OTR Interviews

Bachmann Commends Obama in Bin Laden Killing, But Warns of New Enemy and Need to Focus on Intelligence Community

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 3, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: What does Congresswoman Michele Bachmann have to say about President Obama? We asked her. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman, nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: And thanks for letting us come to your office.

BACHMANN: You're welcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, you're in the House intel committee, right? So how did you learn or what time did you learn about Usama bin Laden?

BACHMANN: I learned probably about the same time you learned. I got a call from my chief of staff, who said, Turn on the television, and when America learned, that's when I learned.

VAN SUSTEREN: How come you didn't learn sooner? I would have thought that the intel committee in the House and the Senate would get the heads-up from the White House.

BACHMANN: Well, I believe that there may have been some who may have known in the very top part of leadership, but I don't think that they wanted to go very far down from that. And actually, I'm just fine with that. I think this operation was so crucial and so important, I think the fewer people who knew, the better.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. What's up with Pakistan? I mean, this happens right in their back yard. We look at this house, and it's much bigger than the houses around. It's near military installations Pakistan -- our friends?

BACHMANN: Well, we -- we don't know. It looks like there's a double game that's going on with Pakistan. But I will also say that my chairman of the committee, Chairman Mike Rogers, said that in his opinion, he doesn't believe that the Pakistanis knew. There are two scenarios. One is the Pakistanis knew and they were doubledealing with us, or number two, they just didn't have a clue and maybe it was just incompetence. Either way, the Pakistanis don't look very good right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, let's take the doubledealing, for instance. There has been information in the past that when we wanted to send a drone in to some area, is that we would notify their intelligence, their ISI, and they would get back to us. And we have thought that they tipped off al Qaeda to get out of there. Then they give us the green light on the drone, we send the drone and everybody's gone.

BACHMANN: That's exactly why this operation had to be done by the United States alone, singularly.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's why it makes it look like they're doubledealing.

BACHMANN: And it could be. It could be. That's really the consequence when a nation has a perception of the United States of weakness. If the United States is projecting weakness, then that country is less likely to fear us. We want cooperation with countries, whether they do it out of fear or whether they do it because they like us. We want cooperation. And that's why it's very important that the United States not allow itself to project weakness. We have to project strength.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. The president was obliged to freelance. We -- without notifying -- we had to sneak our helicopters in to get this done without notifying Pakistan. So clearly, we don't fully trust the Pakistanis, whether it's incompetence or double dealing. So what do we do now? You know, we give them lots of aid. They're very important to our war on terror. But what do we do? We can't continue to work like this.

BACHMANN: Well, I think you'll find that there'll be some very high- level conversations that will ensue quite soon, and I think there'll be some downloading of information -- and then at that point, that information will come back to Congress and we'll make some decisions. We have given them, I believe it's about $18 billion in funding since the early 2000s, and I think that there'll be conversations about whether or not that will be renewed.

VAN SUSTEREN: But the awkward thing about the funding is this, is that, you know, we give them a lot of money. We give a lot of money for humanitarian. If we stop it because we think they're doubledealing, then we run the risk of Iran going in and filling the void.

BACHMANN: Exactly.

VAN SUSTEREN: So it's sort of, like, you know, they've got -- you know, they've got a shoe on our throat.

BACHMANN: Exactly. Now, Pakistan, from their perspective, their interest is India. They've always had an interest in India, and that's usually where a lot of their attention is placed. But it's also important for us to recognize that Pakistan also has nuclear capability. And so we don't want nuclear capability to get into the hands of al Qaeda. If al Qaeda will be in a situation where they might have a position of power within the Pakistani government, that would not serve the United States' interests, nor would it serve Israel's interests, either.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, think of what India's thinking right now. India's thinking, We told you so. You know, they do double deal. You can't trust them. You give them money to them. We're your friends. They're the terrorists. They sent their terrorists over to Mumbai to -- to cause a lot of heartache, a lot of -- over 160 deaths in a hotel and in the area. So India's sitting there saying, Why do you help Pakistan? And so what do we tell India?

