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America's New War: A Town Meeting

Aired September 17, 2001 - 19:15   ET


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to this special "CROSSFIRE" town meeting, live from the campus of the George Washington University in downtown, Washington, D.C.

Tonight: Americans all, we suffer and struggle together. Never in our history have we experienced anything so tragic or so troubling. And in these terrible days following last week's attacks on the United States, every American has something to say and every American has lots of questions.

So all this week we're going to be here at G.W. with a live audience and a panel of experts to discuss and debate how America should respond to terrorism. How could it happen here? Are we now safe? Are we, in fact, at war? If so, against whom, and what does it mean for us?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: And here to help us understand the last week and the days ahead, James Woolsey, who's the former CIA director, Senator George Allen of Virginia, a member of the Senate foreign relations committee, James Lee Witt, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Robin Wright, reporter for the "Los Angeles Times," who's also written a number of books on terrorism in the Middle East.

PRESS: And of course, we want to welcome the great students from the great campus of G.W. University. Thank you.


PRESS: Senator Allen, I want to ask you the question, I think, that every American wants to know. We are the greatest nation on earth, we are the most powerful nation on earth. We have the biggest military with the biggest weapons, and yet 19 men were able to penetrate this country, take over four airplanes, destroy some of our major institutions, basically killed 5,000 Americans and bring this country to a halt.

How could that ever happen with our not knowing anything about it?

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: Well, it did. I think that our intelligence agencies international had some ideas, that had threats, knew about it. I think some of these ideas and threats were known. They weren't acted on. I don't think anybody even imagined, though, something like this happening. There have been threats over many, many years. Clearly, we've been violated. We're not impervious to these attacks. We thought suicide bombings were something that happened maybe in Israel, or happened in Europe. But it's happened here, and no one had ever contemplated such a vicious, callous, heartless attack an innocent, unarmed people.

And so we have learned from it. I don't blame our intelligence agencies or our law enforcement agencies. They all do the best job they can. We need to learn from it, learn how we can prevent this from occurring again. Insofar as airlines are concerned, we need to make sure that no airplane ever gets taken over again and used as a missile. Our pilots need to be made more safe in the cockpit. It needs to be like a vault -- no one can get in.

We ought to use technology, where there's a button, where if there's an attack or something amiss, that gives a signal to FAA and they just automatically fly that plane and land it. And there are things we need to learn from it, but I think there is a great unity, a great coalescing in a resolve to make this country safer, but also stick to our principles and our liberties, and also seek justice.

And the justice needs to be sure, and it needs to be very swift and severe.

CARLSON: Now, Mr. Woolsey, if, as the senator, we're going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), first we have to know how it happened. Now, two of the suspected terrorists, the hijackers apparently on a list of suspected terrorists, and yet they moved freely around the country on valid visas, apparently. They bought tickets in their own names for these flights.

Specifically, where the did the chain of intelligence and law enforcement break here?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: It's hard to say. On different things, it happened in different ways. Some of these people got into the country on visas. The State Department people who process visas are few in number and overworked. People do get in. The blind sheik, Sheik Omar. got into the United States on a visa when he shouldn't have some years ago, who was involved in the bombings in New York in the early '90s.

The CIA picked up something about two of these men meeting with someone related to Bin Laden, and that information went through the system, but as winding its way through the law enforcement system, it never got to the right people at the right time. The CIA was operating under some constraints overseas that I think were unwisely imposed in 1995 by the Clinton administration, and I hope some of those are going to get fixed.

The FBI's guidelines are confusing and vague. We said last year on a terrorism commission I was on, those need to have been scrubbed and changed, and they were not. Airport security was lax. The fighter aircraft there were to defend the country itself -- there were only 20 of them on alert in the whole country, and none was really close to Washington or New York.

There are a lot of things that different parts of the government were not looking at and not doing, that if anyone had foreseen this, certainly, would have been done differently.

