CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Colin Powell discusses situation in Afghanistan; Joe Biden and Henry Hyde discuss Bush Policies
Aired February 17, 2002 - 12:00 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.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington; 10 a.m. in Salt Lake City; 9:30 p.m. in Kabul; and 2 a.m. Monday in Tokyo. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for Late Edition.
We'll get to our interview with the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in just a moment, but first, this news alert.
BLITZER: Now back to our top story. President and Mrs. Bush have just begun a week-long visit to Japan, South Korea and China. The agenda includes the war against terrorism, economic reform, arms proliferation and human rights abuses.
A short while ago, I spoke with the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who is traveling with the president in Tokyo.
BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.
And I want to get to the president's trip to Asia in just a moment, but first, a few questions about the war in Afghanistan.
There's a lot of turmoil going on in Afghanistan right now -- assassination, according to the interim leader, Hamid Karzai, of a cabinet minister.
Is the United States going to get involved and try to help quiet the situation?
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, we're doing everything we can, Wolf. As you know, our embassy people were out at the airport assisting with those pilgrims that are trying to get to Mecca, and we really regret the loss of the minister. I don't know if he was killed by the mob or, as chairman Karzai suggested, he might have been assassinated.
But I think this is something that the interim authority can handle with the International Security Assistance Force people who are there. I don't see a need for additional U.S. troops, if that was the suggestion of your question. BLITZER: Well, he is also suggesting that the Saudi government extradite some individuals, some government officials, Afghan officials, who may have fled to Saudi Arabia. Would the U.S. encourage the Saudis to do that?
POWELL: Well, certainly if there are people who have gotten to Saudi Arabia that Chairman Karzai would like to have back in custody and he has a basis for having them back in custody, I hope the Saudis would reciprocate.
BLITZER: As far as you know right now, is Osama bin Laden still alive?
POWELL: I have no idea, Wolf. I don't know if Osama bin Laden is alive or dead and, if he's alive, where he might be. I do not know.
BLITZER: How worried are you, though, about that simple fact that the United States government, with its vast intelligence resources, simply doesn't know the whereabouts or even if Osama bin Laden is alive?
POWELL: Well, it's not that hard to imagine. It is not hard to have one individual hide like that.
But when you're hiding like that and you're on the run, you are not as effective as you were a few months earlier when you have a network, where you were calling people, where you had people coming to see you, and where you were controlling an organization.
Right now he is a fugitive on the run, if he is alive. And he knows darn well that if he tries to exercise in any active way any authorities that he still thinks he has remaining, he would put himself at even greater risk.
So he's on the run, and in due course, he will be found and he will be brought to justice or justice brought to him.
BLITZER: You testified earlier this week before the Senate, and you spoke about the situation as far as Iraq is concerned. I want you to listen to a brief excerpt of what you had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL: With respect to Iraq, it has long been, for several years now, a policy of the United States government that regime change would be in the best interest of the region, the best interest of the Iraqi people. And we're looking at a variety of options that would bring that about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, is one of those options a full-scale military strike against Iraq?
POWELL: There are lots of options, and I don't want to get into individual options. Of course, there are military options, there are diplomatic and political options, and there are combinations of these options. But I don't want to single out specific ones, such as a full-scale, Desert-Storm-type attack.
The president is not in receipt of any recommendation from his advisers at this time, but all options are on the table.
We're working also aggressively within the U.N. to approve the sanctions regime. As the president has said, let the inspectors in. They are tied with the sanctions regime. That's why the sanctions are there.
The Iraqis are going around, trying to get support around the world. And the easiest way for them to get the support they need and see if there is a way out of this mess is to let the inspectors in to see whether are not developing weapons of mass destruction.
Even then, though, the United States believes the Iraqi people would still be better off with a new kind of leadership that is not trying to hide this sort of development on activity on weapons of mass destruction and is not of the despotic nature that the Saddam Hussein regime is.
BLITZER: As you know, the comments of the president in the State of the Union address, branding Iraq, Iran, North Korea as an axis of evil, has generated a lot of concern, especially among the European allies.
In fact, the New York Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman wrote this on Wednesday. He said, "President Bush thinks the axis of evil is Iran, Iraq and North Korea, and the Europeans think it is Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Condi Rice."
How concerned are you about the angry European reaction?
POWELL: Well, there has been some angry European reaction, as you call it, but there's also been, I think, some clear-headed reality within Europe at the same time, that it's hard not to look at a regime, such as Iraq, which is developing these kinds of weapons and is ignoring the international community.
All our European friends should be that outraged that this regime is ignoring, for 10 years now, the international community's direction to it. I think my European colleagues who are doing business with Iran should also be concerned over the fact that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and the means by which those weapons could be delivered. So that should be of great concern to them, as well.
And so there's a bit of a stir in Europe, but it's a stir, I think, we'll be able to manage with consultations, with contacts of the kind I have almost every day with my European colleagues. And we'll find a way to move forward that will gather the support we need.
What the president has said is, "I'm calling it the way it is." He did it in a very straightforward, direct, realistic way that tends to, you know, jangle people's nerves. But once they settle down and understand that he is going to go about this in a prudent, disciplined, determined way, they realize that's what leadership is about, and they begin to understand why it might make sense for them to join in whatever efforts we may be getting ready to undertake.
BLITZER: Some of the European leaders are not happy with what they see as a go-it-alone, unilateral U.S. approach.
Joschka Fischer, the foreign minister of Germany, said this. He said, "An alliance partnership among free democracies can't be reduced to submission. Alliance partners are not satellites (ph). All European foreign ministers see it that way. That is why the phrase `axis of evil' leads nowhere."
And Chris Patten, the European Union's commissioner for external affairs, a friend of yours, said on Thursday, "My answer is not that the unilateralist's urge is wicked but that it is ultimately ineffective and self-defeating."
Those are pretty strong words from allies of the United States.
POWELL: Strong words. Joschka and I have talked a couple of times this week. And I have the greatest respect for Chris Patten and the others who have spoken out, my other colleague in Paris, Hubert Vedrine, the foreign minister of France. But I think we need to just slow down a little bit.
What unilateral action have we taken that is causing them to get so upset? The president made a statement in his speech, a clear statement, identifying nations that deserve to be labeled as "evil" because of the nature of their regimes. And now we're in discussions with our allies.
So what unilateral action have we taken that has them all so shocked? We're in the process of examining all our options within the U.N., within the context of the conversations that the president has with heads of state and government on a regular business, within the context of all the consultations that I have with Hubert Vedrine, with Joschka Fischer. And in due course, I'll have a chance to talk to Chris Patten and Javier Solana of the European Union.
POWELL: So we're in touch with them, it's just that they get a little upset when the president speaks with such clarity and such direction. But that's what leadership is about.
And I'm sure, as we go forward, as we discuss these matters with them, I hope we'll see some of this excitement calm down a bit.
Our policy with respect to North Korea remains one of hoping they will engage. We haven't taken that off the table. We've asked North Korea, "Come, let's talk. Anytime, anyplace, without any preconditions. We're waiting."
Does that mean we can't identify the nature of that regime for what it is, evil? It is evil -- not the people of North Korea, but the regime itself and the way it has conducted it's business for the last 50 years. Because we are waiting for the inspectors to get into Iraq, we should ignore the nature of that regime? My European colleagues should be pounding on Iraq as quickly as they pound on us when the president makes a strong, principled speech.
With respect to Iran, some good things have been happening there, but some not-so-good things have been happening.
And so, I think the president's characterization was an accurate one, and perhaps some of the condemnatory language we have been hearing should be directed toward these nations as opposed to the president's very powerful and clear and honest statement.
BLITZER: One other point about Iraq before we move on. Ken Adelman, a former Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, wrote in The Washington Post this week his assessment, insisting that a U.S. military invasion, strike against Iraq would be relatively simple.
He said, "I believe demolishing Saddam Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: One, it was a cakewalk last time. Two, they have become much weaker. Three, we've become much stronger. And, four, now we're playing for keeps."
Do you agree with Ken Adelman's assessment?
POWELL: Well, I'm a great admirer of Ken Adelman. I mean, we were brothers in arms, so to speak, in the Reagan years. But I think I will let the United States military leadership determine what kind of an operation it will be, and let them, rather than journalists and pundits, determine what will be a cakewalk or not a cakewalk.
BLITZER: As far as the president's upcoming trip to China is concerned, that's obviously very, very important, but I want to remind our views around the world what the president said as a candidate in 1999 about the U.S.-China relationship. Listen to this clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China is a competitor, not a strategic partner. We must deal with China without ill will, but without illusions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is that statement still applicable today?
POWELL: I think it fits the circumstances. We're not using either "competitor" or "strategic partner." I think we have to not try to capture this very complex relationship with a single sound byte.
The president's position toward China is very clear: Let's cooperate in areas where we can cooperate. Where there are differences, let's talk about them. And when there are serious differences where we have a fundamental disagreement, we will let you know the nature of that fundamental disagreement and see if we can do something about that.
And I think that our relationship with China has been improving steadily ever since the president took office. Everybody thought there was going to be a major crisis when we had the incident with the reconnaissance plane that ran into the -- was run into by the Chinese fighter plan. But we came through that, because both countries realized we have bigger equities to work with.
China is now a member of the World Trading Organization. We have a growing trading relationship with China. And we're concerned about religious freedom in China, and the president will be discussing this with President Jiang Zemin. We're concerned about individual rights. We're concerned about proliferation of weapons.
We will discuss all of these items with the Chinese, but we'll do it straight up, eyeball to eyeball. And at the same time, we will work in those areas where there is good cooperation with respect to economic activity and trade relations. Although there is more that we need to do with trade relations as well, especially in the field of agriculture.
POWELL: So it's a complex relationship, and we no longer try to reduce it to a simple sound byte, because it doesn't do justice to the complexity of the relationship and, frankly, the way in which the relationship is moving forward in such a positive direction.
BLITZER: And just to nail down the situation with North Korea, despite North Korea's being a member of what the president calls the axis of evil, the United States is still prepared to have a dialogue with North Korea in coordination with South Korea's so-called Sunshine Policy, right?
POWELL: The president has said repeatedly, before his State of the Union address and since his State of the Union address, that we do want to have a dialogue with Korea. We support what the South Koreans have been doing. They have been reaching out. They have been trying to engage the North Koreans.
We also will keep within the framework agreement that we signed with the North Koreans in 1994, providing them with energy sources in the future. We provide humanitarian aid in the form of food to the North Koreans. And we note that the North Koreans are staying within the missile test moratorium that they said they would stay in a few years ago.
So there are things to work with here. But at the same time, the president will not look away from the nature of that regime and just compliment them on these other somewhat positive elements in the relationship with respect to the framework agreement of 1994 moratorium.
They are still developing weapons that they plan to sell to other irresponsible nations. And I think we have to call them to account. They are a despotic regime. And that is not just my opinion, it's an absolute statement of fact. Anybody can see it.
So we're inviting it to come out, to end the escalation and to find a way to engage with the South, to engage with us, to engage with other nations and start to build a better life for the Korean people. That's all the president wants. He wants a better life for the people of North Korea. He would like them to start to enjoy the fruits of their labor the way the people of South Korea have. And that's going to be the positive message he will deliver in South Korea next week.
BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, while I have you, the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians is deteriorating seemingly on a daily basis. Whatever happened to General Zinni, Anthony Zinni, your special Middle East envoy, staying in the region until there is a cease-fire, until there is an end to this violence?
POWELL: General Zinni is there to help put in place a security arrangement where both sides will do everything they can to bring a cease-fire agreement. We sent him in twice. We brought him out. He is available. He is ready to go back in when circumstances warrant.
I have given a set of conditions to the Palestinian side, things that we need to see movement on or there is no point right now in sending General Zinni back. We need to see people arrested. We need to see more done with respect to reducing the violence.
When the violence goes down, I think we will have a situation where General Zinni can go back in, use that quieter period to put in place the security arrangement that will keep it quiet, get us into the Tenet work plan, get us into the Mitchell peace plan, and move forward.
The situation right now is not good, just as you say, Wolf. It's unstable. And we had the car bomb, and then that's responded to with a strike by the Israelis, and that's responded to with another bombing of some kind, and we get nowhere. Neither side will prevail on this test of arms. And the sooner we can get quiet and a cease-fire, the sooner we can be on our way to negotiations which will provide a solution under the terms of U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338.
BLITZER: Finally, Mr. Secretary, on the comments you made on that MTV interview by condom use generated some concern among conservatives here in the United States, although your views were endorsed by the White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, speaking on behalf of the president.
Any second thoughts, though, about how you phrased your comments, given the concern, if not outrage, some conservatives have expressed here?
POWELL: Absolutely not. I was talking to a worldwide audience of 17- to 25-year-olds. I was on 33 MTV channels, talking to 375 million households around the world. And the question came to me with respect to sexually active youngsters.
POWELL: I'm a great believer in abstinence programs. My wife and I participated in the founding of such programs. We've funded them with my America's Promise activity. We preach this kind of message of abstinence to young people.
The United States policy, with respect to this issue, starts with abstinence, then faithfulness, but then condoms for the simple reason that people are sexually active around the world. And HIV-AIDS is not just a disease; it is a disease and it is a pandemic that is destroying the lives of millions of people around the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. And we have to do everything we can to teach people that, if they're going to be sexually active, they have to protect themselves.
