What Should U.S. Government Do With al Muhajir?; 'Washington Post' Discloses Existence of GOP's List of Enemies
Aired June 10, 2002 - 19:00 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.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE tonight.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a man detained who is a threat to the country.
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ANNOUNCER: What do you do with a dirty bum who wants to set off a dirty bomb?
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JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The military may detain a United States citizen who has joined the enemy.
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ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the fallout from the rights of the accused to the wrongs a dirty bomb would cause.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they spread the material by foot and hand.
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ANNOUNCER: Plus, what some people are calling the GOP's new enemies' list. Didn't they learn anything from Watergate?
Ahead on CROSSFIRE.
From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Good evening a welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight the Republicans are keeping track of who's a friend and who isn't, and the Democrats are feeling unfriendlier than ever. But first, the fallout from the alleged plot to set off a radioactive dirty bomb perhaps here in Washington. Officials say the plot was only in the discussion stage, but a U.S. citizen has been in detention since May 8. Jose Padilla, also known as Abdullah Al Muhajir, was picked up at Chicago's O'Hare Airport as he flew in from Pakistan. He's now being held at a Naval brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Attorney General John Ashcroft says Padilla was acting as an al Qaeda operative and doesn't get the same rights as run-of-the- mill accused criminals.
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ASHCROFT: We have acted with legal authority both under the laws of war and clear Supreme Court precedent, which establishes that the military may detain a United States citizen who has joined the enemy and who has entered our country to carry out hostile acts.
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CARLSON: So how do you treat alleged dirty bombers? In the CROSSFIRE tonight to tell us is Julian Epstein, who is the former chief democratic counsel to the House Judiciary Committee and former Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Gentlemen, thank you for joining us on a very important topic. George, let me just begin -- it seems to me the most striking thing is the news today of course of about a dirty bomb. We're going to have an intelligence and military expert in a minute to talk to us about what that is and what it could mean to us.
So I want to get to you all on the legalities of it. We're now apparently going try this man outside of the traditional constitutional American system of justice, the civilian courts and instead of in military system. Why does Bush and -- do -- Bush and Ashcroft have so little faith in the traditional American system of justice?
GEORGE TERWILLIGER, FMR. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, first of all, Paul, I haven't heard anybody say that he's going to be tried outside of the system. He's being detained outside the criminal justice system for the -- for the time being.
BEGALA: What's the need behind that?
TERWILLIGER: Well, I don't know. I wasn't there and didn't make the decision, but my guess would be that the need has to do with preserving sources and methods by which the information was obtained, which led to his detention in the first place.
Look, we're in a war here, and the fact of the matter is that the criminal justice system is designed at the soonest, earliest opportunities to make information about the government's investigation and what's in its files available to a defendant and his lawyer. That may be counter intuitive in this situation where what we're doing is interdicting an ongoing plot to set off a dirty bomb.
BEGALA: I -- this is not the first alleged terrorist that we've come across. I agree we're in a war. I agree we have to do what we have to do to win that war and if this guy is guilty of what he's done, I'm glad we've got him, OK, and salute law enforcement who found him. Let me give you a few examples of real terrorists already tried and convicted in the free American system of courts without compromising any of our sources and methods. Take a look up here.
First, we all remember Sheikh Abdel Omar -- Omar Abdel-Rahman. He was one of the masterminds in New York City -- of a plot to try to blow up landmarks in New York City. Ramzi Yousef, who was -- and Eyad Ismoil who were convicted of the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
Mir Aimal Kasi shot up and murdered many people out in front of the CIA headquarters. He was a Pakistani-born terrorist, and here's Zacarias Moussaoui, not yet convicted, not convicted at all but being tried in the civilian courts.
Why should these men, none of whom are American citizens, have more rights than the guy who today we shipped over to the military system?
TERWILLIGER: Well, I'm not sure they should. But that's not the question. The question isn't who should have the most rights. The rights that really belong at the forefront of our discussion here are the rights of the American people to be safe from terrorists. We tried to use the criminal justice system as a counter terrorism weapon and it still has a place, but in the war that we're in now, and the threat that we face, the criminal justice system doesn't supply with us enough tools to get the job done.
CARLSON: Now, Julian Epstein, the federal government stops a plot to set off a nuclear device in an American city and the headline here according to you and many liberals is the terrorist has had his rights violated because he's in a military jail rather than a county jail. Aren't you missing something?
JULIAN EPSTEIN, FMR. COUNSEL HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: You make things up Tucker. Nobody said that.
EPSTEIN: I never said that ...
CARLSON: That's your position.
EPSTEIN: I haven't heard -- I mean you know your favorite thing is to create straw men and then to have us knock them down. Nobody is saying that. I think, first of all, I would second what Paul said. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the much criticized FBI and the Justice Department, if in fact it's true, they have intercepted a plot like this and if it is true, I hope that the people involved, including this dirty bomber, has the full weight of the law exerted on him and on the people that are involved in this.
I think the problem that we're seeing right now is there appears to be in the same way there was, at least, the apparent disorganization in the administration before 9/11, there seems to be some apparent disorganization on the legal strategy. On the one hand, we see John Walker Lindh and Moussaoui being tried in a civilian court.
Now it looks like -- we don't know (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but it looks like they're going to bring this military bomber to a military tribunal. The problem with that -- the problem with this punitive schizophrenia is that this sets up all kinds of legal challenges for the defense. And the fact that the administration doesn't seem to have its act together in terms of what its legal approach is going to be is only going to help the ...
EPSTEIN: Just a second ...
EPSTEIN: No we don't, but there's a lot of indication because he's being held under the military -- under the Department of Defense right now, that's a pretty good indicator ...
