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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With John McCain; Interview With Saxby Chambliss, Joseph Lieberman
Aired May 11, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight an American civilian beheaded on video by his captors in what they call retaliation for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers. While on Capitol Hill the general who investigated the prison abuse testifies report to Senate. With us to go all over the day's dramatic developments, Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam and a member of the armed services committee that held today's hearings.
And then Bob Schieffer, veteran CBS newsman, the host of "Face the Nation." Some breaking news there, too. Senator Joe Lieberman another member of the armed services committee and his fellow committee member, Senator Saxby Chambliss in reverse order as seen. Plus Robin Wright, "Washington Post" reporter specializing in Islamic terrorism. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Senator John McCain leads off. He's in New York tonight attending a big book party for his new book. By the way, I just read it, a terrific book, "Why Courage Matters." Congratulations on that, Senator.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Thank you, Larry, thank you.
KING: Let's start first with this terrible video that's being shown not, of course, on television, of the beheading. Al Qaeda linking it to an American civilian identified as Nicholas Berg. His captors said the killing was in part retaliation. We learned just this evening that Nicholas Berg had been picked up by Iraqi police in Mosul, in late March, transferred to United States authority. The family sued the Defense Department in early April for holding their son without merit for 13 days. The next day, April 6 he was released, told his parents he would try to get out of Iraq as quickly as possible. But after April 9 his family never heard from him again. What do you make of this, Senator?
MCCAIN: It's terrible. It's obviously -- to state the obvious, Larry, it's been a very bad week. It's terrible. It's awful. We'll track down these killers. We'll get them and bring them to the kind of justice that we adhere to and that is a trial. And then we will make sure that they receive the punishment that they deserve for this heinous crime. And I would remind you that they may say it's in response to the abuse in the prison, but they killed four Americans, as you know and mutilated their bodies. They killed them in Afghanistan. They killed Daniel Pearl. They had -- I think, to be honest with you, that these kind of people are just trying to find an excuse rather than just provoking them.
KING: Are we hitting close to a point, Senator, where the American people may get disgusted with this whole Iraqi operation, all the retaliation, retribution, committing -- insults done by us, insults done by them and say the heck with it?
MCCAIN: I'm very concerned, because I wanted to turn away from those photos that we saw of the prison and the treatment of those prisoners. I'm afraid Americans may want to turn away as well. We've got to put this whole thing into proper perspective and that is that this is not done by a large number of people. We will track it down. We'll find out who's responsible and we'll make sure that whoever is responsible is held accountable and at the same time, we should make it very clear that we will distinguish ourselves from our enemies by the way we treat our enemies. And that's why this situation deserves our immediate attention and it deserves a complete viewing of all relative information by the American people as quickly as possible so we can get beyond it.
KING: What was your read on the testimony of General Taguba today?
MCCAIN: I thought he did a good job. I think that he is a very capable man. I think he pointed out some of the failings, such as lack of proper training in the Uniform Code of Military Justice and others. Here's where there's a certain paradox, Larry. General Taguba's report pretty well narrows it down to a relatively small number of people. Yet we also hear that Ambassador Bremer, as well as the secretary of state, complained on numerous occasions about the treatment of prisoners. Also the International Red Cross on several occasions has made complaints about it. So you get the impression that there is a possibility that this was more widespread than we had thought and, therefore, we have to track this thing down. That means more hearings.
KING: Was the general's investigation comprehensive enough?
MCCAIN: I think he did a comprehensive job about that particular situation in that particular aspect of the prison. Now, we have to find out why there seem to be a different environment, you know, the marine general that came from Guantanamo and said he was going to get (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the situation. I'm not exactly sure what that means. It may have something to do with the fact that al Qaeda treatments are not eligible for protections of the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners of war whereas the soldiers and people captured in Iraq are. There may have been some blurring of that distinction. It requires more but very rapid investigation so we can get this behind us.
