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FOX "On The Record" - Transcript


Location: Phoenix, AZ

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MS. VAN SUSTEREN: We are live in Phoenix, Arizona where moments ago Senator John McCain went "On the Record."

(Begin videotaped interview.)

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Why are you and Senator Lieberman here?

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, as you know, Senator Lieberman is the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security. He and Senator Collins are the chairman and ranking member, and I'm a member of that committee. And Phoenix has recently, unfortunately, been designated the kidnapping capital of America. The violence on the border is spilling over. It's directly affecting our cities in Arizona. And the drugs and all the other problems warrant a congressional hearing here so we can hear from the governor, the attorney general, the mayors, the sheriffs, those that are on the front lines every single day.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: What about the whole problem with the kidnappings here in Phoenix? Do you know that they're directly related to the drug trafficking and coming out of Mexico?

SEN. MCCAIN: Greta, they're all mixed in. The coyotes that bring people illegally, the kidnapping and hold them for ransom, they're the same people that are involved in the drugs coming across the border. They are more and more like cartels. And one of the reasons for the violence is because the cartels are fighting with each other for control, and the Mexican government, to their credit, is trying to break these drug cartels. And we've got to give President Calderon some credit for trying.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Can we win this war?

SEN. MCCAIN: Sure we can. I have no doubt that we can. We've made significant progress in Colombia with Plan Colombia, and we can here. And I believe that the Mexican government is making some progress. The biggest, as we all know, is corruption. But I think they're making some headway. But have no doubt the brutality and the significance of the violence. There are towns on the border that can't keep mayors or police chiefs; they keep killing them. Bodies are hung from an overpass without a head. I mean, this is a serious, serious problem in America.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: What about the whole issue on the assault rifles? I mean, that's been an issue recently in terms of Secretary Clinton was talking about it in Mexico. And President Obama last week in Mexico said that he wasn't going to push that issue right now.

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, what we need to do is beef up the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms people, enforce existing laws. In other words, there are laws against these kinds of sales that are in existence. So we need to enforce those existing laws. And by the way, since there -- the cartels are an 11 billion (dollars) to $13 billion a year business. They can go anyplace in the world and buy guns.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: So you're not in favor of an assault rifle ban?


MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Your former Governor Napolitano took some heat last week because the Department of Homeland Security issued that report, and it said about vets might be radicalized. I assume you have a thought on that.

SEN. MCCAIN: Yeah. It's insulting, never should have -- the last people on earth we need to worry about are our veterans. And by the way, after the Vietnam War, for years there was this portrayal of the Vietnam veteran as crazed and having committed war crimes, there were all of these problems they were going to have. Studies years later have proven that is totally false. Now, Timothy McVeigh was a veteran. Timothy McVeigh didn't learn to make that huge bomb while he was in the military. He learned it afterwards. So to point out one veteran who committed an act of atrocity, I think, is outrageous. And as a veteran and having thousands and thousands of friends of mine who are fellow veterans, I think a real apology is owed throughout the administration.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: In the news in the past few days, there's been the whole issue about the torture memos being released by the Obama administration. What is your view about the release of those memos?

SEN. MCCAIN: I wouldn't have released them. I'm proud to say that the Detainee Treatment Act prohibited cruel and inhumane treatment and a violation of the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners. And they violated that. There's no doubt about that. But I don't know what good it does to release these memos at this particular point. The fact is what we should be doing is moving forward, making sure that we don't do it again. But it's just something that I would not have done.

(End videotaped interview.)

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Now, there's much more of our interview with Senator McCain. And you can see the entire interview on We're going to post that complete interview tomorrow. And up next, Senator Joe Lieberman goes "On the Record." Two big questions for him. Is waterboarding torture? And did President Obama damage the image of our country by releasing the CIA interrogation memos? How do you think Senator Lieberman answers those questions? Well, you'll find out. You'll hear directly from the senator himself. Plus the federal government might be doing something right now very quietly under the radar. It involves the $700 billion TARP money, and it has many people on edge. And tonight, there is breaking news in the so-called Craigslist killer case. Multiple women in multiple states may be victims to this man. We have the very latest, so stand by.


