CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Is Bush Trying to Topple Hussein?; Is U.S. Prepared for Another Terrorist Strike?; Harman, Hyde Discuss Pre-9/11 Failures
Aired June 16, 2002 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington; 9 a.m. in Los Angeles; 7 p.m. in Jerusalem; and 8:30 p.m. in Kabul. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.
We'll get to our interview with Senators Shelby and Bayh in just a minute, but first a news alert.
BLITZER: But now back to our top story, where does the United States stand in its war against terrorism?
Joining me now, two special guests. They have special insight. Republic Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, he's the vice- chairman of the Intelligence Committee; and Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, he's also a member of the committee.
Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Before we get started, just want to bring our viewers this additional note. We had hoped to bring you an interview with the Afghan president-elect Hamid Karzai, but unfortunately his aides have just notified us that he had to cancel because of continuing emergency meetings with his cabinet. We'll try to interview him on another occasion.
Let's get to the immediate issue at hand, this notion that the president, President Bush, is about to undertake a more aggressive posture, Senator Shelby, in trying to topple Saddam Hussein. What can you tell us about this?
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: Well, I can't talk about covert operations. That's something that we never discuss in the open. But I can tell you, I believe that the president's on the right track in looking for a way to change the regime in Iraq.
How we do it, when we do it, when it begins, I'm not sure, and I'm not sure he's sure at this point. He's said he doesn't have any plans on his desk, but I think that we've got to start making plans, because this man needs to go.
BLITZER: I assume, behind the scenes, that a lot of plans are being made, everything from a covert operation to try to topple him to a full-scale Desert Storm kind of invasion.
SHELBY: I think they have to put all options up on the table, they have to look at it. But I think it can be a done deal. I don't believe it's going to take five years if -- when we move in there. I believe it will happen faster than a lot of people predict.
BLITZER: And you think that the president's ready to move very quickly, within...
SHELBY: Well, I don't know when. I don't know when. But I believe that the president is on the right track, he's determined to do this, and I'm certainly going to support him.
BLITZER: Are you going to support him if it comes down to that, Senator Bayh?
SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: Yes, I will, Wolf. Speaking hypothetically, if the president were to authorize that kind of action, I would endorse it whole-heartedly.
I don't think it's a question of whether we're going to have to deal with Saddam Hussein, I think it's a question of when. And we need to get on with the planning, using military, economic, diplomatic, every arrow in our quiver to deal with this man.
BLITZER: But, you know, the U.S., at least at this point, doesn't seem to have a whole lot of support from the European allies, certainly not from Russia or China. And the so-called moderate Arab states even, the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, seem to be reluctant in endorsing some sort of U.S. action to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
BAYH: Well, that's true, and we should work to develop as much diplomatic support as we can. Operationally, the two countries you really need would be Kuwait and Turkey. And I think what you would have would be a lot of verbal grousing but, behind the scenes, a lot of tacit support, if we are determined to see it through to the end this time.
BLITZER: But you believe Kuwait and Turkey would be ready to go along with the president if it came down to a military strike?
BAYH: I do. And I think that as long as we've convinced both of them we're going to see it through to the end. And you can also rest assured there would be a lot of planning behind the scenes about a post-Saddam Iraq, so that the five-year scenario that had been mentioned hopefully would be a lot shorter than that.
BLITZER: What do you think about that, the fact that -- do you believe that Turkey and Kuwait would be available for U.S. support?
SHELBY: Well, I would hope so, but I believe success brings many things. We have to be successful. We've got to see it through. We cannot play with half measures. And I think the Bush administration realizes that.
BLITZER: Is it -- what about Saudi Arabia, though? The last time around, of course, the U.S. was based, 11 years ago, during Operation Desert Storm, in Saudi Arabia. Aren't the Saudis prepared to support the U.S. in this kind of endeavor?
SHELBY: Well, I can't totally answer that question, Wolf, but I can tell you this. I believe they -- if we're successful, they will be OK.
BLITZER: But can the U.S....
SHELBY: If we're unsuccessful, that's something else.
Are they going to overtly help us? I'm not sure.
BLITZER: But can the U.S. be successful without overt Saudi support?
SHELBY: Oh, I think we can be successful if we're determined to do it. We're the strongest nation in the world. We've got to have the resolve to finish whatever we start.
BLITZER: The president hinted at this new, more aggressive posture a couple of weekends ago at his commencement address at West Point when he, for the first time, really spoke openly about a preemptive strike against -- without mentioning Iraq specifically by name. Listen to this little excerpt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long.
Homeland defense and missile defense are part of a stronger security. They're our central priorities for America. Yet the war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Yet critics insist there is no hard evidence linking Saddam Hussein or the Iraqi government to 9/11 or any of the other subsequent terrorist operations that may have been out there. Is there any evidence to the contrary?
BAYH: I don't believe there is direct evidence liking Saddam or his regime to 9/11, Wolf. But this is a very bad actor who has caused millions of casualties in the war with Iran, the invasion of Kuwait. He's used chemical, biological weapons on his own people. He is a disaster waiting to happen.
So the question for us is, by waiting, do we play into his hands? And what kind of risk to we pose on the American people?
And you see it in the context with this dirty bomb episode you mentioned, the coming together of rogue regimes like Saddam, weapons of mass destruction, and the potential for getting those into the wrong hands could be devastating. And to just wait for that to happen, if there is a significant chance, would be irresponsible.
BLITZER: Have you seen any evidence liking Saddam Hussein to either September 11th or any other terrorist actions since then?
SHELBY: Well, I haven't seen any direct evidence, but I can tell you, he's the breeding ground. He's the focal point for a lot of terrorism for the future. I have to believe this, because here he's trying -- why is he trying to make weapons of mass destruction? To use them. And I think the sooner we have a regime change, the better off the whole area is going to be, the better off the world is going to be.
BLITZER: How difficult of an operation do you think that eventually will be?
SHELBY: I don't think it will be real easy. I don't think it will be too quick, but I don't believe it's going to be a five-year operation. We've got the means, and all we need is the will and the planning. And I believe President Bush is on the right track.
BLITZER: And the Democrats in the Senate, do you believe, will go along with the president?
BAYH: I think he'll have the support he needs, Wolf. I think it's a question -- we might get lucky, maybe someone within the Iraqi power structure will take matters into their own hands when the writing is on the wall. I rather doubt it. I think eventually we'll have to take matters into our own hands. And the president will have the support he needs.
SHELBY: I believe there is unfinished business there since '91. And I think President Bush realizes that above everybody.
BLITZER: You think the president believes his father may have made a mistake by not so-called -- supposedly finishing the job then and there?
SHELBY: Well, I can't say that. But I can tell you, he realizes, as the president of the United States, as commander-in-chief of our forces, that this is a regime that needs to be changed and changed soon.
BLITZER: The arrest -- the decision this past week by the attorney general, John Ashcroft, to take this American citizen, Jose Padilla, also going by the name Abdullah al Muhajir, and to move him to a Navy brig in South Carolina, to say he is an enemy combatant and is not going to be accorded the normal rights as an American citizen under the U.S. justice system, what does that say to you about the extent of the alleged plot that Padilla was engaged in?
SHELBY: Well, I think -- it says to me that they take this man as a serious terrorist, especially if he had been turned loose and they hadn't apprehended him, we don't know what he would have done as far as preparing and acquiring materials for dirty bomb. I think they are doing this for precaution and also to make sure that they can disrupt anything in the future. BLITZER: The deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, in making the announcement earlier in the week, on Monday, also said that this plot was at a very, very early stage. Listen precisely to what Wolfowitz said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I want to emphasize again, there was not an actual plan. We stopped this man in the initial planning stages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So how real was this threat at just short of initial planning stages?
SHELBY: I think it's long-term threat. But I think you cannot ignore those things. Was he ready to detonate something? No. Was he looking for his money and other information that, obviously, we know about to try to do this? Yes.
And if you've got terrorists operating like this, the question is, when do you apprehend them?
SHELBY: Do you wait until they do something or do you catch them and get them off the streets? And they got him off the streets.
BLITZER: Some people have raised questions about the timing of this announcement and the way it was made. Listen to what your leader, Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader, said early in the week on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: If the information was available earlier, why it was not announced, why the attorney general had to be in Russia to make the announcement? I mean, those questions seem as if there may have been a rush to bring it before the news media. But again, I am confident that this was not an issue that was politicized.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you think about that, the way the administration made this announcement?
BAYH: Wolf, I think we ought to give the president the benefit of the doubt. You know, if there's a series of things that lend to this kind of speculation, then perhaps there's some pattern there, but I don't think we're at that point. We're trying to protect the country, and I think we ought to give both the Justice Department and the president the benefit of our support.
BLITZER: Was it necessary for the attorney general to make this announcement, personally, even while on a trip to Moscow? BAYH: Well, it certainly is not standard operating procedure. But again, I think we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt. These are -- we're living in unusual times, and they occasionally demand different kinds of behavior.
BLITZER: You're comfortable with the way the administration did it?
SHELBY: Well, I think it was OK to do it any way they did it. But actually, it probably reassured a lot of people in America that the Justice Department has had a bad week, at least the FBI, that they were on top of things.
BLITZER: And at the same time, it could have caused exactly the opposite. It could have scared the living daylights out of a lot of the Americans when they hear about a radiological or dirty bomb.
SHELBY: Well, it could, but I think most people realize there's a lot difference between a nuclear weapon and a potential dirty bomb.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to pick that point up, precisely, when we come back.
A lot more to talk about with Senators Shelby and Bayh. They'll also be taking your phone calls. LATE EDITION will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We face cold-blooded killers that hate the freedoms we cherish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush mincing no words about the enemy in the war against terrorism. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We're continuing our conversation with Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, he's the panel's vice chairman, and Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana.
Senator Shelby, we're talking about the dirty bomb, the evidence that the dirty bomb plot allegedly that Mr. Jose Padilla was engaged in was a real serious plot.
Supposedly a lot of this information is coming from a high Al Qaeda operative now under U.S. custody abroad someplace in a secret location, a guy by the name of Abu Zubaydah. How reliable is his information?
SHELBY: Well, I can't speak to the person, but I can tell you this. A lot of the information is reliable that is brought out. A lot of it's disinformation. But where you confirm it, you know, you know it's real. And I think probably we've picked up some of both.
BLITZER: And he was the original source for the Jose Padilla?
SHELBY: Well, I'm not going to acknowledge that, but according to all the papers, that's -- suppose that's true.
BLITZER: But it is -- but the information that you detected that he's been making available has caused all sorts of alerts -- apartment buildings, United States bridges, landmarks, subways, trains, planes. I guess he's speaking about a lot of potential threats out there.
How much of a credibility, how much capability does Al Qaeda really have?
BAYH: Well, they still have unfortunate amount of capability, Wolf. We have reason to believe that some of their top echelon of leaders have gone to ground and are having difficulty communicating, but they've got that whole second echelon dispersed around the world that are attempting to reconstitute themselves.
When we listen to what they say, there's a lot of consternation. They're having trouble getting their money and communicating, but there's still a lot of animous toward the United States and a real determination to attack us whenever they can.
BLITZER: Do you have any idea how many individuals, how many people, Al Qaeda operatives, may still be on the run, if you will, free right now to engage in various terrorist attacks against U.S. interests?
BAYH: I don't know a precise number, Wolf, but we do know that thousands went through those training camps in Afghanistan, and apparently hundreds were able to flee in the final months from their readouts there in Eastern Afghanistan. So, they're numerous, unfortunately.
BLITZER: Thousands of Al Qaeda operatives still on the run?
SHELBY: All over the world. And some of them aren't necessarily on the run, they're in the planning stage, operating on their own. They've been well trained. And I'm not sure are operating from a central command post now, but they're waiting to do more attacks, and they will.
BLITZER: And you saw the story in today's front page of The Washington Post, the arrest of these three alleged Al Qaeda operatives in Morocco and the suggestion that they have specific orders that were given to them by Al Qaeda leaders at the end of December to go after, to target American and Jewish interests.
