Madeleine Albright on the White House Iraq Confab...

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 5, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight, a terrible day in Iraq. One hundred thirty people killed by terror bombers. And at the White House, a bunch of former secretaries of state and defense met with President Bush. The AP says among those attending were Colin Powell, William Cohen, Robert McNamara, Alexander Haig.

Also in attendance, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who joins us now from Washington.

So what did you tell the president today, madam secretary?

MADELINE ALBRIGHT, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first of all, let me say I was very glad to be invited. And I was very glad that this kind of a meeting took place.

And as somebody said at the beginning of the meeting, there were several hundred years of experience in the room.

What happened in the meeting was that we were first briefed by the American ambassador to Iraq, who was briefing us from Baghdad, and then General Casey. So we got a briefing on the political situation and the military situation.

And then we kind of went around the room. And people made their points. And I was — felt that it was very important to be honest with the president and say the kind of things in the room that I've often said publicly.

And so, we were talking about the war in Iraq. And I said to the president that I knew that we were not going backwards in talking about the war itself, that he wanted to hear about our ideas for the future. And that I said that I had believed that Iraq was a war of choice, not of necessity, but getting it right now was a necessity and not a choice, and that I didn't know anybody that didn't want us to succeed in Iraq.

O'REILLY: Howard Dean.

ALBRIGHT: Well, no, I think everybody wants us to succeed.

O'REILLY: I don't think so, but that's OK.

ALBRIGHT: We're very concerned.

O'REILLY: But what did you tell him specifically about how to succeed?

ALBRIGHT: Well, one of the — we — this is in context of what we've been told and the fact that there needed to be a regional solution. And so, I suggested that they create a contact group, the kind of thing that we did in the Balkans, meaning countries other than ourselves, along with us, that had an interest in the issue and try to work out some common problems so that this was not just our issue.

And the president noted that. And then the other thing I said that I thought it was very important to say, that we did not want to have permanent bases in Iraq, so that people knew that we were not going to be there as occupiers. And so I made those points.

But then, Bill, I felt that it was very important to use the opportunity of this meeting to say something else to the president, which I feel very strongly. And that is as a former Secretary of State, I am very worried about America's position in the world. I'm very worried about what's going on in Iran and North Korea, now in the Middle East, especially with Prime Minister Sharon's illness, in Latin America, Russia, China, and that I thought it was very important to pay attention to those issues as well as to Iraq.

O'REILLY: Boy, it's some world. I don't think it's ever been more dangerous in my lifetime than it is now. And that was a good point.

Now was there a division in the room — you have all these strong personalities, all with a very strong point of view. I'm sure General Haig's point of view isn't the same as yours, and that Colin Powell disagrees with William Cohen. Was that apparent, madam secretary, in the room, the difference of opinion?

ALBRIGHT: It really wasn't, Bill. What I think was very interesting, and just to give you a little bit more of the flavor, it is these people that met today are a group of people, all of us, who have had very high-level jobs and have had to make some very hard decisions, have had to give advice to our respective presidents that we worked for. And so, you can imagine this is a very strong group of people.

O'REILLY: You bet.

ALBRIGHT: So what was interesting to me was this is a group of people who are very used to interrupting each other. And as the briefers were trying to brief us, people kept interrupting and asking questions.

I think clearly, there was a group that is very supportive of what the president is doing. And then others who had some questions.

But I have to say that on the whole, it was a very friendly meeting. And even those of us who have some criticism, as I have had, were very appreciative of the fact...


ALBRIGHT: ...that we had been invited to this kind of a meeting.

O'REILLY: Now my last question, and we really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to talk with us. We know that this has been a very, very frenetic day for you. I interviewed Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, a couple weeks ago. And he is very optimistic that the United States will prevail in Iraq. All right?

Now I know it's his job to be optimistic. But I looked in the man's eyes, and he's a true believer, madam secretary. Do you believe we will prevail in Iraq, that that country will wind up as a democratic nation helpful to the West in the war on terror?

ALBRIGHT: Bill, I hope we do, because I think that.

O'REILLY: No, but do you believe it? Do you believe it?

ALBRIGHT: I'm not sure I believe it, because I think that there are terrible problems there, which were discussed today. It is going to be very hard to put together a national unity government. The people of Iraq voted, but they now have very serious political issues in how not to have a sectarian divide so that the Sunnis and Shias and Kurds are — see each other as ethnic groups rather than as one country.

O'REILLY: Right.


O'REILLY: All right, so I just want to wrap it up because we're running out of time. And I don't want to cut you off. So you want it to happen, obviously. All good Americans want it to happen. But you still have your doubts it might.

ALBRIGHT: I do have very serious concerns. I do.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, we appreciate you coming on, madam secretary. Thank you very much. Happy New Year to you.

ALBRIGHT: Happy New Year to you, Bill.

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