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Is Government Sending Mixed Messages?; Bill Richardson On Islamic Reaction to U.S. Bombings; John Esposito Discusses Curbing Terrorism

Aired October 13, 2001 - 19:00   ET



I'm Mark Shields with the full CAPITAL GANG. That's: Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

As President Bush prepared for his first prime-time news conference, the FBI warned of unspecified additional terrorist attacks this weekend.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have urged my -- our fellow Americans to go about their lives, to fly on airplanes, to travel, to go to work. But I also want to encourage them by telling them that our government is on full alert.


SHIELDS: It was revealed that the anthrax infection delivered by the mail had infected an NBC employee in New York City, in addition to eight anthrax cases in Florida.


TOMMY THOMPSON, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: If there's any powder that's sent to you in an envelope or in a package that's suspicious, give it to your local law enforcement, contact your local health department.



JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. SECRETARY GENERAL: We as a nation, and as a community, and as families, and as individuals have to learn how to use information to be prepared, not to be panicked.


SHIELDS: Are these anthrax cases sheer coincidence?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I must say I'm a skeptic. I think the only responsible thing for us to do is to proceed on the basis that they could be linked.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, is the Bush administration sending a mixed message to Americans?

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": You better believe it: You're supposed to go about business, and you're supposed to be scared little rabbits.

The vice president says that it looks like if they -- go about on the assumption that all these things are linked, and other authorities are saying they're not linked. The idea of putting out that FBI warning, I think it was a terrible mistake. Trying to revive the hospitality industry around the country, and there were tremendous cancellations over the weekend. This was the sixth warning by the FBI. They had no idea whether it's authentic or not, they don't even know where it's going to take place.

So I think it was a very bad show. And I think it creates a turmoil and an anxiety in which the government is culpable in creating it.

SHIELDS: A bad show, Margaret Carlson?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: When the vice president said that he doesn't think it's sheer coincidence and is worried and Tommy Thompson, HHS secretary, says he's not worried, then I worry.

He should be worried, it's his job to worry. If he worried, then I wouldn't have to worry. But from the very beginning of the anthrax, Secretary Thompson has made it his mission to say there's really no problem here. Without any evidence at all at the beginning he said that Bob Stevens, the American Media guy, had drunk water from a stream in North Carolina. No one, you know, had any evidence that that had happened.

But his job should be to give us the real information and let us evaluate it, instead of always saying, don't worry, because that's when I worry.


KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I think it's the job of the government to inform us and to reassure us. And I think that's going to be the dual responsibility for the foreseeable future.

I'm not sure what prompted the FBI warning. There are indications that there was something more substantial than passed warnings, although no focus as to target. If they hadn't warned us, what if something happened that a citizen's vigilance might have prevented? They would be so roundly criticized. Also, it's difficult -- it's impossible for them to put local law enforcement on the highest possible alert and not have word of that leak out and have the public saying, what about us, don't we have a right to know?

So I'm not sure what they're supposed to do to avoid the kind of criticism Bob is leveling against them. You'd be complaining if they didn't tell you about something...

NOVAK: No I wouldn't.


AL HUNT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": I think Kate's right. And I think it's a real dilemma for this administration. And I think they're doing probably what most of us would do, which is to send out a mixed message; and it's unavoidable.

But Mark, it seems to me that it is a non sequitur to tell people that you can fly, you can go to a ball game, you can go out to eat, but it's not safe to have the vice president of the United States swear in the head of homeland security...

NOVAK: It's ridiculous.

HUNT: I mean, something is just -- is awry there.

On the anthrax, I think Dick Cheney makes a point that you probably ought to assume that. I know nothing about this at all. My guess is it's a copycat pervert that's doing that. I think there are all kinds of indications it's not part of this terrorist thing, but no knows?

But Mark, we can't all tell people that we're fully prepared for this. We're not. There have been warnings ahead of time. A wonderful piece in the "Washington Monthly" three or four months ago that made it quite clear that we are not as prepared as we should be for any kind of chemical or biological attacks. That's why the government is on edge, and that's why the public is on edge.

NOVAK: Let me just say that I'm glad Tommy Thompson is reassuring people, because there's so much panic going on. I'm really disappointed how easy it is to panic the American people. The kind of anthrax that this woman was "TIME" magazine -- I mean, with NBC News, I'm sorry...

CARLSON: I'm fine, Bob.

NOVAK: You're fine, yes.

