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Rumsfeld Under Fire; Interview With Senator John Cornyn, Senator Bill Nelson

Aired May 6, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: The Pentagon chief as possible fall guy. Will Donald Rumsfeld pay the price for the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I am calling for Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe Mr. Rumsfeld has to resign.

ANNOUNCER: Iraq embarrassments keep taking a toll on the president's poll numbers, but is John Kerry getting any traction out of it?

This is only a drill. We're on the scene as troops prepare for the worst at the Democratic Convention in Boston.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're prepared to deal with chemical warfare agents, radiological agents, biological warfare agents.



JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.

President Bush finally used the word "sorry" today in connection with the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. But he was not apologetic about his continued support for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Secretary Rumsfeld is a really good secretary of defense. Secretary Rumsfeld has served our nation well. Secretary Rumsfeld has been the secretary during two wars. And he is an important part of my cabinet, and he'll stay in my cabinet.


WOODRUFF: The President did, in so many words, acknowledge scolding Rumsfeld for the way the tales of prisoner abuse belatedly became public, and that may have emboldened Democratic critics on Capitol Hill. There are new calls for Rumsfeld to go, even as the Pentagon chief prepares to testify on the Hill tomorrow. We begin with our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry.

Ed, what are they doing and preparing for?

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What a difference a couple of days can make. On Tuesday, when the Army brass came up to testify privately just in a meeting and talked to the Armed Services Committee about all of this, you saw senators in both parties come out hard and say there's a problem here, we're going to investigate this together.

It only took 48 hours for it to split along partisan lines since we're in a presidential election year. We saw Democrats really pounce. They see a political opening here.

It started with Senator Tom Harkin, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Charlie Rangel, the Democratic congressman, went even further and said, "If Rumsfeld does not resign, he should be impeached."

And another very interesting thing to watch is that Democrats also trotted out the pro-military Democratic Congressman, John Murtha, and Murtha decided to join in with Pelosi and say that he believes this goes further than Rumsfeld, and, in fact, this gets to the heart of whether or not the President is executing the war properly or not.


REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: This policy has to be changed. We cannot prevail in this war at the policy that's going today. We either have to mobilize or we have to get out.


HENRY: That drew a sharp review from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.


REP. TOM DELAY (R), MAJORITY LEADER: They want to win the White House more than they want to win the war, and our enemies know it. I'm not questioning their patriotism. Don't let them play that little game again. I'm questioning their judgment and their fitness to lead.


HENRY: We also had Senator John McCain saying that these calls for resignation are premature, let's give Secretary Rumsfeld a chance to testify tomorrow. And we got a little bit of a tease today from some Republican senators about what Rumsfeld is saying privately about what he hopes to accomplish tomorrow.

Rumsfeld had breakfast this morning at the Pentagon with four Republican senators on the Armed Services Committee. One of them, Senator Jeff Sessions, told CNN that Rumsfeld was very confident and very upbeat despite all of this storm, and Rumsfeld was really champing at the bit to go out there in front of the cameras, tell his side of the story. And one key bit was that Session said that Rumsfeld told him privately that there is a, "rational explanation" for what went wrong here, and Rumsfeld is going to tell that story tomorrow. Everyone is obviously anxiously awaiting on Capitol Hill.

WOODRUFF: I'm sure everyone will be all ears to here the rational explanation. Ed Henry, thank you very much. And while I have you, I'll tell you that I'm just told that John Kerry, just moments ago, has joined those who are calling for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign. So we'll see where that leads.

HENRY: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.

Well, two members of the Senate Armed Services Committee join us now to weigh in on the Donald Rumsfeld debate on the eve of the defense secretary's testimony. They are Republican John Cornyn of Texas and Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida.

Senator Nelson, first of all, the President says Donald Rumsfeld has done -- in his words, he's done a really good job as secretary of defense, and he is going to stay on in the cabinet. Is that the end of the story?

SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: No, it isn't. Let's see what he has to say to the United States Senate tomorrow. Let's see, for example, why he basically has suspended the application of the Geneva Convention Accords to prisoners of war. And also, let's see why he never told the President, the commander in chief, about what all was going on in that prison until it broke in public on a TV network.

WOODRUFF: Senator Cornyn, are you satisfied with the president's statement that Secretary Rumsfeld has done, in his words, a really good job as secretary, and that he will keep him on in the cabinet?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Well, I hope the attitude of my leagues in the Senate will not be let's hang him and then give him a fair trial. I agree with Senator Nelson, we ought to hear what he has to say.

At breakfast this morning, during a meeting where this subject came up, he pointed out that the first complaint that was made was on January the 13. Two days later, there was a press release issued by the Pentagon and, ultimately, on March 20, there were six criminal charges brought arising out of this abuse.

So this is not a new matter. There hasn't been a cover-up. It hadn't been swept under the covers.

What shocked us into the reality of this is the leak of these terrible pictures. And no one is trying to justify it, but we ought to take a deep breath, listen to what the secretary has to say, and then decide, based on the evidence, what we think the appropriate course of action should be.

WOODRUFF: Well, Senator Nelson, if that's the course that events took, why wouldn't you and other senators be satisfied that this was handled properly by the Pentagon?

NELSON: Well, let's hope that this is an isolated incident for the sake of our country. Let's hope it's isolated. But there are another 25 to 35 investigations going on now all over Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fortunately, I think they brought in a good commander, Major General Miller, who had run the operation at Guantanamo. And he just got there to Iraq and now he's having to answer for all of this. So there's still a lot of poking and probing and a lot of answers to be provided.

WOODRUFF: Senator Cornyn, what questions do you want answered tomorrow?

CORNYN: Well, I want to make sure that we've done everything possible to get to the bottom of this, that we follow this path wherever the facts may lead. And I think that's what we all should expect. And from what I heard this morning from Secretary Rumsfeld, and what I've seen reported, so far I don't see any problems in terms of the way they responded to it.

But I share Senator Nelson's concern that this -- I hope this is a limited -- a limited, you know, case of abuse on behalf of some misguided -- a small number of misguided troops. The fact is we have tens of thousands of other troops in the field fighting this war on terror and serving honorably. So I would hope that we don't paint with too broad a brush and that we don't get ahead of ourselves before we've allowed the secretary to tell us what he knows tomorrow.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Senator Nelson, I want to ask both of you about the word from the administration yesterday, they're asking for an additional $25 billion to fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming months. There are other members of Congress, even Republicans, who are saying this is not going to be enough money. How much do you think it is going to cost the United States to fight the war in Iraq, keep 138,000 troops there through the end of next year?

NELSON: I think it's going to cost a lot of money, and I think we're going to have to increase the troops even more than we have now. And I think we're going to be there for a very long time, Judy. At the end of the day, what we have to do is stabilize Iraq politically and economically. That's what's in the interest of the United States.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly, Senator Cornyn, do you agree with Senator Nelson it's going to take more money that even, more troops?

CORNYN: Well, I don't think we know how much it's going to cost, but I think we need to appropriate whatever it takes. This is not a situation where we can sort of wring our hands and say, well, maybe we should stay or maybe we should go. We have to finish the job that we started out. War is ugly. This is going to be expensive and difficult, but we need to stay the course.

WOODRUFF: All right. Gentlemen, we're going to leave it there. Senator Cornyn, Senator Nelson, it's good to see both of you. We appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

CORNYN: Thank you.

NELSON: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And a reminder to our viewers. CNN will have live coverage of Secretary Rumsfeld's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee tomorrow. That is beginning at 11:45 Eastern Time.

Well, as we reported just a short time ago, John Kerry now is joining the growing ranks of Democrats who are calling for Rumsfeld's resignation. Kerry is speaking publicly about the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal for the second day running. He is toughening up his implied criticism of President Bush.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As President, I will not be the last to know what is going on in my command. I will demand accountability from those who serve, and I will take responsibility for their actions.


WOODRUFF: We'll have more on today's remarks by both John Kerry and George W. Bush at the top of the next hour.

Well, the growing get-Rumsfeld chorus is just one example of the fallout from the prisoner abuse controversy. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has been studying new presidential poll numbers.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Is the scandal over the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners having any political impact? Apparently, yes.

Two weeks ago, President Bush had a 6-point lead over John Kerry. The latest Gallup poll taken this week shows a tie among likely voters, 47 percent for Bush, 47 percent for John Kerry, and three percent for Ralph Nader. Without Nader, Kerry would be leading Bush by one point. The race looks like a dead heat.

Some Democrats are dismayed that with all of President Bush's problems in Iraq, the 9/11 Commission hearings, and gas prices, Kerry hasn't surged into the lead. They look at a tied race and say bad news. The glass is half empty. But it's also half full.

Voters still don't know too much about John Kerry. Nevertheless, the challenger is running neck and neck with a popular wartime President. The Gallup poll suggests Kerry may finally be getting traction in this race. A 3-point shift toward Kerry in the last two weeks.

President Bush appears to have solidified his support in states where he was already strong. Among voters in competitive states, states that were close in 2000, Kerry has a small lead, 48 to 44 percent. Those states are likely to determine the outcome this year.

President Bush's overall job ratings is now 49 percent, the lowest point of his presidency. Below 50 is a good indication that most voters are prepared to vote against him. His rating on Iraq is 55 percent negative, the lowest he's ever gotten, down six points in two weeks. His rating on the economy is 56 percent negative. The lowest ever.

President Bush still gets a positive rating for his handling of terrorism, but just barely. Since 9/11, Gallup has never shown more than 40 percent disapproval of the president's handling of terrorism. The current figure, 45 percent, disapprove. The message of this poll is clear: President Bush is in trouble.


SCHNEIDER: And in the end, the race is likely to be a referendum on President Bush. That sounds like good news for Democrats, provided Senator Kerry is an acceptable alternative for the growing numbers of voters who are dissatisfied with this administration.

WOODRUFF: Again, almost six months for this thing to unfold.


WOODRUFF: Bill, thank you very much.

Well, John Kerry is at odds with the Catholic Church over whether he should be allowed to take communion. Still ahead, a new twist in the communion controversy as a prominent politician gives up the fight.

Plus, are law enforcement officials in Boston ready for anything? We'll tell you about drills that are designed to protect the Democratic Convention city.

And who can forget the witty banter, the sparks and the good natured jibes? Yes, "Friends" is ending. But Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan are still must-see TV right here on INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: There has been fighting throughout this day in the Iraqi city of Najaf. We want to take this chance to talk to our correspondent, Jane Arraf, who has been inside Najaf. You see it there on the map throughout the day.

Jane, you're on the phone with us. Bring us up to date on the situation there.

JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Judy, we're at the U.S. Army base in Najaf, and it has come under an intense mortar attack. We've heard between eight and nine mortar rounds hit in quite a wide area.

Now, it does come under mortar attack almost nightly and during the day as well by suspected militia members, but this is one of the more intense attacks that we have been under here. There has also been what sounds like rocket-propelled grenades fired.

You can see smoke rising through the dark night sky in some places, and the smell of explosives in the air. This, of course, after U.S. forces took over the governor's building in Najaf and engaged with suspected militia members in other parts of Najaf and adjoining Kufa. They say they killed 40 of them across the river in Kufa and another 12 outside the governor's office, where there was sustained gunfire.

No U.S. casualties reported. But this battle is continuing -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jane, the idea here on the part of the U.S. military is to move in swiftly and with great force to try to knock down or knock back the Muqtada al-Sadr, the cleric's forces. Does it look like they're having any success doing that?

ARRAF: They are certainly making some headway every time they enter an engagement with the forces of the Mehdi militia, the militia loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. They end up killing quite a lot of them while sustaining very few casualties themselves.

Clearly, the U.S. troops here out-power and out-man the Mehdi militia, but they do keep up these attacks, the mortar attacks. You can probably hear the gunfire in the background. And despite the fact they are small numbers, they keep coming.

