CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Will Israel Let Fact-Finders Into Jenin?; Interview With Cardinal Francis George; Prosecutors Will Not Seek Death Penalty Against Blake
Aired April 28, 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; 11:00 a.m. in Crawford, Texas; 6:00 p.m. at the Vatican; and 7:00 p.m. in Jerusalem. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for Late Edition.
We'll get to our interview with Senators Joe Lieberman and Chuck Hagel in a just few minutes, but first, a news alert.
BLITZER: Let's get a little bit more information on these major decisions coming from Ariel Sharon's cabinet meeting today. Joining me now is the Israeli foreign ministry deputy director, General Gideon Meir. He joins us live from our Jerusalem bureau.
BLITZER: Mr. Meir, thanks you for joining us.
First of all, if the Israeli government has nothing to hide as far as Jenin is concerned, why not let this fact-finding mission from the U.N. come in?
GIDEON MEIR, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY: The conditions are not right yet for the fact-finding team to arrive here in Israel. A, we have no agreement yet on the composition of the team, and B, there are certain elements which we still have to discuss. Our team in New York is now discussing it with the secretariat of the United Nations.
Once there will be an agreement, I don't see a problem, because Israel agreed to cooperate with the team, and we have actually nothing to hide whatsoever what happened in Jenin.
BLITZER: Well, what is your basic bottom-line demand for letting that team, which is on standby now in Geneva, Switzerland, awaiting permission to come in, what is your bottom-line demand for the composition of this U.N. team?
MEIR: Look, this is for our team in New York to negotiate with the United Nations secretariat. But the bottom line is that we are expecting that the team will be composed also of military experts, because we have to remember, there was a fierce battle in Jenin. There was no massacre like the Palestinians are claiming, none whatsoever. So, therefore, because there was an infrastructure of terror, because we were fighting terrorism there, there must be also special experts on terrorism and in fact on infantry battle. And these are missing from the composition of this team.
As to the terms of reference, we must ensure that freedom of incrimination for all those who will be witnessing in front of this committee, and some other issues which are still under negotiation between the secretariat and our team.
BLITZER: So it's not a flat refusal that you've made today. What you're saying is, you want to continue the discussions with the United States to try to improve the composition of the team and the so-called "terms of reference," and you're leaving those options open. Is that what you're saying?
MEIR: No, we were not refusing. What we said is, the conditions are not ripe yet for the arrival of the team here in Israel. We are willing to cooperate. We have nothing to hide, as I said before.
So this is our position right now, that our team in New York has to continue the negotiation according to the guidance from the Israeli government. Once there will be an agreement -- and there's another point. There should be also, according to the Israelis and the Palestinians, that the final report will be submitted to both sides in order to enable us to have our remarks before the final decision is being made, or the final report is being published.
BLITZER: On the other decision made by the Israeli cabinet, accepting what's described as a U.S. proposal to allow six Palestinian suspects to be handed over, in effect, to either U.S. or British authorities, do you have any information to believe the Palestinians are prepared to accept this proposal?
MEIR: I hope so. This is not the first time that the Israeli government is forthcoming for the special request from the president of the United States and the American administration. This is a gesture of friendship and goodwill from the Israeli government over the president of the United States and his administration.
We do believe that the American administration has the power to bring about a cease-fire here and to bring the parties back to the negotiating table. This is what the people here in the region really need. And this would be the first step.
MEIR: As we have shown in the past, especially before the previous visits of General Zinni and the visit of Secretary Powell, Israel will make everything possible in order to enable the American envoys to succeed in their mission. And this is another gesture of goodwill from Israel in order to make -- to open the way to the implementation of the Tenet and Mitchell agreements.
BLITZER: Gideon Meir from the Israeli foreign ministry, thank you very much for joining us.
And let's get some reaction now from the Palestinians. We're joined on the phone by the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat. He's in Jericho on the West Bank.
Mr. Erakat, thanks for joining us.
And these two decisions by the Israeli cabinet. First of all, how is the Palestinian Authority president, Yasser Arafat, likely to respond to this Israeli decision to allow these six Palestinian suspects to be handed over to either British or U.S. authorities in order to end the stalemate at the Ramallah headquarters of the Palestinian Authority?
SAEB ERAKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: Well, Wolf, as I'm talking to you now, I know that the American consul general and the British consul general are on their way to meet President Arafat as I'm talking to you know. And let us see what they have when they meet Arafat, what they would offer officially. And, of course, we will study the ideas very seriously. And I'm sure that once these offers are put on the table officially, you should expect an expeditious answer from the Palestinian leadership.
I tried to be personally with the team that's going to go meet President Arafat along with my colleagues. Unfortunately, you know, as I could not come to be with CNN because I am confined to Jericho. I was not allowed to go and join the President Arafat because such decisions require, you know, also, a Palestinian cabinet meeting. Unfortunately, we have been unable to go and join the consul generals of Britain and the United States.
But as I told you, we will study seriously these ideas once they are presented officially. We don't know about them yet other than we heard from the media. But you can rest assured that we're going to have an expeditious answer as soon as we're able and are able to meet with President Arafat to study these proposals. BLITZER: So, the bottom line at this point, Mr. Erakat, you're open-minded, you're willing to hear officially from the U.S. and British governments what the proposal would entail, and then you'll make your decision. Is that fair?
ERAKAT: That's fair to say. But we wanted to be there with President Arafat in order to make the decision-making. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership, including myself, we are not allowed to go and join the British consul general and the American consul general as they're going meet President Arafat in his besieged compound.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about the other Israeli cabinet decision involving Jenin. They say they want more information, a better composition, if you will, military experts, part of that fact- finding mission, counterterrorism experts, and they want to change the terms of reference before they allow that U.N. team in to Jenin.
What's your reaction to that?
ERAKAT: Wolf, I believe that this is a precedent in the history of the United Nations and Security Council where Israel is demanding to change Resolution 1405, to change the terms of reference, to change the composition of the delegation, to announce and to decide who will meet and who will not meet. I really urge Secretary General Annan to immediately dispatch this fact-finding mission team so the truth and nothing but the truth can be relayed to the international community.
I believe what Israel is telling us, that unless we see through Sharon's eyes, we hear through Lieberman's ears and speak through Netanuahu's tongue or else. We are witnessing a blackmail, extortion, you know, a whole movement all over the world. Anybody who says or describes what happens in Jenin contrary to what Sharon wants to say is being haunted is being blackmailed. Look what happened to Terry Larson (ph), what happened to Peter Hanson (ph), what happened to Mayor Robertson (ph) for just for saying a sentence that they have seen horrifying scenes.
I don't think the Israelis should be allowed to renegotiate the terms of reference or the composition.
We, as Palestinians, Wolf, and I tell you that officially, we welcome this team. And they have the free access, the free movement, the freedom to meet any Palestinian of their choice, to go anywhere, to go to Jenin, to speak to anyone in order to reach the bottom of the truth.
And I think that enough is enough of these Israeli delaying tactics. And I really urge Secretary General Annan to dispatch the team immediately, and let Sharon, if he chooses to, to send them back from the airport.
BLITZER: Saeb Erakat joining us by phone from his home in Jericho on the West Bank. Thank you very much for offering us the Palestinian perspective.
And let's get some U.S. perspective right now. Joining us to further this discussion on the Middle East, the war on terror and much more, two influential members of the U.S. Senate: Democrat Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Republican Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.
Senators, welcome back to Late Edition.
BLITZER: Senator Lieberman, you just heard Saeb Erekat criticize you indirectly, obviously, mentioning you by name for your apparently one-sided strong support of the Israeli government. I'll give you a chance to respond to that.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN, (D), CONNECTICUT: I'm not sure I understood the criticism. Saeb and I have developed a friendship over the years, so I guess he feels the liberty to do that, and he's generally a very constructive voice in these discussions.
Look, the priority of American foreign policy after September 11 is the war on terrorism. And the doctrine that President Bush articulated, the Bush doctrine, is what guides our policy: Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists.
Our action in the Middle East is not only to create a cease-fire and hopefully to get back to the political process, but to stand with Israel as it is a victim of terrorism just as we were on September 11.
So I'd say that American policy has been, is today and should continue to be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, but anti- terrorism.
BLITZER: Let's go through both of these Israeli cabinet decisions. Senator Hagel, you're a key member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
First of all, on the Israeli decision not to allow at least for now, you heard the foreign ministry spokesman say that they wouldn't allow this U.N. fact-finding team to come into Jenin unless the terms of reference are changed, unless the composition of that delegation is improved from the Israeli perspective.
What do you make of that?
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: I think it's in the best interest of Israel to get on with this decision. I think another 24 hours probably is not going to make a big difference. But in the eyes of the world, if it's perceived that the Israelis are withholding information or doing things to impede that visit from the United Nations, that is not in their best interest. It's not in the United States' best interest.
Now, I understand the concerns and considerations on the Israeli side of this, and I think they're valid. But this needs to move forward, and the sooner this moves forward the better. BLITZER: At issue, as you know, Senator Lieberman, is the Palestinian accusation that Israeli military forces engaged in a massacre of Palestinian civilians in Jenin at that refugee camp on the West Bank.
Senator Hagel makes a pretty good point. The question I asked Gideon Meir of the Israeli foreign ministry: If the Israelis have nothing to hide, why not simply let this team come in and inspect?
LIEBERMAN: Well, the Israelis made a courageous decision, I think, one that our military generally doesn't like us to make when a similar charges are made against it in Bosnia, Afghanistan, or other places where we're at war. But I think it was the right decision for Israel to make to invite in a U.N. team to consider the accusations made about what happened at Jenin.
This is a problem, as I understand it, that is much easier to resolve than the one President Bush's constructive intervention seems to have resolved, which is the siege of Arafat. The problem here is the U.N. has chosen three inspectors. Two of the three have been accepted by the Israelis. The third they think is anti-Israel. As I understand it, they're basically asking for a new third person to be chosen who they feel will give them a fair shake as part of this investigation. That ought to be able to be done tomorrow.
BLITZER: You heard the point that Senator Lieberman makes, Senator Hagel -- and you're a Vietnam war veteran. When the United States is accused of, quote, war crimes, whether in Afghanistan or Bosnia or Kosovo or any place else, would the U.S. allow a U.N. team to come in and investigate those allegations and the implications of war crimes, tribunals being held against U.S. military personnel? The Israelis say, why should they allow that to happen?
HAGEL: Well, first of all, Wolf, I think everybody recognizes these are not the same analogies here. I mean, this situation in the Middle East is totally different from anything inside the United States we've ever seen, and you both know and I think all of your viewers realize the differences.
The fact is, the reality that we are dealing with now, I think, demand some leadership here, some intuitive, wise decisions. Sharon's cabinet's decision, for example, this morning to move on the American proposal regarding the Ramallah incident with the prisoners is a wise decision.
Here, we can't play games. What if? And if it was the United States or terrorists, or not terrorists? The fact is that we're dealing with something here that I think represents a potential to inflame the entire Middle East in an inferno that we've never seen before.
We must not allow a vacuum to widen and deepen here with a lack of resolution on some of these issues. This is a big issue. We need to move on with this. We need to get this done. If we don't, then I fear that it will get wider and deeper, and you're going to have more incidents. It's going to take more options away from Israel, from the United States and the Arab world to try to deal with it.
BLITZER: Senator Hagel, what do you say of this Israeli cabinet decision to accept apparently President Bush's proposal to hand over the six Palestinian suspects holed up in Yasser Arafat's compound, accused by the Israelis of acts of terrorism, to hand them over to British or U.S. authorities as a way to end the stalemate around the Ramallah headquarters of Arafat's Palestinian Authority?
HAGEL: Well, I hope President Arafat moves on this and accepts it. I think it's a fair arrangement. I applaud the Israeli cabinet, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sharon, for moving ahead on this.
These are the kinds of factors and issues that are holding the bigger picture captive. They're important. They must be dealt with. We don't minimize these things. But we have to resolve these, get them out of the way to get to the end game. The end game is yes, a peace accord, a cease-fire, and some ability to put us on a track to get to a political solution.
If we don't incentivize all the parties here, then we will continue to see this wander and ramble, and it becomes more and more dangerous for all of us.
So I think the decision this morning was a good one. And I hope Arafat decides to agree to it.
BLITZER: And I assume you agree with that, you hope Arafat agrees with it as well, Senator Lieberman. But the bigger question some Israelis, like the prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, are asking themselves, they're convinced that Yasser Arafat is no longer committed to a peace process. They accuse him of being a terrorist.
LIEBERMAN: Well, that's the question. Look, I think we've seen this morning some very effective diplomacy by the Bush administration. We've seen a wise decision by the Israeli cabinet to accept this diplomacy. And now I hope Chairman Arafat accepts this proposal, because it will allow the siege of his headquarters in Ramallah to be lifted.
The question is then, what does Arafat do with his newfound mobility and freedom of movement? And will he become our ally in the war against terrorism? Will he act more constructively, more effectively to stop terrorism from his territory? And will he make clear, by his word and deed, that his goal in this conflict is Palestinian statehood, which is American policy and American's goal, and not the destruction of Israel, which, of course, America could never accept.
BLITZER: All right. Senators, stand by. We're only just beginning this conversation.
