CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Howard Dean; Will U.S. Catch Saddam Hussein?
Aired August 4, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Howard Dean, the man everybody is talking about -- on this week's "TIME" and "Newsweek" covers. Will he be the one to take on President Bush?
Then, later, is the United States any closer to finding Saddam Hussein and those weapons of mass destruction? We'll talk postwar Iraq with Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes"; "L.A. Times" chief diplomatic correspondent and Middle East expert Robin Wright; another Democratic presidential hopeful, Florida Senator Bob Graham, former chairman of Senate Select Intelligence Committee; and Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, the chairman of the Military Construction Subcommittee.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin with governor -- the former governor of Vermont Howard Dean. He's with us from Burlington, Vermont. If you saw the weeklies, they're out, he's on the front cover of "Newsweek," called "Howard Dean: Destiny or Disaster?". Front cover of "TIME", "The Dean Factor."
Governor, what do you make of all this?
HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's an exciting time in Burlington and around the rest of the country. I think it's basically time somebody stood up to this president and I'm glad our party is finally coming away.
KING: Why don't you -- why aren't you called doctor?
DEAN: Oh, some people do call me doctor. I am a doctor. I'm an internist. I practiced up until the day I became governor, almost 12 years ago.
KING: But the title you most often use is governor, right? I mean, you're not referred to as Dr. Dean?
DEAN: Some people do. I don't really care. You know, the old saying, I don't care what you call me as long as you call me on time for dinner. You know, truthfully most people call me Howard around here.
KING: Any cons to all this attention? There were pros, obviously. You forged ahead,. You're leading in some polls. Any downside to this? DEAN: Well, there's always a downside. I have a big target on my back from all the other campaigns on the Democratic side. But the good thing is it gives me a platform on how to talk about how to beat George Bush. And the only way to beat George Bush is to stand up to him.
I think in Washington the game for too long among the Democrats was let's try to be a little bit like him and that's not going to get us elected president and it's not going to get a Democratic president in the White House.
KING: Speaking of the others attacking you, yesterday, on Sunday, Senator Joe Lieberman, another candidate, compared you to George McGovern and described a party led by Dean as a ticket to no where. Today he spoke at the National Press Club. Here's what he had to say and we'll get your comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A candidate who was opposed to the war against Saddam, who has called for the repeal of all of the Bush tax cuts, which would result in an increase in taxes on the middle class, I believe will not offer the kind of leadership America needs to meet the challenges that we face today. And as I said in my prepared remarks, I believe that that kind of candidate could lead the Democratic Party into the political wilderness for a long time to come. Could be really a ticket to no where.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Your reaction?
DEAN: Well, obviously I don't agree.
I think the four candidates from Washington that voted for the war, Senator Lieberman, Senator Kerry, Senator Edwards and Representative Gephardt basically gave the president carte blanche in October to launch a preemptive strike and the evidence wasn't there.
Let's look at what the president said. He told us that he was buying -- that Iraq was buying uranium from Africa. That wasn't true. He told us -- or the vice president that Iraq was on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. That wasn't true. The president told us there was a clear link between al Qaeda and Iraq. That wasn't true. The secretary of defense told us he knew exactly where the weapons were, right around Tikrit and Baghdad. That wasn't true. So if I could figure that with my foreign policy team as a governor from Vermont, my question is why should we be led by people who couldn't figure that out and who voted to give the president unilateral authority to attack Iraq?
KING: Are you hurt, though, that a fellow Democrat taking you on like that?
DEAN: Listen, if that's the worst I get in this campaign, I'll be in good shape.
Look, these guys have worked hard. They want to be president. Any one of them would be better than the president they have now. But what our party really has to have is some backbone. We are not going to beat George Bush by voting for things like No Child Left Behind, which is a huge middle class tax increase, property tax increase. We're not going to beat him by doing as Senator Lieberman and others did, voting for some of the president's tax cuts because those tax cuts have really harmed our economy and taken jobs away from Americans; and we're not going to beat the president without casting a critical eye on the statements that he made leading up to the Iraq war, when so many of them have now turned out not to be so.
KING: You're not unhappy that Saddam Hussein is not in power though, are you?
DEAN: No, I think it's great that Saddam Hussein is not in power, but I would have approached it in a very different way. And I think the jury is still out in terms of how much danger to the United States this poses.
