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Terrorist Bombings Rock Middle East

Aired August 19, 2003 - 16:30   ET


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

In the CROSSFIRE: in Baghdad, the biggest terror bombing yet.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Terrorists are testing our will.

ANNOUNCER: Was it worth going to war in Iraq?

One of the leading anti-war activists is our co-host on the left -- today on CROSSFIRE.



ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Janeane Garofalo and Tucker Carlson.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. And welcome again to our special guest host on the left all this week, Janeane Garofalo.

Terror bombings in the Middle East dominate today's news. Many are dad in both Baghdad and Jerusalem. Before a debate, we're going to get live updates from both.

First, on the bus bombing in Jerusalem, here is CNN's Jerrold Kessel. He joins us from the scene of the bombing -- Jerrold.

Actually, we're going to get back to Jerrold in just a minute.

Let's go first to Jane Arraf, CNN's bureau chief in Baghdad -- Jane.

JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: We're standing here just outside the door of what used to be the U.N. headquarters.

And what's really happening now is an effort to move huge blocks of concrete. There's one of those mechanical scoops that's coming up with chunks of metal and concrete and stone, trying to move away all of the debris to see if there is anyone left. It does not appear that there are a lot of people in here. The activity now is really clearing away the rubble. And there is a lot of it. It was a huge explosion. There are tangled, twisted cars littering the lot around here. And this entire front of the building has been sheered off. You can understand how it was 17 people were killed in this, many of them crushed by the rubble. As for survivors, it's not clear that there are any now. It's not clear that they're able to do much at all to get the bodies out. Right now, they're moving huge chunks of concrete.

CARLSON: Jane, is...

ARRAF: You can probably hear the heavy equipment around here.

CARLSON: OK, that was CNN's Jane Arraf in Baghdad. Thank you, Jane.

As President Bush said this afternoon, terrorists are testing our will. He added that our will cannot be shaken. But can it be shaken?

Joining us in the CROSSFIRE this afternoon to debate that question, as well as the administration's Iraq and Middle East policies, Tom Andrews. He's director of the Win Without War coalition. He's also a former Democratic congressman from the state of Maine. With him is Cliff May of the Foundation For the Defense of Democracies, a longtime "New York Times" correspondent who was communications director for the Republican National Committee.




JANEANE GAROFALO, GUEST HOST: I guess my first question would be, Cliff, I'm curious as to why credible voices inside Washington and internationally were continually ignored and berated when they tried to discuss the chaos that we're seeing now? Why were conservative hard-liners so against that kind of discussion?

CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: I don't think the voices you're talking about were ignored. I think they were debated. And it has been a good and important debate.

I don't think you're suggesting -- but maybe you are -- that what we should have done is left Saddam Hussein in power to continue to fill graveyards with those he executes, to continue to rape women as part of his army's duties. The situation that we know about in Iraq was more dreadful than any of us ever imagined. Now there are still remnants of that Baathist regime, plus al Qaeda and other jihadis who will come in to try to get -- look, the basic thing is this. We have taken two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, away from the terrorists.

Janeane, they want it back bad.

GAROFALO: You haven't taken them away from the terrorists. I would say al Qaeda is thriving. And it was as dastardly as anyone could imagine. And I assume that's why Saddam should not have been supported by America in the first place. But I think that the mass graves also that people are talking about finding now, a lot of those are from the uprising from the first Gulf War, when they were left to their own devices and slaughtered by Saddam. Yes, he is a terrible dictator. There's a lot of them around the world that we could be picking on.

MAY: But this one -- you're right -- was particularly terrible.

And if we were responsible in any way for his acts -- and I think you're right -- we were -- we have even more responsibility for the people of Iraq to now help them develop some kind of a civilized society, a democratic structure. But it's not going to be easy. You're right. We're at war in Iraq. The Israelis are at war in downtown Jerusalem. The jihadis, who hate Christians and Jews and Hindus and moderate Muslims, they're going to keep coming at us until they see whether or not we can defeat them or they can defeat us.

We can't reward them. We can't appease them. We can only defeat them. You have got to know that, because we're fighting an enemy every bit as bad as the Nazis and the fascists and the communists ever were.


CARLSON: Now, Tom, let's skip right past the "I told you so" stage and get to the adult conversation. And that's about, where do we go from here?

You don't believe, as many on the left do, I hope, that, in the wake of a tragedy like this, we ought to pull American troops out and leave Iraq in the hands of people who would murder U.N. employees, do you?

