Return to Transcripts main page
NEWS FROM CNN
Rice Nomination; Falluja Shooting; Right and Wrong of Combat
Aired November 16, 2004 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We have a lot of news that's unfolding this hour. A renaissance woman, as she's been described, one of the president's closest confidantes, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, ready to make history as the next secretary of state. Her expected nomination coming up live from the White House this hour. We will have live coverage.
Also, killing the enemy, it is what American warriors do. But did a U.S. Marine caught up in the battle of Falluja go too far? The rights and wrongs of combat. A discussion, that's coming up as well.
A busy hour coming your way. First, though, some headlines "Now in the News."
A big spike in prices for fuels renewed inflation fears. The Labor Department says wholesale prices rose last month by 1.7 percent. That's the biggest surge in nearly 15 years. Most of the blame goes to higher energy cost like gasoline.
A new warning of possible side effects connected to the so-called abortion pill. It follows three deaths, including one this year possibly linked to RU486. An expanded warning label is to notify users of possible infections free of the usual warning signs of soreness and fever. The FDA says the risks are rare.
And a brawl mars a tribute to hip-hop artists. Music legend Quincy Jones was attempting to present an award when the hall in Santa Monica simply descended into chaos. Chairs were hurled and a stabbing was reported. The show went on about 20 minutes later.
Up first this hour, the Rice nomination. The historic importance is clear, and the decision to fill another sensitive cabinet post with a trusted White House aide may say something as well. President Bush will make the announcement in about 30 minutes from now live from the Roosevelt Room in the west wing of the White House.
Let's go live to the White House now. Our correspondent, Dana Bash, is standing by -- Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Condoleezza Rice was the president's tutor on foreign policy when he was the Texas governor, running for the White House for the first time. She is, as you said, one of his closest confidantes and advisers. And 30 minutes from now he's going to send her down the street to be his top diplomat.
Now, White House aides say the president feels that she's perfect for the job because they point to 25 years of government experience she's had, working, for example, with his father here at the National Security Council as the Soviet Union specialist. And talking about some of the high-profile assignments Mr. Bush has given her in terms of diplomacy, like sending her to Russia to talk about a U.N. resolution on Iraq and assigning her -- not the secretary of state -- but her to, in the president's words, ride herd on the Mideast when the president about a year ago, year and a half ago, was trying to reengage in the Mideast.
Now, some Democrats point to that, the Mideast, for example, as an example of failures that she has been involved in, in the Bush administration foreign policy. And I talked to some Democratic sources who say that they certainly think that Rice will be confirmed by the Senate eventually, but they say that they are going to have some tough questions for her surrounding her tenure here at the White House.
For example, first and foremost on Iraq, her vetting and translating, at least her involvement in that of some intelligence, and how that turned into the case for war that the president and his top aides, including Rice, made based on intelligence, much of it that turned out to be wrong. And also some of the questions about what she may have done before 9/11 to try to actually confront the al Qaeda threat, confront terrorism.
There you see pictures of Dr. Rice, who was testifying before the 9/11 Commission. That, you'll remember, was a time when she was pointblank asked about the president's involvement and the president's focus on terrorism, and she was forced to say that the president did get a briefing from the CIA entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." Now, of course, here at the White House they say that that -- that those are all caught up in issues that have been resolved and that she still is the best person for the job.
Now, Rice's deputy, Stephen Hadley, at the National Security Council, will be elevated to her current role, the national security adviser. That will be done again, as well, in 30 minutes. That is a role and job that does not require Senate confirmation.
But, Wolf, you mentioned loyalty. Both of these nominations, and, of course, Rice's nomination, all sort of symbolizes what the president seems to be doing in his second term, which is putting his closest advisers, his confidantes, again in key positions.
Some Republicans already are saying that this is a problem for him, that this could hurt the president, warning that he could live inside a echo chamber and not have an adequate and healthy debate. But in terms of foreign policy, even Colin Powell said last week in an interview that he believes that the election showed that the president has a mandate for an aggressive foreign policy, and by putting Dr. Rice at the post of secretary of state perhaps that is exactly what he's following through with -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And we understand that Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, the number two official at the State Department, he'll be leaving with Colin Powell. Is there confirmation that John Bolton, the under secretary of state, another hard-liner, will move up to the number two slot?
BASH: That is certainly the word from some officials. We don't have that confirmed at this point. That is certainly going to be something that a lot of people are already looking at to see who exactly Condoleezza Rice will have as her deputies.