CARLSON: You'll be happy to know.

NOVAK: The woman with NBC News in New York had, there's hundreds and hundreds of cases each year of that kind of anthrax, and none of them -- in the United States, none of them fatal. There's no evidence that there's anything except maybe copycats.

The kind of anthrax that you used to be frightened about, just a devastating thing that would create hundreds of thousands of casualties, nobody has the capability to deliver. Now, I'm going to tell you something interesting. I had a friend of mine call me...

SHIELDS: Everything you say is interesting.

O'BEIRNE: Short and interesting, I hope.

NOVAK: I had a friend call me yesterday afternoon and tell me not to open my mail.

HUNT: Thursday morning.

NOVAK: Yesterday morning? OK. And he -- you know, it really warmed my heart...

SHIELDS: Is he sitting on this panel?

NOVAK: Yes he is.

And I ran to the mail and opened envelopes because that is the kind of panicky, scary feeling that is not..


CARLSON: ... you spray it around office?

O'BEIRNE: I think canceling a weekend trip because you'd rather stay a little close to home is not a full panic. I think we ought to give the American public some credit here.

Having defended the FBI on the warning they issued, I do think that they should come under really severe criticism if, in fact, what is currently being reported about the anthrax at NBC in New York is so.

Apparently NBC officials immediately notified the FBI, as we're always told to do. They picked up the envelope and did not test it for several days.

HUNT: And didn't notify any other agencies.

O'BEIRNE: Now, we are being told all the time that they're doing all things possible...

SHIELDS: And this was after September 11, tight?

O'BEIRNE: Yes. It took a doctor who was very alert, contacted the city health department -- Giuliani's city health department -- before the FBI said, well, yeah, we haven't quite tested that yet. Now, if that's true, somebody in the FBI, in the local office ought to lose their job. I don't think the public will be 100 percent convinced that this is no longer business as usual unless some bureaucrats begin paying a price for that kind of thing.

HUNT: And this is a pervasive FBI problem, as Bob and others have documented. They don't share information, and this new director who I think sounds like a very good guy, heads have got to roll.

NOVAK: I don't know if Tom Ridge understands...

HUNT: I was thinking about Mueller.

NOVAK: Now, I know, but I don't know if Tom Ridge understand that is the FBI problem.

CARLSON: I think there's one more problem with this highest alert, which is if we're on highest alert, but we're to go completely about our business. What is the next stage? You know, what do you call it when we're supposed to stay in and listen to our radios? I mean, I agree with Bob, there could be some crying wolf here, because it doesn't appear that we're on highest alert.

NOVAK: It's so much overreaction when they bar trucks from going near the Capitol building. What kind of country are we living in?

SHIELDS: Well, if anybody needs his or her mailed opened, Bob Novak...


SHIELDS: The gang of five will be back with the war against the Taliban.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. U.S. forces, with their British allies, attacked Afghanistan's Taliban regime with daily air raids starting Sunday, taking a one-day break for the Muslim sabbath yesterday. The Pentagon assessed its results.


MAJ. GEN. HENRY OSMAN, U.S. ARMY: We are satisfied to this point that the strikes have been fairly successful as far as damage to the military equipment. Have we degraded all of it at this point? Of course not. But we have made some good headway.



DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have to acknowledge that the reality that there is still an air defense threat to the United States.


SHIELDS: When the bombing resumed today, a U.S. Navy jet missed its military target and instead hit a residential neighborhood in the capital city of Kabul, causing civilian casualties. Kate O'Beirne, is this war going according to schedule?

O'BEIRNE: It appears to be, Mark. I mean, within a week I think it was fully appreciated that there weren't all that many military targets in Afghanistan. If, as Secretary Rumsfeld said, who is doing a fabulous reassuring job, if indeed the air defenses haven't been completely wiped out in Afghanistan, I assume that that won't be the case much longer.

Many people suspect that special forces -- our special forces already on the ground and maybe someplace in Afghanistan, and I assume when they do control the skies completely with the help of anti- Taliban forces, there will be an on-the-ground search-and-destroy mission. So, it seems to be on track despite the accident today, which of course happens -- you know, even in the face of the enormous caution they are taking to go avoid civilian casualties.

SHIELDS: We always call it collateral damage, but even our best efforts and best intentions result in civilian casualties, which in a country where 42 percent of the population is under 15 means dead children.

