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CNN CROSSFIRE

McAuliffe Slams Bush; Should UNC Teach Koran to Freshmen?

Aired August 12, 2002 - 19:00   ET

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, his job is to throw left hooks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: 1.8 million people have lost their jobs since George Bush became president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: But critics say DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe's latest remarks are too partisan for words.

His reputation has suffered the death of a thousand leaks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI agents promised me that the search would be quiet, private and very low key. It did not turn out that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Is the FBI off target again?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have had nothing to do in any way, shape or form with the mailing of these anthrax letters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Plus, a major university tries teaching sensitivity. But a lawsuit says a book about the Koran is the wrong lesson. Ahead on CROSSFIRE.

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

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Good evening. Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Tonight, is the FBI giving another innocent bystander the Richard Jewell treatment? Also, a homework assignment for incoming Tarheels. A lawsuit says it's unconstitutional.

But, as we do every day, we'll start our show by handing in our homework assignment, the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

As the corporate fat cats, campaign donors and lobbyists gather for the Bush economic summit tomorrow in Texas, our president spent today clearing brush and meeting with corporate fat cats, campaign contributors and other lobbyists. Bush is gathering the money mob today at a ranch in Texas to ask them to cram still more special interest cash into the pockets of Republicans. Then tomorrow, Bush will discuss, but not debate, the economy with other fat cats. The difference: a debate has two sides and the White House admits no critics of the Bush economic policies were invited. Well, Bush promised to change the tone in Washington. So, now, instead of Hollywood hotshots contributing money to stay in the Lincoln bedroom, we have corporate fat cats contributing money to make national policy. What a great (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Tucker.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: So, these are people who actually make money and run businesses tend to agree with the president's economic policy. That should be no surprise to you, Paul.

When former congressman and leading Democrat James Traficant boasted that he planned to run for a 10th term in Congress from behind bars, the experts laughed. The experts clearly have never met his constituents. On Wednesday morning, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a minor league baseball team in the inmate's former Ohio district, will hold Jim Traficant night. In honor of the beloved local felon, men in toupees and the sons of truck drivers get into the game free. As always, members of the mafia and their escorts as well as prominent Democratic Party officials will also be afforded special accommodations.

BEGALA: You know, they are also going to have a Traficant look- alike. They're like Elvis impersonators. Now, they're having...

CARLSON: And Traficant trading cards.

BEGALA: Traficant trading cards, you got to love it.

Well, William F. Buckley's "National Review" had long been the intellectual voice of conservatism. So, it's only fitting that it should pronounce the death of conservatism. In a piece titled "Unpleasant Truths," John Derbersheir (ph) declares, quote, "conservatism is dead. No genuinely conservative policy will ever be enacted ever again. The Ronald Reagan of 1980 would be unelectible." The "National Review" is right. Today's Republicans say they support a new prescription drug entitlement benefit. They support greater regulation of business. They support a vast new 70,000-person bureaucracy to protect the homeland. So, as we move forward, I'm sure we'll have our battles, but make no mistake: we liberals have won the war. The era of big government being over is over.

CARLSON: I hate to admit, but I actually with you, sad as it is, which should give you pause next time you attack Republicans for being right-wing crazies. Republicans and Democrats sadly agree on most things.

BEGALA: They're on my side on many issues, but they're also pro- corporate on everything else.

CARLSON: Congressman Jim Moran has had more than his share of money troubles. At least three different times in recent years, the Virginia Democrat has admitted taking large and very unusual personal loans from businessmen with issues before Congress. He's also admitted having trouble paying off his own high-interest credit cards. Despite this, "Roll Call" reports Congressman Moran is hosting an informal seminar for female voters next month in his district. Among the topics on the schedule, quote, "financial planning in today's changing economy." In other political news, former President Bill Clinton has announced that he will be leading a Promise Keepers retreat later this year. Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, meanwhile, has spent his summer moonlighting as a driving instructor.

BEGALA: This is trouble for Moran. I will say, even though I'm a Democrat, he's my congressman in this area. He needs to answer a lot of tough questions.

CARLSON: He's a Jim Traficant Democrat, my favorite kind.

BEGALA: He needs to answer a lot of tough questions.

Well, President George W. Bush has decided to abandon President Clinton's rules on medical privacy. President Clinton had issued a regulation when he was president requiring written consent from patients before using or disclosing your personal medical information. The big HMOs and health care corporations praised Bush's move, but the president of the American Psychiatric Association said Bush's move, quote, "abolishes the traditional control that patients have had over access to their medical records." No real need to worry though. I'm sure Bush will still keep the really important secret, like how many oil company lobbyists Dick Cheney met with.

CARLSON: So, are you taking the side of the shrink lobby here, the American Psychiatric Association? Who cares what they say.

BEGALA: Patients and consumers. That's who I'm on the side of.

CARLSON: I don't think so.

BEGALA: Bush is on the side of the HMOs.

CARLSON: For a few hours today, it looked like retiring Congressman J.C. Watts of Oklahoma was coming out of retirement. But, no, Watts isn't trying to pull a Michael Jordan or the muscles in his arms and legs. Longtime friend and new Redskins coach Steve Spurrier invited Watts to work out at the team's training camp. It's doubtful many of the younger players even knew who the old guy was. Back in 1980 and '81, Watts quarterbacked the Oklahoma Sooners to a pair of Orange Bowl wins, then he went on to appear in the Canadian Football League, which turned out to be perfect preparation for the politics of Capitol Hill, except, of course, the Canadian Football players tend to be far more polite, and harder to understand.