People will disagree as to how effective condoms are. We believe they are effective, and we do have government programs that provide them. And so we have a comprehensive program that begins with abstinence.
And so I have no apology for the way in which I answered the question, and the reason why Mr. Fleischer embraced that position is because it was part of our overall, comprehensive policy.
I co-chair the president's Cabinet-level task force, with Secretary of Health and Human Resources Tommy Thomson, on HIV-AIDS. Why the secretary of state and secretary of health and human services? Because it is not just a domestic problem; it is a worldwide problem that affects our national security. And we can't blind ourselves to it or hide behind old shibboleths.
And when I said that we've got to get rid of conservative views, I wasn't talking about political conservative views, capital C. I was talking about small c. In many undeveloped nations, people don't want to talk about it. They hide behind old cultural mores and tribal shibboleths. We have to get rid of that so that we can educate youngsters to protect themselves, educate youngsters why they should abstain, why they should be faithful.
But if they are going to be sexually active, we've got to educate them how to protect themselves. And one way to do that is with condoms. And for to me have said anything else would have been irresponsible. And as my daughter told me when I was getting ready for MTV, "Dad, don't try to snow these kids."
BLITZER: Your daughter gave you good advice as usual.
Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. Have a safe journey. Good luck in Asia.
POWELL: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: And up next, we'll get perspective from Capitol Hill on the president's Asia trip, the war on terror and the axis of evil. We'll be joined by two powerful chairman, Democrat Joe Biden of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Republican Henry Hyde of the House International Relations Committee.
Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We expect there to be transparency. People who have got something to hide make us nervous, particularly those who have gassed their own citizens in the past, for example.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush addressing U.S. troops at an Air Force base in Alaska on Saturday. He was on his way to Asia.
Welcome back to Late Edition.
Joining us now, in Wilmington, Delaware, Democratic Senator Joe Biden, he's chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and in our Chicago bureau, Republican Congressman Henry Hyde, he's the chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
Gentlemen, welcome back to Late Edition.
And, Chairman Hyde, let me begin with you on what we just heard the secretary in that last Q & A that we just went through. He's not apologizing at all for his position on condom use around the world, despite some severe criticism he took from some conservatives here in the United States, who didn't think he went far enough in supporting abstinence as the only choice really to try to deal with some of these problems.
How do you feel about what the secretary had to say?
REP. HENRY HYDE (R-IL), CHMN. INTERNAT'L RELATIONS CMTE: Well, I'm not critical of Secretary Powell. I think he was addressing a limited audience, namely, sexually active teenagers. Now, if you're dealing with people that are engaged in sexual conduct, I think it's wise to warn them of the consequences and some preventive method.
But I don't think he was advocating promiscuous sexuality for teenagers. On the contrary, he moves in the other direction.
So I don't have any complaints with the secretary's comment.
BLITZER: I'm sure, Senator Biden, you don't either, but I'll give you a chance to comment on that.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), CHMN. FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE: Well, I think he was dead right, and he was stating U.S. policy. You know, we spend, this administration, the last administration, $200 million a year on foreign assistance relating to this very issue.
AIDS is a security question for us, not just a humanitarian question. And, you know, all that leadership over there, in Africa, in other countries is literally dying off. Schoolteachers are literally dying of HIV-AIDS quicker than we have teaching schools to put them back in play. So it is a gigantic problem, and I think he was just stating the obvious.
BLITZER: Chairman Hyde, on the whole issue of the criticism being leveled against the Bush administration, so-called unilateralism that is being waged in dealing with some of the issues, presumably Iraq at the forefront, how concerned should this administration be about the criticism coming from the European allies?
HYDE: Well, it's unfortunate. I don't think we should welcome the criticism. But on the other hand, I think it's overblown.
As Secretary Powell said, what have we done that's unilateralist? We have tried to put together a worldwide coalition opposed to terrorism. We're working very hard to accomplish that. And the president should not be criticized for being a straight shooter and calling a spade a spade.
As the secretary said, these European countries that are miffed ought to spend as much time exercising their displeasure at Iran for developing weapons of mass destruction, for supplying the Palestinians with -- what was it? -- 20 tons of weaponry in a ship, at Saddam Hussein for his abuse of his people, his development of weapons of mass destruction, and North Korea.
So get angry at those countries' failure to have inspections and assurances to the world they're not going to blow us up, rather than get angry at the straight-shooting president.
BLITZER: Chairman Biden, the French foreign minister calls the Bush administration's so-called "axis of evil" comments simplistic, and the French, of course, not the only European ally who's very unhappy with this whole posture taken by the Bush ministration.
Are you among those who are criticizing the president?
BIDEN: No, look, as Henry said, this is a complicated relationship we have with the Europeans. And I think what's you are hearing now, Wolf, is concern about essentially an unfinished story.
The president came out and made this comment about "axis of evil." The night he made it, there were even American newspeople wondering whether or not he was talking about invading not only Iraq, but Iran and Korea, and why were they the same?
And since that period the president and the secretary of state and his administration have begun to refine the differences among the three nations, and say, no, we're still willing to talk to Iran, and we're still willing to talk to North Korea, we welcome talking to them. Yet the night it was made, most people thought talk was all over.
BIDEN: And as a matter of fact some conservative columnists and pundits said, you know, this is the way to do it; no more talking.
Well, the president has since refined it. And I think you're going to see the Europeans refine their criticism as well, as the president begins to lay out in more detail what he means.
And so, I don't think unexpected. It's very important, though, that we get it right, because if we are going to end up having to use force in Iraq or other places, we're going to need overflight ability; we're going need basing arrangements; we're going to need things that will diminish the prospect of American women and men being killed in the effort. And so it does matter that we get it right.
But I think it's predictable that until the president lays out in much more detail what he means and what he has in mind, that they're going to worry, like they did in the first half of this administration, the first eight months that he was going to go off half-cocked.
And then we hit a real serious problem, and the president did exactly what they didn't expect. He sat down, he talked to them, he made the case to them, he put together a coalition. And so, they're sort of back to square one again.
And it's up to the president, I think -- and I think he clearly can do it, and I think he'll be doing it in Asia -- is to go out and say, look this is what I mean and this is the detail. So I think he can get it right.
BLITZER: Chairman Hyde, picking up on that point, I want you to weigh in, but I also want you to listen to what the former Vice President Al Gore told the Council on Foreign Relations the other day here in Washington, about the whole criticism being leveled against the way the administration is waging its international policy. Listen to Al Gore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The administration in which I served looked at the challenges we face in the world and said, "We wish to tackle these with others if possible, alone if we must."
This administration sometimes seems inclined to stand that on its head, so that the message is: "With others if we must, by ourselves if possible."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Fair criticism on the part of Gore?
HYDE: I don't think so. I think the facts are clear. We haven't done any unilateralist actions that had any real significance. We are in constant touch with our allies, our associates, in the coalition. You heard Colin Powell say that. So I think that's an unfair, unwarranted criticism.
Of course we have to have other countries supporting us. We cannot and should not have to -- it would be very unfair to the American people for us to go it alone. But if I could harken back to the "axis of evil" comment, there are an awful lot of people who are very unhappy with President Reagan when he referred to the Soviet Union, the then-Soviet Union, as an evil empire. They thought that was crossing the line, little realizing that having the president of the United States call the country what it was gave a lot of hope to people in and behind the iron curtain.
So I'm not upset about the president's use of rather realistic language.
BLITZER: All right, gentlemen, stand by. We're going to take a quick break.
When we come back, a lot move to talk about, including what's next as far as Iraq is concerned. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition. We are talking with Delaware Senator Joe Biden and Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde, two powerful chairmen on Capitol Hill.
And, Senator Biden, how worried should Saddam Hussein be right now that the Bush administration is about to take steps to bring him down?
BIDEN: Well, I think he should be worried that there is a real resolve on the part of the Bush administration, and many of us in the Congress, to see one of two of things happen: One, either a radical change in his conduct, which I think is unlikely; or, ultimately, taking him down.
Again, here, the question though is, Wolf, how we go about doing it. And I think if the president is methodical in laying out the proof that we have that Saddam is continuing to engage in producing weapons of mass destruction, and tries first to put pressure on the international community to insist upon the U.N. resolution being imposed, that is sanctions policies relating to inspectors, as well, I think he can begin to build some consensus for whatever action is ultimately taken.
But I think, Wolf, he has to lay out -- when I met with Vedrine up in New York at the Davos Conference, the foreign minister of France, and others, what they are really worried about is whether or not the president, if we go in and take out Saddam, if he's willing stay the course and keep American forces, with others, in there to keep that country together.
Because there is not a single, informed person I have ever spoken to, for or against moving into Iraq, that thinks you can move into Iraq now, take down Saddam Hussein, and have any real prospect that there will be a unified, central government that is able to maintain control of the Kurds in the north and the Shi'as in the south and the Sunnis in the middle, et cetera. And so, part of the problem here is the president has yet not laid out for our allies his vision for what an Iraq would look like without Saddam and what part we're willing to play in that.
BLITZER: Chairman Hyde, what option would you favor? I know you support regime change, as it's called, in Baghdad. Which option do you favor -- military action, covert action, political action, economic action a la the sanctions, if, in fact, they can be strengthened? What's your option?
HYDE: Well, of course, ideally, if we had an underground in Iraq, similar to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, supporting the underground, the opposition, the internal opposition, is to me the procedure of choice. That is an option that is being worked on. All of these options are under consideration.
But what is, it seems to me, quite clear we cannot tolerate Saddam Hussein developing nuclear weapons, biotechnical weapons, the means to deliver them, because he will use them when he has them.
And there comes a time when the message has to be sent. Now, it seems to me that what President Bush has been doing, sending a very strong and direct message: This whole mess could be resolved if inspectors were permitted to go into Iraq to determine whether or not weapons of mass destruction are being constructed. The fact that Saddam Hussein resists so strongly indicates he does have something to conceal, and it's something we ought to worried about.
BLITZER: But, you know, Chairman Hyde, a lot of experts say that even if inspectors were allowed to get back into Iraq -- and they haven't been there in three years, those U.N. weapons inspection teams -- that they would have a very hard time, if not an impossible time, finding all the evidence of weapons of mass destruction.
HYDE: Well, you're right. And we've learned of the existence of mobile laboratories, where they move these things around, so once you have seen them, they move somewhere else, and then you don't see them again.
I'm assuming that a regime of inspection could be developed that would be exhaustive and would be effective. If not, then we're all wasting our time. And the rest of the European countries who trade with Iraq had better realize that something has to happen and fairly soon.
BIDEN: You have a lot of experience in Iraq. You know the place. You were there when we went in the first time. And so what I'm out to tell you is no news.
You heard the secretary of state refer to the Iraqi opposition. I met with the Iraqi opposition last week. Mr. Shalabi (ph), who has very skillfully put together a coalition of Shi'as, Kurds, Sunnis. BIDEN: They've been in the United States. I've met with them many times. I met with them last week.
And they came to me, including some of the religious leadership among the Shi'as, who are part of this opposition, and they said, "Senator, Mr. Chairman, we need help." And I thought, well, that's unusual, what are they asking me for help for? He said, "Well, we can't get from the administration a commitment not only to help us learn to fight and train us, but to teach us how to run the civil operation."
They want, now, for the administration to begin to train them on the way bureaucracies function, on how to keep those oil fields running down in the southeast and so on and so forth.
So, even they are of a view that it takes more than just taking down Saddam. And that's the part that has our Arab friends and not- so-friendly people upset and the Europeans upset.
Look, if you take a look at Afghanistan, we went in, have done an incredible job. You've seen it. The chairman's seen it. I've been there and seen it.
Now, the real hard part has begun. Now, the president of the United States says we're not going to keep American forces as part of a peacekeeping force. And the Brits are saying, well, if you're not in, we're not in.
Well, they, the Europeans, extrapolate an unwillingness, as enunciated initially not to stay in Afghanistan till the Karzai government's up and running, and say, my lord, what happens in Iraq if it's taken down? This is a modern country, a wealthy country, a country with larger population.
And so what they're really looking for is a plan, even the people who we want to go in and fight like Iraqi, like Chalabi and the Iraqi liberation forces, they're looking for a plan.
I'm not saying we don't have one. If we have one, you'll see a lot of the criticism dissipate.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to take another quick break...
HYDE: Wolf, Wolf?
BLITZER: Go ahead, Chairman.
HYDE: I just wanted to agree completely with Senator Biden. That's the next move. And the president ought to make a speech emphasizing that we're going to stay the course for as long as necessary. I think he's exactly right.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break.
One correction, though. I was not there the last time the U.S. moved in against Iraq. That was some of my other colleagues here at CNN, but maybe I'll be there the next time, if in fact that happens.
We're going to take a quick break. A lot more of our conversation. We'll move on to Iran, North Korea. And where is Osama bin Laden, when we come back.
BLITZER: Stay with our program.
A lot more questions for the two chairmen of the House International Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We'll also ask Senator Joe Biden and Congessman Henry Hyde the latest on the missing American journalist Danny Pearl.
Late Edition, we'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition. We're continuing our conversation with Senator Joe Biden and Congressman Henry Hyde.
Senator Biden, some suggest that the president's lumping Iran in with Iraq and North Korea in the axis of evil may have undermined the moderates in Iran, precisely the opposite of what the president may have intended. Are you among those?
