This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, July 9, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: Senator Mark Dayton, Democrat of Minnesota, and Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma are both members of the Armed Services Committee. They, of course, were at Wednesday’s hearing.
So, Senator Dayton, let’s start with you and focus on this intelligence issue. Secretary Rumsfeld defending the quality of our intelligence. He was grilled pretty hard. Did he persuade you at all?
SEN. MARK DAYTON, D-MINN., ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, I think he made a point that the president’s remark was not founded, and it’s been six months now before that was disclosed, but I don’t think that this should hinge on one particular piece of information.
The real question goes back to the fall when we in Congress were told by the secretary and others that there was an urgent and immediate threat to the national security of the United States posed by the weapons of mass destruction which Iraq had and which were ready to be used against us, fired on missiles against us.
And, in fact, now we know in hindsight with those missiles and weapons, thank God, not being used against our forces when they went into Iraq and not being found on battlefields or in caches afterward, they’re still in pursuit of where they might be or some of them might be.
But the fact is they weren’t used, and that’s different from what we were told when we passed the resolution authorizing the president to conduct war.
KEENAN: Senator Inhofe, we not only have these missing weapons of mass destruction, we have a missing dictator here, Saddam and his sons. Isn’t the fact that now three months later we haven’t been able to find them worrisome to you in terms of our intelligence?
SEN. JAMES INHOFE, R-OKLA., ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, no, I think, first of all, this whole fiasco about finding a weapon of mass destruction -- I said in the hearing this morning they found weapons of mass destruction several months ago, and they should have gone ahead and said, all right, here they are, now we’ll walk away from that issue.
Those detractors from the president are trying to use that as an excuse, but here’s what you need to ask these people: Are you saying that we should not have taken out Saddam Hussein? He’s the worst we’ve had since Adolf Hitler. He’s murdered thousands of his own people. He has and has had weapons of mass destruction. We know that. He’s used them.
The question is: How close was he to getting the capability trading with North Korea and some of these other countries of making long deliveries of those weapons of mass destruction? He had the weapons of mass destruction.
KEENAN: So, Senator Dayton, let me ask you that question. Do you think sitting where you are right now that we shouldn’t have gone in and taken Saddam out?
DAYTON: Oh, I think it’s a close call. I believe that, if we were going into every country where we had an evil dictator abusing his people, we’d be in a lot more places than Iraq.
I couldn’t agree more with Senator Inhofe that Saddam Hussein is a horrible curse on his people, and, having been in Iraq last week myself, I saw the deprivation and degradation.
But, as a matter of U.S. foreign policy, if we’re going to go into every country where they’re mistreating their citizens, we’re going to have our troops committed to a lot of different places.
KEENAN: Yet, Senator Dayton, isn’t the secretary correct in the sense that we are looking through everything now through the prism of 9/11 and that was a big reason we went in?
DAYTON: Yes, that is a big reason we went in, but were we going in based on accurate intelligence information, and was that being conveyed properly and accurately to the people of United States and to the United States Congress?
Those are important questions to ask, and it’s the role of Congress to find out. We are committing American lives there, men and women are dying over there, and we have a responsibility to know did we send them for the reasons that we were told we were going to be sending them.
KEENAN: But let’s follow up on that, Senator Inhofe. I mean the morale situation in Iraq, among our troops, isn’t good. Tommy Franks today saying that the troops will be there indefinitely, although he doesn’t see a need for more troops. Are you happy with the situation there?
INHOFE: Well, first of all, I don’t think he said they’re going to be there indefinitely. He said they’re going to be there for a long period of time...
KEENAN: Foreseeable future. Foreseeable future, right.
INHOFE: ... and then he’s going to have others come in and take up some of that responsibility, and I believe that’s going to happen.
But let’s keep in mind, I want to go back to this issue of should we have gone in. Forget all about weapons of mass destruction. We know that he had them. But even if he had not had them, here’s a guy that is, you know, lining up 315 kids and executing them, kids under 12 years old. He murdered 3,000 women and children in a very painful way in one day.
This guy -- he’s not like any other despot around. He is the very worst. He had to be eliminated, and for those individuals who didn’t want to go in -- they’re going to have to answer the question: Did you really want him to continue?
Now you have people walking the streets; women don’t have to worry about being pulled out by the hair and taken out and raped and buried alive. You don’t have the parents for fear of their kids getting their tongues cut out.
I was in Kuwait the day after the war was over in 1991, and I saw the torture chambers. I saw little kids walking around with their ears cut off. This guy had to be eliminated, and his regime is over now, and I’m very proud of the two witnesses we had this morning.
KEENAN: The atrocities astounding.
And, Senator Dayton, that raises a question. I mean are we just one capture away from this while issue being off the map? If we get Saddam in the next couple of weeks, all these hearings, all this talk about WMD going to just go by the wayside?
DAYTON: No, I think they’re separate issues. But, yes, we need to capture and preferably eliminate Saddam Hussein and his two sons as immediately as possible, and there’s an all-out effort being made to do so, and I’m optimistic that it will occur in short order.
Both General Sanchez in charge of the U.S. forces in Iraq and Ambassador Bremer told our bipartisan group of senators last week in Baghdad that this was priority number one, and they think it will make a tremendous difference in the appeal of the United States and the willingness of people to come forward and share information.
KEENAN: All right. All right. Thanks for joining us, both of you.
Senator Mark Dayton and Senator James Inhofe.
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