Rep. Tom Tancredo
Clarifying remarks from a radio interview that drew praise from some supporters, Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said he was not suggesting that the U.S. should bomb the Islamic holy site Mecca as a response to a nuclear homeland attack by al-Qaida.
The congressman’s press secretary told WorldNetDaily the comments were an off-the-cuff response to a hypothetical situation.
“He doesn’t believe that we should go out and threaten to bomb anybody’s holy city,” said spokesman Will Adams.
In the interview this morning with Pat Campbell of WFLA radio in Orlando, Tancredo discussed his request for a briefing from the Justice Department on information it has on plans revealed by WND this week for a nuclear attack on the U.S. by al-Qaida terrorists.
Campbell noted that just after the London bombings last week, former Israeli counterterrorism intelligence officer Juval Aviv predicted an attack in the U.S. within the next 90 days. Aviv believes the plan is to attack not one big city, like New York, but half-a-dozen smaller ones, including towns in the heartland.
The host asked Tancredo, “Worst case scenario, if they do have these nukes inside the border, what would our response be?”
The congressman replied: “There are things you could threaten to do before something like that happens, and then you have to do afterwards, that are quite draconian.”
“Well,” Tancredo continued, “what if you said something like, ‘If this happens in the United States and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you could take out their holy sites.'”
Campbell: “You’re talking about bombing Mecca?”
Tancredo: “Yeah. What if you said, we recognize that this is the ultimate threat to the United States, therefore this is the ultimate response.”
The congressman quickly added, “I don’t know, I’m just throwing out some ideas, because it seems that at that point in time you would be talking about taking the most draconian measures you could imagine. Because other than that, all you could do is tighten up internally.”
The comments heartened some readers of Free Republic, the conservative online news forum, including one who said, “Rep. Tancredo is taking off the gloves on the Islamofacists! Yee ha!”
Others, however, reflected the sentiment of another poster, who said, “Tancredo is racing to the edge of the lunatic fringe.”
The Northeast Intelligence Network, which posted a soundbite from the congressman’s interview on its website, praised the remarks, saying the group “applauds Representative Tancredo for all of his anti-terrorism efforts to keep our country safe. We also applaud Mr. Campbell for asking the tough but necessary questions – AND getting the answers.”
But Adams insisted the comments were made in the context of an interview that led Tancredo down a hypothetical path and asked, “In the wake of a nuclear holocaust, what sort of things would be said?”
“In the past several weeks, we’ve had a lot of staff discussions triggered by [WND’s] al-Qaida nuclear weapons article,” he said. “We are reserving judgment about the merits of it. But one of the questions that has bothered [Tancredo] is how do you prevent terrorist attacks short of searching everybody? Even then, you wouldn’t get it right 100 percent of the time.”
The difficulty for the U.S., Adams said, is, “How do you evolve from a cold war paradigm – mutually assured destruction – to one where al-Qaida mingles in the public and emerges only as an attack is taking place?”
The Soviet Union’s pressure point was the fear that one of their cities would be destroyed, Adams said, “But what are the pressure points of terrorists, of people who only look to the next world – short of a police state?”
Adams said the remarks also need to be heard in the context of Tancredo’s style.
“One of his vices and virtues is he is a free thinker and is willing to speak his mind,” the spokesman said. “Sometimes he says things in not the most artful way; but if you take him as, unfortunately, one of the few free thinkers on Capitol Hill, you’ll get where he is coming from.”