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Did Rush Limbaugh go to Far? Is CIA Scandal Legit or Just Bush Bashing?

Aired October 1, 2003 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): CIA operative outed. National security scandal or Bush bashing? I'll speak exclusively with the man at the center of the storm, journalist Robert Novak.

The first lady offers her own opinion on the leak.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: My husband wants the very highest ethics in the White House. So I'm -- suspect that whenever this washes out we'll see who did it, if anyone did.

BLITZER: We'll hear from CNN's Soledad O'Brien about her interview with Laura Bush.

He's covered public affairs in the nation's capital for decades. But CBS' Bob Schieffer will go public with us about a most private matter.

Rush to judgment? Controversial comments about African American quarterbacks.

DONOVAN MCNABB, EAGLES QUARTERBACK: You know it's somewhat of a -- shocking to -- to actually hear that on a, you know, national TV.

ANNOUNCER: CNN live this house, WOLF BLITZER REPORTS, live from the nation's capital, with correspondents from around the world.



BLITZER: It's Wednesday, October 1, 2003. Hello from Washington. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting.

It began as a leak, barely noticed back in July. But it's led to a raging torrent of accusations and questions. Who outed a CIA operative and why? And as White House workers wade through their phone logs right now, why did the Bush administration wait until now to begin an investigation?


JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Does the president expect somone on his staff... BLITZER (voice-over): The questions keep on coming, but the answers remain elusive. And that's not only keeping alive a budding White House scandal, but clearly, escalating it.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: Make no mistake about it. The president has always held the view that the leaking of classified information is a very serious matter.

BLITZER: At the heart of the issue now, who told syndicated columnist and CNN contributor Robert Novak about the identity of an undercover CIA operative?

Whoever did may have broken the law. Revealing such an identity is a felony, in part, because it could endanger that person's life and the lives of American and foreign associates engaged in intelligence collection.

MCCLELLAN: The president has directed the White House to cooperate fully. That message was sent as soon as he learned of the investigation.

BLITZER: McClellan intimated strongly that the president would expect White House aides to take polygraph examinations if requested by Justice Department investigators.

But Democratic critics on Capitol Hill say they want more.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: Well, now I see the justice department is now starting to investigate. Now isn't that a sweetheart deal? Attorney General John Ashcroft, appointed by this president, investigating the president. If a situation ever cried out for a special counsel, this is it.

BLITZER: Novak's column appeared on July 14. Among other things, Democrats want to know why the White House waited so long to initiate this criminal investigation.

The Justice Department informed White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales of the criminal probe Monday night. Democratic critics also want to know why Gonzales then waited 11 hours to instruct the White House staff to preserve all relevant documents, e-mail and other material as potential evidence.

Republicans say, Take a deep breath. Let the career professionals in the Justice Department and the FBI first investigate the facts before rushing ahead with a special counsel.

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: That is exactly what is happening. But I think it has been distorted, and I think it has been blown way out of proportion before we really know what the facts are.


BLITZER: He's at the center of this storm, the controversy that is raging here in Washington. The naming of the CIA operative appeared in his column back on July 14. That popular columnist syndicated across the country by "The Chicago Sun-Times." And he's well known, of course, to our CNN viewers as the co-host of "CROSSFIRE."

Joining me now for an exclusive conversation, the veteran journalist, is my colleague, Bob Novak. Bob, thanks very much for joining us. Let's talk about this. What made you decide to go out, first of all, and write about former Ambassador Joe Wilson?

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Former Ambassador Wilson broke the secrecy that a retired diplomat, unknown, had gone to Niger in the year 2002 to investigate whether the Iraqis tried to buy yellow cake, uranium from Niger.

BLITZER: You mean when he wrote that op-ed page article in "The New York Times"?

NOVAK: "New York Times." That was on a Sunday morning.

On Monday, I began to report on something that I thought was very curious. Why was it that Ambassador Wilson, who had no particular experience in weapons of mass destruction, and was a sharp critic of the Iraqi policy of President Bush and, also, had been a high-ranking official in the Clinton White House, who had contributed politically to Democrats -- some Republicans, but mostly Democrats -- why was he being selected?

I asked this question to a senior Bush administration official, and he said that he believed that the assignment was suggested by an employee at the CIA in the Counterproliferation Office who happened to be ambassador Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame.

