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CNN Live Event/Special
PART I: 20:00-20:30, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY DEBATE
Aired November 22, 2011 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, DEBATE MODERATOR AND CNN LEAD POLITICAL ANCHOR: Live from Washington, DC, for the Republican National Security Debate.
(UNKNOWN): It's a president's most important and daunting responsibility, to protect and defend the United States of America. Millions of lives in the hands of one commander-in-chief. It's what legacies are made of.
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FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A date which will live in infamy.
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(UNKNOWN): For better...
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RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): -- and for worse.
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JIMMY CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that is not to do anything that would endanger the lives or safety of the hostages.
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(UNKNOWN): In war...
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GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just two hours ago, Allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait.
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(UNKNOWN): -- and peace. On the day everything changed...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.
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(UNKNOWN): -- and every day since.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
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(UNKNOWN): Tonight, from an historic hall in the nation's capital, the Republican candidates address the global challenges ahead -- Mitt Romney, who ran an international business and the Olympic Winter Games.
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MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The people of America deserve a regular briefing.
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(UNKNOWN): Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker with a PhD in history.
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HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We would use our military might if we have to.
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(UNKNOWN): A business executive who worked for firms with global reach.
Ron Paul, a leading anti-war voice in Congress.
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REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: We should only go to the war when the people in this country declare the war.
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(UNKNOWN): Rick Perry, the governor of the state with the longest stretch of international border.
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BACHMANN: Iran is waiting in the wings. (END VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): Michele Bachmann, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
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HUNTSMAN: Our nation's future is how well prepared we are to compete.
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(UNKNOWN): Jon Huntsman, the former U.S. ambassador to China.
Rick Santorum, who served on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Who has what it takes to be the next commander-in-chief in a world of peril?
The first step toward building a legacy, the Republican National Security Debate begins now.
BLITZER: From Constitution Hall in the nation's capital, this is the Republican presidential debate.
BLITZER: Every U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge has been inside this historic hall, just steps away from the White House.
Tonight, the eight Republican candidates are here with their ultimate goal in sight.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
Tonight's debate is airing on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Espanol and the American Forces Network. We want to thank our co- sponsors, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.
Members of these distinguished conservative think tanks, they are here in our audience and some of them will have a chance to question the candidates. They'll add their knowledge and insights to our discussion, making this unlike any debate so far in this presidential campaign.
Viewers also can take part in our debate by sending us your questions online, on Twitter. Make sure to include the hash tag, cnndebate; on Facebook at Facebook.com/cnnpolitics; and, of course, on CNNPolitics.com.
It's time now to meet the 2012 Republican presidential contenders. Joining us onstage, the former U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman.
FORMER GOV. JON HUNTSMAN JR, R-UTAH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
Thank you very much.
HUNTSMAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you, Wolf.
BLITZER: The former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.
BLITZER: The former president and CEO of Godfather's Pizza, Herman Cain.
The former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney...
Texas governor, Rick Perry...
Texas congressman, Ron Paul...
(inaudible) from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican candidates for President of the United States.
Now, please rise for our National Anthem. Please rise. The National Anthem performed by Mauricio Perez, from the Tony Award winning musical, "Jersey Boys," now playing at the National Theater here in Washington, D.C.
(SINGING NATIONAL ANTHEM)
BLITZER: Mauricio Perez, thank you.
Candidates, please take your -- to your podiums while I tell you a little bit more about how this debate will work. I'll be the moderator and as I mentioned, our partners from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute will ask questions as well.
I'll follow up. I'll try to guide the discussion. Candidates, I'll try to make sure each of you gets your fair share of questions.
You'll have one minute to answer, 30 seconds for follow-ups and rebuttals. And I'll make sure you get time to respond if -- if you're singled out for criticism.
This year more than ever we've seen how events beyond our borders directly affect America, including perhaps the biggest national security issue right now, the economy.
Candidates, tonight Republican voters are here. They are watching around the country to decide if you have what it takes to be the next commander in chief, to shape foreign policy, to protect this great nation.
On some of these issues you will agree. On some you'll disagree. But by the end of the night, voters should have a better understanding of how you would lead the nation in times of crisis.
