'This Week' Transcript: Barack Obama

OBAMA: I think that the dangers are always there and I think you have to anticipate that having seen the mayhem that was created in Mumbai that there are going to be potential copycats or other terrorist organizations that think this is something they can replicate. And so we're going to have to be vigilant in terms of our intelligence, we're going to have to make sure that we are more effective in terms of anticipating some of these issues and we've got to continue to put pressure on al Qaeda, which is our major target, that's something that I talked about extensively during the campaign. That has to be one of our primary areas of focus when it comes to our international security.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So based on what you've learned during all these intelligence briefings, are we safer or more at risk than you believed during the campaign?

OBAMA: Well George you know I can't say what the --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Without giving me any confidential information, just generally.

OBAMA: I think that we have made progress in certain areas but those dangers are still there. And those dangers are not going to immediately go away because we're not talking about conventional armies where we have very clear measures of what their capacity is. We know exactly what they're planning, where they're positioned. If you have a small group of people in today's world with today's technology who are intent on doing harm and are willing to die, that is something that's always going to be a challenge.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your smile goaded me into another question. I was thinking about Harry Truman. You know when he took office he didn't even know about the Manhattan project, found out about it after he was president. Have you been shocked by anything you've learned?

OBAMA: Most of what I've learned is -- are things that I've anticipated, partly because I was in the senate and although I wasn't on the intelligence committee we would get top secret briefings. So there hasn't been something that was eye popping. But you know the situation still requires vigilance.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Vice President Cheney has been giving a series of exit interviews and he told Mark Nolan(ph) of CBS that the Bush counterterrorism policies have definitely made the United States safer. And he added this piece of advice for you.


DICK CHENEY: Before you start to implement your campaign rhetoric you need to sit down and find out precisely what it is we did and how we did it. Because it is going to be vital to keeping the nation safe and secure in the years ahead and it would be a tragedy if they threw over those policies simply because they've campaigned against them.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you going to take it?

OBAMA: I think that was pretty good advice, which is I should know what's going on before we make judgments and that we shouldn't be making judgments on the basis of incomplete information or campaign rhetoric. So, I've got no quibble with that particular quote. I think if Vice President Cheney were here he and I would have some significant disagreements on some things that we know happened.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You would say for example?

OBAMA: For example, Vice President Cheney I think continues to defend what he calls extraordinary measures or procedures when it comes to interrogations and from my view waterboarding is torture. I have said that under my administration we will not torture.

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