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U.N. Weighs Inspectors' Reports, Washington's Call For Action

Aired February 14, 2003 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: Is it time for war against Saddam Hussein? The United Nations weighs inspectors reports and Washington's argument for action.

HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: The situation has improved.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: These are all process issues. These are all tricks that are being played on us.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: All across America, people are frightened.

ANNOUNCER: The orange alert, one week later. The homeland security chief clarifies what you should do to prepare for terror.

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We do not want individuals or families to start sealing their doors or their windows.

ANNOUNCER: From duck and cover to duct tape. American anxiety, then and now, and our search for an escape.

Where's the love? Some Valentine's Day offerings to lighten the gloom of possible war.

Live, from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.


WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us.

The White House says President Bush still is hopeful that Iraq will disarm and war will be avoided. But after today's presentation at the United Nations, the Bush administration says it is time for the Security Council to consider serious consequences.

In this "Newscycle," U.N. weapons inspectors reported some improved cooperation by Iraq, in a more measured and mixed assessment than they gave two weeks ago. Chief Inspector Hans Blix said his teams have found no evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, although he said many banned weapons Iraq was known to have still are not accounted for, including deadly nerve gas.

Blix questioned Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent claim that Iraq moved weapons before the inspectors arrived.


BLIX: This was a declared site. And it was certainly one of the sites Iraq would have expected to be -- to inspect -- us to inspect. We have noted that the two satellite images of the site were taken several weeks apart. The reported movement of munitions at the site could just as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of prescribed munitions in anticipation of imminent inspection.


WOODRUFF: The U.N.'s top nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, told the Security Council there still is no evidence that Iraq has resumed its nuclear weapons program. He called a new Iraqi presidential decree banning weapons of mass destruction a step in the right direction and he said inspectors do not need full cooperation from Iraq to finish their work.

Well, CNN's Richard Roth is at the United Nations right now. Our Suzanne Malveaux is at the White House.

Richard, to you first. How did the Blix report, the ElBaradei report, go over with the Security Council?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the majority of the members of the Security Council are very pleased with the report by Blix and ElBaradei, the weapons inspectors telling the Security Council that the work must go on, because they really haven't found anything yet, and they'd like more time to go on.

Britain said, we should stand up to this tyrant. The United States said, time is running out. But key Security Council members such as France, China, Russia all say there needs to be more time.

But it was France that carried the day. Inside the Security Council was "Viva la France!"


DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): No one can claim that it would lead to a safer, more just, more stable world, for war is always the sanction of failure. Would this be our sole recourse in the face of the many challenges at this time?


ROTH: Secretary Powell, though, was almost exasperated by what he heard.

The U.S. Secretary of State, in remarks heard recently here, a few moments ago with Andrea Koppel, and in front of the entire Security Council, said Saddam Hussein's government is really trying to play tricks with the U.N. Security Council.


POWELL: We are facing a difficult situation. More inspectors -- sorry, not the answer. What we need is immediate cooperation. Time? How much time does it take to say, I understand the will of the international community, and I and my regime, are laying it all out for you, and not playing guess, not forming commissions, not issuing decrees, not getting laws that should have been passed years ago, suddenly passed on the day when we are meeting.

These are not responsible actions on the part of Iraq. These are continued efforts to deceive, to deny, to divert, to throw us off the trail, to throw us off the path.


ROTH: The U.S. gets support from inside the Council, Spain and Bulgaria and the U.K., but that's it. The other 11 members of the Security Council siding with France, and certainly the view to give inspectors more time.

And, Judy, in a very rare moment, there was extensive applause from the delegates from the other countries, sitting and listening, after France spoke and also after Russia spoke. When Secretary Powell concluded, there was silence -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Richard Roth at the United Nations.

And let's move directly to the White House for our Suzanne Malveaux.

Suzanne, the White House obviously paying very close attention, how are they reacting to all this? And do they now think they've got enough support, given the criticism today, to move ahead with the second resolution?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, President Bush didn't respond directly to Blix's report. But he talked about the case in broad terms at a counterterrorism event before the FBI, saying that Saddam Hussein is a danger, that he must be disarmed.

