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CNN CROSSFIRE

Justice Department Launches Formal Investigation Into CIA Leak

Aired September 30, 2003 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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

In the CROSSFIRE: How did a CIA employee's name get in the newspapers? The Justice Department wants to know. So does the White House.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I want to know who the leakers are.

ANNOUNCER: The Democrats want someone else to investigate.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Get a respected independent counsel.

ANNOUNCER: Was there a crime or just gotcha politics?

Today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(APPLAUSE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and Robert Novak.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

The Justice Department is looking into it. The White House is cooperating. So, of course, the Democrats aren't happy. We'll debate the fallout from the most obvious leak in Washington these days.

But first, the best LT. political briefing in television, our "Political Alert" on CROSSFIRE.

A money primary is being held as the third quarter of presidential fund-raising ends tonight. Not surprisingly, George W. Bush is the big winner, with $50 million raised. But, on the Democratic side, Howard Dean is still way ahead, urging his donors to pull in $15 million by the midnight deadline tonight.

The bad news is for Dean Democratic rivals. On the decline in money-raising are Senators John Edwards, Joseph Lieberman and John Kerry. That's another reason why Governor Dean is the front-runner for the nomination, while the Democratic establishment is gathering around a newly baptized Democrat, General Wesley Clark, to stop the little doctor from Vermont.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: I've got a slogan for the Republicans. And that is, our deficit is bigger, but we raise more money for ourselves. That's just what they are. You lost your job and we raised more campaign dollars. Vote for Bush. That's a real accomplishment, Bob. I can't tell you how proud I am.

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: I want to ask you a question. Why is it, James, that Governor Dean, from the people's republic of Vermont, can raise so much more money than these big-time Democrats, Joe Lieberman, John Kerry?

(BELL RINGING)

CARVILLE: He's got a base. But nobody can sell environmental regulations exemptions like Bush can and raise that much money. So it's very profitable for these polluters to give Bush money.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Since President Bush took office, Americans lost over 3,000 private sector jobs. Also, incomes have fallen every year. And we're in a quagmire in Iraq.

Just when you thought this administration couldn't screw up anything else, we learned today that, in the last year, 24 million Americans lost their health insurance. Back in the 2000 campaign, a woman came up to George Bush in South Carolina and told him about a disease her son had and how medical insurance wasn't covering everything he needed. After hemming and hawing for a minute, he said -- quote -- "I'm sorry. I wish I could wave a magic wand."

Some people might say that a $5.6 trillion surplus is a magic wand. Unfortunately, the only trick Bush pulled was to make that disappear, too.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: I must be having a deja vu, because I distinctly remember Paul Begala saying exactly the same thing sitting across from me one time.

But you guys have used that health insurance gimmick. The people wouldn't buy it because a lot of young guys, James, like you used to be, would rather drink and smoke and chase around women than buy health insurance.

CARVILLE: Unfortunately, most of these 42 billion -- 43 million people that don't have health insurance work pretty hard for their lives, for their money. They have kids. They're very concerned about it. And it's something that you Republicans like to make fun of, the people that don't have health insurance. It's something that Democrats like to care about and are concerned about, as they well should be.

(BELL RINGING)

NOVAK: OK.

OK. Is the California recall election going to lose another candidate? Independent candidate Arianna Huffington is about to announce on "LARRY KING LIVE" tonight at 9:00 Eastern whether she's going to withdraw and throw her 2 percent of the vote to, guess who, Democratic Governor Gray Davis.

She's expected to urge her small following to vote against the governor's recall. Now, since Arianna is the most obnoxious of all the candidates...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: ... will her embrace merely suffocate the hard-pressed governor? Meanwhile, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger picked up the endorsement from the California Republican Party. So, do we see the Terminator in San Francisco, thanks to Arianna and Gray Davis?

