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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

Former U.N. Weapons Inspector Accused of Spying for the U.S.; Bush Calls for Action on Iraq's Refusal to Obey Resolutions

Aired September 12, 2002 - 22:00   ET

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


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, again. Been here a bit. We've said often that one of the things we don't do on the program, are screaming matches and staged debates. They are more heat than light, and we like to believe we are more concerned with the latter when we can.
But we will do a debate tonight, because the principles are intriguing, and the issues are about as important as they can be, because in the end, they will get down to the question of whether our country, the United States should go to war with Iraq.

The two sides in this, have become well known. Scott Ritter, the former U.N. weapons inspector, who has become a loud and provocative voice, arguing against a war with Iraq. Going so far as to speak before the Iraqi parliament, which I think even he would admit, isn't exactly what you think of, when you hear the word parliament.

On the other side is his former boss, Richard Butler, who ran the U.N. weapons inspections program. Today, Ritter accused his former boss of turning the inspection program into a spying operation for the U.S. Government.

This is a hugely serious charge. It, after all, undermines the credibility of the inspections teams' work, and of the U.N., and, of course, of Mr. Butler himself. Ritter went on to say that he would debate that point with Butler anytime and any place. This is the time and this is the place.

We will do our best to avoid some unproductive food fight here. It doesn't get us anywhere, but if it happens, so-be-it. And if it doesn't you'll be in a much better place to judge the honesty of both men.

Ritter, who once warned that Saddam could remake his weapons of mass destruction program in months, absent inspections, or his former boss, who believes Saddam today, could very well be back into the weapons of mass destruction business, since these inspection were halted, now many years ago.

It is a dangerous world we live in, the president made that very clear before the United Nations today, and it is that speech, the president at the U.N. that begins the whip.

Our senior White House correspondent John King, is with us in New York. He's been here for a couple of days.

John, give us a headline please.

JOHN KING, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, the president put not only Saddam Hussein on notice today, also the United Nations as well. The president says he is more than willing, more than happy to work with the United Nations, but only if it is willing to stand up and confront Iraq and do so very soon.

BROWN: So here we go again. We have been in this spot before.

We go to Baghdad next, Rula Amin is there.

The reaction and a headline from you please.

RULA AMIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Iraq says it's all lies and fabrications, driven by domestic politics and a personal drive for revenge.

BROWN: Rula, thank you. Back to you shortly.

And talk about been-there done-that, an election mess in Florida. Yes, Candy Crowley is on that story.

Again, Candy, a headline from you tonight.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, a man named Bill McBride has claimed victory over Janet Reno in Florida's democratic primary, to determine who will take on Governor Jeb Bush this November. The primary was actually held Tuesday, but Ms. Reno has yet to concede, because, and as you say, this sounds familiar. There were some vote casting, vote counting problems, particularly in two democrat-controlled counties. The question is whether this will latest snafu within Florida will echo into the fall campaign.

BROWN: Candy, thank you. Good to have you on the program tonight, and back with all of you shortly.

Also coming up in the hour ahead, fascinating story from CNN's Sheila MacVicar, about two of the most wanted men on the planet, men thought to be plotters behind the attack on the United States on September 11, a year and a day ago.

And, another of our "On The Rise" segments, surfer girls through- and-through, who made a business out of looking good on the board.

All of that in the hour ahead.

We begin with the president's speech to the United Nations. Without putting too fine a point on it, this was not the president's crowd. Just the same, it is a crowd he evidently decided he needs to woo. In recent days, the administration has gotten the message from virtually all corners that while the United States can go it alone against Saddam Hussein, it ought not to.

It is also fair to say this grates on the administration, so, today became an exercise in balancing the need for other countries' support, with the very strong desire to see Saddam Hussein gone, no matter what.

We begin this evening with CNN's John King.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING (voice over): A defining speech on Iraq, and a direct challenge to the United Nations.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?

KING (voice over): The Iraqi delegation looked on as Mr. Bush labeled Saddam Hussein an outlaw, and accused him of more than a decade of defying his commitments to the United Nations, including a promise to dismantle his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

BUSH: By breaking every pledge, by his deceptions and by his cruelties, Saddam Hussein has made the case against himself.

KING (voice over): Mr. Bush said he wants to work through the United Nations, and would push for tough new action by the Security Council. The president also made clear, his patience is limited.

BUSH: The just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable, and a regime that has lost its legitimacy will now lose its power.

KING (voice over): The U.N. Secretary General warned that Iraq must keep its commitments, or face action by the Security Council, a point echoed by France.

DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We cannot agree to the status quo. We cannot agree to violations of Security Council resolutions.

KING (voice over): Secretary of State Powell will lobby key members of the Security Council, with Russia and China considered pivotal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The president continuing his lobbying here in New York tonight, at a U.N. reception, so far so good. Maybe even a little better than expected, is the White House reaction.