But senior administration officials that I spoke with today say, despite the opposition from France, Russia and China, there is no change in strategy, that they are moving forward with the second resolution. They are working behind the scenes on the language, language that would be acceptable to those who have veto power, France, as well as Russia and China. That it would be, at the very least, the language that would say that Iraq is in material breach of previous resolutions.

Also, they say, look to tomorrow. That is when NATO again will talk about whether or not it's going to defend Turkey. Some administration officials say that they have received some assurances from Belgium, as well as Germany, that they're going to clear that roadblock ahead. So that's a very important day.

And then, finally, of course, Judy, make no mistake, the war planning continues here at the White House. For the second straight day, we have seen the top guns of this administration meeting, talking about war plans. General Tommy Franks, as well as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, among many others here, talking about detailed war plans in the event that that's necessary -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Suzanne Malveaux, a whole lot going on. Thank you very much.

Well, here in Washington today, the president again tied the showdown with Iraq to the broader war against terrorism.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When I speak about the war on terror, I not only talk about al Qaeda, I talk about Iraq; because, after all, Saddam Hussein has got weapons of mass destruction, and he's used them. Saddam Hussein is used to deceiving the world and continues to do so.


WOODRUFF: Mr. Bush spoke at the FBI building where he touted a new center, where FBI and CIA counterterrorism analysts will work together under one roof.

But on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, Democrats were out in force, questioning the administration's response to terror threats. Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman called for a $16 billion increase in homeland security spending.


JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our borders and ports are too porous. Our first responders ares are undersupported. Our infrastructure is underprotected, and our supply of vaccines and antidotes is far too limited. We can and must do better.



WOODRUFF: Criticism by Democrats helped to prompt Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to try to clear up confusion about the current terror alert and how Americans should respond to it.

More on that from CNN's Jeanne Meserve -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the headline, the threat level, is going to stay right where it is, at orange. Secretary Ridge says there's no additional intelligence that would lead the administration to raise or lower the level at this time.

Ridge underlined a number of new security measures taken by the federal government, including the use of coast guard fast rope teams. I hope we have some video. There we are. They could board ships whose cargo or crew raise concerns well offshore, hopefully, keeping danger away from the nation's ports and population.

Ridge also addressed the politically controversial issue of funding for first responders. The just-passed 2003 budget allocates $3.5 billion for them, but Ridge criticized Congress for putting restrictions on how much of that money can be spent. He said he say he would expedite delivery of the money to the governments, who say they need it desperately to address skyrocketing security costs. But he warned the federal government would not pick up all the costs.


RIDGE: I do think there is a shared public safety responsibility. The commitment that the president made, and continues to make, is a substantial sum of money.

Unfortunately, as we combat the threat of international terrorism, there will be shared responsibility, and part of that is also financial.

I know they need more money. The president recognizes they need more money. That's why, in this budget, he's asked for an additional $3.5 billion, which will hopefully be appropriated in a way that we can respond to the specific needs and requests of the state and locals.


MESERVE: There was, at this briefing, a lot of talk about duct tape and plastic sheeting. The secretary said it was wise for homeowners to have it as part of an emergency supply kit, but he said the public was not being asked to seal up windows and doors.

Next Wednesday, he'll be unveiling a comprehensive public information campaign that his department has been developing with the Ad Council, called the ready campaign. The hope: to better educate the public about what it can do before, during and after any terrorist attack. That, Ridge says, can save lives and, Judy, it might prevent another run on the hardware stores.

WOODRUFF: Well, it's very interesting they're saying that, because it was just a few days ago that they put out information that suggested people should collect that information. So it's good to have it a little more clarified.

All right. Jeanne, thanks very much.

Well, meanwhile, back to the United Nations activity today. Iraq insisted again today that it is doing whatever is possible to cooperate with weapons inspectors.

Let's bring in CNN's Nic Robertson in Baghdad. Nic, what is the reaction there to these reports by the inspectors at the U.N.? NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, the real fear amongst officials in Baghdad this morning was that Hans Blix would really focus on the negative and play up the negative.

