Video: Biden: Afghanistan leaks predate our policy

  1. Transcript of: Biden: Afghanistan leaks predate our policy

    MATT LAUER, co-host: Now Ann 's exclusive interview with Vice President Joe Biden . She caught up with him on Wednesday, and Ann joins us now.

    ANN CURRY, anchor: All right, thanks a lot, Matt. Good morning. And the Obama administration, as you know, is in the middle of a planned drawdown that will reduce the number of US troops in Iraq to just 50,000 by the end of August. We caught up with Vice President Biden at Fort Drum in upstate New York , where he was attending a homecoming for soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division . And we talked about the wars, the economy, and we also asked him about the commitment of our troops.

    Vice President JOE BIDEN: You don't really get it until you see these families.

    CURRY: As relieved as these families are to see their sons and daughters and husbands and wives come home from Iraq , can you guarantee, in the wake of this withdrawal, we're not going to see an explosion of sectarian violence?

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: I can't guarantee anything, but I'm willing to bet everything that there will be no such explosion. Look, we'll still have 50,000 battle-tested combat troops in Iraq who will be going from leading in combat, Ann , to supporting the Iraqi combat capability. And so I think neither I nor General Odierno , nor the Pentagon , nor the people who've been on the ground so many times think that is likely to happen.

    CURRY: Meantime, the House on Tuesday night agreed to fund a surge in Afghanistan , $33 billion for 30,000 additional troops. But boy, was there some reluctance. We've got Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern saying, quote, "We're told we can't extend unemployment or pay to keep cops on the beat or teachers in the classroom, but we're asked to borrow another $33 billion for nation-building in Afghanistan . I think we need to do more nation-building here at home." How long can we keep paying for this war?

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: Jim 's half right and half wrong. We -- we're in Afghanistan

    for one express purpose: al- Qaeda . The threat to the United States . Al-Qaeda that exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan . We are not there to nation-build. We're not out there deciding we're going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country. We've made it clear, we're not there for 10 years. We are there to defeat al-Qaeda , which is a clear and present danger to the United States operating out of that area.

    CURRY: But you know and I know that al-Qaeda is in Pakistan .

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: It's both.

    CURRY: It's not -- but -- right.

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: It is, it is.

    CURRY: And we're not -- our attention is on Afghanistan . If we're really trying to get al-Qaeda , why are we not in Pakistan ?

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: Ann , I don't want to skirt on things I'm not able to talk about publicly because of the classification. But I assure you, we are doing significant damage to al-Qaeda in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan . So we're making progress. We're making progress. But the truth of the matter is that there's more to go.

    CURRY: I've got to ask you about this leak this week, 90,000-plus documents.

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: Yeah.

    CURRY: WikiLeaks. These documents indicate that your administration knew the names of people, specifically names of specific people in Pakistan , in the government of Pakistan , who were working with the Taliban against US interests, who were hurting, risking American lives. Yet at the same time, this administration gave Pakistan billions of dollars for military and economic purposes. How do you justify?

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: Easily.

    CURRY: How?

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: Let me tell -- I'll tell you exactly.

    CURRY: OK, sorry. Jumping on you. Sorry.

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: Exactly. Look , all those leaks predate our policy. Not one leak is consistent with the policy that was announced in December. What isn't happening is there are not monies being diverted from the public works and economic projects that are needed to sustain a democracy in Pakistan to the bad guys that exist within Pakistan , and there's not money being diverted from the military purposes that are designed to deal with counterterrorism to those areas. The real shortcoming relates to -- and I don't want to get -- I'm skidding very close to what I shouldn't be talking about in terms of classification. But what was talked about on those leaks were the intelligence community within the ISI . That is the sort of the CIA of Pakistan .

    CURRY: Mm-hmm.

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: That has been a problem in the past, it is a problem we're dealing with and is changing.

    CURRY: This administration is being criticized for not doing enough to grow jobs.

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: Yeah.

    CURRY: There is, in some pockets of this country, a 20 percent unemployment rate.

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: Sure.

    CURRY: Has this administration done enough?

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: Let me put it this way, there's never enough until we restore the eight million jobs lost in the Bush recession. Until that happens, it doesn't matter. I mean, it matters, but it's not enough. Look, I can tell you, when you live in a household where dad or mom doesn't have a job, it is bleak. And all the promises in the world don't matter a lot until you get a job.

    CURRY: So do people who are waiting, who are hungry, unemployed...

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: First of all...

    CURRY: ...people like the people from how you grew up...

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: Right. Yeah.

    CURRY: ...what's your message?

    Vice Pres. BIDEN: My message is keep the faith. We are moving in the right direction. We are not going to let you go without food or basic services. That will not happen in this country and our administration. And secondly, we're creating new jobs that are going to be the kind you could raise your family on.

    CURRY: And we have more from Vice President Biden later this morning as he speaks about the impact of his mother's death, and the stroke suffered by his son and how that has impacted him. Matt :

updated 7/29/2010 9:45:22 AM ET 2010-07-29T13:45:22

Vice President Joe Biden says U.S. forces are inflicting "significant damage" on the al-Qaida terrorist network in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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Rejecting suggestions that al-Qaida is becoming entrenched in Pakistan, Biden said in a taped interview broadcast Thursday that the United States is moving forward in the war on terror.

"I assure you, we are doing significant damage to al-Qaida in Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan so we're making progress," Biden said. "But the truth of the matter is that there's more to go."

The online leak of U.S. military documents by Wikileaks has revived questions about Pakistan's willingness to sever its historical ties to the Taliban, which is allied with al-Qaida, and deny them sanctuary along the border with Afghanistan. Biden said the documents date to before the start of the Obama administration and that the problems they describe within Pakistan's intelligence service are being dealt with and things are changing.

Liberals in the House have complained that the United States is engaged in nation building in the region nine years after U.S. forces struck against Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Speaking on NBC's "Today" show, the vice president dismissed that notion.

"We're in Afghanistan for one express purpose, al-Qaida, the threat to the United States," he said. "Al-Qaida exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are not there to nation build. We're not out there deciding we're going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country."

Biden also welcomed a judge's ruling blocking the most controversial parts of Arizona's new immigration law.

"We don't think you can have 50 different immigration laws out there," he said, suggesting the Arizona law would damage federal immigration enforcement.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Phoenix ruled against sections of the Arizona law requiring officers to check a person's immigration status while in the process of enforcing other laws.

The judge also put on hold parts of the law that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places. In addition, the judge blocked officers from making warrantless arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.

Biden was interviewed on Wednesday in Fort Drum, N.Y., home to the Army's 10th Mountain Division.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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