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Who is a Bigger Threat: Iraq, North Korea or Al Qaeda

Aired February 12, 2003 - 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, the threat posed by Iraq.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The ricin that is bouncing around Europe now originated in Iraq.

ANNOUNCER: The threat posed by North Korea.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, CHIEF, IAEA: The current situation clearly sets the danger, a precedence.

ANNOUNCER: The threat posed by al Qaeda.

GEORGE TENET, DIRECTOR, CIA: And whether this is a signal of impending attack or not is something we're looking at...

ANNOUNCER: Can anyone figure out who's the bigger threat?

And can NATO get its act together to defend a fellow member?

Plus, do you really need duct tape? Tonight on CROSSFIRE.


ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Hello, everybody. Welcome to CROSSFIRE. In a world full of crises, which threat should President Bush deal with first? North Korea's nukes and missiles capable of hitting the West Coast? Al Qaeda's terrorists capable of hitting anywhere? Or Saddam Hussein who's been a virtual prisoner controlling only one- third of his own country for 12 years. We will debate that.

We'll also ask the security expert what we should do after we stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting.

But first, we're going to unwrap the best political briefing, In television, "Our CROSSFIRE Political Alert."

North Korea has an untested ballistic missile potentially capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States with a nuclear weapon. That sobering news came from U.S. intelligence officials today. Meanwhile, the Bush administration today asked the U.N. to condemn North Korea after weapons inspectors formally declared that North Korea is in violation of international law for restarting its nuclear program. Perhaps this is some U.N. other than the one conservatives routinely trash as being toothless (ph).

Ari Fleischer, the president's spokesman, said today the Korean missile report is one more reason for the U.S. to deploy a "Star Wars" system. Now, after almost 20 years and $50 billion, "Star Wars" has failed a reported 14 out of 17 tests. So far, it's even been unable to tell the difference between a nuclear missile and a mylar balloon.

One group of economists estimates total cost of President Bush's "Star Wars" fantasy to be between $800 billion and $1.2 trillion. That is a very expensive bet on a technology that we won't know will work until it's too late. And again, Mr. Bush is betting something even more valuable than a trillion dollars on "Star Wars", he's betting your life.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Actually he's not. I mean, missile defense is one among many ways to defend the United States, pretty cheap, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I'm confused at why you would be against using technology to protect the country. MRIs didn't work perfectly at first, neither did chemotherapy -- it's true -- neither did television. All perfected -- all technology is perfected and it takes money and takes time. I don't know the objection to it to protecting the U.S. against missiles.

BEGALA: It has already taken $50 billion and 20 years and we've made no progress.


BEGALA: At some point we have to say it didn't work. Microwave ovens do work, "Star Wars" doesn't work. I mean, you just have to declare which one does.

CARLSON: Secretary of state Colin Powell told a congressional committee today that the deadly poison ricin recently found in Europe, in fact, originated in Iraq where it was produced with the knowledge of Saddam Hussein's security forces.

The news came as a shock to France and only to France. Professing to be, quote, "stunned" by Powell's disclosure, a French intelligence source says there is no suggestion the ricin was anything, but, quote, "locally produced," whatever that means.

It was the second straight day that the French have dismissed American evidence that Iraq is a major sponsor of international terrorism. To the French Saddam Hussein is apparently more credible than Colin Powell. France is so convinced of Saddam's good intentions, in fact, that's its continuing to block NATO aid to Turkey.

Turkey, you'll, remember has asked for NATO's protection in the event Iraq lobs chemical or biological weapons over the border. France opposes any such precautions on the grounds that Saddam would never do something so mean, plus France figures even if Saddam did do something so mean and attack Turkey, Turkey probably deserves it for the crime supporting the United States.

It's very infuriating. What can you do to retaliate? Four words: drink Napa Valley wine.


BEGALA: I have to say, I'm with you on Napa Valley wine.


BEGALA: And I wholeheartedly agree that what France is doing to the Turks is unconscionable.

CARLSON: Turkey's being blackmailed, yes.

BEGALA: Turkey's the only Muslim member of nation (sic), its the only Muslim nation -- the only Arab nation that I know of, that's a democracy. And yet NATO, because the French is going to turn its back when they clearly are -- I don't want a war with Iraq. I don't think it's in America's interest, but Turkey is at risk, and I think...

CARLSON: Turkey's not Arab, but still Muslim...

BEGALA: France is out of line here. It's ridiculous.

Intelligence officials were on Capitol Hill today telling congressmen that the al Qaeda terrorist network is planning an attack on America with chemical or radiological weapons. A new tape purported to be from Osama bin Laden surfaced yesterday.

Now, no American network aired the tape unedited, except one, the Fox News Channel. After September 11 national security officials asked news networks, including CNN, not to air bin Laden tapes unedited for fear of transmitting coded instructions.

CNN has complied with that request as did Fox in the past. But as Maureen Dowd observes in today's "New York Times," White House officials see propaganda points in this new tape, claiming that the tape bolsters its argument that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are partners in terror.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer says no one there is upset with Fox for running the whole tape unedited. We are thus left to conclude, that either the Bush administration's request was bogus in the first place or that they're willing to risk broadcasting coded instructions to Osama bin Laden's terrorists in order to score propaganda points.

