Transcript: Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.

"This Week with George Stephanopoulos" debate on foreign affairs.

ByABC News
May 10, 2009, 7:08 AM





[*] STEPHANOPOULOS (voice over): Good morning and welcome to "ThisWeek."

Harsh charges from the speaker.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We were toldthat water-boarding was not being used. The CIA was misleading theCongress.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Course corrections from the president...


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I fear the publication of these photosmay only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detaineeabuse.


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... and a P.R. blitz from the former V.P.


FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: We'd successfully defendedthe nation for 7 1/2 years. I believe it was possible because of thepolicies we had in place.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Cheney right? Is Pelosi in trouble? AreObama's choices making us more safe?

That debate, this morning, with two key senators, Republican whipJon Kyl and Democrat Jim Webb. Plus, an expanded powerhouseroundtable with George Will, Democratic strategist James Carville,John McCain's campaign manager Steve Schmidt, Katrina Vanden Heuvel ofthe "Nation," and the former State Department official now joining herfather on the front lines, Liz Cheney -- and, as always, the Sundayfunnies.


JAY LENO, HOST OF "THE TONIGHT SHOW": She spent eight yearstelling everyone how dumb President Bush is and then, the minuteyou're trouble, "He fooled me!"



ANNOUNCER: From the heart of the nation's capital, "This Week,"with ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos,live from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue. STEPHANOPOULOS (on camera): Hello again. It has been a weekfull of accusations, confrontation, recalibration and new calls forinvestigation here in Washington -- just another week.

And with apologies for that burst of rhyme, we welcome ourheadliners to this morning's debate, Democratic Senator Jim Webb ofVirginia and the Senate's Republican whip, Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Gentlemen, welcome to you both. And there is so much to talkabout this week. But let's start with that war of words betweenspeaker Pelosi and the CIA. She says the CIA lied about these 2002briefings. Leon Panetta came out on Friday, said, no, they told thetruth.

And former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has weighed in,saying that this is despicable behavior, take a look.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I think she has lied tothe House and I think that the House has an absolute obligation toopen an inquiry. And I hope there will be a resolution to investigateher. And I think this is a big deal.

I don't think the speaker of the house can lie to the country onnational security matters.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Kyl, how big a deal is this and howshould it be investigated?

KYL: Well, it is a big deal, obviously. She is the speaker.And at that time she was the ranking member of the IntelligenceCommittee. And she was one of four people who got the briefings. Andit is pretty clear that Leon Panetta, her former colleague in theHouse from California, now CIA director, totally disagrees with herrecollection of events.

Let's give her the benefit of the doubt and say she doesn'tremember, although that's a pretty important thing not rememberaccurately.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So does it need to be investigated?

KYL: I am less interested in investigating whether her memory orcorrect or she lied about it than I am in the policies that flow fromthe debate that we're having. I am not one who thinks we ought tohave truth commissions and all of the rest of it and keep lookingbackward. I agree with the president. We've got enough on our plate,we need to look forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the irony here, Senator Webb, as SpeakerGingrich says, investigate. He wants a separate House investigation.Speaker Pelosi says, fine, let's have a truth commission, the one thatSenator Kyl doesn't want. Where do you stand on this? WEBB: I just don't think it's that big a deal. I mean, I thinkwe have selective memories...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... is not a big deal?

WEBB: Well, I mean, they're going to have a fight. But in termsof where the country is right now, where we need to go, there are alot of issues of accountability in terms of looking back as to theconduct of the past administration in a number of areas.

But really, in terms of what we need to be focusing on, let'saccept that torture is inappropriate behavior. And I've interrogatedhundreds of detainees and enemy combatants when I was a Marine inVietnam, torture doesn't work.

Let's all accept that, separate it from these other issues thatwe're talking about in terms of having to resolve issues, likeGuantanamo, and move forward.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, no truth commission?

WEBB: I think this will resolve itself without something likethat.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's move on to some of the other issues,because President Obama this week did make two significant shifts onnational security policy. He said that the photos of that detaineeabuse would not be released, he would fight that in court.

And he also shifted on the issue of military tribunals, eventhough he had been for them in the past, he heavily criticized theBush tribunals, now he is bringing them back with some reforms.

And let me show you some of the human rights groups' reaction tothese moves by President Obama. The ACLU says: "These militarycommissions are inherently illegitimate, unconstitutional, incapableof delivering outcomes we can trust."

Human Rights Watch: "By resurrecting this failed Bushadministration idea, President Obama is backtracking dangerously onhis reform agenda."

Human Rights First: "Reinventing commissions so deeply associatedwith Guantanamo Bay will merely add to the erosion of internationalconfidence in American justice and provide more fodder for America'senemies."

Now you were also against the commissions during your campaign.Do you support what the president is doing here?

WEBB: I wasn't against commissions per se. I think that -- myview on...

