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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
Condoleezza Rice Testifies; Interview With Gary Hart, James Woolsey; Interview With Jack Germond
Aired April 8, 2004 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He made clear to us that he did not want to respond to al Qaeda one attack at a time. He told me he was tired of swatting flies.
BOB KERREY, 9/11 COMMISSIONER: Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to al Qaeda?
ANNOUNCER: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice testifies before the 9/11 Commission, but did she answer administration critics? We'll review her testimony with former National Security Commission co-chairman, Gary Hart, and former CIA director, James Woolsey.
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANIDIDATE: John Kerry has what it takes right here to be president of the United States.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: But I'm just not going to attack a friend.
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: I've already said it's not an option. So I'm staying where I am.
ANNOUNCER: The veep stakes race. Who's at the top of the list to be Kerry's running mate? We'll get the odds from one of the original boys on the bus.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from the Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice today offered a strong defense of pre-9/11 White House security policies. Rice faced some tough questions under oath from members of the commission investigating the 9/11 terror attacks. The hearing grew contentious at times as Rice and some questioners disputed whether terrorism was always a top White House agenda.
CNN's Bob Franken kept a close eye on this morning's hearings. He is here in Washington -- Bob.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And what was so interesting, of course, is that for the longest time, Condoleezza Rice was not permitted by the White House to testify before the commission in public. They cited questions of confidentiality and the advice with the president. But once she got up to the commission for her testimony today, she was unyielding in her defense of the administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: There was no silver bullet that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. In hindsight, if anything might have helped stop 9/11, it would have been better information about threats inside the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKEN: And there was very little pretense of bipartisanship. Democratic members of the committee went after Condoleezza Rice quite frequently. One of the questions, how much should the president have known about the growing threats of a terrorist attack in the United States, specifically centering on a presidential daily briefing of August 6, 2001? Very sharp questioning from Democrat Richard Ben- Veniste.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, 9/11 COMMISSIONER: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB.
RICE: I believe the title was "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKEN: Nevertheless, said Rice, this was not considered a warning to the president, rather a historical look at terrorism. Democrats and various members of the committee said that, in fact, this document should be declassified. It's still classified, even though she talked about it. As well, as a national presidential security directive which was delivered to the president on September 4, just a week before the attacks in which a whole series of moves against al-Qaeda were outlined, including diplomacy, including disrupting -- disrupting al Qaeda's financial situation, and covert action.
Now, the question was again -- a different member of the committee -- this committee member was Bob Kerrey, former Democratic senator -- commenting on Condoleezza Rice's claim that the president had said that he wanted this program because he was tired of swatting flies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERREY: You said the president was tired of swatting flies. Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to al Qaeda prior to 9/11? RICE: I think what the president was speaking to was...
KERREY: No, no. What fly had he swatted?
RICE: Well, the disruptions abroad was what he was really focusing on when the CIA would go after...
KERREY: No, he hadn't swatted -- Dr. Rice, we only swatted a fly once on the 20th of August 1998. We didn't swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FRANKEN: He was referring to President Clinton's action in 1998, sending a cruise missile against al Qaeda. The message from Condoleezza Rice was that the hindsight was much clearer than what had had gone on before September 11. Nothing that could have been done. That silver bullet wasn't there, she said, that would have prevented the attacks of 9/11. Hindsight being a very polite word for second- guessing -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Bob Franken, thank you very much.
And the reaction to Rice's testimony from Capitol Hill was swift and largely divided along party lines. CNN's congressional correspondent Joe Johns has more on that.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy.
It was about what you would expect. Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia summed it up by saying, going in, Condoleezza Rice wasn't going to change any minds, and she did not. Nonetheless, it was a very closely watched event here on Capitol Hill and around the city, in fact.
Pretty orchestrated responses, particularly from Republicans on the Senate floor, for example. Even while Condoleezza Rice was testifying, Senator Mitch McConnell, the second ranking Republican in the United States Senate, was taking to the floor, criticizing the 9/11 Commission for partisan politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: Hopefully, the commission will identify additional methods to improve U.S. security. But forgive me for not being terribly optimistic. I fear the commission has lost sight of its goal and has become a political casualty of the electoral hunting season.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: Now, another number of Republicans also weighed in at a news conference after Condoleezza Rice's testimony. They talked about unity and the need to stop placing blame.