We have a lot more to talk about, including your phone calls for Senators Joe Lieberman and Chuck Hagel. Late Edition will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
We're continuing our conversation with two key U.S. senators, Joe Lieberman and Chuck Hagel.
Senator Hagel, I asked Senator Lieberman about whether the Israelis could still make a deal with Arafat. Do you believe that Ariel Sharon, given his policies, is still capable of making a deal with the Palestinians?
HAGEL: I believe that it is in the best interest of Israel that Prime Minister Sharon think in wider terms maybe than he has in the past. He has a tremendous burden on him. He understands that better than anyone. He accepts that burden. We need to find a process here to get us to a resolution. He understands the consequences, I suspect, as well as anybody does. I think he has it within his capability, within his range, to do that.
We are counting on him, just like we are counting on Arafat, and the Arab leaders who must be more actively engaged as well. It is up to them. The world looks to them. And I think they are capable of doing this, and with American leadership we'll get this done.
BLITZER: Because, as you know, Senator Lieberman, you studied this issue closely for many years. Given the hatred, the animosity, the depth of anger right now, a lot of experts are predicting there's no way there can be any improvement, any progress in the peace process with Arafat in charge of the Palestinians and Sharon in leading the Israelis.
LIEBERMAN: There is no question, Wolf, that after the Oslo process began in September of 1993, hopes were very high that it would lead to a two-state solution, Israel and Palestinian living in peace side by side. Unfortunately, those hopes were not realized. Arafat rejected the extraordinary offer that Barak and Clinton made him in 2000 for a Palestinian state with the Palestinian flag flying over East Jerusalem, and all the violence that followed.
But the reality is that the people of Israel desperately want peace, they want to live in peace. There was some polling that I have seen in American newspaper showed that more than half of the Israelis accept Crown Prince Abdullah's proposal as a basis for going forward with peace talks. And two-thirds of the Israeli public says that it would support a peace agreement with the Palestinians, including the creation of a Palestinian state for genuine security.
So I think the will is there. Now it's important for the Palestinian leadership to create the same will, to take back the movement for Palestinian nationalism and statehood from the suicide bombers who have hijacked it, because that's never the way Israel or America or the rest of the world can usher in a Palestinian state.
BLITZER: Senator Hagel, there's a new poll in Newsweek just coming out, asked this question: "Does the Bush administration have a well-thought-out plan for peace in the Middle East?" Look at these numbers. Yes, 33 percent; no, 51 percent; 16 percent don't know.
Doesn't seem to be a lot of confidence in the Bush administration's handling of this sensitive issue.
HAGEL: I suspect those numbers reflect the reality of the complications of this problem. I mean, let's not forget that every president since Harry Truman has had to deal with this, and we have never had an administration be successful with this issue. Some have gotten close. I give a lot of credit to Jim Baker and President Bush, the first President Bush, for getting us into a position to really do something. President Clinton deserves, I think, a lot of credit.
I'm not surprised by those numbers. The American public has been up and down like a yo-yo, as has the world, on this issue. It is going to be now a matter of slugging through, slogging through the underbrush to get us through these issues. But try to elevate this so that we can take the long view. Look into horizon and find this political process wrapped around everything that gets us to where we want to go. That's going to require immense intense focus from this president, and I think he's prepared to do that.
BLITZER: In fairness to President Bush, Senator Lieberman, his job approval rating still remains above 70 percent.
LIEBERMAN: Oh, sure.
BLITZER: While it's not in the 80s or 90s it was right after September 11, it's still, relatively speaking, extraordinarily high.
I want to play for you an excerpt of what the president said in Crawford, Texas, at his Texas ranch earlier this week after his meeting with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Abdullah. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also hope and believe that Congress recognizes we've got interests in the area as well, beyond Israel, that we've got to have good relationships with the Saudis and the Jordanians and the Egyptians. And our foreign policy is aimed to do that. People know exactly where I stand, and that's very important in the realm of foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That's in the context of a resolution that the House majority whip Tom DeLay wanted to introduce supporting Israel, condemning the Palestinian Authority, if you will, a resolution that you co-sponsor, a similar resolution, in the Senate.
But one of the things in the House resolution -- and it's up on our screen -- it condemns the ongoing support and coordination of terror by Yasser Arafat and other members of the Palestinian leadership, and also goes on to say, "is gravely concerned that Arafat's actions are not those of a viable partner for peace."
The question is this: Should the Senate and the House of Representatives, at this delicate moment in the peace process, be coming up with these kinds of resolutions, which are seen, at least by the administration and much of the world, as one sided pro-Israeli, anti-Palestinian resolutions?
LIEBERMAN: Those causes are not in the resolution that Senator Gordon Smith, Republican of Oregon, and I have co-sponsored. Incidentally, our resolution is co-sponsored by the majority leader, Tom Daschle, and the Republican leader, Trent Lott.
And I crafted the resolution so that it would not be seen as anti-Palestinian. It's, again, anti-terrorist. It says that the United States stands in solidarity with our traditional and close ally, Israel. It restates the Bush doctrine, either you're with us against terrorists or you're with the terrorists. It does call on the Palestinian Authority to be more aggressive in combating terrorism. But it's basically an understanding of why Israel has acted to defend itself.
I think that -- of course I understand the delicacy of -- how delicate the moment is in diplomacy in the Middle East. But I want to state again that the focus of American foreign policy after September 11 has to be to do everything we can to destroy those who attacked us on September 11 and to destroy anyone else who would think about doing anything like that again. Notwithstanding the critical importance of what's happening in the Middle East and our desire to have allies on all sides, I think we gain in pursuing and achieving our main mission of preventing another September 11 from occurring by being consistent and making clear that all of our allies -- Israel, Arabs, others around the world -- are held to the Bush doctrine, either you're with us or you're with the terrorists.
BLITZER: I want to talk about Saudi Arabia, Senator Hagel. But you're not prepared at this point to sign on to any of those resolutions right now, are you?
HAGEL: No. I understand Joe's point. And the fact is, this country, this government, like every government since 1948, American government, has supported Israel, Israel's right to exist. We've done that in every way and manifestation possible, and we still are behind Israel.
That is not the point, in my opinion. I don't think we get to the resolution of this very complicated, dangerous problem by passing more resolutions. Secretary Powell said it last week. He thinks it's not helpful to be doing these things right now, and I support Secretary Powell.
BLITZER: Do you see Saudi Arabia, the aftermath of the very important meeting that the Crown Prince Abdullah had with President Bush in Crawford earlier this week, do you see Saudi Arabia as more of a friend of the United States or a foe of the United States?
HAGEL: Oh, that's almost laughable. Saudi Arabia has been a strong friend and ally of the United States over the last 50 years. Has it been a perfect relationship? No. Has it been flawed? Yes. Do we subscribe to their same set of standards and values and expectations and how they conduct themselves, their government? No.
But if we go back over those last 50 years and examine how Saudi Arabia stood with us and helped us and quietly influenced thinsg, that could have turned out a different way, made the world far more dangerous, made the Middle East far more unstable.
So in my opinion, yes, they have been a strong ally, and we need to work with them. But it doesn't mean we accept everything they believe, or every policy.
BLITZER: Senator Lieberman, the critics, though, of course say it's not laughable, because they point to such things as money for so- called Palestinian martyrs, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, that it comes from an incitement, an educational system in Saudi Arabia that preaches this kind of hatred, not only toward Israel, but the United States as well.
Do you think it's laughable, that whole question about whether Saudi Arabia is a friend of the United States or a foe?
LIEBERMAN: There's no question that Saudi Arabia has been a very important friend and ally of the United States. But the relationship is being challenged right now. I wouldn't call it a crisis, but it's in some trouble. Unless both sides take care of it, it could be in jeopardy.
And the points that you raise are exactly the right points that others have raised, which is to say that we have to hold the Saudis to that same standard I've been talking about, the Bush doctrine, either you're with us or you're with the terrorists.
LIEBERMAN: The fact that 15 of the 19 terrorists who killed more than 3,000 Americans on September 11 were Saudis can't go unnoticed. The fact that the Saudis have tolerated the teaching of anti-American, anti-Western theology to their students is part of the reason why they grow up to be terrorists.
And we need Crown Prince Abdullah now to be very clear in not only opposing terrorism but taking steps against the seeds of terrorism within his own country.
I must say that I didn't appreciate some of the theatrics around the meeting in Crawford this week, where someone close to Crown Prince Abdullah essentially threatening our government in the newspaper the day of the meeting.
However, the meeting appears to have been constructive. And I give the president credit. I hope and believe that the president lectured Crown Prince Abdullah about what his responsibilities are in the war against terrorism, just as Abdullah lectured us. But we didn't talk about it publicly.
And Abdullah's plan for peace in the region, which does acknowledge the goal of having Israel be recognized by the Arab nations, is the best available basis we have now for convening political negotiations between the parties.
BLITZER: Very briefly, Senator Hagel, Iraq. It looks now, if you believe all the press reports, including one report in the New York Times today, that the administration is delaying, at least until early next year, military action against Saddam Hussein. Is that what you're hearing as well?
HAGEL: Oh, I hear a lot of things. But I think, as I've always said and many have said, regime change, getting rid of Saddam Hussein, is only part of it. The real issue is, what comes next? Have we prepared that landscape? Who is it that rules? Would we make the area more unstable? Would there be more conflict? Would we present to the Middle East even more problems, militarily, diplomatically, economically? We need to think all those things through very carefully. I don't think we're in that position yet to do it.
Even the military exercised to go in and do it. I saw the story in the New York Times today, supposedly 70,000 to 250,000 troops in there. We could do it now. Well, my question there would be, to start with, where do we get 250,000 troops since we have cut our military, the last 11 years, by hundreds of thousands? So a lot of pieces here have to be filled in, and I don't think we're close there yet. BLITZER: Senator Lieberman, we're going to have to leave Iraq and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for another occasion because we are all out of time. I keep wondering why 70,000 to 250,000, when it took a half a million U.S. troops the last time, 11 years or so ago, and that was to simply -- simply, if you will, liberate Kuwait. This is obviously would be a much more ambitious plan. We'll leave that for another occasion.
Senator Lieberman, Senator Hagel, always good to have you...
HAGEL: Thank you.
LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: ... on Late Edition. Thank you very much.
And just ahead, the crisis of faith within the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II summoned American cardinals to Rome this week following recent sex abuse allegations. We'll speak to one of those Cardinals about his visit to the Holy See and ask why there isn't a zero-tolerance policy.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition.
I want to issue a clarification. We've heard from Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator earlier today. He made a reference to a Lieberman that we assumed he was referring to Senator Joe Lieberman, who was just our guest here on Late Edition.
The clarification is a very important one. He wasn't referring -- he wasn't criticizing, wasn't condemning Senator Joe Lieberman. He was referring to an Israeli cabinet minister named Ivigdor Lieberman (ph), a right-wing Israeli cabinet minister.
I want to just make that clear that Saeb Erakat was not condemning Senator Lieberman, but an Israeli politician.
On that note, let's move on, talk about the very historic meeting in the Vatican earlier this week involving American priests and sexual abuse.
Earlier today, I had a chance to talk to Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago about the disturbing abuse allegations and the future of the Catholic Church.
BLITZER: Cardinal George, thanks so much for joining us this historic week in the Vatican.
You, obviously, were there. Why was there no formal decision saying one strike, you're out, the so-called zero tolerance when it comes to priests and pedophelia?
CARDINAL FRANCIS GEORGE, ARCHDIOCESE OF CHICAGO: Because this is not a decision-making body. We had no authority to make any decisions and never had. The anticipation that we could make decisions, I think, has resulted in some misunderstanding of what did happen at the meeting.
What happened was that we wanted to understand what the Holy See would help us with in changing some aspects of canon law, about the possibility of having a national policy, for example, that is now possible. It wasn't before the meeting. We'll have to vote that in in June what it will be. But the Holy See will receive that and make it a national policy. Secondly, we wanted to know if there was any possibility of something that we've been asking for for years, of the Holy See's permitting an involuntary laicization without going through a canonical trial. Right now, laicizatoin is always a request to someone who asks for it. It's a favor for the sake of the man's spiritual well-being.
If you want to involuntarily, against his wishes, move a priest out of the priesthood itself, not out of ministry -- a bishop can take a man out of ministry, but not out of priesthood on his own -- then it's an involved process. We now know Rome will be willing to entertain a kind of a special process, provided that the rights of everyone are concerned.
This is a sensitive point for the Holy Father. He doesn't want us to misuse administrative law as it was misused in his own country and in Marxist lands in general, where, without trial, people's lives were decided by administrators. And so he wants to be sure that the rights are not -- so those are the two things that they heard and responded to.
We heard them say we want an apostolic visitation of the seminaries to be sure the selection process is in place. So there's at least three things, and there were several others, that we now know are possible. We didn't before the meeting. And we'll take this to the June meeting of bishops and follow through after that.
BLITZER: Do you believe, Cardinal George, that priests who commit these kinds of acts, pedophilia for example, can be cured?
GEORGE: Pedophilia, no. Since '83, '84, the psychologists are all saying there is no cure for pedophilia in the strict sense. Where someone tries to force himself in some way sexually upon a prepubescent child, that's a disease for which there is absolutely no cure. It's a great crime and an enormous sin. There's something pathological, and many of these people are sociopaths.
