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Fifth Suicide Bombing in 48 Hours Kills 3 Israelis; Violence Threatens Road Map to Mideast Peace; Possible Iran/al Qaeda Connection

Aired May 19, 2003 - 22:00   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I am in for Aaron tonight, and we want to tell you it is a chilling sign of the times. Our entire whip and more than a third of this program is devoted to stories involving terror. It has been that kind of week.
Since last Monday, more than 75 people have died at the hands of suicide bombers, in Saudi Arabia, in Morocco, and the latest in Israel. The people behind the attacks may differ in their target and their agendas but their practical effect is the same the world over, the destruction of innocent life.

In Israel, terrorists are trying to destroy innocent life and something else as well, the peace process. Kelly Wallace is at the scene of the latest attack to come after a very bloody weekend, the Israeli town of Afula. Kelly, what's the headline?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the fifth suicide bombing in 48 hours leaves three Israelis dead. Radical Palestinian groups sending a message and delivering a sharp blow to that U.S. backed road map for Middle East peace -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: To the White House now and questions about the fate of that road map to peace in the Middle East. Chris Burns is at the White House for us, Chris the headline.

CHRIS BURNS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, that road map is barely three weeks old. It already appears to be in trouble. The diplomatic contacts that we've seen up to now have failed to make any headway. The only progress we've seen is in that violence; however, President Bush insists that that won't break his resolve.

WOODRUFF: A possible connection between al Qaeda and Iran. David Ensor is looking at that tonight, David the headline.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, U.S. officials believe there are some senior al Qaeda figures in Iran. There is some evidence to suggest that one of them might even have been involved in the planning of the Riyadh attacks.

And, Judy, I also have to tell you that the intelligence community is very concerned about what it calls the chatter level, suggestions from a number of front and law enforcement are also concerned that there may be additional terror in the offing overseas and they're not ruling it out in the United States either -- Judy. WOODRUFF: Very concerning. An update on the terror case going on in upstate New York. Susan Candiotti is in Buffalo with that, Susan the headline.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy. They were known as the Buffalo Six and tonight all six have pleaded guilty; however, we are learning new details about their time at an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and we are also learning from the FBI that the case is not yet over.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to be getting back with all of you in just a moment.

Also coming up tonight on NEWSNIGHT, he has been the daily voice of the president, someone who has given as much as he's taken from the White House Press Corps. Well now, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is looking at life beyond the podium. We'll look at what he'll do next and who will take his place.

A shocking story of abuse at the hands of some Pennsylvania foster parents accused of trying to keep children quiet with methods that anyone would consider cruel and unusual. Jamie Colby is on that tonight.

We'll also have some of my talk with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on one great love of her remarkable life, the law.

And we'll talk about the scandal of presidencies past with former Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal. His new book is called "The Clinton Wars."

A very full night ahead of us. We're going to start off with the suicide bombings in Israel, five since Saturday, four since the Palestinian and the Israeli prime ministers sat down together, each one undermining trust, each one making the peace effort that much more difficult, and none making President Bush's job any easier.

We have a number of reports tonight starting in Israel with CNN's Kelly Wallace.


WALLACE (voice-over): It was just about 5:30, a busy time at the Afula Mall in northern Israel when the suicide bomber struck. The 19- year-old woman from a West Bank town just 15 miles away, according to Israel and Palestinian sources, tried to get inside but when she could not get past a security guard she blew herself up at the entrance.

This man, an owner of a restaurant inside the mall arrived just a few minutes before the blast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To come and do things like this, to see the man in the eyes before you blow it up and you take him with you. I saw pieces of legs here. In my car this is the paper that was in the car. There was blood on it. WALLACE: The explosion was so powerful it blew the shopping mall entrance apart. Israeli emergency workers and volunteers them combed through the shattered glass and faced the grim task of looking for body parts, an all too familiar ritual after more than 90 suicide bombings in two and a half years.

It was the fifth suicide attack in just 48 hours. Two radical Palestinian groups, Islamic Jihad and the Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, claimed responsibility. Another group, Hamas, claimed responsibility for the four other bombings including the most deadly one, a Sunday bus bombing in a Jerusalem neighborhood which took the lives of six Israelis and one Palestinian.

Israeli officials call it the tip of a tidal wave of terror attacks charging the attackers are declaring war on the new government of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Aides to Prime Minister Sharon say they need to see action and now from Abbas to crack down on these Palestinian groups, but Palestinians say they need to see Israel accept and implement the so-called road map for Middle East Peace so Abbas will have some leverage to convince radical Palestinian groups to disarm.

Back in Afula, despite what he saw this night, this 24-year-old manager of the restaurant inside the mall said he's still hopeful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no other way. Everybody knows. It's the hard way but it's the only way.


WALLACE: And you can see some candles here at the site. All the debris has been cleared away. This is part of another Israeli ritual, trying to get back to normal as quickly as possible. But with the radical groups vowing more attacks, the question many Israelis are asking is when will there be another one? And the question many Israelis and Palestinians are asking, what impact will these bombings have on a road map that is already facing many roadblocks along the way -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Kelly Wallace reporting for us tonight live from Israel. And, in terms of how long do we wait, it may not be long when you consider how many suicide attacks there have been just in the last two days.

Well on now to the White House where presidents going back to Harry Truman have ridden the highs and lows of Middle East peacemaking. With the war in Iraq largely over, this president has said a peace settlement is his next foreign policy priority and today despite a weekend of lows he said he was sticking with it.

Here again, CNN's Chris Burns.


BURNS (voice-over): Another terrorist bombing puts yet another deadly pothole in President Bush's road map to peace. The president passionately asserts he remains undeterred as he hosts an ally in his war on terror, Philippine President Arroyo.

BUSH: No, the road map still stands. The vision of two states existing side-by-side in peace is a real vision and one that I will work toward but we got a lot of work to do to convince all of us who care about peace to step up and fight off terror, to cut off the money and to find these people and bring them to justice.

BURNS: An obvious challenge to the new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to try to quell the militants before Mr. Bush invites him to the White House.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon postponed his Tuesday White House visit as a result of the latest attacks. Observers say Mr. Bush has to try to break a vicious cycle.

GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER MIDDLE EAST ENVOY: It's a chicken and egg situation, of course. The Palestinians can't crack down on violence until they know that something's going to follow that and the Israelis can't take any steps until they know that there's going to be a crackdown on violence and it's going to be up to the U.S. to work them through that.

BURNS: Amid a wave of bombings, Mr. Bush's initial message is to battle the militants but also to keep one's eye on the horizon.

BUSH: We're still on the road to peace. It's just going to be a bumpy road.


BURNS: That's a road that may go in circles unless President Bush can persuade both sides to engage in confidence building measures, the Palestinians to reign in the militants, and the Israelis to ease the plight of the Palestinians.

A senior administration official tells us this evening that while the U.S. backs the Israeli fight against terror that the messages being given to the Israeli government are also that they should be very careful about the consequences of their actions -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Chris, what are you hearing there at the White House about how determined they are to be even-handed in all of this, to be just as tough, if you will, with the Israelis as they are with the Palestinians, particularly when we know much of the president's conservative Christian base is pressuring the White House not to be tough on the Israelis?

BURNS: And, absolutely very much with the elections coming up in the coming months that's going to be an issue, this window of opportunity. When you talk to some diplomats here in Washington they're very concerned that unless headway is made very quickly there is concern that perhaps that road map is going to lose steam real fast.

Now, the White House saying, at least among senior administration officials that they do want to look even-handed. They do intend to at least note to the Israelis that they have to be very careful about the way that they fight terrorism.

However, as we see the public message by the government, by President Bush today is to put the onus and the challenge on Prime Minister Abbas to produce some kind of results so that they can move ahead with some kind of confidence building measures -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Chris Burns reporting tonight for us from the White House, thanks Chris.

With us now in New York is Stephen Cohen. Dr. Cohen is a national scholar at the Israel Policy Forum. He's also president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development. Welcome to NEWSNIGHT. Stephen Cohen, five bombings in 48 hours. One official today quoted as saying this road map is all but dead, is it?

STEPHEN COHEN, ISRAEL POLICY FORUM: No, it is not at all dead. No one could have designed this road map thinking that because there was a road map there was going to be no terrorism. Everybody knew that in fact the moment that you started to get a process going there would be people who would try to destroy it, and I think that the president showed the right attitude today when he came out there and he was positive and upbeat and still ready to go. This road map is still on the road.

WOODRUFF: We heard the prime minister, the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas today condemning the bombing but we're also hearing the White House saying the Palestinians once again have got to crack down on these terrorist groups. Is the White House again asking more than the Palestinians can deliver?

COHEN: I think that what the president is implying is not an expectation of some dramatic change in the situation among the Palestinians, but rather that they show seriousness in going after the people who did what happened in the last several days.

They want to show that Abu Mazen is different in the way that he goes after specific terrorist actions than the way that Arafat did. They want to see a serious attempt to arrest these people, to go after them, not a situation of a revolving door, not a situation of paying lip service to trying to capture them, but a real attempt. That's what he wants to see.

WOODRUFF: Well, how is -- what's going to be different though, Stephen Cohen? I mean what is it that Mr. Abbas can do that Yasser Arafat couldn't do?

COHEN: At the moment the most that he can do is to show a different kind of interest in solving the problem. He is not going to be able to produce any rabbits from the hat. This road map is a very carefully constructed document. The key to this road map is that everybody goes first. There is nobody waiting for somebody else. There's nobody who has the right to go second.

The president wants that his meeting with Prime Minister Sharon should be able to have the same intensity that he intended for it before this terrorist action happened. In order to do that he needs to show that Abu Mazen is a different character.

The president has been building ever since his June 24 speech on the notion that this is going to be the first example of what he means by Arab political reform and Arab political change and it's terribly important to the president to show that now because it's not happening yet.

WOODRUFF: But how does he do that? My question is how does he do that? He's in Washington. Mr. Abbas is over there. We're talking about the same person. You're using his other name, Abu Mazen.

COHEN: Abu Mazen. OK, the point is Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen, as I said is not going to be able to do any miracles. What he's going to be able to do is what he's done ever since he started which is that he speaks differently. His inaugural speech, his speeches since then are direct, are very clearly declaring his opposition to this terrorism, which is genuine, which is not two-faced.

That's what he can do right now. He is organizing his people. He can come to Washington with a plan but if this plan is going to happen it's going to be a plan that's going to work not because he's able to carry it out alone now but because the president is going to be serious about giving him the tools to be able to do it.

WOODRUFF: But you're saying the road map lives even though the terrorism will continue?

COHEN: The terrorism has got to be shown to be attacked by Abu Mazen. It's not an expectation that he's going to get rid of it before the road map goes into operation because what he has to do, the president is not only here presenting demands on others, the biggest thing to understand about this road map is that the demands are not only on Israelis and Palestinians. The demands are on the United States as well.

The United States knows that Abu Mazen has been stripped of all of the capabilities of undermining terrorism by what's happened over the last two and a half years. He is inheriting a very weak security structure. He...

WOODRUFF: We hear you. We're going to have to leave it there but we hear you. You're saying eyes are very much on the United States as well as on the parties involved in the region.

COHEN: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Dr. Stephen Cohen, thank you for talking with us tonight. We appreciate it.

COHEN: Thank you very much, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

And ahead on NEWSNIGHT, the latest on two recent terror bombings possibly the work of al Qaeda.

Then, questions of whether the Iranians are protecting members of al Qaeda.

And, an update on members of an alleged terror ring based in upstate New York.



WOODRUFF: In light of the recent bombings in Morocco and Saudi Arabia, homeland security officials in the U.S. are talking about raising this nation's threat level from yellow or elevated to orange or high. No decision yet. The debate goes on but sources say there is great concern about the threat of more attacks.

Tonight, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States agreed. Prince Bandar bin Sultan says that Saudi intelligence has picked up a high level of electronic chatter in the region indicating another plan being hatched. "My gut feeling" he said "is that something big is going to happen in Saudi Arabia or the United States."

For the latest now on the attacks Friday in Morocco where some of the citizens can't fathom that Moroccans would do this to other Moroccans. One headline in a local paper was this: "Carnage, signed by bin Laden."