You've heard some -- from even some Republicans this morning saying that there is concern in this town that the moderate voice that we heard from Colin Powell will essentially be gone. And by having Condoleezza Rice at the State Department, you will have a lot of hawkish kind of people, people that agree with the president. And that some of the people in the State Department, we are told, are concerned that the moderating voices essentially won't be heard. Who Dr. Rice's's deputy would be at the State Department we don't know for sure yet -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And finally, Dana, will Colin Powell be in the Roosevelt Room during this announcement?
BASH: We do not know yet. That's actually a very good question. We know that Dr. Rice will be there with Stephen Hadley. And those two nominations will be given at the same time. Whether or not Colin Powell is going to be there, unclear.
BLITZER: We'll just have to wait and see.
BASH: We will.
BLITZER: Dana Bash reporting for us at the White House. Dana, thanks very much.
Let's move to Iraq now, where U.S. and Iraqi forces are targeting insurgents now on two key fronts: Falluja, of course, and the northern city of Mosul. An offensive is under way there to root out rebels who have been attacking police stations, other government buildings and U.S. military posts.
Between 6,000 and 10,000 troops are said to be involved in that mission. More still in Falluja, which U.S. officials, military officials say has been secured. That's not necessarily the same as under control. CNN's Karl Penhaul says it could be weeks before Falluja residents can think of returning home.
In war it's not always clear who is the enemy and who is a danger. Case and point: an incident on Saturday involving a U.S. Marine and a suspected insurgent. Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is joining us now live with details.
Very disturbing video, Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We'll get to that video in a moment. But let's explain what apparently did transpire last Saturday in a mosque in Falluja.
There is now a criminal investigation under way. The 1st Marine Division now confirming that a U.S. Marine entered the mosque, along with some other Marines. They came across five wounded Iraqi insurgents that had been left there the day before.
They were traveling with a television news camera crew who caught the incident on videotape as the Marines entered this building and apparently shot an unarmed, already wounded Iraqi insurgent. The video we are going to show is very disturbing -- Wolf.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there Marines in here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they're on the far right, far right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming around the back.
Hey, who's in here?
What (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you doing in here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) got shot by tanks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
You guys almost got shot up by tanks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They told us to come in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tanks did?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. They told us there were people in here, and tell us to come in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we had two in there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you shoot them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have any weapons on them?
Same guys from yesterday? All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the ones from yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the wounded that they never picked up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's (EXPLETIVE DELETED) faking he's dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's breathing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's faking (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP) STARR: Wolf, the last sound you heard on that videotape as we freeze-framed it was the gunshot wound to the head of the Iraqi insurgent. We are, of course, not going to show the rest of that tape. It is far too explicit.
The Marine involved in the shooting has been removed from his duty station, we are told. He is being questioned.
The issue on the table is whether an unarmed Iraqi insurgent who was wounded, was shot by a U.S. military person when he posed no threat, the question is going to be whether these Marines felt they were under threat from these insurgents in the mosque. All of that remains under investigation.
It is an incident that is very unclear at the moment. These Marines have been involved in some very nasty fighting throughout Falluja.
Just days before this, a short time before this incident, they had come across an insurgent tactic where the insurgents booby-trapped a dead body. The Marines approached it, the body exploded, and Marines were killed and injured. So all of this has been a very nasty fight for the Marines, but this incident captured on videotape now the subject of a criminal investigation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara, do we know -- we haven't identified the Marine that is under investigation right now. But do we know his rank?
STARR: We are not identifying any of the aspects of the Marines involved in this incident. As you see, at the request of the U.S. military, we have even pixilated any identifying marks, name tags on their uniforms or on their backpacks because no one is charged yet.
This incident remains under investigation. It is not clear that anyone will be charged. And so citing privacy concerns, none of the details regarding these Marines are being released at this time -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Thank you, Barbara, very much.
To help us better understand a little bit of what we just saw and heard, I'm joined by two guests, retired U.S. Army Brigadier General James Marks and a former Judge Advocate General Eugene Fidell. He's a military law specialist.
Thanks to both of you for joining us.
And General Marks, let me begin with you. Give us your -- your -- based on what we saw, it was a minute, a minute and a half of that video. What goes through your mind as a recently retired commanding general?
BRIG. GEN. JAMES MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): What happens in urban combat is, as confusing as it can get, combat by itself is extremely confusing. And soldiers are looking for clarity, they're looking for certainty. And in urban combat you aren't going to get much of that.
And you also have to keep in context what these Marines had just been through. In fact, what has been reported is that the Marine, the alleged Marine who did the shooting had been wounded the day before. A buddy the day before had been killed in a very similar incident, where an insurgent who was playing dead had, in fact, been booby- trapped, and a number of Marines had been injured and wounded and one Marine was killed.
