'This Week' Transcript: VP-Elect Joe Biden

STEPHANOPOULOS: But The New York Times reported that, at your national security meeting this week, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen came forward with a withdrawal plan prepared by the commanding generals. They would start the withdrawal, but they said that they could not meet the 16-month deadline called for by President-elect Obama.

Did he say, "Go back to the drawing board; come back with a plan that meets my promise"?

BIDEN: Well, I'm not going to get into detail, but the answer is, nothing was that stark at all. There is -- there isn't any -- there isn't any conclusion reached or presentation made that suggests that we cannot rationalize the -- the status-of-forces-agreement terms and the objectives of the Obama-Biden administration.

But the characterization you just made of how starkly things are presented was not -- that's not an accurate characterization.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But is he still committed to meeting that promise, all combat troops...

BIDEN: He...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... President-elect Obama...

BIDEN: Yes, he...

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... in 16 months?

BIDEN: He is committed within the context of what he said at the time. He said he would at the time confer with the military leaders on the ground.

We will be out of Iraq in -- in the same -- in the -- in the way in which Barack Obama described his position during the campaign. That will happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But they are indicating to you that they can't meet the deadline he set, aren't they?

BIDEN: No. No, they're not. But I'm not going to get into the internal deliberations that we have underway now, the purpose of which is, when we are sworn in on January 20th, what is -- whether the specific elements of the plan with regard to Iraq are we going to implement? And how are we going to do that?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You mentioned earlier you want to restore balance in the job of vice president. And during the campaign, you called your predecessor, Vice President Cheney, probably the most dangerous vice president ever.

He was pretty defiant, though, this week in interviews with ABC, with Jonathan Karl. And he said, "Those who have accused the administration of condoning torture or violating the Constitution with the terrorist surveillance program don't know what they're talking about."

BIDEN: Well, I still -- I don't agree with the vice president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It sounded like you were going to say you still stand by your characterization.

BIDEN: I -- I -- look, I think the recommendations, the advice that he has given to President Bush -- and maybe advice the president already had decided on before he got it -- I'm not making that judgment -- has been not healthy for our foreign policy, not healthy for our national security, and it has not been consistent with our Constitution, in my view.

His notion of a unitary executive, meaning that, in time of war, essentially all power, you know, goes to the executive, I think is dead wrong. I think it was mistaken. I think that it caused this administration in adopting that notion to overstep its constitutional bounds, but at a minimum to weaken our standing the world and weaken our security. I stand by that, that judgment.

And he also went on to say that he still thinks we should have gone into Iraq, knowing exactly what we knew and the way we did, as I -- I heard the interview. He also stands by the fact that we still should keep Guantanamo Bay open and so on. So -- so we have fundamentally different view.

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