CNN SATURDAY EDITION
Sessions Discusses Role of U.S. on World Stage; Woolsey Makes His Case for Attacking Iraq
Aired March 23, 2002 - 10:00 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The more firm and determined we are, the more likely it is that we will achieve lasting peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, HOST: President Bush wages war and diplomacy. Fighting terrorism, promoting Mideast peace, and embracing America's neighbors. We'll talk to Senator Jeff Sessions about the role of the U.S. on the world stage and a homeland defense power struggle between White House and Congress.
And the big "what next" question of the terrorism fight: Will the U.S. take on Saddam Hussein? Former CIA Director James Woolsey makes his case for attacking Iraq.
And at home, new fire on the issue of immigration, complicating the terrorism fight and U.S. relations south of the border. Commentator Pat Buchanan will face off against the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
All just ahead on SATURDAY EDITION.
Good morning to California and the West Coast and all our North American viewers. I'm Jonathan Karl in Washington.
The president's radio address is straight ahead. Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, will be listening with us.
Later, when we discuss Iraq and immigration, we want to hear your questions. Our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
All just ahead, but first, this news alert.
KARL: We're just a couple of minutes away from the president's radio address. Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, is joining us this morning.
Senator Sessions, welcome to the show. SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: Thank you, Jonathan. Good to be with you.
KARL: Thanks for joining us.
There's news out now that 52 senators, your colleagues, 21 of them Republicans, have signed a letter written to President Bush urging that Vice President Cheney reconsider his decision, his offer to meet with Yasser Arafat.
What do you think of this? Would it be a mistake, given the violence in the Middle East, to meet with Arafat at this time?
SESSION: This is a very serious question. We absolutely do not need to do anything that suggests that we are rewarding terrorism and violence and attacks on innocent civilians. So we're asking Israel to restrain itself; at the same time, we're being aggressive against those who have attacked us. So it's a very delicate issue.
The vice president, as I understand it, has not made a commitment to meet with him yet, in terms of actually setting a date, because he obviously is asking for certain preconditions. Perhaps this letter will be helpful.
KARL: He would like a cease-fire. I mean, that's what the administration's position is. They would like a cease-fire. But the letter seems to be saying, hey, promising -- words of a cease-fire aren't enough. I mean, Arafat has to do something on the ground, concrete steps to stop the violence.
SESSIONS: It is a very sad circumstance there. Exactly what you would ask for, in terms of a demonstrated cease-fire, how long you have to have no violence, would one incident make a difference, I don't know. But I know this: We've got to be careful not to reward violence.
KARL: And all this is happening as Vice President Cheney has gone throughout the region trying to get support for going into Iraq. I mean, how does this complicate, you know, your efforts to bring the war against terrorism to Iraq when you're dealing with the Middle East imploding?
SESSIONS: Well, you just have to do your duty. There may not be a possible way to get everybody to agree to action, if we felt necessary, in Iraq. We're just going to have to do it. That's the sad truth of the matter.
Iraq represents a real threat to the world and to its own people. It has oppressed its people to a degree that's almost unprecedented in the world. People are starving for no good reason. Their freedom has been denied. The world would be a lot better off without Saddam Hussein.
KARL: And do you think that we're going to get the kind of support, the U.S. will get the kind of support? I mean, Saudi Arabia is not there this time. Many of our European allies have got serious cold feet when it comes this question.
SESSIONS: Well, they've always been nervous. It's very difficult to get people in advance to sign onto an agreement. They want to know precisely what it is. They want to know it's going to succeed. They want to know you are committed to final and total success. And they're going to lay back, frankly. That's just the way it is. We have to lead, if we believe it's necessary. And I believe the president will make a good decision on that. Then we've got to step up and do it.
KARL: And the president is on his way right now, flying from Mexico to Peru. We're also about, I think, 10 seconds away from his radio address, which will be talking about what he wants to get out of Latin America. We want to listen to the radio address now. When we come out, we'll ask you a little bit about that.
SESSIONS: Very good.
BUSH: Good morning.
This week I am traveling in Latin American, visiting three strong American allies -- Mexico, Peru and El Salvador -- to reaffirm the central importance I place on American relations with the rest of our hemisphere.
Our country's future is closely tied to the success and security of our closest neighbors. Problems like drug trade and poverty produce terrible consequences for all our countries. And prosperity in our hemisphere will produce profound benefits for all our countries.
