Gov. Jesse Ventura

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This partial transcript of the Fox News Channel broadcast War on Terror: The Hunt for the Killers, November 19, 2001, was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.



SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DONALD RUMSFELD:  Just as the U.S. naval and air forces and the special forces have thus far done a very good job during the campaign, U.S. special operations are now doing the same on the ground.  They have gathered information on enemy troop movements.  They have found targets for U.S. aircraft.  They've blockaded roads in search of fleeing Taliban leaders and Al Qaeda leaders.


VESTER:  Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.  Tonight, as the Taliban crumbles further, more American special operations troops are joining the chase for bin Laden inside Afghanistan.  Some are working alone, others are teaming up with Afghan rebels, as you heard, and British commandos. Joining us now is a man who knows what these troops are up against, former Navy SEAL and now the governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura.Governor, welcome.  Thanks for being here.

GOV. JESSE VENTURA (I), MINNESOTA:  It's great to be here.

VESTER:  Let me first ask you about these special ops troops who are increasingly in the chase after bin Laden.  It's not easy country to find them, and it's not like we naturally blend in.  How long do you really think it's going to take for our guys to find the top leadership of Al Qaeda and the Taliban?

VENTURA:  Well, it's hard to say.  Again, you know, you're not on the ground there.  I'm certainly not on the ground there to know what -- the knowledge that they're gaining.  But certainly, if they have the Northern Alliance people and the Afghan people with them, then they will gain a certain amount of intelligence from them.  And they're professionals at what they do.  You know, they're highly trained. 

I go out to the SEAL team reunion every year, and you know, I'm not even privy to everything that they have today, but they're very highly trained and highly motivated.  And I have all the confidence in the world they'll get the job done.  How long?  It's hard to say, because you don't know how extensive the caves are, all the hiding places out there and what the movement actually will be at night and all of that.  But I think that they ultimately be successful.  But when, you don't know that yet.

VESTER:  Speaking of the SEALs, as I understand it -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- primarily up to now, this has been mainly Army special forces.  Do you wish that the SEALS were more involved in country?  And personally, do you wish you were there?

VENTURA:  First of all, how do you know that?  The SEALs aren't going to tell you whether they're there or not.

VESTER:  It's not like they're calling me but...

VENTURA:  Well, the point is rest assured they're there.  They're just not going to be a high-profile unit there, because that's not the way the SEAL team operates.  The SEAL team operates a very low profile.  They don't want you to know they're there.  And you're asking me: Do I wish I was there?  No, not at all.  You know, like every American and every veteran, when September 11 hit, I had a, you know, a feeling of patriotism again and wanting to do it again.  But then I realized very quickly I'm 50 years old now, and when I play 18 holes of golf, I have to hit the hot tub at the end of the day.  And so my day of doing that is over with.  You come to that realization very quickly.

But rest assured the Navy SEALs are likewise there.  They're just not going to broadcast it to the media that they're there.

VESTER:  Some viewers wrote in with some questions, and we thought we'd share some of them with you.  One of them comes from Sherry in Callaway, Maryland.  She asks, "If we find bin Laden, do you believe that we should shoot him where he is or capture him alive and send him through a legal system?"

VENTURA:  Well, again, that's going to be up to bin Laden.  And under the circumstances, it's very difficult to determine.  If he resists them, they will take him out.  If he comes willingly, then I'm sure that they will be happy to capture him.  But you know, it's a situation that unless you're there and you're -- and it's happening to you directly, then you can't make the judgment at that point.  But if he resists, then certainly, they'll take him out.

VESTER:  But you've heard about President Bush saying -- well, he's established the outline for military tribunal, where trying some of these figures would be in secret.  And some people here in the United States are arguing, saying, "Oh, that's not fair.  We should have open trials.  We should have -- that's the American way."  Where do you stand?

VENTURA:  Well, I'm going to leave that to the president.  What they did to us on September the 11th wasn't fair.  So whatever is dealt back to them I think pales in comparison to what they did to the United States of America and our twin towers in New York.  So they're not going to get a whole lot of sympathy from me.

VESTER:  Another quick question.  Rick in Findley, Ohio asks, "Do you think the media's coverage of the conflict has endangered our servicemen and women by allowing too much sensitive information on the air?"  You've seen a lot about special forces in country.

VENTURA:  Well, what you're seeing I doubt is all that what's going on.  They're releasing what they want to release.  But again, I said at the outset of this war that the media would not be happy with it, because they are going to get cut out.  Anytime you bring the special forces in, generally, it's not going to be like the Gulf War.  It's not going to be on the nightly news where you're going to see the explosions and everything going on...

VESTER:  It's very different, right.

VENTURA:  ... which is going to irritate the media because the media likes to be there.

VESTER:  Sorry to interrupt you.  We've got much more to talk about, so stand by.  We're going to pick it up after this break when the War on Terror returns.

Why Pat Buchanan calls the immigration policy in America suicidal.  Stand by.



GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Since September the 11th, the federal government has taken action to raise safety standards.  We've made funds available to the aviation industry to fortify cockpits.  More federal air marshals now ride on our airplanes.  The Department of Transportation instituted a zero-tolerance crackdown on security breeches.  Our National Guard protects us in our airports.


VESTER:  That's President Bush as today he signed into law a bill federalizing all airport bag screeners and calling for bomb-detection systems at all airports.

Welcome back to "The War on Terror."  I'm Linda Vester.