ANDREWS: No, I don't, Tucker.

And we should be doing now is what we should have been doing from the very beginning. We should have been embracing the international community. We should have been following international law. We should have been building a coalition that could work together cooperatively to deal with this menace. Everybody agrees. And we certainly agreed throughout the debate leading up to the invasion that Saddam Hussein was a major problem and we had to contain him.

The fact is, Tucker, we were containing him. We were disarming him. We were taking out that threat, working within the international community. And this tremendous abuse


CARLSON: Are you saying that we should have left Saddam -- you appear to be arguing that we should have left Saddam Hussein in power. He was murdering Iraqis up until the day he was thrown out. Is that what you're arguing?

ANDREWS: Absolutely not.

If you take a look at the record, Tucker, and look at the tremendous success that the United Nations had in taking out weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons, biological weapons, any of the threats that he posed to any of us, we didn't have an imminent threat facing us. That was the fundamental justification for invading, violating international law, invading a sovereign country, was because -- not because he was a bad guy and a threat to his own people, but because he posed an imminent threat to us and to the world.

And the only threat that we faced was being lied to and deceived by this administration. And that's a threat we have got to confront.


GAROFALO: OK, so, since there was no -- going back to the preemptive strike -- and there is no connection been made between Iraq and 9/11. And there's an economic crisis here at home. And it seems that the Mideast is inflamed and further destabilizing, and al Qaeda is thriving. How are we safer?

MAY: Well, we are finally recognizing, after about 20 years of being at war, that we are in fact at war.

This war goes back probably to at least '83, when Hezbollah attacked us in Beirut, killed 250 Marines, about 50 diplomats. And Reagan, wrongly, I think, turned around and said, we're leaving. That told the terrorists, that's all you have to do. You punch them in the nose. If they bleed, they run. The same thing they did to us in Somalia, the same thing they're trying to do to us now.

We could have ignored for another 10 years the fact that we were getting hit, our embassies in Tanzania, our embassy in Kenya, the USS Cole. We could have continued to ignore it. But at a certain point, when they declare war on you, as bin Laden did, when they threaten you, as Saddam Hussein did, at a certain point, you have got to say, all right, let's do it.


GAROFALO: Let me interrupt here. First of all, Osama bin Laden is still wherever he is.

MAY: But about 60 percent of his...

GAROFALO: Saddam Hussein has not threatened us. I don't understand this.

MAY: He did threaten us.

GAROFALO: This is -- we are far less safe now. And we're going to be continually hit now more and more and more.

MAY: I understand.

And your question. You think we're far less safe now that Osama bin Laden no longer owns Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein no longer owns Iraq.


Afghanistan is a real mess. There's a lot of activity on the border.

MAY: But are we more safe or less safe?

GAROFALO: It is less safe now. Afghanistan has a lot of problems on the border of Pakistan.


GAROFALO: And the Taliban is still in a lot of control. Kabul is only fairly stable.

MAY: Here's what we really to understand.

In the 21st century, the danger represented to us in the world is the matrix of rogue dictators, terrorists and weapons of mass destruction. Most of all, we can't let terrorists have whole countries and run them and have weapons of mass destruction programs and give them possibly to the terrorists. We just can't let that proceed, as we did before 9/11.

Look, tens of thousands -- tens of thousands -- of terrorists were trained in Afghanistan in the 1990s. We all knew it. We did nothing about it. It was a mistake, wasn't it?

GAROFALO: Right. There was blowback. And that was a big problem. And there will be blowback from this as well.

CARLSON: If I can just jump in here for a second, Janeane.

Tom, you appear to have reached a point of agreement with the administration when you say that the rest of the world needs to take a more active role in post-Saddam Iraq. I think the administration would like to see a greater commitment from, say, Western Europe, whose security we have guaranteed for the last 60 years, in Iraq.

If Western Europe and the United Nations are going to claim some sort of moral authority, don't you think they need to put their troops and their money where their rhetoric is?

ANDREWS: Don't you think we should be a little bit less arrogant as a country and be forthright and honest with exactly what the challenge is, what the threat is, what the cost is?


ANDREWS: An American is dying virtually every day over there; 97 percent of the burden of the cost of this is going on to back of American taxpayers.

The reason we're not getting the international cooperation that we would hope and we would need is because we dissed the United Nations, we violated international law. We're telling these nations right now that it's our way or the highway, Tucker.


