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Berger Defends Clinton Administration's Position on National Missile Defense; Lazio Gaining Ground on Hillary Clinton in N.Y. Senate RaceAired May 28, 2000 - 12:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 5:00p.m. in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and 8:00 p.m. in Moscow. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this 90-minute LATE EDITION.
We'll get to our guests shortly. But first, let's check our top story. President Clinton is preparing to head to Moscow for his first summit with Russia's new president, Vladimir Putin. Nuclear weapons safety and proliferation are expected to top the agenda.
CNN White House correspondent Kelly Wallace joins us now live with a preview -- Kelly.
KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Clinton leaves Monday. And after stops in Portugal and Germany, he heads to Russia for his first meeting with Vladimir Putin since Mr. Putin was elected president. No major arms control agreements are expected to be signed at this summit. What is likely to be a big topic, though, is the United States' consideration of a national missile defense plan.
President Putin has indicated Russia is dead set against the U.S. building such a system. Earlier today, Defense Secretary William Cohen said the U.S., the administration is considering a national missile defense system to deal with possible threats from so-called rogue nations, such as North Korea, and not because President Clinton is concerned about the history books.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM S. COHEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This is not something that the Clinton administration, that President Clinton is looking for a last-minute legacy. This is something that he has been working on and I have been working on due to the nature of the threat and due to congressional laws that have been passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: The debate over missile defense has entered the U.S. presidential race with the Republican candidate, Texas Governor George W. Bush, calling for a more advanced missile defense system. The administration disagrees with that approach, and in a somewhat unusual move, Defense Secretary Cohen has offered to have his Joint Chiefs of Staff brief Mr. Bush, so that he can learn the Pentagon's views on this subject.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Kelly Wallace at the White House, thank you. And joining us now to take a closer look at the summit, as well as other key international and security issues, is President Clinton's national security adviser, Samuel Berger.
Mr. Berger, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Good to have you on our program.
SAMUEL BERGER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Good to be here, Wolf.
BLITZER: You heard Kelly Wallace refer to the speech that George W. Bush gave this past week here in Washington in which he criticized the Clinton administration for not really being serious in going forward with a national missile defense system. Listen to this excerpt from what George W. Bush had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Clinton administration first denied the need for a national missile defense system. Then it delayed. Now the approach it proposes is flawed, a system initially based on a single site, when experts say that more is needed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you say to that criticism that what you have in mind simply isn't enough to deal with all of the potential threats out there from these so-called "rogue nations"?
BERGER: Well, let's understand exactly what we're dealing with here. There is a threat sometime later in this decade that countries like North Korea, Iran, Iraq will have the capacity to reach the United States with a long-range ballistic missile, which could have a nuclear warhead on it.
We've been working for years to develop the best system to deal with that threat. We developed a system that covers all 50 states and can be deployed in the middle part of this decade when our intelligence people believe the threat will be real.
Now, the president hasn't decided -- he will decide later this year -- whether to go forward towards deployment of this system based upon its cost, based upon the threat, based upon the impact that it will have around the world. But the system we're developing, we believe, is the best system to meet the threat.
And I think if we build a much bigger system, which Governor Bush seems to be suggesting, the only thing we're going to do is we're going to convince the Russians that we seek to defeat them -- their strategic deterrent, and that will cause them to build up their nuclear weapons when we want mutually to continue to reduce them.
BLITZER: But he made clear in his speech that what his proposal would do would not be to engage the Russians. He says the Cold War is over. This is not designed to worry about a Russian assault against the United States. What his concern is what if there's an accidental nuclear missile that is launched by Russia or some other country? Isn't it imperative that all 50 states be prepared for that contingency?
BERGER: Well, the system we're developing does protect all 50 states. Now, the kinds of systems he's suggesting -- the Star Wars kind of systems that he is suggesting ought to be considered -- go far beyond that and would be seen by the Russians as a direct threat at their strategic deterrent. How would they react to that? They would react by building up.
So at the same time we want to build down on the offensive side, we would be pressuring the Russians to build up. So that's really an unstable situation.
BLITZER: But in these final months of the Clinton administration, he's also concerned that decisions the president might make in this coming week during his meetings with President Putin could hamstring -- could undermine the next U.S. president, whether it be George W. Bush or Al Gore.
Listen, for example, to this other excerpt from George W. Bush's speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: No decision would be better than a flawed agreement that ties the hands of the next president and prevents America from defending itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He's really warning you and the president, Don't do anything right now. Wait until the American people have spoken in November, and then the next president can make this very, very difficult decision. BERGER: Well, the American people elect their presidents for four years, not for three years. The United States can't say to the world, We're out of business one year out of four.
I would remind you, Wolf, that the last strategic arms control treaty signed by President Bush was signed in December of 1992, after the election. So the President Clinton is going to pursue the national interest to the last day in office. He is not going to act for the sake of acting, but he's not going to not act for the sake of not acting.
BLITZER: You saw the report in today's New York Times suggesting that even the more limited anti-missile system that the Clinton administration is now considering -- hasn't made a final decision on -- but even that limited system would presumably so outrage the Chinese, get them so nervous, that they would then go ahead and beef up their nuclear weapons capability which, in turn, would spark India and Pakistan to do likewise in that part of the world -- that this is an assessment by the U.S. intelligence community that's being prepared for you and the president.
BERGER: Well, first of all, the system that we are developing, the president will decide upon, is not designed or directed at China.
Second of all...
BLITZER: But you understand why the Chinese would be nervous about that.
BERGER: Let me finish. Second of all, the Chinese are modernizing their nuclear arsenal, regardless of whether we build the system or not. Those plans are already in train.
We do not believe the system will negate China's strategic deterrent. And we've engaged in discussions with the Chinese, and we will continue to do so, to assure them that this is not a system that is designed or directed at China, and will not effect their strategic deterrent.
BLITZER: But so far they're not buying it. Neither are the Russians for that matter.
BERGER: Well, we're engaged in discussions with both the Russians and both the Chinese.