SHELBY: I saw that.
BLITZER: How serious of a concern is that?
SHELBY: I think it's a serious concern because it's not just Osama bin Laden and his immediate entourage that we're after. We are after them. It's all the other people in the world that have gone all over the world, are trying to reassemble to try to re-plan. And they can be lethal, make no mistake about it.
BLITZER: Was Al Qaeda behind this most recent car bombing at the U.S. consulate in Karachi?
SHELBY: I don't know the answer to that yet, but they are a lot of shift of allegiances, alliances and a lot of things they're going to do in common among all the terrorist groups.
BLITZER: The so-called franchising of these Al Qaeda operatives, in other words, they've been given the leeway to do what they want, sort of general instructions, to go find targets and do what you want without necessarily getting clearance from Osama bin Laden, assuming he's still in a position to give clearance nowadays. Is that what's happening right now?
BAYH: Well, that is what's happening, Wolf, and it makes their organization very difficult to penetrate. It's not like a hierarchical organization where if you cut off the head everything else collapses.
They have the training, the financing and, in some cases, the planning. They've been dispersed, and so it's much harder group to get under control. And that's what we face right now.
BLITZER: I think everyone acknowledges with hindsight right now, Senator Shelby, that the CIA could have done a better job connecting the dots before 9/11.
SHELBY: The CIA, the FBI, perhaps the NSA. And as our joint inquiry continues, I think we'll see more.
But there's a lot of information out there. I think the question is, it's not what they knew and acted upon, it's what they had and never analyzed and never acted upon.
BLITZER: The two weeks of closed-door hearings that you've had, the briefings that you have had, have you -- I know you're not go into really specifics, but have you been shocked by anything you've learned?
SHELBY: I haven't been shocked, but I've learned a few things. They're tying some things together. I think it's important for us to go back to deal (ph) to see what the structures were, what the relationships were.
And up til now, I believe -- my observation is, the lack of sharing of information between agencies is the biggest problem.
BLITZER: You still have confidence or do you not have confidence in George Tenet, the director of the CIA?
SHELBY: Well, I've always said that was the president's, you know, decision. Would I keep him? Absolutely not.
BLITZER: You wouldn't keep him.
SHELBY: Oh, I think we could do better. I've always thought that.
BLITZER: What do you think?
BAYH: Well, Richard and I have a little bit different opinion on this. I think George is doing a credible job. But I would ascribe to what he said about what we've seen in terms of a lack of information sharing, both between the FBI and CIA and within those organizations.
And I would say, going forward, Wolf, I wholeheartedly support the president's call for the creation of an office of homeland defense. But that begs the question of, what do we do about the intelligence services?
I really do think we need a thorough top-to-bottom reorganization improvement of our ability to collect information, both internationally and domestically. If we don't do that, then we're really not going to be in as good a position to protect America, regardless of whoever is heading these agencies.
SHELBY: Senator Bayh makes a good point. I think, as we get into the homeland security issue, that's going to come forth. They're going to be consumers of intelligence. Maybe they will have some analytical ability, but that takes years. I'm not sure that we've addressed that problem dealing with our intelligence community. Maybe it's not time to do it. But ultimately, we're going to have to do it, just like the senator mentioned.
BLITZER: The relationship between the intelligence community and this new department of homeland security?
SHELBY: Absolutely, and the whole government.
BLITZER: Some people are saying that the CIA and the FBI should be part of it, but we'll pick up that point when we come back.
We have to take another short break. More of our questions for Senators Bayh and Shelby, also phone calls. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
And we're continuing our conversation with the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee members, Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama and Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana.
Senator Bayh, Karl Rove, the White House political adviser, counselor to the president, had this point-and-click briefing that he did, in which he -- and obviously it got out, one of the interns at the White House lost it, a Democratic staffer picked it up. One of the things that he does show, Republican strategy for the congressional elections coming up in November. One of the points, look at this, focus on war and the economy.
But the first point I wanted to point out, focus on war. Is that good for the White House to be focusing in, making the war, in effect, the way the president's engaged in the war, a political issue going into the elections?
BAYH: I think anyone who would overtly attempt to make the war or national security a political issue, Wolf, would be making a big mistake. So I'm sure there are some red faces over in Karl's office here the last couple of days.
Now, it does have, incidentally, the effect of shifting the debate away from issues that tend to favor Democrats, like Medicare, Social Security, healthcare issues, things of that nature. But if briefings like this continue to be made public, I think it's a self- defeating strategy because Democrats, Republicans and independents, I think, would punish anybody who attempted to score political points on this.
BLITZER: Senator Shelby?
SHELBY: Well, I agree with Senator Bayh on that. We should not politicize the war.
I don't believe that's what the White House was trying to do. What they're trying to do is pursue the aims of the war on terrorism to make America safe. And if we do this, politics will take care of itself.
BLITZER: That whole point-and-click briefing, "The 2002 Challenge," June 4th, 2002, everybody got it thanks to Roll Call publication up on the Hill. But Ken Mehlman, the political director at the White House, was also, obviously, intimately involved in putting this together.
Let's switch gears before I let you go.
BAYH: There's one other point to make, this is not the first time Mr. Rove has made comments along these lines. And so if it becomes apparent that it's part of the strategy, then I think it hurts them.
BLITZER: Let's talk briefly while I still have you. President Bush is expected to make a speech, perhaps as early as this week, laying out some sort of timetable, if you will, for an interim or provisional Palestinian state.
Is this a good idea to be doing it at this point?
SHELBY: Well, I'm not sure. I think you've got to bring the parties together first, Wolf, that is, the Palestinians and the Israelis. And until they're really ready to sit down and talk peace, I think we've shown that -- recent history shows is premature. But anything the president can do to bring about the people together rather than, you know, the killings that are going on, I think that's good. But who do you negotiate with? Who is going to represent the Palestinian people?
BLITZER: Well, do you still have confidence Yasser Arafat?
SHELBY: Oh, absolutely not. You know, I think that you've got to look at his record and see what he's done, what he's brought -- what he's said and then what he's done. I believe that somebody is going to have to come forward on behalf of the Palestinians that's going to speak for the people. I believe myself, for the most part, that Arafat is a spent force.
BLITZER: What do you think?
BAYH: I agree with that, Wolf. The real problem here is, as long as you have a significant percentage of the Palestinian community that is committed to violence as opposed to building a society based upon peaceful development, it's going to be an intractable problem. Whether you call it a temporary state or a permanent state, that's just a prescription for an official war between states, as opposed to the kind of informal conflict we now have.
And so, until they are prepared to reconcile, the Palestinians themselves find the path of peace, it's going to be very, very difficult.
BLITZER: Yes, what Sharon has said is that -- the prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, is that if the U.S. were to engage in this kind of call right now for a provisional or interim Palestinian state at a time of what he says is continuing terrorism, you are in effect rewarding the Palestinians for engaging in those kinds of acts. BAYH: I think you're holding out false hope potentially, saying that you can have a state without a real, genuine renouncing of terrorism. As long as there is a significant percentage of individuals willing to commit terrorist acts, you're never going to have peace and probably never have a state either.
BLITZER: Well, there isn't a whole lot of opportunity right now to do much, is there?
SHELBY: You can't make opportunities. You've got to look for them. And I'm not sure there is one there right now because they have not renounced the use of force.
BLITZER: OK. Senator Shelby, Senator Bayh, to both of you, thank you very much for joining us.
SHELBY: Thank you, Wolf.
BAYH: Thank you.
BLITZER: When we return, is the United States adequately prepared for another terrorist strike? We'll get insight from the former assistant U.S. defense secretary, Dr. Sue Bailey, and terrorism expert Brian Jenkins.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: It's important that we confront these real threats to our country and prepare for future emergencies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush this past Wednesday signing an anti- bioterrorism bill into law. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now to discuss U.S. preparedness for another terror attack are two guests. In Los Angeles, Brian Jenkins, a terrorism expert with the RAND Corporation, and here in Washington, Dr. Sue Bailey. She's a former assistant U.S. defense secretary for health affairs.
Thanks to both of you for joining us. Brian, let me begin with you. How alarmed should Americans be when they hear the president and the attorney general speak about this alleged dirty-bomb plot that was uncovered?
BRIAN JENKINS, TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, clearly, it's a concern because it indicates the determination of the terrorists to continue carrying out attacks against us and to try to carry out those attacks here in the United States.
At the same time, I don't think we should exaggerate the threat posed by a dirty bomb. There are many, many scenarios. We shouldn't immediately jump to the absolute worst case of a radioactive dispersal.
Moreover, in this particular episode, fortunately, the individual was discovered, the plot was discovered before it had a chance to fully mature.
BLITZER: But if he was engaged, Brian, in this plot, as alleged by the U.S. government, presumably there are plenty of others out there who haven't been apprehended who are still at large.
JENKINS: Quite possibly. Quite possibly so. There's no question that the threat remains extremely high. We know that we've put some dents into the leadership of Al Qaeda and some of these other groups. We know that they're having some difficulties communicating. But their operational capabilities are still there. And many of these local operatives and cells may be operating somewhat more autonomously with perhaps less central direction but, nonetheless, with the inspiration coming from the center.
The other thing that's interesting is that, apparently, as it has been reported, the instructions to Mr. Padilla, and indeed his travel, was after September 11th. So even while we were engaged in war in Afghanistan, they were still moving around people, planning further attacks, which was, of course, a presumption but now we have further proof.
BLITZER: And the amazing thing is, Sue Bailey, when he was arrested, when he was picked up May 8th at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, he had about $10,000 or $12,000 in cash in his pocket. Now, this is a guy who's been traveling all over the world from Pakistan to Switzerland to Chicago, used to work at a Taco Bell in South Florida someplace. Obviously, he's getting money. There are resources out there for him to be engaged in a supposed reconnaissance or surveillance operation.
DR. SUE BAILEY, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY FOR HEALTH AFFAIRS: Well, and that's what's so worrisome. We've been concerned about the materials that are out there, the radioactive materials from Russia and other sources. But what if he were to buy just medical radioactive material that's used here in the United States, frequently, in 40 different centers -- for instance, we're irradiating food products -- if he were to use those funds to purchase the material he needed to make a dirty bomb?
BLITZER: It would terrorize the American public, certainly, God forbid, that kind of dirty bomb, but how much real damage could it cause?
BAILEY: Well, it's not the damage that we would see from the explosion that might kill some people. It's the fact that we're concerned about the radiation that would spread. Frankly, that's not that big a concern for the American public or even for the people that are nearby or those who might be within a mile or two of a dirty bomb. Because long term, really, we don't think the effects are going to be very great, because the radiation, generally, would be low, from cobalt and CCM and the types of materials that are easier to get and therefore would probably be involved in a dirty bomb.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask Brian Jenkins. I know you're one of the world's leading experts on this subject. If one of those car bombings -- let's take an example like the Oklahoma City bombing at the Murrah Federal Office Building. If that bomb that was created there did have some radiological material included in it, what would have been the major difference, if any at all, in the outcome?
JENKINS: Well, part of the answer depends, of course, on what material it did contain and how much of that material, whether it's relatively small sums or greater quantities. But the principal casualties would come from the explosion itself. That is, from the conventional explosives.
In a so-called dirty bomb, there's no nuclear contribution to the explosion. It's simply a means of dispersing this material. The radioactivity that would be dispersed would cause some decontamination problems that we would have to address. Some people would be exposed to effects of radiation.
But as Dr. Bailey has pointed out, the most likely substances to be used and from what we know about radiation, it's not going to be that serious a problem. They're not talking about thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people being dangerously exposed, as we've seen in some of the more lurid accounts.
BLITZER: I know, Sue, that you've spoken in the past about potassium iodide pills almost should be made available, obviously, in case there's some sort of radiological dirty bomb that is detonated.
Tell our viewers what those kinds of pills, if they are available, would do.
BAILEY: Well, it's important, first, to realize that that's really the result of a nuclear breakdown in one of our reactors. A breach of the core of a reactor would cause the release of radioactive iodide.