The United States is strongly committed to helping build an entire hemisphere that lives in liberty and trades in freedom.
The NAFTA trade agreement is a model for the world. NAFTA has created jobs and lifted lives in Mexico and Canada and the United States. During NAFTA's first seven years, 15 million jobs were created in the United States. Our trade with Mexico now averages more than $650 million a day, and that's why our border is one of the busiest in the world. And keeping trade and traffic moving freely is essential to America and American jobs.
Yet we must also prevent our terrorist enemies from using the openness of our society against us. Even our welcoming country must be able to shut its doors to terrorists and drugs and weapons at our own bothers. So America, working closely with Canada and Mexico, has set a goal. We are working for a common border that is open to commerce and legitimate travel and closed to drug trafficking and terror. We want to speed the movement of legal goods and people across the border, and stop the illegal movement of goods and people.
And we will use the most up-to-date technology to achieve this goal. This week I saw some of that technology at work on a visit to a border near El Paso, Texas. X-ray machines are being used to thoroughly screen cargo more efficiently than ever before. During my visit to Mexico, President Fox and I announced an agreement to move toward a smart border between our countries. Through close cooperation and advanced technology, we will make our shared border more open and more secure.
We'll work with the Mexican government to identify individuals who pose threats to North America before they arrive here. We will share technology to inspect traffic on cross-border rail lines and at major ports of entry. We will make sure that people with legitimate business who travel regularly across the border can cross easily so border authorities can focus on greater risks. And we will share information more quickly and efficiently with our Mexican friends.
America's border with Mexico is a region of tremendous economic vitality, and that must not change. Both our nations benefit from close ties of family and culture and commerce. Our new approach to strengthen border security will preserve that openness and increase the safety of our country. America will defend ourselves against new threats, at the same time that we build closer relationships with our neighbors.
Thank you all for listening.
KARL: The president's radio address, heard here first on CNN.
Now, one thing that was unsaid in that radio address is that, in a sense, the president is going to Latin American empty-handed. He wanted the Congress to give him authority to seal the deal on free trade with South America. And he also wanted a deal on immigration, some kind of a limited amnesty for illegal immigrants in the U.S.
KARL: Why is he going empty-handed? Why couldn't he get that out of Congress?
SESSIONS: I think there some real concerns in our country. There's a real concern in America about our lack of control of the border. The border is not under control. The INS is completely incapable, at this point, of enforcing our very generous immigration laws.
For example, there are over 300,000 people who've gone to court, found to be here illegal and been asked or deported and they just disappeared back into the country. No one's even looking for these people.
KARL: We have no idea where they are?
SESSIONS: We don't know where they are, and this is not counting the millions that are here illegally. So, it's time for to us get serious.
We pass laws, Congress does. We fund money for these programs. We do all of these things, but always within that system, there are gaps and loopholes that just gut the ability of the law to be effectively carried out. And whenever somebody comes up with a plan that actually works, then that gets defeated or not succeed. KARL: Well, what the president wanted is he wanted immigrants that are here illegally to be able to apply, while they're in this country, for legal status. It's essentially a limited amnesty. Are you comfortable with that?
SESSIONS: No, I'm not. It is amnesty, and I do not support that. It does say to us that if you get here illegally and you just stay here and stay here, sooner or later we'll have another amnesty. This is second or third amnesty that we've had.
I was a prosecutor in the federal government for 15 years. The rule of law is central. We have a generous immigration policy. We allow people to come and go at unprecedented freedom. But there are rules that must be -- abide by, or we are going to completely loss respect with the people who dutifully follow the law to come here.
KARL: Well, I want to ask you -- I know you had a lengthy meeting, a one-on-one meeting, I believe, with Tom Ridge, the homeland security director. I want to ask you about that after the break, but we need to take a quick break.
And we will continue our conversation with Senator Sessions and take your phone and e-mail questions when SATURDAY EDITION continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Tonight I also announced a distinguished American to lead this effort to strengthen American security, a military veteran, an effective governor, a true patriot, a trusted friend, Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge.
He will lead, oversee and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism and respond to any attacks that may come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: We're talking with Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Now that, of course, was the president right after September 11, a September 20 speech before the joint sessions, talking about Tom Ridge, lead, coordinate the strategy on homeland defense.