That, from their assessment so far, doesn't appear to have happened. Just one example: Hans Blix talked about the issue of minders -- the Iraqi officials who go out with the weapons inspectors every day.

He said, at the beginning of the year, there was five minders for every one inspector. He said that they'd asked Iraqi officials to bring that down to a ratio of one-to-one.

Now, he didn't say that the Iraqi officials had done that. What he said was that they'd improved the situation. And what we've been hearing from Iraqi officials here is that they think that they've done enough at this stage to allow the weapons inspection process to continue. The assessment of one senior Iraqi politician was that if they got an 80 percent positive report that should be enough to head off the possibility of war.

And that is what we're hearing from Iraqi officials now, that what they've heard in Hans Blix's report shows that Iraq has been cooperating. That's what they believe at this time, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Nic, what about this decree that President Saddam Hussein put out today, saying, we will ban weapons of mass destruction. What's the reaction there to that?

ROBERTSON: Well, it's very interesting, Judy. At the same time that he did that, Iraq's National Assembly was in an extraordinary session. Now, when those assembly members came out, none of them had heard about this decree. They were in there passing a resolution, drafting a resolution to show support for President Saddam Hussein. That was interesting, the timing that it came out just before Hans Blix's report, interesting.

Also, very interesting that this decree says it covers individual citizens and private and mixed businesses. Those are the organizations that are banned from importing, producing, manufacturing weapons of mass destruction. It doesn't appear to cover, at this stage, state- run companies.

And it is, of course, the state-run companies that the U.N. weapons inspectors visit on a day-to-day basis, Judy. So, timely, interesting, certainly something the weapons chiefs had called for.

WOODRUFF: A very interesting distinction. All right, Nic Robertson in Baghdad. Thank you, Nic.

There's much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS. Up next, another view of the U.N. weapons inspectors' report. I'll talk with a ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin.

We'll find out if the markets are in positive or negative territory after today's U.N. debate. And later, we'll turn to a little lighter fare and a new anti- hillbilly movement on Capitol Hill.

Plus, a dangerous kiss in the political play of the week. This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.



JACK STRAW, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: If we decide to give unlimited time for little or no cooperation on substance then the disarmament of Iraq, and the peace and security of the international community, for which we are responsible, will not get any easier, but very much harder.


WOODRUFF: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

With me now to discuss today's report by the U.N. weapons inspectors is Senator Carl Levin. He's from Michigan. He's the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.

Senator, Colin Powell today said the Iraqis are not in compliance and that, while force is a last resort, it's a resort. How can you not agree with that?

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: I do. I think it's important that we keep the United Nations Security Council together, so that if, in fact, force is used, that it has the authorization, the credibility, the legitimacy behind it that the United Nations authorization can give.

And the only way we're going to get the United Nations Security Council to authorize force is if we support their inspection process, which is right clearly unfinished.

Now, we have not provided even all the intelligence in our possession that is relevant intelligence to the inspectors. And the inspectors have been asking for the U-2 planes for months. And the United Nations, including the United States, have acquiesced, up until now, in giving Saddam Hussein a veto over the use of those U-2 planes, which can track suspicious vehicles on the ground.

WOODRUFF: But, Senator, what Colin Powell was saying today is that this is not so much about inspections, it's about disarmament. And his point is that Iraq has not disarmed. And how long are we going to wait? He said, are we going to wait until they use these weapons in American cities?

LEVIN: No, obviously, we're not going to wait forever. There's no doubt about that.

But what we have to do, it seems to me, if we're going to keep the Security Council together and united -- which is the best chance of avoiding war, and if war comes, of avoiding the risks of going it alone -- if we keep the Security Council together, by supporting inspections as long as there's progress and finding we hear a little progress, at least today, with the U-2s being now -- going to be put in place, and with what we heard from Blix today, is that the intelligence information is gradually increasing from countries such as the United States.


LEVIN: It's important we support this inspection process. It doesn't have anything to do with forever. It has to do with keeping the Security Council together while the inspections are making progress.

WOODRUFF: But, Senator, what you describe could take weeks and weeks, and months and months. And the president's now made it clear, and so has Secretary Powell, they mean to get this done matter in a matter of few weeks.