The fact is, Wolf, there is a threat that later in this decade countries like North Korea, Iran, Iraq will be able to reach the United States with nuclear weapons. Now, there is the threat. The question is not whether to deal with the threat, but the question is how best to deal with the threat.
We think that the best way to deal with it is -- if we proceed with a national missile defense, a limited defense directed at those states, not corrected at China, not directed at Russia. At the same time we preserve the ABM Treaty, through modifications with Russia, and we proceed for further reductions through arms control through START III.
BLITZER: Is that a top priority that the president has when he's in Moscow with President Putin in the coming days? To get the Russians to agree to modify the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so that the United States could go forward with this limited missile defense system?
BERGER: Well, there's a broad agenda. This is the first time the president is meeting with President Putin. As Kelly indicated, there will probably be three more meetings this year. We want to talk about economic reform in Russia. We want to talk about regional issues, such as Korea, Chechnya, and others. We want to talk about non-proliferation. And we're certainly going to talk about these arms control issues. I do not expect any agreements to be reached on these issues. This is really the first time that President Clinton and President Putin will have an opportunity to discuss them together. I think it's a good opportunity for us to explain our view of the threat, and President Putin to talk about his concerns and see whether we can understand each other better.
BLITZER: Is there any indication right now that the Russians at this point are willing to revise the ABM Treaty?
BERGER: Well, back in Cologne, when President Clinton and President Yeltsin met, they agreed that they would pursue in parallel, discussions both on START III, to bring strategic weapons down to 80 percent below their Cold War levels -- 2,000 to 2,500 -- and at the same time, in parallel discussions on the ABM Treaty. And those discussions are ongoing.
BLITZER: All right, Mr. Berger, we have to take a quick commercial break. We have a lot more to talk about. When we come back, we'll talk with Samuel Berger about the sudden Israeli pullout from Lebanon and other international issues.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking to the national security adviser of President Clinton, Samuel Berger.
Mr. Berger, was Israel right -- the government of Israel right this past week in withdrawing from Lebanon that abruptly in what seemed to be an almost chaotic manner?
BERGER: Prime Minister Barak, during the campaign, made clear to the Israeli people that he believed that Israel should withdraw from Lebanon. The time had come for that to happen. He indicated back in the campaign that he'd do it before July. As he began to do it, it created its own dynamic, and happened rather rapidly. I think it happened quite well, luckily there was no violence, the situation right now in northern -- in southern Lebanon seems to be for now stable. So I think Israel's done the right thing and done it quite effectively.
BLITZER: Prime Minister Barak has publicly warned that if Israel's towns and villages, settlements in the northern part of Israel come under attack from Hezbollah forces or other forces in south Lebanon, Israel is not ruling out the possibility of attacking Syrian forces in Lebanon, given the influence that Syria now has in Lebanon. Would Israel be justified in doing that if that were to develop?
BERGER: Well, there's no reason at this point for anybody to attack Israel. Israel has withdrawn from Lebanon, hopefully this week or soon the UN will certify that that has been done in compliance with the UN resolution 425 passed in 1978, 22 years ago. Having done that, there's no justification for attacking Israel. We hope that the situation will remain calm and we hope that all countries, including Syria, will exercise their influence to keep it that way.
BLITZER: But, would Israel be justified in retaliating if their Katusha rockets or shelling that comes from south Lebanon into Israel now that Israel has withdrawn?
BERGER: I'm not going to prescribe Israel's response. I would say that there's no justification for attacking Israel at this point now that it's withdrawn from Lebanon.
BLITZER: President Clinton has been talking with Prime Minister Barak, and I understand as recently as today. What is his message? What is he telling the prime minister of Israel? BERGER: Well, the president spoke with Prime Minister Barak this morning, first to talk about Lebanon. The president said that he thought the withdrawal had gone very well. Prime Minister Barak seemed quite satisfied that the troops had gotten out. There was, as I said, no violence associated with it. And the necessity now of stabilizing the situation in southern Lebanon.
Then they talked about the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations and the importance now of moving very expeditiously to try to make progress towards a framework agreement sometime in the next month or so in those very important negotiations.
BLITZER: It looks like that negotiation is in trouble, looks like the negotiation with the Syria really aren't going anywhere, and there's obviously the tensions along Israel's border with Lebanon. Is it your sense that between now and the time President Clinton leaves office, January 20th of next year, this Middle East situation can be resolved?
BERGER: The timetable will be driven by the parties, not by the United States. But I believe Prime Minister Barak and Chairman Arafat both want to reach an agreement this year, for a whole series of reasons. In part because they have, in President Clinton a partner that they both trust, but mainly for their own security reasons.
And I believe it's possible, it's certainly difficult, it's not by accident that this has not been resolved in 50 years, but I believe this is the best chance we will have for a long time for there to be a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
BLITZER: Mr. Berger, when I covered President Clinton's visit to Africa a couple years ago, you were on the trip, you remember that very moving speech the president gave in Uganda lamenting that the United States and the rest of the world had not moved quickly enough in Burundi and Rwanda to deal with the genocide that was going on at that point. But today we see similar, perhaps not as dramatic not as widespread, but ugly developments, in Sierra Leone -- elsewhere in Africa and the U.S. doesn't appear to be directly involved in doing anything about those atrocities that are unfolding.
Is the president backing away from that commitment he made in Africa a couple of years ago?
BERGER: We're deeply engaged in each of the situations, Wolf. In Sierra Leone, where there was a peace agreement and UN sent in a peacekeeping force, the peace agreement was broken.
We've been working very closely with the UN, with regional countries like Nigeria and others. We've helped to bring other troops in, fly the Jordanians in. We've now got a team in Nigeria talking about how they might come back into Sierra Leone. When they were there, things were quite stabilized.
So we are deeply involved, both on the side of trying to bring a robust force into the situation, hoping to release the hostages, also stabilizing the situation on the ground.
BLITZER: But no direct U.S. military intervention is even being contemplated?
BERGER: I don't think this is a situation that calls for military forces on the ground, although we are prepared to help others in Africa and elsewhere with logistics, with airlift, with other kinds of support.
BLITZER: This past week, the president's China trade bill, providing permanent normal trade relations with China, passed. Many people are suggesting that is going to be the final achievement in the area of international affairs for President Clinton this year.
