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CNN Live Sunday Transcript

Location: Unknown

December 14, 2003 Sunday

HEADLINE: Interview With Al Sharpton

GUESTS: Al Sharpton

BYLINE: Carol Lin

We're going to continue to get reaction, Miles, from actually two men who are running for president of the United States with very differing views on whether the United States should have gone to war with Iraq.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to continue to get reaction, Miles, from actually two men who are running for president of the United States with very differing views on whether the United States should have gone to war with Iraq.

Right now I'm going to turn to Reverend Al Sharpton. He is one of nine Democratic presidential contenders. Reverend Sharpton, thank you very much for being with us.


LIN: You are a very sharp critic of the war. I'm wondering now that saddam hussein is in custody, do you think that this war was a mistake still?

SHARPTON: Oh, I don't think the capture of Saddam Hussein in any way justifies the war. I congratulate the military. I think it is good that he has been captured, but I don't think that it in any way justifies the fact that we were told there were weapons of mass destruction and that we were in eminent danger and we had to go into a military operation.

We also see that this may not end the bloodshed. I think that in the spirit of this moment that the president ought to immediately try and appeal to a world body to take over, particularly the U.N. and appeal to Secretary General Kofi Annan and begin withdrawal of troops.

We have Hussein now. I think that we need to use this moment to withdraw and end occupation. I think the debate now will shift to occupation and the need of such occupation. And so I don't think any of us that were opposed to the war were pro-Hussein, but I don't think the capture of Hussein nine months later in any way justifies the American public and the general international public being told we were going in because of weapons that clearly were not there at that time.

LIN: But there is the opportunity now to interview Saddam Hussein to find out about weapons of mass destruction, if in fact they exist and where they are. Clearly, this is going to be useful to the United States and the war on terror.

SHARPTON: Well, if we went to war to get an interview, I don't think that's what we were told. We went to war because we said we knew there were weapons. Not that we wanted to capture and interview him to see if there was weapons.

And again, I would think someone as ruthless as Hussein, in an interview is not going to give up much. If he does, all well and good. That does not justify the military action.

Under a Sharpton administration I would have put my resources and military into finding bin Laden who attacked and caused direct American lives on American soil. We still don't have bin Laden. It took nine months to get Hussein. I still think the war was wrong. I congratulate the military. I'm so much for them. I want to see them return home out of danger's way. I want to know why we're seeing the kind of price gouging allegations we see there with corporations. None of that has changed.

So, I think while all of us can celebrate the capture of Hussein there's still some very ugly things we need to look into in terms of the oil prices and contracts and nonbid contracts and we still must question the premise that we were told that led to war in the first place.

We were not told we were going to war because we wanted to be able to take nine months to capture Hussein to ask him about weapons. We were told we knew and, in fact, could establish where the weapons were.

LIN: Reverend, I'm wondering as you look at these pictures that are being released of Saddam Hussein as the military medic picks through his hair for pests for vermin and sticks a tongue depressor in his mouth on camera for all of the world to see and consume of this man who once determined lives in his own country. What is your judgment as to how the administration has handled the capture of Saddam Hussein?

SHARPTON: Well, I mean, so far, I think that they've handled his capture with a lot of more humanity than they did when we saw the public display around his two sons. I don't think anyone sympathizes with Hussein being processed, and being charged, and being filmed being shown of him being charged.

I think that many of us were outraged with a far more deadly way that we saw his sons captured, but again, there's no sympathizers that I've met, even in the most extreme anti-war movement that was in supportive of Hussein. I think the issue here is whether or not the military engagement was justified, whether or not we had to do this and whether or not the information that we were given was, in fact, the accurate information.

In many ways, they are conceding by waiting to identify-to interview Hussein that much of what they told us they knew they did not know. And what do we say to all of the American soldiers that have lost their lives? When we were misled in believing they were risking and losing their lives on information we had, not on information we hoped to ascertain if we caught Hussein.

LIN: And still that information may come forward about weapons of mass destruction.

SHARPTON: It may, but we can't undo the misleading that has already been done.

LIN: We will see what happens and hearing from a different point of view in just a second. Thank you very much Rev. Al Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

LIN: Democratic presidential candidate for 2004.

Content and programming Copyright 2003 Cable News Network Transcribed under license by FDCH e-Media, Inc.

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