As for Fox News they're either serving George W. Bush's propaganda interest, or Osama bin Laden's or both. Shame on Fox and shame the White House.

CARLSON: So just to make certain I understand the news here is that the Fox News Channel is reckless? This is news? I mean, they put Geraldo Rivera on the air, gave him his own his own show. That's very much a dog bites man story, Paul. But I would say the implication that the White House is putting the country at risk for the sake of propaganda and the fact that you sourced Maureen Dowd for that, maybe the fluffiest writer for any major American newspaper is a absurd. It's actually a very heavy charge.

BEGALA: Ari Fleischer today said no one was upset with Fox for airing it unedited. They never came to the networks and said you no longer have to...

CARLSON: Maybe they vetted the tape and knew or convinced that there were no secret messages in it.

BEGALA: That's not -- nobody said that. No one has said that. That's not been reported anywhere. Mr. Fleischer said yesterday no, they aired it unedited. It has to be one of two things: either the original request was not valid or they're willing to make an exception in this case.

CARLSON: No, Paul, open your mind. Maybe they learned something subsequent to the first several requests and that is that there aren't coded messages in the tape. Come on.

BEGALA: They never told CNN that. They didn't.

CARLSON: OK. Senate Democrats have opposed Miguel Estrada's nomination to the federal bench for almost two years, but they have never explained why. They're still not saying what exactly is wrong with Miguel Estrada. Instead they're blaming the White House for nominating him. Very clever.

This week's most unintentionally hilarious attack on the administration comes from New York's junior Senator Hillary Clinton. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Clinton alleged that there is afoot, a conspiracy of silence. Quote, "Time and again," she said, "this administration is proving itself to flout the rule of law. To be very concerned with secrecy, unwilling to share information with the election representatives of the American people," end quote.

Does this sound familiar? Instinctively autocratic, contemptuous of rules, obsessed with secrecy. If you lived in this country during the Clinton years you probably recognized the symptoms. On the other hand, Mrs. Clinton has finally endorsed the rule of law. This is news and it's better late than never.

BEGALA: The Clinton administration was the most open in American history and was subjected to nothing but prying from a bunch of right- wing cranks on Capitol Hill. The Bush administration...

CARLSON: It's all your enemies' fault, Paul. That's right. I've heard this before.

BEGALA: Excuse me, but for talking while you're interrupting, but the Bush administration, on the other hand, has been dragged into court by the Congress because refuses to even tell us which oil lobbyists Dick Cheney meets with to tell him what to do on (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARLSON: So Mrs. Clinton is now for the rule of law, though. Even you were amused by that.

BEGALA: What do you mean now? She was in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) when Ken Starr was abusing the rule of law and she was right then, and she's right now.

CARLSON: Like you (UNINTELLIGIBLE), oh, it was just about sex. It's okay to lie under oath. Please. Come on.

BEGALA: Fed chairman Alan Greenspan testified before the House Financial Services Committee today. In earlier Senate testimony, Dr. Greenspan poured cold water on President Bush's proposed tax cuts for the rich.

Greenspan says he's more worried about looming structural deficits if Mr. Bush's tax cuts for the rich are enacted. He went on to state the obvious, that high deficits hurt the economy and he even pooh poohed the very notion that we need a tax cut to stimulate the economy at all.

Dr. Greenspan, of course, helped to preside over the Clinton boom and then lent crucial support to President Bush's last round of tax cuts. He is, no doubt, the most influential person in Washington on economic policy.

President Bush responded by claiming Greenspan is a secret ally of al Qaeda, declared him a member of the quadrilateral of evil and launched Tomahawk cruise missiles on Greenspan's home. OK, I made that last part up.

CARLSON: You did?

BEGALA: Yes. I know you couldn't tell, but...

CARLSON: Actually Greenspan said a lot of really interesting things and the central point as I'm sure you're aware having read what he said was that he isn't sure the American economy needs a short-term stimulus. Now you, night after night on this show challenge the president, stimulate this economy, do something to get the economy moving. Here's Alan Greenspan saying, actually we don't need that right now. Interesting you didn't mention that.

BEGALA: I did mention it. Go back and read what I said. I said he pooh poohed the notion we even need a stimulus at all.

CARLSON: Oh. So I don't think you and Alan Greenspan are on the same page. And I must say...

BEGALA: You know what? I'm not the president, Tucker. News flash, it's a regrettable piece of news, but I'm not the president. Bush is, Greenspan is a Republican who pours cold water on Bush's cockamamie tax. That's news.

CARLSON: Actually, I don't think that's at all what he said. But I'm not going to argue about the text of Alan Greenspan speech with you, as fun as it is.

