CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About CNN.com Preferences
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
TRANSCRIPTS
Return to Transcripts main page

CNN CROSSFIRE

Iraq Says it Will Let Inspectors In; Osama bin Laden Voices Angry New Threats

Aired November 13, 2002 - 19:00   ET

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

ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE: On the left: James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right: Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE tonight: Iraq says it will let inspectors in. Osama bin Laden voices angry new threats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we need to take these messages very seriously, and we will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, a man who has interviewed both Saddam and bin Laden, journalist Peter Arnett.

He's retiring from government and could be hosting a talk show soon. He was once in politics and has one of the most successful talk shows around. Jerry Springer pulls up a chair to talk talk show politics.

And when he was a kid, was the country really freer? The always outspoken G. Gordon Liddy freely tells us what's changed.

Ahead on CROSSFIRE.

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

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Tonight, we're talking about two of the world's most unpleasant people: Osama bin Laden, who is apparently still alive, and Saddam Hussein, who is allegedly cooperating with the United Nations weapons inspectors. Thankfully, our guests tonight are up to the job. They are G. Gordon Liddy and Jerry Springer.

The chair throwing will begin in just a moment. But first, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

After being expelled during the Clinton administration, U.N. weapons inspectors are finally on their way back to Iraq. Saddam Hussein's government today announced it will accept a new U.N. resolution that calls for the country to disarm and inspectors to verify that weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated. At a cabinet meeting today in Washington, President Bush repeated that he isn't kidding. The U.S., he said, we'll have zero tolerance for any Iraqi interference with the inspectors. Saddam, of course, has heard those words before, though not from a president who really meant it or was willing to do anything to back up the rhetoric. Iraq has until December 8 to reveal all of its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programs. Circle the date.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: This president, I have to give him credit, has followed the Democratic line. He has turned away from his right- wing advisors and gone to the U.N., when first he said he wouldn't. And now he has reached a very sound compromise with the Security...

CARLSON: He did what Clinton was afraid to do, as you are fully aware.

BEGALA: When Bill Clinton launched air strikes, the Republican right attacked him to their great discredit.

CARLSON: He did nothing, as you know. Did nothing.

BEGALA: Well, government experts tell CNN the voice on a recently released audiotape from al Qaeda is, in fact, Osama bin Laden's. He is apparently still alive. Meanwhile, the CIA director says al Qaeda has reorganized and that we, "must make the assumption that al Qaeda is in an execution phase and intends to strike us here and overseas."

Meanwhile, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham is warning of new terrorist attacks as well. President Bush's response to the new al Qaeda threat? To step up his saber rattling against Iraq, a country which is 1,489 miles away from bin Laden's likely hideout in Pakistan.

Now, it if makes sense for Mr. Bush to attack Saddam Hussein in order to punish Osama bin Laden, I've got the answer to North Korea's illegal nukes: bomb Switzerland. If that doesn't work, we're prepared to hit Liechtenstein.

CARLSON: Well I'm not going to defend Liechtenstein, of course. But the bottom line here is, Paul, is that the president, whatever you think of him -- and I know you don't think much of him -- has achieved what Bill Clinton refused to do...

BEGALA: A fully incoherent foreign policy. Yes, that's what he's achieved.

CARLSON: It's an important achievement. He is on the way to disarming Iraq, which is a threat to the world. And amen and good for him.

BEGALA: What about al Qaeda?

CARLSON: Well, he can walk and chew gum at the same time.

BEGALA: No, he can't. That's the problem. CARLSON: More news you couldn't make up tonight. The American Catholic bishops are meeting to decide what they think about the possibility of war with Iraq. The Church's statement will be written by its committee on international policy. The chairman of that committee, Cardinal Bernard Law. Yes, that Cardinal Law. The same one who turned little boys over to priests he knew were pedophiles with predictable and tragic results.

Cardinal Law says he is against the war, calling it an immoral and unjustifiable act, which is a subject he knows quite a bit about. The bishops did not explain why Cardinal Law has the moral authority to tell Americans which toothpaste to use, much less which war to prosecute. Nor would the cardinal's spokesman elaborate.

Off the record, one said the cardinal is simply offended by the idea of war. As he put it, "Molesting children is one thing, but disarming a terrorist nation, now that's over the line."

BEGALA: I think it was St. Thomas Moore (ph) who said respect for the law is predicated on respect for the law giver. And on this one you're absolutely right. Cardinal Law needs to go. The Church needs to speak with its moral voice, but it has to find it first. And in order to do so, they should get rid of Law and the rest of those bishops and cardinals who covered up child abuse. So I agree with you on this one, Tucker.