BEGALA: And J.C. Watts needs to come back on CROSSFIRE before he goes back to Oklahoma and to retirement. Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe says that our president has squandered our trust, ignored his mandate and wasted his opportunity. At a Democratic National Committee gathering over the weekend, the party chairman also said W. has not only created a leadership void, but is cynically making September 11 the cornerstone of the GOP's election strategy.

Scandalized Republicans are accusing McAuliffe of, get this, naked partisanship. Well, does the truth hurt or are Terry's sentiments a little too partisan for some Republicans. First in the CROSSFIRE tonight, Democratic consultant Peter Fenn and Republican consultant Ed Rogers. Gentlemen, welcome back.

(APPLAUSE)

CARLSON: Now, Peter Fenn, thanks for joining us.

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: Great to be here as always.

CARLSON: Such as my profound dedication to CROSSFIRE, I did an ugly thing today. I read the entire Terry McAuliffe speech.

FENN: I brought it with me.

CARLSON: With Talmudic intensity, I want to read you a few statistics about the speech. It's 40 paragraphs long; 29 of those paragraphs...

FENN: You count?

CARLSON: Yes, I did. Math; 29 of the 40 paragraphs are concerned wholly with attacking President Bush. The other 11 are purely about Democratic campaign strategy. There is not one, not a single Democratic idea in there, no plan for fixing Medicare, salvaging Social Security, Medicaid, prescription drugs, nothing. It's a scream. It's embarrassing, isn't it?

FENN: What a surprise. He speaks to the Democratic National Committee, to a group of political operatives and he talks politics? Unbelievable, Tucker. Listen, except what we have on the table, isn't it, is we have a prescription drug benefit that benefits people, not six percent of the people, but all of the people.

ED ROGERS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: But Terry doesn't talk about any of that.

FENN: But we will be talking about it before now and the election.

ROGERS: No, the Senate has voted on that, and the Democrats won't even vote on it.

FENN: Well, they can't get 60 votes because you guys won't let it happen. But let me finish. Let me finish. There is a clear agenda, what you're going to see between now and November. But this was to say to the folks, "look, these guys have screwed up this economy. It's a mess. And we're going to get in and do something about it." And, you know, in the next two months, you're going to hear about all of the ideas that are out there.

CARLSON: There's one thing -- first of all, it bordered on hate speech and I thought it...

(CROSSTALK)

McAuliffe is actually a pretty decent guy, made him look ridiculous. I want you to respond to this. The one thing that was conspicuously lacking, shockingly lacking in the speech was any mention at all of the central fact of American existence today and that is we're at war. Not mentioned a single time. There is no Democratic position on that essence of where we are today, war, is there?

FENN: We said all along, we are in this together. This is an important part of American unity is to fight the Taliban, which we all agree, knock them out, to try to find Osama bin Laden, to try to take care of the problems in Iraq. I think that, look, this country is together when it comes to that. But what we have to look at and what he looked at is where is this economy? Where is it going? We've taken eight years of great progress and sent it down the tubes.

BEGALA: Ed Rogers, let me bring you into this.

(CROSSTALK)

The Republican attack machine now has gone after Terry McAuliffe because Terry McAuliffe had the courage to speak the truth to power and to say that Bush has screwed up the economy. Let me tell you somebody else who has done that, and watch the attack machine turn on him. Chuck Hagel, a conservative Republican of the United States Senate from Nebraska, he has an 82 percent rating from the American Conservative Union, very conservative Republican.

ROGERS: He's a good man.

BEGALA: He is. Here's what he said about our president and his economic policies in today's "New York Times": "He," meaning Bush, "obviously has not been very effective. People knew when they listened to Clinton that there was something behind him. There was Bob Rubin. There was an economic team. I don't think the markets see anything behind this president's words," so sayeth Chuck Hagel, conservative Republican. He's saying Terry McAuliffe is right, isn't he, Ed?

ROGERS: It's kind for Chuck to say that. It's easy to be a genius during a bull market. Don't confuse brains with a bull market. Clinton had an easy ride of it. Bush is now cleaning up much of the Clinton mess and the economy descent with recession, where you cooked the books...

BEGALA: I don't understand what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) President Clinton. Why is Chuck Hagel saying this? ROGERS: ... because if there wasn't a recession when there was, he inherited an economy that was in recession, rife with fraud and September 11. That's a big mess to clean up and he's going about it real well. And Terry McAuliffe saying a bunch of shrill, mean- spirited, untrue things about Bush should not be news.

BEGALA: None of the things that Terry said were as strident as what Senator Hagel -- which I asked you about and you didn't respond. Let me try another.

ROGERS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BEGALA: Stephen Moore -- he was asked about the president's economic capacity and he said he did a terrible job.

ROGERS: Chuck Hagel is a wonderful advocate for this president and a good ally for this president.

BEGALA: Well, he just told us he's doing a terrible job.

