Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS



Should the Death Penalty be Abolished?; Should the U.S. Go After Saddam?

Aired April 29, 2002 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Talker Carlson. In the "Crossfire" tonight, it's a milestone in the death penalty debate. Ray Krone is the 100th Death Row inmate to be released after new evidence shows he didn't commit the crime. He'll tell us about his case.

Should the U.S. go after Saddam Hussein as soon as possible? Or is now the wrong time? Assessing the threat in Iraq. Saudi Arabia, friend or foe? The Saudis have a message for America on a TV screen near you. Longhorn Lefty and the Prince of Darkness do verbal battle ahead on CROSSFIRE. From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Robert Novak.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to the new CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C.

Tonight, getting rid of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein once and for all. According to the "New York times," President Bush is focusing on a possible invasion next year, a massive attack that can involve up to 250,000 American troops. Will President Bush give the order to attack? Should he? What are the repercussions for Israel, Saudi Arabia and on the price of oil?

But first, the death penalty. Is it time to abolish capital punishment in light of the shocking cases of innocent men wrongly sentenced to death? We'll ask this man, Ray Krone, who today was officially cleared of all charges relating to a murder he did not commit, but for which he was convicted. Krone spent nearly three years on death row for a murder of a bartender in Phoenix in 1991 and he is the 100th innocent American to be released from death row since 1973.

He had been sentenced to death, had a retrial and then was sentenced to life in prison. Mr. Krone was released when DNA findings made it clear that the criminal justice system had ordered the death of an innocent man. Ray Krone will join us in just a moment, then we will debate the issue with human rights advocate Bianca Jagger and former Justice Department official Victoria Toensing.

Mr. Novak, the United States of America tragically joins communist China, and the Taliban in Afghanistan -- the former Taliban government of Afghanistan -- as one of the four most practitioners of the death penalty. Isn't it barbaric, and shouldn't we stop it?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: That's guilt by association. I'll tell you why there's so much talk about the death penalty now. The governor of Illinois, who has been plagued scandals, reports of scandals since he took office four years ago, tried to save himself by coming out on the moratorium issue, and a lot of the bleeding hearts like you, Paul, fell for it hook line and sinker.

BEGALA: I think it is a noble thing when a Republican decides to look at the facts. It turns out that out of 25 people on death row, 13 were innocent. It's a coin toss.

NOVAK: Joining us now from Phoenix is Ray Krone and his attorney Christopher Pudd.

BEGALA: Mr. Krone thank you very much for joining us.

NOVAK: I go first. You always try to get in ahead of me.

Mr. Krone, everybody has a great deal of sympathy for you, the fact that you were unjustly put in prison, spent all that time, took all that time out of your life, but I don't quite see what that has to do with the question of whether the death penalty is valuable or not. Do you think that has anything to do with the need to execute men and women who are convicted of violent hideous crimes?

RAY KRONE, FREED FROM DEATH ROW: That's a moral value that has to be determined by the individual. I just know that there's something wrong with the system that has allowed so many innocent people to face the ultimate penalty. I hope it can be changed.

BEGALA: Mr. Krone, let me just ask you about yourself now and your life, now that you have your life back. Where do you go to get your good name back? Where do you go to get those ten years back? How does society and our government compensate you?

KRONE: Well, you can't get those ten years back. It's gone, I can't look back. I have to look ahead and hope that the things that I lost in those ten years will be forgotten and what's ahead of me is still have a chance to make for a better life and overcome the past.

NOVAK: Mr. Krone, do you think you have lost faith in the justice system in the United States after your experience?

KRONE: No, I won't say it's the justice system. I would say there's definitely some weak individuals and things that need to be addressed that -- as human beings errors are inherent. There's going to be some mistakes made, it's the way the mistakes are corrected, how soon it can be corrected and the actions taken after that.

BEGALA: In fact, one of the ways to try to correct those mistakes, Mr. Krone, there's legislation here in Washington that you may be familiar with that would require in death penalty cases, require DNA evidence, the kind that finally cleared you after ten years of your life was ruined --require competent attorneys at government expense for everybody accused of capital crimes -- might that law might have prevented you from being unjustly accused and sentenced to death?

KRONE: That's a good question. The DNA has advanced certainly a lot since my original evidence was tested. But certainly the DNA databases that they wanted to establish was a key element in allowing me my freedom and proving my innocence. I'm a strong supporter of the Innocence Project. I believe in what they're doing. I also believe there's other strong important measures like requiring the police to tape record all interviews.