House Republicans today selected Tom "The Hammer" DeLay to be their majority leader. Mr. DeLay is the perfect embodiment of the Republican Party. He once called the Environmental Protection Agency the Gestapo of government. He blamed the Columbine shootings on child care, birth control and the teaching of evolution. And he told his fellow Texans not to send their children to Texas A&M or to Baylor, two of the most conservative big universities in America, because he said he was shocked to learn that college kids there have sex.

Lord know there's no sex here at good old George Washington University, though, is there, kids? No, absolutely not. So congratulations to Mr. DeLay. He has united both the Ken Lay Enron wing of the Republican Party and the Jerry Falwell fringe. Well done.

CARLSON: Tom DeLay never said word one about birth control or evolution, as you are fully aware. But all this is a convenient cover for the tragedy I'm about to explain in our next "News Alert." And it's this: more turmoil tonight on Capitol Hill. Less than 24 hours before they were scheduled to commit political suicide, some Democrats appeared to be having second thoughts about installing Nancy Pelosi as the House minority leader.

Two other members of Congress have now joined the leadership race. They are Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee. Both Kaptur and Ford describe themselves as moderate and sensible. Pelosi, they point out, is an unreconstructed liberal whose views mirror those of her constituents in San Francisco rather than the rest of the country.

That's not true, responds Pelosi, who points out that she also speaks for many voters in Berkeley, Oakland, Santa Cruz and the west side of Los Angeles. Ordinarily, Kaptur and Ford would win the debate. In this case, however, Pelosi has the firm support not simply of the left and of the transgendered community, but also of Republican strategists everywhere.

So in the end she'll probably win. Congratulations. I'm so excited I can probably stand it.

BEGALA: Well god bless her. Nancy Pelosi's been on this show. By the way, so has Harold Ford and Marcy Kaptur. So I like all of them. I don't like to pick sides.

CARLSON: Me, too. I like them all too, actually.

BEGALA: My standard is whoever comes on the show. But the Democrats today announced they're going to have their convention in Boston. It will be I think the 26 of July 2004.

CARLSON: That's perfect. Can Ted Kennedy come? That's his state. This is perfect.

BEGALA: Oh, absolutely.

CARLSON: You'll unite the Berkeley wing of the party with the Cambridge wing.

BEGALA: Well the question is where will the Republicans meet. They'll either meet -- the Republicans will either meet in Jerry Falwell's church or Ken Lay's board room. The two places...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: They're meeting in New Orleans, actually.

BEGALA: A compromise has been reached on legislation, creating a new department of homeland security. Senate Democrats compromised a lot, the White House compromised a little. And soon a new 170,000- person bureaucracy will spring to life. But one compromise is likely to upset families of the victims of September 11's terrorist attacks and everybody else who wants to know the truth about that day.

In a triumph for the White House, the homeland security bill does not contain a provision creating an independent commission to investigate 9/11. After strongly opposing such a commission, President Bush changed course and said he supported it. But this is now the second time the Bush administration has scuttled an independent investigation into 9/11.

Why is this our president doing this imitation of Jack Nicholson? You can't handle the truth! We can, we have a right to do.

CARLSON: I actually -- I hate to say I agree with you on that. I think there ought to be an independent inquiry into what exactly happened, though that had nothing to do with this legislation being stalled.

BEGALA: It was in the bill and Bush took it out.

CARLSON: But it had nothing to do with it. It was an attempted suck up to mob-controlled labor unions. That's actually, true, as you know.

BEGALA: This is the second (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bush has taken that out.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Well he ought to have it in.

BEGALA: He took it out of the intelligence bill, now he's taking it out of the homeland security bill. It's an outrage.

Coming up next, a man who has been in the lairs of two of two of America's most vicious enemies. Stay with us for Peter Arnett's candid and close-up views about Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. He's one of the few journalists, maybe the only one, who has interviewed them both.

And later, the heavyweight champion of daytime talk, but is he ready for Jesse "The Body" to climb into the ring?

And we've also got Watergate figure turned talk show host G. Gordon Liddy. You are not going to believe some of the things he's got to say. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Peter Arnett was the only American correspondent in Baghdad for the duration of the 1991 Gulf War. He was there, of course, for CNN. Not only has he interviewed Saddam Hussein, he's also talked to Osama bin Laden.

With both men apparently alive and making news, who better to ask about them? Please welcome Peter Arnett to CROSSFIRE. He's now the chief correspondent for Camera Planet.

BEGALA: Let's get right to it. You are one of the few people -- maybe you're probably the only guy who's interviewed both bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

PETER ARNETT, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, CAMERA PLANET: I think the only westerner who has. You're right, Paul.

BEGALA: OK. Let me start with bin Laden. There's a new tape that's been released recently. I'm going to play you an excerpt from it with the translation and ask for your reaction. Up on the screen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Bush, the pharaoh of the century, is killing our children in Iraq. And Israel, an American ally, is bombing homes with elderly women and children, using American planes in Palestine. This is not enough for the wise of your leaders to stay away from this band of terror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: I mean it certainly sounds like a declaration of war, right?

