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Tony Snow Talks with Bill O'Reilly About U.N. Cease-Fire Plan, Foiled Terror Plot

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 11, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, we're pleased to have White House spokesperson Tony Snow, who joins us now from Crawford, Texas, where it's 184 degrees.

I told you when you took this job, Snow, that you weren't going to the Vineyard for the summer. You're going down to Texas in the middle of August, so there you go!

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: I got what I wanted. That's right, Bill.

O'REILLY: On paper, the U.N. ceasefire unanimously approved just a short time ago 15-0, doesn't look good for Israel because there's international force. Just more U.N. troops. And it was the U.N. troops that screwed this up in the first place. So there's not going to be any more pressure on Hezbollah, it doesn't look like, under this ceasefire. What say you?

SNOW: Well, be patient. There's going to be a second resolution that's going to fill out the picture of who is going to comprise that U.N. force. You're absolutely right. The U.N. force has been in there, has been absolutely incapable, or as Jennifer Griffin was reporting, had not even been tasked with trying to remove arms from Hezbollah and preventing it from becoming a state within a state.

What I've got to say is stay tuned. The force that is going to be put into southern Lebanon is going to be far more capable, far larger, and far more robust than what they've got now.

O'REILLY: So you believe, and the president believes that the United Nations finally, after 20 years, is going to put a force in southern Lebanon that is going to be able to disarm Hezbollah? Does the president really believe that?

SNOW: Let me put it this way, Bill. There are still talks ongoing about exactly who is going to comprise that U.N. force. I don't want to get too far ahead of it.

But let me put it this way. The president's not going to sign on to anything that isn't going to push Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon. That's going to prevent it from being a state within a state, is going to put an end to Hezbollah's ability to fire rockets into Israel, and for that matter, to hold hostages of everybody in southern Lebanon by putting rockets in their homes and radars on the rooftops.

In other words, the president is committed to making sure that the force that goes in there is a real force, not the kind of thing we've seen in the last 20 or so years.

O'REILLY: Does the president have any assessment of the damage that Israel has done to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon?

SNOW: If he has, I haven't been able to see it. My sense is that it's difficult right now for anybody, including the Israelis, to assess exactly how much damage has been done. Obviously, they've taken out a lot of sites. They've taken down some of the people fighting for Hezbollah. But no, I don't have any characterization for you.

O'REILLY: Now I didn't see anything in the U.N. resolution that would return the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers? Do you believe that will happen?

SNOW: There's going to be a second resolution. That'll be in it.

O'REILLY: OK, Tony. Now let's turn to politics off the terror deal yesterday, the foiled terror attack on the American jetliners. The Democrats very quickly, Senator Kennedy, Senator Rockefeller, and you heard Howard Dean are basically saying hey listen, Bush is going to use this to try to frighten all Americans. And it's his fault that terror has risen in the world because of Iraq and a number of other miscalculations. This is what the Democrats are putting out. How do you reply?

SNOW: Well, a couple of things. I'm not aware that the president's ever tried to frighten anybody. However, I believe that some of his opponents have tried to frighten the Americans into believing that we're weak, that we cannot win, that we do not have a plan, and that in general, everybody doesn't like us so we ought to walk away, so they will like us.

That's not a strategy. That is a PR plan. What you need to have when you're thinking about a war on terror, we were just reminded of it yesterday with the British arrests.

Here you had a series of terrorists, many of them their neighbors said 'gosh, I didn't know that the guy next door was somebody who was a terrorist,' which tells you one of the key things that you have to have in fighting the war on terror is great intelligence, because when the next door neighbor doesn't suspect, it's going to be very difficult to ferret out terror cells unless you've got first rate intelligence.

And as The Wall Street Journal's pointing out, you've got to have the ability to do surveillance. You've got to have the ability to track communications. You've got to have the ability to study patterns that are going to point toward people who are trying to kill innocents. And in this case, it's pretty clear that Americans were targets.

These were U.S. airlines going from Great Britain to the United States over the Atlantic. So I think the first thing I would argue is that the president really has been trying to be serious about a War on Terror. It is not bogus in Baghdad or in Iraq.

O'REILLY: All right, but you said that.

SNOW: Or in Iraq.

O'REILLY: You said that the president -- you weren't aware the president's trying to scare anybody. Yet yesterday, Dick Cheney said that the election of Ned Lamont to run for Senate, beating Lieberman, is a boon to Al Qaeda. Isn't that -- can you consider that scare tactics by the vice president?

SNOW: Well, I'll let the vice president speak for himself. I speak for the president. Let me get back to my other point, which was that the president -- look, he gets up every day. He gets assessments of how scary the world really is. You want to get scared? Look at the stuff he looks at every morning.

The fact is George W. Bush has said over and over, we've got to be patient. And the thing that we've got to concentrate on is not when we leave, but how we win.

And that's what he's been devoting all his energies to. He's been working very persistently at it. After September 11th, both political parties worked together. I'll tell you what. You want to put an end to politicization? Great. Everybody roll up their sleeves and figure out how to beat terrorists around the world. That's what we need to be doing right now.

O'REILLY: All right. Now as an old journalist, not old, but you know, previous journalist, were you surprised that the cheap shot that Wall Street Journal -- maybe it wasn't a cheap shot. Let's just call it a shot, The Wall Street Journal took at The New York Times? I mean, that was - hey, if they found out about it, we might not even have known about the terror thing. I mean, that was pretty amazing.

SNOW: Well, they -- its editorial page is taking shots at each other. Of course that's what they do.