CARLSON: This is not a highway. This is the world.


ANDREWS: This is a fundamental problem.

CARLSON: But you don't appear to have any real bone of contention with the administration. You're mad at them, perhaps, for other reasons. But I think you're in agreement with the Bush administration, in that the rest of the world really does need to pony up men and money, no?

GAROFALO: Tucker, you're deliberately misunderstanding what he is saying.


CARLSON: The Bush administration is mean and no one likes them because they're a bully. Let's have an adult conversation here.


GAROFALO: No, don't marginalize what he just said.

CARLSON: That would be hard.

GAROFALO: First of all, this administration has been nothing but condescending, nothing but belligerent, nothing but obnoxious, in every way.

CARLSON: You're arguing about attitude.


GAROFALO: Diplomacy is an art form. Diplomacy has been ruined. The axis of evil speech is so responsible for so much of this mess.


MAY: I would really hope that the Germans and the French and the international community are not refusing to help us in Iraq because they've been dissed or because


GAROFALO: Well, just like President Bush refuses to deal with Gerhard Schroeder.


ANDREWS: I'll tell you why. You listen to any of the troops that are now reporting back to retired colonels and generals here in the United States. They are saying to us: Look, we never had a plan. We were told this was going to be a cakewalk. We were told they were going to be throwing flowers on us in the streets and embracing American soldiers.

What we are hearing from them is: Look, we didn't have a plan. We had a lot of rhetoric. We were told that we were going from 150,000 troops in the spring -- wait a minute -- these are facts -- to 30,000 troops in the fall. That was...

CARLSON: So, what's your plan, Tom? Get specific about what your plan is.

ANDREWS: Our plan is -- my plan is to have this administration admit that it was wrong, admit that it manipulated the American public.

CARLSON: What is the plan, though, apart from the emotional stuff?


ANDREWS: We have lost our credibility as a nation. And this administration has lost its credibility.

CARLSON: That's great, but where do we go from here?

ANDREWS: That's step one. You can't lead if you're not credible.


ANDREWS: You can't lead if you're not believed.

MAY: You have no -- do you agree that there are people out there, tens of thousands of them, jihadis, with al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah? And they want it kill us. They want to destroy us. And they're intent on doing it. And we can't reward them and we can't appease them. We have to fight them. Do we agree on that?

GAROFALO: But we further inflame them by going in and occupying Iraq. And we further inflame them


MAY: Further inflame them. So we should make ourselves as inoffensive as possible to the terrorists.

GAROFALO: There was an opportunity to handle this completely differently. And the axis of evil speech was one of the biggest bonehead blunders in


GAROFALO: It was a terrible speech.



ANDREWS: Let me understand. You think it would be a better and safer world now if Saddam Hussein was still ruling out of his palaces and if Osama bin Laden was still ruling in Kabul.


GAROFALO: And, yes, we would be safer and the Mideast would be more stable. And I'm saying he was a completely half-assed dictator.


CARLSON: May I turn the discussion to another news event today?


CARLSON: And that is the bombing in Jerusalem.

Tom, do you think it's fair to say, considering that Saddam Hussein funded, literally bankrolled the families of suicide bombers, that his removal of course doesn't solve the conflict in Israel, but it does something to help, does it not?

ANDREWS: If we had gone about this in the right way and we had a truly international and coordinated effort and we were successful in taking this horrendous situation on the ground and actually building a democracy and building the international cooperation that you need to secure human rights, then we wouldn't have the situation that we're facing in Iraq right now.


ANDREWS: Here's the point.


ANDREWS: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Here's the point.

We were told by this administration that the key to dealing with the problems in the Middle East is to deal with Iraq and to solve the problem of Iraq. Well, what the administration has done is made this situation, a bad situation, a horrendous situation, where Americans are getting killed. There's chaos on the ground. And we don't have an exit strategy or plan to deal with that.

That's not how you stabilize a country and build a democracy. And that's not how you influence the Middle East and try to bring about the kind of peace and security that people in the Middle East deserve.

CARLSON: OK. Cliff, you almost have time to answer your own question. Tell us how we do it, quickly. Then we're going to go to break.

MAY: We have to recognize this hard fact that we're at war with some very bad people. The Israelis are at war with bad people. The Indians, the Filipinos are at war with terrorist elements who want to destroy us. We can't reward them. We can't talk to them. We cannot sit down and negotiate with them. We have to fight them and defeat them.