I then called another senior official of the Bush administration, and he said, Oh, you know about that? And he confirmed that that was an accurate story. I then called the CIA. They said that, to their knowledge, he did not -- that the mission was not suggested by Ambassador Wilson's wife, but that she had been asked by her colleagues in the Counterproliferation Office, to contact her husband. So she was involved.

BLITZER: Because he was a former ambassador in Gabon, he knew that part of Africa, and that's, presumably, why they wanted to send him on this mission.

NOVAK: I'm not going into motives. I thought it was strange because he is not an expert in counterproliferation. He had not been ambassador to Niger, he had served in Niger at one time.

BLITZER: But he was a senior on African affairs at the NFC under Clinton?

NOVAK: Under Clinton, that's correct.

So that was the story I wrote, was about the details of Ambassador Wilson's mission, which created a great storm. And in the sixth paragraph of a ten-paragraph story I mentioned that two senior administration officials had said it was suggested by his wife, who worked at the CIA.

BLITZER: Now, in today's column, I think you wrote in "The Chicago Sun-Times" and "The Washington Post," appearing as well, you wrote this: "He asked me not to use here name," referring to a CIA official, "saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment, but that exposure of her name might cause difficulties if she travels abroad. He never suggested to me that Wilson's wife or anybody else would be endangered. If he had, I would not have used her name."

How much did they press you and say, you know what, this is really a problem? Please don't use her name. She's a covert operative.

NOVAK: It was what I call a weak request. In journalism we are asked not to use things constantly. I'm sure you have been. Don't use that, Wolf.

I was asked by the CIA official not to use it. He did not, at any point, say her life was in danger. He did not press it. I thought it was in the nature of a pro forma request after a conversation in which he had detailed Ambassador Wilson's mission, explained to me that the mission -- that there was never a written report. A lot of people don't even know that. There was no written report.


NOVAK: .. oral report. And that it was not very convincing, not a very convincing report. But it was -- and at the end of that suggested that I not -- asked me, requested that not use the name.

BLITZER: But the notion, even that she would never be able to have a foreign assignment, shouldn't that alone have been enough to maybe give you pause?

NOVAK: Oh, no. Let's read what I said, Wolf, not what you said.

BLITZER: This is in today's column.

NOVAK: Yes, read what I said.

BLITZER: "He asked me not to use her name saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment."

NOVAK: Yes. That was not anything -- whether I wrote anything or not, he said she would never be given a foreign assignment. That was a fact that she had moved on to a different phase of her career. It was not because of anything I was writing.


BLITZER: ... this would only cause her difficulties? That's what they said to you?

NOVAK: Difficulties if she was traveling abroad, I guess, on vacation or something. But they said she would not be given a foreign assignment. I thought that was a very weak request, let me repeat.

And the editor of "The Washington Post," Fred Hyatt, said in an editorial as well that if the request had been made by the CIA not to put this information in for the fear of the safety of Mrs. Wilson or anybody else, I certainly would not have used her name. But that request was not made.

Now, why was it not made? There's one of two reasons. One possible reason is that it was a mistake by the CIA. They screwed it up. The other reason is they didn't think her life was in danger. I don't know the answer. It's one of the two though.

BLITZER: It is the subject of an investigation right now.

The other issue that's coming out is the use of your word "operative" to suggest that you knew she was a covert, clandestine operative as opposed to an analyst. There's been some debate. She's currently an analyst, but according to all the sources we have, she used to be an operative.

NOVAK: Well, I have sources, too. I have sources that tell me that she was never an analyst -- I mean, never an operative. She was never covert. She was never covert. Put it that way. She was never covert. She was always what they call "light covert." That is, she was covered, she was working under the cover of another government agency, but she was not a covert operator. I have been told that by other sources...


NOVAK: But I just want to say that the word operative that I said in today's column, Wolf, was a mistake, using that word on my part. I have called hack politicians operatives if you read my column carefully over 40 years. And it's just kind of a throw-away word. I had no knowledge whether or not she was an operative.

BLITZER: All right, the other issue that's come out is this article that appeared in "Newsday," the newspaper on Long Island, July 22 after your July 14 column. The reporters said this. They were following up on your story. "Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. `I didn't dig it out. It was given to me,' he said. `They thought it was significant, they gave me the name, and I used.'"

NOVAK: Now, these reporters made a bad mistake. They said they came to me with the information. I never told them that. And that's not in quotes, is it?

BLITZER: They said that the sources said they -- your sources had come to you...

