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More Changes in Bush Administration; Iraqi Aid Worker Murdered

Aired November 16, 2004 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
Glad to have you tonight on PRIME TIME POLITICS, on a day that brought word of another brutal murder of a hostage in Iraq, this time a woman who spent much of her life there on a mission of mercy. We'll have the latest, along with this Canadian woman who was also held hostage, but lived to tell about her terrifying experience. It is the story of 16 days of captivity and abuse and an improbable escape to freedom. You'll meet her tonight.

Then, in the Department of Homeland Security, a new requirement for 180,000 employees and contractors: Sign a gag order, or you don't get to look here. We're going to look into the controversy over that.

And more changes at the top of the Bush administration, the comings, goings, and what's behind them all.

But we start tonight with Iraq and terror. We learned today that Margaret Hassan, kidnapped just last month, has apparently been executed, shot in the head, a horrific murder that the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera says was captured on videotape. In Iraq, Hassan headed the humanitarian agency CARE. She was a native of Ireland and had lived in Iraq for 30 years.

Hassan died a hostage, but a few, just a few, have managed to survive kidnapping in Iraq. And, tonight, one of those lucky few will tell us her story. Her name is Fairuz Yamulky. She was the chief operating officer of a cement company. She was born in Iraq, but moved to Canada about 10 years ago. She went back to her homeland because she wanted to do what she could to help rebuild the country that she loved. Then, on September 7, a truck she was riding in with two co-workers was ambushed.


ZAHN (voice-over): It was an extraordinary homecoming.

FAIRUZ YAMULKY, FORMER HOSTAGE IN IRAQ: I was so happy. When I was coming out, I just wanted to see them. I was so anxious to see them.

ZAHN: A safe return after 16 tortuous days of captivity in Iraq.

YAMULKY: I was always surrounded by three, four men with guns, moved from one place to another, blindfolded, and a gun pointed to my stomach or to my neck. I was pushed and kicked and slammed and expected to be walking properly when my eyes blindfolded.

ZAHN: Yamulky tried to escape on her own. Finally, she was able to negotiate with one of her guards. She promised to help him get to a safe place. He helped her get to American troops. She didn't entirely trust him, but she says it was a gamble worth taking.

YAMULKY: I said, OK, you come with me, I'll take care of you. I did not say that I will take you to Canada. And no, he's in a safe place. I did keep my promise.

ZAHN: And, in keeping with Kurdish tradition, Fairuz's mother prayed and promised, if her daughter came home alive, to greet her wearing no shoes. Fairuz Yamulky is now home.

SHAWN, SON OF FAIRUZ: My mom is like the most important person in my life, you know. It's just an incredible feeling.

YAMULKY: I'm still tired. And I've taken trauma counseling. And I am on, you know, some medication. It will pass. Time will heal.


ZAHN: And joining me now from Vancouver for her first interview in this country, Fairuz Yamulky.

Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

YAMULKY: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

ZAHN: We know you endured 16 days of hell. You were pushed. You were beaten. You had guns held at your neck and at your stomach. You were threatened with beheading. Did you think you were going to die?

YAMULKY: Yes, many times throughout my stay with these guys.

ZAHN: What was the worst part of your captivity?

YAMULKY: Not being able to talk to my children.

ZAHN: Describe to us physically what they put you through.

YAMULKY: They put me through physical and psychological torture. I don't like to talk about the physical part of it a lot, really. Maybe some day, you will read about it. But they also psychologically traumatized me.

They made me look at videos that they had taken of a person that they had beheaded and a couple of other two guys that they were torturing. I was made to look at these videos.

ZAHN: How did you have the strength to look at those and not go mad?

YAMULKY: I don't know how, Paula. I tried to be very calm and humble. I tried to make them feel sorry for me. I respected them. It just -- I used whatever skill I had to get to the human side of them.

YAMULKY: It's amazing to me, as weak as you were physically -- all you did was drink some bad water -- you ate very little. You got violently ill. And yet somehow you had the psychological strength to try to figure who which of the captors were the weak ones, which ones were the aggressive ones. I find that stunning.

YAMULKY: I think sometimes, when you go through rough times, and you try to just assess things around you to get you through things and to figure out how to react to things. I believe it's a human nature. I don't think I'm a hero.

