SCHAUMBURG - Colonel Allen West and Republican candidate in 8th CD Colonel Larry Kaifesh spoke with Illinois Review about West's endorsement of Kaifesh, why they think Duckworth should not be re-elected, and the War on Terror.
IR: You’re endorsing Larry Kaifesh in the 8th CD race?
WEST: Yes, we’ve done that through our Guardian Fund Political Action Committee, which supports military minority conservatives running in this election cycle – 14 candidates in the 2014 cycle.
IR: Any other candidates in Illinois?
WEST: Nope, he’s the one and only. He’s the best one you all got out there.
IR: So there are two veterans competing in the 8th CD – Larry Kaifesh and Tammy Duckworth. What was the determining factor for your endorsement in this race?
WEST: It’s very simple. I mean, look, we honor the service that people do in uniform. But when you’re talking about a congressional representative, about the oath you take to the people, the oath you take to the Constitution, it’s not about an oath you take to a political party.
And so when you sit back and you look at the record of Rep. Tammy Duckworth, where is she standing as far as our national security? Or the cuts to the Army that she and I served in that have now gone back to a 1940s pre-conscription level. You know, the Marine Corps is going to lose nine infantry battalions. The Navy is at a 1917 level. The Air Force has the smallest and oldest air fleet that they’ve had. You know, you look at what is going on with our veterans, and we know that Rep. Duckworth worked in the Veterans Administration when a lot of these scandals were going about. And there’s some issues about what she did when she was here in Illinois, as head of the VA system here, with some whistleblowers and the prosecution thereof.
So, that’s what we’re looking at, and we need someone that understands that the oath they took as a commissioned officer does not have a statute of limitations. They’re going to go and make sure that they serve with honor, character and distinction - not to a political party – but once again, to uphold and support that Constitution. So that’s why we’re supporting Larry.
IR: The citizens of the 8th District seem to be attracted to Ms. Duckworth’s service to her country, but with Larry Kaifesh also being a veteran, do you think both candidate serving in the military cancels out Duckworth’s key attraction to independent voters?
WEST: Yes, it does cancel each other out because you have two individuals that have served. So let’s push that aside.
So now voters should look at what is going on in their lives. Let’s see if they’re holding down two or three part time jobs when they used to have one fulltime.
Let’s look at whether they can fill up their gas tanks now. Let’s look – can you fill up your grocery cart when you go to the store because of the rising cost of food commodities? Those are the things voters are concerned about.
Let’s look at fact that not too far from here, a young man born in Chicago, grew up in Minnesota, now we find a second that grew up in Minnesota, we have a homegrown jihadist problem. Where does Rep. Duckworth stand on that? Where’s her voice as to what we do in this situation with ISIS in Syria and in Iraq where she served.
This is all about the issue – this is not about someone served in the Army and someone served in the Marines. They both served. Let’s honor them for that. Now what are they going to do for the constituents as they go to Washington DC as a representative.
IR: Let’s talk more about the problem of homegrown jihadists. They’re not just in Minnesota, there are suggestions that Chicago may be home to extremists.
WEST: You have it here in Chicago, in Minneapolis at the Somali community there, you have it in Dearborn Michigan, not too far from you here. So you do have a problem with homegrown jihadism and you have to be very forthright about it and not relegate ourselves to submission to the gods of political correctness.
I’m very concerned with an administration – are they attracting these kind of people? How do we know how many there are? There are upwards I’ve heard of 5000 foreign fighters that are over there with ISIS. They still have their passports – that’s what helped to identify this young man from up in Minnesota [who died fighting in ISIS ranks.] So how are they going to get that?
And realize – we’ve been through this before with a young man born and raised in Memphis Tennessee but the name of Carlos Bledsoe who traveled to Somalia, traveled to Yemen, got terrorist training, came back and shot two - and killed one – U.S. Army soldiers at a Little Rock recruiting station. This is not anything new.
So we need people who are going to go up to Washington DC and say enough’s enough. We have to stop this. We cannot allow it to continue on, and we have a problem with radicalization of young men and women in the United States.
IR: They’re opening a federal prison just west of here that Senator Durbin has wanted to use to imprison Guantanamo detainees. When it was suggested a few years ago, the community was outraged. You were in Congress then, which voted to cut off funding. Now it appears the Democrats and the Administration are preparing to bring the prisoners to Thomson after all. Bringing them onto American soil allows them to have constitutional rights. Do you want that to happen?
WEST: No, we don’t want that to happen. And again, that’s the misunderstanding – whether it’s purposeful or not – although I do think it’s more purposeful with this Administration. They are unlawful enemy combatants. They are non- state, non-uniform belligerents that were caught on the battlefield. According to the Geneva Convention, they’re allowed only food, water, shelter – the basics.
We don’t need to bring them here to the United States of America, and I think that’s going to cause even more second and third level effects. But really, I think the President just wants to get people out of Guantanamo anyhow. We just recently released two Yemenese from the Bakram facility in Afghanistan back to Yemen, and I think that’s kind of set the precedent to get the Yemenese that are there and in Guantanamo back – why would you want to do that when we know that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is just as strong as ever. As a matter of fact, they have already pledged support, loyalty and allegiance to ISIS.
IR: Both of you served in Iraq. What are your thoughts when you see ISIS occupying territory American soldiers died for and buildings American taxpayers paid for?
WEST: You cannot take away the sacrifices that men and women made, the gains that we made, and the way that we left that country. I believe political decisions and campaign promises came in – and I believe in a residual force which any person with some semblance of strategic security vision would have done – you have a president that is more concerned about his political well being, his political ideology, so you see what has happened now. So it has nothing to do with what our United States military did there. It has everything to do with the failure of this administration.
And the most important point is that, sadly, we’re going to have to do something about ISIS. We can do it now, or we can do it later – when they get stronger. But American men and women will once again be called into service to fight.
More of the Illinois Review interview with Colonel West and Colonel Kaifesh Wednesday.