PRESS: Robin Wright, you've written one of the best books on terrorism, "Sacred Rage." You were in Afghanistan last year. you know, sort of, inside the terrorist mind. These 19 men were not alone. There must be others in this country. They're not finished with their war with the United States yet.

What could we expect next? Where do they go next?

ROBIN WRIGHT, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, one of the things that's most difficult in this war of terrorism that we've launched is the fact that they're not just in the United States, but they're in 35 countries, including several that are allies of the United States. So it's a war that, unlike anything we've waged in the past, really has no front line. It's a war fighting in the shadows, wondering about the people next to us.

Yes, they probably do have operatives and sympathizers still in this country. They the product of two different phenomena. One is the emergence of this hatred of the United States for its involvement and its policies in the Middle East. But on a broader level, they've emerged because most of the Muslim world, the largest bloc being in the Arab world, is also the last bloc of countries to hold out against democracy.

And in the frustration over the last 25 years, as the rest of the world has moved toward democracy and freedoms, these countries haven't. And as result, people have turned -- because all opposition is exiled or imprison or banned -- to Islam, because it's the only alternative. And so you have the emergence of a political movement that then moves into a political extreme.

PRESS: That's the background, I agree with you. But what could we expect next, as Americans? What should we be on our guard against? More planes used as suicide bombings, or -- where do you think they go next in this world?

WRIGHT: Having covered terrorism for 20 years, in Beirut and other places, it's quite clear that they have at every juncture outsmarted us. And if you're trying to figure out what are the options out there, there are obviously concerns that everyone has expressed for the last decade the U.S. intelligence community, and chemical and biological weapons -- those are things.

But I would be very surprised to see the use of aviation again. The lockdown we will have on pilots, airports will make it very difficult for them to act, and they'll look for alternatives.

CARLSON: Let's suppose that they did act. Let's, for the sake of argument, let's say that the terrorists did somehow introduce a biological or chemical agent into a city, Anthrax, something horrible like that. You were head of FEMA for many years, obviously, an agency that responds to disasters like that. How ready is the United States for biological or chemical attack?

JAMES LEE WITT, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR: Well, Tucker, I think they're as ready as they can be, as far as planning and implementing the plan. The problem that we face here in the United States is that you have the first responders, the firefighters, the police officers at the local level, who are the front line defense in an event like this.

And Congress last year gave FEMA $100 million to provide grants to local fire departments to bring them up to a higher level. But you know what the request was, the need was? $3 billion.

So there's got to be some funding and there's got to be some equipping of these first responders that are on the front line.

CARLSON: And yet, you say that if there were a biological or chemical attack tomorrow, you think the United States is fairly well prepared to deal with it?

WITT: We have the plan and we have exercised the plan, but we're still not equipped to respond to that type of event.

PRESS: I want to remind our panelist to signal to us any time you want to add to something that any one of the other panelists has to say. But I want to come to you, Jim Woolsey -- are we at war? Is this a war we have launched, and if so, yes or no, and against whom?

WOOLSEY: It was launched against us. And, yes, I think we have -- effectively Congress has -- not in so many words, but effectively declared that we are at war. But unlike the morning of December 7, 1941, when you could look at the red suns on the wings of the Japanese aircraft and tell who you were at war with, now you really can't.

There are strong indications that Osama Bin Laden's organization was involved with this, perhaps other terrorist groups in his ambit are affiliated. I retain some suspicions that there may have been some state intelligence services involved. Certainly, Afghanistan -- not having intelligence service, but Afghanistan is giving aid to Bin Laden by letting him stay there.

But one, I think, wants to at least look at the possibility that states such as Iraq, over the years, may have been involved in some of these acts against us. But the government -- the U.S. government really doesn't know yet, and one of the first things to do is to go back over earlier terrorist incidents, look at everything carefully with a fine-toothed comb and see how we can get it sorted out. There may be more involved here than just a single terrorist group.