ROGERS: No. You plucked out some quotes that I don't know the context of.

BEGALA: Stephen Moore is the president of the Club for Growth, another very conservative group that goes out...

ROGERS: Another good man.

BEGALA: A fine man. Here's what he says about our president and his economic incompetence. Today's "New York Times," Stephen Moore: "He," Bush, "opens his mouth and the market goes down. I'm not saying he's responsible for the market crash, but he hasn't inspired a rush for investors to get back in."

These are your guys, Ed. You can bang on Clinton, you can bang on McAuliffe, but your own people are saying that Bush can't handle the economy.

ROGERS: Hey, what Steve Moore says out of context is very different than what Steve...

BEGALA: Tell me the context by which that makes sense to you?

ROGERS: ... than what Terry McAuliffe had to say...

(CROSSTALK)

I don't know what Steve said. I haven't seen the whole quotes of it, but I know Steve pretty well. And Steve is a good, conservative Republican that wants to see Bush economic policies carry the day. I can tell you that for sure.

BEGALA: He thinks they suck, with all due respect, Ed.

ROGERS: The Democrats are consumed with plucking one quote out of a long interview or plucking fact out of a very long goal to try to prove some larger point.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: You've got folks south. You got Dan Burton, who the great Clinton hater, who was mad as all get out with this administration for not releasing documents about Halliburton and about the energy policies of this administration.

ROGERS: Yes, but, Peter...

FENN: You have, look, you have folks out there, who are too -- who are bailing out...

ROGERS: OK. Let's talk about Lieberman cutting on Gore and cutting on Bush...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: I want you to answer this. Now, sort of the unspoken thing, out of politeness we never bring up on CROSSFIRE is this. Here you have Terry McAuliffe beating up on the president for being irresponsible. The deep irony is Terry McAuliffe has been investigated four times by federal investigators, as you know, for financial misdeeds. This is a man who profited in the millions.

FENN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) investigated, not charged with anything, not convicted of anything. He made a lot of money...

CARLSON: Look me straight in the eye and say you don't see any irony at all. Terry McAuliffe, of all people, seriously, getting up there and saying that the president is some sort of financial criminal, really.

FENN: Listen, you've got a president who will not let the SEC documents be public.

CARLSON: Well, you're not answering the question.

FENN: Well, no, no, this is what he said in his speech. You have got a vice president who will not let folks into what happened with Halliburton. You have got a situation now where the confidence level in this administration is the lowest that it's ever been.

CARLSON: Couldn't you find a better spokesman for that message than Terry McAuliffe, seriously?

FENN: Well, we have a lot of spokespeople for that message.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I'll stipulate that former President Bush is a man of integrity. You know, he had very much the same deal as Terry McAuliffe. The chairman of Global Crossings, a man named Lod Cook, former chairman of Arco, major businessman, the chairman of the Ronald Reagan Library, no Democrat he, President Bush, Sr. gave a speech for him. Instead of paying him in cash, as usual, he paid him in stock, which is Bush's choice, which is fine. The stock went up through the roof. Bush cashed out and made millions just the same way Terry McAuliffe did. Does that mean our former President Bush lacks integrity?

ROGERS: Terry McAuliffe is an absolute poster child for the insider dealing and sweetheart deals that took place in the '90s.

BEGALA: Why is that different from former President Bush.

ROGERS: Terry McAuliffe getting up and lecturing the rest of the world about business ethics is just an absolute farce. And CNN, no serious journalist, Tucker, should be a part of anything like that. And it's ridiculous and you shouldn't be a part of that.

CARLSON: Well, I can tell you none of us, Paul nor I, has benefited from it.

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS: I say that more out of jealousy than I do anger. But, I mean, nonetheless, there it is.

CARLSON: We're going to take a quick commercial break. Terry McAuliffe says Al Gore deserves to run again, if you can imagine. In a minute, we'll ask our guests if the Republicans deserve to gloat about it.

Later, a man with the wrong resume at the wrong time. But did he deserve to have his name dragged through the media? Does anyone?

And you may not recognize who said our "Quote of the Day," but you'll sure know who he said it about. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're discussing Democrat chairman Terry McAuliffe's outrageous, over the top, and generally sort of pathetic speech to his fellow Democrats. Is this all we're going to hear from now until 2004? Probably. In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Democratic consultant Peter Fenn, who was on the front page of the "Washington Post" this morning; and Republican consultant Ed Rogers.

BEGALA: And it's always good to be on the front page when you're not indicted for anything. On the front page for doing a good job. And, Ed, there's nobody better for your party than you.

ROGERS: Well, thank you.

BEGALA: The only person I put to you, maybe, in a league with is the current president's chief political adviser, Karl Rove.

ROGERS: I knew this was a set-up.

BEGALA: No, I have known Karl 16 years. I think he's a brilliant man. But everybody stumbles, and I think you'll have to admit even that our friend Karl made an enormous mistake. And I'll show you a couple of things that he said trying to politicize the war against terror, trying to make political gain out of the slaughter of innocent Americans.

Here's what Karl Rove said when he spoke to his party a few months ago: "We can go to the country on this war issue because they trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America."

