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Should U.S. Negotiate With Daniel Pearl's Kidnappers?; Is Government Flying out of Control With New Airport Security Plans?

Aired February 1, 2002 - 19:30   ET


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Conflicting reports tonight about the fate of kidnapped reporter Daniel Pearl. Is he still alive? If he is, should the U.S. negotiate with his captors? And is the government flying out of control with its new plans for airport security?

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press. On the right, Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and Reverend Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow/Push coalition. And then Kelly McCann, CEO of Crucible Security and Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the ACLU.

PRESS: It's CROSSFIRE. Thanks for joining us. There is confusion tonight on a lot of apprehension about the fate of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl, abducted last week by a group of Pakistani extremists and held captive somewhere inside Pakistan.

Two conflicting messages were received today. One demanded $2 million in ransom money. The other said he'd already been killed. Whatever Mr. Pearl's fate, did the United States do everything it could to free him? And if, as we all pray he's still alive, and his captors want to negotiate terms for his release, should we? Or are negotiations with terrorists never acceptable? -- Tucker.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Jesse Jackson, welcome. I tell you why we shouldn't negotiate with these kidnappers, because there's nothing to negotiate. They made a very short list of totally unreasonable demands that we would never meet, giving up the terrorists we have in custody. There's really nothing to talk about, is there?

JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: There's somebody to talk about. It is Daniel. We have -- if we take the premise leave no American behind, there's the moral and patriotic obligation to do all that we can to, in fact, get him free. If it's dealing directly with the government, to the religious forces, some third party. But the notion that somehow he is not worth negotiating for because of the character of those who have him in captivity seems irrational to me.

CARLSON: Well, it's insulting that you'd suggest that, because nobody has suggested that he's not worth negotiating for or worth making an effort on behalf of. The United States government is doing all it can to do that. JACKSON: But you say there's nothing to negotiate about. There's nothing? There's somebody to negotiate for. And oftentimes, you find yourself working out relationships with people that you don't -- I mean look how we're dealing right now with people that have been our historical enemies.

CARLSON: Wait, hold on. Mr. Jackson, you're not answering my question. My question is if you're going to negotiate for his release, what do you bargain? What do you say we'll give you in return for his release? They have said free our al Qaeda prisoners. We're not going to do that. Therefore my question remains, what do we negotiate with?

JACKSON: Well, that may be there for us all, but if our objective is to get him free and he is indeed alive, then there is the head of state. That's religious order. I mean, there are third parties. But my point is, Tucker, we do not give up trying. He is worth negotiating for. If the devil has him, then take a bucket of water and good to hell, but try to get him back.

PRESS: Mr. Secretary, we do, we hear this all the time. You never negotiate with terrorists. But there is Danny Pearl held captive. Let's pray he's still alive. Why should this principle of never negotiating with terrorists interfere with the possibility of freeing an American human being from captivity?

LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, first of all, the principle is never negotiate with terrorists. I would suggest to you that on occasions we have in the past. But I think the principle is a terribly important one, not just because of what Tucker said but also because if you set that precedent, if you tell the next terrorist that if he will simply kidnap somebody, he gets $2 or $3 million or whatever and gets recognition because he's negotiating with the U.S. government, look it's a terribly nasty, difficult position. I don't argue that at all. But I do say in the long run, you're probably saving more lives by not negotiating than if you do negotiate.

PRESS: Well, I think that it seems to be, not negotiating is based on the principle that we're going to give them what they want, which I don't think anybody is suggesting.


PRESS: And I'm not sure any of us around this table can really comprehend the difficulties of this dilemma, because we haven't been there. I'd like you to listen to someone...

EAGLEBURGER: I have been, by the way.

PRESS: OK, thank you.

EAGLEBURGER: Let me tell you.

PRESS: I'd like to listen to -- also to someone else, who has been, Terry Anderson, who was held captive seven years I believe it was...


PRESS: Lebanon and said just yesterday here on CNN, why maybe we should talk to them. Let's listen to Terry Anderson.


TERRY ANDERSON, FMR. BEIRUT HOSTAGE: Sure, we'd love to talk to them. We need to talk to them to persuade them that they've made a mistake, that they've done something that isn't going to work. And to do that, we have to talk with them. And I hope they're hearing that message.