Democrats tended to be less organized in their responses. A number of different responses. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia indicating, in his view, there really was nothing new here. Senator Bob Graham has said he thinks there hasn't been a real accountability on September 11. And one Democrat, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, took to the floor of the United States Senate and said the administration has not gone far enough to admit failure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Unfortunately, we did not hear from Adviser Rice three important words: we made mistakes. Of course, we made mistakes.
This administration made mistakes. The previous administrations made mistakes. But the inability of this administration and of the national security adviser to admit that mistakes were made make us fear that we will make future mistakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: And the sniping also continued over former terrorism chief Richard Clarke. The Democrats consider him a truth teller. The Republicans call him essentially an opportunist.
Judy, back to you.
WOODRUFF: All right. Joe Johns, the reaction pretty much along partisan lines, as you said. Thanks very much.
Well, joining me now are two guest who's have thought long and hard about the U.S. response to terrorism. They are former Senator Gary Hart, who co-chaired the U.S. Commission on National Security, which completed its report in February of 2001, and James Woolsey, who served as CIA director during part of the Clinton administration.
Gentlemen, good to see you both.
JAMES WOOLSEY, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: Good to be with you, Judy.
GARY HART, FMR. CO-CHAIR, U.S. COMMISSION ON NATIONAL SECURITY: A pleasure.
WOODRUFF: Senator Hart, to you first. Did we learn anything new from Condoleezza Rice today?
HART: No, and I frankly hadn't expected to. I thought her appearance was, if you will, over-reported. She said almost exactly what one could have predicted. And that is, we were taking every step reasonable to take. I happen to disagree with that, but that's what she was going to say.
WOODRUFF: Predictable from her, Jim Woolsey?
WOOLSEY: Well, some of the substance was predictable. But I think she made points very well. I think it was a real success for her. I think that she made two key points much more effectively than the administration has before.
One was that much of the problem that might have been correctable pre-9/11 had to do with coordination of intelligence inside the United States. And this is largely an FBI matter. And also FBI and CIA not sharing material, and some of that was required by law. She made that point very well.
WOOLSEY: I think she also came across as a strategic thinker. She made the point that the administration was focusing on dealing with Afghanistan so it could deal with al Qaeda, and then on Pakistan so it could deal with Afghanistan. And that's, I think, what she meant about not swatting flies, not just shooting some cruise missiles at some empty structures.
WOODRUFF: Well, I want to ask you about that.
But, Senator Hart, what about her point that there really was no clear threat? That in all these documents and memos that emerged from the government, whatever agency, that there never was a clear threat?
HART: Well, I think this is disingenuous. It's a bit like saying at the local level that a group of citizens warning the mayor and the police department that there is going to be a wave of burglaries. And when the burglaries occur, the defense says, you didn't say which house, what night, and what method.
There are steps that could have been taken to make this more difficult. When I was a national candidate, Secret Service said if somebody wants to kill you, they'll probably kill you. Our job is to make it as difficult as possible. We didn't do that.
WOODRUFF: Jim Woolsey, is it credible to say that those threats were not specific? Which is what we heard her say in so many words?
WOOLSEY: It's a matter of precision. The commission that the senator co-chaired, the Hart-Rudman Commission, did a superb job. And I think we did a good job in the one that I was on that Jerry Bremer chaired on terrorism. But none of us really said people are going to be flying airplanes into buildings.
And I think that they had general threat information. They knew something bad was likely to happen. But they didn't have enough to, I think, take steps to specifically prevent what happened on 9/11.
HART: But that's what the intelligence services are for. It's not commissions that come up with those details.
When a president is warned by 14 Americans who have spent two- and-a-half years studying this that something bad is going to happen, we can't tell you when, where or how, that president then calls up the intelligence services and the law enforcement agencies with a degree of urgency that was not present here and says, is this going to happen or not? And, if so, what is your projection as to how it might happen?
WOODRUFF: You're referring to the report of your own commission...
WOODRUFF: ... that came out.
HART: Eight months before 9/11.
WOODRUFF: And in a nutshell, you said to Condoleezza Rice and others what?
HART: We said create -- first of all, create a national coordinating agency with statutory and budgetary authority to protect our borders and prepare for attacks. And that recommendation was totally neglected and only supported by the president eight months after 9/11.
WOODRUFF: Jim Woolsey, very quickly -- and I want to come back to this after the break -- doesn't that say that there was a lack of urgency then?