The plan for this, Aaron, is to have all this take place over the next six to eight weeks. First, the Security Council vote on what United States hopes is a very tough new resolution, then send weapons inspectors to Iraq, with it clearly told to Saddam Hussein, interfere with them, face the consequences.

BROWN: Now a couple of quick things. At the very end of the tape portion, a piece, you say France and Russia being critical, why?

KING: Veto in the Security Council. And the United States will not go for new resolution. If it is to lose, it could ask them to abstain. It would rather have a unanimous vote, certainly the big powers vote yes in the Security Council, so that Saddam Hussein knows that not only is it George Bush that means it, but world means it.

BROWN: Has the administration -- this build-up to what happened today, this speech in this desire to draw the U.N. in. Has the administration been playing a kind of rhetorical game, here, in sense, by saying, we'll go it alone, we'll go it alone. We don't care what the world does, we'd like them with us, but don't really care, we're going do this. Has this been, in sense for a fact, to try to move the United Nations, or at least couple of critical countries on the Security Council.

KING: And I think the answer is both yes and no. No, in accepts that it's not for effect, and that the president made clear today, he will act, alone or with Great Britain, if necessary. Yes, in the sense that the administration felt it was having trouble getting attention of the United Nations. And so the president has -- Dick Cheney went to the middle east, said this was a big deal.

Dick Cheney has given some very tough speeches. Some people will say the administration has stumbled into this, an impolite tug a war between the secretary of state and the vice president. The president has what he wanted. The world is now debating what to do about Iraq, not whether George W. Bush is off his rocker, as some overseas would say, just even a few weeks ago, to be trying to make this a priority.

BROWN: And over the next month and a half to two months, this is going to play out in the U.N., and apparently in Baghdad as well.

KING: And in the congress. The president wants a vote of support before the election. Some democrats want to wait until after the election. We're not done with the domestic part of this yet, either.

BROWN: Many moving parts. Good to have you in New York with us for the last couple of days. Senior White House correspondent, John King.

It goes without saying, doesn't it, that the Iraqis see this all differently, or at least the Iraqi government does. But the Iraqi people believe, or think, what they're seeing of the confrontation, is a little bit harder to gauge, so most of the reporting tonight focuses on the official view. And for that, here's CNN's Rula Amin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organization that direct violence against Iran, Israel and western governments.

AMIN (voice over): Harsh words about Iraq caused a stir across the ocean. DR. ADEL AL BADAWEE: Oh my God, Bush what do want. Are you crazy? What do you say. Iraq is the enemy of the world? America the enemy of the world.

AMIN (voice over): On Iraqi television, there was no mention whatsoever, about President Bush's speech during the main evening news. Only Kofi Annan's remarks warning against on any unilateral military action by any country, big or small.

Meanwhile, on Iraq's only other channel, the political commentator said, President Bush has failed to deliver on his promise to present the world with conclusive evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. The only official comment came from Iraq's ambassador to the U.N., who also complained Bush offered no proof of any wrongdoing.

MOHAMMAD AL-DOURI, IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: He chooses to deceive the world and his own people, by the longest series of fabrications that has been ever told by a leader of a nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMIN: Now Iraq maintains it has no weapons of mass destruction whatsoever. And that they have destroyed all their weapons of mass destruction already. However, we are hearing from Iraqi officials, accusation to the U.S. Administration, that the issue of weapons of mass destruction is just a pretext to launch an attack against Iraq. Iraq's foreign minister tells us he thinks the U.S. goal is to actually control the region and its oil. Aaron?

BROWN: So if there are no weapons of mass destruction there, wouldn't the Iraqis save themselves a whole lot of grief by just allowing the inspection teams to back in? Why not do that?

AMIN: Well, what we're hearing from them, is that they are willing to deal positively, is the way they put it, with the idea of the inspectors going back into Baghdad. If that is within a process that is going to going to lead to the lifting of sanctions. In short words. What they're saying is that, they have cooperated with the weapons inspectors for seven years. That led nowhere. Now they are going to cooperate only if they have assurances and clear guidelines on what will the weapons inspectors be looking for, and when will their mission end -- Aaron.

BROWN: It's a negotiation. Rula Amin in Baghdad, thanks for joining us tonight.

One other item that bears on Iraq, the president alluded to it in his speech. Sources telling CNN, the Navy is close to changing the status of a missing Gulf War pilot from missing in action to missing- captured. Captain Michael Scott Spiker was shot down in first day of Operation Desert Storm, and presumed dead. But there was evidence he might have survived, so the classification changed to missing in action. As for what's behind the possible change this time, one Navy official told CNN, it means there is reason to believe Spiker was with Iraqi hands at some point, even if it was only his body. Still ahead on NEWSNIGHT tonight, questions on what if anything, Saddam Hussein is hiding. We'll talk with two men who were deeply involved in the inspection process. Richard Butler and Scott Ritter, who have some strong differences on the Iraqi situation, and as it turns out, on each other.