PRESS: Isn't that a reason for at least having dialogue with them, saying, hey what you guys are doing right? And this guy is not a spy in the state government.

EAGLEBURGER: First place dialogue is different from negotiations. Even then, I would say I wouldn't even dialogue with them for precisely the same reasons, because once you're in that process, it simply attracts the next potential terrorists to kidnap again, for nothing more than to talk with them.

Having said that, I concede to you one more time, it is a nasty, tough decision to make. I had to make it twice. And let me tell you, it is not fun. Luckily in both the cases, which I won't go into beyond this, the people got out.

But when you make the decision, you know you may be deciding that somebody's going to die because of it. So I don't argue that. I'm all the stronger in the feeling, however, because I have gone through this. And the last thing I think we need to do is open ourselves up with an invitation to get some more kidnapped.

JACKSON: Can I make this point? There is this moral, patriotic imperative to try to get him back. And that is a tactical question I think which Mr. Eagleburger's addressing. And we sought to get Nelson Mandela free in South Africa. We negotiated with state-sponsored terrorism.

I went to get the three soldiers out of Yugoslavia, dealing with Milosevic, I was dealing with and praying with a terrorist to get them free. So talking with the terrorist is not a nice thing to do. It may be distasteful, but if the price is worth it, you have to do it in this case. The American journalist is worth it.

CARLSON: You know, but Jesse Jackson, when you go, let's be honest, when you go to a country, when you talk to Milosevic, you fly in on a private plane. You have an enormous entourage. You have armed guards.

When reporters are reporting from, say, Pakistan, they're alone. So if we establish the precedent that when you kidnap somebody, you get paid for it, you're not the one who's going to suffer with the huge entourage. It's the solo reporter who is going to suffer, isn't it?

JACKSON: First of all, you don't know much about those missions. We went to get Lieutenant Robert Goodman out of Syria. That was no large entourage. We did not have diplomatic ties with them at the time, really. And somehow, we were able to convince them by talking.

We went to get the 600 women out of Yugoslavia. Had to negotiate with Saddam Hussein, having a real sense of how he dealt with the Kurds. And yet, 600 American women were at stake. And so, we must know that tactically, we cannot step away from them, all that we can to free Americans, if we take the premise leave no American behind.

CARLSON: Again, nobody is leaving an American behind. And the government is doing everything it can to get this man back. But take a look at Colombia, where people routinely pay ransoms for those who are kidnapped. Colombia's the highest kidnapping rate in the world. Why? The answer's obvious. Because it pays. And I can't imagine why you'd want to establish the precedent the United States pays when one our citizens is kidnapped.

JACKSON: You don't want to. But if your head is in the lion's mouth, then your options are limited. And therefore, you must make some -- it may be the record through the head of state. It may be with the religious order. But somehow, some way, you cannot put a price, you cannot devalue the life of Daniel in this way.

PRESS: Mr. Eagleburger, that's what gets me. I just think we've got it backwards. The Reverend Jackson, and I salute him for it, in May '99, went over and talked with Milosevic. Now you call him a terrorist. I don't know, he's certainly been labeled a war criminal. But he brought back three American servicemen. I don't care who he talked with. He brought home those three Americans. Do you condemn him for talking to Milosevic? Wasn't that worth it? Doesn't that prove that your principle's baloney?

EAGLEBURGER: Are you through now?


EAGLEBURGER: First of all, no, it doesn't prove my principle's baloney. And let me make a little bit of a distinction here. And that is, the U.S. government should never, never negotiate. When a Jesse Jackson does it on his own, I still think it's wrong. But it's not as wrong as when the government does it.

And in fact, if Jesse will recall, I was the one that talked with him about the Guttmann thing before he went off to Syria. And while we never endorsed it, neither did we tell him he couldn't do it. I frankly would've wish we'd told him no, you can't do it. At least you can't do it with any authorization from the U.S. government.

But having said all of that, and despite all your concern and your frothing at the mouth, my point still is, and I think he's right, when you do this, you need to understand you're not just saving two or one or whatever. You are condemning a whole list of them thereafter to the same sort of treatment. And so, I'm not prepared to concede to you that this is immoral. You may be the one that's immoral.

