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Bush Suggests Force Not the Only Way to beat Saddam; Government Finally Makes Enron Arrest; Pope Makes Homecoming in Poland

Aired August 24, 2002 - 19:00   ET


AL HUNT, GUEST HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG. I'm Al Hunt with Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne, and in Boston, Mark Shields.

Our guest is Republican Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, who represents Orange, Virginia, my home town. Thanks for coming in, Eric.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: Good to be here.

HUNT: It's good to have you.

After meeting with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on his Texas ranch, President Bush suggested that military action is not the only way to get rid of Saddam Hussein.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I say I'm a patient man, I mean I'm a patient man, and that we will look at all options and we will consider -- all technologies available to us, and diplomacy and intelligence. But one thing is for certain is that this administration agrees that Saddam Hussein is a threat. And he will be -- you know, that's, that's, that's a part of our thinking, and it hasn't changed.


HUNT: Earlier in the week in Baghdad, an Iraqi minister talked about war.


MOHAMMAD MEHDI SALEH, IRAQI TRADE MINISTER: We wish that it will not take place, but once they -- it happens, they will that they -- there will be a full defeat of Americans in the region, not in Iraq only.


HUNT: In Washington, a former U.N. arms inspector urged caution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SCOTT RITTER, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Before we send tens of thousands of American troops off to fight, kill, and be killed in our name, we have to be absolutely certain that there is a threat there worthy of war, worthy of the sacrifice.


HUNT: But in Houston, the House Republican whip called for military action now.


REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY WHIP: Make no mistake about it, America. We are at war, and we don't have time to dawdle. This new conflict offers no margin for error.


HUNT: Kate, are George W. Bush and Tom DeLay on the same page?

KATE O'BEIRNE, CAPITAL GANG: Al, I think they're essentially in agreement. This week Condoleezza Rice, on behalf of the president, explained that certainly there are risks in attempting to topple Saddam Hussein, but it's a bigger risk if we don't. And she also said that action should be taken sooner rather than later.

So the agreement, I think, is broadly there with the more elaborate case Tom DeLay made.

The president, though, credits himself with being a patient man, but this week he seemed to be quite impatient, with the constant media questions about Iraq and the demand to begin responding to the critics who've been out there.

But I think that's wrong. I think the questions and the criticism are perfectly reasonable. It's the most consequential decision facing America. And what the White House, I think, is grappling with is, how to build support, make their case to the public, how to build support among allies, how to have a full debate without handing military plans to Saddam Hussein.

But they're going to have to meet that challenge, because that's actually what they're going to have to do.

HUNT: I think that Kate O'Beirne's absolutely right. I think this debate is healthy, it's good.

CANTOR: Well, I think so. I mean, obviously, I mean, those of us who serve in Congress are going to at some point be faced with a decision that is going to be a very wrenching one. I mean, the decision to...

HUNT: You have to no doubt that Bush will seek congressional approval.

CANTOR: I do, and I hope it's sooner rather than later, because I would (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- I would like to think that we could give him in Congress he flexibility he needs, whether he needs the authority to act in September or act several months from now.

It is a very wrenching decision, but one that I think certainly should come to Congress. I think it will. I think we should act and give the president that flexibility, because I agree with Kate, I think that the risks of inaction far outweigh the risks of war against Saddam.

HUNT: Bob, do you agree with Kate? Did you see any, any give in Bush this week? Do you think it was (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

ROBERT NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Yes, I did, I saw a lot of give. I think words have consequences, Kate, and I really -- I...

O'BEIRNE: We don't disagree, Bob.

NOVAK: ... and I really believe that he knows really which...


NOVAK: ... and the -- I think he knows what he's saying, and Tom DeLay, I think, irritated, Tom DeLay wants to go to war now. He said in that speech, We want to go to war.

And that is a difference from where the president is. The president has, has, has, does not, has looked at the situation, reviewed the bidding, as it were. He looks at so many of his father's advisers being opposed to a military action right now, the secretary of state being opposed, people -- the -- Senator Lugar, Senator Hagel being opposed.

He sees that he has no support in the world, he -- the U.S. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bahrain and the Bahrain authorities say that they're opposed. This is a very difficult situation, and if he can find some other way to get rid of him, he's going to look at it.

So I think he took a long step, in my opinion, away from war. I don't think, when you're getting ready to go to war, you make those kind of comments that he made in Crawford, Texas.

HUNT: Mark Shields, I think everybody would love it if there were another easy way to get rid of Saddam Hussein. It hasn't occurred for the last 25 years. Give me your take on Bush this week and whether you think he ultimately is going to bring force to bear in Iraq.