Most of the behavior we're talking about, and extends over many decades now -- the reports are recent, but it's behavior 20, 30 years ago often -- are in fact sexual acting out with adolescents, whether boys or girls. And that's psychologically a different phenomenon, although criminally it's exactly the same and it's just as sinful, if not more sinful, because sometimes the individual knows what's going on. And so we have to talk to the individual in each case because each person is different. And likewise, you have to also talk to the priest in each case because there are differences in the way that they are able to respond or not to respond.
BLITZER: So you're making a difference between pedophilia and what's called phebophilia (ph), which is the post-pubescent, 16-, 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds as opposed to pre-pubescent, which is pedophelia. Is that the distinction you're making?
GEORGE: Well, that's a clinical distinction. It's not a legal distinction and it's not moral distinction as such. I mean, it's a crime and it's a terrible sin. I don't mean to relativize any such act of acting out with a minor. Please, I don't mean to minimize that in any way nor relativize one act against another act. It's all a terrible crime. It's shames us all. It's sinful.
But clinically, there is a difference. And therefore what you can do with the perpetrator is different in those two cases.
BLITZER: I want to play for you an excerpt of what Cardinal Bevilacqua from Philadelphia said on this whole issue of zero tolerance. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARDINAL ANTHONY BEVILACQUA, ARCHDIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA: I want to say that all of the cardinals are agreed on zero tolerance. And by that I mean that we all are agreed that no priests guilty of even one act of sexual abuse of a minor will function in any ecclesial ministry or any capacity in our diocese. And that's -- all the cardinals are agreed on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So there still seems to be some confusion though out there in the public at large. That seemed to be a pretty strong statement from Cardinal Bevilacqua. But as you pointed out yourself, the Vatican, at the end of the meeting, refused to go that far.
GEORGE: Well, zero tolerance isn't a term in canon law nor in Church parlence. It's something that we use here. The way he defined it, it's easy to go along with. Where the sticking point comes in is -- does this mean they should also be out of priesthood itself and not just out of ministry? Or out of ministry in parishes. I mean, there are all kinds of cases where you can make some distinctions if you want to. I don't think the public atmosphere is such that now we can make those distinctions.
And I have to say that I worry that if we don't have more profound conversation than we have now, we may have inadequate national policies which we won't be able to change because they're national.
I go back to the experience of Chicago, which learned some painful lessons before I got here, it was well handled by Cardinal Bernadine.(ph) We've had policies for 10 years that have enabled us to protect children and secondly, to take care of victims.
And then we respond to the priest perpetrator as best you can. Most of the time they're laicized because they know that there's no future for them and they ask out. In a few cases they're not, they live in sequestered ways, they do penance for their sins. We know where they are, they're not a threat to children. And there are a few cases there are some very carefully monitored things that they can do, provided that they're not a threat to anybody.
Some people say that that is evidence that we're not serious. But I think, in fact, the policies have worked. Bernadine's decisions were good. If we go to a policy of one strike and you're out of the priesthood itself, well, we'll conform. In that sense also there's unanimity. We will go along. Of course we will. But I think that...
BLITZER: Let me interrupt...
GEORGE: ... before we do that, we should talk.
BLITZER: Cardinal, I just wanted to interrupt and say, what about this notion that forget about the morality, forget about what should happen within the priesthood itself, but there are crimes that supposedly are being committed.
Is the Catholic Church prepared to hand over all this kind of information involving priests who allegedly commit these kinds of crimes to law enforcement authorities?
GEORGE: We do that now. We did that 10 years ago in Chicago, and we've done it constantly ever since.
BLITZER: But uniformly, across the board.
GEORGE: Well, that's where a national policy will be very helpful.
The point is, can you prosecute a crime? And very often since the victims are courageous enough to come forward only 20 year after, they're no longer minors. We report it to the Illinois state department of child and family services. They're supposed to report it to the states attorney. Sometimes they don't because it's no longer under their purview. Then we do very often. If we remove a priest, we always tell the state's attorney. We tell them why.
So we report to the public authorities. That isn't uniform, and that will, I hope, be uniform across the country. But very often the state comes back and says, there's nothing we can do. It's no longer a minor. The statute of limitations has run out, so now you have to handle it. They have no authority any longer to handle it.
BLITZER: There's a new Newsweek poll that's out just now today which shows that the Catholic Church still has a lot of work to do in reassuring a very confused, nervous, anxious American public.
The question is, the papal meeting that just concluded at the Vatican, has it moved policy in a clear direction? Twenty-six percent say yes. Has it left the situation ambiguous? Fifty-six percent; 18 percent don't know. Which clearly suggests you still have a lot of work out there to convince the American public that you're moving in the right direction.
GEORGE: But I think all the reports were, this is not a satisfactory meeting. Who made those decisions? Who's telling the people this?
BLITZER: Well, I'm asking you. Were you satisfied with the outcome of this meeting?
GEORGE: I think it was a responsible meeting that will enable us to come up with national policies and new procedures in June. Beyond it there's a whole spiritual dimension, which the Holy Father emphasized and which we'll also speak to in June.
But if in fact people are told before a non-decision-making body meets, they better make some decisions or it's a failure, well, of course the meeting was a failure. It was set up for failure.
BLITZER: There was a meeting that occurred in 1993 of the bishops, the American Catholic bishops. They came out with specific recommendations. Let me put a few of them up on the screen.
Keeping priests who have molested children under permanent supervision. Making the welfare of the victims the first priority. Providing information about allegations of sexual abuse by priests. Establishing crisis intervention teams. Review boards to respond to allegations of sexual abuse.
BLITZER: Those seem to have been pretty specific recommendations which critics say were never really seriously implemented.
GEORGE: Well, I -- they came from the Chicago policies for the most part, as I understand it. But also, I think they were implemented in ways that surprised me. In trying to find out more information about what's going on in other dioceses, I am surprised at the policies that, in fact, do conform to that.
There is a weakness in those guidelines because they couldn't be national policy, as they will be now, I'm sure. That is, who does it? If the bishop does all those things, then there isn't as much credibility as if, as I believe we do in Chicago, I think for the good, it comes first to lay people and to a review board.
I receive the decisions of that board. This is what you must do in these cases. I could go back and argue it, but I don't, I receive them. That gives a little more credibility because it doesn't look like it's an in-house club that's settling the whole matter.
I think that's a key element that every diocese should put in place, but perhaps not all have. In fact, not all have. So, they follow those guidelines, but in different ways.
BLITZER: One final question, Cardinal. Your fellow cardinal in Boston, Bernard Cardinal Law, a lot of pressure in Boston for him to resign, supposedly because he looked the other way in dealing with these priests who engage in sexual abuse.
What should happen, in your opinion, to Bernard Cardinal Law?
GEORGE: That's not for me to judge, it's for the pope to judge. He himself said he made an egregious error and he's very sorry. And I think he's completely right. He made a great error and he's responsible for it. He knows that.
But the pope sent him there, the pope has to give him permission to resign. He can't resign on his own, nor can we ask for his resignation. And so, that's a conversation that is in fact between Cardinal Law and the holy father.
BLITZER: Is that conversation ongoing?
GEORGE: I really don't know. I know he went to Rome before our meeting together, and I'm sure that he discussed everything with holy father and with other -- the curial cardinals who were part of our meeting. But our meeting, of course, didn't bring that up directly at all.
BLITZER: Francis Cardinal George, in Chicago, thank you so much for joining us.
GEORGE: Thank you. God bless.
BLITZER: When we return, Bruce Morton's essay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Networks will often air whatever the president says, even if he's praising the Easter Bunny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Competing for face time on the cable news networks. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back. Time now for Bruce Morton's essay on the struggle for balanced coverage on the cable networks.
MORTON (voice-over): The Democrats have written the three cable news networks -- CNN, Fox and MSNBC -- complaining that the Bush administration gets much more coverage than elected Democrats. They cite CNN, which they say, from January 1 through March 21, aired 157 live events involving the Bush administration, and 7 involving elected Democrats. Fox and MS, they say, did much the same thing.
The coverage gap is certainly real, for several reasons. First, since September 11, the U.S. has been at war in Afghanistan, so the president has been an active commander in chief. And covering the war, networks will often air whatever the president says, even if he's praising the Easter Bunny. Plus, the White House press secretary's briefing, the Pentagon's, maybe the State Department's. Why not? It's easy, it's cheap, the cameras are pooled, and in war time, the briefings may make major news. You never know.
But there's a reason for the coverage gap that's older than Mr. Bush's administration. In war or peace, the president is a commanding figure -- one man to whose politics and character and, nowadays, sex life, endless attention is paid.
Congress is 535 people. What it does is complicated, compromises on budget items done in private, and lacks the drama of the White House. There's a primetime TV show about a president. None about the Congress. If a small newspaper has one reporter in Washington, he'll cover two things, the local congressional delegation and, on big occasions, the White House.
So the complaining Democrats have a point, but it's worth remembering that coverage of a president, while always intense, isn't always positive. You could ask the Clintons.
Early in Mr. Clinton's administration, his health-care reform effort got a lot of coverage, but its planners worked in private, and a lot of the coverage was negative. The changes in the White House travel office got a lot of coverage, much of it was negative. And if the Clintons thought that was bad, what do you suppose they thought when Monica Lewinsky stormed into the news?
If the networks had to pay 50 bucks every time they used the hugs, one veteran noted, they could have cured cancer. Just about.
Coverage of the presidents and the intern, the president impeached and on trial was massive. Who could resist? But it clearly lessened the country's respect for its leader.
Presidents will always get more coverage than Congresses. They're sexier. But it won't always be coverage they like.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Bruce.
And coming up in our next hour of Late Edition, we'll speak live to Adel Al-Jubeir. He's the top foreign policy adviser to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Abdullah. We'll talk about the Middle East policy and his country's relationship with the United States.
Plus, acts of anti-semitism are on the rise in Europe. We'll discuss this grave issue and explore possible solutions.
Then, two members of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee discuss the war on terror. All that and much more, when Late Edition continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: This is Late Edition, the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Our partnership is important to both our nations. And it is important to the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East and the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president and the prince. Is this partnership strong enough to help bring peace to the Middle East? We'll ask Saudi foreign policy adviser Adel Al-Jubeir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The response of European governments, whether it be France or Belgium or many of the others, has been silence, indifference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: More than 50 years after a hatred horrified the world, anti-semitism is growing in Europe. We'll get analysis on this resurgence from Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, Lord Greville Janner of the World Jewish Congress, and "TIME" magazine editor at large Michael Elliott.
Then, trusting a terrorist. Can the U.S. win the war on terror with the help of the enemy? We'll ask two key Intelligence Committee members, Republican Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
Welcome back to Late Edition. We'll get to our interview with the Saudi foreign policy adviser, Adel Al-Jubeir, in just a moment, but first here's CNN's Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta with a news alert.
BLITZER: Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and President Bush met for about five hours this past week in Crawford, Texas. They discussed tensions in the Middle East, oil supplies, as well as the war against terrorism. The crown prince presented an eight-point Israeli- Palestinian peace plan. Here to discuss the details of that meeting and more is Adel Al- Jubeir. He's the foreign policy adviser to the crown prince.
Mr. Al-Jubeir, thanks for joining us from Houston, Texas.
Among other things, that eight-point peace plan, let's put it up on the screen to alert our viewers what it entails. Among the various issues: the complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, an end to the Israeli military siege of the Yasser Arafat headquarters in Ramallah, the insertion of a multinational peacekeeping force, reconstruct destroyed Palestinian areas, renounce violence all around on all sides, start political talks immediately, end the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, and implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 242.
One of those points, Adel Al-Jubeir, involves the ending of the siege around the Ramallah headquarters of Yasser Arafat. What is your reaction and your government's reaction to the Israeli cabinet decision to accept a U.S.-British proposal today that would do precisely that, by allowing the British and U.S. authorities to supervise those six Palestinian suspects the Israelis accuse of being terrorists?
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER, SAUDI ARABIA: We are studying it. And if it, in fact, is as it appears, which is a lifting of the siege and a freeing of President Arafat, it would be a welcome development.
And I believe President Bush and Secretary Powell deserve a lot of credit for the efforts that they have expended to get to this point.
BLITZER: There was a lot of concern, going into the meeting, that Crown Prince Abdullah had with President Bush, that the Saudis were making threats against the United States, including using the oil weapon.
On Thursday, you were quoted, for example, by the Associated Press as saying, "Allowing this problem," referring to Israeli- Palestinian problem, "to spiral out of control will have grave consequences for the U.S. and its interests."
First of all, was that an accurate quote of what you said?
AL-JUBEIR: They left final portion out of it, which is grave consequences for the interests of the U.S. and the credibility of U.S. and the interests and credibility of its friends. Allowing to it spiral out of control affects all of us negatively.
The crown prince came to Crawford to meet with the president to develop a personal relationship with him, to have a frank conversation with him, to see how we can solve problems that are not of our making but the resolution of which serves both of our interests. So it was in a cooperative spirit that he came, and as a friend that he came.
BLITZER: There were no threats that were made during the course of that five-hour discussion.
AL-JUBEIR: Oh, absolutely not, Wolf. Friends don't threaten friends. We have been friends and allies for over six decades. Our relationship has been solid. We have seen the coming and breaking of many storms, and the relationship has gone from strength to more strength.