Now take a look at how Tom Ridge is describing his job. Here is a quote we have, an Associated Press article, from Tom Ridge. He says, "I have not operational authority over any department. I don't control any dollars. I can't hire or fire. I make recommendations."
Well, Senator Sessions, when the president announced Ridge, I was not -- I don't think people got the sense this was merely going to be a member of his kitchen cabinet. This was going to be somebody leading, coordinating that effort on homeland defense. What happened?
SESSIONS: I don't know whether they misspoke at the beginning or not.
I do believe that what Ridge is saying now his duty is is a good description of it. In other words, he has no real staff or administrative function. What he does is try to get the various existing agencies in government to get together and work together effectively against terrorism.
That means he must have the support of the president, because they frequently disagree. When you see this in government, it's just normal. And somebody needs to say, "This is what you should do." And if they don't like it, they will appeal to the president.
KARL: Now, I mean, as you well know, and you're right in the middle of this, there is this big showdown over whether or not Ridge should testify before Congress to answer to the questions that many Americans have about the homeland defense effort.
You recently spent some time with Ridge. You met with him on Thursday. If he can take the time to meet with you, why can't he take the time to testify before congressional committees?
SESSIONS: He is meeting with people in the Congress on a regular basis. I thought he probably should testify before Congress. But he -- the president sees him more as Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, or Andy Card, his chief of staff, people that work for him personally without administrative or governmental authorities. Condoleezza Rice is not called as a witness. The secretary of defense is, the secretary of state is, and the officials under them.
So that's the way they're seeing this. And apparently, if he will get out and actually meet with the Congress on a regular basis, he may not be forced to testify. But it's sort of a tempest in a teapot, really.
KARL: Well, given some of the embarrassments we've seen since September 11 -- I mean, the most notorious was the INS sending the student visas to Mohamed Atta and another one of the hijackers six months later -- do you think that they need to rethink Ridge's role? Doesn't it need to be more -- doesn't he need more authority? I mean, if you are going to actually get this under control, don't you have to have somebody who can actually take control?
SESSIONS: It's a constant problem in government. You have got the Cabinet heads. You have got the head of INS, Department of Justice, Department of State, all of these agencies that exist for many, many years. And now we're going to create another one that's above them? How do you do that?
The president has called in Ridge to be his personal adviser to sort of deal with the squabbling among the agencies, to hammer out some new changes to bring in agencies and make sure they work together effectively, which we're not doing today, to fight terrorism and immigration violations and things of that nature.
KARL: So what did Governor Ridge tell you? Is he getting overwhelmed? SESSIONS: No, he didn't seem to be overwhelmed. He had some ideas that I'm not sure that he knows will be approved, such as getting agencies like Customs and INS to work together, maybe even in a new agency within the government.
I'm inclined to think some of that could work. I just want to see the fine print of it. But it's going to be difficult, and he may end up having to testify to accomplish that.
KARL: Now, that will be interesting. So you think that may -- you think we will have a deal on that soon? I mean, Daschle is threatening subpoena, threatening congressional -- Senate resolution.
SESSIONS: I don't see any need for that to be done, unless it's just for politics at this point. Mr. Ridge...
KARL: But you think he will ultimately testify?
SESSIONS: I don't know. I think he could. I'm not sure it's worth a long, hard battle over. But I really do believe, the way he has been given authorities at this point, it's much more like the president's personal staff, not like the secretary of state or INS director.
KARL: Now, from the war on the home front to war in Afghanistan, I'd like you to listen to what President Bush had to say this week about the effort over there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: A lot of times on TV all you see is about the bombs. But we've prevented mass starvation because we have moved a lot of food into the region. We're helping build roads. We're helping build schools. We're helping to make sure boys and girls and others have got health care and health clinics. And we're also doing a lot to help children get a good education.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Interesting statement. Now, this was the president that got elected talking about how he wasn't going to get involved in nation-building. Now he's talking about building roads, building schools, health care. What's going on? Are you comfort with this level of involvement?
SESSIONS: It's been a good thing for the people of Afghanistan. We had a terrible government. This government supported Al Qaeda, which killed 3,000 American citizens, but they were also oppressing their own people.
So the president, exactly correct to point out to people who've criticized our policies that life is much better for the people there, that we're bringing in nations from all over the world to help re- establish a legitimate government there to improve the economy -- really establish -- re-establish a basic economy, which has totally been collapsed. We had people starving to death, women not allowed education. So, it's some good things to celebrate as a result of this unfortunate war.
