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CNN Late Edition - Transcript

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CNN Late Edition - Transcript

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, number one, what's going on in the Senate is kind of a politics of escalation. We're getting sort of like the Mideast: pay back everybody when you're in charge.

The Constitution really does set the way you nominate and confirm judges. The constitutional process for 200 years has required a majority vote to confirm a judge. A filibuster is an internal rule of the Senate that requires 60 votes to go to a final vote.

So I've always felt that the filibuster rule, when applied to a constitutional process in terms of judicial nominations, is not healthy for the country, is out of bounds and needs to be changed.

But Senator Specter is right. It would be better to find common ground to change this. I think a procedure that would allow a Democrat or Republican president to get an up-or-down vote would be good for the country.

BLITZER: All right. So let's move on and get into some other issues, and I'll bring in Congresswoman Harman.

There's a story on the front page of The New York Times today. Within the CIA, it says, "there are growing fears of prosecution" because of CIA officers' involvement in interrogating detainees or terrorist suspects, whether at Guantanamo Bay or inside Iraq or elsewhere.

You and Senator Graham wrote an article saying you got to come up with better rules of the game for interrogation.

How worried should CIA officers be right now that they could wind up going to jail for some of the interrogation methods that they thought were approved at the highest levels of the Bush administration?

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, let's start with this, Wolf. America should be worried about the black eye we have because of the treatment of prisoners in interrogation in Iraq and Afghanistan and so forth. Interrogations matter. Getting information out of prisoners in advance of attacks planned against millions of Americans is something I'm for, but torture and tactics just short of torture are wrong.

And that is why Lindsey Graham and I wrote an article about the fog of law: these various Bush memos that create a climate of uncertainty out in the field and that have sadly, I think, permitted the abuses we've seen.

And that's why we need a legislative framework to make clear that torture is never OK, that outsourcing torture, sending people to other countries where they're tortured, is never OK; that what is OK is accountability at the highest levels of the administration for a strict set of procedures in rare events where we absolutely know we can get information to prevent attacks against millions of Americans.

BLITZER: But should career officers at the CIA be prosecuted, Congresswoman Harman, right now for allegedly engaging in torture methods against terror suspects?

HARMAN: Well, Wolf, I think we have to learn what the rules of engagement were at the CIA. We know about the military rules, and the military is prosecuting people.

I wouldn't want to say they're off the hook, but I do say that, going forward, we need to empower interrogators by giving them clear rules.

And we haven't done it. It's Congress's job to legislate here. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution says that Congress shall set the rules for captures on land and on water. And we have not done this.

BLITZER: Senator Graham, I know you feel very strongly on this issue. You're a former U.S. military prosecutor. How high should the buck go in terms of the abuses that apparently occurred?

GRAHAM: Well, there are two levels at Abu Ghraib. There are the people engaged in the misconduct at the individual level. And there's a thing called command responsibility in the military, dereliction of duty.

And I do believe that what happened in that prison was not only against what we stand for as a nation, is totally against what the men and women who serve want to happen, it is also a result of dereliction of duty.

And I hope some of the senior people who allowed the prison to get so out of control also are held accountable. Just about...

BLITZER: When you say senior people, how senior? Because there are some suggestion, as you well know, Senator Graham, that at the Pentagon, at the White House, top officials gave authorization for some of these methods.

GRAHAM: Well, nobody gave authorizations for what happened in Abu Ghraib. That's not really accurate. What happened at Abu Ghraib was a breakdown in discipline. It's not fair to hold me, Jane or Rumsfeld responsible for criminal misconduct 5,000 miles away.

But it is fair to hold commanders accountable for what happens on their watch, and also to hold civilian war planners accountable.

One thing you've learned about Abu Ghraib, it's a classic example of where we got it wrong. You had 600 detainees in August. By October you had 6,000. The people guarding the prison were not trained to be prison guards. They were reservists who were promised to come home, had the rug yanked out from under them. It was a formula for disaster.

So we need to learn from our mistakes.

BLITZER: Let's move on to another important issue, namely Iran and its nuclear ambitions.

Congresswoman Harman, there's a front-page story in today's Washington Post. Iran was offered nuclear parts by A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, as far back as 1987, a long time ago, almost 20 years ago, in fact.

How close, based on all the information you have right now, is Iran to developing a nuclear weapon?

HARMAN: We don't really know, Wolf. I don't think our intelligence products are good enough yet. The Israelis would admit that they don't absolutely know. The world intelligence agencies don't absolutely know.

And this is why I'm so pleased that we are finally reorganizing our intelligence capability in America, taking a 1947 business model and changing it. It was a tough fight, and I'm very proud of the small role I played.

But on Iran, there's a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times today that says our intelligence agencies knew about A.Q. Khan years ago and watched him but didn't confront him because they were afraid of exposing sources and methods.

We let that go on too long. His documents were destroyed in 2002. We still don't know absolutely how many countries in the world benefited from his obviously brilliant designs for nuclear material.

BLITZER: One of the problems...

HARMAN: We cannot let Iran go nuclear.

BLITZER: One of the problems, Congresswoman, is that President Musharraf of the Pakistani government has not allowed the U.S. to formally directly question A.Q. Khan...

HARMAN: That's true.

BLITZER: ... only submit questions in writing through the Pakistani government. This is deemed to be a major problem in finding out exactly how he distributed nuclear capabilities and technology.

HARMAN: I agree. He's also been able to destroy documents.

Musharraf is an ally of America, and it is tricky to help him stay in power, which I think is in our interest, and yet have him confront A.Q. Khan, who is still viewed as a national hero in Pakistan and the father of their nuclear industry, which is a point of national pride for them.