Now, let's have the candidates introduce themselves to our audience, but we'll keep it very brief. Here's an example of what I'm looking for.
I'm Wolf Blitzer and yes, that's my real name. I'll be your moderator this evening and I'm happy to welcome each one of you to our debate.
Rick Santorum, let's begin with you.
FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I am Rick Santorum. And it's great to be here and I want to thank AEI and Heritage (inaudible).
... One constitutional responsibility of the federal government and that is national security. And I think we can all agree that if you like what Barack Obama has done to our economy, you'll love what he's done to our national security.
REP. RON PAUL, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas. I am pleased to be here at the debate because this is a very important debate. I am convinced that needless and unnecessary wars are a great detriment. They undermine our prosperity and our liberties. They add to our deficits and they consume our welfare. We should take a careful look at our foreign policy.
GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, and I want to take a moment and introduce you, the beautiful first lady of the state of Texas, Anita. Thank you for being here with me, 29 years of wedded bliss and 45 years ago we had our first date. So I'm a blessed man in many ways to represent a great state, and we're here to ask you for your support, your blessings and your vote.
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Mitt Romney and yes, Wolf, that's also my first name. And...
ROMNEY: ... I'm a husband, a father, a grandfather of 16. I love this country very much. I spent my life in the private sector. And as I've watched the direction this president has taken our country, both domestically and internationally, I'm afraid that he's taking us on a perilous course. I want to keep America strong and free, and if I'm president, I'll use every ounce of my energy to do just that.
HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am businessman Herman Cain. I'm delighted to be here to discuss one of the most critical issues we face because, as a result of this administration, our national security has indeed been downgraded.
FORMER REP. NEWT GINGRICH, R-GA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Newt Gingrich. My father spent 27 years in the infantry. And as a result of that, in the fall of 1958, I decided that national survival was worth the study of a lifetime. I've worked with both Heritage and the American Enterprise Institute for over 30 years. I can't imagine any two institutions better to partner with CNN on the most important single topic, the survival of the United States.
BACHMANN: My name is Michele Bachmann. I'm a proud member of the United States Congress. I'm privileged to serve on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. My father honorably served in the United States Air Force, my stepfather in the United States Army and my brother in the United States Navy.
I think for every one of us who are here on this stage tonight, I think we all want to send our very best Happy Thanksgiving greetings to all of our men and women in uniform who are serving us overseas, here in the United States and also to their families. Happy Thanksgiving. We appreciate, we love you and we want to get you home as soon as we can.
HUNTSMAN: My name is Jon Huntsman. I believe this week, in particular, that there is still much to be grateful for in this, the greatest nation that ever was. I'm here with my wife of 28 years, Mary Kay, who is fortuitously sitting in the New Hampshire box up here. We are the wife -- or we are the parents of seven kids, two in the United States Navy.
Twice elected governor of the great state of Utah, I've lived overseas four times, three times as a United States ambassador. I am honored and privileged to be here. Wolf, CNN, Heritage, AEI, thank you one and all for making tonight possible.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. And let's get right to the questions.
BLITZER: Our leadoff question is from the honorable Ed Meese, the former attorney general of the United States, who is representing the Heritage Foundation.
ED MEESE, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: At least 42 terrorist attacks aimed at the United States have been thwarted since 9/11. Tools like the Patriot Act have been instrumental in finding and stopping terrorists.
Shouldn't we have a long range extension of the investigative powers contained in that act so that our law enforcement officers can have the tools that they need?
BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, only this weekend there was an alleged terror plot uncovered in New York City. What do you think?
GINGRICH: Well, I think that Attorney General Meese has raised a key point, and the key distinction for the American people to recognize is the difference between national security requirements and criminal law requirements.
I think it's desperately important that we preserve your right to be innocent until proven guilty, if it's a matter of criminal law. But if you're trying to find somebody who may have a nuclear weapon that they are trying to bring into an American city, I think you want to use every tool that you can possibly use to gather the intelligence.
The Patriot Act has clearly been a key part of that. And I think looking at it carefully and extending it and building an honest understanding that all of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives. This is not going to end in the short run. And we need to be prepared to protect ourselves from those who, if they could, would not just kill us individually, but would take out entire cities.