WOOLSEY: I think they were getting organized and they probably could have done some things faster. But keep in mind the Clinton administration had eight years. And from the mid-90s on, it was quite clear that al Qaeda was a very severe threat, and they hit empty buildings in 1998 with cruise missiles and they tried law enforcement.
And that was not a particularly felicitous or helpful overall approach. I think that's what the president meant when he said he didn't want to swat flies.
WOODRUFF: All right. We want to get back to this very point. When we come back after the break, more questions for Gary Hart and Jim Woolsey in just a minute.
And later on, Bill Schneider is going to delve into Condoleezza Rice's testimony and find out what may be her most politically damaging admission for the Bush administration.
Also ahead, veteran journalist Jack Germond joins me for some ticket talk.
Plus, President George W. Bush's twin challenges.
WOODRUFF: Continuing our discussion on the U.S. response to terrorism and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission, with me, former Senator Gary Hart, who chaired the U.S. Commission on National Security, and former CIA director, James Woolsey.
Senator Hart, what about what we just heard from Jim Woolsey, that the Clinton administration had eight years and they were, in the mind of George W. Bush, swatting flies?
HART: I think we'll not know the true facts about this and until the 9/11 Commission report comes out. We do know that Richard Clarke said there was a greater degree of urgency at certain points. And I think he specifically said the summer and fall of '99, as I recall, in the Clinton years then, the first eight months of the Bush years.
I think you had to have been inside to gauge something as intangible as urgency. But I know Sandy Berger has said that we had a lot of the agencies up and alert, on a high state of alert during a period of time. And I don't know exactly when that was.
WOODRUFF: Jim Woolsey, you don't think the Bush administration will be ultimately vulnerable for not having had a greater sense of urgency during those first months?
WOOLSEY: Well, it's hard to say. They were proceeding with deliberate speed. But it seemed to me they were going in a positive direction.
They were considering the strategy. They did see that they had to -- if they were going to get rid of al Qaeda, they had to change the government in Afghanistan. That meant that they had to get on the right side and work with Pakistan.
And they brought on Zalmay Khalilzad, a Pakistani -- I mean -- sorry -- an African-American, very experienced national security expert who is now the ambassador in Afghanistan. They were focused, it seems to me, on the right things.
It's very hard to get moving in any administration these days because your people aren't on board and until the summer. And some of them the fall. The clearance process and confirmation process takes so long.
HART: Could I just say that I think it's not either or. You can attack al Qaeda or anyone else abroad, but that's not a reason for not doing more to coordinate here at home. Clearly, there was laxity in the system.
Whose responsibility that was, Clinton or Bush, history must judge. But we did have information that wasn't circulated, and there wasn't coordination. And to say we were fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan and, therefore, were occupied there, I think is insufficient.
WOOLSEY: I want to agree with the senator on that. I mean, the FAA left the cockpit doors flimsy. The CIA didn't transmit information about two terrorists that it had information on to the State Department. So they got into the country. The FBI couldn't have the agents in Minnesota talk to the agents in Arizona. There were a lot of ways the country as a whole was asleep.
WOODRUFF: Should that presidential daily brief of August 6 be made public? What do you both think, yes or no?
WOODRUFF: Yes. Any...
WOOLSEY: I don't really think the history of giving very highly classified documents like that out to the public is a good one to establish. It probably goes with my former job.
WOODRUFF: What about Mitch McConnell, Senator Mitch McConnell's comment that this commission is already a political casualty of this election? In other words, whatever they put out in late July, it's going to be consumed by the election, the presidential election. Do you believe that, Senator Hart?
HART: No, not if they do the work properly. I don't think so. I think -- I know most of the members of that commission and I think they're diligent, committed Americans.
You know, in Washington, everything is partisan and political. But I think there are people genuinely in this country who want to do what's best for America.
WOOLSEY: I agree. Forty percent or so of the country is going to vote Republican, 40 percent or so Democratic. And the people who swing the balance probably don't start paying attention till after the World Series. There will be plenty of time then, I think, to focus on what this commission does, and I think they're able people and they'll probably do a good job.
WOODRUFF: So you think its work will be taken seriously?
HART: Well, that depends on people in your business.
WOOLSEY: I agree with that.
WOODRUFF: You're pointing the finger back at us.
WOOLSEY: It certainly will be by the people, but they have to know what the conclusions are.
WOODRUFF: All right. It's very good to see both of you. Former Senator Gary Hart, Jim Woolsey, good to see both of you.
HART: A pleasure.