ZAHN: Well, I know you had to dig very deep, because, in spite of how weakened you were, you were constantly trying to figure out how to escape. And ultimately you did.

YAMULKY: Yes, I did. And I wasn't too sure that I was going to make it. To me, I think the way they kidnapped me was less horrifying than when I escaped.

ZAHN: We should explain, you ultimately developed rapport with one of your captors who was a little sensitive to your situation, and he helped you get to a car to Baghdad, right?

YAMULKY: I met him for the first time for the last two, three hours before my escape, and I managed to convince him to help me out. I think he was one of the guys that ambushed me. He was one of the guys that initially, you know, kidnapped me and with the rest of the group.

But it was the first -- these two, three hours that I met him and I talked to him in person, and I managed to, you know, get to the human side of him to help me out, to escape.


ZAHN: And then the most terrifying part of the journey came when you got into that car. What happened?

YAMULKY: It was very -- I mean, even the minute I walked out of that house, it was terrifying until I got to the American forces. Even then I was still afraid, because I was I did not have 100 percent trust in the man, because he could have -- I mean, I gave myself a chance.

It's either that he's going to sell me to group B or really give me my freedom, because I know the other guys were selling me to group A or behead me. So I just tried to increase my chances.

ZAHN: What an absolute nightmare.

Fairuz, in closing tonight, why do you think this guard spared you? Why did he allow you to live? YAMULKY: You know, initially, when I asked him to let me go, he said, if I let you go, they will kill me. I said, OK, I promise I will take care of you. He said, OK.

So I told him I will give you a safe haven. But I think I was -- I managed to get to his human side. Like, these guys are human. Some of them are forced to be in these groups. They're threatened to be in these groups. Not all of them, but it also was very apparent and obvious that these guys are brainwashed. They are totally brainwashed.

ZAHN: Sure.

Well, you are one lucky woman to be alive. We appreciate you telling your story to us tonight. We know you have a lot of healing and reconciling to do down the road. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

YAMULKY: Thank you.

ZAHN: And good luck to you and your family.

YAMULKY: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: And there's a lot more ahead tonight on PRIME TIME POLITICS, including Arnold Schwarzenegger new campaign.


ZAHN (voice-over): The governor of the Golden State, he travels the world, selling California flavor, doing businesses a favor.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: They will fall in love with our great state.

ZAHN: And thousands of Homeland Security workers ordered to sign a pledge to keep their lips sealed about almost everything, classified, unclassified. Helping national security or taking secrecy to a dangerous extreme?

Which leads us to tonight's voting both question. Should all employees of the Department of Homeland Security be ordered to sign confidentiality agreements?



ZAHN: In Northern Iraq today, U.S. and Iraqi forces stepped up the fighting against insurgents in Mosul, while, in Falluja, fighting was winding down with American forces going house to house to find any remaining insurgents there.

And Arab TV networks were focusing on the shooting of a wounded insurgent in a mosque by a Marine on Saturday. A commentator on Al- Jazeera described used the phrase cold-blooded killing to describe the shooting, which was videotaped by a pool reporter. The Navy has opened a criminal investigation into that shooting.

We have asked two security experts to talk about this with us tonight.

But, first, we would like for you to watch with us what exactly went on inside that mosque. We warn you, this is a disturbing video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the ones from yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the wounded that they never picked up.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's breathing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's breathing.




ZAHN: Joining me now from Los Angeles, Aaron Cohen, of IMS Security, an anti-terrorist consulting firm made of up former members of Israel's top counterterrorism unit, and, in Washington, Mario Mancuso, a former Airborne infantry officer who is now an expert on global business and security interests with the law firm of Ropes & Gray.

Glad to have both of you with us. Welcome.



ZAHN: So, Aaron, I'm going to start with you this evening. As you watch this video, do you see a Marine breaking rules or one who is intimately aware that whoever is in that mosque could potentially be a suicide bomber?

COHEN: Well, when I watch the video, I see a group of Marines entering a complex where CQB combat has just gone down, a close- quarters battle, and I see the Marine seeing a terrorist insurgent that's still alive.

