This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," January 6, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, GUEST HOST: Judge Alberto Gonzales (search), the president's choice to be attorney general, confirmation hearings got underway early Thursday morning despite some fireworks from Democrats, it's likely he'll be confirmed.
I'm joined now to discuss this by former Pennsylvania Congressman Bob Edgar, who's here with me in New York. He is the General Secretary of the National Counsel of Churches and FOX News Political Analyst, and my friend, Linda Chavez. She was nominated to be secretary of labor four years ago, but withdrew her name from consideration.
Linda, first to you. How did Judge Gonzales do today at the confirmation hearings?
LINDA CHAVEZ, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought he got an A-plus. I thought he was really terrific.
He's a very humble guy, a man from Humble, Texas, I'll add, but he was absolutely terrific. I thought he answered questions well when he could not provide an answer, he said so directly. And I thought he really dealt with the main issues here, which is, of course, these controversial memos and the role that he played in them and the responsibility he had to the president of the United States and the different role he's going to play as attorney general.
NAPOLITANO: And Congressman, did the Democrats today try to blame Alberto Gonzales for the abuses in Abu Ghraib? (search)
BOB EDGAR, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSMAN: Judge, I think the Republicans and Democrats raised the right questions today. I was impressed with the Republican questions that were questioning him on the issue of torture.
NAPOLITANO: You like Senator Graham.
EDGAR: I thought he was excellent. And I think all Americans need to realize that torture is un-American, and we talked a lot about moral values in this last campaign. Torture is not a moral value.
I wish that Mr. Gonzales had said what he said in his opening statement two years ago when he wrote that memo and he started to change the definition of torture.
NAPOLITANO: All right. Are the Democrats satisfied today that he publicly and personally renounced torture and pledged his support to all of the treaties and statutes that make torture illegal?
EDGAR: I can't get inside the minds of the Democratic senators who were there, but I can tell you from my perspective as a religious leader, a United Methodist minister, who understands that theologically torture is not something that we want to see in the United States or around the world, and that we need to model better behavior and the kind of thing that happened at Abu Ghraib, that happened at Guantanamo (search), needs to stop.
And I want to see Mr. Gonzales sign on the dotted line that when he's attorney general, that kind of thing is not going to happen.
NAPOLITANO: Linda, are the Democrats actually suggesting that Judge Gonzales is personally responsible for the excesses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay?
CHAVEZ: Oh, I thought they absolutely were and certainly some of the interest groups opposing the nomination are certainly suggesting that. And the fact is that Abu Ghraib -- I think it has to be dealt with differently -- the Abu Ghraib prison scandal -- first of all, the people involved in that prison scandal are being prosecuted. Some of them have already been tried, they've already been sentenced. We have others that are facing trial.
We are not, in fact, condoning in anyway the kind of abuses that took place there. They were awful. They were terrible. But to suggest that Judge Gonzales, because he asked for a legal memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel that dealt with a statute that had never been fully exculpated and that he asked for that would somehow give the green light to people to do the kinds of things they did at Abu Ghraib is absolutely ridiculous.
NAPOLITANO: Congressman Edgar?
EDGAR: Linda, what's wrong with the Geneva Convention? It has a definition of torture. Inside the Geneva Convention it lists all of the rules of engagement. My friend Terry Waite, who was a hostage in Lebanon for over five years, came to the United States to object to the fact that we hold 600 prisoners in Guantanamo without access to lawyers, without access to due process, and the evidence is coming out that we've actually tortured those prisoners.
What kind of model are we setting for the people of the world? I believe that it's important for us to raise this issue and make sure that the President of the United States abides by the law and that he...
CHAVEZ: Well, he does.
NAPOLITANO: Linda, why do the Democrats, Linda, say that this is Alberto Gonzales' fault?
CHAVEZ: Well, first of all, it's all because of the role he had in asking for this memo from the Office of Legal Counsel. But the idea that unlawful enemy combatants have to be treated as if they were soldiers of a state or members of a national liberation movement is simply wrong.
And in fact, the President has said that we are going to treat people humanely, even though we're not required to -- we are going to abide by the Geneva Convention, even with these unlawful combatants. I think that's fine.
But this is very important, Judge Napolitano...
NAPOLITANO: Let me stop you for a second, Linda. Wouldn't you vote to confirm him?
EDGAR: I would not vote to confirm him because he did more than ask the question; he actually chaired the meetings that shaped the memo that came out condoning...
NAPOLITANO: Isn't he qualified to be attorney general and shouldn't the president be able to have virtually whoever he wants as long as the minimum qualifications are met?
EDGAR: He has qualifications, but I think two years ago he should have used better judgment in giving advice to the President on the issue of torture.
NAPOLITANO: Linda, we only have 30 seconds. What's the real politics here? They don't stand a chance of stopping this nomination, do they?
CHAVEZ: Well, I think there are a whole lot of Democrats who were very frightened that the idea that a very articulate, very well qualified Hispanic, conservative Republican, is going to be attorney general. I think that's got a lot of them scared.
Linda Chavez, former Congressman Bob Edgar, thank you very much for joining us.
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