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Did Colin Powell Go too Far?; Are Surveillance Cameras Spying on You?; Was Justice Done by Giving Canadian Skaters the Gold?

Aired February 15, 2002 - 19:30   ET



COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I not only support their use, I encourage their use.


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: Did Colin Powell go too far with his remarks on condoms?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really gives us the eyes that we need to see what is going on in the city.


PRESS: Are new surveillance cameras protecting you or spying on you?


DAVID PELLETIER, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: We're happy that justice was done.


PRESS: But was justice done by giving the Canadian skaters the gold?

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press. On the right, Robert Novak. In the CROSSFIRE, Gary Bauer, president of American Values and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders. And later, Washington, D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey and Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the ACLU.

PRESS: This is CROSSFIRE. Thanks for joining us. So when will political figures learn to stay off MTV? It was on MTV, you remember, that Bill Clinton said briefs, not boxers. And it was on MTV yesterday, that Secretary of State Colin Powell said he not only supported, but encouraged, the use of condoms to prevent infection and help stop the spread of AIDS. Conservatives went bananas, accusing him of contradicting the Bush administration's policy on abstinence. And then conservatives went even more bananas when the White House said that Powell was right, for sexually-active people.

And so the great condom war is on. Are they as effective as Colin Powell says? And now that the Bush administration is for them, is it time for conservatives to admit defeat? -- Bob.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Dr. Elders, do you realize what Colin Powell, who is unquestionably one of the most admired men in the country and the world has done? People trying to get young people to abstain to live a moral life, when he has said, boy, if you can't control yourself, at least use a condom? Isn't he saying, anything goes? We don't really worry about you if you use a condom?

JOCELYN ELDERS, FMR. U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I don't feel that the Secretary's saying that at all. I think he is saying that we care about our young people. We want to protect our young people from disease, from unplanned, unwanted pregnancies. And he is saying that if you choose to be sexually active, will you please use a condom. We want to give you all the information, empower you with the knowledge, so that you can make responsible decisions.

PRESS: Well, Gary Bauer, first of all, you always said, you know, that George Bush wasn't conservative enough. I guess now you can say proof is the in the pudding, but I'd like all of our listeners to first -- viewers to listen what Colin Powell had to say yesterday.


PRESS: I'd like to listen to it. And then I've got a question for you. And this is Colin Powell on MTV.

BAUER: Right.


POWELL: It is important that the whole international community come together, speak candidly about it, forget about taboos, forget about conservative ideas with respect to what you should tell young people about. It's the lives of young people that are put at risk by unsafe sex and therefore protect yourself.


PRESS: Now Gary, you're a realist. You know, you win some battles and you lose some.

BAUER: Right.

PRESS: Now this is a condom battle you've been fighting a long time. The medical community, health professionals have always been against you. Now the Bush White House is against you, Gary Bauer. Are you ready to do what the Secretary of State suggests and forget about your conservative ideas and accept reality? BAUER: Wouldn't you love if I would forget about my conservative ideas, Bill.

PRESS: Go for it.

BAUER: Look, Bill, the evidence here is actually more and more on the side of those of us that are have argued against condoms. Secretary Powell is a good man but, even good men make mistakes. And he made a serious mistake this week.

The National Institute of Health just did a study a few months ago, indicating that there's no research evidence that condoms are effective. Let me point something else -- Bill, let me point out something else. I know the facts are disturbing, but there they are.

American teenagers are using more condoms now than any time in the history of our country. That's been true year after year after year. But guess what? Sexually transmitted diseases are going up, not down, Bill. They're not effective. 14-year-olds who can't even remember to put on the right shoes, they don't use condoms effectively.

NOVAK: Go ahead, doctor.

ELDERS: The study that you're talking about, which was done by the NIH, the CDC, FDA and USAID said there was an 85 percent decrease in HIV transmission in persons who use condoms. So 85 percent decrease. And you said that's not effective? Are you saying are our teenagers are more -- pardon?

BAUER: Dr. Elders, for most of our young people, AIDS is not going be the risk they're most at risk for. It's the growth of gonorrhea, of syphilis, of chlamidia and of the virus...

ELDERS: We are a...

BAUER: Let me finish, let me finish, please. And of the virus which causes America's young women to get cervical cancer. You are a doctor, Dr. Elders. Are you telling me that condoms prevent that virus from being spread? All the evidence indicates that virus spreads through condoms.

ELDERS: You're talking about HIV.

BAUER: I know what I'm talking about.

ELDERS: But it certainly prevents the others. We can treat all of the...

BAUER: So cervical cancer...

PRES: Let her finish now.

ELDERS: We are not able to treat HIV disease. We are not able to handle other things. So I think that there is no question. You know, I'm not saying that condoms protect against HPV, but women are getting pap smears and we're able to treat them early.