But Al, Al Hunt, Sir Michael Boyce, the head of the British armed services, said this week it was going to go for a long time. I mean, he put it right on the line that it's going to be out into the winter, all the way through to the next summer. And Pakistan wants it over in a hurry. Is there going to be tension there?

HUNT: The bombing cannot continue that long. This is not Serbia. There would be really I think a violent uprising in the Islamic world were we to try to bomb Afghanistan for 77 days. I don't think we're going to have to do that. I think the Taliban hold is more tenuous.

The other danger is the weather, because -- because after we get -- after the Taliban goes, we have to go in and get Osama. As Kate said a moment ago, it doesn't effect cruise missiles when that terrible Afghan winter comes, they can see through any kinds of elements, but it does effect the ability to go and find this guy. So, therefore I think there is some kind of a time pressure.

My guess is, we will meet it, but Mark, let's not forget, as I think the president has reminded us, this is not the end of it. Remember the drug war? We said, we get Pablo Escobar, that's the end. We got Pablo Escobar, and what happened? Israel has gotten a lot of terrorists over the years, and it doesn't stop terrorism, so this is a long, long fight.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, do you feel it's going the right way?

CARLSON: There's no schedule, but it is going the right way. I talked to a general this week who reminded me that we had 23,000 troops on the ground in Panama, and it took two weeks to find Noriega in a country we owned.

So, whatever schedule we have in our minds, we haven't fallen behind the Panama schedule. You bring up this point about Pakistan. I think, you know, the United States might topple the Taliban before having something in place in Afghanistan. We may want to slow down at a certain point to figure out what that is going to be. Is it going to be the king, is it going to be, you know, a tribal council? What's it going to be? Because Pakistan will not let it be the Northern Alliance, and Pakistan doesn't have forever for us to do this. I mean, the general is holding it together as best he can.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, the king of Afghanistan is 86 years old, he's been in Rome for 27 years. Question whether A, he could, should, wants to go back to Kabul. After 27 years in Rome, I can't imagine they would. But is there, quite frankly, that we're already making overtures to the Northern Alliance and kind of getting in bed with them, is that going to be peace and freedom the president has talked about?

NOVAK: Well, what the king would be would be the figure head, constitutional monarch over the anti-Taliban forces. But I think the bombing has dealt severe setback to that whole game plan, because my sources indicate the commanders who are ready to infiltrate from Pakistan and try to turn some of the divisions in the Taliban forces did not do the infiltration. And it is very hard now to -- at the time that they are under attack by Anglo-American air power to carry out an operation like this.

There was attempt to postpone the American bombing until there could be some kind of infiltration and subversion of the Taliban forces, but President Bush was under tremendous public pressure after the disaster of September 11 not to just sit there, but do something. So it is hard to criticize him for that, but I do -- I do believe that I agree with Al, that I think it is going to take a long time. But the big problem is, after you have, quote, "conquered," unquote, Afghanistan, where are you? And that is a real problem.

HUNT: Bob, I'm not sure it's going to take a long time. I think that's the danger. I think time is on our side here. I think the American public has a great deal of patience.

NOVAK: So do I.

HUNT: But I think the Islamic public does not have a great deal of patience. And I think there is a danger there. Margaret made a very good point about the Northern Alliance. I mean, according to reports at least, we could probably with -- with the right kind of bombing, the Northern Alliance could probably take Kabul right now. But the Pakistanis are saying no, don't do that.

NOVAK: It's more than that. Those are ethnic minorities. And the question, even if they took Kabul, I mean, the Soviets were in control of Kabul and they weren't...

HUNT: That's not where the Taliban is based.

NOVAK: That's right.

SHIELDS: Margaret?

CARLSON: There are, in fact, Taliban defections. And it's not a lean, mean fighting machine, the ground troops of the Taliban.


SHIELDS: Let me just take exception here, Bob, on President Bush. I think the president who is at 90 percent approval in the polls, has been there consistently since the 11th of September, who has closed the stature gap, the only pressure for him to begin the bombing was really from the right of his own party. The American people have been enormously patient and they have taken a long view.


SHIELDS: If he's at 90 percent approval, Kate, if he is at 90 percent approval with the American people, it means he is at 110 percent approval with the Republicans, and he ought to be able to say to them, hey, fellows, take a hike.

Next on CAPITAL GANG -- excuse me.

NOVAK: I'll tell you one thing I wish. I wish he had delayed. I am being understanding, but I would have liked to have seen this other option used for a while.

