This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, May 11, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Al Qaeda's beheading of an American civilian is graphic proof of the evil we're fighting in the war on terror. It does not excuse the behavior we saw at Abu Ghraib prison (search), but it does illustrate some of the difficulties we face when dealing with this type of enemy. Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss (search) of Georgia is a member of the Armed Services Committee. Senator, where is the outrage over Iraqis with American blood on their hands?
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA) SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Yes, I'm sort of waiting to see what happens there, John, but hopefully we're going to see evidence of that today. You know, there certainly has been outrage at the press toward Americans, and we deserved part of it. But, you know, with this happening today, I look for the outrage to come from the other side towards the Al Qaeda (search) operatives just like we saw towards Americans.
GIBSON: Do you believe that will happen? I mean, I've been looking at the Brit Web sites. I looked at The Guardian. They treated it as a second- or third-level story. It wasn't even the headline of the day. Abu Ghraib has been headlines for a week now. I looked at the other papers in Britain. They haven't even run anything yet. I looked at the Arab Web sites. They're running it down low as if it's kind of an ordinary event, like a car wreck. I mean, do you honestly expect to see aljazeera.com expressing any outrage about this, well, slaughter of an American?
CHAMBLISS: Yes, not only that, John, but I don't expect we'll see any congressional investigation going on about that particular incident. And the United States is simply held to a different standard. We certainly grieve for the family of this man. He was a very brave man who suffered the ultimate sacrifice here, but, you know, we can take something from this too. This is further evidence of the reason why it's imperative that we move ahead and win this war on terrorism and take these bad guys out. And this should give us the impetus to move forward with even more vigor than we've ever had to bring this thing to a conclusion and to get rid of all of these bad guys over there.
GIBSON: Senator, does this — is this going to take some of the bite out of the investigation of the abuses at Abu Ghraib? I mean, are we going to see Americans taking a deep sigh and saying, well, you know, it's a rough world, and we're treated worse than we dish out.
CHAMBLISS: Well, I'm afraid we can't do that, John. It's imperative we continue to abide by the law because the rule of law is what makes America the great country that it is. And we have to abide by that, so we've got to move forward with the Abu Ghraib investigation and whatever prosecutions or treatment may come towards military officers out of that. But at the same time, I think it is imperative we step back and as we are reviewing what we're doing relative to the war on terrorism, take this situation regarding this beheading of this man today into account relative to the military action we take.
GIBSON: Senator, you know, the Army Times ran an editorial against what had — speaking out against what had occurred at Abu Ghraib, and the Army Times editorial quoted people in the Pentagon talking about the six — or I guess it's seven now — the seven morons who lost the war. General Taguba said today he had no evidence that there was higher authority giving orders to treat prisoners this way. Are you satisfied that this is going to be confined to the seven who are arrested and face court-martial, or is this going up to officers or higher?
CHAMBLISS: Well, certainly it needs to be confined to just those persons who were directly involved. However, John, let's be realistic about this. If there were six or seven people doing this on one isolated occasion, maybe the higher-ups wouldn't know about it, but this went on for a period of two, three, four weeks, maybe longer than that. It's hard for me to believe that it went on for that long a period of time with somebody up the chain of command not having knowledge of it.
GIBSON: But, senator, you know, there's — it's been demonstrated that some members of that MP unit given the same orders by military intelligence softened these guys up said, no, I won't. That's an illegal order, and the — their commanders back them up. So we know that some soldiers in that very same unit refused to go along with this, and doesn't it then appear that this was kind of an isolated group?
CHAMBLISS: I think that's exactly right, that it is an isolated group, but it was not an isolated incident, and that's the key thing right there. Did somebody know this was happening on a recurring basis as it, in fact, did happen? This 800 military brigade unit, not only was at Abu Ghraib, but they were at other prisons within Iraq. We didn't have these kind of problems at those other prisons, so there was a complete breakdown in discipline, a complete breakdown in leadership that caused these events to happen. And while it may have been an isolated group of folks, it was not an isolated incident.
GIBSON: All right, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, senator, thank you very much.
CHAMBLISS: Sure, John, glad to be with you.
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