But a clear al Qaeda link has not been established yet. What has been established is that most of the prime suspects are indeed Moroccans who come from a neighborhood that is poor in almost every respect except one. It is rich in extremism.

The story from CNN's Jim Bittermann in the suburbs of Casablanca.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In this shanty town on the eastern edge of Casablanca, suspicion. This is Sidi Mohmen, a place of desperate poverty where sewage runs openly in the streets, where few have jobs and fewer still have hopes of escape.

This is also where officials have known for some time that extremism is on the rise. Said a local police officer: "We have piles and piles of files on the extremists of Sidi Mohmen. We just could not believe any of them capable of the attacks on Friday night."

At least one was. Somewhere along these narrow and winding passageways lived one of the two suicide bombers who survived. Investigators won't say where but reportedly they have been to his house and found more explosives.

(on camera): Since Friday night, the people of Sidi Mohmen have seen the police sweep through here several times making arrests, holding some and releasing others but always but always with the apparent belief that if Moroccan extremists were behind the planning of Friday night's attacks they may have originated here.

(voice-over): The locals will tell you four or five different extremist groups are active in Sidi Mohmen and their followers are growing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot. There are a lot and day after day they come lots than yesterday.

BITTERMANN: At the local mosque, Imam Labil Larbi (ph) says like most around here that real Muslims would never kill other Muslims like the terrorists did Friday night, but he also says parents around Sidi Mohmen worry about the influence extremist groups are having on their children.

"All parents want a better life for their children" he observed, "but some children don't get along anymore with their parents, don't listen to their parents and the parents have no authority anymore."

Perhaps its understandable when you see what home life is like around here. Fattima Mubarak (ph) lives with 11 other family members in two tiny and miserable rooms. "We would love for God and the police to catch those responsible for the attacks" she tells a visitor.

And neighbor Mohammed Tarbi explains the reason why. "The whole neighborhood is now suspected of involvement with the crimes" he says. "Every time we go out looking for a job or for an official paper, we will be suspected as terrorists."

Three days after the attacks, the Moroccan king went to visit those injured in Friday's bombings and the Moroccan interior minister went on television to say links between them and international terrorism are now confirmed.

But the investigators haven't changed the original story. The 14 suicide bombers themselves were all Moroccan, extremists who grew up in Sidi Mohmen and elsewhere around the country where sometimes the hopelessness nurtures terrorists.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, in the suburbs of Casablanca.


WOODRUFF: Well, this is going to sound obvious but there are aspects of the war on terrorism that make it terribly hard to fight, chief among them the ease with which a terrorist can pull up roots in one country and set up operations in another. Even with Iraq and Afghanistan now off limits, that still leaves an awful lot of places to go.

The question tonight is one of those places now Iran? Again, here's CNN's David Ensor.


ENSOR (voice-over): There is evidence a half dozen or more senior al Qaeda leaders are in Iran, say U.S. officials, including Saif al-Adel, a top security expert for al Qaeda, Abu Ghaith, the group's one-time spokesman, and Saad bin Laden, son of the al Qaeda leader. With some U.S. officials now saying al-Adel may have played a role in last week's attacks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the administration is keeping the pressure up on Tehran.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We will continue to make sure that the Iranians receive the message about how seriously the president takes this.

ENSOR: Presidential Envoy Zalmay Khahlilzad himself a Farsi speaker, has held several meetings with Iranian officials already this year and more are planned to discuss issues in the two countries bordering Iran where U.S. forces are now present, Afghanistan and Iraq, likely high on the agenda, chasing al Qaeda.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We know there are senior al Qaeda in Iran for example, presumably not an ungoverned area.

ENSOR: Iran's influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani Monday called baseless U.S. charges Iran was sheltering members of al Qaeda but some experts say there are some extreme clerical factions in Iran that could decide to host al Qaeda terrorists in secret.

GARY SICK, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: The reality is that there are people in Iran, small factions who in fact are not fully under control of the government. They operate on their own. They have their own financing. They have their own foreign policy, and those groups are very, very well connected to the upper levels of the Iranian leadership and, as a result, they can literally get away with murder.


ENSOR: A senior administration official told CNN the U.S. holds Iran's government responsible for anything that happens on Iranian territory. They have said they want nothing to do with terrorism, the official said, and they need to prove it -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: David, what about this other story we're talking about tonight that the Saudi ambassador to the United States himself is out there talking about chatter, the fact that he's concerned that another attack may be planned in either Saudi Arabia or the U.S.?

ENSOR: Judy, he's not the only one. I've talked to a number of senior U.S. officials, intelligence officials and others who say that they fear based on the intelligence they're hearing, the chatter that they're hearing among evildoers or would-be evildoers, that there is terrorism in the offing, certainly overseas. They don't rule it out for here as well. There was a notice from the FBI that went out to local law enforcement to that effect just late last week.

WOODRUFF: And we assume it's on this basis that homeland security people thinking maybe of raising the alert level of terror?

ENSOR: There are some people in law enforcement, some people in the FBI who think it should go up to orange but the decision -- there's been on proposal to the president yet made on that and no proposal to Secretary Ridge, not yet.

WOODRUFF: OK. David Ensor reporting on Iran and on terror concerns elsewhere, thanks very much David.

Well, today in New York the last of the so-called Lackawanna Six pleaded guilty to supporting al Qaeda. He was the captain of his high school soccer team. Another defendant was voted friendliest in his graduating class. All are U.S. citizens and whether they were al Qaeda recruits or pawns or something else, their case is stirring great controversy in legal circles and especially in Lackawanna, New York.

Here's CNN's Susan Candiotti.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The youngest of the recruits became the last of the recruits to admit guilt. Wearing a sweater emblazoned with the American flag, 23-year-old Muktar al-Bakri in federal court admitting he was part of a group of six Yemeni-Americans who went all the way from a Buffalo suburb to get training at one of Osama bin Laden's terrorist camps in Afghanistan a few months before the September 11 attacks.

WILLIAM HOCHUL, ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Very early on there were some statements made by some that this crime consisted of just attending a camp and then leaving.

CANDIOTTI: During al-Bakri's plea deal, he admitted meeting bin Laden who told him to write a letter to his parents who didn't know where al-Bakri was and that he was shown a map of U.S. military installations in the Mid East.