It's unclear how sophisticated their command and control is. It's unclear whether Muqtada al-Sadr himself is commanding them, or whether there are other elements in there. But even though the U.S. is making headway while steering clear of those holy sites in Najaf, there clearly is a militia presence in this city and in Kufa, adjoining to it.

WOODRUFF: Jane Arraf on the phone with us from Najaf. You can tell fire, arms fire in the background. Jane one of our extraordinary crew of so many over there reporting on the fighting inside Iraq. As she said, a small number, but the militia just keep on coming.

Well, with us in now in the studio in Washington, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile, and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

Let's talk first about President Bush, just an hour or so ago saying he is sorry for the humiliation suffered by these Iraqi prisoners and their families, but he is standing firm by his secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Where does this leave everything, Bay?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: Well, he clearly should stand behind the secretary, as everything that's out there shows the secretary did everything absolutely correct. He was informed of this problem in January, he immediately had the investigators look into it, a report was done within 60 days.

He commended the individual who came with the evidence, the whistle blower, in essence, and he told the president within two weeks that there was a problem. He also informed the president when the report was completed.

His problem, the only problem that he really has here, he didn't inform the Senate of all the graphic details. He didn't inform the president of the graphic details, which were absolutely horrific and got everybody's attention. But the real important thing is what was done over there.

Changes were made. They had a new person put in charge. They made those individuals accountable who were. What else can you ask of the secretary of defense? I don't know.

WOODRUFF: What else?

DONNA BRAZILE, FMR. GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, you can ask him to step down. You can ask him to resign, leave his position, put someone in place who understands how to prosecute a war and win this war, and have an exit strategy.

He should step down for the right reasons to restore honor to our country and to take responsibility. That's something Republicans talk about but rarely do in politics. So I think the secretary should step down, and you'll see a big chorus call coming from Capitol Hill for the secretary tomorrow when he goes before the Congress to explain why he didn't inform his authorizing committees about these atrocities. And what did he do and when did he start doing things?

BUCHANAN: This is called a pile-on, Judy. The Democrats see some opening here and they feel that they might be able to get some kind of gravitas, some kind of thing going here that would suggest that the president should fire Rumsfeld. He should not. Rumsfeld...

BRAZILE: He should fire him because he did not doesn't have a war plan and strategy. And the president then should reconvene his cabinet with Secretary Powell heading up defense.

BUCHANAN: That's for the president to decide. He is comfortable with the war plan.

BRAZILE: Of course.

WOODRUFF: We spoke about the polls in the midst of all this. The approval of the president is down. But Donna -- and John Kerry is doing a little better, but not quite taking advantage of what one would think has been a really difficult time for the president. BRAZILE: I think the pendulum is swinging. I think John Kerry is finally getting his groove. He now has enough money to compete effectively against George Bush after withstanding a $55 million negative ad attack.

But look, two-thirds of the American people are dissatisfied with this president. They're dissatisfied with his policies, the direction he's taken this country. This is an opportunity for John Kerry now to get into that vacuum and to step up to the plate.

BUCHANAN: It is clear that John Kerry is not the person to beat George Bush. He does not have it. He's completely flat.

His polls show that the people who are voting for him are actually voting against George Bush, not for John Kerry. There is no overwhelming support for John Kerry. This will be about anybody but Bush, and I believe Bush will be there to show the American people he can do this even in these tough days.

BRAZILE: Don't hold your breath.

WOODRUFF: We're going to continue this one in the future. I promise you. It's only May the 6th. Bay, Donna, thank you both.

Preparing for the worst just in case. Far away from a big city, a military unit trains for a possible terror attack at this summer's Democratic Convention.


WOODRUFF: This year's political conventions will, of course, feature unprecedented security measures. But if a terror attack were to happen, security teams want to be ready. CNN's Dan Lothian has a look at some of the training already under way just in case.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENTE (voice-over): On a small island in northern Maine, a National Guard unit is preparing for a terrorist attack...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very realistic. Very realistic.