If there's one other opportunity out there for you and the president to score another big win in the coming months, what would it be?
BERGER: I don't think about it in terms of scoring big wins, Wolf. I think about it in terms of what objectives we can advance while we still are here.
And I think we just talked about the Middle East peace process. I think Colombia needs American help, and we're working very hard with the Congress to try to get assistance for Colombia. We've talked about Russia and the transition that it's made from one democratic president to another democratic president, what's the nature of that relationship that we're going to have.
I think there's a very wide range of issues out there that we are going to work on until the last day we're here.
BLITZER: And you'll be there until that last day, is that right? BERGER: I suspect so.
BLITZER: OK, Samuel Berger, the president's national security adviser, thanks for joining us especially on this Memorial Day.
BERGER: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you.
And up next: the New York Senate race. Is Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton losing ground to her new Republican challenger, Congressman Rick Lazio? New York's senior senator, Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky join us to discuss that, Campaign 2000 and much more when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
It's been just a week since the largely unknown Republican congressman, Rick Lazio, entered the race to challenge first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton for a New York Senate seat, and already there are signs that he's making significant headway.
With us now to talk about Clinton versus Lazio, as well as other issues, are two leading members of the Senate. Joining us from New York, retiring Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the man whom the first lady hopes to succeed; and in Louisville, Kentucky, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. He is also chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Senators, good to have both of you on LATE EDITION.
And let me begin with Senator McConnell. I want to get your response to what you just heard from Samuel Berger, the president's national security adviser, who left -- an opportunity to talk about the New York Senate race and politics shortly. But let's talk about some of the substantive issues.
First of all, is Samuel Berger right when he says that the Clinton administration is fully authorized right now in these waning months to go forward and reach a new nuclear weapons agreement, if possible, with Russia despite what George W. Bush warned earlier in the week?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, he's certainly right that Bill Clinton is going to be president until January 20, 2001. The question is whether it's advisable for the Clinton administration to leave the kind of lame duck legacy here in a field that could be very much affected by the outcome of the November election.
Fortunately, Wolf, it looks to me like the Russians are not interested in making a deal anyway. And I really think it's in the best interest of our country that there not be a kind of 11th-hour arms deal -- arms control deal here at the end of the Clinton administration.
BLITZER: Senator Moynihan, you're a former United Nations ambassador, one of the most knowledgeable members of the Senate on international affairs. What's your sense? Should the president go forward and reach an agreement, if he can, despite what George W. Bush says -- "don't hamstring the next U.S. president, whoever that may be"?
SEN. DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN (D), NEW YORK: I would agree with Mitch that there is not going to be an agreement. The Russians certainly aren't ready. But I also would say neither are we.
Very able scientists who want to see a defense system put in place insist to you that we're not ready, we just don't know. We'll get there, but we're not there. And to make a big international fuss before we really can perform I think would be -- I would be sorry if that happened.
BLITZER: Senator McConnell, let's move on and talk about the next phase in the China trade deal issue: permanent normal trade relations with China. The House of Representatives approved it this past week. It's now going to come before the Senate in the next few weeks.
I take it you're in favor of providing China with that status, and you think it's not going to be a problem getting the Senate to join the House?
MCCONNELL: Well, I'm an enthusiastic supporter of permanent normal trade relations with China, Wolf. We do have a scheduling issue, however, as Pat and I experienced this past week. The Senate itself, just in terms of functioning and doing its basic work, which is passing appropriation bills, is having some difficulty.
Frankly, if this continues, my personal view -- I'm not the majority leader -- but my personal view is I would give PNTR to the president right after he signed the last appropriations bill, or it could just to be first accomplishment of the next administration.
BLITZER: What do you say about that, Senator Moynihan?
MOYNIHAN: Oh, golly. Oh, Mitch, no! Sure -- make sure the most important appropriation bills that you want to send up and that you think he might veto, that you get them up there, he signs them and it's nice, but then get PNTR done.
We're all ready in the Senate. Our Finance Committee, as you know, passed this out 19 to 1. And if I can take a little credit for the committee, we are the ones who changed the term "most favored nation" to "normal trade relations." I don't think people wanted to vote for communist China as their most favored nation.
But it worked -- just, but it worked. Now do it.
And I think we must not make any change in the House bill. We've read it carefully. There's no problem. Don't go back to conference. Don't go back to votes in the House and Senate. Send it right on to the president. He knows that he could not have been there without the Republican Party. He will be generous about that fact. If by any chance he shouldn't be, you can raise the issue, and I will agree with you. But don't talk about waiting until the next administration.
MCCONNELL: Well, that's certainly not...
BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator McConnell.
MCCONNELL: That's certainly not my first choice. But Pat, you must agree, we need some cooperation in order to do the basic work of government here. My preference would be to do PNTR this year, maybe as the last item this year, but I would prefer to do it this year.
BLITZER: OK, both of you...
MOYNIHAN: Done, agreed.
BLITZER: Both of our senators, we talked about international affairs. We have to take a quick break. A lot more to talk about, including that New York Senate race, as well as your phone calls for Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Mitch McConnell. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: You're looking at what's become an annual Memorial Day weekend ritual here in Washington, Rolling Thunder. Bikers from around the world are here to protest what they say is the U.S. government's failure to find POWs and MIAs from Vietnam and other wars. They're also calling for better health care benefits for war veterans.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with New York Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.
Let me begin with you Senator Moynihan. Talk a little bit about the Senate race in New York state. New York Post had a front-page headline on Friday, "Now It's A Horse Race," referring to a new poll -- a Zogby poll which shows that, among registered voters, 46 percent now say they're going to vote for Mrs. Clinton, 44 percent, statistical tie, say they're going to vote for the Congressman Rick Lazio. Look, only a week ago, only a few days earlier, in fact, it was 46-32 percent.
Tell us what's happening in your state, New York.
MOYNIHAN: Oh, it's easy. We now have a Senate race between two principle party candidates; we hadn't until now. And Mrs. Clinton has stayed about where she was, and Mr. Lazio, who is an able, capable, attractive candidate, has moved right up to about where the Republican candidate was going to be. And we're going to spend the next five months is it, fighting over the remaining 10 percent.