The case broke days after the anniversary of 9/11, the country already bracing for another possible wave of terror. In a dying steel town of Lackawanna, New York, stunning charges that a gas station owner, a youth counselor, and a delivery man, among others, learned how to use guns and explosives at an al Qaeda camp.

MICHAEL BATTLE, U.S. ATTORNEY: These individuals by giving of themselves provided the best support that any organization could have, their minds, their bodies, their thoughts and their beliefs.

CANDIOTTI: The U.S. Attorney stopped short of calling the group a sleeper cell lying in wait for instructions. Their training did them in.

PETER AHEARN, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Do I believe that these people had direct ties and relationships with card-carrying members of al Qaeda? Yes, they did and I think we have proven that.

CANDIOTTI: Yet, defense attorneys insist the recruiters misled the men.

RODNEY PERSONIUS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It was his understanding that it had to do with jihad training and he was told that if you got this kind of training that it would look good in the eyes of Allah.

JOE LATONA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This was no sleeper cell.

CANDIOTTI: What was it?

LATONA: It was a group of individuals I think who made a horrible mistake, the biggest mistake in their lives.

CANDIOTTI: All admitted hearing talk about pending attacks on the U.S., suicide missions, though each man insists he never intended harm. None told authorities before or after September 11 about what they learned.

JOHN MOLLOY, AL-BAKRI'S ATTORNEY: He is very scared, very, very, very scared after 9/11.


CANDIOTTI: And now the government reveals it is looking for as many as a dozen more suspects linked to this case. Those people would include recruiters, financiers, and other trainees not only in the Buffalo, New York area, but other U.S. cities and possibly overseas. And, Judy, sources tell us we may be learning more about that in the coming weeks.

WOODRUFF: And, Susan, you got to my question which was are these other people in the Buffalo area, but as you say it could be elsewhere in the country and maybe overseas.

CANDIOTTI: That's true and all of these people admit that they made a horrible mistake connected to this case and for it they may very well be paying the price because they stand -- they face sentences of up to seven to ten years in prison.

WOODRUFF: All right, Susan Candiotti reporting for us tonight from New York. Thank you Susan.

Coming up on NEWSNIGHT, a changing of the guard as White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer says he's leaving. We'll talk with David Gergen about that.


WOODRUFF: A few stories from around the nation tonight, beginning with a visit to the White House by the president of the Philippines. President Bush called President Gloria Arroyo a strong ally and friend in the war against terrorism. Last year, the U.S. offered a $5 million reward for the capture of leaders of the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf. About 1,000 U.S. special forces have been training the Philippine military in their longstanding fight against the group.

There was an incident over the weekend involving the man described as a person of interest in the anthrax investigation. Steven Hatfill got a bruised foot and a ticket after an exchange with an FBI employee in a car who apparently had Hatfill under surveillance. Hatfill tried to take a picture of the employee, who then drove off, running over Hatfill's foot. But it was Hatfill who got a ticket, charging him with walking to create a hazard.

And the woman who said that she had a relationship with Scott Peterson said today that she is prepared to testify at his trial on charges that he killed his wife, Laci, and their unborn son. Amber Frey also said that she had hired celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred to represent her as a witness and to deal with the massive media interests.

A number of other stories to tell you about now, these from around the world, starting tonight in Iraq: A Marine Corps helicopter went down today south of Baghdad, near the city of Karbala. The CH-46 Sea Knight crashed into a canal, killing four Marines. A fifth service member apparently drowned while trying to pull the crew to safety. Officials are looking into what caused the crash. For now, it appears to have been an accident.

Factional fighting broke out today in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp. At least seven people have been killed, two dozen wounded in a battle which pitted Islamic radicals against soldiers from Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

And the search goes on in Sri Lanka for survivors of the flooding and landslides there. But more rain is on the way. Upwards of 200 people have died so far. That number is expected to rise significantly. About 150,000 people are homeless tonight. And making things worse, floodwaters washed away thousands of acres of farmland and tons of newly harvested crops.

Still to come on NEWSNIGHT: What is next for the White House spokesman? The future for Ari Fleischer, after holding one of the toughest jobs in Washington -- we'll talk with a veteran of several presidencies, David Gergen.


WOODRUFF: And when NEWSNIGHT continues: The president's spokesman decides to step away from the podium. We'll talk about Ari Fleischer with David Gergen.


WOODRUFF: Somebody -- we're not sure who -- once had this to say about being a White House press secretary: "There's no victory in the job, only varying shades of not losing. The real victory comes in facing it with a smile and walking away before the wear and tear starts to show."

Well, today, Ari Fleischer announced that he is walking away -- the story from CNN senior White House correspondent John King.


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He envisions August by the ocean in Nantucket, not land-locked at the steamy Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm very much looking forward to relaxing.

KING: It will be 30 months as White House press secretary when Ari Fleischer steps down in July. No shortage of big days.

FLEISCHER: September 11, one war, anthrax attacks, another war.

KING: There were playful snowball fights with reporters, and for the most part good relations. But Fleischer's tenure has not been without controversy. He once blamed Middle East violence on the Clinton administration, saying the former president had overreached, in Fleischer's words tried to, quote, "shoot the moon" with last minute peace negotiations.

Last fall he answered a question about the cost of war in Iraq by suggesting someone assassinate Saddam Hussein.

FLEISCHER: The cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people take it on themselves, is substantially less than that.

KING: And Fleischer said this just last week in the wake of the Riyadh terrorist bombings.

FLEISCHER: We continue to be pleased with the cooperation we've had from Saudi Arabia in the ongoing war against terrorism.

KING: Yet the credibility of that statement came into question hours later when it was learned Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley made a secret trip to Saudi Arabia just before the bombing to appeal for more Saudi help. He was a New Yorker in a world dominated by Texans, but Mr. Bush came to like him, to the point of once protecting him from the elements.

KING (on camera): Fleischer said he is thinking about leaving for months and had to make a decision now or commit to stay with the president though his reelection campaign. After 21 years, mostly in government and politics, he says's it's time to relax, spend more time with his wife and make some money.

John King, CNN, the White House.


WOODRUFF: We're sitting here discussing whether we spelled arrivederci right. Maybe we can figure that out. If you know, let us now.

