Transcript: Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y.

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," June 9, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Wednesday, in my chat with the president, I asked him if what's taking place at Guantanamo Bay is dragging our name through the mud globally.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got a press corps that's constantly asking tough questions about prisoner treatment, for example. You just asked one. And that's what open societies do. They answer the questions by saying...

CAVUTO: But, now, President Carter has said, sir, shut it down. Joe Biden said, shut it down.

BUSH: Yes.

CAVUTO: Do you think it should be shut down?

BUSH: Well, you know, we're exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective, which is to protect America. I mean, what we don't want to do is let somebody out that comes back and harms us.


CAVUTO: And just Thursday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld found himself defending the president's response to me.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: A whole lot of questions come to mind. If you close it, where would you go? Our desire all along has been to see that people who were involved in the September 11 killing of 3,000 men, women and children and were captured, engaged in terrorist activities or captured on battlefields in Afghanistan or Iraq or elsewhere be kept off the streets, so they don't kill more people.


CAVUTO: So, what does my next guest think of all this? Joining me now, Charlie Rangel, New York congressman, ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Congressman, what do you say should happen with Gitmo?

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL, D-N.Y.: You know, there has to be another view to this. As someone that has been in combat and could be captured, I would be concerned as to how the enemy is going to treat me.

And I don't know what's happening at Gitmo, but it's abundantly clear that the whole world apparently believes that we're abusing these detainees, these prisoners of war.

CAVUTO: So, how would that change, Congressman, if we simply shuffle them around?

RANGEL: It's not a question of shuffling them around.

It's letting people know, how long do you have to keep somebody in order to get information? What possible information can we get that's so important that the reputation of the United States is going to be shot? And we should let the Red Cross and international people come in and be proud of the way we treat our enemies and be proud of the way that we want our troops to be respected, God forbid, if they are captured.

This whole idea of saying where would you put them, if the United States of America can't find out where to put prisoners of war, then the intelligence is far worse than I ever thought.

CAVUTO: But, Congressman, wouldn't you argue these are not typical times? The war against terror doesn't have typical soldiers. These people who are held are not typical soldiers. But many were, indeed, sympathetic, especially the ones that were caught and taken in Afghanistan, sympathetic to terrorist causes.

RANGEL: Well, you know, it's hard for Americans, including me, to believe, that here we find 15 of the 19 people who crashed into the World Trade Center came from Saudi Arabia, and yet the president walks through the gardens with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

It wasn't as though we found these people came from Afghanistan or from Iraq. And so, why are we going to believe that these people who may all look alike to somebody that's there have enough intelligence that they are going to protect us against 9/11?

CAVUTO: But, Congressman, how would you explain it to your New York constituents if one of the folks you recommend just sort of letting go comes back and kills them?

RANGEL: I didn't say anything about letting people go.

CAVUTO: Then what would you do? Tell me exactly, what would you do?

RANGEL: We would go in there. We would investigate. We would find out what kind of information did we have. We can split them up. They don't have to be located at one place.

I am more concerned with two things than anything else. And that is, one, that our national security be protected, and, two, that the reputation of my great country be protected. The rest of this business about keep them there, ignoring their civil rights, ignoring the Geneva rights because they are not prisoners of war, I tell you, when you are captured, you can be whatever the enemy calls you.

But what is happening here is, these people believe that we're mistreating their people. God forbid if they are going to retaliate. It is wrong.

CAVUTO: But you can't please the other side, no matter what you do, right? I mean, they don't care that we were attacked. They don't really care that these people might be a threat to us. They would love to see us annihilated. So, if we're dealing with those who potentially want to annihilate us, they don't give a rat's patoot, right?

RANGEL: I'm telling you that we have a reputation of a country that's looking to spread freedom and liberty throughout the world.

CAVUTO: Congressman, I understand that. But we have a reputation to protect ourselves, right?

RANGEL: Yes, but human beings have human rights. And you don't lock up people and throw away the key and expect good-thinking Americans not to be concerned about that.

Even if we weren't concerned about them, we would want our men and women to be treated the same way overseas.

CAVUTO: All right. Congressman, thank you, your point well-spoken — Charlie Rangel at the White House.

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