BLITZER: So, Speaker, just to clarify, you wouldn't change the Patriot Act?
GINGRICH: No, I would not change it. I'm not aware of any specific change it needs. And I'd look at strengthening it, because I think the dangers are literally that great. And again, I've spent years studying this stuff. You start thinking about one nuclear weapon in one American city and the scale of loss of life and you ask yourself, what should the president be capable of doing to stop that?
And you come up with a very different answer. Again, very sharp division. Criminal law, the government should be frankly on defense and you're innocent until proven guilty. National security, the government should have many more tools in order to save our lives.
BLITZER: Congressman Paul, I suspect you disagree.
PAUL: I do.
BLITZER: Tell us why.
PAUL: I think the Patriot Act is unpatriotic because it undermines our liberty. I'm concerned, as everybody is, about the terrorist attack. Timothy McVeigh was a vicious terrorist. He was arrested. Terrorism is still on the books, internationally and nationally, it's a crime and we should deal with it.
We dealt with it rather well with Timothy McVeigh. But why I really fear it is we have drifted into a condition that we were warned against because our early founders were very clear. They said, don't be willing to sacrifice liberty for security.
Today it seems too easy that our government and our congresses are so willing to give up our liberties for our security. I have a personal belief that you never have to give up liberty for security. You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights.
BLITZER: I want to bring others in, but do you want to respond, Mr. Speaker?
GINGRICH: Yes. Timothy McVeigh succeeded. That's the whole point.
GINGRICH: Timothy McVeigh killed a lot of Americans. I don't want a law that says after we lose a major American city, we're sure going to come and find you. I want a law that says, you try to take out an American city, we're going to stop you.
PAUL: This is like saying that we need a policeman in every house, a camera in every house because we want to prevent child- beating and wife-beating. You can prevent crimes by becoming a police state. So if you advocate the police state, yes, you can have safety and security and you might prevent a crime, but the crime then will be against the American people and against our freedoms. And we will throw out so much of what our revolution was fought for. So don't do it so carelessly.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, let me bring you into this conversation. Are you with Congressman Paul or Speaker Gingrich or do you have your own view?
BACHMANN: Well, I'm with the American people, with the Constitution, and with the job of the commander-in-chief as the number one duty of the president of the United States.
We have to realize we're in a very different war, with very different techniques that are used for that war, and very different bad actors than we've had before in the terrorists and their motivations are very different.
We can't forget that technology is completely different. When we were looking at prior laws, phones were wired in to walls. That's not how it works any more. Today we deal with wireless functions. And we have to completely change the way that we go about investigating.
This is one thing we know about Barack Obama. He has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He has outsourced it to them. Our CIA has no ability to have any form of interrogation for terrorists.
When the bomber -- or the attempted bomber over Detroit, the underwear bomber was intercepted, he was given Miranda warnings within 45 minutes. He was not an American citizen. We don't give Miranda warnings to terrorists, and we don't read them their rights. They don't have any.
BLITZER: Governor Huntsman, where do you stand on the Patriot Act? Do you believe it's un-American, as Congressman Paul has suggested?
HUNTSMAN: I think we have to be very careful in protecting our individual liberties. We forget sometimes that we have a name brand in this world. And I have seen it shine living overseas. And when our light shines based on the values that we live up to and represent, it moves people, it moves countries, it moves events like nothing else can.
We are a nation of values. And forever, like what we're trying to do in this debate tonight, we'll try to find that balancing act between our individual liberties and security. But we also have to remember as we're talking about security, I see Tom Ridge in the audience here, a great former secretary of Homeland Security. He will tell you, he will tell you that we cannot secure the homeland out of Washington, D.C., itself. We've got to make sure that we have partnerships with governors and mayors, that this is a national effort.
No longer can we compartmentalize intelligence. Those are the old days. Today we've got to share. We've got to make sure that we are prepared as a people, we are prepared not only as a federal government, but we're prepared as well as a local government in a collaborative and sharing kind of relationship.
BLITZER: I'm going to give everyone a chance to respond, but let me get this one question from CNN Politics, that came to cnnpolitics.com, and then we'll bring in the rest of you.
This was the question: "TSA pat-downs: violation of civil liberty or a necessity to ensure national security?"