ALLEN: Well, I think most indications are that there are more than just one. They aid and comfort, the financing, the harboring, the assistance is more than just one country.

And I am confident, as this is all being re-created, even the evidence that we've seen that has been declassified, that's been on CNN, where, you know all this information about these 19 individuals, it's all getting tracked back to a variety of places.

But that's where this war is going to have to be fought. It's going to need to be fought, obviously, against the heads of these terrorist organizations. They need to be knocked out. But also punished are those who finance and support and harbor them. And some of the leaders of these countries are in a pretty tough position, because there are a lot of people in those countries, as Robin was saying, who actually don't like the concepts of freedom and liberty and freedom of expression and beliefs that we have in this country.

And for countries such as Egypt, Pakistan for example, the leaders can be very modern, same with the king in Jordan, but there a lot of folks who don't share those views. Look what happened to President Sadat for being relatively moderate in so far as Israel is concerned.

CARLSON: Well, what does that mean, Senator, that we're going to declare war on Egypt, or -- I mean, the Philippines, apparently, has one of the Bin Laden...

ALLEN: But that doesn't mean that the Philippines government or the Egyptian government, or the Pakistani government or the Jordanian government or any of them are actually financing them or supporting them.

Now, for those governments that are actually somehow helping them out with law enforcement, with intelligence, with communications, I think we're going to have to crack down on those who are hiding the funds that are getting around. Because this was a very effective -- I hate to say anything positive about it -- but it was well- orchestrated, well-organized and, obviously, planned for many, many years. This wasn't a spontaneous gang huddling together and say, hey, let's do this. This was done for years, including getting then trained here in this country.

PRESS: I see both of you wanted to say something. Robin, go first.

WRIGHT: No, I was just going to say two points on Jim's accusation about the Iraqis. This operation was far more sophisticated than anything Bin Laden and his lieutenants have ever carried out before, in terms of having people who are well-educated, trained and penetrating the United States and train there.

At the same time, Saddam Hussein has a dread fear of Islamic extremism himself. And the differences between Afghanistan and Iraq, the logistics of coordination, are awfully difficult.

PRESS: Jamie?

WITT: I think it's very important for people to understand that, you know, FEMA's responsibility and the FBI's responsibility and crisis management and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) management. And the FBI has a lead responsibility to the response of event. But the key is for the CIA and the FBI to have the capability to prevent it from ever happening in the first place.

But if it does happen, like this event, then we need to make sure that the people on the ground have the capability to respond to meet that threat, and be able to take care of people. If you have a biological-chemical type event, then it may be three or four days before you know what it is. And it may be spread everywhere, so it's important to do the prevention up front, before it ever happens. And that's what is important that the Senator and Robin were talking about.

PRESS: I tell you what, we're going to take a break. Save your question. We've got lots more questions coming up.

CARLSON: We'll be back in just a minute. We'll take our questions to the audience, our student panel here, the audience at George Washington University. We'll be right back with our CROSSFIRE special town meeting.


PRESS: Welcome back to our special CROSSFIRE town meeting here at George Washington University. With our studio audience and our panel of experts, we are debating and discussing how America responds to terrorism. Here with Tucker Carlson. Tucker.

CARLSON: Thank you, Bill. We had no trouble rustling up questions from this group. This is Javier Martinez from Phoenix, Arizona. What's your question?

JAVIER MARTINEZ: What I wanted to know what is being done to protect Arab Americans within the United States?

CARLSON: Senator Allen, what is being done?

ALLEN: I think people are on heightened alert in a lot of different ways in this country, worried about terrorist threats, so forth. I think it is incumbent on all leaders, whether it's the president, whether it's a senator, whether it's a local sheriff, to understand that what makes America great and unique is that a government has been instituted two centuries ago to protect individual rights.