BIDEN: It's hard to tell, but I don't see how it could have helped, Wolf.
One of the things about the "axis of evil" statement that confused a lot of folks is that, you know, you leave out Syria and you leave out Libya and you don't talk about other countries. And so people wondered quire why -- I think part of the reason why Iran and Korea, both the regimes of which are, you know, not elected, have not given their people any rights, that could be characterized as evil, both of them are trying to develop, and have as their goal, a long- range missiles, which I think this is as much about a rationale for national missile defense, as it is that they are similar to Iraq. How is Syria any better than, for example, Iran?
So I just think it probably had it had a different purpose, or another purpose. And, you heard the secretary of state...
BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt you, Senator Biden, let me interrupt you because that is serious allegation, a serious charge you are making right now that the president's real motive in lumping these three states together as an axis of evil-- Iran, Iraq and North Korea -- was more to generate support for his national missile defense program than it was to isolate these three countries.
BIDEN: Let me be precise. I think he wants to isolate those three countries. The question you have to ask is, why didn't he include Syria? Why didn't he include Libya? Are they not evil powers? Are they not powers that we have on the terrorist lists? Are they not powers that have assisted people who we believe are clearly against our interests? And they obviously are, so why weren't they included?
BLITZER: All right. Let's ask Chairman Hyde. What about that?
HYDE: Well, I think if he had a list of all the unsavory governments in the world it would be rather long. I think Senator Biden has hit the mark when he suggested that Iraq and North Korea are developing weapons of mass destruction. Iran is doing the same. The other countries that you mentioned like Libya, we don't know whether they are developing them. They certainly would use them if they could get their hands on them.
But these three countries are very dangerous -- North Korea, extremely dangerous. And the president simply called them for what they are.
He also indicated that we will go it alone if we have to, but it was really an appeal to the other countries to join in understanding the real threat and danger from these countries.
So, I don't think we should draw any great strategic conclusions from it. It was a statement of fact.
BIDEN: Nor do I, Wolf. But I just think it is an observation. The president has the rationale, as you will recall, Wolf, for the immediacy of a national missile defense, has been the near likelihood that North Korea would be able to have an ICBM that could strike the United States, and the longer-term possibility that Iran would. I'm just making an observation, it's not an accusation.
BLITZER: All right. Let me ask both of you if you have any inside information -- first with you, Chairman Hyde -- on the fate, what's going on with the missing American journalist, the kidnapped American Wall Street Journal reporter, Danny Pearl, in Pakistan?
HYDE: I have no information that you don't have, Wolf.
BLITZER: And Senator Biden?
BIDEN: Unfortunately, Wolf, nor do I.
BLITZER: What about the frustration level, Senator Biden, you must feel when the secretary of state said on this program earlier within the past hour, he doesn't have a clue if Osama bin Laden is alive or dead, or where he is, if in fact he is alive? What does that say about the level of the U.S. intelligence community expertise, if they don't even know if he is alive or dead?
BIDEN: Well, it doesn't say anything one way or another. What it says is that there has been an incredible amount of bombing. We have not looked in every one of those caves.
BIDEN: We know the significant number of Al Qaeda have escaped. We know that a good deal of the money that they looted has been taken into the Persian Gulf area and one particular country. And we know that people continue still to try to mobilize, who are former Al Qaeda members, to do bad things. So I don't think it's -- the president didn't expect, nor should anyone have expected, we would know for certain. One thing is certain though, we're not going to stop till we know for certain. And it may take another day, a month, a year, it may take five years, but this is something that will not cease.
BLITZER: Chairman Hyde, as you know, the House and Senate intelligence committees are going to get together have a special House-Senate panel to take a look at the intelligence failure that may have existed before September 11, an intelligence failure denied by the CIA director George Tenet. But others are saying it should be out of the House and the Senate. There should almost be a Warren Commission kind of extra investigation commission of inquiry to take a look at what went wrong.
Where do you stand on this?
HYDE: I think both the House and Senate intelligence committees are perfectly competent, they're resourceful enough to conduct this hearing to get at the facts. I think they're going to find out what we all know, is that we lacked adequate human intelligence. We lack agents who have been able to penetrate these organizations in the Middle East and speak the language. They're very tough to develop.
But a Warren Commission would be one removed from getting the solution, getting the thing solved. Congress can take action once it decides what action is appropriate. So I prefer Congress.
I think both intelligence committees have some of our best people on them. They'll get some answers, and then we can determine whether there are any responses to the information they develop.
BLITZER: Chairman Biden?
BIDEN: I'm going to disappoint your viewers, but I fully agree with Henry. I think he's absolutely dead right.
And I think we're going to find certain obvious things. We have under-invested in human intelligence. I think one of the things, Wolf, that is going to change, and one of the positive things from 9/11 is, you're having the best and the brightest coming out of college now thinking it may be patriotic and worthwhile and meaningful to join an outfit like the CIA which had been, in minds of most people under the age 30, totally discredited.
So hopefully we can attract back into agency some very, very fine people, as well as language experts which is the single most sorely needed requirement that exists there.
BLITZER: Sounds like a strong bipartisan consensus on most of these international issues, as expressed by the two chairmen of the two key committees on international affairs here in Washington.
Senator Biden and Congressman Hyde, thanks to both of you for joining us. Some of our viewers in Europe and Asia elsewhere around the world thought that there were some serious differences on these international policies. I guess they're going to be disappointed to hear that strong agreement, by and large, by both of you. Appreciate both of you joining us.
BIDEN: Thanks an awful lot, Wolf.
HYDE: Thank you, Wolf.
BIDEN: Good being with you, Henry.
BLITZER: Coming up, the next hour of Late Edition. We'll get the latest on the Olympic figure skating scandal with gold medalist Tara Lipinski; and the continuing Enron fallout. We'll have a special interview, as well, with Julie and David Eisenhower on this Presidents' Day weekend here in the United States.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: This is Late Edition, the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): Case solved for us. Case not solved for skating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Can the skating world restore the glitter to a tarnished sport? We'll talk with '98 Olympic gold medal winner Tara Lipinski and the executive director of the Professional Skaters Association.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN LAY, FORMER ENRON CHAIRMAN: I must respectfully decline to answer, on Fifth Amendment grounds, all the questions of this committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Former Enron Chairman Ken Lay becomes the fifth top executive to take the Fifth.
We'll get analysis on the Enron investigation, the case of the Taliban American and more, from criminal defense attorney Roy Black and former federal prosecutor Peter White.
And Bruce Morton on a world at war that is up in arms about skating.
Welcome back to Late Edition. We'll talk about the Olympic figure skating controversy in just a moment, but first, this news alert with Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta.
BLITZER: The first week of the Olympic Winter Games were overshadowed by the judging scandal in the pairs figure skating competition. After five days of controversy, the International Olympic Committee announced Friday that both the Russian and Canadian pairs will share a gold medal. Joining us now to discuss the controversy, from our Los Angeles bureau, Olympic champion Tara Lipinski -- she won the gold medal for women's figure skating in the '98 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan -- and in Minneapolis, Carol Shulman, the executive director of the Professional Skaters Association International.
Ladies, welcome to Late Edition.
And, Tara, let me begin with you. When you were watching the competition, that first night almost a week ago, was it a clear-cut decision that the Canadians won, as far as you were concerned?
TARA LIPINSKI, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Well, I was there, and I was watching with my choreographer Lori Nichols (ph), who also does Jamie and David, the Canadian pairs program. And right after they skated, I thought they had won. But I wasn't really shocked when they put the Russians in first.
LIPINSKI: Just because I know the way judging goes sometimes, and it's also, I think, you know, with the judges on the panel, I think part of the problem was the Russian, and they have a different sense of style, you know, like they like the classical style more than the Western style.
So it's kind of hard to determine what they were going to do, but I thought that the Canadians, you know, would have won.
BLITZER: What about you, Carol? What did you think?
CAROL SHULMAN, PROFESSIONAL SKATERS ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONAL: I was there also, and the Professional Skaters Association really doesn't get into judging. We know that figure skating judging is subjective, and we accept that. What it is not is dealmaking in back rooms, that's criminal.
And so our position throughout this entire controversy has been, let's get rid of these judges.
The current rule that stands is that, if a judge is suspended, demoted or removed, then they can apply for reinstatement within one year. That's criminal. If they have been caught cheating and robbing skaters of their place in the standings, then those judges should be banned for life.
And if countries are involved, then they certainly should be suspended and perhaps not given credentials for another year or two, depending upon the severity of the act and the involvement.
BLITZER: Tara, your colleague, Nancy Kerrigan, another figure skating champion, she made three suggestions of how to change the system to make it more fair.
One thing she said is the technical score should be the ultimate criterion, not necessarily the artistic issue. Second, restrict judges access to skaters during practice sessions, for example. And, three, professionalize judging, as opposed to allow it to be voluntary. She made these suggestions in the new issue of Newsweek magazine.
Let's go through those three points. The first point, the technical score should really be the final decision-making factor. What do you say about that?
LIPINSKI: Well, that's hard, I think you can argue that. I mean, for me, when I was skating, I was more of a technical skater and doing all the triple triples. But sometimes I would be overshadowed by the artistic mark. But now as I grow older as a skater, I do think the artistic mark is very important and it should be split.
But I also believe that maybe if the judges were paid and not as volunteer work, and also if maybe they pooled the judges, you know, picked what judges are going to be on the panel, not months before, but maybe like an hour before, so there's no time to, you know, think about it. And you go out on the event and you can just judge fairly.
BLITZER: When you were skating in these Olympic competitions and other competitions, Tara, did you feel the judges were not fair?
LIPINSKI: Well, not that they were not fair, but I remember, you know always when I was younger, saying, OK, I have got to go out there. I have to skate. I have to realize that this is not a sport that you cross a finish line. It is more of a sport where you have to accept that the judges have their own opinions. Snd sometimes, you don't agree with them, but you just got to do it and go out there and have, you know, the best skate that you can do.
BLITZER: Do you agree, Carol, with Nancy Kerrigan's recommendations?
SHULMAN: I think that the judging system certainly needs to be looked at, and there are many different possibilities of ways to go.
But I think we have a more severe problem, and that is penalizing the judges. I think that system needs to be changed. I think we need to banish for life the judges who are making deals in the back room, and that would go a long way.
I think we can look at different methods of scoring. I think we've got a lot of technical apparatus at our hands that we can use that would help us to determine a score. We've got instant reply. We've got simulcast. We've got slow motion. There are a lot of things that can be done with regard to using a more decisive means of coming to a decision. BLITZER: Carol, but when you say making deals in back rooms among the judges, tell our viewers here in the United States and around the world precisely what you mean.
SHULMAN: You know, I can't tell you precisely. We've heard rumors. We hear stories all the time. And as I said earlier, figure skating is a subjective sport, so it will be controversial. Backroom deals are done from time to time, but it is very, very difficult to pinpoint.
I think that the penalty that is imposed on judges has to be more severe. If you continually go through the stop sign and you are not going to be fined or get a ticket for it, you're going to continue to go through the stop signs.
The point here is that these judges have to be stopped. The controversy will never be stopped, and controversy is part of our sport.
I also think there is another area that hasn't been discussed at all, and that is education. In the Professional Skaters Association, our primary goal is to educate and train coaches. In the judging world, I think their primary goal is to train judges, but it stops at the training, whereas we delve into ethics, professionalism, risk management. And I think these courses need to be taught to judges worldwide.
BLITZER: Tara, what do you think of the way the International Olympic Committee resolved the matter by handing the Canadian pair another gold medal, in addition to the Russian pair? What do you think of that outcome?
LIPINSKI: Well, truthfully, I was very shocked. I would never have guessed they had would have done that. It has never happened in skating.
But I do support the decision, but just in this case. You know, make it the first and last time this happens, because I think it does take the integrity away from one Olympic gold medal. And I think in the future, you know, athletes, I can imagine myself going, "OK, I'm going to skate the best program. I'm going to win." But then you have to worry, like, oh, my gosh, two days later are they going to take my medal away?
BLITZER: You know, the president of the Russian Figure Skating Association told The Washington Post, Tara, this on Saturday: "This is an unprecedented decision, and I'm sure it was made under very strong pressure by the North American press, and it has been made to please the fans." Does he have a point?
LIPINSKI: Well, I think, in this case, it was shown on a broader scale. Like, the media, the public was watching this worldwide. So they wanted to know why the Canadians didn't win. They had their own opinions. Whereas before, you know, a lot of the skateing's on TV but not on, you know, the Olympics, and this happens, but there is not the media to bring it out. BLITZER: What about your opinion, Carol? What did you think of the way this was resolved?
SHULMAN: Well, I think it was highly unusual, and it was a very courageous decision that was made.
And I have to commend the leadership in coming to a decision because I think it was beginning to affect the Olympics as a whole. There are a lot of great Olympic athletes and stories to cover, and I think it was important in this circumstance to make a decision and move on.
Again, I'm hopeful that, for the Olympics, this is the end of the figure skating story. For figure skating after the Olympics, I hope this is just the beginning.
BLITZER: All right, ladies, we're going to take a quick break.
We have a lot more to talk about, including your phone calls for Tara Lipinski and Carol Shulman. We'll also ask whether the French judge who was suspended, was she made a scapegoat?
Stay with us.