EPSTEIN: ... that we're going to go to the military ...
CARLSON: But isn't -- doesn't it make just as much sense ...
EPSTEIN: There's no problem with doing it. I'm not objecting to it.
EPSTEIN: What I'm objecting to is ...
CARLSON: Julian, let me ask this question. Is it possible that he's being held in a military brig because he needs to be debriefed, because this plot, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) which we don't know, may be ongoing and they may need to get that information ...
CARLSON: ... from him without releasing it to the public.
EPSTEIN: No, I think the reason that he's being held and it's appropriate. There's no reason that he shouldn't be held in military authorities because there now seems to be after a month of questioning some indication that he is actually involved in terrorism, in which case that makes him an unlawful combatant. There's no reason at that point that they ought not to go to the military system.
The problem, however is in the same way that this administration has refused to work with the Congress in creating what it now acknowledges is a much needed Department of Homeland Security, is refused to work with the Congress in creating the proper authorization for military tribunals which, again, the ability -- this blind faith to unilateralism, I think, is only going to help the defense because as we know ...
BEGALA: ... let me -- let me press a point, though. I believe the onus should be on Bush and Ashcroft to abandon our system of justice. I just gave you an example of four cases where terrorists were caught, tried and convicted. You can add the case of Timothy McVeigh where he was convicted and executed or Robert Hanssen, the traitorous spy, when has our system ever failed us to necessitate for the first time in 60 years abandoning it?
TERWILLIGER: Well, it's not a question of abandoning it, Paul. It's a question of utilizing whichever tools are most appropriate to the tasks that are before us now. And what happened on 9/11 was different than what happened before or at least it became apparent that there was a difference in the type of threat that we faced from some of these other incidents that occurred in the past was smaller, less organized and less lethal, frankly.
Now after September 11, we're in a completely different set of circumstances where, as Julian said, use of military authority to parry a threat to the people of the United States on our homeland may be necessary and appropriate.
BEGALA: But there's no case -- there's no case you can cite me where our courts let us down and leaked out sensitive information that could damage our ...
TERWILLIGER: Well, I'm not -- I'm not sure about that. We have had to compromise a lot of things through the criminal justice process, but the criminal justice process will have a place in all of this. It's just not the entire answer. The important thing is that what's happened here is that we have come together as a people to recognize that we have to do some things differently and we are doing them differently.
And, yes, do we have to trust our government to make some decent decisions? We do. Rather, I disagree with Julian in the sense that the administration and Congress are intention about homeland security. In fact, the administration adopted Senator Lieberman's idea.
(CROSSTALK) EPSTEIN: The point is this, let's just go back to George's point for a second. The point is this, Paul is correct that there is ample precedent for using the civilian court to convict terrorists without compromising national security. And there is umpteen examples that Paul pointed to. There's about ...
EPSTEIN: That's correct.
CARLSON: ... military tribunals even for citizens ...
EPSTEIN: That's correct and ...
CARLSON: What's wrong with this? I -- you haven't explained what's wrong with this.
EPSTEIN: Let me explain to you, in 1942 in the Quirin case, which is the last authoritative ruling we've had from the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court said because the Congress by virtue of the declaration of war had authorized these tribunals that they were legitimate. The court said if Congress had not authorized it, it would be unclear whether the tribunals would be legitimate.
So the point is this, in the same way that I think that the administration is resisting working in a cooperative way with the Congress on the Department of Homeland Security up until last week, it is resisting ...
EPSTEIN: It is resisting.
EPSTEIN: Up until last week Tucker ...
CARLSON: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) talking point ...
EPSTEIN: Tucker, listen to what I'm talking about.
CARLSON: ... this is national security.
BEGALA: Julian, I'm sorry to have to cut you off after Tucker's last retort, but I have to. Our producers are telling us we're out of time. Thank George Terwilliger, a former ...
TERWILLIGER: Thank you.
BEGALA: ... Justice Department official. Julian Epstein, my pal from Capitol Hill, a Democratic attorney.
And next, we're going to answer the question, what exactly is a dirty bomb and how bad are the risks?
And later, the Republicans pick a novel way to celebrate Monday's 30th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. The enemies' list is back and in our CROSSFIRE news alert, George W. Bush's imaginary conversation with the voters, complete with an imaginary campaign promise.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Still to come, Florida's coast has something that California wants but can't get and it's not Gloria Estefan.
But first, we're going to talk about what exactly a dirty bomb is and what is isn't. It is not a nuclear explosion with a big fire ball and a mushroom cloud. A dirty bomb is a plain old explosive that spreads radioactive material.
It does not have to be weapons grade. Things like spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors, even low-level nuclear waste that are found here in the United States could potentially become the tools of terrorists, not to mention tons of radioactive materials in other parts of the world that could potentially be smuggled into the United States.
To help us sort through dirty bomb 101 is retired Air Force Colonel Randy Larsen. He is the director of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security.
Colonel, thank you for joining us ...
CARLSON: Colonel Larsen, if a terrorist were to surround, say, two sticks of dynamite with some low level radioactive material and set it off here in Washington, what would happen?
COL. RANDY LARSEN, RET., U.S. AIR FORCE: OK, three things that we need to understand about what would happen. First of all, it's easy to do like you just said, that's one of the things we need to understand. It is easy. It's going to happen some day. There would be an explosion. We did an exercise here a couple of months ago with the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of government, 17 local governments in this area.
They responded to the explosion in front of the Air and Space Museum. It was about an hour and a half later until they realized it was radiological because that's not something they look for and that's a big lesson learned for state and local folks.
