This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, April 19, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
Watch On the Record every weeknight at 10 p.m. ET!
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Tonight: Spain orders its troops to pack up and leave Iraq. Fox's Jeff Goldblatt joins us live from Baghdad with the latest details -- Jeff.
We seem to have...
JEFF GOLDBLATT, FOX CORRESPONDENT: And I understand we now have audio here, so Greta, can you hear me?
VAN SUSTEREN: I can. I love live TV, don't you, Jeff?
GOLDBLATT: All right. Sorry about that. That's what happens when you are a world away. OK, here we go with the rap for the day. First it was Spain, now it's Honduras, with the president of the Central American country today announcing that that country's 370 troops in Iraq will be leaving as soon as possible.
As far as Spain, which had a larger commitment here in Iraq, the coalition says it had been planning how to replace Spanish forces in Iraq ever since Spain's new prime minister had indicated he would be pulling out his troops. This weekend, it all became official, with an out (ph) day for Spanish troops still undetermined. The Spanish force in Iraq totals 1,300, U.S. troops here about 130,000. And there are still nearly 30 countries with troops on the ground in Iraq. The coalition says Spain's departure, while regrettable in the short term, will hardly create difficulties down the road.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With regard to the number of problems we face on a day-to-day basis inside the military realm, this is not a problem that we see to be insurmountable. In fact, this is probably one of the easiest issues that we've had to deal with in the last couple of weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOLDBLATT: Meantime, coalition and local negotiators in Fallujah have announced a set of agreements designed to restore order in the city under siege. For starters, families who fled the city will be allowed to return at a rate of 50 per day starting tomorrow. Residents will also be given greater access to hospitals and ambulances. But the deal breaker of this pact could be security. Coalition troops have promised a cease offensive operations, but in exchange, militants in the city must turn in their weapons. And that is an uncertainty, given nearly two weeks of tension in the Sunni stronghold which has been taken over by foreign terrorists and Saddam loyalists.
And finally, President Bush today nominated John Negroponte as his choice for U.S. ambassador to Iraq. He's the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and in making the selection, the president said Negroponte is a man of enormous experience, and so that's why he's comfortable asking him to serve in this very difficult assignment. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Negroponte would assume his position on July 1. That's one day after the new Iraqi government assumes sovereignty here on the ground.
That's the latest from Baghdad today. I'm Jeff Goldblatt. Greta, now back to you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, thank you. And tonight, the U.S. Army says it has changed the official status of a U.S. soldier taken hostage in Iraq to captured. Fox's Steve Brown joins us from Batavia, Ohio, the hometown of Private 1st Class Keith Maupin -- Steve.
STEVE BROWN, FOX CORRESPONDENT: Greta, yes, it appears that military officials have at least confirmed that that videotape is of Keith Maupin (search). Meanwhile, his family back here in his hometown of Batavia, Ohio, has kept kind of a low profile, stayed away from television cameras. But today, they sort of broke their silence so that they could offer thanks both to the community and to the nation. Now, since that videotape of PFC Matt Maupin aired on Al Jazeera on Friday, there's been an outpouring of support. And through a spokesman today, the Maupin family asked supporters to please keep that support coming.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL COTTRELL, MAUPIN FAMILY SPOKESMAN: Let's cover the nation in yellow and help guide them home. Let's show them the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Now, enter Jesse Jackson into the equation or into the story. Jackson on his own has decided to launch an effort to work for Maupin's release by getting on Al Jazeera. In a television interview, Jackson explains he wants to use the Arab language network to talk to the hostage takers and Iraqi clerics who might be in a position to help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: I'm going through Al Jazeera to make an appeal, a broad appeal to the religious leadership there. Each time that we've brought Americans home, we've got the cooperation of on-the-ground religious leadership, so we hope that someone will hear our voices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Now, while the Maupin family's largely stayed away from the cameras, apparently, they have been watching media coverage of the ordeal that their son is going through and is currently aware of Jackson's plan. But word from the family spokesman is that Jackson has yet to talk to the family, to the Maupins directly.
Jessica Lynch, on the other hand, has talked with the Maupin family, this happening yesterday, Lynch and her parents getting on the phone with the Maupin family to have a 10-minute conversation in which Lynch, the former Iraqi POW herself, offered her personal support to the family. A family spokesperson says that during that, the most touching moment was when Lynch, her parents and the Maupin family all shared a prayer over the telephone.
More prayers will be offered for Matt Maupin and all of the Iraqi hostages and all servicemen and women working in Iraq here in this park in Batavia, Ohio. Organizers are putting together a prayer vigil for Wednesday night. They're needing a very large space, and this is the biggest one they've got in town. They apparently are going to be needing it because they expect turnout in the hundreds and maybe in the thousands -- Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Steve, thank you.
Joining us in Washington is former Tennessee Republican Senator Fred THOMPSON. Nice to see you, senator.