CARVILLE: You know what's amazing about Arianna Huffington. When she came here in 1994 with Newt Gingrich, no Republican ever criticized her. It's amazing how these people kind of change back and forth, isn't it? Wasn't she Newt Gingrich's best friend in '94? Did you criticize her then?

NOVAK: She didn't criticize any Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I like your honesty. Thank you, Robert.

NOVAK: What do you think of Arnold as governor.

CARVILLE: Who?

NOVAK: Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor, what do you think of that?

CARVILLE: Not too much.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: Not a lot.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: I try not to think of it. Just when you thought leaking the names of CIA operatives, soaring deficits in the Treasury, and gross incompetence in foreign policy wasn't enough, you ain't seen nothing yet. Hold on to your seats, CROSSFIRE viewers, because "The New York Times" reports today -- and I quote -- quote -- a group of businessmen linked by their close ties to President Bush, his family and his administration have set up a consulting firm to advise companies that want to do business in Iraq, including those seeking pieces of taxpayer-financed reconstruction projects.

Friends, this is crony capitalism of the worst kind. It's war profiteering. But this administration has a different term for it: business as usual.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: I'm going to tell you something very funny that you may not know about. That firm, which does have a lot of...

CARVILLE: Joe Allbaugh, the president's campaign manager.

NOVAK: That's correct.

That was formed in May. It was on the Web site in May. They had a handout in May. Why is it appears in the last day of September on the front page of "The New York Times." You know why? Because it's all timing. It's all the idea of trying to get the president when he's down.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: But the story is true, that the president's cronies are setting up an office to tell people how to -- in Iraq to tell people how to make money off of U.S. government contracts. That's war profiteering. That's wrong.

(BELL RINGING)

CARVILLE: I don't care if it's in May or September. It doesn't matter what month it's in.

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: The Justice Department is investigating the leak of a CIA employee's name. Of course, the Democrats say, that's not good enough.

When we come back, there could be -- James, can you believe this? -- an independent counsel. The Democrats want an independent counsel.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: The Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation into the leak that named the wife of a retired diplomat as a CIA employee, that diplomat, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a former Clinton administration official and Democratic campaign contributor, who says the White House was behind the leak. A short time ago, President Bush told reporters there's too much leaking in Washington and he's confident the Justice Department will do a good job in this investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Is a Justice Department probe good enough, or should there be a special counsel? We used to call them an independent counsel.

In the CROSSFIRE, Ron Klain, adviser to the Wesley Clark -- that's General Wesley Clark -- for president campaign, and former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Bob Walker.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Congressman Walker, the president today expressed some mild curiosity as to who this felonious, treasonous leaker might be. Yet, he was notified of this in Bob's column on July 14. Today is September 30. What decisive, bold actions did this president take on July the 15th to see that this treasonous, felonious person who had released the name of an undercover CIA agent in violation of the laws of the United States of America was brought to justice?

BOB WALKER (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, I think what is happening is that the White House is very definitely telling everybody that whoever did this is going to pay the penalty of the law. And they're moving forward.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Well, what happened in the first 75 days? We knew this 75 days ago. Why is the president coming out and saying he'd like to know now? What did he do on July the 15th and say, there's a felon, a treasonous felon in our midst; I want that person rooted out?

WALKER: Well, I don't know. And I'm sure you don't know either yet what may have gone on inside the administration.

What is clear, though, is, in terms of the public knowledge we have now, is that the Justice Department is moving aggressively to take care of this and that we are attempting to find out who the person is. If there are people who are leaking intelligence information, those people should be taken care of inside the law. And that's exactly what the administration is going to do.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I've asked my question. The president did nothing for 75 days.

WALKER: Well, I'm not certain you know that, James. I certainly don't.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: ... want to say something.

RON KLAIN, ADVISER TO WESLEY CLARK: Look, look, we do know, because two days ago, two days ago, the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, came out and said President Bush wasn't going to ask anybody. He wasn't going to ask.

