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CNN CROSSFIRE

Interview With George Terwilliger, Interview With Wade Henderson

Aired January 8, 2002 - 19:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: The Justice Department targets thousands of Arab and Middle-Easterners for deportation. Is the government guilty of racial profiling? And what's wrong with racial profiling anyway?

And as a hockey dad's murder trial continues in Massachusetts, we debate, are parents too involved in their kid's sports?

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press. On the right, Robert Novak. In the crossfire, former deputy attorney general George Terwilliger and Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. And later, Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council. And in West Palm Beach, Florida, Fred Engh, president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Good evening, welcome to CROSSFIRE.

It has been revealed that the Justice Department is trying to find and deport some 6,000 illegal aliens, but special illegal aliens, those of Middle Eastern and Arab descent. Is that racial profiling? But wait. It turns out that one of the September 11 terrorists was arrested for speeding by a Maryland state trooper on September 9 and then let go, because the trooper didn't know Ziad Jarrah was on the CIA watch list.

Would racial profiling have kept this terrorist from killing Americans? Would racial profiling have stopped Richard Reid before he boarded an airliner with explosives in his shoes? Or does racial profiling just result in Secret Service agent Wahli Shater (ph) being kept off his plane by mistake -- Bill Press.

PRESS: George Terwilliger, President Bush commented again yesterday on this case of his Secret Service agent, who was kicked off the American Airlines plane the day before Christmas. I'd like you to listen first to what the President about how angry he might be if this turns out to be racial profiling. One second. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I know there's an investigation going on. And I look forward to see the findings, but as I said, if he was mistreated because of his ethnicity, I'm going to be plenty hot. That means angry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESS: Now that's the White House. Now at the Justice Department, John Ashcroft is saying, "We're going to go out there. We're going to get 6,000 young Arab men. If their papers aren't in order, we're going to throw them out of the country, only because, I repeat, they are young, Arab men."

So the White House is saying no racial profiling. And the Justice Department is saying, "Damn right, we practice racial profiling." Mixed message, George?.

GEORGE TERWILLIGER, FMR. DEPUTY ATTY. GENERAL: Good try, Bill, but no mixed message at all.

Look, there's a difference between having race as part of profile of a terrorist. These young men you're talking about, when apprehended, aren't going to be deported according to process of law because they're young, Arab men. They're going to be deported because they are aliens who have overstayed their immigration status and have no right to be in the United States. The fact that the Justice Department is choosing to make -- finding Arab-Americans who are in that non-immigration -- I'm sorry, Arabic students and others are in that non-immigration status, that they're choosing to make that a priority makes all the sense in the world. You'd have to be a village idiot to do otherwise.

PRESS: Well, call me a village idiot because I don't see the point. I mean look, we know that 16 out of the 19, 9/11 terrorists were here legally. In fact, as Bob pointed out, it was released today that this tape that on September the 9th, two days before the terrorist attack, one of the terrorists was stopped by the Maryland state cops up near the Delaware line, probably on his way to Newark, New Jersey. Who knows, right?

And yet, all of his papers were in order and the guy just got away. So John Ashcroft is going after people who are here illegally. The terrorists most of them, 16 or 19 again, were here legally. I mean, he's chasing the wrong rabbit.

TERWILLIGER: Well, no, not all, Bill. What he's doing is chasing a number of suspects, for no other reason than we as Americans should want our government to know who's in our country and who is here legally and to kick out those who are here unlawfully. Whether or not they're terrorists doesn't matter.

But it's time to get a handle on who's here. In fact, the real scandal of all this has nothing to do with racial profiling. What it has to do with is that there are thousands and thousands of people here of various ethnic backgrounds, that we don't know who they are, what they're doing here, and who are here illegally. NOVAK: Mr. Henderson, let's get serious.

WADE HENDERSON, LEADERSHIP COUNCIL ON CIVIL RIGHTS: OK.

PRESS: Thanks a lot.

NOVAK: Practically everybody in politics is really against racial profiling. In the sense, some cop pulling over a young African-American guy because he's in an expensive car, hassling him, that's bad. That's intolerable, but this is an entirely different thing. The people who did these terrible crimes against America were Arabs. And aren't we going to and little more careful, particularly on guys getting on airplanes if they're Arabs?

