This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", May 12, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Members of Congress viewed over 1,000 photos and videos today of Iraqi prisoners allegedly being abused by American soldiers. Many lawmakers say that the new photos are even worse than those they've already seen.

Joining us from Washington, Arizona Senator John McCain, author of a terrific new book, by the way, "Why Courage Matters."

Senator, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

How is your wife, Senator? I know the public has been very concerned. How is she doing?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: She's very well. Thank you for asking.

HANNITY: I'm glad to hear that.

Now, before we get to the issue of the photos, and I know you saw a lot of them today, I've got to get this out of the way, senator. You know you're a good friend.

The fellow senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry, in fact said today that you topped his list with defense secretary. You're it. You're the guy. So I've got to ask, would you...

MCCAIN: Whatever happened to vice president?

HANNITY: But you have said on this program, under no circumstances would you consider vice president.

Here's the question...

MCCAIN: ... circumstances.

HANNITY: Straight talk express, under any circumstances, would you ever consider being John Kerry's secretary of Defense?


HANNITY: End of discussion?

MCCAIN: End of discussion.

HANNITY: OK. All right.

MCCAIN: Sean, if I may, one brief comment. I think I can have a much greater and beneficial impact on our nation's national security policies exactly where I am.

HANNITY: OK. And that's -- and you will stay a Republican.


HANNITY: You are a Republican through and through. This won't be an issue tomorrow?


HANNITY: What part of no don't people understand? I know you, and I believe you.

You went to see some of these photos today. And of course we had this video of Nick Berg, one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen in my life, senator, I've got to tell you. And I have seen the whole thing.

You had originally -- I spoke to you earlier this week on my radio show. You wanted a release of all of the photos, get it out of the way, you said.

Based on, now, the development with Nick Berg and these guys saying that those pictures justified what they did, and they say -- and I don't believe them -- caused them to do this, would it be a mistake to release them now? You've seen them. You've seen these new photos.

MCCAIN: Here's why I think not, Sean. Because on our show, when we talked before, there's copies of this -- of these photographs all over the place. And they're bound to be leaked.

I have never seen a scandal where the things didn't come out and are leaked. And I'd rather have them out all at once than people who, frankly, oppose our effort, our noble effort in Iraq, to leaking them out one by one.

As you noticed a few days ago there was the shot of the dogs around the prisoner. Look, that's why I would rather them out and the American people see them so that we can move on.

HANNITY: What will we see?

MCCAIN: I think you'll see -- It's terrible.

HANNITY: You saw them today. Is it much worse than what we already saw?

MCCAIN: I've got to be -- in straight talk, I didn't watch many of them. I just thought I had to go up there, get a flavor of it and leave, because it's so disturbing to me.

I've seen a lot of bad things in my life, a lot of terrible things in my life, a lot of tragedy in my life, but I hate to see this, because it's young men and women of our military who are so wonderful and honorable and decent and sacrificing and courageous. That that's what disturbs me about it.

HANNITY: You know something, senator? It disturbed every American.


HANNITY: But as of now, where we are, we're talking about 12 people out of 150,000 that -- and we lost over 700 -- that have put everything on the line, Senator, so that the Iraqi people can give up a life of tyranny and genocide and have hope and opportunity and liberty and freedom.

And what bothers me is this has never been put in context. Yet people like Senator Kennedy saying that, now that Saddam's torture chambers have reopened under new management.

We have John Kerry saying, you know, "The abuse stemmed from the arrogance of President Bush's policy."

These guys have politicized this even further. Does that disturb you?

MCCAIN: Yes, of course. And let me also comment that these people may have said it's because of what happened in the prison. Well, what is it that motivated them to kill and mutilate the bodies of four American citizens outside of Fallujah?

HANNITY: They hate us. That's a good point.

MCCAIN: That's what it is all about. It's not about what happened in the prison.

And let me also say that this atrocious act today, that we have learned about today, these -- this incredible act of brutality emphasizes why we are there.

We don't want people like that. We don't want Saddam Hussein to gain power. We don't want ever for them to have to return to the kind of tyranny they experienced under Saddam Hussein.

COLMES: Senator, it's Alan, good to have you back on the show, and I'm very glad to hear that Cindy is doing well. Glad to hear about that.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

COLMES: And to further amplify the question you keep getting in every interview and we'll put it to bed, would you accept any role in a Kerry administration, on my level?


COLMES: All right. There we go. What part of no don't you understand? OK.

MCCAIN: No. They keep asking. No, no, no.

COLMES: I think we may have achieved closure on that right now.

MCCAIN: Thanks.

COLMES: I keep hearing about the alleged politicization of those photos. I keep hearing those who accuse my side of saying, well, if the liberal media had not shown those photos or if the liberal media hadn't shown those photos, or if the Democrats hadn't politicized this, we wouldn't have had this beheading. I hear that on the other side.

Is that also an unfair statement?

COLMES: I think that these photos came out because an individual wanted to -- the practices that were going on stopped, and these photos came out.

And I believe that American people, like me and you and Sean, turned away when we saw these photos, because we were so horrified by it, that any American could engage in any such activities. And my great fear is Americans will turn away from the noble cause of providing democracy and freedom to the people of Iraq.

COLMES: Is there a concern that some of these photos, when viewed, could cause atrocities against us in retribution? And if that could be proven to be the case, would there be an argument for not showing photos?

MCCAIN: I think that the people who have carried out these acts of atrocity, in their minds, need no further excuse or reason, because they have been committing these atrocities for a long period of time.

What I do worry about, and we should be very worried about, is the view of the average Arab citizen, who may believe this is some kind of common practice, and the exploitation of these photos with the Arab public opinion, sometimes by governments who fear the installation of democracy in Iraq.

COLMES: The -- In the hearings that took place, we have General Taguba, who said that the prison guards were under the command of intelligence.

And then you had Steven Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, who disagreed with what Taguba said and said intelligence was in charge of the facility but not in charge of the police guards.

That sounds like parsing. So what is the truth? Can they both be telling us the truth?

MCCAIN: I don't know the answer to that. We need more questions raised about that. We need to also know what -- why Ambassador Bremer and Secretary of State Powell repeatedly had to complain about abuses and obviously no action was taken.

Why did the International Red Cross issue such scathing reports? We need to find that out, as well.

And finally, this word GTMO-ization bothers me, because the detainees in Guantanamo Bay are not eligible for the protections provided by the Geneva Conventions for prisoners of war, because they're terrorists. They're not prisoners of war.

COLMES: We also hear -- the president and others have said, this is a small group of people, which I believe in general is true, compared to the 140,000 we have there who are, in my view, very brave heroes, whether we agree or not politically with the war.

But then the Red Cross said it was wide widespread. So what is the truth there?

MCCAIN: We need to investigate that, Alan. I think that there's a lot of questions that need to be answered, and that's why it's our responsibility in Congress to exercise oversight.

I wish it wasn't politicized. Sometimes it is, but it shouldn't be.

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