So you keep all of that in context. And you understand that in urban combat time is truncated, distances are reduced. Things just move very, very quickly and there's great confusion.
BLITZER: And you're scared, obviously, as well.
From the legal standpoint, there's an investigation. The Pentagon has announced there's a military investigation, Eugene Fidell, on this right now. Walk us through the legal process of what is -- what is happening right now.
EUGENE FIDELL, FMR. JUDGE ADVOCATE: Right. This is really the first stages of the process. It is the equivalent of a police investigation.
Assuming that that proceeds and that some charges flow out of the investigation, the next step would be a decision by a commander to convene an Article 32 investigation. That is the military equivalent of a grand jury. It's a one-officer investigation.
That officer takes evidence from both sides. The defense has an opportunity to participate actively in the proceeding, at the end of which the investigating officer makes a recommendation, what charges, if any, should be referred for trial and at what level of trial.
So it is a very important phase of the process, and it is only a recommendation. The recommendation of the Article 32 investigating officer then goes to the commander, who decides what charges, if any, should go to trial.
At that point, the court-martial process proper kicks in, and that's -- we have all seen a lot of this in the last few years. But it is the normal criminal process. Obviously lawyers are going to be deeply involved. There's a military jury, which in a general court- martial would be at least five people. If this case was referred as a capital case there would have to be 12 people assigned to the jury.
BLITZER: At what point do they start interviewing other Marines who were there, doing the forensic evidence, taking a look at the body? At what point do they start doing all that?
FIDELL: I think that's going on right now. I would be surprised if it weren't going on right now.
Of course that's subject to the operational situation. Things are pretty sloppy in Falluja right now. And it may not be the optimum conditions in which to conduct any kind of criminal investigation. But that work ought to be done right now to preserve the evidence.
BLITZER: This could have, and I assume it has had a pretty serious morale affect on the Marines who are fighting right now, this incident, if they know about it.
MARKS: Well, the biggest concern that a commander on the ground is going to have at this point is that he causes his fellow Marines, his subordinates and soldiers on the ground to hesitate. He wants those Marines to be aggressive. He wants them to be intellectually involved at every minute. And the concern now is that he might cause a little bit -- there might be some hesitancy on the part of the Marines or the soldiers on the ground because of what just occurred.
BLITZER: Is it ever justified to kill an apparently unarmed, wounded enemy?
FIDELL: The question I think, Wolf, would be was there a reasonable apprehension of serious bodily injury or death on the part of the person who pulled the trigger here? And that would trump, in my opinion, any question of whether the person -- whether the deceased was a prisoner, was wounded or anything.
You could have a wounded prisoner who still represented a credible, reasonable threat of violence by booby-trapping, or, you know, a body bomb, something like that. So the issue is ultimately I think going to resolve around whether there was a reasonable apprehension on the part of the person who committed the act.
That means, number one, there has to be an actual fear. And number two, it has to be subjective -- objectively a reasonable fear. And that would permit the -- all of the surrounding circumstances to be brought into play.
What was the experience in that unit in that environment? And also, was there a pattern of practice relating to people on the ground? And these matters I'm sure are going to be heavily investigated.
BLITZER: I'm going to pick up that thought in a minute. We're going to continue this conversation.
I'll ask you, General Marks, if in all of your years, decades of military service, you ever witnessed or involved in an incident along these lines. And we'll get your perspective.
More coming up on the right and wrongs of combat. That's coming up.
And we're awaiting this hour, in only a few minutes, the official announcement over at the White House. Condoleezza Rice to be nominated as secretary of state, replacing Colin Powell. Much more coming up this hour.
Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back. We're talking about that disturbing shooting in Falluja that is now under investigation. With us, retired U.S. Army Brigadier General James Marks and former Judge Advocate General Eugene Fidell, a military law specialist.
I asked before the break -- a lot of viewers are emailing us, General, saying, "You know what? This probably happens all of the time." But the difference this time is that there was TV camera there and caught it on videotape. That's what makes it different.
What's your experience?
MARKS: Well, my experience is that it doesn't happen all of the time. I can't ascribe tendencies or understanding to the American public, but I can tell you, having been in those formations and spent my life at that level, it doesn't happen all of the time. And you don't need a TV camera to do the right thing.
As was pointed out by Gene, an investigation is ongoing right now. And objectively they'll get to the bottom of what occurred. But there is so much confusion that take place.
You know, urban combat is defined by what we call the three-block fight, where on the very first block you might be engaged in very up- close violent combat, the very next block you're assessing what occurred. And in the third block you're potentially providing humanitarian assistance to the wounded, or you're moving into the stability -- post-stability -- or post-combat operations, stability operations, and trying to build -- rebuild that which was destroyed.