HENDERSON: Well, Bob, let me say this. Look, I agree with President Bush that if you engage in racial or ethnic profiling, and you're a law enforcement official, that's really not the way to go. That's not the American way.

Let me point one thing out. 314,000 aliens are on in the United States today, having overstayed their visas. They're here illegally. And yet George says the immigration service is only going after 6,000 of them, who happen to be Arab surnames.

NOVAK: Because they're the danger.

HENDERSON: Well, are they really? I thought Oklahoma demonstrated that terrorists come in all colors. I thought the anthrax scare that we've had here in Washington, which seems to have been laid at the feet of a domestic organization, may well have been, you know, involving U.S. citizens.

What troubles me is that we have decided to enforce the law on the cheap, by suggesting we're doing something serious about terrorism merely because we are highlighting 6,000 Arab surnamed individuals out of a total of over 300,000.

NOVAK: Now let me give an example how this can be helpful.

HENDERSON: OK.

NOVAK: Moussaoui, the guy who is awaiting trial...

HENDERSON: Yes.

NOVAK: ...went to this flight school, didn't want to learn how to land, didn't want to learn how to takeoff. He just wanted to learn how to bang into skyscrapers. He was turned over to the authorities. They put him -- they didn't do a very good detective work. They didn't realize what was happening, but at least they detained him as a violator of the immigration laws. But the reason that they turned this person over was he was an Arab.

HENDERSON: Well, let me stay this.

NOVAK: I think -- if he had been a white guy, they wouldn't have done that.

HENDERSON: Well, doesn't that say a lot about our law enforcement scheme? Look, here's a guy who didn't want to learn how to fly an airplane, didn't want to learn how to land. All he wanted to do was to learn how to steer a plane in some direction, obviously aimed for some purpose other than a lawful one.

That was sufficient evidence, in my judgment, to have allowed the flight school to turn over that information without profiling him because of his ethnicity.

NOVAK: But that's what tipped him off.

HENDERSON: Well, what tipped them off was the fact that yes, he did happen to be an Arab national. But all I'm saying is look, if you're serious about terrorism, if you want to enforce our laws, all of which we support, we should do that, but we shouldn't use these cheap tricks of focusing on some individuals' ethnicity as a substitute for real investigative judgment. And that's what the problem is.

TERWILLIGER: Well, but what we shouldn't also do, Wade..

HENDERSON: Yes.

TERWILLIGER: ...is ignore someone's ethnicity, given the facts that we've seen demonstrated about who is a threat to us.

HENDERSON: George, I'm not suggesting that we should do that. Let me say this. It would seem to me that if we're talking about al Qaeda membership in countries that support al Qaeda, we're talking about a larger universe than simply 6,000 Arab surnamed individuals.

I would think that we would be looking at individuals with lots of characteristics. Some may be from Somalia, some may be from the Philippines, some may be from Sudan. Others, like you know, one of the nationals may be from Europe and holding a European passport. That should have been the basis for...

PRESS: I want to come back to this question are the people who are here, illegally? Because as we know, there are millions of people in this country illegally. There are 314,000, as Wade just said according to the Justice Department, that we know came in here legally, as opposed to coming across the border from Mexico.

TERWILLIGER: Well, maybe. They lied their way in.

PRESS: And are now -- and now probably their papers have expired or there's some violation. Now the 314,000, we're ignoring 308,000 from other countries, who are quite capable of committing crimes, including acts of terrorism.

TERWILLIGER: Bill...

PRESS: But wait a minute, let me finish. And we're going after 6,000 men who happen to be from Arab countries where we think there are al Qaeda networks. I mean this is a war an Islam, isn't it?

TERWILLIGER: Bill, listen to yourself. Are you suggesting that we ought to ignore that 6,000 and go after the 5,000 of those who are from Kenya?

PRESS: No, I'm asking you to.

TERWILLIGER: Or the 5,000 that are from Australia? That doesn't make any sense.

PRESS: No, listen to yourself. I'm asking you to defend singling out those 6,000 men, who are guilty of no crime, other than there may be a paper violation, which we would have ignored at any other time, but now on the cheap, we're going after them, because -- only because they happen to come from a country where we think there are terrorist cells. You tell me that's right?