ARNETT: It was similar. Well, you know, when we interviewed him in 1997, he had declared war on the U.S., a jihad. But no one really was listening to him at the time. No one really took him seriously.

But in this recording, if it is him, this is a very tired version of the Osama bin Laden we interviewed with our CNN team. When we met him, he wore a military fatigue jacket, came in with an AK-47, insisted it was in the picture, and presented a very direct, eloquent and a frightening threat of racking vengeance on the United States if they didn't clear out of the Middle East and stop threatening the holy places and American culture threatening the Islamic world.

This version and the message I think is sort of muddled to me. For example, it was interesting that he's sort of climbing aboard this whole Iraqi war issue. Now, when we talked to him, he was very disdainful of Saddam Hussein. In fact, Saddam Hussein was one of the leaders that he would be targeting at the time, one of these leaders, one of these autocratic sort of western-oriented secular leaders that he wanted out of the Islamic world. He has a fundamentalist message.

So he's sort of (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The other factor I'd mention is his embrace of the Palestinian cause. He was never that supportive. I don't think there's any evidence of any assistance he's given...

BEGALA: With all his billions, he never sent a nickel to the Palestinians.

ARNETT: Absolutely right. So it seems to be a grab bag opportunity to sort of jump on the bandwagon. But this time he seems to be jumping on the bandwagon rather than leading the parade.

CARLSON: Well I want to show you a clip -- you of course were there -- from your 1997 interview with Osama bin Laden. Really remarkable piece of tape. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNETT: What are your future plans?

BIN LADEN (through translator): You'll see them and hear about them in the media, God willing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Now that's really unbelievable. I don't know why we haven't seen that on television more, actually. Did you believe him that when he told that to you? ARNETT : Yes. Well the whole environment was very threatening. He was surrounded by body guards, we were blindfolded, led up this mountain in Afghanistan to a cave, which was part of -- he said he had built the road during the Soviet war.

His message was a terrifying message. But, as I said, at the time, CNN ran the story and gave it a lot of prominence. Basically, the world didn't seem to be listening.

CARLSON: But I mean you just said that he was in a cave in Afghanistan on a dirt road. I mean did you have any sense that this guy would be able to reach out and touch downtown New York?

ARNETT: No, not downtown New York, but he had helped defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in a very difficult, tough war. He had many hundreds of millions of dollars engineered by profession and he had a vision that we knew at that time the Arab world was picking up on -- Arab news media around the world.

He meant you will hear about it in the media. Now we associate bin Laden with Al-Jazeera. But beyond Al-Jazeera, there's a vast Arab media, an Islamic media that has been following his message for years.

BEGALA: You mentioned before that Osama bin Laden, when you interviewed him, was disdainful of Saddam Hussein. One of the rationale that our president is giving us for getting tough and maybe even going to war with Iraq is that he sees the two as conflative (ph). He sees them as the same enemy.

In fact, let me put up a piece of tape from President Bush when he spoke to the country from Cincinnati on October 7, making the case that Iraq and al Qaeda and Iraq are in bed together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: So are they in bed together or are they enemies?

ARNETT: I wouldn't second guess the president of the United States at this time in our history. The Iraqis are just as disdainful. I interviewed Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister in May this year. He spent half an hour proclaiming their separation from Osama, ridiculing what it is.

You have to look at the two countries. Whatever you say about Saddam Hussein, for his own reasons, he took a backward Iraq in the 1970s and modernized the whole country, gave social care to people, hospitals, modernized all of Iraq. Osama bin Laden with the Taliban's help pushed Afghanistan right back to the seventh century. So you have a completely different vision. Saddam, nationalist, secular... BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) himself on Stalin, who was obviously not a Muslim, right?

ARNETT: No. You're absolutely right. So whatever the intelligence connections are, the idea the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Who knows. But certainly, politically, seemingly they're very different people with very different goals for the region.

CARLSON: Well, weapons inspectors are headed back, as you know, to Iraq. Give us a sense of how tough their job is going to be. I mean is it possible that you could scour every inch of Iraq?

ARNETT: They tried scouring every inch over the course of seven years, and I was there a lot of that time covering it for CNN. They basically were unable to find anything that they were really looking for in terms of developing new kinds of weapons of mass destruction.

This is a country the size of France. It is interlaced with modern highways with many bridges. There's all sorts of traffic moving around. You have all this desert sand.

Now Richard Butler, the arms inspectors for a couple of years, the last, really -- the chief arms inspector, was saying on CNN tonight, they've got to dig in that sand, these inspectors, to find anything. He says Saddam, he's got it and he's buried it. That sand's real deep.