Whether or not the terrorist was strapped with explosives is yet to be investigated. But, when I'm training U.S. forces who have deployed in different contract agents, subduction is a part of the training. But it is something that has to be very, very carefully considered before it's carried out.

ZAHN: Mario, what you look closely at the tape, what do you see?

MANCUSO: You know, I agree with most of what Aaron said.

I just want to keep in mind, there are a couple of things that we know and there are things that we don't know. We know, for instance, that that round that killed that wounded insurgent was one of many that was likely fired on that day. On the other hand, we also know that every day over 135,000 American troops and Iraqi troops are fighting a war aggressively and adhering to the laws of war.

I'd like to reserve judgment, because I think we need to see more. But the basic point is this, Paula, that we can fight aggressively. We can be tough and we can be smart, and the rules are important. I don't want to jump on this Marine, but that's a particularly egregious piece of the video.

ZAHN: Aaron, let's talk about the rules, though. We know that the Iraqis are not following these rules. Why do the Americans have to abide by them?

COHEN: Well, the reason why we need to abide by them is because we believe in the Geneva Convention. We're a democracy. And the whole point of being there is to establish a democracy in a country that is in high need of it.

And I think it's important to remember, and I agree with Mr. Mancuso as well, that in this particular situation an investigation has been opened. A file has been opened. I think everything needs to be looked at. But we have to remember that we're dealing with insurgents that are dressed up as civilians. They're using civilian population and urban environment as camouflage. They're not following any of the rules.

And we need to remember that there is a certain type of aggressive nature that needs to be taking place, because the same people that were sniping at these guys from the top floor of this building that they were up there to conquer are the same people who are going to be blending back into a community that can be used as a suicide bomber and kill one of our soldiers, you know, possibly in several hours afterwards.

So it's very important that subduction is something that is looked at a tool, because it ultimately reduces risks in some circumstances.

ZAHN: And, Mario, you understand this better than anyone. You've actually led these kind of operations. How blurred do the lines become?

MANCUSO: You know, Paula, it is incredibly difficult when you really get down to the nuts and bolts of it to be right in every circumstance.

The fact of the matter is, you're making split-second decisions with imperfect information with life-or-death consequences, which is why you have to look at every situation, not just the one-minute clip, but you have to look at what those folks have been through in the minutes preceding and the days before.

But the point is this, is that we have a professional Army in the United States. We train our soldiers to high standards. The small unit leaders brief the rules of engagement to folks, and we're doing the mission every day. Every day, we're doing it well without -- you know, without even coming close, frankly, to violating the laws of war.

The bigger point is this, is that this video today, Al-Jazeera, as well as many Arab media networks, have been playing this film over and over and over again. And what we've given the enemy is, frankly, a propaganda victory. And precisely because this is a dangerous insurgency, we can't give them the opportunity to claim propaganda victories, because then it becomes that much easier for insurgents to blend back into the civilian population.


ZAHN: So, Aaron, even if the investigation shows that this Marine was warranted in doing what he was doing, how do you turn around that erosion by the Iraqi public, the erosion of trust?

MANCUSO: Well, I think it's going to be a combination of being very careful about what's shown on video. I think it's important to remember that we're dealing with what's called asymmetrical warfare.

Clearly, we're stronger than the enemy, but, in many cases, we're much weaker. And in order to be successful, it's important to factor in the psychological effect of seeing -- what we're seeing on the tape right here is, you see an Iraqi dressed up in jeans with a kaffiyeh who's laying on the ground, yet this person is still alive.

What you didn't see, which is what Mr. Mancuso pointed out, was that this gentleman was probably firing, you know, several hundred rounds at Marines before they went in. It's really a psychological transformation that's going to have to be taken, and I think that we are going to have to be very careful about what's shown, so that it can't be spun and used against the forces.

ZAHN: Aaron Cohen, Mario Mancuso, we have got to leave it there tonight. Thank you for both joining us this evening.

COHEN: Thank you for having me, Paula.

ZAHN: Our pleasure.

Much of the world opposed the president's decision to go to Iraq, but today he chose the woman who has been one of his strongest supporters in that war to represent the U.S. around the world. Condoleezza Rice, her remarkable past, her journey through history when we come back.



CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: 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.


ZAHN: Well, as expected, President Bush today nominated National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state.

And as you've noticed, the Bush Cabinet is being shuffled like a deck of cards. Just last Tuesday the White House announced the resignations of Attorney General John Ashcroft, Commerce Secretary Don Evans. And then the next day, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales was nominated to replace John Ashcroft at the Justice Department.

And if can you keep up with all this, on Monday, four more departures were announced, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, Education Secretary Rod Paige, and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

While today's nomination of Condoleezza Rice fills the vacancy at the State Department, the president may be facing even more departures. Senior sources tell CNN that Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge also plans to leave his post, but that has not been officially confirmed yet. And a senior administration official tells CNN the president intends to name his longtime domestic policy adviser Margaret Spellings to be education secretary.

But that announcement won't come today. This day seemed reserved for the woman who will make history at the State Department.


ZAHN (voice-over): The name Condoleezza comes from a musical term that means with sweetness. To that, she's added a lifetime of knowledge and experience.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

ZAHN: She was born 50 years last Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama.

BUSH: 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. ZAHN: In 1963, four girls from the Rice's neighborhood, including a kindergarten classmate, were killed in the bombing of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church.

Education was her key to a better life. Rice entered college at 15 and earned a doctorate in international affairs by 26. In 1981, she began teaching political science at Stanford University, building a reputation as an expert on the Soviet Union. She served on the staff of the National Security Council during the administration of President Bush's father. With the coming of the Clinton administration, Rice returned to Stanford, rising at age 38 to provost, second in command to the university president.

In 1988, her old boss invited her to talk to with his son, then governor of Texas. She became George W. Bush's tutor in international affairs, the coordinator of his foreign policy team during the 2000 campaign, and, after the election, his national security adviser.

BUSH: 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.

ZAHN: If confirmed, Rice will become the first black woman and only the second woman to head the State Department.


BUSH: At the White House today, Rice made a point of saying, she has the utmost admiration and respect for the men and women of the State Department.

Joining me now to look at some of the challenges awaiting Condoleezza Rice is her longtime friend and former colleague, Kiron Skinner. She's professor at Carnegie Mellon University and the author of "Reagan's Path to Victory." And, in Washington tonight, Susan Rice. She served in the State Department during the Clinton administration, is now a senior fellow on foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.

Great to have both of you with us tonight. Welcome.



ZAHN: I want to start off tonight with part of an interview I did last night with Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, when I asked him if he thought Condoleezza Rice would make a good secretary of state.

Let's listen.


ZAHN: Would she make a good secretary of state? LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: No.

If the rumors prove correct and her deputy becomes National Security Council adviser, what you've got there is, everybody is going to speak the same language, talk the same things. And I think what that means is that, whatever influence, for instance, Colin Powell had is going to be much less under these new circumstances.

It is not that I dislike Condoleezza Rice. I think, however, she is not the person for that job for these reasons.


ZAHN: Susan, do you think there is a real prospect of group- think mentality with the way this Cabinet appears to be stacked?

S. RICE: Well, I think that's a possibility we can't discount, but what Condoleezza Rice brings to the State Department, first and foremost, is the value of her tremendously close personal relationship with the president.

And the issue is how she chooses to use that relationship. It could go one of two ways. She could use it to reestablish the preeminence of the State Department as our leader in international diplomacy. She could use it to help right the imbalance that's arisen vis-a-vis the Defense Department. And, most importantly, she could use it to advance the very badly needed progress that has been lacking to date on critical national security issues, such as the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, Iran and North Korea's nuclear programs.

So she could make a meaningful difference. Alternatively, she could view her role as more that as a caretaker, making sure that the State Department doesn't get out of line and continue to see her role as primarily being a principal personal adviser to the president. I hope she'll do more of the former than the latter, because, if not, I think we'll miss even more opportunities to advance our national security interests at a very critical time in U.S. foreign policy.

ZAHN: Kiron, what is your sense of how she's approaching this job?

SKINNER: Well, I disagree with Mr. Eagleburger's premise that she's so close to the president that there won't be enough balance with Secretary Powell leaving. I think we haven't seen Dr. Rice in her own right enough because she was national security adviser. And that's a job that is one of coordinating policy, not so much being on the public diplomacy side.

