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Congressman says no to war in Iran

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight. The recent setbacks in Afghanistan have soured the American public on the war there. According to a Rasmussen poll 53 percent of likely voters support the complete pullout of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Just 31 percent are opposed to that.

And our BillOReilly.com poll, which is non-scientific, asked "Is the Afghan war worth fighting anymore?" 92 percent of "Factor" viewers say no; just eight percent say yes. That is an amazing return.

But as you may know, there is another military situation possibly brewing, action against Iran. And joining us now from Washington is Congressman Keith Ellison from Minnesota.

So if sanctions fail would you support military action to stop the Iranians from developing a nuclear weapon?

REP. KEITH ELLISON (R), MINNESOTA: No, I wouldn't. I would have to know much, much more than that. At this point, Bill, what we know now is that neither Israeli or American military experts have the... have come to the conclusion that Iran has even decided to build a bomb. And then their conclusion is that if and when that conclusion is arrived at by Iranian leadership it will take a year to develop one. Then they'll take years after that to come up with a delivery system.

So, I'm not on your show today going to say I'm going to authorize military action. There is a long way before that. We need diplomacy. And that's what we need right now.

O'REILLY: Well they are trying I mean, obviously everybody is trying diplomacy. But it has not really worked according to the U.N. inspectors. They are much closer than you say they are.

But look, you never going to get it and you know this, conclusive evidence on either side about what the Iranians are doing. And they do it in secret. They do it far underground. The Israelis believe that they are very close to having some kind of nuclear weapon that they don't necessarily have to put on a missile but they can put in a suitcase and put it in Tel Aviv.

ELLISON: I've got to disagree with you there Bill.

O'REILLY: So, I know what you're saying I mean... it's a risky, it's a risky proposition to start military action when you can't convince the American people, like WMDs in Iraq. We said they were there and then we went and we couldn't find them. There is going to be that mind set of you better show me. But it's going to be impossible to show anybody. And then if they do develop the nuclear weapon, Congressman, as you know it's too late.

ELLISON: Well, let me tell you this. Now the fact is, is that inspections are going on.

O'REILLY: No. They have... they have barred most of the... they have barred the key inspections as you know and they went over there two weeks ago the U.N. inspectors and the Iranians said you can't go in over there. You can't do... it's exactly what Saddam Hussein did. They let him come into the country and they go, well you can go there but you can't go here. They don't have unfettered access you know that.

ELLISON: Well, here is what I do know that... that Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that war with Iran would be destabilizing. He said that there is no...

O'REILLY: Of course it would be.

ELLISON: Of course it would be... and you know what; it would be far worse than... it would be far worse than allowing... than allowing diplomacy to move forward. We've had about a sum total of about 45 minutes.

O'REILLY: All right, let me ask you this. Look diplomacy --

ELLISON: 45 minutes of diplomacy in the last 30 years, Bill.

O'REILLY: Well then that's on your guy Barack Obama. If you don't think diplomacy has been there. He has had three years to be diplomatic with the Iranians and so it's on your President. Not your President, he's my President, too.

ELLISON: Look I'm not here -- I'm not here to debate that issue.

O'REILLY: But wait, wait, wait.

ELLISON: We're talking about Iran...

O'REILLY: Is it more dangerous -- is it more dangerous for the Iranians to have a nuclear weapon, all right; or for the world to be destabilized which I agree with you and General Dempsey would happen if there were military action against Iran? Which is more dangerous Iran having a nuke or the destabilization?

ELLISON: I think it's more dangerous to have a destabilizing catastrophic war that will spill out all over the Middle East.

O'REILLY: Ok, that's what I thought you were going to say and you are an honest man which is why you are here. Ok, so you would be then willing to trade all right? No military action and we'll try to contain Iran when they get the nuclear bomb or the nuclear device. You would be willing to try to contain that.

ELLISON: Now you're already down the block and we haven't even stepped out of the house. You're already down the block and we haven't even stepped out of the house.

O'REILLY: No we absolutely have stepped out of the house. They've got the scientists working on it. They got the uranium in place. They won't let the U.N. inspectors in to see what they are doing. Come on.

ELLISON: Bill invite... invite Martin Dempsey on your show. You will learn different from what you just said. The fact of the matter is...

O'REILLY: Martin Dempsey has not said anything like that.

ELLISON: They have... no they don't have a weapon. They have not made a decision to do one. The inspection held up different...

O'REILLY: How would you know they have not made a decision to do one? How would you know that?

ELLISON: Because... I'm glad you asked. Because we have satellite technology. We have technology that can detect...

O'REILLY: They are underground. The satellites can't penetrate the earth. They are underground.

ELLISON: We have inspectors that have gone on and there are holes --

O'REILLY: They won't let the inspectors as I said three times.

ELLISON: Yes they have there have been a number of inspections.

O'REILLY: No, they haven't. They went two weeks ago and they were barred from going in.

ELLISON: Well Bill I'm sorry, but I'm not going to back a war on a maybe. 4,000 -- 4,409 Americans are dead because somebody --

ELLISON: -- and I'm not going to do it.

O'REILLY: Congressman the reason we like you as a guest is because you're an honest man. But I will point to history, I will point to history. The same mind set was taken when dealing with Nazi, Germany. We're not going to go ingressive (ph) action, we don't believe they are going to do this, we don't believe they're going to do that and they absolutely did everything. So I think you've got to learn from history. Yes.

ELLISON: And I have got to tell you in World War II, in World War II they attacked Pearl Harbor that was -- that would be enough.

O'REILLY: No, this is the German theater not the Japanese.

ELLISON: No, no well, I'm just telling you, you're bringing up the World War II conflict.

O'REILLY: Yes.

ELLISON: And you know; what our leaders there took the lives of American servicemen and women so seriously that they didn't rest on a gamble. And that's the kind of leader that I hope to be.

O'REILLY: Well now instead of a Pearl Harbor attack you could have a nuke attack and that's a whole different deal. Hey Congressman, always good to debate with you. Thank you.

ELLISON: Thank you.

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