SHIELDS: Next on CAPITAL GANG, Bush cracks down on Congress and the media.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

President Bush issued an order to limit secret briefings of Congress to only eight lawmakers.


BUSH: I took it upon myself to notify the leadership of the Congress that I intend to protect our troops. It's very serious that people in positions of responsibility understand that they have a responsibility to people who are being put in harm's way.



SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL), SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think it's an overreaction, but I do believe leaks cause problems, cause death sometimes.


SHIELDS: National security director Condoleezza Rice called five television networks, including CNN, to urge restraint in using videos by Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: At best, Osama bin Laden's message is propaganda calling on people to kill Americans. At worst, he could be issuing orders to his followers to initiate such attacks.


SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, are these information blackouts defensible?

CARLSON: Everyone agrees that information about troop movements that would jeopardize the troops should not be revealed. So we're not fighting over what Bush says we're fighting over, it's whether other things should be revealed, and if they are it should be punished.

You know, I hear there's going to be an investigation within -- not at the Ethics Committee, but within the Intelligence Committee of unauthorized, or bad leaking -- and none of it's authorized.

But Bush goes too far because all administrations want to keep as many secrets as they can. And -- but you should not be using troop movements as an excuse for not informing people about what's going on, trying to keep too many secrets. And, you know, whether Osama bin Laden is sending codes is something we don't know. We have a reporter at "TIME" magazine who has a good source who says that there was, at the end of that message, some coded phrase saying to operatives in this country to, you know, proceed with another attack. And if that's the case, then you know, we shouldn't do it, or it should be submitted to somebody to see if there is that kind of message.

But otherwise you have to leave it up to the media to make those judgments; the government should not do it.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, what about this: the tension between national security and openness in a free society?

NOVAK: The governments don't like to have information go to the public. That's the nature of government that everybody -- some people say they like so much. And the Republican administrations are particularly reticent about letting the people know what they're doing. And when you get into a war run by a Republican administration, you really have restrictions going on.

So I think -- I agree with Senator Shelby. I think the president overreacted. Don't forget, none of this information that he was so upset about was ever published. None of it was published. There was a lot of misinformation about something that did come out; that wasn't what he was objecting to. He was objecting to something that didn't come out.

And I'm very skeptical of Osama bin Laden running his television -- network of terrorists by coded messages.

O'BEIRNE: Bob -- this time, Bob, nothing came out in the media.

The president is exactly right to have been as upset as he is. These members are receiving, in both the House and Senate, classified information. And it's not up to them to decide afterwards whether or not, well, it didn't have to do with troop movements, maybe this would or wouldn't be harmful. Under ethics rules in both houses it is a violation to disclose -- an unauthorized disclosure of any classified information is a violation. I do hope there's going to be an investigation in the Senate to determine who it was.

SHIELDS: Kate -- go ahead.

HUNT: I'm going to say I'm much closer to Bob's point of view on this. I think that whatever he was upset about -- I think some of it was the White House spin people hyping the commander in chief to be tough, to be angry. I don't think they need to do that.

Bob is right, whatever really upset him wasn't published. They also were upset with the one thing that was published, which was a high official saying there's 100 percent certainty that if we attack Afghanistan, there will be a retaliation. That should have been published, Mark. I'm sorry, the American people have a right to know that.

And, you know, as for -- they call the networks in and they have this deal about Osama bin Laden, by itself that doesn't bother me. I think the resolution is OK. But we should never forget they want to control information -- "they" being the government. And that's not the role of the media to let them do that.

SHIELDS: Two quick points. First of all, classified information should never be revealed, Kate; it's certainly a wonderful principle.


SHIELDS: Robert Dallek, the presidential historian, did a piece in "USA Today" on the 12th of September saying the president should have returned to the White House and shouldn't have dallied and gone to Omaha. Perfectly legitimate point of view.

He got a call the next day from Karl Rove, the president's top political person, whom he'd never met, saying you know, you're wrong because the White House was going to be attacked, and so was Air Force. We had reports of that. Of course, they've never be able to supply any information, any supporting evidence of that, and they've backed off the story. So information is used by all administration, saying: We know more than you do.

Finally, if we're going to have a -- really talk about invading Iraq, we need all the information and a full, free public debate, and not being made by a council of elders.


O'BEIRNE: I totally agree, but if members want to hear all the information, they have got to keep their mouths shut. Sometimes what might strike them as a very important piece of information they want to share will reveal a source or method on the intelligence side that jeopardizes things.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Way too much has been classified.


