Sen. Jim Inhofe tells Newsmax he is convinced the violent demonstrations that erupted in several Muslim nations did not have “anything to do with” an anti-Islam movie, and were well-planned rather than spontaneous.
The Oklahoma Republican also says “I just don’t believe” the administration’s claim that there were no rules of engagement possibly endangering Marines guarding American embassies.
And he asserts that the attacks on U.S. embassies that have cost American lives resulted from President Obama’s policy of “apology and appeasement.”
Sen. Inhofe was first elected in 1994 and is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV on Friday, Inhofe contends that the Obama administration is trying to put a “spin” on the demonstrations by blaming them on the movie “Innocence of Muslim” and the trailer that appeared on YouTube.
“Every time Hillary [Clinton] talks, she talks about it’s all motivated by this video and that doesn’t represent us and we have to respect the Muslims and all that stuff,” he says.
“In reality, I don’t believe the video had anything to do with it. It was so well planned, particularly in Libya and Egypt, that we know it took a long time. It’s kind of like 9/11, it took a lot of planning.
“If it took that much planning, you have to ask the question why didn’t our intelligence know about it. Obviously it was on the day that they wanted it to happen, on 9/11. So in my opinion, that was the total motivation. They were going to show us on 9/11 that they’re still out there.
“In fact, I even told the administration. I said this video was on the website since July 2. Until two days ago it only had 155 hits on the website. So that’s just the spin from the administration.”
Addressing allegations by some that U.S. Marines guarding the embassy in Cairo were under special rules of engagement and possibly were not armed with live ammunition — which has been denied by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta — Inhofe declares:
“Anywhere we have an embassy, we have a Marine security force. These guys are trained, they know what they’re doing but there’s one problem, and that is the president can give the rules of engagement.
“I just came out of a meeting with the Secretary of Defense just a few minutes ago and I can’t tell you what happened there because it is classified, but I will say this: They’re staying with the administration’s story that there were no special rules of engagement. We did not inhibit our Marines from doing anything.
“Frankly, I just don’t believe it. I just don’t believe it. They know that there’s no way that we could find out but they can change their rules of engagement hour by hour and there have been times when [Marines] didn’t even have live rounds to protect themselves, let alone to protect an embassy.
“I have been in many countries, primarily in African countries, where I talked to the Marines there for that express purpose and there’s a great frustration because there are many times there where restrictions are imposed — sometimes no live rounds, sometimes no weapons, and then sometimes instructions.
“What they say is in terms of rules of engagement, ‘You cannot preclude one of the Marines from defending himself.’ Well, that’s a good thing except if he doesn’t have live rounds, how does he do that?”
Inhofe says he has called for an Armed Services Committee hearing on the embassy attacks but committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., has not agreed to the hearings, “but until that happens, I said let’s suspend all aid, all activities until we have it because there’s some things we don’t know yet. We don’t know a lot of the details. The main one is the rules of engagement.
“This has turned into something that is just huge. I can’t even tell you how many countries, right now, are attacking America via the embassies.”
Asked to elaborate on the underlying reasons for the attacks, Inhofe tells Newsmax: “I come from a biased perspective that we came to this point as a result of our president and his policy of apology and appeasement.
“Yesterday morning I was on ‘Fox and Friends’ and we recalled that four years ago I had been on ‘Fox and Friends’ when President Obama took his maiden trip to Egypt and established his policy of appeasement, and we said at that time, ‘It’s not going to work.’ The mindset in the Middle East doesn’t respond to appeasement. They only know strength and conflict.
“It just didn’t work, so now we have a situation where yesterday it was only a couple of countries, Libya and Egypt, and the next day it was Yemen and Tunisia and then it went on to Morocco and Sudan and now it’s in nine different countries and probably more than that.
“These countries are attacking our embassies, which means they’re attacking America.”
Inhofe also criticized Obama for his statement that Egypt is not an ally of the United States.
“What if he wakes up and he finds out that those who were perpetrating the attack on our embassy were people who were attacking Egypt at the same time? In other words, they’re our enemies but they’re also Egypt’s enemies,” he says.
“It is true that a host nation has a responsibility to provide security and it’s true that they obviously didn’t do that well enough. But what you can’t do is just abandon someone who has been a friend for a long period of time.
“Yes, I suggested that we suspend all aid to Egypt until we have an investigation and that’s the responsible thing to do, but you can’t just all of a sudden say, ‘They are now our enemy.’
“I honestly believe when he was hit with this thing, as soon as all of the problems started, he went off to Las Vegas to raise money and he was out there totally ignoring what’s going on. They found him, asked him that question, and he had to shoot from the hip.
“Economically, he’s been absolute disaster and most people know that. But from the foreign relations perspective, he’s a disaster there too.
“He misspoke. He should not have said what he said. He regrets it and he’s now retreated from it.”
Inhofe was also asked if the perceived snub by Obama of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have emboldened Muslims to attack American embassies.
“An awful lot of people that you speak with, while they can’t say it publicly, will tell you that this is the first president since Israeli independence in the ‘40s to trash Israel and that’s exactly what has been happening.
“The president had a news conference and said, ‘Israel should go back to their pre-1967 boundaries.’ There’s nothing more insulting you can say to Netanyahu than that.
“[Obama’s] recognized that he’s losing some of the Jewish vote that he had before and so you’ll see him making gestures. Frankly, it’s too late.”
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