CARLSON: Jesse Jackson...

PRESS: What I remember is Ronald Reagan saying we will never negotiate with terrorists. At the same time, he was selling arms to Iran.

EAGLEBURGER: You are wrong.

PRESS: We do it all the time. Americans are on the line.


EAGLEBURGER: That's what I said earlier. We have done this before. I don't like it. Ronald Reagan was wrong to have done that. There's no argument about that in my view.

CARLSON: Now very quickly, Jesse Jackson, Secretary Eagleburger just accused you of condemning future kidnappees to being kidnapped. Have you?

JACKSON: See, I think that Mr. Eagleburger -- now we're talking tactics, not morality and patriotism, because that obligates us to act in the instance. Mr. Reagan said I should not go, but I could go because I had the right to go.


JACKSON: He welcomed Lieutenant Robert Guttmann when he got back home.


JACKSON: So there is a role for perhaps a third party situation. That's why (UNINTELLIGIBLE) whenever I've gone, whether to Cuba or Syria or Iraq, the impact of religious leaders in those countries can be critical factor in trying to achieve Americans who are locked in a tough situation.

CARLSON: OK. Jesse Jackson from Chicago. Thank you very much. Secretary Eagleburger, thank you very much.

EAGLEBURGER: My pleasure.

CARLSON: And coming up, how much should the airlines know about your personal life? Would it make you uncomfortable if Delta knew where you had dinner last night? That's a possibility. We'll debate it in a moment. See you then.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Flying the watchful skies, Federal Aviation authorities are considering a vast new electronic profiling system designed to catch potential terrorists before they get on board. The system would take into account where passengers have lived, what countries they visited, which phone numbers they've dialed, even which restaurants they've dined in. Supporters say the system would make air travel much safer. Detractors call it scary. That's our debate tonight.

Joining us, two guests whose positions on this issue can be inferred. Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the ACLU. He's in New York. And here in Washington, CNN's Kelly McCann, CEO of Crucible Security -- Bill.

PRESS: So Kelly McCann, let me just understand this. So the government's plans to build this giant computer network, where they're going to collect all the available electronic data and make a profile of every traveler, which would include as Tucker indicated, home ownership, car ownership, what magazines we read, what books we bought, what restaurants we went to, what telephone calls we made, even what brand of toothpaste we bought at the supermarket. And you're telling me this is not Big Brother?

KELLY MCCANN, SECURITY ANALYST: I don't think it's nearly as Orwellian as that. I think, that in fact...

PRESS: It's all there though, isn't it.

MCCANN: Oh, sure is. And in fact, that's the point, Bill. A lot of that information is already there. Wouldn't you agree with me if I said that the more pieces of information that are put together to get a predictive pattern in truth, the less discriminatory it is, because more things are considered to come up with a result. So in fact, we've got to look at this carefully. And we can't build a box we can't get out of.

PRESS: No, I don't agree with you at all. I think the more information you put in there, the more you're invading my privacy. And I don't like it and I don't want it.

And I want to ask you about this. I mean, let's look at what happened on 9/11.

MCCANN: Let me interrupt you.

PRESS: You have 20 guys -- I'm going to finish my question.

MCCANN: Go ahead.

PRESS: You have 20 guys come in this country. Most of them came in here legally. They were living openly.

MCCANN: Right.

PRESS: They were going to restaurants.


PRESS: They had their drivers' licenses. They were taking flying lessons to learn how to turn jets in the air, not even take off and land.


PRESS: Some of them were on the FBI's most wanted list. And the CIA and the FBI didn't do their job. And so now all of us Americans have to surrender all of our privacy, because those guys screwed up.

MCCANN: Not doing their jobs not a statement of fact. That's your opinion, number one.

PRESS: They didn't get them.

MCCANN: But number two is any business owner or even someone who says they're a business owner has a business license, has access to many, many vehicles on line that would -- I bet on you, give me eight pages of information that would show me a lineage of where you've lived, a lineage of what cars you've driven. Some would give me your Social Security number. It's already there, Bill.

So now we're into the proper management. It doesn't make it right. But it's almost like the cow that left the barn already. What are you going to do? Close the door. We can't.