KARL: But how much in the way of U.S. taxpayer money are you willing to spend on building roads in Afghanistan, on building health care clinics, on building schools? How much are you willing to spend over there?
SESSIONS: I'm prepared to support some of that. I think our allies should support that also, and they are. But my concern is that we not turn our military into policemen; we don't turn our military into people who run the sewer system or the garbage system in some town in Afghanistan. We've got to guard against that. We cannot allow our people to be sucked into that kind of long-term mission that drains their training, drains their readiness and the defense budget.
KARL: And you will be on the -- you're on the Armed Services Committee, so you will be talking about that. And of course, we have this huge budget increase that the president wants.
Very quickly, we only have few seconds left. How do you think that battle is going to be? That's going to be the first battle you face this year on budget.
SESSIONS: We'll get a new increase for defense. It's probably not enough. And we'll have a supplemental coming in soon that will help some of the additional things.
KARL: All right. Well, Senator Sessions, always a pleasure. Thanks for joining us.
SESSIONS: Thank you, Jonathan.
KARL: All right.
And just ahead, should Saddam Hussein be the next target in the war on terrorism? We'll get two views on going after Iraq, when SATURDAY EDITION continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE TENET, DIRECTOR OF THE CIA: Baghdad has a long history of supporting terrorism, altering its targets to reflect changing priorities and goals. It has also had contact with Al Qaeda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: CIA Director George Tenet on Capitol Hill this week. He stopped short of blaming Saddam Hussein outright for the September 11 attacks.
Joining us now, two men with very definite, diverging ideas about the Iraqi threat and how the U.S. should respond: former CIA Director James Woolsey, and Michael O'Hanlon. He is a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution.
Mr. Woolsey, right to you. There was this explosive article in The New Yorker magazine detailing supposedly really direct ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. And my question to you is, if this article is credible, how could The New Yorker magazine scoop the CIA?
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, it's interesting that the Director Tenet statement that you just showed was one day after that New Yorker article came out. I doubt seriously if it was based all or substantially on The New Yorker article. One hopes and believes that the CIA has been looking into Al Qaeda-Iraqi ties for some time and that this major statement that George Tenet made was derived from that or parallel or other information.
KARL: That was the first time we have heard the CIA acknowledge a link.
WOOLSEY: Well, I think the CIA has been somewhat reluctant over the course of the last few years to credit information coming from the Iraqi resistance. After all, it's a democratic organization, hard to control, and the CIA institutionally tends to prefer controllable organizations.
And also, a lot of material has come from defectors and volunteers. And CIA institutionally sometimes tends to listen to people they have recruited and controlled more than volunteers and defectors.
But I think, finally, the amount of information that's coming out about Al Qaeda-Iraqi ties is so overwhelming, not only in Jeff Goldberg's wonderful piece in The New Yorker but in a lot of ways, that I think you have to be pretty naive to believe that there are not a lot of close ties between -- for that matter, the Mullahs in Iran and Hezbollah, which they support, and Al Qaeda and the Ba'athists in Iraq.
But the murderous end of those three spectrums, those people have no trouble at all getting along quite well together.
KARL: Mike O'Hanlon, what do you think, pretty clear evidence of strong ties?
MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: Well, I guess I'm still in the naive camp, in the sense that, while I'm open-minded about, obviously, paying attention to this and worried, I think that so far we've seen pretty limited evidence. For Saddam to be heavily involved with Al Qaeda is suicide for him, if we find out. Now, maybe he was hoping we wouldn't find out.
But so, the evidence I've have seen is that the ties have been pretty limited. And there have been a couple of meetings. There have been no major collaborations, no major working together on finances, on weapons of mass destruction, on training. I have not yet seen that evidence. I'm clearly paying attention to the issue with the Kurds. And if turns out there is a strong link there, I'm going to revise all of my views and we'll have to assume that Saddam is not deterrable, that he is bent on vengeance and we better go after him. But so far, I have not seen that evidence.
KARL: I mean, one of the amazing things in that New Yorker article is that these sources, you'd think primary sources in Iraqi Kurdistan, were never interviewed by the CIA or anybody in the U.S. government. This New Yorker reporter, Jeffrey Goldberg, is the first person to talk to them.
O'HANLON: It's pretty stunning, if it turns outs to be true.