This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(AUDIO/VIDEO GAP)

RITTER: ... Iraq, take advantage of the unique access enjoyed buy the inspectors to go after Saddam. The United States took advantage of the information we collected, and also used weapons inspectors as Trojan Horse, inserting a signals intelligence operation, which was used to collect information about the security of Saddam Hussein. In a manner it was totally inappropriate, and which had nothing to do with disarmament.

BROWN: Before I give Mr. Butler a chance to respond to that, you were in fact, were you not involved in gathering that intelligence?

RITTER: Absolutely. That's the thing. This started, actually, under Richard Butler's predecessor, Rolf Ekeus, in 1996. The key to this -- this operation was U.N. control. Absolute U.N. control. And as the director of this effort, on behalf the executive chairman, I exercise that control. The problem came in March of 1998, when United States put pressure on Richard Butler to turn this program over to the control of the United States, and it brook that chain of command, that chain of control that had been enjoyed since 1996. And unfortunately, this program became a tool to target Saddam, not Saddam's weapons.

BROWN: OK, cards on the table, Mr. Butler. You were able to hear all of that. Why don't you respond to that, and we'll go from there.

RICHARD BUTLER, FORMER CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Well, it's sorry nonsense. Let's start with this. When the United Nations said that Iraq should be disarmed, it called upon all member states to give UNSCOM, the special disarmament commission, every possible assistance. Some 40 countries did that, some of them with intelligence assistance.

Now Aaron, I want to say this straight out. You cannot disarm a country like Iraq, unless you have correct intelligence. This is especially the case, given that Iraq had entered into a program of cheating and concealment. And so we particularly needed intelligence. We got intelligence assistance from number of countries, of which the United States was one.

On my watch we created and developed a concealment section, that is a section in our office, that particularly looked at what Iraq was -- not just lying to us about, but actually seeking to conceal. About burying weapons and so on. I put Scott Ritter in charge of that section. On the whole, he did a good job. And as he has pointed out to you, a part of that was to gather intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs. Now, he has asserted that we used that program to serve U.S. national intelligence purposes, targeting Saddam. Now I reject that. And he and I may always disagree about this. Actually, I recall that Scott Ritter recommended to me strongly that I not reject it. But I was in meetings with the United States officials, and I've said this previously. This is not some great revelation, where I rejected -- I rejected what they proposed. On this ground. That my mandate was to seek to disarm Iraq.

And were our program to be used for other purposes, to seek to change the government in Iraq or national purposes, the interest of the United States, then that would have vitiated, shredded what we were about. And I distinctly recall Scott Ritter putting written submissions to me, to go look for weapons, which he's now telling an unsuspecting public in the world, didn't exist, which is complete nonsense, and either he's misleading me then, or misleading the public now.

BROWN: OK.

BUTLER: But I remember writing to me, submissions that we should go look for these weapons, and maybe do some other things. And I said, Scott, I will only ever approve what is within our disarmament mandate, not do other people's intelligence purposes.

BROWN: Mr. Butler, let me..

BUTLER: It's my position...

BROWN: Mr. Butler, let me stop you there. We've got -- we put a lot of things out on the table.

Did you write -- Mr. Ritter, did you write these notes that Mr. Butter said you wrote. Did you make these recommendations that he said you made?

RITTER: Absolutely. And I have copies of them with Richard Butler's signatures on them. At no time did Richard Butler reject a proposal that I put before him. And I can clearly provide...

(CROSSTALK)

BUTLER: I'm sorry, I'm sorry. That's complete nonsense.

RITTER: Well no, Richard. It isn't. But...

BUTLER: That's complete nonsense?

RITTER: OK, the bottom line is I have...

BUTLER: Scott, Scott...

RITTER: ... the documents with his signature...

(CROSSTALK)

BUTLER: Scott, do you remember...

RITTER: ... clearly set forth what was we were supposed to do...

BROWN: It is going to help us all to go one at a time. You say you never rejected, and Mr. Butler, you said he did. Tell me what you rejected.

BUTLER: Oh yes. You know, I rejected some proposals that were just plainly silly and overzealous.

RITTER: Which ones?

BUTLER: Scott leaked some of these to journalist. I don't know what possessed him to think that might serve his purposes. But, no, I rejected some that I thought was overzealous. Scott, who has subsequently described himself as the alpha dog, I think were his words, you know, the attack dog of UNSCOM. Look, when Scott resigned from UNSCOM, and this is what I want to have people to understand...

RITTER: Then answer the question.

BUTLER: ... I had profound respect for Scott as an inspector. But when he resigned from UNSCOM he wrote me a letter, and it's on the public record. And in that letter, he said, I'm going, because I can't tolerate the restrictions that are being put on my efforts to get Iraq's weapons. He actually said -- weapons inspections that aren't serious are worst than no inspections.

