New York's Junior Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand spoke out on a wide range of issues during a sit-down interview with me for this week's PIX Newscloseup program.
On this week's sacking for General Stanley McChrystal, Sen. Gillibrand said his critical comments in Rolling Stone magazine became a distraction, and President Obama action in firing him was "appropriate." The selection of General David Petreus to succeed him as commander in Afghanistan was a "terrific choice," Gillibrand said and noted, "He's somebody who actually helped design the counter-insurgency strategy that is being employed in Afghanistan."
Sen. Gillibrand said she remains supportive of the war effort and noted that aan important goal of the war is to force the Taliban out so they can't bring Al Qaeda back in. "If AlQaeda has a foothold in Afghanistan again, they could launch another 9/11 attack," she observed.
The Senator said she was pleased that the Senate this week passed her bill imposing tight new sanctions of Iran, as that country continues with its nuclear development program. Gillibrand said, "This will shut down the ability of foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies and anyone doing business with Iran. They won't have access to American banks, won't have access to U.S. transactions., won't have access to U.S. trade."
Next Tuesday, the Senate, for the first time, will hold hearings on health care for 9/11 responders who have become ill. The James Zadrogra Bill, named for a NY police officer who succumbed to an illness attributed to his exposure to poisonous air at Ground Zero, would guarantee heath care coverage on a permanent basis. Senator Gillibrand is leading the battle for passage, so "we can provide health care continually without having to go to appropriations every year."
She voiced concern over history repeating itself and expressed fear that workers involved in the BP oil spill cleanup may suffer the same fate as 9/11 responders because of their exposure to poisonous cleanup chemicals. "If we don't take action toprovide the kind of precautions and safety protection these men and women deserve, we will see the same thing," Gillibrand said. "These are very toxic chemicals that are banned in other parts of the world."
You can see my entire interview with Senator Gillibrand Sunday morning at 6 on PIX News Closeup.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun