MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript
MSNBC "THE ED SHOW" INTERVIEW WITH SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA)
INTERVIEWER: ED SCHULTZ
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MR. SCHULTZ: Joining me now is Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator, great to have you with us tonight.
SEN. KERRY: Glad to be with you. Thank you.
MR. SCHULTZ: How far do we go with this? What's your quick take on this tonight? How far should we go with this?
SEN. KERRY: I think you need to know the truth. I think it would probably be beneficial to have a commission of some kind of senior, respected, bipartisan people with public experience who examine that truth and lay it out to the country.
Clearly somebody's got to be held accountable for something that really violates the fundamental values of who we are as a people. I mean, remember, we were fighting this. We were talking about this over the last years. We have said the United States of America doesn't torture. And we have been arguing about the standards for any number of years.
This is not just a sudden issue that has appeared on the screen of America's conscience. This is something that goes to the core of how we are viewed in the world, what our moral authority is in the world, of what we -- how we define ourselves. And I think it's very important to understand it fully.
MR. SCHULTZ: Senator Kerry, at the executive level, what role could President Bush play, former President Bush, in all of this? Would a private conversation with President Obama help to start full disclosure instead of dragging the country through all of what we could see when it comes to Senate and House hearings? Is that possible?
SEN. KERRY: Well, of course it's possible, but don't hold your breath. On the other hand, I mean, look, if the president -- I mean, you know, the old saying, the buck stops there at the president's desk. I think either he or Vice President Cheney ought to, since they're -- certainly Vice President Cheney in recent days hasn't been reluctant to speak out on other issues about national security. He ought to speak out about this one and tell the American people the truth.
MR. SCHULTZ: Now, how would this work? How do you see this work? If we have a special commission, you've got a special prosecutor, you've got to go through hearings, from your experience, Senator Kerry, what chance does this run of disfocusing the Obama administration, or the country, for that matter? You know we pay attention to what the media talks about.
SEN. KERRY: We do. And I hope this is not going to become the sole topic or the principal focus, because there are critical issues we have on the table at the same time. So we need to multitask as a nation. We need to go down the road where people are doing what is appropriate to guaranteeing we understand how it happened so it doesn't happen again.
And so the American people have the truth, which is the foundation of our society. But also we've got to do the business of this country, to put people back to work, to fix our economy, get health care reform, deal with global climate change. These are big issues that are for the long term. And, you know, I think we can find a way to search for the truth without being consumed by it, Ed, at the same time as we do these other things.
MR. SCHULTZ: Okay. And those other things that you're talking about, you were addressing today -- climate change. This is a big day. We're about 15 years behind as a country.
SEN. KERRY: We are.
MR. SCHULTZ: Will the Obama administration go with the Kyoto protocol, and will we see a real shift and a real effort by the United States now that we've got new leadership?
SEN. KERRY: Well, the president has already made a very significant shift, and he's already offering very significant leadership. He was in Iowa today speaking on this topic. If you look at what the president has already achieved, he's done things that we've been waiting 15 years to be able to do. His stimulus package and the budget have enormous amounts of incentive in them to move America towards alternative renewable fuels, to break our dependence on foreign oil, to make America more secure.
And he is, I think, exciting private investment, venture capital and university research and private-sector research. We had Siemens Company in front of us today. They're putting $6 billion into the research into these alternative and renewable possibilities. So, you know, I think we're on the cusp of an entire new economy, and President Obama completely understands that and I think is deeply committed to move the country in the right direction.
MR. SCHULTZ: Senator, you just got back from an overseas trip, Pakistan, and you made some comments about our policy. Where do you stand --
SEN. KERRY: Yeah.
MR. SCHULTZ: -- on the Obama administration? Are we headed in the right direction? What's your assessment of Pakistan right now?
SEN. KERRY: Well, Pakistan is in great difficulty right now. It's very, very challenged. And let me be very clear about the comments I made, because some people have tried to, as is always the case in these things, to position me as if I'm, you know, at odds with the Obama administration on where we're heading there. I am not.
What I said was the white paper that the administration has done represents a set of priorities, not a full fleshing out of a strategy. And they understand that. I agree with those priorities. I think the president and Dick Holbrooke and Secretary Clinton have set out the right priorities. But we're working now, all of us together.
I met with Dick Holbrooke yesterday. We're going to be working closely with the administration to really put in place the plan which they will acknowledge needs to be further refined. You've got to cross the t's and dot the i's.
So really all I was saying, in a casual comment getting into an elevator, is that that white paper does not represent the strategy as we all understand we need to be able to go forward. It represents the priorities on which we we're going to build that strategy, and we're going to get the job done.
MR. SCHULTZ: And finally, Senator, I want to bring up tonight that we're going to be in Afghanistan. We're making a strong commitment there. Do you support the president on that?
SEN. KERRY: I support the president's approach on that very, very strongly.
MR. SCHULTZ: Okay.
SEN. KERRY: I think it's key. But -- and here's my but -- we've got to get the Pakistan piece completed, because if you can't get Pakistan to be a component of this, then the effort in Afghanistan is going to be very, very difficult.
MR. SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you on tonight.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you.
MR. SCHULTZ: Thanks so much.
SEN. KERRY: Good to be with you.
MR. SCHULTZ: You bet.