And all of this just blends. And there aren't distinct lines among those three.
BLITZER: You wanted to weigh in, Gene?
FIDELL: Yes, I do. I think it is very important to bear two things in mind.
Number one, not rush to judgment either way on this case. There is a reason we have investigations and trials. And I think it is critical that people be a little circumspect about commenting on this.
The other is that there is a tension between our recognition of the danger that our troops are in, tremendous danger. An environment that none of us would willingly hope for, on the one hand. And on the other hand, our country's commitment to the legal process. And there are times when those really are in tension.
Let's recognize the tension. The legal process is there for a reason. It builds on and acknowledges operational exigencies, but it is important that the legal process be -- be respected.
BLITZER: Very briefly, one final question. What do you say to those out there -- and there are a lot of people out there who are simply outraged that there is even an investigation under way. This was a Marine fighting for his life. He felt endangered. He killed an insurgent. Move on. And they're upset that we're talking about this right now.
What do you say to those people?
MARKS: Well, everybody needs to understand that all of our Marines and all of our soldiers enter into combat like this with some incredible training that Gene alluded to. We are trained to meter exactly what is required and to apply the necessary force at the right time.
And as I said, there's so much confusion that occurs in circumstances like that, it is easy to understand that you just put this thing on full automatic and you just, you know, let -- let the chips fall where they may. But we're not trained to do that. We have never been trained to do that. We are trained apply the necessary force.
BLITZER: General Marks, thanks very much.
Eugene Fidell, thank you to you, as well.
A very complicated subject. But both of you agree, let's let the investigation go forward before we jump to any conclusions whatsoever.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
Reworking the president's cabinet. Coming up momentarily, we'll be live at the White House. The nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, that's coming up. We'll have live coverage of that.
And we'll also talk about that with two U.S. senators, Ron Wyden and Lamar Alexander. They are standing by.
Does she face a confirmation problem at all? We'll ask them.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: We're standing by over at the White House. The president will be walking into the Roosevelt Room momentarily. The nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state to replace Colin Powell, it's just one of several cabinet changes in the works for President Bush's second term.
Let's get some assessment, what's going on. Joining us from Capitol Hill, two U.S. senators. Ron Wyden of Oregon, he's a Democrat. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, he's a Republican.
Thanks to both of you senators for joining us.
Let me start with you, Senator Wyden. Do you expect any serious confirmation problems whatsoever for Condoleezza Rice?
SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Wolf, I would say she certainly gets the benefit of the doubt, but she can expect I think very vigorous questioning. For example, on this matter of the very flawed intelligence prior to the war in Iraq, I was very troubled, wrote about it as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee that she said that those aluminum tubes that were headed for Iraq were suitable only for nuclear weapons.
That just wasn't the case. She was told that by some of the country's leading nuclear experts apparently a year before she made that statement. So she will face some very significant questioning, I believe, in the hearings, but she certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt.
BLITZER: Senator Alexander, you'll be on the Foreign Relations Committee. And you'll be involved in the confirmation process.
The Department of Energy, the nuclear experts at the Department of Energy, were saying all along that those aluminum tubes probably were not for some sort of nuclear bomb purpose. She didn't point that out. What do you say about that specific issue that Senator Wyden raised?
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: I would say that's an issue in the past. It will come up. It won't make much difference.
I think she'll be confirmed. I hope the hard questioning she get is about the future. I mean, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) utopian, nation- building view of the world? That's the kind of question that we ought to be dealing with.
And she's a very well respected person, a close ally of the president. I'm sure he gets a great deal of pleasure in appointing her. And she'll be a very effective secretary of state.
BLITZER: And she will become, Senator Wyden, the first African- American woman to become secretary of state, which is -- I suggest -- I'm suggesting that says something, and Democrats will be receptive to that, as will Republicans.
WYDEN: No question about it. And as a Stanford grad, I'm sympathetic to her roots there as well.
I think the point is -- and Lamar has touched on this question of our role in the world -- the reason for trying to do a better job of building coalitions is, number one, we're safer that way, and that's what the American people really care about. And when, in effect, you go it alone, well, you get to pay the bill by yourself. And right now we need all of the resources we can possibly get for critically-needed concerns here at home, from roads and schools, to serving seniors and kids.
BLITZER: Well, one of the criticisms, Senator Alexander, that we're hearing is that the president going into the second term is going to be surrounding himself with people who totally agree with him virtually on everything. He's not going to have the kind of dissent that probably is a good idea at that level of his cabinet. Removing Colin Powell -- not removing -- Colin Powell leaving, he was someone that would disagree from time to time with other national security officials.