BEGALA: Mr. Krone, I really want to thank you so much for joining us. You're a remarkable man to emerge from that experience with no bitterness. Ray Krone, thank you.

KRONE: Thank you.

BEGALA: Tonight we're going to continue our debate on the death penalty with former Justice Department attorney Victoria Toensing and joining us from London, human rights activist Bianca Jagger. Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Ms. Toensing, I would be outraged if it were only Ray Krone, but this is a stack of 100 cards with 100 names, it's just a graphic way to take a look at the 100 men that our society was about to execute who were in fact innocent. Every one of them got a trial under the Constitution, every one of them sentenced to death. What do we say to...

VICTORIA TOENSING, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ATTORNEY: Which one of them got executed, if you put those cards out, which ones?

BEGALA: In fact, Frank Lee Smith of Florida, who is number 91 on this list was -- did die on death row, because he died not of execution, but he died, his life was lost while he sat on death row. Does that make it somehow better or worse that these guys only lost 10 years?

TOENSING: The fact that not one of those people were executed, I think does make it better. It shows that the system is not broken, Paul.

BEGALA: Does it suggest it is foolproof?

TOENSING: What's foolproof?

BEGALA: Right, no human endeavor is. In Illinois the governor said only 13 out of 25 people on death row were in fact innocent. He said he wasn't going to trust a coin toss. Let me be Pollyanna and suggest that maybe even the government is 99.5 percent accurate, I don't think it is, but even if it is, that means out of the 3,711 men on death row, 19 of them we will kill and they are innocent. Is that a just system?

TOENSING: That's a fascinating mathematical extrapolation, but that's not how we work at it. I'm looking at the Justice Department as a lawyer, I'm looking at the justice system as a lawyer. There's a policy decision, it was made by this democracy that the majority of the people are for the death penalty. All of our past presidents, your president was...

BEGALA: Your president, too, Victoria.

TOENSING: No, your president Bill Clinton, the one that you really...


BEGALA: He was not your president? I'm trying to make a patriot out of you.

NOVAK: Much Bianca Jagger, is -- my information, the information that I found is that nobody in this country, in the United States has been unjustly executed who was innocent since the 19th century. Nobody in the 20th century, nobody so far in the 21st century. Do you have any evidence as an anti-capital punishment advocate to contradict that information?

BIANCA JAGGER, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Mr. Novak, we know now that 100 men were exonerated. How can we be certain that no one who was innocent has never been executed until today? How can we be certain that among the 3,711 men and women who are on death row, there is no one who is innocent?

I myself personally believe that I witnessed the execution of an innocent man in Texas, Gary Graham, who was convicted and was sentenced based solely on one person's testimony. And that is one of the issues that needs to be eliminated. The fact that no one should be executed based solely on the testimony of one person.

NOVAK: Well, you haven't given any evidence of any -- just a minute. You haven't given any evidence of anybody who has been executed who was innocent since the 19th century. Even I was not around then. But I want to put up on the screen the Gallup Poll that was taken just last year when supposedly all the sentiment by people such as you, stirring it up, was going against the death penalty.

In the United States death penalty for convicted murderers, yes, 68 percent, no, 26 percent. This is a democracy, unlike Mr. Begala, most Americans want the death penalty. You disagree with that?

JAGGER: But let me say something please. I think that Americans who want the death penalty do not want to see people who are innocent executed. And if the system is failing, if there is not due process that ensures that people are really given the death penalty when they are guilty, when we have an overwhelming case of 100 exonerated people, doesn't that make us take oppose to think is the system broken and do we need to review it?

BEGALA: Victoria, let me ask you one of the ways we can fix it, even for people who support the death penalty, which you do, I do not. It's something that Mr. Krone referred to, the Innocence Protection Act. Senator Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has proposed legislation that would require DNA testing in all capital cases, would require competent council for everyone accused and would require compensation among other things for people unjustly convicted. Is that a good piece of legislation?

JAGGER: Absolutely.

TOENSING: I am aware of the overall provisions. I haven't studied it like a lawyer should be able to study it before he or she says yes or no...


TOENSING: I am for the competent council, but I don't -- people should not misunderstand this, DNA is not the end all and be all. A bank robber, a guy walks into a bank and goes (UNINTELLIGIBLE) , you are dead, walks out, the teller is dead, DNA is not going to mean anything in that kind of a case usually.