WOOLSEY: Good to see you.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. Thank you.
And we'll have more on the 9/11 Commission in just a little bit. But next, that glaring vacancy at the bottom of the Democratic ticket. I'll ask journalist Jack Germond whose names he's hearing as top contenders for the job.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Well, recently, veteran journalist Jack Germond stopped by for a little ticket talk. I asked who he's hearing are the top names for a possible Kerry pick.
JACK GERMOND, BALTIMORE SUN: Well, I'm working on the assumption that he's probably going to want to choose a governor, get somebody out of Washington. In that case, I put it to people like Richardson.
WOODRUFF: Bill Richardson?
GERMOND: Bill Richardson, because there's a huge Latino vote that has not been tapped which he could tap. People like Mark Warner, who have shown they can win in a conservative state.
WOODRUFF: The governor of Virginia.
GERMOND: Yes. And Vilsack is a Midwesterner, Tom Vilsack of Iowa.
WOODRUFF: Governor of Iowa.
GERMOND: Right. Ed Rendell, who is unfortunately another recent (ph) liberal, but he's a guy who will fill up the screen.
GERMOND: In Pennsylvania.
Now, those are the kind of people I think about. But, you know, we do this every four years. And it's fun. But it shouldn't be taken too seriously since none of us know anything. It's all in his head.
WOODRUFF: Well, but you've been doing some reporting on this. I mean, what makes you think he's going to pick a governor?
GERMOND: I just think that the weight of evidence -- all else failing, you ask yourself what's logical. It's not logical to pick another senator or another Washington hand. I mean, Dick Gephardt is better equipped to be president than almost anyone. But it would leave it open to be an old Washington establishment ticket.
WOODRUFF: What about a younger senator like John Edwards?
GERMOND: Well, I don't know. I mean, Edwards -- there are a lot of positives (ph) of Edwards in the -- there are some in the Kerry organization, because Edwards is a very attractive guy. And it would give an awful lot of life -- give the ticket a lot of life. But again, he's a senator. I don't know, he may end up choosing a senator, but it seems to me like it doesn't make much sense.
WOODRUFF: Florida is a very important state. What about Senator Bob Graham?
GERMOND: Well, Graham has also been a governor. So he's a two- fer in a sense. They all have something else.
I don't know. What he really needs, he needs somebody who's very forceful, somebody who comes across as forceful. And I don't think Bob Graham is too thoughtful to be forceful. I don't think he fits that description.
He can help Florida, though. I mean, getting somebody who could carry a state is important.
WOODRUFF: Very intriguing name out there from the other party, John McCain. Do you take that at all seriously?
GERMOND: No. I don't think the -- you know, the Democratic Party isn't about to put a Republican in a position a heartbeat from the presidency if they can avoid it. They just had this four years that they don't like. And McCain -- the idea is attractive because McCain is attractive, but it's not going to happen.
WOODRUFF: And there's an independent streak there.
GERMOND: Yes. And it's just not -- it would cause a terrible problem in the party.
WOODRUFF: Let's quickly go back to those governors. You said Richardson because of the Latino vote.
GERMOND: And also, he's also a very attractive guy. He fills -- he also fills the screen a little bit.
WOODRUFF: Fills the screen. So we're talking television.
GERMOND: Yes, sure. That's all you need a vice president for is to go on television and make a few speeches. Do one debate, go to Boise when you don't want to go, things like that.
WOODRUFF: Jack Germond, who's been covering presidential campaigns since 1960.
Well, running mate or no, John Kerry is keeping very busy out on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It would be inappropriate for me to come here and not say something about what is happening in Iraq and what it means to all of us right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Ahead, Senator Kerry weighs in on the Bush administration's Iraqi policy, as well as the latest fighting.
We'll also get an update from President Bush's ranch in Texas. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANNOUNCER: A morning spectacle on Capitol Hill.
TOM KEAN, CHAIRMAN, 9/11 COMMISSION: Dr. Rice, thank you. You have advanced our understanding of key events.
ANNOUNCER: Did Condoleezza Rice fill in the 9/11 blanks? The reviews are pouring in.
Back at the ranch, George W. Bush monitors the testimony of one of his most trusted aides. The White House had a lot riding on Rice today. We'll game out the political stakes.
A wartime president juggling twin conflicts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's rated highly on the war on terrorism and not so well on the war in Iraq.
ANNOUNCER: How to reconcile the battle record. Bruce Morton squares the circle.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back.
