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9/11 Report Fallout

Aired July 22, 2004 - 16:30   ET


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

In the CROSSFIRE: What went wrong on September 11, 2001? You name it.

THOMAS KEAN, CHAIR, 9/11 COMMISSION: This was a failure of policy, management, capability and above all, a failure of imagination.

ANNOUNCER: The 9/11 Commission delivers its final report and makes urgent recommendations for reform. Now what?

JAMES THOMPSON, 9/11 COMMISSIONER: If something bad happens while these recommendation are sitting there, the American people will quickly fix political responsibility for failure, and that responsibility may last for generations.

ANNOUNCER: Will Washington get the message and do something?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I look forward to studying their recommendations.




ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Election Express, alongside the USS Constitution in Boston, James Carville and Tucker Carlson.


We haven't moved an inch since yesterday. Once again, the CNN Election Express is parked next to the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides.

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Two hundred and 10 years ago, a sailing ship with a lot of cannons was what America needed to defend itself. As the 9/11 Commission made clear today, we need to rethink our defense against terrorism real fast.

We'll start right after the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Since it's convention time, I want to give you a convention flashback. Back in 2000, when George W. Bush was accepting the Republican nomination, he said -- quote -- "If called on by the commander in chief, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, not ready for duty, sir." That was a lie then, but it may be the truth now. That's because George W. Bush has done more to damage America's military than any enemy ever could.

A new nonpartisan report from the GAO shows that George W. Bush has so overstretched our military that the Air Force and Navy pilots have been grounded. Training has been canceled. Air Force can't afford to buy body armor. The Army is begging the Air Force and the Marines for money to help them cover their contract with Halliburton. And the soldiers don't want to reenlist.

Back when I was in the Marines, we had a word for this type of situation, FUBAR. Our armed services deserve better from a commander in chief.

CARLSON: Well, to say that Bush has hurt the military more than a foreign army is ludicrous.

But part of your point -- part of your point is right. Conservatives argued during the '90s that Clinton's downsizing of the military, the so-called peace dividend, was a bad idea. It would make it hard to fight.


CARLSON: No, you're right. No, you're absolutely right. They argued that during the 1990s and they didn't live up to it now. I agree with you. I'm not going to argue this.

CARVILLE: But, again, right now, under this administration, has done more to wreck the military of the United States than any administration in modern history.


CARLSON: Really? Do you think John Kerry will win the military vote, James?

CARVILLE: Absolutely.

CARLSON: I don't think so.

CARVILLE: I'll tell you what. He is going to come pretty damn close.

CARLSON: I suspect not.

CARVILLE: I suspect he will.

CARLSON: Well, this morning's "Washington Post" adds a series of devastating details to the unfolding scandal surrounding former Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger.

Among them, staff at the National Archives became suspicious after his Berger's first visit last fall that he might be stealing classified documents. At his next visit, they set up a sting operation to catch him and they did. Berger says he took and subsequently lost the highly classified documents unintentionally.

But there is nothing random about the documents he took. Berger stripped the files of every single copy of a single memo which detailed the Clinton administration's response to the Y2K terror threat. And there is nothing accidental about that. Berger also walked off with 40 or 50 pages of notes he took on other classified documents. Berger admits he knew this was a security violation, but that he did it anyway.

Finally, Berger first learned he was the subject of a criminal probe last year and he hired a lawyer. Yet, he continued to run the Kerry campaign's foreign policy operation until this week, thus embarrassing John Kerry, who apparently didn't know about it. Berger has a lot to explain, both to his fellow Democrats and to the rest of us. And let's hope he does.

CARVILLE: Well, let me say this. I know Sandy Berger. I know his wife. I know his family.

CARLSON: Well, so do I. And I respect him.


CARVILLE: You know what? I respect him. And, Sandy, I know this is a difficult time. I think, in the end of this, we might find out that you did something not very smart, but you didn't do anything illegal.



CARVILLE: And I don't think you would ever do anything to hurt the United States.

CARLSON: I'm not saying that he did do anything to hurt the United States. I'm saying it's a big deal.


CARLSON: And for Democrats to pretend it's just a conspiracy is not responsible.

