Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.
This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 18, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Terrorism -- one of the biggest questions out there is where did these guys get the funding they needed to operate? Could it have been from the sale of oil? My next guest says that the U.S. needs to focus on buying terror-free oil, and stop relying on the Middle East. Senator Conrad Burns joins me now from the Capitol.
Senator, good to have you.
SEN. CONRAD BURNS, R-MONT.: Good to have you, how are you?
CAVUTO: I'm fine, sir. But where can I find terror-free oil?
BURNS: Well, I'll tell you what, I go back to the old Churchill analysis before World War II, a variety of sources is our best security. We don't have to buy rogue oil. I am confident in that. The Caspian Basin, which is starting to develop very rapidly now, Russia who is going through judicial reform and also banking reform so that they can develop their reserves. They're also building the infrastructure to deep water ports where we can - and we can kill two birds with one stone. We can start rebuilding the middle class in Russia and the Caspian Basin states like Kazakhstan. And start them on some sort of an economic path and reform the countries to build a strong middle class, thus ensures freedom for everybody.
CAVUTO: But Senator, we're getting as much oil as we possibly for the time being out of Russia; right? If we lose some of the Middle Eastern countries with whom we're doing business, for whatever reasons, very meritorious I think on your part. We've got to pick up the slack somewhere, right? or does the market just suck it up?
BURNS: Well, no. I'll tell you what, we've got to know where our reserves are. And if we get to them, we put everything on hold in this country for silly reasons most of the time. Because it is emotional and becomes a political thing. And I think we should survey and know where our reserves are.
CAVUTO: We couldn't do this tomorrow or the next week, right? This is a multi-year type of.
BURNS: No, no. And we're not going to. But Neil, on the other hand, the Middle East is always going to be a player in the oil business because they have got the infrastructure and the reserves to turn it up or turn it down as far as price or production is concerned. So they will always be a player in the world market.
CAVUTO: Does it bother you that now versus the '70s oil crisis we now rely on Middle East oil more than we ever did?
BURNS: Well, 25 percent of it comes from Iraq and Saudi Arabia. And that concerns me. And I just say that we've got to start now. We have got to raise the awareness of it and dedicate ourselves to find other sources. And the other sources are around the world. And I mentioned two of them. And I think the prospects there are very good.
CAVUTO: So you are of the opinion that a lot of money that we pay to get this oil is being channeled back into terror efforts shepherded by these very countries?
BURNS: Where else are they going to get it? That's the only commodity that these two countries have to sell.
CAVUTO: All right, so you're saying shut down the commodity or our dependence on it…
BURNS: You bet. And see some reforms in their own country. You know, everybody in Saudi Arabia and Iraq both are third class citizens. I mean, it is terrible thing, and the peoples are not provided any new services or improving their quality of life just because we buy oil from them. And then they black market 100,000 barrels a day to Syria. And I say we just don't need that.
CAVUTO: OK. Senator, thank you very much. Always good seeing you.
BURNS: Thank you.
CAVUTO: Senator Conrad Burns joining us from Capitol Hill.
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