HUNT: ... executive branch, than...


HUNT: Let's also not forget the early days of the Gulf War, we were told how everything was going so great, those weapons were hitting everything, it was perfect. We found out later that our government didn't tell us the truth.

NOVAK: Let me just give a little piece of history. In the Vietnam War, where I will admit that a lot of reporters were very much against the war, they'd get in a car, they'd run around the country, they were free to report what was going on, sometimes accurately, sometimes not accurately. And the Pentagon, the military brass, vowed that they would never, ever fight another war where the reporters had that kind of freedom. And they didn't in the Gulf War, and they damn won't have it in this war.

CARLSON: You know, members of the Intelligence Committee take an additional oath, and they promise not to reveal what they learn on the committee; and they should honor that oath.

There's a problem: There's too much that's classified. I mean, you can learn so much that if they put it in the meeting, then they're not allowed to say it, but it shouldn't be classified.

SHIELDS: Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a very good book on that subject: "Secrecy."

We'll be back with the second half of CAPITAL GANG. Former United States ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Bill Richardson, who once negotiated with the Taliban himself, is our "Newsmaker of the Week." In "Beyond the Beltway," Professor John Esposito talks about Islam's reaction to the bombing. And our "Outrages of the Week."

That's all after the latest news following these messages.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. I'm Mark Shields with Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Margaret Carlson and Kate O'Beirne.

Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Bill Richardson. Age: 53. Residence: Washington, D.C. and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Religion: Roman Catholic. Masters degree from Fletcher school of law and diplomacy, Tufts University. Eight-term Democratic congressman from New Mexico, United States ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of energy in the Clinton administration. Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as a diplomatic troubleshooter.

Our Al Hunt interviewed Bill Richardson earlier this week. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: Bill Richardson, you were in Afghanistan several years ago. You were the last cabinet member to negotiate with the Taliban. From what you know of their situation, do you think they can hold on for a while or are going to be toppled soon?

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I think they can hold on for a while. They were very resilient. I'll never forget when I negotiated with them, they went into a room with me, had their Russian rifles on their lap, they sat down. They don't negotiate like we do. They have been fighting for 22 years. I think that they're going to be there for a while. We will eventually get them, but it's not going to be easy.

HUNT: Can you envision any post-Taliban coalition that could actually govern Afghanistan?

RICHARDSON: Al, I think the Northern Alliance is the best hope. Yes, they are not perfect, they are human rights violators, they're backed by Iran. But when I met with them, and a lot of reports indicate that they at least have an agenda, some semblance of democracy. But this country has been ungovernable for the last 25 years, and it allows us to work something with Iran, because Iran backs them.

HUNT: But Pakistan does not. The Pakistanis say that's unacceptable. What would an Afghanistan run by the Northern Alliance do to the stability of Pakistan?

RICHARDSON: Well, we clearly have to work Pakistan on that. Pakistan has gone all out for us. They're having some domestic difficulties. Musharraf hopefully will make it. We have to get it at least a Northern Alliance leadership that is reasonably acceptable to Pakistan and urge them to work closely with Pakistan.

HUNT: In this post-Taliban period, do you envision a major U.S. and U.N. presence in a nation-building effort?

RICHARDSON: Yes, Al, because the big mistake we made after the Afghan war is we left Afghanistan alone without humanitarian aid. The U.N. was out. I do think in the reconstruction of Afghanistan you've got to have a U.N. role, you've got to have the international community, Western countries.

HUNT: Leading members of the Bush administration, including the Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz say, after Afghanistan, if we really want to weed out terrorism, we have to overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq. I want to know if you agree with that and how you think we could that.

RICHARDSON: I don't agree with that. I think we have to be very careful. If there is clear evidence of complicity by Saddam Hussein -- and I don't believe there is -- then we should move ahead. We all want to get rid of him, but the reality is if you move into Iraq you potentially lose your coalition, like France, like other countries, like China within the United Nations. It makes it a wider Islam war.

I think we've got to be very careful and stay on the target, and the target is the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

HUNT: The importance of a broad coalition requires certain concessions. For instance, it seems the American policy is backtracking on human rights and issues such as modifying our opposition to the Russian war against the Chechnyans. Is that unavoidable, or would you still put pressure on Putin as far as Chechnya is concerned?