And then let me show you one other thing. He made a mistake and lost one of his computer disks. Somebody from the press picked it up and put it in the newspaper. It's the first thing in the Republican strategy: focus on war and the economy. I think maybe that it's a typo because they declared war on the economy instead. But they're clearly trying -- the first three words, focus on war. This is an outrage. You talk about over the top and pathetic, this is an outrage, isn't it?

ROGERS: You're outraged by this.

BEGALA: I am.

ROGERS: No, not at all. If the truth is any defense, even on CROSSFIRE, what Karl said just happens to be the truth. And the whole notion...

BEGALA: Really? So, all the Democrats who voted for that war are bad (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

ROGERS: By no means, the Democrats that voted in support of the president have been good patriots.

BEGALA: And how many did?

ROGERS: What's the number?

BEGALA: All of them.

ROGERS: Good. Good.

CARLSON: Except one.

BEGALA: Except one.

ROGERS: The whole notion that the war on terrorism, the continuing war on terrorism is going to be relevant to the decisions people make and how they critique our leaders during the election context is not unreasonable. It's not ridiculous by any means. And, also, you know what that was. I mean, that's a PowerPoint presentation that you gave any number of when you were in Democrat politics in the White House, that is talking points that are vanilla, that are homogenized, that don't mean much. But you know that.

FENN: You can't have it both ways. You can't have it we want bipartisanship. We want to cool rhetoric in Washington. We want people to work together, and then come back after they've worked together with you and hit them over the head with the club. I mean...

ROGERS: Who is getting hit over the head?

FENN: Well, that's what Karl Rove wants that do to Democrats. I mean, you can divide...

ROGERS: Acknowledging the obvious, Republicans have a -- have an advantage on national security issues. Acknowledging the obvious, that the war on terrorism is going to be critiqued by the voter is not a bad thing.

BEGALA: This is a partisan distinction, Ed. What is the partisan distinction? All the Democrats supported that war. President Bush and the Republicans all supported that war. Where's the distinction?

ROGERS: Part of the distinction is the continuing support. Part of the distinction is whether or not people like yourself and other people in Congress and elsewhere that are beginning to criticize the war, whether or not they are right, whether or not they have a valid point, whether or not sticking with the president is a good or bad thing.

CARLSON: And it's totally legitimate. Now, Peter Fenn, let me ask you...

FENN: And he has a legitimate right -- the reason is because they don't want to talk about the economy.

(CROSSTALK)

ROGERS: If you want the election to be about the war, so be it.

CARLSON: Amen.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Now we have another admission. They want to politicize the slaughter of 3,000 innocent Americans.

CARLSON: Paul, if you could stop, I need to get to my favorite subject here, and that obviously is Al Gore. Now, one of the raps against the Republican Party by Terry McAuliffe is that it's in disarray. This is spoken by a man who heads a party that can't -- that is, essentially, breaking apart before our very eyes. Its leaders, Joe Lieberman and Al Gore, sniping at one another. Democrats obviously don't want Al Gore to be the nominee.

My question to you, Peter Fenn, as a Democratic insider, and I say that with some sorrow, will Democrats be able to stop him before he completes a destruction of the Democratic Party?

FENN: Look, I will tell you, I wake up every morning, this is the Jack Valenti play-off off of Lyndon Johnson, I wake up every morning wishing that Al Gore were my president.

CARLSON: Well, that's perverse. You don't mean that. No, but honestly, the fact that...

FENN: And the reason is, I would like to see instead of crime going up, crime continuing to go down. I'd like to see deficits going down instead of going up. I'd like to see -- look, I'd like to see our energy and environmental...

ROGERS: The only ones who want Al Gore to run are the Republicans.

CARLSON: Peter, will you answer my question? Do you think...

FENN: Look, I don't think it would be destructive at all. First of all, Al Gore is going to do what Al Gore wants to do. And he's going to be out campaigning for folks.

CARLSON: Do you want him to run, honestly?

FENN: I think absolutely. I think if he wants to run, go for it. You know, I don't know what's going to happen.

CARLSON: Amen.

FENN: He won the last elections by 550,000 votes, after all.

CARLSON: Keep up with the fantasy. That works. That's great.

BEGALA: That's actually simple math. Let me raise an uncomfortable point, uncomfortable for me as a Democrat, first, which is Gore was an inept and clumsy campaigner, and yet still, he beat your guy by a half a million votes. That has got to be -- you only won because you got a court that his daddy helped to pick.

(CROSSTALK)

Well, yes, if my daddy got to help pick the court, I believe I'd win the case too. I'm not just...

ROGERS: And he did. He did.

BEGALA: ... very impressed with the fact that he was able to win a lawsuit. He couldn't win an election even against a rather inept politician, could he?

ROGERS: Things couldn't tee up for Gore any better in 2004 than it did in 2000. You cooked the books. You had...

BEGALA: No, that was Bush at Harken Energy, Cheney at Halliburton.

ROGERS: You cook the books. He had the nomination handed to him. He had the Democrat party united and behind him. You had the Lincoln bedroom fundraisers. You had all the money in the world. It couldn't get any easier for him than it did in 2000.

BEGALA: That's going to have to do it. I'm sorry to cut you off. Ed Rogers, ace Republican strategist, Peter Fenn, Democratic strategist, thank you all very much here for a terrific debate.

