Excerpts from the transcript:
WOLF BLITZER: Senator Bayh, let me begin with you. Is it as bad as it would appear to be today? This situation looks very grisly, but you were just there. Give us your perspective.Those were all the Evan Bayh excerpts. Well said, Evan, well said!
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: Well, Wolf, if you ever wanted a clear demonstration of what separates us from our adversaries, these killings today are it. You know, we want democracy. We want freedom. Clearly they're trying to keep that from happening.
And the heart of the challenge all comes back to a lack of security. We're not going to have successful elections, we won't have a growing Iraqi economy, we won't have stability there without security.
And regrettably, we have our challenges cut out for us there. I had a top U.S. intelligence official tell me -- I asked him directly...
BLITZER: In Baghdad?
BAYH: In Baghdad -- which do you think is growing more rapidly: the insurgency or the Iraqis' capability of handling the insurgency? And he said very directly, the insurgency. That should be troubling.
BLITZER: Why is this insurgency apparently as popular among rank- and-file Iraqis as it seems to be?
BAYH: One of the tragedies here, Wolf, is that we have contributed to our own problems today by sending the Iraqi army home, not the top generals who were in bed with Saddam, but the privates, the corporals, the captains and lieutenants. We're fighting some of those people today. They should have been on our side.
The decision to send all of even the lower-level functionaries of the former government home, most of whom were Sunnis, saying to them, "You have no future in Iraq," they are now opposing us too.
We need to recall those people to give them a stake in the future of Iraq even while we're trying the criminals, the human rights violators. That's one of the ways that we'll re-enlist the Iraqi people in the cause of democracy and free elections.[...]
BLITZER: Is that right?
BAYH: Wolf, the U.S. intelligence official told me, he said there's one thing keeping this country together today: that is the U.S. presence, the U.S. forces. Clearly if we're going to be successful there, which we must, if these elections are going to be successful, which they must, we need to increase the Iraqis' capability of dealing with this violence. Because until we have security, the democracy is not going to take root.
BLITZER: Do you see that happening?
BAYH: Well, we need to do two things or three things.
First, in the short run, I think Steny's right. We've never had enough troops there. If the mission was to go in and remove Saddam, we had enough forces to that. If the mission was to stabilize a country of 26 million people and try and create a democracy where there's no history of one, we've never had enough troops to do that. So, in the short run, more U.S. troops.
In the longer run, though, get the Iraqi army back, get the bureaucracy back, get up their capabilities.[...]
BLITZER: Senator Bayh, you're on the Intelligence Committee. Is that true?
BAYH: Well, we need more intelligence.
We do know that the Syrians are sort of being what I'd call passive-aggressive. I don't think they're doing much to assist the former Baathists, but they're not doing much to dissuade them either.
BAYH: That needs to change.
The Iranians are trying to exert their influence. We do have some intelligence about how they're doing that. But don't forget, Wolf, they're a different ethnic background than most of the Iraqis. I think a lot of the Iraqis look at Iran and say, "You know, we're co- religionists, but that's not the kind of government we want."
So the thing I would focus on today is discouraging foreign involvement, yes, but I think, as Tom Friedman pointed out today, encouraging Iraqi involvement, getting the Sunnis involved in the election. That's the single most important thing we can do.[...]
BLITZER: Is that right, because you're on the Intelligence Committee, that no one envisaged the kind of insurgency that has developed?
BAYH: Well, if they didn't envision it at least as being a possibility, they didn't understand anything about the history of the country or the culture of the country and the divisions that exist there.
Look, you had to anticipate something bad happening.
But another point, Wolf. We make these up-armored Humvees in Indiana. I've been making this point for more than a year, as have some other people.
Where has been the sense of urgency? Where has been the outrage, to say our troops deserve the very best that we have to offer, and what can we do about it, right now?
I haven't gotten that sense of urgency, and frankly, when lives are at risk, that's not acceptable.
CORNYN: Wolf, no member of Congress has been making this argument until this question was asked of Secretary Rumsfeld...