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(UNKNOWN): I think it's a good solution to the problem. At no time did anyone in Canada want to strip the Russians of their medal.
(UNKNOWN): A gold medal should be just for one, because all couples is strong, all couples is prepared for this competition. And gold medal just for one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Some conflicting reactions after a decision announced at the Russian and Canadian figure skating pairs will share the gold medal.
Welcome back to Late Edition. We're continuing our discussion with Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski and Carol Shulman, the executive director of the Professional Skaters Association International.
Tara, was the French judge who was suspended for alleged misconduct, was she simply made a scapegoat in what is a much bigger problem, as far as you're concerned?
SHULMAN: I don't think she was made a scapegoat, Wolf. I think that there is a much bigger problem. We've had judges suspended in the past, and it has been broadcast on national television and perhaps even internationally.
I think that the problem, again -- and I hate to sound like a record that repeats itself over and over again -- but the rule states that these judges can go back and get right into the system. And we know of at least three judges who are in Salt Lake right now who have been suspended previously and are back judging. This is a problem that has to cease. The act of robbing a skater of their just place in the world and the outcome of whatever their sport is has to cease.
BLITZER: Tara, what did you think about the way they dealt with the French judge?
LIPINSKI: Well, I think that obviously she should have been banned from, you know, judging. If there was something going on backstage. But there's also -- I don't think it was just the one French judge. You know, if she was getting pressure, I'm sure it was coming to other judges too.
BLITZER: Did you ever feel, Tara, that you were cheated out of a medal because of corruption among the judges?
LIPINSKI: Well, I don't think I ever felt that I was cheated out of a medal, because it was in my mentality to understand that the judges can be subjective.
But there's many times that skaters go out and are technically better and still have a great artistic side, but, you know, in the judge's opinion they can just, you know, put whoever they want in first or second. And I think this happens a lot. And just because it's not on the media and at the Olympics, people just don't see it.
BLITZER: I want both of you to listen to what Jamie Sale, the Canadian figure skater, had to say after the decision was announced and get your reaction. Listen to this.
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JAMIE SALE, CANADIAN PAIRS FIGURE SKATER: We're truly honored that they decided to award us the gold medal, or another gold medal. But, again, we feel a little bit shy about it because, like Dave said, the other Olympians are doing their personal best and winning medals, and this is what is everyone is talking about. And that's not what the Olympics is supposed to be about.
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BLITZER: Tara, how do you think all four of these skaters are handling this obviously very, very difficult situation?
SHULMAN: I am so proud of our athletes. I think that they are absolutely outstanding, not only on the ice but off the ice. And I think that this image that our skaters are fighting with one another and are enemies has really been put to the side. Most of our skaters, most of our athletes, across the board, whatever sport, are very upstanding individuals, and I'm so proud of them.
BLITZER: What about you, Tara?
LIPINSKI: Well, I think it's, you know, so unfortunate for both teams. I think you look at the Russians, and we keep forgetting that they won and they had it for a few days and now they have to share it. And it's never happened in skating, so I'm sure it's a huge shock to them.
And then, also with Jamie and David, you know, it's past the fact and they're dealing with all this controversy.
And I also worry about what the public feels about the skating itself. You know, they have to realize that there's more athletes going out there to win Olympic gold medals and that the judging is outside of what the skaters are thinking. And the skaters are trying to do their best and have fun, and I just don't want it to be overshadowed by this. BLITZER: Tara, I know our viewers in United States and around the world remember from you from Nagano. But update us what you've been doing over these past few years since that gold medal. I know that you sustained some injuries and you've been recovering from them. But tell us -- walk us through what you've been doing over the past few months and years.
LIPINSKI: Well, you know, turning pro has kind of been controversial for me. You know, a lot of people didn't understand it because I was so young, but there were so many factors that went into it. You know, my parents were living apart for many years and that was really taking a toll, and now they're much happier and healthier at home.
And me, I underwent hip surgery, which has been the hardest thing I've ever conquered in my career. I still deal with it every day, but I'm just, you know, really blessed to be able to skate on the ice and for my fans. So I'm touring with Stars on Ice.
And then my next big goal is to become an actress. And I'm kind of this past year taken, you know, my whole outlook on that and just try really hard.
BLITZER: How do you skate with -- in the aftermath of the hip surgery, how painful is it for you to get out there on the ice and do those moves, knowing that you've undergone this kind of major hip surgery?
LIPINSKI: It is very difficult. I mean, in part, it was from the triple-triples. I don't regret it because that's where think I really received my Olympic gold medal from Nagano. But it's really frustrating, you know, they'd be on the ice and be in pain sometimes.
But, like I said, the doctor didn't even know what would happen afterwards. But now I'm out on the ice still doing some triples and being able to tour and, you know, stand in the middle of ice and enjoy being an Olympic champion which is, you know, all I can ask for. I feel very blessed.
BLITZER: Tara Lipinski, good luck to you on the ice, in the movies, wherever else you show up.
LIPINSKI: Thank you.
BLITZER: We wish you only the best.
Carol Shulman, thanks for your expertise, thanks for your recommendations.
We enjoyed having both of you on this program.
SHULMAN: My pleasure.
LIPINSKI: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
And up next, legal issues are not always black and white. Is it possible for Taliban American suspect John Walker Lindh to have a fair trial? And as the Enron fallout continues, who should be held responsible for the company's demise?
We'll speak to famed criminal defense attorney Roy Black and former federal prosecutor Peter White, in just a moment.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition.
The trial of Taliban American suspect John Walker Lindh is scheduled to begin the end of August, less than two weeks before the one year anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington. Is a fair trial possible?
Joining us now to discuss the issue, from our Miami bureau, the criminal defense attorney Roy Black, and here in Washington, former federal prosecutor Peter White.
Gentlemen, welcome to Late Edition.
Roy, let me begin with you. Get right to that question. That trial is going to begin right around the first-year mark of the September 11 attack. Is that going to taint the process?
ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I'm really shocked that the judge set it at that time. Both the government and the defense originally asked for November. Then they were willing to compromise in late September, but the judge then unilaterally sets it for August.
And, you know, September 11, the one-year anniversary is going to happen in the middle of the trial. And you're going to have jurors who are going to be subjected to that. It is difficult enough finding jurors for this case. But subjecting them to that kind of publicity right in middle of Walker Lindh's trial, I think, really, fundamentally is going to make this unfair.
BLITZER: Peter, what about that?
PETER WHITE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I don't think it necessarily will make it unfair. I think ultimately, there is no way you are going to find a jury of people who have not heard about this case and aren't familiar with what happened on September 11 anywhere in the country. The fact is there will be a lot of media attention to this trial whenever it happens.
BLITZER: You've worked in that district in Virginia where this trial will be going on. But given the enormous amount of publicity -- I can tell you every major news organization in the United States, indeed around the world, already is gearing up for major coverage around September 11 -- shouldn't the judge have decided maybe postpone a few weeks until after that?
WHITE: Well, I think that is an issue that the judge indicated some willingness to revisit when he gets closer to the trial date. But this courthouse, and this judge particularly, are very committed to the idea that justice delayed is justice denied and a speedy trial is what the country is entitled to.
BLITZER: They call that district, as you well know, Roy Black, the rocket docket. Tell our viewers why.
BLACK: Well, they what happens there is that the government spends a lot of time preparing their case before they seek an indictment. Then, once they seek an indictment, they push to it trial as quickly as possible, and the judges there, of course, accommodate them. This gives the defense usually a very short period of time to prepare for trial, and so it is very effective in getting a high conviction rate in that particular district.
But, you know, what's the difference here? If this trial is in August, September, October or November, do you think the American citizens are going to think that John Lindh is not being prosecuted? I mean it is absurd to think that this is going to effect the public in any way.
And it seems me we ought to bend over backyards to see this man who is hated by virtually everybody in the country, at least we give him the semblance of a fair trial, before we hang him.
BLITZER: What about that, Peter?
WHITE: I think Roy has given the prosecutor, frankly, more credit for setting the court schedule than they have in that courthouse. It became the rocket docket at the behest of the judges there. And they are the ones who decided that they were going to abide by the Speedy Trial Act, the federal law that requires speedy trials, in every case where they can. It is not, frankly, the prosecutors who control that process but just as in this case the judges, even the prosecutors wanted a later date.
BLITZER: Peter, assess both sides of this case. How strong of a case does the government have? How strong of a case does the defense have?
WHITE: Well, Wolf, the government has a much better case if the statement that Mr. Lindh gave to the FBI agents comes into evidence because that is their best evidence. BLITZER: That's a big if, too.
WHITE: That is a big if, that is something that will be vigorously fought by the defense, and I think effectively so.
But I think in the end, the government is going to have a case left, even if that statement doesn't come in, given the other evidence that they have -- the e-mails that he sent to his mother, the interview with CNN. And you can't get beyond the fact that he was found fighting at the time that he was initially detained. He was actively engaged in a war, frankly, against the U.S. government and the Northern Alliance.
BLITZER: They only have to prove, Roy Black, conspiracy to commit these acts to try to kill Americans, not that he actually killed anyone or did anything, other than just be part of a conspiracy. That is relatively easy to prove, especially in Virginia, isn't it?
BLACK: Well, I don't know if it is easy to prove. I think, you know, what Peter said much of it is correct; that the government does have a lot of evidence.
But the one point that is really crucial in this case is, what did he know and what was his intent when he joined this organization? And what was his intent when he went to the front lines to fight for the Taliban? Almost all of that comes from his interview with the FBI, albeit, the CNN interview was crucial as well.
But I think the key to the government's case is this two-day interview by one FBI agent of Lindh there in Afghanistan. And if that is not dealt, I don't know whatever other evidence they may have about this actual intent. And that to me is really crucial to this case.
BLITZER: Peter, the judge would make that decision if whether that interview was admissible, right?
WHITE: The judge is going to make the decision about admissibility, that's right, Wolf. But even if the judge makes that decision about admissibility against the defense, you can fairly expect the defense to raise in cross-examining the agent who took that statement at trial, all the circumstances, all the facts behind his detention prior to that statement and so on.
BLITZER: If that interview with the FBI agent is thrown out as defense attorneys are asking, Roy Black, would the other evidence that Peter is citing -- the CNN interview, the e-mail to his parents, his mother in particular -- would that be enough, do you think, to convict?
BLACK: Well, you know, it's very hard to weigh that in the balance. It may be enough, Wolf, but I would think that, if his statement to the FBI is suppressed, I'm willing to bet the government comes to the bargaining table and offers the defense a reasonable plea bargain, because I don't think either side, under those circumstances, would be anxious to go ahead with a trial. I think the government might be worried they might even lose the case, and I think then that you would end up seeing some type of a plea bargain.
BLITZER: A lot of federal prosecutors, Peter, as you well know, are anxious for a plea bargain agreement. Look at Aldrich Ames in that same district in Northern Virginia; Robert Hanssen, the FBI agent convicted of spying, plea-bargain agreement, no trials, avoiding all that necessity.
What are the pressures on the federal prosecutor, in this particular case, to go for a plea agreement with John Walker Lindh?
WHITE: It's really going to depend, as Roy said, exactly upon whether or not they think that their evidence is overwhelming. If the statement comes in, there will not be that much pressure on the prosecutors to seek a plea bargain. If they're very worried that the statement won't come in, or if the judge rules it doesn't come in, then I think the stakes do change, I think Roy is exactly right.
And I think the other thing you've got to realize is, there is the potential for Walker Lindh to help himself out. There are other people that the United States government is interested in prosecuting, either in military tribunals or in the courts of this country, that Walker Lindh may be able to give very valuable information against and cut his own criminal exposure.
BLITZER: And, Roy, one of the factors that the defense will have to take into consideration, public opinion. Mike Spann was the CIA officer who was killed at Mazar-i-Sharif, where John Walker Lindh was found. His widow, Shannon, spoke out at the arraignment the other day; his parents were here. I want you to listen to what she had to say.
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SHANNON SPANN, WIDOW OF MIKE SPANN: My view today is certainly that he should have been charged with treason, but I haven't had a chance to speak with the prosecutors yet and to understand the evidentiary decision-making that went into that decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's another factor that's going to be playing significantly against John Walker Lindh's defense, the whole emotional aspect of what he was charged with.
BLACK: Wolf, I think you bring up an excellent point there, because not only does it put a lot of pressure on this trial and the judge and through the public, but this puts a lot of pressure on the prosecutors, because any plea bargain they would offer Walker Lindh is going to have to satisfy the Spann family.
Even though Walker is not charged with directly causing Spann's death, nevertheless he was there at that uprising, and it's, you know, alleged in the conspiracy count that that's one of the overt acts.
And I think that the government's going to have to be very careful to be sure that the Spanns are happy with the result of this trial. Otherwise there's going to be a public backlash.
BLITZER: What about that, Peter?
WHITE: I think that's exactly right. I think Roy raises a good point, that they will have to take into account the Spann family, but that's not going to be the critical driving factor. I think that the prosecutors in this case are very experienced, they're experienced dealing with victims.
Spann is not technically a victim of this offense, although he is certainly a victim of the conflict in Afghanistan. And he actually interviewed, as a matter of fact, Walker Lindh prior to the FBI, when he was first detained, according to the affidavit in support of the complaint. That will certainly be taken into account. And I would be surprised if you see a situation where there is a plea with that family being not happy or not understanding why it happened.