Still to come, the face of a man who says he's the victim of character assassination. How did he get in the government's crosshairs in the first place?

Later, students in North Carolina discover basketballs aren't the only state religion and some adults don't like it very much.

And our "Quote of the Day" comes from a member of Congress who wants to talk more than housekeeping with Martha Stewart. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back.

Former ImClone CEO Sam Waksal attracted quite a crowd today. He braved a gauntlet of reporters and photographers on his way to plead not guilty to charges of insider trading. Former ImClone shareholder Martha Stewart may get a turn in the center of the camera's glare. She's likely to be subpoenaed by a House subcommittee unless she voluntarily answers questions about the timing of her ImClone stock sale.

Inquiring Congressman James Greenwood, Republican of Pennsylvania, gets our "Quote of the Day" for his assessment in Martha's dealings with investigators. Quote: "I think Martha Stewart has been less than candid with us." Well, he went on to say, "we can't sweep something like this under the rug just because she's a celebrity."

He has this exactly backwards. I hate to defend Martha Stewart, big Democrat and all that, but she's being hauled before Congress because she is a celebrity. If she wasn't famous, this wouldn't be in the papers. She would be fine. I think she's getting railroaded just like the tobacco executives. And I mean it, yes.

BEGALA: I was with you until the tobacco -- I don't understand. There is a loathing out there for Martha Stewart that I want to tap into because I don't get it. We were talking about this on the break with the audience. How many women out here hate Martha Stewart? There you are. There's a few of them. I don't get it.

CARLSON: But she will be -- I mean, I have no trouble believing she did something terrible. She, you know, contributed to Democrats. But she's going to end up being used as a prop for the self-righteous Congress and that's all.

BEGALA: By a conservative Republican.

CARLSON: Yes, he's actually a liberal Republican, but that's OK.

In baseball news, the strike's not out, but it isn't not on deck either. CNN's Connie Chung joins us in a minute with the latest on the baseball talks.

Later, who needs evidence or even a court when you can have guilt by innuendo?

Also, if you want teach people about Islam, don't they deserve the whole truth? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Once upon a time, you know, the point of going to college was to broaden your horizons, but down at the University of North Carolina some people don't want to get any broader than basketball. Before we take a shot at that, we'll ask our next guest if the FBI is getting reckless in its hunt for a killer. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Former Army scientist Dr. Steven Hatfill says he's a loyal American who loves his country. Law enforcement officials say Hatfill's also one of 20 or 30 "persons of interest," as they call them, in the anthrax investigation, and recent leaks to the media have made him look like he's at the top of their list. Is the FBI off target? Well, joining us to discuss that, from Houston, Don Clark, the former head of the FBI Houston office. Mr. Clark, good to see you again, sir.

DON CLARK, FORMER HEAD OF FBI HOUSTON OFFICE: Good to see you.

CARLSON: Thanks for joining us. Pretty disturbing press conference Mr. Hatfill gave. And of all the things he said, I want to play a clip of what offended me the very most. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. STEVEN HATFILL, FORMER ARMY SCIENTIST: My girlfriend's home was also searched. She was manhandled by the FBI upon their entry, not immediately shown the search warrant. Her apartment was wrecked while FBI agents screamed at her that I have killed five people and that her life would never be the same again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Now I can't imagine there's an excuse for that kind of behavior, that kind of police state behavior, but maybe you could answer this question. Is that typical that FBI agents in an investigation harass the relatives or acquaintances of the suspect?

CLARK: Well, I certainly know in my tenure that that's not typical investigative procedures. And I won't argue with what Hatfill's statement was, because I wasn't there. But I have to tell you, there are procedures that investigative techniques follows, and in most of the cases you'll find that the FBI officials are pretty gentlemanly and ladylike when they go about their business. They are there for a purpose and not to harass people. But they've got to get their business done.

CARLSON: Well, I take what you say at face value and I believe you, except after watching this case unfold, at least partly on television, it makes me think, you know, if the FBI called me to ask a few questions, I'd say absolutely not, get a court order, and the second thing I would do is hire a lawyer. Won't this, Mr. Hatfill's experience, discourage other people from voluntarily talking to the Bureau?

CLARK: Well, I think before you make that judgment and before you come to that decision that you have got to find out if that actually took place, because oftentimes a lot of accusations and allegations will be made, sometimes they may be perceived that this is what's taken place. But we have got to not rule here because the jury is still out on exactly what took place here, because we've only heard one side of this story. And I suspect if it did happen, along the line there will be another side told.

BEGALA: Well, Mr. Clark, in fact the one side being told is largely by the FBI. Can I ask you as a professional, what possible investigative benefit could there be to leaking this man's name? If he is guilty, it only puts him on notice that he's suspect number one, he can cover his tracks better. If he's innocent, good Lord, you have smeared, you, the FBI, have smeared the name of an innocent American. What good comes of that?

CLARK: Well, I'm going to agree with you that there is absolutely no benefit and no technique that I know that calls for use of leaking to the media any of your activities.

Having said that, I think we have to look very careful, and again the jury is still out, and find out where that came from. Investigations should be done in secrecy, and primarily to protect evidence, to protect innocence, to protect the victims and everybody that's involved, because there are a lot of people that are looked at during the course of an investigation, and if that was all leaked out to the media, it could ruin a lot of lives. And that is not an investigative procedure in the FBI that I knew.