Well, we turn now to David Gergen, who could probably tell Ari Fleischer a thing or two about life after the White House.

And maybe you already have, David.

David has been a staffer and adviser to presidents dating back to the Nixon administration. Right now, he is Professor Gergen at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

David, welcome back.

What grade would you give Ari Fleischer?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Oh, I think, Judy, the real question is, for a press secretary, you serve two masters.

You serve, first and foremost, the president of the United States. And you do what he wants you to do in the way he wants you to do it. And, in that regard, I think Ari Fleischer deserves a straight A. He has been exactly what George W. Bush wanted in that job: disciplined. He stuck to the script. He always defended the president. There were no leaks of any second thoughts coming out of Ari Fleischer. He was a very loyal, disciplined and often imaginative press secretary.

And you have to be imaginative in that job, as you know, because, sometimes, you sort of have to make up the answers on the fly, but always loyal to the president. When it comes to how well he served the country, I think that there perhaps will be other judgments, because the press secretary, in some ways, wears a second hat. And that is, he's the representative from the press corps to the president.

And, in that regard, the press corps is always, of course, interested in more openness, accountability. But they want to know the inside scoop. In that sense, this president -- this White House has been extraordinarily closed, by the standards of the past. People don't know the inside thinking, what accounted for the way they reached certain decisions and, indeed, what they're thinking about with regard to the future. And I'm sure the press corps has been frustrated with him in that sense.

But he's leaving now. He's going to leave with a lot of thanks from people, especially from the president.

WOODRUFF: Especially from the president.

Let me quote something that Tom Rosenstiel from the Project for Excellence in Journalism said about Ari Fleischer. He said he was "lacking in candor" and "antagonistic toward the press." Is that what you're referring to when you said judgment still to come on how well he served the country?

GERGEN: It is, essentially. And I think that Tom Rosenstiel is the leading edge of that kind of criticism. There have been others who have been writing about the closed quality of the White House and, in effect, seeing Ari Fleischer as -- they're blaming -- he becomes a scapegoat in that sense.

But, listen, I don't think Ari Fleischer is responsible for the overall policies of openness. I think those very much come from the Oval Office and from a close-in circle around the president. And I think Ari Fleischer did what this president wanted. And I think that's the first judgment that's made about a press secretary. And, as I say, on that score, I think he was loyal, I think he served this president the way this president wanted.

I understand why he's sort of burning out now. I think the issue that Tom Rosenstiel has with Ari is really an issue he has with the president and with the White House. And all of us who are on the outside do believe -- and I'm certainly one of them who believe that the country would be better served by more openness on the part of this White House.

WOODRUFF: Can any press secretary be truthful? And isn't there always an inherent conflict between the truth and toeing the party line of whatever administration a press secretary


GERGEN: I do believe it is possible for a press secretary to be truthful. I think that, obviously, you become an advocate for a point of view.

I'm not aware of any time that Ari Fleischer has lied to the press. And there have been times in the past when press secretaries have lied. There have certainly been times when they have put excessive spin on it. And one of the things about this White House, even though it is closed, I don't think it engages in excessive spin of the kind we've seen in recent years. And that has been a plus for them.

And I think the real issue is, do we know, understand, as citizens enough about the world that we're facing to be able to make realistic judgments whether we're going to support or not support the policies of the administration?

WOODRUFF: Easy or hard for Ari Fleischer to get a job?

GERGEN: He'll be very much in demand, especially because...

WOODRUFF: In big demand?

GERGEN: In big demand. He's going to be in demand on the lecture circuit. He's going to be in big demand in universities to come and teach. In fact, there were two different groups who called me today and said, would you please call Ari Fleischer?

And, Ari, if you're listening, I need to talk to you.


WOODRUFF: Spoken like a former White House communications director.


WOODRUFF: David Gergen, it's always great to talk to you.

GERGEN: Thanks, Judy. OK.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much. GERGEN: Take care. Bye.

WOODRUFF: You, too.

And you'll be able to hear from Ari Fleischer himself here on CNN. He's going to be joining Bill Hemmer tomorrow morning on "AMERICAN MORNING" right here at 7:15 Eastern time. And I'll have a crack at him on "INSIDE POLITICS." That's tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.

Well, as NEWSNIGHT continues tonight: the Clinton wars. We're going to talk with former Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal about his new book.


WOODRUFF: Remember the days of the little blue dress, the vast right-wing conspiracy, the scandals, the gossip, the wild accusations, and equally wild counteraccusations? Well, that was back before we talked about White House morning prayer sessions, parties that end at 8:00 p.m., back before there was a war in Iraq or a war on terror. It was a war, but a different kind: a fight for political survival, for posterity, from the inside of the Clinton administration.

Tonight, we have with us a man who was on the front lines of that war and who has written a book about his experience, it seems almost every minute of it.

Sidney Blumenthal, welcome to NEWSNIGHT -- 800 pages. Someone said to me, this book is almost a counterattack, if it is anything at all. Is this administration, the Clinton administration, an administration that needed defending?

SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think that my book, presented from the inside of the Clinton White House, presents the other side.

It presents a unique, factual, accurate point of view of what really happened inside the Clinton White House and how we dealt with all of the crises that surrounded the president. President Clinton, if you put it in perspective, was in the line of great progressive presidents who met with adamant opposition because this opposition wanted to overturn the progressive agenda they were pushing to move the country forward. And that's what my book is really about.

WOODRUFF: Why did Bill Clinton -- help us understand why he had the relationship he did with Monica Lewinsky.

BLUMENTHAL: I wasn't there at all and I don't know anything -- I came in, in the second term. I don't know why he did that.

I'll tell you that I was certainly dismayed, and I told him so. I said that he had -- this foolishness had really given ammunition to our enemies. But I'll tell you something. When it came to a foolish private relationship, as against the attack of an extreme, partisan, out-of-control, reckless prosecutor, combined with an extreme Republican partisan Congress in an impeachment trial that was unconstitutional, trying to overturn the presidency and stop this progressive agenda, to me, that was an easy choice of where I should stand and fight.

