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CNN "American Morning" - Transcript

Interview

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So let's ask someone who knows much more than I do, Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger. He's the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee. He joins us live from Baltimore this morning. Good morning, Congressman.

REP. C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER, MEMBER, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Good morning.

COSTELLO: Did the United States or NATO provide any sort intelligence to the rebels to help them find Gadhafi? Or was --

RUPPERSBERGER: Well --

COSTELLO: Go ahead.

RUPPERSBERGER: Yes, no. Go ahead.

COSTELLO: No, no, no. I was just saying or was it just a given that he'd end up in his hometown of Sirte and it was a happy accident?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, I think we -- we knew basically where he was in working with NATO. There's always a tendency to get intelligence. But how it ended up, I think it was just a matter of -- of NATO trying to take over the hometown the Gadhafi and they ended up attacking a convoy and then the facts after that is that I think Gadhafi was injured, and they attempted to hide in a certain tunnel area, and that's about all we have.

You know, we still don't have all the information that we need to evaluate how he died and what happened because we don't have boots on the ground. And so now we're working with NATO and the international people to find out what the true facts were and what really caused his death.

COSTELLO: Well, there's some who say that it clearly was an execution. In your mind, how did Moammar Gadhafi die?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, in my mind I think that he got caught up in a -- in a zone where there was still the rebels fighting Gadhafi forces, and the -- it just happens in war, but not an execution. In the first place, international law does not allow execution of a person, even though he was a dictator, he was -- he was the head of a country for, since 1969.

But we've got to see the facts. Let the facts come out and then we'll evaluate that and international law will also evaluate that.

COSTELLO: If it -- if it is proved to be an execution, what should be done?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, I don't believe it was an execution but, again, I don't have all the facts, but we have to follow international law. That's -- that's what we do. That's what NATO does. That's what the United Nations is there for.

So even though you don't agree, you have to bring leaders, such as Gadhafi, who's a tyrant, a dictator, he's killed his own people, and -- but you -- still under international law you're not supposed to execute him because he's supposed to be brought before a tribunal, before an international court.

COSTELLO: You also said yesterday that now that Gadhafi's gone we have to ensure that radical extremist groups don't take over that country. And that's especially important given their massive oil reserves, and in short, it will be a well funded country. So what is our role going forward?

RUPPERSBERGER: I think our role is the same role that NATO will have. Clearly, there are going to be difficult times. When you take out a leader who's been in control of that country since 1969, there's a lot to do, and we have experience in the United States, just what we're doing in Iraq right now, to help the people of Libya to start a new government, a democracy, hopefully free and fair elections. That's going to take time.

The good news for Libya is they have oil, and if that's managed correctly, that hopefully will be put back into the country, provide for education, medical care. Provide for infrastructure and they -- they have an ability, but it's going to take a long time, and we are concerned about extremist groups. Whether it be in Egypt, whether it be in other parts of the world, groups such as Muslim Brotherhood that we still cannot trust, in my opinion, they're trying to put the word out that they are more moderate when in fact they have a history of -- of extreme activities and there are groups like that that will attempt to take advantage.

COSTELLO: Well, since -- since the United States didn't take a greater role in Libya's -- in the fall of Moammar Gadhafi --

RUPPERSBERGER: Yes?

COSTELLO: How much -- I mean, how much input will we really have about how the government is formed in Libya?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, I think the good news is we didn't have boots on the ground because we can't be a sheriff for the whole world. The rest of the world, especially our allies have to stand up.

We have problems in our own country. We have fiscal problems. We're still in Afghanistan, coming out of Iraq. So I think it's really positive that NATO and other countries stood up and now it's about the world coming together to help this country, and to get them on their feet.

Remember, they were under the control of a tyrant, this individual who killed his own people. They don't have a judiciary system. They need a lot of work, a lot of help, but I think that the people there feel relieved. They have expectations now. But it's going to take a while and we do have to be concerned about extremist groups trying to take advantage of this situation.

COSTELLO: And quickly, just after you're having said that --

RUPPERSBERGER: Sure.

COSTELLO: -- there is concern about those chemical weapons and other weapons in Libya. Some of them we don't know where they are. So what can the United States do to ensure those weapons don't fall into the wrong hands?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, we -- the NATO, along with the United States, has been very active in trying to make sure that those weapons, MANPADS, scud missiles, we have chemicals that could really hurt a lot of people, and I know right now the United States is using our expertise to be able to try to burn off a lot of those chemicals that can be used for destruction and in the hands of the wrong place, an extreme group. Al Qaeda could really be dangerous.

COSTELLO: Congressman Ruppersburger --

RUPPERSBERGER: OK. Good to talk to you.

COSTELLO: -- thank you so much. Good talking to you.

RUPPERSBERGER: Sure. Bye.

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