BEGALA: Which is why the legislation does so many other things.

TOENSING: So it should not be required in all cases.

NOVAK: Bianca Jagger, nobody wants innocent...

JAGGER: Could I just...

NOVAK: Let me ask a question, then you can answer it. Nobody wants innocent people to be executed, but doesn't DNA make it more probable that no innocent people will be executed? Isn't DNA really an argument for capital punishment?

TOENSING: I mean if you want to use capital punishment in the United States, at least what we could do is to support the Innocent Protection Act, because it not only allowed DNA to be used, but it allowed as well to ensure that adequate legal representation is being given to those who are facing the death penalty. Because unfortunately, DNA will not answerer all the cases. So we need to ensure that legal, adequate legal representation is provided for all the people who are facing the death sentence.

NOVAK: OK, up next on CROSSFIRE, our guests remain in the death penalty "Crossfire." We examine Illinois governor George Ryan's moratorium on capital punishment. A principled move or a gimmick by a politician in deep trouble. Also ahead, our quote of the day. Here's a hint. It comes from a historical and powerful building.


NOVAK: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're debating the death penalty. Our guests, former justice department lawyer Victoria Toensing, and joining us from London, human rights activist Bianca Jagger.

BEGALA: Miss Toensing, I want to begin by playing a piece of videotape. We talked in the last segment about, my shared view that human beings are fallible, and therefore people are going to make mistakes, one of the reasons I oppose it. But some are more than fallible. Some are flat out embarrassing. I want to show you a piece of tape of our president back when he was the governor of Texas in March of 2000, the election, in a debate that CNN broadcast. Asked about this issue of the death penalty, specifically about lawyers who had slept through the case when their client's life was at stake. Take a look.


JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Press reports say that the idea of lawyers sleeping through death penalty cases is common enough that there's a phrase for that in Texas, it's one of those sleeping lawyers cases.


BEGALA: How can we trust public officials to carry out the most harsh punishment when they laugh about it?

TOENSING: Well, I think he was probably laughing at the reporter rather than laughing at the situation. That was back in the days when he didn't know how to debate well. He really knows how to do it very well these days, Paul.

BEGALA: In fact he was also interviewed by Tucker Carlson, who is a member of our CNN team and asked about the Carla Fay Tucker case. And there too he laughed and in fact mocked Mrs. Tucker, according to Tucker Carlson's report, said he mocked Mrs. Tucker, and said "please don't kill me." Is that the kind of people who are making these life and death decisions?

TOENSING: I didn't see him say that. It seems to me like he's a pretty serious president and he's taking the lives of all of us in this country pretty seriously. So I can't get hung up on that little three-second snippet that you're going to pull out.

BEGALA: You are going to trust your lives to these politicians who make these jokes up?

NOVAK: Paul, I would be terribly disappoint if you got through one of these programs without taking a cheap shot at the president of the United States.

BEGALA: He is laughing about executing people.

NOVAK: You didn't disappoint me. You took another cheap shot...

BEGALA: If he laughs about executing the innocent it is not a cheap shot.

NOVAK: That is beneath you. Why don't you get off his back and not drag up stuff two years old. This subject is death penalty, it's not George W. Bush. You may not realize that.

BEGALA: George W. Bush just laughed about executing an innocent person, Bob.

NOVAK: You made your point...

BEGALA: Thank you.

NOVAK: Which is not a very good one.


NOVAK: Bianca Jagger, everybody is talking about the George Ryan Commission. I don't know if you know about Governor Ryan, he's a nice man. I hope he doesn't go to prison.

JAGGER: Indeed I do.

NOVAK: He's also a favorite of Fidel Castro, so you probably think he's pretty good on that score. But his commission has said that the death penalty should be eliminated for contract killers, for drive-by shooters, for people who kill children and elderly people. The only way to get the death penalty is if you kill a cop. Does that make any sense to you?

JAGGER: I think he was very -- first of all, I want to go back to your references to me and Fidel Castro, that was a cheap shot. But what I want to say is that he has taken a very gracious stand to look into the death penalty how it's been applied in Illinois. Certain people were exonerated in Illinois until then, and I think that trying to cut down the issues that can make it more possible for innocent people to be condemned is a good step. I think we should not only look into the death penalty in Illinois, but we should look into the death penalty in the 38 states that are applying the death penalty today.