BAUER: Doctor, why are venereal diseases among our young people going up at the same time that you're using more condoms? They've been following your advice for 15 years. It's failing. One of the great things about being a liberal in America is you never have to admit you're wrong.

ELDERS: You know, we've not educated our young people. You know, we always talk about what we've done. We've not empowered our children with the knowledge so they can make decisions. Why is it that every other country in the world, their young people can make good decisions, but we feel that ours shouldn't have the knowledge so they can?

NOVAK: All righ Dr. Elders, let me talk about -- let me bring in another witness. Mr. Bauer's former associate, James Dobson of Focus on the Family and talking about decisions. And he says the following about General Powell's remarkable statement. We can put it up on the screen.

"As one who has distinguished himself in the armed services, surely Mr. Powell must understand the importance of self-control and discipline. These very characteristics are helpoing to win the war against terrorism and disease, same traits that can keep young people from HIV infection through abstinence."

Dr. Elders, I want to ask you a question. I'm quite serious. Are you at all interested in instilling a sense of self control in our young people?

ELDERS: Absolutely. And I feel the only way you can instill self control is to instill knowledge so people can make decisions. We don't want to teach them what to think. We want to teach them how to think. And the only we can do that is to empower them with the knowledge to make good decisions.

BAUER: Bill, there's a perfect example of the divide in the country. Dr. Elders just said we don't want to teach them what to think. Of course, we want to teach them what to think. A healthy society wants to pass on to its children our values. We want to teach them to love the things we love and to honor the things we honor. We don't want 13 and 14-year-olds making profound decisions about love and sex.

PRESS: But here's, I think, what you don't recognize. And I come back to not accepting reality. I think Colin Powell put his finger on it. You probably expected the White House to say, "Colin Powell's off the ranch." They didn't. They said Colin Powell was absolutely right because of what he said. I'd like you to listen to another quick bite from Colin Powell from MTV yesterday.


PRESS: Where he said he was talking about sexually active people. Here's Colin Powell again.


POWELL: I not only support their use, I encourage their use among people who are sexually active and need to protect themselves.


PRESS: So if all these teenagers were like little monks and little nuns, that would be fine. But the fact is a lot of them are going to be sexually active. And what Colin Powell is saying, if they are, then at least be safe. Gary, you've got to admit that.

BAUER: Bill, no, but the evidence is that they are not safe.

PRESS: They're a lot safer than they are if they're getting pregnant and getting AIDS.

BAUER: Tell that to a man whose daughter has cervical cancer. Bill...

NOVAK: Let me get one more question...



NOVAK: Let me get another question in, Dr. Elders. Dr. Elders, are you aware that the use of abstience, teaching of abstinence in Uganda, what Secretary Powell was asked about originally, the spread of AIDS in Africa, are you aware that it has really cut down the AIDS in Uganda much more than these attempted condom programs elsewhere in the continent?

ELDERS: You know, Mr. Novak, educating people, providing them with the knowledge they need about how they -- a disease is transmitted, what they can do to prevent that disease, will reduce the spread of disease any place.


PRESS: Go ahead.

BAUER: Again, the facts when presented to Dr. Elders are ignored. We have been throwing condoms at our kids in urban schools around this country. We've got more out of wedlock pregnancies, more abortion, and more deadly venereal disease.

NOVAK: I'm going to have to throw you off the air. Thank you very much.

BAUER: Thank you.

NOVAK: Thank you very much, Dr. Elders in Little Rock.

Coming up next on CROSSFIRE, is it OK for Big Brother to snoop on us? And then, a second gold medal to solve the Olympic skating scandal. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Cameras always have been prolific in Washington, D.C. Tourist cameras, journalists cameras, cameras for passport photos, but now we have a different kind of camera, surveillance cameras.

The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington is building a citywide surveillance system, linking hundreds of cameras, watching over streets, shopping areas and whole neighborhoods. Did anybody say privacy?

Republican Congresswoman Constance Morella, who represents the Maryland suburbs adjoining Washington, did. And she plans to hold hearings. And it's not just here in the Capitol. Surveillance cameras are being set up all over the country, coast to coast.

Joining us now are Chief Charles Ramsey of the Washington, D.C. police department and Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU -- Bill Press.

PRESS: Mr. Steinhardt, bear with me, I want to tell you a litle bit about my day today. I want downtown in the D.C. metro, surveillance camera. I had a doctors appointment. You can hear why, went into the medical building, surveillance camera. Came back out, took the Metro, went to the pharmacy, got my prescription, surveillance camera. Came here to CNN, walked down the hall to my office, surveillance camera. So now they're going put a surveillance camera at the corner of M and Wisconsin in Washington. What's the big deal?