LEVIN: Well, everybody's going to have to make their own judgment as to the wisdom of going it alone, and whether or not it is worth taking the time necessary to complete these inspections.

This is something which is so critically important to the Security Council, that if we're serious about leading the world and not separating ourselves and going it alone, then it seems to me we should continue to give support to inspections and do a much better job of supporting inspections.

WOODRUFF: But what is...

LEVIN: But let me say one other thing, Judy.

President Bush, and I want quote him, said this on January 3. He said that, "Saddam Hussein holds the United Nations and its Security Council in contempt. He really doesn't care about the opinion of mankind." And President Bush was right. We should care.

WOODRUFF: Well, but if -- but my last question is, why shouldn't the U.S. go it alone if it feels that U.S. interests are at stake?

LEVIN: Because if - obviously, if there's an imminent threat against us, we are always going to go it alone. We will do what's necessary.

But in the absence of an imminent threat against us, going it alone has huge risks, short term to our troops, because there will be less support if...

WOODRUFF: They say the threat is imminent.

LEVIN: Well, that's a matter of judgment. I don't think there's too many people who feel that the threat is imminent. They've described it as an imminent threat against the United States. There is a general threat against the world, obviously, from Saddam Hussein. It's important that Saddam Hussein see the world at the other end of the barrel, and not just the West. It's the best way of trying to disarm him without war.

But if war does come, it's the best way of avoiding the risks, short term to our troops, of not having full support of the neighbors, and longterm to us. The terrorists which will be fed by a unilateral attack without U.N. authority, it seems to me, are going to grow in number much faster and with a lot more propaganda support if we go it alone.

WOODRUFF: Senator Carl Levin, it's always good to see you. Thank you, Senator, for talking to us. We appreciate it.

Coming up, the other side of the argument. I will speak with Bill Kristol, a conservative pundit.

And, later, it's Valentine's Day, but there may not be a lot of love between President Bush and Alan Greenspan. We'll tell you why.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is -- my name is Menatim Gan (ph). I'm an Israeli correspondent of Mareed (ph). In your previous declaration yesterday, you announced that Iraq doesn't have any missiles that can reach Israel. Nevertheless, the report today said that still Iraq has missiles...


FRED KATAYAMA, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT: Iraq's deputy prime minister gets booed during a news conference. We'll tell you why ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: It's time to check your "I.P. I.Q." On Valentine's Day in 1912, the 48th state as admitted to the Union. Was it, A, New Mexico, B, Arizona or C, Idaho? We'll tell you the answer later on INSIDE POLITICS.



WOODRUFF: Does the U.S. need U.N. approval before an attack on Iraq? Coming up: the view from the right.


WOODRUFF: With me now to discuss the latest developments in the U.S. showdown with Iraq is Bill Kristol, editor of "The Weekly Standard" and author of the new book "The War Over Iraq: Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission."

Bill Kristol, you started writing this book last summer, when it wasn't clear. A lot has happened since then. Now the U.S. seems to be on a course toward war. But you still have the French arguing, we've got to first focus on disarmament. We've got to give the inspectors a chance.

WILLIAM KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, I think it's a disingenuous argument, honestly.

We're not going to have peaceful disarmament with Saddam Hussein. We've tried that for 11 years. He hasn't disarmed. The choice -- and Bill Clinton himself said this, I gather, last night -- the choice is disarming him by war or letting him have these weapons of mass destruction. And the true European view -- or at least the French and German view is, we can live with Saddam with weapons of mass destruction.

And I suppose they can live with Iraq with weapons of mass destruction and Syria and Libya. Somehow, they really hope that we'll never have to act militarily and this problem will just go away. And I think it's to President Bush's credit that he's willing to face up to this problem.

WOODRUFF: Let me read you something. I happened to interview George McGovern, the former senator, former presidential candidate, yesterday, who said, among other things -- he said: "I agree with Jimmy Carter. It's ridiculous to think that Iraq would attack the U.S., knowing that they'd be incinerated in a matter of hours."

In other words, this whole notion that Iraq poses an urgent threat to the U.S., he's saying, is ridiculous.