If there is a car bomb or a truck bomb, you should be looking for radiological dispersal device. That's part of the 21st century now. What happened there was that, you know, most of the people that would be killed or injured are from the explosion, not from the radiological dispersal device.
If you standing there smoking a cigarette half a mile away, it would be far more dangerous to your health smoking the cigarette than the radiological part. We understand that, that there could be psychological damage. A lot of people say there'll be more heart attacks than there will be anyone hurt from the radiological part.
The other part is, is that it's going to be an economic problem to clean it up. Now the good news is we need to understand is, is that of all the weapons we're concerned about in the 21st century, nuke, radiological, biological, chemical, this is the most likely but it's the one America is best prepared for because we've had 50 years to prepare for it.
The Department of Energy has been worrying about this for a long time. We have some of the leading scientists in the country that would be on airplanes in less than an hour in route to wherever the explosion was. And so in preventing it, in responding to it and cleaning up, we are better prepared for this than any other event we're likely to expect from international terrorism.
BEGALA: Well, colonel, let me come back to preventing it. How can law enforcement -- today we arrested -- announced that we arrested allegedly a man who was plotting this. What if, God forbid, someone were actually trying to smuggle one in. What powers of detection do we have to try to stop this?
LARSEN: Like I said, we are better prepared to prevent this than any other. One of the things that's very effective right now is we have thousands of Americans working in airports, working in seaports at all of our border crossings, not just in the United States, but all around the world carrying devices that look just like this.
A common pager is what it looks like. But if you drive by in a truck, a car, carry a suitcase or briefcase by this, it not only detects the gamma rays coming out of the cesium 137 or the cobalt 60, it sends a signal off to a satellite and we know where you are and it's detected.
So this is so much easier to detect radiological than like biological weapons like we did in the dark winter exercise. You can't detect that. There is no device to detect that if they smuggle that in.
BEGALA: That was an exercise of smallpox.
LARSEN: Smallpox, if you had an attack in the United States, that's a big challenge we have. This one, though, we're much better prepared for, and I don't lose a lot of sleep over this. The economic damage, yes, there would be some. But if you look at a significantly larger one than you were talking about, even an event here in Washington, D.C..
The -- Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston a few years ago or Hurricane Andrew in Miami would cause far more economic disaster to an area than a radiological dispersal device. It's not something to panic about. Like I say, more people will die from heart attacks from worrying about it. You would just need to leave the area. And even if you were exposed to it for a few hours, that's not a problem. We're talking long-term exposure that could cause cancer 20 or 30 years down the road. It's not something to panic about.
CARLSON: Well here's a quote, sort of an amazing quote from a man named Fritz Stein Hoslow (ph), who's a nuclear physicist in San Francisco.
He says within the United States you're losing track of radioactive material literally every other day -- every other day and controls here are among the highest in the world. It's a picture of a completely unregulated traffic or trade in nuclear material. Is that accurate?
LARSEN: Absolutely, and that's why I say these devices are very important. It's going to happen here. That's why we need to be prepared to respond. I said the federal government is very well prepared to respond. I'm not sure that state and local are as prepared as they need to be, and we need to spend some money working on it and have some more exercises.
But it's out there, believe me. It's available. I don't have a technical degree, I can't make a biological weapon. I can't make a nuclear bomb. I probably can't even go make seran (ph) gas. I can make a radiological dispersal device and so could you. That's why we have to worry about it.
BEGALA: What kind of radioactive devices? What, for example, simply low-level waste, which you could find at a hospital or even a dentist office, be more likely -- would it be more high level waste like a nuclear reactor or something smuggled in
LARSEN: Well ...
BEGALA: .. from overseas? Which of those ...
LARSEN: OK ...
BEGALA: ... three categories are you the most worried about?
BEGALA: ... plutonium is very difficult to get. That's what you use in bombs. OK, probably not going to get that. Cesium 137, you can get that from a hospital, a nuclear treatment facility. Cobalt 60, some of the British forces found that in a al Qaeda hideout in Afghanistan out of a hospital, nuclear treatment facility once again.
So it's easy to get. A lot of the research facilities we have at our major universities has this stuff. It's not well controlled. We need to work on that a little bit to make sure it's better controlled, but we're never going to control it all so we have to be prepared.
All of our years of experience with this, I've been through the senior executive course they have out at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Air Force Base. I came home and slept a lot better after that two and a half day court because I see we practiced this and we're well prepared for it. CARLSON: Well just the very brief time we have left, tell us about the contamination. If bomb like this went off in a major city, how long would it be before people could live again in that ...
LARSEN: Well, I will tell you a nuclear bomb hit the ground in Spain in 1966 when a B-52 crashed and the explosive, high explosive went off, not the hydrogen bomb, but the explosives went off and scattered plutonium over 588 acres in Spain. It was a matter of four months until they cleaned those fields up, moved all the dirt out of there and you can grow tomatoes there and they eat them now and they sell them there.
LARSEN: It's not -- you know they hear ...
LARSEN: Yes, that's it.
CARLSON: OK Colonel ...
LARSEN: It can be done.
CARLSON: We sure appreciate you joining us. Thanks ...
LARSEN: Thank you very much.
CARLSON: ... very much.
LARSEN: Thanks, Paul.
CARLSON: Next, the perfect place for your next convention. Bill Clinton's massive monument to himself. Later, the easy way to tell friend from foe in Washington. And then our quote of the day. It's a description of a would-be governor by a make believe president. We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. It's time for the newsiest news segment in cable news. It's time for the CROSSFIRE news alert.