It really is not something we're worried about in a dirty bomb per se. So, first you have to realize that's the case.
Now, there are a hundred of those or more around the country...
BLITZER: Nuclear reactors?
BAILEY: ... that we have to be concerned about. Nuclear reactors that are active today. And that's a real concern, because they're not built to withstand, for instance, a crash by a 767, an airliner, for instance.
The potassium iodide essentially floods the thyroid, so that you don't have the long-term effect, which would be thyroid cancer, which we saw in Chernobyl in about 1,800 children, for instance.
So if we get the potassium iodide quickly, within hours, to the people that are exposed, then we could prevent, for instance, those thyroid cancers.
BLITZER: So you think that around all of those nuclear reactors, those power plants around the country, 100 of them, mostly in the Northeast but they're spread out around the country, that people should have a stack of potassium iodide pills just available?
BAILEY: Well, they're going to have to be available, because you need to take them quickly. This is not like a medication you can take days later. It has to be within hours. So yes, for the 10-mile radius around most of those sites, you really need to have those on hand.
BLITZER: What about that, Brian? Does that make sense?
JENKINS: It does make sense.
But here, I think, to go back to a point made earlier by Dr. Bailey, let's make a distinction between the kind of dangerous radiation that can spew out of a nuclear reactor, the kind of a thing that we saw in Chernobyl, and the so-called "dirty bomb," which is likely to involve different sorts of radioactivity. There clearly is a potential for a long-term development of cancer after exposure to radioactivity, but even -- the research indicates that even where, for example, tens of thousands of people were exposed to very, very high levels of radioactivity, for example in Hiroshima, that the incidence of cancer that was attributable to that exposure was less than 1 percent, looking at the thing 40, 50 years later.
So we're talking about only very, very modest increases in danger. And indeed, by proper diet and by not smoking, for example, people have far greater control over their risks, their exposure to cancer than 1 percent.
BLITZER: I want to take a quick break, but before I do, Sue, this whole -- you mentioned earlier that getting some of this radiological material, either from hospitals or from fruit, where it's irradiated, that might not be all that difficult. Terrorists might be able to buy this kind of material. How difficult would it be to get their hands on this kind of stuff?
BAILEY: Well, I think it would be fairly easy to get the material. I think the real question is whether or not they can put together a dirty bomb in such a way that they could be effective. Because if you're using those materials, such as cobalt, you could be exposed within as little as an hour to a radiation level which could essentially kill you. So, even if you want to be a suicide bomber, you're not going to be an effective one.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break and pick up this conversation on terrorism and what the United States could do about it. We'll continue our conversation and take your phone calls. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking about preparedness for terrorism with Brian Jenkins of the RAND Corporation and Dr. Sue Bailey, the former United States assistant defense secretary for health affairs.
We have a caller from New York. Go ahead, New York, with your question.
CALLER: Yes, it seems that we are prepared from the national level. I'd like to commendate that. But the community level seems to be totally -- I mean, when I say totally, I mean totally -- unprepared as far as where American citizens live.
BLITZER: All right, let's ask Dr. Bailey. What about that, are communities around the United States prepared for a worst-case scenario?
BAILEY: Well, it depends on what that worst case is. We're getting better prepared, but no, we're still not where we need to be. We don't have the physicians and healthcare workers trained. We're not communicating well between ambulances, hospitals, local and state officials. And we really don't the medications on hand and the ability to deal with a lot of what could happen with a weapon of mass destruction.
BLITZER: You mean vaccines and antidotes, things like that?
BLITZER: Where do you think the priorities should be on the communities, Brian? What should they be doing right now, apparently, that they're not yet doing?
JENKINS: Well, they are doing a number of things, and part of it is to simply begin to carry out the planning process that will be -- enable them to assemble all of the resources to respond to one of these attacks, whether it's bioterrorism or some different scenario.
There are, in our communities, hospitals and in the private sector, veterans hospitals, other medical facilities. There are trained people. The real issue is to be able to coordinate, to be able to mobile all of these in a timely fashion.
That's going to require some more resources for training. It's going to require some more resources to provide the communications infrastructure that we lack in the area of public health. It's going to require some contingency planning. And it is going to require to have available at the local level the resources, the vaccines, the antibiotics and the other actual medical material that we'll need to be able to respond effectively.
We've started at the federal level, but there is the weakness that the caller has indicated at the local level. Getting better, but still has to improve greatly.
BLITZER: Sue, the anthrax attacks last fall, a number of people were killed. They tried to kill a few United States senators, some news media personnel. Terrorist or terrorists. It doesn't seem to be obvious right now who was responsible. The U.S. government apparently doesn't even have a clue yet.
How is that possible that, at this point, after those kinds of anthrax letter attacks, the killers are still at large?
BAILEY: Well, I think this is a situation where there are a lot of coincidences. It makes you wonder if in fact it is not a disgruntled microbiologist, as we have liked to think it might have been, in that that might be someone we would be able to locate. That in fact it might be part of a wider plot, part of a terrorist plot.
So there are real concerns, because you're right, we still don't have an answer as to who it was. Thank God it has stopped. But the concern is, was this some kind of a test? Is this someone who really had just only a small amount and used all of it? Those questions are all still there.
BLITZER: Why haven't the police, the law enforcement community, Brian, been able to nail this one down? JENKINS: I've said from the beginning, Wolf, on this that the apprehension of this individual would be extremely difficult. And I tend to believe, as has been reported, that the investigators tend to believe, that this is not part, at least we have no evidence that links to part of some broad terrorist plot. That this may well be an individual who had access somehow to this material, knowledge how to use it and carried out an individual attack.
When we looked at that type of a scenario, whether it's anthrax letters or whether it's mail bombs, it is extremely difficult to investigate these cases.
You know, keep in mind the case of the so-called Unabomber who now fortunately is in prison. That went on, a serial bombing, went on for 17 years before that individual was ultimately identified and apprehended. Very hard to do.
BLITZER: But in those letters, though, that were made public, the letters to Senator Leahy, to Senator Daschle, there were references to Allah, references to kill Jews. Was that simply a diversion, Brian?
JENKINS: I'm not sure it was a diversion. The individual certainly may have felt strongly about some of those issues. But at the same time, the targeting of the individuals in the Senate and in the news media indicate a kind of idiosyncratic targeting.
This individual, I suspect, was concerned about some broader issues, but also had some very specific things on his mind and may have some personal grievances that we don't know about yet but, in fact, that are providing, or that did provide, the impetus for that initial attack.
But the attack took the form, was put into the framework of these broader political and social issues, but that may not be the real reason why this individual did what he did.
BLITZER: Sue, as bad as anthrax was and is, smallpox would be a million times worse.
BAILEY: Absolutely. You saw that we were able to treat the anthrax and really reduce the mortality rate. Because it was a bacteria, we were able to use antibiotics. Smallpox is a virus. We're not going to be able to treat that.
Now, fortunately, only a third of the people die of smallpox, instead of the 90 percent or near 90 percent with anthrax.
But the real problem is this is contagious. That could mean an epidemic -- actually, a pandemic, where we'd have a worldwide situation on our hands.
BLITZER: And people who don't die are disfigured, most of them for life.
BAILEY: Well, certainly, that's a real concern, too. I think the big concern is that this is such a potent virus, and it has taken out, in the middle ages, millions of people. So we're really concerned about something that's contagious, like this particular smallpox, because it really would be like a plague.
BLITZER: The government now says, Brian, that they do have enough vaccine for all nearly 300 million Americans. Is it time, in your opinion, to start giving that smallpox vaccine?
JENKINS: I don't know that we ought to go into a mandatory nationwide vaccination yet. There are some potential downsides. We do have people who have immune-deficient systems that could be imperiled by the administration of smallpox vaccine. We do have people undergoing chemotherapy, whose immune systems, again, are weakened.
So there are some real costs to doing so. Absent a clear and present danger, it may make more medical sense to withhold that.
But I'd like to follow up on a point made earlier, in terms of the virulence of this disease and bring out why this is dangerous, simply not for the United States, but for the entire world.
Were somebody to deliberately disseminate smallpox, given the time it is required to incubate and become apparent, it's entirely possible, in fact it is highly likely, that it would even spread beyond the shores of the United States and begin what Dr. Bailey has correctly referred to as a pandemic.
Despite the shortcomings in our medical systems and public health systems in this country, we would be able to deal with it. The advanced countries of Western Europe would be able to deal with it. But the developing countries of the world would not. They simply lack the medical and public health infrastructure to deal with it. People would die like flies.
BLITZER: On that very, very depressing note, Brian Jenkins, thanks for joining us. Sue Bailey, thank you, as well. And unfortunately, we'll probably have to continue this conversation.
Coming up in the next hour of LATE EDITION, two key members of Congress weigh in on the war against terrorism and the Bush administration's efforts to fight terrorism also. Some insight into the war's latest legal challenges. Is the U.S. Constitution being sidestepped? Your letters, your phone calls, and Bruce Morton's essay, all when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: We're going to turn to two members of the United States Congress now. Shortly, we'll be speaking with the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Henry Hyde. But joining me now here in Washington, a key member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democrat Jane Harman of California.
Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.
You're going to be taking the lead among Democrats in questioning the FBI director, Robert Mueller, the CIA director, George Tenet, first in closed-door hearings this week and then next week. What do you want to learn that you don't know yet?
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, first of all, Happy Father's Day.
BLITZER: Thank you.
HARMAN: What we want to learn is everything we can learn about the plot up to 9/11 so that we know from the vantage point of hindsight everything that happened and perhaps a lot about what clues were missed.
The point of all this is not only to find that out, but then to protect against the next wave of attacks. If we don't look back, we can't look forward.
And I am very worried that now Al Qaeda operatives are disbursed all over the world and that there really may be a series of, perhaps, smaller but very deadly attacks against American interests and other interests all over the world.
BLITZER: Well, you just heard this report in Morocco. The Moroccan authorities, thanks to apparently a tip from the CIA, arrested three alleged Al Qaeda operatives and a couple of their wives or whatever, and that they were going after U.S. and British ships in the Strait of Gibraltar.
HARMAN: Right. There is a lot of coverage of that in the major newspapers this morning, and we've been briefed on that too.
Moroccan sources were the ones that gave this story to the papers. And it was a very interesting, according to published reports, path to track these folks. Some of the Guantanamo people gave some information. And according to...
BLITZER: The detainees at Guantanamo, Cuba.
HARMAN: Yes. And according to the newspapers today, a profile of the trainer was put together, and then he was captured in northern Morocco. And that's really a huge assist by the Moroccans.
BLITZER: I want to bring in Chairman Henry Hyde, the chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
Mr. Chairman, how concerned are you that these, perhaps, dispersed Al Qaeda cells that may still be out there roaming around could cause some serious damage to U.S. interests?
REP. HENRY HYDE (R), ILLINOIS: Well, I think it would be very stupid not to be concerned. I think the globalization of this movement is becoming ever more apparent. We can be grateful that the Moroccan authorities were so efficient. But I think the seriousness of the threat and its globalization is brought home again and again by things like this event.
BLITZER: Well, we know, Mr. Chairman, that there have been terrorist attacks only in the past few days in Karachi, Pakistan, outside the U.S. consulate there. A number of French citizens were killed a few weeks earlier outside a major hotel in Karachi. A synagogue was blown up in Tunisia, now in Morocco. It looks like Al Qaeda, despite being weakened, still has some capability.
HYDE: Yes, it does. And that means we have to redouble our efforts to identify them and to capture them. We need more cooperation from our allies, our friends. But no one can downgrade the seriousness and the dimension of this threat.
BLITZER: I heard Senator Daschle, Congresswoman Harman, say this morning on one of the other Sunday morning programs, he's not satisfied with the cooperation that the U.S. government is getting from Saudi Arabia. Are you satisfied?
HARMAN: I think they could do more, I do. And I think that's a subject under active exploration.
