Interview of the Vice President

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- West Wing 10:35 A.M. EST Q It's an interesting time, so we really are eager to talk to you about especially a lot of the stuff that's happening on...


Q Do you think it's important for both the White House and for Republicans to be clear in the current climate that they do think that there are potentially devastating costs to some of these Democratic policies; that it's not about -- because often it's sort of written about and thought about in this political context, that Democrats want this, Bush doesn't and Bush wins. But that there are -- I mean, like what you say -- I mean, you sort of summarize what you say, it's like, listen to me, if we do what they want to do in Iraq , people could die if you don't have the right -- proper tools, or, we're more exposed.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I try to state it the way I stated it. Then there's always a great temptation out there anyway -- get into the media -- for people to try to sensationalize this stuff. I was very precise in terms of what I said, and that's how I would like to describe my views.

I think we've got people on the other side who don't believe as I do, where there are honest and legitimate differences. I think -- whether they do think al Qaeda is a problem, or they don't think al Qaeda is involved in Iraq , or that somehow we are -- or they really do want to close Guantanamo, or we shouldn't have an interrogation program for senior leaders of al Qaeda when we capture them, or we shouldn't be operating a program to intercept international communications of al Qaeda when they contact people in the United States -- I just -- I don't believe that.

I think we, in fact, need to do all of those things and I think having done those things is why we have been successful in defeating further attacks against the United States . Nobody can promise there won't be more attacks; I wouldn't say that. But I think six-and-a-half years without another attack succeeding against the United States is a remarkable record, and I think it's directly attributable to those policies. And I think people who want to change those policies, or want to stop them, have an obligation to explain and deal with the consequences that I believe would flow out of stopping those programs.

If we stopped the FISA program, for example -- we've got a big debate going now, partly over this issue of whether or not there should be liability provisions to protect the companies that responded to the legitimate request of the United States government to help us in this effort to intercept foreign-based communications of al Qaeda-affiliated individuals. That's an important provision to get in there, and to resist that strikes me as people who aren't serious about having an effective program. Those companies cannot continue on the course that we need to have them continue on to be a vital part of that program unless we get those kinds of provisions in the statute.

Q Mr. Vice President , what's the closest we've come to being attacked?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: What's the closest we've come to being attacked? Well, there have been a number of efforts -- I don't know that I'm the resident expert on the closest. The one that I think of, that was the summer before last, when plans were to launch out of I guess it was Heathrow, with explosives onboard aircraft and to do a major attack on several flights at once within a really relatively short period of time.

Q Mr. Vice President , how concerned are you about the threat from Islam within the United States ? And specifically, how concerned are you about Iraqi immigrants that are coming here and the danger that they might pose?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you've got be very careful here not just to -- you don't want to assume somebody is an enemy or a threat because they're -- follow Islam or because they're from a particular part of the world. I think we work to make certain that we don't have those kinds of threats develop within the United States . I think we've been relatively successful at it.

We've got a large population of people of the Islamic faith in the United States . They are good, loyal Americans, important members of the community, and they're entitled to be judged, just like anybody else, based on their conduct, their activities.

Q Yes, do you believe the new one that's out -- or is there a reason to question those conclusions?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't have any reason to question the -- what the community has produced, with respect to the NIE on Iran . Now, there are things they don't know. There are always -- there's always the possibility that the circumstances will change. But I think they've done the best job they can with the intelligence that's available to give us their best judgment on those issues.