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CNN CROSSFIRE

Congress Ponders War with Iraq; Jesse Jackson Cancels Meeting with Hamas; Ex Con/Councilman Explains How to Get Through Life in Prison

Aired July 31, 2002 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, He has no friends on Capitol Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: These weapons must be dislodged from Saddam Hussein or Saddam Hussein must be dislodged from power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The questions now, how big is the threat? How high the costs? And is Saddam that bad?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see every reason for the reservation of the American military and the joint chiefs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Seeking peace, despite the bombs. From Jerusalem, Jesse Jackson steps into the CROSSFIRE.

And just for James Traficant, some free advice on how to get by from the author of "Going to Prison." Ahead on CROSSFIRE.

From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight, we are asking is Saddam Hussein really that bad? Also, is jail really that bad? We're offering James Traficant some free advice on enjoying his incarceration.

But first, we sentence you to enjoy the best political briefing in television. It's our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

The U.S. Senate has finished writing its prescription Medicare drug reform. Take four votes and call us after the election. Senators made a perfect 0 for 4 today, rejecting yet another budget- busting plan to add a prescription drug entitlement to Medicare. Democrats predictably accused Republicans of siding with the special interests instead of American families or, as Al Gore said several hundred thousand times during the last election to no effect, with the powerful over the people.

Republicans countered by accusing Majority Leader Tom Daschle of cynically throwing away any chance of compromise so his party can howl about greedy Republicans from now until the election. Of course, they were right. The consolation prize: The Senate approved a much less ambitious drug bill allowing importation of generic drugs from Canada, where they are much cheaper. Maybe they can import earplugs as well. I hope they do, Paul.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: I probably need earplugs. You do because the truth hurts. And the truth is the Republicans sold out to the pharmaceutical industry for all of that money that they took instead of protecting senior citizens, and they should pay at the ballot box.

CARLSON: Paul, you know that the ideas between the parties on the subject are very, very, very close. This is an argument over just the margins. So to say one party is against this idea, the other for it is not true. And you know that.

BEGALA: One is for cost containment that the pharmaceutical industry doesn't like. That's the Democrats.

CARLSON: That's right.

BEGALA: The other is for what the pharmaceutical industry want. So it's either, oh say the people or the powerful. Al Gore was right.

The "New York Daily News" reports today that Harken Energy set up an offshore subsidiary in the Cayman Islands in order to avoid taxes in 1989 while George W. Bush was on Harken's board of directors. Before being told about Bush's offshore tax haven yesterday, the White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, denounced the practice. Oops. Well, Bush had this to say today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why don't we all look at people who are trying avoid U.S. taxes as a problem?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Mr. President, I agree. I think we ought to look at people who try to avoid U.S. taxes, and I think we just did.

CARLSON: Paul, he was the -- he was on the board of directors. I don't agree with the practice. Most people don't agree with it. I'm sure the president doesn't agree with it. He says he doesn't agree with it. But many companies have done it, and not every member of their board of directors is responsible for doing it. And it's unfair to say the president is responsible for the choice at Harken Energy.

BEGALA: Just because he was on the board when the board decided to go overseas doing these taxes, and now...

CARLSON: That's exactly right.

BEGALA: ... he's lecturing us about patriotism?

CARLSON: That's exactly right.

BEGALA: He did it. He should be responsible for his actions.

CARLSON: It's a totally ridiculous infersion (ph).

The official phase of the Robert Torricelli scandal ended last night with a scolding from the Senate ethics committee. Now, it's time for the ugly part, the cringingly dishonest defense of Torricelli's misdeeds from partisan Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle immediately claimed that the allegations against Torricelli had been, quote, "proven false and without foundation."

Senator Daschle should have waited for the "New York Times" to arrive. This morning's editions of the paper revealed that federal investigators discovered that Senator Torricelli received more than $22,000 in cash from unknown sources during the very same period he was accused of taking, imagine this, roughly the same amount in illegal payoffs. So far, an explanation has not been offered, nor did the ethics committee even address credible charges that Senator Torricelli obstructed a federal investigation, threatened a witness and bragged about having friends in organized crime. In other words, it's probably too early for Robert Torricelli's character to be vouched for by his fellow Democrats. Don't you think, Paul? You aren't going to vouch for it, I hope.

BEGALA: I don't have to. The Bush Justice Department cleared him. So, is this the Bush Justice Department part of this conspiracy to make Robert Torricelli look innocent?

CARLSON: I don't know what you are talking about. It was Mary Jo White, and she passed on to the Senate ethics committee, controlled by Democrats. And they called not a single witness. They had a phony show trial. And in the end, they did not get to the bottom of the key questions, which is -- which were, did he obstruct justice, did he brag about friends in the mafia, did he threaten a witness?

BEGALA: He was investigated by federal prosecutors who worked for George W. Bush and he was cleared.

CARLSON: He was not cleared.

BEGALA: Yes, he was.

CARLSON: It was referred to the Senate ethics committee.

BEGALA: Well, speaking of the United States Senate, the Republican leader of that body, former Ol' Miss cheerleader and heavy hairspray user Trent Lott of Mississippi said that delaying the vote on creating a department of homeland security could be dangerous to America. Without the homeland security reorganization, Lott's logic goes, the animal and plant health inspection service will remain in the ag department for another month, presumably emboldening the al Qaeda terrorist network. That was a ridiculous statement today.