And as I say, if it turns out to be true and there's strong evidence to support this, I think we have to seriously consider overthrowing Saddam Hussein, because the basic logic that I am operating on, so far, is Saddam knows if he goes after the United States in a mayor way we will overthrow him, and therefore, he will behave himself and he will be contained. If that's not true, then we can't assume this guy is deterrable and we have to overthrow him.
WOOLSEY: Well, I think Jeff Goldberg's piece is quite remarkable, and he and The New Yorker deserve a lot of credit for it.
Doesn't necessarily mean the CIA has not been in northern Iraq. If they're doing their job right, you don't know if they're there or not. But...
KARL: Theoretically, part of that would be interviews, so that people would...
WOOLSEY: Right. But if they're overt interviews, it could be done by the State Department. It doesn't have to be done by spies. So, I don't know where the CIA got the information that led Director Tenet to say what did he on Tuesday.
But I think, if you look at the Iraqi training of hijackers, including hijackers with knives, Islamic fundamentalists at Salman Pak on the southern edge of Baghdad. If you look at the meeting acknowledged by Czech intelligence between Al-Anni (ph), an Iraqi intelligence officer, and Mohamed Atta, one of the lead bombers. If you look at the numbers of meetings between Al Qaeda and Iraqi intelligence detailed in Yossef Bodansky's book and a lot of others, back in the '90s, beginning now in '92, according to the Kurds who were talking to Goldberg. It just goes on and on and on.
KARL: In '92, Al-Zhawari, Osama bin Laden's number-two man, was in Iraq meeting with Saddam Hussein. Do you think that is possible that we would not have known about that?
WOOLSEY: Certainly, it's possible that we wouldn't have known about it because, at that point, Al Qaeda didn't really exist and bin Laden himself was sort of a blip on the screen. He was one of a few of a number of a bad actors in Sudan. KARL: We need to take a quick break. It's time to check our hour's top stories. Here is Kyra Phillips in Atlanta with a news alert.
KARL: An important source of information about the news of the day, the war, and the president's trip to South America can be found online at cnn.com or AOL keyword CNN.
Mr. Woolsey, a really remarkable story today in the "New York Times" about one of the bombers, one of the hijackers, who apparently checked in to a hospital before the attack and seemed to have symptoms consistent with cutaneous anthrax.
KARL: What does this mean?
WOOLSEY: Fascinating piece by Bill Broad and a colleague in the "Times" today.
In June of last year, three months before the attack and after they had all come to Florida, Al-Hassani (ph), one of the men who died on Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, was treated for an infection on his leg. And the doctor, of course not having seen anthrax before, was not sure what it was. Unfortunately, he didn't keep a sample.
But he has now gone back and been interviewed, as has the head of the Johns Hopkins laboratory which has done an investigation of this. Both say that it seems quite clear that this was cutaneous anthrax. What that does is it ties the anthrax attacks to 9/11.
Now, you already had the hijackers looking into crop dusters. You already had the first anthrax attacks occurring right near where they were in Boca Raton at that group of newspaper headquarters. And it's always been, I think, fanciful to believe that some crazed American Ph.D. microbiologist was all on his own ginning up this anthrax and just happened to send it off a week after the attacks.
But now the links between September 11 and the anthrax look like they're building.
KARL: And yet investigators have been telling us all along, I mean, more recently that they believe that this is domestic, or that signs were pointing towards domestic.
WOOLSEY: Those aren't exclusive. Those aren't exclusive. There is no sole source contracting requirement in terrorism. They terrorists -- the 9/11 people could have been working with somebody domestically. It doesn't have to be one or the other.
O'HANLON: But of course we've had unabombers in this country. We have had crazy people who were pretty smart do things no their own. I grant that the coincidence and the timing is suggestive here and should have been, perhaps, in the first place, but on the other hand, if you are a terrorist, what better moment to strike than when the country is already reeling?
So I think there was a total possibility that this was a separate, an entirely different kind of group and attack. But now, as Mr. Woolsey is saying, there is more of a tie, and we have to be alert to that.
KARL: And yet there is also another story that -- signs that Al Qaeda, Taliban were working on developing a facility to make anthrax or to make biological weapons in Afghanistan, but there was not sign that they had been up and ready to do this yet, which raises the possibility of, again, an Iraqi connection or some other third party providing them.
I mean, what do you think the latest on that is?