KING: Senator, being a member of the committee, questioning, listening to all you have listen to, are you frustrated? MCCAIN: I was a bit frustrated when Secretary Rumsfeld came, that we didn't -- he didn't have the chart. He didn't explain who was in charge of the guards and who was in charge of the interrogators and the relationship between the guards and the intelligence people. But I think the general, General Takuba (ph), did a very good job today in explaining a lot of that, as did General Smith. But I still think we've got quite a ways to go. But we can't wait for panels to do investigations or commissions. We've got to get this thing behind us as quickly as possible because of the damage it does to the image of these incredibly brave, courageous, humane young Americans who are serving in Iraq and all over the world. I'll never forget the image of the wounded Iraqi woman on a bridge and the American fighting man going out there, risking his own life under fire to save her life. That's really what American fighting men and women are about.
KING: Colonel David Hackworth, who I know you know very well, the most decorated Vietnam veteran, been on this show many, many times, told CNN tonight he thinks we're going to hear a lot more and that his sources are telling him a lot more coming. And apparently Bob Schieffer will check with us in a little while. Something more is going to break on "60 Minutes II" tomorrow night.
MCCAIN: That's what I worry about more than anything else. You and I and Bob Schieffer have been around this town long enough to see what happens typically with scandals. It's kind of a drip system. For example, we saw another picture in addition to the original ones. That's why I strongly disagree with this Pentagon methodology of having only senators or congressmen see these pictures. You're not going to keep them from being made public over time. So the quicker you get them out, the quicker you're shocked by this, the better off we're going be.
KING: And you're going to see all the pictures tomorrow, we understand? And the Pentagon has left it up to the president -- the White House will decide what gets shown to the public, is that true?
MCCAIN: That's my understanding. But that's in all due respect, that's not going to work. It's never worked. There's just too many ways of the media accessing this information. Let me say this, if it does work it will be the first time in the history of Washington, D.C.
KING: Should the White House then, if you ask your advice, should they release them all? If it's up to them, should they release them all?
MCCAIN: I think they should release them all, release them immediately so we can get the full impact of it and then move on. Because we've got to bring closure to this, Larry. It's hurting us in the broad variety of ways. In the Arab world. In the United States. Support for the war. I look at the polls. We have seen a drop in support for the war because Americans are so taken aback by this. But again, I want to emphasize, if we, somehow, excuse this behavior on the grounds that they were bad people, they killed Americans, all that kind of stuff, then we put ourselves on the same moral equipment -- plain that they are. We cannot do that. The reason why we are there is to give them a different life from the kind of treatment that they got from Saddam Hussein. That's another argument, by the way, for taking down the prison.
KING: We'll ask you about that in a minute. We'll be right back with Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. His new book is "Why Courage Matters." The panel will assemble at the bottom of the hour. We'll take some calls for Senator McCain as well. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: But you found, clearly in your report, violations of the rules for the Geneva Convention for treatment of prisoners of war, right?
MAJ. GENERAL ANTONIO TAGUBA, U.S. ARMY: Yes, sir.
MCCAIN: Including moving prisoners around to avoid International Red Cross inspections?
TAGUBA: Yes, sir. That was conveyed to us by those that we interviewed and commands that we assessed in the written statements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It is a body blow when we find that we have, as we have just within the last week or seven days, a few who have betrayed our values by their conduct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The book is "Why Courage Matters." The author is our guest, Senator John McCain, member of the Armed Services Committee questioning the panel today. He is in New York and will be returning to Washington where he's going to see those pictures tomorrow. Did you say you want the prison closed?
MCCAIN: I think we need to do things concretely, and also take symbolic actions as well. One of those would be to take down this prison. It was a notorious Saddam Hussein torture chamber, and it really has significance to the Iraqi people. And now in light of these abuses, I think it would be best to take it down.
KING: And someone mentioned this today that when Senator Inhofe was speaking or questioning, you got up and left. Was that in protest or what was that about?
MCCAIN: It's because of my age, I have to make frequent trips to the men's room.
KING: So that whole thing was a men's room visit?