Look, this man ran for office on the idea that he was going to bring responsibility and honor and integrity back to the Oval Office. Where is the responsibility in sitting on top of a government that's leaking this information and not finding

(CROSSTALK)

KLAIN: Where's the responsibility there.

WALKER: The people who should be asking the questions are the people who are prosecutors.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I want to abuse -- I want to abuse my privilege and take a little personal privilege here, just say that, in the column I wrote that has caused all this fuss, there's one bad word in there.

I referred to Mrs. Wilson as a CIA operative. I use the word operative for cheap politicians, you know, like you and Klain. And I just use it indiscriminately. It doesn't have any meaning. And I certainly don't know what she did for the CIA. And neither does anybody at this table.

(CROSSTALK)

KLAIN: But, Bob, the director of the CIA wrote to the Justice Department and asked for a criminal inquiry. The issue here, Bob, is not what you wrote, but what you were told. Who told you?

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Wait a minute. Can we get the facts right, Mr. Klain?

KLAIN: Let's get them.

NOVAK: The director of the CIA -- just listen -- the director of the CIA did not write to the Justice Department asking for an inquiry. This is done on a routine basis when there's any leak reported. There's about one a week, over 50 a year.

KLAIN: And, and, and, and, and...

NOVAK: Not the director. Not the director.

KLAIN: And the Justice Department took it seriously enough that the White House counsel had to issue a memo to the entire White House staff last night saying not to destroy documents.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I haven't asked him a question yet, James.

CARVILLE: He's been talking the whole time. But go ahead.

(LAUGHTER)

NOVAK: James Woolsey, James Woolsey, President Clinton's first CIA director, was on CNN today. And he said just what I said. Listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: CIA refers crimes report over about once a week to the Department of Justice whenever there's a leak or any other potential violation of law that they come across.

And it's relatively routine thing. These leaks get investigated all the time. Occasionally somebody gets caught, but it's pretty rare. It's a lot rarer any...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Mr. Klain, aren't you -- this is all just politics. You're trying to create a big political backfire.

KLAIN: I'll tell you what is politics, OK, and what I find offensive, which is that someone decided that was in the political interest of this administration to put this information out there, because they were taking heat on this yellowcake story. And someone did it thoughtlessly, carelessly, recklessly, maybe even criminally.

But that's playing politics with national security information. That is wrong. And something ought to be done about it.

(APPLAUSE)

KLAIN: Now, I don't know if anyone's going to go to jail or not. And I don't know if it's going to be prosecuted or not. Director Woolsey is right. And prosecutions here are not often successful.

But the lack of the -- at the very least, the lack of judgment or sense of integrity that was involved in this is just deplorable. It's deplorable.

CARVILLE: Congressman, let me read to you what Alberto Gonzales said in a memorandum this morning.

He is the White House counsel who is reported to be maybe the next Supreme Court nominee by the president: "We were informed last evening by the Department of Justice that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee" -- an undercover.

How grave of an offense would this be for someone to release the name of an American who is in harm's way, who is at risk, who is working undercover? If this proves to be true, how grave an offense would this be?

WALKER: Well, as you know, James, nearly everybody that works at the CIA is undercover. But the fact is that it's a very grave offense. It's a criminal offense.

CARVILLE: Right. Right.

WALKER: For people to release information with regard to our intelligence community.

CARVILLE: We don't know if this is true, but if it is true that this woman is undercover, this is a grave criminal offense.

WALKER: The fact is that you know, even in social situations in Washington, people who work for the CIA often tell people that they work for the government, so that to make certain that they maintain their covers. And that's reality and so on.

CARVILLE: Right. I understand that.

WALKER: And you should in fact to protect those people.

CARVILLE: Right. Right.

WALKER: But the way in which you protect them is to have prosecutors go after the people who are in criminal violation. And that's what's happening here.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Mr. Klain, I want to change the subject to your candidate, General Clark. Have you met him yet?

KLAIN: Yes, I have.

NOVAK: It's always good to meet the guy you're advising.