O'HANLON: I acknowledge that. There is no doubt -- I would be surprised if Al Qaeda had succeeded in producing this quality of anthrax on its own. I think the chances are quite small.
So if, indeed, Al Qaeda was the responsible agent here, they probably got the agent from someone else. And, again, I'm not going to rule out the possibility that it's Iraq. I think the overall evidence is pretty inconclusive so far, but we are seeing a growing web of circumstantial and linked evidence, and that does make one rethink one's assumptions.
KARL: Now, in terms of Iraq, obviously the vice president has been making the rounds in the Middle East and also with some of our European allies.
I want you to listen to what the NATO secretary had to say about the possibility of U.S. involvement in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORD ROBERTSON, NATO SECRETARY: So far, the United States has publicly made it clear that they do not have evidence linking the Iraqi regime with the attacks on Washington and New York. But that might change more as more information might become available.
I know of no plans for attacking Iraq at the moment, but if intelligence was sure that Saddam Hussein was giving support or was hiding Al Qaeda network people, then clearly the Northern Atlantic Council would want to know about it and consider its implications.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Well, it doesn't sound like the North Atlantic Council is ready to move forward against Iraq. I mean they want to see the evidence, consider the implications.
This has not been a very successful trip for the vice president in terms of generating support. WOOLSEY: To tell you the truth, we really don't need a lot of support from other countries in this. We badly need support of Turkey, and I think that will be the difficult negotiation. But we -- and we would need Kuwait, but I think that would be relatively easy. And we need Britain because we need to operate bombers from Diego Garcia.
It would be nice to have Saudi Arabia. But I think the Saudis are likely to be of assistance precisely to the degree that we convince them that we do not need them.
I think that Turkey is the key country here. And absent -- having the others be absent, I think, is a matter of interest but not overwhelming consequence. If you have the -- it's like the Marines, we need a few good men.
KARL: I mean, Mike, you think this could simply be the U.S., Turkey, Kuwait and Britain?
O'HANLON: I do. Although, I think that if indeed there is a growing link here and one can establish it between Saddam and Al Qaeda, we'll have plenty of support. Whether it's a former NATO approval or not, we will have a lot of support. That's the big if.
It's unproven, but I would acknowledge Mr. Woolsey's point. And he's been making this argument for years, that this is growing circumstantial evidence to think that Iraq and Al Qaeda are linked. And if that's the case, it's not going to be hard to get support here at home or internationally.
KARL: And Saddam Hussein's days truly would be numbered.
O'HANLON: I think that's right.
KARL: Well, thank you both. There's a lot more to talk about, but we're out of time. Thank you for coming in on Saturday. I really appreciate it.
WOOLSEY: Thank you.
O'HANLON: A pleasure.
KARL: Take care.
Coming up next, President Bush puts Latin America back in the spotlight, along with the contentious issue of immigration.
We'll hear from author Pat Buchanan and the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Silvestre Reyes, when SATURDAY EDITION continues.
KARL: Cartoonists this week got much of their material from Vice President Dick Cheney. It was his trip to the Middle East that prompted Steve Sack (ph) to show the vice president beating his "Attack Iraq" war drums. In the background are the huge booms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And Cheney says, "Knock it off, will ya? You're drowning out my big drum solo."
Same story, different slant from Steve Breen of the San Diego Union Tribune. His Cheney is decked out in a chef's apron and cap, and he's holding a pot labeled, "Iraq." He looks over at the stove and sees the over-boiling cauldron of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and thinks to himself, "I'd put this on the back burner, if I could find one."
And in The New Yorker, the homeland, a flag-waving man booming out the Star-Spangled Banner at bedtime. His disgruntled spouse says, "Can we please sign off just one night without the National Anthem?"
With the flag-waving since 9/11, new concern about immigration, it's impact on security, on the economy, and on a nation that celebrates itself as a melting pot.
President Bush is in the midst of a three-nation tour of Latin America to refocus on the key issues involving the region, including immigration.
Joining us from Birmingham, Alabama, is commentator Pat Buchanan. He is author of the new book, "The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasion Imperil Our Country and Civilization." And here in Washington, Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas. He is the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Welcome to both of you.
REP. SILVESTRE REYES (D), TEXAS: Thank you very much. Pleased to be here.
KARL: Congressman, I'd like to start right with you. Interesting thing about you is you actually worked on the border, you were border patrol.