NOVAK: Yes, but that's not in quotes.

BLITZER: That's not in quotes.

NOVAK: So then they made that up. I never said that. I said I didn't dig it out in the sense I went through the files of the CIA. It was given to me, as I just told you. There's no inconsistency there at all.

But that is -- you have to be very careful, Wolf, with these things because they say that the idea that -- they're saying they came to me. They did not come to me.


BLITZER: ... the quote part is correct, "I didn't dig it out. It was given to me".

NOVAK: I just told you it was given to me. I didn't dig it out of the files there.

Let me tell you this. There are people putting out stories that the White House was trying to find a pawn to put out this information. They went through six people...


BLITZER: ... to smear Joe Wilson.

NOVAK: Yes. And finally came to me. That's not true. As I have told you in detail this story, nobody came to me. Nobody came to me. I never said that. The story in "Newsday" is absolutely incorrect. It's not in my quotes. They never came to me. I went to them in reporting that story.

BLITZER: Other reporters are suggesting that they got these calls, but they didn't do anything...

NOVAK: I don't know if they did or not.

But I resent -- and I resented it when you said it the other day, I really resented when you said that they went to six people and finally found Novak. That is just not the truth. Nobody came to me with this story. I was reporting on Joe Wilson...

BLITZER: This was your initiative?

NOVAK: Entirely.

BLITZER: All right. Now let's -- speaking of Joe Wilson, he was on "Nightline" last night. And he said, as he has in the past, some very, very derogatory words about Karl Rove, the chief political adviser to the president. Let's listen precisely to what Joe Wilson said.


JOE WILSON, FRM. U.S. AMBASSADOR: What I do know or what I have confidence in, based upon what respectable press people in this town have told me, is that a week after the Novak article came out, Karl Rove was still calling around, talking to press people saying Wilson's wife is fair game. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And the suggestion has been made -- and we're not going to ask you to reveal your sources because I know you would never reveal your sources -- that Karl Rove somehow is manipulating this whole thing to get even with Joe Wilson who was critical of the president.

NOVAK: Ambassador Wilson, I'm not going to call him a liar. Certainly, it seems highly improbable that after the story had appeared in print and it was not -- I would like to say that this was a hell of column that rocked Washington. It didn't. It was in the sixth paragraph of a ten-paragraph story.

But after it appeared, Mr. Rove, the idea that he would be going around trying to pedal this column after it appeared in print, it doesn't make sense to me. Maybe it did happen, maybe it didn't. I have no information of that. I would like to see the names of the reporters, though, wouldn't you?

BLITZER: Definitely. A lot of people want it a lot more. And I'm sure presumably in the days and weeks to come we'll know a lot more.

We're almost out of time. But a couple -- just to wrap a couple things up. Had you known that this information, releasing the name, could have endangered her or her colleagues, you would never have reported this?

NOVAK: No, no. I want to rephrase your question. Had I known. You're saying it would have endangered her and her colleagues. I still don't know that to this day.

I will tell you this. If a CIA official said, "You are endangering the life of Mrs. Wilson and her colleagues," I never would have printed it.

BLITZER: But do you have any reason to believe that the source or sources that you spoke to in the administration themselves knew that by giving her name or telling you about her, that this would be causing her any kind of problem?

NOVAK: I really resent that premise that it endangers her life because you're saying if they knew that...


BLITZER: ... they may have thought she was simply an analyst, too.

NOVAK: She might have been. You don't know whether she was and I don't know whether she was. There's no way -- we do not know that fact. I have been told, not by the official sources at the CIA, but the unofficial sources, that she was not a covert operative whose life was in danger. BLITZER: Because this is significant, as you know, because the law also states that you have to have intent, you have to know that by revealing the identity of a covert agent, you're committing this crime. They may not have known.

NOVAK: Let me say one other thing I had in today's column. The person who gave me the original story, I said it was given in an off- handed way during in this conversation and he was not a partisan gun slinger. I said that.

I'm not going to go into more description, but I did feel that the idea that this was some kind of a carefully arranged plot to destroy this woman and her husband, as far as I'm concerned, was nonsense.

It didn't happen that way, and this kind of scandal that has perpetrate in Washington is Washington at its worst.

BLITZER: Bob Novak speaking bluntly as he always does. Thanks very much.

NOVAK: Thank you, Wolf.

Thank you and good luck.