MCCAIN: Exactly. And I came back and did -- was back before he had completed his remarks. But I did not agree, by the way, with his remarks. But that's why we have diversities of view and opinions. KING: Senator Graham, colleague and a fellow Republican, said he doesn't want a bunch of privates and sergeants to be scapegoats. That this is a system failure and he wants the heads to roll where they roll. Do you agree?
MCCAIN: I think I agree with Lindsey Graham. And he's done a marvelous job in these hearings. He has a background, as you know, as a JAG officer in the United States Air Force. And he lends a great deal to the deliberations.
I think Lindsey is, like many of us, so hurt by the damage that it does to the military and their image, which we love and cherish so much, that he believes that there is more responsibility here, and I think he's right. Again, you know, you showed a clip just before the last break. If they were moving prisoners all around the prison to avoid contact with the International Red Cross, it seems that there had to be at least some individuals involved here.
And finally, I asked the generals this afternoon in this hearing, do you believe we should be -- we should have the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners of war? They said absolutely yes. Because of the kind of nation we are, but also because of what might happen to our prisoners, our military men and women if they're held prisoners as well.
And I can tell you in Vietnam, Larry, and I don't go into it very often. The threat on the part of the United States to the Vietnamese that they would retaliate strongly if they violated the Geneva Conventions, which they did, but I think they might have much worse if the United States hadn't kept -- our government kept telling them that they expected them to adhere to those conventions.
KING: What happens if this gets worse?
MCCAIN: I think it's probably going to get worse when we see and the American people see a number of these additional pictures, which I have not seen. And I'm not sure I do want to see, by the way. But then the key to it is, is to point out that the United States of America, we punish people who transgress. Most of these nations who are criticizing us today from the Middle East don't punish transgressions. In fact, in some of these countries, it's routine to mistreat prisoners and do a lot worse to them than we did to our prisoners. And that's -- that's the difference between a great nation that corrects its mistakes, and other nations who not only condone but encourage this kind of treatment.
KING: What do you think led to it? I mean, what were cameras doing in there, hoods? What are dogs doing in there?
MCCAIN: I don't know the answer to that, but I do believe that we didn't have enough troops on the ground there, and many of these people were not trained.
General Taguba mentioned that this morning. They are probably -- had certain skills, but not the kind of training that's necessary for this kind of work. Second of all, it's clear that there was a breakdown in discipline. Nobody disputes that. And third of all, I guess that something got into these people that we just -- is beyond our ability to comprehend.
KING: We'll take a break, come back and take some calls for Senator McCain. Here, though, is Senator Inhofe and his remarks, a little bit of his remarks today. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: I have to say, and I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment. The idea that these prisoners -- you know, they're not there for traffic violations. If they are in cell block 1a or 1b, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands. And here we are so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT BYRD (D), WEST VIRGINIA: General Taguba, based on your investigation, who gave the order to soften up these prisoners?
To give them the treatment?
Was this a policy?
Who approved it.
MAJ. GEN. ANTONIO TAGUBA, U.S. ARMY: Sir, we did not find any evidence of a policy or a direct order given to these soldiers to conduct what they did? I believe that they did it on their own volition. I believe there were several interrogators at the local level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Senator McCain. Let's take some calls.
CALLER: I want to tell you, first of all, that I am so excited to be talking to Senator John McCain. I'm a life-long Democrat and several I changed my party affiliation so I could vote for him in the primary. And I think if he were in the White House right now, if he were the Republican in the White House, we would not be having these problems. But the question that I would like to ask him is, several of the guards that have been implicated in the abuse were also prison guards here in the United States before they went to serve in Iraq. And while I don't want to diminish what happened over there because it's so horrible and I'm so shocked and embarrassed by it, I want to know has anyone checked in to their record here's to see if they were involved in any kind of abuse of prisoners here in the United States?
MCCAIN: I don't know the answer to that, but I'm sure that would be checked out. And I would imagine that it would be checked out before they were sent over there, at least I would hope so. Thanks for your kind comments.
KING: Indian Wells, California, hello.
CALLER: Hello. Senator McCain, do you believe that the Muslim teachings regarding their culture has any understanding of the Geneva Convention and our American soldiers?