BLITZER: And give us your quick assessment. Can Mrs. Clinton win the majority of that remaining 10 percent?
MOYNIHAN: Surely can. We've been doing that with some regularity of late. New York is a much more Democratic state than it had been over the years.
But you know, the New York state Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the world. And we have had ups and downs. We are usually in a mess, but we often get a large sympathy vote.
BLITZER: Senator McConnell, one of your jobs is to help Republicans get elected to the United States Senate. You're the chairman of the Republican Senatorial Committee. How important is this New York Senate race for national Republicans like you?
MCCONNELL: Well, it's certainly important because it would be a pickup. Obviously the seat is currently held by the Democrats.
You know, Pat is essentially right about this race. What we've seen is that Mrs. Clinton almost never can get above the mid-40s no matter who the opponent is.
Rick Lazio obviously had a fantastic first week. They now know who he is and we've got the same kind of dead-even race that we had before Mayor Giuliani dropped out. So it's going to be a real war over the few remaining undecideds.
BLITZER: You know, Senator Moynihan, one of the strategies that the Mrs. Clinton camp is putting forward now is to try to paint Rick Lazio as sort of a Newt Gingrich clone, as opposed to Rudy Giuliani, the New York mayor before he dropped out, given the fact that on many of the sensitive social issues he is a moderate Republican.
Is that a good strategy to try to make Rick Lazio look like he's just a foot soldier for Newt Gingrich?
MOYNIHAN: Well, I hope we get over that pretty quickly, because that's over -- that episode is passed in our political history.
But we will talk issues. This is a good thing. Mr. Lazio could have done better than just going on about how he's from Long Island and Mrs. Clinton is not from New York.
Can I make a little point for the record? The New York state -- the chairman -- chairperson of the New York state Democratic committee, Judith Hope, is also from Arkansas. We are a state that people come to, have done for centuries. We should be talking about future policies for two young people who have great futures ahead of them.
BLITZER: Mrs. Clinton, Senator McConnell, she was quite disturbed that in the initial burst of statements that Rick Lazio made, he went after Mrs. Clinton on this carpetbagger issue, instead of some of the more substantive issues. Is that going to be an effective strategy on his part?
MCCONNELL: I doubt if that alone will win the race, but it's certainly something that needs to be mentioned. I mean it is obvious that Mrs. Clinton has only recently arrived in New York.
Rick Lazio is a classic kind of centrist northeastern Republican. I think it will be very, very difficult for Hillary Clinton to paint Rick Lazio as some kind of, you know, conservative -- really by my standards, not a very conservative Republican. He really fits the main stream mold of northeastern Republicans who have been successful.
BLITZER: Senator Moynihan, what will be the two or three biggest issues separating -- dividing Mrs. Clinton from Rick Lazio?
MOYNIHAN: I think Hillary Clinton has grasped the absolutely essential fact of New York state life right now, which is our upstate economy is stalled; has been for some many years now. Partly a result of federal funds going out of New York, down to Washington, such that every time anybody thinks up a new federal program, it means more money leaves New York.
I don't know whether Mr. Lazio, being from eastern Long Island, has thought about this yet. I'm sure he will. I hope both of them think about it, because it is so important to us, a great history up there.
We're here at Memorial Day. Memorial Day was established in Waterloo, New York, up in the Finger Lakes region after the Civil War. Six miles down the road from Seneca Falls where, in 1848, a group of women put together a proposition that said women should have the right to vote. It never happened before in history.
BLITZER: Senator McConnell, I don't think you can top that. So let's move on and talk a little about this second ad -- TV ad that Mrs. Clinton has just released, in as many weeks.
I want you to listen to this little excerpt that Mrs. Clinton is sending out throughout New York state, give me your assessment of how she is doing as an advertising strategy unfolds.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, NEW YORK DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: When I started this campaign, I'm not sure I knew quite what to expect, and you probably didn't either. But I've tried to stay focused on our common mission: making a difference for people. If we reach past our divisions, there's so much we can do working together. I hope you'll give me that chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is that almost a nightmare for many Republicans to hear the words "Senator Clinton"?
MCCONNELL: I wouldn't say it's a nightmare, but clearly what Hillary Clinton is trying do that in commercial is to build up her positives. I mean, she has a very, very high negative; in virtually all of the polls, almost 40 percent of the people of New York say they don't like her.
And now she is running a against a candidate who has little or no negative, and I think she is clearly trying to make an effort to convince the people of New York that their negative impressions of her are not well founded. That's what that ad is about.
BLITZER: All right. Senator Moynihan, Senator McConnell, we have to take another quick commercial break.
When we come back, we'll be taking your phone calls for Senators McConnell and Moynihan. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking with Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Mitch McConnell. Senator Moynihan, a serious difference has emerged over Social Security between George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore, the issue being allowing a small percentage of Social Security funds to be privately invested, perhaps in the stock market, to hopefully get a higher return. You seem to think that there's some merit in what Governor Bush is proposing even though the vice president, your candidate, is adamantly opposed to this.
MOYNIHAN: Well, Senator Bob Kerrey and I introduced this legislation three years ago; it's now S21 in this current Congress. It simply takes, makes some necessary adjustments in our existing program, correcting the consumer price index, for example, which overstates inflation, we know that; bringing all newly hired state, local employees into the system, two or three other things. Then at 10.4 percent, the system is an actuarial balance for 75 years.
Then you have this additional 2 percent, which we tacked on in 1977, and we say workers should be free to just take their money, their half of it, or put it into a thrift savings account as we have -- as federal employees have. Two percentage points over for average worker over 45 -- 6 years produces $350,000, so that we would finally have a social insurance system that we started a century ago with workmen's compensation, we have medical care for the aged, we have retirement benefits exactly as they are now and you end up with a little wealth. Just a little wealth. The doorman has something here in Manhattan where I'm talking from as well as the people in duplex up above.