BLITZER: All right.
Gentlemen, stand by, we're going to take a quick break.
Up next, the latest in the Enron fallout, the congressional testimony, the secret memos, who should be held responsible for the company's demise? Should anyone go to jail?
Plus, your phone calls. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAY: I am deeply troubled about asserting these rights because it may be perceived by some that I have something to hide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Former Enron CEO Ken Lay on Tuesday exercising his right to refuse to testify before a congressional committee.
Welcome back to Late Edition. We're talking with defense attorney Roy Black and former federal prosecutor Peter White.
Roy, I don't think anybody was surprised that he took the Fifth. Was there ever any realistic assumption he wouldn't?
BLACK: Well, after watching what Jeffrey Skilling went through, no rational person would have done anything other than take the Fifth. And particularly when you see the fallout from Skilling's testimony and the contradiction of him by a number of Enron employees subsequent to that, Lay obviously made the correct decision not to testify.
BLITZER: Earl Silbert, Peter, the defense attorney for Ken Lay, spoke out afterwards, and listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EARL SILBERT, LAY'S ATTORNEY: He does want to present what he knows. He's wanted to do that from the start. He feels very strongly about that, and frankly it was only on my insistence, my insistence that he not do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is there any way he can speak out, explain his side of the story, without undermining his own legal rights?
WHITE: It's very difficult. One of the problems that somebody like Mr. Skilling faces, and anybody in that situation faces, you don't want to be in a worse situation after you testify than you were before. And the difficulty is, the more statements that you have on the record and under oath, the more potential charges the government has against you.
In addition to if he was involved in any criminal conduct, he could also be facing perjury charges as a result.
So Mr. Silbert's advice was exactly the advice that he would have to give.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Skilling, Roy, of course was the former chief operating officer of Enron who didn't accept, presumably, his lawyer's advice; appeared before that committee, testified and now may be facing perjury charges because of what he said and couldn't remember, couldn't recollect, not to the best of my knowledge.
Is that a serious concern he has to worry about right now?
BLACK: Well, I would think so, Wolf, because it's easier for the government to prove perjury than it is sometimes to prove the fraud that, you know, caused the fall of Enron.
And a classic statement happened this week. You know, Sherron Watkins testified about, you know, various conversations with Skilling and contradicting him. And then one of the congressmen asked her, you know, what's your comment on his testimony, and she quoted Skilling from their in-house newspaper, saying, "If it doesn't make sense, don't believe it." And, you know, there's nothing worse than having to eat your own words.
BLITZER: You think he's in legal jeopardy right now, Skilling?
WHITE: I think everybody that's connected with the high end of that organization is in legal jeopardy.
Where the chips are going to fall is going to depend on how the government's investigation goes. The Congress is sort of doing the up-front work right now.
They've indicated that they're not going to give immunity to anybody. Whether or not that remains the case, it's too early to tell. But at some point, the Department of Justice is going to have to figure out who they want to make a deal with so that they can get on with their investigation and get to the bottom of this.
BLITZER: In other words, Roy Black, the traditional way of doing it is you find someone who is willing to become a witness for the prosecution and then go up the chain of command. Is that what you sense the Justice Department might be doing?
BLACK: Oh, certainly they're thinking about that, but they are already have a number of witnesses. This Sherron Watkins, who testified before Congress, is an excellent witness for the government. But needless to say, they're going to want to get people closely associated with these partnerships and what Mr. Fastow was doing with them.
Let's face it, Fastow and Skilling are obviously targets number one and number two in the government's sights. And they're probably willing to give immunity to a lot of people in order to put them on trial.
BLITZER: All right, let's take a quick caller from Georgia. Go ahead with your question, please.
QUESTION: Yes, thank you, Wolf, great show. I would like to ask, what will be the impact of Enron scandal on the future of the stock market and the economy?
BLITZER: Well, if we all knew the answer to that, I guess all of us would becoming a lot richer.
Roy Black, you want to try to handle that?
BLACK: Well, that's not really a legal matter.
But, you know you just keep reading in the press the last couple of weeks about how anxious people are about believing financial statements now. And if the public can no longer rely upon financial statements and balance sheets from these Fortune 500 companies, people are going to be awful careful about putting their life savings in the hands of these managers. So I think this has a serious effect on them.
BLITZER: And do you want to have the final word, Peter?
WHITE: One thing that you're definitely going to see, as Roy was alluding to, is there's going to be cry for more and more transparency for corporate financial dealings. And there's going to be a call for accountants to be held responsible for the actions inside the corporation and for their own investigations.
And I think there may end up being legislation about corporate transparency and so on, and that will be good for the markets in the long run.
BLITZER: All right, let's hope.
Thanks for joining us, Peter, Peter White, Roy Black, black and white. (LAUGHTER)
Good of both of you to join us on this weekend, appreciate it very much.
BLACK: Thank you.
WHITE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, it's President's Day weekend here in the United States. As President Bush begins his tour of Asia, we'll look back on another famous presidential trip to China exactly 30 years ago.
Plus, White House memories. We'll have a special interview with the husband and wife historians, David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon Eisenhower.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: You're looking at a picture of former President Richard Nixon and his wife Pat arriving at Shanghai, China, on February 21, 1972. He was greeted by then-President Chou En-lai.
Welcome back to Late Edition.
Joining us to share their own White House memories are two special guests, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the daughter of President Nixon, and her husband David Eisenhower, the grandson of former President Dwight David Eisenhower.
Welcome to Late Edition. Welcome back to both of you.
Julie, you were, what, 24 years old, in 1972. Did you have any idea what was going on at the time?
JULIE NIXON EISENHOWER, DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT NIXON: I actually did. I did know that this was an important trip, but I don't think anyone knew that the Shanghai communique would break such diplomatic ground, and that it would be basis of this friendship and relationship with a country that we had no relationship with for 25 years.
When Chou En-lai and my father shook hands, Chou said later at a toast a day later, "Your hand came across the vastness of oceans, 25 years of no communication." And so of course this trip really did change the balance of power.
And even though I was 24, as you say, sitting on the sidelines, I think that the public and the press were all focused on this trip and knew, even as it was happening, that it was changing the world.
BLITZER: Take us behind the scenes in the White House in the weeks before this historic moment. And we're looking at some still photos. What was the mood? What was the anticipation level? NIXON EISENHOWER: I think it was -- everyone was excited, and I remember particularly that the press corps, everyone wanted to be assigned on that trip, and how difficult it was because there was only a certain number of slots. Because, again, the media knew this was a ground-breaking trip. And there were only three networks then, unfortunately no CNN. But all three networks decided they had would have live satellite coverage of the visit.
So they -- my parents were literally on television in this land that no one had seen, there's this Iron Curtain no one had been there for 25 years from the West, so few visitors. And the live satellite broadcasts just made it come alive. I mean, my mother with the pandas and in the Great Hall of the People, the great banners of Mao, the little red book. It was an incredible visual experience.
BLITZER: David, your father-in-law, President Nixon, of course, the great anti-communist crusader, making this breakthrough to this communist nation, look back and give us a sense of perspective, historic perspective -- you're a historian -- what that meant.
DAVID EISENHOWER, GRANDSON OF PRESIDENT DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER: Well, I remember exactly what it meant. When the visit was announced -- in July 15, 1971, I believe, is when the joint communique announcing the Nixon trip to China was announced -- I was aboard a U.S. man of war, the USS Albany, CD-10. We were on the high seas.
And I can remember the jubilation on the ship, because what that communique meant is that we were all going home. And it meant that the Cold War, which had prolonged a sort of unnatural division of the world, suddenly China was being restored to its natural position in world affairs by this gesture on the part of the United States, and that meant that the Cold War was going to end.
BLITZER: Did you...
EISENHOWER: So we all knew we were going home.
BLITZER: Did you discuss the decision-making process with your father-in-law before, during, after this whole breakthrough to China?
EISENHOWER: He talked about China to us continuously from 1968 on. This was even before he was elected.
But the announcement of his trip to Peking, we called it then, Beijing, in July 1971 was a complete surprise to me, and I must say it was a delightful surprise. I can remember being in the combat information center of the Albany and this news was piped over, and, I mean, the jubilation on that ship was extraordinary.
Of course, there was a lot of tension, because there was about a six-month time lag between the announcement and Nixon's arrival in Peking, so that was six months in which that trip could have fallen apart. And so, I can remember, from that point on, being concerned that this thing really happened, because the implications of it were so enormous. BLITZER: Julie, it was your dad's strategic vision that created this opportunity, although, of course, he had his national security advisor, later secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, among others, who were helping him get the job done.
When did he first think that this was a realistic option, to have this breakthrough with China?
NIXON EISENHOWER: Well, my father wrote an article in 1967 for Foreign Affairs in which he said that China could not be allowed to live in angry isolation as a nation. And two days after his inauguration, he and Henry Kissinger conferred in the Lincoln Sitting Room, and that's when the whole process began, to go to China. So I think this was a long, thought-out process.
And I think what's so interesting about the communique, the Shanghai Communique, and the reason it's celebrated 30 years later, is that it's a unique document, because, for the first time, two countries agreed to disagree. In that communique, China said that it would continue to support North Vietnam. America said that it would support South Vietnam and its freedom. And you go down a whole list where the two nations agree to disagree. And then, at the bottom, on the bottom line, is the statement that we need a relationship and we need to resolve our differences peacefully. And that's why it's lasted.
BLITZER: David, it's pretty amazing that, 30 years later, that Shanghai Communique and the whole structure of the U.S.-China relationships, including the attitude towards Taiwan, that basically remains the policy of the day, doesn't it?
D. EISENHOWER: Well, Nixon and MAO, in 1972 when they met, agreed about one point on Taiwan, and that is that it should be resolved peacefully and it would probably be resolved over a period of about a century. And so, they crafted language that reflected that in the Shanghai Communique in which their side set forth a position, our side set forth a position.
And it's not surprising that 30 years later, after a resolution to allow this situation to resolve itself peacefully over a century, 30 years later that is still descriptive of the U.S. and Chinese positions on Taiwan.
BLITZER: Julie, I want to put a picture up on our screen, a picture of 1957, the inauguration of President Eisenhower, his second term. And let's take a look at that picture. You can see what is little kids over there, that little boy looking at that girl.
Tell our viewers, was that the first time you met your future husband?
NIXON EISENHOWER: Yes. Yes, it was. And you notice he is looking at me in that picture, but there is another version of the picture where I'm looking at him.
I was remembering very well, very vividly, and he says that he remembers me, too, but most of all he was looking at me because I had a black eye because I had been sledding the week before and I lost control of my sled. And so, you know, a girl with a black eye is irresistible, I guess.
But that was the first time we met.
BLITZER: David, it was love at first sight?
EISENHOWER: Well, you know, I remember the Nixons. We didn't see a lot of Nixon girls, but when we did see them, it was very special. I can remember thinking when I was nine, 10 years old, 11 years old, and my grandfather was going to leave office, "The Nixon girls are going to be inheriting this, and I wonder how they are going to cope with it as teenagers." They were very special girls and very pretty, both of them, I remember that.
NIXON EISENHOWER: I think when he says "coping," he means how do you date with Secret Service?
EISENHOWER: That's correct.
NIXON EISENHOWER: And he was glad to be leaving his behind...
NIXON EISENHOWER: ... as a 12-year-old.
BLITZER: All right. We remember the courtship. We remember all of those historic moments. Hard to believe 30 years has flown by so quickly not only for you, for me, for a lot of viewers around the world.
Thanks both of you for joining us on this President's Day weekend.
NIXON EISENHOWER: Thank you, Wolf.
EISENHOWER: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. And up next, Bruce Morton's essay on Winter Olympics figure skating controversy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON: The fact is it's judging on skill and art, and it is, of course, subjective. How could it not be?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Keeping the games pure while fighting for medals and national pride.
BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton's essay on the Winter Olympic's figure skating scandal.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lots of serious scary things are happening. The president says he'll defend the United States against Iraq, which hasn't attacked yet.
BUSH: Make no mistake about it. If we need to, we'll take necessary action to defend the American people.
MORTON: He may mean to defend the U.S. without waiting for Iraq to attack.
BUSH: I think that statement was clear enough for Iraq to hear me.
MORTON: And he seems prepared to do it alone, whatever the rest of the world thinks.
BUSH: Saddam Hussein needs to understand I'm serious about defending our country.
SHERRON WATKINS: We felt compelled to inform Mr. Lay...
MORTON: There's Enron, campaign finance legislation. So we should be grateful for the week's one good silly story: the enormous flap after the Russian figure skating pair beat out the Canadian pair for the Olympic gold medal.
It's astounding how many people care, how many stories there are. "Dirty work at the (OFF-MIKE)." Conspiracy theories? Those European judges stick together.
Well, the Polish judge did vote for the Russians, but Poles mostly can't stand Russians. It was the Soviet Union, along with Nazi Germany, that occupied Poland back during World War II.
Did somebody get to the French judge? Well, the French often think Americans are a bit much, but why vote against the Canadians with names like Pelletier, which is, of course, French?
Mind you, Canadians do have an unusual accent.
DAVID PELLETIER, PAIRS FIGURE SKATER: And then we do hope we get the bronze too, so we can get the entire collection in our living room.