And while we are fighting this terrorist threat, there is no reason -- in fact, we cannot abrogate basic human rights, whether that is freedom of expression, the writ of habeas corpus being available, no unwarranted searches and seizures, and you don't discriminate against people because of their ethnic origin, their religious beliefs. And so there have been a few unfortunate, terrible attacks on people of Arab descent. Everywhere I have seen, there has been outrage over it. So we do need to make sure that there is protection,

I spoke to family who lives relatively nearby me -- of Islamic descent -- I'm not going to say which country they're from -- but Muslims. If you talk to those youngsters and see how they feel, they feel first and foremost American citizens, regardless of their ethnicity. They feel as bad as anybody who may be from Ireland or France or Japan or Korea or Mexico or anywhere else. They feel violated. We need to understand that all Americans share this grief. And there is no reason, in fact we have to be on heightened alert that we don't have any of these malicious attacks on persons or their facilities, their places of worship, or businesses.

PRESS: I see you want to follow up, but I want to ask you. Is there a religious -- are there religious roots to these acts of terrorism?

WRIGHT: Absolutely not. There is nothing in Islam -- in the same way there is nothing in Christianity or Judaism -- that encourages suicide actions or the killing of innocents. I think the president actually took a very important step today by going to a mosque, trying to make sure that everyone understands this is not a war against Arabs or Muslims, but it's a war between civilization and terrorists.

PRESS: I see. Let me get a question for you.

WOOLSEY: Can I say something?

PRESS: Go ahead quickly. Sure.

WOOLSEY: Not only is it terribly wrong for Americans to discriminate against attack, Arab Americans or Muslims, it is incredibly, stupid. Because if the FBI is going to have -- (APPLAUSE) -- and it's dangerous. If the FBI is going to have any opportunity in rooting out some of the people who may be here that are still terrorists, they are going to need the cooperation of the Muslim- American community, the Arab-American community. And no one is doing more damage to the fight against terrorism than the idiots who are persecuting American Muslims and Arab Americans.

PRESS: And this Mark from San Francisco. Mark.

MARK: I have been hearing the phrase "war against terrorism" used a lot in the last week, and I was wondering -- I can't help but think that's very similar to the phrase "war on drugs" that was declared late '80s. And I was wondering what are the differences between the war on drugs and the war on terrorism, so we don't lose this war on terrorism?

PRESS: James Lee Witt, do you want to tackle that one?

WITT: Well, I think there is a lot of difference between the war on drugs and the war on terrorism.

You physically have a threat to our freedom, and it's serious threat. And I think to follow up, too, the question that was asked a while ago, I think every person has value. And every person should be respected. And that is what we're all about in America. And you know, every person -- we do not want to give up our freedom. So the war on terrorism different than the war on drugs, totally different. It is a threat against our freedom, and that is why it is so important that we win this war. ALLEN: The war on drugs and the war on terrorism have some analogies, and I think that our law enforcement, our military and our intelligence folks ought to be given the same tools that our law enforcement are given in the war on drugs. The war on drugs is very difficult, and it obviously comes from a lot of places in our streets, and maybe it's not as quite as direct, obviously, as bombing of the world trade center or the Pentagon.

But you know what? In infiltrating and fighting the war on drugs, one of the way you do this, you have to infiltrate these groups. You have to pay informants. You need to make undercover drug buys. You need surveillance. Those same tactics as law enforcement or intelligence efforts have to be utilized here on the war on terrorists. It cannot be done from only satellites. We do need to pay informants, and the director well knows that there are prohibitions on us paying informants or putting under hire those who have been convicted of certain crimes.

Well, you know, when you're dealing with a bunch of sharks, sometimes you have to use sharks to attract them, and cut up those sharks for bait and bring them in. You're not dealing with the most savory folks. These are not choirboys that you are dealing with. So we ought to allow our law enforcement whether external or internal -- you know, I'm talking FBI or whether -- most likely the CIA to hire on some of these other folks that are in that nest of scorpions to help us find out who is at risk to our country. That is done on the war on drugs. We need to take those handcuffs off our law enforcement and intelligence so they can better protect us as well as themselves.