FRED THOMPSON, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: Thank you. Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, do you think that the United States Senate and the House of Representatives have lost some of its spirit and determination for this war?
THOMPSON: Well, I don't think, as a whole. I think there are some who have. I've been concerned about some of the statements coming out of there. I think that this is a crucial time in Iraq right now, both militarily and politically. I think a lot of things good are happening there, but clearly, the insurgents are trying to discredit us and do all they can to drive us out before the handover on June 30.
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, I took my question from an op-ed piece that you wrote. Why is it, do you think, that some are sort of losing the spirit or the determination, in your opinion?
THOMPSON: Well, I think -- I think you're referring to the fact that I took issue with some of those who are saying this is another Vietnam. And my concern about that is that -- the relevance of Vietnam to people are not the tactics of the war but the result. And I think this is an announcement to friend and foe alike that we're going to lose or that we're going to pull out prematurely. We can't afford to do that. We -- it plays into our history. We've done that, unfortunately, before. We have people down there depending on us, watching us to see what we do, see what the message is. When our leaders say that, I think it works against us. So that's been my concern.
We can have a good, healthy debate over tactics, strategy or whatever, but I hope it's a debate over how to win and not an expression that we have lost or this is disastrous or that we have failed or this is going to be another Vietnam. We've -- if we pull out of there prematurely, this will just be another in a succession of things that have happened over the last 20 years, that will cause Saddam and Usama bin Laden to feel that they were right all along, and that is, that we're weak and paper tigers.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are any of your former colleagues in the United States Senate -- and I suppose Senator Kerry I should put in the mix because he's -- he'll be running against the president. Is anyone talking about pulling out? Because Senator Kerry yesterday even talked about adding more troops, if necessary. I mean, are any of your former colleagues saying, Let's go?
THOMPSON: Well, I think what is happening is that they give lip service to the fact that we've got to stay the course and then talk in other venues at other times about the fact that the policy is a failure and that this is Vietnam or this is George Bush's Vietnam, as Kerry's lead surrogate, Senator Kennedy, has said. And while they give lip service to the fact that we all agree on, I think at this point, they're saying things that really make staying that much more difficult. And I think that not only can we not leave that impression, but we cannot, in fact, do that. We've done it before, and it's led to less safety for Americans, not more safety.
VAN SUSTEREN: And what -- how do we measure success? I mean, what should -- what's a realistic, practical measure for the American people?
THOMPSON: Well, I think the intent was to go down there and to win the military victory.
VAN SUSTEREN: We did that.
THOMPSON: We underestimated how easy that would be, to pacify the place. We underestimated how difficult that would be, and then to hand the place over to the Iraqis, which that's scheduled for June 30. With all the difficulties that's happening now, schools are back opened up. More girls are going to school than ever before. The unemployment rate is comparable to some European countries right now. Oil is about back to where it was before the war began. A lot of good things are happening, and we've just got to see it through. I think with the turnover and the right political moves, as well as military determination, that although we'll be there, I think assisting the new government from a safety standpoint for some time...
VAN SUSTEREN: What's some time to you...
THOMPSON: ... it can be done.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, some time -- we know that the president intends to turn it over June 30, and then elections will be held in January, 2005. When do you expect -- I realize you can't look into the future, and a lot of unforeseen circumstances, but when do you expect that the troops will begin coming home in great numbers?
THOMPSON: Greta, I don't know.
VAN SUSTEREN: No idea?
THOMPSON: No. I'm not a military tactician. I'm not sure that anybody knows that. I think that when we begin to fixate on that or when we start out day one talking about an exit strategy, it sends the wrong message. The exit strategy has to be victory. This is just a theater in a war that's going to go on, unfortunately, for a very long time. I'd rather that theater be there than in a major American city. And if we pull out of there preliminarily, we're not going to be able to forget about it and live in safety.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you connect Iraq to 9/11? Because the president has said that there is -- at least, if I recall, said that there's no connection between 9/11 and Saddam, direct connection. Do you connect Iraq to 9/11?
THOMPSON: Yes, I do. I don't think that we can prove that Saddam personally had anything to do with September 11, but look at the situation that the president was faced in. People criticize him because he was planning within two or three months, or whatever the time was, to...
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't criticize him for that. I would hope that we would have contingency plans for anyone who might be a possible enemy.
THOMPSON: Yes. That's right.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm all for contingency plans.
THOMPSON: That's right. But...
VAN SUSTEREN: It's whether you execute them is another issue.
THOMPSON: Yes, some have. But I'm talking about planning and executing. The situation that he was faced with at that time -- Iraq, after September 11, uniquely fit a category that no other even rogue nation fit into. Not North Korea, not Iran, not anyone else. He had had weapons of mass destruction. He had used weapons of mass destruction.
VAN SUSTEREN: Can I just get you to hold that one thought, and don't forget that. We're going to take a quick break. Senator THOMPSON, just stand by for a second.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're back with former senator Fred THOMPSON. Senator, I cut you off on the issue of connecting Saddam Hussein to 9/11.