CARLSON: I actually think delaying the vote on it helps Republicans because it keeps the subject of terrorism and foreign policy in the news. And voters side with Republicans on that by a huge margin, as you know.

BEGALA: Actually, that's a good point. You are right.

CARLSON: Having successfully solved the rest of the world's problems, a trio of senators have decided to put America's children on a diet. The group which includes Democrat Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, hardly Congress's answer to Jack LaLanne, wants to spend $217 million next year alone to convince young people to slim down. Obesity, the centers argue, is widespread among the nation's children. Now, BC, of course, is a raging epidemic among the nation's senators, a fact conveniently unmentioned at the press conference. It will take a real reformer to propose legislation Washington lawmakers and their waistline so desperately need, a bill to outlaw long, boozy dinners at expensive restaurants. We await the steak reduction act of 2003.

BEGALA: Oh, -- obesity, as we say...

CARLSON: We do say obesity, that's right.

BEGALA: In Houston, that's what we call it. That's a serious problem. These are serious people trying to address it. What's wrong with that?

CARLSON: For Chris Dodd to get up there and lecture little kids about it?

BEGALA: He's not bad.

CARLSON: I'm not saying he is, but to say they need to lose weight when the Senate, you know, hardly a group of exercise buffs, mind your own business. Leave the kids alone. Come on.

BEGALA: Well, proving that he's either very brave or very foolish, South Carolina Congressman and Republican Senate candidate Lindsey Graham yesterday called for the partial privatization of Social Security, allowing younger workers to risk part of their retirement savings by investing in the stock market. Apparently, no one told Graham the stock market has lost nearly $7 trillion since George W. Bush became president or that if Social Security had been invested there, millions of seniors would be up a particularly foul- smelling creek right now.

Meanwhile, in their mansions, Ken Lay of Enron, Bernie Ebbers of WorldCom and Alex Riga (ph) of Adelphia cable were laughing their asses off. This is the stupidest thing I've seen the...

CARLSON: No, it is brave, actually. It's honest. And the key line here was allow workers to choose. If people want to take the risk, they should be allowed to. And good for Lindsey Graham and shame on you for comparing him to Ken Lay, because Lindsey Graham is an honorable man.

BEGALA: I didn't compare him to Ken Lay. I said Lay loves the idea because they want to bilk people out their savings.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It's an honest idea, and there's nothing wrong with discussing it.

BEGALA: It's a stupid idea. And it's -- I think he's going to lose.

Saddam Hussein, however, we can agree is a murderous tyrant. He is ready, willing and able to commit mass murder, to terrorize, to starve, and even gas his own people. But we've known that for years. So why is the Bush administration so hot all of a sudden to invade Iraq now? And why are our battle plans on the front of the paper every day. Those were some of the questions on Capitol Hill at a hearing. There were no easy answers.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight to find answers, former chief U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Bob Maginnis. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: Thank you very much.

CARLSON: Scott Ritter, thanks for joining us.

SCOTT RITTER, FORMER CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: My pleasure.

CARLSON: We'll do the meanest thing ever and confront you with your own quotes.

RITTER: No problem.

CARLSON: Here's what you said November 9, 1998 on CNN about Iraq. You said, "the United States needs to know that you can't talk about the weapons of mass destruction in isolation from Saddam Hussein. They're inextricably linked. You can't deal with one without dealing with the other." This is essentially what the Bush administration is now saying.

This year, March 11, this was your line about the cause of evading Iraq. You said, "there's no just cause right now for such a war." What happened to change your mind?

RITTER: Nothing. What makes you think something happened to change my mind?

CARLSON: Well, in the first quote you are saying that if you want to deal with...

RITTER: If you link weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein. CARLSON: That's exactly right. And here we have overwhelming evidence that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.

RITTER: Negative. That's where you are wrong. We don't have any evidence.

CARLSON: You are a lone voice on this. Explain.

RITTER: We don't have any evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. We know that as of December 1998, when weapons inspectors left Iraq, that we had documented a 90 percent to 95 percent level of disarmament. We have destroyed the weapons and factories used by Iraq to produce the weapons that we were concerned about. We destroyed the means of productions. There were some that we couldn't account for, some of the product, the chemicals, the biological agent and ballistic missile components. And that's why I say 90, 95 percent. But not being able to account for it does not automatically translate into retention by Iraq. And before we go to war with Iraq, we better put some facts on the table to say these weapons exist.

CARLSON: I'm glad...

(CROSSTALK)

LT. COL. BOB MAGINNIS, U.S. ARMY: I'd like to respond to Scott. You know, you said back in '98 as well, Scott, that within six months, they could reconstitute their programs.

RITTER: I agree.

MAGINNIS: And you testified that you thought that would happen. Now, you know, the evidence is out there. If you look at the UNSCOM report, which you were part of...

(CROSSTALK)

It documents a lot of the precusors. As you outline some of the stuff that was unaccounted for, tons of it, and then you go to other external references, and you find much the same.

But then you begin to look at the track record from the intelligence community and you find they have an insatiable appetite for these biothings. Even our secretary of defense yesterday...

(CROSSTALK)

MAGINNIS: ... was talking about the bioweapons systems that are in mobile vans.

RITTER: There's no such thing. It's a fabric of his imagination.