NOVAK: Miss Jagger, let's be really honest, because this is about the 200th death penalty show I've done on CROSSFIRE, and they always come up with some reason it's unjust, or it's racist, but you're just against the death penalty. All this is window dressing, isn't it? Whether there is people who are innocent, you don't even want the guilty to be executed, do you, just to be honest about it?

JAGGER: Of course I am. I have never pretended otherwise. I oppose the death penalty. In Europe the death penalty has been avoided for the last 20 years.

TOENSING: But Europe is certainly no example -- in World War I, World War II, the holocaust. I will find my civility here in the United States, thank you, I'm not going to find it in Europe.

BEGALA: So you're comfortable with the United States being allied with Communist China. The only western democracy left that has the death penalty besides America is Turkey, and it is about to abolish it. Are you happy that America stands alone among western democracies with the death penalty?

TOENSING: Yes, and it stands alone in protecting the world, too, Paul.

BEGALA: No, we don't. We are over there with Tony Blair right now...


BEGALA: I want to thank very much Bianca Jagger for graciously joining us from over seas and Victoria Toensing also...

TOENSING: Graciously also.

BEGALA: Equally gracious here in Washington D.C.

JAGGER: Thank you very much. Coming up next, why Bob Dole may be running against Bill Clinton today -- not today, but soon. Details in the CROSSFIRE News Alert tonight. Also, our quote of the day. Here's another hint. An official in this house is calling members of the Grand Old Party a bunch of wimps. It's not my house. We'll be back in a minute.


NOVAK: Welcome back. Now it's time for a look at those unusual and interesting stories that you might not find anywhere but in our "CROSSFIRE News Alert." Maybe some bureaucrats stay in boring jobs for reasons other than the absence of heavy lifting, at least in the state of Washington's agency that oversees workers' compensation plans.

Investigators have uncovered hundreds of off-color e-mails by the government workers and off-color is putting it mildly. They contain raunchy jokes, sexual overtures, plans for an orgy, and references to light bondage, role playing, making and viewing pornographic videos and seeking partners for sex. The sex-happy bureaucrats said they didn't know they were doing anything wrong, but six of them have been fired so far and 14 more could get the pink slip soon.

BEGALA: Those pink slips sound a little racy themselves. Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole says he's looking forward to a rematch against his 1996 presidential campaign rival Bill Clinton. In a speech this weekend Dole noted that Clinton's wife Hillary is a senator from New York and that Dole's wife Liddy is running for the Senate in North Carolina.

Dole pointed out that if Elizabeth wins, quote, "I'm going to run for president of the Senate's spouse club, and this time I'm going to beat him." Dole also joked about his television endorsement for the prescription drug Viagra and for Pepsi saying, I didn't bring any samples, it's hard to carry Pepsi's around in your pockets.

I love the Bobster.

NOVAK: In Norfolk, Virginia, a sixth grader named Jesse Doyle was sent home because he came to school with his hair died blue. Did his mother wash the blue right out of Jesse's hair? No sirry. She called the American Civil Liberties Union, and the good old ACLU protested that Jessie's suspension violated the U.S. Constitution.

Sure, you remember the federalist papers where James Madison called for a more perfect union where kooky kids and their oddball mothers could color their hair all shades of the rainbow? BEGALA: Well, of course the founding fathers had some funky hair going too, Bob.

Well, the big moment is here, the CROSSFIRE Quote of the Day. It comes from an aide to President Bush. He or she is quoted in "U.S. News And World Report" admonishing House Republicans for whining about two CROSSFIRE hosts, yours truly and James Carville.

In the "Quote of the Day" the Bush official says we're looking like a bunch of wimps with all this stuff about refusing to go on CROSSFIRE.

Save this tape. This may be the only time I say this, I agree with that Bush Administration on this one.

When CROSSFIRE returns, the latest on a deadly tornado in the CNN news alert. And also, is it time for the United States to get rid of Saddam Hussein? And how many American troops might it take to do the job? Iraq is back in the news and back in the CROSSFIRE.


NOVAK: How come you repeat, Paul, what the North Korean communist spokesman said in inviting President Clinton. He said "the plan of the dear leader, Kim Jong Il, is that Mr. Clinton should end the rhetoric." Isn't is interesting that one of the worst dictators in the world thinks he can do business with Bill Clinton and wants him to come over because he's afraid of George W. Bush?