Now, that was in 1998, and Scott Ritter was there for asserting to me, correctly, that Iraq continued to have illegal and dangerous weapons, which we needed to get hold of under our mandate.

BROWN: He's shaking his head.

BUTLER: What I would like Scott to explain to the public now,, -- is why, a few years later, having written that letter to me -- and when I replied, I said, I may not ever agree with his reasoning, but I respected his judgment. I respected his decision. I really did. And I thanked him and his wife for the service they'd given us.

(CROSSTALK)

BROWN: And what you want him...

(CROSSTALK)

BUTLER: The public needs to know why he was then saying that there were weapons, and now he's telling the public that there never were? Was he lying to me then? I don't think he was. Why?

BROWN: There's a clear question. Answer the question?

RITTER: Sure. First of all, he didn't answer the question we asked. But I will answer this question. The bottom line, when I resigned, I clearly resigned in defense of the inspection process. I never once said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. We had no evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. We had many unresolved issues.

And we weren't being allowed to pursue these issues. One of the reasons was, that on seven separate occasions from November 1997 to August 1998, with inspection proposal signed by Richard Butler, authorized to proceed in Iraq, the United States intervened to manipulate these inspections, stop them altogether, or seek to alter their timing, and Richard Butler exceeded to this.

BROWN: I worry we're getting -- we get involved in a side show here, in a sense.

RITTER: OK, What do you want to know then?

BROWN: Did you believe then -- did you believe then, that they had weapons that they had concealed that you could not find?

RITTER: We had intelligence information of some credibility, that Iraq was hiding prohibitive capability, I was charged with investigating that. But let's be clear, intelligence information does not translate into reality.

BROWN: Well, it may or may not translate into reality. Mr. Butler go ahead.

BUTLER: Aaron, I must ask this question. Look, I distinctly remember the intelligence information that Scott is referring to. It was good information.

And I believed it, and he believed it. I distinctly remember Scott sitting across from me and some of my senior colleagues one day, and literally thumping his fists on the conference table, and saying, these people have these weapons, they are liars. We must go and get those weapons, and so on. I remember that distinctly.

BROWN: You never said that?

RITTER: No, the conversation he is talking about, is that when I pounded on table, and Richard Butler was threatening to shut down the concealment mechanism investigations, and I said, you can't do that, what about the intelligence we have about this, that -- and he said, we can't talk about that here, and I said, Richard you're shutting the program down, so I am going to bring it up in front of everybody, so you can explain why you're terminating...

BROWN: He's not telling the truth.

RITTER: He's a liar.

BROWN: He's a liar.

RITTER: He's a liar.

BROWN: Mr. Butler?

BUTLER: Sorry, who is he calling a liar?

BROWN: You.

RITTER: You.

BUTLER: Oh, I just find that deeply sad. That is so silly. That is so silly. I don't know why on earth Scott is doing what he's doing. I feel, you know, I regret, this is saddened, sorry and silly. He knew very well that Iraq had weapons unaccounted for. The day we had the discussion I was just referring to, he knew that very well. What I fail utterly to understand, is why he's now telling the world that that's not the case. Now when we left Iraq, we filed a final report with the Security Council, that said what was unaccounted for.

And we did that in the most extraordinary hostile environment. The Russians in particular, wanted UNSCOM destroyed, they wanted Iraq off the hook. They used all kinds of devices. The Russians today, are very different, by the way. But then, they used all kinds of devices to challenge and question, our final report on the unaccounted for weapons. They demanded an independent inquiry.

Now, that inquiry took place. And at the end of that inquiry, even these extraordinarily hostile folks, the Russians, conceded, that yes, there were weapons unaccounted for in Iraq.

Now, Scott knew that then, he knows that now. I ask you, Scott, why, are you going about the world saying to people now, that Iraq has no such weapons? Why are you saying...

RITTER: Richard what are you saying?

BUTLER: ... that we destroyed 95 percent...

RITTER: I'm agreeing, that we had weapons unaccounted for. What is he saying. What's he saying. What fabrication is going on here, Richard?

BROWN: There's no fabrication, I think there's a very clear question. Why are you going around saying the things that you've been saying about whether or not these weapons were accounted for? Whether they exist, whether they're likely to exist, programs that you said could be put back together in six months. It's been a lot longer than that since inspections are in there. So the question that a lot of people are asking, what are you doing?

RITTER: What am I doing, I'm telling the truth. What do you mean, what am I doing? We -- everything I'm saying is documented fact. Ask Richard Butler what the status of Mumfana State Establishment is and it's associated production equipment. It's destroyed.

Ask him what the status of the Alhockca State Establishment, it's associated production equipment. It's destroyed. That's the leading chemical weapons producer and biological weapons producer. It's gone. These factories were destroyed. We achieved a considerable amount of disarmament. Yes, we did not close the books on everything. Yes, there are serious outstanding issues.