MAGINNIS: I don't think so.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: ... confront you with information that came out today on the Hill. An Iraqi defector, Mr. Hamza, testified today that he had evidence, or certainly believed, that the Iraqi government is in possession of enough nuclear material to create three nuclear bombs within four years, three-and-a-half-years.

RITTER: This is Khidhir Hamza, Saddam's bomb-maker, the same man who was fingered by Hussein Kamal, Saddam's son-in-law, when he defected, as being a fraud. The same man who is now...

CARLSON: Wait, wait -- back up: So your saying so Saddam Hussein and the people who work for him believe he's a fraud?

RITTER: No, know he's a fraud. We, in 1991 we seized...

CARLSON: Oh, so you're completely taking Saddam's side in this. Saddam says...

RITTER: Absolutely not. I take the side of truth and fact.

In 1991 there was a parking lot...

CARLSON: You're using Saddam as a character witness here, I just...

RITTER: I'm am absolutely not. I'm using Scott Ritter as a character witness, and let's keep the record straight.

CARLSON: Well, you just involved Saddam's son as a character witness.

RITTER: No, the son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, to whom Khidhir Hamza worked for.

When shown a document that Hamza was farming out to the intelligence community, Hussein Kamal said, this is a forgery, this is a fraud. When asked who did it, we said Khidhir Hamza, he said, the man's useless, he knows nothing, he knows no knowledge.

This is a man who defected to try and take Saddam down.

MAGINNIS: But radiological weapons were tested back, by Saddam, in the '80s, as I recall.

RITTER: '87-'88.

MAGINNIS: I think the UNSCOM report says that.

Also, you know...

RITTER: And what happened to them?

MAGINNIS: Your former boss said today that they were six months away from the possibility of a nuclear weapon.

Now when they left, and when you left in December of '98, you left behind a complete infrastructure. Now, you may not have had all the precision equipment. You may not have had fissionable material out there, but the market is rife with it, as you well know, out of the, you know, former Soviet Union. It can be obtained.

And we have reason to believe, bases on the evidence that's circulated in the international media as well as internally, it appears from the secretary of defense, that that material is there and it's being used. And as Hamza was saying today, it probably will be used in a few years.

BEGALA: Colonel, let me ask you this very simply: 3,000 Americans were not killed by Saddam Hussein on September 11...

MAGINNIS: We don't know that.

BEGALA: They were killed by al Qaeda.

How does invading Iraq advance our war against al Qaeda?

MAGINNIS: Well, first of all, you've made the assumption that there's no nexus at all. And I'm telling you...

BEGALA: There's certainly no proved nexus. Even the CIA says that.

MAGINNIS: And you will never convince some people, Paul, that there is ever any nexus there. The reality is that...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: But just tell me -- I want to stop al Qaeda. Tell me how invading Iraq stops al Qaeda.

MAGINNIS: We have to deal with principles here, Paul. If their principle says that you assume the risk, then -- and something terrible happens like al Qaeda or Iraq comes in and equips al Qaeda or one of these other terror groups with a particular weapon and they use it here in the United States, then we assume that risk because we overlooked the possibility of going out there and stopping that beforehand.

You know, I...

BEGALA: I want to be clear, that's the rationale. For someone to whom al Qaeda is the risk, we invade them to stop them -- stop Iraq -- from arming al Qaeda.

How about China? They would certainly arm al Qaeda, I would think.

MAGINNIS: Paul, if the people in the Middle East, especially in the Persian Gulf, thought that Mr. Saddam Hussein was such a nice guy, they'd come to his defense. They don't want us to go in there necessarily, but they're not coming to his defense, saying that this guy doesn't have the...

(CROSSTALK)

RITTER: ... Saddam is a nice guy. But the clear thing is Saddam is a secular dictator, a brutal dictator who has waged war against Islamic fundamentalism...

MAGINNIS: And his own people.

RITTER: Sure, but Islamic fundamentalism. And you cannot make a case between him and al Qaeda.

(CROSSTALK)

RITTER: ... it's not what you say it is.

Malveaux: That's not necessarily the case, because obviously your boss disagrees with you, Scott, and a number of other people on your team disagree with you.

BEGALA: OK, we're going to have to take a break real quick.

And in just a minute we're going to come back to these guests and ask them why the United States warplanes can't remain secret.

Later: living in prison and liking it; advice to help Jim Traficant adjust to his new status in life.

And then our "Quote of the Day" from a man who is so partisan he even had to endorse a severely admonished senator.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a deeply crummy guy. But just like the Soviet Union, is it better to contain him until he falls on his own, or should the United States go after him no matter what the cost?

That's our debate.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, former Chief U.N. Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Bob Maginnis.

BEGALA: Colonel Maginnis, several members of this audience, young people, are active-duty military. How do you tell them and their parents that our Bush administration is so incompetent that they're leaking the war plans every single day to the enemy?

MAGINNIS: Well, it may be disinformation or psychological warfare. I hope the real plans...

BEGALA: You don't really believe that.

MAGINNIS: ... are not getting out there.

Well, it's a possibility. After all, we may be playing to the audience in Iraq, not to downtown Washington, D.C., Paul.

But you know, it is serious...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ... it's incompetence.