REYES: Exactly, for 26 1/2 years.
KARL: Before you got into politics. Now the president, one of the things he announced is this new smart border plan, complete with some high-tech gizmos, to try to, you know, enforce immigration at the borders. Is this going to make a difference?
REYES: I think if we're going to be successful in doing the kinds of things that are important to this country from every perspective, including national security, there's going to have to be a massive investment on our southern border -- and also the northern border, because a lot of people forget that the documented cases of terrorists that have come into this country have actually come in...
KARL: From Canada.
REYES: ... not through the southern border, but through Canada.
KARL: Yes. Now, Pat Buchanan, welcome to the show again.
PAT BUCHANAN, AUTHOR/COMMENTATOR: Thank you very much, Jonathan.
KARL: One of the things that the president's talking about here is the idea of both speeding up, you know, the process of people moving across the border, but also stopping the criminals and the terrorists. Are those two things that are mutually exclusive?
BUCHANAN: Well, what the president has done with this amnesty down there is, clearly, inconsistent with the policy of the national security of the United States. The president has, in effect, given amnesty to hundreds of thousands -- maybe millions, we don't know how many -- illegal aliens in America. And guess who's going to check their status, as to criminal status, and their threat to American security, is the same INS, which has just given a student visa to Mohammed Atta six months after he crashed that plane into the World Trade Center.
So I think the president did that basically to reach out to the Hispanic vote and to give a benefit to Mr. Fox when he went to Mexico. I think it was a terrible mistake. I agree with Senator Byrd of the Democratic Party. He said this is lunacy.
I do agree with the congressman when he says we need to protect the northern border. A lot of terrorists -- I mean, some of the terrorists are coming across there. But the southern border, Jonathan, is a sieve. We stopped 2 million -- or we try to apprehend people coming across, 1.5 million are stopped every year, and half a million walk into the United States across the southern border every year. You can't have that continue and claim that you're fighting a war on terror.
KARL: So here we have Pat Buchanan agreeing with Robert C. Byrd and saying that the president's policy is lunacy.
REYES: Well, first of all, let me just clarify one of the things that Mr. Buchanan said, and that is about the 1.5 million arrests. A lot of those are the same people arrested three to 10 times, so it's nowhere near that number that we would be led to believe.
KARL: But this would be the second major amnesty, if we go forward.
REYES: Well, you know, there are three important points to make about a legalization program, a regularization program or amnesty, whatever. You know, clearly, people use the word "amnesty" for one main reason, and that is to give the impression that we're giving amnesty to lawbreakers.
REYES: I would like to remind everyone that there are millions and millions of U.S. citizens in this country that technically are breaking the same law by hiring undocumented workers. And so what are -- if it's good for the goose, it's good for the gander. So that's...
BUCHANAN: The congressman is right there, they should not be hiring illegal aliens.
But, Congressman, we've got between 8 and 11 million illegal aliens in this country, equivalent to the entire population of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. We've got over 300,000 people that have been ordered deported who have disappeared into society. 6,000 are from Al Qaeda countries. This is a disaster.
Half a million do succeed into breaking into our country every year. They break the law. They break in line. They break into the United States. They are here illegally. They are illegal aliens.
BUCHANAN: ... if we're going to fight a war on international terrorism, you can't have 10 million people wandering around your country, you don't know who they are or where they came from.
REYES: That's exactly why it's imperative that we have a program that will identify those people that are here, that are living in this country.
And by the way, there are...
KARL: Do you have faith in the INS to do that? I mean, the same INS that have a visa to Mohammed Atta?
REYES: Well, listen, the INS is full of great, committed, dedicated professional people. Where we failed with INS is that we make appointments on a bureaucratic political level, that we put people in charge of that agency that know how to spell immigration but don't know anything else about it. The top tier, up until this past week...
KARL: Are you referring to Ziglar?
REYES: ... well, the top tier up until this week with Ziglar had all been political appointees. When Doris Meissner became commissioner and came to Congress, I asked her, "Please appoint your deputy on down, people that are experienced in the field."
That's now we're going to fix that agency. We cannot expect people that know what the agency is about, that don't know that immigration law is the second most complex law in the world next to maritime law, and haven't got a clue about operations to be able to make good decisions.
BUCHANAN: But, Jonathan...
