McCain to Panetta: 'We're Not Leading' on Syria

Senator says U.S. is not showing unilateral leadership in the crisis in Syria.
4:53 | 03/07/12

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Transcript for McCain to Panetta: 'We're Not Leading' on Syria
Well let me tell you what's wrong with your statement you know -- American leadership. Americans should lead in this America should be standing up America should be building coalitions. We shouldn't have statements like quote. -- that we are. Not going to intervene no matter what the situation is such has been. At least up until now the statements by the administration in the present. In past experiences those that I mentioned before America -- Yes we as men. Multilateral -- multinational. Basis absolutely vital but not leading mr. secretary. -- -- General Dempsey again and I hear the same old refrain that I've heard for many many years. Quote it's not clear what constitutes the Syrian armed opposition. That was -- same argument that this administration used for not intervening in Libya at the beginning and by the way I might add that. Prime minister and deputy prime minister of Libya are. Former professors at the University of Alabama. Far better -- -- from. Senator Lieberman's. Alma mater the so. We can find out who they are we can find out who they -- They're not fighting and dying because -- Qaeda and not fighting and dying and sacrificing their lives because they're not a Muslim extremist. They're fighting and dying because -- want the same universal rights and freedom that we guaranteed. In our constitution. So. I I reject the argument. That we quote don't know who they are. We spend a lot of money on defense and we spend a lot of money on intelligence. We should know who these people -- -- be easy enough to find out. And the best way of course it helped organize is to provide them with a safe haven where they can organize and train and -- We are allowing the it. Which interest -- in your answer. Not conclude with this well sooner or later this will follow I don't disagree with that. -- time is gaining momentum he's regain com's Jeff -- the death count those up and the atrocities continue. Yet the presence says -- -- national security interest United States is -- prevention of mass atrocities mass atrocities are going on. I would hope that America could lead. An exercise the options necessary to stop these atrocities. As has been. The actions of the United States America in the past both Republican and Democrat administrations. -- I want to make the point that. The concerns that Senator McCain -- you and others have expressed. Are exactly the concerns of the administration. We're we're not we're not divided here and we are not holding back. This administration. His -- in Iraq we lead in Afghanistan we -- in the war on terrorism we live in Libya and we're leading in Syria. We are working with with those elements to try to bring them together if the agreement here is that we ought not just simply go in unilaterally. And we have to build in multilateral. Coalition. We've got to be able to work -- that it's not -- EC. The deal with some of the concerns that it that are out there. But nevertheless we are working -- Secretary Clinton is working and every day. There're -- diplomats that are engaged on this issue. We are trying to engage with -- we are trying to engage with with each other countries there are other countries. That are are interested in trying to provide a provisions we are working with them we are talking with them. And we are looking at every option to try to put that in place. And it happened today can happen now know it's going to take some work it's gonna take some time but one week to what we'll do it right. We will not do it in a way that will make the situation worse that's what we have to be careful.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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