BEGALA: It seems to me that the leaks could have come from nowhere but the FBI. Certainly this man has no interest in ruining his own life. And one of the things that was leaked that he told reporters in his press conference yesterday was that he had been working on a novel, he had a half-finished novel that had certain scenes in it, and the FBI took his hard drive and inspected it and then leaked the contents of some of that plot from his novel. That was clearly the FBI trying smear this guy, wasn't it?

CLARK: Well, we say the FBI, but keep in mind, we still have one side of a story here that's being told. Just from where I sit and in the background that I've been able to look into this, as much as I have access to it, which is none from the FBI today, but I can tell you that there is likely another side to this story. And it could have come from different other aspects.

And we also need to keep in mind, too -- we say that this is the FBI. I think we ought to talk of this in terms of a law enforcement investigative task force, because there are a number of agencies and departmental officials that are operating in this. Nonetheless, not one single one should be leaking information, but again, I can assure you that there will be an intense investigation to try to determine who, if anyone, did leak this information.

CARLSON: Well, we hope so. Now, you talk about the other side. But for two weeks now, details have been, in some cases, trickling and others pouring out about the so-called ties between Mr. Hatfill and whoever sent these letters. One that he once lived in Zimbabwe near a Greendale school, and there is a Greendale school mentioned in the letters. Two, that I guess a couple of bloodhounds didn't like his smell or, alternatively, did like it, and that's really about it, as far as I know. There doesn't appear to be a huge amount of evidence linking this man. Or is there? What do you know?

CLARK: Well, that doesn't appear from what we know, from what we have seen out there at this point that there may not be a lot linking him to it, but we don't know all of the evidence. And you know, we shouldn't know all of the evidence. That's what courts of law are for, is to bring this evidence out in the court of law. It shouldn't be strewed along the way as we proceed with investigation in little bits and pieces. So I think it's a good thing that we don't know yet what the evidence is. And if it goes to court, then we'll know.

CARLSON: Well, we know one thing, that is he got up this weekend and gave this quite long statement in front of news crews. Based on your many years of experience in law enforcement, does it strike you as unusual that a guilty man would get up on television and give this long, exculpatory explanation? Would a guilty man have the guts to do that, do you think?

CLARK: Well, you know, people have different reasons, an assortment of reasons for the actions that they take. And I certainly can't go into the mind of this individual and determine why he did that. And I'm not going to presume guilt, because I clearly presume innocence until the evidence shows otherwise, and I think the FBI and the investigators are doing that as well.

So whatever his reasons were for doing that, that's up for him. But I have to tell you that this case will move forward based on the evidence that's collected, and hopefully there won't be anything called a smear campaign involved in this.

BEGALA: Well, I have faith in you. But you're not with the FBI anymore. I have to say, the crowd that's running this right now I don't have the same amount of faith in. And let me play you a piece of videotape and ask you to listen to it and let our audience take a look at it, from Dr. Hatfill yesterday. And let's just take a look and let's just assess from a brief clip whether you think that this looks like a murderer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HATFILL: I acknowledge the right of the authorities and the press to satisfy themselves as to whether I am the anthrax mailer. This does not, however, give them the right to smear me and gratuitously make a wasteland of my life in the process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: He may well be guilty, I have no idea, but he certainly has a pretty convincing manner, doesn't he?

CLARK: Well, he does. But whether he's guilty or not, I still think that we have to hang our hats on the investigative process and the rules and procedures that are there, and if those rules and procedures are lax, and -- or if they are improper, then that's when I think that the powers that be in our political arena and our lawmaking bodies need to take a closer look at where they need to readjust that.

But in the meantime, good investigative techniques are going to have to lead to that, and I don't -- I would not like to see us really get a very serious investigation. We're talking a national security issue here and a threat to our society be taken off track because a person who has been talked to has made some statements that yet we really don't know whether they are true or not.

BEGALA: But can I go back to one point you made a little bit earlier, Mr. Clark, and that the FBI will be investigating these leaks. I can't remember anybody's head rolling because of the wasteland that was made of Richard Jewell's life. Can you?

CLARK: Well, yes, I do. And I know that internally, there were some people who received some type of actions during the course of the Richard Jewell situation. But I must say, and I will agree with you that it is extremely difficult to identify who people are that leak these stories. And for obvious reasons. The media has its protection, and I certainly do agree with that, because I think people who leak things to the media, it's not the media's responsibility. It becomes the responsibility of the leaker, and it's a terrible thing when that takes place.

And if that took place in this case, clearly appropriate action should be taken. But I don't think we ought to jump to judgment on that quite yet, until we really find out how it did get out there.

CARLSON: OK. Don Clark in Houston, thanks very much for joining us.

Ahead in our "Fireback" segment -- one of our viewers has finally come up with something Paul Begala can't blame on President Bush. Or can he? We'll see. And next, an attempt to teach UNC students a little something about a non-Southern culture. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We are coming to you as always from George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C.