RICHARDSON: I think we still have to put pressure on Putin on Chechnya, but I think the big tradeoff with Russia, Al, has to be that in exchange for Russia's enormous help in this terrorism war, we need to help them with economic assistance, with loans, with international financial institution aid.

HUNT: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. You are a former United Nations ambassador for the United States. What does this suggest and how do you think the U.N., what role will it play in this new world climate?

RICHARDSON: The message of Kofi Annan, besides it being a deserved prize for him personally, is that the United Nations and the international community is essential. That should be a message for us, the United States, that we can't do anything without international support.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, does Bill Richardson suggest that as a former Clinton administration high official that there's a little bit of daylight between them and himself and the Bush policy?

HUNT: I don't really think so, Mark. I think he's just reflecting it back that he has actually sat down and negotiated with these machine gun-toting thugs, and the reality as he sees it.

I think Bill Richardson is wrong about the Northern Alliance. I think they represent a decidedly minority ethnic groups, and I don't think that they could really govern a post-Taliban Afghanistan, but I'll tell you what he's right about, Robert Novak. He's right that after the Taliban there will be multilateralism, it will be -- the United Nations will be central and it will be nation-building.

NOVAK: We interviewed Joe Biden on NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS earlier today, and he said they ought to have Norwegian occupying troops. I like putting the Norwegians in Afghanistan. I don't know...


SHIELDS: ... very popular in Oslo.

CARLSON: It's very cold.

NOVAK: Let me say something about Bill Richardson. When he was a member of Congress and later at the U.N., he was an expert in negotiating with rogue countries. He made some terrific contacts all over the world.

SHIELDS: He did.

NOVAK: Sudan.

SHIELDS: North Korea.

NOVAK: I believe there would never have been the invasion of Haiti, I think they could have made a negotiated deal for a democratic government that if they have let him do it. I think we would have lifted sanctions in Iraq and made some progress on inspections. So I think -- I like the Richardson style, and I certainly agree with Richardson that in the absence of compelling evidence it is a disaster to wage a bombing attack on Iraq.

O'BEIRNE: If every phase of this war has to be blessed, as Bill Richardson says it does, by France and the U.N., the war is doomed to failure. In Iraq, we know Iraq has been producing chemical and biological weapons. We know that one of the 22 most wanted terrorists is being harbored in Iraq. If it weren't for the U.N., Saddam Hussein would have been toppled in 1991. We better not need the blessing of the U.N. and better be prepared to go without it, or we are not going to finish the job.

The U.N. is morally bankrupt. We are kicked off, the U.S., off the joint commission on human rights, and they put the worst human rights abusers in the world on it. They proclaim against world terrorism, and then with Syria on the Security Council, we better not need the U.N. Thank God people who think like this are no longer in the administration.

SHIELDS: Vice President Cheney of course is on record as saying there's no evidence that Iraq was involved in the September 11 attack.

O'BEIRNE: Well, no, I said weapons of mass destruction and harboring one of the terrorists.

NOVAK: And all the weapons...

SHIELDS: So is Saudi Arabia.

NOVAK: ... inspectors say that there are no weapons of mass destruction.

O'BEIRNE: And they've been there since when?

CARLSON: Right. I don't want to rely on those inspectors, but well, two things. One is that we don't have to say what we are doing about Iraq now. Let's keep France while we need France and get on to Iraq later.

The second thing is that I think the president said the other night that he's going to turn to the U.N. to help out in this post- Taliban government. SHIELDS: He did. That's the last word. Margaret Carlson.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, "Beyond the Beltway" looks at Islam's reaction to the Anglo-American attacks, with Georgetown University professor John Esposito.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. "Beyond the Beltway" looks at Islam's reaction to the war against terrorism. Osama bin Laden's lieutenants call for a holy war.


SULEIMAN ABU GHEITH, AL QAEDA SPOKESMAN (through translator): I direct this message to the entire Islamic nation, and I say to them that the parties today have come together against the nation of Islam and the Muslims. This is the crusade that Bush has promised us.


SHIELDS: Muslims demonstrated against the U.S. in Pakistan and in Indonesia, but in Washington, a respected panel of Muslim scholars issued a religious opinion, saying, quote: "We find it necessary to apprehend the true perpetrators of these crimes, as well as those who aid and abet them through incitement, financing or other support," end quote.

Joining us now is professor John L. Esposito of Georgetown University, the founding director of the Center for Muslim/Christian Understanding there, and author of "Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality."

Thank you for coming in, John.


