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Interview with Sen. Orrin Hatch

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Interview with Sen. Orrin Hatch on Tuesday morning, just hours after the terrorist-controlled commercial jets crashed into the two towers on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Hatch: I just feel terrible for the victims, and our prayers go out to them. And we need to stand together as a nation against these cowardly acts that are directed against our citizens. This is a time of contemplation and prayer, and I might add we've got to find out who did this and massively respond to it.

Deseret News:Should Congress declare war like it did in 1941?

Hatch: I consider these actions against our citizens and our nation as an act of war. So I think we should. And I think we ought to find those responsible and hit them with everything we've got.

Deseret News:Should we declare war against a nation that is harboring them, declare war against Libya, against Afghanistan?

Hatch: Let's put it this way. I talked to both the top people at the FBI and intelligence; they had no advance notice of this at all. They had no indication that this was going to happen. But they do tell me it looks like the signature of Osama bin Laden, who is protected by Afghanistan. Now, if that proves to be true then we have to have an Afghanistan plan, we have to revitalize the opposition forces Ahmad Shah Masood.

Deseret News:Who may be dead?

Hatch: He may be dead, but we believe he is wounded. I know him. I met all 12 of the top leaders including leaders of the Taliban. I met them during the Afghan War. I had a lot to do with what went on there.

If it's true, then we have to have an Afghanistan plan.

Deseret News:Do we go to war with them?

Hatch: Well, we have to go after Osama bin Laden. We have to have a plan that supports people like Masood. We have to talk to our friends the Pakistanis, because they've been tolerating this. And we have to get them so that they work with us rather than against us. And I think we have to work with our allies to have an international strategy to combat this international Jihad against the West.

And we've got to point out what cowardly — these cowardly b-------. We have to do something to stop these cowardly terrorists from doing something like this again.

Now, some people have said, well, maybe this is Iraq or Libya or any other number of terrorist countries. I think most authorities would agree that that's highly unlikely. Because they know that we will find out who did this, especially if it was a country who did this. And they know that we will not tolerate it.

We have to find those who are responsible. And hold them accountable.

Deseret News:How quickly do we have to strike back?

Hatch: As soon as we have more information. I don't think we can necessarily strike back blindly. I think we've got to pin this all down. We've got to pull together every item of intelligence across the world that we can get our hands on. And, frankly, we've got plenty of access to a lot of intelligence — why didn't we have it before this happened?

And that's a serious question.

Deseret News:The United States has a policy of not assassinating people. Do we set that aside, such a policy, now?

Hatch: If we find out that Osama bin Laden is behind this, we should declare war against him. And we should go after him. No question about it.

Deseret News:Assassinate him if we have to?

Hatch: I wouldn't call it assassination. I would call it war. I think we can keep our policy of not assassinating people. But I think, in the case of a war, we're going to go after him. Or whoever it is. They are not absolutely positive, but they say it does look like Osama bin Laden's signature.

I was the first to point this out on "Meet the Press" in the middle 1990s to the Clinton administration that Osama bin Laden is going to kill American citizens. And we've got to do something about it. And, of course, President George Bush was the only one who did anything. And it wasn't very much. And he got criticized for that by some of the elite Left.

And we've got to do one other thing. A number of us have been warning our nation that we are not doing what is right for our military. That we've allowed our military to deteriorate, 85 percent of our planes are in difficulty. I pointed out on Wolf Blitzer's show on CNN last Sunday that the Russians, with all of the financial difficulties and economic problems that they've had, almost a bankrupt country, that they have a better, more maneuverable and faster plane than our F15, which is the top of our line. And our pilots can fly their planes better than they can fly ours. And they're selling that plane around the world. Now wouldn't it be something if we had to sell a Russian plane so that we could be at the top of the line militarily.

It's about time that we do what is right for our national security interests. And if it means setting aside some of the money that normally would go to pay off the debt from the excesses of Social Security, then we ought to do that.

Because if we don't have national security, we're probably not going to have Social Security.