KRISTOL: Well, first of all, they could get these weapons to terrorist, al Qaeda groups.

Secondly, what kind of position is that? If a bomb went off here in Washington, God forbid, later today, would we incinerate Iraq? Would we think it's appropriate to kill 10 million Iraqis? Is that a reasonable basis for policy? With the Soviet Union, we got ourselves, unfortunately, into a position of mutual assured destruction. Thank God we never had to act on that theory.

But it's not a very sound foreign policy to say, hey, don't worry about all these countries having weapons of mass destruction. We can kill tens of millions of their civilians.

WOODRUFF: You argue in the book, Bill Kristol, that this doctrine of American preeminence that we're hearing basically articulated by President Bush to you makes a lot of sense. The argument on the other side is that this is America going it alone. It's going to alienate people who would be our friends around the world. They're going to think that we're just throwing our weight around.

KRISTOL: Well, first, we're not going it alone, obviously. We'll have a coalition. But, secondly, what...

WOODRUFF: But without some of our historic allies.

KRISTOL: Well, that's right.

But what has hurt America and the world? What has hurt the Middle East? Was it the failure to get rid of Saddam or was it us throwing our weight around in 1991? What emboldened Osama? Was it American strength or American weakness? Was the mistake of American foreign policy in '90s that we intervened too much or that we were too slow to intervene against Milosevic or in Rwanda?

WOODRUFF: But America has never peremptorily done what America is contemplating right now.

KRISTOL: Well, we did in Kosovo, I would say. We weren't threatened by Milosevic. There was no U.N. security resolution. Clinton -- to his credit, I think -- intervened there and now things are better. They're not perfect, but they're better in the Balkans.

Look, the nexus of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction has created a new situation. It requires us, I think, to be more active in our foreign policy, to occasionally act preemptively, even. But the alternative is to sit back and say, hey, we're going to let everything fall apart. And 10 years from now, we're going to wake up with 10, 15 dictators with weapons of mass destruction and with terrorist groups to which they can hand off these weapons. And then we'll say, oh, my God, how did we get here?

WOODRUFF: Bill Kristol. The book is "The War Over Iraq: Saddam's Tyranny and America's Mission."

Thanks for being with us. It's great to see you again.

KRISTOL: It's good to see you, Judy. Thanks.

WOODRUFF: Take care. Thank you.

Next hour: an exclusive interview with Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency. That's at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Still ahead: so much for the six-pack. While anti-war feelings prompt protesters to take to the streets, those sentiments also are leading more Democrats into the presidential race.


WOODRUFF: Checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": Joe Lieberman heads to Iowa this weekend for the first time since becoming a presidential candidate. The trip had been postponed because of the shuttle Columbia disaster. Lieberman will address Iowa union members, as will three other White House hopefuls, John Edwards, Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich.

A change of plans for retired General Wesley Clark: We told you yesterday that he was headed back to New Hampshire, perhaps to keep testing the presidential waters. But he called off the trip last night.

D.C.'s Democratic Party has refused to back a proposal to make the district's presidential primary the first in the nation, ahead of the Iowa caucuses. The Democratic national Committee opposed the move. A city council member is vowing to press ahead with his primary proposal. But, even if it were to pass, it would be unsanctioned by the party and would result in penalties.

The prospect of war in Iraq is swelling the ranks of presidential contenders. A dozen Democrats are now either actively seeking or thinking about running for the White House, including a pair of new candidates whose main issue is opposition to the war: former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, will form an exploratory committee next Tuesday; and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who forms his this weekend.

With us now: Mindy Tucker, communications director for the Republican National Committee; and Democratic consultant, Jenny Backus.

Jenny, to you first.

The Democrats, we have got four of them who are saying -- who are announced and saying: I'm supporting the president. I have some problems with the war, with what's being done in the way -- the run-up to the war, but, basically, they're supporting. You have got other Democrats about to get in who are really opposed to what might happen.

Is your party split right down the middle?

JENNY BACKUS, DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANT: No, I think not, Judy, because this election, the 2004 election, is going to be fought on the aftermath of the war.