MCCANN: So we can manage it better.

PRESS: I don't want the government to have it and use it.

CARLSON: Now, Barry Steinhardt, silly me, I thought this would be the sort of thing you'd be behind. The ACLU's concern and complaint for the past couple of months has been look, airport security guys are grabbing everyone with dark skin and a beard. That's racial profiling and it's unfair.

Here comes a way to target more specifically an audience, based not on what they look necessarily, but on what they've done. So it seems to me this, as Kelly McCann has suggested, makes the screening process less discriminatory, at least discriminatory on racial grounds than it was in the past. Why aren't you for this?

BARRY STEINHARDT, ACLU ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR: No, I think this makes the screening process not only more invasive, but of less value. You know, Star Trek's a very interesting television program. I watch it all the time, but I'm not prepared to have my safety when I'm flying based on neural networks and artificial intelligence.

What's going to happen here is that we're going to have a quirky computerized system that's going to attempt to predict who's a terrorist. But we can't even get the basics down.

A man walks through security in San Francisco Airport. He has residue of explosives apparently on his shoes. They let him go. Another man walks through security. He's got a bagful of knives. They let him go. Let's attend to the basics first, before we enter into a high tech profiling system of all Americans. 78, 80 million Americans fly every year.

CARLSON: Now Mr. Steinhardt, first of al, I must say the sci-fi records are over my head, but the two examples you gave are actually work against your case. In both of those cases, the airports were shut down.

And that's exactly my point. It's not that the system will target, you know, will allow airport authorities to choose the people to arrest, it's simply give them a better sense of who ought to be pulled aside for questioning. Whereas today, that questioning is either done randomly or it's done on the basis solely of appearance, something again, you're against.

STEINHARDT: No, that's not true at all. What happened, of course, in San Francisco this week is that someone went through security. They were shown -- believed to have explosive residue on their shoes. They were handed the shoes back. That was a failure of the most simple kind that we haven't addressed yet. And now we're talking about...

CARLSON: They closed the airport down. What are you talking about?

STEINHARDT: Well, they closed the airport...

CARLSON: They didn't get him. They closed the airport down until they could be certain he wasn't on an airplane.

STEINHARDT: Well, they closed the airport an hour after he went through security, which meant he could well have been on the plane. But the point is that I'm not prepared. And I think most Americans are not prepared to trust the most intimate details of our lives to a government that can't even get the basics down in airport security.

MCCANN: Barry, one of the things that the ACLU said, thought, was that you would be more in favor of bag matching than you would this system. Now you know, I got to ask you, for people who have already proven that they're very much willing to die along with this bomb, I'll match my bag. I don't care. I mean, where was the logic in that? You know, we got to understand that you have a place but...

PRESS: Do you want to answer?

STEINHARDT: There are any number of things that we can and should be doing. We should be securing the cockpits. We should be matching bags. We should be x-raying bags in the cargo hold. We're not doing all that. We're not doing all that yet.

Instead, we're talking about spending billions of dollars on an unproven technology, that's going to result in profiles created of the vast majority of the American public.

PRESS: Kelly, here's my test in all of this. I'll do anything if you can show me that this would have stopped what happened on 9/11. If this system had been in place, and these guys came up there, I didn't see how any way this would have stopped them from getting on those planes.

MCCANN: The reason is, is that the criteria.

PRESS: They were here legally.

MCCANN: Right.

PRESS: I mean, they had box cutters. Box cutters weren't banned at the time.

MCCANN: Right.

PRESS: They happened to be from some countries, but you know, we didn't know that they were terrorists. So this would've done nothing on 9/11.

MCCANN: Bill, the criteria for the selection process is classified secret. In order to protect the process, which could then be a vulnerability. So in fact, you will never know if it could have or could not have prevented 9/11. Look, the world is full.

PRESS: No, it wouldn't have.

MCCANN: The world...

PRESS: You're the expert. How could it have?

MCCANN: Because it predicted patterns of behavior. The truth is the world doesn't know what it doesn't know. And those people who start their day off with the intelligence read board everyday and look terrorism in the face and have for the last 20, 30 years, know that this is not an ambiguous threat. It's a very real threat.

