons against Iran.

"If you're politically committed against this war and to do something to further harm the president, the way the Democrats seem to be in Congress, then anything [in the Petraeus Report] that's a mixed message is going to be seized upon in a negative way," Thompson told Fox News on Thursday.

"If we look weak and divided in this country, we're going to pay a heavy price for it in the future," he went on. "We're living in the era of the suitcase bomb. And they're not going to go away. They're here now, they're armed and dangerous, and they're trying to get weapons of mass destruction."

When asked about Iran, Thompson replied, "They're killing our people as we speak. ... We cannot allow this to go on forever. ... Within the next few years, most experts think, well on their way to making a nuclear weapon. ... I don't know how much stark the situation could be. They perceive us as being weak, they perceive us as being divided, and they think they could get away with anything."

"The nucl -- the military or nuclear option or whatever certainly should be the last thing to be considered," continued Thompson. Referring to public discontent within Iran and raising the hope of a revolution in that nation, he suggested, "There are also a lot of good things that could happen between now and then but there are no options that can be taken off the table."

The following video is from Fox's Hannity & Colmes, broadcast on September 6.

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Transcript:

HANNITY: Let's talk about during the debate last night, the big three issues obviously were the war in Iraq, the war on terrorism, immigration is a big issue, certainly not only for the conservative base but for the security of the country, and economic issues.

Starting with Iraq, we're going to hear from General Petraeus. What is your feeling there?

THOMPSON: I get the feeling that General Petraeus is going to have basically what should be considered good news for us. It really depends on which way you lean, Sean. If you're politically committed against this war and to do something to try to further harm the president, the way the Democrats seem to be in Congress, then anything that's a mixed message is going to be seized upon in a negative way.

But if you understand that this is a part of a global conflict, and if we look weak and divided and cannot get our own people together toward maximizing the advantages that we have as we're making progress in the Anbar province and we're making progress in getting some of these local tribal leaders, going from the grassroots up, you might say, as we'd call it in this country, and making some real progress on the ground, not necessarily in the capital enough but all over the country, if you can capitalize on that, you can really start to change things there.

We've got to take the opportunity to do that. Nobody knows what's going to happen, but if we look weak and divided in this country, we're going to pay a heavy price for it in the future. We're living in the era of the suitcase bomb, and they're not going to go away. They're here now, they're armed and dangerous, and they're trying to get weapons of mass destruction.

HANNITY: I believe Iran is fighting a war by proxy. They're funding Hezbollah to the tune of $100 million a year. They're providing the IEDs that are being used to kill American soldiers and providing soldiers as part of the insurgency, battling our soldiers. How do you handle Iran?

THOMPSON: Iran is becoming more and more obvious, a major, major problem for the United States of America. They are killing our people. They are killing our people as we speak, and they're putting a little shield that you can see through from a mile away to try to defend themselves in the court of public opinion.

We cannot allow this to go on forever. The backdrop of all this, of course, is the fact they claim they've got 3,000 centrifuges now and basically reprocessing that uranium enough to get fissile material within the next few years and most experts think well on their way to making a nuclear weapon and, of course, they've threatened Israel.

I don't know how much more stark the situation can be. They perceive us as being weak. They perceive us as being divided, and they think they can get away with anything. They are perhaps getting closer to a revolution in Iran. That economy is so bad, the civil oppression is so bad against their own people, we've got some friends among those people there, there are some good things that can happen.

The military or nuclear option or whatever certainly should be the last thing to be considered. There are an awful lot of good things that can happen between now and then, but there are no options that can be taken off the table of a country that's intent on becoming dangerous to us and the rest of the world forever.

HANNITY: So that means that America must have a plan and prepare for possible military action if they're on the verge of getting nuclear weapons?

THOMPSON: Yes.

The full transcript is available from FOXNews.