MAGINNIS: It's certainly being debated at the national level. You know, the idea of 250,000 Anglo-Saxons marching up the Tigris- Euphrates River to go put a bullet through Saddam Hussein's head, I don't think is very you know, creative. There are other ways of doing this.

But I do think that, as Paul Wolfowitz said here recently, you know, you give this guy enough time, enough rope, he's going to hang us, and we need to be very careful about that.

RITTER: Well, I think one of the things you're seeing right now is that there's a lot of opposition in the uniform military services to this war. Now, we keep in mind the Constitution of the United States holds that civilian leadership directs the military, and ultimately the civilians make the decision.

But right now many generals are concerned that you have a bunch of neo-conservative ideologues heading -- you know, running head-first into a war that they don't understand. And it's a very dangerous thing. So these plans make it out so that there's some sort of informed debate amongst...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: An informed debate, I think, is different than what you're presenting here.

A minute ago you said that this bomb-maker, Mr. Hamza was discredited because he defected.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I think you're coming very close to defending Saddam Hussein.

RITTER: Don't think that...

CARLSON: Earlier this year -- late last year the "Weekly Standard" ran a piece by Steve Hayes that alleged that you took $400,000 to make a documentary film from an Iraqi living in the United States...

RITTER: And you're going to repeat that on CROSSFIRE, aren't you.

CARLSON: My question to you is: Is it true?

RITTER: Four hundred thousand dollars from an American citizen of Iraqi origin who gave me the money. This money has been fully investigated by the FBI, the Treasury Department, the IRS. There's been no wrongdoing.

The American Jewish Federation is going...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I'm trying...

RITTER: There's no Iraqi fingerprint whatsoever, and how dare you bring it up on national audience.

CARLSON: It's a question that I think you need to address.

RITTER: How dare you.

CARLSON: The question is this...

RITTER: I addressed it.

(CROSSTALK)

RITTER: ... issue of Iraq.

CARLSON: I'm attempting...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: The question is your position has changed 180 degrees.

RITTER: My position has never changed. I made it clear.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... let me read you a quote from your own book, OK, your own book, in which you said -- let me find it here.

Throw it up on the screen: "I'm often asked if there is any chance of a peaceful settlement with Iraq. Invariably, knowing what I know about Saddam Hussein's regime, my inclination is to respond negatively."

Now that doesn't sound at all like what you're saying here. That's from your own book. What has happened?

RITTER: What's the next quote? I mean, it's nice to take it out of context...

CARLSON: Well, give me the context.

RITTER: ...because this is part of the conclusion of my book, where I say war, especially war when you can't substantiate a case against Iraq, isn't the solution, and that we might have to go forward with a consensus that the international community agrees upon, which to return weapons inspectors, deal with international law, and maybe get a situation where we don't worry about weapons of mass destruction. We've disarmed Iraq, we can lift sanctions, and Iraq is brought back in the family of nations with or without Saddam. BEGALA: Colonel, we've got about 30 seconds. There is a consensus in the Middle East. The Arab League voted unanimously, even Kuwait, who we saved...

MAGINNIS: Yes.

BEGALA: ...that if we invade Iraq it's considered invasion of all Arab countries. Why are they so against it?

MAGINNIS: Yes, I'm not for going after Scott. What I think is important here is saving American lives. We ought to find the right alternative that's going to remove Saddam Hussein, keep the situation in the Middle East so we can live with it, and at the same time not spill a single ounce or a drop of American blood.

(CROSSTALK)

We can do that. I'm convinced we can do that. But we have to be smart about it, and that's why we're having this big debate.

BEGALA: Colonel Bob Maginnis and Scott Ritter, thank you very much for a terrific debate. Very fiery but very smart.

Still to come, from Jerusalem, the Reverend Jesse Jackson talks to us about one very controversial meeting he had and another one he canceled.

Later, timely advice for white collar crooks who are trading their pinstripes for prison stripes.

And our quote of the day is an exercise in finding a silver lining. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back. Severely admonished Senator Robert Torricelli appears to have recovered from yesterday's hand slapping by the Senate Ethics Committee. Torricelli is now explaining he didn't, quote, "knowingly do anything wrong," when he accepted gifts from a campaign contributor, thereby breaking Senate rules, but he's apologizing anyway, which is of course very noble of him.

But our "Quote of the Day" goes to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who would be out of a job if he acted nobly and demanded Torricelli's resignation, as he ought to. Instead Senator Daschle has redefined the meaning of political spin. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Senator Torricelli is an extraordinary senator and candidate and I have no doubt that he will rebound and will continue to lead in the polls, as he is this morning.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON: He is an extraordinary senator. Very few senators brag about their friends in the Mafia. He has. That's extraordinary. But you noticed that Daschle's -- the underpinning of all of this was he is doing well in the polls. That's what matters. You can hoodwink the people in New Jersey into voting for someone who took all this illegal garbage greedily from some convicted felon, and as long as he's doing well in the polls, that's enough. It's appalling.

BEGALA: Tucker, let me goggle (ph) real slow. Bob Torricelli was cleared by federal investigators who worked for John Ashcroft...

CARLSON: He was not cleared.

BEGALA: Excuse me, I didn't interrupt you.

CARLSON: OK.

BEGALA: Who worked for John Ashcroft and George W. Bush. Now he's been admonished -- but certainly not anything worse -- by the Senate Ethics Committee, which is both parties. He is been cleared. This is just a partisan thing. You just want to see him lose. Now you called for him to resign.