MORTON: The fact is, it's judging on skill and art, and it is, of course, subjective. How could it not be? It's just like those extreme skiing events; judges decide. Like diving; judges decide. Or like boxing -- unless it's a knockout, the judges decide on hey, your guy didn't beat my guy, everybody could see that except for the judges.
Harvey Araton, in the New York Times, notes that the last one of these flaps was when Oksana Baiul won the gold instead of American Nancy Kerrigan in the women's free skating in 1994. Araton even found an identical whine, a coach named Frank Carol, who, in 1994 and again last week, asked sadly, why, why, why?
There's an easy answer, of course. Hey, looked better to me. As long you're judging art along with triple-whatseses, you'll have these arguments. Last year, this same Canadian pair won a championship over this same Russian pair. So?
In a way, medals are the worst part of the Olympics. Ideally, young people would compete showing skill and grace and we would watch and enjoy and applaud without a lot of nationalist chest thumping over which country's athletes had won the most gold.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: ... writes this: "I believe that the top executives at Enron should all be arrested and prosecuted under the RICO statute. What they have done is as criminal as an enterprise as any Mafia enterprise."
And Samuel from Rancho Santa Margarita -- sounds like a nice place in California -- writes, "I find it highly ironic that the Republicans, the prime benefactors of Enron's largess, paint the Clinton administration as somehow responsible for what happened. I suggest CNN look into the motivating ideology and money trail."
And finally Duane (ph) from Hamilton, Ontario, writes, "If there was a case that the GAO had, then it might be reasonable to expect the White House to hand over this information as part of the investigation. But to ask for this info in the absence of any evidence to create a case where none exists is absurd."
Remember, I want to hear from you. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll share some of those comments with our viewers next week.
And for our international viewers, World News is next.
Just ahead for our North American audience, another hour of Late Edition. We'll dig deeper into Enron's collapse with two key members of Congress at the very center of the investigation. And we'll take a look at the week ahead with our always-lively Final Round panel. Plus, a check of the hour's top stories.
It's all next. Stay with us.
BLITZER: This is Late Edition, the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERRON WATKINS: I was highly concerned that not only had the Titanic hit the iceberg, but we were already tilting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Testimony on Capitol Hill from an Enron insider. Could the energy giant's collapse had been prevented? We'll ask two members of Congress at the center of the investigation, Republican Jim Greenwood of Pennsylvania and Democrat Diana DeGette of Colorado.
Then, fast-paced political talk, Sunday style.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
GOLDBERG: I'm beginning to truly think we should just cut to the chase and revert to medieval practices.
MALVEAUX: Democrats have their fingers in the Kool-Aid, too.
BEINART: 70 percent of the money that Enron gave was soft money.
GEORGE: It is the Olympics right now, so it is about time for the FBI screw up yet again.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BLITZER: Late Edition's Final Round. You've got questions, they've got answers.
Welcome back to Late Edition. We'll explore the latest in the Enron investigation with two key House members in just a moment. But first, let's get a quick check of the hour's top stories with Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN center in Atlanta.
BLITZER: This week, Enron vice president Sherron Watkins told a House panel she found it very hard to believe that a top executive was unaware of the company's questionable deals, as he claimed.
Joining us to discuss her testimony and Enron's future are two members of the House panel: in Philadelphia, Republican Congressman Jim Greenwood of Pennsylvania. He's the chairman of the oversight and investigation subcommittee. And here in Washington, Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado. She's also a member of this subcommittee.
Welcome, both of you, to Late Edition.
And let me begin with you, Congressman Greenwood. You really can't blame Ken Lay for citing his Fifth Amendment privilege and refusing to testify, can you?
REP. JIM GREENWOOD (R), PENNSYLVANIA: No, I don't blame him for that. That's his constitutional right. I am sure that he has attorneys who are very highly paid who decided that the most conservative course to take would be to allow him to use that Fifth Amendment right, either to avoid incriminating himself or perhaps to avoid being asked tough questions that could come back to haunt him in a subsequent civil suit. So I don't blame him.
I wish that he had come forward. I think he owes the American people an explanation. I think he owes the Enron employees an explanation. He owes the investors an explanation. But we'll get to the bottom of this story with or without his testimony.
BLITZER: But the fact is, Congressman Greenwood, that Jeffrey Skilling, the former COO, who did testify, didn't cite his Fifth, is now potentially in worse legal jeopardy because of his willingness to go forward and testify. That sets an example for others who may be in a similar situation, doesn't it?
GREENWOOD: Well, I think it was a strategic move on his part, as well. I think he believed that he could be convincing to the Congress and to public that he, in fact, had nothing to hide; that he was forthcoming; that he was not aware of wrong doing.
I think the general read on his testimony, the general reaction among the public and among most of the committee members, was that he may have told the truth, but he may not have told all of the truth. He wasn't necessarily forthcoming.
I was prepared to give him great credit for stepping forward and testifying. To some extent, I still do. But I wish he had been more straightforward with us, and I don't think he was.
BLITZER: What about that, Congresswoman? Who was right and who was wrong, Ken Lay in refusing to testify or Jeffrey Skilling in testifying?
REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: Well, our job is to really try to figure out what happened here, in Congress. So, obviously, Jim Greenwood and I would like to have everyone come in and testify.
But as we heard what Jeffrey Skilling had to say, I wasn't surprised that some others like Ken Lay did take the Fifth, because what they said was shocking if you believe it. One of the nation's largest corporations is being run by people who have no idea what's going on.
DEGETTE: It really strains credibility. And I think that there's a lot more questions after Mr. Skilling testified than before. I'm not surely he helped himself, either with Congress or with the American public, by coming in.
BLITZER: So, in effect, what you're suggesting is that Jeffery Skilling lied before the Congress.
DEGETTE: Well, we don't know yet if he lied. We're still finding documents, we're still interviewing witnesses. But what we do know is that he had unbelievable amnesia as a witness. He remembered meetings that he was at where the facts helped him, but then he completely forgot meetings that happened a year or two later where it didn't help him so much.
He was, I thought, a very evasive witness, and I don't think that he really helped himself. Also, we're even now finding evidence in our committee that undermines some of the things he said he forgot.
And of course Sherron Watkins' testimony really indicated that Jeffrey Skilling was a hands-on manager, he knew what was going on, he knew what people were doing.
BLITZER: I'm sure you probably agree with the congresswoman, Congressman. What was he thinking, Jeffery Skilling, when we came before your panel? You could get into his mind -- and is it credible that he simply didn't know what was going on underneath him?
GREENWOOD: Well, I think one of the theories is that Mr. Skilling is noted for his high self-esteem. He believed, I think, that he could dance through the bullets, he could handle any question that we asked of him and that he could come across as credible. I think he failed in that regard entirely.
I think, on the other hand, Sherron Watkins was a picture of credibility. She came forward and, as someone who was far subordinate in position to Jeffery Skilling and to Ken Lay, there she was looking at the same information to which they had access to and seeing, in clear black and white, the unequivocable facts that this company was in the wrong, that this company was cooking the books, that this company was involved in all kinds of conflicts of interest, was about to collapse. She could see that. And it's very, very difficult to understand how she could see that, and those who were at the top and responsible for all of this could somehow be oblivious to it.
BLITZER: So what's -- Congresswoman, you came away from the testimony of Sherron Watkins -- what was the main point that she made that convinced you that everybody above her must have known what was going on?
DEGETTE: Here's what Sherron Watkins said. She was transferred in to be Mr. Fastow's subordinate. Within three to four weeks...
BLITZER: Andrew Fastow was the...
DEGETTE: He was the chief financial executive, who had all of the double dealing in these limited partnerships which were part of -- the main part of Enron's demise.
BLITZER: These offshore partnerships that were off the books.
So she comes in. Three to four weeks after she gets there. She sees that what problem is is that, the way these partnerships are structured, Enron officials like Andy Fastow were double dealing, they were self-dealing. And she sees the inherent conflict of interest.
She starts complaining to other senior employees. And they say to her, don't go to Mr. Fastow and don't go to Jeffery Skilling, you'll get fired.
So eventually of course she writes a memo to Mr. Lay, she goes to Mr. Lay, she talks to him.
Even so, you know, some people say Mr. Lay is very credible and so on, but it's hard for me to understand how he would have a complete lack of knowledge too.
And, of course, the entire investigation that Enron conducted after Sherron Watkins' allegations was a total whitewash.
BLITZER: And, Congressman Greenwood, you noticed, I'm sure, the reports over the weekend that, after her memo, after she wrote to Ken Lay, what he went ahead and dumped, sold some $70 million of stock options that he had in Enron, took a $70 million profit out of there.
Is anything wrong with that?
GREENWOOD: Well, I think so. Especially given the fact that, subsequent to that, he was reassuring all of the employees and the investors that things were looking great and that the stock was still a great buy.
I think that's the thing about this story that the average person in the street, if they don't understand these obscure partnerships and transactions and leveraging and hedging and all of that, they understand this: They understand that a lot of people, a lot of loyal employees who got up every morning and went to work and saved for their retirement and tried to live by the rules, they lost it all. And somehow the guys at the top, the big guys who were making the decisions that affected their lives, walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars.
I mean, we're talking about one individual selling stock for over $300 million, a third of a billion, $100 million, $70 million. So these were -- the big guys got rich.
And to this day, I haven't heard a single one of them say, "I'm sorry, we shouldn't have done this, we made a mistake. Here's what we're going to do to try to make amends. Here's how I'd like to take some of my tens of millions of dollars and share them with those who have lost." We've seen no sense of culpability, no sense of responsibility at all.
BLITZER: So, Congressman Greenwood, when Ken Lay was telling the workers, the employees at Enron, the company's in great shape and everything is just rosy, and he knew that that wasn't true, what that a potentially criminal statement that he was telling his employees?
GREENWOOD: Well, I don't know, I can't say that, I'm not an attorney and I think that criminality is all -- those decisions are in the hands of the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission. We work very closely with them, we cooperate with them.
Of course, we've chosen not to give anyone immunity so that we don't jeopardize the ability to prosecute those.
I think that wrong doing occurred. I think that laws were broken and I think the people will go to jail and/or pay significant fines.
Whether that particular statement on Ken Lay's part constituted a crime, I can't comment.
BLITZER: Congresswoman, Sherron Watkins, who wrote that memo to Ken Lay, didn't go and tell Fastow or Skilling what was going on. Some have suggested she should have gone to outside of Enron, to the SEC, some other law enforcement authority to complain to let her views get outside. She answered that question during her testimony. Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WATKINS: A coworker of mine asked whether or not -- she knew I had done this, and she asked whether or not I'd consider going to the SEC on this. And I said, you know, I don't want to hasten our demise. There are 20,000 employees here whose livelihood is at risk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Should she have gone to the SEC or some other outside agency to say, look, there's trouble here in Enron, you should know about this?
DEGETTE: Well, I think that she probably, in this situation where she found herself, was trying to do the best she knew.
But what this points to is the whole corporate mentality at Enron and probably a lot of other big corporation too, which is someone like Sherron Watkins is so much a part of that corporate structure, she's worried, if she goes to Mr. Fastow, who's her boss, or Mr. Skilling, who's the CEO, she'll get fired.
So she tries to go to Mr. Lay, who she trusts. But there were many other employees at Ms. Watkin's level at Enron who knew what was going on who never did anything. Many of these peoples, as Jim Greenwood just said, were profiting by million of dollars. Sherron Watkins wasn't, but many of them were. So they just sort of raised their hand up every so often and said, "Oh, I think there's a problem here." But they never went further, and this is part of the problem.
And not only did people like Mr. Lay sell millions of dollars of stock, it was at the exact same time that the small shareholders, the people who had a little bit of stock in their 401(k) programs were not allowed to sell stock.
BLITZER: Congressman Greenwood, what should she have done with her concern, with her information? Should she have stayed within the company or gone to an outside agency like the SEC? GREENWOOD: Let me make clear what she did. Now, the point of her original memo was this. Her memo was written on 15th of August. On the 17th of August, was an all-employees Enron meeting. And the habit of the company was, any employee could submit a question to be asked by the chairman of the board, the CEO, Ken Lay, in front of all employees to be aired out. That was purpose of her memo.
Lay sent the memo to a guy by the name of Causey, who was the chief accounting officer, and said what do you think of this memo? Causey e-mailed back and said, I would suggest you don't read this question out load.
So she expected -- she fully expected that that question will be read out loud and would be all over the corporation and the company would have to confront it. Instead they buried it, and Causey told Lay it wasn't anything to worry about.
BLITZER: All right. Congressman, Congresswoman, stand by. We're going to take a short break.
When we come back, we'll be taking your phone calls for Congressman Greenwood, Congresswoman DeGette. We'll also be asking them how many other Enron's potentially are out there.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition. We're continuing our conversation with Republican Congressman Jim Greenwood of Pennsylvania and Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado.
We have a caller from Arizona. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Good afternoon. The Arizona Republic reported a couple of weeks ago that there are 248 senators and House members serving on 11 congressional committees investigating the Enron affair; 212 of the them have received contributions from Enron or Arthur Andersen.
How can Congress convince me and the rest of America that they can investigate this fairly?
BLITZER: Congresswoman, what about that?
DEGETTE: Well, I think that for some members of Congress, it probably gives them more incentive to investigate Enron vigorously to make sure that they are not partial.