BLITZER: Senator McConnell, how big of an issue is going to be when you have the vice president disagreeing with Senators Moynihan and Kerrey, for example -- Bob Kerrey of Nebraska -- is this simply an opening for George W. Bush to exploit?
MCCONNELL: Well, thanks to Pat Moynihan and Bob Kerrey and George W. Bush, this approach that Pat just outlined -- and by the way no one knows more about Social Security in the Senate today than Pat Moynihan -- this approach makes good sense, and I think Al Gore's attempt to call everything George W. Bush proposes a risky scheme is simply not going to work.
What is risky is doing nothing, and not changing Social Security, because in just a few years down the road, we're going to be paying out more than we take in and this crisis is going to develop once again. And what ought to be done is exactly what Pat Moynihan outlined, and that's going to be much discussed in the presidential elections.
It's important to remember, though, the vice president just a year ago was suggesting the government itself invest Social Security funds in the stock market. That idea got shot down pretty fast.
BLITZER: Let's take a caller. We have a caller from Georgia, please go ahead with your question for our senators.
QUESTION: Oh yes, thank you very much. Senator Moynihan, how will the China-MFN vote and tax cuts impact the 2000 presidential and Senate and congressional elections in your opinion?
MOYNIHAN: I think the China -- not most favored nation, normal trade relations, will affect the 21st century, sir. Had we not done it and it was a bipartisan effort -- the Republican Party in the House deserves the utmost credit -- we would have gone into a 30 year half- century bitter relationship with China with no telling what horrors could come out of it. Now we have a chance to bring them into the world, as they obviously want to be as they once were just after World War II. They were part of the Brettonwoods group that drew up the plans for a world trade organization, world bank and so forth.
BLITZER: O.K., Senator Moynihan, unfortunately we are all out of time. Senator McConnell, good of both of you to join us. Especially...
MOYNIHAN: Mitch, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to take up your time.
MCCONNELL: That's OK.
BLITZER: ... he didn't take up his time. He had a chance to say his piece and he was thrilled, Senator Moynihan, that you and Vice President Gore disagree on Social Security.
Thanks to both of you for joining us, always good to have both of you on our program.
And when we return: calls for President Clinton to be disbarred for allegedly giving false testimony in the Paula Jones case. Is it appropriate punishment or just plain politics? We'll ask former Clinton White House special counsel Lanny Davis and former Bush attorney general Dick Thornburg when LATE EDITION continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I testified before the Office of Independent Counsel and the grand jury. I answered their questions truthfully, including questions about my private life, questions no American citizen would ever want to answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Clinton, addressing the country back in August of '98, after giving videotaped testimony to a grand jury investigating his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
That grand jury investigation stemmed, in part, from an earlier deposition the president gave in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. This past week, an Arkansas state supreme court disciplinary committee found President Clinton committed serious misconduct when questioned at that deposition, and that committee is recommending he be disbarred.
We now get two perspectives on the president's latest legal troubles. Joining us from Miami is former Clinton White House Special Counsel Lanny Davis; and here in Washington, former Bush Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.
Gentlemen, always, of course, good to have both of you on LATE EDITION.
And I'll start off with Dick Thornburgh. Is this appropriate? Does it reach the standard for the Arkansas courts to now disbar, remove President Clinton's law license?
DICK THORNBURGH, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, this is a proceeding that's about the integrity of our legal system. By now, nobody has any doubts but what the president lied under oath. Judge Susan Webber Wright found that it was intentional, designed to obstruct the process of justice. And I think what we're looking at now is what should be the consequences of that act.
And for me as a lawyer, it's terribly important that there be some consequences, because tomorrow morning, as -- or Tuesday morning, as in most other days, there will be hundreds of thousands of people going into court, and holding up their hand and swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, and countless lawyers who appear in court as officers of the court, and the message has to be that when you don't tell the truth when you're under oath, there have to be some consequences. That's what this is about.
BLITZER: And Lanny Davis, the president of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, which began -- instigated this suit against the president to be disbarred -- listen to what he said this past week in reacting to that committee's recommendation. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): Regardless of who you are, regardless of what position you hold, if you violate the rules of professional conduct, then you're going to be disciplined. And if you are involved in serious misconduct, you'll be disbarred.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you say to that argument that the president was held in contempt by Judge Susan Webber Wright and this rises to that level?
LANNY DAVIS, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I agree with Dick Thornburgh: There should be consequences for what the president did in that deposition. His own lawyer recommended a reprimand. And let's consider the three facts here as to why reprimand or even a suspension is justifiable, but not disbarment.
Fact number one is that this is testimony which Judge Wright herself found not pertinent to the issues in the Jones case.
Fact number two, Judge Wright herself found the case so frivolous on the merits that she threw the case out on summary judgment.
Fact number three is the Jones lawyers had debriefed by Linda Tripp the night before. They knew the answers. They were not misled by the president's misleading and evasive testimony. That's why I think Dick Thornburgh ought to agree with me that the legal precedents in Arkansas don't support disbarment. They certainly would support a reprimand.
BLITZER: And Dick Thornburgh, the president's private attorney, David Kendall, did issue a statement saying this recommendation by the committee is wrong and clearly contradicted by precedent. "We will vigorously dispute it in a court of law."
THORNBURGH: Well, fact number four for my friend, Lanny Davis, is that the consequences of this kind of recommendation would be to give witnesses and lawyers the right to pick and choose when they tell the truth under oath, and I think that really bodes ill for our system of civil justice.
The other thing that I think is important to look at in terms of precedent is the action taken by the New York courts in the case of President Nixon. Again, not charged with any criminal offense, left office, disbarment proceedings were brought against him.
And the New York court took special note of the fact that as the chief law enforcement officer, chief executive officer, he was held to a higher standard. And a lot of the cases that the president's supporters cite in Arkansas deal with ordinary lawyers, and I think that when you look at the New York action in the President Nixon case, it's a little higher standard.
But the important thing is the president is going to have a chance to defend himself, he'll be able to make all the points that his supporters have put forth, and we'll see what an appropriate circumstance is going to resolve.
