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National Public Radio Weekend Edition Sunday Transcript

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December 14, 2003 Sunday

HEADLINE: Senator John Kerry talks about the capture of Saddam Hussein



With us on the line now is Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. He's also a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Good morning, Senator Kerry.

Senator JOHN KERRY (Democrat, Massachusetts): Good morning. Glad to be with you.

HANSEN: Thank you. What was your reaction to the news of Saddam Hussein's capture?

Sen. KERRY: Well, it's terrific. I mean, I think it's exciting. Because, I mean, look, I voted to hold him accountable, and we've taken a lot of flak about it, but on the other hand, it doesn't solve the problem. I congratulate the troops. I think they've done just an outstanding job, and we have the best military and our volunteer military that we've ever had. And they've been at great risk on this. But I think this is now a great opportunity for the president of the United States to really get it right in Iraq. I mean, I've said all along that we ought to hold him accountable, we ought to do it with a real coalition.

We ought to do it in a way that maximizes the opportunity for success and reduces the cost to the American people in lives and dollars. And the way to do that is now to get the international community involved. The president's had three opportunities to do that. When we voted and he didn't build the coalition. He had the opportunity when the statue fell in Baghdad. He rebuffed Kofi Annan and the UN. He had the opportunity when he went this last fall. He didn't do it then. This is a golden opportunity to get other countries involved to show a bigness, a magnanimity to say that, 'We've now accomplished the sort of decapitation of the regime in full. Now we're going to rebuild Iraq, and we want the world to take a stake in it.'

HANSEN: And briefly, Senator, what do you think should happen with Saddam Hussein now? He is in custody and he is being questioned for information, but what do you see happening next?

Sen. KERRY: I think that also is a great moment of opportunity for the United States. This is a chance for us to show the world who we really are and what democracy means and what the rule of law means. And I think whether he's tried in Iraq or whether he's tried at the international court, the important thing is that the world sees that the rule of law really is meaningful, that thugs and tyrants like him are going to be held accountable, and if we show it to the world the right way, it could be a great message to the Arab community, the rest of the world, about our values and about how we treat people and how we try them and hold people accountable for terrible acts. I hope we do that correctly also, and I think we probably will. I'm less worried about that than I am about whether or not the president will really take advantage of this moment to build a true coalition, to invite other countries in, to turn some authority over to the UN, to really change the flavor of this so that we take the target off of American troops and end the sense of American occupation. That's what we have to do.

HANSEN: Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Senator Kerry, thank you so much for your time this morning.

Sen. KERRY: Delighted to be with you. Thank you very much.

Copyright 2003 National Public Radio ®. All rights reserved.

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