OTR Interviews

McCain: The five released terrorists in prisoner swap for Bergdahl are 'hell-bent on killing Americans and destroying America'

Senator and former POW lashes out at the danger of the terror prisoner swap for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 2, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Some Republican lawmakers warning the Bergdahl deal sets a dangerous precedent. Senator John McCain calling the five released terrorists "the hardest of the hardcore."

Senator McCain joins us. Nice to see you, sir.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about this deal, five for one, and the five who were swapped?

MCCAIN: Look at the bios of these five guys. They are even wanted by the international criminal court. One of them could have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Shiites. Inmates at Guantanamo are reviewed all the time. And every single time, these were judged by the smartest people we know on these things as too great a risk to be released because they would go back into the fight. 30 percent of those released from Guantanamo have already gone back into the fight. As my friend, Lindsey Graham, said, this was the "Dream Team."

VAN SUSTEREN: So why did --

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: And the fact is that we cannot have a situation where we release people like this, who are going to -- we are all glad the sergeant is home, OK? We are all glad he is home.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Is he a deserter?

MCCAIN: I don't know. You have better information -- you have guests that will talk a lot more about that.

But, the point is that these people are hell-bent on killing Americans and destroying America. That's what they're all about. That's what Mullah Omar celebrated as a great triumph. You combine this with the president's decision to have everybody out of Afghanistan, no matter what the situation is, you are setting this thing up. You are setting up a case where people are going to do bad things.

VAN SUSTEREN: So why did the president do it? And I think General Dempsey thought it was a good idea, or at least publicly.

MCCAIN: I won't comment on General Dempsey. The point -- because I - - he has become irrelevant to me, and the whole scenario of talking about national security. I think the president did it because this is part of that we are out of Afghanistan and out of Iraq. By the way, Iraq, now a base for al Qaeda. The director of National Intelligence says that they will be planning attacks on the United States of America. Good job on Iraq, Mr. President. That's why I thought he would have learned something from Iraq that you don't take everybody out. Look, we have still got troops in Bosnia, Korea, Germany, Japan. Why do we leave those troops behind?

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: It's a stability --

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: If that is a bad idea, why is he doing it?

MCCAIN: I cannot fathom it. I cannot fathom why he sat in the Oval Office and told me and Lindsey Graham that he is going to do what is necessary to reverse the battlefield in Syria and then turned around and canceled the strike after the chemical weapons were used. I believe this president does not understand that if America doesn't lead, then lots of other people are going to try, and they are bad people. These individuals who were just released will pose a direct threat to the lives of American men and women who are serving in this military. Therefore, it makes it totally unacceptable.

VAN SUSTEREN: You spent five and a half years as a POW. Any thoughts about Sergeant Bergdahl, what he is facing coming back?

MCCAIN: I have great sympathy for Sergeant Bergdahl. I'm glad that he is home. There are allegations concerning the way that he became a captive of the Taliban. I will let others, who know a lot more about that than I do, make a comment.

But there is also no doubt that we went to extraordinary lengths trying to find him after he was missing. I mean, you have guests that will tell you that. And so -- but this deal -- and, by the way, for Susan Rice to say that there was -- Congress was informed about that, is just another blatant falsehood.

VAN SUSTEREN: A lie? You say falsehood. Isn't it a lie?

MCCAIN: It's just false. It's just false. And the other one about - -

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, why did she do that?

MCCAIN: I don't know why they say these things. I don't know why they say things that they say, when they are just absolutely false. Isn't it -- now, with a straight face, they are telling the American people that we didn't do the negotiation with the Taliban, that Qatar did? Do you really believe that it was Qatar who was doing the negotiations, the actual negotiations? Of course, it was the United States of America that was doing it. And they -- with a straight face, they say that on the Sunday shows.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you. Thank you, sir.

MCCAIN: Thank you.