Condoleezza Rice delivered a tough defense of President Bush and White House security policies today during her testimony before the 9/11 terror commission. Rice sparred with some commission members over how much attention the White House paid to terror threats before 9/11. But she testified there were no so-called silver bullets that could have prevented the attacks.
Our Bill Schneider has more on Rice's testimony, the questions she faced, and her performance under pressure.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Condoleezza Rice was put in the difficult position of defending a system that failed. How did she do? She was forced to make a damaging revelation, the title of a classified presidential briefing dated August 6, 2001.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I believe the title was bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States.
SCHNEIDER: Was that a clear warning?
RICE: There was nothing in this memo that suggested that an attack was coming on New York or Washington D.C.
SCHNEIDER: The intelligence system was poorly designed to anticipate that kind of threat. RICE: We had a structural problem in the United States and that structural problem was that we did not share domestic and foreign intelligence in a way to make a product for policy makers.
SCHNEIDER: What do you need to solve that structural problem?
RICE: A catastrophic event that forces people to think differently, that forces people to overcome old customs and old culture and old fears about domestic intelligence.
SCHNEIDER: After 9/11, Rice argued, we did exactly the right things, like the Patriot Act. And, she argued, pushing the envelope, preemptive action.
RICE: The president has said many times that after September 11, we have learned not to let threats gather, and yet we continue to have a debate about whether or not you have to go against threats before they fully materialize on your soil.
SCHNEIDER: Like Iraq?
BOB KERREY, 9/11 COMMISSION MEMBER: I'm terribly worried that the military tactics in Iraq are going to do a number of things and they're all bad.
SCHNEIDER: Here was one attack Rice was fully prepared for.
RICE: I'm aware, Mr. Kerrey, of a speech that you gave at that time that said that perhaps the best thing that we could do to respond to the Cole and the memories was to do something about the threat of Saddam Hussein.
SCHNEIDER: What about Richard Clarke's now famous September 4 memo warning of a terrible day when thousands of Americans could be killed? Rice claimed it wasn't a warning to the country. It was a warning to her.
RICE: What he was doing was, I think, trying to buck me up so that when I went in to this principals meeting, I was sufficiently on guard against the kind of bureaucratic inertia he had fought all of his life.
SCHNEIDER: Clarke urged her to stand up to the forces of bureaucratic inertia and demand action against the impending threat. Now critics may still wonder whether she listened -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: That was how many days before 9/11?
SCHNEIDER: That was September the 4th, one week before.
WOODRUFF: One week before. All right. Bill Schneider, extraordinary day. Thank you very much.
Well, while Condoleezza Rice was testifying here, President Bush is in Texas spending time at his ranch near Crawford. But the White House says he has been following today's events here in Washington. Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joins me from Crawford with more. Suzanne, hello.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy. President Bush actually watched the three hours of Dr. Rice's testimony at his Crawford ranch. He actually called her from his pickup truck, we're told, to congratulate her. He said that she did a good job. A White House spokeswoman earlier today releasing a statement saying that the president thought Dr. Rice did a terrific job in articulating the administration's actions, responsible actions prior to September 11 and the aggressive actions the administration took after September 11.
Now, you may recall, Judy, of course, the White House initially was against Dr. Rice testifying, citing executive privilege but after much pressure from some of the family members of the September 11 victims, as well as top Democrats and Republicans all saying she should go before and testify publicly, the president received a guarantee it would not become a precedent and then reversed himself and allowed her to do so.
Now, Dr. Rice -- this is not going to be the last time she is called before the 9/11 Commission. Several commission members making it very clear they have follow-up questions she'll be asked privately. It should be known as well the Bush campaign is certainly hoping the focus here despite the fact they believe she did a good job will be on the three years the president performed after the September 11 attacks, not the eight months prior. Should let you know President Bush and Vice President Cheney as well will go before the commission privately in the next couple of weeks to tell their side of the story -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right and we're waiting to find out when that is. Suzanne Malveaux reporting from Crawford, Texas, near the Bush ranch. Thank you.
Well, presidential -- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry was asked about the Rice testimony today at a town hall meeting in Wisconsin. Kerry refused to comment directly on her testimony. He said he wants to wait until the commission delivers its final report. Kerry did, however, comment on the recent surge in violence in Iraq. He said he had seen new video of wounded U.S. soldiers, and he repeated his concerns about the planned U.S. transfer of governing authority at the end of June.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope that in the days ahead, common sense and humility will begin to emerge in the approach of our nation and our policy so that we do not see month after month of these images and difficulties, and the president needs to explain to the American people, who are we turning power over to on the 30th of June?