So I think they're going to have a very difficult job, particularly if Saddam says on December 8, which I get the feeling he will say, because he and his officials have been saying all year we have no weapons of mass destruction in storage or we aren't building them. And he's going to say we don't have anything, which will be a major task, you know, for the U.S. administration to prove that point.

CARLSON: But is that -- we're almost out of time, but give us a sense of what he -- I mean that -- if it's untrue, if he's lying, that seems to be a huge risk he's taking. Do you think he's bold enough or irrational enough to take that big risk?

ARNETT: I think he's a brinksman. He proved that in the Gulf War. He actually went to war when he had every opportunity to pull his troops out of Kuwait on January 15th at the deadline, he didn't. But during the war, when he realized the odds were totally stacked against him, he did indeed end the war on terms that we thought favored our side, which he clearly thought favored him.

BEGALA: I know this is a difficult position, you cover and not predict, but are we likely to be in a war in the next two, three months.

ARNETT: I think it will be based more on political consideration than facts on the ground. If the U.S. administration and its allies decide that maybe Saddam is clean today, we don't know if he's clean today. But we know tomorrow he will build a bomb, like the North Koreans. If they decide that, we'll be at war.

BEGALA: Peter Arnett, Pulitzer Prize winner, good to have you back on CNN.

ARNETT: Pleasure to be here.

BEGALA: Coming up, are you a politician who lost your job in last week's election? Fear not, there's a future for you in the media. In a little bit, former Nixon White House aide turned radio talk show host, G. Gordon Liddy, will share his own very special view of the world. And then next we'll talk TV and politics with the former mayor of Cincinnati. You may know him as the TV ringmaster, Jerry Springer. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

We learned today that Minnesota's soon to be ex-governor, Jesse Ventura, is negotiating with one of our competitors to host a TV talk show. It would make him the latest in a long line of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) who forsake public service for the public airwaves. Following in the footsteps of our next guest, the former mayor of Cincinnati, the reigning king of daytime talk, Jerry Springer. He joins us from our Chicago bureau. Jerry, good to see you.

CARLSON: Jerry, thanks for joining us.

JERRY SPRINGER, TALK SHOW HOST: Sure.

CARLSON: I don't think there's any question that Jesse Ventura would be a better talk show host than a governor. That's not saying anything, of course. Do you think he could make it as a talk show host?

SPRINGER: Oh, I think he'll be great at it. First of all, he represents a point of view that just isn't around, you know, with talk shows. I mean, the political talk shows all tend to be one person speaking for the Democrats, one person speaking for the Republicans and there's no middle of the road.

So I think he kind of reflects what is I call the Nascar vote, those people that are outside traditional politics and he could be very good. He's very personable.

BEGALA: Of course, we watch Nascar for the wrecks, not for the races. And there would be a lot of wrecks, I suppose on his show. If he can go into your current profession, why don't you go back into his? Why don't you go run for governor of Minnesota or maybe right there in Illinois or Ohio? Why not go back into politics, Jerry?

SPRINGER: OK, I will.

CARLSON: Announced on CROSSFIRE right here.

BEGALA: I'll manage your campaign.

SPRINGER: You've got a deal. I'll call you.

BEGALA: If these guys can move into your business, why don't you move into theirs?

SPRINGER: Oh well, sure. The problem with the transition is always credibility. I think you can certainly go from politics into entertainment, and a number of people have done that. That's certainly the direction I took. Going from entertainment back into politics, that may be a tougher hurdle because there's the credibility issue.

You get an image of whatever your show is and I think you got to live with that. So -- but I think he could make that transition. He went from wrestling to the governorship, and now he's going back to doing what I do for a living, wrestling.

CARLSON: Well, I think personally you have much more credibility than most Democrats. I think you ought to try it. Tell me about your party, which is kind of disintegrating. What do you think went wrong last week?

SPRINGER: Well, we caved in on the war and we also didn't have a strong message on the economy. The truth is, as much as I love the Democrats, we deserved to lose. We didn't offer any real substantive alternative to the American people and we were running against a very popular president.

Even if some of us don't like his particular message, he certainly was very clear about what it was and the Democrats weren't. We were all over the lot and we did cave in on the war in Iraq, which I think is unconscionable. The idea of being an opposition party is that you offer an alternative, and the truth is we didn't.

BEGALA: Do you get the sense -- you know I do this show every night with a live audience and I travel a fair amount. And I get the sense -- this is not from polling data, which supports the war -- but I get the sense (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that that support is about a half an inch thick. That there's a great current of unease about this war. Do you pick that up in your own work?

SPRINGER: Oh, absolutely. You know, right now it's a patriotic issue. You know we are a nation of sound bites. We get our news in sound bites, politicians talk in sound bites. So it's very easy to say Hussein is evil, which of course he is, let's go get him.