CARLSON: Unfortunately we are out of time. He's not innocent. He admitted it.

You'll do a double toe loop over today's news about the Russian mob and Olympic ice skating. CNN's Connie Chung has details next. Then Jessie Jackson does the Middle East two-step, and we offer Congressman Jim Traficant some advice now that he's waltzed into prison. It's the all dancing show. It's CROSSFIRE. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(INTERRUPTED FOR "NEWS ALERT")

CARLSON: Our daily dose of horrors in the Middle East came early today. A bomb at Hebrew University in Jerusalem killed at least seven people, including three Americans. After Hamas claimed responsibility, Jesse Jackson canceled his scheduled meeting with the group's leader. Jackson, who claims he is on a one-man mission to rescue the Middle East peace process, called the bombing the height of cruelty, and in a display of understatement, quote, "counterproductive." A short time ago, he joined us from Jerusalem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEGALA: Reverend Jackson, first, thank you for joining us on what is the middle of the night for you in Israel. You know the admiration I have for the work that you've done in Bosnia and Syria and Iraq where you brought home American hostages. But here, Reverend, we have an American who has been murdered, and then six Israelis murdered, and then 50 more wounded. And isn't this a very different place for you to be lending your moral prestige, and wasn't it a mistake, candidly, to be going there to meet with Hamas?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: No. The moral matter here is to try to move toward reconciliation and reconstruction and step in this gap left by the lack of effective negotiations. We really here are appealing for a cease-fire and, of course, in this case, Hamas, when the F-16 bomb killed nine children here a few days ago, they promised that they would retaliate, and they did. That cycle of retaliation must be broken.

CARLSON: But, Mr. Jackson, your -- when you call it an act of retaliation, it implies an equivalence between the Israeli army and Hamas. Hamas is, I think you'll agree, a terrorist group.

JACKSON: It does not imply that. The actual fact is two weeks ago, when the F-16 plane killed a Hamas leader and nine people, to which Mr. Peres said was 100 percent wrong, we tried to appeal through the Palestinian Authority and Arafat to get Hamas not to retaliate, but, in fact, to move toward political rather than military reaction. The day they chose to react, and they claim that they did it. And so, we did not meet with Hamas today. We intended to challenge them, to appeal to them to not retaliate. But the fact is they did it.

BEGALA: But, Reverend, we didn't even need today's slaughter to know that Hamas is, as Tucker said, a terrorist organization bent on the complete destruction of Israel and the murder of as many innocents as possible. And I ask again, why are you there, somebody who I admire as for standing for peace and mostly for moral justice around the world, I see no reason for you to lend your credibility to a group of murdering terrorists?

JACKSON: A group of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) persons are here, Jewish and Catholic and Protestant and Islamic, trying to urge all parties involved to reconcile, to reconstruct. And when Mr. Bush said a few days ago in Canada, we support now a two-state solution, an end to occupation, an end to intifada and for reconstruction, those are steps in the right direction.

But so far, there is no real significant American presence in this gap, and the gap keeps getting wider. We cannot stand idly by because we are the major financier behind this crisis here, and now we're becoming the major theater for the violence, just as there are road checks and road blocks here in every American airport, every American seaport, we too are now embroiled in this war. So, we don't have the luxury to not try to end it.

CARLSON: OK. Now, Mr. Jackson, do you consider the bombing today an act of war or an act of terrorism?

JACKSON: Oh, it's an act of terror. I just left the hospital a few minutes ago with some of the ministers. And to see those young people lying there unconscious, faces burned beyond recognition, full of nails and holes in their bodies, this is not some act of liberation. This was an act of terrorism.

And yet, we must somehow use our strength and our liberties to break up the cycle. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) those who do that and bring them to justice. But in the meantime, we're doing too little to bridge that gap between those warring forces here. And our interests are too great, our investment is too great, the stakes are too high for us to be so distant from this crisis.

BEGALA: Well, Reverend, I certainly agree the United States has to be deeply engaged, and I think President Bush was wrong to disengage for 15 months. But to his defense, for the last several months, he, Secretary Powell and others, they have been trying to engage in the Middle East, and don't you risk getting in the way of American diplomacy by going over there?

JACKSON: No, that's not really true. You know, when Mr. Powell finally did come, there were two policies. One policy was support the U.N. resolution, urge an end to the intifada by the Palestinians, and to try to get to a talk with Sharon and Arafat, to end occupation and to end the settlements. That was one policy Mr. Powell was here on.

At the same time, there's another policy led by Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Wilkerson (ph) that says let Mr. Sharon finish his job. So, the fork in the road, we chose the fork. It was really a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) policy. We need a policy here that, in fact, focuses on tough negotiations, reconciliation and just maybe some kind of multi- national peacekeeping force because things here now, Paul, are actually getting worse. They are not getting better. And our absence here is speaking very loudly.

CARLSON: OK. Mr. Jackson, and speaking of terrorism, as you know, you've been savaged, really savaged in the press here for remarks you made about a week and a half ago calling American police officers, quote, "terrorists." And I wonder what you would say to the survivors of those police officers killed on 9/11 who respond to that by saying American police officers aren't terrorists and why is Jesse Jackson, of all people, calling them terrorists. What would you say to them?