(CROSSTALK)

KLAIN: ... today, in fact.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: In the year 2001, General Clark spoke at a fund-raiser for George W. Bush. And I'd like you to listen to what he said at that fund-raiser.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm very glad we've got the great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Paul O'Neill, people I know very well, our president, George W. Bush. We need them there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Now, Mr. Klain, the question I have for you is, who kidnapped the real Wes Clark and put him in a sanitarium in Upstate New York?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

KLAIN: Well, Bob, if the worst thing Wes Clark ever did was, he was a little too generous to the Bush administration, I think we've had worse candidates in our party before.

Look, what General Clark has said is that he hoped that President Bush would be the compassionate conservative he promised to be. But his policies have been neither compassionate nor conservative. That's why he became a Democrat. That's why he's running for president.

NOVAK: He said this before 9/11.

KLAIN: Yes, he did.

NOVAK: So I guess he feels that 9/11 means that you need Al Sharpton or Wes Clark. Is that right?

KLAIN: No, I'll tell you what he does feel. I'll tell you what he does feel.

He does feel that this administration failed to take the preparations to prevent 9/11, failed to deal with our foreign policy crises after 9/11, and has failed to put together a domestic agenda. That's why he's running for the Democratic nomination for president. And that's why it's time for a change here in Washington.

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: But now he's against the tax cuts, and he was for the tax cuts.

(CROSSTALK)

KLAIN: Absolutely. He said he was for the tax cuts.

CARVILLE: Let me get back to the treasonous felon in the administration.

(LAUGHTER) CARVILLE: All right, Mr. -- one of the people of interest -- I have no idea if he did anything wrong or not -- would be Mr. Rove.

Mr. Rove, I'm told, reported -- worked for Attorney General Ashcroft and was very instrumental in having him appointed. Does this bother you, that there could be a conflict, that someone at the attorney general's office is investigating one of his former people, who acted as a political consultant and who in fact was instrumental in getting the attorney general his job?

WALKER: I think those kinds of attacks on the attorney general and his integrity and so on are

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: No one ever made those attacks on Janet Reno, right? Nobody ever attacked Janet Reno like that.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: They may have, but the fact is, those attacks are outrageous.

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: But let me -- can I make a point?

CARVILLE: Right.

WALKER: There are professionals inside of the Justice Department who understand the need to keep intelligence operations good. And they will go after these people more

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: ... than anybody else.

NOVAK: We're out of time this segment.

When we come back, we'll put our two guests in the "Rapid Fire," short questions, James, and short answers.

And right after the break, Wolf Blitzer has the latest on the arrest of another translator from Guantanamo Bay. They are dangerous, those translators. Is there a spy ring targeting the U.S. detention facility there?

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(APPLAUSE) CARVILLE: Now it's time for "Rapid Fire," short questions, short answers, and no time for leaking.

Here again, former Republican Congressman Bob Walker of Pennsylvania, and Ron Klain, an adviser to Wesley Clark for president campaign.

NOVAK: Ron Klain, General Hugh Shelton, your candidate, General Clark's old boss, says the only thing wrong with your candidate is integrity and character. What do you say to that?

KLAIN: I would say, I think before General Shelton throws around charges like that, he ought to say what he's talking about. General Clark was in a big power struggle in the Pentagon. He made some people mad. He served our country incredibly well for 34 years. Anyone who knows his military record knows that.

CARVILLE: Congressman, you're a fiscal conservative. Will the deficit this year be greater than $550 billion or less than $550 billion?

WALKER: Well, I think it's very likely that it's going to be higher than $550 billion.

CARVILLE: Higher than 550?

WALKER: It very well could be. But until we build some growth into the economy, it's going to be very hard to manage deficits.

CARVILLE: Right. Right.

WALKER: And so we need a lot of economic growth, which is the reason why tax cuts are important.