What kinds of leadership positions has this administration done to prepare this country for what it will look like in 2004? What has been done on the economy? What is the long-term plan for Iraq and the war? What has been done to deal with the trouble spots like North Korea around the world? And, most importantly, have we kept the homeland safe and secure?

And I think, on all of those issues, the Democrats have a very clear line of difference from the Republicans. And I think you saw that today, when "The New York Times" reported that the president has got the lowest approval rating since the summer before 9/11.

WOODRUFF: All right, Mindy, what about that?

MINDY TUCKER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC: Well, I think, as you said, you have got anywhere from six to 12 Democrats running for president on a daily basis.

They're struggling to differentiate themselves from each other and surely cannot be aligned with President Bush on a daily basis. They look every day for reasons to oppose what he's doing. Even if it doesn't have any basis in their philosophy or in sort of sound policy, they just look for opportunities to say: I'm against him. I'm against what's going on.

What we haven't seen from the Democrats and I think they're going to have a hard time coming up with is ideas. They're full of questions, full of criticism. They don't have answers. They have not put forward a positive agenda. They've not become part of the work of moving things forward. And just criticizing things and being negative all the time really isn't going to help them in '04.


WOODRUFF: Is that what's going on, Jenny Backus?

BACKUS: No, I think, again, what you heard from Mindy's response is what we've been hearing from the administration, which is sort of a one-size, one-sound-bite fits all answer to the myriad of problems that are facing us.

Democrats every day are proposing really strong, substantial differences between the two parties. Take a look at homeland security. That's the issue that most people are feeling right now. And people are nervous and insecure. You're seeing it in polling. But, more, importantly you are seeing it when you walk down the street.

The administration doesn't have a positive vision for it. The administration is cutting $3.5 billion from our troops here at home.

WOODRUFF: Mindy, you get a response here.

TUCKER: That's a great example. I'm glad she brought up homeland security.

We had John Edwards this week trying to differentiate himself, trying to be out there and important on this issue. And he ended up stumbling in front of the FBI director this week in his committee. He ended up coming across as somebody who had not put forth the effort to really find out what was going on, had not worked with the agencies to find out what was going on, and had actually proposed a position that was in opposition to local law enforcement and people that had been talking to him about the issue.

So, I think it's very dangerous for them to just oppose the president all the time.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave there it with John Edwards' stumbling and pick it up next week.


WOODRUFF: Jenny Backus, Mindy Tucker, great to see you both. Thanks very much.

We'll give the senator a chance to pick himself up next week. A former economic ally breaks ranks with the White House and earns our "Political Play of the Week." We'll show you who it is when we come back.


WOODRUFF: A key backer of President Bush's first tax cut proposal isn't so sure about the one the White House is proposing now. And he's not afraid to say so.

Here's our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: For weeks, Democrats have been shouting into the wind about President Bush's economic plan. This week, the wind shifted and it blew in the "Political Play of the Week."

(voice-over): Democrats were outraged when President Bush said in his State of the Union speech last month:

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents, and other generations.

SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), NORTH DAKOTA: The president said in his State of the Union he wanted to avoid passing on challenges to future administrations, future Congresses and future generations. But that's exactly what he's doing. He's bucking these massive deficits, this massive debt to our kids.

SCHNEIDER: Democrats concerned about deficits? Laughable, say Republicans.

SEN. DON NICKLES (R), OKLAHOMA: The Democrats, who are never concerned about deficit when it comes to spending. They're only concerned about deficits when it comes to tax cuts.

SCHNEIDER: What's really funny is that many conservatives have decided that deficits are not a major problem.

"Anything that will help us stop spending money, I'm in favor of," Representative Sue Myrick told "The New York Times." "And if there's a deficit, that may help us." The argument suddenly shifted in the Democrats' favor this week when Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan uttered these fateful words.

ALAN GREENSPAN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: There is no question that, if deficits go up, contrary to what some have said, it does affect long-term interest rates. It does have a negative impact on the economy.

SCHNEIDER: Two years ago, this Greenspan utterance proved to be very fateful.

GREENSPAN: Having a tax cut in place may, in fact, do noticeable good.