CARLSON: Thank you, Senator. This is Christina Pentek (ph), from Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Christina, what's your question?

CHRISTINA PENTEK: Hi. I was wondering about the implicit risks in attacking countries that support terrorism and the feeding flame of terrorism by doing so.

CARLSON: You were just in Afghanistan last year. Paint a word picture for what it would mean to send ground troops into Afghanistan. What do you think that would -- what sort of repercussions that would have?

WRIGHT: You know, it strikes me that Somalia and Beirut and Vietnam all look easy by comparison. This is a society without infrastructure. There are not roads to travel on. The logistical difficulties in some kind of military operation in Afghanistan are really unprecedented. I think you point out a very important issue. How we conduct this war will be critical in determining whether we actually eliminate the whole phenomena or just a group of people, and endanger producing even more -- we end up prolonging the war as a result.

PRESS: Question here from Tabitha. Tabitha is from Williamsburg, Virginia, Senator. A constituent of yours. So be careful.

TABITHA: Tabitha. PRESS: Tabitha. I'm very sorry.

TABITHA: That's OK. I was wondering what is the possibility that the Bush administration will dramatically change its foreign policy, considering we have been kind of awakened from a slumber?

PRESS: Do you want to direct that to anyone particular?

TABITHA: Why not Senator Allen?

ALLEN: You are from Williamsburg, or James City County, right?

TABITHA: I'm from James City County. I have lived there all my life. My parents voted for you.

ALLEN: Well, good. Thank you. Well, I think that the Bush foreign policy, obviously, has focus. President Bush is very focused on rooting out terrorism. He is worried in what Robin was talking about as how we are we going procure this war, so to speak, and how we are going to be sure in making sure there is as little damage to those who are not guilty or complicit.

There is also a concern that there are those terrorists still here in this country, and when we do strike that there could be retaliation here. And it may not be taking over an airplane. It may be who knows what. But I think as far as our policy and the principles of this country, we are staying strong. There are those who say that we should back off our support for Israel.

I say we stick with our friends, we stick with those who value freedom and democracy. We cannot be cowed by terrorists, and I think the Bush administration is as resolved as ever to keep their policy.

PRESS: Let me ask you there is it -- the question is, as I understand Tabitha's -- is our policy perhaps too one-sided in the middle east so that we are generating hatred toward United States.

ALLEN: The United States historically has been, I think, fairly evenhanded in the middle east. We have supported Israel for years. Israel is a democracy over there. But we have made common cause with moderate Arab states. We tried for years to broker a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. A very, very generous offer was made to Yasser Arafat last year by Barak. He turned it down. I don't regard our position in the Mideast as having been improperly in one direction or another. I think what has to happen is that the Bush administration needs, I think, to hear the message similar to what Mr. Carville said in the last election, but it's the regimes, stupid, rather than the economy.

The problem is the regimes in the Mideast that support terrorism and give sustenance to it, whether it's the Taliban or Saddam Hussein or part of the Iranian regime, Syria. One needs to either get a change in posture of the regimes or change the regimes. Otherwise, you are just swatting mosquitoes to try to deal with malaria. You have to do something about the swamp. Bin Laden is a terrible, big, powerful, angry, evil mosquito, but he is just a mosquito. The problem is behind him. The problem is the people who support him.

CARLSON: Let's talk about what's being done to swat him. This is Scott Levy from Arlington Heights, Illinois.

SCOTT LEVY: Director Woolsey or Senator Allen, we have heard a lot in recent weeks and months about the characterization of the intelligence community as a complete failure, be it the purchasing of information from our agents, or in recent weeks we have seen, you know, obviously the trade towers and a lack of knowledge about those incidents or their ability to take place.

My question is, have we done anything or can you enlighten us of activities in recent weeks that the intelligence community has taken to be proactive? How should we be confident in our intelligence community when it certainly seems that they have failed us many different instances.