JACKSON: That's quite a generalization. Most police officers do their duty every day. But those who have the full weight of the law, the badge and the gun, and kill or shoot innocent people, those are acts of terrorism. Forty-one shots in the body of Diallo in New York by armed policemen. Louima, rammed in the rectum until he nearly bled to death in New York. It's an act of terrorism in police custody.

Two young, innocent blacks, unarmed, shot at three or four times by sheriff deputies in Chicago. What happened, a kid beaten with his head against that car hood in L.A. We who want to have moral authority must fight terrorism wherever it manifests itself and be consistent.

CARLSON: By meeting with Hamas. I see.

BEGALA: Reverend, let me bring you back to the Middle East. I know you met with Yasser Arafat. And, you know, I've met with Yasser Arafat. President Clinton met with him more than any other foreign leader, gave him every opportunity to become a statesman and he remained what he always has been, a terrorist. I think the United States has more than given him a chance and I know you urged him to follow the path of non-violent resistance that you and Dr. King followed. But I suspect he wasn't at all interested in that, was he, Reverend? JACKSON: Well, I'm not altogether convinced. You look at the "New York Times" article a year ago that went back to the Camp David Accords and looked back Mr. Barak's role and his election, Mr. Clinton's role and his being at the dead end of his campaign. There was enough blame to go around. At this point, to simply look at the elected leader of a nation of people, recognized by the U.N., the Arab states and the European Union and to dismiss him as terrorist is a way of not negotiating a resolution to this conflict. That really is an irrational diplomatic approach.

BEGALA: Reverend Jesse Jackson, thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CARLSON: Still ahead, we take your questions and comments in our "Fireback" segment. One of our viewers defends the mafia. It had to happen.

But next, CROSSFIRE does its part to help James Traficant settle into his new digs behind bars. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back.

Former Congressman and perennial CROSSFIRE fave James Traficant is now a resident of the Summit County Jail in Akron, Ohio. He'll eventually be assigned to a federal penitentiary where, unless he gets out on bond or his appeals are successful, he'll spend up to eight years doing time for bribery, racketeering and tax evasion.

So as a public service, especially for Jim Traficant, but perhaps for former executives of Enron or WorldCom, or maybe even our parent company AOL Time Warner, we'd like to offer some advice on how to settle into your new surroundings.

Jimmy Tayoun is just the man to give that advice. He served six years on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 16 years on the Philadelphia City Council, and three-and-a-half years in a federal penitentiary for racketeering, mail fraud, tax evasion, obstruction of justice.

Mr. Tayoun is also the author of the book "Going to Prison?" And he's currently editor and publisher of the "Philadelphia Public Record."

Mr. Tayoun, thank you for joining us, sire.

CARLSON: Thanks for joining us. This is your book, "Going to Prison?", a terrific read. In it you address the fear that every man has who's about to go to prison. You suggest squatting to pick up the soap. What other advice would you give...

JIMMY TAYOUN, AUTHOR, "GOING TO PRISON?": Explain that. Explain that. If you're in a group shower where there's no privacy, and you're worried about all the things you read in and seen in the movies, read in books, heard on television, you squat to pick up the bar of soap you dropped.

BEGALA: I'm taking notes here.

CARLSON: Will that be enough? Is that a real danger for people going to prison?

TAYOUN: No, not a real danger. Let me tell you, sex is probably the least available thing possible. Straight sex is like a no-no, unless you've got woman guards or male guards with female prisoners, woman guards with male prisoners. The rest of it is usually homosexual activity, and that's frowned upon, and you can easily go find yourself in a lot of hot water for that.

You can lose good time, you could be transferred to another prison, you could be segregated in lock-down for a long time. It really goes against you.

The bottom line: In prison, the one thing you remember is that every day is the longest day of your life. The weeks begin to add up. The months add up. The years go by, and you're shocked. You begin to count time by seasons. Then he'll draw a mental picture of himself climbing a big mountain, and one day when he gets halfway there, he's going to say, boy, I'm at the top of the mountain. They all do that.

But every day is a pain to get through. It's boring, it's lonesome, it's horrible. And Traficant is the type of character who will automatically realize what the devil felt when he was expelled from heaven: You're going nowhere. You're nothing. You become zero. You're invisible to the guards. You'll be talking to a guard, and he won't answer you.

BEGALA: In fact, let me ask you, Traficant -- Jay Leno last night, he had a great line. He said Traficant may be the first guy who actually looks better after the prison haircut.

What, I mean, if, say, hypothetically, a former Congressman wore a toupee, that's out too, isn't it?

TAYOUN: They take the toupees off. We had an outstanding Philadelphia lawyer who came to prison when I was there, and I took care of him, and I said, don't worry about your bald head, he began wearing a cap. I said, don't do that, you look great without your hair.

Came home, he now has a little practice back again and he's wearing a toupee again. I don't understand it. He looked better without the toupee.

But they take that away from you because they need to -- that's a disguise. And they need to have a regular picture of you, where you are, and so other guards can identify you, because you can change toupees, you can do anything you can to disguise yourself.

CARLSON: Now Mr. Traficant has said that he plans to run from prison. If -- is it possible to run, A; if he did run, win, is it possible to govern? TAYOUN: Well, that's why he's not going to win, because everybody understands that's an asinine attitude. You're not going to be able to run a congressional district from prison. You're done.