GAROFALO: What do you mean by reward? What are you talking about?

MAY: For example, if we said, OK, they just hit the U.N. headquarters. I guess what we have to do is leave, because they don't want us here and we're getting them angry at us.

GAROFALO: That's being ridiculous. I think we need to drain the swamps at the think tanks. We got to drain the swamp at the American Enterprise Institute.


CARLSON: We're going to take a quick break. We're about to declare war on the think tanks.

But before we do, more on today's violence in the Middle East when we return, our guests will come back for "Rapid Fire," which is, of course, the quickest question-and-answer session in television. And our audience weighs in on about whether or not the United States should have gone into Iraq in the first place.

We'll be right back.




GAROFALO: Welcome back. It's time for "Rapid Fire," short questions, short answers. We're talking about today's tragic bombings in Baghdad and Jerusalem with Cliff May of the Foundation For the Defense of Democracies and former Congressman Tom Andrews, who's director of the Win Without War coalition.

CARLSON: Tom, you spoke primarily about what the administration did wrong six or eight months ago. Aren't you continuing to fight a war, A, that is over, B, that most people supported?

ANDREWS: Well, of course, the president said on May 1, mission accomplished, when he had that well-choreographed landing on that aircraft carrier. Top gun jumps out and gives a speech. Let me tell you something. Mission was not accomplished. We are at war. This is a very dangerous guerrilla war. And the United States better change its policies right now.


GAROFALO: In keeping with that, President Bush today, actually, said that we are indeed at war. And May 1, the mission was not accomplished and now we're -- combat is continuing. What do we get out of this continual disinformation, misinformation and photo-ops with the statue coming down, the landing on the USS Abraham, which is going to be a great campaign commercial? That's why it was shot. And I don't understand how we benefit as citizens in this alleged democracy by this...

MAY: Misinformation is a very, very bad thing, for example, what you guys just said. He said mission accomplished, we had toppled Saddam Hussein. He said in that speech, if you read it and listened to it -- and I did -- this is one battle -- and I'm pretty much quoting -- this is one battle in a much longer war on terrorism. That's what he said. You misrepresent his speech.


GAROFALO: No. He is saying the war on terrorism. He is not talking about Iraq. He mischaracterized Iraq.


MAY: He didn't say Iraq was over.

GAROFALO: Yes, he did.


GAROFALO: And everybody said it was going to be a cakewalk.

CARLSON: I beg your pardon.


CARLSON: Tom, let's get specific, very specific. What is the one and most important thing Israel can do to reduce the threat of terrorism within its borders?


ANDREWS: What Israel can do?

CARLSON: Israel.

ANDREWS: I think it has to stick with the international process. We have to work together to make peace in the Middle East. I think it has to stick with this peace process.

MAY: The road map, which means that the Palestinian Authority must dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and arrest the terrorists. That's in the first phase. They must do that now, right?


ANDREWS: Hey, I'll tell you.


ANDREWS: Both sides, whether it be the settlements, whether it be any instances or provocation


ANDREWS: Both sides have got to come to the table and stay at the table.

MAY: You know what? Nobody should negotiate with terrorists, right?

GAROFALO: But both sides have to make concessions. And the razor-wire wall is not helping.


CARLSON: I feel like we're almost about to reach agreement here.

MAY: So close.

CARLSON: But, unfortunately, commerce intercedes.

Tom Andrews, thank you very much. Cliff May, thank you.

GAROFALO: Thank you both.


CARLSON: Before we go to break, here's today's question for our studio audience. Take out your voting devices. Tell us, was it worth going to war in Iraq in the first place? Press one if you believe it was worth it; the benefits of getting rid of Saddam outweigh the costs. Press two for, no, the United States should not have gone to war there. We'll have the results when we return.

And after the break, Wolf Blitzer will bring us the very latest on today's bombings overseas.

We'll be right back.




CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Our guests are gone. We remain.

With us all this week on the left, Janeane Garofalo.

Janeane, the debate we just had, at least the leftward part of it, very much reminded me of debates we were hearing here on CROSSFIRE eight months ago. It was a debate on what we should have done, and in that way, not a very serious debate.

GAROFALO: That's not at all what it was.


CARLSON: ... to decide where to go from here.

GAROFALO: You're absolutely rewriting history.

CARLSON: What just happened?