The Rolling Stones have gone green. Last week the group performed in Los Angeles. They dedicated the show to ending global warming. On stage, the Rolling Stones were joined by former President Bill Clinton who gave a talk about the environment. Every citizen must do his part, Clinton said in part by driving, quote, "clean cars." This from a man who travels by limousine and private jet, the most wasteful, inefficient and environmental destructive means of transportation possible in the world.

But the most amazing part what was the former president didn't say, somehow he didn't mention that the Rolling Stones are pitchmen for SUVs, yes, that's true. The band recently sold the song start me up to the Ford Motor Company which used it to sell dreaded sport utility vehicles.

The irony. It would take fist fight at pacifist convention to reach a higher level of ironic comedy than this. And that is the thing about rich liberals. They know exactly what you should be doing with your life. They don't think they should have to do it, too, do they, Paul.

BEGALA: I love this. We are under attack by terrorists. We have a president that can't tell North Korea from North Carolina, and you're upset about a bunch of aging British rockers making a commercial for Ford?

CARLSON: No, I am not. Actually, I don't care what the Rolling Stones do. No, I like the Rolling Stones. Just the idea that aging former presidents is lecturing us about what we should be driving. Leave me alone. Go back to Australia and give your expensive speeches. I don't want to hear your morally superior lectures.

BEGALA: As opposed to the George W. Bush the oilman who's vice president is another oilman and has nothing but trashed then environment. That's not character. There's nothing wrong with being an oilman but he is one.

CARLSON: He came out for hydrogen fuel cell cars the other day.

BEGALA: After ridiculing Al Gore.

CARLSON: Congress got an earful of warnings today about a world full of threats. Next, we'll ask two members Congress about which threat we should tackle first. And later We'll ask a former NATO commander how he managed to get and thing done with French around.

Should we eject the French.

Plus, you bought it what are you supposed to do with your duct tape? We'll answer all of your duct-tape related questions on CROSSFIRE. We'll be right back.


CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Jeep (ph) mounted anti-aircraft missiles are patrolling here in Washington today. On Capitol Hill lawmaker were hearing about all of the threats from all fo the people who hate the United States, and there are many.

The question is who's worse? Iraq, al Qaeda or North Korea.

Stepping into the CROSSFIRE, Congressman Alcee Hastings a Democrat of Florida and member of the permanent Select Committee of Intelligence, and Arizona Republican Congressman John Shadegg, a member of the new Select Committee on Homeland Security.


BEGALA: Thank you both for joining us. Congressman Shadegg, first congratulations on being one of the original members of the new House Select Committee. I salute you for serving it. Given your status now, pleased help me sort through the question Tucker just asked. When which is the greatest threat to the American homeland, al Qaeda terrorists, Saddam Hussein's North Korea, Kim Jong Il's -- Saddam Hussein's, Iraq or Kim Jong-Il...


BEGALA: There are so many, it's hard to keep it straight. North Korea, Iraq or al Qaeda.

What's the greatest threat to you and me?

REP. JOHN SHADEGG (R-AZ), HOMELAND SECURITY CMTE.: I don't know that you can draw a line between them. I think it's the combination of al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. It seems to me that the danger that he will provide weapons to people who will bring them here, and do damage here is very, very real and it's something we can't anticipate. With North Korea, I think you are doing a completely different threat. It's a very public threat. They are making it very known they have the weapons that they have. And in fact, they're begging for us to negotiate with them. Ultimately it's the kind of threat where we've dealt with the old world. I think the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and by al Qaeda and its ilk, others like them is a much different threat come which is why the president has a strategy that America never embarked on before.

CARLSON: Congressman Hasting, isn't North Korea, the example of North Korea exactly why we need stopped Hussein now. The Clinton administration attempted to contain North Korea...


CARLSON: I don't know of a good job.

HASTINGS: They slowed it down.

CARLSON: They built nuclear weapon while they were supposed to be contained, now learn. So, now they have a nuclear weapon it's very hard to negotiate with them because as I said they have a nuclear weapon.

Isn't this why Saddam can't be contained? Why we need to stop him before he builds a nuclear weapon.

HASTINGS: Tucker, you can make that argument, but it doesn't ring necessarily true. The fact of the matter is. al Qaeda in answering Paul's question, are a much bigger threat to America. We're on this homeland security business right now because of al Qaeda, not because of Iraq or North Korea. And I don't think that the case of the North Korea is a threat because they have nuclear weapons. I think what we need to do is deal with North Korea in a meaningful way in the diplomatic arena, the same as we need to with Iraq.

Somebody please tell me why are we going to war now?

What is it going to cost?

How long are we going to be there?

You know who's going to pay for it?

These people out here are going to pay for it? These people out here will pay for it.

SHADEGG: Is it the difference? The difference is the delivery mechanism. In fact, North Korea were to fire a missile at us, we have many systems to detect that and we can at least deal with it in a world that we understand. The problem is that with Saddam Hussein and Iraq, we do not know how that weapon gets delivered, and we have no way to even...

HASTINGS: A wake up call. You do know that North Korea has so- called weapons of mass destruction, as well.

SHADEGG: Of course.

HASTINGS: And you do know that their (UNINTELLIGIBLE) missile can reach all of the way to where we are right now.