Now that we're there, we can't get out. We cannot afford to lose the peace. That's not an option. Now that we're there, we have to find a way to make sure that a chaotic situation doesn't develop or, worse, a fundamentalist regime with Iranian influence doesn't develop. And the first thing we really ought to be doing is bringing NATO and the United Nations in so we can send some of our reserves home.
KING: So if you were president tomorrow, that's what you would be doing?
DEAN: Yes, I would begin the process of going to the United Nations, getting a resolution to bring foreign troops in, preferably including some troops from Arabic-speaking nations and some Muslim troops so that we can make this truly an international occupation. I do believe it's a worthwhile goal to rebuild Iraq into a democracy. I think that's unlikely to happen with this president, given his track record in Afghanistan.
I support the president's invasion of Afghanistan because I thought that was an issue for national security of the United States. But I think what s happened since then has been a very bad harbinger of what the president may do in Iraq.
We're under -- we have probably a fifth of the number of troops that we need to have in Iraq -- excuse me, in Afghanistan. The president is making deals with the warlords, who are certainly not Democratic forces. i think things look bad in Afghanistan. We need the U.N. and NATO to come in and help us there. And the problem is the president has managed to alienate and humiliate all the very countries that we now need to help us maintain the peace both in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
KING: How do you react that so many conservative Republicans, some, many on the extreme right, want you to be the candidate? They think you would be the easiest one to beat. DEAN: Well, I welcome that challenge. You know, they all say, Well, he's so liberal. Well, if liberal is balancing budgets, please do call me a liberal. No Republican president has balanced a budget in 34 years in this country. If you want jobs and investment in this country, you're going to have to have a Democrat because the Republicans simply can't handle money.
KING: You actually think, though, out of nowhere, you could win this?
DEAN: I do. I really do.
This is an insurgency candidate, a candidacy. We are way ahead of where I ever thought we were going to be and I really do believe that most Democrats in this country want someone who is going to take on the president directly and is not afraid to do that and doesn't focus every position based on what the polls say and what his focus groups say.
Look, I don't check the polls before I take positions and it has gotten me in trouble before. I also don't always check carefully about when I say what I think. And that's gotten me in some trouble before. But what the American people are going to see, should I get the nomination, is a Democrat who is not afraid to be a Democrat again.
KING: We're going to take a break. When we come back, we'll get to some specific issues with Howard Dean, the Democratic presidential candidate, the former Democratic governor of Vermont. Again, he's on the front cover this week of "Newsweek" and "TIME." Major frontpage story in "The Washington Post" yesterday as well.
Right back with more with the former governor of Vermont right after this.
KING: Our guest is Governor Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont. He's also a medical physician. He has been a major scorer on the fund-raising campaign, I'll ask about that in a minute. But he's also been running a television commercial in Austin, Texas. And we want to show you a portion of it. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COMMERCIAL)
DEAN: I'm Howard Dean. I'm running for president, and I approved this message because I want to change George Bush's reckless foreign policy, stand up for affordable health care and create new jobs.
You know, when you think about it, in the past two and a half years we have lost over 2.5 million jobs. And has anybody really stood up against George Bush and his policies? Don't you think it's time somebody did?
Visit my Web site, join my campaign, because it's time to take our country back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Did you gear that so the president could see it while he's on vacation?
DEAN: We actually didn't do that, air it so the president could see it so he's on vacation. We have an enormous amount of support in Austin, and we think there's a reasonable chance that we can win the Texas primary. And you know, I think it's unlikely we're going to win Texas during the general elections, but we need to play hard in Texas.
One of the things that I thought was a mistake that the Democratic Party did was to lay down in some states, because what happens is we need to excite the base. My whole campaign, the difference between my campaign and all the other guys' from Washington campaign is I believe we need to go to the Democratic base first. We have forgotten who put us in office.
We need to get them energized, and then we need to bring new people into the process. You saw the Web site, DeanForAmerica.com. That Web site has generated over a quarter of a million people who are now supporting us. The fund-raising, you talked about the fund- raising, we raised more money than anybody else in any quarter. We did that because 93,000 people gave us money. Most have never given money to a political campaign, and the average gift was well under $100.
That's how you beat a president who can get as many $2,000 checks as he wants, is to bring three or four million new people into the process, give them a reason to vote, and then you can beat George Bush.