BAYH: Oh, John, that's just not true.
CORNYN: I have not heard this sort of indignation on the part of...
BAYH: In April, before our committee, General Casey came to testify. At that point, they thought that the most we could produce every month was 300. I said to him, General Casey, that's not true, we can make 450 a month.
And in the exchange last week with the secretary, he said, well, we're producing at the most we can make, that we can't produce any more. That also was not accurate. We can make 100 a month more, and we should.[...]
BAYH: Wolf, he should sign the letters. He's going to sign the letters.
But what's most important here is that we do what it takes to minimize the number of letters that have to be sent.
And when you see Andy Card say, "Hey, everything has been great, there have been no mistakes, we don't have to correct anything," you have to wonder what's going on. Look, it's better that wisdom come late than not at all. And we have to learn from these mistakes so that we do better to minimize the number of casualties to win this thing so that we can ultimately come home.
And it's the lack of any introspection that I find to be very troubling.
BLITZER: But I want to just press you on this point. You're a moderate Democrat, well-known.
Do you think he should resign?
BAYH: Well, reluctantly, Wolf, I've concluded that we have to have a different perspective. The commander in chief will be in place for the next four years, so that doesn't leave us many alternatives.
BLITZER: So you want Rumsfeld out?
BAYH: Well, I think that that is the way to go.
But if we don't have different policies, frankly, it will just be a game of musical chairs. What is important here is that we have better policies so that we can be successful in these things.[...]
BLITZER: Senator Bayh, you're on the Intelligence Committee. Michael Scheuer, who was known as "Anonymous," CIA analyst on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, tells the new issue of Time magazine, he fears this audio tape suggests that al Qaeda will attempt, in his words, a large attack on the U.S. or U.S. interests in the near future.
Is that the prevailing assessment, that before a major attack, Osama bin Laden gives one of these speeches?
BAYH: Well, I don't recall any warning before 9/11, Wolf, although there is the school of thought that perhaps that's what he has in mind here.
But, look, the potential threat from Osama and al Qaeda is ever present. We have to never let down our guard from that. So I assume that he'll attack us as soon as he can when he has that capability, with or without a warning.
The broader issue here is, what do we do to remove the support, to dry up the swamp where he gets sustenance from? And that is by standing for democracy and freedom in that part of the world.
And that's why we're all dedicated, Democrats and Republicans, to try and be successful in that regard: defend our country by fighting terror in the short run, provide a peaceful alternative to the Islamic world through freedom and democracy in the long-run.
And hopefully, in the meantime, we'll catch him and we won't have to see these sorts of tapes anymore.
BLITZER: Based on information you've received, is there any progress being made in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, as far as you can tell?
BAYH: Well, John and I, Senator Cornyn and I, met with the special forces in Afghanistan who are in charge of -- sorry, in Iraq, who are in charge of the hunt for Zarqawi. They're also in charge of the hunt in Afghanistan. They said they can now put him in a somewhat smaller box.
But, look, it's going to take an intelligence breakthrough of some kind. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen a year from tomorrow. We'll eventually get him. Apparently it's getting a little better.
BLITZER: Better for Zarqawi or better for bin Laden?
BAYH: Better for bin Laden. The box is tightening. And Zarqawi, there have been a couple of times when literally, you know, he's been heading out the back door and we've been going into the front. So it's just a question of time.[...]
BLITZER: What do you think, Senator Bayh?
BAYH: I think it may be the most important position in the government today, after the president and vice president. You know, back in Napoleon's time, he said, a well-placed spy was worth two divisions.
Today, it could help protect two American cities. So this needs to be someone who is not only competent, but as Steny mentioned, has the confidence of the American people.
If there's one thing, God willing, in Washington that shouldn't be politicized, it's the nation's intelligence system, because that is directly dependent -- it provides for our national security today.
BLITZER: Is there a name that jumps out that you like?
BAYH: No, I wouldn't presume to do that. We'll obviously give serious consideration to whatever the president nominates.