We're going to hunt him down, we're going to find him, we're going to get him. I mean, all this Texas talk. And we do that, and the result is that, yes, everyone's in favor of that. But when you're actually in a war and people are dying and we are recruiting in a sense by this war in Iraq, we are recruiting a generation of Islamic people that are going to hate America, just like young Palestinians are growing up to hate Israel. If we start putting an American government in the middle of the Middle East, if we start bombing in the middle of the Middle East, these kids are going to grow up and hate America and there are going to be suicide bombers all over the place.

Right now we have a war against terrorism. That's what we should be focused on. When you get on an airplane or when you go to a stadium, you're not thinking of Saddam Hussein, you're thinking of Osama bin Laden. You're going, holy crap, I hope everyone's OK on this plane, I hope no one's going to do something stupid.

That's the threat to America. We ought to be focused on that and not getting half the world to hate us because we're going to be in the part of the world that doesn't understand our way of life anyway.

CARLSON: Unless, of course, they hate us already. But Jerry Springer, you say that this is a sound bite subject that deserves, you know, more intense exposition here, people need to learn more about Iraq. If you had to do a segment on Iraq on your show, how would do you it?

SPRINGER: I wouldn't, because my show is so stupid, I can't talk about anything serious on my show. It would trivialize it.

CARLSON: Then tell us -- there's no angle you could find? I mean, nothing about Iraq would fit in to the "Jerry Springer Show?"

SPRINGER: Well we have a surprise guest. Tomorrow, we are bringing out Osama bin Laden and we're going to bring him out on our show. No, we can't. See that's it, my show is so off the radar that I can't talk about anything serious on the show because no one would take is seriously, I realize that.

But this is -- this -- I mean you guys are the ones that can be -- and you do, and I applaud you for that. This is where we should be discussing whether or not we go to war. I think we are so complacent.

We keep thinking of war as a video game because a generation was raised on the Gulf War of '90 and '91, where it was all these smart bombs and we think we can just hit buttons and people are blown away. But the consequences of going to war in the Middle East, we're going to live with that for generations. And these are the shows where we ought to be discussing that.

And you ought to be able -- here's where the Democrats failed. They failed to stand up and say, you know what, you can love this country so much that you don't want to weaken it by going to war in Iraq and thereby making ourselves more vulnerable to the terrorists. Stand up for America and say the war in Iraq is war, it weakens America, it's stupid. We shouldn't be doing that.

BEGALA: Any desires to run for Democratic national committee chairman, Jerry? I mean that's a great -- I'm serious. You know we have a great chairman, I'm just kidding.

But, you know, seriously, if you ever get tired of people throwing chairs at each other, come to Congress and throw chairs at the Republicans. I'd love to see that.

SPRINGER: You're the first guy I'm going to call up.

BEGALA: Thanks. Jerry Springer, from our Chicago bureau. Thank you very much.

CARLSON: Thanks, Jerry.

Next, a topic you might see on the "Jerry Springer Show," pedophile priests. The Catholic church has a new policy on them. Connie Chung has the details up next in the CNN "News Alert."

And then, some call him names, many call him a patriot. G. Gordon Liddy steps into the CROSSFIRE, you won;t want to miss it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Well, some of our viewers are waiting to take a swing at me for daring to suggest that the Augusta National Golf Club admit women and for pointing out the obvious -- golf's a game for weasels and wimps and weinnies.

So get out your little dainty golf clubs or maybe your boxing gloves, if you're more like me, and stay tuned for our "Fireback" segment.

But next, you've got to stay for this. The incomparable G.Gordon Liddy tells us why our country was so much better when he was a kid, and what's happened to America since.

G. Gordon Liddy up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you from the George Washington University here downtown Washington.

You have to consult the footnotes of history books to find most of the people involved in Watergate, but you'll find G. Gordon Liddy here everyday on the radio and once again in bookstores.

Liddy has just published "When I Was A Kid, This Was A Free Country."

He steps in the CROSSFIRE to tell the rest of us what we're missing.

Here he is.

BEGALA: Mr. Liddy, good to see you, sir.

Thank you for joining us.

I violated rule one of the talk show hosts.

G. GORDON LIDDY, AUTHOR, "WHEN I WAS A KID": You read the book.

BEGALA: I read the whole damn book.

I never read the books. And I always -- and I don't lie either -- but I read the whole book. And you know, it made me laugh in many places. It made me yell in other places. There was one missing. And that's what I want to start with though.

When you were a kid this was a segregated country. Take a look at this. Here's footage of the march from Selma to Montgomery. John Lewis, who lead that march, savagely beaten. There's John Lewis in the light colored raincoat. He got to the Edmund Petis (ph) Bridge in Selma, Alabama, savagely beaten. There's the bridge.