KING: Let's talk about other issues. The president said he wants to codify a law that secures the fact that there will be no gay marriage. Vermont has what, gay union?
DEAN: We have civil unions, which gives equal rights -- doesn't give marriage, but it gives equal rights in terms of insurance, employment rights, inheritance rights, hospital visitation, to every single Vermonter, no matter who they are.
You know, interestingly enough, Dick Cheney took a position in 2000 in the debates that is not very different than mine. He said, this is not a federal issue. I really am inclined to leave this matter to the states, and I think we ought to let states figure out how to give equal rights to everybody in the way that they do it. So I think this is kind of a political issue at the federal level, but the power to decide these things really belongs to the state level.
KING: All right. On your own state level, if it were a referendum, would you vote for gay marriage?
DEAN: If what were -- we don't have a referendum in my state, and we have civil unions, and we deliberate chose civil unions, because we didn't think marriage was necessary in order to give equal rights to all people.
Marriage is a religious institution, the way I see it. And we're not in the business of telling churches who they can and cannot marry. But in terms of civil rights and equal rights under the law for all Americans, that is the state's business, and that's why we started civil unions.
KING: So you would be opposed to a gay marriage?
DEAN: If other states want to do it, that's their business. We didn't choose to do that in our state.
KING: And you personally would oppose it?
DEAN: I don't know, I never thought about that very much, because we didn't do it in our state for that reason. The body politic agreed in our state that it wasn't the thing to do, so we didn't do it.
I'll tell you what I will do, though. If Massachusetts decides that they're going to do gay marriage, I believe there is a federal involvement, and the federal involvement is not to recognize marriage or civil unions but it is to recognize equal rights under the law. So that if a couple enters into a domestic partnership, or a gay marriage in Canada, or a civil union in Vermont, I think those couples are entitled to federal benefits.
KING: What do you think of the recall of Governor Gray Davis in California?
DEAN: I think that the recall of Gray is probably a mistake. I think that -- this is another attempt to overturn an election that was a legitimate election by the right wing. Darrell Issa, congressman from Southern California, very wealthy, very, very conservative, really paid for the recall effort himself, and I think it's better not to upset legal elections. We saw that -- something like that happening in the election in 2000. There were a lot of people who still don't think that was the right thing, and I myself -- I believe we don't really know who won that election. I think it was a shame the United States Supreme Court decided to stop the recount. And I don't think you want in the most populous state in the country another attempt at overthrowing a legal election by the conservative right.
KING: The latest issue of "U.S. News and World Report" says that the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, went to the campaigns of all of you and said that if it was mathematically clear that the party had a nominee, he wanted every loser to drop out, and that you refused. Is that true?
DEAN: Well, I am not aware that Terry McAuliffe -- Terry McAuliffe has certainly never had a conversation like that with me. I checked with my campaign, and I never heard of anybody he had that conversation with in my campaign, so I'm not aware that such a conversation ever took place.
I believe, however, that what I'm trying to do in addition to becoming the next president is to build this party back so that we aren't under the thumb of the Rush Limbaughs and the Tom DeLays of the world. I really think that in order to bring new people into the party that I've got to stand up and be proud to be a Democrat the whole way through, be proud of who I am.
KING: Do you have to...
DEAN: But I'm not inclined to drop out, but I never had that conversation with Chairman McAuliffe.
KING: But you're inclined to have your delegates stand up for you in convention?
DEAN: Well, yes, not only do I plan to have my delegates stand up for me in convention, I hope very much there's going to be a majority of them.
KING: How do you account for all this fund-raising?
DEAN: It's average people in my party and independents. You know, I was in a fund-raiser in San Diego at 8:00 in the morning, which is sacrilege in California, and we had Perot people, we had McCain people, we had Green Party people, and we had a huge number of Democrats. There are a lot of independents and Democrats who don't think huge budget deficits are a good thing, who were really upset about the nearly three million private sector jobs that this president has lost, and upset, frankly, about his foreign policy, which appears to be based on things that the president didn't think were necessary to share with the American people.
So I think by standing up and being who you are, people reward you for that. There are going to be some things that people don't agree with me on, but they're going to know where I stand and they're going to know that I'm not going to be afraid to tell them what the facts are.
KING: Any thoughts on the reports that Colin Powell intends to not stay another four years if Bush is reelected?
DEAN: Well, I wouldn't be surprised. I admire Colin Powell a lot, and I read his books, and I think that if the president had listened to Colin Powell we probably wouldn't be in Iraq right now.