Down at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, they're trying to raise Islam awareness by requiring all 3,500 incoming freshmen to read a book called "Approaching the Koran, the Early Revelations." The assignment has sparked a lawsuit by the Family Policy Network, which says the book is a one-sided presentation. It leaves out passages terrorists use to justify their attacks. Stepping into CROSSFIRE, Hussein Ibish, communications director for the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and in Lynchburg, Virginia is the man behind the lawsuit, Joe Glover of the Family Policy Network.

BEGALA: Hello, Mr. Glover. Welcome to CROSSFIRE. I thank you for joining us. There you are.

I want to first sort of get you on record in one of the great debates on the American right today. On the one side is the son of Billy Graham. Billy Graham, one of the great legends of the American faith community. His son, Franklin Graham, one of the great losers. He said Islam is, and I quote, "wicked" and "violent." That's one side. Islam is wicked and violent. On the other side, here's our president. I want to play a piece of videotape from President George W. Bush, and here's what he says about Islam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We share a commitment to family, to protect and love our children. We share a belief in God's justice and man's moral responsibility. And we share the same hope for a future of peace. We have much in common and much to learn from one another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Mr. Glover I think Reverend Graham is all wet and I think our president is all right. With whom do you agree?

JOE GLOVER, FAMILY POLICY NETWORK: Well, I would say that in order to understand what Islam really teaches, you'd have to look at the final authority, and that would be the Koran itself. The question of whether or not Islam is a religion of peace or a violent religion can be answered in the pages of the Koran. One of our concerns with this fight at the University of North Carolina is they've selected a book that leaves out surahs four, five and nine from the Koran, which is where you're going to find all the hate and bigotry, all that is replete in the Koran, against Christians and Jews.

BEGALA: But with respect, I'd like you to answer the question, though. I want you to tell me as a conservative and a pro-family leader that you think our president is wrong.

GLOVER: I don't think President Bush is the issue. I think the issue is whether or not the Koran itself teaches...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: You should have the courage of your convictions. If you're going to be dragging schoolbooks into a lawsuit, Mr. Glover, you ought to have the spine to stand up and say whether you agree with our president.

HUSSEIN IBISH, AMERICAN-ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE: Well, let me put it this way. Let's take a look at this lawsuit...

GLOVER: OK, fine, I disagree with the president, but...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: What this strikes me as the kind of -- I just want to read you a description from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. They are assigning a book that contains, quote, "passages from the chief holy book of Islam," passages that are, quote, "poetic and intensely evocative, beautiful meditations." All of that may be true. Consider, consider if a state school like UNC were assigned the gospels to all freshmen. You would have a lawsuit.

IBISH: No, of course we wouldn't. And if you did...

CARLSON: Yes, you would.

IBISH: No, no, look, I have got a Ph.D. in comparative literature. I got it from a state school, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). In the course of getting my Ph.D. in comparative literature, I took not one but numerous courses and seminars about the...

(CROSSTALK)

IBISH: Because you cannot understand western civilization, western culture, western literature without understanding the Bible, and in fact in great detail. Now, what the school is teaching here is culture. They are not foisting this religion on anybody. They're not trying to convert people. No one is going to get converted by it. They are teaching people about one of the most important books ever written and about the culture of one-fifth of humanity. This lawsuit -- hold on -- is suing -- it's people suing the university for the right to remain pig-ignorant and still get a degree from the University of North Carolina. That's pathetic.

CARLSON: Mr. Glover, Mr. Glover -- pig-ignorant?

IBISH: Pig-ignorant.

BEGALA: Mr. Glover?

GLOVER: You know, my question would be, what does the university have to fear with telling the whole story about Islam? Why are they leaving out passages four, five and nine from the Koran? Why are they not talking about passages that say "do not take Christians and Jews for friends, for they're friends of each other, and if you take them for a friend, then surely you are one of them, one of the unjust people." Why does it leave out the passages like surah nine that says "fight and slay the pagan, lay an ambush and beleaguer them so you can lock and punish them at your hand."

(CROSSTALK)

IBISH: ... the Bible and the Torah and the Talmud and the Koran...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: My broader question is this: Is it not true that in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, committed in the name of Islam by Muslims, the University of North Carolina...

IBISH: By terrorists.

CARLSON: ... is attempting to make a statement to all freshmen that Islam does not represent what happened on 9/11? Of course.

IBISH: That's not how I interpret it. The way I interpret it is...

CARLSON: Come on, they interpret it that way.

IBISH: No, no, I think the university is saying to its freshman class, this is an extremely important part of world civilization and world culture that most Americans don't know about. They need to know about it. The president says we are in a war against -- hold on, no, the president says we are in a war against terrorism...

(CROSSTALK)

IBISH: Look, that is -- so you see, what lies behind this is an attempt to bash Islam.

(CROSSTALK)

IBISH: ... to blacken the name of one of the world's great faiths, and to insult one-fifth of humanity. There is, you know, I mean, when you have so many people who are believing...

(CROSSTALK)

GLOVER: Two hundred and fifty million Americans are upset about people quoting the Koran flying airplanes into buildings.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Your response?

GLOVER: Well, I think that the key issue here is that UNC actually wants to put kids' heads farther in the sand at a time when they really want to know what it is in the Koran that teaches -- absolutely, by teaching people everything but what the terrorists are quoting from the Koran as reasons for justification to kill Christians and Jews.