TERWILLIGER: Bill, you know, I'm really sorry, if in all seriousness you really see it that way because that's not what's going on at all. The fact of the matter is that we shouldn't be ignoring any of those 300 and some odd thousand. We ought to be dealing with all of them.

But we have to start somewhere, because it's been neglected too long. It only makes common sense to start with those who have passports from Arabic nations or are Arabic by background and look at those first. But I agree with Wade. Al Qaeda seems to have a presence in a number of countries. And we ought to look at those other countries as a priority as well.

PRESS: Go ahead.

HENDERSON: Well, I was simply going to say look, over the weekend, a young 15-year-old white teenager tragically crashed into a building in Tampa.

NOVAK: He wasn't a terrorist, though.

HENDERSON: Look, he's not a terrorist, although he committed suicide by, in fact, engaging in an act that certainly could be perceived as a terrorist act. He flew into a building. My point is this. He was a 15-year-old white teenager. You're not suggesting that we should profile all 15-year-old white kids, simply because one flew into a building and replicated...

TERWILLIGER: We're not suggesting they should profile Arabic.

(CROSS TALK)

PRESS: You are; 6,000 of them, you are.

(CROSS TALK)

TERWILLIGER: There's a terrorism profile. There's a terrorism profile. And race and ethnicity is just a part of that.

NOVAK: Now let me -- as we're running out of time, let me give you another profile...

TERWILLIGER: OK.

NOVAK: ...that was revealed today, that an old dude, who is the senior member of the House of Representatives. Let's take a look at him, John Dingell of Michigan.

TERWILLIGER: Yes.

NOVAK: He was -- he's older than I am.

PRESS: That's old!

NOVAK: He was the only member of the House of Representatives who's still in the House. Does that look like a terrorist? I mean? And some not-too-bright people did a strip-search on him, because he's got an artificial hip, just like Mark Shields got two artificial hips and banged off the alarm.

Now can't we have a reverse racial profile that this kind of guy isn't going to be a terrorist and not to make him submit to that indignity?

HENDERSON: Well, Congressman Dingell himself said today, he's not asking for special treatment, he's just asking not to be treated worse than anybody else.

NOVAK: He shouldn't be treated like he was?

HENDERSON: He certainly should not have been treated like he was, but obviously, we have made airport security a top issue. And we frightened people who work at airports, who have overreacted. And this is one example of doing that. But I think getting back to the point that George raised.

NOVAK: We're out of time.

PRESS: The problem is we are out of time. We treat you both well, even though we may disagree with you now and then. George Terwilliger, thanks for coming in.

TERWILLIGER: Yes.

PRESS: Wade Henderson, thank you.

And we're going to take a break now. When come back, more and more we see kids behaving on the playing field, but their parents are bad sports. Is time to ban parents from the sidelines? Kids sports coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PRESS: And now round two, literally. How can we expect kids to be good sports on the field when their parents behave like animals on the sidelines? That question's being asked across the country, as we await the outcome of a trial up in Massachusetts, where Thomas Junta is charged with manslaughter to beating Michael Costin to death in an argument over their son's hockey game.

Are parents out of control? Should they just butt out of kids sports?

Here to debate that now Ken Connor, who's president of the Family Research Council and Fred Engh, who's founder and president of the National Alliance for Youth Sports -- Bob.

NOVAK: Mr. Engh, surely you don't want to go back to the old days, when I was kid, when we were off on our own all the time and didn't have any supervision? Isn't been a healthy thing to have the parents involved to spur on their children, to give them some adult leadership?

FRED ENGH, NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR YOUTH SPORTS: Well, of course. And the important thing here, Bob, is across America, youth sports is fine and wonderful for children. But the big question is, do we really have a growing number of incidents of violence? And the answer is absolutely yes. Should we do something about it? Absolutely, yes.

We have sat back for years and allowed this kind of abuse to go on. Maybe not what saw in Massachusetts with a killing, but we've got psychological, emotional, verbal abuse going on daily. And how do we know? We have 2200 chapters in our organization with 150,000 parents as members. We hear these stories daily.

NOVAK: Well, you just said you wouldn't want to go back to the old days where you bar the parents, as my friend Mr. Press suggested. But you know, you look at Thomas Junta and he looks like a bad dude to me. He's the kind of guy in my drinking days I kept away from at the bar, because you didn't know what -- just exactly what he was going to do.