BUTLER: I agree with all of that.

RITTER: There are serious outstanding issues. But...

BROWN: Hang on Mr. Butler.

BUTLER: I agree with all of that...

RITTER: but the fact of the matter is...

BROWN: Mr. Butler, Mr. Butler, hang on just one more second, OK?

RITTER: The fact of the matter we're talking war here. Where the United States, not Australia, the United States will go to war, put our troops on the line. There better be a threat. I agree, there are things to be accounted for, and the proper way this, is weapons inspections. Get the inspectors in, keep the marines out, that's all I've been saying.

BROWN: OK, Mr. Butler, let me give you the last word. You would not disagree...

BUTLER: Not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sound here.

BROWN: I'm sorry, can you hear me now?

BUTLER: Just for ten seconds or so, and I lost sound, and he was saying, keep the marines out. What was the last...

BROWN: And put the inspectors in.

My question to you, and maybe this is the one thing we'll end up agreeing on here. Do you agree -- well, let me ask the question slightly differently. Do you believe, based on the experience you had, that it is possible in fact, to detect any and all weapons of mass destruction, given these two conditions -- the nature of the Iraqi government, and the complexity of any U.N. team?

BUTLER: Aaron, why I've tried to intervene moment ago, is to find one thing which Scott and I might agree. And I'm pleased to see that he does agree, that there were weapons unaccounted for.

Now, what we need to know, is what happened in the intervening time. Has the quantity and quality of those weapons been aggrandized? Have the Iraqis done more? There's a lot of evidence that in the four years without inspection, they have. The administration has now also produced some additional claims with respect to aluminum tubing, enrichment of uranium and closer to nuclear weapons program. I'm not completely aware of what they're saying there.

And I think it's very important, that if there's such evidence, that it will be tabled for the world to see. Now, on your point about inspections. I think Scott would agree with me, that inspections work, given technically competent inspectors, and access. We always were technically competent. We took a great deal of Iraq's capacity, but not all of it. Scott has mentioned 95 percent was taken away. I find that very flattering. I'm mystified as to how he gets to that figure. But let's not have another argument. We took away a reasonable portion of their weapons, but not all of them.

Now, the question is, what have they done in the intervening period? Have they done more, chemical, biological and maybe nuclear. Inspectors, that was your question, Aaron, inspectors can find that out, given access.

And you see, that remains today, in the hands of Iraq, as it always did in the last 10 years, if Saddam Hussein and his government, is prepared to allow inspectors to go anyplace, any time, and not put phony blockages in their way, then we would -- we would be able to either verify Iraq's claim that it has no such weapons, which frankly I don't believe, and I think it is nonsense to believe. Or, find the weapons, and then under the law as it presently exist, quote, destroy, remove or render harmless those weapons.

Now, Scott might agree. The desirable situation would be that there'd be such inspections, that the weapons be found and removed. But for that, Aaron -- and this is the gut answer to your question -- for that to happen, Saddam has to agree to allow it to happen. And I'm not honestly sure that he will.

BROWN: Let me -- we're running out of time, and I would like to hold you each, ask you each to be brief here, if I may.

Scott, let me start with you. Let's presume that a new team of inspectors goes in. If they are denied the kind of total access that the Security Council believes it needs, do you then support the idea of a military action to take Saddam out of power? A fairly simple question.

RITTER: I believe Saddam Hussein has one chance and one chance only. He has to demonstrate to the world that he doesn't have these weapons. He has to let the inspectors in. He has to give them the unconditional, unfettered access required.

But the world has to also give guarantees that they will not, these inspectors will not again be deviated from their task to spy on Saddam and facilitate military targeting. It's a two-edged sword here.

BROWN: And I think I heard a qualified yes. Right? It was a qualified yes.

RITTER: You can't send inspectors in to spy on Saddam. If they go in to do disarmament work, he has one chance and one chance only. If he screws it up, he needs to go.

BROWN: I think that's a qualified yes.

Mr. Butler, do you believe that, should the inspectors be denied the absolute access that they believe they need...

BUTLER: Aaron, I understand the -- yes

BROWN: Yes, that...

BUTLER: I understand, I understand...

BROWN: Go ahead.

BUTLER: I understand the question. To save us time, not to...

BROWN: Thank you.

BUTLER: ... repeat it. I understand. I understand.

There is a very, very simple system at work here, which we find in domestic law as well. It's something like crime has its punishment. You know, law and consequences.

There is a law here passed by the Security Council, that says Iraq should not have the specified weapons of mass destruction.

Now, if Iraq refuses to comply with that law, it follows naturally that action should be taken to enforce the law. If we don't do that, outlaws get away with it, and civilization declines.

Yes, if Saddam refuses once again to allow the law to have its way, then I believe enforcement action should take place.