IBISH: When we study the Bible as a literary text, as a cultural artifact, we do not spend a lot of time talking about the Spanish inquisition, slavery, the Holocaust, the conquest of the Americas and...

GLOVER: Look how far you have to go back to come up with such ridiculous incidents.

IBISH: We don't spend time looking at what bad people have done in the name of Christianity...

(CROSSTALK)

IBISH: Most of the people who were involved in that were Christian...

GLOVER: There's a major difference here. You can...

(CROSSTALK)

IBISH: The anti-Semitism that has formed in the Holocaust is deeply rooted in Christian...

GLOVER: Oh, I'm sure you're worried about anti-Semitism, Hussein.

IBISH: Of course I am. Because I'm not a racist like you.

CARLSON: Will you respond to that outrageous slander...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: We've got 20 seconds, Mr. Glover, you get the last word. Go ahead.

GLOVER: Here is the thing. If you want to do violence against Christians and Jews in the name of Allah, you do it consistent with what the Koran teaches. If you want to do violence in the name of Christ, you have to violate his teachings. He said to do good to those who persecute you, and to love your enemies. And even on the cross itself said, "father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

IBISH: You're going to lose your lawsuit, and I'm so glad for that, because this is just an attempt to smear -- you're going to be laughed out of court.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Thank you very much for joining us from Lynchburg, Virginia. Hussein Ibish, thank you very much for joining us here in Washington, D.C. And thank you here at home for staying with us, because next it's your chance to fire back at us. Tucker is back and so are the e-mails about his bow ties. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. "Fireback" is now. We dig deep into the e-mail bag. And here's the first e-mail. Herbert Strahan from Yucca Valley, California writes: "What kind of country are we that we will not the kids in school say the Pledge of Allegiance, but it's mandatory to read the Koran in our colleges?"

To which I say, amen. Good to for you.

BEGALA: Herb, Herb, Herb. Here's our e-mail number two from Richard Bloom in Irving, Texas: "I could never do" -- he's from Irving, I can do a Texas accent -- "I could never do Bob or Tucker's job. I do not have the self-control to sit there for an hour and listen to Begala and not punch him in his lying mouth."

Well, Richard, or may I call you Dick because you sound like a Dick, I think -- well, he does. I'm being informal; he's an informal guy. You want to come up here and get a piece of me? Come on up, Dick.

CARLSON: Wow, cage match. All right.

BEGALA: This is the American right, and this is the American right today? They can't take it?

CARLSON: Andrea and Benjamin N. from Bronx, New York write: "We are probably the youngest TV viewers on your show, ages 13 and 11." That's certainly true. "This is a cool and hip new 'CROSSFIRE,' because everyone is always dissing" -- making fun of, translation for those of us who are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- "one another. It's interesting. P.S.: Tucker, that bow tie is so out of fashion. Get with the program." I'll have you know, Andrea and Benjamin, that on this program, my program, CROSSFIRE, bow ties are cool.

So here we go.

BEGALA: We've got our last e-mail. This is from Willfried Wolfal, St. Petersburg, Florida, who writes: "You've blamed my President Bush for just about everything under the sun, and there's certainly no limit to your imagination. It must have eluded your mind that he's responsible for the figure skating scandals now hitting the headlines." Good point! Mr. Wolfal, we'll get right on it.

Yes, ma'am, what's your name and hometown?

SARAH: My name is Sarah, and I'm from Garland, Texas. And my comment is for Mr. Fenn. He said that he wakes up every morning wishing that Al Gore was president. Well, Mr. Fenn, I wake up every morning wishing it was Christmas again, but it's not going to happen.

BEGALA: But it's faith, it's all about faith.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: And just to verify, he didn't mean that. That is so grotesque, nobody could mean that. I think he was just kidding around.

BEGALA: You know what? I think about every other day George W. Bush wishes Al Gore was president, because he knows he's not up to the job.

CARLSON: Right. And our next question. Yes, sir.

RUBIN HOENECK (ph): Hi, I'm Rubin Hoeneck (ph) from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And Tucker, I say let Rove and the others focus on the war. It's transparently distasteful, and besides, it's still the economy, stupid.

CARLSON: Well, I think it would be transparently distasteful, for the Republicans or any part, to try and get credit or get obvious political gain from September 11, and despite Paul's ludicrous claims, they haven't. They've been actually very subtle about it, and they haven't pointed to it.

BEGALA: Despite the obvious statements from Karl Rove, the president's chief strategist.

CARLSON: Yes.

BEGALA: Yes, sir?

DOUG: I'm Doug from Maclean, and my question is -- or my comment is for Mr. Ibish. I think that the Koran certainly has a place in religious classes, where you can choose to learn about any religions you want to learn about, not just Islam, but all religions. But to force it upon students when they're not given an option is an obvious violation of church and state laws.

CARLSON: Well, the point is not to push the Koran on students. The point is to push the position that Islam is a peaceful religion. Now, that may or may not be true, but it's an editorial position that the college is pushing on kids, and I think it has a place in a class, but not schoolwide.

BEGALA: The very fact that we're talking about it now and they're probably going to be talking about it at the University of North Carolina means it has worked. We are actually talking about ideas and about faith, and that's a good thing.

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 night.

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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