CARLSON: That's right. Now Barry Steinhardt, very quickly, I know the ACLU makes a lot of money scaring Americans with that Big Brother stuff. But honestly, every time you go through the supermarket with a frequent shopping card, information is taken on you. Safeway knows more about you than airport authorities. So what -- I don't understand.

STEINHARDT: It is not the government tying all this information together, subjecting you to searches, subjecting you to questions, based on a technology, which I don't think Kelly or anybody else has demonstrated actually works. What security benefit are we getting out of this? We're getting neural networks and artificial.

MCCANN: That level of security (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Barry. It's never been tested. We're developing it. Security is dynamic. A fight by its nature is a struggle. We're struggling with this.

STEINHARDT: We can't even seem to manage to stop people who hand us their shoes that have residue of plastic explosives on them. Why are we supposed to believe that you can predict human behavior based on a million variables?

PRESS: All right, guys, this is no secret. We are out of time, but we thank you very much for joining us. Barry Steinhardt, thanks for being up there in New York. Kelly McCann, always good to have you back in the studio in the security questions. I think there'll be more of them.

And now, coming up, your favorite part of the week, Monday through Thursday, we get to fire at you, but tonight's Friday when you get to fire back at us. So when we come back, Tucker and I will take your best shots. Fire back Friday.


PRESS: If it's Friday it must be "Fire Back." And it's always so nice to hear from you. All right, the first e-mail from Mike Maples of Severe County, Tennessee who writes, "Why aren't you giving the same coverage to Global Crossing as you give to Enron? Maybe it's because the story at Global Crossing involves your Democratic Party leaders?"

Well, Mike, that's not the case. If you were watching CROSSFIRE Wednesday night, the reason we're not talking about it is because the chairman of the Republican National Committee said that Democratic Chair Terry McAuliffe had done nothing wrong, number one. He also said, number two, that people like Tucker Carlson, who are raising this issue are wrong to do so. End of story.

CARLSON: The real reason in fact is that it implicates Bill Clinton, who's already so disgraced he's not worth beating up on.

PRESS: He played golf with the guy. Big deal.

CARLSON: And now we go to an e-mail we received in response to a gun control show from last week. Brian Blevins writes, "We can tell people where they can and cannot smoke, but not where they can and cannot carry guns. Did I get that right?" Indeed you did, Brian. You raise an important point. We tell people where they can and cannot smoke far too much in this country. I say down with restrictive smoking laws. And thank you for bringing it up, Brian.

PRESS: Yes, let's put the same controls on guns that we put on cigarettes. That would be progress.


PRESS: All right. Here's the next letter from Dee from Seattle, Washington. It's addressed to me. "I donated my daughter's organs when she died at age 25. And the thought of her heart beating in a convicted felon's body would be devastating." Well, Dee, I would just say first of all, it's a wonderful thing you did to donate your daughter's organs, but not to get too biblical here, but I would just remind when Jesus said "love thy neighbor," he did not say unless they made a mistake and may have a criminal record.

CARLSON: That must be from the part of the New Testament that addresses organ transplants.

PRESS: It's called the gospel of... (CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: OK, I shall.

PRESS: Read it. It'll help you.

CARLSON: "Why is the United States agreeing to help rebuild Afghanistan," asked Jason Andrews. "I don't recall seeing Afghanistan offering to help rebuild the devastation in New York City and the Pentagon?"

Well, Jason, it turns out that a group of Afghan builders and architects have offered, but the city of New York has turned them down. It turns out that the World Trade Center would not look good in mud. It might melt when it rains. They're not taking them up on that offer.

PRESS: Boy, I was going to see for what I'm seeing -- I've been there, of the buildings in Afghanistan, I don't think that's what they had in mind. Rebuilding the World Trade Center.

CARLSON: The old Afghan architecture. That's exactly -- thanks, but no thanks.

PRESS: All right, folks. We'd love to get your e-mail. So a good thing to do over the weekend, send us your e-mails to CROSSFIRE right here at Meanwhile, from the left, I'm Bill Press. Good-night from CROSSFIRE and have a great weekend.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again on Monday for another edition of CROSSFIRE. See you then.




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