ALEXANDER: Well, that's a fair criticism. But the president is doing what a good executive ought to do. He's setting his objectives, he's taking command, he's putting together a team that can carry out his objectives.
Now, what he needs to be careful about, particularly in the presidency, which is so isolated, is to make sure that he hears a variety of views. For example, the issue I mentioned a little earlier. There are a growing number of conservatives and Republicans who, while they support the president and support the war in Iraq wonder how many of these nation-building wars we're going to engage in and what the parameters are of that, and that debate needs to be reflected somewhere so the president has that fully in mind as he's making decisions, and he'll have to be careful of that by putting so many of his closest associates in such top cabinet positions.
BLITZER: Senator Alexander, do I hear some criticism of U.S. policy in Iraq, Afghanistan right now, seeping through your words?
ALEXANDER: No, what you hear from me is I support Afghanistan. I support Iraq. But The question is, and there are a number of Republicans, conservatives as well as Democrats, who want to have a full discussion of the question of, how far do we go with this? Hundreds of billions of dollars, five years at a time. We pay any price to put freedom around the world, but how many times are we going to be doing this?
Beyond Iraq is what the discussion ought to be, and we ought to be talking about that and making sure the president in his second term has full benefit of that full debate, a lot of which is within his own party, and among conservatives.
What's wrong, Senator Widen, with the president surrounding himself with people he trusts, he feels are totally competent, people he wants to give him advice? He was just re-elected.
WYDEN: I always think that the people who are most loyal, Wolf, are the people who tell you the truth, who speak truth to power, and that's what the president needs the most. You look, for example, of what's going on at the CIA right now. It just seems to be absolute chaos in terms of their management policies, the personality conflicts. A lot of this chaos seems not due to the resistance to reform, but just due to something that resembles a sandbox.
I think what you need are strong and loyal people, people who will push for change and will make this country safer, as you suggest, but also will speak the truth to the president, and I'm very troubled that we're not getting that in our foreign policy.
BLITZER: We're looking at the door over in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In the West Wing of the White House through this door, the president will be walking in, in only a few seconds introducing Condoleezza Rice. Stephen Hadley, her deputy as national security adviser, he will be moving up, we're told, to become the national security adviser in this second term, once Dr. Condoleezza Rice is confirmed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We're told they'll be walking in this room literally in only a few seconds for this event. One thing we'll be looking for is to see if Colin Powell, I assume he will be, see if he's there as well.
But let's listen to the president.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Please be seated.
I'm pleased to announce my nomination of Dr. Condoleezza Rice to be America's secretary of state. Condi Rice is already known to all Americans and to much of the world. During the last four years I've relied on her counsel, benefited from her great experience, and appreciated her sound and steady judgment. And now I'm honored that she has agreed to serve in my Cabinet.
The secretary of state is America's face to the world, and in Dr. Rice the world will see the strength, the grace and the decency of our country.
Both Condi and I have been proud to serve with our friend Secretary of State Colin Powell. He has been one of the most effective and admired diplomats in America's history.
Secretary Powell has helped to rally the world in a global war. He's helped to revolve dangerous regional conflicts. He's helped to confront the desperate challenges of hunger, poverty and disease. He has been tireless and selfless and principled, and our entire nation is grateful for his lifetime of service.
I'm also grateful that Steve Hadley has agreed to become my new national security adviser. Steve served Presidents Nixon, Ford and Bush before me, and he has done a superb job as Dr. Rice's deputy during these past four years.
BUSH: Steve is a man of wisdom and good judgment. He has earned my trust. And I look forward to his continued vital service on my national security team.
When confirmed by the Senate, Condoleezza Rice will take office at a critical time for our country. We're a nation at war. We're leading a large coalition against a determined enemy. We're putting in place new structures and institutions to confront outlaw regimes, to oppose proliferation of dangerous weapons and materials, and to break up terror networks.
The United States has undertaken a great calling of history to aid the forces of reform and freedom in the broader Middle East so that that region can grow in hope instead of growing in anger. We're pursuing a positive new direction to resolve the Arab- Israeli conflict, an approach that honors the peaceful aspirations of the Palestinian people through a democratic state and an approach that will ensure the security of our good friend Israel.
Meeting all of these objectives will require wise and skillful leadership at the Department of State, and Condoleezza Rice is the right person for that challenge.
BUSH: She is a recognized expert in international affairs, a distinguished teacher and academic leader, and a public servant with years of White House experience.
She displays a commitment to excellence in every aspect of her life, from shaping our strategy in the war on terror to coordinating national security policy across the government to performing classical music on stage.
