Transcript: Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen

And I think individuals make their best judgment about where they are. And certainly from a military perspective, my advice is to focus heavily on making sure that these individuals don't return.

It has gone up in recent weeks -- or I'm sorry, in recent months, from a single digit number of 5 or 6 percent to the low teens, as far as my understanding of those who have returned.

STEPHANOPOULOS: For those detainees that have to come to the United States eventually, if indeed they do, would the best option be for them to be held in military prisons here in the United States?

MULLEN: We're working hard now to figure out what the options are and what the best one would be. And that really is a decision the president is going to have to make, certainly in meeting this deadline of what we do.

But I just want to reemphasize how -- you know, the challenge associated with that, the need to really keep the bad guys off the battlefield, and to properly detain these individuals as determined in this process.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that is everybody's big concern, at least it was expressed in the Congress this week that somehow detainees would come to the United States and they would pose a danger. And the FBI director, Robert Mueller, said this week they could pose a risk.

MULLEN: Sure. I listened to all of that and I thought Secretary Gates also captured it well. We have terrorists in jail right now, have had for some time. They're in supermax prisons. And they don't pose a threat. So that's certainly an option. But again, it's not one for me to decide. STEPHANOPOULOS: The Republican leader of the Senate was quoted in The New York Times today saying there's actually a very slim possibility now that the Congress will allow Guantanamo to close.

If he's right, and Guantanamo doesn't close, what would that mean for your military mission?

MULLEN: Well, the concern I've had about Guantanamo in these wars is it has been a symbol, and one which has been a recruiting symbol for those extremists and jihadists who would fight us. So and I think that centers -- you know, that's the heart of the concern for Guantanamo's continued existence, in which I spoke to a few years ago, the need to close it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, former Vice President Cheney took on that debate this week. He was speaking about Guantanamo, but also specifically the enhanced interrogation techniques, and he took on this issue of what he called the recruitment tool mantra. Take a listen.


CHENEY: This recruitment tool theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the president himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It's another version of that same old refrain from the left, we brought it on ourselves.


STEPHANOPOULOS: He's taking issue with your judgment.

MULLEN: Well, again, it's my judgment that it has had an impact. And it's time to move on. And the difficulty of doing that is captured in the complexity of the issues. But I think we need to.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me move on to the issue of Iran. You said that Iran is on a path to building nuclear weapons. But the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate concluded with a high degree of confidence that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons programs. So do you believe that intelligence estimate is outdated? Is it no longer accurate?

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