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know -- well, let me just interrupt youthere, because I have an AP story from April 2007 where you said -- itsays that you told reporters that detainees should either be declaredprisoners of war or charged in the American judicial system.

"We can't just continue to hold people in limbo without chargesfor this period of time and still call ourselves Americans."

WEBB: If I said charged in the American judicial system, I wouldmean under the traditions of the rules of evidence and these sorts ofthings. But my view has always been that we need to move these peopleforward.

We need to find those people who should be held accountable andhold them accountable. And people who have been held inappropriatelyshould be released.

But I don't believe that the situation with people in Guantanamo,as opposed to others who have conducted activities in the UnitedStates are the same. I think that the people who have been held inGuantanamo are being charged essentially for acts of internationalterror, for acts of war, and they don't belong in judicial system, andthey don't belong in our jails.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This is what the commissions...

WEBB: And I don't believe -- I do, I do. But with this caveat,we need commissions like this because there are issues of evidencethat you cannot take care of inside the regular American court system,classified information that might have an impact on how we collectintelligence and those sorts of things.

And there are facilities built in Guantanamo right now that areable to do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Agreement here?

KYL: Yes. I agree. There are some people that you try, veryfew, some more that you try in the military commissions, and we'vealways had military commissions of one kind or another.

Some that you can't because of the evidence and other factorstry, and if they are the equivalent of prisoners of war, in this case,enemy combatants, you can hold them until the end of the war thatyou're in.

And then, of course, there are those who, on an annual review,you decide can be released. Unfortunately a lot of those that we havereleased because we thought they no longer posed a danger, have comeback to the battlefield and have fought us.

But the president has made some changes in the militarycommissions to give these people some additional rights, and perhapsthat helps to balance the situation. Congress, after all, passed theMilitary Commissions Act.

This would liberalize it to some extent. We'll have to wait andsee whether it liberalizes it so much that they don't work anymore.But I'm happy to see how they work out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You laid out nicely the various groups ofdetainees that the president has to deal with, which, of course,brings us to the question of, what to do with those detainees onceGuantanamo is closed, as the president has called for.

I know this is creating a lot of controversy in the Senatebecause of the possibility that some of these detainees may have tocome to the United States.

And the attorney general, Eric Holder, was asked about this atthe Senate this week, and he said very clearly that no dangerousdetainees will be released in the United States.


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't know, whatever quantum ofproof, however you want to describe it, to believe that a person poseda danger to the United States, we will do all that we can to ensurethat that person remains detained and does not become a danger to theAmerican people.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And is that enough assurance for you, SenatorKyl?

KYL: Well, understand that we've already released those who,after careful examination, we thought didn't pose a danger. And thenumber is somewhere between 30 and 60 who turned out to continue toconduct their activities against us after they were released.

The remaining 240 or so do pose a danger. So there aren't anyleft that can easily be released because they don't pose a danger.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's not exactly true, right? And Iwant to bring Senator Webb in on this, because I know there are about17, I believe, Chinese Uighurs, they are called, who have been orderedreleased by a federal court, they've determined not to be a threat tothe United States.

And the administration has been working on plans to bring them toVirginia. Can you accept them in your state?

WEBB: Well, let me back up for a minute. The answer is no.


WEBB: No. And I'll -- and then let me explain why. But to backit up, the numbers that we've seen in my office are about 800 peoplehave gone through Guantanamo.

The majority of those who have been released, we're down to 220to 240, so the majority of those that have been released have beenreleased to third countries, not actually released out into the open-- you know, to where they can... STEPHANOPOULOS: Just let out the door, right.

WEBB: Yes, right. So we don't know really where they have gone.This other group deserves due process. They deserve, in the rightkind of environment, and I support what the president is doing on themilitary commissions, to have their cases examined, to see whether ornot they should continue to be detained.

The situation with the Chinese Uighurs that you're talking about,on the one hand, it can be argued that they were simply conductingdissident activities against the government of China.

On the other, they accepted training from al Qaeda and as aresult they have taken part in terrorism. I don't believe they shouldcome to the United States.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not to the United States and not Virginia.

WEBB: No, I don't believe so.

KYL: No, I totally agree.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about this, there is also the group thatmight have to be brought to the United States for trial or to bedetained here. And the Republicans in the Senate have put outlegislation -- not introduced legislation that says no detainee shouldbe brought to the United States in any way unless the statelegislature and the governor of the state passes -- signs off on that.

One, do you have the votes to pass it? And, two, will you blockany funding for the closing of Guantanamo without those assurances?

KYL: That was a motion by House Republicans. We're taking upthe bill next week. There will be an amendment that would preclude --it would similar to that, but perhaps not identical.

A similar resolution passed a couple of years ago 93-4 saying,don't bring these detainees to the United States. And my guess isthat none of this supplemental funding will be allowed to relocatedetainees into the United States, that that amendment will be adopted.