You have one telephone call, if you're allowed. You have to wait in line to make that call. Then you can't conduct business; they won't allow you to conduct business, and being a congressman is a business -- you do represent people.

He doesn't realize the full -- the full worth of what's happened to him. He is now a zero, zero, zero, zero person. No personality. Done, finished. Nobody cares who he is. He walks into prison, goes into -- waits in line for anything. Goes out into the dining room T (ph), the cafeteria. Goes out in the field, walks around with the prisoners, they don't care who Traficant is.

The only people who will appreciate him are those who might be in prison from his own neighborhood, from his own district. And they'll go hey, Mr. Traficant, how's it going...

CARLSON: There are probably a lot of those, though.

TAYOUN: Boy, when I was in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I had 20 percent of the audience of the prison population where I was from Philadelphia, so I was the big man.

CARLSON: They were your constituents.

BEGALA: Well let me ask -- you know, I get this other positive image of prison from "Goodfellas." Great movie. And the smart guys there, they got the bribes to the guards, they got food and wine and women...

TAYOUN: It works, even in the federal penitentiary. I'll tell you, one day I walked down the range -- the range is a little room, a long hallway with beds on each side -- and I saw all these cold cuts laid out and Italian rolls and stuff like that. And I felt homesick. And I kept going. I didn't look to my right, I didn't look to my left.

I got to the end and they call me, hey Tayoun, come back, man, come on back here, join us, have a sandwich.

I came back. I says thanks. I took what they gave me, I said thanks you fellas, and I left. And I don't know where the hell they got imported cold cuts from Brooklyn...

CARLSON: Who were these guys?

TAYOUN: They were part of the mob. Mob guys.

BEGALA: So that is true. "Goodfellas" is right. The mob gets -- congressmen are a mob of their own. They should get the better food too, don't you think?

TAYOUN: No. There are not that many put in jail, you know. Politicians are looked at as just average souls with no power. People realize it.

So Traficant, if he tries to run he's going to lose. He should save himself and his loyal staff and his loyal friends the embarrassment of digging in to find money they can't get from anywhere else but from their own pockets to wage a campaign that can't be done. It would do everybody a service.

I say to him, if he's listening, fold your tent, go in and just keep quiet. Mind your own business. Develop a little bit of demeanor, and you're going to do very well for yourself.

CARLSON: Is there anything useful that you can spend your time doing...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Well that must be the tragedy of it. I mean, a person with lots of energy, some intelligence, obviously guile. I mean, what do you do with your time that's useful?

TAYOUN: Well, you try to -- after a while you're able to talk to the administration of the prison, like the wardens, people in the camp council (ph) and say, listen, I want to develop a class in political science, teach guys what politics is all about: what it means, who's running, look at national events. That's interesting.

We had a guy who taught everybody the stock market. I had a class I was teaching kids to write stories. I had six people in my class, OK? Three of them were Spanish, three of them were African- American. In the next room there were 65 people jammed up -- I'm telling you, guys who were real hoods from D.C., the D.C. types, all drug dealers, all with stubby pencils, taking down information.

And I asked what was going on? That guy was teaching them how to use the stock market. And his message is, stop being a thief, stop trying to make money. Go to the stock market, that's where it's at.

BEGALA: That's where the real thieves are, as we've learned in the last few weeks. Those are serious criminals.

TAYOUN: Unfortunately there's no money left in the stock market. But he did really well.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Is he going to be making license plates? They must really make them there, don't they?

TAYOUN: In some state penitentiaries -- in state institutions they do, federal institutions they don't. He's going to a federal institution. He'll go to a -- an eight-year sentence could put him in an FCI, which is a Federal Correctional Institute, which is a step up. But I doubt it...

CARLSON: Is that like the Club Fed? Is that a myth -- the golf courses and the... TAYOUN: Club Fed, there's no golf courses. I was in the Club Fed. It's a minimum security prison. No bars, no gates, no guns, no nothing.

But let me tell you something: It's a prison. You cannot cross that road. Cross that road, they're coming after you, and they'll get you.

And when the fog sets into the place, that nice, little, meek librarian, all of a sudden you see with a shotgun and a bulletproof vest, she's out there making sure nobody crosses that walkway.

So prison is prison. When you can't move and your life is restricted to one sight every day, you're in trouble.

BEGALA: A few seconds left: What's the best prison movie to prepare him? "Birdman of Alcatraz," "Midnight Express," "Jailhouse Rock" -- Elvis...

TAYOUN: No.

CARLSON: "Papillon?"

TAYOUN: What?

CARLSON: "Papillon."

TAYOUN: "Papillon."

CARLSON: You think that's the best?

TAYOUN: Of course, that's a hero one. He can begin to develop a new image of himself, and that's important.

CARLSON: So your advice is swim for it?

TAYOUN: Yes, enjoy the position you are in regardless of how bad it is and do the best you can by giving within the prison system.

CARLSON: OK, well, you have a terrific book, Jimmy Tayoun. May -- can I recommend you give a copy to Senator Robert Torricelli? He loves gifts.

(LAUGHTER)

He may need it.

TAYOUN: Isn't it amazing what happened to Torricelli? He gets rebuked and nothing else?

CARLSON: It is amazing. We've enjoyed having you on. Thank you very much.