The reports that were -- that appeared with regards to threats or oil embargo and so forth are absolutely not true and have no basis whatsoever in fact. BLITZER: And under no circumstances will Saudi Arabia use oil as a weapon to try to pressure the United States.
AL-JUBEIR: We have made our position on this matter very, very clear. His Royal Highness, the foreign minister, has said repeatedly that oil is not a weapon. The oil minister has repeated that. Our policy for the past 25 years has been that Saudi Arabia is committed to ensuring stability in the oil markets and working closely with our friends in OPEC to do so. We expect that this will remain our policy going into the future.
Using oil as a weapon is absolutely not on the table. Oil should be depoliticized because oil is so important. Wolf, every human being on this planet, in one way or another, is affected by what happens in the oil markets. It's a tremendous responsibility that Saudi Arabia bears, and Saudi Arabia acts in a responsible manner in this case.
BLITZER: On Friday in Crawford, President Bush, elaborated on some of the thrust of the discussions he had with Crown Prince Abdullah. Among other things, he said this. I want play this excerpt of what the president had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Well, I told the crown prince that we've got a unique relationship with Israel. And that one thing that the world can count on is that we will not allow Israel to be crushed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Does the crown prince, the leadership in Saudi Arabia, understand the nature of the U.S.-Israeli relationship and why the president issued that statement?
AL-JUBEIR: Wolf, I believe that everybody in the Middle East, if not the whole world, realizes and recognizes that America has a special relationship with Israel and that America is committed to the security of Israel. There is no question in anyone's mind about that.
The point that we were making is that America, as a friend and patron of Israel, has an obligation to look after Israel's interests. And sometimes the U.S. ought to step in and tell Israel that its actions are doing damage to Israel and, by extension, to the United States, and to stability and security in the region and that Israel should modify its behavior.
We see nothing wrong with strong American-Israeli ties, so long as they do not impact negatively on our interests, or so long as Israel's actions do not impact negatively on security and peace in the region.
BLITZER: I asked the question, Adel Al-Jubeir, because of a recent poem that was written by the Saudi ambassador in Great Britain following suicide bombing attack in a supermarket in Israel by an 18- year-old Palestinian woman. Among other things, the ambassador wrote this: "You kissed death in joy and pride, honoring the word of God. And when Jihad speaks, all listen. And when Jihad calls, no referendums please, for the fatwa in the day of Jihad is blood."
That seems to support these kinds of suicide terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.
AL-JUBEIR: Well, Wolf, the ambassador in London is a poet and well-known one. He has been writing and publishing poetry for decades. And when does so, he does so in his personal capacity, not in his capacity as an ambassador.
I recognize that this may be slightly different from policies that your government has. But in this area we tend to be a little bit more tolerant of our public officials.
AL-JUBEIR: However, this in no way represents the position of the Saudi government. We've condemned violence, we've condemned the killing of innocent people, regardless of what side they're on, and we've condemned terrorism in all its forms and in all its shapes.
I believe that those lines were written in anger, or with emotion, given the situation on the ground. And I believe that, if we can find a solution out of this quagmire that we're in, and if we can bring peace and stability to the region, that a lot of these sentiments will begin to evaporate gradually.
BLITZER: If President Bush decides to launch military strikes against Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime, can he count on Saudi Arabia to allow bases there to be used for that U.S. strike?
AL-JUBEIR: Well, Wolf, this is a hypothetical question that people have been asking for the past year, and every week that this question is asked, it appears like the U.S. is on the verge of launching military attacks against Iraq. We don't see that. I don't believe that the administration is there yet. I don't believe that the administration has made up its mind yet.
Our view is that the Iraqi issue is an arms-control matter that relates to the enforcement of U.N. Security Council resolutions. We are determined that Iraq should comply with those resolutions. We believe that the inspectors should be allowed to return to Iraq. And we believe that the negotiations currently under way between Iraq and United Nations will be fruitful and will lead to the return of the inspectors and the resumption of the inspections regime and, on the other hand, the lifting of the economic sanctions, so that the Iraqi people's suffering can be reduced.
BLITZER: The Saudi embassy in Washington has sponsored a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to underscore the U.S.-Saudi connection. I want to play an excerpt from a recent ad that's been appearing on some TV stations. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: We've been allies for more than 60 years, working together to solve the world's toughest problems, working together for world prosperity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: In the current issue of Newsweek, the one that's just coming out, a dissident, a Saudi dissident, is quoted as saying this right in the front part of Newsweek: "This all smoke and mirrors, in order to hide the truth. Instead of spending millions of dollars for these ads, they should be spending in building schools and modernizing the country."
Tell us the purpose of these ads. And what's your reaction to what Ali Al Ahmed (ph) said?
AL-JUBEIR: Well, with regards to the ads, we wanted to reflect our views of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and we wanted to reach as broad an audience in the United States as we possibly can. There shouldn't be anything wrong with it. Other countries do it. Commercial companies do it on a continuous basis.
Didn't your own government, six months ago, come up with a policy on how to reach the hearts and minds of people in the Arab and Muslim world, and weren't they thinking about having advertisements on local television stations, as well as in local newspapers, and setting up of satellite television stations and radio broadcasts throughout the Arab and Muslim world? Your government has been working on this for a number of months now.
We do that in the same spirit. We want Americans to recognize that our relationship is an alliance that has extended for six decades, and frankly we don't see -- there's really nothing wrong with it.
With regards to criticism of the individual that you mentioned, Saudi Arabia spends a very, very large percentage of its budget on education and on social welfare. In fact, we have been constructing schools in the thousands every year. We have taken care of our citizens' social needs and economic needs. And if anything, we are now at the point where we have to make adjustments for budgetary purposes.
But our policy is to spare no effort to enhance the welfare and the well-being of Saudi citizens, and I believe that those charges are absolutely hot air.
BLITZER: OK. Saudi foreign policy adviser Adel Al-Jubeir, joining us from Houston, thank you once again for being on Late Edition.
AL-JUBEIR: You're welcome. Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
And just ahead, the anatomy of hatred. Acts of anti-semitism are on the rise in Europe. What can be done? We'll speak to Abe Foxman of the ADL, Lord Greville Janner of the World Jewish Congress, and Michael Elliott of "TIME" magazine, when Late Edition returns.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition.
By all accounts, there recently has been a steady rise in anti- Jewish acts, including vandalism at synagogues throughout Europe.
Joining me now to discuss this disturbing trend are three guests who study the problem closely. In our New York bureau, Abe Foxman, he's the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. In Jerusalem, Lord Greville Janner, he's the president of the Interparliamentry Council against anti-semitism and vice president of the World Jewish Congress. And Michael Elliott, he's Time Magazine editor-at-large. He also joins us in New York.
Gentlemen, thanks so much for joining us.
And Lord Janner, let me begin with you. How serious of a problem is this?
LORD GREVILLE JANNER, PRESIDENT, INTERPARLIAMENTARY COUNCIL AGAINST ANTI-SEMITISM: It's growing, it's becoming more serious all the time. It was quite mild until September 11, then it started growing in most parts of Europe. And then since the beginning of this month, it's become very worrying.
It varies from country to country. It's at its worst in France. It's growing in Germany. It's OK in Belgium and Holland, and I think Britain is the quietest of all at the moment.
BLITZER: Abe Foxman, what's your assessment of this problem? Is it more than usual, or is it -- are we just simply paying more attention to it, the fact that anti-semitism, obviously, there's always been an element of it throughout Europe?
ABE FOXMAN, DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Well, I think it's worse than it's been since World War II, and I'm afraid I disagree with Lord Janner, I think it's as bad as Britain. It's all over, it's an epidemic. It has risen to major proportions. And there isn't a country in Europe today when one can say that open, violent acts of anti-semitism aren't evident.
The problem is that most of the countries are unwilling to acknowledge that it exists, unwilling to condemn it, unwilling to speak out against it, unwilling to take action to arrest the perpetrators and unwilling to understand that the standards that they have set up for Israel fuels and adds to anti-semitism.
To call Israel -- to have a cartoon in Italy as La Stampa (ph) did, with a caricature of Lord Baby Jesus in a manger looking up at Israeli soldiers, and Jesus says, "Are you here to kill me again?" Or murals that I've seen, Lord Janner, on the walls in London of having, again, the same thing with Israeli soldiers pointing guns at baby Jesus -- that fuels anti-semitism.
BLITZER: Michael Elliott, you've studied this problem as well. Where do you see it?
MICHAEL ELLIOTT, "TIME" MAGAZINE: It's hard to disagree with anything that Greville Janner and Abe Foxman have said, Wolf. I think there's undoubtedly been an extraordinarily disturbing rise in anti- semitic comments and actions in Europe in the last six to nine months.
I think the reasons for it are very complex and rooted in history, and the solution to the rising anti-semitism is also something that will require many actions on the part of governments and others. It's a very, very disturbing trend.
I think, on the other hand, that, you know, one has to recognize that there is also legitimate criticism of the Israeli government activities in Europe and without in any way -- and, you know, it's so easy to be misunderstood on this. I'm going out on a limb and saying without in any way wanting to be misunderstood, I think one does have to recognize that there is a place for legitimate criticism of Israeli government actions, without in any way disagreeing with what both Greville Janner and Abe Foxman have said. This is a really worrying trend.
BLITZER: Let me bring back Lord Janner on this. Abe Foxman seems to disagree with you, Lord Janner, and I just want to get your point. Are you in any way sugar-coating, trying to diminish this trend that we've seen in the past several months?
JANNER: Oh, no, no. But what I'm saying is that in Britain the government and the organizations working for the security of the Jewish community are working well together. We are keeping a very careful eye on the growth of anti-semitism and are concerned about it. It's simply that the incidents are not nearly as great as they are, for example, in France.
Now, may I please take up the point about the overflow from the Middle East? Because yesterday I was in Jenin, and it is perfectly clear that the allegations of massacre in Jenin have caused anti- semitism because it's Israel, the Jewish state and the Jews. It's equally clear from having been there, talked to the UNHRA (ph) U.N. people that the allegations are totally untrue and without foundation.
Now, this overflow is very serious and is causing great harm, and we should not underestimate it.
BLITZER: Let me bring back Abe Foxman.
The acts of -- these anti-Jewish acts that we have screen recently in Europe, Abe Foxman, are they, by and large -- and I don't know if you know the answer to this, but I'll ask it -- being committed by European Christians or European Muslims?
FOXMAN: To the best of our knowledge in last several months, they have been committed by European Muslims. Although the alliance between the classical anti-semites worldwide, David Duke and Lyndon Larouche, are now a part and parcel of the Arab onslaught, anti- semitic onslaught, against Israel.
I watched Adel Al-Jubeir. And part of the problem, or a major part of the problem, is the anti-semitism now being channeled from the Middle East. And by virtue of the information technology revolution, sermons out of Riyadh or sermons out of Gaza or sermons out of Cairo travel the globe, including Marseilles and London and Patterson, New Jersey.
And what we heard, the gibberish of Adel Al-Jubeir, unwilling to confront truth of anti-semitism, which is being now couched in religious terminology and religious fervor, in terms of the extremists and the fundamentalists are not willing to confront it, add to fuel. Now, there is...
BLITZER: All right. Let me bring back Michael Elliott and get his assessment because he studied as well.
If it is mostly Muslims that are committing these anti-semitic acts, the vandalism at synagogues, et cetera, if this a relatively new phenomenon in Europe, wouldn't that be true, Michael?
ELLIOTT: It is a relatively new phenomenon, Wolf. And of course it reflects extraordinary growth of Arab, and North African for that matter, immigration into all European societies over the last 10 to 15 years.
One of the things that we've discovered since September the 11th, let's not forget, is that is a large chunk of Al Qaeda's networks and operations are based in Western Europe, with networks that stretch through Paris and Berlin and London, especially, and Frankfurt and other places. So this is a new phenomenon.
And I think the point that Abe Foxman made a few minutes ago is that this is crucial. This places an incredible onus on governments in Western Europe to do something about these extraordinarily violent acts and protect those aspects of the Jewish community that being threatened in this way.
BLITZER: All right, gentlemen, stand by for a second. We're going to take a quick break.
When we return, much more to talk about, including your phone calls. Late Edition will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition. We're continuing our conversation with Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League; Lord Greville Janner, the president of the Interparliamentary Council Against Anti-Semitism in Europe; and Michael Elliott of Time magazine.
We have a caller from Maryland. Go ahead with your question, please.
CALLER: Hi. My question is, this movement of anti-semitism that is growing in Europe, is this really directed at Jews worldwide, or toward Israel and the actions that they have taken?
BLITZER: What about that, Lord Janner?
JANNER: It's directed at both. It's directed to Jews, it emanates from the Middle East. It comes not just from Muslims, but it comes from the far right.
And we must understand, all us who are with minorities, no Jews attack Muslims, but Muslims must understand that if they attack Jews and the far right wax fat on that, if they get the Jews, they're next; it's changed. And Jewish people understand that very well. It's a mixed, difficult situation, and getting worse.
BLITZER: Abe Foxman, the success of Jean-Marie Le Pen as a presidential candidate in France, he's perceived by some as anti- semitic, he's right-wing. Is this a problem as far as the Jewish community in Europe is concerned?
FOXMAN: It's a problem for anybody who cares about democracy. Certainly for Jews. But it should more of a problem for France.