MCCAIN: I believe that people who are in the Iraqi army who are many of these prisoners fully understand that we abide by the Geneva Conventions. We expect governments to abide by them. I don't remember whether the Iraqi government was a signatory or not. And it doesn't matter too much to me whether some Muslims understand them. What does matter to me is that we understand them. If I can leave you with one point, we distinguish ourselves by the way we treat our enemies. And that means we are a nation that doesn't employ those same kinds of torture and mistreatment because we're better than that.
And we came to Iraq to make those people have a different life than the one they had under Saddam Hussein. And the thing that's so harmful about this, in the same prison these images are coming out and the great tragedy is that there's been 1 million acts of compassion, of charity and love extended by American military people to the Iraqi people and that's in danger of being overwhelmed. And the great and good people like Pat Tillman, whose memory I will cherish for as long as I live, their acts of courage and heroism are somehow diminished by this. And that's why we have to get this thing resolved. And the Geneva Conventions work. They have worked in other conflicts. We should always adhere to them. And that's not just my opinion.
KING: San Bernardino, California, hello.
CALLER: Senator McCain it's a privilege to speak to you. My father did 32 years in the United States Air Force. My husband 22 years as a logistics officer. My question is, was it one person that took pictures and the videos and were they part of the intelligence of our armed services?
MCCAIN: I do not know the answer to that. Apparently, there is more pictures and a video, and I assume, just from what I have heard, is it's more than one person that's been taking -- that is responsible for this. I would seem that there's so many that that would be the case. Thanks for the call.
KING: What will be, senator, the repercussions?
Who -- when people take responsibility, what happens after they take responsibility?
Where is the payoff? MCCAIN: Depending on where it lies. Let me start over. Whoever is responsible, well obviously there has to be some kind of punishment involved in it. If it's actual acts that have been perpetrated, that's one thing. If they're responsible for it and should have corrected it, that's another thing. And of course, if it went up the chain of command, and I'm not saying it did, then those people have to be held responsible as well.
KING: And how about people who look the other way?
MCCAIN: They're responsible. That's why we need a more complete investigation. Again, if people were shuffling prisoners around the prison at Abu Ghraib in order to avoid them being seen by the International Red Cross, there had to be a number of people involved in that kind of activity.
Again, why is Ambassador Bremer complaining a great deal about the treatment of prisoners?
Why is Secretary of State Powell complaining if there wasn't a fair amount of this?
We don't know the answer. We also hear there's 30 to 35 investigations going on that, some of them of the most serious nature.
KING: When will you see those pictures tomorrow?
MCCAIN: Larry, I haven't decided whether I'm going to see them or not to tell you the truth, because...
MCCAIN: I'm not sure I have to. I think I have seen enough. I think, and I also wonder if I should see them and the American people shouldn't. So I'll think about it overnight.
KING: Your principle, if you should see them, why shouldn't we see them?
KING: How's Cindy doing.
MCCAIN: She's very well thank you. Thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers on her behalf. She's doing very well. And I grieve along with so many Americans because I'll never forget the picture of the American soldier going out on a bridge during the fighting, under fire, risking his life to save a wounded Iraqi woman. That's the image I want all the world to have of our American fighting men and women.
KING: Let me get in one more quick call. Oxford, Mississippi. Hello.
CALLER: Senator McCain. I -- I don't agree that these pictures should have been shown. I think that we should know about them, but I think they should be classified. Because, I think it's going to affect re-enlistment, and also volunteering for our military service. I think a lot of people are writing their own epithet because I believe the draft might be reinstated.
KING: What do you think of that, John?
MCCAIN: Well, I wish the pictures had never been taken. And I wish they had never been shown. But if these things were going on, perhaps they had to be brought to a halt, and maybe this was the way to bring them to a halt. So I have mixed emotions about it. I think the reality is, as we said at the beginning of the show, these pictures will come out sooner or later. And I'd like to bring closure to it as quickly as possible so we can move on.
KING: How about a draft?
