Interview with Rep. Dan Burton

Interview with Rep. Dan Burton

By Lou Dobbs Tonight - April 23, 2009

DOBBS: Joining me now is Congressman Dan Burton, who is the senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee -- Congressman, good to have you with us here tonight.

REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: Good being with you. I'm a big admirer of yours.

DOBBS: Well, I appreciate that, Congressman. You've said that the prosecutions that could come out of the release of these memos and subsequent prosecution by the Justice Department, if it were to occur, would be simply crazy. Why do you say that?

BURTON: I say that simply because we're talking about national security here and the memos that were released by the White House jeopardizes our ability -- our ability to get CIA-type information, intelligence information, from people that we arrest as terrorists. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (ph) -- I have trouble with that name -- he was -- he was put under arrest. He was held.

He was interrogated. He said when asked about more terrorist attacks after 9/11, he said, soon you will know. And our intelligence officer said they were convinced that he knew when the next wave was going to happen. And so they decided that they were going to use very difficult techniques, very tough techniques to elicit this information to stop another attack and they did.

They used what was called waterboarding. And the waterboarding did force him to give the information. Now, the big issue is whether or not that was inhumane. I believe that they took necessary steps, because they stopped an attack on the Library Building, one of the tallest buildings in Los Angeles, which was the next target of attack by the al Qaeda people.

DOBBS: Congressman, Defense Secretary Gates says he reluctantly agreed to the release of those memoranda but felt they would inevitably be released no matter what, because of -- many have been pushing for those interrogation investigations. Could their release in your judgment have been avoided and where is all of this likely to lead us?

BURTON: Well, I think that it could have been avoided and for them to prejudge what the court would do as far as releasing those documents is something that they should not have done. We're talking about national security. This was top secret memos. And that means that when it says top secret that that involves the security of the United States and is classified. It shouldn't be put into the public domain. Now, al Qaeda knows that the limitations on our -- our interrogation techniques, and they'll be able to tell their operatives, their terrorists around the world, how far that we're going to go before we stop pressing them for information. And I think that jeopardizes the security of every American.

DOBBS: House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, Congressman, said this about some of those controversial interrogation techniques --


PELOSI: We were not -- I repeat were not -- told that waterboarding, or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods, were used. What they did tell us is that they had some legislative council, the office of legislative council, opinions that they could be used.


DOBBS: You say that Congress was aware of what was --


DOBBS: -- being conducted by -- how the CIA was conducting itself? You heard the speaker right there. Is she mistaken?

BURTON: Yes, she's definitely mistaken. Porter Goss who was on the intelligence committee said that she was in meetings when they went into detail about the techniques that were going to be used to get information from these terrorists, to stop another attack. And in addition to that, other members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, democrats and republicans, were aware and gave their consent. As a matter of fact, they authorized more money to be used for these intelligence techniques, which saved lives, in my opinion. I truly believe they stopped an attack in Los Angeles that would have killed many people, similar to what happened in New York. And for them to say that these techniques should not be used, they -- the president can use this -- can say that if he wants to, but he should not be giving this kind of information to the terrorists around the world, who now will know the limitations of our -- of our -- of our concerns and our investigations.

DOBBS: Congressman Dan Burton, thank you for being with us here.

BURTON: Thank you, buddy.


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