But I think the issue really is exerting undue influence. The one thing I am concerned about as a Democrat is, for example, why Vice President Cheney won't release his records about dealings that the White House has had with Enron lobbyists when they were coming up with their energy policy?
It's one thing to give campaign contributions -- and both Congressman Greenwood and I just voted for the campaign finance bill that passed last week, which says if one of these corporations gives you a donation, you have to report it, so callers like that gentlemen in Arizona will know.
But the more unsettling thing is, what about contacts with lobbyists? What does that do?
BLITZER: All right. Let me ask Congressman Greenwood, the whole issue, the legal battle that's brewing between the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, and the Vice President Cheney, not on the substance of his meetings with any outside energy executives like Enron executives, but just a list of the people with whom he met.
Should he not be forced to give that list over to Congress, or should he be forced?
GREENWOOD: Well, I think our investigation has a very bipartisan tone to it until people try to paint the Bush administration with the tar brush of the Enron scandal.
The Enron scandal, the collapse of the Enron Corporation, all the wrongdoing that was done, was strictly an internal matter and had nothing do with the Bush administration. It had nothing to do with the Clinton administration, which, of course, was in place during most of this tawdry history.
On the question of Cheney and this demand by the GAO, the GAO initially made an outrageous demand. They wanted to know every single minute of every single meeting, every single word that was said. And the legislative and executive branches of government just don't function that way. There are supposed to be separations of power.
I am sure that Diane would not like it if the White House called her and said we want a list of everybody you've met with, everything you have said in your office. We have entitlements to have those conferences.
But you might think that, politically, after the GAO stepped back and said, all right, just give us the list, the White House might have declared victory and given them the list.
But I really think that President Bush and Vice President Cheney are trying to do what every president has had to do, and that is make sure that the constitutional lines, lines of separation of power between executive and legislative branch, are not trampled upon. This will probably wind up settled in court, as most of these disputes have in the past.
BLITZER: Congresswoman, what's wrong with the president and the vice president getting some confidential advice from outside sources that they don't necessarily have to detail publicly?
DEGETTE: Well, first of all, let me say that Congressman Greenwood is right. We've had a wonderfully bipartisan investigation in Congress as to what happened wrong within Enron, and that's great. But I don't understand, if we're all being so bipartisan, why the White House wouldn't let us know what those contacts were. After all, we just saw an exhaustive series in The Washington Post, a minute-to- minute description of what happened in the White House after September 11.
And I would think that if the administration was meeting with Enron officials and others, while they were formulating their energy policy, they should be willing to tell the American public that. I don't see why they should feel so strongly they have something to hide.
BLITZER: Do you want to add anything on that, Congressman Greenwood? GREENWOOD: Well, I think -- and Diana is a good friend of mine, and this is nothing personal -- I just think it is a mistake to try to tar the Bush administration with the Enron brush.
This is a legitimate dispute between the executive and the legislative branch of government. And as I said, no member of Congress would respond favorably if the vice president called up and said "I want to a list of everyone with whom you meet in your offices and I need to know everything that you said." That's just not the way government supposed to work.
BLITZER: Let's take a caller from Colorado. Go ahead with your question, please.
QUESTION: Yes, I am asking, why aren't we demanding that all the Congress people who received Enron contributions, say, over the past five years, return that money in order to help the Enron employees?
BLITZER: All right, that's a good question. A lot of people have e-mailed me that very same question.
Congressman Greenwood, first of all, did you get money from Enron or Arthur Anderson? And if you did, are you going to return it?
GREENWOOD: I don't accept any political action committee funds whatsoever. I think there about 10 or 15 of us in the House of Representatives that don't do that. So I have not done that.
We checked, and it turned out that, four years ago, because my campaign manager was a fraternity buddy with Ken Lay, he asked him for a personal contribution to our campaign of $1,000. That was given to our campaign four years ago.
GREENWOOD: So we sent a check for an equal amount to the fund for the victims. Each member of Congress has to decide whether to do that or not.
But if you think about it, the big money that came from Enron really went to the -- was the soft money that went to the parties and went in huge gobs, $50,000 check, $75,000 checks, to the Republican and the Democratic committees. And that's the reform that we passed this past week that's so critical. BLITZER: All right. Quick, Congresswoman, did you get any money from Enron or Arthur Andersen? And what are you going to do with it, if you did?
DEGETTE: I received, I think, $1,000 from Arthur Andersen in the 1998 election cycle. I feel that, since it was so long ago and it was -- Arthur Andersen has a big office in my district, I did not return that to anyone. There's really no one to return it to at this point. But I...
BLITZER: But you heard Congressman Greenwood said he made it available to a fund to help those who suffered from the Enron collapse.
DEGETTE: I agree with Congressman Greenwood and others. I think those who received large recent checks from Enron, most of them have sent that back. And everybody needs to make a decision for themselves.
But Congressman Greenwood is actually also right when he says the vast majority of the money came in soft-money donations to the political parties, which, of course, we've now passed a bill last week to stop that.
And, by the way, I hope the president will sign that bill. I think it'll take a lot of the appearance of impropriety out of politics.
BLITZER: All right. Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Congressman Jim Greenwood, thanks to both of you for joining us. Appreciate it very much.
GREENWOOD: Thank you.
DEGETTE: Thank you.
BLITZER: And up next, our Final Round. The president's Asia trip, the Olympic skating scandal, and the secretary of state endorses condoms. We'll cover it all with our Final Round panel when we come back. Also, a quick news alert.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition's Final Round.
Joining me now, Julianne Malveaux, syndicated columnist; Peter Beinart of the New Republic; Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online; and Robert George of the New York Post.
The Bush team is keeping a tight hold on the axis of evil, holding membership to only three countries: Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice today tried to explain why China, for example, with a history of exporting arms and weapons technology, was left off the list.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We are working with the Chinese on issues of proliferation, and in fact it has been a bone of contention in U.S.-China relations. We believe that we can make progress if China is willing to sanction companies in China that are dealing outside of the missile control technology regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Julianne, should China have been included on that axis of evil list?
JULIANNE MALVEAUX, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) axis of evil or margin of profit? Let's be clear.
China represents 25 percent of the world market. We are not trying to pick any fights with China, despite all this rhetoric about axis of evil. We can go back and look at the Nixon administration. We can look at Reagan, big Bush, now little Bush, and Clinton as well.
People have cow-towed to China because it really represents a margin of profit. We have done globalization based on international trade. And so we can't pick on one-quarter of the world population.
ROBERT GEORGE, "NEW YORK POST": Well, I mean, Julianne is partly right. I mean, you had the interview with...
MALVEAUX: Mostly right.
GEORGE: Well, no, we're mostly right.
You had the interview with the President Nixon's daughter earlier on.
I mean, the fact is the relationship with China has always been a lot different than with Korea or Iraq and Iran.
BLITZER: So there's a double standard, are you saying?
GEORGE: I mean, to a certain extent. But I would say actually, though, that China's engagement with us actually forces them to in a sense to hold back on more than they would otherwise.
BLITZER: Constructive engagement, is that what you're supporting?
JONAH GOLDBERG, "THE NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE": I think that's part of it. I mean, I disagree with Julianne on this sort of quasi- crypto-Marxist interpretation of American foreign policy.
MALVEAUX: Quasi-crypto-Marxist. Thank you for the very oblique restatement that didn't say what I said.
(LAUGHTER) GOLDBERG: Every now and then, you know, we conservatives get in trouble for telling the truth about who we think are Marxists and who aren't.
But be that as it may, I do think that China is a big market and that is part of issue. But part of the issue is also that they may not be a global super power yet, but they're certainly regional super power. And the idea that somehow you're going to lock them out of your diplomacy, the way we can afford to with someone like North Korea, is silly.
PETER BEINART, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": There's something else here. There are two important countries that China has influence with which are very important to the United States. One is Pakistan. And the Chinese actually helped the United States in turning the Musharraf government against the Taliban.
The second is North Korea. They're just about the only country that has any influence with North Korea. If the Bush administration really wants any policy toward regime change there, they need the Chinese help.
BLITZER: We got an e-mail from a retired, 26-year (ph) Army veteran who asked this question: "If anything is to be done about Iraq should it not be done by the United Nations? The U.N. has an agreement from Iraq about inspections. And if Iraq doesn't live up to the agreement than the U.N. needs to take action."
GOLDBERG: Well, the U.N. is fairly useless. Remember, we are not on the Human Rights Commission, and Syria is. This is not an institution with a huge amount of moral authority. They are not known for their aggressive standing up to corrupt and evil regimes. And we can't rely on them, and we have to do what we see right as we see it.
MALVEAUX: But, Jonah, you cannot describe the U.N. as useless because you don't get your way. The reason that we're not on the committee that he describes...
GOLDBERG: I can when my way is right.
MALVEAUX: No, your way is not right.
But furthermore, the reason that we're not there is because we didn't do the lobbying that we were supposed to do. We assumed that we were supposed to be there. We had not paid our dues. We had dropped the ball with the United Nations.
The fact is that the United Nations is the appropriate body to adjudicate this and we have to...
GOLDBERG: ... the Syrians, you're right.
GEORGE: The United Nations only asked when the United States pushes the U.N. to act. It never acts on its own.
BEINART: In fact, what we know is that the U.N. inspection regime has gotten weaker and weaker and weaker over the years. There are a lot of...
MALVEAUX: Because of this kind of...
BEINART: No, no, no. It's also because Russia and China and France have given up on a tough line. They've given up. It's because, it's because the U.S. is now really standing alone as the only county that really wants regime change in Iraq. We have to stand alone, it's going to be up to us.
BLITZER: All right, let's move on and talk about the Enron scandal. Remember that?
MALVEAUX: The what?
BLITZER: The Enron scandal. It greased the rails for the House of Representatives this week, some say, to pass legislation to overhaul campaign finance reform. But Republicans in the Senate are still talking as if they can stop the train.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: This bill is amendable and debatable. And unless, at some point, 60 senators decide to let it pass, it will not pass.
And so I believe, I'm pretty confident that I have 41 senators who'll give us a chance to read it, take a look at it, weigh it, assess it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Peter, 41 senators, that means he could sustain a filibuster if he wanted.
BEINART: Yes, I think he's bluffing. I mean, I think, post- Enron, a Republican filibuster of campaign finance reform would be a birthday present to Tom Daschle.
I think the Republicans are focusing on the courts now, and I think the real stories they're going to lose in the courts because this does not violate free speech. They're going to lose all the way around.
GEORGE: Of course it violates -- of course it violates free speech.
GEORGE: Look. If you're basically saying that a third party cannot...
BEINART: No, you're not.
GEORGE: Yes, you are. BEINART: You have to do it with hard money. There's no reason that independent groups shouldn't be doing it with hard money as opposed to soft money. It's not a violation of free speech.
MALVEAUX: Robert George, you know, at the end of the day, when you see this visual of these guys, one by one by one, claiming the Fifth, they've purchased 70 senators, can you really talk about free speech?
GEORGE: That has absolutely nothing to do with the campaign finance laws, though.
MALVEAUX: I want to say something to you. You may well be right, but guess what? It's not going to play in America. You may be 1,000 percent right...
BEINART: Except that he's not.
MALVEAUX: ... but here's why it's not going to play.
No, I'm just going to concede something to make him feel good for a minute.
The fact is that it's not going to play because you've got 21,000 people who've lost their entire pensions. You've got a CEO who has manipulated stock prices. And then you've got a company that has bought 70 senators. And you say, "We don't want to -- we refuse to submit to campaign finance." That will not play in the 'hood or on Wall Street. GEORGE: And it's amazing how much of the money that the Bush campaign raised, that came from Enron, that would not be affected by a ban on soft money because it was all hard money.
BEINART: That's why the Bush administration isn't so worried.
BLITZER: Well, let me bring Jonah in.
Jonah, a lot of legal scholars will disagree with Peter, and would point out that there is a constitutional question whether these outside third-party groups do have to use only hard money, as opposed to soft money, in the final 60 days of a campaign.
GOLDBERG: Well, first of all, the idea that somehow the founding fathers would have endorsed the idea that you couldn't take out a newspaper ad talking about an election 60 days before an election seems, to me, laughable.
BEINART: But you can, Jonah. I can't believe...
GOLDBERG: But the hurdles you have to go through constitute a barrier.
MALVEAUX: Jump, brother, jump. This is the issue. You're going to have to jump. You cannot combat the visual of this company and its venality...
MALVEAUX: You cannot combat that visual, so if you want to try it, jump, brother, jump.
GOLDBERG: If you want to make a political argument saying that, no matter how irrational or silly the connection may be between Enron and banning issue ads, that's fine. But that doesn't mean it's a good argument.
MALVEAUX: It's not necessarily silly, Jonah.
GOLDBERG: It's an absurd argument. What does Enron have to do with banning soft money?
MALVEAUX: Here's what Enron has to do with any of this.
MALVEAUX: The fact is that they laid down with Cheney, they got up and got some concessions on various energy policies. And Americans have every reason...
GOLDBERG: I know this comes as a shock to you, but saying it doesn't make it...
MALVEAUX: No shock whatsoever.
GOLDBERT: Simply because you say something doesn't make it true.
MALVEAUX: Thank you for sharing that with us.
GOLDBERG: You've already said that 70 senators are corrupt.
MALVEAUX: Assimilate that, Jonah, assimilate that: Just because you say it doesn't make it so.
GOLDBERG: I don't even know what that means.