SHIELDS: John, tell us if you would, what given all that we've learned and misunderstood over the last couple weeks, what do you think is the single biggest reality about the Muslim faith that we don't know right now?

ESPOSITO: Well, I think that we know it as a result of a lot of statements that have been coming out from religious and political leaders, but it hasn't completely sunk in, and that is the ability to distinguish almost instinctively between the acts of extremists and mainstream Islam. And we do that when, for example, when Christian extremists or Jewish extremists commit an action, but we still tend to constantly sort of ask, is there something about Islam that supports this kind of extremist action? I think we still have a long way to go.

SHIELDS: There is not anything about Islam that supports this kind of action?

ESPOSITO: No. I mean, there's nothing in the Islamic tradition, in terms of the mainstream tradition that would support these kinds of acts of terrorism. But as we learn when we look at extremists in many faiths, they have an ability to hijack their religion and therefore to legitimize their sort of political and economic agenda by distorting many of the teachings of their faith.

SHIELDS: I am reminded of the Hitler's mother's fondest hope was that he would become a Roman Catholic priest. Bob Novak.

ESPOSITO: And Stalin was in a seminary.

SHIELDS: That's right.

NOVAK: John, the people that I talked in -- who are from the Middle East really believe that there's an enormous anti-American feeling that has gradually built up in the last half century, not just among the extremists. Do you think that that is, as President Bush says, hatred of the United States and what we stand for, our wealth, our democracy, our standard of living, or do you think it's directly connected to Israel?

ESPOSITO: I think you make a very good point. I distinguish between anger among a kind of broad, mainstream group of people in the Arab and Muslim word, many whom are in government, business, deal with us, respect American principles, but believe that we have a double standard and a lot of it has to do with Israel and other kinds of issues. What is seen as, for example, a double standard in terms of our going into Kosovo because we are concerned about self- determination and human rights, but we look the other way when we watch the Russians go into Chechnya, or with regard to Kashmir.

But you are right about the other side of it too. There is a minority who move beyond anger to hatred, and this is the breeding ground for people like bin Laden and their recruitment ground. These are people who have moved beyond the pale. They are convinced that the governments in the region are corrupt, they are convinced that the United States supports such governments, and therefore they call for a holy war against their own governments as well as against the West.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: John, where it's moved from anger to hatred seems to be among the young Muslims, and that they are the ones that are ready to take up arms and will do anything for Osama bin Laden. It's like Hitler youth, we have Osama bin Laden youth. Do you agree, is that the biggest part of the threat?

ESPOSITO: Well, I think that we can talk about a younger generation, but I think it's important to note that as with, for example, even in the past, if you look at the civil rights movement or the anti-war movement, you have members of the oppressed involved into those movement, that is those who experience the oppression directly.

But you also have a lot of people who wind up getting involved in a social movement and operate within the political process; and then many of them become alienated. And that's why we're seeing reports that some of the perpetrators of September 11 were, in fact, people who had good educations, came from good families and then apparently, at a certain point, you know moved from, as I said earlier, from anger to hatred, and therefore to radicalism and terrorism.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Of course, Professor Esposito, neither Hitler nor Stalin pointed to basic texts to support their murderous regimes. And as you, of course, said, mainstream Islam provides no support for this. But there is this radical, virulent strain of Islam who do point to the Koran and past jihads against infidels by the faithful to justify what they're doing. How important is it that mainstream Islam voices be the ones to speak out against this distortion of their religion?

ESPOSITO: It's absolutely essential. I think that's what's really important to note is the extent to which we've moved beyond Muslim governments speaking out. We now have statements from, for example, major religious leaders -- not just the fatwa or the legal opinion from the other, but -- we've had them out there.

We have statements, actually, from leaders of Islamic movements, from what I would call mainstream fundamentalist movements, as opposed to the radicals. But I think it's going to be important for these kinds of statements to continue to be made in order, A, for the impact to be had on the West to realize this kind of distinction, but also it's important within Muslim societies; because, in fact, the real threat at the end of the day of radicals is often to their own societies.


HUNT: Well, John Esposito, let me ask you this: You talk about the breeding grounds in the Islamic world, and yet despite what some of these religious scholars have said, it seems to me from what we read that one of the real breeding grounds, including moderate Muslim states -- Egypt, Pakistan -- are the holy places -- are the mosques and the schools, the madrases. They treat Osama bin Laden as kind of a Muslim Robin Hood, and they spew a lot of hatred about America and the governments look the other way. What can be done to start to change that?