SHADEGG: They are going to deliver it by a missile. We can deal with missiles.

HASTINGS: Why aren't we calling that or priority then?

SHADEGG: Because the priority is a terrorist walking into the country with that bomb that we can't possibly detect.

HASTINGS: And all of them came from Iraq?

SHADEGG: No, we don't know that all of them...

BEGALA: In fact none of them did. Most of them came from Saudi Arabia. And I think you are drawing a useful line between state actors and non-state actors. Big countries like North Korea and Iraq. We know where they live if they launch on us -- we squash them like a bug, good old deterrence. But you can't compete al Qaeda which is a non-state actor with Iraq. These are two very, very different threats it seems to me. And by attacking Iraq, many experts worry that we are emboldening and strengthening al Qaeda.

Aren't you concerned about that?

SHADEGG: No, we're not. The reality is you cannot be intimidated in foreign policy by the fact that, if you act boldly or with strength you'll make somebody else mad. That is the strategy that has failed and will fail us.

BEGALA: Aren't we picking the least threatening enemy first instead of the most threatening enemies?

SHADEGG: No, I think we're not. I think, the reality is that Saddam is developing the weapons and has them out ahead, but he's figured out the delivery mechanism is his allies who are, in fact, terrorists who would not deliver them by....


SHADEGG: You're the guy who said, he has broken every single U.N. resolution. Every one of them.

HASTINGS: Seventeen of them. Seventeen of them.

SHADEGG: And he's broken every single one of them and you said he is a real threat to the United States.

HASTINGS: But what I don't understand, particularly for my conservative friend, that used to lead the cats is why this deficit spending isn't driving you crazy and why not knowing how we're going to pay for this war and somebody please tell me how long are we going to be there, Tucker?

CARLSON: You know, that's an interesting question. Since you've gotten political I'll respond with politics. You said the threat is al Qaeda.

HASTINGS: War isn't politics?

CARLSON: Well, it can be. You say we need to focus all of our energies, martial our energies, on defeating al Qaeda. I want to read you a quote from Senator John Breaux, one of my heroes in your party.

In "The Chicago Tribune" today, here's what he said, talking about the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the court.

"The country is at orange alert. People are stockpiling water and duct tape. Who knows if we're going to war in two weeks? And we are going to shut down everything to filibuster a person the American Bar Association has unanimously said is well qualified."

My question to you is, Why do you think American voters are going to believe the Democratic Party takes this stuff seriously? It's wasting its time filibustering somebody who's qualified for the court. HASTINGS: Let me tell you something, Tucker. When I said that these people in this audience, particularly these youngsters, while we are fumbling and stumbling and talking about duct tape for homeland security, they're going to have less Social Security and Democrats are advocates of that. They're going to have higher tuition and Democrats don't want that. They're going to have higher taxes because this war has to be paid for and no one can tell me that it makes sense to cut taxes, go to war, increase terrorism at home and I think people know that Democrats are on their side and Republicans are about to lead us out. And Paul will tell you and you know from history.



SHADEGG: Forget those securities.

HASTINGS: What happens is you don't have the grip on it that we do when it comes to how to pay for it and how to be reasonable in doing so. You tell me, you, Mr. Deficit, how you're going to do that.


SHADEGG: It's being paid for right now. It's a part of what we've done in national defense.

BEGALA: The war against Iraq?

SHADEGG: Absolutely.


HASTINGS: Where is it in the budget? .

CARLSON: Hold on. Let Mr. Shadegg, finish, please.

SHADEGG: The cost of the actual war is going to be presented as a supplemental, obviously. But the reality of the cost of the war has already been borne. It's the defense buildup we've got. It's because we have the weapons to go there and do it and do it in closer to four days or four weeks than four month. It's already there and we did that and we should have done that.

BEGALA: Bill Clinton, when he was president...


BEGALA: We're going take a quick break. Both Congressman, please keep your seat. I'm sorry to do this, but we got to go do (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

We'll come back in a minute. We're going to ask these congressmen whether America is ready to rule Iraq, when we don't seem to be very good at ruling our own country.

Later, we'll ask a former NATO commander and now CNN military analyst, Wesley Clark if the NATO alliance can hold together under the strain of disagreements over Iraq.

And then later, a security expert will help us make sense out of our government's recommendations for how you should prepare yourself for a potential terrorist attack.

Stay with us.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

CIA Director George Tenet told a Senate committee today that North Korea probably has one or two nuclear weapons and a ballistic missile potentially capable of hitting the west coast of the United States.

Now while that information has been declassified for some time, Mr. Tenet is the first major U.S. official to say so publicly and he did so only after prodding by Democratic Senator Evan Bayh.

We are talking about who is the bigger threat with Arizona Republican Congressman John Shadegg, a member of the new select committee on homeland security and Florida Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings of the select committee on intelligence.

CARLSON: Congressman Hastings, the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw yesterday, I thought, summed up the situation perfectly with Iraq. We're short on time. I'm not going to read you the whole thing. But just two quickly.