WOOLSEY: Senator Allen made a very good point earlier, that we have to be able to penetrate these terrorist groups overseas. And in 1995 -- I hasten to say, after I stepped down from the job -- the CIA adopted some guidelines that make it difficult to penetrate terrorist groups because they -- it -- one is deterred, if one is a case officer, from recruiting a spy inside a group if that spy has some violence in his background. You know, that is like telling FBI to penetrate the Mafia but you can't put any crooks on your payroll as informants. It is nuts. Hopefully, that will change.

The CIA, actually, overseas did a rather good job in 1999 at blocking some terrorist incidents that we were going to take place at the end of '99 for the year 2000. But the budgeteers in the executive branch -- and possibly in the Congress later, but mainly in the executive branch -- in our time-honored American fashion, as soon as Y2K was over, they dusted off their hands and said, "Well, the terrorism problem is solved. Let's cut the budget." And so for the last year or two, the budget for counterterrorism work by CIA has been down. That is two of the things that need to be changed.

PRESS: Panelists, thank you. You are watching...

Allen: One other thing.

PRESS: Sorry, Senator. Go ahead.

ALLEN: What -- I agree everything he said. Do not blame these hardworking, dedicated individuals in law enforcement and also in intelligence overseas. They have very risky, dangerous jobs. And so I'm not going to blame them. They need more tools. They need to take those handcuffs off. In addition, to the -- the worries about biological terrorism, another one that we need to worry about is cyberterrorism. Again, that is something that could just really foul up not only transportation, but finances and our power grids in this country. So... PRESS: We are going to a break. We'll be back soon with our CROSSFIRE special town meeting: how America responds to terrorism. Live from the campus of George Washington University. We'll be right back with more questions from our audience.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE's special town meeting. We are here at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. talking about the tragic events of six days ago. With us a terrific panel. Let me ask you, James Lee Witt. What can the average American do to protect him or herself from future terrorist attacks, should they happen?

WITT: Well, I think the most important thing they can do, Tucker, is to set down as a family and put a plan that they could have as a family in knowing what to do if some type of an event happens. Because if you have children at school, and both the parents are at work, and an event happens that disrupts that community, they need to know of somebody's phone number -- an aunt or uncle or a cousin in another state or out of that area that they could all call just to say that we are okay. Because the fear of not knowing causes a lot of other people to get affected or hurt because they are very concerned about their family.

And then also, they can sit down and make sure that they have -- if you are preparing for a hurricane or tornado, whatever it may be, make sure you have a kit in your home to be prepared. Those are just small things. Doesn't cost much at all. You can go to your local stores and buy what you need. And talk to your local emergency manager, your local fire chief, your local police chief and say, "What would you do if this happens? How can we be prepared." That's very important.

PRESS: Thank you, James Lee Witt. Former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Question now from Jeff, Woodbury, New York. Correct, Jeff?

JEFF: Correct.

PRESS: You've got the microphone.

JEFF: My question is addressed to anybody. Accepting that there is a war and accepting that it could be very extensive, with many countries involved -- do I, as an 18-year-old American citizen, have to worry at all about the potential of some kind of a draft?

PRESS: Senator, that answer would be partly up to you. How do you answer that?

ALLEN: This was brought up. We had a briefing meeting today. I don't see any reason for us to reinstitute the draft. What I do find interesting is how this tragedy has brought out the best in America, whether it's firefighters, rescue squad members, law enforcement. But a lot of folks actually enlisting, volunteering. I like the approach of people volunteering. I see no reason to reinstitute the draft. PRESS: I'm sure that's good news to everybody here in this audience. Did you notice that -- I could feel the tension in the room when that question was asked. Justin has a question. Justin, where from you from?

JUSTIN: I'm from Manhattan. I was born and raised in New York City. My question is for anyone on the panel. If we take do out Osama Bin Laden, what happens if he is just cell under somebody that we don't know? That there is even more of a hierarchy. If that happens, what do we do then? Do we just continue going after everybody? This it could be a never-ending process, going up.