And you know, today, John Lewis is one of the leaders of the Congress of the United States of America. I mean, how do you look back on the last half century of American history and not point out that we have done almost the impossible. We've made enormous strides on the most vexing problem in America of race.

How come you don't give our country credit for that, Gordon?

LIDDY: Well, I give our country credit for making enormous strides on race with respect to the issue of gun control because as I point out in here...

BEGALA: Do you say gun control is racist?

LIDDY: ... gun control started with racism, and it was -- it started before we were even a country. My home state of Maryland, for example, when it was a colony, what they said was, "If you find a Negro with a weapon you can whip him and take him before a magistrate and take the weapon away."

And this repeated itself throughout the other colonies. And as a matter of fact, there was one court decision that said, "You know, even if it's a free Negro, we can't let them have weapons because then they could go anywhere they want and they could start saying anything they wanted to, and they'd be just like every other person. And we can't have that."

BEGALA: But, but...

LIDDY: We have moved from that.

BEGALA: ... I mean the civil rights movement was not about access to weaponry. It was non-violent revolution in America. You have to admit that was a wonderful thing. We made great progress in America.

LIDDY: It was a wonderful thing, and I beg to differ with you because if you look at some of these civil rights leaders and what they have said back there, they have attacked gun control because they recognize it for what it was.

Read what they say about the Saturday night special, which was just a code word for "keep guns from niggers," is the way they put it.

CARLSON: Well, the Black Panthers were definitely anti-control, that's true. I'm not sure I devoted the time to your book that Paul did. I thought it was terrific, the parts that I read.

Let me read you my favorite part of your book. It comes from page 84, 84 talking about what's happened to our armed services. Quote, "So we've allowed our armed services to suffer mightily in the past decade, but the problems began in earnest with a plurality of American voters foolishly voted in the physical and moral coward Bill Clinton as commander-in-chief of the armed forces."

Expand on that, if you would.

LIDDY: Sure. As if it were difficult to understand, right.

CARLSON: I just like to hear you say it.

LIDDY: Bill Clinton put in writing how he loathed the armed forces. And he said of course that he kept out of Vietnam to protect his political viability, but he also said to protect himself physically. And that's the definition of a physical coward.

CARLSON: Do you think his past and the lack of credibility he had with the armed services made it difficult for him to act in the international arena? For instance, in Iraq, arms inspectors leave in '98. He does virtually nothing about it, and it requires a new president to deal with the problem.

LIDDY: Well, you had a commander-in-chief who knew nothing of the military and who loathed it. You had a secretary of Defense, no military experience at all, a noted poet, a Republican by the way. Then you had a National Security Adviser, no military experience at all. And so when you had a situation as it arose in Somalia where the first mission was a typical one under the Clinton administration, deliver the pizza, and they were over there, and they said, "Well, now we want to change things and go after the warlords."

And the military said, "OK, we can do that, but we're going to need armor."

And the answer was, "No, no that's going to look awfully aggressive if we send armor."

And you know what the result of that was.

BEGALA: Let me see if you've got the courage of your convictions to cross party lines. Now let me read you a quote from General William Turnipseed (ph), retired commander of the Alabama National Guard, unit to which George W. Bush, lieutenant, was assigned as a Guardsman.

Here's what General Turnipseed said about Bush. "Had Bush reported in, I would have some recall, and I do not. I had been in Texas, done my flight training there. If we had a first lieutenant from Texas, I would have remembered."

Bush never showed up for an enter year of his Guard duty, and Dick Cheney, of course, famously told the Washington Post in 1989 and I quote, "I had other priorities in the '60s than military service."

He got five draft deferments.

Why not a word? Why do you slam Bill Clinton, who clearly did not serve, and not a word about Bush and Cheney?

LIDDY: Well, what you say is correct, but Bush was a fighter jock.

BEGALA: And he was AWOL for a year.

LIDDY: He flew the planes.

BEGALA: Yes, sir, he did but for a year of his Guard duty he failed to show up. Now doesn't that trouble you as an American patriot? The general who he had to report to says, "I never saw him for a year."

LIDDY: It would bother me.

BEGALA: Why did you leave it out of the book?

I'm just saying, fair is fair. If you have a perfect right as a citizen, we are a free country, we do have free speech. Some say we don't. You have a perfect right to say those things, but I just think it's also fair to take a look and say, "Well, our current president you know, did not cover himself and for that year honor his service in the Guard. But for a year he did not show up for that service."

LIDDY: OK, so your position was my guy was a coward, but your guy was AWOL for a year, but he did serve during the other year.

All right, is that your position?

BEGALA: No, first of all you mischaracterized Clinton's position entirely. But second, he did the same thing as Dick Cheney.