Above all, Dr. Rice has a deep, abiding belief in the value and power of liberty because she has seen freedom denied and freedom reborn.
As a girl in the segregated South, Dr. Rice saw the promise of America violated by racial discrimination and by the violence that comes from hate. But she was taught by her mother, Angelina, and her father, the Reverend John Rice, that human dignity is the gift of God and that the ideals of America would overcome oppression.
That early wisdom has guided her through life and that truth has guided our nation to a better day. I know that the Reverend and Mrs. Rice would be filled with pride to see the daughter they raised in Birmingham, Alabama, chosen for the office first held by Thomas Jefferson. Something tells me, however, they would not be surprised.
BUSH: As many of you know, Condi's true ambition is beyond my power to grant.
She would really like to be the commissioner of the National Football League.
I'm glad she's put those plans on hold once again. The nation needs her.
I urge the Senate to properly confirm Condoleezza Rice as America's 66th secretary of state.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECY. OF STATE NOMINEE: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. President. It has been an honor and a privilege to work for your these past four years, in times of crisis, decision and opportunity for our nation.
Under your leadership, America's fighting and winning the war on terror. You have marshalled great coalitions that have liberated millions from tyranny, coalitions that are now helping the Iraqi and Afghan people build democracies in the heart of the Muslim world. And you have worked to widen the circle of prosperity and progress in every corner of the world.
I look forward, with the consent of the Senate, to pursuing your hopeful and ambitious agenda as secretary of state.
Mr. President, it is an honor to be asked to serve your administration and my country once again.
RICE: And it is humbling to imagine succeeding my dear friend and mentor Colin Powell. He is one of the finest public servants our nation has ever produced. Colin Powell has been a great and inspirational secretary of state. It was my honor to serve alongside him, and he will be missed.
It will, of course, be hard to leave the White House, and especially to leave behind the terrific NSC staff, who have served their president and their country so ably in this most challenging of times.
Yet I can leave confident in the knowledge that they will be led by the consummate professional, a man I know and admire, my colleague and friend Steve Hadley.
Finally, let me say that in my 25 years of experience in foreign affairs, both in and out of government, I have come to know the men and women of the Department of State. I have the utmost admiration and respect for their skill, their professionalism and their dedication.
If I am confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working with the great people of the Foreign Service and the Civil Service. And one of my highest priorities as secretary will be to ensure that they have all the tools necessary to carry American diplomacy forward in the 21st century.
Mr. President, thank you again for this great opportunity and for your continued confidence in me.
BUSH: Good job.
Thank you all.
BLITZER: The president and his secretary of state nominee, Condoleezza Rice, going out of the Roosevelt Room in the White House. Condoleezza Rice, 50 years old, a former provost at Stanford University out in California. She is single. She's slated to replace Colin Powell, 67 years old. The former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, now the outgoing secretary of state.
Let's bring back our two senators who have been watching this with us. Ron Wyden is a Democrat from Oregon, Lamar Alexander is Republican from Tennessee.
Senator Wyden, I'll begin with you, that was an impressive few moments we just saw.
WYDEN: It really was. And if you were to measure warmth, Wolf, on a one to 10 basis, I think the president's warmth towards Dr. Rice was about a 13. It was just extraordinary. And of course, there were substantive points made as well. I happen to think that there's an unparalleled opportunity to make progress in the Middle East. I was pleased that the president touched on that, and I think Dr. Rice is sure to be questioned about specifically how she would move forward with this new opportunity to make peace in the Middle East.
BLITZER: What did you think, Senator Alexander?
ALEXANDER: I think that's perceptive by Ron. And when you're dealing with the president's team, the only thing people want to know has nothing to do with your position. They want to know how close are you to the president. And Condi Rice is about one inch away from President Bush. So if she's speaking to the leader of any country in the world or any member of Congress or anyone with whom she's speaking, they'll know that what she is saying is what the president is saying. And that gives her an enormous asset.
She's going to have a tough road -- some tough shoes to follow after Colin Powell. As you well know, Senator Alexander, you're on the foreign relations committee which oversees the State Department, the career diplomats, the foreign service officers, the professionals there, they all love Colin Powell because he was their champion. He worked with them. And I suspect she's going to be going in there with some suspicion in advance.
ALEXANDER: Well, that's an awfully important point. Colin and Rich Armitage, his deputy, have just been fantastic for the Department of State. When they went in people would think, well, these are sort of wimpy tea sippers over in Foggy Bottom. Colin went over there and immediately said, these are soldiers on the front line. They need our support. That improved morale, it improved respect.