LOTHIAN: ... suiting up and hunting for dangerous materials...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's right on target.

LOTHIAN: ... inside an old textile and paper mill. This is a drill. The scenario?

TERRY DAY, EXERCISE ANALYST: A couple of nasty guys were making a clandestine lab. They also were making sarin here in this facility.

LOTHIAN (on camera): Fifteen soldiers with the 11th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team in Maine are getting ready to help out in Boston, on standby during the four-day Democratic National Convention in July.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're prepared to deal with chemical warfare agents, radiological agents, biological warfare agents.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): There's a makeshift lab to analyze samples and a mobile command center to track the troops and direct the containment effort. This old mill...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of space. It's a lot of structure already in place.

LOTHIAN: ... replicates the complexities of an urban environment. And in these dark and damp hallways, dotted with obstacles and filled with machine-generated smoke, conditions are not unlike a large structure after an attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're very confident that we can do our mission in Boston to deal with any kind of incident.

LOTHIAN: The soldiers don't want their skills to be tested for real, but with 35,000 visitors expected for this summer's event, simulating danger is part of the overall security plan to prepare for possible threats.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.


WOODRUFF: Well, with all the buzz about Donald Rumsfeld's future, what are his fellow Republicans whispering about whether he should resign? Our Bob Novak has had his ear to the ground.

Also ahead, a possible treat for "Trading Spaces" fans who also happen to be political junkies.



ANNOUNCER: Calls for some in Congress for the secretary of defense to resign. Will the White House stand behind Donald Rumsfeld.

BUSH: He's an important part of my cabinet and he'll stay in my cabinet.

ANNOUNCER: John Kerry gives President Bush a failing grade on education.

KERRY: He promised in the No Child Left Behind Act that billions of dollars would be coming to America. He broke his promises to America.

ANNOUNCER: What would Kerry do differently?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm strongly and unequivocally pro-choice. I believe that is a personal decision. ANNOUNCER: The communion conundrum. Should Catholic politicians who break with the Vatican over abortion be banned from one of the most church's sacred acts?

Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. When it comes to the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal, President Bush and John Kerry have this much in common: after some found their comments on the subject yesterday wanting, both White House contenders, both of them today, took a second shot at getting it right. The president offered words of apology while Kerry chimed in with other Democrats who say Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should resign.

Our White House correspondent Dana bash and our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley are both with us. Dana, first to you.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, it was presidential damage control, take two, in the Rose Garden today. Yesterday, of course, the president had an extraordinary move. He went on Arab television to talk about the issue and to say that the images and the acts were abhorrent.

But for many here in the U.S. and more importantly for what the White House was trying to achieve in the Arab world, that was missing two important words: I'm sorry. So the White House had been defending that omission, saying that the president wasn't asked about it and that others in the administration did say they were sorry and that they speak for him.

However, today, after a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah were the two did discuss the Iraqi prisoner issue and the impact it's having on the Arab world, the president came out and said I'm sorry, not once, but twice for the prisoners and for America's reputation.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families.

I told him I was equally sorry that the -- that people would see those pictures, didn't understand the true nature and heart of America.


BASH: The president didn't know about those pictures until after they aired last week on television. And today the president said publicly what we were told he said privately yesterday to the defense secretary, that he was not happy about the fact he wasn't informed about those pictures, the fact that he was not informed about a classified report cataloging the abuses that came it of the Pentagon.

But the president today rejected mounting Democratic calls for Secretary Rumsfeld to resign.


BUSH: Secretary Rumsfeld is a really good secretary of defense. Secretary Rumsfeld has served our nation well.


BASH: Judy, there have been a lot of questions here at the White House over the past few days about this issue. There still are some answers we don't have.

First of all, when the president actually found out about the fact that Iraqi prisoners were being abused. We were told it was probably sometime in January in informal meeting with the defense secretary and chief of staff, Andy Card. But we're told none of the men remember exactly when.

And also they don't know what actions if any the president specifically asked for, any follow-up between that period of time and last week when the pictures came out. They simply say that the president knew there was an investigation going on and that's it.