MARK SHIELDS, CAPITAL GANG: Well, Al, if there's one irrefutable lesson that we must have learned from Vietnam, the tragedy that was Vietnam, it is this. It is that an army does not fight a war, a country fights a war. And if the country is not willing to fight that war and to sacrifice for that war, then we should never send an army and never send a single troop.

And I don't think there's any question, Michael Barone, the conservative scholar, wrote, "War demands a quality of sacrifice." This president, this administration has not prepared this nation for war in any way. This would be the only war in American history, the only major war that we have entered without either a draft and with a tax cut, Al.

And he's chosen as his surrogates -- if in fact he chose Tom DeLay -- the most inappropriate of all advocates. I mean, there are -- you pointed out, Chuck Hagel was mentioned, John McCain is a strong supporter of this war. To this day the administration, to the best of my knowledge, has not talked to him about speaking on behalf of it, so they're left to have as their spokesmen people who, quite frankly, evaded military service themselves and have no standing...

NOVAK: Just...

SHIELDS: ... to speak on the subject.

NOVAK: Just from a standpoint as a reporter, Mark, you have information that he chose Tom DeLay as a surrogate?

SHIELDS: I know that Tom DeLay spoke with and collaborated with on that speech with Condi Rice.

HUNT: Kate, Kate, Kate O'Beirne...

O'BEIRNE: Of course, with (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

HUNT: ... Mark has a good point. I mean, why wouldn't they want John McCain out there? Then they haven't spoken to John McCain about this at all.

O'BEIRNE: I -- John McCain will be out there, Joe Lieberman will be out there, Dick Gephardt will be out there. Because Bob himself is so opposed to taking military action against Iraq, and certainly there might well be other alternatives first, Bob, I think he's making, he's giving himself credit for being in a larger group than he actually is in.

By my last count, there are something like 270 Republican members of Congress. We've heard from exactly three...

HUNT: Yes, but wouldn't...

O'BEIRNE: ... with misgivings about Iraq, Bob...

NOVAK: You know, I don't, I don't really...

O'BEIRNE: ... so this is not exactly a growing Republican (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


HUNT: Kate, wouldn't, wouldn't you agree, though...


HUNT: ... with Bob... NOVAK: Excuse me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) me, Al, I just...


NOVAK: ... I just want to respond. I don't care whether I have one person with me or no, I think it makes absolutely no difference...

O'BEIRNE: Don't be misled into thinking that...

NOVAK: ... to me. No, I...


NOVAK: ... but I'll go -- if he -- I don't want to be misrepresented as just being against a military action in Iraq. I'm against the intervention in a foreign country and saying we're going to have a regime change. If there's any country I'd like a regime change, it's Zimbabwe. But we don't do that (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HUNT: Let's get to the one man who has a vote here...

CANTOR: This, this is my...

HUNT: ... Congressman Cantor...


HUNT: ... a couple questions I want to ask you. Number one, I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but also, you talked about the president would come to Congress. But would he also go to the U.N. in order to get allies to enlist with us too and try to, try to do sanctions, if that doesn't work, he has an excuse to go in?

CANTOR: Well, I don't think so. I think we've already been there with the U.N. And in fact, it's shown that the sanctions have not worked with Saddam, containment has not worked. And this is not just any country, Bob. This is a country run by an individual who has defied the international community at every step. He's broken every agreement...


CANTOR: I'm talking about Saddam Hussein.

NOVAK: Oh, oh.

CANTOR: Who has broken every agreement he's ever made to end his weapons of mass destruction program, to end his long-range missile program. He has defied us all, and it's about time that we face that risk. And yes, it's a wrenching decision. I want to come back to that.

But I think it's one that any serious policy maker will agree with the president when he comes to Congress seeking a declaration.

HUNT: Mark Shields, I want to ask you a final question in this segment, and that is, you talked about the president not really summoning support among American people yet, and I think that's right, he still has time.

How about among allies? Can we go it alone? Can we go in there without really the active support of allies both in Europe and the Middle East?

SHIELDS: Well, I don't know what we do to get them. I mean, they're -- most of them have made abundantly clear they're not interested at all in the enterprise, Al. And I just -- I would just add to what Bob Novak, Tom DeLay is not the only advocate who is particularly ill suited. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Richard Perle or Ken Edelman, the people who are speaking for the harshest and most hawkish policies are not, are men and women in uniform, or those who've worn the uniform, who know the tragedy of battle.