BLITZER: Here is your chance to weigh in on this story. Our "Web Question of the Day" is this -- "Should Bush administration officials -- employees that is -- take lie detector tests as part of the CIA operative leak investigation?" We'll have the results later in this broadcast. You can vote right now, While you're there, I'd love to hear directly from you. Send me your comments. I will try to read some of them at the end of this program. That's also, of course, where you can read my daily online column,

Members of Congress are about to be briefed on the hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But the CIA official in charge of the search is going forward with the investigation.

CNN national security correspondent, David Ensor, is joining us now live with a preview -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, the testimony will be behind closed doors, but the stakes will be high for the man the CIA hired to find Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, whose team has yet to find any. And now he must explain that to skeptics on the Hill.


SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Here we are five months after the fact, after thousands of our inspectors have combed all of those sites and others, and have come up empty. Now Mr. Kay may find evidence of something, but 550 sites of weapons of mass destruction. They just weren't discovered.


ENSOR: The question is, why not, given evidence chemical weapons, at a minimum, were there after the 1991 Gulf War. Are they still hidden or were they destroyed secretly by Saddam so as to keep the world guessing?


CHARLES DUELFER, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I think to a certain extent he may have been bluffing. Bear in mind that he had an existential experience with them that was quite positive. The use of chemical weapons in the war with Iran, I think they believed, saved them.


ENSOR: But David Kay won't argue that Saddam was bluffing, U.S. officials say. He will report finding dual use facilities that could be converted to weapons production on short notice, and an elaborate program to deceive arms inspectors. U.S. officials say they recognize that Congressman, especially those who opposed the war, will likely give their version of Kay's closed-door testimony tomorrow, even if he doesn't. So they're considering putting out a summary of his main points to get their version out, too -- Wolf.

BLITZER: CNN's David Ensor with the latest on that front. Thanks, David, very much.

Investigating the leak. How Capitol Hill is handling the inquiry. A Senate intelligence insider weighs in.

Also, he faces the nation every Sunday. Now, CBS News veteran Bob Schieffer will publicly face a serious life and death personal problem live on this program. You will want to hear this story. It's a story every man needs to hear.



MCNABB: There should have been a comment made, maybe from the camera guy. You know, somebody should have jumped out there and said something.


BLITZER: At the center of the controversy, NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb fires back at Rush Limbaugh's comments.

First, our "News Quiz."


BLITZER (voice-over): Who was the first African-American quarterback to break into the NFL? Joe Gillam? Willie Thorwer? Doug Williams? Marlon Briscoe? The answer coming up. (END VIDEOTAPE)


BLITZER: You're looking at these live pictures, a horrible accident west of Chicago in Marengo, Illinois, a multiple car accident. Five dead confirmed as of right now. But you're looking at these live pictures. We'll get more and get back to you on that. It's actually in Hampshire, Illinois, just west of Chicago, courtesy of our affiliate, WBBM, these live pictures, terrible car accident out in -- in Illinois.

Moving to other news we're following right now. Less than a week to California's historical recall election, and new poll numbers indicating a new governor potentially for the state.

Our national correspondent Bob Franken is on the story in Los Angeles.



BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): General Wesley Clark is trying hard to convince Democrats he's one of them. Gray Davis is trying even harder to convince California voters he should continue as their governor.

CLARK: I'm here to support all of you who agree with me that you must vote no on this recall.

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: How are you going to vote on the recall?




DAVIS: Let's get out and make it happen.

FRANKEN: Davis can hope that the polls are terribly wrong. The latest "Los Angeles Times" poll -- 56 percent of those defined as likely voters say they'll vote to recall him; 42 percent say no. Margin of error is three points, according to "The Times."

For the Democrats, it's bad news, bad news. Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger's upward surge continues. This poll also shows him at 40 percent. Cruz Bustamante at 32, down slightly. And Tom McClintock down slightly. Whoever gets the most votes wins.

Arianna Huffington -- she came in at a half percentage point.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (I), FMR. CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: I'm pulling out and I'm going to concentrate every ounce of time and energy over the next week working to defeat the recall because I've realized that that's the only way now to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger.

FRANKEN: But Schwarzenegger is gaining confidence with every poll.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIF. GOV. CANDIDATE: We are ready to take action, and we are ready to return California to the people.

DAVIS: Former President Clinton is back in the state on radio.

WILLIAM CLINTON (D), FMR. U.S. PRESIDENT: Gray Davis hasn't lost heart. Don't you lose heart. You go out and beat this thing. Thank you.