(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: John Kerry speaking in Wisconsin today. The man Kerry wants to unseat is facing huge challenges on a couple of fronts. CNN national correspondent Bruce Morton looks at the implications for President Bush among voters this November.
BRUCE MORTON. CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The president likes to say he is a war president, but in fact, he may be a two-war president. One against terror and al-Qaeda, the other in Iraq. Two wars the voters see differently.
STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": It's certainly true the numbers are very clear, he's rated highly on the war on terrorism and not so well on the war in Iraq.
MORTON: Why? As the 9/11 hearings have shown, relatively few think the attacks could have been prevented. Almost everybody thinks the United States is safer now. Safer, not safe, Condoleezza Rice says and Iraq is a mess. Sunnis fighting Americans, Shiite groups fighting Americans, the U.S. supposed to hand over authority to the Iraqis at the end of June but which Iraqis and how? At the point of a gun? 9/11 Commission member Robert Kerrey, a former Democratic senator thinks Iraq is hurting the rest of the effort.
KERREY: That this war on terrorism is a war against radical Islam. Terrorism is a tactic. It's not a war itself. Secondly, let me say that I don't think we understand how the Muslim world views us, and I'm terribly worried that the military tactics in Iraq are going to do a number of things and they're all bad.
MORTON: Kerrey worries that a mostly American, mostly Christian army in Iraq will simply create more recruits for al-Qaeda and other radical groups. Does it matter politically in terms of the U.S. election?
ROTHENBERG: It's going to be a big deal, particularly if jobs start to be created, the economy improves, I think we're going to see Senator Kerry focusing very heavily on foreign policy, Iraq in particular, and I think the election could certainly turn on that issue.
MORTON: The heaviest fighting since the capture of Baghdad has flared up this week's casualties are up. The transfer of power to Iraqis remains problematic. If it isn't a quagmire yet, Iraq is certainly a forest of question marks which means Americans may be voting in November in response to things that haven't happened yet. What will Iraq look like in the fall? Good question. Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.
WOODRUFF: Coming up, the Bush administration tries again to name what some people are calling a manufacturing czar. Also ahead, Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile take issue over National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice morning on Capitol Hill and later, Jeff Greenfield is already considering some of the bizarre possibilities for November.
Plus, desserts for Democrats. Especially if they have a sense of humor.
WOODRUFF: A California businessman has been named by the Bush administration to serve as manufacturing czar. Commerce secretary Don Evans says Al Frink has been chosen for the post of assistant commerce secretary in charge of helping stop the loss of manufacturing jobs overseas. A spokesman for Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry says the move is, quote, "too little, too late." President Bush's first pick for the slot withdrew his nomination last month after criticism that his company had cut U.S. jobs and shifted work to China. INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: With us now, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause. Donna, to you first. Condoleezza Rice, was she believable?
DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I believe that at certain parts of her testimony was very believable, especially when she said they didn't connect all of the dots and didn't get all of the information in a strategic way for them to do more. I also believe that Condoleezza Rice left a lot to be desired. There was some questions she totally evaded, didn't answer and I believe that the commissioners will come back and want a second bite of the apple.
BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: I disagree. Clearly, she was poised and classy, very direct in her answers and very informed and informative. She really did, I think, a stellar job, and she was tough, and I think Americans are proud to have somebody that strong as their national security adviser.
BRAZILE: She didn't answer what responsible steps did they take prior to September 11 to have prevented it. Richard Clarke made specific allegations two weeks ago in his testimony and Condoleezza in some ways agreed with Mr. Clarke and in other ways she didn't even answer some of the direct questions that Senator Kerrey put to her.
BUCHANAN: I think she laid it out very clearly and let the American people know that what they knew they were responding to as best they could and with all the information they had, I think she was very classy in the sense she did not go in and say -- take on Richard Clarke and try to disagree with him. She remained above the blame game and just laid out the facts...
BRAZILE: Even though he was her employee and he gave her information to take into meetings. The commissioners now have a time line. They know the sequence of events and Condoleezza could have responded to the January 25th. What happened was she received Richard Clarke's memo. What happened on August 6, what happened on September 4, we didn't get a direct answer on some of those questions and I think Condoleezza should be prepared to talk to the commission. (CROSSTALK)
WOODRUFF: She also said there were no clear warnings. They would cite different briefings and say this wasn't a warning, it wasn't clear.
