This is a partial transcript from "The O'REILLY Factor," April 30, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight, the latest polls have American support for the Iraq War dropping. -- The country is now just about equally divided on the action.
Joining us from the White House is Dan Senor, an adviser to U.S. presidential envoy in Iraq, Paul Bremer. Mr. Senor's just back from Iraq.
So what do you want me to know that I don't already know, Mr. Senor? You're a guy who's at the top of the food chain here in America. And tell me what I don't know. Tell me something.
DAN SENOR, AMB. PAUL BREMER'S ADVISER: Well, Bill, one thing -- I've been back here for about 12 hours. And I go back to Baghdad early next week. Short time I've been here, just sort of perusing the American television, what I've seen very little of are the number of Iraqis that are speaking out in some way, shape, or form against whether it's Sadr and his militia in the south, or whether it's the insurgents in Fallujah. What you see a lot of in Iraq that you don't see here are Iraqis engaged in a real debate about how their country cannot move forward. The democracy cannot be built there if these ragtag militias and various insurgents and international terrorists are left unchecked.
O'REILLY: OK. Where are these Iraqis? Where are they? Are they on television and radio in Iraq? Do they even have television and radio nationally? I mean, where do you see them?
SENOR: Sure. You actually turn on any Arab satellite channel in Iraq, and despite the editorial tone taken on by the management of some of those satellite channels, you'll also see various Iraqis, the Iraqi interior minister, Samir Sumedi (ph); the Iraqi national security adviser, Dr. Moapaca Rubai (ph); members of Baghdad city council; certain moderate clerics from the south and from the Fallujah area engaging in discussion, holding press conferences and...
O'REILLY: OK, so you actually -- so Iraqis will have to see that. Now Gallup (search) released a poll yesterday, you may know about this, it said 57 percent of Iraqis want us out of there now. And a lot of Americans say, you know, what are we dying for over there? These people are ungrateful. Our reporters tell us they can't even go out of the hotel it's so dangerous in Baghdad. And you can understand how Americans are getting the impression that this situation simply isn't going our way.
SENOR: Well, Bill, I think it's important to look at the other questions being asked in the poll too, because there are some paradoxical responses we're seeing.
We've been doing polling for a number of months, eight, nine months. And polling in Iraq, you've got to understand is quite rudimentary. It's much more of an art than a science.
Now but that said, we see three themes coming out. Overwhelming majority of Iraqis grateful for the liberation. 95 percent, 97 percent, 98 percent in the polls we do are glad Saddam is gone. Sort of the foil, if you will, to the election results Saddam Hussein used to get.
The second thing they say over and over is they want the occupation to end. That's understandable. It's not nice to be occupied. It's not nice to be an occupier. We don't like being occupiers any more than they like to be occupied.
But the third thing they say over and over is that they don't want U.S. forces to leave. They're quite clear about that. You ask them do you want the occupation to end, they say yes. You say do you want American soldiers to leave? They say no. They draw a distinction between the political occupation, political sovereignty, and American security and the security reinforcements we provide.
O'REILLY: OK. Now there's a new strategy in play, as of course you know because you're advising on this strategy, that the U.S.A. is going to hire these generals that worked for Saddam to try to go in and convince these insurgents in Fallujah and other places to give up their weaponry and calm down.
Now a lot of our military experts say that should have been done from the very beginning. We don't want to play the Monday morning hindsight game. I don't think that's fair. But is this policy, all right, buying up these generals who we defeated, is this the wave of the future there?
SENOR: Actually, it's part of a strategy we articulated a long time ago. When Ambassador Bremer signed the order to disband the Iraqi military, he was quite clear that at some point we would build up the Iraqi security forces and that we would have to recruit from the old Iraqi army, from the old Iraqi police force, from the various security forces under Saddam. But we would have a robust vetting process to insure that the former senior-level Baathists, those involved in the atrocities, with blood on their hands, would not have a role in the new security forces.
And if some slipped through the cracks and we found it out after the fact, we'd throw them out right away. But we've said all along that while we shut down the old army, we would recruit from the ranks of the old army to serve in the new security forces so long as they passed our vetting process.
O'REILLY: All right, I got it. I got it. But it took you a long time to do that. And now it looks like you're doing it because the situation got out of control.
Two more questions for you. And we appreciate your candor on this. You're giving very straightforward answers. And we appreciate that.
There is the perception the Defense Department, Donald Rumsfeld, who won't answer my questions, unfortunately, underestimated this whole situation after the fact. That's the perception by most American people. Is that true? Is there any truth to the fact that, hey, they just didn't know there was going to be this resistance after they removed Saddam?
SENOR: You know, I'm normally on the ground in Baghdad, Bill, as you know. And we have our hands full dealing with the operational management of the situation on the ground there day to day. We have very little time to look in the rear-view mirror. There will be plenty of historians and many PH.Ds that will...
O'REILLY: All right, so you don't want to slap Rumsfeld around. All right.
SENOR: Would have, could have, should have.
SENOR: But I would say, though, that a lot of the crises that were averted were the result of the excellent pre-war planning. And that rarely gets credit. The fact Saddam Hussein had oil wells wired to be inflamed, and those were headed off because of preplanning and in activities our forces engaged in ahead of time, the fact that there was no refugee crisis, no humanitarian crisis. You never hear about the crises that were averted in large measure averted because...
O'REILLY: All right, last question. Real fast. Are you getting a fair shake from the U.S. press?
SENOR: You know, I...
O'REILLY: Come on, Mr. Senor are you getting a fair shake from the U.S. press?
SENOR: I will say this, Bill. There is a lot of good stuff going on in Iraq. The actions that the Iraqi political leadership has taken is unprecedented for that part of the world, unprecedented for Iraq, individual liberties, bill of rights, interim constitution, most of the countries returning to normal.
O'REILLY: All right.
SENOR: So there's a lot of good stuff happening.
O'REILLY: I'm going to take...
SENOR: And you'd hope there would be a more balanced perspective.
O'REILLY: Yes, I'm going - well, this is the fair and balanced network. And I'm taking that as a no, Mr. Senor. And you're welcome any time to tell us what's going on there and so is your boss. And so is Rumsfeld. And we appreciate it very much.
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