FRANKEN: Well, it should be pointed out, Wolf, that President Clinton was in the state recently opposing the recall. But since that time, support for the recall has grown -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. CNN's Bob Franken covering the story for us. Bob, thanks very much.

And he's not backing down.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: They have risen up here and are demanding my head on a platter simply because I haven't said what they want to hear.


BLITZER: Rush Limbaugh, race and representations colliding off the field.


MCNABB: It's pretty -- pretty heavy. You know, it's something obviously that I've been going through ever since I was young.


BLITZER: Revved up after Limbaugh says he's overrated. NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb fights back.

And private battle revealed. The veteran CBS broadcaster Bob Schieffer goes public with a very personal, private problem that could change your life once he talks about. He'll join me live. That's coming this hour.



BLITZER (voice-over): Earlier we asked, who was the first African-American quarterback to break into the NFL? The answer: Willie Thrower. In 1953, he played for the Chicago Bears. He appeared in just one game and never played another NFL game.


BLITZER: Rush Limbaugh of radio fame is raising some eyebrows with what some call a racially charged comment about an NFL quarterback.

CNN's Kara Henderson is at the CNN Center in Atlanta. She's got reaction, developments on this controversy -- Kara.

KARA HENDERSON, CNN SPORTS: Well, Wolf, ESPN did not hire Rush Limbaugh to talk the X's and O's of football so much as it hired him for his opinionated, often controversial style. Well, he certainly delivered on Sunday. Now, the question is, Did he go too far?


LIMBAUGH: I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.


LIMBAUGH: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well, I think there is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really didn't deserve.

HENDERSON (voice-over): McNabb went out and had his best game of the season, leading the Eagles to a 23-13 over Buffalo. And during Philadelphia's weekly press conference today, McNabb responded to Limbaugh's comments.

MCNABB: It's pretty heavy. It is something, obviously, that I've been going through since I was young, through high school, through college, and through the NFL. You figure it would have been over by now, but, obviously, if he said it on TV, then I'm sure everyone else has thought about it or is on their mind. So I'm sure he's not the only one that feels that way. It's somewhat shocking to actually hear that on national TV.

I'm trying to figure out why it was even brought up. I really have no answers for that, you know. Is it because of the money? Is it because, again, what Iverson said, we're not looked upon as not human beings because we're getting paid that much money. It is something which I'm still looking for answers for. Is it ratings? Did the ratings go up?

HENDERSON: Limbaugh addressed the issue again today on his radio show. And he's not backing down.

LIMBAUGH: I said something that they find disagreeable. I said something that not only did they not agree with, I said something that they prefer not to hear. So they have risen up here and are demanding my head on a platter simply because I haven't said what they want to hear.

If there really was this so-called freedom of speech in this country, there would be a tantamount admission that there are all kinds of opinions everywhere and whether an opinion is about a particular player or the opinion is about the media, it is just an opinion. It's just words.

HENDERSON: Well, as for ESPN's reaction, executive vice president Mark Shapiro is down playing the race issue, saying the comments were not politically motivated. He added that they hired Rush for his no-holds barred opinion. He's giving it to them. So Wolf, if you are of the mind that no publicity is bad publicity, than this has certainly been good for ESPN.

BLITZER: All right, CNN's Kara Henderson, thanks very much for that report.

And this foot note, the controversy has made the leap to the political world. Here is what the Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark had to say about it to CNN this afternoon.


WESLEY CLARK, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that ABC should fire Rush Limbaugh. That comment is outrageous. It has no place in modern America. We've heard enough. That's it.


BLITZER: Clark made his comments while campaigning with the California Governor Gray Davis.

Controversy mounting after a CIA operative is outed. The blame game intensifying. Insight into the investigation from a Washington insider. CBS news veteran Bob Schieffer with a private revelation, he will tell us his personal story, a very, very important story. That's coming up this hour. His announcement, by the way, could save your life.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Right now, I'm really glad to be here, a world away from Washington and politics.


BLITZER: Away from Washington, but not the spotlight. The first lady, Laura Bush, speaking out about the CIA leak and possible White House involvement. Stay with us.


BLITZER: I want to update you on this story we've been following west of Chicago in Hampshire, Illinois. Now confirmed seven dead. A multi vehicle crash out there. A pretty horrendous situation. Six critically injured right now as well. We'll continue to monitor the story outside of Chicago. A bad car accident out there.