BARRY STEINHARDT, ACLU ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR: Well, what the big deal here is we're creating the D.C., a massive infrastructure for all these cameras. The notion is that we're going to tie all these systems together. This is really the first time in this country that we have created what amounts to a Big Brother integrated surveillance system anywhere.

We have that kind of system in the United Kingdom. And we know two things about it from the experience in the United Kingdom. One is it doesn't reduce crime. And second, it's been abused by police officials, both who use it for the purposes of video voyeurism and who unfortunately, train it on people of color, because who operate these cameras have all the same prejudices of any human being.

NOVAK: Chief Ramsey, I have to tell you how embarrassed I am to be opposing you and on the same side as the ACLU. I can't even remember when we've been on the same side, but I wonder if you can understand how it is that a conservative and a libertarian is very much afraid of Big Brother, doesn't like to be observed, even by a reputable police officer like you? Can you understand that?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CHIEF, D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE: I can understand it. And if things were as bad as I just heard, I wouldn't be in favor of it either, but that's not what we're doing. We're talking about monitoring public spaces. There's a couple things going on. One, some of the critical buildings we have here in Washington, D.C., in light of various terrorist threats and so forth, but also a lot of areas where we have a lot of crime problems, breaking into automobiles, things of that nature.

We aren't building some huge infrastructure. We're tapping into existing cameras, whether they be traffic cameras or other cameras that we have, set up for that purpose. But they are in public space. They're silent. And we can't overhear any conversations. And I think it's a very useful law enforcement tool.

NOVAK: Well, Gary.

STEINHARDT: The difference of course is this is the first time in American history that a municipality's attempted to tie all these systems together. And they've done it really so far, without any oversight from any political body.

I'm glad to see that Congressman Morella and the D.C. City Council are going to begin to get into this and hold some hearings because we have no guidelines on how these cameras can be used. And the truth is that technology that's available to the D.C. Police advances every day. It has been become more and more powerful. And in the hands of people who have the potential to abuse it, and unfortunately we have instances where members of the District of Columbia police force and others have abused the authority in their hands, it represents a grave danger to us.

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, I'm -- first of all, let me say that I'm proud that we're first to really kind of push the envelope on this issue. And I think that it's only fair to say that you and Mr. Johnny Barnes, who is the executive director of ACLU here in D.C. are going to actually going visit the Center Tuesday and take a look and see what we're doing, actually take a look at our policy around this. And I welcome you to do that. I think we need that kind of discussion.

STEINHARDT: Well I appreciate the invitation. And we'll certainly take you up on it.

PRESS: All right let me come in with another question. By the way, I want to point out, I am a proud member of the ACLU, unlike Mr. Novak, but I'm also a citizen of this city. And I'll just give you one example. It's right outside of CNN First Street, Northeast. There's a two block section. At night time, we don't even let our staff or our guests walk from here to Union Station because it's a street that's not safe.

Now if they can put a camera out there, light that street and put a camera out there, you can't have a cop on every street. You can't have a cop on every intersection. Isn't this just a good police tool if used correctly?

STEINHARDT: Well, you know, we ought to look actually at the facts here. We have a huge experiment, using exactly that kind of technology in the United Kingdom. There are supposedly two million police surveillance cameras in the United Kingdom.

And we found out two things. One is it doesn't reduce the crime rate. It just moves crime, at best, it moves crime from where the cameras are to where they aren't. And secondly, the police have abused it. And we need to ask ourselves whether this is really a contest between security and privacy, if there's no real security benefit. We're being hoodwinked in a sense.

RAMSEY: Well, I don't know what kind of study you're looking at, but it has had an impact on crime. But this isn't the U.K. This is the United States. We have...

STEINHARDT: Care to cite the statistics on that, sir?

RAMSEY: And you can cite all the statistics you want. I'm not interested in abusing anybody's rights, but I think this is a legitimate tool that we can use in law enforcement. And if what people want is safety and security on their streets, they have to face the fact that there can't be a cop at every street corner.

Every time you go to an ATM, somebody's taking your picture. You can't walk into a department store without somebody watching you. The reality of life in the 21st century is a lot different. Now granted we had need to look at controls, we need to make sure there are safeguards. I'm 100 percent in favor of that. But to say that we don't need these kinds of systems and take advantage of the technology that's there, I think is foolish.

STEINHARDT: Well, they made the appropriate...

NOVAK: Chief Ramsey, let me see if you can appreciate my concern. I've lived in this city almost 46 years. And the city has really changed. I had to walk from the Commerce Department to my office on Pennsylvania Avenue. And the police had expanded the zone around the White House about six blocks. I had to go -- it took me almost 45 minutes to walk. There's ugly bunkers up on Capitol Hill. There is, Osama bin Laden said he wanted to take our freedom away from us. And isn't being surveilled by Big Brother, isn't that part of taking your freedom away from you?