"If Saddam bows to the U.N.'s demands and cooperates promptly, what's the need for a greater number of inspectors? If he maintains his refusal to cooperate, how will higher numbers help?"

It's impossible to argue with that and my question to you is, Why do we think we can contain Saddam Hussein?

HASTINGS: Because we have managed to do so for 12 years. And we can continue with an increase in the inspections regime. Actually I filed legislation calling for a more robust inspections regime, one that was capable of force, I might add, in order for it to occur.

But ,Tucker, very briefly because we are getting close to being out of time -- I know this much. Before we go in we had best damn well make sure that we know how we are going to get out. And until you or somebody can answer for me, how long we're going to be there, what is it going to cost in reconstruction? What are the humanitarian costs or what happens in Iran? What happens to Israel in the Middle East?

Until you all can answer those questions to the satisfaction of the American people, I will be here crying out saying let's use the inspections of regime.

And then we can further debate it. BEGALA: Congressman Shadegg, every, every major foreign policy speech in his campaign, Governor Bush promised never to commit American troops without a clear, exit strategy. What is our clear exit strategy?

SHADEGG: We have been negotiating and developing an exit strategy since the onset of the process. Our exit strategy is we are going to bring in all of the players in the area, allow a stable regime to be built, which is different than this regime. And then we're going to leave. And we expect to do that in less than two years.

But Alcee -- no, we are.


HASTINGS: We are still in Korea 50 years later! We're in Bosnia five years. What are you talking about?

SHADEGG: Let me tell me what you're saying. What you're saying is we've contained him because he has not struck yet. What you're saying is precisely what the president said he would not accept. We're willing to simply put our fate in the hands Saddam Hussein and say, Look,we're going to trust. We're going to hope that you won't hand these weapons over to a terrorist....


HASTING: You're going to put American soldiers there, between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds and say, you all just work it out. I don't think so.

SHADEGG: They're already there.


CARLSON: Colin Powell says and the president says that Iraq is allied with al Qaeda and has trained al Qaeda terrorists. Do you believe them?

HASTINGS: Colin Powell said that. I don't think that the case has been made that that connection exists. I think you can assume from the evidence, if you wish to, that that might very well be the case. But I don't -- it's not a question of Colin Powell.

SHADEGG: You said when you introduced your resolution -- you said you would wait until all peaceful means had been exhausted.

HASTINGS: Absolutely.

SHADEGG: OK. Define that. You've got no definition of that.

HASTINGS: Oh, yes, sir. Yes, sir.

CARLSON: I'm afraid to report -- I am sorry to cut you off, Mr. Hastings. We are completely out of time. HASTINGS: Then we'll come back and answer that.

CARLSON: Well, we hope you do.

BEGALA: Please do.

CARLSON: Congressman Hastings, Congressman Shadegg, thank you both very much.

One of the most watched -- thank you. One of the most watched trials in the country has gone to the jury. Details next in the "CNN News Alert."

And then, where are European allies? We'll ask former NATO- commander- turned-CNN-military-analyst General Wesley Clark.

And then, get out your duct tape and join us for some practical advice on getting ready for almost anything. Grim, but useful. We'll tell it to you.

We'll be right back.



BEGALA: Next, an insider's view of one of the most successful alliances of the last century. We will ask NATO's former supreme commander if the infighting over Iraq has crippled the Atlantic alliance.

Later, we'll ask an expert exactly how duct tape and sheets of plastic are going to make us safer in the event of a terrorist attack. You are watching CROSSFIRE on CNN, the most trusted name in news.


BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're coming to you live from the George Washington University in beautiful downtown Washington, home of the Colonials. Oh the Colonials can do better than that. Where are the Colonials? Oh, all right.

NATO officials have ended a third day of talks without taking action on a plan to send U.S. surveillance planes, patriot missiles, chemical and biological detection teams to Turkey to protect that NATO ally from Iraq. France, Germany and Belgium are blocking plans to boost Turkey's defense. They argue such preparations would signal that war is inevitable. It would also, they say, undermine the credibility of a European peace initiative.

Joining us now in the CROSSFIRE, retired Army General Wesley Clark. He's the former supreme allied commander of NATO; now a CNN military analyst.


BEGALA: General.

CARLSON: Hi General. Nice to see you.

General, Senator John McCain of Arizona gave a foreign policy speech today. You may have seen it. One line struck me. He said a few weeks ago it looked like the United States was isolated from Europe and now it's obvious that's not true. That it's German and France that are isolated from Europe and they're out on a limb.

If you look at the list -- I was going to put it up, but I won't because it takes too long -- of all the countries that are supported the United States in its plans to go to war against Iraq and compare it to the very tiny list of countries that object, France, Germany and a few others sometimes, it becomes obvious they're the cowboys, France and German, aren't they?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FMR. NATO COMMANDER: Well it's a struggle within Europe and it's a struggle transatlantic right now. So there are two struggles going on. But yes, I mean we have the great majority of the numbers of countries on our side.