CARVILLE: You know what? I'm surprised at the timing of this. And the 9/11 Commission has already said no documents have been missing.


CARLSON: Come on. CARVILLE: Guess what? That's my opinion.

Since President Bush came to office, America has lost the most jobs since the Great Depression. We have got eight million Americans looking for work and incomes are feeling for people who do have jobs. But at least now we know who to blame, us. It's our fault.

Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who spends more time advising the White House than Ken Lay did, said workers are ill-prepared to take advantage of the opportunities the economy now offers. For those of us too dumb to understand that, he's saying we're too dumb for all of us to hold the good jobs out there. That's the Republican message right from the Federal Reserve and the White House.

You're not doing well because you're stupid. Certainly, the president's failure to fund education hasn't helped matters any. But I happen to think, if the current occupant of the White House can be president, the economy has everything to do with it and how smart we are has nothing to do with it.

CARLSON: Well, that's so wrong on so many levels, I don't know where to begin.


CARLSON: But let's start with this.

The federal government spends more money on education at all levels than it ever has ever before. Second, Democrats


CARLSON: Democrats have argued, Clinton argued we need job retraining because Americans aren't smart enough to hold the jobs that are available. That's a Democratic argument.


CARLSON: And, third, I thought Alan Greenspan was a hero. I thought Alan Greenspan...

CARVILLE: Alan Greenspan is -- he's over there at the White House.

CARLSON: That's the same argument you made, James.

CARVILLE: He's at the White House supporting this deficit.


CARVILLE: Alan Greenspan is, America, the reason you're not working and you're not getting a raise, because you're stupid. That's what the Republicans tell you. I got news for you, Republicans. You ain't going to win with that message.




CARVILLE: You can tell people they're stupid, but I think they're smart. I think this administration's policies are


CARLSON: OK, America, James loves you.


CARLSON: Well, a dream died today, a dream of hope, of idealism, of bean curd fajitas washed down with soy milk, a dream that united the sandal-clad, no-nukes, go-solar left with the tie-dyed, pro-hemp elements of the radical vegan movement, a dream of Dennis Kucinich for president.

Kucinich dropped out of the race today, endorsing John Kerry at a rally in Detroit. But more than that, Dennis Kucinich left the ranks of true believers to join the establishment. Dennis Kucinich urged fellow idealist Ralph Nader to drop out of the presidential race, not because Dennis Kucinich disagrees with Nader's views. The two are in agreement about almost everything, but because Nader's stubborn insistence on saying what he actually thinks is proving to be inconvenient to the political aspirations of John Kerry.

So Kucinich joined the chorus of Democrats who are telling Nader to shut up, go away and stop trying to participate in democracy, at least until November 2. In other words, Dennis Kucinich sold out. And some of us are sad about that. Some of us believed.

CARVILLE: You know, I'm so fascinated by the fact that these Michigan Republicans are so concerned about democracy.


CARVILLE: Want Ralph Nader on the ballot.

CARLSON: I think people should have the right to say what they think, James, unlike you.

CARVILLE: That Rupert Murdoch is funding his campaign by paying him a bunch of money for a book, that Pat Buchanan's party


CARLSON: Why are you attacking? Why are you attacking? Why are you attacking Ralph Nader?

CARVILLE: I just find it fascinating that you're so pro-Nader.

CARLSON: Because he's getting in the way



CARVILLE: You know what? You so desperately want to cling to power. You want to cling to power. And you'll do anything, including Ralph Nader, if you think it will help you cling to power.


CARLSON: That sounds like me, James, clinging to power.

CARVILLE: Power puppet. Power puppet.


CARVILLE: Power puppet.

Well, the 9/11 Commission has released its report. We will debate it. Will it become a blueprint for change or the centerpiece of yet another political fight? We'll look at the report and its potential fallout next.

And how did our host city of Boston get to be known as Beantown? Do you really want to know? Nevertheless, we'll tell you later on CROSSFIRE.

ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to CROSSFIRE at the George Washington University, call 202-994-8CNN or visit our Web site. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.


CARLSON: Well, the 9/11 Commission issued its final report today. Unanimously and pretty diplomatically, it concludes that the evidence of al Qaeda during the Clinton administration presented challenges that our government institutions -- quote -- "were not well designed to meet." The report suggests ways to redesign them, including a Cabinet-level counterterrorism official, a single counterterrorism department and a single congressional committee to oversee it.