Dick Cheney got five draft deferments and said candidly, honestly, "I had other priorities other than military service."

LIDDY: Yeah...

BEGALA: I salute that candor, but I mean I guess that doesn't...

LIDDY: ... but Dick Cheney did not...

BEGALA: ... does that meet your definition of courage?

LIDDY: ... say "I loath the military."

BEGALA: Neither did Bill Clinton, sir.

LIDDY: Yes, he did.

BEGALA: No, with respect...

LIDDY: And I'll tell you another instance about Bill Clinton. You know, there are two...

BEGALA: You just don't want to talk about Bush and Cheney do you?

LIDDY: ... there are two NCOs that are assigned to the White House. And their job, if anybody thinks that there's an explosive package or something like that that has somehow gotten in the White House, they will disarm it. And they wear civilian clothes during the Clinton administration. But of course they had military haircuts. And I spoke to one of them. And he said, "Bill Clinton came out, spotted them. They tried not to be spotted by him. And he walked over to them and said, I really hate you guys."

BEGALA: I'm sorry, I just don't believe it.

CARLSON: That's really disgusting.

He told you that to your face?

BEGALA: I honestly don't -- you didn't put that in the book.

LIDDY: No, I didn't want to make it about that thick with Bill Clinton. There are other things in there.

BEGALA: OK.

We've got a lot more though to come to with you. And we're going to ask Mr. Liddy next his views about gun control. You can imagine what they might be.

But maybe you're not so sure. Apparently his only legitimate gun control in Gordon's view is careful aim.

Stay tuned. We will get into that and more.

Thanks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

He's gone from Watergate figure to best selling author and now radio talk show host. Yet think America is moving in the wrong direction. Maybe he's got a point.

G. Gordon Liddy's new book proclaims, "When I was a kid, this was a free country."

He's in the CROSSFIRE tonight.

CARLSON: Now, Mr. Liddy, you make the point in your book that peole have less freedom of speech now than they did when you were a kid. Tell us some of the things you could saying 1952 but feel like you can't say now.

LIDDY: Well, you could go on college campus and assert the proposition that there are physical difference between men and women which render women inappropriate for the armed forces. In the Second World War, women played a very fine role by being in the women's auxiliary Army corps and what have you.

They had their own female NCOs, female officers. They were billeted separately so you didn't have all of the he'an and she'an that goes on in the armed forces now. And the them was "free man to fight." And they did, and it worked.

If anybody back then had suggested that we send the women out to fight the Vafon (ph) SS-Pansa (ph) divisions, they'd probably put a net around them and brought them to a hospital.

But these days, you know, you have women thinking, "Hey, that's what we ought to be doing."

CARLSON: Name one of the physical differences that prevent women from doing that effectively.

LIDDY: Upper body strength. Absolutely do not have it. I've got a son who is a commander in the SEALS. He weighs a little over 200 pounds before he's rigged out. If he gets shot, his companions will pick him up and take him off the battlefield. The females can't do it.

BEGALA: Let me get to gun control, because I promised we'd get to that too.

One of the things that you say in the book is that "Well, thinks were better when we could like buy guns through the mail the way Bat Masterson (ph) did" -- the way Lee Harvey Oswald did, you leave out.

But we passed the Brady bill. We passed assault weapon ban. Let me show you a photograph taken after the Brady bill and after the assault weapon ban.

LIDDY: OK.

BEGALA: This is -- if we can call it up here -- there it is. That's my brother Dave on the left. He's the handsome one. I'm the guy with the gun. And that's a dead deer that I shot under the Brady bill, under the assault weapon ban. I'm a hunter and a gun owner. And Gordon, it hasn't restricted my rights to keep and bear arms a single bit.

Weren't you guys wrong?

LIDDY: No. And...

BEGALA: That deer sure thinks so.

LIDDY: You know, congratulations on being able to be a good shot.

Here's the proper -- if you look at the Second Amendment, the portion that so many people -- and I don't know whether you hold this or not -- say that the words "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed," means that it is a collective right that we're talking about -- the National Guard and what have you.

Well, a well-educated person such as yourself should recognize that the first portion there is what is known as a present particle. It does not modify or affect the complete sentence which follows. It's an individual right just as the rights in the First Amendment are individual rights.

And what it was intended to do is not you know, protect your right to hunt or mine to shoot holes through a target or something like that.

We had just in those days thrown off a tyrannical central government, that of George III. They wanted the American people, should this new central government which they were creating very reluctantly, become tyrannical, to possess the means to do so, and that was state of the art firearms that could be carried by a human being.

That's what it was all about.

CARLSON: Amen. You put that very nicely.

LIDDY: Thank you.

CARLSON: And you put it even better in your book. G. Gordon Liddy, "When I Was Kid, This Was Free Country." Fantastic book; hope it does well. Thanks for joining us.

