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Al Qaeda's Future After Bin Laden

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 3, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: The top story tonight: We have additional inside information about the daring Navy SEAL raid that killed bin Laden. Joining us now from Austin, Texas, is Fred Burton, the vice president of Intelligence for Stratfor.com. So Mr. Burton, I understand first of all that you guys are saying even though bin Laden has been killed, the Al Qaeda operation is not going to suffer very much. Please explain that.

FRED BURTON, VICE PRESIDENT OF INTELLIGENCE, STRATFOR: Well, you have to put it in context that jihadism is much larger than Al Qaeda prime today, which is or was bin Laden. In fact, some of the franchise groups, Bill, like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has surpassed Al Qaeda prime or bin Laden on the physical, as well as the ideological battlefield. So, in essence, a guy like bin Laden is not planning 9/11 attacks anymore.

O'REILLY: OK, but look, let's be honest about this. Al Qaeda, whether it's in Yemen or wherever it is, on the run. On the run. Now we got their symbolic leader, huge psychological victory and I think tactical victory for the United States of America and the West. So it doesn't seem to me that this Al Qaeda movement, jihadist movement has any future. Yes, they are around. Yes, the State Department issued a warning for Americans traveling abroad today. They can cause trouble. But I don't think there is a future in it. I think that they are on the downside and that we have really dealt them a huge blow.

BURTON: Well, I do think that this was a brilliant operation as a former counterterrorism agent myself. Having said that, the franchise groups, the grassroots groups are still out there and very capable of killing Americans. But Al Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11 is not capable of coming into the U.S. and carrying out a similar attack again. We have gotten too good on this front. Our capabilities are very robust today.

O'REILLY: OK, let's hope that's true. But I still think lone people or a couple of people can cause some damage.

Now, as you know, Congressman Peter King, Chairman of the House Security Committee came on this program, stated unequivocally waterboarding and, of course, interrogation led to the beginnings of bin Laden's demise. We called Congressman King today. He stands by that story despite the left-wing media trying to discredit it, and some members of the Obama administration also -- although they are very, very -- if you look at the statements and we're going to play you a couple of them, they're kind of dancing around. So I'm asking you. Did waterboarding, coerced interrogation lead to bin Laden's demise?

BURTON: It's my understanding, Bill, that the intelligence nugget that we first got was based on the courier's pseudonym, which came from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed through enhanced interrogation techniques when he was first located in one of our out-of-the-country prisons.

O'REILLY: Now, when you say -- from what I understand, Mr. Burton, does that mean that this is rock-solid information or this is something you heard in the wind?

BURTON: I think it's very good intelligence information that the original nugget of information surfaced during his first interview at an out-of-the country facility.

O'REILLY: OK, because that's what King says. He said it was an out-of-country facility. The Washington Post backs that up that this happened. Waterboarding, obviously, was used on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed many, many times, so there we go.

Now, as far as going forward is concerned, there are a lot of stories floating around. We are hearing that bin Laden didn't have a gun but he did resist. That's what Jay Carney, the presidential spokesman, said today. I don't think it matters. I think that this guy declared war on the United States, he and his organization. Our military took him out, as well they had the right to do. But Pakistan now becomes a big player, Mr. Burton. And Pakistan, I'm sorry, they helped bin Laden and they help the Taliban and we are sending them $3.4 billion every year. That's insane. Something has to be done. Am I wrong?

BURTON: No, you're not wrong. The safe house location is highly troubling. The first thing you want to do in the field when you get a safe house is control the geography. Its quiet obvious that bin Laden felt very comfortable being there and had lived there many, many years.

O'REILLY: All right. So Pakistan now becomes a huge problem for President Obama, correct?

BURTON: That is correct. As well as the diplomatic back and forth that's going to take place to try to sort this mess out, as well as our hunt for additional Al Qaeda high-value targets which, no doubt, are also safe havens in Pakistan.

O'REILLY: Well, I think the die has been cast. See, Pakistan has to help us or we've got to put them on ice. We've got to withdraw all our money. You're on your own. You're not going to help us; we're not going to play this game anymore. This dance is over. The dance is over. I'll give you the last word.

BURTON: Well, I think from a counter terrorism perspective, Pakistan has always been the center of gravity. That's where we grabbed Ramzi Yousef, that's where we grabbed Usama bin Laden and that's where more Al Qaeda terrorists are probably safe haven today.

O'REILLY: All right. Mr. Burton, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

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