Are you going to have -- we just had a program about racial profiling. Are we going to have profiling for soccer dads, if a guy's big and tough looking guy, you don't let him on the field?

ENGH: No, Bob, here's the issue. How many parents who are watching the show would liked to have thought that their child was involved in that program? Nobody would. But the important thing is, that if parents are going to eliminate this happening in their child's program, then what they have to do is ask their league, "Do you screen people to find out whether they have any violence in their background? Do you educate these people? Do you hold them accountable?" If they don't in the league organization, they can expect something to happen along these lines, maybe not as bad, but along these lines.

PRESS: You know, Ken Connor, if this were just one case we were talking about, that would be one thing. I think all of us could see it as an aberration. But as Fred has pointed out, it's not really -- let's just look at a few months in the year 2000.

In March 2000, up in Staten Island, New York, a father broke the nose of a hockey coach with a hockey stick. April, a father out in California paid a kid $2 in the little league to bean an opposing player. In May, a father grabbed an official at a hockey game and put him in a head lock. And of course in July, up in Redding, Massachusetts, Thomas Junta kills Michael Costin. I mean, it's not going too far, Ken, to suggest, is it, that some parents are really taking their kids' sports a lot too seriously?

KEN CONNOR, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well, as father of four children, all of whom played sports, I've certainly seen those indications. I think that's common to any sport, Bill. Everybody can recognize the parent who's vicariously living through their child's experiences and trying to compensate for their own shortcomings or failures, perhaps.

I think we've got to take a commonsense approach. I think we need to remember that sports have many benefits for children. They should be fun. They should learn teamwork. They should learn discipline and responsibility.

And parents ought to behave themselves and set a good example. And when they get out of control, certainly precautions ought to be taken. But I think the notion that we ban parents from participation in their children's activities would be going a little overboard.

PRESS: Well, let's start a little short of that and point out that the National Association of the Sports Officials, these are the people that referee the kids' games, right? I mean, they actually have to offer assault insurance for their members, against injuries that they suffer because of parents? I mean, it certainly proves there's a problem here.

How about saying that parents have to sign a pledge that they're going to be good behavior on the sidelines or else they're not allowed in the rink or on the field?

CONNOR: I certainly don't have any objection to that. And I think there ought to be a place where we should be able to draw reasonable lines. At the same time, we ought to remember, and a recent adolescent health study has shown that children who feel emotionally connected to their parents, and whose parents are involved in their activities, are less likely to drink alcohol, less likely to smoke marijuana, less likely to commit suicide. There's a big advantage to having parents engage (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and well behaved.

ENGH: Wait a minute. We're getting away from the issue here. We're not talking about, and so that anybody listening doesn't get the impression that our organization is talking about banning parents. That's ludicrous. You take parents out children's sports and you don't have children's sports.

The issue is, what are we doing about this? What do communities do to have somebody that supervises children's sports? We don't have that. What do they do about saying to volunteer organizations that use thousands and thousands of facilities across the country, sure, you do a wonderful job, but we're going to make sure that you're educated. And we're going to hold you accountable, so that that parent that sits in the stands and sees some jerk down there is yelling and screaming at the coach, the official, children should be banned from any part of youth sports in this country. NOVAK: The question is, Fred Engh, is who you ban. Now I have read many places that the problem is the obsessive parent, who lives for this child's sport, who is 24 hours a day, seven days a week involved. But that fits a description of Tiger Woods' father. Look what he -- and then let me give you an example of Tiger Woods.

And then there's another example. And that's the father of Serena and Venus Williams. Not the nicest guy in the world, but he has produced a couple of great tennis players who are role models, who are absolutely teenage millionaires. You can't really say that the obsessive parents are really part of problem, can you?

ENGH: No, you can't. But the important thing is we need to talk about what happened here in Massachusetts. How do we rid the people like that from programs that are around children in sports? And we can't have them in there unless we screen. We need to screen people, educate them, and hold them accountable.

NOVAK: I get your point, Mr. Engh, but you know, I'm a sports fan. Bill Press never goes to games. He sits home reading at night.