But I just want to say that I don't agree that the Al Qaeda threat is diminished. We have taken out some of their top leadership. We know that. Some people are dead. But Osama bin Laden may well be alive. And in addition to that, the second level of leaders are very effective. Their tradecraft, as we call it, their ability to recruit and train and deploy in successful operations some junior players is very, very effective. And we have to be worried all over the world now.
BLITZER: So when you hear some of your fellow Democrats, some critics of the Bush administration, say that all of these alarms, these alerts that have been put out, really are simply designed for political reasons and they're just trying to divert the American public's attention from some other issues, you don't fall into that camp?
HARMAN: No. But I think that the way these have been delivered, these threat warnings, is not effective. That's why we need this Department of Homeland Security. That's why we need the analytical piece in the department, to organize and communicate effectively what are the credible threats, and not just what are they, but what are first responders, police and fire and emergency technicians, and Americans supposed to do about the threats. People are confused, they're panicky. That's not a good program to make our homeland secure.
BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, you're the chairman now of the International Relations Committee; you used to be the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. You know a great deal about the FBI, homeland security.
One of the complaints that the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, made was the way the president and a close circle of his advisers came up with this proposal for a new Department of Homeland Security. Listen to what Daschle said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DASCHLE: What troubles most of us is the tremendous level of secrecy this administration seems to employ with so many of its decisions. This was all done in secret, I'm told, without even Cabinet involvement. We certainly weren't involved. And that's troubling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How troubling, if at all, is it to you, Mr. Chairman?
HYDE: Well, I'm not troubled by it, because it is simply a proposal that Congress is going to have to enact. So we're not kept out of the loop. We're going to look at each line in the proposal and have an opportunity to debate it in committee, on the floor, revise it, amend it.
So where something initiates isn't as important as the opportunity we get to review it and to amend it and to finally pass it.
BLITZER: Congresswoman, the chairman makes a good point. This is simply a proposal. It's not even a proposal yet. Nothing has been submitted from the administration to Congress, just some vague, generalized ideas out there. But when it gets to Congress, you're going to have a chance to rewrite the whole thing if you want.
HARMAN: Well, we will, but I've been saying that the war on terrorism has now expanded to the war on turf. I don't think the administration could have gotten all the ideas on one piece of paper without doing most of their work in private.
The bill is coming up on Tuesday. Congress is going to have an expedited process to consider it. I think we should work our will and we should fine-tune it, but I am strongly in favor of one unified, integrated strategy for homeland security. Most of the ideas in the proposal were borrowed, shall we say, from those of us in Congress who've been talking about this since September 11th.
BLITZER: Are you willing to guess when it might eventually be approved in the House?
HARMAN: I think the process is now in place. Dick Armey will be in charge of a new special committee in the House to expedite consideration of the bill after it's been heard in the Government Reform Committee. And we're hoping to have it on the House floor in July and, I think, on the Senate floor, as well, in July; pass the bills by the August recess, have a conference then; and enact the bill into law by September 11. That was Leader Gephardt's idea. I think it's a great idea, and it honors the survivors of that horrible tragedy.
BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, we're going to take a quick break, but by September 11th, is that overly optimistic to think this can get through the House and the Senate by September 11th?
HYDE: I think it's doable. I think, if we aren't distracted by a lot of sideshows and put our minds to it, I think it can be done by September 11th. It's not out of reach.
BLITZER: All right. Let's take a quick break. And we'll see if it is out of reach.
We'll continue our discussion with Congressman Hyde, Congresswoman Harman. They'll also be taking your phone calls. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, the Illinois congressman, Henry Hyde, and California Congresswoman Jane Harman, a key member of the House Select Intelligence Committee.
We have a caller from California. Go ahead, California, with your question.
CALLER: Thank you very much. I want to know why we need the home security when we already have NSA? And what is the difference?
BLITZER: All right. Well, maybe she means the NSC. The NSA is National Security Agency. The NSC is National Security Council.
But what about that, Mr. Chairman? Why does the U.S. government, with all these security organizations, intelligence-gathering organizations, law-enforcement organizations, need yet another layer of bureaucracy right now to deal with homeland security?
HYDE: Well, I think that's the idea, responding to just that criticism by trying to consolidate all of the many overlapping agencies, that have a responsibility, or at least a piece of responsibility, in this counterintelligence situation.
We do have many, many layers of bureaucracy. And I think the idea behind the homeland security entity is to consolidate these so that we aren't lost in a maze of bureaucracy.
BLITZER: And I want Congresswoman Harman to weigh in on this, as well, and also listen to this excerpt from what the president said at a meeting at the White House earlier this week on Wednesday. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We are asking people in Congress to give up turf, as they say, give up a little power. And I'm under no illusions that asking folks to give up power can be a difficult assignment. So one of the things I'll do is remind the members of Congress that this is not a political issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You were at that meeting when the president spoke.
HARMAN: I was.
BLITZER: Giving up turf in Congress is a lot easier said than done.
HARMAN: You bet it is. But we're already changing the way we're going to consider this bill, by having this special committee, headed by House Leader Dick Armey, in charge of reviewing the markup and consolidating, perhaps, objections that are expected from other committees.
Long term, we have to reorganize Congress to deal with this, but this is our priority issue facing America's security. We have to, as a Congress, those of us elected to protect the homeland of our districts, be ready to do that. And that may mean giving up some personal power to do it.
BLITZER: Is it, Mr. Chairman, a foregone conclusion that the Judiciary Committee -- I'm just throwing out one committee -- would have oversight over the new proposed homeland security department?
HYDE: Well, I don't know, but there will be a struggle, of course. That is to say, there will be heavy debate over the jurisdiction, but I think good leadership. And I think the Democrats and the Republicans, both in the House and Senate, have good leadership, patriotic leadership, visionary leadership.
I think we can work out the turf struggles. There will be controversy. There will be some debate. But in the end, I think the showing can be made. That it is for the overall good of our country. And we need less agencies, fewer agencies and ones that communicate with each other a lot better.
So I think everyone's sense of patriotism will prevail, and we will resolve the turf problems.
BLITZER: One of the issues that comes up was an issue that Ron Kessler, he is an author of -- written a couple books on the FBI, wrote in The Washington Post, and I want to put it up on our screen, Congresswoman.
He says this: "To be truly effective against terrorism, the Bureau must be radically increased in size. It's current complement of 11,500 agents compares with 40,000 New York City police officers and 1.4 million military personnel. The FBI's budget of about $4 billion is equal to a few stealth bombers."
He's suggesting the FBI has got to grow tremendously.
HARMAN: Well, I think it does have to grow, but it has to grow in a new organization with a new culture.
And I want to commend Bob Mueller, the new director of the FBI, for the reforms he's starting to put in place.
HARMAN: Let me just make another comment, though, to the past caller. She was calling about the National Security Agency or the National Security Council. The FBI and the CIA are mostly left out of this new Department of Homeland Security. I think that's a good thing because the missions are not totally identical.
I think that the FBI has to increase its capacity. It has to have many more analysts. Its mission has to be broader than it has been, and it has to move to the 21st century with advanced technology, which has been totally lacking. All of those things are in process of being put in place, and I do want to commend the FBI for the changes.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Congresswoman, Congressman. We're going to take another quick break.
We have a lot more to talk about, including your phone calls. We'll also get involved in some international issues on the U.S. agenda right now. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We're talking with the Illinois Republican congressman, the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Henry Hyde, and California Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Mr. Chairman, do you think it's time for the Bush administration to move beyond the planning stages but to engage more aggressively right now in trying to topple Saddam Hussein?
HYDE: That's a very difficult question. I think the job of toppling Saddam Hussein involves many options. I think the pressure is being ratcheted up. From what I understand, there are -- all of these options are being considered. There is more intensification concerning support for the Iraqi National Congress and other elements within Iraq.
I don't think anyone has made their mind up yet as to whether we're going to have a Desert Storm type of operation or whether we're going to try to work from within with indigenous groups that are hostile to Saddam Hussein. But I think the pressure is increasing.
And I don't think, as I say, they've quite decided how they are going to do this. A lot depends on support from other countries in the alliance, although the president has said one way or the other, Saddam is going to have to go.
But I'm not concerned that this subject is being neglected. I'm sure it's not.
BLITZER: What do you think, Congresswoman?
HARMAN: Well, I think regime change in Iraq is desirable. However, before we field a force of between 100,000 and 250,000 troops, we better finish the war we're in. There are disturbing signs, as we've been talking about, that Al Qaeda is regrouping and deployed all over the world. We haven't won the war against Al Qaeda. It is not clear that our job is over in Afghanistan.
And in addition to that, another country right next to Iraq, and that is Iran, I think, is an even more clear and present danger to the Middle East than Iraq is. It has shown tendencies to try to expand. Russia, unfortunately, is still transferring technology to Iran. It has almost a fully developed nuclear, chemical, biological and missile capability. These are things that trouble me a lot, and I think we have to keep some energy focused on Iran as well.
BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, you're the chairman of the International Relations Committee. Do you think it's a good idea for the United States to endorse a provisional or interim Palestinian state even while negotiations for final borders, final-status issues are worked out down the road?
HYDE: I don't think it's useful without the approval or, at least, benign acceptance of such a concept by the Palestinians and by the Israelis. My understanding is, this concept has been rejected by both. One, the Palestinians say it doesn't go far enough, and of course the Israelis say it goes too far.
In exchange for setting up a provisional state, which is not a bad idea in itself, there has to be some quid pro quo, and that would be a cessation of violence and all of these suicide bombings. And I don't see that happening yet.
BLITZER: What about that?
HARMAN: Security first. And I would like to see some transparency in the Palestinian government. That is beginning to happen, but I think this cabinet proposed by Chairman Arafat is a bunch of old cronies. He can do better than that.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to leave it right there.
Congresswoman Jane Harman, good luck with the hearings the next few weeks.
HARMAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: I know you'll be very busy on that.
Mr. Chairman, Henry Hyde of Illinois, thanks to you as well.
Always good to have both of you on our program.
And when we return, the only person to be criminally charged for the September 11 attacks will have the chance to speak for himself in court. We'll get some perspective on the U.S. government's effort to put terror on trial from the former attorney general of the United States, Dick Thornburgh, and the criminal defense attorney, Roy Black.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We're not interested in trying him at the moment. We're not interested in punishing him at the moment. We're interested in finding out what in the world he knows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The United States defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, commenting on the arrest of dirty bomb suspect Jose Padilla, an American citizen also known as Abdullah al Muhajir.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Joining us now to help sort out a few of the legal challenges presented by both the dirty bomb suspect as well as Zacarias Moussaoui, that case, other cases, two prominent attorneys. Here in Washington, Dick Thornburgh, you served as the United States attorney general during the first Bush administration. And in Miami, the famed criminal defense attorney Roy Black.
Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
And, Roy, let me begin with you on this case of Jose Padilla, the alleged dirty bomber. The U.S. government, the Bush administration insists it's dealing with an enormous challenge, a legal issue, but at the same time a national-security issue. That's why they've deemed him a so-called enemy combatant, so that he remains in a Navy brig, and not accessible to public statements, to information, not even accessible to his own court-appointed attorney.
ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, Wolf, this is a somewhat disturbing matter. We have to look a little bit into its background.
You know, Padilla's arrested, and he's put in the custody of the civil authorities to pend prosecution and is appointed a lawyer. I think during the period of time, a couple of weeks, while he's there, the government decides it does not have enough evidence to convict him of any crime. Apparently nothing he did went beyond the talking stage.
So, instead of just dismissing the case or not bringing the case, they label him an "unlawful combatant," transfer him to this naval brig down in South Carolina, deny him the right to a lawyer, and say, we're going to hold you indefinitely under our war powers, and that you cannot communicate with anybody, you have no right to go to court, you have no trial. We just under some bureaucrat calling you an "unlawful combatant," we can keep you indefinitely in our custody.
And I'm telling you, I'm very disturbed by that.