BLITZER: All right. We'll take a call. We have a caller who wants to weigh in. Go ahead, caller.
CALLER: Yes, the question that I have is, what I'm curious to know is, why we're not asking for an independent investigation of Enron, with respect to evaluating their books from a financial source that has the capability and the knowhow to evaluate their finances?
BLITZER: Well, the independent counsel statute, as you know, lapsed; it was not renewed. But, Peter, the Justice Department could ask for a special counsel to take a look at the whole Enron investigation if it wanted to.
BEINART: Yes, that's true. I think we're probably not suffering too few Enron investigations at this point.
And I think the real question, this criminality question I really think is a sideshow. The important question is the policy change. That's where I think we really to focus.
GOLDBERG: If Julianne is correct that 70 senators are bought and paid for by a company, then we really do need a serious investigation, because she says they're all corrupt. She said they're bought senators.
MALVEAUX: Well, I said that 70 senators accepted Enron money. I think...
GOLDBERG: And therefore they're bought. Sheila Jackson Lee must be the most guilty.
MALVEAUX: No, I think, no, what. Please, Phil Gramm and Kay Bailey Hutchison, $100,000; Sheila Jackson who got $33,000. Let's be clear.
GOLDBERG: And they've come out and criticized Enron, and Sheila Jackson Lee hasn't.
MALVEAUX: Let's be clear. Here's the bottom line. The bottom line is that we've got to draw some firewalls between these kind of contributions. You've every congressional and senatorial committee investigating. I think there are too many investigations, but I think we've got to get to the end of it.
And you are absolutely wrong, my friend.
BLITZER: All right, we'll talk about this during a commercial break.
We have to take a quick break. Your phone calls, e-mails, a lot more for our panel, when we come back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our Final Round.
Time now for our quote of week.
Secretary of State Colin Powell showed once again he's his own man and that he's willing to defy the right wing of his own party. Powell told a global forum on MTV, everyone should talk candidly about safe sex and condoms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL: In my own judgment, condoms are a way to prevent infection. And therefore I not only support their use, I encourage their use among people who are sexually active and need to protect themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Was the secretary, Jonah, practicing unsafe politics, though?
GOLDBERG: First of all, I could swear that there was a war on. And it seems to me that the secretary of state has better things to talk about than condom usage.
That said, personally, I actually kind of basically agree with him on the message. I'm not a social conservative in the sense that I think the teenagers who are having sex, it would be better for them to have it with condoms. But it would be even better than that to have them abstain.
But I am very curious to know -- I don't really care what the Christian right has to say about this. But I'd be very interested to know what our partners in the Muslim coalition to fighting terrorism think about the fact that our secretary of state is telling the world about preteen sex and all that kind of...
MALVEAUX: Oh, Jonah, please, get a grip. And actually, since you're coming from the far right, I'd like you to diagram that sentence. And you know, that's something that the far right (inaudible).
But in any case, I mean, Colin Powell is making a responsible statement. I think that what we learned about this is the way that some people in the administration came down and started jumping on him. It wasn't unsafe politics.
BLITZER: None of the administration, outside the conservatives.
MALVEAUX: But they are affiliated with the administration. They laid down with the administration when it was appropriate.
And so, this was a signal that was sent to further isolate Colin Powell. And I think, at the end of day, he comes out as someone who is extremely responsible. Those who say that they don't like condom use come out as people who are just extremists.
GEORGE: Well, you know, actually, as is typical for Washington stories, it's not the crime, it's the cover-up.
MALVEAUX: A cover-up?
GEORGE: A cover-up, exactly.
But the point is, close to what Jonah said. Rather than talking about what Colin Powell should have been talking about condoms or not, the question is, why is he on MTV at all, considering some of the garbage that is spread worldwide on that station?
BLITZER: We have an e-mail from Alex in Montreal who asks this very question. Let me read it. "I don't understand how it is relevant for the U.S. secretary of state to be addressing teenagers on their sexuality. If Colin Powell wants to remain credible with issues related to diplomacy and the war on terrorism, shouldn't he choose his speaking engagements more wisely?"
BEINART: No, I actually disagree. And I also disagree with Jonah's point.
Colin Powell was talking about a very, very important topic, a topic that only really he in the administration cares about.
BLITZER: And he was asked a question about it, he didn't raise the question.
BEINART: The topic he was talking about is called Africa. The debate is not about sex in the United States. It's about in Africa, where the ugly truth is a lot of women don't have the choice about when they start becoming sexually active. There's a desperate need to get men to start using condoms. And Colin Powell was talking about it, and nobody else is. That's what the Christian right, I think, is missing.
GOLDBERG: I think that is generally right, I do. Maybe I was too busy diagramming my sentences that I wasn't able to get it out clearly...
... but when you realize that it was a global audience, these are issues that transcend the... GEORGE: By the way, he also clarified his point on the interview today. When he was talking about conservatives, he said specifically he was talking about the conservative regimes that, in a sense, don't want to have any kind of discussion on sex, as opposed to a political conservatives in America.
BLITZER: And this is a huge issue globally.
MALVEAUX: You know, Wolf, even more than that, I think it's really important that the MTV generation be addressed. I mean, in fact, if, indeed, we escalate this war that we're talking about, it will be the MTV generation that's first to be drafted. It will be the MTV generation that are going to be asked to fight before our generation, anyone around this table...
BEINART: And in Jonah and Robert, you have perfect examples of the MTV generation.
GOLDBERG: I was going to say the MTV generation is already past draft age.
BEINART: I know, they're getting Social Security.
(LAUGHTER) MALVEAUX: I really do think that Colin Powell has played a masterful role in having both gravitas and relevance, and I think that's really important.
BLITZER: All right. Let's move on from the Cold War to the ice war.
Robert, was justice served at the Olympic Games this past week when a second gold medal was awarded to that Canadian figure skating pair?
GEORGE: Well, I think the International Olympic Committee should get a gold medal for gymnastics on this one. For one thing, we don't know the full involvement actually of the Russian federation in this deal that was being cut with the French. So, arguably, one could say that the Russians should have actually gotten the silver medal.
It is, basically, a lot of PR on a body that has once again embarrassed itself.
GOLDBERG: First of all, I was too busy throwing lavish Oscar parties to watch it.
But that said, I am shocked and amazed that a French official would cave to aggression from a foreign power.
I am stunned and I am scandalized. Look, the reality is, this is a terrible move because, by basically switching positions on this, you basically show that actually this is not a sport, it is a competition with corrupt judges who can change their positions on things.
MALVEAUX: But you know what? Been there, done that. Got the t- shirt. Hello? There was an African-American man named Roy Jones, Jr., in 1988. He beat the crap out of a South Korean. But the South Korean got the gold, and he got the silver.
BLITZER: So you are saying there is corruption among the judges?
MALVEAUX: Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
The fact is that it's very interesting to me that the Canadians were able to spin it so that they could get a reversal, when we've had these kinds of injustices before that couldn't be spotted (ph).
BEINART: Yes, but something has changed actually. It's new Olympic leadership. I actually think this was good thing, because I think it sends an internal message. There is a tremendous amount of corruption amongst the leadership of the Olympic Committee. They have a new head. I think he's trying to make a change, which is important.
BLITZER: I thought he was pretty impressive this week. All right, we're going to take another break. When we come back, our lightning round. Let me repeat, our lightning round just ahead.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Time now for our Lightning Round.
Should Vice President Dick Cheney leave the press behind when he travels to the Middle East next month, Peter?
BEINART: Yes, I actually think they deserve a pass on this. I mean, it's true the administration loves secrecy. Sometimes they do it for political gain, as with the energy task force. But sometimes you're going there to plan a war. So I think a little secrecy is OK.
GEORGE: Surprisingly, I actually disagree with Peter on this.
BLITZER: He's a liberal, you're a conservative.
GEORGE: I think, you know, he's basically going around setting up the next initiative against Iraq. And I think there should be some press there. It may not be the whole contingent. But I do believe the United States should get at least some kind of insights into some of the conversations that are being had.
MALVEAUX: And surprise, surprise. I agree with Robert George. I think that it makes no sense. Dick Cheney has been operating under the radar screen a little too long. We say, should he leave the press at home? Where is home? I mean, he hasn't been there lately, but in any case...
BLITZER: It's an undisclosed location.
MALVEAUX: But in any case, I really believe that the press has a right to be involved in this, the American people have a right to know. We can't operate this kind of secrecy and expect people to buy into what we're up to.
GOLDBERG: I kind of split the difference on this, believe it or not. As an old Nixon hand, Cheney should know that, when you stiff- arm the press, the press bites back pretty hard. And it may not be worth the price, as a political issue, to keep the press out.
That said, it depends on what he's doing. If he's really going there to plot a war, and they really think it's worth it, maybe it's worth it to take the hit. But I would take like one or two pool reporters along, just in case. BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about a Washington Times editorial, that was entitled "Giftgate." It blasts the Clintons, what a surprise. "Sure the Clintons followed the law concerning presidential gifts," says the editorial, "the law of the schoolyard: finders, keepers."
Partisan sniping, or should the laws change, Julianne?
MALVEAUX: How about the Washington Times gets over the Clintons? Been there. They're gone.
The fact is that this sniping -- and that's exactly what it is -- coming from the Washington Times really suggests they are unwilling to provide this administration with the same kind of scrutiny. Bill and Hillary Clinton have done very little wrong, and they just need to get over it.
GEORGE: The fact is, as in many other cases, the Clintons took certain things that, I should say...
MALVEAUX: Allegedly. Why not say "allegedly"?
GEORGE: No, certain precedents in previous White Houses and took it to the tawdriest level possible. I mean, they did, they took the gifts, they didn't even put some of them on the disclosure. It's classic Clinton tawdriness.
BLITZER: But, Jonah, if they were valued under $260, they could take it. If they were valued more than $260, they had to leave it behind.
GOLDBERG: Yes, well, according to the reports, it sounds like they did take stuff they shouldn't have taken. They gave most of that back.
I'm generally against laws that try to ensure that people don't act in a low-class way. They're paying the price in the press and with the public stigma for behaving sort of scandalously, and I think, just sort of leave it there.
BLITZER: Is it good advice?
BEINART: Yes, I think the timing of this is pretty coincidental. You know, the Bush administration got a lot of mileage early last year over the Clinton pardon scandals, looking good by comparison. Now they have a Enron scandal of their own. I wouldn't be surprised if they had a hand in this story emerging.
GOLDBERG: It's a Fabiani memo in the making.
BLITZER: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the city's public hospitals must offer abortion training to all OB-GYN medical students. Is that a perfect prescription for angering conservatives? MALVEAUX: Michael Bloomberg is not a conservative, and so he's been angering them all along. I mean, he's been somewhere toward liberal with a fiscal conservative philosophy.
I agree with him on this philosophy about making sure that everyone has OB-GYN and abortion training. GEORGE: I mean, you know, the truth of the matter is, actually Bloomberg hasn't really been angering conservatives, especially in terms of the budget and so forth.
The fact of the matter is, in New York State, though, there aren't that many conservatives to anger on this. And it may not be something that I would necessarily admit, but I don't think -- it hasn't become a controversy.
BLITZER: The accusation is, he's promoting abortions by doing this.
GOLDBERG: Right. Well, I mean, I think Robert's right. In New York City, there's even less down-side to angering conservatives. I think my parents are the conservatives in New York City.
But that said, I don't understand why it's so wrong when conservatives want to involve counseling and so forth in abortion clinics and in abortion providers, why it's so wrong for politics to meddle with medical care. But now a mayor, an elected official, is demanding that all these people learn a medical procedure. Leave these decisions up to the doctors.
BEINART: But there has been a lot of pressure on the other side here, where I think doctors have been intimidated.
And the truth is, even if you're anti-abortion, it seems to me, the best way to prevent abortion is not to keep America from being able to have doctors who can perform it safely. And that's the danger here. We just don't have enough doctors. Even some conservatives recognize, in an emergency, you need people who can do this.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about one other issue. Everyone's talking about copycat pets. Would you clone man's best friend?
GOLDBERG: I would love to keep my dog in perpetuity. That said, it's important to keep in mind that we've been genetically engineering dogs for thousands of years, and we're going to keep doing it. My guess is, people spend so much money on their dogs that this is going to be commercially viable to do, but most people won't do it.
MALVEAUX: You know, as long as we clone the two-legged dogs -- or the four-legged dogs and not the two-legged ones, I'm OK.
I'm not in it. I think that this is silly. But let's stop with... BLITZER: Cloning cats?
GEORGE: No, I think it's a bad idea. I mean, there are a lot of unwanted pets around already, and I think just, you know, cloning them, it's perverse.
BLITZER: You get the last word. BEINART: Yes, this is a silly debate. But the truth is, there's something important going on, which is that September 11 has sidelined the cloning debate. It was perhaps the most important debate we needed to be addressing before this. There is a bill before Congress. We need an anti-cloning bill with no loopholes.
GOLDBERG: If you met my dog, you wouldn't say any of that.
BLITZER: All right. We have to leave it there.
MALVEAUX: We don't want your dog, Jonah.
BLITZER: Our Final Round is over with. Sssh!
And that's your Late Edition for Sunday, February 17. Please join us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
During the week, I'll see you twice a day at both 5 and 7 p.m. Eastern, two editions of Wolf Blitzer Reports.
Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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