This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 4, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Free at last, two female American journalists kept captive in North Korea since March are free. They are wheels up. They are in the air heading back to the United States.
The women were convicted by North Korea of grave crimes after being captured on the border of North Korea and China. The women were then sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in a North Korean prison camp.
Former President Bill Clinton went to North Korea, met with Kim Jong- il, and then the women were pardoned. At this hour the former president and the two young women are en route to the United States. The plane is set to make one stop to refuel and then land in Burbank, California.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger joins us live. Nice to see you, Mr. Secretary. Mr. Secretary, why did North Korea pardon those two women? What did they get?
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What they got was a visit by a former president of the United States, for one. And then, beyond that, there is always the question of whether he promised something else. I personally doubt it very much, but if you listen to everyone commenting tonight, you would think we had given away the store. I don't have that view at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is your view?
EAGLEBURGER: Well, I think it's basically what you see is what you get.
And by the way, what other country in the world would send a former head of state to go over there to pick up two girls, two people, that had been falsely imprisoned? I think it's a good gesture on the part of the United States. I don't think anything is wrong with it.
I think this punk that runs North Korea is no better off now than before Clinton went there. So I think what we got is what we ought to have gotten, which is these two American citizens, who probably should have stayed further away from the border than they did.
But instead of 12 years of hard labor, they are now coming home, and I think that is worth a lot in terms of American citizenship, and I think the former president did it and he ought to be complimented for doing it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Former President Jimmy Carter went to North Korea in the early 1990's, and North Korea wanted something out of that, which was the agreed framework that was developed between the two countries.
And then, of course, problem with North Korea keeping their part of the bargain all these years, and eventually it fell apart. But they wanted something then, and they got something.
So you think that here it was just simply a matter of honor that the United States sent someone of stature and that they are not looking for something else?
EAGLEBURGER: I think basically what the North Koreans got was a visit by a former president of the United States, and that propped up the gentlemen who runs the country, who has been quite ill, and probably feels he is a little bit better off than he was.
It probably strengthened him at home of a little bit as well. There is some evidence there are some in the North Korean who would like to see him leave. This probably strengthens him there a bit.
But I do not know what it is that we could have given to the leader or to the North Koreans other than what they got, which is a visit. What are we going to give them later on to be shown that we gave them something that would not be an embarrassment to the administration?
So I do not think there is anything big enough that would have in any way bought this fellow off other than the visit itself. And I would be very surprised if he got anything else. And if he got something, I doubt it is very much.
So I am still going to say to you I think they got the visit, and that is what they wanted.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this in any way, does former President Bill Clinton going to North Korea, does it in any way upstage President Obama at all or not? Is this simply almost a private citizen going to North Korea?
EAGLEBURGER: I think probably upstages the president a little bit. It puts President Clinton back in the headlines having accomplished something, and he has done it with some panache, as you can see now on the television. So I think it probably upstages him a little bit, but not much.
And again, as it seems to me, this is an event which if we were to come back and try to talk about it a week from now, almost everybody will have forgotten. This is not a big event despite the fact that some of you had preceded you on your channel, I thought they were going to wet their pets for awhile because they were so upset by it.
I just don't think it's going to mean that much.
VAN SUSTEREN: In order to go to North Korea -- when we went to North Korea we had to go to China to get a visa. The president has got to get an OK from somebody to go, does he not, the former president? What are the mechanics for former President Clinton to go to North Korea?
EAGLEBURGER: Well, on the American side, he has to get the OK from the president, and I assume he got that. He may have done it through the secretary of state, I can't be sure of that. But nonetheless, he has got that permissions.
I think as far as going to North Korea itself is concerned, in addition to getting the OK from the North Korean authorities, there is no question he almost certainly went to through Beijing, or at least let the Chinese government know what he was going to do.
I do not know what his flight plan was, but I would be surprised, in fact, if he did not have to overfly some part of China or at least come close to it at some point.
So he almost certainly got an OK from the Chinese government. They must have known in advance what was going on, and they gave him an OK, as well.
And I think, basically, he had to get the president's OK, and he had to get the OK of both the Korean authorities, who probably fell all over themselves to give it to him, and he had to get the authority of the Chinese, and that probably did not take long, either.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Secretary, as always, thank you, sir.
EAGLEBURGER: My pleasure, ma'am.
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