PRESS: No, that question is directed at Robin Wright.

WRIGHT: I think it's clear that Osama Bin Laden is the Ford Foundation for Islamic extremists. He is the money bags. He makes it possible. He has network of lieutenants and he has a network of wide cells. Yes, if we get Osama Bin Laden, I actually think that's the easiest part of this war, as difficult as it's going to be.

The much more difficult part is finding those cells that are penetrated in different parts of world, tracking them, tracking their money links. One of the biggest parts of this -- and this is what gets back to the question of the draft -- it is not an army. This is not going to be a war with a lot of frontlines. This is going to be an intelligence war. Finding the assets, blocking the assets that make it possible for extremist groups to position people in foreign countries and pay for things like flight instruction.

PRESS: But if you get Osama, does that solve the problem? Does that kill the network?

WRIGHT: No. Not at all. I think that this network has been in place long enough, it is diverse enough, and it has enough connections to groups like Egypt's Islamic Jihad, that it's a very wide war that we are about to wage.

CARLSON: We have a question from Andy Compton from Anchorage, Alaska.

ANDY COMPTON: I was wondering in the recent weeks we have finally found somewhat of a peace fire in Israel. I'm wondering if after seeing videos of the Palestinians cheering in the street if we need to worry about that completely erupting again.

CARLSON: Mr. Woolsey, what do you make of those videos...

WOOLSEY: A peace fire?

COMPTON: A cease fire.

WOOLSEY: Well, not exactly a cease fire. Certainly not from the Israelis' point of view. I think that on this issue we are really dealing with Yasser Arafat, someone who has shown himself -- and those are basically in power in the Palestinian authority -- shown himself to really want to end the existence of state of Israel. We hoped that what we had from 1993 until last summer, was a Palestinian version of Sadat. If not quite as good as Sadat, at least something close enough that he would have gone along with a reasonable deal. He was offered an extraordinarily generous deal by Prime Minister Barak, and rejected it and started killing Israeli women and children.

As far as I'm concerned, there wasn't a cease-fire. And I think a lot of Americans will increasingly -- and I think sadly -- begin to turn even further away than we have now from the prospect of trying to broker a peace in the Mideast by those pictures of the Palestinians dancing and cheering at sight of 5,000 Americans dying.

PRESS: Director, I am going to interrupt because we just have about a second left. This is Maeve from Pennington, New Jersey.

MAEVE: How can we fight terrorists within other countries without fighting the countries themselves?

PRESS: I guess, Robin, you start that and we'll go around?

WRIGHT: That's one of the great questions. And in fact, the problem is we are often going to have to get some of these cells, collaborate with governments who engaged in gross human rights abuses themselves -- which is one of the reasons that these extremists emerged in the first place. It's a vicious cycle to unravel.

PRESS: Quick comment, Senator?

ALLEN: In the event that the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Maeve, does not cooperate, we may be in an altercation with them. I'm not the commander in chief, but there is an example. There are other governments and other people in these other countries who are going to realize that it's in their own best interest not to be harboring these terrorists, so that they can end up hopefully having a more prosperous, free life.

CARLSON: OK, Senator. We're going to have to end it there. But happily we have an entire four more days of CNN CROSSFIRE town meetings. I hope you will join us. I hope you all here in Washington, D.C. will join us tomorrow night. We will have Dick Gephardt of the House of Representatives, Democratic leader.

PRESS: We want to thank our guests, thank our panelists tonight. Thank you very much. Senator Allen, Robin Wright, James Lee Witt and James Woolsey. Thanks to our studio audience. A special CROSSFIRE town meeting. We will be back again tomorrow night from George Washington University. Good night. Thanks for joining us. Wolf Blitzer is next on CNN. good night.

CARLSON: Good night.

PRESS: Good night.



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