BLITZER: Well, Lanny, what about that point? If President Nixon, Lanny Davis, was disbarred after he resigned from office, why not President Clinton, perhaps even while he's a sitting president?
DAVIS: Even my friend Dick Thornburgh can't compare the actions of President Nixon, whose tapes in the Oval Office established beyond any doubt obstruction of justice, to somebody who, even at worst, was untruthful in a sexual relationship in a civil deposition that was thrown out on summary judgment.
The fact is, Dick, the precedents in Arkansas govern here. We have a case in Arkansas decided this spring of this year where a lawyer lied to a federal judge under oath in open court and was only suspended and not disbarred.
There is no precedent for disbarment. Disbarment lacks the proportionality that the American people have long ago concluded was lacking in Ken Starr's investigation, and I believe in this particular proceeding. It's absent proportionality, it's unreasonable, it's vengeful, and I hope it will be overturned because it lacks precedent in Arkansas where the decision will be made.
THORNBURGH: There's no precedent in Arkansas because there's never been a president who's been faced with these kinds of charges. I think the Arkansas court put it very well in a case that was decided about two years ago, when they said that, "In the legal profession there must be a reverence for the truth." And it doesn't say in one kind of a case or another kind of a care. It says in every case, and this is one of those cases.
DAVIS: I agree with you, the former chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party was found to have stolen funds from a widow in a trust account and was not disbarred, was only suspended. I agree with you, Dick, the president is not above the law. He shouldn't be below the law either, and that is what I think happened here. He's being treated worse than the average citizen and the lawyers in Arkansas who have been subjected to these procedures before.
BLITZER: All right. Lanny Davis and Dick Thornburgh, we have to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about obviously.
For our international viewers, "WORLD NEWS" is next. For our North American audience, stay with us for another 30 minutes of LATE EDITION. We'll check the hour's top stories then take your phone calls for Lanny Davis and Dick Thornburgh. Plus our LATE EDITION Roundtable and Bruce Morton's "Last Word." It's all ahead when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll get to your phone calls for Lanny Davis and Dick Thornburgh in just a moment, but first, let's go to Linda Stouffer in Atlanta for a check of the hour's headlines. Linda?
BLITZER: Now back to our conversation about legal issues still facing President Clinton, with former Clinton White House Special Counsel Lanny Davis, who joins us from Miami, and former Bush Attorney General Dick Thornburgh; he's here in Washington.
Dick Thornburgh, the president says he is not personally going to get involved in any more of this until he leaves office; he wants to spend every minute dealing with the business of the country. And in fact he also told NBC News earlier this week, he says it's not right: "the only reason that I agreed to appeal is that my lawyers looked at all the precedents and said, there's no way in the world if they just treat you like everyone else has been treated, that this is even close to that kind of case."
Is the president right in saying he won't testify, he won't personally be involved in fighting a potential disbarment?
THORNBURGH: I think that's probably a wise decision. The facts aren't in dispute. The president has already been found guilty of contempt of court before Judge Susan Webber Wright, a finding he did not dispute, and there'd be very little occasion for him to go back and change the facts. But his lawyers certainly have the right and obligation to advocate a particular kind of penalty to be imposed and that's what this will be about, and his testimony wouldn't be necessary for that.
BLITZER: Is that a good strategy as far as you're concerned, Lanny Davis?
DAVIS: It's a good strategy, but let me say something that I have a feeling Dick Thornburgh and most of your audience will agree, and that's three words: Enough is enough. The president will be disciplined here one way or another. But this particular committee originally had 14 people, eight of them recused themselves because they were Democrats and were accused of having a conflict. The other six we don't know how many of them were Republicans, so we have a decision made by six and only a majority of those six came down, ignored the precedents and opted for revenge on an issue that most people, Clinton supporters, Clinton critics would agree with me in saying, enough is enough.
BLITZER: Dick Thornburgh, you're shaking your head.
THORNBURGH: Well, it's the same old message that comes from the team of White House spokesmen and supporters, that this is all about politics.
This is not about politics. Judge Susan Webber Wright is a respected federal district court judge. She made the finding that the president lied under oath, she made the referral to the Arkansas disciplinary committee which resulted in this consideration, and I think she'd be the last one to be found guilty of playing politics. This is about the integrity of our legal process. It's another small piece of the consequences that we are going to have to face because of President Clinton's decision to lie under oath.
DAVIS: Of course, I'm not suggesting that Judge Wright played politic. She didn't recommend disbarment, she just referred the matter. I think the only issue here before us, Dick, is whether or not disbarment is both...
THORNBURGH: That's right.
DAVIS: ... without precedent and excessive and I think most of the American people would say, This is far beyond the proportion, let's get this behind us -- a reprimand. I hope the court of appeals, the supreme court of Arkansas or the circuit court will agree with my judgment about the merits of the case, but I think most people would say, Let's get this behind us; enough is enough.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk briefly about the Linda Tripp matter. The state prosecutor in Maryland dropped the case this past week, saying that the court rulings barring testimony from Monica Lewinsky basically made his case impossible to go forward on. Was there ever much of a case involving Linda Tripp's wire tapping or recording phone conversations with Monica Lewinsky, in violation of Maryland law? THORNBURGH: Certainly doesn't appear to be, and this was a prosecution -- talk about politics -- that was clearly undertaken at the initiative of the Democrat majority in the Maryland legislature.
There's another thing about Linda Tripp that truly troubles me, and that is the failure to take disciplinary action against those persons in the Defense Department who were clearly and admittedly responsible for violations of the Privacy Act in releasing material about her personnel file. The Privacy Act was set up to protect every American citizen from having material in government files turned over to reporters or made public, and it was clearly violated in this case and yet it resulted in a slap on the wrist.
BLITZER: Lanny Davis, was justice served this week when the case against Linda Tripp was dropped, and those two Pentagon officials who released private matters involving Linda Tripp were reprimanded by the inspector general of the Defense Department?
DAVIS: First of all, I'm a little disappointed in hearing a double standard, I think. We know that Linda Tripp was told that taping in Maryland is illegal unless you have the consent of both parties. She chose to betray her young friend. She did tape on December 28, according to Ken Starr, after she had been informed that the taping is illegal. I would think my law-and-order famous Attorney General Dick Thornburgh would want to prosecute in that situation.