Let's get back now to our top story, the outing of a CIA operative. The investigation that's now under way and the possible harm done to national security interest. Joining us from Capitol Hill, the Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia. He's a member of the Intelligence Committee among others -- the judiciary, I believe, as well. Senator, do you think it is time for an independent counsel, a special counsel to take a look at this?

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Wolf, I don't think we're at a point yet, to where we can say that it is time for somebody outside the Justice Department to make an investigation. We have a mechanism in place. We have a process whereby the Justice Department is deemed to make a preliminary investigation.

Let's see what they find. They may find out nothing was involved. They may find it points to something very, very serious. If it is very, very serious and it points towards the administration, then I that think we ought to relook at it. But there are any number of sources from this which information could have been leaked. And it is up to the Justice Department to make the preliminary investigation and make a decision on which direction to go.

BLITZER: A lot of people suggesting that you would have a different attitude if this happened, let's say, during the Clinton administration. The Republicans would be on the political warpath.

CHAMBLISS: Well, at that point in time we had an independent counsel law. And I think we did the right thing to let that law expire, because it did allow for a significant investigation to take place with minimal congressional approval. And that was not right.

The fact that we got away from that on a bipartisan basis should be a clear sign to everybody that we ought to do the preliminary investigation, then step back. Let's look at it case by case as we intended to do after the independent counsel law expired. That's where we are right now.

BLITZER: Have you gotten any briefings or gotten any specific information on how much potential damage this kind of leak, the naming of a covert clandestine operative, at least in her past, that could cause?

CHAMBLISS: Well, yes and no. We've had some discussion within the Intelligence Committee and obviously, I can't discuss that. The fact of the matter is that I don't, myself, know today exactly what position this person was in, what her duties entailed and whether or not it really was a covert operation that she was involved in.

That's the type of thing that needs to be looked into, and that will play into exactly what direction we go in. But the fact of the matter, Wolf, is any leak of this nature is very serious, and the president has been very explicit in saying that this should not happen and whoever was involved in it needs to be removed, and we're going to make sure that happens. If it's within the administration, fine. If it's outside the administration, then they need to be removed also. BLITZER: Senator Chambliss, thanks very much for joining us. Always appreciate having you on our program.

CHAMBLISS: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's turn to someone else now whose been in Washington for many years. Bob Schieffer, of course, is the anchor and moderator of CBS News' "Face The Nation. He is the chief Washington correspondent for CBS News. And he's joining us here.

What do you make of this. I described it earlier, almost, as a perfect storm in the world of politics here in Washington. Is this a scandal in the making?

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS: This is a very serious matter. There are leaks and then there are leaks. You have to be very careful about this kind of a leak where, obviously, some lives could be put in danger. I think the president, from a political stand point, needs to call his staff in and tell them, I need to know who did this and why they did that by the close of business. And the president can do that. And then, those people need to be separated from the government. This is the kind of thing that can get totally out of hand from a political standpoint and unravel a presidency. I think the president...

BLITZER: When you say unravel the presidency. We're talking Watergate maybe.

SCHIEFFER: Well, What would have happened if Richard Nixon heard these people pulled a stupid stunt of breaking into the Democratic national at head quarters?

If he immediately separated himself from that instead of going through cover stories, he might have finished out his presidency. This is not Watergate. I'm saying these are the kind of little things that can get out of hand. And I think the president, from a political stand point, needs to find out who did this and get them out of there. I don't think he needs to wait for a Justice Department investigation. I think they can find out in the White House if they want to know.

BLITZER: As you and I well know, going back -- you've been in Washington longer than I have. The cover-up, if there is a cover-up -- we don't know -- is worse than the original crime, if there was a crime.

SCHIEFFER: What is to be gained by the White House by letting this drag out over a matter of weeks?

Do they think the Democrats are going to sit down in a corner and say, we'll wait until you come back with an answer?

They are not going to do that. It is in the president's hands.

BLITZER: The president should find out who did it, fire that person, and then give all the information to the justice department and move on? SCHIEFFER: And tell everybody he did it.

BLITZER: And that's it. All right, Bob Schieffer stand by because we have more to talk about. And we're going to change subjects dramatically.

Silently suffering at least until now, Bob, will share a very personal experience that has changed his life. And his story once you hear it could save yours. You have to stick around and watch this.