I think that, like Christy Whitman before him, the president tends not to listen to voices of moderation. I think Secretary Powell is a voice of moderation. It doesn't surprise me that he might be pretty frustrated with his inability to get much policy headway in the Bush administration.
KING: Would you say, Governor, that you will have to move more towards the center? Is the center where American politics lies?
DEAN: Larry, I am in the center. I balanced budget. The president hasn't done so. I believe that states have the right to make their own gun laws, after enforcing the federal laws vigorously. I believe that we ought to have health insurance for every single American. Harry Truman put that in the Democratic Party platform in 1948. There's nothing that's not centrist about me. I just think that the party and the electorate, the Republican Party and even my own party has simply moved too far to the right.
KING: We'll take a break, come back, take a few calls for Howard Dean. Then our panel will assemble. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.
KING: Before we take a call for the governor, your comment, Congressman Dick Gephardt will get his 10th major from Organized Labor. Apparently the United Steel Workers of America about to support him. Any comment?
DEAN: Dick has been long friend of labor. Actually, I think I was their second choice, I was the machinist second choice and that's not a bad place to be. I commend him for that and wish him well.
KING: New York City, as we go to some calls for Governor Howard Dean, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Governor Dean, I have been so impressed by you ever since I saw you on "Meet the Press." And I'm going to my first Dean meeting this week. And my question for you is that many Democrats believe that if not for Ralph Nader staying in the election that we wouldn't have George Bush as a president.
So my question to you is, if you do not get the Democratic nomination, will you still run on the independent ticket?
DEAN: No, I will not.
CALLER: If so, how will that impact the upcoming race?
DEAN: I will not run as independent. I will support the nominee. It is essential that George Bush not be re-elected for the future of this country. It is essential for our economy. It's essential, so we can regain the respect we had around the world. And I will under no circumstances run as a third party and independent. I will back the nominee. I hope I am the nominee because I can bring about half those votes that voted for Ralph Nader back into the party. That's how we are going to win. And I think at this point there is no other evidence that any of the other candidates can do that and I think that's why I'm the most likely to beat George Bush.
KING: Santa Cruz, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi Governor Dean. My question to you is, given your medical background and your view on states rights, in your opinion, what should the federal government do about medical marijuana?
DEAN: I don't think they should throw people in jail in California, but I think do think -- here's what I think. I think the process by which medical marijuana is being legalized is the wrong process. I don't like it when politicians interfere in medicine. It's why I am very pro-choice. Because I don't think that is the government's business. So what I will do as president is, I will acquire the FDA within first 12 months to evaluate marijuana and see if it is, in fact, a decent medicine or not. If it is, for what purposes -- for certain purposes, and I suspect it will be for cancer patients and HIV/AIDS patients. And it should be allowed for that. But I suspect it will not be allowed for things like glaucoma. But we have to do the FDA studies. I think marijuana should be treated like every other drug in the process and there shouldn't be a special process which is based on politics to legalize it.
KING: Wilmington, North Carolina, for governor Howard Dean. Hello.
CALLER: As a real Democrat, and a avid Dean supporter, I was wondering what qualities you would be looking for in a vice presidential running mate and if you would consider one of the well qualified women that we have in public service for the Democratic party?
DEAN: Well, first, A, let me thank you for your help and support, and B, when they say that it is much too early to talk about my running mate. I've got a long way to go and it's nice to be in the position I am right now, but five months before the first primary and caucuses are five an a half months. I do have some ideas. I think the first qualification, and Bill Clinton did this very well, choose somebody who could be president of the United States. That is the thing that you have got to do. Bill Clinton choose Al Gore, who would have be a very good president. Secondly, I'm going to look for somebody with a Washington background. Because the biggest mistake governors make, when they go to Washington, they don't know how to deal with the system.
It is a different world inside Washington than it is everywhere else in the country, which helps me as a candidate because I know that world and it's tougher for the Washington candidates. But to governor you have to get something done. Thirdly, you look at region. The south is a region I am always very interested in as somebody from the north. And finally you take into account the most important constituency groups and women are as important constituency groups, as are African-Americans and Latinos and others. So, all those things go into a mix. We won't work on that for quite some time because I think it would be a little cocky to start picking your vice presidential running mate with -- having won only one primary and that didn't have any delegates and that was the moveon.org primary.