She'll now be the forefront person for the country as the chief diplomat, and she's extremely independent in her thinking, always has been, has a strong will, and I think we'll see more of that coming forward in the years ahead.

ZAHN: But even her strongest supporters say that she's not going to win when she's up against Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. SKINNER: You need to know Condoleezza Rice. That has been said about her at every stage of her career. As a very young woman, still in her 30s, she became provost of Stanford University, in effect, the boss of the dean of the medical school, the law school, the business school, some of these very accomplished men.

And she brought that university through a budget deficit and emerged as a very respected leader in higher education. Now, I know that is not the same as running the State Department. But during the last few years in the Bush administration, she has arisen to be a very powerful player in the foreign policy world. I do not believe that President Bush would have appointed her if he did not feel that she would be on an equal playing field with the existing team, and those that will follow.

ZAHN: Susan, do you think she'll be on an equal playing field?

S. RICE: Well, let me say this. I do think Kiron is right, that the role that Condoleezza Rice has assumed to date, as national security adviser, has been very much behind the veil. We haven't seen what are her own views and how she would lead when given an opportunity to be a chief player on the national security stage, and our principle spokesperson abroad.

So I think we have yet to see whether she will step out from behind that veil and assert herself. She's clearly a very capable, a very intelligent woman. And I think we look forward to seeing how she'll manage that role.

ZAHN: Susan Rice, Kiron Skinner, thank you for both of your perspectives.

SKINNER: Thank you.

S. RICE: Thank you.

ZAHN: Appreciate you dropping by.

As national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice had a role in planning the war on terror, and in establishing the Department of Homeland Security. Tonight, that department is at the center of a new controversy. Should its employees be required to sign a secrecy pledge? We'll debate that coming up next.


ZAHN: According to "The Washington Post," 180,000 employees and contractors for the Department of Homeland Security will have to sign a three-page secrecy pledge. The nondisclosure agreement covers sensitive but unclassified information, and it comes just after the 9/11 Commission report criticized the government for overclassifying information.

Joining us now to debate the secrecy pledge, two rival radio talk show hosts, nationally syndicated ones at that. Rachel Maddow, who is against this idea. And in Washington, G. Gordon Liddy, who says it could help protect the United States. Great to have both of you.

Rachel, I know you think that this is an intimidation tactic on the part of this department. Why do you see it that way?

RACHEL MADDOW, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I see it as an intimidation tactic because we already have rules for classifying information, and we already have secrecy laws in this country about what you can and can't say about classified and secret information. This is an attempt to increase the reach of government secrecy by this broad stroke. And there's no definition of who gets to decide what counts as sensitive, what counts as protected under this. It's an almost illegal extension of government secrecy without justification.

ZAHN: Is it enforceable, Gordon?

G. GORDON LIDDY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, it is. First of all, look at the name of the agency. It's not the Homeland Interior Decorating Agency. It's the homeland security agency. Their job is to protect our people.

When I was in the FBI, I was instructed not to tell my neighbors I was a special agent of the FBI. I was to say I was a lawyer, which I was, working for the Justice Department, which ultimately I was. We did not want people to know not only classified information, but sensitive information that wasn't classified, such as our tech techniques and mechanics.

Why tip off the bad guys? These are people who have already killed 3,000 of our people in a matter of two hours. And I think it's perfectly reasonable to say to the people who are going to be in the homeland security organization, just keep your mouth shut.

ZAHN: Why not take every precaution available, Rachel?

MADDOW: Well, is this really a precaution, or is this just kind of a shot across the bow? I mean, most of what we know about this administration, and say the war in Iraq, say the warnings that led up to 9/11, we've learned through leaks, we've learned through truth- tellers in the government going beyond the government talking points and letting us know stuff that frankly the administration would be less comfortable -- would be more comfortable thinking that we didn't know.

I mean, we wouldn't be reinventing our intelligence community right now if we didn't have leaked information that told us that we were warned before 9/11, and there was something wrong with our intelligence community, that we were not able to act on those warnings and protect the American people on 9/11. We didn't have that information, we wouldn't be reforming our intelligence now.