WOODRUFF: You report, very quickly, Sidney Blumenthal, about Monica Lewinsky trying to get messages to the White House after she was subpoenaed by Ken Starr. How did those messages get to the White House, just quickly?

BLUMENTHAL: In the period before Monica Lewinsky testified, she was sending secret messages to the White House about how much she hated Ken Starr and how much she was trying to resist him.

She sent them through her publicity agent through a member of the White House staff that went to me and then went to the president's private attorney. And that was the dead letter office. The president never knew about it, never saw it. Nothing ever happened.

WOODRUFF: His lawyer saw it, though.

You also write about how the president, during the campaign of 2000, wished that he could, in so many words, have at the George Bush -- George W. Bush campaign. At one point, you quoted -- you said, because he would have -- quote -- "run their asses down." What would Bill Clinton have done differently than Al Gore did, do you think?

BLUMENTHAL: Inside the White House, I talked to the president often about what he would have done during the 2000 campaign. And his biggest point was that we needed to sharpen the differences and explain exactly what the differences were in the programs and public policy for the American people.

WOODRUFF: And you don't think that was done?

BLUMENTHAL: I think it was done sometimes.

I think that Al Gore sometimes ran on the great public record of President Clinton that was the greatest prosperity in our country's history, 22 million new jobs. We had virtual full employment, which -- we've lost three million jobs right now. And Al Gore sometimes ran on that. And the president felt that Al Gore really needed to sharpen those differences and explain them, instead of trying to close them in the effort simply to be likable.

And I think you have to remember, though, in the end, that Gore won the majority of the popular vote and was, in fact, elected.

WOODRUFF: Well, he won the popular vote. We know that. He was -- he didn't make it to the White House.

BLUMENTHAL: No, he didn't, unfortunately.


WOODRUFF: Sidney Blumenthal, who worked in the Clinton administration in the second term. The book is "The Clinton Wars." And we thank you for being with us tonight.

BLUMENTHAL: Oh, thank you very much, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you. We appreciate it.

BLUMENTHAL: Nice to see you.

WOODRUFF: Ahead on NEWSNIGHT: another case of foster care failure, as a foster family in Pennsylvania is accused of using duct tape to control the children in their care.


WOODRUFF: We could probably fill an hour or more with terrible stories of child welfare over the past few years: Rilya Wilson, the little girl lost in Florida; Faheem Williams, the little boy who starved to death in New Jersey.

Tonight, a terrible tale from Pennsylvania of a family accused of using a technique of discipline on their foster kids that everyone else would call abuse.

A caution to viewers: This report by CNN's Jamie Colby has photographs that some might find disturbing.


JAMIE COLBY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colleen Broe wept as she left court after hearing three of her biological sons tell a judge she and her husband repeatedly used duct tape to restrain their two foster children, ages 1 and 2.

QUESTION: Any message for your boys?


QUESTION: You love your children?

BROE: Very much.

COLBY: Colleen and Neil Broe have been charged with conspiracy and three counts each of child endangerment and false imprisonment. Both deny the charges.

ANDREW SCHNEIDER, ATTORNEY FOR COLLEEN BROE: I think she's an excellent mother. And this was only round one. And from a legal point of view, I'm satisfied.

COLBY: These photos taken by Neil Broe and presented in court show the children wrapped in tape. When authorities became aware of the photos, all the children were removed from the home April 15.

DET. DAN BARANOSKI, MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP POLICE: Some of the children still had some gray duct tape on their bellies. And there were some red marks where tape had been pulled off them, the spot on the head from the hair loss.

COLBY: Caseworkers knew the couple had used tape to reinforce diaper tabs, but were unaware of the extent of it. The couple biological 5-year-old son testified that he was taped, too, at least once across the mouth, he explained, so he'd keep quiet.

MICHELLE HENRY, CHIEF DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It's a shame that these children had to go through the emotional trauma that they had to go through today. And I would just say that this torture continues with these children that they were required to testify against their mother.

COLBY: One of the foster children was placed in the Broe home a year ago, the other a year and a half. The home had passed inspection repeatedly, including just four days before the children were removed.

DANEL WILLIAMS, CASEWORKER: I was there that evening. And the kids did have an pajamas, but there was no tape on the pajamas at that time.

COLBY: The Bucks County Division of Youth and Children quickly learned from this mistake. Within weeks of Colleen and Neil Broe's arrest, it revamped the procedure for approving foster parents. It's now doing more extensive criminal and background checks, checks that would have uncovered, in this couple, financial difficulties, domestic troubles, even an order of protection against Neil Broe.


COLBY (voice-over): Robert Cosner began as a Bucks County caseworker 30 years ago. He says his agency already exceeded Pennsylvania standards, but he admits the Broe case is a wakeup call.

COSNER: Whether it occurred once or whether it occurred many times, I'm embarrassed that it occurred at all. And the only thing that I could do would be to make immediate steps.

COLBY: Steps that Cosner is determined will help prevent the abuse of foster children.

Jamie Colby, CNN, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.


WOODRUFF: Joining us now: the man you just heard from in Jamie's piece. He is Robert Cosner. He is the executive director for the Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Youth and Children Services. He is with us from Philadelphia.

Mr. Cosner, how could something like this happen? We heard there were caseworkers in the home just four days before these children were removed.

COSNER: Well, that's the disturbing part, to us. This is certainly an organization that spent a great deal of time with all of our foster families. But in this case, a significant amount of time within that home, completely unaware that this sort of alleged behavior was taking place.

For us, the issue really is one where, how could we have also missed the apparent problems that must have been associated in this home with a pending divorce, with a bankruptcy and a tax foreclosure?


COSNER: For us, that's very important.

WOODRUFF: Aren't these foster parents screened carefully? I mean, you are entrusting to their care and safekeeping these very vulnerable children. I would assume there'd be an exhaustive screening process. But that didn't happen here?

COSNER: Well, in fact, we do a fairly -- or had done a fairly exhaustive -- what we thought was a fairly exhaustive screening process. It seems apparent to us, and there's certainly no excuse for this, it seems apparent to us that we needed to do a great deal more.

More importantly, I guess, we have come to the realization that you cannot trust what people tell you any longer, and that you need to verify information using a variety of available information sources...


COSNER: ... that can help us.