KING: Kingston, Ontario, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello. Many Democrats voted to go to war, why are they now seeming to back track and withdraw their support to President Bush. And do you agree -- do you not agree with the war any more and trying to win the 2004 elections because no weapons of mass destruction were found? I think...
KING: I'm sorry, I didn't mean to cut her, but I think we get the gist of the question -- governor. DEAN: I'm not sure the caller understood that I did not support the war and only one of the four or five candidates that you have spoken for tonight. All though, Bob Graham didn't support war and Dennis Kucinich didn't support the war either. But the candidates you have spoken about Lieberman, Senator Kerry, Representative Gephardt and Senator Edwards did all support the war. I didn't support the war because I don't think the president made the case. I supported the president, as I said before, in Afghanistan because I thought that was a matter of national security. I supported the first Gulf War. But you don't send troops to war without explaining clearly and frankly to the American people why they have to go. And what this president said was, mainly, gave -- made a number of assertions that were not factual.
The argument that I make and some people say as Senator Lieberman did if you didn't support the Gulf War you can't be elected president. I actually believe, that if you're a Democrat and did support the Gulf War, it calls into question your judgment in one of the most serious question or actions any president will have to take, which is sending American citizens to die on a foreign land. When you make that decision you ought know the facts. You ought to ask a lot of questions. If I can figure out that the facts weren't accurate, why couldn't they figure that out in Washington? So, I think not supporting the war is an advantage principally because it shows that I am willing to use very, very tough judgment and it stands against the grain of the president of the United States and many Americans and standing up for what I believe in. Just as John F. Kennedy did in during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
KING: We'll see lots more of you governor. Thanks for very much joining us tonight. We expect to have you in debates as well.
KING: Governor Howard Dean, coming to us from Burlington, Vermont. The former Democratic governor of the state of Vermont.
When we come back, our panel of Steve Kroft, Robin Wright, Senator Bob Graham, and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson will discuss Iraq and other things right after this.
KING: Let's meet our panel. In New York, Steve Kroft, the co- editor and correspondent of CBS News' "60 Minutes." In Washington, Robin Wright, chief diplomatic correspondent of "The Los Angeles Times" and author of "Sacred Rage: the Wrath of Militant Islam." In Chicago is Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, former chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, member of the National Security Caucus, and a candidate for his party's nomination for the presidency; indeed on Wednesday he is starting a campaign trip through Iowa.
And in Dallas, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, chairman of the Appropriation Subcommittee on Military Construction, member of Veteran Affairs Committee, and vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference. I'm going to ask Steve and Robin to comment first on Governor Dean, and then we'll get into our discussion of Iraq. Senator Graham, of course, is one of his opponents. Senator Hutchison is in the other party.
Steve Kroft, what do you make of this Dean thing?
STEVE KROFT, CBS NEWS: You know, I think that you made a reference to him, somebody saying that he was the George McGovern -- he may also turn out to be the Eugene McCarthy, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate, but certainly one who was able to shift the political debate in the country in 1968 and focus it on the Vietnam War.
He clearly has some support, both in the left wing of the Democratic Party and the right wing of the Republican Party, not -- and in the case of the Republicans, not just because they think he may be a candidate to beat, but because there are many people in the Republican Party who feel the same way about the war. I think it's going to be interesting to see what happens with the vast majority of sort of centrist voters in the next few months ahead.
KING: Robin Wright.
ROBIN WRIGHT, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, how Dean is perceived by the American public may be dependent on event a year from now, in the run-up to conventions before the election. We see two very important events. One is the election in Iraq for government, and then also the election for the first permanent government in Afghanistan. These are the two most ambitious foreign policy items on the Bush agenda, and it's quite likely that they will come to a head. We'll see whether the United States is able in a very short period of time to re-create nations.
And if the administration is successful, then Howard Dean may find that his support is in trouble. If the administration is still facing, you know, regular attacks in Iraq and the warlords are prevailing in Afghanistan, then someone who has taken a position Howard Dean has may have an appeal to the American public.
KING: All right, Senator Graham, we'll get into politics at other times when we're running and we have got them on together, so you can respond to what Governor Dean said. But on the Iraq situation, and you're involved in intelligence, what do you hear about the hunt for Hussein?
SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would like to just comment a moment on what Robin just said. I think there are two things that are going to shape American opinion about a year from now, but they aren't the two she listed.
I think they are jobs, whether this stagnant economy is moving again, and, second, the condition inside Iraq. Are we still losing an American a day, are we still spending $1 billion every week in that occupied country? As to Saddam Hussein, I know that that is getting a very high priority. We have, of course, already killed his two sons; his daughters have fled the country. I think we will eventually find Saddam Hussein, probably somewhere inside Iraq.
KING: Senator Hutchison, what do you hear?
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Well, we think that we are on his trail. We think that the capturing and killing, actually of the sons gave us a lot of information, and we -- our people think we will find him, and that it will be sooner rather than later, and all of us hope so.
But, you know, we've tried before. He certainly has a lot of places to hide in Iraq, and so it's, you know, you don't want to get your hopes up.
KING: Steve, is his capture, would you call it a necessity?
KROFT: I think it's very important. I think it's very important, and I think it was downplayed at the beginning by the administration. And I don't think that -- I think clearly the killing of his two sons has done a lot towards allaying some fears among the Iraqi people that he has the potential to come back into power. But I think as long as Saddam is alive, as long as he has people under his influence, people who he's paid a lot of money to, I think you always run the risk of at least in the minds of the Iraqi people, of the possibility of him returning to power.
WRIGHT: Indeed. Three of the four groups that are targeting American troops in Iraq are people who were once loyal to Saddam Hussein, his intelligence, Baath Party members and the Fedayeen, the kind of thugs within the military.
And once Saddam Hussein is captured, that's going to pull the rug out from those who may have been willing to target the United States because they thought Saddam Hussein still stood a chance.
And I think it also will deal a real blow to -- in that so-called Sunni triangle, the area north of Baghdad where so many of the attacks have taken place. This is Saddam Hussein's heartland. This is the area that could be the most trouble for us over the next year, and so getting Saddam Hussein plays out on a lot of other levels, as well.
KING: Senator Graham, what do you make of the search for weapons of mass destruction? Is that a political necessity?
GRAHAM: Well, Larry, where we are now is we have a whole series of searches under way. We are searching for Osama bin Forgotten, we are searching for weapons in Iraq, we're searching for Saddam Hussein. We're even searching for whoever sent those anthrax letters out in the fall of 2001. It's important that in each one of those, we determine who and what was responsible and detain the individual. If we don't, the confidence of the world in the United States, the confidence of the American people in their intelligence, their law enforcement and their president will be severely eroded.
KING: Senator Hutchison?
HUTCHISON: Well, I do think that we will find weapons of mass destruction. We know he has chemical weapons, because he's used them, and I think it's important that we see the evidence of that. I think you have to go back and look at what the president was looking at when he decided to target Saddam Hussein. He had just been through a 9/11, where we were not prepared, where we didn't put all the information we had together to protect our people, and he sees evidence that Saddam Hussein will not let the weapon inspectors do their jobs, and we know he's used these weapons before, and he knows that there is a connection with terrorists.
So the president is saying, am I going to have another 9/11 with the weapon of mass destruction funded by Saddam Hussein, and the answer for the president was no. And I think that has to be looked at in the context of what he knew at the time and what he had seen after 9/11.
KING: We'll take a break and come back with more. We'll also include some of your phone calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Memories of the war in Iraq.
Steve Kroft, are you concerned about al Qaeda and American domestic security?
KROFT: Absolutely. And obviously Tom Ridge and the president are too, given the warnings that were issued a few days ago. I think that's going to be an ongoing threat that we're going to have to deal with, probably forever and I don't think that -- I think that there's a good chance that it will come and will come again at the time that we least suspect it.
KING: Robin, is it a certainty? Is something going to happen?
WRIGHT: Well, I think so. I think, though, the pattern of terrorism in the past, the last two decades, in fact, has been that they, as Steve said, of, you know, when no one expects us.
And not necessarily on aircraft. I think that we're -- there's such security now around airports that it's much more difficult and that they'll look for something, perhaps, a little bit more imaginative.
But, I think, you know, while we've been focused so heavily on Saddam Hussein and capturing him lately, the real threat to the United States really is Osama bin Laden and he is a much bigger fish for us to try to catch.
KING: Senator Graham, are the fears warranted?