MS. VAN SUSTEREN: We're live in Phoenix, Arizona where Mexico has sent its war, and it is terrifying for people here. Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman brought his Senate committee to Phoenix to look firsthand at this growing crisis here. Moments ago, Senator Lieberman went "On the Record."

(Begin videotaped interview.)

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: So why are you here?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, we're not here for the weather, but we're here, obviously, because of our growing concern about the impact of the Mexican drug cartels on crime here in America. I mean, first, the larger picture. The Justice Department has told our committee that the Mexican drug cartels today are the number one organized crime threat. Mexican drug cartels have displaced the mafia and every other group as the number one organized crime threat in America. They operate in more than 230 metropolitan areas from Anchorage, Alaska, unfortunately to Hartford, Connecticut and a lot of places in between. They're causing a lot of death and devastation along the way.

But here, we're particularly asking, what has been the impact of the war that President Felipe Calderon has declared on these drug cartels on crime here in the border areas? And there are unfortunately very significant signs of it. Probably most stunning is the 700 kidnappings that have occurred in the Phoenix area, mostly related to the drug cartels, in the last couple of years. But we also see increase in car thefts and other kinds of violence. There has not been the kind of violence from the drug cartels on the border areas within America, including against government officials, like that they are carrying out in Mexico where they routinely kill police, prosecutors, military, et cetera.

But these drug cartels are big, they're well-financed, and they consider themselves to be at war. That's why I think we've got to bring more of our troops, more of our personnel to the border here.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: What would you like President Obama to do?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, the first thing I think we need to do is to build on what President Obama already did. He redeployed about 400 employees of the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, but he's taken them from other areas around the country. I think we ought to send them back or backfill with 400 new employees. But we need a lot more than that. We need more personnel at the borders. We need to be doing more to stop the flow of illegal weapons. It's very hard to buy guns in Mexico, not so hard to buy them here, that's why they're buying a lot of them here and bringing them into Mexico. And those guns are being used to carry out the violence. There's a lot more we can do, probably to increase penalties on some things like being a strawman, being hired by the Mexican drug cartel. We'll give you 100 bucks, 200 bucks, go in and legally buy an assault weapon, for instance, or a pistol, give it to me and then I'll smuggle it across the border. We need more people on the border.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Another topic, let me just throw it at you.


MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Again, the whole business about the torture memos being released by the Obama administration. Good idea or bad idea?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, I thought release of the memos was a bad idea. Look, the president of the United States as commander in chief has the right to decide what kinds of tactics he wants to use with detainees who we believe are associated with terrorism and what kinds he doesn't want to use. Congress legislated on that. I was a cosponsor with Senator McCain of the anti-torture provisions we've put into law. But once you start to take internal memos that have been designated at top secret for a reason --

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: First of all, is waterboarding torture?

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Well, I take a minority position on this. Most people think it's -- it's definitely torture. The truth is it has mostly a psychological impact on people. It's a terrible thing to do. I've said in the past and I'll say it again to you that I want the president of the United States in a given circumstance where we believe somebody we've got in our control may have information that could help us stop an attack, an imminent attack, on the United States, like 9/11 or, God forbid, worse, we ought to be able to use something like waterboarding. But generally speaking, it ought to not be on the table.

Incidentally, I believe General Hayden when he says that not just waterboarding which he stopped, as I understand it, but a number of the other items on that list that have been published really did work, did help to give us a lot of the information we have about al Qaeda. Why do I think it was a mistake to give it out? It wasn't necessary. It just helps our enemies. It doesn't really help us. Again, the president can decide what tactics he wants the CIA or the military to use on people we capture, suspects of terrorism. But to let our enemies know what we're going to do or not do, that's not a good idea.

MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thank you.

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