SCHNEIDER: With that, President Bush got his first tax cut. Now he's proposing another, even bigger one. What does the Greenspan oracle have to say this time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do believe it should be revenue neutral?

GREENSPAN: I do believe it should be revenue neutral.

SCHNEIDER: Aha! The president's tax cut has to be paid for to keep the deficit under control. Democrats are gleeful.

DASCHLE: I think Alan Greenspan, two years ago, breathed life into the administration's proposal for tax cuts. Today, I think he made the kiss of death for the plan that was offered this year again.

SCHNEIDER: Greenspan's testimony may or may not be the kiss of death for the president's economic plan, but it was certainly "The Play of the Week."

(on camera): Will Republicans pay a political price for the deficit? Ronald Reagan didn't, but the first President George Bush did. Here's the rule: The deficit becomes an issue if the economy is bad. Then Democrats can say, we told you so.

Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And we want to turn quickly to some breaking news. Yesterday, a U.S. government plane crashed in Colombia in South America.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, with us now, Jamie, with some information on that plane and the people on board.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, you may recall that, initially, it was believed that all people had been killed on board this plane, this small Cessna. There were supposedly four Americans on board, one Colombian.

Now we're hearing that the plane crash landed and, apparently, the people got out. But two of the five people on board have been -- were shot to death, apparently executed, in a territory of Colombia which is controlled by rebel forces. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as the FARC, control this area in southern Columbia, where the plane went down.

There's apparently a race under way to find the remaining three people. U.S. officials confirmed to CNN that there is some reason to believe that at least two of the remaining people may have been captured by the rebel forces and one may still be at large, one possibly American. And a hunt is under way by the Colombian military to see if they can find that person.

It's very unclear exactly who these people are. We do know the Cessna was under contract to the Department of Defense, under the control of the U.S. Southern Command. It's believed that the Americans on board, the four Americans, were civilians working for the U.S. government, conducting some sort of intelligence-gathering flight over Colombia, where the U.S. has been aiding Colombia in the fight against drug trafficking there.

But, again, it appears that at least two of the people on board the plane, including at least one American, may have been executed, shot to death, their bodies found, according to one source, about a mile from where the plane crash-landed. Three are still missing and unaccounted for. There are some indications, government officials tell us, that two of those three have been captured by the FARC -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And, Jamie, just quickly, so we can assume the government, the U.S. government, is looking for those people.

MCINTYRE: Well, it's not clear exactly what the participation of the U.S. government or the U.S. military might be in this manhunt or rescue mission.

We know that the Colombian military is involved. Presumably, the U.S. is aiding however it can. No indication at this point there's any U.S. military involvement in the search-and-rescue effort.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon -- thank you, Jamie.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: There are plenty of harsh realities for Congress to consider these days, but that apparently hasn't stopped some lawmakers from considering action against a reality TV show.

As you may remember, CBS is planning a real-life version of the old TV series "The Beverly Hillbillies." Well, Republican Congressman Ted Strickland of Ohio reportedly is looking into drafting a resolution opposing the new show and what we calls its stereotypes of people in Appalachia. Strickland's staff has asked Democrat Zell Miller of Georgia to sponsor the measure on the Senate side.

We'll see who wins that one.

Still ahead on this Valentine's Day: a little treat after so many reports about possible war and terror.


WOODRUFF: Most everyone enjoys getting a little something on Valentine's Day, especially when you're in the desert preparing for possible war. Well, a Kuwaiti florist today delivered 10,000 red carnations to U.S. troops, men and women, with tags reading, "From the Kuwaiti people to the U.S. Army, happy Valentine's Day." Very sweet. And, finally, we want to share some numbers for you to chew on, along with those heart-shaped candies you're getting today. In the United States, we've learned, there are 2.3 million marriages a year. There are 119 single men for every 100 single women in their 20s. And there are 24,197 florists. And, finally, we know Americans eat an average of 24 pounds of candy a year. And, finally, we know there are two towns named Valentine, one in Nebraska, the other in Texas.

I know a lot of single women who want to know where those other extra 19 men are. We'll find out that answer and give it to you next week.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us.



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