MCCAIN: We don't need a return to the draft. The all-volunteer force is working well. We have the finest men and women in the military. You have to open issues about whether you're going to draft women or not. Also, it takes a long time to train men and women in the military. But we sure need a whole lot more people in the army and Marines, and we need em quick.
KING: Thanks Senator. As always, good seeing you.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Senator John McCain wants the prisons closed. Not sure he even wants to look at the pictures tomorrow. If the public can't see them, his point being why should the Senate see them. We'll take a break and when we come back Bob Schieffer, Senator Chambliss and Lieberman, and Robin Wright.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: Would it be fair for you to say through us to the American people that we are essentially looking everywhere throughout the American military prison system to make sure that nothing like what happened at the Abu Ghraib Prison is occurring anywhere else?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd have to look at the specific charge that department (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was given. But I believe that to be the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We now welcome, and all our guests are in Washington, Bob Schieffer, the host of CBS News' "Face the Nation." Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence. Senator Joe Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, his party's nominee for vice president three years back, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence. And Robin Wright, "The Washington Post" correspondent, author of "Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam." She's reported on the regime of Saddam Hussein for more than two decades.
Start with Mr. Schieffer. I understand "60 Minutes II" will have more of the report on this tomorrow. What's coming?
BOB SCHIEFFER, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": Well, they are. Larry, Dan Rather, who of course broke this story, has come up with another angle to it. It turns out there was also some prisoner abuse at Camp Bucah (ph). Some of the guards there, none of them were charged but they were pulled out of there, returned to the United States and given less than honorable discharges.
One of the things that Dan has come up with is a videotape diary that was recorded by one of the guards there. And it's just stunning. These kids were sent there clearly without any kind of training. They didn't want to be there. They hated the job.
I'll just give you one quote from one of these guards that Dan talked to from her videotaped diary. She's talking about conditions there. She says, "this is a sand viper." I guess that's some kind of an insect. Said, "One bite will kill you in six hours. We've already had two prisoners die of it. But who cares? That is two less for me to worry about."
Couple of these guards are accused of beating prisoners. They deny it, but they say they were put in an impossible position. One of them says that he alone was once charged with guarding 535 prisoners. One American guard.
These prisoners all rioted on Palm Sunday last year in 2003. One of the guards says in 10 months there, he never saw the commanding officer, that's General Karpinski, who was also in charge of this other prison. During this entire riot, these people say that they never saw their officers.
Larry, it is becoming more clear that what we sent to Iraq was a group of people who were untrained, who were ill equipped, and their unit was under strain. And that is simply a recipe for disaster.
KING: And that will all air tomorrow night. Senator Chambliss, what's your reaction to what Bob just said?
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Well, of course, we know, based on General Taguba's report, that this particular 800th MP Brigade was very untrained, unprepared, even in the basic skills, Larry, to carry out the job that they were assigned to do. And they were supposed to be some sort of specialized group.
But the fact of the matter is, the Army is continuing their investigation, and we're moving forward, we're trying to figure out exactly who was involved, from the standpoint of carrying out the acts. It's going to come up the chain of command as far as it needs to go. The Army is dealing with it the way it ought to be dealt with. And we're going to get to the bottom of it.
But we've got to move on. And let me just say that I agree with what John McCain said earlier. I said it in the hearing yesterday, along with Senator Ben Nelson. We need to blow that prison up. We need to eliminate a symbol of terror and torture from Saddam Hussein's regime that now unfortunately has been converted into a bad symbol from the standpoint of the U.S. occupation.
KING: Will you look at the pictures tomorrow?
CHAMBLISS: Well, Joe and I were just talking about that. I have mixed emotions about, number one, whether I ought to see them or whether ought to be released. I mean, these are going to be people in American uniforms, American military uniforms who are going to be carrying out much more serious acts than what's being shown on TV right now. And I'm sure I'll go by and look at them. But it's going to be a very unpleasant afternoon to do so.
KING: Senator Lieberman, first, are you going to go look at them? And what do you make of what Bob just said?
LIEBERMAN: I have the same ambivalence as John McCain and Saxby Chambliss. I mean, I think I have seen enough of these pictures to know that what was happening in that particular cell block or two of that Abu Ghraib prison was immoral and intolerable.
