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FOX "On The Record" - Transcript

Interview

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Location: Washington, DC

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MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is with us here live in Washington.

Good evening, Senator.

SEN. MCCONNELL: Good evening, Greta. Glad to be with you.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, how about all the documents? Why not, except for the ones for ongoing operations -- Vice President Cheney wants two documents from July 13, '04 and June 1st, 205, he says it shows that this interrogation works. And now we've got this food fight over these other documents between the speaker and the CIA. Why don't we just get them?

SEN. MCCONNELL: Well, look, we have a major dispute obviously between the speaker and the CIA. What's not in dispute is that CIA and our armed forces have kept us safe since 9/11. Releasing documents is always troublesome, these kinds of documents, for all the obvious reasons. So releasing them all may not be in the best interest of the country and protecting the country. But clearly, we've got a finger-pointing contest here between the speaker and the CIA. And at some point, I guess we'll find out exactly who's telling the truth. I think there is ample evidence, apparently, on the CIA's side. But we'll see.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: But I mean, like, once there was some documents released a short time ago that the president declassified and put the whole issue in play, so the whole world knows that the waterboarding happened. I mean, there's no dispute on that. Now unless we release all the documents, everyone's imagination runs wild, there's finger-pointing in both directions, and we've got even Vice President Cheney says he's being maligned because he doesn't have the documents out. If it doesn't jeopardize an ongoing operation, is there any reason why anyone should be holding back those documents so that the American people know what did and didn't happen?

SEN. MCCONNELL: Look, I think the most important thing, rather than attacking the CIA, is to notice one more time that the CIA and our other agencies have kept us safe since 9/11. They've obviously done a lot right since then -- a lot right. I don't know that anybody is upset that we haven't been attacked again for seven and a half years. The CIA has been a big part of that. I don't think we ought to be doing anything to tear down the agency that has helped protect us from another attack here in the homeland.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: And Vice President Cheney, I think, agrees with you, and he points to these two documents which he says bolsters that, so that he doesn't get hit from his political armies.

All right, another topic. Gitmo -- what are we going to do about Gitmo?

SEN. MCCONNELL: Well, my own view is it's a perfect place for terrorists. We know there are over 20 hardened terrorists there, the planner of the attack of 9/11, the planner of the attack on the USS Cole. We know no one has escaped from there. We know it's a $200 million state-of-the-art facility from which no one has escaped. Now, I disagreed, frankly, with the previous president that it ought to be closed. I think it's a perfect place for these terrorists. In the Senate a couple of years ago, we had a vote on this issue, 94 to 3 against bringing them to the United States. So I think we know where the American people are.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: But there are 250. So you say there are 20 known terrorists. I'm with you on those.

SEN. MCCONNELL: No, no, those are the leaders. Those are the leaders.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what about the other 230?

SEN. MCCONNELL: Well, there are bunch more terrorists there. I'm just talking about the leaders. There are a lot more terrorists there. We know that of those who have been released in the past, a good many of them have gone back to the battlefield and killed again. This is a very delicate situation. We know that our European allies, who have been criticizing the existence of Guantanamo, are not wildly interested in taking any of them themselves. I think we have a real dilemma here. What is the solution? In my view, keep them at Guantanamo, use the military commissions that we set up two years ago to try the ones who are subject to be tried, and work your way through the prison population, but don't send them to the United States. Look what happened over in Alexandria, right across the river from Washington here during the Moussaoui trial.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, it's sort of interesting because one of the suggestions is that some of our allies take some of them. And I always go back to the one point where I think it was someone in Germany, and we said, you know, take one of ours, you know, they're safe, and the response back was, okay, if they're safe, you keep them. You know, so the president, in some ways, seems almost boxed in. Because he said he's shutting this down, he's given himself a timetable, and we've got to figure out if we're going to do this he's got to figure something out.

SEN. MCCONNELL: Well, look, the president changed his mind about a strict timetable for withdrawal in Iraq. He ought to change his mind about having a date certain to close Guantanamo. We know they can't escape from there. No one has escaped from there. That's a perfect place for them. Many of them do need to be tried. We passed a military commissions bill two years ago for the very purpose of trying these terrorists. They've got a way to litigate these cases without bringing them to the United States. We know there's not a community in America that wants these terrorists. We had one terrorist trial in this country in Alexandria, Virginia, the Moussaoui trial. Talk to the mayor over there, have him on your show. I mean, they do not want to go through that again. They had to shut down the court system, they had to shut off the streets every time they moved this guy. We don't want these terrorists in our neighborhoods, we don't want them in our jails. And speaking of neighborhoods, they've been talking about releasing some of them not into incarceration facilities here in the United States, releasing them in our neighborhoods.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Wildly unpopular with many people, because even those who want them released just don't want them in their neighborhood, which, of course, is a problem as well.

Senator, thank you, sir.

SEN. MCCONNELL: Thank you, Greta.


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