RAMSEY: No, I don't think so. I think it's just facing the realities of times we have now. And it has nothing to do that much with terrorism. Street robberies, muggings, breaking in autos. Last year during the NBA All Star Game, we had surveillance set up around the MCI Center. We actually caught an individual breaking into cars that were parked along E Street. Again, I think it's a good application of technology. We were able to dispatch immediately to the scene. We're not trying to invade anybody's privacy, but we...

STEINHARDT: Well, chief, you come from a department where a high ranking officer abused that trust, and actually invaded the privacy, stalked people, relying on confidential police investigations.

NOVAK: What are you talking about?

RAMSEY: What are you talking about here? I'm trying to get up to speed here.

STEINHARDT: I'm talking about the former lieutenant in your fraud unit, who was associated with your former police chief.

PRESS: But he's gone. Wait...

RAMSEY: And not only that, that predates me. I mean, we could on and on. And I could talk about abuses in the legal profession.

STEINHARDT: I understand, but the point is...I'm sure.

PRESS: Yes, but Barry, I want to point out, I know that case. And that was a guy that was stalking people. He wasn't using cameras to doing -- he was sending...

STEINHARDT: No, but he was using confidential police information. And that is the problem with putting all this technology and all this information in the hands of police officers in a way that cannot ultimately be controlled.

PRESS: No, but one quick, final question. You have heard this chief state his commitment that these cameras are being used to look for crime. They're not being used to see if there's a congressman out there holding hands with a girlfriend who's not his wife. This is not an invasion of privacy. It's just to protect those areas where cops can't be. Do you see ever admitting cameras in that kind of a case?

STEINHARDT: Well, you know, when my parents gave were getting a Social Security card in the '30s, federal law promiseed them that Social Security number would not be used for any other other purpose. We all know that that didn't work out. When my children got them as infants, and they got to be older, they knew perfectly well that Social Security number would be used for all sorts of purposes. Databases, technology, improves for one purpose and inevitably used for others.

PRESS: Gentlemen, that's got to be it. It is going to be a very interesting meeting on Tuesday. Chief Ramsey, thanks for joining us.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

PRESS: Barry Steinhardt, thanks for being there tonight.

STEINHARDT: Thank you.

PRESS: Good luck on Tuesday.

And when we return, the big Olympics figure skating controversy has quickly been resolved, but will it make everybody happy? Will it make Bob Novak happy?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do hope we get the bronze, too, so we can get the entire collection.


PRESS: No wonder the Canadians are so happy. They got their gold medal, after all. And the Russians also got to keep theirs. And that French judge, who threw the decision to the Russians, even though everybody admits the Canadians skated better, was suspended. I say bravo. A quick fix and a great decision that should make everybody happy.

Bob, this is the Solomonesque decision. Canadians have theirs. Russians have theirs. Everybody should be happy, including you.

NOVAK: Bill, let me tell you something. You're not a sports fan and I am. And President Kennedy once said life is unfair. There's a lot of unfair things in sports. I have seen my Maryland basketball team get screwed by the referees many times. The United States 1976 basketball team was screwed by the Soviet Union, didn't get the gold medal.

And then you know, I remember years ago that one team in a big college football game got five downs. One scored the touchdown. They didn't reverse the thing. But I want to tell you one other thing, Bill.

PRESS: Yes, Bob?

NOVAK: There were judges not being suspended, not being kicked out, who thought the Russians won. Can you explain that? One judge couldn't have give the gold to the Russians. What about the straight judges who thought they won?

PRESS: Well, Bob, here's what happened. The Russians and the French made a deal. There are several French officials now who admitted pressure was on the French judge to make a deal. And she made the deal.

NOVAK: Don't act like a...

PRESS: That stinks. That...

NOVAK: ...politician. One judge couldn't have done it.

PRESS: No, she could because it was a 5:4 decision. She...

NOVAK: Well, what about the othe four judges?

PRESS: No, but it was 5:4. She could've gone this way or that way. She had a pressure to go that way. And she did. And the Canadians skated better. Bob, and they should've fixed it. They did fix.

NOVAK: Bill, all the world is seeing that you can't explain how those other four judges voted for the Russians. Maybe it was a close contest. PRESS: Let me try it again. You've got four here. You've got four here. There's a judge in the middle. Which way does she go? She gets the pressure to go to the Russians. And she does. She steps out.

NOVAK: Get out of here.

PRESS: From the left, that's it. Have a good weekend, everybody. Goodnight from CROSSFIRE. I'm Bill Press. We want to hear your -- see your e-mails. Send them to us at For Bill, Bob and Tucker.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak, enjoy all that wonderful ice skating. See you again next time.




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