And our lead story historic for us tonight. Jesse Jackson has decided not to wade into a complex international conflict he does not fully understand. Still ailing from the effects of both a car accident and a widely publicized love child, Jackson has called off an upcoming visit to the Middle East, citing the din of bombs and missiles. Jackson said he hoped to -- quote -- "reschedule the trip soon. Despite that last bit of discouraging news, Jackson's announcement was met with rejoicing in the region. Elated leaders on both sides are said to be moving toward a compromise. Explained one, we know how close we came to Jesse Jackson actually visiting. Next time we may not be so lucky. It's time to forge peace.
BEGALA: Unlike Bush who's only been there once, Jackson's been to the region many times and he actually ...
CARLSON: And to no effect.
BEGALA: No, he helped bring home hostages ...
BEGALA: ... a hostage who was held in Syria against his will.
CARLSON: He helped make himself famous. That's what he did.
BEGALA: I love Jesse. Go, Jesse, go. That the Bush administration is in the news for rejecting a request from California Governor Gray Davis to protect the California coast line from oil drilling in the same way that Bush had agreed to protect the Florida coast.
Last month, you'll recall President Bush agreed to a request from the governor of Florida to block drilling off of his state's coast, a move that that will cost American tax payers $235 million. California's governor immediately asked for the same protection for his state's coastline and Bush turned him down. Asked why he's protecting the Florida coast and not California's, Bush replied California's a fundamentally different situation. First, it's not a key swing state, second, my brother is not the governor.
CARLSON: More drilling is always the answer, Paul. I agree with you on that.
More details tonight on the massive Clinton presidential library and ego-plex (ph), now under construction in Little Rock, Arkansas. Construction has begun on the unsightly monument to hubris, which is expected to open in two years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars that could have gone to feed, clothe and educate the poor.
Instead, the complex will house innumerable tributes to the former president including, no kidding, the Clinton School of Public Service. One benefit of the project, its directors admit, is that almost everything about the library will provide fodder for late-night comedians, for example, the Clinton presidential materials project, which will contain 75,000 -- quote -- "artifacts."
The whole endeavor could keep America snickering along for the next decade. David Letterman and Jay Leno are said to be major contributors.
BEGALA: I just can't wait until Bush builds his library. The notion of saying the word George W. Bush and library in the same order together, the same sentence ...
CARLSON: But how about -- how about Clinton ...
BEGALA: ... is so hilarious to me.
CARLSON: ... artifacts. Don't you say yuck when you hear that ... (CROSSTALK)
BEGALA: ... Clinton one of the most successful president in my lifetime.
CARLSON: Clinton artifacts, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) take a shower.
BEGALA: I can't wait. One of our current president's favorite speech line is this it's in the new post surplus big deficit area. He's been claiming that when he was campaigning for president in Chicago, he pledged he would only run a deficit in times of war, recession or national emergency. Then with a smile, Bush likes to say I had no idea I'd hit the trifecta. There's only one problem with this story, it never happened.
As Tim Russert pointed out yesterday on "MEET THE PRESS", even the White House press office can not document a single time Bush said anything like that during the campaign. Bush Budget Director Mitch Daniels found it impossible to defend his boss' imaginary Chicago speech yesterday. He was reduced to telling Russert -- quote -- "I'm not the White House librarian". Just a fancy way of saying I don't keep the books and apparently in the Bush administration no one does.
Coming up in our CNN news alert, a mafia don finishes his prison term and is released to a higher authority.
And later, reviving a relic of the Nixon era. The enemies' list is alive and well. And our quote of the day, a man who's impressed by Janet Reno who tries to make an impression on the voters.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Martin Sheen isn't a real president, but he plays one on TV, President Josiah (sic) Bartlett in the hit drama "West Wing." He's also the best Janet Reno can do in her quest for a presidential endorsement in her campaign for the Florida governorship. The Martin and Janet show, also known as "Left Wing," toured the state this weekend. And at one stop, Sheen uttered an endorsement that is nothing less than our quote of the day.
Quote, "She's one of the most impressive public servants I've ever met in my life."
To which I say, Paul, you say that sentence and you need to get yourself to the Betty Ford center immediately, because you have completely lost touch with reality. This is a woman who didn't even have the respect of her own peers and colleagues from the Clinton administration. They, as you know, to me many times complained about it. They thought she was a buffoon.
BEGALA: As one of her peers and colleagues...
CARLSON: Yes. BEGALA: ...in the Clinton administration, she was a terrific attorney general. She led the fight on crime, 100,000 new cops. The Brady Bill. The lowest crime rate...
CARLSON: One hundred thousand new cops.
BEGALA: In a generation, helped to foil the millennium bombing plot from al Qaeda. She did it all without suspending the constitution. John Ashcroft is not half the woman Janet Reno is.
CARLSON: Well, I must say, I mean, apart from the fact that she incinerated dozens of children at Waco, but never...
BEGALA: She did not (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That is a damnable lie that a lot of good law enforcement.
CARLSON: I watched it on television. You've got to be kidding.
BEGALA: David Koresh and those terrorists set that fire. And they are morally responsible for it, not the law enforcement officials...
CARLSON: Actually, I fundamentally, I think they are responsible for it, but I think Janet Reno was also responsible for it.
CARLSON: And her phony claims that there was child abuse going on, uttered after the fact, she should have resigned right then. And many people in the Clinton administration, as you know, wished she had. But she didn't because she's too arrogant.
BEGALA: This ought not be a partisan thing. There were law enforcement officials murdered at that compound.
CARLSON: They made it into a partisan thing.