GRAHAM: Absolutely, and -- but unnecessarily. The reason, Larry, that I voted against the authorization to go to war against Iraq was not because Saddam Hussein was less than an evil person. It was the fact that he wasn't the greatest evil, the greatest threat to the people of the United States. That was al Qaeda and its leadership and Osama bin Laden.
By diverting our attention to Iraq, we allowed al Qaeda to regenerate, regroup and now, again, been cited as a major threat to the people of the United States.
KING: And Senator Hutchison, do you buy the fears?
HUTCHISON: I'm very worried about securing America because we are such a large country and we are free people, and it's very hard, of course, to secure our ports and secure our transportation infrastructure and all of our buildings and our water supply and our food supply. But we are making every effort possible and I think we have closed many loopholes that we had and I do think the aviation security is getting better. It's not where we need it to be yet and I think these current reports that we have that they may be targeting airlines again must be taken seriously.
KING: All right. In another area, Steve, what do you make of all these reports about Colin Powell?
KROFT: Well, it certainly would not surprise me if he left the administration. Not very many secretary of states stick around for two terms.
I've got to believe that this has been a very frustrating experience for him, at least at some levels. And I, you know, I believe that it's entirely possible.
KING: Robin, do your sources tell you that he disagreed with a lot of what the administration was doing, as Governor Dean said?
WRIGHT: Secretaries of state traditionally take a position that reflects America's foreign policy interests and often is in conflict with what the Pentagon wants or believes. That's not new to this administration.
Having said that, however, it is quite clear that there have been some very fierce policy battles over some critical issues involving American troops and going to war against other nations. I think Powell has always, long before 9/11, thought that he would be a one- term secretary of state. The last secretary of state to stay longer than one term was George Schultz in the 1980s, during the Reagan administration.
I think Colin Powell having spent years overseas as a soldier, having been national security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both jobs in which he had to travel an inordinate amounts, has made him kind of interested in staying home, being with his family finally. He's a guy who loves to tinker on old cars, particularly Volvos. And this is a time, I think, that he wants, having been out there to look at other sides of life. He is, after all, not a young man any more.
KING: Senator Graham, are you surprised?
GRAHAM: Not surprised. I commend General Powell for the voice of reason and moderation that he has been in this administration. I imagine that he has had a number of disappointments when his advice was not taken.
Larry, I would like to go back a moment, however, to comment that my colleague Senator Hutchison made about the state of our security. Recently, I think last night, in fact, there was a "60 Minutes" segment about the state of our seaports. That is just one example of an area in which our homeland security program has had a lot of rhetoric, a lot of words, but we have not put the resources behind protecting one of our most vulnerable sites, America's seaports.
KING: All right. I got to get a break, but I'll have Senator Hutchison respond to that and her thoughts on Colin Powell. We'll take some calls as well.
We'll be right back.
KING: Before Senator Hutchison responds, Steve Kroft, you did that piece on the seaports, right?
KROFT: I did, and Senator Graham's absolutely right. There has nothing been done.
I will say that it is a huge problem, and you've got hundreds of thousands, millions of these containers, cargo containers, coming into the country everyday, Lord only knows where from. Not good documentation, you can't search all of them, the search may be 10 percent, physically. Less than that, I believe.
And like the border issue. I mean, some of these problems are so staggering -- how do you deal with the border with Mexico? How do you deal with the border with Canada, where you in -- in many case, you can just walk across a field in Minnesota. You've got supposedly, according to some Canadian officials, 50 al Qaeda operatives that they believe are there.
KING: Senator Hutchison, your response?
HUTCHISON: Well, I think that everyone is saying the same thing. We are very concerned. This is a huge country and we have porous borders and our ports are vulnerable. There's no question about it. And I know Steve did a really strong piece on that just recently. And I think a lot is being done, but are we finished, are we where we need to be, absolutely not.
KING: Spokane, Washington, as we go to some calls. Hello.
CALLER: My question is for Senator Hutchison. Thank you for taking my call. She states Saddam does have these weapons of mass destruction. In her opinion, where are they if he does and why are our boys still dying after the death of Uday and Qusay Hussein, what credibility does President Bush have left after lying about...
KING: That's a lot of questions. Synthesize that Kay.