Back with us now to discuss homeland security is Minnesota governor and former Navy SEAL Jesse Ventura.

Governor, I want to focus now on your role with homeland security, sort of your current role.  Now, do you feel like places in your state, the Metrodome, the Mall of the Americas, is -- they are still in the crosshairs, that they are still possibly terrorist targets?

VENTURA:  Well, they always could be because this a unique war.  They're not targeting military bases.  They're not targeting things like that.  They're targeting human beings.  And anyplace that you have that has a great deal of human beings showing up there is always a potential target.  I don't -- I think we'd be naive to think different.

Do I feel we're in direct crosshairs right now?  No.  Do I feel that we're doing everything possible to ensure the safety?  Absolutely.  I was just at Mall of America last Friday, and I went through their entire security system with them there.  And they're very prepared, and their system's quite elaborate.  And I would tell anyone you can feel very safe going to the Mall of America or the Metrodome right now.

VESTER:  I read that there are 140,000 Muslims in your state alone.  And you know that the attorney general has sent out word to district attorneys all around the country, seeking questioning of about 5,000 men of either Arab or certain Muslim background.  Has it happened -- has it happened in your state?  Have DAs in your state gotten the message from the AG?

VENTURA:  If they've gotten that message, they're doing it very quietly because there hasn't been any public outcry over it at all.  And certainly, we want to be very -- and assure people that we're not blaming Muslim people or people of Islam at all.  What you have is extremists.  You have terrorists.  And it has no bearing on the Islam religion at all.  And they can feel free to practice their religion in the state of Minnesota to their heart's content, and I want them to know that.  But certainly, if there are people that come down from the AG that are on a suspicious list, they will -- we will act accordingly.

VESTER:  Now, there have been some mosques in the United States where the anti-American rhetoric has been put out loud and clear.  And I don't know if it's happened in Minnesota, but for argument's sake, if it has, how do you deal with the Muslim clerics in your state to sort of say, "Look, tone it down.  We're all on the same side"?

VENTURA:  Well, again, the great thing about this country, Linda, is that you have freedom and you have freedom of speech.  And even though the speech may not be what you want to hear, the freedom is still there.  And to my best knowledge, words don't hurt you.  It's actions that hurt you.

But I would certainly ask, you know, that -- that -- use good judgment in anything that's said at any time because, you know, hate starts with speech, generally.  And so, you know, in order to get rid of hatred in the world, we don't need anybody saying bad things about other people, unless it's definitely warranted.  And if it's not warranted, they shouldn't do it.

VESTER:  Do you feel like the Muslim clerics in your state are sort of on board with you?  Have you had good relations with them since 911?

VENTURA:  We've had great relationships with them since 911.  In fact, the week after 911, we held our huge rally at the capital, and the Muslim religion was represented there.  And they received all the respect and cheering and applause because they stepped forward and they themselves condemned the actions of September 11, as any well, free-thinking person would, regardless of their religious faith.

VESTER:  Let me ask you about...

VENTURA:  That was murder, what took place September the 11th.

VESTER:  Truly.  I think few would disagree with that.  The border with Canada -- It's a problem for you, like it is for some other northern states.  There is -- one of our viewers wrote in, Brian from Morehead (ph) in your state, said, "With Minnesota bordering Canada, I'm wondering if you'd be in favor of using military personnel to guard our borders on a permanent basis."  Would you?

VENTURA:  Well, you know, we have a great relationship with Canada and Premier Dour (ph) up in Manitoba.  And I've already met with him, and we've discussed it and we're communicating very well on both sides.  And we have military protecting the border right now of Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba, and we'll continue to do so.

But I think as long as -- you know, Canada's a great friend to the United States.  We work very well, and the premier and I get along exceptionally well.  And we're going to communicate back and forth, and we're going to ensure that that's border is safe, and from both sides, both the Canadian side, as well as the United States side.

VESTER:  So the Office of Homeland Security, in dealing with governors, yourself in particular, how do you think they're doing?  How is Tom Ridge doing?

VENTURA:  I think Tom's doing the best job he can do right now.  He got put into a hot situation, you know, to go from governor to Pennsylvania to a new department.  But we've had a couple of conference calls together, where all the governors are brought together.  Tom's a very respected governor.  We all get along great.  And Tom Ridge knows that the key to state security is good communication between the governors.  And he just left from being a governor, and I know that he enjoys his new job, but he's going to miss being governor of Pennsylvania, and they're certainly going to miss him also.

VESTER:  OK, one final question.  I just want to make sure everything's OK back in Minnesota because there are a couple of reports I read that, you know, some reporters are giving you flack, and that there were a couple of dust-ups, and one article in the "Star Tribune" said, "Well, Governor Ventura's in a funk."  Is that really true?

VENTURA:  That's not true at all.  The only funk is the media.  I'm busy doing my work, and I'm not talking to them necessarily, and that puts them in a funk and so then they write that kind of nonsense.  Jesse Ventura is as fine, as strong and as focused as he's ever been.  And they try to make it look like I'm -- somehow can't handle the pressure.  I've been in plenty of pressure situations, and this one's no different than any other.  And I'll continue to lead the state of Minnesota.  The problem is with the media, not with me.

VESTER:  Got it.  Governor Jesse Ventura, good to see you.  Thanks for taking the time to be with us.  We appreciate it.

VENTURA:  Thank you, Linda.  My pleasure.

VESTER:  All right.  Have a good night.

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