BLITZER: All right. I want to bring the former attorney general in, but let's put up on the screen some of the facts that are undisputed in this particular case involving Jose Padilla. He is being held indefinitely, incommunicado, in South Carolina, no criminal charges, no legal counsel.
Earlier this week, I spoke with his court-appointed attorney, Donna Newman (ph), who's being paid by the government to represent him, and this is what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you think about it, a U.S. citizen is being detained. He is being questioned, interrogated, because the administration has determined, decided -- judge and jury, all in one -- that this man is guilty, but they refuse to charge him of anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. That sounds disturbing, on the surface, doesn't it, Dick Thornburgh?
DICK THORNBURGH, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I think the key thing to recognize here, Wolf, is that we're in relatively legally uncharted waters. The only Supreme Court precedents that can be looked to go back to World War II, and we're also looking at a role definition here, on the part of the U.S. government.
On the one hand, we want to gather enough information to thwart terrorist events within this country. And on the other hand, from a law-enforcement standpoint, we want to gather as much legally admissible evidence to try these people in court before a judge and a jury under our criminal justice system.
Those two are not the same, and, while they overlap somewhat, there is a lot of confusion, I think, given these unique circumstances, as to what properly should be done with someone who is intercepted, as the government alleges, here in the case of Padilla, in the course of planning some kind of terrorist act.
The definition of "enemy combatant" comes right out of the 1942 Nazi-saboteurs case decided by the Supreme Court, and creates, I would argue, an analogy to a prisoner of war.
BLITZER: Well, what about that, Roy Black, the 1942 case? I read that case. I assume you've read it as well. It does say that a United States citizen who works with the enemy in a wartime situation -- and the U.S. government is now saying, the Bush administration, the United States is engaged in a war -- can be held as a so-called enemy combatant.
BLACK: Well, I wouldn't look to the United States Supreme Court to help us out here. In fact, I think Chief Justice Rehnquist in the book he wrote about war powers even agrees not only with Ex Parte Quirin, that case, but with the United States v. Korematsu, in which we allowed the government to put people who had Japanese blood who were American citizens in concentration camps.
So there's certainly at least one voice on the Supreme Court that still thinks we can use concentration camps.
But remember, we have a country that's developed because of civil liberties. We now cannot deny our citizens civil liberties because we're having a tough time.
Granted, we all want to be protected, but I don't think we can totally ignore the rule of law here. We can't allow some government bureaucrat to label you an unlawful combatant, and thereby keep you in custody indefinitely.
BLACK: Remember, they said this war on terrorism will go on forever. So in other words, they can keep you on life imprisonment, without a trial. Remember, we created this constitution because that's what they used to do in England and France and a lot of these European nations. We were totally against that idea. I don't think we should just give up our Constitution now.
BLITZER: You know, and on that point, I want to bring in -- and I'm going to bring back Dick Thornburgh. John Ashcroft does, in defending his decision, make this case. And I want you to listen precisely to his words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHCROFT: We have acted with legal authority, both under the laws of war and clear Supreme Court precedent, which establish that the military may detain a United States citizen who has joined the enemy and has entered our country to carry out hostile acts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: At the same time, a lot of people are wondering why it is the U.S. government, the Bush administration, act in one way towards Jose Padilla, in another way towards John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, who is before a federal court right now.
BLACK: Well, I think the difference is probably in the evidence that's available to them.
One of the things that I think we have to keep in mind here is that all these cases are different. They depend upon different sources and methods of information that the government has accumulated. There is an understandable weariness about the risks of trying these cases in open court.
Suppose, if you will -- I don't know this to be the fact, but it could be possible -- that the evidence against Padilla depends upon some very sensitive cooperation from persons within the Al Qaeda network. They would have to be exposed in a court trial. Or that it was gathered by sophisticated intelligence-gathering methods that might well be exposed in a court trial and give a blueprint to Al Qaeda people, as to how they could avoid it in future. These are the kinds of thing that have to be taken into account in dealing with these particular individuals on a case-by-case basis.
BLITZER: On that point, Roy Black, I guess the -- a lot of people are saying if you look at the polls, people are just -- most Americans are reacting to this Jose Padilla case by simply saying, well, you got to trust the government right now. If they say this guy is a danger and he could create some sort of dirty bomb, let the government do with him whatever they want.
BLACK: Well, yes, of course. Most Americans are afraid, so they say trust the government. But let me tell you, in the past, we've trust the government and, unfortunately, our trust hasn't always been returned.
I think that when you say this case-by-case process, let's look at the case- by-case process. In Reid and Moussaoui, they're going in federal court. Why? Because they have enough evidence to prove a crime. So therefore, they're going to put them on trial.
Padilla is a different story. I don't think they have enough evidence to prove he committed a crime. They may have something saying he discussed things, but it never went beyond that stage. And what I know of Padilla, he's certainly not a man who could create a bomb.
So they decide they don't have enough evidence to go to court, so what are we going to do? We're going to hold him indefinitely.
And then you add to that the point that you brought up earlier in the show, Wolf, about the timing of the press conference. Isn't that often coincidental that when the government really needs some help here, because of the criticism of 9/11, they then hold a press conference with the attorney general in Moscow saying, well, we've discovered this suspect and now we're going to call him an unlawful combatant. Let me tell you, I hate to think that our rights depend on whether or not the attorney general needs a press conference.
BLITZER: All right. Well, let me let the former attorney general -- would you have done that? If you would have been the attorney general visiting Moscow on totally unrelated business and they pick up this guy who may be a big fish, may be a small fry, whatever he is, would you have done a news conference like that and made statement, an alarming statement, like that from Moscow, as opposed to letting your deputy attorney general handle it in Washington?
THORNBURGH: Oh, I don't want to second-guess the attorney general, although I think he might have been a little more precise in his wording about this individual.
But there are two sides to this. One is viewed as unjustifiably alarming the American public. The other is that this kind of action reassures the American public that the FBI and CIA are working together and they've actually thwarted, before it could take place, a supposed terrorist act.
There are a couple of other things that I want to mention.
BLITZER: Just mention one, because we're going to take a quick break. THORNBURGH: I'll wait then.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about. We'll continue our discussion with Dick Thornburgh and Roy Black. They'll also be taking your phone calls. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking about legal developments in the war against terrorism with the former United States attorney general Dick Thornburgh and the criminal defense attorney Roy Black.
Roy, there's an article in Newsweek Magazine that's just come out today, in the new issue of Newsweek, dealing with the so-called American Taliban John Walker Lindh, who was interrogated by an FBI agent in Afghanistan early December.
But just before, there was an e-mail from some official at the Justice Department advisory office on ethics saying this: "We don't think you can have the FBI agent question Walker. It would be a pre- indictment, custodial overt interview, which is not authorized by law." They went ahead and interviewed it anyway, and they want to use that as evidence against him.
What does all this mean?
BLACK: Well, this is going to be a problem for the government. I've always thought that bringing the FBI in to interview him while he was in Afghanistan was a mistake. They could have gotten away with it with anybody attached to the military because it was a military action. But once you bring the FBI in it becomes a criminal investigation and you have different rights than you do if you're seized by the military.
And I think that this hearing is going to be very interesting one. And the government, I think, is going to have some problems upholding this statement.
BLITZER: What about that, Dick Thornbugh?
THORNBURGH: I think it's right for the court to consider this issue, but the whole question of the battlefield applicability of Miranda warnings and search warrants and the like is a little bit of Alice in Wonderland, it seems to me.
When you're engaged in actual combat, where you take prisoners and we take people into custody, the first thing you want to do is to get as much intelligence from them as you can about planned or future operations of the group with which he's allied himself.
BLITZER: And I guess the question is should that information, which is being used for intelligence purposes, should that information also be allowed to be admitted in court if you're prosecuting that individual?
THORNBURGH: That's a legitimate question. It gets back to the point I made at the top of the show that there is a real difference between the rolls of the intelligence gathering community and the law enforcement community. One is designed to thwart bad things from happening in the future. The others designed to bring people to account for things that have happened in the past.
And this is going to be a tough assignment for the judge because she'll have to make a determination as to which of those predominates in a situation like John Walker Lindh's.
BLITZER: Without that evidence, Roy Black, the prosecution's case against John Walker Lindh could be in trouble.
BLACK: Oh, I certainly think so. I think the major part of their case, the most serious charges come out of evidence that comes out of his mouth.
You know, Dick and I are really not disagreeing here. What I am saying is that, while you had military officers interrogating Lindh for intelligence uses in the war, I think that's totally legitimate. You don't have to give Miranda rights or any other constitutional rights on that.
But remember, when the FBI comes in, they're not prosecuting the war. The FBI is there solely to gather information for a criminal case. And so he has an entirely different hat than the military officers. Once the FBI goes in, I think they have to give him Miranda rights.
THORNBURGH: I think the American public has an awfully difficult time digesting the notion that if information, intelligence evidence is developed by one organization, it can't be shared with another organization to pursue a proper purpose.
This was one of the things that the USA Patriot Act was designed to do, to make sure that federal grand jury testimony and court- authorized wiretap evidence that was obtained by the FBI could be shared with the Central Intelligence Agency and vice versa. So that you have a seamless web of available information that can be used in both preventing terrorism and in prosecuting those responsible.
BLITZER: All right, let's take a caller from Maryland. Go ahead with your question, Maryland.
CALLER: Yes. I'd like to know why we can't strip these people of their U.S. citizenship.
BLITZER: Roy Black, you want to answer that?
BLACK: Well, it's not that easy to strip somebody of citizenship. You have to voluntarily give it up. You have to relinquish it. And it may well be that some of these people have, through their actions, indicated they want to relinquish their citizenship. But we can't give government the unilateral right to divest us of all our rights. Once we do that, the government's no longer bound by the rule of law. They can just say, "OK, we don't like you because you're saying things that are unpopular, so therefore, we're stripping you of your citizenship. You no longer have any rights, and we'll put you in prison or deport you." That would be frightening exercise of power.
BLITZER: Dick Thornburgh, Zacarias Moussouai, the so-called 20th hijacker, he's been in prison since August, a month before September 11th. He wants to represent himself, and the judge now thinks he can go ahead and represent himself.
But isn't there a potential of this whole trial becoming a circus? Because he's not going to be allowed to see certain evidence, he's not going to be able to question various witnesses. What does it make of this whole procedure?
THORNBURGH: Well, I think the judge acted properly, because the judge found that Moussaoui was competent to stand trial. He wasn't deprived of his mental facilities to make that decision of representing himself.
But as you point out, there are two things that are very problematic about this. One is that, not having the necessary intelligence clearances, he will be unable to examine a lot of the intelligence files that he wants to use in preparing his defense. His lawyer could have, under the Classified Information Procedures Act, have done so if he was representing him and had the proper clearance.
The other thing is that, based on his prior conduct, it seems highly likely that Moussaoui's real intent here is not to defend himself in court, but to use the court as a platform to espouse his views of hatred and militarism and terrorism.
BLITZER: That may be his objective specifically.
BLITZER: Roy Black, as you well know, they say that anyone who wants to represent himself or herself before a court of law has a fool for a client. I assume you agree with that assessment.
BLACK: No question about it. The judge was in a very difficult position here because the Supreme Court in the '70s decided a case called Ferreto (ph) v. California, saying a defendant has the absolute right to represent him or herself if they so desire and they're competent, you know, they're not mentally ill.
But I think in cases like this, we have to carve out an exception. I mean, somebody like Moussaoui really should not be allowed to represent himself because it's a very complicated case. Dick has already pointed out a lot of the difficulties with this.
But it's an important case as well. And it shouldn't be a sham trial, because the government should be put to their proof and be required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty and then prove enough evidence to have him executed, which they want.
If we allow this man to be executed with sort of a joke as a trial, I think it's a very embarrassing thing. And I think we need to reconsider Ferreto (ph) in cases like this.
BLITZER: All right. Roy Black and Dick Thornburgh, two of the best legal minds out there, thanks to both of you for joining us.