ZAHN: Gordon, there are a lot of people who feel the way Rachel does.

LIDDY: Let me just say this about that, if I may.

ZAHN: Please. LIDDY: The main reason that we're turning the CIA upside down is because of all the leaks. It became a rogue agency and was out of control, and Porter Goss is in there to shake it up, and he's doing that. He has the blessing of the White House with what he's doing. The CIA has no business, every time it decides that the president should be doing something else rather than the policy it has adopted to running to "The Washington Post." That's not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) agency like that.

ZAHN: But Gordon, let me ask you this. Haven't there been situations where you've seen legitimate whistle-blowers? We've seen them come out of the FBI, haven't we? We've seen them come out of the CIA. Are you worried about legitimate whistle-blowers being silenced?

LIDDY: Legitimate whistle-blowers are persons who take the risk of going out, saying something. And you know, when you shoot at the king, you better hit. Now, if the whistle-blower is correct, there are whistle-blower protection laws which protect that individual. That does not mean that the whole agency should be all running around talking to the newspapers about matters of policy and the rest of it.

MADDOW: There are also laws governing classified information and secret information, and who you can and can't disclose that too. There is nothing wrong with those laws now.

LIDDY: Well, that's right, we're not talking about classified information here.

MADDOW: Why the wholesale extend of government secrecy...

LIDDY: We're talking about nonclassified, but nevertheless, sensitive information.

MADDOW: Exactly, and who defines it as sensitive? It's at the whim of a bureaucrat...

LIDDY: The agency head. The agency head.

MADDOW: And right now, this is...

LIDDY: The best way to do it is to just keep your mouth shut and you are not going to get in any trouble. If you decide that there's some matter of conscience that you have and you have got to speak up and so forth, resign and speak up. Take the consequences, whatever they may be.

ZAHN: Rachel, you're worried that some innocuous conversation that takes place in the workplace, if you sign this agreement somehow will get you -- end up getting you fired?

MADDOW: Well, yes, and that's the other worry. Is this going to chill innocuous, mundane communication among people who work at this agency, or who work at different government agencies, and is actually going to slow down their work.

ZAHN: Gordon, you get the last word tonight. You get 10 seconds.

LIDDY: OK. This business of worrying about who says something at the water cooler is not what this is all about. What this is about...

MADDOW: Then why sign this thing?

LIDDY: ... is discipline.

ZAHN: All right, you boiled it down to one word there, discipline.

G. Gordon Liddy, Rachel Maddow, thank you.

MADDOW: Thank you.

ZAHN: We want to know what you think about this issue. So don't forget to weigh in on tonight's "Voting Booth" question, should Homeland Security Department employees be made to sign confidentiality agreements? Vote now at

Moving on now to another controversy, this time within the ranks of the Republican Party itself. He is a moderate feeling plenty of heat from conservatives, the latest on Arlen Specter's battle to become chairman of a key Senate committee. Senator Feinstein joins us next.


ZAHN: Republican Arlen Specter still has a fight ahead of him in his bid of the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But he is making some progress after pleading his case today before his colleagues.

As you might remember, Specter has been the target of conservative critics since he said anti-abortion judges are not likely to be confirmed by the Senate.

Here's congressional correspondent Ed Henry.


ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day of high drama in the Senate as Arlen Specter finally seemed to gain momentum. After two grueling face-to-face meetings with Republican colleagues, Specter won the endorsement of Orrin Hatch, the outgoing chairman of the judiciary panel.

Hatch said he believes Specter will be a great chairman, but conservatives are still pressuring Republican leaders to block Specter for suggesting it will be hard for President Bush to get opponents of abortion rights confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Despite Hatch's support, some key lawmakers are staying noncommittal. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: The chairman of the judiciary committee is a very important position, dealing with the president's judicial nominations. It was a big issue in the campaign.

Senator Specter knows that and he's been busily at work, reassuring lots of us on that issue, and this will take its course. And we'll make a decision in due time.

HENRY: The Christian Defense Coalition held a demonstration on Capitol Hill and suggested they delivered the election for Republicans, and are now owed a conservative judiciary chairman.