The number of people volunteering for the foreign service dramatically increased. That's one of his major accomplishments. I was in a cabinet at one point of the president's father. And I know how important it is to pull the best out of the very talented group of people there.
So they are around the world, they're in danger. Colin made that clear to the rest of the American people. And that's one of his greatest contributions among many.
BLITZER: And you were secretary of education during that first Bush presidency, the father of the current president. Senator Wyden, if you take a look at the key issues and they touched upon it a little bit, the president and Condoleezza Rice in their brief remarks just now, what would you put at the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda right now?
WYDEN: Well, obviously stabilizing and internationalizing the situation in Iraq and making sure that those elections can go forward. I'm encouraged, for example, about some of the positions Dr. Rice has taken with respect to North Korea. She has been pretty moderate on that issue and I think that's an extraordinarily sensitive spot.
I already touched on the Middle East, but I think the Middle East, Iraq, North Korea and, of course, Iran, these are all countries where many of us feel they have the dangerous weapons that the Iraqis didn't have. Those will be her priorities
BLITZER: I'm going to take a quick break. But Senator Alexander, before I do, one of her major jobs will be patching up relations with some of the traditional allies, like France, Germany, and others in Western Europe.
ALEXANDER: Well, that's true. But an even greater opportunity is dealing with the newer allies we have in formerly Eastern Europe. And Colin Powell and the president have done a good job in strengthening our relationships with traditional allies like Japan. We've never had better relationships than we have with Japan. And improving our relationships with China and Russia.
So you're right about France and Germany. But there are some other opportunities that she has, as well.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Senators, we're going to continue this conversation. We're going to broaden it out to other issues, as well. The Senate now in a lame duck session, like the House of Representatives, we'll talk about that and more when we come back.
BLITZER: We're just getting this into CNN. The director of CARE in Iraq, Margaret Hassan, 59 years old, has apparently been executed by her captors in Iraq. Margaret Hassan was born in Ireland. She had been living in Iraq for 30 years, was kidnapped on October 19 by a group that didn't identify itself. The group said in a statement on November 2 that it would turn Margaret Hassan over to an al Qaeda affiliated group unless the British government pulled its troops out of Iraq within 48 hours.
That was broadcast at the time by Al Jazeera. Apparently now, according to a videotape that has been distributed, she has been executed by her kidnappers. We're watching this story, trying to get reaction from CARE as well. We'll update our viewers as we get more information, but apparently she has been executed by her kidnappers.
Senator Alexander, this is very disturbing information if it turns out to be true that she has been killed along these lines. What does it say to you?
ALEXANDER: This reminds me of how brutal the terrorists are. This was a woman who for 30 years had lived in Baghdad helping the poorest of people. And it reminds us of how important it is that we finish the job there. That's what it says to me. It is disgusting to me. It's sad to me. I have thought about her often and I'm terribly sorry to hear the news.
BLITZER: Senator Wyden?
WYDEN: These are not topics for political differences, Wolf. These are barbarians. There is no other way to describe somebody who would kill someone who was giving their heart and soul to the poor. And my heart just goes out to the family and here in the Congress we just have to work on a bipartisan basis to get in place the kinds of policies that will let us defeat these terrorists.
BLITZER: A statement was released by the family of Margaret Hassan. Let me read it to our viewers, just released by the British Foreign Office. "Our hearts are broken," her four brothers said. "We have kept hoping for as long as we could, but we now have to accept that Margaret has probably gone, and at last her suffering has ended."
A sad, sad story indeed for Margaret Hassan. The aid worker spent 30 years helping poor people in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's regime, under awful circumstances. Now apparently executed by her captors. We'll continue watch this story.
While I have you, Senator Alexander. An important issue coming up among Republicans in the Senate today, and I want you to weigh in, if you don't mind, on your colleague, Senator Arlen Specter, the moderate republican senator from Pennsylvania. He's supposed to become the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Do you think he should be?
ALEXANDER: Well, I expect he will. Senator Specter surprised me, and he surprised a lot of us with his comments, and what we want to know is, did he mean them? Was he misinterpreted? We have a rule, a practice in our caucus that the senior Republican becomes the chairman of the committee, if we're in the majority party, and that's -- I can't remember when that was challenged, except in 1987, when some Republican senators want to deprive Senator Jesse Helms of the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican caucus decided that while some members of the caucus didn't agree with Senator Helms, they respected his seniority. So I suspect there will be a large number of Republicans who will be reluctant to change the seniority rule, because it respects conservative point of views, as well as moderate point of
views. So Senator Specter today is meeting with Republicans on the Judiciary Committee that have a right to vote on this, explaining what he thought, and we'll know more about it, I think, in a day or two.