They are expressing the resistance and the reluctance and the caution, and for the first time, they're being disparaged as nervous Nellies by these folks on the hawkish right.

O'BEIRNE: Look, I would be the first to support the proposition, if it would make Mark happy, to have only active duty military members and veterans vote on whether or not we go to war. He might not be that happy with the results, nor would Bob Novak be. The system happens to be the executive branch, the president's plenary powers, and Congress, whose represent -- whose constituents give them a responsibility, whether or not they've served themselves, Mark.

HUNT: I think, I think this debate has a long way to go. But Eric Cantor and THE GANG will be back with an Enron criminal copping a plea.


HUNT: Welcome back.

For the first time, an executive of the bankrupt Enron Corp. entered into a plea bargain, agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. Former finance executive Michael Kopper pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.


DAVID HOWARD, KOPPER'S ATTORNEY: Michael has admitted that he misused his position at Enron to enrich himself and others and in so doing violated his duties as an Enron employee. Michael has also agreed to pay millions of dollars to a restitution fund for victims of Enron.

LARRY THOMPSON, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: This plea marks a significant milestone in the Enron investigation. We have secured the cooperation of an important witness.


HUNT: Bob, nine months, why should it take them so long to get the first step in Enron?

NOVAK: It's a very complicated case. These were complicated maneuvers. I'm sure you understand them, being a "Wall Street Journal" person...

HUNT: Financial reporter (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

NOVAK: Yes, you can understand. But most people can't understand them. Also, these crooks are like Mafia dons, observe the code of silence, they wouldn't talk about each other.

Now, the fact is, from the moment that this story broke, the Democrats and their friends have been trying to pin this on the Republicans, and they're saying, Why not Enron? Why not Enron? They're going to get to Enron. I've said that for a long time.

And this is the beginning of many indictments and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and convictions.

HUNT: Mark Shields, don't we want to know some things there, not just indict people, like to know about who was in those partnerships, like to know about the Cheney task force? Couple of things we really ought to know, shouldn't we?

SHIELDS: Absolutely, Al, I don't think there's any question about it. Al, you know, somebody said crime doesn't pay, and at least it doesn't pay as well as insider trading. And that's what we really got a view of this week.

Brother Novak is right at this one, that there has been enormous pressure building both politically in the Congress and in the press on the White House, on the administration, on the prosecutors and investigators, why hadn't anybody come up with something?

Our own Lou Dobbs at CNN had a daily watch on the failure to prosecute anybody. And I just got a big kick out of the attorney putting the best spin on it. You can forget about Carville or any of these folks when he says, "Michael has agreed to pay millions of dollars in restitution."

Al, it's illegal money that he got from illegal -- from illegal deals. I hope to hell we do find out who was in those partnerships.

HUNT: Yes. Eric, do you think we're going to find out who was in those partnerships?

CANTOR: Well, I do, I think it will all come out. And I think that the fact that Enron is the first to have individual indictments, or one of the first to have individual indictments, I think, is something that the American public wants to see.

You know, look, Congress acted back in April, and the House reacted, and it took a long time for us to produce a piece of legislation. The Oxley-Sarbanes bill did pass. I think it provides another signal that, you know, we are not going to tolerate crime being committed in America's board rooms, to have tough laws with vigorous prosecution.

But I think in the broader sense, you know, what we need to do is, we need to somehow convey to the public that it's OK to start investing in the markets again. I know there's been a lot of discussion on this show in the past about some of the fiscal policies that maybe we should pursue to try and attract back in investors.

But at the end of the day, I think that investors need to know that we have in -- values have been replaced back into America's board rooms. And you see everyone from President George Bush to Joe Lieberman talking about values in the business arena.

And without those values, no matter how many lawsuits you have, no matter how many indictments, how many laws on the books, we're only going to find out about the crimes committed after the fact.

HUNT: Good point, except for Oxley-Sarbanes, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Mike Oxley -- Anyway, go ahead, Kate.

O'BEIRNE: I think in these terribly complicated white collar cases, which are complicated intentionally in order to cover the tracks, this is a remarkably fast first Enron exec to fall.

And unlike Mafia types, Bob, these guys are going to talk against one another. They make deals for a living. They are certainly going to be willing to make deals with the prosecutor in order to save themselves.

So I think this is probably going to be how each in turn these cases develop. But it takes awhile for the prosecutors to make sure that they're not letting too guilty a guy off the hook by letting him plea, and I think they're going to want to make sure that the ultimate defendant is going to be the worst actor.

NOVAK: I agree, of course...

HUNT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Kenny Lay, right?