BEGALA: But General, isn't it the job of the president to deliver those big allies as well? I mean President Reagan in the Cold War, a lot of times our friends in Europe went soft on us. God bless Ronald Reagan. He helped stiffen their spine.

President Bush Senior brought them along in the first Gulf War. President Clinton, with your able assistance, brought them along on Kosovo. I mean my grandmother can bring the Bulgarians along. Isn't it the job of the president to deliver the French and the Germans, right?

CLARK: Well I think there's -- it's a job on both sides of the Atlantic to work together on this. How we get out of the situation is very much dependent on how we get into it. And we need to go into it all together with our allies on board. And of course, the risk is right now that, for whatever reason, we're doing let tempers fray on both sides of the Atlantic. We've had an explosion of name calling and finger pointing and mutual recriminations over this thing, and speculation on motives, when what we need to do is settle down the rhetoric and work out the kinds of compromises that NATO's always worked out that bring allies together.

After all, we're all in this together. This is a war on terror. France is in that war on terror. Germany's in that war on terror. They've got them there, they've got al Qaeda.

They've got a 20 percent Islamic minority in France. They're arresting people right and left. They're worried about what's going to happen when we invade.

So we've got a lot of interests in common. We've got to find a way to make those common interests bring us together on policy.

CARLSON: But you just heard just a second ago -- just right from Paul Begala -- the snobbishness about Eastern Europe. "Oh my grandmother could deliver Bulgaria." Oh the...


CARLSON: They ate potatoes. Charles Krauthammer had a fascinating piece in the "Weekly Standard" today. I'll read you just a couple of lines from it. This is the core of the snobbishness and this is why the Eastern Europeans are supporting us.

"Eastern Europeans," he writes, "retain a residual pro-Americanism that derives in part from gratitude for America's half-century struggle to end their enslavement to Moscow. They had a keen appreciation of the value of liberty, the price (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to sustain it, and the role of the U.S. in securing theirs and everyone else's."

CLARK: Well there's no question there are some great people in Eastern Europe. But you know what I found in the Kosovo campaign? I found the tough thing about dealing with allies is that every nation, every state has its own person opinion. It has its own interest. And if you're going to lead allies and deal with them, you have to listen to their interests and concerns.

So the domestic problems in Bulgaria that would let a Bulgaria come on board and say, by god, we're with the United States, those issues aren't the same as the issues in France. And what statesmen have to do is they have to take their own domestic issues and they have to make their foreign policy come together. It takes a lot of listening and it takes a lot of leading, and maybe it takes a little bit more time to pull all of that together.

I happen to know that the French are, they say, looking for a way out of the box that they're in. They've dug themselves a hole, but they're responsive to public opinion. Public opinion across Europe, west and east, doesn't want this war, just as there are many people in the United States who have reservations about the war. It's a question really of how far the governments diverge from national interest.

BEGALA: How do we know that?

CLARK: How do we know it? We talk to people across there. I've talked to heads of state recently who have told me in Eastern Europe what public opinions is. But they also know what their national interests are. And that's the way it is in leadership, is that people feel one way, governments see how people feel. They listen, but they also educate and teach and they bring people together.

BEGALA: This is where I think you show a level of sophistication that candidly our president lacks. He treats them like they're the Warsaw Pact, which were a bunch of puppet yes men from Moscow, instead of free States.

The problem is not the French leadership. It's the French people. It's popular opinion. And it's our job to make our case to them so they come along. Why do we make our case by insulting then, calling them old Europe and saying they don't matter? CLARK: Well they may have a different perspective on these issues. They have had in the past. But also, they are asking some questions that we're asking here. They're asking what's the urgency. They're asking is this the right strategy.

Just the same questions you ask on this program. And if you were listening on a French political program, you'd probably see a different balance of opinion. I mean you'd have a lot more people saying, this is not the right strategy to go after Iraq right now.

They'd say your problem is terrorism. They don't have appreciation for North Korea in Europe because it's not their backyard. But they are worried about the problem with terrorism, and they say we travel a lot, we know these countries, this is going to make it worse. You've got to show us how you will get through this thing without making it worse.

I think that's a concern that needs to be answered. I think the United States needs to help the leaders in these countries come up with the kinds of answers so it can pull us all together.

CARLSON: OK. General Wesley Clark, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it. Thanks.


CARLSON: One of our viewers has fired back a sure way to solve our problems with France and Germany. They do every night. We appreciate it every night. We'll get that in a little moment.

But next, what you need to know about keeping safe at home in the event of a terrorist attack. We'll tell you. We'll be right back.



CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Last Friday, the government raised the nationwide terrorism alert status from orange to high risk and everyone asked, what should we do? Monday, officials in the Department of Homeland Security answered. They suggested that every home should be stocked with three days worth of food and water, plus blankets, flashlights, radios and spare batteries. And they recommended families improvise a safe room sealed with heavy plastic sheeting and, famously, duct tape.

That leaves a lot to the imagination. To fill in the blanks, we are joined tonight by retired Air Force Colonel Randy Larsen. He is director of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security. He is also a member of the advisory panel to the Office of Homeland Security.