We're going to talk about the report's fallout with John White, who was a deputy defense secretary during the Clinton administration, and also Former Congressman Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma.

CARVILLE: Well, Congressman, what should the president -- he may be giving a statement. If you were advising the president, what would you advise him to say after this report has been issued.

MICKEY EDWARDS (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, I think the president has got to be very straightforward. It's not based on his administration, the Clinton administration.

For a long, long time, we have had duplication of effort. We've had lack of coordination. I think the president has to be serious about it. He has to say we're going to change things and change it right away.

CARVILLE: In the report, there were instances. They cited four instances where President Clinton in eight years could have -- should have gone after bin Laden. They cited six instances in President Bush in a little over eight months. As I figure, that averages out President Bush had one -- every 40 days, he had one opportunity to get bin Laden.

President Clinton had one opportunity every 731 days, which would indicate that the Clinton administration was about 18 times more vigilant than the Bush administration, which is a little high, but just we'll reduce that to 10.


EDWARDS: You can't make anything political out of it, James.

The thing about this whole report that is the most disturbing to John Kerry and the Democrats is, they were waiting for someone that would point a finger at George Bush. And it didn't happen. This is something that is part of -- it's institutional and it affects


CARVILLE: Let the record show that Tucker pointed the first finger. So I just wanted to be very clear.


CARLSON: I haven't pointed a single finger.


CARLSON: But let me do that.

Mr. White, the report, the parts of it I have read, smart, very nicely written, actually, and pretty thoughtful. And right at the very beginning, it makes the point that we can't fight this enemy unless we call it what it is. And the enemy is not terror. It's a kind of Islamic extremism. It's Islamic terror.

And I wonder -- and I think it's a very good point -- I wonder if John Kerry will use the phrase Islamic extremism or Islamic terror in his acceptance speech at Boston on Thursday. My guess is he won't. What do you think?

JOHN WHITE, FORMER DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: I don't know. I don't have any idea.

I think it is terror. There's lots of terror in the world. A lot of societies are in this with them. And they're fighting other kinds of terror, not just Islamic terror, although Islamic terror obviously is (INAUDIBLE) at this time.

I think, in contrast to my friend Mickey, I think there are some problems here for the administration. Terrorism should be our No. 1 priority, and it's not. We've been distracted by this tragic war in Iraq and a whole set of other things on the part of the administration and neglected the most important thing of all, which is to fight terror.


CARLSON: I think what you just said may be part of the reason that people don't, in polls always, trust Democrats as much as they do Republicans on the question of fighting terror, because everybody knows that the species of terror we're fighting right now is indeed Islamic terror. It doesn't represent mainstream Islam, but it is a specifically Islamic brand terror. Why not say that?


WHITE: I agree with you that we're fighting Islamic terror, and I said so. And I think we have to go on fighting it. But we don't have to have the distraction in terms of Iraq, when in fact the terror is all over the place, at home, as well at oversees and with our allies. And until we get better cooperation, which the administration is not going to get, given the way they behave, we're not going to win this war.

CARVILLE: Congressman Edwards, this report was unanimous, I think. I think Governor Kean and Congressman Hamilton worked very hard on this. And it unanimously reported that there was no collaborative effort between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Don't you think the administration would be well served if they just gave up this argument and moved on to the next thing?

EDWARDS: Yes. Yes. Sure. Sure. It would be. But that's not quite what the report said.

It said there was no formal collaborative effort, but there was contact. The contact between Iraq and al Qaeda did take place.

CARVILLE: They said there was contact, but not a collaborative effort of any kind.

EDWARDS: Well, it was never brought to fruition.


EDWARDS: But they were working together.

CARVILLE: But they should give up and just saying


EDWARDS: Sure. I mean, look, at this point, Democrats and Republicans alike need to stop talking about what happened yesterday, because what this report says is, there is a real serious threat there that hasn't been taken seriously enough for a long time.