NOVAK: I'll agree that, that -- of course the Mafia are saying too, you know, that they, that they're (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...


O'BEIRNE: It's much riskier, much riskier, Bob.

NOVAK: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I would, I would say, I would say, though, you cannot underestimate the, the passion of the Democrats to try to use this case as a political wedge. And, and I think it's going to fail, because I think all those partnerships are going to be revealed, and it's not going -- this was an equal opportunity Republican-Democratic corruptionist corporation, and it's not going to be something that was settled in the -- in Dick Cheney's office.

HUNT: Bob, in the end, passion for justice is no vice.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, outsiders intervene in Georgia. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HUNT: Welcome back.

Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was defeated for renomination in her predominantly African-American Georgia district. Former state judge Denise Majette won 58 percent of the vote, augmented by Republican voters crossing over.


REP. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY (D), GEORGIA: We saw massive Republican crossover into the Democratic primary. And it looks like the Republicans wanted to beat me more than the Democrats wanted to keep me.


HUNT: Congresswoman McKinney became the second African-American House member from the South who had supported the Palestinian cause to lose in a Democratic primary this year.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said there is a grassroots perception that, quote, "Jewish people are attempting to pick our leaders. There is some concern about that, it's concern about any candidate being targeted by a special interest group for voting on any one issue," end quote.


DENISE MAJETTE (D), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: The money that we received from outside of the district just helped us get our message out. But the funding that we received and the support that we received began right there at home.


HUNT: Mark Shields, was Cynthia McKinney the victim of the Jewish lobby or of her own extremism?

SHIELDS: Al, I think probably both is the answer. If the, if the truth be known, Cynthia McKinney did herself and her cause absolutely no good and considerable harm by her irresponsible charge that President Bush had prior knowledge of the attack on 9/11, and that his associates stood to profit from it.

At the same time, she had earned the support and admiration of a lot of Arab-Americans over the last five years for her willingness to speak up in behalf of Arab causes. And I think you add to that, Al, we are familiar, as Eddie Bernice Johnson pointed out, by now of single-issue group -- politics. I mean, liberals have deplored the NRA making single-issue politics, and both sides have deplored abortion, whether it's NARAL or pro-life groups, becoming a single issue. This would really be a sea change if in fact single-issue Middle East politics become a factor in congressional politics, because we don't have the context with -- that live with those issues for a long time.

And I think that a backlash is being courted.

HUNT: Eric, the backlash?

CANTOR: I agree with some of what Mark said. I think clearly, though, Cynthia McKinney lost this race for one reason and one reason only, and that was herself. She is a very divisive individual and made some very outrageous statements and took some really outrageous policy positions.

And because of that, I think that the voters in the Fourth District of Georgia went to the polls and elected an individual that they felt could come to Washington and work with others, not try and work through dividing.

And I think, though, ultimately the issue of out-of-state money, this is no different, as Mark was saying, from other single-issue groups such as the NRA, such as labor unions, some such as the Sierra Club.

This issue of the Middle East is front and center right now. Obviously things in the Middle East are in turmoil. So those that are interested in the Israel issue are going to rally behind those who share their beliefs.

HUNT: Kate, there's -- there are reports that the next target for people who support the Israeli cause might be John Sununu, the congressman from New Hampshire.

NOVAK: Palestinian cause. Support the Palestinian cause, you mean.

HUNT: No, the people -- No, no, no. I mean, they're going to campaign against John Sununu in, in, in New Hampshire, right?

O'BEIRNE: Let me say this. The single issue that did in Cynthia McKinney is that she represents a totally irresponsible, poisonous radicalism that is a strain of Black politics. The Black community at large is not anti-Semitic. Her own Black constituents have had it with her.

Every time somebody says her defeat by, you know, the liberal black, it sets back Jewish-Black relations. No, it's the opposite, every time she opened her mouth, Jewish-Black relations were set back. So they had had it. And I think it's a wonderful sign that that kind of poison is being rejected in favor of the Ron Kirks, the Majettes, the Harold Ford, Jrs., as opposed to the Sharptons, the Jacksons, and the Farrakhans.

HUNT: Bob, I agree totally with Kate. The other black congressman who was defeated, Earl Hilliard, you know, was an ethical leper. I mean, I think these tow people really brought on their own defeat.

NOVAK: I don't disagree with that, but I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a little pattern, that you come out for the Palestinians, and I agree with you, I misunderstood what you said, because I agree with you that this is hurting John Sununu's run for the, for the Senate, and you, you take your life in your hands, because the Jewish lobby has a lot of money.