BACHMANN: Well, I think, again, India has been a very good friend to the United States. We want to maintain that relationship. And again, I think there's a lot of things that are going to happen behind closed doors, between high-level United States officials and high-level Pakistani officials, and I think there'll be a "Come to Jesus" meeting, so to speak, I think, in that meeting.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't mean to suggest that I know the answers, by the way, because I know it's enormously complicated and delicate. But it is -- you know, But sitting here watching, you know, what's happening, unfolding and thinking that, OK, well, if they're double dealing us or incompetent on the Usama bin Laden, who else is there in the country that they're shielding who may be preparing to create havoc here in our country or even Americans abroad or other people? And secondly, what about those nuclear weapons? Why should we feel their weapons are secure if they're either incompetent or double dealing?

BACHMANN: Well, exactly. I think that's what people are worried about right now. In particular, who is in charge? Are they in a relationship right now, a so-called friendly relationship with al Qaeda? And then, third, will those people in that situation have an ability to be able to gain access to nuclear weapons? That would not be in anyone's best interests. And again, that's a question we're worried about.

VAN SUSTEREN: Our government seems to say -- our representatives, whoever's in power, and of course, now it's Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama on this issue -- they seem to say that, you know, we have a good relationship with Pakistan. Things are -- you know, that, you know, they're very cooperative. They've helped us with the war on terror. And then we see things like this. I mean, is that just sort of a necessary part of foreign policy and diplomacy that you have to put that out there?

BACHMANN: Yes, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: Or do you think they believe it? Or do you think they believe that?

BACHMANN: I don't fault the president or Secretary Clinton from saying that. There are things that have to be said for public consumption, and then there are things that are said behind closed doors. It's like if you're with your husband somewhere and you're having a conversation, you'll say something publicly and you'll say something different behind closed doors. I think you'll find that, as well, in diplomacy. And so I don't fault the president at all or Mrs. Clinton at all for making those comments.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you -- how'd the president do on this operation?

BACHMANN: I want to commend him because it wasn't an easy decision for him to make. A lot of things could have gone wrong in the special ops. And this was the right thing to do, and there would have been negative fallout that the president would have felt himself if this would have failed. So I give him credit for taking this on because there was down sides to doing this operation. I'm glad he did.

But I also want to say that this is the new face of fighting this enemy. We have a new enemy. We have a new war. And so the techniques that we have to use have to be different. We have to focus on the intelligence community. We have to focus on interrogation. That's why Gitmo worked. It was important. To detain and interrogate these people is very important.

And then third, special operations. We have to maintain strong special operations. So we have effectively small-scale wars. I think the days of nation building going in are something that is not the right direction for the country.

And also I think to not have this be a criminal act, as opposed to a military act, that's something else I want to look at, too, because we get into real troubled waters when we capture these people and then think that we have to give a Miranda warning and lawyer them up. That would also be very difficult, too. This was a real success story, But it also provides us lessons for where we need to go from here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which leads me to the last question -- enhanced interrogation or torture, whatever you want to call it. You for it or against it?

BACHMANN: Well, I don't think anyone is for torture. But for interrogation, yes, absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: Waterboarding?

BACHMANN: Well, interrogation -- we...

VAN SUSTEREN: Waterboarding?

BACHMANN: We waterboarded three individuals. One of those individuals was KSM. And you know, there's other people who were involved in that -- I wasn't involved in that -- who've said that that did yield information that has kept American safe. Number one, our priority has to be to keep America and our people safe. That's number one. And what we have learned from this effort is that Gitmo worked. Detention works. Interrogation works. We need to thank the interrogation community and thank the intelligence community and thank the SEALs who were involved in this, as well, because they're the one who deserve the credit.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman, thank you very much.

BACHMANN: Thank you. Come back.