So I wish we could improve that situation. We do need access to him and to all who dealt with him. We have wrapped up a lot of that network. We've obviously taken the nuclear, the WMD materials out of Libya, but there may be as many as 18 countries that benefited from A.Q. Khan's network, and there may be parallel networks operating that we don't know enough about.

BLITZER: We're going to take a break, but I want Senator Graham to weigh in on this sensitive subject, as well.

What do you think the U.S. should be doing as far as Pakistan is concerned to get answers from A.Q. Khan?

GRAHAM: Well, the Pakistani government, led by Musharraf, has been a great help in the war on terror, but disclosing what is out there is important. We need to know where Iran and North Korea are at, in terms of nuclear capability. And if Pakistan can help us understand the threat we face, they should come forward. And if they refuse to, I think it's a giant step backward and makes the world more unstable.

BLITZER: President Bush speaking in Brussels on Tuesday.

Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

We're talking about that and more with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman of California.

Senator Graham, Russia and Iran today signed an agreement. And Russia will be providing enriched uranium nuclear fuel to Iran, insisting that there's no evidence Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon.

What, if anything, should the U.S. be doing about this latest agreement between Russia and Iran?

GRAHAM: Make a full-court press to get Russia to come to realize that a nuclear Iran is not a stabilizing influence; it's a destabilizing influence.

I just got back from Afghanistan and Iraq. This is my third trip. And every military leader I talked to spoke of efforts by the Iranian government to destabilize Afghanistan and Iraq. Every civilian representative of Iraq and Afghanistan that I've talked to thought that Iran was trying to destabilize these emerging democracies. Iran is part of the problem, not the solution. And the Russian government is ignoring reality. They're going for a heavy water treatment plant. Why do you need heavy water to develop a commercial nuclear reactor?

So I hope the Russian government will stop this empowering of Iran.

I hope the Pakistani government, as Jane said, would come forward and share with us what technology Iran has. Because the world needs to be united on this idea of controlling Iran's ability to develop a nuclear weapon.

BLITZER: Your friend, Senator Graham, Senator McCain earlier today said it's time to kick the Russians out of the G-8 and not invite them to the next G-8 summit later this year, because of some of the steps it's taken as far as democracy in Russia and some other steps including cooperation with Iran.

Do you agree with Senator McCain on that?

GRAHAM: God bless him. We've got to be tough.

You know, when Putin said something about maybe Bush wasn't a legitimate president because of the Electoral College, well, Bush didn't change the Electoral College rules to benefit him. They'd been in place for 200 years. And Putin is changing every institution of democracy to suit his needs.

And yes, it is time for the Russian government to pay a price for empowering the bad guys and slipping back away from democracy. It's time for freedom-loving nations to stand up and say, "Enough already."

BLITZER: Kick them out of the G-8?

GRAHAM: If that would make a difference, put it on the table. As President Bush just said a few minutes ago, all options need to be on the table.

We cannot win this war on terror if people are undercutting us. And one way to undercut us is to empower Iran.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Harman, what do you think?

HARMAN: I agree. I was just in Kiev, Ukraine, with Senator McCain and others. And in fact, Senator Graham was there too. And you look at President Yushchenko's face and you understand how courageous the Ukrainians were to stand up to pressure from the former regime there and possibly the Russians.

This is the time to be tough with Russia. Russia has been transferring technology to Iran for 10 years. Our intelligence is real good on that one. And North Korea has been doing it too. It's not just about Pakistan. And Iran going nuclear is a danger for the entire world, including Russia. And let me just make one more point, Wolf. You talked about Syria earlier on your broadcast. Iran is the one that is also fueling the terrorism inside of Syria. Hamas is based in Damascus. It's supported by Iran. And it is a direct threat to Israel.

Now that we finally see democracy emerging from Palestine and Israel, it's critical to keep our eye on the ball there while, at the same time, we stop Russia and other neighbors who would destabilize that wonderful emerging flower.

BLITZER: Did you mean Hamas or Hezbollah?

HARMAN: I meant both. Hamas leadership in Damascus is destabilizing Israel and Palestine. And so is Hezbollah, which is directly supported by Syria along the Lebanese border with Israel.

BLITZER: Senator Graham, you recently were in Iraq. You came back with an assessment that I want you to share with our viewers. Are you more upbeat or downbeat, as you look to the immediate future of Iraq?

GRAHAM: Well, it's a mixed feeling. This is my third visit.

The big news is the election. It was very gratifying, as an American, to see Iraqis be able to vote for their own future. We should take a lot of pride in that. And the men and women who sacrificed to make that happen in our military should take a lot of pride in it.

But let's not let the elections mask the hard problems that lie ahead. The one thing I've learned by my third visit is that the security situation is worse. We had a lot less freedom to travel around.

There are two enemies in Iraq. There are the foreign fighters, the Zarqawi types who can only be killed or captured. And there are the Sunni minority, who believe at this stage that a centralized government in Baghdad run by Shias is not in their best interest.

The military is increasing in numbers, but its capability is suspect.

So my impression is that we've got a long way to go. You got a 1,400-year religious dispute between Sunnis and Shias that are part of the mix. You're asking the Iraqi people, Wolf, to write a constitution in a year. It took us a decade.

So we're going to have a large military and civilian economic footprint in Iraq for a long time to come. Let's not let the elections mask how hard this is going to be.

BLITZER: Senator Graham, Congresswoman Harman, we have to unfortunately leave it right there. We're all out of time. Thanks to both of you for join us on "LATE EDITION."

GRAHAM: Thank you.

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0502/27/le.01.html

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