On Scott's aside about distortion of these things into security work in the past, I'm very sad that he feels it necessary to say that. It is the rankest of Iraqi propaganda. I mean, it is so dispiriting to think of the men and women who do that work for so many years and did good work to be so slated like this, as if we were all spies. We were not.

Think of this. This is my final remark. Think of where Saddam would be today, in terms of these weapons, if we hadn't done that work. Ten years on, he would be loaded to the gills with weapons of mass destruction.

Thank God we were there, florid as it was, thank God we were there.

BROWN: Mr. Butler, thank you for your time in Sydney, Australia. Mr. Ritter, it's good to see you.

Viewers have a fair amount of information now to judge both the credibility of your arguments and the implications of action or inaction. Thank you both for joining us tonight.

RITTER: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you. We'll talk...

RITTER: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you. We'll talk with former presidential adviser and pretty smart guy in this conversation, as well. David Gergen joins us in a little bit to talk about the President at the U.N., a couple of other things.

This is NEWSNIGHT on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: I want to talk a bit more about the President's speech today, and actually the President's speech last night, which has gotten less attention because of all of the news of the last day since. It's been quite a week.

David Gergen is with us. We're always glad to have him back. Nice to see you. Do you want my job for a while?

DAVID R. GERGEN, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, that was a really interesting conversation.

BROWN: Yes.

GERGEN: I think it's a preview of what's coming.

BROWN: Let's talk a bit about what's coming. I want to talk about the President's speech last night.

Someone I know well, who is not a supporter of the President in any way, listened to the speech and thought it was one of the most terrific speeches she had ever heard. And it has gotten somewhat lost in the news of today, knowing news cycles were.

I assume you heard the speech.

GERGEN: I did.

BROWN: What did you think?

GERGEN: I thought it was a fitting speech. I did not think it was his most memorable speech. I thought his speech to the Congress shortly after September 11...

BROWN: The first speech, yes.

GERGEN: ... you know, the first speech, yes, was one that I thought was terrifically moving and galvanizing for the country.

And, you know, when Bill Sapphire comes out with his next edition of, anthology of speeches, I think that's the entry for George W. Bush.

Last night's speech I thought evoked the right spirit. I thought -- he talked about values instead of policy, which was helpful, because it -- he wisely avoided any appearance that he might be milking the memories of September 11 for his own political agenda.

And I thought, that's presidential leadership. You like to see a president do that. It was a very dignified speech.

BROWN: It was, I thought, when I read it today -- I'll admit, I didn't watch it last night, I was otherwise occupied, as it turned out -- that I thought it was the President as ceremonial head of state...

GERGEN: Yes, exactly.

BROWN: ... as opposed to political leader.

GERGEN: That's right. And, you know, our presidents do wear these two hats.

BROWN: Yes.

GERGEN: Head of state and head of government. Last night he was head of state. Today he was head of government.

You know, last night was the speech that, in Britain, the Queen might give a very healing speech. Tonight it was a speech given by the Prime Minister.

BROWN: I found today's speech fascinating, because it seemed at points conciliatory to the United Nations. At other points it was almost -- you felt like you were almost being slapped on the back of your hand with a ruler.

GERGEN: Yes.

BROWN: It had multiple constituencies in multiple tones.

GERGEN: I think it did. And I -- the President deserves credit for going to the United Nations and giving the speech that he did.

Three or four weeks ago there were many who thought he was going to go give a take it or leave it, unilateralist, we're going in and we don't really give a darn what you think here at the United Nations.

And instead, you know, at a time when, you know, his father's secretary of state, Jim Baker, had come out with an op-ed piece, which some scorned, particularly on the right. They thought it was wimpish, it smacked of appeasement and the like.

And what Jim Baker said was, Mr. President, you've got to go after Iraq. But before you do it, you need to go to the Congress, and you need to go to the United Nations.

What has President Bush done? Lo and behold, he's done exactly what Jim Baker recommended. And he's been well served by it. He has strengthened himself. He has gained more of the moral high ground in the last few days than he had before.

BROWN: Has there been a little good cop bad cop going on here that they -- for a while, they really were talking tough unilateralist, the bad cop, if you will. And now, having sort of softened up everybody, they can come in and play good cop with a little bit more success? GERGEN: Perhaps. And John King suggested that in his...

BROWN: Yes.

GERGEN: ... report to you earlier in your show. But I think it's probably not quite that clever. It's more likely that they've been feeling their way along, and they now really came to a point where they had to move in the way that they did. And, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

BROWN: You mean, when you all -- when you're all sitting in the White House, you don't all have this mapped out day by day? You know exactly -- no?

GERGEN: It's a little more -- well, I won't say. I won't use the word. But it has a -- it has a much -- it's much more like jazz than it is classical music. It is very improvised.

BROWN: So there is some reaction in -- I don't want to say improvisation -- but some reaction that is going on. They look at what's...

GERGEN: Sure.