And my question really to myself is whether I have some responsibility as a member of the committee to go and see whether there's anything there I haven't heard about. But to hear -- I've already heard descriptions that some of these pictures are going to be of forced sexual acts. What do I need to go and see that for? I know enough to know that what was happening there was rotten, and that the people who allowed it to happen ought to be punished.
KING: Should the public see, as Senator McCain thinks, or not so sure as Senator Chambliss thinks?
LIEBERMAN: If I believed that really this wouldn't be dribbled out over a period of time, I'd say that the public and the world has seen enough.
And let me just say something else about the impact when these pictures are shown. We further humiliate the Iraqis who are pictured in them. I read an interview with one of them last week in one of the newspapers. He said there may be a bag over his head, in one case or another case his head is partially shown. He's been humiliated. He says his life has been ruined. We ought to think about that as well.
So if I thought we could stop them from getting out, I'd say yes. I'm afraid in the climate we're in today they ought to be let go.
I want to say a word about what Bob Schieffer said quickly, Larry. This news about there being some evidence of abuse and improper behavior at Camp Bucah (ph) is very alarming. If I remember correctly, General Taguba said today -- because we asked him specifically, did you look at the other facilities? He did look at a few, including this one, and said that he found, yes, some evidence of some slapping of prisoners by American guards but nothing like what was seen at Abu Ghraib prison. And if there was further evidence of abuse there, it suggests a systemic problem.
Bottom line, we sent a lot of people -- we didn't send enough people to Iraq and we put some people who weren't trained or prepared to run those prisons. And we're paying for it dearly now. This is a nightmare.
KING: Robin Wright, you've been covering this scene for a long time. What's your overview of the whole thing?
ROBIN WRIGHT, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think the issue is not just whether there is systemic problems at the Pentagon, or the fate of the military brass. The issue is really how this plays out over the next year and over the next generation, that we have reached a point that there is such mistrust and suspicion and fear on both sides of the divide. Whether it's the way the Iraqis fear the military occupation and the prisoner abuse, or the way the beheadings and terrorist attacks by Muslims, that we have reached a point that we may actually not be able to avoid the kind of clash of civilizations that we've all feared.
And this could have really long-term consequences in the way for our own national security, as well as the last great era, period of the modern era.
KING: And what's the reaction going to be if this goes that way in the United States?
WRIGHT: Well, the United States faces a real challenge in trying to get Iraq right. That will really create so much of what comes next, both in terms of fostering peace and stability in the region and promoting the democratic ideals, which is what the 20th century has been all about and what our mission has been worldwide.
So, the kind of tensions that have played out in Iraq now really harm that effort. And there's, as I said, the stakes are enormous.
KING: Bob Schieffer, what do you think? How does this play out? Where does this go?
SCHIEFFER: I'm not sure of where it goes. And I'm not sure that we'll ever get past it. These people didn't like us very much in the beginning. We know what kind of people we're dealing with, because we saw this awful thing that happened today.
These pictures are out there. I think what we've got to do, for the sake of the Army, if nothing else, we've got to find out how it is that we're sending untrained forces into a war zone. That's simply not a way to run an Army.
And when you go through this report. And the general did a terrific job, I think, of investigating this. They violate every rule of military doctrine. I mean, a freshman student in ROTC knows that you don't do this. I mean, there was no chain of command. There was no clear idea of who was in charge. There was no idea of what the mission was. This is just a recipe of disaster. And, you know, I was stunned to watch these witnesses come before the armed services committee today and basically get in an argument about who was in charge there. Whether it was the intelligence people or whether it was the other people. And they sort of had a difference there before this congressional committee. I can't remember when I have seen something like that unfold.
KING: Senator Chambliss, you were sitting there. What did you make of it?
CHAMBLISS: That was a little unusual to see a major policy issue of just how closely or how separated the military intelligence and the military police ought to be with respect to interrogation. General Taguba had it verse, chapter and page about the army regulation relative to that. And the undersecretary for defense Steve Cambone disagreed with him over what was the policy.