BEGALA: General, good to see you. OK. Colonel Larsen, let's start -- do you remember the old movie "The Graduate," right? One word, plastic. Apparently now it's two words: plastic sheeting. We put this around our windows, we tape it up, and in the question of my phi beta kappa wife, won't we suffocate?

RANDY LARSEN, DIRECTOR, ANSER INSTITUTE FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Let's start with the right priorities. All right? It's not this.


LARSEN: OK. The best thing to do for the American population is to go to the Web site I've looked at a lot of them. It's by far the best. It has the right priority list.

What every family needs, first of all, is a communication plan. What are you going to do?

BEGALA: I'm going to crap my pants. I don't know about anybody else. The first thing I'm going to do is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) myself.

LARSEN: The first thing that's going to happen is the cell phones will jam. Do you remember 9/11? That's going to happen. I use the Internet to get in touch with my family. Not everyone has access to that.

You may not be able to use your cell phone. But let's say you and your spouse are in different parts of town and you want to get home. How do you communicate? Should we go home? Is the disaster between our office and our home? If you have trouble getting in touch with them, you need to have a relative or a friend outside the area where you live who you can both call.

BEGALA: Will cell phones be able to reach outside the area?

LARSEN: Yes, cell phones will work, but they jam. It's just like if we have a snowstorm in Washington, D.C. and too many people get on the cell phone. Land lines work very well, though. Communication plans that you work out with your family is the most important thing.

Second of all, a transportation plan. Who's going to pick up your kids from the nursery school? You can't get there. Is it a relative, is it a neighbor?

Work through those things first. It's very important. Then we get to your home. OK?

One of my problems I have with my family, I have a 19-year-old daughter out of George Mason, and my wife says, OK, she must leave her townhouse and come to our house. Maybe not. The Red Cross says shelter in place may be the most important thing.

If something happened in D.C. right now, the safest thing might be for us to stay here. Maybe six or eight hours until things are cleared up. The worst thing that can happen is for everybody to get out in the streets and jam the roads. A few years ago we had a hurricane coming up the coast here and they said evacuate. What happened was everyone was sitting on the highway when the hurricane hit their cars. It would have been much safer at home. Shelter in place could be important. So the other thing you need to think about is are those supplies. OK? And once again, this is the last priority.

Prescription medicines. You know, we're all busy people. It gets down to a couple of pills before we go to the pharmacy. I'd make sure I had full bottles of them on supply in there. OK? Diapers, I don't need those at home anymore, I don't have any small children. But if you do...

BEGALA: I know I'm going to need them.

LARSEN: And you're probably going to need something like baby formula, if you still have infants at home, food, three days. I have 10 days to two weeks supply of nonperishable food. If it's...

BEGALA: In a safe room?

LARSEN: Yes. If it's a contagious pathogen, I might want to stay in the house longer.

CARLSON: Well this right here, Colonel, is the most precious commodity in America.

LARSEN: They say you can't get it in Atlanta tonight. It's gone.

CARLSON: Literally.

LARSEN: It's gone. You can't get it in Atlanta.

CARLSON: This is like the Flurby or the Beanie Baby of this seen. It's duct tape. What in the world do I do with this after I wait 15 hours to get it?

LARSEN: In some disasters, this becomes very important. If a hurricane can knock out the windows of your house, or whatever, because you can take duct tape and plastic and you can cover your house after some sort of thing like that. However, for what we're talking about here, this chemical attack or something like this, probably the best use for duct tape might be if Jim Carville was here, we could slow down when he talked a little bit. You know?

I'm telling you, my mother called me from Pueblo, Colorado and said, "Should I go buy duct tape and plastic?" My advice to my mother was, no, do those other things in that Red Cross checklist first. It's much more important.

And unfortunately, a large percentage of the American population has not done that. A communications plan, a transportation plan, and those essential items we talked about. And then, after you've done that, if you want to buy some plastic and you want to buy some duct tape, go ahead.

Be careful, though, about the size of the room. What the directions say is -- because there is some concern that you could suffocate. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. But they say for every 10 square foot in an eight-foot high ceiling room, there's five hours of air in there for every 10 square foot.

So it doesn't take long to figure out the size of a bedroom. If you're going to do it, it would be, say, a room downstairs where there are no windows. I just see this is as a very last priority.

Look, the chemicals these guys are likely to have are not the military quality chemicals the Soviet Union and the United States made. Look at the attack (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in 1995 in subway, in Tokyo, 12 people died. OK? It overwhelmed the medical system because there were all of these what we call worried well (ph) that thought there was something wrong and went there. And that's something we need to think about because they're really extreme.

BEGALA: That was a nerve gas attack.

LARSEN: It was sarin gas. But it wasn't really high quality sarin. It was the sort of stuff you would expect terrorists to come up with, not military-grade stuff. It's important to remember. OK? Gas is not the one that scares me the most.

And also, it's going to be very localized. It's not something that will spread across the whole city. It's very unlikely.

CARLSON: Based on everything you've said, Colonel Larsen, I'm confused as to why the United States government would recommend that people buy duct tape, thereby terrifying the population to no good end, it sounds like.