(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: I agree with you, not talking about yesterday, but if we could just talk about yesterday really quickly, because it's sort of interesting, that -- the report said something I didn't know, which is I think on at least two separate occasions in the late 1990s, the Clinton administration was warned explicitly that Osama bin Laden's organization, al Qaeda, might try and hijack U.S. airplanes.

I wonder why the Clinton administration didn't make a greater effort to kill bin Laden, say, by committing American troops to do the job.

WHITE: We can go back over this report and back over history...

CARLSON: It's an interesting question.

WHITE: ... for the last 10 years and find 30 such incidences, some under Clinton, some under Bush. I don't think it's going to be productive.

I think Mickey's right. I think the problem is, we haven't done enough. The administration isn't doing enough. The president ought to lead and he ought to show his leadership by doing something, getting out in front of this, resolving the problems in terms of the national security community, resolving the problems at the CIA, enhancing homeland security.


CARLSON: Then how about another recommendation that I think Bush ought to take up? And that is, the report says that we need to sell America. We need to make America's case abroad. And for many years in the Eastern Bloc, we did that with USA and VOA.

And yet, during the Clinton administration, both of those were gutted. And it seems to me, that was a huge mistake. And I wonder if you would be willing to say, yes, it was a mistake.

WHITE: I think it was mistake. I think we took our eyes off foreign policy and foreign issues in the '90s for all the reasons we know in terms of the end of the Cold War. And we shouldn't have done that. That was true for the country at large. If you even looked at what was on television at night, that was true. And we ought to refocus ourselves because that threat was real.


EDWARDS: James, there's another serious thing that goes back to when the Democrats were in power. A major problem here is when Jimmy Carter was president and gutted the human intelligence part of our intelligence agencies.


CARVILLE: They had Chalabi. Actually, Chalabi provided them with a lot of intelligence. And it may be -- it's hard to believe this, but he's actually a human being. And they had Curveball was a human being who was a drunk in a German jail who they went to, to -- so they actually had a lot of -- I wouldn't call it intelligence, but they had a lot of humans.

Let me go -- according to a CNN poll, a majority of Americans believe that President Bush is not respected by leaders abroad. Is that a problem for the United States, that the American people don't believe their own president is respected by world leaders?

EDWARDS: Well, it depends on whether it's true or not.

One of the things that was really interesting was that this unilateral action by George Bush was supported by most of the government of Europe. Just the fact that Chirac doesn't support us or that the Germans don't support us doesn't mean that it's us against the rest of the world.


EDWARDS: Most of the European countries did support what we did in Iraq.


CARVILLE: most of them didn't


EDWARDS: Well, that's right.

CARLSON: Mr. White, it's clear that one of the main problems before 9/11 and in my opinion now is lax immigration controls. These guys were allowed to come into the country and no one really kept track of them once they got here. The report makes that very clear.

Neither party wants to look at immigration seriously. And I wonder, A, if you think it's a problem and, B, if you think it's going to change.

WHITE: I don't think it is lax immigration control. I think it is a lack of effective immigration control.

We are a beacon to the rest of the world. We have thousands of graduate students and other students come to this country every year and tour us every year. And we're better for it and they're better for it. And so what we need to do is realign our immigration rules so that we keep the bad guys out, but welcome the others to come in, because success here is going to require that kind of understanding around the world.

CARLSON: We're going to take a quick commercial break. We'll be right back.

Next, in "Rapid Fire" how does the 9/11 report hurt John Edwards? An angle you may not have considered. We'll tell you when we come back.


CARLSON: Well, that's President Bush you're watching in Glenview, Illinois, along with Tom Ridge, his secretary of homeland security. We're going to listen in.


BUSH: ... your leadership here. And I want to thank Bob Leahy as well, who is the director of NIPSTA.


BUSH: It sounds like Bob may have invited some of his family here today.


BUSH: I want to thank my friend, Congressman Mark Kirk, who represent...


BUSH: You know, I'm traveling today by chopper from the O'Hare Airport. And I was honored that truly one of the country's great mayors welcomed me there and flew over. And that's Mayor Richard Daley of the great city of Chicago.


BUSH: I want to thank Mayor Larry Carlson from Glenview for joining us.

Mr. Mayor, thank you for coming.

Mayor Peter Moy of Lincolnwood, thank you for coming, Peter.