THOMPSON: Yes. And why it's important, I guess, more precisely to the war on terror, in general. And what I was saying was that Saddam and Iraq fit a unique category that no other country fit -- weapons of mass destruction, use of them, murder of his own people, attacking other countries, harboring terrorists, including one of the guys that was involved in the first World Trade Center bombing...
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me -- let me play devil's advocate with you for a second. Some would say that the weapons of mass destruction were used in 1988 against the Kurds and that we -- and that there were some that were found after the Gulf war, but now that we've gone in and apparently our inspectors haven't been able to find them -- you know, where are they? What happened to them? How'd he get rid of them?
THOMPSON: I don't know. I don't know. I think that's a good question, and I think some day that we will know. I think -- I think Syria, frankly, is a pretty good guess, but we don't know that. There's no question, though, that he did have them. And not only our intelligence community but the Western European intelligence community, Hans Blix, most of the senators on the Intelligence Committee, where I served, all of them, as far as I know, who expressed themselves, the president...
VAN SUSTEREN: Everybody seems to think there were weapons.
THOMPSON: ... Saddam's own generals, and some would say even Saddam himself...
VAN SUSTEREN: And even Saddam. Right. He bragged about it.
THOMPSON: ... all thought that. So here -- so the president is faced with that situation. And his CIA director turns to him and says, Mr. -- and the president's skeptical initially, apparently, according to Bob Woodward's book, of whether or not the proof is there on weapons of mass destruction. And his CIA director says, No, Mr. President, it's a slam dunk. In other words, we're sure that they're there. So in light of all of that, I think if he hadn't have moved against them and something had come out of Saddam and they had done something down there, I think you'd have a 9/11 commission against the president on all of that scenario, as to why he didn't act, that would make this one pale in comparison.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I've never met the secretary -- the director of the CIA, but under his watch -- and he may be a terrifically nice, smart guy -- an awful lot of things happened. We had the -- we hit the wrong embassy in Bosnia. We got the USS Cole. We had the embassies in Africa in 1998. We've had 9/11. We have this -- what may be a mistake on weapons of mass destruction. I don't know where they are. How is it that he...
THOMPSON: We had the Cole.
VAN SUSTEREN: The Cole in 2000. How does he survive with so many of these incidents under his watch?
THOMPSON: I don't know. You know, one reason might be that the president inherited the situation as it was, and that is, in some respects, a failing intelligence community that had had some successes, but it had some glaring failures -- ironically, most of their failures had been on underestimating what these rogue nations had, in terms of missiles and weapons of mass destruction -- and that he simply hadn't had time enough to reconstitute things. You don't -- when your -- when 9/11 hits, it's a little bit late to be changing your team immediately wholesale. So it might just have been a difficulty there.
VAN SUSTEREN: But you would have thought...
THOMPSON: Now, that's one of the...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... even the Clinton administration, there were a lot of things that happened the Clinton administration were -- in which...
THOMPSON: Oh, no question.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... I mean, he still remained director.
THOMPSON: No question. And one of the -- and I fault all of us. I mean, those of us in Congress -- those who are in Congress now pointing fingers right now ought to be ashamed of themselves. We sat there, saw essentially the same intelligence, I guess, the president did -- he probably got some things that we didn't get -- came basically to the same conclusions in terms of funding, in terms of human intelligence capabilities that slid over the last decade. We watched all that. That happened on our watch, too.
And one of the things that I hope -- one of the reasons why I think, with all of the partisan interplay and so forth that people are concerned about on the 9/11 commission now -- one of the things that's going to come out of this, because they are public hearings, is that we're going to get reform out of the intelligence community. It's been talked about forever. We've all known it's been needed forever. There are reports on how to do it on shelves all over Washington. This exposure this time -- it took 9/11 to do it, but maybe we will get it out of this. And it's been long -- long -- long overdue.
VAN SUSTEREN: And finally. We only have a minute left. Spain pulling out its 1,300 troops -- what do you think about that?
THOMPSON: Well, I think they're very shortsighted. I think that this is a problem that the civilized world has. I think this is a problem against the forces of order and stability.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do we do? What do we say to Spain?
VAN SUSTEREN: Thanks a lot?
THOMPSON: Well, you can't say to Spain what you'd like to say to Spain. But I mean, they're out of the picture now, as far as that's concerned. You've got to suck it up and go ahead. They had, what, a little over 1,000 troops there. I don't think it's going to make any difference militarily. I think it's a bad example, for sure. I think it gives the wrong message, just like the Vietnam message gives to our enemies. And you can't buy peace that way, and I'm afraid they'll learn that.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Senator THOMPSON, always nice to you, sir.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Always like to see you on the big screen, as well, sir.
THOMPSON: My pleasure. Thank you.
Content and Programming Copyright 2004 Fox News Network, L.L.C. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, L.L.C.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.