WOODRUFF: With all due respect, Mr. Cosner, that's pretty obvious, isn't it, that you need to back up whatever people tell you, you need to get references...


WOODRUFF: ... and so forth. You can't just trust what people put down on a piece of paper.

COSNER: You can, you can, and foster parenting is a process of trust. When a strange family takes a child or two children into their home to care for them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there's a certain inherent trust that has to be -- that has to exist between the organization and between that family.

We're not there 24/7. The fact that someone denies or lies to us, deliberately, is something new for us. And it's something new, I suspect, for many other agencies, public and private, throughout the United States.


COSNER: Deliberately to lie is something that we have not had a great deal of experience with.

WOODRUFF: Do you have safe homes for these children, the foster children they were taking care of, and the 5-year-old biological child who was there as well?

COSNER: Oh, sure. They're being cared for and are fine.

I'm sorry, go ahead.

WOODRUFF: I was just going to say, does this in any way -- what does this say to you about the need for higher national or state standards -- I guess national is the question -- to make sure that this kind of thing, it happened in Pennsylvania, but we know of these other stories all over the country, Florida, New York, and other places. Does there need to be a higher standard here across the board?

COSNER: We believe so. We have instituted immediate action to change not only our selection and recruitment protocols but also our evaluation, our ongoing evaluation procedures.

We are now delving into credit histories, domestic and domestic court records. We're even...

WOODRUFF: You mean for all your families.

COSNER: Absolutely. And we're even looking at motor vehicle registrations and driver license histories.

WOODRUFF: All right. We've been talking with Robert Cosner. He's the executive director for the Bucks County Youth and Children's Services. A very disturbing story. But Mr. Cosner, we thank you for coming into Philadelphia to talk to us about it.


WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Coming up in our next half hour, we're going to check the day's top stories. And then my exclusive interview with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Stay with us.



WOODRUFF: It is hard to overestimate the importance of a seat on the United States Supreme Court, and of course rare that a seat opens up. So Washington is all ears over speculation that as many as three seats -- and so far it is only speculation -- as many as three seats could open up in the next couple of months.

Well, while all that is out there, so to speak, we have the first part of a conversation about the court, its meaning, and one person's role in shaping it, with one of the justices herself, Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.


WOODRUFF: Justice O'Connor, thank you very much for letting us come and speak with you today about your new book. The title is, "The Majesty of the Law."


WOODRUFF: What is it about the law that has just so captivated you?

O'CONNOR: Oh, it's just because I've been so close to it for so long, and because I've seen what an important role it has played in shaping our society. Or maybe I should say in reflecting what our society has chosen to do. I don't think law often leads society. It really is a statement of society's beliefs, in a way.

And it very much reflects what the American people believe in, for the most part.

I chose the title from the frieze in Supreme Court courtroom that is above the heads of the justices as we sit on the bench. That's what it's called. So I thought maybe that would do.

WOODRUFF: What is it about our system that sets the American system apart from other countries?

O'CONNOR: We have a written Constitution. It contains now a Bill of Rights, individual rights, that are set out in such a way that it's designed to prevent the majority, acting through the legislative and executive branches, from taking away those individual liberties.

And if such an action is challenged in the courts, the courts have the power, and indeed the duty, to follow the provisions of the Constitution, and ensure that individual rights are protected, even against majority action.

I think the American people understand that fundamental concept and treasure it, and that's what's made it special in this country. I don't know about you, but when I travel around the world, I enjoy it, but I never have quite the same feeling of protections that I have in this country.

WOODRUFF: You write several chapters about the role of women in the legal system...


WOODRUFF: ... and women as judges and women in American life. Clearly that has to be of interest to you as the first woman named to the Supreme Court.

O'CONNOR: Well, it is, because it wasn't too many years before I was born that women in this country got the right to vote in the 1920s, for heavens' sakes. It's not that long ago. And things moved very slowly for women in terms of having an equal opportunity in the workplace and so on.

And in my lifetime, I have seen unbelievable changes in the opportunities for women. It's been so interesting to see. And I think that my participation in a number of interesting jobs was really the result of the changes in law and in public attitudes about the role of women as I happened along.

WOODRUFF: At one point in the book, and I think I have the quote here, you say, "There's simply no empirical evidence that gender differences lead to discernible differences in rendering judgments."

O'CONNOR: In results.

WOODRUFF: And yet, it's clear to you that it's important that we have women in the law and have women on the court.

O'CONNOR: Let me tell you one reason why I think it's important, and that is, for the public generally to see and respect the fact that in positions of power and authority that women are well represented, that it is not an all-male governance, as it once was. Citizens can have more confidence, I think, in seeing government that has representatives of both sexes and both -- of all races, a representative government in the real sense.

WOODRUFF: you're not saying it's just for the perception that it's important. It -- you're --

O'CONNOR: Well, I think that is a factor in making it important. The faith that people have in their government is shaped in part by the makeup of it. Who's there?

WOODRUFF: Is there anything different, though, that women bring to...


WOODRUFF: ... judging or to this court?

O'CONNOR: Yes. We all bring with us to the court, or to any task we undertake, our own lifetime of experiences and background. My perceptions might be different from some of my colleagues', but at the end of the day, we ought to all be able to agree on some sensible solution to the problem.

Maybe not unanimous, you understand, but some consensus will be reached on the issues we face. And it won't be gender dependent.

WOODRUFF: When you first came to the court, I've been urged by about 10 people to ask you this question, you set up this exercise and yoga class for the women who worked at the court, law clerks...

O'CONNOR: Well, initially it was just kind of an aerobics class. Yes, I did, because I had had an exercise class in Arizona for years that I attended every morning on my way to work. I'd go down about 7:00, do my exercise class, and then go to work.

And when I came back here, that was something I wanted to build into my life here. So I went to the YWCA and asked if they could find me an instructor who would be willing to come up here and start a class. So we did. We still have it going on, which is nice. This is the 23rd year.


WOODRUFF: Twenty-three years of exercise at the Supreme Court, did you know?

Well, part two of that conversation tomorrow night on NEWSNIGHT.

Still ahead, though, on this night's program, the fight over federal court nominees, which is one thing I'll be asking Justice O'Connor about in part two.