But it, again, showed, Larry that we probably weren't prepared for the vast number of prisoners that we took at an early stage in this conflict. This president wasn't even open until August of last year. And at the time it was, it was because we had an overflow of prisoners. We rushed people in there. We rushed these folks from the 800 Brigade there to try to man it. And they were simply outnumbered by the prisoners by about, gee, I don't know what the final number was. It varied. But they simply weren't prepared to deal with this number of people. Obviously they weren't prepared and the rules and regulations that they had to abide by.
KING: We'll be right back with more. Also more phone calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...among them videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees. Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photograph. A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee. Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broomstick. Military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack and in one instance actually biting the detainee. Is that your report?
TAGUBA: Yes, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're counting on brave men and women to help spread freedom in parts of the world that desperately need freedom. We're counting on our military to make America more secure by spreading peace. And that's what you're seeing right now on your TV screens, you're seeing tough work because there are people who can't stand the thought of free societies springing up in the midst of hatred and violence in the Middle East.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before we take some calls, Senator Lieberman, is that working?
LIEBERMAN: That is our mission. That is exactly why we cannot lose our will. If the terrorists, the Jihadists, the people who beheaded an American today think that they've won and chased America out of Iraq, not only will the Iraqi people suffer and the country and probably the region be destabilized, we will have emboldened the terrorists and our future will be a lot less secure than it ought to be. So the president's right. That's -- that is our mission. And of course it's been a lot harder to achieve it than we hoped it would be. But we've got to stay the course and finish the job. Senator Kerry agrees with that, too.
KING: Robin Wright, do you that think the public may get tired of it.
WRIGHT: I think the public may get tired of it, in part because of the mounting cost. Another $25 billion requested by the administration. Another $50 billion to $75 billion expected down the road. I think Iraqis are likely to get tired of it. One of the big questions is, what do we do if we reach that moment that juncture, as Iraq regains its sovereignty and if they ask the United States to leave. And they're not capable of dealing with security inside the country? Because the one great problem is creating an unstable country with the kind of oil, wealth and strategic importance that Iraq represents. And leaving behind a country that would dwarf Afghanistan in terms of what a terrorist hot bed it could become.
KING: New York City, as we go to some calls, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. This is for anyone on your panel. What would you say to citizens like myself who support the war and support the troops but after viewing the pictures that we've seen all week and especially the video of Nicholas Berg, how am I supposed to feel that this is not out of control?
KING: Senator Chambliss, you want to take that?
CHAMBLISS: First of all, war is a very, very difficult thing to deal with, even on the good days. And today was not a good day. Today shows what kind of mean, nasty killers we're dealing with. These are people who have no conscience. They have nobody to answer to. They have no government controlling them. And they truly are terrorists in every sense of the word. That's why it's so critically important that we continue to pursue the war against terrorism from a global standpoint. We're going to go after these guys and we're going to find them either collectively or individually, we're going to take them out. But it's going to take a lot of perseverance on the part of the American people.
KING: But Bob Schieffer, doesn't she represent the kind of thinking that's sort of throwing our hands up in the air? SCHIEFFER: Well, no. I think she's just very frustrated. I'm one of those. Let me make it clear. I'm one of those who thought it was a good idea to go into Iraq. My feeling is that somewhere along the line one way or another we would have to deal with Saddam Hussein, somewhere down the line. But, the question now is what did we do? We're in to this. Whether you thought it was a good idea to go in there or not, we're in this. My sense of it is, we've got to find some way to bring the other civilized nations of the world into this. This is a worldwide war against terrorism, then we've got to bring the rest of the world in to it.
We've got to find some group of people somewhere somehow to help share in these casualties. This is difficult. And expecting the American soldier to take all of the casualties here is simply not going to work. And I think the caller is very right about that. I think there will come a time when the American people will say, is this worth the price that we're being asked to pay here? We forget, Larry, sometimes, that NATO has put troops into Afghanistan. The Germans put troops into Afghanistan. I believe, in fact, the French forces have been in Afghanistan. There must be a way, if we can find a way to work with the other nations of the world there, that we can find a way to work with them here.