BEGALA: What's a lot more interesting is that one of the legendary reporters in Washington didn't do his homework. All you had to do was call the former president's office, Bob, as I did this afternoon and asked them. He has not received any such invitation and he will not go, his spokesman told me, unless the president of the United States, George W. Bush, blesses the trip. I can't believe you're a dupe for the communists of North Korea, Bob. I never thought I'd live to see the day.

NOVAK: I'll tell you, when it comes to the Clinton office, and I've been lied to so much by them and the Pyongyang regime, I believe them that they invited him. But you didn't answer the question. Isn't it interesting they want him to come? I hope he won't come. I think it would be very unpatriotic for him to go. But isn't that interesting they want Bill Clinton? They think they can do him in.

BEGALA: Did you see when President Bush went to South Korea, and the South Koreans -- these are the free Koreans who believe in democracy the way we do -- stood in the streets to boo him. So low is his esteem, so incompetent has his handling been of the Korean tension between North and South Korea that the free Koreans, our allies in the south, stood in the streets to boo him. So if you ask the South Koreans, they would certainly want Clinton to come back.

NOVAK: Probably a bunch of stooges that you and Carville set up there.

BEGALA: Nonsense. The stooges are people that believe the communists in North Korea.

NOVAK: OK. Coming up later on CROSSFIRE, "Round Six." I go head to head with Mr. Begala on the Saudi A-blitz here in the U.S.

And straight ahead, would President Bush be making a serious mistake by invading Iraq?


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, is a thorn in the side of the United States ever since the Gulf War. Well, is it time for the Bush administration to finally get rid of the man? The "New York Times" reports President Bush has decided that the Iraqi opposition can't do the job alone, and the focus now is on a huge United States invasion, perhaps as early as next year. According to the "Times", officials say the plans require a heavy air campaign and a land assault with a large number of troops ranging from a minimum of 70,000 to at least 100,000, one Army corps and a reinforced corps, all the way up to 250,000 troops, still half the numbers that were used in the Gulf War. The administration officials dismissed the report, saying that the president had not specifically approved any particular war plan. And Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz had this to say.


TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: George Bush is the president of the United States. He can make his decisions in his own country. But he doesn't have the right and he doesn't have the capability to change anything outside his country, and especially in this courageous country, Iraq.


BEGALA: Let's bring our guests in the CROSSFIRE on this issue. Please welcome Ken Adelman, former director of the U.S. Arms Control Disarmament Agency under President Ronald Reagan.

Thank you very much.


NOVAK: Ken Adelman, you have written, you've been quoted as saying that the U.S. military operation against Saddam Hussein would be a cakewalk. About a month ago, I asked General Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, whether it would be a cakewalk, as Ken Adelman says, and this is what he said. Let's listen to him.


GENERAL RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We've seen how tough it's been in Afghanistan. Tragically, we've lost some lives. And that was a country that did not have an organized military, per se. The situation -- you just can't overlay Afghanistan, that template onto Iraq. And I would never refer to it as a cakewalk. (END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Mr. Adelman, do you think your judgment is better than the four-star general who is the senior military officer in the United States?

ADELMAN: I think his position is such to be overly cautious, but I think it will be a cakewalk.

NOVAK: Well, how can you put your judgment above that -- because I have talked to many of the uniformed officers there besides General Myers. They say it will take four divisions, three Army divisions, one Marine division to be put in there. It's not anything we can do like the Afghanistan. What is your secret information that you know better than they do?

ADELMAN: No, I think it will be easier than Afghanistan. Let me give you four reasons real quick. No. 1, it was a cakewalk the first time. I mean, the United States really mopped up Iraq in amazing -- in 100 hours. We didn't lose one tank during the entire, you know, activity during the Gulf War.

No. 2, we are so much stronger than we were before. Before, we had 20 percent smart bombs and 80 percent dumb bombs. Now we have 80 percent smart bombs. We have capabilities that we could not believe in 1991, 11 years ago.

No. 3, they are so much weaker than they were in 1991. Their army is one-third the size without any upgrades, without any mass deployments, without any training.

And No. 4, this time we're playing for keeps. This time we're going to go to change the regime, not to injure the Iraqis at all, but to liberate Iraq.

NOVAK: Can you explain to me why the military officers tell me that they are praying, many of them, that Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Powell, can make some kind of a diplomatic arrangement where we don't have to go to war?