ROMNEY: Well, we can do a lot better than the TSA system. It's going to get get better over time. We can use better technology. We can also identify people who are lower risk and allow them to go through the process more quickly than the current process.
But let's come back to the issue that seems to be so confusing here.
And that is Congressman Paul talked about crime. Newt Gingrich was right. There are different categories here. There's crime and there are rights that are afforded to American citizens under our Constitution and those that are accused of crime. Then there's war. And the tool of war being used today in America and around the world is terror. There's a different body of law that relates to war.
And for those that understand the difference between the two, they recognize that we need tools when war is waged domestically to ensure that, as president of the United States, you can fulfill your first responsibility, which is to protect the life, liberty and property of American citizens and defend them from foes domestic and foreign.
And that means, yes, we'll use the Constitution and criminal law for those people who commit crimes, but those who commit war and attack the United States and pursue treason of various kinds, we will use instead a very different form of law, which is the law afforded to those who are fighting America.
that we need tools when war is waged domestically to ensure that as president of the United States you can fulfill your first responsibility which is to protect the life, liberty and property of American citizens and defend them from foes domestic and foreign. That means yes we'll use the constitution and criminal law for those people who commit crimes but those who commit war and attack the United States and pursue treason of various kinds we will use instead a very different form of law which is the law afforded to those who are fighting America.
BLITZER: Governor Perry...
... you proposed legislation that would criminalize these TSA pat-downs under certain circumstances.
BLITZER: Explain what you have in mind.
PERRY: Well, here's what I would do with the TSA; I would privatize it as soon as I could and get rid of those unions.
It's working in Denver. They have a program where they're privatizing it. And the airlines and other private-sector groups work together to do the security in our airports. And it makes abundant good sense.
And I agree with most of my colleagues here on the stage when we talk about the Patriot Act. And we need to keep it in place. We need to have -- strengthen it if that's what's required, to update it with new technologies as they come along, Newt.
But here's the other issue that I think we've really failed at, and that is in our ability to collect intelligence around the world. And this administration in particular has been an absolute failure when it comes to expending the dollars and supporting the CIA and the military intelligence around the world, to be able to draw in that intelligence that is going to truly be able to allow us to keep the next terrorist attack from happening on American soil.
BLITZER: Senator Santorum, under certain circumstances in the past, you've supported profiling. Is that correct?
SANTORUM: I have.
BLITZER: What do you have in mind?
SANTORUM: Well, I mean, I think TSA is a good example of that. We should be trying to find the bomber, not the bomb. Other countries have done it. Israel is probably the best example of that.
But to put this enormous expense on the federal government, to put the enormous expense on the traveling public for -- for pat-downs and other intrusions, I think, is too much money. I agree with Governor Perry; I actually voted when I -- when this bill came up, I voted to allow for privatization. I was not for this being a government function. I thought it could be a private function.
But the issue of the Patriot Act is -- is a little different. We are at war. The last time we had a -- we had a threat at home like this -- obviously, it was much more of a threat at home -- was during the Civil War.
And, of course, Abraham Lincoln ran right over civil rights. Why? Because we had a present domestic threat. In the previous wars that we've had, we haven't had this type of threat that we have here in the homeland. And we have to deal with it differently.
I disagree with Governor Huntsman. He made some good points. And we have had the debate. It's been an open debate. It's really shown the values of our country, that we can engage in this open debate and balance those interests, and I think we have done so appropriately.
BLITZER: So just to be precise, is it ethnic profiling, religious profiling? Who would be profiled?
SANTORUM: Well, the folks who are most likely to be committing these crimes. If you look at -- I mean, obviously, it was -- obviously, Muslims would be -- would be someone you'd look at, absolutely. Those are the folks who are -- the radical Muslims are the people that are committing these crimes, as we've -- by and large, as well as younger males.
I mean, these are things that -- not exclusively -- but these are things that you profile to -- to find your best -- the most likely candidate.
BLITZER: Congressman Paul?
PAUL: That's digging a...
That's digging a hole for ourselves. What if they look like Timothy McVeigh? You know, he was a pretty tough criminal.
I think we're using too much carelessness in the use of words that we're at war. I don't remember voting on -- on a declared -- declaration of war. Oh, we're against terrorism.