ESPOSITO: Well, I would say that if you're talking about mainstream mosques and mainstream madrases or seminaries, et cetera, that's not really where the problem is when it comes to radicalism. But they do exist in some of this sort of new, what we sometimes call private mosques, and some of the new madrases that occur, for example, have developed in Pakistan that sort of jihad-y type culture -- holy war type culture is taught in the madrases.

And I think that governments are aware of that. I don't think that governments look completely the other way. But it's a real challenge for some of the governments, because remember some of the governments that we're dealing with in the Muslim world are governments that, themselves, have very fragile situations with regard to legitimacy, and have to worry very much about pressures from within their own society.

SHIELDS: John Esposito, we talk about draining the swamp, drying up the breeding ground for terrorists. But isn't it a fact that the United States today, and for quite a while -- not this administration, but for many -- including this administration, has been propping up anti-democratic governments in the Middle East? I mean, doesn't that give a certain cause?

ESPOSITO: I think so. I think that, you know, we have a number of things that we need to think about. I think that if we really want to talk about limiting the breeding ground, then we're going to have to reexamine our foreign policy. And one of them has to do with, we have to have a consistent policy. If we are for the promotion of self-determination and democratization and human rights, then that has to be something that is seen as applied across the board. Otherwise, you know, we are seen as operating with is a hypocritical double standard that, in fact, often props up these regimes.

The other thing we have to address -- excuse me -- the other thing that we have to be able to do is to say that look, the United States unequivocally supports the right of Israel to exist, its security and its stability; but that the United States also supports the creation of a Palestinian state, and that the United States will, in fact, move with a balanced policy.

Unless we do that, we will not only be encouraging the radicals, we will force the continuing angrier among the mainstream in the Arab and Muslim world.

SHIELDS: John Esposito, thank you very, very much for being with us.

The GANG will be back with the "Outrage of the Week."


SHIELDS: Now for the "Outrage of the Week."

Secretary of State Colin Powell served two tours in Vietnam where he was twice wounded and decorated for valor. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage served three combat tours in Vietnam as a Navy SEAL officer. But Powell and Armitage, because they have resisted a U.S. attack upon Iraq without national debate, are not tough enough for Newt Gingrich, former Reagan appointee Richard Perle and Bush Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who are part of the group plotting the invasion of Iraq.

Gingrich, Wolfowitz and Perle never wore the uniform of their country. The definition of silence ought to be "Gingrich, Wolfowitz and Perle swapping war stories."

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Amid professions of bipartisanship, Democrats still refuse to grant a hearing for Otto Reich, President Bush's anti-Castro nominee as assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs. Reich's main antagonist, Senator Chris Dodd, claims Reich, as ambassador to Venezuela, sought admission to the U.S. of accused anti-Castro terrorist Orlando Bosch, but State Department sources say secret cables show Ambassador Reich protested when Venezuelan officials smuggled Bosch into this country.

A hearing could determine the truth, but is Senator Dodd afraid of the truth?

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

I don't think so.

CARLSON: For your safety, American traveling public, the airlines are no longer allowing you to leave your seat during the first or last half hour of a flight. This means on the Washington to New York shuttle, not getting up at all, even to use the bathroom. Should you dare to, the plane will be immediately diverted to Dulles, 25 miles from Washington and, more significantly, three miles from the nearest taxi stand. Meanwhile the airlines are still using a security company to screen bags fined $1.2 million for hiring convicted felons.

The airlines are strapping down the wrong people.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: In an unprecedented action, U.S. military planes dropping desperately needed food and supplies to the Afghan people have shared the skies with military bombers. Under the Taliban regime, which claims to care so deep about the children in Iraq, half the children in Afghanistan suffer from chronic malnutrition.

It's outrageous that this humanitarian effort has been criticized by some in the media and international aid groups as unseemly propaganda.


HUNT: Otto Reich.

Saudi Prince Waleed gave $10 million to the victims of the World Trade Center attack, but then the Saudi billionaire put out an accompanying statement blasting the Israelis and somehow suggesting September 11 was tied to the Palestinian issue. That was outrageous, as is any attempt to try and use this tragedy for your own agenda.

In another one of his splendid moves, Mayor Rudy Giuliani gave the money back to Waleed and told him where he could put it.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying good night for the CAPITAL GANG. CNN's coverage of "America's New War: Target Terrorism," begins right now.




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