Mayor George Van Dusen of Skokie, thanks for coming, George.


BUSH: Great first name.


BUSH: Fill the potholes.


BUSH: I appreciate it.


BUSH: I appreciate all the state and local officer whose are here, as well as the first-responders. Thanks for having me. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BUSH: The events of September the 11th, 2001, demonstrated the threats of a new era.

We found that oceans, which separated us from other continents, no longer separate us from danger. We saw the cruelty of the terrorists, and we glimpsed the future they intend for us. They intend to strike the United States again. They're seeking increasingly powerful weapons that would allow them to kill our citizens on an unprecedented scale.

That's the reality of the world we live in today. We didn't ask for it. It came to our shores because of what we believe in. It came to our shores because we're the beacon of freedom. And we're not going to change.


BUSH: A new kind of threat has required a new kind of war, a new kind of response. And we're prosecuting the war on many fronts.

Our military has captured or killed hundreds of terrorists, removed terrorist regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan that have harbored terrorists and threatened our people. Our intelligence community helped uncover the A.Q. Khan network that had supplied nuclear weapons-related equipment and plans to Libya and Iran and North Korea, and we put them out of business.

Our diplomats, working with Great Britain, convinced Libya to give up its weapons of mass destruction. Our law enforcement officials, working with friends and allies around the world, have disrupted terrorist financing and broken up terror cells virtually on every continent. The results of these efforts are solid and they're clear. In just three years, we've captured or killed about two-thirds of al Qaeda's known leadership.


CARLSON: George W. Bush speaking in Glenview, Illinois.

And that is it for this segment. I'm sorry. We're out of time.

John White, former deputy defense secretary under President Clinton, former Congressman Mickey Edwards, thank you both very much.


CARLSON: Well, for some, Boston will always be known as Beantown, as embarrassing as that may sound. And we'll find out why right after this.


CARVILLE: Just about everybody knows Boston's nickname is Beantown. And to tell us exactly what makes Boston baked beans so special and just where the term Beantown came from, we're joined by chef Tommy Ryan of the Durgin-Park Restaurant?


CARVILLE: Durgin-Park, all right.

CARLSON: Where did -- where did the name come from, Beantown?

RYAN: Well, I think it dates back to the early English revolutionary days. And all I know is that Boston baked beans are famous around here. And it's a staple dish at our restaurant.

CARLSON: But the best baked beans in the world come from Portland, Maine, the B&M baked bean factory, where I spent a summer working. Isn't that kind of...


RYAN: Second best. Second best, yes. Second best.


CARVILLE: Chef, you know why there are 239 beans in a jar?

RYAN: No, I didn't.

CARVILLE: One more would be 240.



CARLSON: Given lines like that, isn't it kind of -- isn't it kind of embarrassing that Boston is called Beantown?

RYAN: Actually, no. No, it's great to be associated with it and having that as a signature dish at the restaurant.

CARLSON: Well, tell us about your restaurant, Durgin-Park Restaurant, apparently one of the best Yankee restaurants in the world. Tell us about your beans.

RYAN: It is the best restaurant of its kind.


CARLSON: What are your beans like?

RYAN: The beans?


CARVILLE: Do you put molasses in them?

RYAN: Oh, a lot of molasses, a lot of molasses.

(CROSSTALK) RYAN: They should be sweet, because, traditionally, they're served with knockwurst, hot dogs, fish cakes. And the sweetness of the beans kind of complements the saltiness of the fish cakes, the codfish cakes.

CARVILLE: I'm getting all gassed up.


CARLSON: I'm getting hungry. The Durgin-Park Restaurant


CARLSON: We're going.

RYAN: Yes, sir.

CARLSON: Thanks a lot for joining us.

RYAN: Looking forward to seeing you there.

CARLSON: All right.

RYAN: Thank you.


CARLSON: Well, from Beans to the BoSox.

Tomorrow, the Election Express will pull into the very temple, the very temple of Red Sox nation, Fenway Park. We'll be doing our show live from there. So I hope you will join us tomorrow. Good night.

CARVILLE: From the left, I'm James Carville. And good night from Beantown.

CARLSON: From the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. See you tomorrow from Fenway.

Here comes Wolf Blitzer.


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