NOVAK: Ron Klain, Lyndon B. Johnson and George Bush Sr. got to the presidency via the vice presidency. Would Wes Clark, a neophyte, take a vice presidential nomination if it was offered him?

KLAIN: I don't know. He's running to be president. He's not running to be vice president. I think he's going to be our party's nominee. And I think he's going to be our next president.

CARVILLE: Congressman, because of high deficits and exorbitant costs in Iraq, by what percent do you think the Congress should cut domestic spending, like education and health care? Do you think 20 percent is a fair number for a cut for that?

WALKER: Well, no, I don't think that we should be cutting. I think what we ought to be doing is holding the line on programs and trying to make certain that we allow the growth of the economy to catch up with the needs of the government.

NOVAK: How do you think of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican, as the governor of Democratic California?

(BELL RINGING) KLAIN: Speechless. Speechless.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: Speechless. All right.

NOVAK: OK.

Thank you very much. Ron Klain, thank you very much.

Bob Walker.

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: What do you think? Should there be -- should there be an independent investigation of the CIA leak, instead of just leaving it to the good old Justice Department? We'll have the results after the break.

And in "Fireback," one of our viewers says Wesley Clark is a quick study of all the wrong things.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Hey, we asked the audience here, should there be an independent investigation of the CIA leak? Big surprise: Democrats, 88 percent yes, 12 percent no; Republicans, 32 percent yes, 68 percent no.

CARVILLE: Republicans are getting a little queasy on you, Bob. You got a third of them already starting to look into this. They don't like the idea of compromising national security and treasonous people.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: "John Ashcroft heading up the investigation into the leak at the White House is like a fox guarding the henhouse" -- Willa Cunningham, San Angelo, Texas.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Rove's ties will be explored very exhaustively here.

NOVAK: Maybe we can get Janet Reno as the special counsel.

CARVILLE: Maybe so. She was, I'll tell you, a hell of a lot better attorney general than this clown is.

NOVAK: Walter Keene of New York City says: "Wesley Clark has only been in the Democratic Party for two weeks and he's already calling for independent investigations. He certainly got a hang on the Democratic talking points pretty fast." (APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: And it's wonderful. Just two years ago he was slobbering over George Bush, two years ago.

CARVILLE: I want to promise you this, Bob. I will never call for as many criminal investigations of the administration as the Republicans did of the previous.

"If Dennis Miller is now a Republican and Wesley Clark is a Democrat, I think that's a good trade." No, it's a great trade.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: "Could we get that kind of trade for our Trailblazer basketball team?" -- Harry Williams, Portland, Oregon.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: That's pretty good.

NOVAK: If I were Barbara Boxer, I would watch out for Dennis Miller, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Emma Harris -- the beautiful Emma Harris of Saint Louis, Missouri, says -- "I love how the Democrats criticized independent counsel investigations nonstop, and now they can't run fast enough to reinstate them. Welcome to the political season."

You know what we call that, Emma? Hypocrisy. Hypocrisy.

CARVILLE: You know what hypocrisy is, is not knowing the difference between consensual sex and treason.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: All right. All right, question, question. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James Brad (ph) from Los Angeles, California.

I wanted to know, by demanding an independent investigation into the CIA leak, are the Democrats undermining the ability of the Justice Department?

NOVAK: That's right, because it's all politics, Mr. California. It's just straight politics.

CARVILLE: Unlike in the previous administration, John Ashcroft is 50 times more political on any day than Janet Reno has been all of her life. And if the president were interested in truth, he would get to the bottom line.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Next question. Question. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Lisa Mullins (ph) from Naples, Florida.

I would like to ask Mr. Carville, which Democratic candidate do you think has the best chance of beating Bush?

CARVILLE: The one that wins the nomination.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but I'm going to evade it. But thank you so much for your question. And I love Naples, Florida. It's a great community.

From the left, I'm James Carville. Good night for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: Let's hear it for Sharpton.

From the right, I'm Robert Novak.

Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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