BROWN: ... coming out, and so, the Scowcroft, Baker, that sort of thing forces them -- Chuck, Senator Hagel and others -- forces the White House to react, change course slightly, modify its message?

GERGEN: Well, we may hear, you know, three years from now when the memoir starts coming out, that this was all calculated. But it strikes me, and I think it strikes many others, that they hadn't really made up their minds, and they were caught in an internal debate which was quite fierce and poisonous. And they lost control of the debate during the summer months.

And now the President has moved swiftly and I think fairly decisively to get control back. But he has only set the table now -- he, by going to the United Nations, he has opened the door to some potentially new problems for him, some new challenges.

And think they were illustrated by what you heard tonight between Scott Ritter and Richard Butler, this argument about inspections.

Let's say the President goes to the United Nations and he gets a resolution. And then we get some inspectors in there. I think he'll get a resolution for inspectors. And I think Saddam will probably let him in.

Then -- and he gets in there, and you get this kind of argument, are they finding the stuff?

BROWN: Right.

GERGEN: If they're not finding it, and the United States is getting impatient. What are you guys doing? Why don't you find this. He can get bogged down in this kind of argument you just saw. And I think the President is not going to stand for it. All right. One quick one, one quick one.

The big issue...

BROWN: Yes.

GERGEN: ... from last, today's speech, was President Bush saying today last chance? Or was he saying, time's up?

BROWN: Yes. We shall see. Will you come back?

GERGEN: I will indeed.

BROWN: It is always wonderful to see you. Thank you.

GERGEN: OK. Thanks, Aaron.

BROWN: David Gergen. You can have my job for a job for a day. It's always nice to see you.

Still to come, one of our on the rise series. That's coming up a little bit later. Take a look at two women who have made some money out of the surfing industry. It's a very cool story.

Up next, well, we've got voter problems in Florida. Imagine that. This is NEWSNIGHT. Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: There was one statistic from one of the primaries on Tuesday that probably slipped by in all the coverage of 9/11.

One precinct showed a 900 percent turnout. OK. You don't have to be Candy Crowley to make an educated guess that we're probably talking about a precinct in the State of Florida.

We have another Florida election showdown on our hands tonight. Even that phrase makes us a little woozy, actually. This time it's between two Democrats snagged in the system that seems just as broken as it was back during those ugly days two years ago.

So, back where she was, here again is CNN's Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

CROWLEY: First off, this is not the picture you want the night you -- well, the night you may have won an election.

BILL MCBRIDE (D), FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know where this is going to end up tonight.

CROWLEY: No balloon drop, no confetti, no off-key deafening music. And now, the day of Bill McBride's apparent victory over Janet Reno -- no victory fly around the state, no opening volleys against his fall opponent, no -- dare we say it? -- Big Mo. At least that's the spin from Florida Republicans about the political fallout from Florida's election debacle -- the sequel.

Now, since this is politics, you know quite well that Democrats see the whole thing differently.

TERRY MCAULIFE, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, this is the worst nightmare scenario for Jeb Bush. To once again, to have people go to the polls, after he promised, after the 2000 debacle, that he would fix the voting systems in Florida and to not do it, reminds everybody that Al Gore got robbed in 2000. It energizes Democrats in Florida and around the country.

CROWLEY: Democrats say the Big Mo is all theirs, because reminding Democrats what happened in 2000 is a great motivating factor to come on out in 2002 and defeat the closest thing to President Bush they can get -- Florida's Governor Jeb Bush.

Who do you blame for these election...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb Bush.

CROWLEY: Why Jeb?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I think, as the CEO of our state, he's failed to manage one department after another.

CROWLEY: Now, the Governor's campaign says, other than Democratic diehards, nobody is pinning this one on the Governor.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: It's not an embarrassment to me. It should be an embarrassment to the people that are running elections in Miami and in Broward County.

They should be embarrassed, and they'd better fix it.

CROWLEY: Did we mention yet that Miami and Broward County are run by Democrats?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know whose fault it was. I guess they're going to have to look into it, investigate and find out what's going on.

CROWLEY: Is there an echo in here or what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This could happen anywhere. It just happens that it happened in South Florida again.

(END VIDEO)

CROWLEY: Whoever is to blame, Jeb Bush politicos argue, this is a double-edged sword for Florida Democrats. The more they talk about problems with vote casting and vote counting, the more they suggest that their candidate didn't really win -- Aaron.

BROWN: You know, I keep waiting, for once in my life, to hear a politician say -- I'm not suggesting Mr. -- Governor Bush is in fact responsible -- but, yes, I am embarrassed by this. But they never say that, do they?

CROWLEY: They don't.