REV. PATRICK MAHONEY, CHRISTIAN DEFENSE COALITION: If Senator Specter becomes head of the judiciary, it is a betrayal and a slap in the face to millions of pro-life Americans who worked to help re-elect this president and get a 55 Republican majority in the Senate.

HENRY (on camera): Several Republican Senators said Specter privately made a good case that he will be fair to judicial nominees who do not share his views on issues like abortion.

(voice-over) But Specter's not out of the woods yet. Republican Senators will not vote on his fate until January. So conservative activists have just begun to fight.

CHRIS SLATTERY, CHRISTIAN DEFENSE COALITION: You're going to see a fight like none other that this movement has ever put forward to start to defend what will be this ultimate battle of this presidency over the future of the United States Supreme Court.

HENRY: A pivotal player, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who wants to run for president in four years. He needs support on the right.

Conservative activists went to Frist's office and prayed he would block Specter's chairmanship. After two meetings with Specter, Frist was asked if his colleague would get the job. The majority leader said, quote, "We'll see."


ZAHN: And that was Ed Henry. And joining me now from Washington, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, a member of the judiciary committee.

Welcome back. Glad to have you with us tonight.


ZAHN: Thank you. So do you think Senator Specter will get to chair the committee?

FEINSTEIN: I hope so. He's got the seniority. He deserves it.

I also think that the judgeship situation is really not understood by a lot of the people that may be protesting this. Two hundred and one judges have been confirmed. That's more than any recent president has had confirmed in their first four years.

There were ten that the Democratic side felt were out of the mainstream and should not get confirmed, and we felt very strongly about it. And that was the filibuster. But by and large, judges have moved, and they've moved rapidly.

Senator Specter's comment that he made, I thought, was a very benign comment. He was just saying what he knew and had observed on the committee. And as he pointed out, I think he had been very loyal to Republican judges. So I have a very hard time understanding what this is all about.

ZAHN: Senator, when you say he's got the seniority, he deserves this, then do you view this as a way of protecting the seniority system, keeping the status quo, or is it an endorsement of Arlen Specter?

FEINSTEIN: Well, let me say this about it. When you have a seniority system, and then you decide with one person, because of one remark, you may not follow that, that puts the whole system in jeopardy. And whatever system you have, it has to be consistent. And it shouldn't be used as punishment for a senator making a statement.

ZAHN: You were just talking a moment ago about some of the statements that he made earlier that might have been blown out of proportion. I want to share with our audience now a small part of an interview he did with me last week when he directly confronted the criticism. Let's listen.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I'm the only pro-choice Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and I am known for calling it as I see it, and that's the source of the concern.


ZAHN: So do you see Arlen Specter standing in the way of pro- life judicial choices?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I can't speak to that, because there's so many different elements that enter into the confirmation of a nominee. There's the background, the qualifications. There's an FBI report. There's what people say about him. There's how he's regarded -- he or she is regarded by their colleagues.

For me, choice is a big issue, particularly when it comes to the United States Supreme Court. That's not true for everybody. And we've always been respectful of another member's point of view.

So why suddenly the Republican Party has -- the Republican Party, in fact, has pro-choice senators. This happens to be one of them. I thought the party was a big tent party.

ZAHN: Do you think he's going to owe the administration one if he gets this chairmanship? FEINSTEIN: Oh, I have no way of knowing. This is really up to the Senate. It's not really up to the administration. And one of the things I know we Democrats feel strongly about -- we felt this with President Clinton. I mean, our business is our business, and the committee's rules are the committee's rules. And how the Republicans want to handle their committee chairmanships are really up to the Republicans.

If they have a seniority rule, then clearly Senator Specter is the next chairman of judiciary. If they change it that's a whole different subject.

ZAHN: You no doubt have heard, though, the discussion that could be payback time for Arlen Specter if he ends up with this chairmanship. Do you think there's any truth to that talk?

FEINSTEIN: Well, Arlen Specter is a strong man. Orrin Hatch was a strong chairman. Orrin Hatch went out of his way to give nominees a fair hearing, and I appreciate that very much. And I think Arlen Specter will do the same thing.

So I don't see, in terms of how they are chairman, I don't see a big difference between the two. They may have different views on certain subjects, but that's never bothered me. I mean, we expect other members to have different views on subjects. We don't expect everybody to think exactly alike.

