This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," November 6, 2006, that was edited for clarity.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The world focused on what changes await this rotunda behind me, and whether that death verdict against Saddam Hussein will have any impact at all.
Who knows that better than the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, who joins me right now in an exclusive interview?
Madam Secretary, good to have you.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Nice to be with you.
CAVUTO: First off on Saddam, your — your reaction?
RICE: Well, it's a great day for the Iraqi people.
This is a process that has gone on for a while. And it's a process that has been going on under the most difficult circumstances. When you think about threats against judges, defense and prosecutor lawyers who have lost their lives, it is really remarkable that the Iraqi people have been able to go through this process, which they ran, which was their process.
And they now have come to a verdict which, I think, shows that the rule of law is strong in Iraq, and that Saddam Hussein will be punished for his crimes.
CAVUTO: Well, as you know, Tony Blair of Great Britain had said: We are against the death penalty, whether it's Saddam or anybody else.
What do you think?
RICE: Well, this is a longstanding European Union position. The European Union is against the death penalty.
But, of course, the Iraqis do have the death penalty. And it is, of course, an Iraqi process. It is an Iraqi decision. And I think they will carry this out. There obviously is an appeals process that will take place.
One of the things that is perhaps not very well understood about Iraq is that, generally, judges and the legal profession have fairly high standing in Iraq, and have for a long, long time. And, so, there's...
CAVUTO: Well, the Sunnis don't feel that way.
RICE: Well — well, some Sunnis don't feel that way.
RICE: But there are an awful lot of Iraqis who are looking at this process, and saying that it has been fair, and that it has produced a result. And now that result will be carried out.
But this is not an American process. This is not something for Americans, or, frankly, Europeans, to comment on. I think this is something for Iraqis to decide.
CAVUTO: Because the perception among some of your critics, Madam Secretary, and the administration critics, is that, despite your saying that, it is the impression that this is an American-influenced verdict.
What do you make of that?
RICE: Oh, I — the Iraqis have run this process.
If you have watched any of the Saddam trial, if you have watched the testimonies of these people who lost family members, who found mass graves, people who have suffered at the hands of Saddam and his — his henchmen, you know that this is very much an Iraqi process. And, of course, this is only one of many trials that could be held against Saddam Hussein for his crimes against the Iraqi people.
CAVUTO: But the law is, he is hanged, if found guilty.
CAVUTO: So — so, now the question is — let's say the second trial has the same result.
CAVUTO: What do you do? And if — if you hang...
RICE: Again, Neil, it's not what we do. It's what Iraqis choose to do.
CAVUTO: But — but I'm interested in what most predict will be increased violence in Iraq on that day.
RICE: Well, let's — let's see, because the Iraqi people know what Saddam Hussein did to them.
And he didn't just do this to Shia. He didn't just do it to Kurds. There were an awful lot of innocent Sunnis who also suffered at his hand. And, so, the Iraqis, who are in a broad process to try to bring about national reconciliation under the most difficult circumstances, where there are determined enemies of Iraqi democracy that, every day, try to thwart that process, the Iraqis have completed this trial. It's something that the Iraqi people should be proud of. And now we will see what the appeals process brings. And we will see how they choose to carry out this sentence.
But this is an Iraqi process, not an American process, not an international process. The Iraqis deserve to — to run this for themselves.
CAVUTO: Could I ask you of all the political questions? One is that this was timed right before our midterm elections.
RICE: Oh, I just — I can't even believe that people would say such a thing.
Come on. The Iraqis have been in this process. They have been losing people who have been under threat from terrorists, who didn't want this trial to go forward. Any number of judges have had to step down. These are brave people who have carried out this process.
And it is an insult to them to suggest that it was somehow timed to something American. It — it's — in fact, it's a bit self-referential for — for my taste. This is the Iraqi process. And we should congratulate them on it.
CAVUTO: On another issue of timing, Madam Secretary, last week, at this time, I was speaking to Vice President Cheney. And he had wondered aloud whether the increase in insurgent attacks was at all timed to our midterm elections. And he suspected they were.