This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," February 7, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Did Saddam Hussein have weapons of mass destruction after all? Secret tapes of conversations between Saddam and his most trusted lieutenants are now in the hands of Congress. And if WMDs did exist in Iraq, some believe that these tapes, along with yet-to-be-translated documents, may prove where they went.
The New York Sun breaking this story wide open today — right now, the House Committee on Intelligence is studying these tapes very closely.
Its chairman joins us right now, Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra of Michigan.
Congressman, how big a deal are these?
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, R-MICH.: Oh, I think the tapes, they're an indication of the information that may be available that we have not yet translated.
As you indicated, there are 35,000 boxes of documents that we are trying to get released into the public domain, get them translated, so we can have a better idea as to what was really going on in Iraq prior to the war.
CAVUTO: Have you heard any of these tapes yourself, Congressman?
HOEKSTRA: I have not heard the tapes. But we verified that it is Saddam's voice on these tapes.
I have seen some of the transcripts, but we're waiting to get more complete and more accurate transcripts before. But I think the key here is, 12 hours of tape is only the tip of the iceberg. There is probably lots more.
Now, of the transcripts you might have seen, Chairman, what you have gleaned from them?
HOEKSTRA: Well, I think what you learn from the tapes, what you have learned from some of the documents that we have seen, and talking to other officials, more recently, you see that Saddam systemically was talking about — he was very, very interested in WMD. He was very, very interested in a concealment program from the U.N. inspectors and those types of things.
And it just really wets your appetite to take a look at the rest of the tapes and the rest of the documents that may be out there.
CAVUTO: Some are suspecting, Chairman, that maybe he talks in these documents about getting those weapons into other places, like Syria. Do you know whether, in any of the stuff that you have been able to look at, Syria is ever mentioned?
HOEKSTRA: Well, the closest that we have gotten to any mention of Syria in some of the recent information that's come to the attention of the committee is obviously what General Sada has talked about, the 56 flights of 747s going from Baghdad to Damascus.
The other thing you have to remember about Saddam's pre-war Iraq is that they were very, very intent on destroying documentation before the war. So, you know, whatever we get may be a gift. You know, we are going to have lots of dead ends. We have had lots of dead ends in this process.
But it doesn't mean we should stop looking. Remember, Charlie Duelfer, the last person who headed up the Iraqi Survey Group, the group responsible for looking for WMD in Iraq, said the possibility of WMD moving to Syria is real and may warrant further investigation in the future. They couldn't finish the job. We just need to make sure we get the job done.
CAVUTO: Do you think, Congressman, there were weapons of mass destruction and that they were simply hidden somewhere else, let's say a country like Syria?
HOEKSTRA: Oh, I think that, if you take a look at — number one, we know that the weapons existed at one time. He used them. Everybody acknowledges that worldwide.
The question is, did he still have them in 2002, 2003? Remember, this is a guy, in the first Gulf War, that flew his planes to Iran for safe keeping. In the second Gulf War, he buried, you know, relatively new MiG-21s in the desert, never to be used again.
So, him moving weapons to Syria, moving them somewhere else, burying them in the ground, it's not an unreasonable assumption. We have never finished the job. We ought to finish the job, so that we can have a better understanding of how good or how bad our intelligence was and what the threats may be. If he moved this stuff, then they still exist somewhere. If he destroyed them all, let's just verify it.
CAVUTO: All right. Well, it still wouldn't look well on our intelligence if it never found out what he did with them, right?
HOEKSTRA: Well, that's exactly right.
CAVUTO: Either way, the intelligence doesn't look great. Right?
My concern is that, in some cases, I don't see the urgency in the intelligence community to do the post-war intelligence that really needs to be done. And someone may reach the conclusion that the post-war intelligence may be as bad as the pre-war intelligence.
CAVUTO: All right, Congressman Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, thank you, sir. We appreciate it.
HOEKSTRA: Hey, Thank you, Neil.
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