BEGALA: Koresh set the fire and murdered his own people. And aside from whatever partisan problems you have with Janet Reno, you can't blame her for David Koresh and the mass murder in Waco.
CARLSON: It was tragic what she did there. As you know, it's not a right wing plot. And I'm not at all defending David Koresh. I am saying that I think...
BEGALA: But you believe that she set that fire, right?
CARLSON: I think that she pushed volatile people into desperate acts when it was not necessary. And I think she should be ashamed of that.
BEGALA: Who set the fire?
CARLSON: And she -- actually, it's not proved who set the fire. But I think she...
BEGALA: Come on.
CARLSON: ...she ordered the Justice Department to surround that compound for no real reason.
BEGALA: Because Danforth's commission investigated this, and made it plain.
CARLSON: We need to do a show on this.
CARLSON: Sadly we're out of time.
BEGALA: Yes, people who believe crazy right wing theories. We'll have...
CARLSON: Oh, not the last word. Still to come, your chance to fire back at us. One viewer thinks Paul and I have something in common with teenage girls at your nearest high school. But next, why Paul is feeling haunted by the ghost of Richard Nixon. Be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. Over the years, Democrats have blessed America with the many so-called reforms, such as the obligation to publicly disclose the names of political contributors and how much they give. So why do those same reformers howl when somebody takes this public information, and puts it in an easy to read format? This morning's "Washington Post" disclosed the existence of the so-called K Street project. It's a Republican effort to list the party affiliation of political contributors in past jobs held by Washington's army of lobbyists, many of whom hang out on K Street.
If you don't know who you're talking to, at least you can look up who they're loyal to. What's wrong with that? To find out, stepping into the CROSSFIRE tonight, former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart and Republican consultant Charlie Black.
BEGALA: Mr. Black, we were awakened to the news in "The Washington Post" today that the Republican Party is back to its old tricks, keeping enemies' lists. I mean, you certainly agree that it's un-American to punish people for their political views, isn't it?
CHARLIE BLACK, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Well, I don't know what you're talking about, Paul. "The Post" today did have a story about Grover Norquist, who's a very distinguished Republican, very effective conservative, private citizen, who has a project to try to keep track of which lobbyists are Republicans and which are Democrats. Nothing new.
He started this about four years ago. His main purpose being that he thinks more Republicans ought to have jobs for corporations and trade associations in Washington. It's interesting that Democrats have the majority of the jobs when they lead the Hill or leave an administration in labor, in the non-profits, and in corporations and trade associations. He's trying to promote more Republican jobs.
BEGALA: Well, in truth, though, it's not just some private citizen. This, in the newspaper, we had quotes from Tom Davis, a distinguished congressman from Virginia, who's the head of the Republican Congressional Committee. We had references to J.C. Watts, a congressman from Oklahoma who's in the leadership. Rick Santorum, who's in the leadership of the Republican Senate.
This four -- in action that the House Ethics Committee has already ruled is unethical. When Tom Delay, the leading Republican in the House was trying to pressure interest groups not to hire a Democrat, particularly the American Electronics Association, the House committee on Ethics sanctioned him for that. So this is clearly known to be unethical conduct. And yet, Republican congressman are engaging in it. Why?
BLACK: Well, that's nonsense. It's not unethical conduct for a private citizen...
BEGALA: Right, right these congressman...
BLACK: ...to provide biographies on registered lobbyists, number one. Number two, the quotes I saw from these Republican leaders were to the effect, the interesting idea. I'd like to see a copy of the list, if they every get it done. That's what Tom Davis said.
But let's talk about that. Tom's the chairman of the Republican House Campaign Committee. The Democratic House Campaign Committee last week threatened Washington lobbyists, who had contributed to John Kline against Congressman Bill Luther and the last two elections in writing, threatened him. Don't do it. You're risking retaliation and retribution from us if you lobbyists give money to this Republican candidate, official DCC publication.
Now maybe that ought to go to the Ethics Committee, but Grover Norquist has done nothing to deserve that kind of scrutiny.
CARLSON: Now Joe, I must say I'm impressed by your bravery. You know, one thinks of Democrats as kind of taking up arms on behalf of oppressed minorities. And apparently, lobbyists now qualify as an oppressed minority. So here you are, arguing for lobbyists' rights. Is this the next frontier in civil rights?
JOE LOCKHART, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, that's a good way to go after it, to try to change the underlying subject. This is a problem. This is a problem particularly...
CARLSON: Lobbyist abuse?
LOCKHART: No, the problem -- George Bush came to town and said I'm going to change the tone. I'm not going to play politics. I'm not partisan. But now we find that they are compiling a list.
BLACK: Who's they?
LOCKHART: They, Grover Norquist, who runs a lot of the money in the Republican party...
CARLSON: That's nonsense.
LOCKHART: And who openly said -- it's not nonsense. Look at the -- go and look at the six or seven ad campaigns that are being run against Tom Daschle in South Dakota, one of which accuses him of being -- cozying up to Saddam Hussein. And you go and you find out where that money's coming from. And you'll find it at Grover Norquist's store. But...
CARLSON: So he's a good Republican, OK, yes.
LOCKHART: But more importantly, a big Republican. More importantly, this report is going to be seen ad read widely at the White House. Nothing happens in the Republican Party that doesn't have the OK of the White House. And at a time when the president of the United States is calling everyone together and talking about, you know, war on terrorism. We have to put partisanship aside, we have to side -- they're keeping an enemy's list.
CARLSON: Wait, but Joe...
LOCKHART: It's disgusting.