BUCHANAN: And I think she made her case that when you have a threat that is so broad and not specific, you do what you can, and indeed, she acknowledged that there was real problems with communications that we didn't have all the information and that that existed for many, many years, not just with those 200 days of Bush administration. But I thought it was very impressive. She wasn't into blaming the Clinton administration or Clarke or anyone else. She said we did everything in our power to make certain that this wouldn't happen, but we didn't have all the ability to pull it all together prior to this event.
BRAZILE: Why are we still looking to receive some of the materials from the Clinton administration that would point out some of the things they left on the plate when they left office? Condoleezza and the Bush administration are still stonewalling and not providing all that material. That should be known as well as the August 6 memo that the president read...
BUCHANAN: We are addressing that but you know what was interesting to me, this was the fourth attack from al-Qaeda, the fourth attack, three of them were prior to this time and we never did anything so now the fourth one hits and you say, my gosh, why didn't Bush do anything?
BRAZILE: Clinton did, and the Bush administration approach was to look at it individually, not as a network. Look, there are some gaps...
BUCHANAN: That's what Clinton was doing.
BRAZILE: No, that's what Condoleezza put on the record today.
BUCHANAN: Yes, she did but that's what they did for Clinton and Bush because that's what the military has always done, they treated terrorism as a crime which is something the military didn't respond to but justice and FBI did. That was what we did wrong...
BRAZILE: That's why we need to hear from Mr. Ashcroft because we need to find out why he lowered the terrorism budget prior to September 11.
WOODRUFF: Let's quickly talk about Iraq. 35 marines have died in the last few days. There are hundreds of Iraqis who have been killed. Today, Secretary of State Colin Powell said at a hearing on Capitol Hill, Iraq is not a swamp that will devour us. What is going on in Iraq?
BUCHANAN: We're at war, Judy. I mean, this is something I don't think is any surprise to anyone. Wars are chaotic at times. You try to get on top of the situation and things happen and turn around. I think the military is doing a fine job of trying to get on top of a very difficult situation over there. We will never succeed in Iraq unless the Iraqi people are ready for them to take over and are willing to die for self determination.
BRAZILE: We're close...
BUCHANAN: ...the end of June.
BRAZILE: Well, that's right. 85 days and who are we turning it over to? We don't have anyone in charge. I think part of the problem right now is that there is an information gap and leadership gap and as a result, the Sunnis and Shias are now coming together, some of the militia and that is a big problem for us. Do we have enough troops to stop this latest uprising? If not, we're in big trouble.
BUCHANAN: The reason we're having so much uprising is because the June date is approaching. There are groups within this country that do not want to see any transfer of power and do not want democracy in that country. We have to hold firm...
BRAZILE: Thank you, that's why we need the U.N. and some international forces to help come in.
WOODRUFF: My question is, what will be different after that date if the U.S. is still there with over 100,000 troops and still providing all the security?
BUCHANAN: We will be moving towards election. I think it's a clear signal to those who say why are we occupying this country and are upset that the Americans are still occupying it, Judy. If we show, no, we are not interested in occupation, we are turning power over as quickly as we can, but I think the important thing is, Donna wants to talk about this vacuum of leadership. It's the Iraqi people who have to step forward in these positions and we are trying to say that if we get forward...
BRAZILE: But if we keep handpicking them and not give them an opportunity to select their own leaders, that's why we need the U.N., a neutral body, the NATO to come in and help us move this forward and provide enough troops to.
BUCHANAN: And that's what we're going to try to do. The U.N. is not interested.
WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it here. All right.
BRAZILE: We'll keep it up next week.
WOODRUFF: For sure, we will keep it up next week. Donna, Bay, we appreciate it, always.
The 2000 presidential race was one for the record books. Can it get any stranger this time around? You bet, says our Jeff Greenfield and takes a look at some interesting and bizarre things that could happen on election day when we come back.
WOODRUFF: Just as in 2000, this year's presidential election is expected to be very close. And that could make for some interesting twists and turns. But can it get more bizarre than the battle between George Bush and Al Gore? As our senior analyst Jeff Greenfield explains, never say never.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Unless you were around back in 1888, you saw something back in 2000 you had never before seen in your lifetime, a presidential race where the winner actually lost the popular vote. And unless you were around back in 1876, you also saw something you'd never lived through before, a presidential race where it took several weeks to figure out who actually won.