WOODRUFF: Dana Bash reporting from the White House.

And now we want to bring in our political correspondent Candy Crowley. Candy, the White House has been talking about this again and so is John Kerry.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He is. Judy, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this came out late last week, John Kerry issued a paper statement earlier this week. But it wasn't until yesterday that we actually heard from the candidate himself on camera in a public forum talking about this.

And again he did it today. This time he was in Colton, California. The subject was education. And clearly, as his colleagues on Capitol Hill are getting harder and harder on this issue, there was a need on the part of the Kerry campaign and come out and try to make a real difference between what John Kerry is saying and George Bush is saying. Here's some of what the senator had to say.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, I have a message for men and women of our armed forces. As commander in chief, I will honor your commitment and I will take responsibility for the bad as well as the good.

As president, I will not be the last to know what is going on in my command. I will demand accountability from those who serve and I will take responsibility for their actions.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: So, obviously, a couple hits there at the president, including the one, "I won't be the last to know" now with the White House saying that George Bush didn't know, in fact, about the pictures or about the breadth of what had gone on over there.

So John Kerry also not in this speech but later was asked by reporters if he thought Donald Rumsfeld should resign. He said, yes. In fact, Senator Kerry a while back said he thought that the secretary should resign over prosecution of the war, actually the post-war period, saying he didn't have a plan for the peace and Rumsfeld should resign. Yesterday he repeated again that he thought he should resign and today a third time said he should -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Candy Crowley. Thank you very much.

Now, let's bring in Richard Holbrooke, a Kerry campaign adviser. He is also former United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Ambassador Holbrooke, John Kerry said today that as president he would take responsibility. We have President Bush today saying he's sorry for the humiliation suffered by these prisoners and families. Isn't that taking responsibility?

RICHARD HOLBROOKE, KERRY CAMPAIGN ADVISER, FRM. U.N. AMBASSADOR: Well, he's taking too little responsibility too late. As President Harry Truman famously said, "The buck stops here."

The administration tried to first blame this on the handful of prison guards. Then they brought in Brigadier General Kaminski. When she pointed out correctly that it should be General Sanchez's responsibility and up the chain of command, it started going upwards.

I don't think anyone should said it more clearly than Senator Kerry today. The president must take responsibility for things that happen on his watch as commander in chief.

WOODRUFF: The president is vowing, he says those who are responsible will be brought to justice. Why isn't that sufficient?

HOLBROOKE: Let's see if he means it. This an administration which has consistently objected to investigations, the 9/11 Commission, the weapons of mass destruction commission. All sorts of things. They always come forward a little bit at a time under tremendous pressure from people like yourself at CNN and others in the Congress, both Republicans and Democrats. And then they hope it will go away.

The problem here is that this one is not just and internal problem. This is damaging the United States overseas, it is endangering our troops because it will create more rage against Americans in the field. And the president's statements today are a step in the right direction. But we can't say this is enough or that we've gotten the root of this.

How did it happen? Did Secretary Rumsfeld in fact tell the interrogators that the Geneva Rules of War, the Geneva Convention -- which American military have traditionally thought was important to uphold because it also protects our people if taken as POWs -- did he really tell them that the Geneva Convention was out of date? Did he open up the door? This needs to be investigated.

WOODRUFF: Ambassador Holbrooke, John Kerry has called again for Secretary Rumsfeld to step down. Joe Biden, the senator from Delaware, today said we need to get off this issue. Rumsfeld resignation is a bit of a sideshow. He said we need to focus on accountability here.

HOLBROOKE: Of course they're both right. Accountability in the sense that you meant it and that I would understand it would require the secretary of defense to offer his resignation to the president. That's the right thing to do. And the president would either accept it or say, "I, President Bush, take full responsibility."

But that isn't going to happen in this administration. It's not the way this administration works. It is the way other administration works. It won't happen here, Judy. It should, but it won't.

WOODRUFF: One other question. There have been a number of Democrats who've said publicly say they don't see enough difference between President Bush's position on Iraq now and John Kerry's position.