CARLSON: But Joe, the fact is -- first of all, I disagree with your premise that they are -- our Grover is. And he is not the same as the White House. I think you'll admit that. But I think it's fair to call it an enemy's list, because from a partisan Republican's point of view, this is a list of enemies. It's a partisan town. What is wrong with Republicans saying we want to do business with people who give us money and who vote for us? I mean, where's the problem there?
LOCKHART: Well, listen, it was bad enough when the Republican Congress allowed the lobbyists to write all their legislation. But now they're saying...
CARLSON: Oh, come on, Joe, seriously. I mean, engage with me. What's wrong with this? What's wrong with people being partisan in a partisan town?
LOCKHART: Well, wait there. Are you denying that the Republicans don't have the lobbyists in to write their legislation to protect their special interests...
CARLSON: That's a talking point crock. I mean, but seriously...
LOCKHART: Yes or no?
CARLSON: That's ludicrous. I mean...
LOCKHART: But Tom DeLay has admitted that he brings the lobbyists in. So if it's ludicrous, then you're calling Tom DeLay ludicrous.
LOCKHART: It's true. It is something they have admitted to.
BEGALA: Here's my concern...
CARLSON: Yes, they have.
BEGALA: It's not -- my concern is not so much with my friends who are Democrats and lobbyists, or my friends like you who are Republicans and lobbyists. My concern is for people who are in the government, the way I once was. They will only now get one side of the story. And this is the problem. If you only -- if you shut out -- look, when I was a Democrat in the White House, Republican lobbyist, it depended on the quality of their argument and the merits of the public policy.
The White House response to this in "The New York Times" was instructive. A White Houses spokesman said even if officials did have such a list, it would not affect administration policy, thereby admitting they only listen to one side anyway, like Cheney's task force on energy, right?
BLACK: Well, that's nonsense. I have visited people in this administration on behalf of my clients with very prominent Democratic lobbyists at my side. And then they saw them and they listened to them. You know, they...
BEGALA: Do they have a list yet?
BEGALA: Once they have the list, are they going to throw your partner out?
LOCKHART: Soon to be published.
BLACK: You guys were both in the White House. You know that nobody in the White House met with somebody that they didn't know a little bit about their biography or their background or who they were or where they were coming from, because that allowed you to guess the quality of their argument or their perspective. But I may switch in mid show, and decide that there is room for a black list for lobbyists.
In fact, we should have had one in the Clinton administration, when you had Hugh Rodham and Roger Clinton, distinguished lobbyists, lobbying for pardons for drug dealers and other assorted criminals.
BEGALA: But you know what? We also had...
BLACK: So we need a lobbyist blacklist to prevent a repeat...
BEGALA: We had Andy Card lobbying for the Automobile Manufacturers. No Democrat shut him out. He's a current White House chief of staff. We had Mitch Daniels, the current White House budget director, lobbying for a pharmaceutical firm. No Democrat shut him out. We had Tom Scully, who now runs Medicare, lobbying for the health care industry. No Democrats shut him. Marc Racicot, lobbying for Enron. So Democrats have not been shutting out Republican lobbyists. Why do Republicans shut out Democrat lobbyists?
BLACK: I just -- I'm not going name names, because I didn't their permission, but I've been in the Bush administration with very prominent Democratic lobbyists. And you know, at my side. And they've listened. Again, as you've said, they go based on the quality of the argument, the merits of the case. And most of us lobby...
BEGALA: Then they wouldn't need this list. I want to believe that.
CARLSON: Joe, this information, as you know...
BLACK: They wouldn't need the list.
CARLSON: ...is available online to anybody with a computer, opensecrets.org. You can look it up. It's all there for anybody to see. My question to you is, every White House asks potential hires, did you vote for the president? That's standard and has been for many decades, as you know. You have to be generally a member of the same party before you get hired. What is -- I don't understand what's new here? What is the new element that's so shocking to you?
LOCKHART: What's new is they have taken, as part of an organized effort to put together as much information as they can. And then they have said that...
CARLSON: But that information was there.
LOCKHART: ...if you're not completely pure, if you have worked for a Democrat, or contributed to a Democrat, you will not have access to anyone in the government. And that is what it said.
BLACK: You said that. Nobody else...
LOCKHART: "The Washington Post" said that. Listen...
BLACK: I rest my case. I didn't see "The Washington Post" yet.
CARLSON: Joe, what is the single biggest -- what are the two biggest outrages that the Republican party is undertaking now? One, to Hispanic voters. And the other to organized labor, as you well know.
LOCKHART: Did you say outrageous?
LOCKHART: Oh, OK.
CARLSON: Making an effort to move...
LOCKHART: Hard to know the difference.
CARLSON: ... the votes of organized labor. Republicans in the White House spent a lot of time thinking about how do we get the teamsters (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? They've been pretty successful in a lot of cases. They endorsed Pataki and a lot of other Republicans around the country. They are Democrats fundamentally. 70 percent Democrats. This White House goes after them. I mean, this doesn't fit your conspiracy theory?
LOCKHART: I don't have a conspiracy theory.
CARLSON: Sure you do.
LOCKHART: I actually -- there's a theory here which this -- in some ways, this list is instructive. Because this government, this Bush administration, basically has been doing the bidding of special interests and big business since day one. And this is basically saying we admit it. We just want to make sure that no other views get to the president's desk. Maybe he doesn't understand on one hand, on the other hand. But only one view will get there. And it's the view of big business and special interests.
BEGALA: What if -- when it crosses the line? Now I told you a minute ago about a few years ago, Tom DeLay, the Republican whip in the House, trying to force the American electronics industry not to hire Dave McCurdy, a respected former congressman, to be their lobbyists. To the credit of the electronics industry, they hired him anyway. He's doing a fine job.