But I would say to you I don't think what was done to Linda Tripp was appropriate. I don't think those records should have been released and I think Mr. Bacon deserved the reprimand from Secretary of Defense Cohen.
BLITZER: All right, on that note of tentative agreement, or somewhat agreement, we have to leave it. Always great to have Lanny Davis and Dick Thornburgh on LATE EDITION. Thanks again for joining us.
DAVIS: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And just ahead: This week's China trade vote in the House was a huge victory for President Clinton, but will it be viewed as one of the defining moments of his presidency? We'll go around the table with Roberts, Page and Carlson when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Time now for our LATE EDITION roundtable. Joining me, Susan Page, White House bureau chief for USA Today; Steve Roberts, contributing editor for U.S. News & World Report; and Tucker Carlson, political writer for The Weekly Standard.
The trade bill -- the permanent normal trade relations that passed relatively easily in the House of Representatives, is that going to be seen as a great win legacy-wise for Bill Clinton?
STEVE ROBERTS, CNN COMMENTATOR: I think it should. I think, you know, Bill Clinton is not going to go down in history as a great president, and he's not going to go down in history as a great foreign policy president.
But the one thing he has done that I think has lasting meaning is he's changed in some ways the debate about foreign policy. He has raised the importance of economics. He's raised the importance of trade. In many ways, the currency in foreign policy today is markets, not missiles. And I think he has done a good job of moving that issue to front and center against the opposition of labor and his own party. That showed some guts.
So I think when we look back, this will be the high point of Clinton's presidency in terms of foreign policy.
BLITZER: But he couldn't have done that without the Republicans' enormous support, because Democrats certainly didn't support him in any manner close to the way the Republican leadership, including Tom DeLay and Dick Armey and others who normally don't like him very much, supported him.
TUCKER CARLSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: Or don't like Marxist dictatorships very much either, which is the interesting thing, though. This bill itself I don't think is going to go down as a huge success. Remember, he only brought, I think, 78 Democrats to this. He's a sitting Democratic president. That was, sort of, striking how he wasn't able to mobilize his own side.
But I think it's part of a larger legacy that he leaves where he has helped people on both sides sort of stop feeling guilty about capitalism. Clinton has given, A, neutralized the group of people in the Democratic Party who always used to say, "Wait, hold on a second. What about human rights," for instance? Clinton has helped the rest of the country ignore them. I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing, but it is his legacy.
BLITZER: And you pointed out last week, Susan -- I believe you pointed out last week that he started off with a big win on the North American Free Trade Agreement. Now he's got this permanent normal trade relations. That's got to fit into what Steve was talking about, the bookends, as you call it, of his presidency.
SUSAN PAGE, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think that's right. I think something else interesting to note is how the big achievements of President Clinton's presidency, with the exception of his 1993 economic plan, have all been the result of cooperation between a Democratic president and Republicans in Congress, over the objections of House Democrats.
That's true of welfare reform. It's true of balancing the budget. It's true of NAFTA and the China bill. And in a way, it's kind of an advertisement for a divided government, because I don't think you would have seen this happen with a Democratic Congress, and you wouldn't have seen it happen if there was Republican Congress and a Republican president.
BLITZER: Isn't that ironic that the president would not have had this achievement if there was a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives? ROBERTS: It is ironic, as it shows -- as I say, I think to some extent, it shows his courage in standing up to the labor unions. But I also agree with Susan that there are moments when the two leaders of the -- two leaders of the two parties, whether it's Newt Gingrich or Dick Armey and Bill Clinton, have had a common interest.
It happened before the '96 campaign, because they were both incumbents running for re-election, in a sense, and wanting to go to the American public and say, We accomplished something.
Right now, the one dynamic for the rest of this Congress that could actually produce progress on other bills -- say, Patients' Bill of Rights -- the only way is if the president works with the Republican leadership, much to the dismay of his fellow Democrats, who don't want anything to pass because they want to run against a do- nothing Republican Congress. They are very much on different wavelengths at this point.
BLITZER: And if those are the bright moments of this presidency, there are some not-so-bright moments. There are some dark sides that we were reminded about this past week with the whole disbarment issue in Arkansas -- whether the president should be disbarred.
We heard Lanny Davis and Dick Thornburgh talk about that. When you look down the road, Tucker, you weigh the bright spots versus dark spots -- which will be dominant a year, two years, three years down the road?
CARLSON: In the Clinton presidency? I would have to say the dark spots would be the entire spot, pretty much. I mean, I...
BLITZER: No bright spots? CARLSON: Well, there are bright spots. But I mean, gee, whiz. You know, this just brings it all back. The president up there, it's not right, he says, that he's going to be disbarred. I mean, the level of kind of self-righteous whining that accompanies this stuff is really hard to take. I was, sort of, amazed to be reminded just how hard it is to take.
And also, I think it reminds the public that here the president lies under oath -- Susan Webber Wright says he lies under oath -- and he is never punished for it. And also the specter of his defenders coming out and attributing this all to a conspiracy again. Ugh, it just brought back bad memories.
PAGE: I don't know. It's a pretty negative view. President Clinton is the first Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt to be elected to two terms in office. That should count for something. He's presided over eight years of unparalleled prosperity in the country. That should count for something. You know, I think it's going to take the passage of some times and the cooling of some passions before it's possible to make a really measured judgment of exactly how all that adds up.
ROBERTS: And what you really see is the tragedy of Bill Clinton. Because we were just talking about his vast political skills and being able to have some significant legislative accomplishments, including the China deal, which is important and a right thing to do, and yet there is this cloud, and you can't help but think what kind of president he might have been if he hadn't been his own worst enemy?
And that is going to be the tension that historians are going to be looking at.
BLITZER: All right. We've got to take a quick break. A lot more to talk about. When we return, the roundtable will weigh in on the week's big developments in Campaign 2000. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our roundtable.