Tonight, though, we're going to talk with CNN analyst and "New Yorker" staff writer Jeff Toobin about the growing battle over who gets to be a federal judge.


WOODRUFF: Filling vacancies on federal courts has been one of the more contentious issues of President Bush's administration. Democratic senators have gone so far as to filibuster several of the president's nominees because they believe the courts are being stacked with extremely conservative judges.

With several Supreme Court justices rumored to be near retirement, the political fighting will no doubt get even nastier in the months and years ahead.

Our CNN legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, has written about all this in the latest issue of "The New Yorker" magazine. He joins us now in New York to talk about it.

Hello, Jeffrey.


WOODRUFF: So tell us, is the squabbling and the arguing and the fighting any worse under George W. Bush than it was under Clinton or anybody before him?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, I think it may be a little bit worse. But, you know, what's interesting about this battle is that it's really about something profound. It's not just about who gets on the court. There are really opposing ideas of what the United States Constitution stands for.

And it's really very out in the open now that the Republicans want a strict constructionist, they don't want the courts to create new rights. And the Democrats believe in an expansive Constitution.

And when you really come down to it, the way I saw it and what I wrote about in this piece, is I think abortion is really at the core of what these two sides are fighting about.

WOODRUFF: Are you saying that it boils down to that one -- of course, one, it's an enormous issue with enormous implications. But are you saying it truly boils down to that?

TOOBIN: You know, I risk oversimplification, but I really do. I mean, when you look at how the Democratic senators are questioning the Bush nominees, what they always come back to is, Do you believe that Roe v. Wade was correctly decided? Do you believe that the Constitution includes a right to privacy?

You know, a lot of the Bush judges have tried to skirt that. Have -- they've not really answered the question. They've said, Well, the Supreme Court says it, so I'll respect it. But what you see the Democrats doing is setting up these fights as we believe that the Constitution protects a right to choose. The Republicans don't.

And when it comes to the Supreme Court, as it well may this very year, they're just laying down a marker, saying, We are not going to vote for anyone who will not support a woman's right to choose.

WOODRUFF: But Jeffrey, what you're saying is, the Democrats are doing this out of a deep-seated belief, and not just for political reasons, that...

TOOBIN: Oh, I think it's a combination. I think they believe...


TOOBIN: ... it's good politics. I mean, they -- you know, the Democrats, I think, feel these days a lot of winning issues are on the Republican side. It's, you know, the military, national security are basically Republican issues. I think they feel that the right to choose, the public is more with them. So it's worth picking a fight.

Also, I think, there really is a substantive, honorable disagreement between the two sides. I think Orrin Hatch, for example, you know, who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is a steadfast believer that the Constitution does not protect a woman's right to choose abortion.

And that kind of clash over what the Constitution means is really what we're seeing in these fights, and what we'll see in the Supreme Court fights to come.

WOODRUFF: And didn't we see some of this, though, in the Clinton administration, with the -- with his nominees and the Republican reaction to them?

TOOBIN: We did, but interestingly, the Republicans didn't really pick a fight over abortion. They kept -- it was more of a procedural fight. They kept these nominations off the floor, and Clinton really didn't get that many choices.

What's interesting about these fights is that it's not about competence, because all of Bush's nominees are clearly competent, intelligent people. It's really about the substance of their views, and that's something that -- it's really a first time in a long time that the senators have really been fighting about that. WOODRUFF: Is this all, Jeffrey, a run-up to a proxy, at least in the interim, for the fights that we know are going to be coming over Supreme Court appointments?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. I think, you know, the -- these senators know that people out there in the real world don't care much or know much about who are on the federal courts of appeals. And these judges, Miguel Estrada, Priscilla Owen, these names are not familiar to most Americans.

But they all do know that the Supreme Court, whether it was a fight over Clarence Thomas or Robert Bork, these fights really do matter, and that's what everybody is laying down their, laying down their markers about here, whether the Bush nominees to the court, if there are any, answer the questions about whether they believe there's a right to choose, and what those answers are.

The -- it's going to have tremendous implications for, you know, the future of the country, and also about our politics.

WOODRUFF: Lots at stake. Jeffrey Toobin, good to see you.


WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.


WOODRUFF: Well, as NEWSNIGHT continues on a Monday, some words of wisdom for those of you who were too busy to make it to graduation.


WOODRUFF: Finally from us, advice for the class of 2003. It's high season for commencement speeches, and anyone who's been to a few graduations knows that only a handful rise above the cliches to really make us think or, better yet, laugh.

Here's a sample from that handful, some of this year's standouts.


BILL COSBY, ENTERTAINER, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA: Today is a day for you to cheer and throw the beach ball back and forth. But you've got to come outside of this stadium. This is not a protection area any more. You're out. You belong to us now.

And some of us are not going to tell you how wonderful you are when you aren't. Some of us are going to look you right in the face and say, Hey, look, get out of here, you're not my kid, go someplace else.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI: I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Wyoming. My undergraduate experience, though, began at a place called Yale. But I didn't finish. I dropped out after a few semesters. Well, actually "dropped out" isn't quite accurate.

Asked to leave would be more like it. Twice. The second time around they said, Don't come back.

And you too may face some disappointing turns of your own, times when you fall short, knowing you could have done better. And when that happens, don't let your doubts get the best of you. I've met some very successful people in my day, men and women of talent and character who have risen to the tops of their fields. And it's the rare one who hasn't had a taste of failure or a false start along the way.

GEORGE TENET, DIRECTOR, CIA, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: While we must work to make things what they can be, we must never lose sight of what they should be. These are not just career skills, they are life skills. These talents and the countless experiences that form them represented by the diplomas you received this afternoon were given to you by this great university.

Yet as your parents or your bank account may one day remind you, they are no ordinary gifts. Not only were they paid for, they were earned, first and foremost by you, the class of 2003.

LAURA BUSH, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Think about everything you've accomplished in the past four years. Before you leave today, stand on the hilltop, maybe one last time for some of you, and smile. Appreciate who you've become.

Nathaniel Hawthorne said, "Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly may alight upon you."


WOODRUFF: If we could all take those words of advice and keep them with us for our whole lives. All words of wisdom.

I'm Judy Woodruff. This is NEWSNIGHT. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you tomorrow.


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