Today's "Washington Post" reports that J.C. Watts, one of the leaders of the House Republicans, has tried to pressure the Boeing Corporation not to hire Rudy DeLeon, who is a very distinguished public servant, who served secretaries of defense from the Democratic and Republican parties, because they just don't like him, because he served in the Clinton administration when we had a Republican secretary of defense, by the way. That is unethical, isn't it?
BEGALA: That's exactly what the ethics committee said (UNINTELLIGIBLE), right?
BLACK: ...all the twists that "The Post" and you guys are putting on this, this is what it comes down to. When a big job like that opens, the electronics job or Boeing, Republican candidates for the job get the Republicans on the Hill to recommend them. Democratic candidates get the Democrats on the Hill to recommend them. If a Democrat gets it instead of a Republican, suddenly we were arm twisting and pressuring. That's all there is to it.
BEGALA: That's not what the ethics committee found. And that's a pretty toothless watchdog generally, when the ethics committee says that Tom Delay crossed the line, you know he really, really crossed that line. I mean, they're not...
(CROSSTALK) BLACK: I don't remember the details of that case, but it didn't slow down Delay's career any, obviously. And he's probably...
BEGALA: No, he's still a strong armed hammer up there, but he still was sanctioned by the ethics committee. Shouldn't the same...
BLACK: The same thing that I think admonished might have been the term...
BEGALA: That is a sanction. He was officially admonished. Is it right for J.C. Watts to try to squeeze a good man out of...
BLACK: There's no evidence that J.C. Watts tried to squeeze anybody out of anything. He was for a Republican for the job. Rudy beat the guy out. You didn't hear a word...
BLACK: You didn't here J.C. complain.
CARLSON: Is this a political winner for you, standing up on behalf of the oppressed lobbyists, do you think?
LOCKHART: Listen, if you were allowed to frame the issue, there never -- there wouldn't even be a Democratic party...
CARLSON: No, but do you think this is a good issue for 2002?
LOCKHART: I'll tell you why it's a good issue for Democrats and a bad issue for Republicans, because this administration now is developing quite a track record for keeping things secret, and not answering questions, and not disclosing information on time. And then when we find...
CARLSON: It was in "The Washington Post" this morning. It's not very secret.
LOCKHART: Well, yes, I don't remember George W. Bush holding a press conference to announce that.
CARLSON: About Grover Norquist?
LOCKHART: About Grover Norquist.
CARLSON: The list he's keeping?
LOCKHART: If you're the one...
CARLSON: That was four years ago.
LOCKHART: If you're the one person in Washington, who doesn't think that they're all working together, well, then...
CARLSON: Free the oppressed lobbyists, I say. Run on it then, and maybe it'll work. BLACK: These days, they're not working together. Grover does a lot of projects on his own. He doesn't clear them with the White House every day.
BEGALA: Charlie Black, that will have to be the last word. Thank you very much.
BLACK: Thank you, Paul.
BEGALA: Charlie, Republican strategist. Joe Lockhart, my friend from the White House, a Democratic strategist. Thank you, both, very much.
Coming up, a fireback suggestion that could rescue the Bushes overseas and make Tucker Carlson turn green.
But next, we throw away the script. We take off the gloves, and go one on one. Stay with us for round six.
CARLSON: Welcome back. It's time for round six. The guests have left. Sadly, Paul Begala remains unconvinced on a number of topics. My job, convince him.
Paul, here's how I see it. When an international terrorist believes he's been treated, treated unfairly, who rises to his defense, Democrats. When lobbyists feel like they're getting elbowed out of the way at the trough, who rises to defend them with vigor? Democrats. Is that -- this is -- I think the constituency is really telling here.
In the end, at least in the second story with lobbyists, you have a couple of disgruntled lobbyists, who are Democrats, mad that there's now a Republican in the White House. So they're not getting the special favors they got for eight years under Clinton. That's all it is. And you make it sound like something out of the McCarthy era.
BEGALA: No, here's the problem with it. Aside from whether lobbyist A or lobbyist B gets the job. But you're right, I don't really care. The problem is the quality of the information that goes to our government. The Congress and the White House ought to be evaluating these things on the merits. Yes, they have their ideology. Yes, they're politicians, but they cannot in good conscience serve the taxpayers who pay them, and exclude a whole class of people from making their arguments.
CARLSON: That it is so cynical.
BEGALA: No, it's not cynical at all.
CARLSON: No, but here's the cynicism.
BEGALA: It's not at all cynical. In fact, it's very...
CARLSON: The cynicism arises from -- the presumption you're making that government of the executive branch gets its information from lobbyists is really...
CARLSON: Perhaps that's the way it worked in the Clinton administration, but I hope at least in this administration, they're not sitting around waiting for some slick guy from K Street with $1,000 suit to tell them what they think. There are other ways to find out information about a topic. And I think any administration that waits to find out its opinions from the lobbyists is pretty corrupt from the get go.
BEGALA: Well, that's an absurd point. The problem...
CARLSON: It's an absolute correct point.
BEGALA: No, every government gets information from a variety of sources. This is one, where the Republicans have produced a blacklist that is bad for America. It's bad for citizens. It's bad for the Republicans, because as Joe Lockhart pointed out, Americans know in their bones that Republicans in the party have special interests. Bush has taken that to a new level.
CARLSON: But you're defending the special interests...
BEGALA: Allowing them to...
CARLSON: ...but you're defending the special interests in the form of lobbyists. And my question...
BEGALA: Let me explain again.
CARLSON: No, no...