The odds say we're not due for another outcome like that for 100 years or so. Really? Take a look at some distinct possibilities for this November.
GREENFIELD (voice-over): Here is how the 2000 election turned out. This is the now famous red state, blue state map. George Bush wound up with 271 electoral votes, those are the red states, just one more than he needed to win. Gore got 267, those are the blue states but one of his electors abstained in protest when it came time for the votes to be counted. In the coming election, 18 states, some red, some blue, have gained or lost votes because of population shifts.
For example, Florida and Arizona have more. New York and Michigan will have less. So if Bush carries just the states he won last time, he'd have 278 electoral votes and John Kerry would have 260. Right now, there are 18 states, the so-called yellow states, where either candidate might have a fair shot at winning.
Let's say just one of those states, Arizona, with 10 electoral votes shifts from Bush to Kerry and everything else stays the same as four years ago. That would give Senator Kerry 270 electoral votes, exactly enough to win and that would leave Bush the loser even if say he were to pick up a lot of votes in a couple of the big blue states he lost by landslides back in 2000.
For example, Bush could add a half million votes in New York and another half million California and still lose both states by a wide margin. But if Bush did that, he would win the national popular vote by as many votes as Gore did last time and that would be a real historic first, a candidate winning the White House while losing the popular vote only to lose it four years later when he won the popular vote. But that's only the second weirdest possibility.
Suppose in November 2004 Senator Kerry were to add New Hampshire and West Virginia to the states Vice President Gore carried in 2000. In that case, Bush and Kerry would each have 269 electoral votes, a tie and the election would be thrown into the House of Representatives while the vice president would be picked by the Senate. That, by the way, hasn't happened since 1824. Of course, in either of these cases an electoral tie or one-vote margin, a single president elector could change the outcome by voting for the candidates of the other party. Electors have done this in the past but never when it's mattered. And one more thing, we're assuming this election will stay incredibly close and the election is seven months away. Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.
WOODRUFF: One's an assumption, the other one's a sure thing. That is the date of the election. We're checking the headline news now in our campaign news daily, the political action group committee of the group Moveon.org. It uses an actors voice to suggest what the group thinks President Bush should say when he meets with the 9/11 terror commission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD ANNOUNCER: Before 9/11, I was obsessed with Iraq. Then I used 9/11 as an excuse to invade Iraq. So now we're less safe than we were before. It's just like Richard Clarke said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: The Moveon Pac bought a four-day run for this ad here on CNN at a cost of $200 thousand.
Republicans are criticizing news that a top ranking staffer at the Moveon Pac has taken a job with the Kerry campaign. Zach Exly (ph) was the Pac's director of special projects. He's taking over online communication duties for Kerry. Federal law prohibits coordination between campaigns and independent groups. Republicans say the move reinforces their claims that Democrats are trying to work around the new campaign finance law.
The head of the Coors brewery has decided to enter the Colorado Senate race. Governor Bill Owens of Colorado said yesterday that Pete Coors will enter the GOP primary to run for the seat currently held by the retiring Republican, Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Former Republican Congressman Bob Shafer (ph) is already in the race.
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is among the first to benefit from Howard Dean's new political group. Senator Leahy is up for reelection this fall and posted a note on the Democracy for America Web site yesterday thanking members who donated more than $96,000 to his campaign in a 48-hour period.
Just in time for the Democratic convention, a Boston hotel is catering to its patrons' political appetites. It's come up with a special flavor, even Ben & Jerry's doesn't have. We'll explain after the break.
WOODRUFF: We're not going to tell you what the story we had for you about the Democratic convention in Boston because of two breaking stories we want to share with you. One from Paris. An alert has been lifted involving the Paris urban railway network after a bomb threat.
CIA authorities in Spain told French authorities they had information a bomb had been planted in the Paris rail network. After extensive searches, thousands of passengers were evacuated, they've now declared an all clear. They say that no bomb has been found.
Separately, from the White House, our Suzanne Malveaux reports that the Bush administration is now seriously considering making public the Presidential Daily Brief from August the 6th. That was the briefing in which the president received some warnings about threats from al Qaeda, specific warnings about a possible attack on the United States.
That briefing may be made public as early as today. CNN, of course, following that story. We'll bring you more as soon as we have it.
Thanks very much. That's it for today's INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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