What it indicated is that, ironically, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Iraq's silence in condemning anti-semitic acts boomeranged to the point where people either didn't vote and those who came out to vote wanted a stronger position against the violence and also the Arab Muslim violence which was evident in the last several weeks.
BLITZER: Michael Elliott, that bombing of the synagogue, that ancient synagogue in Tunisia -- it's not Europe, it's North Africa, but a lot of German tourists were killed in the process, as well as others.
Is it now assumed by law enforcement authorities across the board that that was terrorist action presumably involving Al Qaeda operatives?
ELLIOTT: The German authorities, Wolf, have effectively said that. They've been, of course, careful in precisely what they say. It's a judicial examination. But my understanding is that that is pretty much the conclusion that the German authorities have come to. So this wave of violence is now affecting Germans as well.
You know, there's a wake-up call going on throughout Europe. One should, I think, kind of point out that there's some wonderful pieces written by people like Oriana Filachy (ph), leading Italian journalist, like Melanie Phillips (ph), leading British journalist who had a spectacular article in the Spectator this week against anti- semitism. So I think one is beginning to hear voices that are now speaking out against this, and not a moment too soon.
BLITZER: Lord Janner, there was a lot of interest or commotion this week when a police chief in Berlin, Germany, recommended that Jews avoid wearing skull caps, yarmulkes, or Stars of David or have any outward sign of being Jewish, given the threats potentially against them.
Is this good advice to Jews in Europe?
JANNER: Well, it probably is in parts of Europe. But you see, people talk about Europe, there are great differences between the countries in Europe as to what the situation is like. It is different in Germany, it's different France, where I think it's at its worse. It is different in Britain. And it is awful when anyone in any country is told, "Try to hide your religious affiliation because you might be attacked for being a Jew, a Muslim or anything else."
BLITZER: Same question to you Abe Foxman. What do you make of that?
FOXMAN: It was well-intentioned, but it's very chilling because it basically says that either the authorities are unable or unwilling to protect the Jewish community. And that would give all the anti- semites, all the bigots, all the racists a victory, because if Jews begin hiding their Jewishness and eventually it will relay to others.
But, Wolf, I would like to come back, if you permit me, to Michael's comment about criticism of Israel. There is no question that Israel, as a sovereign state with a government democratically elected, is not immune from criticism. We're not talking about criticism. What we're talking about is a standard of behavior that nations and journalists and spokesman apply to Israel only.
What we saw -- we saw it happen in Durban on the conference of racism. What was denied to the Jewish people in Durban was their right to self expression, their right to national identity. That means every country in the world, every people can have a country, can have a nationalism, but when the Jews do it, it's called racist. It's this kind of criticism. It's talking about taking away the Nobel prize from Peres and not Arafat. It's talking about Sharon being tried as a war criminal. It's the votes in the U.N. and in the EU which is not legitimate criticism; they're one-sided and they legitimize anti-semitism.
BLITZER: All right, let me give Michael Elliott the last word, because we only have a few seconds left.
Go ahead, Michael.
ELLIOTT: I don't disagree with anything that Abe Foxman said, Wolf. I wrote a column about the absolutely disgraceful scenes at the Durban conference on racism last year, which were just kind of awful in the way in which they equated Judaism and Zionism as racism. So I don't disagree with anything that Abe Foxman says.
But you know, we all have to keep a space for legitimate criticism of any of our governments, otherwise we're all lost.
BLITZER: All right, on that note, let me thank Michael Elliott, Lord Janner, Abe Foxman for joining us for this important discussion.
And just ahead, trusting a terrorist. Can the U.S. believe the information provided by a captured Al Quada commander? We'll get insight from two key members of the House Select Intelligence Committee, the Democrat minority whip, Nancy Pelosi of California, and Republican Congressman Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
Late Edition will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition.
In recent days, a captured Al Qaeda commander has provided the United States with information about possible terrorist attacks against U.S., but is that information reliable?
Joining us now are two key members of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee: Here in Washington, the Democratic congresswoman and minority whip, Nancy Pelosi of California; and in Tallahassee, Florida, Republican Congressman Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
Welcome to Late Edition to both of you.
Nancy Pelosi, let me begin with you. Is this information from Abu Zubaydah, is this something U.S. can rely on?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: I wouldn't trust Abu Zubaydah for one moment. He's a very skilled, trained terrorist, and I think his terrorism continues.
BLITZER: So you think he is just trying to mislead the U.S. with this information he is providing?
PELOSI: I wouldn't trust him. I think that we have very skilled interrogators as well, and we have to weigh the information that we receive from him. But I don't think we should be fooled by him. This is a very tough, tough operator.
BLITZER: Congressman Chambliss, as you know, in recent days there have been alerts given against malls, security at U.S. malls, banking institutions in the Northeast. One suggestion that Abu Zubaydah apparently made that the Al Qaeda has the capability of building a so-called dirty radiation or nuclear bomb. And the U.S. is acting on this information.
Is he simply trying to point the U.S. in the wrong direction?
REP. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Well, I think it is a matter of not being able to take a chance on whether he's telling the truth or not. I agree with Nancy, you can't trust the guy. But everything that he is saying we are trying to corroborate in one way or another, either from domestic sources or from international sources.
But Governor Ridge's office and the Justice Department just can't afford to take a chance that he may be telling the truth. So I think it's appropriate that we at least issue some level of warning.
BLITZER: But all of these Al Qaeda operatives presumably have been trained in disinformation, Congressman Chambliss. So they have to -- U.S. interrogators have to assume that that is a possibility as well. CHAMBLISS: Absolutely. Even though you can't trust him, you've got to take what they say seriously, but then use other sources other than the individual from whom you gained the information to determine whether or not you can corroborate what he is saying is true or whether you can corroborate the fact that it's false.
BLITZER: Congressman Pelosi, you said that the U.S. has skilled interrogators. But there have been plenty suggestions out there that that is not necessarily the case. There is a shortage of trained speakers, Arabic language or Pashtun speakers or others who can do an adequate job in getting this kind of information.
PELOSI: Well, I think it's -- yes, we need more -- our lack of linguists is very clear. And the variety of languages now that are posing these challenges must be -- that has to be addressed. Many of us have been talking for years about reflecting the diversity of our country as we collect resources to help us, especially in the war on terrorism, which is important to every person in our country.
But as far as Abu Zubaydah is concerned, certainly we cannot ignore what he is saying. But remember that he is a terrorist. And the role of a terrorist is not only to commit acts of violence and terror, but to instill fear and to instill uncertainty.
BLITZER: And based on what you know, the suggestion that they, Al Qaeda could build, or already has, a dirty bomb, is that accurate?
PELOSI: Well, I can't confirm whether that is accurate or not. But certainly, the ingredients for a dirty bomb have been -- that has been accessible to them. Whether or not they have the, shall we say, the intellectual information necessary to assemble it is possible. We have to be prepared for it. That would make -- as tragic as the World Center bombing -- attacks were, that would make it so much greater that it would be a tragedy of such magnitude in our country. So we can't let that happen.
So we have to weigh the information. Without intelligence -- it's not just about gathering, it's about gathering, analyzing, disseminating, corroborating, as my colleague said. So we have to be very, very smart about this, but we cannot let them change our way of life.
BLITZER: Congressman Chambliss, what about that information, very alarming information about a so-called dirty bomb? How worried should the American public be?
CHAMBLISS: It's just another aspect of terrorism that we need to be extremely concerned about and that we need to try to get as much information about it as we can. And we're doing that in a number of different ways, both at Guantanamo Bay at Camp X-Ray, or now at Camp Delta, I guess, as well as through other sources that we have in the hands of foreign law enforcement officials.
It would be obviously of great concern if we were able to confirm that a dirty bomb did exist and that the Al Qaeda operatives had some way of delivering that dirty bomb. And, you know, it's simply another manner and form of terrorism that the American public needs to be aware of. Because if they do have that, then you better believe there is nothing to keep them from utilizing it.
BLITZER: You know a lot about homeland security, homeland defense, Congressman Chambliss. Is it a good idea, whenever the U.S. gets this unconfirmed information, to simply pass it along to the American public? Doesn't that have a potential for causing panic?
CHAMBLISS: Well, you know, Wolf, we've been through this before. Before the color-coded system came out of Governor Ridge's office, there were different warnings that were issued by Governor Ridge, that we needed to be on a higher threat level.
But I have always thought that was appropriate. Now, what we're dealing with now is one individual, or maybe several individuals, who are giving us information that we don't know whether it's correct or not. And, to issue a warning based simply on what one individual says, I think we've got to be very cautious about doing that, because all of a sudden we'll have everybody who is in custody trying to say things that make us put everybody on a constant threat level that's higher than normal.
But I do think...
BLITZER: Congresswoman ...
CHAMBLISS: ... the American people have a right to know.
BLITZER: ... do you agree with that opinion? Because, as you know, there's a yellow alert that's out right now, sort of in the middle, a heightened alert but not as severe as a red alert, for example. But that does have a tendency get the American public, perhaps, overly jittery.
PELOSI: I think what it does do, though, is have more eyes on more possibilities, and I think that's a heightened awareness, sort of to be on the defensive in terms of our homeland security people, whether it's law enforcement officials or others who are in charge of our public places, to be on the alert, to look carefully at things that might seem normal under normal circumstances.
But again, if the goal of the terrorist to change our way of life, and we have to do our jobs, in terms of collection of intelligence, separating technology, for example, of a dirty bomb from the scientific ability to turn it into -- to exploit it into something, and we have to track all of that very carefully before we put the burden constantly on the American public to be afraid that our homeland is not secure.
BLITZER: All right. Congresswoman, congressman, stand by. We have to take a quick break.
More of our discussion with Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Saxby Chambliss when Late Edition continues. They'll also be taking your phone calls. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition. We're continuing our conversation with Democratic Congresswoman and Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi of California and Republican Congressman Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
Congressman Chambliss, let me read to you from the new Time magazine that's just coming out today, about threats, and I'll read directly from what it says. Quote, "`If frustration continues to grow, and we keep meeting with lack of success, what's going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back,' asks a senior official, who until recently was a disbeliever in a Palestinian threat. `What's going stop it from happening here?'"
This official, unnamed official in Time magazine, referring to the possibility that the suicide bombing attacks that we've seen in Israel could spill over against the United States giving U.S. support for Israel.
How concerned are you about that?
CHAMBLISS: That's another one of those avenues of terrorist activity that, again, we are extremely concerned about. And, you know, this week we're taking up the defense authorization bill in committee, and the White House is committed to expending more resources on intelligence activity and intelligence-gathering activities.
And it doesn't make any difference whether we're trying to keep bad guys out or trying to monitor folks while they're here, it's becoming more and more expensive. And this week, we're going to take another giant step, for commission of those resources to ensure that we try to, number one, disrupt any of those activities but, if it does happen, be prepared for it.
BLITZER: Well, it happened, Congresswoman Pelosi, on September 11...
PELOSI: It certainly did.
BLITZER: ... a huge terrorist, the worst that the United States, of course, has ever seen.
But the notion of low-tech supermarket bombings, cafes, drugstores, discotheques, that kind of suicide bombing, happening here in the United States, is that something that's a real concern?
PELOSI: Well, it's always a challenge.
But I want to be clear that September 11 had nothing to do with our policy in the Middle East. I think Osama bin Laden and his diabolical mind and his concern about U.S. presence in the Arabian Peninsula had more to do with that and not anything to do with our Middle East policy.
In terms of taking it to another place, whether our Middle East policy might provoke some actions in the United States, every free country in the world is subjected to that threat because of our democracy and the freedom of movement that people have. But that's why we have to be ever vigilant, but maintain the democratic atmosphere and freedom that we have in our country.
We're blessed, in our country, with a very large Muslim population, more Muslims in the U.S. than Episcopalians now. A very large Arab-American population who are ever vigilant as well, in terms of preventing any such suicide bombings in the U.S.
But you can never guarantee it, there's no guarantee.
BLITZER: Let me bring back Congressman Chambliss.
You might have heard, he was quoted in the newspaper USA Today, William Webster, the former CIA and FBI director, suggests it might be a good idea to start giving some of these prisoners, these terrorist suspects, the so-called "truth serum," sodium pentathol, to see if they can get some straight answers from these suspects.
Is that a good idea?
CHAMBLISS: Well, we've had problems in gathering information from the folks that we have at Camp Delta or Camp X-Ray, but I think our folks are doing a much better job now.
To what extent we ought to ultimately go to, I don't think Nancy or I, either one, can say at this point. But we, as an intelligence community with oversight responsibility, are watching our interrogation process very, very closely, to make sure, number one, that we've identified the people who are there, and at what level they served in the Al Qaeda operation, so that we have some idea of what sort of information that we ought to be gathering from them. And then monitoring also from the standpoint of ensuring that we're gathering every single bit of information that we ought to get.
And I have to say, our folks down there are doing a much better job today than they were doing 30 days ago.
BLITZER: What about the issue, Nancy Pelosi, of sodium pentathol, the so-called "truth serum"? Is it a good idea to start giving drugs to these prisoners?
PELOSI: Well, I wouldn't be one to be advocating that right now. Secretary Rumsfeld has assured us that he feels confident about the interrogation process at Guantanamo.