BEGALA: Jimmy Tayoun, great job. Thank you very much.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Extra chance to "Fireback" at us. One of our viewers has a warning President Bush might want to read before committing to a war with Iraq. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Mail call! I think that's what they say in prison. E-mail No. 1, it's from Joel in Ypsilanti, Michigan. "Credible opponents of the war with Iraq show that there is no connection between Iraq and September 11. It is absolutely clear that Bush is trying to provoke a fight. In the spirit of the Nuremburg trials, a war of aggression is a war crime."

Wow, Joel, that's pretty strong stuff. I'm dubious about invading, but I don't think it's a war crime.

CARLSON: What, comparing the president to the Nazis? Yeah, I'd say that's a little strong.

BEGALA: Yes, I'm not a big fan but -- sorry, Joel.

CARLSON: That's the outer reaches of the Democratic party. Luckily you're...

BEGALA: Oh, now, now. We don't know. He may be from the fringes of the far Right.

CARLSON: Yeah, right.

Fred Lewis from Boulder City, Nevada writes -- ooh, it's to you, Paul, but I'll read it. What the heck.

BEGALA: OK

CARLSON: "As you expound on former president Clinton's tough stance against corporate crime, can you also tell us what message he sent to the corporate criminals with his presidential pardons?" That's a great question.

BEGALA: Oh, that would be the pardon he gave to the guy who was represented by...

CARLSON: No, that's Marc Rich and the crack dealers. Remember all the crack dealers?

BEGALA: Marc Rich. He was the guy whose lawyer was Dick Cheney's chief of staff, wasn't that the guy? Isn't that right? Oh, I've seen him. That's right.

CARLSON: Who didn't pardon him, Clinton did.

BEGALA: Let's see. Dean Everman in West Palm Beach, Florida writes, "Does anyone besides me notice that that SEC chairman Harvey Pitt bears a striking resemblance to the puppet Alf?" Oh, come on. "Once Pitt's blue blazer busts open from button stress, we'll all see the similarities." Wow! Dean, well, there is Alf. That's -- you know what? I think we have now found Harvey Pitt's new calling right there.

CARLSON: When they start making fun of your appearance, that's when I start liking you.

BEGALA: Well, you'll be a cult of one if you like this guy.

CARLSON: Well, not I sort of do now that people are making fun of him like that.

Next up, "I think I heard the arrogant Tucker Carlson" -- that must be me -- "make a snide remark about the Mafia after discussing Torricelli. "Tucker needs to be admonished for his uncalled for remark. I would like a transcript to alert the sons and daughters of Italy. Yes, I am Italian and proud of it." Signed Florence Botticelli Murphy, Grand Rapids Michigan.

Actually, you know, it was -- the senator was bragging about his friends in the Mafia. I don't think it was a slur against Italian Americans. I think he was proud of his connections to organized crime.

BEGALA: Well, her last name is Murphy, which sounds Irish. Half of my family is Irish. You could slander them too, and then everybody would hate you.

CARLSON: I'm not the one who bragged about my pals in organized crime!

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ...P.C. worried. Let's -- yes, Ma'am.

ERIN SHAY: My name is Erin Shay (ph) and I'm from Plano, Texas, and I think that the fellow prisoners of James Traficant are going to really like him, even admire him, but I don't think that the prison guards are going to be very amused with his flamboyant personality. I'm thinking maybe he could even end up in solitary confinement.

BEGALA: Yes, that's a good point, Erin.

He has got a very winning personality. And by the way, we should have asked Jimmy Tayoun -- if the rules allow it, we'll take you live from the pen Traficant. Just come back to CROSSFIRE. Our old pal has left us and I'm heartbroken.

CARLSON: But you didn't get a sense of just how sad it's going to be for him. You know, eight years in prison is soul-crushing. I do feel bad for him.

Yes, sir.

ANDREW SALGADO: My name is Andrew Salgado (ph). I'm from Riverdale, Maryland. I think if the U.S. attacks Iraq without a U.N. consensus, it's going to worsen Arab sentiment throughout the world against the U.S. and maybe put more American lives in danger.

CARLSON: Well, it will certainly make the Arab world mad, no matter what we do. The question is, balanced against the threat to America, is it worth it? But certainly the U.N. is a measure of nothing. I mean, they stood back and let Rwanda happen.

BEGALA: The last time we invaded Iraq we had the unanimous support of the Arab nations. Now we have none, and that's a big difference.

Yes, sir.

JARED GOLDMAN: Hi, I'm Jared Goldman (ph) from Woordbury, New York in Long Island, and I'd like to know if you think that our country is being damaged due to the fact that presidential politics are starting halfway through President Bush's term, or less than halfway through his term?

BEGALA: No, it's called democracy. I'm all for it.

CARLSON: Yes, though it interesting, though, that you would think -- I mean, you hear a lot about how Gore won the election, he's the real president. I mean, this kind of pathetic fantasy (UNINTELLIGIBLE) even on the show. But it's due to Gore's weakness, due to his just horribleness as a candidate and lack of confidence the Democrats have in him, that you have this mad scramble. Virtually every Democrat in America is running for president now because Gore is through. You're probably running.

BEGALA: And Gore did win by 500,000 points.

CARLSON: He won!

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

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night for yet another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT" begins immediately after a CNN "News Alert." See you tomorrow.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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