LARSEN: I can't explain how all bureaucracies work. There was a 16-page document that FEMA publicized on Friday. I sat down and read it as soon as it came out. About the first six or seven pages I thought were very good. The last eight pages are kind of a cut and paste from the Cold War and nuclear, and I'm really not concerned about nuclear weapons today.

There were two sentences in there about duct tape. And the press is who's been going crazy over the duct tape. Not the government. However, there is a good spin to this. It's got a lot of American people listening.

BEGALA: Secretary Ridge did stress that.

LARSEN: I know. But, look, it got a lot of the attention of a lot of American people. And now that we've got their attention, let's tell them what to do.

Transportation plan, communications plan, and the proper supplies at home. Some food, water, medicines are very important, what you need for your children. I have a little scotch in my kit.

BEGALA: There you go. Morale is important.

CARLSON: Thank you.

LARSEN: Thank you very much.

BEGALA: Colonel Randy Larsen, thank you very much.

Next, one of our viewers says -- don't forget the scotch. One of our viewers fires back on an alternative use for all of this plastic sheeting and duct tape. The question is, will Tucker Carlson go along with the plan? Stay with us.



CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It's time for "Fireback," where we listen to a group who really, really doesn't like France, our viewers. First up, Kelly Guthridge of Kent, Washington writes, "Just wait and see once we invade Iraq how many illegal weapons they will have that will be stamped, 'Made in France,' 'Made in Germany,' and 'Made in Russia."

That's not a joke. There will be a lot. You will see.

BEGALA: And their oil field equipment stamped, "Made by Dick Cheney, Halliburton."

CARLSON: That's totally not true.

BEGALA: No it isn't. It's absolutely factual. He sold them oil field equipment.


BEGALA: "As a taxpaying citizen" -- writes Serena in Naperville, Illinois -- "living in the heartland, I am more terrified by all the red I see in my stock portfolio than I am of Saddam Hussein. Bush needs to redirect his tunnel vision and focus on the failing economy."

Serena, he did focus on it. That's why it's failing.

CARLSON: I understand. It's all about me. I mean, there's this lunatic with weapons of mass destruction, but my stock portfolio is not doing well. That's the real story. Right. OK.

Richard Diercks of Minneapolis, Minnesota writes, "We have a proven model to solve the French-German problem on Iraq. In the next few days, France surrenders to Germany. A week later, Germany surrenders to the U.S. It worked in World War II and it will work today."


CARLSON: Now that's diplomacy.

BEGALA: Well you know who we left out there? The great people of Belgium, the Belg (ph).

CARLSON: The Belg (ph), exactly right. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as always.

BEGALA: Certainly. David Bidlack of Lansing, Michigan writes, "You know, Paul, if you really care about the safety of your friend Tucker Carlson" -- and god knows I do -- "you should roll him up tightly in plastic sheets, then tightly seal those sheets with duct tape. You know, for his own safety. What do you think, great idea, right?"

What do you think, Tucker?

CARLSON: That sounds very naughty. I'm opposed to that.

BEGALA: We're just good friends.

CARLSON: I'll pass on the duct tape -- yes.

PETER DUBLISH: Hi. My name is Peter Dublish (ph) and I'm from Sarasota, Florida. And I'm just curious, exactly how are duct tape and plastic sheeting going to help Americans in the event of a biological attack? Because it doesn't seem very logical to me.

CARLSON: Well I think it's not that's illogical. I think it's not very likely. You know if there was a chemical weapons attack on your neighborhood, I suppose the idea is you'd seal the windows with the sheeting and allow the chemicals to settle, and that's better than nothing.

BEGALA: Let me try something I don't often do, defend the Bush administration. They're trying their best to give us useful information. I don't want to do too much mocking to the information they do give us, because I think their heart's are in the right place. And they're trying to empower us, instead of simply saying, be afraid, be very afraid.

They give us two or three concrete things. It's better than nothing at all. So thank you.

CARLSON: People are still fairly afraid, though, I'd say -- yes.

TOM CHAPMAN: Good evening. Tom Chapman (ph) from Portsmouth, Virginia. I was wondering why the Democrats assume that the U.S. is incapable of fighting a war on terror and Iraq at the same time.

CARLSON: Well the argument, of course, is that the war against Iraq is part of the war on terror. And to not believe that, you'd have to believe that Colin Powell and the president and Condoleeza Rice are all lying when they say Iraq is allied with al Qaeda. That's what they've said.

BEGALA: The ties are tenuous. They may be there, but they're tenuous. One guy went there and got his leg got chopped off. Apparently 12 (ph) terrorists are there now.

There are much stronger ties in Yemen, in Pakistan, in Syria, in Iran. And you know how many al Qaeda people we killed in the last four months? CARLSON: That's simply not true.

BEGALA: Four months -- 23. I don't consider that a very effective war.


BEGALA: I just don't consider that a very effective (UNINTELLIGIBLE). From the left, I am Paul Begala. Good night from CROSSFIRE.

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


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