SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I think it was a very weak argument. And by the way, I'm astounded that Mr. Carney should say that the Free Syrian Army is now stronger. In fact, they have been --
JAY CARNEY: Well, that's not that I said, Senator. If I could, sir, what I said is, if we know a great deal more now about the makeup of the opposition. --
McCAIN: Come on, Jay, we knew all about them then. You just didn't choose to know. I was there in Syria. We we knew about them. Come on, you guys were the ones -- your boss was the one when the entire national security team wanted to arm and train them that he turned them down, Mr. Carney after --
CARNEY: Well, Senator --
McCAIN: The fact is --
CARNEY: I think we have to agree to disagree on this.
McCAIN: No, facts are stubborn things, Mr. Carney, and that is his entire national security team, including the Secretary of State said he want to arm and train and equip these people and he made the unilateral decision to turn them down. The fact he didn't a residual force in Iraq, overruled all of his military advisers, is the reason why we're facing ISIS today.
So the facts are stubborn things in history and people ought to know them. And now the president is saying basically that we are going to take certain actions, which I would favor, but to say that America is safer, and that the situation is very much like Yemen and Somalia shows me that the president really doesn't have a grasp for how serious the threat of ISIS is.
CARNEY: Well, again, Senator, we're going to have to agree to disagree. And I think on the question of the residual force, there was another player in that which was the Iraqi government. A, and B, it was the fulfillment of the previous administration's withdrawal plan. And it was also the fulfillment of the president's promise to withdraw from Iraq and not maintain a true presence, in perpetuity, which is pretty consistent with what the American people wanted and believed it was the right approach.
McCAIN: Mr. Carney, you are again saying facts that are patently false. The fact is because [Senator] Lindsey Graham, [former Senator] Joe Lieberman and I, we were in Baghdad, they wanted a residual force. The president has never made a statement during that or after that he wanted a residual force left behind. The Iraqis were ready to go. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the number cascaded down to 3,500. That was not sufficient to do anything but to defend themselves. And you in your role as a spokesperson bragged about the fact that the last American combat troop had left Iraq. If we had left a residual force the situation would not be what it is today. And there would be a lot more --
CARNEY: Senator, I can posit for great respect for you we can disagree on that.
McCAIN: You can't.
CARNEY: Sir --
McCAIN: You don't have the facts, Mr. Carney, that's the problem.
CARNEY: Senator, I understand that that you present the facts that you believe are true based on the arguments that you have made for a long time, sir, that we should leave troops in Iraq for perpetuity. And that is not what this president believes. Obviously, he was elected president to fulfill what he believes is right for our country and right for our national security.
McCAIN: It is a bad decision.
CARNEY: I certainly understand where we are today.
McCAIN: It is not a matter of disagreement; it is a matter of facts, and you have yours wrong and you have distorted it.
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