ADELMAN: There's no kind of a diplomatic arrangement.

NOVAK: Inspectors, bringing in inspectors.

ADELMAN: Inspectors have found nothing. There's a wonderful book called "Saddam's Bombmaker" Khidir Haziz (ph) that says that in the 20 years he was in charge of the weapons of mass destruction of Iraq, the inspectors never found anything significant.

Why? It's quite simple, Bob. They never found anything significant because it is not what we'd call a career-enhancing move for an Iraqi civil servant to say, come here guys, here's a violation. You know, they're dead, their family is dead, their village is wiped out. With Saddam Hussein, no one shows a violation. So they find nothing. I hope the inspectors don't go in there. That's for sure. BEGALA: And I have a slightly different take. I actually agree with you that it would be a cakewalk. But that's why I don't think we should invade right now. Here's why. They are weaker. At least a third the strength than they had 10 years ago. We are manifestly stronger, the Clinton defense buildup. Certainly, President Clinton has given us a stronger military than what we had a decade ago.

But my problem is not the cakewalk issue, not that it would be too difficult for our armed forces, because nothing is. It's the distraction issue. Which is a clear and more present danger to America today, al Qaeda terrorists or Saddam Hussein's Iraq?

ADELMAN: Saddam Hussein.

BEGALA: Really? Tell me why. I totally disagree. I want to hear your case.

ADELMAN: No, it's quite simple. I'll tell you why. Because al Qaeda is in a bunch of caves and they're on the run right now. They do not have the apparatus of a government. What does a government have that a terrorist organization doesn't have? Tens of billions of dollars in government receipts; laboratories, 50 or so laboratories around Iraq working on weapons of mass destruction, big labs, a lot of money going in.

No. 3, diplomatic ability to buy weapons of mass destruction or parts thereof from the Europeans, diplomatic pouch to send them back here, an army of, you know, a million or something like that, diplomats overseas who are doing intelligence. There is a tremendous kind of ability that the president of Iraq has that a terrorist leader does not have.

BEGALA: And yet, what he could...

ADELMAN: Let me just finish. And what could he do with that? He's not going to use it directly against the United States. He is going to give it to somebody like al Qaeda. He's going to give it to some terrorist organization. The Brookings Institution tomorrow is issuing a report saying that in a terrorist attack against the United States, using biological weapons would kill a million Americans.

BEGALA: So why not go directly after the terrorists? Here is my concern and it is a grave one. Al Qaeda is not simply hiding in caves in Afghanistan. As you well know, they're in 60 countries around the world. Very little do I praise George W. Bush on. On this, he has been wonderful in trying to sound the alarm to Americans on what al Qaeda is really like.

They are in America. They are in France. They are in Spain. They are in Germany. They are in the Arab world and they are in the Asian Muslim world. If we attack Iraq, all of our friends and even not so friendly governments we need to go after al Qaeda have told us they will pull back, and it will cripple our ability to go into all of those countries around the world and find these terrorists and kill them. ADELMAN: But, Paul, if you believe that going after Iraq and changing the regime there would be a cakewalk, it is certainly easier to do than to go around and getting al Qaeda in 60 countries.

BEGALA: We have to get al Qaeda. We still have...

NOVAK: No, we don't...


BEGALA: If we had Thomas Jefferson in charge of Iraq tomorrow, we would still need to hunt down al Qaeda and eliminate them from (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ADELMAN: Oh, I agree. You go after that. But the weapons of mass destruction...

BEGALA: He had 747s.

ADELMAN: The weapons of mass destruction, which are the ultimate terrorist weapons, can only be made in a state apparatus, Paul. They cannot be made by the 60 al Qaeda groups around. And so you have to go to the source. You have to go to the place where they are doing the research, hellbent to get weapons of mass destruction against us and then hand them off. That's the key.

NOVAK: Mr. Adelman, I'm sure I talk to the same people you talk to, and I'm sure that they tell you the truth, and that is that our intelligence have found no connection, no connection whatever between Iraq and the September 11 terrorist attacks.

ADELMAN: Yes, but I think that's wrong, too, Bob.

NOVAK: You think the U.S. intelligence is wrong?

ADELMAN: I think that conclusion is wrong, yes.

NOVAK: So you know better than the U.S. intelligence, you know better than the U.S. military?

ADELMAN: I'm just saying I think that conclusion is wrong, Bob.