BLACK: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
And when we return, Bruce Morton's essay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Padilla is an American citizen. That should mean you have to go before a judge and charge him with something in order to keep him in custody. But he hasn't been charged with anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Bruce asks this question, can Americans trust their government when it comes to the war on terror?
BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton on trusting government and the war on terrorism.
MORTON (voice-over): The dirty bomb and bomber story which fascinated Washington this past week has more layers than an onion.
ASHCROFT: We have captured a known terrorist who was exploring a plan to build and explode a radiological dispersion device, or a dirty bomb, in the United States.
MORTON: Consider the first announcement from Attorney General John Ashcroft not at the Justice Department, but in Moscow on a special hook-up. Why? They've had this guy, Jose Padilla, for a month. Why now? Why Moscow?
Well, one explanation by some of the resident pundits here is that Ashcroft is a publicity hound, and that this showboating would get him in trouble at White House.
No? As a second explanation, the administration, as a whole, wanted to release this story, because it would switch reporters' attention away from the stories about intelligence failures before the September 11th attacks.
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said that was outlandish, coming from only the most cynical in Washington. But there may be more of those than he thinks.
Then there was what you might call the "trade craft criticism." If there is a conspiracy, why pick the guy up? Why not keep him under surveillance, until you can nab the other conspirators, too?
Then there is the U.S. Constitution. Padilla is an American citizen. That should mean you have to go before a judge and charge him with something in order to keep him in custody. But he hasn't been charged with anything. As far as we know, he never actually started work on a bomb, never bought so much as a roll of duct tape.
Conspiracy is a crime, but the government hasn't produced any conspirators. The president said...
BUSH: Padilla is a bad guy, and he is where he needs to be, detained.
MORTON: And that may be so, but you're supposed to do more than that.
Padilla's lawyer notes that Padilla is still a citizen with constitutional rights. The government, according to congressional sources in a Washington Post story, says no, it can hold Padilla indefinitely, without charging him with anything until the war on terror is over. It's a proper defensive measure, they say.
But if the U.S. can do that with citizen Padilla or with another American, Yasser Esam Hamdi, who is also being held without being charged, then it can do that with any of us -- you, me, your white- haired grandmother, anybody. And the Constitution, that wonderful document that lets us live free, will be in trouble.
In New York, Padilla's lawyer has asked a federal judge to order Padilla's release, and he has given the government until the 21st to respond.
And cynicism about what the government is up to, that goes way back. Monday is the 30th anniversary of the Watergate burglary.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Bruce.
It's time now to say goodbye to our international viewers. Thanks very much for watching.
Coming up for our North American audience, the next hour of LATE EDITION. We'll talk about the unsolved mystery of Watergate's Deep Throat, among much else, the scandal's impact on American political life and international affairs. Plus, your phone calls and our "Final Round."
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. The scandal not only destroyed Richard Nixon's presidency, but had repercussions still being felt in American politics. Joining us now to discuss Watergate's legacy, as well as its unsolved mystery, are three people with special insight:
In Connecticut, former Nixon secretary of state and national security adviser, Dr. Henry Kissinger. He describes his tenure in his book, "The White House Years."
Here in Washington, Leonard Garment, a former Nixon adviser and attorney and author of the book, "In Search of Deep Throat, the Greatest Political Mystery of Our Time."
Also here in Washington, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Elizabeth Drew. She covered Watergate and is the author of the recently published book, "Washington Journal, the Events" -- not recently published. That was a book on Watergate, 1973, 1974. Her recently published book is a book about John McCain called, "Citizen McCain."
It's good to have all of you on our program.
And, Dr. Kissinger, I want to begin with you by playing a soundbite, an excerpt of what the Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward, who, together with Carl Bernstein, broke much of the Watergate story, what Bob Woodward said today on Meet the Press, 30 years after the break-in. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, REPORTER: This was a criminal president. But not only was he a criminal president, but the investigations and the records showed that he had criminal intent in the White House. He would say to his aides, as we now know and as the whole story unraveled, "Lie to the grand jury, pay hush money to the burglars, abuse the FBI and the IRS." And then in this massive record is -- you see that there was such zeal on Nixon's part, not only to beat back his enemies, but to destroy them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Dr. Kissinger, that's such a damning indictment of Richard Nixon, the former president. I am anxious to get your reaction to that.
HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I totally disagree with this. Richard Nixon was a strange man who often said extraordinary things in conversations that he rarely expected to be carried out. He made major decisions in the field that I know best, which was in the field of foreign policy. He made mistakes at the time of Watergate. But I totally disagree with this notion that he was a criminal president. And I think it is that attitude that contributed so much to the drama of that period.
BLITZER: Leonard Garment, do you agree with Dr. Kissinger or Bob Woodward?
LEONARD GARMENT, FORMER NIXON ADVISER: Well, I saw the Woodward and Bernstein piece on the other channel this morning.
BLITZER: On "Meet the Press."
GARMENT: "Meet the Press." And I thought it was a little bit sad, maybe even pathetic, that 30 years after the event, all that Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had to talk about in relation to Richard Nixon was alleged criminality, criminal intent, that his whole presidency was the presidency of a criminal. I mean, there was nothing about China. There was nothing about the agonies of Vietnam. There was nothing about the '60s. There was nothing about the riots in the streets. There was nothing about...
BLITZER: But those were the questions that Tim Russert was asking them, about Watergate. This is the anniversary of Watergate, not the anniversary of the opening to China.
GARMENT: I know, but you can't understand Watergate without the context of the convulsive events that led to Watergate, the hatreds, those of Nixon's and those of his adversaries.
Wolf, we're not going to have a reasonable view, historical view of Richard Nixon until those dyed-in-the-wool endless haters of Richard Nixon pass from the scene and a new generation takes a look at history without the absorption of two young journalists who made their career out of Watergate and can only think about Watergate now.
BLITZER: But, Elizabeth, unlike our two other guests, you never worked for Richard Nixon,...
ELIZABETH DREW, JOURNALIST: No, I did not.
BLITZER: ... as far as I know. But you did cover that period...
BLITZER: ... in American history. And give us your sense on this whole comment made today, 30 years later, by Bob Woodward, that in effect because of the cover-up that he engaged in, Richard Nixon, he was, in Bob Woodward's words, a criminal president.
DREW: Well, I think it was broader than the cover-up, Wolf, and this is the problem. After this odd break-in that we didn't know what to make of, for a while -- and Woodward and Bernstein did their work, and then others joined in -- we learned more and more.
We learned that there was a unit working out of the White House called the "Plumbers," a private investigative unit of these people, thugs, who broke into the Watergate. To me far, far more alarming, then and still, is they broke into this psychiatrist's office of Daniel Ellsberg, who had released, leaked the Pentagon Papers. He was already under trial, but the object was to smear him and try to destroy him.
This was quite terrifying. We're talking about a constitutional crisis here. That raised the question whether we really were protected by the Fourth Amendment, to be safe in our own homes from searches and seizures of ourselves, our papers and so on. It was a whole plethora of things that kept happening. And then, when we finally heard the tapes, we hear Nixon instructing people to give hush money to the Watergate burglars and so on. So there was a lawlessness about this period.
And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) event, it's often forgotten, there was so much going on, it was almost overload. And remember, we also lost a vice president during that period. Spiro Agnew was indicted for being on the take, and this was stunning.
And so, it was one thing after another. But it was definitely the constitutional question whether the president was going to defy the courts, the Congress, the rule of law. And it was an open question for a while.
BLITZER: Dr. Kissinger, in 1977, years after he was forced to leave the White House, Richard Nixon sat down with David Frost and spoke about the entire Watergate break-in in some previously unaired excerpts that will air on the Discovery Channel tomorrow.
I want you to listen to the way he assessed his own behavior in this cover-up of the break-in. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had contained the matter during the campaign. We contained it, and I tried to contain it, for political purposes, because I didn't feel, at that time, that any erosion of the strength of the president in the country, of his support in the country and, also, I didn't feel that his defeat in an election would be in the best interests of the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Obviously, he's justifying his decision to go ahead and engage in the cover-up for broader national-security reasons in 1972- 1973.
Looking back on that period -- you lived through it, you were the secretary of state, the national security advisor -- was there any such justification, legitimate justification that he could have made in his own mind?
KISSINGER: Well, I think there are a number of things to be said about this.
First of all, what went on during the campaign, as far as I know, was what almost any White House would do when it is challenged, and if we're honest with ourselves, what we have seen recent White Houses do, to try to put -- to remove this event to the periphery of events. When witnesses started to get paid off, then it got into the act of illegality, and for that there's no excuse.
But one does have to understand that the Nixon presidency started in the midst of a Vietnam War in which he found 550,000 American troops in a situation from which he was attempting to extricate them under conditions of violent protest.
He had just made the opening to China, which was still under way. They were sensitive negotiations with the Soviet Union. And he certainly thought, and had a right to think, that the integrity of the president and the authority of the presidency were important matters to be preserved.
At some point, he went over the line and did things that cannot be justified.
BLITZER: All right.
KISSINGER: But they -- but one has to understand the dilemma in which Nixon found himself.
And I want to say here, because you may not ask me the question, something about the Pentagon Papers.
Every time I see an account of this period, people say the Pentagon Papers were such a great triumph for the free press. What the Pentagon Papers were were 10,000 classified documents that were stolen while we were conducting secret negotiations with China, with Vietnam and opening to Russia. Not one of these papers damaged Nixon. All of these papers were damaging, every last one of them, were damaging, if they were to anybody to President's Kennedy and Johnson, because they covered that period.
What Nixon attempted to do clumsily and, later, wrongly was to protect the classification system of the United States government. He went over the line, but he was not just assaulting the free press.
BLITZER: Let me move on and bring back Leonard Garment. You eventually became the White House counsel, an old law partner of Richard Nixon's in New York.
He also, in the David Frost interviews, previously unaired portions of the interviews, he also makes it sound like he was engaged in this cover-up, in this illegal cover-up, because he was trying to be nice to some of his associates inside the White House. Listen to this excerpt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: When it comes to people, I feel for them. And when you let feelings, your heart get in the way of your head when you're president, that's when you make mistakes. And that's what I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I assume he's referring to trying to protect Erlichman and Haldeman and others in the White House. GARMENT: Mostly John Mitchell.
BLITZER: The attorney general.
GARMENT: The attorney general who was a very good friend of his, was his law partner and my law partner.
BLITZER: At (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
GARMENT: At (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And John Mitchell had a lot to do with his becoming president. And John Mitchell did not want to be attorney general. He was in over his head.
And I think that Nixon did have a variety of feelings. That's one of the complications of dealing with Nixon in the kind of fairly simple way and, as a matter of fact, with respect as well, his affection for Liz Drew without a clear statement of facts that led to the use of the so-called Plumbers.
Well, it is a complicated story. I've written that for a respectable publication called the Oxford Companion to American law. And Tony Lewis has presumably vetted the piece. And it's about Watergate, and it's about this line that went straight from Vietnam, to the disclosure of secret information, to Nixon's effort to get J. Edgar Hoover to help him do some security investigations to cover these leaks which were very serious leaks, and his inability to get cooperation from Hoover who was concerned about bureaucratic anxieties.
The courts were then moving on the Fourth Amendment.
GARMENT: Let me just...
BLITZER: Go ahead.
GARMENT: ... briefly, to deal with this. And what he did was to create his own small intelligence rope to try to find out what was happening with the bombings, explosions of laboratories -- the terrorism that existed then that's a counterpart to what's going on now.
BLITZER: But in Nixon's own words, Elizabeth Drew, in his own words in the audiotapes that were eventually released that helped contribute to his downfall, he makes it clear -- and this was the smoking gun presumably that resulted in his forced resignation -- that he was intimately involved in plotting this cover-up. Listen to this excerpt from the tapes.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: He says basically -- our viewers could read it because the audio is not obviously great quality -- he said, "They should call the FBI in and say that we wish for the country, don't go any further into the case." And then he says, "Don't lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is a sort of comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it."
That's basically what brought down Nixon.
GARMENT: Well, we know that.