Now, there was the case of Charles Percy, not, not a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) moderate Republican from Illinois, not a violent racist, was defeated by the Jewish lobby, and Senator J.W. Fulbright, I believe, one of our panelists has some connection with him, had a lot of opposite from the, from the Jewish lobby.

So I think that this is a -- I don't think this is anything new. I think if you come out against the Israeli cause in American politics, you are living dangerously.

HUNT: Just to tell our viewers that that was Mr. Shields, who, before he became a highly successful journalist, was active in the William Fulbright campaign.

Mark, we got 10 seconds.

SHIELDS: OK, Al, in fairness to Dale Bumpers, who beat Bill Fulbright, he did turn down large offers of money from West Coast Jewish sources and, and still beat Bill Fulbright.

But I think the key is, what we have to be worried about is that somehow there's a hit list, Al, for Arab-Americans, and a candidate who receives contributions from Arab-Americans now all of a sudden is suspect.

HUNT: OK. All right, all right, we're going to have to take a break now, but when we come back with our CAPITAL classic, Bill Clinton was accused of wagging the dog.


HUNT: Welcome back.

Four years ago this week, President Bill Clinton, after admitting to the nation that he had not told the truth about Monica Lewinsky, dispatched bombing raids against Afghanistan and Sudan. They were aimed at Osama bin Laden for the bombing of U.S. embassies in Africa.

On August 22, 1998, your CAPITAL GANG discussed whether the president was wagging the dog.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, August 22, 1998)

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson on Martha's Vineyard, has the president successfully transformed himself from prosecutor's target to commander in chief?

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Well, Mark, it would take more than a tiny war to do that, given the amount of trouble he's in. But it certainly did help when he came into the press room here in his hard shoes and his suit, and, you know, looked us in the eye and told us he was pulling on the mantle of commander in chief, flying back to Washington and meeting with his national security adviser.

NOVAK: The president of the United States with his control of the media can change the subject any time he wants. That doesn't say for how long, but he can change it.

HUNT: General Shelton, Secretary Cohen, George Tenet, they wouldn't think of, of, of risking any American lives or doing something like this if it weren't called for. There was an extraordinary confluence of intelligence gathering, satellites, intercepts, informers, a captured participant, all of whom pointed to bin Laden.

SHIELDS: This isn't wag the dog, because there are 257 graves that have been opened and filled by victims of the bombing in both Kenya and Tanzania.


HUNT: Kate, to our great regret, you weren't on that program. But after all these years, do you think there was anything to Bob Novak's suspicions?

O'BEIRNE: Al, at the time an awful lot of people, Newt Gingrich, conservative commentators, gave Bill Clinton the benefit of the doubt, because I think they were so grateful that there was finally a retaliation for these attacks, the president -- and President Clinton announced this was now our new war on terror.

In retrospect, though, given that the sum total of the retaliation wound up being the pharmaceutical factory and a couple of camps, actually in retrospect it does look like wag the dog.

HUNT: Well, Eric, I just wish they would have gone further and gotten him.

CANTOR: Right. Well, you know, I think, look, it is really -- I -- in my opinion irresponsible to impute any political motives to a situation like this. This is a very serious risk we're facing, one that's getting greater each and every day as Saddam Hussein moves closer to nuclear weapons capability.

HUNT: Mark Shields, how's it look t you four years later?

SHIELDS: Well, Al, I think it's always a Rorschach test where Bill Clinton's concerned. I, I agree that I do not think that he did it simply to get his -- the heat off himself. But at the same time, I think those who are his critics and convinced that he's responsible for, for the outbreak of halitosis in the upper Great Lakes will blame him for anything.

HUNT: You wouldn't, would you, Bob? NOVAK: Yes, I would. There was -- I thought it was a pathetic operation, pathetic. And I don't think -- thinking back over the last four years, I don't think there was any chance that he would have made those bombing operations if he hadn't been at death's door politically with his admission of lying to the American people.

HUNT: Final word, Robert Novak.

We'll be back with the second half in a moment. I want to thank you, Eric Cantor, for being with us. You've been a terrific guest.

CANTOR: My pleasure.

HUNT: We'll be back with the second half with our Newsmaker of the Week, Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the CDC. Beyond the Beltway looks at Pope John Paul with religion reporter Raymond Arroyo, and our Outrages of the Week, all after the latest news following these messages.


HUNT: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG.

I'm Al Hunt with Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne, and in Boston, Mark Shields.

Our Newsmaker of the Week is Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC.