Plus, the first lady, Laura Bush, is visiting Russia. She's speaking out to our own Soledad O'Brien. A report from Moscow. That's ahead as well.


BLITZER: Welcome back. The award winning CBS News journalist Bob Schieffer revealed today, he is battle a serious illness. Bob is the anchor, of course, moderator of "Face the Nation." He's joining us once again to talk about that.

When I heard about this, Bob, I was shocked. First of all, tell our viewers what's going on.

SCHIEFFER: Well, this has been quite a year for me, Wolf. In February of this year, hi just written a book. It had just gone to number three on "The New York Times" best seller list, which is a thrill. It's just a thrill that I can't think of anything more fun.

BLITZER: It is a great book.

SCHIEFFER: The "Face the Nation" was doing better than it had in its whole history. And then on my birthday, February 25 when I was 66-years-old I discovered I had bladder cancer. 50,000 people in America will find out that same thing this year. And I at first was reluctant to talk about this. But my friend, Hamilton Jordan, who is a three-time cancer survivor, said he thought it would be a good thing if I did talk about it. Because it might help other people.

To make a long story short, I went to the hospital the next day. A surgeon removed it. They do it through a catheter. He thought he got most it. I went under the treatment for this. And the treatment for this is unusual. Basicly what they do is once a week, they inject you with tuberculosis bacteria.

Who thought of that?

BLITZER: We have heard of chemotherapy and radiation. But this is quite radical.

SCHIEFFER: But this is like who eat the first oyster. Who thought of this?

But any ways they give this once a week for six weeks and you rest a while and give you more. To make a long story short, about three weeks ago I found out -- I finished the treatment and found out that I'm completely clean. I've had three separate biopsies. And we won't know for sure for a couple of years, but, so far, everything is good. And it looks like, at least to this point, I have beaten this thing. But it would not have happened had I not gone to the hospital immediately.

BLITZER: What exactly were the symptoms?

What made you go to the hospital to your doctor, first of all, right away?

SCHIEFFER: It is gross to talk about. It is blood in the urine. If you see it, you should go immediately to a doctor. I had just noticed this after working out in the gym one day. I thought I strained myself or something. I thought, no. I better go to the doctor and find out what this is all about.

BLITZER: Thank god your doctor was a good doctor.

SCHIEFFER: This is the main symptom. Had I waited another couple of weeks, this would have gotten outside the bladder and you are talking radiation, perhaps having the bladder removed and having a tube in your side.

BLITZER: When you say waited a couple weeks, does this type of cancer spread that quickly?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I had what was diagnosed as what they call a grade three, which is an extremely aggressive cancer, most aggressive cancer. It just grows fast. You have to get on it fast. Wolf, the news is, saying now that you have cancer does not mean that you're going to die from cancer. Every year the survival rate is better than it was the year before. And that's the important thing. Men are so reluctant to go to the hospital. Men much more so than women. And this is the fourth common cancer now among men now. This is the main symptom. If it happens, go to the doctor because weeks matter.

BLITZER: And don't be embarrassed.

SCHIEFFER: And don't be embarrassed. If you get it quickly enough, there is a treatment. Here are interesting statistics my friend Hamilton Jordan gave to me. Right now 40 percent of all Americans will get cancer in some form. By the year 2010, half our population will get cancer. And the reason for that is, we're doing such a good job now of managing other diseases like diabetes and heart trouble that we're living longer. And the longer you live, the greater the chances of getting cancer. We're all going to have to deal with this on way or the other. And we need to be up front about it. Get this done. I mean, time really matters in this case.

BLITZER: There is some suggestion that tobacco could be a cause of this kind of bladder cancer?

SCHIEFFER: Men who smoke are four times more likely to get bladder cancer. Also, those who work around certain chemicals are likely to get bladder cancer. But also, some people that just -- they don't know why they get it. It just shows up. But it's something... BLITZER: You haven't had a cigarette in 25 years?

SCHIEFFER: No. I stopped smoking in 1974. I was a very heavy tobacco user. I also chewed tobacco in those days, in my old baseball days. I haven't smoked in all that time. And I haven't had a drink of alcohol since 1988. And I work out. I take care of myself. But my mother died of breast cancer, Wolf, and she died because she was afraid to go to the hospital. She was one of those -- she was a strong woman. When we were kids growing up, if you were sick more than three days, she come in and say, you've been sick three days. It is time to get up and go to school. And that's how she was. But you cannot wish away cancer. You have to get it treated. But the news is, every day they're finding something new. The survival rate is increasing every day. But it is just so necessary to tell people. Get to the doctor when you see this. Don't be embarrassed about it. It happens to people all the time. And it can be treated.