This, after all, is a representative body. We still do know that the majority of people in America are pro-choice.

ZAHN: Senator Dianne Feinstein, we have to leave it there tonight. Thanks so much for joining us.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you. Thank you very much.

ZAHN: Coming up next, the governor of the Golden State's latest mission, teasing appetites and drumming up business. Arnold Schwarzenegger as traveling salesman, when we come back.


ZAHN: Every successful politician is in part a salesperson. They persuade people to vote for them. They persuade others to support their ideas. They can even try raising money for the state treasury by persuading Japanese television viewers to buy noodles or beer. Well, probably only one governor could pull off that sales job.

Here's Thelma Gutierrez.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Japan, he's affectionately known as Shuwa-chan.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: Today I'm here for the most important reason at all, and that is I'm here as the governor of the great state of California.

GUTIERREZ: And the governor has an innovative idea to raise money for the state. After all, he's done it before. For a noodle company...

SCHWARZENEGGER: (speaking in Japanese)

GUTIERREZ: ... a protein drink.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking in Japanese)

GUTIERREZ: Even Japanese beer.

ROBERT LEPLAE, THWA: In Japan, western movie stars are really larger than life figures.

GUTIERREZ: Schwarzenegger, the actor, reportedly raked in millions as a pitchman in Japan, but that money went into his pocket.

SCHWARZENEGGER: All right. Look at that, California oranges.

GUTIERREZ: Now as governor, he's considering appearing in Japanese commercials once again to raise money for the state.

RAPHAEL RONENSHEIN, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR: It's wild. It's unusual. I haven't heard of it done before.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): The governor says the money he'd raise from Japanese TV ads could be used to open up trade offices, which were closed last year because of budget problems.

JACK FEUER, NATIONAL EDITOR, "ADWEEK": Here's a way to make a couple of quick million for the state, which is strapped for cash. No other governor could do that.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): That's an understatement. This is what happens at news conferences with other governors.

SCHWARZENEGGER: I would like those other governors to speak. Thank you very much.

Let me just tell you something, each one of those governors is a star.

FEUER: Yes, well, there are stars and then there are super nova.

GUTIERREZ: And Schwarzenegger is on billboards across the nation to lure business to the Golden State.

RONENSHEIN: Nobody paid any attention to the governor of California.

GUTIERREZ: They're all paying attention now, and offering to pay a premium, just for his star presence.

RONENSHEIN: When you've got a big, big personality out there, in a canon, you might as well fire, see if you can get some trade up.

I think politicians in Washington watch it with envy and say, "Gee, I'd like to get that kind of reception in a foreign country."


ZAHN: That was Thelma Gutierrez from California.

You can talk with Governor Schwarzenegger in just a few minutes. He is Larry King's guest for the hour, and he'll be taking your calls. That's at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

We'll be back with tonight's "Voting Booth" results. Please stay with us.


ZAHN: And we're back now with the results of tonight's "Voting Booth" question: "Should all employees of the Department of Homeland Security be made to sign confidentiality agreements?" Fifty-two percent of you said yes; 48 percent said no.

Not a scientific poll, just a sampling from our web site tonight. Thanks so much for logging on.

One of the lions of the U.S. Senate said goodbye to his colleagues today, Democrat Ernest Hollings of South Carolina retiring after 38 years as senator. Said you won't catch him complaining that the Senate isn't what it used to be.


SEN. ERNEST HOLLINGS (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: We've got a way better group of senators. We had, Senator, five drunks or six drunks when I came here. There's nobody drunk in the United States Senate. We don't have time to be drunk.

And we've got more than that. We've got the women. We had one woman. She was outstanding, but she was outstandingly quiet. It was Margaret Chase Smith from Maine. Wonderful lady. Now we've got 15 or 17, and you can't shut them up.


ZAHN: We like that. Senator Fritz Hollings, retiring after almost four decades in the Senate.

And tomorrow on PRIME TIME POLITICS, the little known senator who's now one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington. I'll be talking with Harry Reid, the new Senate minority leader.

Thanks for joining us tonight. We hope you have a real good night. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is next with Larry King.


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