Julie L. Gerberding, age 47, residence Atlanta. M.D. degree from Case Western Reserve University, master's degree in public health from University of California-Berkeley. On leave of absence, associate professor of medicine, University of California-San Francisco.

She joined the CDC in 1998, leading the response to the anthrax terrorism last year. Named CDC director July 3 this year by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson.

Earlier this week, I interviewed Dr. Gerberding from Atlanta.


Dr. Gerberding, the West Nile virus, six more cases in Georgia this past week, some more deaths in places other than the Deep South. You've said this is an epidemic. Is it now spreading more dangerously?

DR. JULIE GERBERDING, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: I don't think that it's spreading more dangerously than we predicted, but it certainly is involving a number of states, and we see more human cases because there is more virus in mosquitoes and animals.

HUNT: What do we look for next, doctor?

GERBERDING: I think one of the things that we look for are the dead birds, because when we see birds, we know that there's enough virus activity in that area to cause problems.

And that tells us we need to step up our efforts to fight the bite, as they say in Louisiana, and get people to take seriously the things they can do to protect themselves. And that includes using the insect repellent, wearing the long-sleeved clothing, and, of course, draining water supplies on their property so that they reduce the mosquito breeding grounds.

HUNT: CDC is a national treasure, but you've been involved in controversy over the last year or so. Last fall there were multiple anthrax attacks, about which we still seem to know precious little. The criminal investigation, of course, is the responsibility of the FBI.

But two women, Mrs. Lundgren in Connecticut and Ms. Wynn in New York mysteriously died of anthrax. Can you tell us today what caused their deaths, how they contracted anthrax?

GERBERDING: What I can tell you is that they have been absolutely extensively investigated, and yet we can't say definitively how they acquired their infections. The best hypothesis is that they probably acquired it through contaminated mail.

HUNT: Will the CDC do a full, independent evaluation of how you handled the anthrax issue and make it public?

GERBERDING: We are doing a number of things to look back on what happened in the fall, and already we've been coming forward with some of the lessons that we've learned. We're working from those lessons learned and are taking many, many steps, I think, to improve our overall preparedness and our capacity to get out of the starting gate a little faster and a little more streamlined next time out.

HUNT: A few other hot-button issues. CDC has a strong violence profession -- prevention effort, where the easy availability of guns are a central problem. Yet you now work for an administration that opposes almost any gun control. Will CDC now retreat on its violence prevention efforts?

GERBERDING: You know, I'm a new CDC director, and I haven't actually gotten fully briefed on all of the aspects of our injury prevention center. But we are a public health agency, and our job is to work with state and local partners and address the problems that are causing the biggest contribution to morbidity and mortality.

HUNT: The question of preventing teen pregnancy, conservatives want to limit this to sexual abstinence-only efforts. In research you've seen, is there any evidence that abstinence-only programs are effective, or the most effective in preventing teen pregnancy?

GERBERDING: I think we do have evidence that abstinence-only can contribute to prevention of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy. The question is, how do we integrate the message of abstinence into the lifestyles and circumstances that our whole spectrum of population experience? It's a question about getting serious people together to look at all of the solutions and then setting down to the hard work of trying to craft a program that addresses the needs of all the people at risk.

HUNT: The CDC's bioterrorism responsibility would go under some proposals to the new homeland security agency. Critics worry that this bifurcated arrangement might impair synergies in CDC. How do you answer that?

GERBERDING: Well, we're actually very optimistic. Secretary Thompson is working very closely with the administration in ensuring that the public health aspects of the homeland security components are very fully and adequately direct -- addressed.

And certainly HHS and CDC are an integral part of that. So being at the table helps.


HUNT: Bob, what did you learn from this interview about CDC's views on gun control and abstinence-only?

NOVAK: More than I wanted to, I'm afraid. You know, Dr. Gerberding may not understand that she is not a civil servant, she's a political appointee. This is a administration that is pro-gun and pro-abstinence-only, and if she can't effectively enunciate those positions as she didn't in this interview, she ought to get out.

HUNT: Mark, she should get out for an (ph) ideology to CDC?

SHIELDS: Al, Julie Gerberding is not a political appointee, first and foremost, she's a doctor. And I think that -- I don't know what it says about our values, our priorities, our commitment to our children, our children, when you face a greater background check to cash a $15 check than you do to buy a gun at a gun show.

And if that doesn't make common sense, I don't know what does.

HUNT: Kate, how about West Nile?

O'BEIRNE: Well, one quick point about gun control. Mortality rates increase when people are unable to defend themselves against, against kind of lethal threats.