Tucker, huge fund-raisers in Washington this past week, talking about legacies. At the Democratic fund-raiser here in Washington at the MCI center, they raised $26.5 million. The Republicans had a little bit smaller fund raiser this week, $14 million. A total of more than $40 million, a lot of that in so-called soft money. Is that the wave of the future? What happened to campaign finance reform?
CARLSON: I hope so. I mean, there's nothing, you know, people love to wring their hands about this. You have a group of people who support a political cause and they give money to it. I think the First Amendment protects that. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
I think the Democrats may have problems with it, though. The public poll after poll shows, is not very interested in campaign finance reform. But the people who are interested in it, vote Democratic. And I think that Gore does run a risk of alienating some of his base to the extent that some of his base is consisting of people who are mad about this kind of thing.
ROBERTS: Oh, I think you're wrong about this one. I agree with you that no one cares about campaign finance reform. But the law has been bent beyond recognition. We did pass a law saying people should only be able to contribute $1,000. We did pass a law saying PACs could only contribute $5,000.
There's a reason for that. It's because we didn't want people to give so much they could exert undue leverage. The soft money loophole allows people to give $100,000. At that point you've got some leverage. And that is a perversion. If you want to change the law, change the law, but don't just bend it beyond recognition.
BLITZER: Susan, Vice President Gore, I know you spoke to him this past week, because I read USA Today every day so I know that.
PAGE: It's just 50 cents.
BLITZER: I know that you spoke to him. He had -- I guess that was what he thought was a good one-liner involving his Republican opponent George W. Bush. Listen to what the vice president had to say about the Texas governor this past week.
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GORE: If I remember my Bible correctly, the last time that Moses listened to a bush his people wandered in the desert for 40 years.
(END FILM CLIP)
BLITZER: I guess they were referring to the NRA and Bush's support for not as strong gun control as Al Gore would like.
PAGE: You know, Al Gore is a guy who is getting an awful lot of criticism now. He's behind a little in the polls. There's a sense that George Bush has had a really good couple two or three months since the primaries, has been able to move to the center on some issues without any protests from his right wing.
I take, I guess, somewhat a contrarian view, which is that things could not be going better for George Bush and Al Gore has not been particularly effective as a candidate and yet he's behind only by single digits nationally. There's no swing state where he's behind by more than 5 points. So it seems to me that must mean that the fundamentals are in place for Gore, if he can connect a little bit better with the American people and the audience he needs to reach.
BLITZER: Is Bush setting the agenda right now in this debate? On the defense missile shield, for example, this week he came out with a new initiative on Social Security, privatizing a little piece of that. Is Bush setting the agenda?
CARLSON: Two things are striking me about it. A, Bush has pretty much diffused the criticism that he won't talk substance. You can argue details of ideas, but he's presented ideas.
And number two, that in terms of the press coverage, almost every story I read about Bush in the New York Times or the Washington Post, is the way that the Bush campaign wanted it to be written. Basically they haven't gotten off message. They have this kind of steely on- message quality when you talk, it's hard to deal with but it works.
BLITZER: Speaking of being on message, I'm told that we're out of time. So, I'm on message as well. Tucker Carlson, Susan Page, Steve Roberts, we'll see you next week. Thanks for joining us.
And up next, we'll reveal what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. Plus, Bruce Morton's "Last Word."
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BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Israel confronts a different problem. They evacuated what was supposed to be a buffer zone, though it never worked very well.
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BLITZER: Now that Israel has withdrawn from southern Lebanon, can it follow the example of the United States and its former foe, Vietnam?
BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's Last Word.
This week, Israel ended 22 years of occupation of southern Lebanon, but Bruce reminds us that unlike other prolonged conflicts, Israel's withdrawal does not necessarily mean an end to hostilities.
MORTON (voice-over): Israel has pulled out of the zone in southern Lebanon it had occupied since 1978. Some reports speak of Israel's Vietnam. Maybe not.
The United States lost in Vietnam for complicated reasons: It wasn't the U.S.'s turf, the U.S. didn't really seem to have a plan for winning, and winning, if it were possible, would probably have involved a fairly endless occupation against armed resistance. The Vietnamese, after all, had fought the Japanese and the French ahead of us.
But that didn't happen. American forces left. American prisoners came home. Time passed, and the wounds on both sides finally began to heal.
So now the U.S. and Vietnam have ambassadors in each other's countries, groups of American veterans tour battlefields where they once fought, and many Vietnamese are pursuing joint ventures with the West, as avidly as their still communist government will allow. The two countries seem not to hate each other, probably because when the war ended, they went back to being thousands of miles apart and not in direct confrontation.
The Soviet Union's Vietnam was probably Afghanistan. That hasn't turned into friendship, but there's no Soviet Union anymore, and the old expansionist philosophy is much weaker. Now there's disagreement even over Chechnya which is much closer to Moscow than Afghanistan is.
Israel confronts a different problem. They evacuated what was supposed to be a buffer zone, though it never worked very well. The villages in that zone are now occupied by anti-Israeli guerrillas, Hezbollah, who think they've won a big victory. So the question is, will they be satisfied with that and settle down quietly -- their past says don't bet on it -- or will they keep on attacking, raiding not now in a buffer zone, but along the border and into Israel itself? If they do that, Israel, of course, will fight back and the casualties, which brought so many to favor withdrawal, will continue to mount.
What will that mean for Ehud Barak's government, which ordered the withdrawal, a move which most Israelis originally favored? And if the fighting continues, what happens to the whole Middle East peace process; negotiations with Yasser Arafat, hopes for detente with Syria, and so on? It may all just get worse, and Barak may wish that his Vietnam, like America's, were 12,000 miles away.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thanks Bruce. Time now for a look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. U.S. News and World Report catches our eye with a headline that reads, "Retire? Think Again. Chances Are You'll Be Working," on the cover.
Time takes a look at what the drug ecstasy does to your brain on the cover.
And on its cover of Newsweek there's this. "The War Over Nabster, Kids Versus Suits, Who Should Own Music On The Web."
And that's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, May 28. Be sure to catch us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk and I'll be back tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Eastern on the WORLD TODAY.
For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your Memorial Day weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
We leave you now with pictures of Rolling Thunder.
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