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Interview with Representative Dutch Ruppersberger

Interview with Representative Dutch Ruppersberger

By John King, USA - August 22, 2011

CROWLEY: The top Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee says U.S. actions in Libya protected America's national security as well as security worldwide. But Maryland Representative "Dutch" Ruppersberger still -- Ruppersberger -- sorry -- still has plenty of security concerns like what happens now to Moammar Gadhafi's weapons of mass destruction?

The congressman joins us from Baltimore. Thank you so much. I wanted to read something from your statement, Congressman that caught our attention. You said "we must also ensure radical extremist groups do not take control of the country. Libya has a large stockpile of chemical weapons and explosives that must not fall into the wrong hands."

And I have to telling that I spoke with two people recently who said what chemical weapons. He handed them over. The man's fired two Scuds in four months. He just doesn't have them. Do we know for sure there are mustard gas chemical weapons that are stockpiled there? REP. C.A. "DUTCH" RUPPERSBERGER (D), MARYLAND: Well based on all the information that I have, he has a lot of weapons. And we're very concerned that he does have those weapons. And we were surprised he didn't use those weapons throughout this whole exercise.

CROWLEY: And so you can tell me like what -- so what are we talking about here --

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: -- because I thought he made a deal to get rid of weapons of mass destruction.

RUPPERSBERGER: You have -- you have mustard gas. You have man pads. You have different chemical weapons that he could use and it could be very serious. But we have been keeping an eye on that. When I say we the NATO and the coalition, but he's a very dangerous person. I met with him and the first thing he said, there were three or four of us from Congress, and we were in Libya, and he said you know why did you attack me? Why did -- I think President Reagan attack me? I'm a good person.

And I came back and I said, well, I don't agree with you. And you were involved in the killing of a college student from Baltimore in the Pan Am plane. So let's not go down that road.

And then he stopped. And he also knows English, but he made us use an interpreter. And I think all of us who walked away from that meeting felt he was very unstable.

CANDY CROWLEY, GUEST HOST: And so, let me see if I get this straight. You through whatever means and methods you have and again you are the ranking member on the intelligence committee. You believe that there are large stockpiles of chemical weapons. I'm assuming that there are others in the U.S. government that know this.

Do we know where they are and have we done anything to safeguard them?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, I don't want to get into some of that as classified. What I do want to say is that there is going to be a lot of transition that we have to be concerned about. And NATO still has to be involved.

Right now know two of Gadhafi's sons are still in southern Libya. And they still control brigades.

And if you really look at what happened in Iran, we don't want to make the same mistake. You know what happened in Iraq is that we fired the military, who we trained. They became the opposition. They had weapons and it caused a serious problem for a long time in Iraq.

And we have to make sure that this transition goes well and it's going to take a lot of time and effort to do this. And we also don't need to create another Iraq.

CROWLEY: Well, as far as I know, that there wouldn't be -- if the rebels win, there is not an army per se or at least a professional army left behind. So, who guards those stockpiles? I mean, is this important enough for the U.S. or NATO, people to put boots on the ground and guard wherever this weaponry is?

RUPPERSBERGER: Well, that's a lot of what intelligence is about and getting the information and making sure that the right moves are made by the people who are going to be there. We should not put boots on the ground. The United States should not put boots on the ground. And I praise the president for making that decision.

It should be a coalition and other countries need to be involved in the transition that is going to happen in Libya, including money. We just can't be in charge of everything -- and with other issues that we have, we're still in Afghanistan, we need to look at this.

But our national security could be at risk here just as any other country. And we don't want radical terrorists to take control when taking advantage of this situation.

CROWLEY: The national transitional government's ambassador to the U.S. just told CNN that one of Gadhafi's sons that has been captured was, quote, "hijacked," somehow managed to escape from where he was being guarded by rebels.

What does that tell you about the ability of the rebel forces to maintain calm, to stop looting, perhaps protect these weaponry stockpiles?

RUPPERSBERGER: It's a wake-up call. And just because Gadhafi goes doesn't mean things are going to change right away. Again, let's learn from the lessons of Iraq. There was looting when finally we were able to take control of Iraq. We have to make sure that that doesn't occur. And there will be a lot of different extremist groups that will try to take advantage of the situation.

But, you know, we hope that we -- along with the coalition -- will have enough intelligence to be able to make a move to make sure that we take control of those weapons of mass deconstruction because they are there and they could be very dangerous.

And that's another thing that you just -- Gadhafi's son who escaped. So, this group, the rebel group, is not very sophisticated. So, they're going to need help in trying to stand up and bring peace to this government and the people who eventually want their rights and they want liberty and democracy.

CROWLEY: Let's me ask you about a man from district, Matthew Van Dyke, he's been missing in Libya since March, 31 years old, he's from Baltimore. He was in Libya to write a book about this uprising.

First, please tell us what you know about him and do you think that this obviously -- I think you must be hoping at any rate in the rest of Tripoli falls that you could find Matthew Van Dyke.

RUPPERSBERGER: Sure. We were very concerned about Matthew Van Dyke. A state senator contacted me and said Mrs. Van Dyke was going to call me because of my role on the intelligence committee. Our office got involved right away and we attempted to find Matthew.

The last time that he was seen was right around the time that the coalition started to get involved in the battle with Gadhafi. We didn't hear -- I was concerned that he might have been killed. As it turned out, we finally -- he was finally identified and the Hungarian government has been our liaison. We're working with our State Department. And he was in a prison.

Now, we know that there are a lot of people in prisons, there's been one prison where there's been a prison break, but that's still a very unstable situation. And we want to make sure go whatever we can to bring an American back to the United States who has been in a prison. He went over there as a journalist. But the good news is that we know that he's alive and he's been identified being in prison in Libya.

CROWLEY: I want to thank you so much, Congressman Ruppersberger.

RUPPERSBERGER: Sure.

CROWLEY: We appreciate your time. Hope to talk to you again.

RUPPERSBERGER: OK, Candy. 

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