West Nile, she seems like a very sensible woman to me. Rather than just rolling down our sleeves and throwing out standing water, she might take a serious look at the evidence about DDT. We're facing West Nile virus, malaria cases are up by the hundreds of thousands worldwide. The hysteria over DDT, I think, is responsible for both.

NOVAK: Bring back DDT...


O'BEIRNE: Right.

HUNT: It will be a tough job, but CDC is a national treasure.

Next on CAPITAL GANG, Beyond the Beltway looks at the pope. Will he bail out?


HUNT: Welcome back.

Last Sunday, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in Krakow, Poland, before more than 2 million people in what may be his last visit to his homeland. In his homily, the pope warned of secularism replacing traditional Catholicism in the new Poland.

He said, quote, "When the noisy propaganda of freedom without truth or responsibility grows stronger in our country too, the shepherds of the Church cannot fail to proclaim the one fail-proof philosophy of freedom, which is the truth of the cross of Christ," end quote.

At age 82 and ailing, the pope has indicated no intentions from resigning from the pontificate.

Joining us from Birmingham, Alabama, is Raymond Arroyo, news director and lead anchor for the EWTN, the international Catholic network. He regularly covers the pope's global travel.

Raymond, it's really good to have you with us today.

RAYMOND ARROYO, NEWS DIRECTOR, EWTN: Thank you, it's good to be here, Al.

HUNT: Is there any chance that the pope will step aside if he's unable to fulfill his duties?

ARROYO: Oh, Al, no. I think there's a -- I'd bet on his canonization before I'd bet on his retirement.

Look, this man, at 82 years old, you just -- you answered your own question in the lead-in. Two million people show up in Poland. It's the largest Mass in Polish history. A few weeks earlier, 12 million people took to the streets of Mexico to see this man.

He is a vibrant leader. He is certainly the most beloved and watched figure on the world scene.

I don't think he's a man receding, he's a man moving forward. And that mystical sense he has that this is a moment he has been given by God and that his whole pontificate is somehow bound up in a divine plan, I think it obligates him to stay.

And, you know, I've heard it said from some Vatican folks I've spoken to, a father does not retire. And I don't think we're going to see this one retire either.

HUNT: Robert. NOVAK: Raymond, it's been widely speculated that the next pope will not be Polish. He will be Italian. But what I'm more interested in, do you think the next pope will be able to give the kind of homily that John Paul gave in Krakow of traditional Catholic values?

ARROYO: We would hope so. And I think the church would certainly hope so. I think you're going to see an older pope next time out. Many figures in the curia are very upset with the length of this pontificate. You know, this man's been dragging them all over the world for 23 years. And he's internationalized the pontificate and taken it outside of Rome, and therefore out of the control of the bureaucrats there at the Vatican.

So I think you will probably see an older pope, though, because they want a shorter span. Someone certainly in the model of John Paul II. And I don't know how -- you can't go back, he can't go back into the apostolic apartments now. He's got to stay with the people.

I hope -- I would hope, and I think you're going to see a very outspoken pope, probably someone from the third world, possibly South America, Central America, that's certainly in the winds.

But certainly an older pope. And I know they'd like an Italian in Italy, but I wouldn't bet on it.

HUNT: Kate.

O'BEIRNE: Layman speculation again has it that the Vatican won't approve the American bishops' handiwork from Dallas on how they want to handle sexual abuse cases. Is it likely to be...

ARROYO: Right.

O'BEIRNE: ... met with disapproval at the Vatican?

ARROYO: I think it will be met with disapproval by the Vatican, and I've spoken to several people there. They claim it lacks due process for the priest. You know, one strike, you're out, is really a war term, and that's fine.

But when you're dealing with priests, some of these guys, whether they, you know, this was a one-time offense, and there is a grave difference, and you heard Cardinal George mention this during some of the debate last, whatever, May or April, when he said, If you have a priest who got drunk one night and, you know, fell into the arms of an 18-year-old girl, this is a vastly different thing from chasing little kids around, which is 0.8 percent of these cases are actual true pedophile cases.

But the charter the bishops came up with in the United States gives no penalty for bishops engaged in this action and affords their priests no due process. Essentially, if he's, if, if he's guilty of one thing, he's out on the street.

The church -- that's a, that's a violation of canon law. So the church is going to look askance at that, and I imagine bounce it back to the bishops.

The interesting thing to watch is going to be the reaction of the American prelates when that rejection hits their doorstep. What are they going to say? We tried to bring the people out of the darkness and the Vatican has stopped us? Or will they stand by the Vatican? That will be an interesting thing to see, and the way that plays out.