WRIGHT: Can I interject in that?
KING: Go ahead, Robin.
WRIGHT: The real problem is that the United States is perceived by many nations now as a loser. And the real challenge is going to be even just keeping the coalition together and the troops from some 30 nations deployed inside Iraq after June 30 and the handover of power. NATO has made clear over the past month that it is not prepared to intervene in Iraq. It's not an alternative, even if the United Nations passes a new resolution. And it's even going to be difficult for the United Nations to rally troops to provide a new protection just for a U.N. mission. It's a great idea to get the international community involved. It's going to be harder than ever as a result of what's happened at Abu Ghraib.
LIEBERMAN: Larry, let me say very briefly, Robin is absolutely right. I have talked to some NATO ambassadors, Some foreign ministers. They're not in the near term going to help us. To stabilize Iraq, we've got to do it ourselves and we've got to rapidly train the Iraqis. Doing that the Europeans will help bring that about. I want to say one more thing, we intercepted that letter from Zarqawi, probably, to bin Laden a while back. And he made very clear that they were going to try to do exactly what they're doing now. Zarqawi is allegedly in that tape today with Nicholas Berg being beheaded. What they were going to try to break our will before June 30 when we transfer sovereignty to the Iraqis. Because, when that happens they know it's going to be harder for them to turn the Iraqis against us.
KING: Got to get a break. We'll get a few more calls before we wrap thins up. More on this tomorrow. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: In simple words your own soldiers language, how did this happen?
TAGUBA: Failure in leadership from the brigade commander on down. Lack of discipline. No training whatsoever. No supervision. Supervisor omission was rampant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Eagle River, Alaska, hello.
CALLER: Good evening.
CALLER: The people who perpetrated these acts against the prisoners have done great damage to our efforts in Iraq.
Why shouldn't they be charged with treason?
KING: Senator Chambliss, is that a stretch?
CHAMBLISS: I don't know treason is going to be the proper charge. The military code of justice sets out exactly what type of charges are available for specific acts. I don't know exactly what they're going to be charged with. But certainly they've caused an awful lot of damage. The caller is exactly right. And I can assure you that they're going to be prosecuted to the nth degree, whatever the military code of justice does allow.
KING: Atlanta, hello.
KING: I'm sorry, Joe. Go ahead.
LIEBERMAN: I wanted to say, I think Saxby is right on point about the law. I don't think they can be charged with treason. But effectively their behavior is treasonist, in the sense that it has compromised the lives of a lot of other Americans and our cause there.
KING: Atlanta, quickly.
CALLER: Yes. My question is this. First of all...
KING: What's your question?
CALLER: First of all, with -- with President Bush supporting Secretary Rumsfeld, where does this affect or how does this affect America's viewpoint to the world?
And now coming in and supporting Iraq in one nation...
KING: We're running so quick on time. Bob Schieffer, do you think that by supporting Rumsfeld, they're saying to the world that what we did is okay or that we're overlook what happened?
SCHIEFFER: I don't know what I think about that. I think whether Secretary Rumsfeld stays will be determined by events that have not yet unfolded. It depends on what some of these extra picture shows. Depends where this investigation goes. Somebody said a very interesting thing to me today. Secretary Rumsfeld is honorable enough, that if he thinks it would help for him to resign, he would resign, and I agree with that.
KING: And Bob Schieffer, that show on "60 Minutes 2" that's tomorrow night, right?
SCHIEFFER: Yes, sir.
KING: Thank you all very much. Bob Schieffer host of CBS "Face the Nation," Senator Saxby Chambliss and Senator Joe Lieberman both members of the Armed Services Committee. And Robin Wright the terrific "Washington Post" correspondent, the author of "Sacred Rage." And earlier our friend Senator John McCain.
I'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night we'll of course follow up on this story. Hopefully members of the Senate who will have seen those pictures. And the Ramsey's will be with us, the parents of the late JonBenet Ramsey. The father is running for office. Anything goes.
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