HUTCHISON: We know he has chemical weapons because he used them on his own people up in the north against the Kurds. And so with that kind of information, we are looking for other evidence, and I think we will find it. But I don't know where. But I do know that it is important that we continue to look for it and find it. I am very concerned about the deaths of our soldiers, that just seem to happen every day or every other day. And I think that is keeping America on edge. But I do think finding Saddam Hussein will make a big difference. We're not getting the cooperation from the people because they are afraid that if they help Americans they will be killed themselves or Saddam Hussein will come back and begin the torture of these people who helped Americans. So, it has been very difficult for our people to get the information that we need to find Saddam Hussein and show the Iraqi people that this man is gone, and they will be able to have a life if they will work with us give themselves a chance at freedom.
KING: Fremont, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi. My question is directed towards Steve. Do you think with the capture of Saddam Hussein it will possibility cease the attacks on the American troops or do you think it could possibly get worse?
KROFT: I think it's one of those things right now that is impossible to know. The biggest problem that we're going to have there, even with Saddam gone is that we are, in effect, occupying a country that we invaded that has very different customs, very different religion, very different language. And just historically that's a very difficult situation for our troops to be in. The longer that we will be, the we will have to try and enforce security measures, laws, being involved in the selection of a new government, it is going to invite people from all different political beliefs to lash out at the presence of the American forces.
KING: Robin Wright, how long we going to be there?
WRIGHT: Well the administration is hoping for elections next year that would turn the civil administration over to Iraqis themselves. And during the interim between now and then there is this 25-member council that's been formed to help the civil administration lead by Jerry Bremer to make the decisions about the day-to-day operation of Iraq. The broader issue, really, is security and how long will American troops be there?
And that's really what's at the heart of the great controversy. I think to address the previous question, one of the issues is that some of these politicians who are reemerging in Iraq are bringing their own little militias with them, there own -- whether they're guards and just a small force or whether there are hundreds of people who have been trained over the years and in some cases even thousands of people trained in the Kurdish areas, in neighboring Iran and elsewhere, That's where you're beginning to see the kind of Lebanonization of the potential, anyway, for the Lebanonization of Iraq and that's a very worrisome phenomenon. Even if you get Saddam Hussein and eliminate some of the forces who have been, some of his loyalists who have been attacking American troops. This conflict, the danger of strike inside the country and for Americans to get involved in it plays out in other ways, as well. And that's very worrisome.
KING: Salt Lake City, hello.
CALLER: MY question is for Senator Graham. I want to know why no one in the Democratic party is questioning the president's personal credibility because of -- first of all his illegal stock trade in Hark and Energy scandal. And second of all the fact that over a year in the national guard his last year, he was AWOL. To me, that doesn't make a military leader.
GRAHAM: I think there are a number of people, Democrats and Republicans and independents who are questioning the credibility of the president who took us to war on what is now proven to be and he should have known or he knew it at the time he spoke the words unreliable. I think the American people are also focusing on the fact that the president did not prepare us for what has happened in a post- war Iraq.
Did you hear the president say it was going to cost $1 billion a week?
Did you hear the president say, we might be losing one American a day.
Did you hear the president say we're going to be there for five years?
No. That's the reality. That was information that was withheld from the American people.
KING: Senator Hutchison, want to respond?
HUTCHISON: Well, first of all, I think the question is going back to a previous campaign. And I think President Bush is going to stand on his record. And I think his record and stepping up to the plate on the war on terrorism is a great one. The American people believe we must fight this war on terrorism to keep freedom for our country. And so I think he will run on his record and I think it will be a good one.
KING: Marina, California, hello.
CALLER: Yes. I would like to ask either Robin or Steve why the media has not had the courage to question the death of the 14-year-old boy when they got Saddam's sons? KING: Does that come up, Steve, we only got 30 seconds.
KROFT: Collateral damage. Unfortunately.
WRIGHT: He was shooting an AK-47 at them.
KING: The boy was?
WRIGHT: Yes. That is why. They didn't mean to kill a 14-year- old, but he was shooting at them and they didn't know he was 14. That's what I saw and heard.
KING: We're out of time. Thanks very much to all of you. We will be calling on you again. Steve Kroft, the co-editor and correspondent of CBS "60-Minutes."
Robin Wright of the "Los Angeles Times."
Senator Bob Graham, a candidate for his parties nomination.
And Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas.
I'll be back in a couple minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING Tomorrow night we'll remember Marilyn Monroe. It will be 41 years ago tomorrow that Marilyn passed away. Remembering Marilyn Monroe with a whole host of folks.
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