BLITZER: What did you think, Senator Alexander? Specifically, what didn't you like what Senator Specter said?
ALEXANDER: Well, it sounded like he was issuing a warning to the president about the kind of nominations he ought to send. And what the president has said right along is that he doesn't have a litmus test. He's going to send constructionist nominees to the Senate. But it seemed to me and others it would be inappropriate to be issuing that kind of warning to the president of the United States. It sounded like Senator Specter might have a litmus test, and I don't think the Judiciary Committee ought to have a litmus test.
Now I suspect Senator Specter was misunderstood. He's having a chance to explain that today. He's well respected in our caucus, and we'll see what he's able to say.
BLITZER: Just got re-elected in Pennsylvania, with a strong support of the president and his fellow Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum.
Senator Wyden, as you look at this whole issue, Senator Specter is an outspoken supporter of a woman's right to have an abortion, and on other issues he's considered a moderate, if not a liberal. I assume you would certainly welcome his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee?
WYDEN: Well, first of all, with respect to the central issue, I think American women want their government to leave them alone. I think that's what this issue has always been about, and we're going fight hard, and I think we'll have bipartisan support to preserve that proposition in the Senate.
I will tell you, I didn't feel that Senator Specter made news really that day. Everybody has created this notion that he gave a warning. I think he was just sort of stating the obvious. Someone that I admire very much, Mark Hatfield, from my state, who is our senior senator, spoke out courageously on the budget. There was some talk of taking away his chairmanship in the Senate Appropriations Committee, and fortunately, that wasn't done. I think the big challenge is today, Wolf, we're going to have to be bipartisan, and I hope protecting women's rights will get that kind of support.
BLITZER: Senator Wyden, switching gears, you're a member of the Intelligence Committee. Will the 9-11 Commission reforms, the Senate version, or something closer to the Senate version, be approved by this committee? House, Senate and conferees are trying to resolve these difference between the two pieces of legislation. Do you expect a breakthrough today or tomorrow?
WYDEN: Well, I'm concerned, Wolf, that the Senate version, which got well over 90 votes, is really on the ropes, as we speak. There's a lot of discussion about the House taking only a scaled-down bill that would have a national intelligence director, a counterterrorism program. I think that would be very unfortunate. Trent Lott and I want to overhaul the way government documents are classified. That and other changes are so important, and so I hope that we can get a real bill.
And then I hope also on the intelligence committee we can have a bipartisan effort in the 24 hours to figure out what in the world is going on at the CIA. I'm very troubled about these reports of people resigning. My understanding is that when two of them resigned, Cappis (ph) and Sulek (ph), apparently they were given a standing ovation by their colleagues, which would indicate that their colleagues support them, and not the leadership of Mr. Goss. And I just hope that the committee, on a bipartisan basis, can figure out what is going on over there, because we need changes that are going to make this country safer, and not a bunch of personality conflicts, which seem more suited for a schoolyard sandbox.
BLITZER: Do you think what, Porter Goss, Senator Alexander, is doing, the new CIA director over at the CIA, is understandable, is productive, or is it chaotic?
ALEXANDER: Well, it's certainly understandable, and we'll know if it is productive in a short time. All of us around here have been complaining about needing a big overhaul of the intelligence agency. Well, we're now getting it. And any time you have a big overhaul, you create some consternation. The president is changing his cabinet. I know when I went in as education secretary years ago, the first thing I did was change a number of people. Those people didn't like it.
So whether he's making the right decisions, we'll know in a few weeks. I think it's important, going back to your first point, that the president and the White House get more involved in helping pass the Senate version of intelligence reform. Everybody's always complaining the United States Senate doesn't act in a bipartisan way. Well, we acted in a very bipartisan way in intelligence reform. Senators Lieberman and Collins did a terrific job over several months in adopting the 9/11 Commission, creating a strong national intelligence director. It's bogged down. It needs strong presidential leadership to help bring it across the finish line. That's the most important thing to do right now.
BLITZER: All right, Senator Alexander, thanks very much for joining us. Senator Wyden, thanks to you as well. A good discussion on this day.
Condoleezza Rice named by the president -- nominated by the president to be the next secretary of state, replacing, succeeding Colin Powell. Much more coverage of that coming up here throughout the day.
We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: I'll be back later today, every weekday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, for WOLF BLITZER REPORTS. More on the appointment, the nomination of Condoleezza Rice to become the next secretary of state.
Plus, a closer look at the fighting in Falluja. It's violent and it's deadly. What are the rules of war, and were they violated? Until then, thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
LIVE FROM with Kyra Phillips and Tony Harris starts right now.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com