HOLBROOKE: Democrats say that?

WOODRUFF: Is it a problem for Senator Kerry that his position has basically internationalized this war, but don't bring the troops home. And beyond that, it's a position that's different to articulate to American people.

HOLBROOKE: Judy, I'm very surprised people would not be able to differentiate between John Kerry and George Bush on Iraq. John Kerry's entire philosophy role in the war is leading others through our examples, values, economic and political and military strength.

He doesn't believe in going it alone because in the end that doesn't work. He has laid it out time and time again, most recently last week in his dramatic rebuttal speech to Vice President Cheney...


WOODRUFF: But in terms of getting out of Iraq, isn't there and enormous similarity?

HOLBROOKE: No. I don't think so at all. I think President Bush has finally and belatedly thrown it into the hands of Mr. Brahimi and the United Nations in desperation after every single thing that he said would happen in Iraq with the sole exception of capturing Saddam Hussein has failed. None of the deadlines succeeded. Senator Kerry's policies. He supported the initial going in, as you well know. From that point on, Judy, everything he recommended was ignored or adopted belatedly. He is a seasoned international civil servant who knows how the world works, and knows how to build support. He would follow a very significantly different policy. I'm surprised anyone would suggest there's no difference except maybe Ralph Nader. Ralph Nader, who's trying to ruin this election.

WOODRUFF: We are going to have to leave it there. Much more to talk about and more time to do it in the future. Former ambassador, Richard Holbrooke, thank you very much.

HOLBROOKE: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, John Kerry's determination to practice his Catholic faith and to defend political views at odds with some church doctrine have created a conflict on the campaign trail. CNN's Kelly Wallace has more on the split between politics and religion and how the issue can influence elections.


KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under increasing pressure from Catholic bishops in his state, New Jersey's Catholic governor announces he will no longer choose communion during mass.

JAMES E. MCGREEVEY, GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: I am strongly and equivocally pro-choice. I believe that is a personal decision. The actions today of the archbishop, from my perspective are unfortunate.

WALLACE: McGreevey's aides say he was responding to a public call from the archbishop of Newark who condemned Catholic support of abortion rights as quote, "a grave scandal" and said a Catholic supporting abortion rights and receiving holy communion, quote, "serves to compound the scandal." The issue has taken center stage on the presidential campaign trail, with at least one American bishop saying he would not serve John Kerry communion since he supports abortion rights.

At the same time anti-abortion activists in advertisements in national newspapers are saying, quote, "you can't be both Catholic and pro-abortion." Aides to John Kerry say McGreevey's decision was a personal one but say the senator has no plans to stop taking communion, something he stressed last month.

KERRY: I fully intend to continue to practice my religion separately from what I do with respect to my public life.

WALLACE: Joe Mercurio is a veteran political strategist who has advised Democratic candidates.

JOE MERCURIO, POLITICAL ANALYST: The question is, is this something that helps Kerry or hurts him? In Catholic states in the past, we've seen it work to the advantage of the politician.

WALLACE: Mercurio points to the 2002 Senate campaign of Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. He says criticism of Landrieu by the Catholic church increased turnout and helped bring her to victory. The same he said could hold true for the Democratic candidate with two thirds of the 17 battle ground states containing large Catholic populations.

MERCURIO: It could raise the vote of pro-choice women and people that are concerned that a politician like Kerry, a liberal social issue politician would be put upon by his church.


WALLACE: And there are those who disagree and believe this issue could rally anti-abortion rights Catholics to the polls to vote against John Kerry. Kerry, for his part, met last night with the top cardinal in Los Angeles and last month with the archbishop who is heading up a task force of American bishops looking into this very issue. That task force though, Judy, not expected to issue any decision until after voters go to the polls in November -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Kelly Wallace, thank you very much.

John Kerry eyes an opening for political gain. Up next, why the Democratic hopeful thinks Bush is vulnerable on education.

It is not just Democrats who are unhappy with the defense secretary. Bob Novak joins me to talk about Rumsfeld's troubles on the right.