DREW: Excuse me.
GARMENT: I'm sorry.
DREW: I think he was talking to me.
GARMENT: I thought you said "Len."
DREW: That's the famous tape of the 23rd. But by the time this tape came out, the House Judiciary Committee had already, with great seriousness and bipartisanship, voted three articles of impeachment. It was a foregone conclusion that the House would support impeachment. And the Senate was eroding so quickly that it seemed probable that he would be convicted.
And when the transcript of this particular tape came out, he's talking there about getting the CIA to get the FBI to lay off. And various -- the Senate erupted and various -- some Republicans senators, who didn't want to put, I think, themselves through it and the Senate through it, went down to see him, and said the jig is up.
Also, there were all these stories informing Mr. Nixon if he resigned, economically, in all sorts of ways, he'd be better off than if he were impeached and convicted.
BLITZER: Dr. Kissinger, when you took issue at beginning of this interview with Bob Woodward, who called him a criminal president, those acts that he himself were engaged in, wouldn't you describe those acts -- you did say they were illegal, they were bordering, if I heard you right, on illegality. But weren't they, in effect, criminal acts?
KISSINGER: I don't know what the legal distinction is. They were certainly illegal acts. I objected to calling President Nixon a criminal president.
I think he performed many outstanding services for the country. He was a man of great patriotism whose personality was out of sync with the pressures of the time. And that led him into acts, due to his loneliness, to his suspiciousness, that were clearly wrong and that were justly criticized. That one has to understand the mood of the period, the services which he attended to render, and many of which he -- most of which he did achieve. And one should not focus on simply one event, which was a tragedy and not a criminal act, primarily. BLITZER: All right, Dr. Kissinger, stand by, Elizabeth Drew, also Leonard Garment. We're going to take a quick break.
We have a lot more to talk about in our conversation with our guests. Among other things, I'll ask them who they think Deep Throat might be. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: I have never profited, never profited from public service. I have earned every cent. I am not a crook. I have earned everything I've got.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The late President Richard Nixon uttering what became an infamous line in a news conference back in November of 1973. Nine months later, he would resign from office in disgrace.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're discussing the legacy of Watergate, 30 years tomorrow to the day, later, 30 years later. We're continuing our conversation now with the former Nixon secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, the former Nixon White House counsel Leonard Garment, and the journalist Elizabeth Drew.
Leonard Garment, I want to get to this discussion about Deep Throat in a second. But one thing that's always interested me, Nixon making all these anti-Semitic statements, we've all heard them on tape over the years. We've got one excerpt I'll play right now. Obviously, you're Jewish. How -- and listen to what Nixon said about Jews in this one little excerpt.
GARMENT: I've heard it before.
BLITZER: I'm sure you have. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: And Nixon saying that all three networks, Brinkley, Cronkite, they may not be Jewish, but their writers, he says, 95 percent Jewish. "Now, what does this mean, does this mean that all Jews are bad? No. But it does mean that most Jews are left-wing."
Did Nixon come through, in your dealings with you, as an anti- Semite?
GARMENT: No. Nor did he come through that way in his dealings with Henry Kissinger, with George Schultz, with Larry Silverman, with Arthur Burns, with...
BLITZER: Well, what you're saying is a lot of Jewish people worked for him.
GARMENT: Who have given -- and these were not just simply nominal positions. These were positions of real power. He trusted these people. These were people who were Jews, and many of them Democrats or liberals like myself, who had a different relationship with him. And he trusted us because he felt that we were reasonably loyal to him.
His antipathy to the Jews that he talked about in these private conversations -- he never spoke this way publicly -- but in these private conversations where he would sometimes say -- maybe I do, maybe you do some awful things in private. In these conversations, he was talking about people who he considered real political enemies, whether it was the media or whether it was Democrats who were his adversaries.
BLITZER: Let me bring in Dr. Kissinger. Do you want to elaborate on that point?
KISSINGER: No, I agree with what Len said. I only heard anti- Semitic comments when some Jewish group would attack him for something he had done. And I had never in my personal relations any indications that there were any reservations on religious grounds. Now did I ever hear these general conversations about Jews that I had read later in other conversations.
BLITZER: Elizabeth, Deep Throat -- John Dean, the former White House counsel, says tonight on his Web site he's going to say who he believes is Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's source, Deep Throat, on this.
What we do know about Deep Throat is that one individual, a man still alive today, held an extremely sensitive position in the executive branch of the government as of 1972. Deep Throat was a smoker, was fond of scotch. Before the term "Deep Throat" was coined, Woodward referred to him as, quote, "an old friend."
There is some speculation on NBC the other night. A university professor saying Deep Throat was a then-speechwriter for President Nixon, Pat Buchanan.
DREW: Well, you know, Wolf, there's a lot to think about about this period. And as I was saying earlier, it really is very important for people now who were not here or watching it that closely to understand we had a serious constitutional crisis going on. And it was a frightening period. Sure, other things were going on in the world, but this was all real and it was very scary.
As for Deep Throat, you know, I haven't spent a minute trying to figure out who it is. I'll read it tomorrow. I'm not even going to stay up to see what John Dean has to say.
BLITZER: Leonard, you originally thought it was John Sears (ph).
GARMENT: Well, I've always been interested in mysteries and puzzles, crossword puzzles, mystery -- development of relationships, a little bit about history. I mean, life is full of puzzles. And this is an interesting puzzle that has something to do with history.
I did research on a book that was basically about Watergate, using a detective-story framework to at least alter the form of the narrative, and I concluded that it was John Sears (ph). And John Sears (ph) was very close to Nixon. I knew him very well. He was also very close to a person who I think is a subject of real speculation now as Deep Throat, and that's Pat Buchanan.
BLITZER: So you give credence to the Pat Buchanan theory?
GARMENT: I do give credence to the fact that there were two or three people who were very close, worked very closely together, who were very ideological, even to the point, perhaps, of letting that overwhelm what you might say is their obligation to the president, their professed loyalty. Pat would be one. I mean, he was just off the charts when it came to disagreements with Nixon.
BLITZER: Let's wind up this mystery, and ask Dr. Henry Kissinger -- there's even been speculation, Dr. Kissinger, that you know, that you might have been Deep Throat. I'll give you a chance to respond to that, and then offer your assessment who that source might have been.
KISSINGER: Well, I must have started smoking and drinking scotch for that occasion.
It's -- I have no idea who Deep Throat was, and I would make two points. One is, if our government, including the CIA, has to give up its most secret documents after 25 years, I don't see why a newspaper cannot reveal the source of one story after 25 years.
And secondly, some of the circumstances that they described about how they met and how this Deep Throat called attention to himself strike me as very peculiar, and they will probably be clarified whenever the name appears.
BLITZER: And this final note: While Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, when Tim Russert asked them this morning about that suggestion that Pat Buchanan might have been Deep Throat, they raised their hands, and they said they're not going to comment any more on who may or may not be Deep Throat.
I want to thank all of our guests, Leonard Garment, Elizabeth Drew, Dr. Henry Kissinger, 30 years after the Watergate break-in, for joining us.
And this additional programming note: Tomorrow on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS, I'll continue the conversation with three special guests. John Dean will join me, Bob Woodward will join me, and Sir David Frost. That's tomorrow, 5:00 p.m. Eastern.
Coming up next, our "Final Round." Our panel will weigh in on the hot political stories of the week. "The Final Round," right after a news alert.
BLITZER: Time now for our "Final Round." Joining me, Julianne Malveaux, the syndicated columnist, Peter Beinart of The New Republic, Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online, and Robert George of The New York Post.
And we begin with a report in today's Washington Post that President Bush has given the CIA the green light to topple the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
While Democrats are generally supporting the plan, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, is warning the administration of potential pitfalls. He spoke earlier today on CBS's Face the Nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Mr. President, you -- there's a reason why your father stopped. The reason he didn't go to Baghdad -- and I'm not criticizing him -- the reason he didn't go to Baghdad, he wasn't prepared to stay for five years.
What are we going to do, after we take him down, so that the Kurds and the Turks aren't in a war, that the Shi'as in the south, and Iranians aren't back at it again and so on and so forth?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Peter, is going after Saddam Hussein worth the risk for the United States?
PETER BEINART, NEW REPUBLIC: I think it is. And I think this is a very good example that the Democratic Party really doesn't want Joe Biden out there as its lead foreign policy spokesman as we gear up for war.
Of course, there's a risk. The biggest one is that Saddam would actually use biological or chemical weapons as he's going down.
But the other risk, the greater risk, is that he gets nuclear capability over the next few years and then we have go to war with him. And there's also a great potential, which is that if you do take him out, combined with what's going on in Iran, you could see new birth of democracy in the Middle East, which is incredibly important.
BLITZER: Julianne, worth the risk?
JULIANNE MALVEAUX, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's not clear. There are two kinds of risks, though. The risk that Peter outlined, but there's another risk. If we don't connect Saddam Hussein to September 11th, we are simply violating a set of U.N. rules that we fought very have to establish.
William Galston (ph) from the University of Maryland makes a strong case in today's Post in the Outlook section about what we lose, in terms of a kind of governance that we have pushed for around the world.
And we're committing over 200,000 troops for I don't know how many years. I think we move very slowly on this. It's easy right now to find villains, so Saddam is an easy villain. But I, quite frankly, don't think, Peter, that Biden said the wrong thing.
ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: But I think it's so -- you have to keep in mind, though, that Saddam has violated U.N. rules repeatedly. And that, frankly, is one of the main reasons for going in there and taking out any potential weapons of mass destruction that he is, most likely, constructing.
BLITZER: What do you...
JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Yes, well, I mean, first of all, the notion to me, at least, that the U.N. is the fount of legitimacy for anything we do or don't do, has never been one that washes well with me.
And the larger question, look, it's a matter of if -- it's a matter of when, not if, in that, Saddam, we know, has no moral compunction or reluctance to do whatever is terrible that feeds his own ego. He's got a whole brigade that says that it's dedicated to liberating Jerusalem.
GOLDBERG: He's a warmonger in every sense. His son, if it's possible, is even more disgusting, corrupt, venal and cruel. So the idea that somehow Iraq isn't going to be a problem for us at one point or another is ridiculous.
So the question is when we do it, and I think as soon as we can.
BLITZER: All right. More warnings from the Bush administration about the same time, this time about a plot to unleash a dirty bomb. Critics say the threat may have been over played.
Earlier today on CBS' Face the Nation, the Republican Senator John McCain said that while it's important to keep the public informed, the administration would do well to temper the warnings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't think they're intentionally doing so. I think that they feel they have an obligation to warn the American people of various threats. But I think we must couple that by reassuring the American people that we can and will defeat this threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Jonah, did the administration blow this dirty bomb plot way out of proportion?
GOLDBERG: I think that was the end result. I don't know if that was the initial plan. I mean, Wolfowitz, after his -- Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz pulled back all of the, sort of, rhetoric about the dirty bomber. And it's clear that Ashcroft was off message, coming from Moscow.
Whether or not these guys are -- and I mean, the problem is, these guys are damned if they, damned if they don't. The press says not enough warnings when there aren't many warnings, and it says too many warnings when there are any warnings. So it's an almost impossible pitch to catch.
MALVEAUX: But, Jonah, they had this guy for a month before we got the news. I mean, if they were going to put something out that alarmed people, headlines in every newspaper, it should have come out a month ago when they got him.
I mean, the fact is that this time the FBI did their job. We were talking before about the fact that they dropped the ball so many times. They did their job. They followed this guy. They followed him back. They grabbed him in customs. Good for them.
Say it in May. Don't say it in June, because I think a lot of people thought this is imminent. And it wasn't imminent, it was over.
BEINART: And I think there's another point, which goes back to something McCain said, which I think is very important. There's been a kind of creeping fatalism in a lot of the Bush administration officials' tones. You know, "Another attack is inevitable." And I think there is a real danger in that kind of rhetoric, because it keeps the Bush administration, again, from being held accountable.
