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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

McCain Press Briefing

Aired May 4, 2004 - 11:12   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go live to Capitol Hill. Here's Arizona Senator John McCain.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Finally, could I just say that yesterday I attended the memorial service for a brave young American, Pat Tillman? And here we have the contrast between the service and sacrifice of a outstanding and brave, young and honorable man, and what is obviously dishonorable conduct by a few, which unfortunately besmirches the entire reputation of these wonderful young men and women.

Finally, we've got to find out what oversight took place there in the situation and why there wasn't better oversight, and whether there was civilian -- meaning intelligence -- or contractor involvement in the situation as well.

QUESTION: Senator, you say that Congress should have been informed. Is it a problem that "60 Minutes" knew about this two weeks ago and then withheld that, and even members of Congress...

MCCAIN: It is a severe problem, but it is a pattern on the part of the Defense Department of not keeping the Congress informed on a variety of issues, but this is really egregious.

QUESTION: There are some suggestions, sir, that this is standard procedure in some sense for interrogating personnel -- enemy personnel; that they were quote/unquote, "trying to soften them up" and that further, the enlisted people who carried out these acts were instructed to do that and only following orders. And I'd like your reaction to that.

MCCAIN: Well, we'll find -- obviously, I have no way of knowing that. But the rules for the treatment of prisoners of war are very clear: There's no justification for this kind of treatment.

QUESTION: Are your surprised apparently to learn today that this went beyond Iraq, that there's trouble possibly in Afghanistan and Guantanamo?

MCCAIN: There are so many allegations swirling around this situation that we must have a public hearing with the secretary of defense testifying in order to clear up all of these allegations.

Not an hour goes by that there isn't an additional allegation. Unfortunately, the Congress in general and the Senate Armed Services Committee in particular has been, up until this morning, has been kept completely in the dark.

The 53-page report has been sent to the media before it has been sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is supposed to arrive sometime today. That's quite a commentary.

QUESTION: Senator, Rumsfeld and Myers have indicated over the weekend that they hadn't even read this report yet. They (UNINTELLIGIBLE) details. Does that surprise you?

MCCAIN: It's surprising, but I want them to be able to respond to all of these questions, not just to the Congress, but the American people. So I can't make claims of misconduct or good conduct until we have a full and complete hearing of this situation.

KAGAN: We've been listening to Senator John McCain, just coming out of a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting, talking about the alleged prisoner abuse taking place by American troops, and possibly contractors, too, in Iraq. The senator calling for more investigation.

Also upset that there's a 53-page report that has been obtained by the media, and including CNN, and that has taken place before the Senate Armed Services Committee has had a chance to look at it.

Once again John McCain calling for more investigation of the alleged prisoner abuse in Iraq.

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