GAROFALO: The debate, such as it was, that never was allowed to really happen authentically in the mainstream media, it was never about what we should have done or rewarding Saddam Hussein or being a Saddam Hussein apologist.

It was all about having an authentic discussion about how the Middle East was going to respond, how the rest of the world was going to respond to this incursion into Iraq that was unprovoked and had nothing to do with 9/11, although it was sold to the American people as that. It was sold to us. We were lied to that Saddam had something to do with 9/11.



CARLSON: That may or may not be true.

GAROFALO: The nation was dumbed down. They were dumbed down by the mainstream media and the Bush administration. They infantilized us and continued to dumb us down.

CARLSON: How about this? Just for the sake of argument, I'll concede everything you just said. You're 100 percent right. But it doesn't answer the question, where do we go from here? The U.N. compound has just been destroyed by terrorists. Should we leave? Should we stay? Should we step up our presence? Should we crush the terrorists


GAROFALO: No. Now we're in. That's exactly the thing. It's just like Vietnam. Nobody is going to leave.

CARLSON: So let's discuss where we go from here.

GAROFALO: What I was saying is, I think they should bring the troops home and drain the swamp in Washington and get those guys over there and let them clean it up.

CARLSON: Fill it with think tank analysts.

GAROFALO: Fill it with the American Enterprise Institute over there.


GAROFALO: And no. Now we're in for years, years and years and years.

CARLSON: OK. We're going to debate the AEI plan when we come back.

GAROFALO: And your children will be paying for it, father of four. His kids are going to be still paying it.

CARLSON: And I'll ignore that.



CARLSON: In just a minute, members of our audience and some of you at home get a chance to fire back. We'll also have the results of our "Ask the Audience" question. It's a scientific poll. And it was, was going to war in Iraq worth the cost?

We'll be right back.




CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. It's time for "Fireback."

But first, our patented scientific poll of the audience, in which we asked, should we have gone to Iraq in the first place? The answer, yes, say 84 percent of Republicans. No, say 80 percent of Democrats, a pure partisan split. One thing has not changed. Kind of depressing.

GAROFALO: I guess.


GAROFALO: I don't have anything pithy to come back to that one.

CARLSON: First up, John from Chicago writes: "By bombing the United Nations headquarters, doesn't this prove the administration was right? This proves that the insurgents have a holy war vs. the world and not just the United States and the coalition."

I think it's absolutely right. It's a war not just against the U.S., but against the West and its values, its liberal values.

GAROFALO: No, it's a war against the occupation and the resistance and the oppression.

Oh, here's one: "Tucker seems so much less shrill and anxious with Janeane around. Could he be falling for her charms?" (LAUGHTER)

GAROFALO: "Don't be embarrassed, Tucker. Janeane is the most intelligent, insightful, humorous, and, yes, gorgeous woman in public life. Many of us would give anything to be you this week" -- Michael T.


CARLSON: Janeane, you came prepared, getting your fans and family to write the show.

GAROFALO: I wrote that. I wrote that.

CARLSON: I appreciate that.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is John Mapry (ph) from Lynchburg, Virginia. My question is, why should we act only with international consensus, when other nations may not share our national interests, our convictions and our risks?

CARLSON: Well, of course, we shouldn't. There's no country in the world that acts only under the umbrella of international consensus. Countries act only in their national interests. That's why they're countries, right? So I think that goes without saying. It's a distinction lost on many liberals, though, weirdly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was addressing the question to the left.

CARLSON: Oh, I'm sorry. Tell us, Janeane.


GAROFALO: I actually don't understand what you're saying. Are you saying that consistently that's what countries do? Oh, now he's gone. Oh, no. I didn't understand.


CARLSON: Well, we'll move on. I'll tell you after the show.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. My name is Nina Delamoya (ph) from Munster, Indiana. And my question is for both of you. I was wondering, do you feel the failures in Iraq are due to faulty policy decisions by our administration? Or could it maybe be that we made bad choices, the people handling the reconstruction? CARLSON: Listening to the left, sometimes you think terrorists commit terror acts because they hate George W. Bush. That's just not true. They hate the West. They hate what we stand for. That's the essential problem.

GAROFALO: There's a lot more to it than that, but time prohibits it.

From the left, I'm Janeane Garofalo. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.

Join us again tomorrow for yet more CROSSFIRE, Janeane Garofalo sitting in all week.


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