BEGALA: Citizens -- so to make sure that government...
CARLSON: Oh, now that citizens.
BEGALA: No, no, not...
CARLSON: Oh, I thought they were sleazy lobbyists in bed with big business. And now you're defending -- you're arguing two things simultaneously.
BEGALA: Let me slow this down for you.
BEGALA: People out in America should have a government that works for them, not for one party's sleazy lobbyists.
CARLSON: Both parties' sleazy lobbyists. That's the point you're making? You're taking up arms on behalf of a category of sleazy lobbyists. Whereas I say this administration is probably influenced by lobbyists far less...
BEGALA: More than any industry. CARLSON: Far less than the previous one.
BEGALA: Name me another...
CARLSON: Hence your outrage.
BEGALA: ...administration that ever allowed a lobbyist to write an executive order?
CARLSON: Hence your outrage. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
BEGALA: Name me one. Name me one. It has never happened.
CARLSON: The Clinton administration.
BEGALA: Bush has let the government turned over to the special interests.
CARLSON: Unfortunately, I'm going to have to take the last word here. Paul. You're wrong. Next up, your turn to fire back at us, including a smoking e-mail provoked by one of Paul's comments about big government. We'll be right back.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It is our fireback segment, when we turn the show over to you to a large degree. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And many of you have.
Let's go to the e-mail bag. Our first is from Connie Manes of Mattoon, IL. "Why is the Justice Department releasing a story that happened over a month ago about a 'dirty bomb' attack on the U.S. possibly being averted? Could it have anything to do with the new polls out that show the President's approval ratings have dropped to 70 percent from 79 percent?" Connie, honestly, I don't think so. The problem is when they have released terror alerts in the past, as we know for political reasons, people begin to be suspicious. But this, I want to give them every benefit of the doubt that it's on the level.
CARLSON: I don't think they've released them for political reasons. That's a pretty (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
BEGALA: That's what Ari Fleischer said.
CARLSON: That's a pretty heavy charge.
BEGALA: Yes, straight from Ari Fleischer.
CARLSON: Ari Fleischer would never have said that. That's a complete outrage. OK, and next, to Laura Warner of San Pedro, CA. "Let's hire Bill Clinton for Secretary of State. Get him back where he excelled, foreign policy. He was and still is so highly regarded for his intelligence, his open-minded approach to foreign-based government operatives and quite frankly, has an innate understanding and appreciation for developing and sustaining the best possible relations overseas politically and economically." You know, Paul, I only wish that when the former president writes the show, he'd sign his real name. You see him sitting alone with the computer in the dark building his legacy one e-mail at a time.
BEGALA: He watches very night.
CARLSON: It's very sick.
BEGALA: In fact, he e-mailed me and said stop banging you on the bow tie. He thinks it's quite handsome.
CARLSON: Well (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
BEGALA: "Paul, if you think big government is so good, why don't you go to China instead of trying to screw up our country with socialism? The only thing that government does best is the military. Other than that, people and private enterprise are what the founding fathers had in mind, if you would please read the Constitution," says Bob Lebacken, Reynolds, ND. I guess Bob is just as angry at Bush for the new big government department of homeland security, which is Bob, I'm sorry, a good idea.
CARLSON: I'll let that pass uncommented upon. Donna Weaver writes, "CROSSFIRE reminds me of teenaged girls who've decided they will pick, pick, pick at someone for no particular reason except a challenge for argument." Good point, Donna, but we do not borrow the car. We do invite unsavory men over once in a while.
BEGALA: And make long distance calls. Question from the audience, yes, sir? You're not an unsavory man, but...
JASON HARPER: Yes, my name is Jason Harper (ph), and I'm from Geraldine, Alabama. And my question is for both of you. I was wondering if you feel that the Republican and Democratic parties are working cohesively since 9/11? Or have we gotten back to party politics instead of national interests?
CARLSON: Well, I'm not sure the two are mutually exclusive. I mean, the system is set up to be partisan. And that's a good thing, you know. That provides restraint and makes certain that nothing happens too quickly in Washington, fundamentally a good thing. I think they've worked together pretty well together.
BEGALA: Actually, you're right. They've worked together well on the war. In fact, Dick Gephardt, the Democratic leader in the House has called for passing this homeland security law, not by the end of the year, like Bush said, but by this anniversary of September 11. So they're working fine on the things they should be working together on, and they're fighting on the political issues.
CARLSON: And of course, there is mindless partisanship as you can see. Yes?
ERIC HEPPER: Hi, I'm Eric Hepper (ph) from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. My question is this. Do you it's helpful for night after night for journalists to discuss all the different possibilities and methods in which terrorists could strike? Does that not just give ideas for people to crawl out of the woodwork and do things they might otherwise not have done?
CARLSON: Are you making an admission? Or? No, I mean, you know, I don't think on CROSSFIRE, if that's what you're referring to specifically, you know, I don't think we're giving any new ideas to terrorists. I think it's probably helpful for the public to know what could happen, and therefore be able to protect themselves.
BEGALA: Yes, I agree. I mean, the mind of evil men knows no limits. And it ought to be good people trying to anticipate. It's very hard to think the way these folks think. And I think the more people in government or in the media are trying to brainstorm about how to prepare to defend ourselves, the better. So I just -- I agree with Tucker. And I promise I will never that happen again.
CARLSON: We will not be putting how to manuals up, just in case that's what you mean.
BEGALA: From the left, I am Paul Begala. Good-night for CROSSFIRE.
CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night, Tuesday night, for yet another edition of CROSSFIRE. See you then.
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'Washington Post' Discloses Existence of GOP's List of Enemies>