BEGALA: Based on what evidence?

ADELMAN: I'll tell you, based on simple evidence. Mohammed Atta, the ringmaster of September 11...

NOVAK: Oh, that's such a frail piece of...

ADELMAN: Would you let me finish?

NOVAK: I've heard it a million times, that he met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague.

ADELMAN: Let me give you all the reasons, Bob. Let me give you all the reasons. No. 1, he went 7,000 miles to meet with one of the leaders of the Iraqi intelligence in Prague. Now, they could have been talking about their summer vacations. They could've been talking about their kids...

NOVAK: That's so thin.

ADELMAN: ...and then they came right back. This happened right before -- a few months before September 11. Point No. 2, Bob -- point No. 2, Bob...


BEGALA: ... based on a quarter of a million Americans?

ADELMAN: Let me finish. Point No. 2, Bob and Paul, is that in Iraq are terrorist camps that are training right now on Boeing fuselages and Boeing aircraft, OK? That is point No. 2. Point No. 3 is I don't think that there is any other country whose leader after September 11 praised it as a worthwhile, wonderful activity...

NOVAK: Oh, you haven't made the connection because I guarantee you, U.S. intelligence -- there's one other thing. Vice President Dick Cheney, who I greatly admire, went on a trip to try to drum up U.S. support, rear up support in the Arab world for an attack on Iraq. He got zero, in particular, typical was what King Abdullah II of Jordan said. Let's put it up on the screen.

He said, "to attack Baghdad now would be a disaster. I have told him -- meaning Vice President Cheney -- that the Middle East cannot support two wars at the same time, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and an American intervention against Iraq." In other words, Dick Cheney came back from this trip saying we would have zero support from the Arab world. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ADELMAN: That doesn't bother me at all, Bob. We were attacked on September 11. We would be attacked by weapons of mass destruction in the future. Jordan would not be attacked by weapons of mass destruction in the future. The obligation of the American government is to protect America. And when the Brookings Institution issues its report tomorrow that there could be a million deaths from biological attack, and we know that Saddam Hussein has been working on biological weapons for the last seven, eight years, there could be 100,000 deaths from a nuclear or nuclear materials attack. I don't want to be in a position later on -- I don't want to be in a position...


NOVAK: I want to follow that up.

ADELMAN: I don't want to be in a position later on to say, well, we should have done it, but you know what? The Jordanians didn't want us to. And, oh, isn't it too bad that the Jordanians -- when the Jordanian minister of youth decided to change his mind, maybe we can protect America. Come on, Bob.

(CROSSTALK) NOVAK: Wait a minute. You have indicated some of the differences between now and 1991. One of the differences is that we had a big coalition. You don't think -- you and the other superhawks don't think a coalition is important, but I asked the chairman of the House international relations committee...

ADELMAN: You're talking to all these people, Bob.

NOVAK: I know, I don't just sit around and ruminate as you do. And I asked Henry...

ADELMAN: I know what you go through, Paul. And this was a former friend.

NOVAK: If I could speak while you're interrupting, Henry Hyde, the chairman of the House international relations committee, I asked about this. And this is what he said.


REP. HENRY HYDE (R), ILLINOIS: Our job is to try and build coalitions over there, get the support of the other countries so that we're not going to have to go it alone unilaterally against Iraq.


NOVAK: You'd rather go it alone?

ADELMAN: No, I don't think -- we will go it alone. I think the British will be with us. I think the Kuwaitis...


ADELMAN: That's not true. I think the Kuwaitis will be with us. I think the Turks will be with us.


And I am interested in protecting America, Bob. I am not interested in the Jordanians' view on American security.

NOVAK: OK, you're an isolationist then.

Coming up a little later, the chance of a lifetime to fire back at us.

And "Round Six." I duke it out with Begala over the Saudis. Do they have any business trying to sway American public opinion? Thank you very much, Ken Adelman.


BEGALA: Welcome back. The time is here, "Round Six." No guests, no gloves, just Bob Novak and me going at it.

Bob, from the House of Saud in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia comes news that $10 million of Saudi money is going to hit the American airwaves to persuade the United States that the kingdom is just a lovely place and our good friends. Let's take a look at part of one of the ads.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Read the editorials, tune into Sunday morning news shows or listen to talk radio if you want opinions. Listen to America's leaders if you want the facts.