HUNT: Mark Shields, who's up in the land of Cardinal Law?

SHIELDS: Well, let's say one thing, Raymond, I don't know about your 0.8 percent figure, but it doesn't make any difference if you're a 9-year-old kid on the receiving end of bestiality by a grown man who happens to be wearing a Roman collar. It is a, it is an offense and a crime that cries to heaven for vengeance as well as for comfort and, and, and even more.

And, and the church's indifference...

ARROYO: Right.

SHIELDS: ... the church's arrogance toward these victims has been unforgivable. I say that as a practicing Catholic.

But I want to ask you one question, and that is, is there anybody in the pope's entourage who has the reputation as a blunt truth- teller? This is a man who is suffering, who is in pain. Those who visit with him say he barely is understandable when he speaks because of the illness and the ailments that -- under which he labors.

Is there anybody who might say, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) careers ride on it, say, Your holiness, the time has come for you to complete your pontificate, and a glorious pontificate it has been?

ARROYO: I think you certainly hear some of those voices emerging. But I must disagree with you, Mark. I think -- I, I, I would have shared some of your, your sympathies and some of your ideas, after -- but after seeing him in Mexico, seeing him in Poland, he was very outspoken. He revived when he was with his people.

The homilies were clear. There was even one point in Guatemala when he's sitting on the, on the throne there delivering the homily, and in the middle of the thing, he grabs his side and says, "Terribile, terribile." He was in obvious pain. Yet he went on. He grabbed the homily, he went on, and then on to Mexico for two days.

So he is a tireless man, I think, who is at the wheel, in control. Yes, this disease is obviously taking a toll on him. But I think he believes this is part of his mission and his pontificate to share that suffering with the world and teach the world how to suffer and die.

This is going to be a, a, a -- not a pretty thing to watch happen, but he is going to die in public, and beneath it, if you can look past the externals, there is a beautiful self-offering we're seeing in this man. And to answer your question about the, the victims, I think the church does certainly need to embrace these victims. And justice is important, and, and I think those in the church and outside would agree, these are terrible crimes committed against children, and something is -- some redress is needed, and a penalty.

But the question is, is a blanket penalty the answer here? And that's, that's where I think the disagreement is in the Vatican and between the Vatican and the American bishops.

HUNT: Well, certainly, Raymond, they were terrible, terrible crimes. But I want to thank you for being with us.

ARROYO: Oh, sure.

HUNT: We really enjoyed it.

ARROYO: Thank you, Al.

HUNT: THE GANG will be back with the Outrages of the Week.


HUNT: Now for the Outrage of the Week.

A central tenet of the cold war and the war against terrorism is that democracy is civilizing. That's why Israel is our most valued ally in the Mideast.

One of our new best friends, Pakistani dictator General Musharraf, who staged a coup three years ago, just broke his word and unilaterally altered the country's constitution, rendering scheduled elections irrelevant.

If America just winks and nods at this outrage, it may be OK in the short run, but surely it will come back to haunt Pakistan and the United States.

NOVAK: Republicans are upset that Democratic Congressman Charles Stenholm of Texas is running a campaign ad that shows him with George W. Bush. He claims he's a Bush backer. Nothing wrong with that if it were true. About 20 years ago, Charlie Stenholm voted with Republicans on key tax issues.

No more. He's been inching left for a long time and now regularly denounces Bush tax cuts. His ad says "Stenholm backs Bush on reforming education and fighting terrorism." Charlie, so does Ted Kennedy.

HUNT: Kate.

O'BEIRNE: Given the U.N.'s moral bankruptcy, this outrage was bound to happen. Colonel Kadaffi, head of Libya's terrorist regime, will chair the U.N. Commission on Human Rights next year. The terror and torture chief is not a misfit. China, Sudan, and Syria also belong to the commission. Surely now the United States will refuse to betray our most fundamental values by belonging to a now Kadaffi-led mockery.

SHIELDS: Al, depravity is alive and sick in New York City, where a depraved Virginia couple was arrested for allegedly having sex during Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The depraved Virginians were competing for prizes on radio station WNEW-FM contest to have risky sex in a public place.

The DJs have been fired, the show has been canceled. But what about the corporate sponsors of the Sex for Sam competition? Sam is Sam Adams beer, made by Boston Beer Company, which provided the prizes.

Talk about true corporate pollution.

HUNT: Boy, you are right, Mark.

This is Al Hunt saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG. If you missed any par of our show, yo can catch the replay at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, or if you really want, at 4:00 a.m. Eastern.

Coming up next, "CNN PRESENTS: America Remembers, Part Two."


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