Plus two sisters both members of Congress consider trading spaces.


WOODRUFF: John Kerry is in California today hammering away on his plans to boost both the quality of the nation's teachers and their salaries. It is the final leg of a three-day tour highlighting Kerry's education plan.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: Good afternoon, Senator Kerry!

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Warm and fuzzy with the kids.

KERRY: People in Washington are prepared to give those earning more than $200,000 a year yet another tax cut, at the expense of our children and our future.

WOODRUFF: Hard as nails on the White House. John Kerry hammering George W. Bush on one of the president's signature domestic issues, education.

BUSH: You find excellence where you're willing to measure and then correct when things aren't going the way they should.

WOODRUFF: The thematic foundation of the landmark No Child Left Behind initiative, a program Kerry voted for but has strongly criticized, accusing the administration of failing to adequately fund it.

KERRY: I am meeting teachers who are burdened, teachers reaching into their own pockets, paying money out of their own salaries, in order to put materials in front of their kids at school. WOODRUFF: Kerry pledges to boost federal education spending by more than $100 billion over five years. Today, he rolled out a plan to retain or recruit half a million teachers, by raising pay in underserved areas and subjects, making it easier for schools to remove poor teachers and reward strong ones with merit bonuses.

Earlier this week, Kerry pledged nearly $5 billion to programs designed to lower high school dropout rates which he charges are being seriously under-reported. The senator's plan calls for smaller high schools, expanded teacher training and mentoring programs, linking middle schoolers with college students.

All of this, Kerry pledges will mean another 200,000 students will graduate each year. The Bush campaign knocked the proposals as empty rhetoric calling Kerry's education tour an obvious election year stunt designed to obscure his decades-long record of doing nothing to make schools accountable to children and parents.

Class dismissed.


WOODRUFF: Well, the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal, who is to blame. Coming up, Bob Novak joins us with what some Republican lawmakers are saying about calls for Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation.



WOODRUFF: ...overseas?

BOB NOVAK, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": I reported it on INSIDE POLITICS a while back. The Republicans who are very upset about it, just find the Pentagon totally uncooperative on it. Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia has been taking the lead on that. He met the other day with bring Brigadier General Gina Forise (ph) who's in charge, she's being transferred right in the midst of all the trouble, a very nice person but not on top of the issue. It may be a stretch, but some people are connecting the dots that all is not kosher at the Pentagon, when you find this prisoner operation and they can't even deliver the mail to our troops.

WOODRUFF: Bob, you like to follow these big fund-raisers. Tell us about the Republicans last night.

NOVAK: This was a reception at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Park, Judy, only $1,500 a person. They used to serve you a dinner for that. They don't do that anymore. A lot of them were afraid it was like the Bush-Cheney fund-raiser where they just give you popcorn and pig-in-a- blanket. But these were very nice big shrimp and a chocolate boot with ice cream in it.

Couple of other notes. All the videos they had featured Dick Cheney. So I don't think they're going to dump him from the ticket but the electric evening, and I do mean electric point of the evening came when they were introducing the celebrities. Guess who got the biggest applause? Don King, the boxing promoter and when he was introduced, he had an American flag in both hands. Boy, the Republicans loved him. Don king is a born again Republican. Could you believe it?

WOODRUFF: Chocolate boots, huh?

NOVAK: They go first class.

WOODRUFF: Sounds like quite a party. Bob Novak, we'll see you on "CROSSFIRE." 4:30 Eastern. Thank you.

Two members of Congress may have designs on joining a hit television show. Still ahead. Find out which lawmakers think it might be great to trade spaces.


WOODRUFF: Politician have been known, we know to talk trade or even to trade votes. How would they do trading spaces. "Roll Call" reports that California Congresswomen Loretta and Linda Sanchez just might take their sister act to the popular TV show, "Trading Spaces." The two were said to be considering swapping apartments on the room makeover program this fall. We're not sure how they squeeze all the painting and hammering into their re-election campaign schedules. I guess that's for them to figure out. We'll keep following it.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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