And terrorism is a tactic. It isn't a person. It isn't a people. So this is a very careless use of words. What about this? Sacrifice liberties because there are terrorists? You're the judge and the jury? No, they're suspects.
And they have changed the -- in the -- in DOD budget they have changed the wording on the definition of al-Qaeda and Taliban. It's anybody associated with organizations, which means almost anybody can be loosely associated so that makes all Americans vulnerable.
And now we know that American citizens are vulnerable to assassination.
So I would be very cautious about protecting the rule of law. It will be a sacrifice that you'll be sorry for. (APPLAUSE)
BLITZER: Herman Cain, let's bring you into this conversation. Are you with Senator Santorum when he says that there should be religious profiling, that Muslims in particular should get extra screening when they go -- go through airports?
CAIN: I believe we can do a whole lot better with TSA. And I called it, targeted identification.
BLITZER: What does that mean?
CAIN: We can do -- we can do -- targeted identification. If you take a look at the people who are trying to kill us, it would be easy to figure out exactly what that identification profile looks like.
But I want -- but I want to make sure that I get to the Patriot Act. So I believe we can do a whole better. The answer, I believe, also may be privatization.
Now, relative to the Patriot Act, if there are some areas of the Patriot Act that we need to refine, I'm all for that. But I do not believe we ought to throw out the baby with the bathwater for the following reason. The terrorists have one objective that some people don't seem to get. They want to kill all of us.
So we should use every mean possible to kill them first or identify them first -- first.
BLITZER: Now, just to be precise, Mr. Cain. I just want to -- I'll give you a chance. Is it OK for Muslim Americans to get more intensive pat downs or security when they go through airports than Christian Americans or Jewish Americans?
CAIN: No, Blitz. That's oversimplifying it. I happen to believe that if -- if you allow our intelligence agencies to do their job they can come up with an approach -- I'm sorry, Blitz, I meant Wolf, OK?
This was -- since we on a -- since we on a blitz debate, I apologize. Wolf, what I'm saying is let's ask the professionals to give us an approach of how we can increase the identification of people that might be a danger to civilians as well as a danger to this nation.
BLITZER: Thank you, Cain.
(APPLAUSE) All right. Go ahead. We have another question. Please give us your name and the organization you represent.
QUESTION: I'm Fred Kagan, resident scholar and director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute.
And my question is, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden was obviously an important success in the struggle against al-Qaeda, although it also drove U.S. relations with Pakistan into a new low.
Do you think that an expanded drone campaign in Pakistan would be sufficient to defeat al-Qaeda and to secure our interests in Pakistan?
BLITZER: Governor Huntsman?
HUNTSMAN: Let me just say that as we talk about foreign policy, let's be reminded that in order to have an effective foreign policy we need a Washington that works.
Today we have a president who can't lead. We have a Congress that can't even figure out how to balance our budget. They need term limits, by the way. We've gotta get our house in order if we...
Thank you. We've gotta get our house in order if we're gonna expect to get anything done overseas because when our light shines we can influence the rest of the world.
Pakistan is a concern. That's the country that ought to keep everybody up at night. You have not President Zardari in charge but General Kayani over the military, which also is responsible for ISI.
You've got the youngest demographic of the 160 million people in Pakistan. You've got a Midrasha movement. You've got over 100 nuclear weapons. You've got trouble on the border.
You've got a nation-state that is a candidate for failure. And I say it's a haven for bad behavior. It's a haven -- it's -- it's a haven for training the people who seek to do us harm. And an expanded drone program is something that would serve our national interest.
I think it must be done. And I think it must be consistent with recognizing the reality on the ground of what we need out of Afghanistan -- we don't need 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.
We don't need to nation-build in Afghanistan when this nation so desperately needs to be built.
BLITZER: We're gonna get to Afghanistan.
HUNTSMAN: But we need something. We need something in Afghanistan.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Bachmann, we'll be bringing you in. You're a member... HUNTSMAN: We need Special Forces and drones.
BLITZER: All right. You're a member of the Intelligence Committee. Do you think, as Governor Perry has said, that Pakistan should no longer receive U.S. aid because they've shown they're not a good friend, ally of the United States?