BROWN: It does seem -- here's where at least I see the danger -- is, you put this problem on top of the child care agency problem, and you begin to have the foundation for an attack line, if you're running against a guy who is sitting in a pretty good, a pretty good position for re-election.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And in fact, that was before this mess, that both Reno and McBride had campaigns that centered on, first, the problems with state-sponsored child care. And now, with this, adding this on top of it, you do hear what that gentleman said, which is, well, I don't know. Every department seems sort of ill-run. And in the end, who do you blame for that?

BROWN: Candy, back where you were. Good to see you. Candy Crowley in Washington tonight covering Florida's problems.

A few quick stories from around the country tonight. We should catch you up on -- one begins, the loss of one of the greats in pro football. Johnny Unitas, as you may have missed, died yesterday.

Johnny Unitas died of a heart attack. He was a hall of famer. He broke every or nearly every NFL passing record. He won three championships with the Baltimore Colts. And he wore those really high shoes, is how I remember him.

He was one of the last of the quarterbacks to call his own plays. One of his teammates said, it's like being in the huddle with God.

Johnny Unitas was a great, great football player. Pittsburgh pretty proud of him. He was 69 years old when he died.

Buzz Aldrin, the astronaut, says there are those pictures. Now they make sense. Says he was just defending himself. In a really strange incident on Monday, the Apollo 11 astronaut says he decked a filmmaker because he had him up against the wall.

The filmmaker -- get this -- believes the Apollo 11 astronauts faked their voyage to the moon to fool the Soviets into thinking the U.S. had won the space race. I love this job.

And actor Nick Nolte was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He was swerving in his black Mercedes Benz on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

That was not the most flattering picture of the actor, was it. Mr. Nolte was later released on $2,500 bail. Results of a blood test will not be available for several days.

Well, I don't necessarily like him in stories like that.

Next on NEWSNIGHT, on the rise, a story of two young business women remaking the surfing world in their own image. A reason to smile on NEWSNIGHT. From New York.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Quickly now, the surfers girls -- or women, for that matter -- you're about to meet, bear no resemblance to Gidget or any Baywatch bombshell. Amber Sakai and Brighdie Grounds love to surf and wanted to look really cool doing it. And they made some money in the process. Here's they're story on the rise.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

AMBER SAKAI, CO-FOUNDER, FOUR GIRLS: All of our suits have a kind of James Bond theme. The idea, if James Bond girls were going to wear a wet suit, these were the wet suits they were going to wear.

BRIGHDIE GROUNDS, CO-FOUNDER, FOUR GIRLS: We're in Victory Wet Suits, where we do all of our sample making and patterns.

SAKAI: The way we design suits is, the idea behind them is to make them to flatter the women's body.

GROUNDS: When you're wearing something this tight, it better look OK. It better look good. And, you know, what inspired us to do this was that, it was just ridiculous that we were just like our male counterparts with just a little adjustment, and that was it. That was not what the women wanted.

So our company is the first one that really said, let's get this fit right for the girls.

SAKAI: Our original idea was, let's call the company, Four Girls, because the things will be -- all the products will be for the girls.

GROUNDS: Amber and I knew that we were going to get into some sort of designing business together. We wanted to stand alone and find a place and a niche where we could really do something to make a difference.

And when we discovered surfing and fell in love with it, obviously, our first thing was, how can we make a living out of this?

After surfing a few times, the biggest thing that we realized right away was we had these hellacious bruises on our hip bones from the impact of the turbulence of the water and the surfboard.

We invented this thing called the pressure point padding system, which is primarily pockets that have inserts, different thicknesses to protect and to, you know, keep you from grating your hips on this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) shifting.

GROUNDS: That idea, you know, is viable. Obviously, if we're going to do this, then let's put the fashion edge of wet suits. Let's make those fits (ph) in the water.

We saw the need for it and the demand. And we knew there was such a demand for it, that it seemed amazing that no one had filled that niche before.

The average full suit retail price is around $265.

SAKAI: We are making money, which has been great for us to be able to pat ourselves on the back that, yes, we are going the right direction. We are doing the right things.

Brady and I do all the production, all the designing, a lot of the marketing, a lot of the researching. We're an all in one package deal.

Just the beginning. We can see very far into the future. Wants us to do, you know, real serious career with a real brand name and, you know, 20 years, who (UNINTELLIGIBLE) summer (ph) -- sorry (ph).

GROUNDS: There's just so many surf companies that have, you know, people and women working for them. But we're one of the only companies that owned and operated and, you know, we are a consumer.

We don't have to really -- we don't have to find out what our consumer wants, because we're asking each other.

SAKAI: Yes.

GROUNDS: That's really where the payoff comes out, too, for Amber and I to get in the water and see how it's maneuvering, and all of our ideas come together in this garment, and now that wearing it, and is it really working, and we (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sort of (UNINTELLIGIBLE), oh my God, it's working.

(LAUGHTER)

GROUNDS: It's a great payoff.

(END VIDEO)

BROWN: That's all. See you all tomorrow. Good to have you with us on NEWSNIGHT. Good night for all of us.

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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