The question -- we need some standard by which we can judge whether they're doing a good job or not. They should say what is reasonable to expect from them in terms of what they can stop and what they can't. But if they say that everything is inevitable, then in some sense, again, they can't be held accountable.
GEORGE: The tone that should be coming from the administration is the tone that FDR said, you know, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." And unfortunately, you're getting these sounds of the administration sounding like, oh, as Peter said, "Another attack is inevitable."
And I think there's a broader -- I think there's a broader problem, I think it's another reason why the stock markets kind of went down a lot this week, is there a seeming confusion as to exactly what's going on with the administration. You've got Christie Todd Whitman not knowing what's coming out of the EPA. You've got Ashcroft in Moscow coming out with one message and then Wolfowitz saying something else. Powell and the president also seem to be giving conflicting statements on the Palestinian state.
So I think there has to be a lot more focus to reassure the country in general. GOLDBERG: But, Robert, I mean, it's not at all clear to me that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. I mean, this is a very strange kind of war we're in. And it's a lot harder to sort of say -- as Peter suggested, it's very hard to find the right pitch and tone of what people should be expecting.
MALVEAUX: But we have to put this stuff in context. We can't have people running around thinking a bomb's going to be dropped tomorrow or it was dropped yesterday when you caught the guy a month ago.
BLITZER: Well, there must be some stocks that will go up if there's a dirty bomb plot that's about to unfold, right?
BLITZER: Just joking.
GOLDBERG: Lead suit manufacturers.
BLITZER: We have to take a quick break. The Final Round, we'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our Final Round.
The White House political adviser Karl Rove's battle plan for Republican victories in November has accidentally ended up in the hands of Democrats. The plan includes playing up the war on terrorism, among other subjects.
Earlier today, the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, criticized that tactic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DASCHLE: I do get concerned when I hear about Karl Rove's presentations to Republican leadership, saying we've got to maximize the political value of the war effort, and that's troubling. But I would hope that actions taken by the White House would be done irrespective of politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Julianne, there might be a little hypocrisy there in what Senator Daschle's suggesting, isn't there?
MALVEAUX: Maybe just a tiny bit. I mean, every administration has a department of political affairs, they have a political analyst, so titled, inside the White House. At the same time, this administration has come to the American people and appealed to the Democrats, you know, for bipartisanship around the war effort, and I think that's what rankled Senator Daschle so much. I mean, asking for bipartisanship and then creating a Powerpoint presentation with the White House seal on it that is just so blatantly political, I think that it's wrong.
There may be some hypocrisy, but it's still wrong. And I think that this White House really needs to back off just a little bit on the politics. We are in the middle of a war.
BLITZER: When Dick Morris was in the White House advising Bill Clinton, they would never come up with political ideas to try to use some sort of issue for political gain, would they?
GOLDBERG: Yes, they're polled for what they have for lunch over there.
Look, this whole thing is such a non-issue. It's basically Daschle trying to make the Republicans bad guys for doing precisely what the Democrats are doing right now. There are a dozen or so congressional candidates out there who are campaigning with the image of President Bush in their ads, saying that they're side by side on the war on terrorism. Everybody is campaigning on the war on terrorism, and it seems absurd to me for the president of the United States to unilaterally say, well, I'm not going to do it, even though the opposition is doing it.
This is the least politicized conflict, almost in American history. The Civil War, obviously World War II, all of them were like this.
BEINART: I think the Democrats need to stop whining about Bush asking for credit for leading the war, which is exactly what he should be doing, and start wondering why they don't have a countermessage on the war.
The truth is that Bush is vulnerable in certain ways. He's vulnerable, for instance, on a remarkable passivity in the face of Al Qaeda regrouping in Pakistan. What is the Bush administration doing about that?
The Democrats never bring it up as an issue. They never talk about the Bush administration's continuing lack of support for a peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. And then they expect the public to give them credit on the war?
GEORGE: You know, I'll agree with Peter. I actually, though, will give a little bit of criticism to Karl Rove.
First of all, I hope there aren't any of his interns that have, like, Bush's plans to invade Iraq...
(LAUGHTER) BEINART: On Powerpoint.
GEORGE: ... and drop that, on Powerpoint as well.
But, actually, though, Rove spoke to the National Federation of Independent Businesses this week, and he said that one of the things they're going to do is go to war for the repeal of the death tax. I mean, I think, as a political -- as the political consultant of the White House, I think he should be a little bit more judicious when he realizes that there's an actual war going on, and not putting...
BEINART: Maybe he can get rid of the ridiculous term "death tax" as well.
BLITZER: Hold on one second, because I want to move on to another important subject. As we noted earlier this hour, tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of Watergate.
And earlier today one of the central characters in that scandal, the Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, reflected on his role.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN DEAN, NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: A lot of the others thought that I should fall on the sword for them. I wasn't inclined to do that. I was trying to solve the problem. And when Nixon realized he could use me also as a foil, I don't think initially he wanted to make me scapegoat, he wanted to sort of protect himself through me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is there too much -- in retrospect, was Watergate overblown?
GEORGE: I don't think Watergate itself was overblown. I mean, there was some clear presidential wrongdoing, and I think that was appropriate.
What has been overblown, though, is using every policy difference and mini-scandal that's come along since then in the context of Watergate. I mean, we saw it last month when the whole, you know, "what did the president know and when did he know it" came up. I mean, that has been the major problem with Watergate, the major problematic legacy.
BEINART: That's true, but there's also been I think an important lesson which is worth remembering now, which is about the limits of presidential power, about old lessons, about the fact that secrecy and unbridled power corrupt.
And the Bush administration, I think, which has wanted to do a lot of things in secret, needs to remember that. That there reasons for these sometimes burdensome restraints on presidential power, because we have a very, very nasty history with that.
BLITZER: And one lesson that's rarely learned, even all these 30 years later, is that the cover-up is almost always worse than the original crime.
GOLDBERG: Yes, I think that's one of the only truly good lessons that comes out of Watergate. Much of Watergate I do think was overblown in terms of what previous presidents had done. The cover-up was bad.
But basically the whole thing was a lesson in human folly. We had a sweeping number of reforms, most of which were awful, including most of the campaign finance ones which came out of Watergate.
We saw all of a sudden journalism in this country become dedicated to sort of this gotcha, "tear down the government at any cost" kind of politics. And, you know...
MALVEAUX: But in a way, Jonah, isn't that good thing? I mean, Watergate's legacy really was -- before Watergate, I think we rarely questioned our president. There was a lot of trust in government. It came at the end of the '60s, which were very in-your-face. And then you had a president who basically appropriated power inappropriately, I don't know how many times. And so investigative reporting, I think, was actually a positive legacy of Watergate.
I think the whole issue of whistleblowers, that's also a Watergate legacy. Twenty years before, Frank Willis, the man who found the break-in, might have called someone inside the White House as opposed to calling outside.
So I think it really has caused some transparency in government, and that's good.
BLITZER: We're still talking about Watergate, 30 years later.
Let's take a quick break. When we come back, our Lighting Round. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Time now for our Lightning Round.
A judge is allowing the alleged September 11th co-conspirator, Zacarias Moussaoui, to represent himself at the trial. Is this opening the door to a courtroom circus? -- Peter.
BEINART: Probably. But you know, I don't think the judge could have made another decision. And there may be some use to this. I mean, this really will give us a first-hand, undiluted look into this guy's mindset, and then we may know our enemy better.
BLITZER: All right. Robert?
GEORGE: It is opening up to a circus. This is actually -- he is a perfect example of why there should be a military tribunal, frankly.
MALVEAUX: It's a circus. I think the judge made a mistake. I think she's setting up a possibility of grounds for appeal for him.
This guy seems to be mentally unstable. Certainly, there is a history of mental instability in his family. And the question is, can he really provide an adequate defense for himself? I think not.
GOLDBERG: I think this passed circus a long time ago. He already said before he fired his lawyers, that he was there to fight for the return of all formerly Muslim lands, including Spain, which was not exactly germane to the legal issue at hand.
And I think Robert's right, this proves that military commissions are the way to go.
BLITZER: All right. What about the accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, which of course has been convicted of obstruction of justice in connection with the Enron debacle. Does this signal the start of a crackdown on white-collar crime?
GOLDBERG: Probably. If you listen to the prosecutor coming out of Texas, it sounds like it.
I think that this actually is a bit of an outrage that the government has destroyed a company that employed more people than Enron. When Enron failed and got its justice, everyone cheered -- everyone booed. And when Arthur Andersen, all those people lose their jobs, everyone is cheering.
MALVEAUX: You know, let's see what kind of sentences are put down here. We're talking about white-collar...
GOLDBERG: It's a death sentenced. The company is out of business.
BLITZER: But that's what he suggested...
MALVEAUX: When you talk about a crackdown on white collar crime, you're equivolating (ph) it to -- wrong word -- but, you know, making some equivalency between other crime. And the fact is that a homey who steals a ham sandwich on a three-strike is going to go to jail for life. And in the Sotheby's case, which is slightly unrelated, Jonah, you know, this guy steals millions of bucks and he gets two years.
And so, I want to look at sentences. I want to look at responsibility. Yes, the company...
BLITZER: Peter, on this point, though, even before sentencing, Arthur Andersen may have suffered a death sentence. BEINART: No, they were gone even before this trial.
And I actually think a lot of what Julianne is saying...
GOLDBERG: Because of this trial they were gone.
MALVEAUX: No, no. Because of Enron and the corners they cut with Enron, they're gone.
BEINART: Look, I think there is a case on both sides of the Andersen case. But I think there is probably not going to be a crackdown, because the Bush administration is still not being willing to give SEC and other agencies the resources they need to actually go after these very difficult cases. The Bush administration is not committed to cracking down on white-collar crime.
GEORGE: First of all, I tend to agree with Jonah. I think, actually, the charges against Arthur Andersen were actually a bit overblown. I think they've got some grounds for appeal, though that may be too late.
Frankly, I don't understand why more people haven't been indicted in Enron, which is the thing that started this in the first place. And that that may be problems because of the SEC or other...
BLITZER: Let's move on and talk about another issue this week. Hundreds of people turned out for the funeral of the mob leader John Gotti this past weekend. Is the era of the glamorous gangster over?
Robert, you live in New York City.
GEORGE: Yeah, and we can't escape it. I certainly hope it's over. Gotti is -- I don't understand why he's a controversial figure, because there are some people who have this admiration of him. You know, he's dead, he killed people, he ruined lots of people's lives. I don't think he's a hero. And hopefully, the next gangster that goes won't be perceived as a hero either.
BLITZER: The New York tabloids, including The New York Post newspaper, have been all over this funeral.
MALVEAUX: I'm very puzzled by it. I never considered him glamorous at all, but then that might be something...
GEORGE: He dressed nice.
MALVEAUX: Well, a whole lot of people dress nice.
BEINART: He dressed to kill.
MALVEAUX: He brought an unusual form of distinction to the orange jumpsuit.
GOLDBERG: Just like when the American cowboy died, or died out, the American cowboy became huge and legendary. The American mob is dying out, and it's increasingly pathetic, even as it becomes more glamorous in the eyes of Hollywood and so forth. I think the era of the glamorous gangster is going to be here for a long time.
BEINART: I think there's a lot of -- a lot of what Jonah says is absolutely right. I mean, I think the problem is that Americans want to imagine that there is a kind of morality even in crime, even in this kind of brutality. And the truth is, there really isn't, and John Gotti shows it.
BLITZER: Tony Soprano, obviously, and the Sopranos had an impact, I would say, on all of this, right?
GEORGE: Well, yes. But I don't know if I could see Gotti going to a shrink, though. I'm not sure about that.
BEINART: Or fall in love with...
MALVEAUX: Well, he spilled his guts to an FBI microphone, talking for two hours, so he needed help some kind of way.
BLITZER: Let's say goodbye on that note. Thanks to all of you for joining us.
And that's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, June 16th. Please join me again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
Please be sure to join me Monday through Friday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, for "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."
For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. And to all of the dads out there, a very, very happy Father's Day.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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