LIDDY: Thank you.

BEGALA: Congratulations on the book. Thanks for coming. Good to see you.

CARLSON: Next, your chance to "Fireback" at us. Some of Hootie Johnson's defenders are mad at Paul Begala. They're really mad. You won't believe how mad they are.

Stay tuned to find out. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE, the most reckless part of the show, "Fireback," when we invite you to do just that. And you do. Here we go.

First up, Paul Tretner (ph) from Palm Coast, Florida, writes, about Paul's tyraid about golf. "I'm a very PGA member and was disturbed by this guy Paul," -- that would be Begala -- "talking bad about the game of golf. Paul, A, you give us Pauls a bad name, and B, his name is William "Hootie" Johnson. He, unlike you, had friends who gave him a nickname."

That's unfair because our viewers may not know that in fact Paul is a nickname. Your real name is Wilbur.

BEGALA: No, and PGA I guess is, the pathetic gold association, a bunch of losers who chase little white balls.

CARLSON: Boy they're going to love you.

BEGALA: Buzz, speaking of nicknames, Buzz, in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, Buzz writes, "Paul, congratulations. You've successfully alienated millions of golfers. Golf is a game which practices honesty, fair play, builds character, class and develops a social comradeship with which you are obviously unfamiliar."

Yeah, Buzz, I like girls. Unlike Hootie, I like to play with girls. What the hell, man? You know, I just think we ought to let women play.

CARLSON: Good for, Buzz.

OK, Nicholas Supron (ph) of Galion, Ohio, writes about Al Sharpton. "It takes Tucker to make Sharpton look good."

No, actually it takes the other Democratic presidential candidates to make Sharpton look good. By the end I predict Al Sharpton, when he accepts the nomination, standing there next to...

BEGALA: In Boston...

CARLSON: ... yes, in Boston -- he's going to outshine all of those other guys.

BEGALA: See, you should get on the bandwagon now. You are. But you should go all the way and go with the hair.

You have -- I'm folliclely challenged. I can't do it. But you could do the whole Sharpton (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARLSON: I need a wig.

BEGALA: Yes, definitely.

OK, our final e-mail is from Richard Rogers (ph) who writes in again. I was mocking the nickname Bootie, Cootie, whatever his name is, the guy who runs this club in Augusta. "Paul, tell me the difference between a man called Hootie and another you call Bubba. You might think you are smart, but I think you're a smart ass."

Well, Richard, you're right. I am a smart ass. Better than being a dumb ass though.

And I take my poisons. Thank you for that e-mail though, Richard and that constructive criticism.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Hi, my name is John Tallison (ph), and I'm from Minnetonka (ph), Minnesota. And we saw in the elections last week that the Democrats who sided with the president on Iraq didn't fare too well. So does the Democratic need to retain that moderate voice in the next couple of years in the form of Representative Ford or do they need to stand up to the president in the form of Representative Pelosi?

CARLSON: Let me just say you have an excellent voice. You need to go into radio.

Second, obviously, Nancy Pelosi is the choice of the Democratic Caucus. I think she's a choice of Republicans and conservative strategists everywhere. She's going to lead that party who knows where, but it's going to be great.

BEGALA: She is terrific. We started this show with my commentary about Tom DeLay, the leader of the House Republicans, who is three clicks to the right of Attila the Hun.

CARLSON: James (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BEGALA: I'll take Nancy Pelosi over the Tom Delay any -- and here's the -- like, here's all you need to know. Nancy Pelosi has the guts to come on CROSSFIRE and defend her views. Tom DeLay, coward. Won't come on...

CARLSON: We'll see if she'll come on.

BEGALA: ... CROSSFIRE.

He's a CROSSFIRE coward.

CARLSON: Yes, sir?

BEGALA: Yes, sir what's you comment or question?

CARLSON: I'm Derrick Wallace (ph). I'm from Syracuse, New York. And I realize the Democrats have a lot of ground to make up, so I'm wondering now that we get to the real campaign, if the Democrats can find someone else to pull a Jeffords this year? And maybe, who will it be?

CARLSON: Well, people are saying Senator Chaffee of Rhode Island. He hinted before that if the Senate returned to Democratic control he would switch parties. We'll see if he's low enough to do some thing like that.

Usually, people gain control by winning an elections, but Democrats can't always do that.

BEGALA: Norm Coleman did switch parties. You didn't call him low.

CARLSON: Yes, but they he got elected.

BEGALA: I don't think party switching is going to get the Senate back for my party. We've got to win elections.

From the left, I am Paul Begala. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again tomorrow night for more CROSSFIRE.

CONNIE CHUNG begins right now.

See you tomorrow.

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



Voices Angry New Threats>

© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.