And among -- these people are of varying degrees of value, in terms of information. And I think that we have to, before we jump to any conclusion about massively resorting to that, we have to evaluate what they can contribute to our intelligence. And I think that process is well under way, and they are sorting out the followers from the leaders, and those who had access to information from the others.
But we don't want to lose our -- we want to be able to proceed in a dignified way that we would be proud of, and that we would not want our people subjected to under other circumstances.
BLITZER: Congressman Chambliss, you say that at Camp X-Ray and Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, where the Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners are being held, that they're doing better now, the U.S., in terms of the interrogations.
But, as you know, there's been a lot of criticism that, over these past several months, they were not doing a good job. Leaving these prisoners together, for example, where they could bolster each other's self-confidence, where they could sort of communicate with each other, was a terrible decision because it prevented useful information from coming forward.
BLITZER: Is that criticism justified?
CHAMBLISS: I think some of it was in the early stages.
You know, what happened here was that we had the Taliban and Al Qaeda just fold much quicker than what our military folks thought would happen. And we all of a sudden began getting all this influx of prisoners, and we had to make a quick decision of, number one, where to take them and how to deal with them once we had them in our custody.
But I think in the short term the Department of Defense, under Secretary Rumsfeld, has done a good job re-evaluating the situation and making sure that they do have a way of identifying the prisoners that we have, screening them before they come to Camp X-Ray, and getting as much information from those folks as they think we ought to be getting from them.
BLITZER: All right, let's take a caller from South Carolina. Please go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Yes, my question is, you know, terror comes from hate. And why are we hated so much in all of these other countries?
BLITZER: What about that, Nancy Pelosi?
PELOSI: Well, I think that we have to do a better job of showing our respect for people throughout the world. I don't -- again, I return to September 11. September 11 would have happened because of the diabolical nature of Osama bin Laden and his followers and an agenda of hatred that he had.
Fanning the flame of the disparity of income in the world, but all of those things contribute, the -- I call it the fury of despair. People throughout the world have no economic options. They have no hope, they have no possibilities. So they're fertile territory for demagogues to come in and try to enlist them.
I think that we have to show that we have more common interests with rest of the world rather than being, shall we say, over them.
BLITZER: Nancy Pelosi, the minority whip, the highest-ranking women ever to serve in the U.S. Congress, thanks for joining us. PELOSI: My pleasure.
BLITZER: Congressman Saxby Chambliss, thanks for you joining us as well. You're not highest-ranking man ever to serve in the U.S. Congress.
Appreciate it, both of you, very much for joining us.
We have to take a quick break. When we come back, your letters. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition.
Time now for some letters that we've just received. The recent meeting between President Bush and Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia created a stir among our viewers.
John (ph) from Ontario, Canada, emailed us with this: "Trust Saudi Arabia? Aren't these the same people who held a fund-raising telethon for martyrs who blow up innocent Israeli citizens? What's next, a telethon to raise money for more airline tickets to New York and Washington?"
The Catholic Church was another issue that elicited strong emotions. Mary Joan (ph) from New Jersey e-mailed us, "The sexual priest scandal will drag its feet for years to come. I don't care who the priest is, if the allegations prove to be true, first time he's out, gone, finished."
And the recent school shooting in Germany brought this response from Bruce in Delaware: "I think this makes an excellent case for the immediate need for liberal concealed carry laws, in this case for teachers and other citizens to protect themselves, as the police simply cannot be everywhere all the time."
As always, we welcome your comments. The e-mail address, email@example.com.
It's time now to say goodbye to our international viewers. Thanks very much for watching.
For our North American viewers, stay tuned for the next hour of Late Edition. We'll discuss the hot legal battles of the week, including terrorism on trial, Robert Blake's recent arrest and the lawsuits against the Catholic Church.
All that and Late Edition's Final Round. Our panel will weigh in on the day's top stories and answer your questions as well. That, plus a check of the hour's headlines, when Late Edition continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
We'll get to our legal panel in just a moment, but first here's CNN's Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta with a news alert.
BLITZER: Now let's get some legal perspective on all the hot legal issues of the week.
Joining me in our Miami bureau, the famed criminal defense attorney Roy Black. In our New York bureau, our own Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's legal analyst. And here in Washington, Victoria Toensing, a former Justice Department official.
Welcome, all of you, to Late Edition.
Let's begin with the Robert Blake case. Victoria, let me begin with you.
The prosecutors in Los Angeles say they're not going to seek the death penalty against Robert Blake. He's accused, of course, of murdering his wife Bonny Lee Bakley.
Was that a wise decision, simply going for simply a life without the possibility of parole as opposed to capital?
VICTORIA TOENSING, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: You know, Wolf, we can talk about this case but then we're all going to have to go home and take a shower.
And that may have been how the California prosecutors felt about it.
Here's two sleazy people. He happens to be sleazier because there's credible evidence that he killed her. And that could be a very important factor to the prosecution. They're also going to look at his age, he's 68. Who's going to put a 68-year-old man to death? Will he live to kill again? Probably not.
The factor that would have weighed in favor, as most of these committees go, and there's a committee in the L.A. prosecutor's office, is his lying in wait, his planning it for such a long time. But they must have looked at it and balanced it out, and I don't take issue with it.
BLITZER: What about you, Roy Black? Were you surprised that they would eliminate this possibility at this very, very early stage in the prosecution?
ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, Wolf. I think that's exactly why they did it. They wanted to get that off the table and not interfere with the orderly prosecution of the case. It would have added a lot of controversy to the case. I don't think they did it because they think that either one of two people involved were lesser human beings because they were sleazy. But I think they looked at it fairly objectively and said, look, this is just not enough aggravating circumstances here to warrant death. Let's get it off the table and hurry up with this prosecution and not turn it into a bigger circus than it already is.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, is that your analysis as well?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think so.
I'd place a little more emphasis on the age issue. You know, since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the oldest person executed was 66 years old. Blake is 68 today, and California is probably the slowest death penalty state in the country, with people on death row for more than 10 years.
I think Roy is right that this makes the case simpler, although I don't anticipate this thing moving at warp speed, but it is going to take -- it's going to take that issue off the table. And there really -- this is not look like a death-penalty case at all, at least to me, number one.
BLITZER: Victoria -- all right, let's bring back Victoria.
The other legal aspect that developed in the case, $1 million bond being posted by Earle Caldwell. Earle Caldwell, the bodyguard, the handyman for Robert Blake. He's out on $1 million.
TOENSING: Blake for Caldwell, right?
BLITZER: Earle Caldwell is the -- yes, worked for Robert Blake. But Robert Blake put up the money, a million dollars, so that Earl Caldwell could walk free, at least for the time being. We're you surprised by that?
TOENSING: I was surprised by it because if were Blake's lawyer, I wouldn't have allowed him to do it. I think that's evidence that the prosecution can bring in the trial. I mean, what is he trying to do here? Here's this -- he's been changed as a co-conspirator with Robert Blake and he's putting up bail money for him? I wouldn't want my client to do that in any way whatsoever.
BLITZER: Harland Braun, Roy Black, the defense attorney representing Robert Blake, says that Earl Caldwell was an employee. He was the employer, Blake. This is just a normal business practice, to put up the million-dollar bail money.
BLACK: A bonehead play, no matter how you look at it. I mean, there's always going to be this issue that it's a cover-up. And if I was prosecutor, I would be ecstatic. This adds about 10 or 15 percent more evidence to my case, showing there's a -- obviously a reason for Blake wanting him out of custody so he probably would not have as much pressure to cooperate. I think it's a truly bonehead play. BLITZER: A bonehead play. What about that, Jeffrey Toobin?
TOOBIN: Well, I think you have look at sort of how Robert Blake sees himself, and Blake sees himself as kind of a stand-up guy, stands with the people, you know, who are his friends. And I think he sees this as kind of a macho stunt.
I agree that it will be used against Blake, should Blake argue later on that Caldwell is defending him. And the prosecution will just say, well, look, you know, here you have the Blake putting up the money for bail for his co-defendant.
But I think Blake is looking at this in a little more straight- forward way, and you know, this is just he wants to help out his buddy.
BLITZER: Earl Caldwell, Victoria Toensing, he's accused of conspiracy to commit murder. That's why he was eligible for bail. Robert Blake, accused of murder, is obviously not eligible for bail whatsoever.
But the interesting thing is, when he put up the $1 million, it wasn't 10 percent, which he could do. It was the whole $1 million because he wants that money back if in fact he doesn't skip bail. Were you surprised by that?
TOENSING: Oh, I was surprised that the reruns of Baretta gave him that much money.
I thought he was actor that had lived past his prime.
BLITZER: It's pretty unusual, though, isn't, Roy Black, to put up the whole bail money instead of just the 10 percent which is normal procedure?
BLACK: Well, Wolf, it is. But perhaps in this case they couldn't find a bondsman willing to put a million dollars at stake here with a 10 or 15 percent premium. So they may not have had any particular choice.
The interesting thing here, I always wonder why Caldwell is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. If you assist somebody, like giving them a gun that they end up killing someone, knowing they are going to do it, you're guilty of murder. So to me it's somewhat strange why he's only charged with conspiracy, in any event.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, do you have the answer to Roy Black's question?
TOOBIN: Well, I don't have the answer. And I think Caldwell plays a sort of mysterious role in all of this. It may be because the evidence is pretty weak against Caldwell because -- I mean, I think Roy is right that usually if you sort of aid and abet murder, that is murder. If it's an even more attenuated connection, maybe all they could prove is conspiracy.
You can be sure that one of the subtexts that's going to be part of this case as it approaches trial is, will Caldwell make a deal with the prosecutors? Because he is an obvious target to flip. They are going to probably make him a very good offer with low or perhaps even no jail time. And if he doesn't flip, I mean, that will be very much in Blake's favor.
But I do think, you know, stay tuned on whether he does, because they are going to make him a very good offer, I think.
BLITZER: All right. We have a caller from California. Go ahead with your question, please.
CALLER: Yes, I was calling in reference to the parallels between this case and the O.J. Simpson case, considering they are both in California. And I would also like to add, just real quick, that it was nice to see Jeffrey -- it was refreshing to see Jeffrey come into the news room a little unkempt like the rest of us, about 15 minutes ago.
BLITZER: We saw you walking in, Jeffrey. You can run, but you can't hide.
Victoria Toensing, what are the analogies, the similarities, between this Robert Blake case and the O.J. Simpson case, other than the fact that they are in Los Angeles and they're Hollywood kind of guys.
TOENSING: Has-been actors. I don't think there is any of it there and I did about a daily show on O.J. and so knew that case pretty well.
You know, there's none of the love, the passion, the thing -- I was a literature major before I went to law school -- the things that novels are made of, of all the intrigue of the O.J. case. That's not present here.
I mean, I have to use the word sleazy. It may not have been a factor for why the prosecution decided not to ask for the death penalty. But you don't even read about it. I mean, you really do want to go wash your hands if you read about it.
BLITZER: All right, Michigan, go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Yes, calling to find out why did it take a whole year to find enough evidence to finally charge him?
BLITZER: Roy Black, you know a lot about criminal defense. Eleven months it took between the time of the murder and the time of the charges. Why did it take so long? BLACK: That's an excellent question, and there is a very good reason for this. This is what's called a circumstantial case. That means that they have all kinds of bits of evidence that they say put together, leads to the conclusion that Blake committed the murder.
When you have a circumstantial case, you have to exclude everybody else who might have a motive to kill her. And you have to show that the only person who really could have done it is Blake.
That's a very difficult case to put together, and it takes a lot of time and effort. And the L.A. police obviously went out and talked to a lot of people to build this case, put a lot of pieces of evidence together, because they don't have an eyewitness. And that's why it takes something like 11 months.
TOENSING: And they also -- remember throughout all of O.J., rush to judgment, rush to judgment. Remember that, the complaint by the defense?
TOOBIN: And also, if you look at the complaint in the Blake case, I mean, there is evidence that they really were collecting evidence. There is the allegation that Blake solicited two former stunt men from Baretta to try to kill his wife. There is evidence that the murder weapon was found in a dump and that gun is somehow tied to Blake.
Now, I don't know if this evidence will stand up in court, but it is obviously evidence that took a while to accumulate. And I think that's why they took a year. And also, Robert Blake wasn't going anywhere, so it wasn't like he was going to flee the jurisdiction.
BLITZER: And Jeffrey, you wrote a book on the O.J. Simpson case, correct me if I'm wrong. But in this particular case, the LAPD and the district attorney, they must be under so much enormous pressure, given the bungles, the fiasco that occurred during O.J., to get it right this time. Isn't that fair?
TOOBIN: Well, and it's not just Simpson. There is a history of failure in high-profile cases, whether it's the Twilight Zone case or the McMartin Preschool case where the district attorney and the police have had problems.
Add to that, Bernard Parks, the police chief of Los Angeles, who is now in the process of being fired in a political storm there. There is just a lot -- there are very high stakes in these cases.
You know, Los Angeles is, in many respects, defined by Hollywood, defined by its big cases. And this is going to be a real test of both the department and the district attorney's office.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about.