(LAUGHTER)

But I go to a lot of sports, big time sporting events. And people yell very bad things at the referees. Do you know that? I mean, I'm talking about professional sports now and big time college sports. That's part of the sporting picture. Are you going to say to the parents, can't harass and yell at the referees?

ENGH: Hey, look at what children are saying. "Sports Illustrated for Kids" did a survey with 3,000 kids. 43 percent of the children that were surveyed said that there was too much violence. How do you answer to that?

PRESS: Well, let me ask you, Ken. First of all, I want to admit something.

NOVAK: And you would answer that?

CONNOR: Yes, I think we ought to be able to draw a line. And I think the first time a parent exhibits bad behavior at the ballpark or on the diamond or whatever the case may be, whenever they cross a line in terms of rudeness or a menacing approach to a referee or an umpire, they ought to be out of there.

PRESS: Right.

CONNOR: Their kid may well have to be prevented from playing, because the parent's not well behaved.

PRESS: All right, one quick, final question. By the way, I admit I don't go to professional sports games. I think they're for people who have nothing better to do with their time, but I did go to a lot of games when my two sons were growing up, a lot of those soccer games. I can't tell you how many. Isn't it maybe true that those kids would play better, a lot better and have lot more fun if the parents stayed home? They wouldn't have all that pressure from the parents screaming from the sidelines?

CONNOR: No question about the fact that it'd be extreme to have parents not involved. Having attended many, many track meets and cross-country meets, and seen a few abusive parents, the thing that has been the saddest are the kids who have no parents in the stands whatsoever, who has no one cheering for them, no one supporting them.

Look, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let's not be extreme. Let's draw reasonable boundaries here and expect parents to be no less well behaved than their children.

NOVAK: That'll has to be the last word. Thank you very much, Ken Connor, Fred Engh, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Thank you very much, we're out of time. And when come back, the great garden state of New Jersey fires back at Press and Novak.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Would you believe what they're doing in New Jersey? Attempting to outdo Argentina, which just had five presidents in two weeks?

PRESS: What can you exhibit from a state where the biggest event of the year is the Miss America contest?

NOVAK: I had always heard that New Jersey, that most of the politicians in New Jersey were for sale.

PRESS: Here's what gets me. They knew there was going to be a gap. Why didn't they just pass a little law and fix it?

NOVAK: Thank about it, they'd have two less governors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESS: Well that was last night, when Bob and I poked fun at New Jersey for their rotating governors. Would you believe four governors in eight days? And one thing we learned last night, as when you poke the sleeping bear, the bear wakes up and bites back. Boy, what e- mails we received from the good residents of New Jersey, who turned out to be as thin skinned as those New Jersey tomatoes.

Here from Tommy in Rochelle Park, New Jersey, who writes in, "Obviously, neither one of you has traveled anywhere in New Jersey, outside of Newark Airport and Atlantic City. So do some research before you jump on the trash Jersey bandwagon or else my friend Tony will have to make a visit by yous."

Bob, he's just...

NOVAK: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

PRESS: Yes.

NOVAK: Because actually, we were wrong.

PRESS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) stereotype of New Jersey.

NOVAK: We forgot the attorney general for about 15 minutes was governor. So that's five governors in eight days.

PRESS: So it's even sillier than we said?

NOVAK: Yes, this is from Jeff and Susan. "Oh, how sad. We are known only for the Miss America pageant. How could you? We have our beautiful beaches in New Jersey. We have our share of celebrities, who hail from New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Willis. And New Jersey was New York's neighbor in the truest sense, from the days following September 11 as truckloads of goods made their way north. Apologize right now." Are you apologizing?

PRESS: No, but I will say this. Here's Joyce who says, "You guys really don't get it. It took four men, now five men governors, to replace one woman."

Good point, Bob.

NOVAK: Yes, I guess so.

PRESS: And...

NOVAK: And we forgot, we are trying to get one of the governors of New Jersey to come on CROSSFIRE, so we can find out what it's like to be governor, not for a day, but for 25 minutes?

PRESS: Maybe we can get them on before the end of the week, but which one, Bob, is it going to be?

NOVAK: We'll take anyone of them.

PRESS: All right and by the way, folks, you from New Jersey or anyone in the country, we do want to get your e-mails. Send them into crossfire@cnn.com. And from the left, I'm Bill Press. Good night from CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

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