Similarly, The New York Times was complaining about sort of "politicizing", I'll tell you what's smarting for a lot of people is that we got reminded that the war on terror isn't fake. It's real. And people want to bring you to a town near you right away.

O'REILLY: All right. I got some questions about Iraq. We'll hold Tony over. And later, a Democrat will reply to what Mr. Snow is saying. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'REILLY: Continuing now with White House spokesman Tony Snow, coming to us from Crawford, Texas.

Wisdom in the anti-Iraq quarters is that because the United States and Britain, the coalition, haven't been able to secure the country, get it under control, that this has emboldened Iran particularly, that Iran is behind the insurgency in Iraq. And they saw that it worked pretty well. Therefore, they encouraged Hezbollah to attack Israel, that Iran now is emboldened because we haven't been able to apply a knockout punch to the insurgency in Iraq. How does the president process that line of thinking?

SNOW: Well, the line of thinking ignores history. Iran has been at the top of everybody's terrorist list through this administration, through the Clinton administration, through the first Bush administration, through the Reagan administration, and in the Carter administration when the Ayatollah Khomeini returned in glory and splendor to Tehran.

The point is that Iran has been "emboldened" now for well more than 20 years. And Hezbollah was not built up overnight. You may recall the [Marine] barracks bombing in 1983.

So what you're seeing now is you're absolutely right. Iran is being adventurous within the region. But for years, it has been building up the capacity to spread terror throughout the region and trying to destabilize it.

It is working with the Syrians. The Syrians are providing safe haven for Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations. So what's interesting is that the president's the first person to say you know what? This is what's going on. Remember when the president talked about the "axis of evil" and everybody was sort of stunned that he would use it?

And look what we have. We have Iraq with Saddam Hussein. You have North Korea with Kim Jong Il. And you have Iran now with President Ahmadinejad, who is busy running around, trying to foment discord within the region.

That is something that was going to happen anyway. We have to face up to the fact that there are people who are committed to trying to foil democracy.

The thing that got Iran moving was not America being in Iraq, but the possibility of democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, on both sides of Iran, and at the same time also having on both sides of Israel with Lebanon and the Palestinians, having democracies there as well. They hate democracy. The don't like the idea of freedom.

O'REILLY: No, we — I understand that. But look, just today, there was another — or yesterday I should say, there was another suicide bombing at a Shia mosque, which is obviously designed to inflame the Shia so that they will go in and kill the Sunni. And then the Sunni go in and you know, kill the Shia. And there's a civil war. We all know what's going on.

But the fact remains that the United States has not been able to stabilize Iraq. And that is looked upon in the terror world as a big defeat for the USA. Thus, the terrorists are emboldened.

See, that's where Dean is coming from, Kennedy's coming from.

SNOW: Yeah... OK.

O'REILLY: They're going to try to cut your knees out in Iraq and apply it to the whole War on Terror.

SNOW: Well let me tell you something. I'll just recite what Prime Minister Maliki said when he came to Congress, which is we walk away from Iraq, you want to embolden terrorists? That will do it.

Remember after we left Mogadishu in the 1990s, Usama bin Laden said to his people, see, the Americans don't have the guts to stick it out.

All you have to do is keep chipping away at them. And they'll lose their political will.

The fact is that the United -- what you've got is a situation now in Iraq where many of the provinces are doing just fine, where you have democratically elected councils, where people are living well.

But it's true that the capital of Baghdad, and some of the outlying areas are places where some Saddam insurgents, some also who are trying to destabilize the country maybe from Iran are busy trying to wage a war, because they know, among other things, that's where the press is. That's where the pictures are.

And if you take the one city and make everybody focus on that, and ignore the larger picture not only throughout Iraq but also throughout the Middle East, then maybe you can win the propaganda war, and then maybe you can break the will of the American people.

The president understands that maybe people are going to be shaken by what they see on their TV, but he's not going to be shaken because he understands not only the importance of winning, but also, the benefits of winning, which is if you get a democracy in Iraq, you revolutionize that part of the world. You demonstrate that people who have wanted democracy for a long time, including in Iran, that they have an opportunity to be free themselves. And he believes in the transformational power of liberty. And he's going to stick by it.

Look, remember, Bill, we used to talk about "the greatest generation"? What made the greatest generation the greatest generation? The fact that they lost their will during the Battle of the Bulge? No. The fact that they — the question they asked was how do we win the war?

O'REILLY: OK, but this war has gone on longer than World War II now. And see, I'm -- I think the American people, you know the polls show 60 percent oppose now the action in Iraq. I think the American people — a lot of them have given up hope. They don't think that anybody can control the civil war between the Iraqis. No outside power could do that. I'll give you the last word on it.

SNOW: Not a civil war. Civil war is something where you divide up into sections and factions, and say OK, we're going to go after each other.

What you have -- you've got gangs, you got militias, you have groups that are trying to foment acts of violence within Baghdad.

What you don't have is somebody seceding from the elected parliament, saying OK, everybody go with me. All our states are going to secede. And we're going to form a different union. And we're going to go to war.

You haven't seen that. You haven't seen the secession of Sunni states in the southern part of Iraq. You haven't seen the secession of the Kurdish areas in the north.

They're still committed. You've got an elected parliament. You got 12 and a half million people who voted. Fact is the Iraqis have demonstrated in the face of overwhelming odds and persistent violence, they want freedom. And they're going to get it.

O'REILLY: All right. Tony Snow, back in the air conditioning, Snow. We appreciate you taking the time.

SNOW: All right.

O'REILLY: Thank you very much.

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