BLITZER: And I salute you for speaking out on this because you're going to save people's lives by appearing on this program and other programs.

How difficult, though, was it for a private person like yourself to make that decision, to go out and tell the world what happened to you?

SCHIEFFER: Well, it's like when you first find out you have cancer. The hardest part about it is to say, I've got cancer. I remember I sort of said it out loud to myself, I've got cancer. And after saying that, it was easier from then on because I decided I would do something about it. I was very nervous about doing this. I am a private person on things like this. But I just decided, well, maybe it would help save lives. And that's why I've done it.

BLITZER: Do you feel well? Are you okay now?

SCHIEFFER: I feel great.

BLITZER: We'll see you on Sunday on "Face the Nation?"

SCHIEFFER: I'll be there.

BLITZER: For the foreseeable future, God willing?

SCHIEFFER: I think so.

BLITZER: And the doctors say that, as of now, there is nothing else to do? You are cured? And let's hope for the best.

SCHIEFFER: What I'll do is basically, I'll go back every three months to have an exam. Then we'll see what happens from there. The thing is, if something does crop up, we'll, again, try to catch it in the early stages. I feel really good about this. I think I really dodged a bullet.

BLITZER: For a lot of us in Washington you've always been a journalistic role model. But now you're, in many more important ways, a role model for millions of people. Thanks very much.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: The book was terrific.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Is the paperback out yet?

SCHIEFFER: Comes out in January.

BLITZER: Will there be a section on this?

SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, it is a thought. I hadn't really thought about that, but that's an idea. Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Out of the country but not out of the loop. Here what Laura Bush has to say about that CIA leak. Our Soledad O'Brien spoke with the first lady earlier today. We'll have a report from Moscow. That's coming up next.


BLITZER: Welcome back. The first lady, Laura Bush, is focusing on the joy of reading today as she continues her visit to Moscow. Here is CNN's Soledad O'Brien in the Russian Capitol.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, another busy day for the first lady, as she's spending one full day in Moscow. Today, she toured the festival of school libraries, which is being hosted by her Russian counterpart, First Lady Lyudmila Putin.

And she brought along with her, three American authors, that any parent would know, R.L. Stein, whose the author of the "Goosebumbs" Series. Also, Peter Laurenges (sic), who is the author of the "Babysitter's Club" series. And also Mark Brown who is the author and illustrator of "Arthur the Aardvark" book series.

Then, she toured the Library of Congress exhibit, which included some Russian books published in the United States and also has an extensive online collection of over 330,000 digital photographs from the Russian-American project.

Mrs. Bush then had the opportunity to tour, along with Mrs. Putin, a computer lab at the festival and was able to talk to two young ladies who were translating the poetry of Robert Frost from the original English into Russian. They talked a little bit about their project and how they're turning that into a book, in Russian, when they're done.

We had an opportunity to sit down with the first lady when she was taking a short break. We asked her about some of the things that she's missing while on her trip here that are happening back home. For example, the investigation by the Justice Department into a leak, allegedly, from the White House. Here's what she had to say about that.


L. BUSH: My action is the same that I know the president's was, which is, he, certainly, doesn't want to think there are any leaks out of the White House. I know they're cooperating fully with any sort of investigation. They're expecting anyone who might have done that, if they did, to come forward. My husband wants the very highest ethics in the White House.


O'BRIEN: Wolf, Mrs. Bush's own book festival will get under way on October 4. So a fairly quick turnaround when she leaves Moscow to make that happen back in the United States.

So far she's certainly been well received by the young children she's been meeting, and also the adults as well. Tomorrow, Mrs. Bush meets with Cherie Blair. They will have a short coffee before she heads to the airport and heads home. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Soledad O'Brien, thanks very much. Soledad is in Moscow with the first lady. And when we come back, should Bush administration employees take lie detector tests as part of the CIA operative leak investigation? That's our Web question of the day. You can still vote,


BLITZER: Here are the results of our Web question of the day. As you see, "should Bush administration employees take lie detector tests as part of the CIA operative leak investigation." Look at this, 82 percent say yes, 18 percent say no.

That's it for today. Not a scientific poll. "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now.


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