BEGALA: What they don't mention, of course, is the anti- American, anti-Israel hatred they spew out of the madrasas, the religious schools that they fund, or the comments from their own ambassador to Great Britain, who called the White House a place of darkness, or the comments in the paper the past few days that said if we have to, we'll ally ourselves with Khadafy or with Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, if we have to. We'll do whatever it takes. Somehow, those kind of comments didn't make it in their expensive ads.

NOVAK: Let me try to explain this to you. The Crown Prince Abdullah was down at the ranch at Crawford, Texas with the president, had a very good meeting. They have a very promising peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. And, naturally, there's so much venom spewed by people like you, by the spokesman for the Israeli lobby, that they have to buy advertising to get their two cents in when Tom Lantos, the ranking Democratic on the House international relations committee, calls Saudi Arabia, one of our best friends in the Middle East, a medieval theocracy and dictatorship.

BEGALA: That's probably just an insult to medieval theocracies and dictatorships. I love Tom Lantos. I'd be honored to be associated with a heroic American congressman...

NOVAK: I bet you would.

BEGALA: ... like Tom Lantos. The simple fact is I think they should -- one thing I will say, a lot of cable networks are saying they won't run the ads. And I think that's wrong. I think we should teach the Saudi Arabians the difference between freedom, which we have here in America, and Saudi Arabia, where there's no freedom, no democracy, no rights to women.

NOVAK: Have you ever been to Saudi Arabia?

BEGALA: No, I haven't. They would probably chop my hands off just for speaking.

NOVAK: You ought to go there and you'll find out what it's really like. But you're misinformed on that as you are on most things.

BEGALA: You think they have democracy?

NOVAK: When we come back, your chance to fire back at us. We'll be back in a moment.

ANNOUNCER: If you'd like to fire back at CROSSFIRE, e-mail us at Make sure to include your name and hometown.


NOVAK: Welcome back. It's time for "Fireback", when the viewers and the audience get to fire back at us. First, the e-mails.

An e-mail from a very intelligent woman named Linda Craven of Spring Hill, Florida: "Thanks to Mr. Paul Begala, I am no longer a registered Democrat. After the noise he made after the 2000 election, I changed my party and re-registered. I voted for my first Republican in 2000. The best thing I ever did for myself and my country. I did not like the frat boys of the Clinton days." Paul, you're doing wonders for the Republican party.

BEGALA: Well, Linda Craven, I hate to disappoint you, but I was not in a fraternity, nor was Bill Clinton. George W. Bush was the president of the Deke (ph) house, which I guess was the "Animal House" of Yale.

Here's our next one. Casey Miller of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Now, here's an intelligence viewer: "Just love the new CROSSFIRE format, but someone please get some weights in to put in the conservative co-host suits. Carville and Begala just blow them away every evening with their facts, point by point. CNN is the station to watch for political discourse from the right and finally from the left."

NOVAK: Is that your cousin?

BEGALA: That's my cousin, Casey. Thank you.

NOVAK: OK, a question from the audience.

NOLAN: Thank you. My name is Nolan Dala (ph). I'm from Crystal City, Virginia. My question is for Mr. Novak. Mr. Novak, you have taken what I believe to be a very courageous stand on the Middle East, advocating a more balanced approach towards the Palestinians. I wonder if this position that you've taken has hurt you with fellow conservatives?

NOVAK: Well, with some, but I am not somebody who is trying to follow a party line or an ideological line and I do what I think is right. And I've taken that same position on the Middle East for over 35 years. And if you don't like it, it's tough.

BEGALA: Yes, sir. Your question.

TONY: Yes, this is for Mr. Begala. I'm Tony Hughes from Pestos (ph), Missouri. Given that Saddam Hussein has failed to live up to the agreements he made in Desert Storm, and as Mr. Adelman pointed out, has continued to support weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, shouldn't we go in and put a more responsible government in? BEGALA: I think all of those critiques are right. But I think if we went in now, it would grossly limit our ability to go after al Qaeda. We just have different enemies at different times. Saddam Hussein is clearly an enemy, and I don't discount that at all. But it will be infinitely more difficult to go into all the countries where al Qaeda exists if we have a war that gives all of those countries an excuse to turn away from America.

NOVAK: And, you know, we can't as the United States just decide that we're going to remove all the bad guys in the world. If we did, we'd have to remove that little tyrant in Haiti that President Clinton installed.

BEGALA: From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.


After Saddam?>



Back to the top