BUCHANAN: Jonathan, look, what we've got here is -- and the congressman, as a border patrolman, will concede it -- somewhere upwards of half a million people break into this country through the southern border every year. There are 8, 9, 10, 11 million illegals. There are hundreds of thousands ordered deported, wandering around in society.
All I ask is this, and it makes simple common sense post-9/11: Stop the massive immigration into the country, halt the illegal immigration cold, until we get this INS to the point where it's not sending letters out to terrorists say, "Welcome, allie-allie-in free."
It is a disaster area. I don't know whether the head man is responsible, or Ms. Meissner, but everybody agrees the INS is a joke as far as national security is concerned. And the thing to do is to stop the river from flooding first, and then find out who belongs here, who doesn't, who ought to go back, who threatens American security.
We are now in a war on terror the president said could last for decades. We've got to get control of the borders. It is essential for homeland security.
KARL: All right, we need to take a quick break. I will let you jump in on that, Congressman.
And we will talk about, is the war on terrorism changing the rules of immigration, as we show you a live picture of the lady lifting the torch over New York Harbor. Congressman Reyes and Pat Buchanan will take your e-mail and phone questions when SATURDAY EDITION continues.
KARL: We're talking with author and commentator Pat Buchanan and Texas Congressman Silvestre Reyes, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Pat Buchanan was just talking about the efforts to control the border. Now, do you think it's even possible? You've been on that border. You've worked on that border. I mean, can we really stop it?
REYES: Well, you know, certainly it's possible. We, through the use of technology, through additional hiring of border patrol, through a focus on the things that are important to us, it is possible. Are we going to seal the border, as some people claim we ought to do? No, the Berlin wall taught us that.
But I think there are three important points to make, when we talk about the issue of immigration. The first one is, from a practical standpoint, we have to recognize that we have a problem.
Secondly, it's a fairness issue. People that have been here, five, 10, 15 years, that have been picking our crops, that have been serving our food, taking care of our children, that are, for all practical purposes, members of our society, paying their taxes, living in our community, we need to come up with a program that will regularize, legalize or somehow give them status.
The third point is, again, it makes sense for us to be able to identify people that are here, so we can go about identifying those that are really a national security threat to this country. KARL: And, Pat, isn't that where the focus should be?
BUCHANAN: Well, let me talk about the fairness issue. There is a fairness issue here, Jonathan. You've got people who broke the law, broke in line, and broke into our country, who are being giving an amnesty or may be given an amnesty, to put them first in line on the road to citizenship in the United States, when there are millions of people abroad who have waited in line, obeyed our laws, filled out forms, desperately want to become Americans. What you will do, you will make fools out of them, if you provide this amnesty.
Secondly, the congressman belonged to a fine organization, the Border Patrol. I've talked to those border patrolmen. Some of them have been shot at. One of them I knew was smashed in the head with a rock and almost killed. Is it right to give amnesty to the people who did that and got into the United States? Wrong.
Third, on the congressman's point about, can we seal the border?
KARL: Pat, we've got to...
BUCHANAN: We certainly can. There's a Buchanan fence along San Diego, which is working.
KARL: The Buchanan fence.
BUCHANAN: You put that in about seven places and the Border Patrol can do the job.
KARL: Pat, I hate to interrupt, but we...
BUCHANAN: I don't like this defeatism, Congressman.
KARL: We are, unfortunately, out of time. A lot more to discuss on this issue.
Pat Buchanan, thanks for joining us.
REYES: Be glad to come back.
KARL: Congressman Reyes, really glad to have you here.
BUCHANAN: Thank you, Congressman. Thank you.
REYES: Thank you.
KARL: All right. When we come back, "My Turn."
KARL: The day after the Senate passed campaign finance reform, the "New York Times" broke a fascinating story. The Democratic Party recently received two donations totalling an eye-popping $12 million. A single $7 million check came from the creator of the children's cartoon, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
These checks are by far the biggest individual political contributions in American history, and precisely the kind of thing that will be illegal under the new law. And they will be illegal because Democrats have argued that huge, unregulated donations like this have a corrupting influence on American politics.
Their last-minute soft-money binge is meant to finance a new Democratic Party headquarters, a place that will forever be known as the building soft money built.
It's also a public sign of something that Democratic strategists are saying privately: They are terrified that their most reliable source of money will be shut down after the president signs campaign finance reform into law.
Well, thanks for watching SATURDAY EDITION. I'm Jonathan Karl in Washington.
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