We'll switch gears when we come back. Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, suspected of being the 20th hijacker, he made an appearance in court this past week. Roy Black, Jeffrey Toobin and Victoria Toensing will give us their assessments of what happens. More of your phone calls as well, when Late Edition returns.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition. We're talking about some of the hot legal stories of the week. Joining us, the criminal defense attorney Roy Black, the former prosecutor Victoria Toensing, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Roy Black, Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, he made an appearance in Northern Virginia in the federal court, saying he doesn't trust his lawyers, he wants to represent himself. He ranted for nearly an hour. Among other things, he said, "I pray for the destruction of the Jewish people and the state and the liberation of Palestine. I pray for the return of the Islamic emirates of Afghanistan and the destruction of the United States."
And he wants to be his own attorney.
He seems to be confessing there to something, doesn't he?
BLACK: You know, Wolf, I read the transcript, and it really is somewhat surreal. I mean, he intersperses quotations from the Koran as evidence for his various viewpoints.
However, under United States law that -- in 1973, the Supreme Court decided Faretta v. California, says you have a right to defend yourself, and he now wants to exercise that right.
It's going to be a huge mistake on his part, because he has an outstanding legal team, and of course going to trial representing himself will be an absolute disaster, as we lawyers know. But you know what? He has a constitutional right do that. And if he wants do it, and he's competent to do so, the court has to let him do it.
BLITZER: What about that, Jeffrey Toobin? Because it sounds so strange to the average person out there that this individual would simply be allowed to represent himself.
TOOBIN: Right, especially when he sounds like such a nut.
But, you know, this is going to put an enormous amount of pressure on the judge. Consider this. A lot of the evidence in this case will be classified information. According to longstanding law, the defense team has a right to see this information, but only the lawyers do, in usual circumstances. The information can be kept from the client because it's classified. Here the judge is going to have to try to set up some system where perhaps standby counsel, which is sort of a non-lawyer, an assistant, be allowed to see this material, but it's really going to make life difficult for the judge.
I know, when I used to be a prosecutor, judges always hated it when clients represented themselves. And here you have a case with enormous high profile, classified information, and the potential for the death penalty. It's going to make the judge crazy. TOENSING: And if I may say something on behalf of prosecutors, it also makes the prosecutors very upset.
I mean, when you have the evidence, as a prosecutor, and you better have if you're going to indict somebody, you want a clean case and you want the rules followed, because an orderly procedure is what helps you get to a conviction.
Even though Roy Black says it's a mistake, I mean, Roy will of course be the first to tell you it's in the defense's interest to kind of confuse the issues, if there's a problem about the facts.
So, the prosecutor's going to have a much harder time with this kind of a defense.
BLITZER: But, Vicky, you're a former high-ranking official in the justice department. How does the judge handle this issue of classified information? They don't want to give Zacarias Moussaoui access to classified U.S. intelligence.
TOENSING: Here's very a key issue, Wolf, because the defense counsel have to sign something that says I'm never going to divulge it, and they have an interest in the system, they're not going to go out and ruin their careers by divulging it. But does Moussaoui have an interest, if he's his own lawyer and he has to sign this? Somebody who wants to destroy the United States certainly doesn't care if he's going to abide by any kind of an agreement.
For all those people who thought military commissions were a bad idea, they might want to rethink, because I was for Moussaoui being tried in our federal courts because I wanted people to see just what somebody who wanted to destroy our system would try to do to our federal court system, and you're seeing it right here.
BLITZER: What about the criticism, Roy Black, of the judge, who allowed Zacarias Moussaoui to engage in this rant for, what, almost an hour the other day in Northern Virginia? Should she have allowed that to go forward?
BLACK: No, I think this criticism's very unfair. I think, if the judge had shut him down and didn't let him make his complaints, I mean, she would look horrible.
I mean, here is the man complaining about his lawyers. Now, of course he doesn't have a good basis for this. He's complaining because they're not Muslims and they really don't understand him. But when a defendant comes into court with court-appointed lawyers and he wants to make a complaint about his lawyers, a judge better sit there and listen to it. And if the judge cuts the person off, you're going to run into a lot of problems.
And it's true, this is not going to be an orderly proceeding. This is going to be somewhat of a farce when it gets to the trial, if he starts spouting all these political ideas. But you know what? Our system is flexible enough to handle it. It'll handle all these problems. And I still think this man can get a fair trial, even if he ends up representing himself. But he's going to give up any chance he has of getting some type of a lesser penalty or even an acquittal.
BLITZER: Well, what about, Jeffrey Toobin, the argument that the judge allowed him to make statements that were self-incriminating in the process of that rant?
TOOBIN: Well, she did allow that, but it's not her job to stop that. And I think what we saw in court earlier this week was an illustration of what the trial would be like, and the point Victoria was making, that these things are disorderly, when a defendant represents himself.
But, you know, judges always, in my experience, bend over backwards to let what's called pro se defendants, defendants representing themselves, to sort of speak their piece, don't hold them to the legal niceties. But crazy stuff will happen, and more of it will happen as Moussaoui continues to defend himself.
BLACK: Wolf, one thing to add to this.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Roy.
BLACK: I'm willing to met Moussaoui will be a lot easier to handle than Jim Traficant was.
BLITZER: And Jim Traficant, the congressman in Ohio who represented himself, obviously didn't do such a great job in the process of that particular trial in Ohio.
Let's switch gears, Victoria Toensing, talk a little bit about this whole issue of truth serum, sodium pentathol. I raised it with the two congressmen who were just on this program.
Is that something that legally should be allowed, to give sodium pentathol to suspended terrorists who are prisoners?
TOENSING: Well, why it's an issue this week is because Judge Webster, the former head of the FBI and former head of the CIA and a former federal judge, has said that he thought sodium pentathol should be used, under careful procedures. And I don't have any problem with that whatsoever.
It certainly should not be used to bring into a courtroom like -- just like a polygraph shouldn't be. But I think if we have information that some attack may take place and we have a basis for believing that this person knows about it, I have not a problem in the world to use sodium pentathol.
BLITZER: And as you know, Roy Black, these suspects are under military control. They're not part of the civil judicial system. Would you have a problem? The argument -- others say that shouldn't be used, it's a form of torture and would be a violation of Geneva Convention governing prisoners of war, if you will.
BLACK: Well, Wolf, I'm glad you brought that up. There is a little bit of a problem with this, considering that we signed international agreements agreeing, with the integrity of our signature behind it, we would never do thing like this. Now we have a former federal judge, of all people, recommending we ought to use sodium pentathol.
First of all, these things really don't work very well. All it does is loosen the inhibition somewhat. And I think we're going down, as I say, this horrible slippery slope now. If we give United States government the power to torture people -- and I think that giving mind-altering drugs is torture -- we're certainly taking an extreme chance here that they're going to start using it on us next.
So, I'm a firm believer in stopping them as soon and quickly as possible.
BLITZER: What about the law and sodium pentathol and suspended Al Qaeda members, Jeffrey Toobin?
TOOBIN: Well, I think we're beginning to see sort of the beginnings of two legal systems, in a way, that are at work here. There is no way that anyone who has sodium pentathol can have that statement used in court. It could just never be used in our system.
But the Justice Department is really changing its orientation in some ways toward preventing crime. They don't care as much about prosecutions anymore. They want to prevent terrorism, and they're going to do whatever it takes. And that may include sodium pentathol or even harsher measures, and they just don't care about whether it's used in court. It's much more about preventing future crimes than prosecuting crimes that already took place.
TOENSING: ... and I agree with that, because I had all terrorism cases under me. And in the 1980s, when we did terrorism cases, we were really interested in prosecution. Now we have a new world, a very different world since September 11. And the prosecution is important, but the prevention is paramount.
And we're going to make mistakes, we're going to change rules here and there. But I think we will come out, as Jeffrey says, with somewhat of a side system in learning how to do prevention and still maintain people's constitutional rights.
BLITZER: Roy Black, go ahead. You wanted to make a point.
BLACK: Yes. The problem with this, I remember in freshman class in Philosophy you had a thing called the end does not justify the means. And you know, that still works today. In the United States of America, the Constitution is the means that we use to get to an end. There's no way in world, no matter who we're fighting, that we can use a means that is unconstitutional, illegal and against all the agreements that we have signed for the last 50 or 60 years. TOENSING: I've got another one, Roy.
BLACK: So I think we have to wake up.
TOENSING: Roy, I've another one. It's the Constitution is not a suicide pact.
BLACK: Yes, well, these little slogans really don't work too well. They don't take the place of thinking and logic.
BLITZER: All right. On that note, we're going to have to leave it. To Roy Black, Jeffrey Toobin, Victoria Toensing, an excellent legal panel, a good discussion. We'll have you, obviously, back. Thanks to all three of you.
And coming up next, our Late Edition Final Round. We'll hear what our very opinionated panel has to say about the day's big stories. Late Edition's Final Round, right after a news alert. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome to Late Edition's Final Round. Joining me, Donna Brazile, the Democratic political strategist; Peter Beinart of the New Republic; Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online -- I think we're screwing this up; and Robert George of the New York Post. I'm Wolf Blitzer. I think we got that right.
Peter, we heard breaking news, very serious development today. The Israeli cabinet, as you know, agreed to this U.S.-British proposal to allow U.S. and British authorities to supervise these six suspected Palestinian terrorists inside Ramallah, the Ramallah headquarters of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. The Israeli cabinet approved that this morning as a way to end the standoff around the headquarters. Now we're getting word from our Rula Amin on the scene that the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat, has accepted this end of the standoff as well.
Is this good news?
PETER BEINART, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Yes, I think so. I mean, I think Israel had gotten itself into a box with -- regardless of what you think of the rest of their military offense -- with locking, you know, getting Arafat locked up in this compound. It was vastly increasing his popularity throughout the Arab world. And I think that regardless of what the next steps are, I think Israel actually had to get out of this box.
ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: Well, it's right. Actually, it's funny that Arafat was in a kind of a geographic box, he couldn't get out, and Israel was also stuck as well.
But ultimately the issue is, can you trust Arafat? And if we see an end to suicide bombings, if we see an end to this continued terrorism, fine, he'll be able to roam around. Otherwise, it'll all start up again.
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, finally, U.S. diplomacy is working in the region. And perhaps when Arafat is allowed to go out and talk among the people, he'll find constructive ways to get back to the political negotiating table.
JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think this will mark the 1,758,000th second chance that Yasser Arafat has gotten over his career. And we'll see what happens, but you know, I have no trust that Arafat will be anything but Arafat.
BLITZER: All right, let's move on and talk a little bit about another major development this past week, the meeting between President Bush and the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. They met at the Texas ranch, and they emerged from a five-hour meeting with this assessment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: One of the really positive things out of this meeting was the fact that the crown prince and I established a strong personal bond. We spent a lot of time alone discussing our respective visions, talking about our families. I was most interested in learning about how he thought about things. I'm convinced that the stronger our personal bond is, the more likely it is relations between our country will be strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Cynics, however, Robert...
GEORGE: Oh, please.
BLITZER: ... suggest that the Saudis have the U.S. over an oil barrel.
GEORGE: Oh, it's a great line. I don't know. I was just reaching for my stomach on that one.
The president had similar words a couple years ago when he first met with Vladimir Putin, saying, you know, I've seen his heart. You know, here's a person I can work with. The thing is...
BLITZER: He's been right on that, though, hasn't he?
GEORGE: He's been right on that, but before that, the Russians didn't go out of their way to embarrass the United States, which the Saudis have done on repeated occasions over the last month.
I don't think you can trust Abdullah. In fact, I think Abdullah has turned out to be a very snarky strategist on a number of levels, and I think, frankly, I think the president is wrong on this.
BRAZILE: Well, look, I love it when men bond, and perhaps...
(LAUGHTER) ... and maybe we'll find peace at the end of the bonding session.
But the truth is, the Saudis were talking trash a week ago, and then they arrived in Texas and put forward an eight-point plan. And I would hope that the president, beyond the bonding experience he shared with the crown prince, would really find ways to get them to be involved in constructive ways on the ongoing war against terrorism.
GOLDBERG: Yes. Look, Saudi Arabia is run by a corrupt, deculant (ph), crapulent monarchy. Crapulent is a word, look it up.
GEORGE: You've been wanting to use that word for a while.
GOLDBERG: Quite a while.
And its crapulence aside, the problem with these guys, yes, they have us over an oil barrel in the short term, but as we all know from Economics 101, oil is a fungable commodity. There's no such thing as Saudi Arabian oil once it leaves its port.
And they need to sell us oil far more than we need to buy their oil over the long term. And -- so yes, they can play games with us and roil the financial markets in the short term, but they do not have an economic nuclear bomb over our heads.
BLITZER: But isn't there some positive news in the fact that Saudi Arabia is in fact aggressively trying to promote some sort of settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians and that they have, for the first time, said that they would normalize relations with Israel, indeed the entire Arab world would, if the Israelis withdrew to the '67 lines?
BEINART: Yes, I think that is positive. I think it needs to be recognize as positive, and I think the Sharon government, not surprisingly, has not responded in the way that it should.
But one needs to recognize that the Saudis are also playing a double game here. It's also clear they always have been for a very long time. They're also supporting terrorist groups. They're also supporting suicide bombers in the Palestinian territory.
And what the Bush administration needs to realize is the Saudis actually don't have that much moral authority in the Arab world. I think the Bush administration is giving them too much credit.
