This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, April 9, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVTUO, HOST: Reaction now from none other than Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.
Senator, good to have you.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Thank you, Neil.
CAVUTO: Is it over?
McCAIN: Well, I think it is over in the extent that the conflict's not in doubt and these scenes have been uplifting and magnificent and I know have an impact all over the world. But as the Secretary said, you know, his hometown, Tikrit is still in their control. We need to regain - make sure we have control of the oil fields in the north. You saw on this network some shooting at Baghdad University not very far from where those celebrations were taking place. So it is not over in the extent that the fighting is not over, but I think it is pretty clear that this is a seminal day in the history of the world.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you, as a former prisoner of war yourself, where do you think our prisoners are?
McCAIN: I don't know. But I think it is appropriate for all of us, including the secretary of defense, who does continue the say, and the president, that our POWs should be well-treated, according to the Geneva Conventions. If they are not we will exact the maximum punishment from their captors. I would hope, and I emphasize hope, that within the next couple days somebody is going to come forward and say, I know where they're being kept, Neil. I think that's something that is not an unrealistic hope, but it is largely a hope.
CAVUTO: There's always the risk, as you know, Senator, of effectively becoming hostages. Could they become hostages?
McCAIN: I don't know who would keep them and how they would use them to escape. I think that there is no doubt, as we're seeing around Baghdad University, there is the Baathist and the Fedayeen who know that they're at the end of the line no matter what. And it wouldn't surprise me if it is one of these groups that are keeping them captive. But when we give the assurance that we will do whatever is necessary in the way of punishing anybody who mistreats them, I hope that that gives them second thoughts.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you about Saddam Hussein. Do we need proof, Senator, that he is dead, for closure if nothing else?
McCAIN: I think it would be helpful that if we could have some kind of proof of his demise or achieve his capture. In the grand scheme of things, I think what happened today, the jubilation of the people, not only in Baghdad, but you also showed shots of Erbil in the north. And you're going to see that all over Iraq now that they know the Fedayeen is not going to kill them, is probably the biggest message. But yes, I think it has some importance that we at least establish what his fate is.
CAVUTO: About the fate of Iraq right now, the U.N. thinks it should have a role in both rebuilding and administering the peace. Should it?
McCAIN: I think the president was absolutely right when he said that the United Nations should play a "vital role." There are many United Nations organizations which can be incredibly helpful and important. But as far as the United Nations actually administering the country, back a number of years ago, they administered Cambodia. They had an election and the guy that finished second didn't threaten violence so they made him the co-president. He is still running the country. They ran Haiti and were going to restore democracy to Haiti. And the latest example of Kosovo. They have not yet installed democracy there, so...
CAVUTO: So you have your doubts about the U.N. playing any significant role?
McCAIN: As far as running the country is concerned, their organizations are wonderfully suited, as are other NGOs. But no, what we need to do, Neil, is have as quick a transition as possible to civilian rule, even if it is somewhat flawed, and let the Iraqi people govern themselves. And that's the best way to send the message that the United States, nor anybody else, is not there in order to extract oil or act as colonialists. And by the way, if the French and the Russians want to show their dedication to the Iraqi people, the best thing they can do is forgive their debts. That money was spent on buying Russian and French arms to a large degree anyway.
CAVUTO: That's an interesting point. Senator, thank you very much, good having you.
McCAIN: Thank you, Neil.
CAVUTO: Senator John McCain.
McCAIN: It's a wonderful day.
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