Most Arabs are smart. They recognize this as a backward, corrupt, medieval regime. They don't want to live like Saudis. I don't think the United States should be so concerned about the moral outrage of the Saudi government.
BLITZER: All right, let's move on and talk a little bit more about Saudi Arabia. The foreign minister of that country, Prince Saud Al-Faisal denied his country provided financial support directly to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, claiming it was humanitarian assistance for needy families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE SAUD AL-FAISAL, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER: The aid goes to the people who have lost dear ones, who have lost their sole means of support. It is completely humanitarian.
It is strange to accuse a country that provides this humanitarian aid to be a supporter of terrorism. Is this guilt by association?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What about that, guilt by association? What's wrong with providing humanitarian assistance to needy Palestinians?
GOLDBERG: I love the Saudis playing the guilt-by-association card when these are guys who believe that Jews have been condemned since the time of Allah -- or since the time of Mohammed.
The idea -- of course we could condemn this financial support. If the United States came out and gave money to that guy who shot all those Muslims at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and gave money to his family, the Saudis would be rightly horrified.
These guys have been supporting not only the suicide bombing, but Islamic extremism throughout the region for decades. And the idea that somehow, you know, the United States is being mean by pointing out this fact is absurd. They need to be called on it.
BRAZILE: Especially when their official website a couple weeks ago talked about this, had a telethon which raised $92 million for many of these terrorist groups.
And besides, no one has spoken about the 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, all Saudi born and raised. No one has said any -- no one, I don't believe, in the official delegation issued an apology to the families killed on 9/11.
So I think the United States is right to condemn the Saudis on this one.
GEORGE: And besides, does it all seem to you that Al-Faisal is actually like a bobblehead?
He is the bobblehead doll, you know, with his mannerisms there. But I mean, it's true. You've got the telethon. You've got obvious, clear examples that they are paying off families. They are sending signals, frankly, for more martyrs to come forward, saying that they will be taken care of.
BEINART: Yes, but I think they -- I completely agree with that, but I think it's worth adding one more thing. There is a tremendous amount of Palestinian suffering. The Bush administration was very smart last week to quickly send aid to the Palestinians who've lost their homes in the last few weeks. And we, in fact, need to step into the breach. If we don't want Iraq and Saudi Arabia to gain prestige among the Palestinians, it's us who should be sending humanitarian aid, not to the families of suicide bombers, to the families of innocent Palestinians who don't have anything to do with terrorism.
BRAZILE: And there are legitimate international organizations who can accomplish that goal.
BEINART: That's right, not through the Palestinian Authority, through NGOs.
BLITZER: But if the Saudis are willing to contribute to those organizations, you'd support that?
BEINART: As long as it's not going to families of suicide bombers or to terrorist groups.
GOLDBERG: And those NGOs are -- although it should also be pointed out, those NGOs are becoming increasingly anti-Israeli and bordering on the point of anti-semitism in the way they talk about it.
BEINART: Well, you still need people to provide hospitals, beds and stretchers.
BLITZER: All right. NGOs, for those of you who don't know, non- governmental organizations that are involved in humanitarian work.
We're going to take a short break. Your phone calls, e-mail for our panel, more of our discussion when we come back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to Late Edition's Final Round.
Today the White House said President Bush has not made any decision or reviewed plans for a possible military confrontation with Iraq. But it was still a hot-button topic today on the morning talk shows, with two top members of the U.S. Senate disagreeing on when an operation should take place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: I think we've got to be prepared to stop what Saddam Hussein is doing, and as soon as possible.
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: We still have a lot of work to do on the fight and the war on terrorism, and until that's completed, I think it would be premature to consider any other action on Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BLITZER: Peter, premature, or is it time to start seriously thinking about an invasion?
BEINART: Absolutely, and I think the Democrats have got to get off the fence on this and actually get behind it.
Militarily, I think we can do it with Kuwait and Turkey, which I think we'll get. Politically, the Arab world and Europe will always be against us until we succeed. And once we succeed, they will see that the Iraqis responded the way the way the Afghans responded, by dancing in the streets. And that will give actually America much more prestige as a force for freedom in the Arab world than we have now.
GEORGE: I partly agree there. I think we will get Turkey. Kuwait, I think, is going to be on the fence.
But I think we should keep in mind that this is not just economic issues here. There's more of a cultural revolution that's going on in that part of the world. And I don't know it's going to be as easy as people think. But obviously the planning should continue.
BRAZILE: See, I don't think the question is whether or not the Democrats will back the president on this. I think the Democrats are behind the president on this. If he consults them, he'll learn that. I think the issue is, are we prepared to finish the job this time? And that's a question that the Defense Department should be able to ask and hopefully will get a good answer.
GOLDBERG: It seems to me everybody here basically agrees that, at the very least, the Pentagon should be planning on this. I mean, planning is the first thing you can do before you even think you can do anything at all, when it comes to the military.
And I think it's going to -- you know, I think everyone in Washington basically agrees that there is going to be a war in Iraq and that we are going to invade it, and the question is when. And, you know, what Daschle says notwithstanding, I think he's in on it too.
And so, yes, the Pentagon should be planning it. And the Democrats, most of them, should get on board, and I think a lot of them will get on board. And it's sort of a fait accompli in Washington talk these days.
BLITZER: All right. At least not this year necessarily, but perhaps, the New York Times says, early next year, depending on what happens with those U.N. weapons inspection teams that might -- might -- be going back. We'll see what happens on that front.
Let's shift gears and talk about the historic meeting at the Vatican. U.S. Roman Catholic cardinals were summoned there for an emergency meeting regarding abuse allegations within the Catholic Church. But subsequent statements have not completely eased concerns.
Earlier today, the Washington archbishop, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, defended choices the Church leadership has made in the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, ARCHBISHOP OF WASHINGTON: Most of the mistakes we made were because we thought that this was curable, we believed that, when the therapeutic centers told us this man is OK to put out into the ministry, that we could do it. There was a risk there. And we took a risk which we have not have taken. And we are so -- I am so sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is saying sorry enough, Donna?
BRAZILE: Well, I finally heard it after waiting for weeks, and I'm sure others Catholics have been waiting to hear a contrition. And we all -- those of us who are Catholic know about having the act contrition and the act of penance.
And I would hope that in June when the bishops meet, that they will bring in some of the victims and lay people and perhaps open up a forum so that we can all talk about, how do we move forward as a church and as a community as we proceed to figure out what's going on?
GOLDBERG: It seems to me that saying sorry is necessary. But when you ask is saying sorry enough, well that's not all that happened. I mean, it's obvious that the Catholic Church is going through incredible internal turmoil, both among the laity and among the priesthood.
And, you know, the media wants this sort of thunder-clap, dramatic change in policy where all of a sudden women are priests and all these sorts of things. That's not how millennia-old global organizations work. The American church makes up 6 percent of the Church, and the idea that somehow this is going to happen on media's timetable to make the next cover of Newsweek doesn't make any sense.
GEORGE: That's right. Now, McCarrick is probably now really the best spokesman that the church has. But, you know, it's not just a matter of saying sorry for what they did.
The fact is, the proposals that the American cardinals came out of Rome with, even though it's still a draft, that does not focus on the issue. As somebody pointed out, you've almost got like a one- free-fondle situation where a priest who is caught once, they're not going to immediately defrock him, they're going to think of something else.
I mean, there's still a whole lot of work they have to do here.
BLITZER: Peter, a lot of people don't understand why the Vatican didn't simply say one strike, pedophilia, you're out.
BEINART: Yes, and ultimately you can't comment on that without understanding, from within Catholic perspective, what the Vatican's relationship is to American cardinals and to the laity. I think this is a dangerous scandal for people on the outside to comment on because there really is an internal theological logic behind the way the Catholic Church operates. But I think we do know past secular or governmental scandals that these things tend to play themselves out, that you don't really get the end of media pressure until heads roll, until someone, for better or for worse, takes a hit, and I think it will probably be Bernard Law.
GOLDBERG: I think it also needs to be pointed out that this not primarily or entirely, at least, a crisis or scandal about pedophilia. There are a lot of other things going on with homosexual priests and all sorts of other things in the media.
I saw an AP wire moving, I think, on this air a couple of weeks where is said, a priest is in trouble for fondling another priest. You don't fondle grown men who are priests. You sexual relationships with them. It's bad, you shouldn't do that. But there's this tendency in the media to say this is all a pedophilia crisis. And it is not all about pedophilia.
BLITZER: All right.
BRAZILE: And we should be careful not to scapegoat homosexuals during this debate.
GOLDBERG: Fair enough. Fair enough.
BLITZER: All right. Let's take a break.
We're going to take -- our lightning round is just ahead, when we come back. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Time now for our Late Edition Final Round lightning round.
White House counselor Karen Hughes announced she will return with her family to Texas this summer, but she'll have to continue -- she will continue, she says, to have a hands-on role within the administration.
Jonah, how will this affect the Bush image?
GOLDBERG: I think we won't see that much of a change in the Bush image because we have a war president right now. And if I were the head of Iraqi intelligence, I would say Karen Hughes going home to Texas is a sign that we're going to be on war footing for a while and she's setting up the 2004 presidential campaign.
BRAZILE: I never thought I would live to see the day where so many men are talking about how to fill the shoes of a woman, so it's a -- it's good that Karen is going home to be with her family. She will be missed, and she's greatly admired on both sides of the aisle.
GEORGE: Yes. You know, she's done a fantastic job. Though, as we've seen in recent weeks, there are more leaks in this White House now, and it's actually ironically because we're on a war footing. You're getting advisers on foreign policy that are squabbling behind each other, and Karen Hughes cannot really put her foot down to shut those leaks down. So, we'll see what happens.
BLITZER: Peter, nothing more to this story than what the White House says it is. She simply wants to spend more time in Texas with her kids.
BEINART: Yes, I think that's right.
But one consequence interestingly I think could be that the administration moves a little bit to the right. I think one of the things about Karen Hughes was she not, unlike Karl Rove, unlike the Cheney people who have a lot of influence, not really a movement conservative. I think she may have restrained some of the ideological impulses to play to the base. It will be interesting to watch out for that dynamic.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about another dynamic. Rumors, they're circulating that the Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles will challenge the minority leader, Trent Lott of Mississippi, for the top post in the Senate.
Is that serious, Donna?
BRAZILE: Well, it's serious enough for people to be talking about it in Washington. But I think the White House is going to hand- pick a candidate as leader of the Republican Party in the Senate. That's my prediction.
GEORGE: I think Trent Lott is a focus of a lot of criticism, especially among a lot of conservative Republicans. However, he is -- he is rather popular because he -- amongst Republicans in the Senate. He will, I think, stick around if he wants to.
BEINART: I think if they lose -- if they don't recapture the Senate in the fall, I think he's toast. And I think even if they win, I think Donna's right, it will really come up to Karl Rove. Does Karl Rove want him there? My guess is not.
BLITZER: What do you think?
GOLDBERG: I think it's the exact opposite what Peter thinks. I think if...
BEINART: Well, then, you're certainly wrong.
GOLDBERG: If the Senate -- if the Republicans take back the Senate, all of a sudden that's a job worth having. And you're going to see Bill Frist rise in stature because he runs the Senate Reelection Campaign Committee.
GEORGE: And is close with the president.
GOLDBERG: And is close with the president. And you're going to see Nickles going for it because it's a job worth having.
Right now it is a terrible job to have, running the minority. And so, if they take back the Senate, I think you're going to see a fight.
BLITZER: All right, let's switch gears completely in our Final Round.
Ruth Handler (ph), she was the creator of Barbie. She has died now at the age of 85. She was co-founder of the Mattel Toy Company.
Donna, Barbie, what will be the legacy of this woman who created this doll?
BRAZILE: Well, you know, at a time when women were still fighting for their rights, she created someone that little girls could look at as a role model, not just for her beauty. But she made Barbie someone that all women could just take pride in, especially the Barbie as president.
BLITZER: Barbie as president.
GOLDBERG: I think Barbie is a wonderful thing. There are feminists out there who hate her. I was -- I am just sorry to say that we haven't seen a Saudi Barbie, which is just a sheet over a Barbie with two little eye holes in it. But you know, that's just me.
GEORGE: That would be Burqa Barbie, I think.
GOLDBERG: Burqa Barbie, yes.
BLITZER: You know, there are black Barbies. There was a black Ken, Asian Barbies. This was across the board.
GEORGE: Ruth Handler, a great entrepreneur. You know, built a company on just the idea of a doll. Though of course when I was growing up it was GI Joe. And I'm so happy that GI Joe has made a comeback because of the war.
BEINART: I'm sorry, I'm going to have to be the only one to be in the anti-Barbie camp here. It doesn't seem to me that women -- little girls were looking up to Barbie for her accomplishments, as far as I could tell. Her accomplishments were very evident, and they didn't happen in the career arena. It seems to me I wouldn't mind to see Barbie passing along, along with Ruth Handler (ph).
GEORGE: Was it her assets, not her accomplishments?
BLITZER: Barbie's been going on for years and years. My little girl loved Barbie. All little girls love Barbie. I think that...
GEORGE: And as they said in "The Graduate," you know, it's all about plastics.
BLITZER: On that note, that's your Late Edition for Sunday, April 28. Tune in again next Sunday, every Sunday, at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
Please join me, of course, every Monday through Friday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern for "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."
Until then, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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