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Colin Powell on Tsunami Disaster Zone; Are Insurgents Closer to Preventing Elections in Iraq?

Aired January 7, 2005 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: The big picture in the disaster zone. A firsthand account from Secretary of State Colin Powell only on CNN.
COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE (video clip): No briefing book, no television picture really can convey what really happened here.

ANNOUNCER: Growing alarm in Iraq. With election day getting closer are insurgents closer to preventing the vote?

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT (video clip): Their message is if you vote we'll kill you. But the real message is that we can't stand democracy.

ANNOUNCER: Is the White House in the business of paying pundits? A journalist's role in promoting education reform raises ethical questions.

ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, COMMENTATOR (video clip): People look at the article and say we paid $240,000. It was an advertisement. They used our media.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN HOST: Thank you for joining us, nearly two weeks after the tsunami disaster some new sources of hope for the region. Seven of the world's wealthiest countries agreed today to suspend debt owed by the nations in the disaster zone. The G-7 nations also called for urgent consideration of a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean.

Meantime a UN official says that every tsunami victim in Sri Lanka will receive an initial round of aid by this weekend. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce now reports $187 million has been donated to tsunami relief through corporate America. CNN anchors and correspondents are reporting on recovery efforts in Sri Lanka and throughout southern Asia.

Secretary of State Colin Powell wrapped up his tour of tsunami stricken areas with a visit to Sri Lanka. He also gave an exclusive interview to our senior White House correspondent John King. John filed this report from Sri Lanka.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE) JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At an emergency relief center in Galle, greeting a mother and child receiving medical care and accepting a poem from a tsunami survivor that talks of a beautiful blue sea suddenly roaring ashore.

Sri Lanka was last on Secretary Powell's tour of the countries hit hardest. This, his first extended encounter with survivors.

Food, water and medical supplies are pouring in, and so far, so good with the assessment of the top American aid worker on the scene.

Along the shoreline, damage and debris everywhere. Boats tossed a shore. The stench still distinct with death.

POWELL: No briefing book, no television picture really can convey what happened here.

KING: After stops in Thailand, Indonesia and now Sri Lanka, Secretary Powell shared his impressions with CNN.

POWELL: Thousands upon thousands of people who simply lost their lives in a matter of moments. So every building that I saw that was knocked down or the debris that I saw, that represented human beings that lost their lives here in one terrible, horrible, devastating moment on December 26.

KING: The general turned diplomat will be out of a job in just two weeks. The only member of the Bush war council not staying on for the second term. On this trip, the face of American goodwill, yet back in Washington often described as the odd man out.

POWELL: The president and I determined that four years was enough and I wanted to move on and that was fine. There was no fight there. This odd man out thing is an interesting story and it causes me to have amusing moments in the evening.

KING: Secretary Powell was here as an army officer 20 years ago, remembered a giant banyan tree and asked Sri Lanka's president to see it again.

He promised more U.S. marines will soon join the relief effort and announced a $10 million grant for temporary housing. Bringing to roughly $25 million the U.S. financial commitment to Sri Lanka effort so far. It has been 32 years since a U.S. secretary of state visited Sri Lanka and the island nation off India's southern tip was not initially on Secretary Powell's schedule.

(on camera) But this country lost 30,000 people, second only to Indonesia. The stop added after the Sri Lankan government appealed for a high profile visit to put an American stamp on the relief effort here. John King, CNN, Columbo, Sri Lanka.


WOODRUFF: John, thank you. And Senator Mary Landrieu also has been touring areas ravaged by the tsunami. I'll talk with the Louisiana Democrat later about her experiences a little later on INSIDE POLITICS. You can stay with CNN in prime time for our nightly special report on the tsunami disaster at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

And tonight at 10:00 Eastern a PEOPLE IN THE NEWS special, "Voices from the Tsunami." Plus be sure to catch an encore airing of CNN's special report, "Saving the Children. That's tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Eastern and other times throughout the weekend.

At the White House today, President Bush again condemned insurgents trying to prevent Iraqi elections through bloodshed and he moved forward on a campaign pledge. Mr. Bush named two former senators, Republican Connie Mack and Democrat John Breaux to head a commission on simplifying the tax code.

Here now our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.


BUSH: It's hard.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush met with the leaders of his new bipartisan panel charged with helping him simplify the country's tax code, highlighting one of his top domestic priorities for a second term.

But a more pressing mission, pulling off successful elections in Iraq.

BUSH: I look at the elections as a - as a - you know - as a - as - as a historical marker -- for our Iraq policy.

MALVEAUX: That marker just 23 days away. And despite the violence and threats of an election boycott from some Sunni Muslims there, the president said there was cause for optimism.

BUSH: 14 of the 18 provinces appear to be relatively calm. Four of the 18 provinces are places where the terrorists are trying to stop people from voting.

MALVEAUX: But Mr. Bush expressed confidence that the Iraqis would hold a legitimate election, a point he reiterated later in the day at a campaign style forum in Clinton, Michigan.

BUSH: I'm excited for the people of Iraq. I'm excited for the fact they are going to have a chance to go to the polls. It's an amazing accomplishment.

MALVEAUX: The president announced there was good news on the home front, as well. New economic numbers revealed more than 2 million new jobs were created in the United States last year but the president also added so-called junk lawsuits are forcing businesses into bankruptcy, hurting the U.S. economy. He called on Congress to support a series of legal reforms. (END VIDEO TAPE)

MALVEAUX (on camera): And of course, the president also getting updates on the tsunami relief efforts. Today the president signed legislation that would allow Americans who are contributing to tsunami relief to actually file it for it the 2004 income tax returns. That way through January they can apply the income tax benefits for last year. Judy?

WOODRUFF: And they moved very quickly on that. That just passed the Congress this week.

MALVEAUX: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: All right. Suzanne, thank you very much.

Another big item on the Bush agenda leads off our Friday political bytes. The president appears to have lost a key Democratic vote in his effort to reform Social Security. "The New York Times" reports that Montana Senator Max Baucus will oppose the White House reform. Baucus was a key crossover vote for the president on Medicare and tax cut legislation.

As we approach inauguration day the president's approval rating continues to hover around the 50 percent mark. A new Gallup poll finds 52 percent approve of the job Mr. Bush is doing. 44 percent say they disapprove. An Associated Press survey find the government evenly split, 49 percent approve, 49 percent saying they disapprove.

In a post script to the November election there is more evidence that candidates Bush and Kerry were battling over a small number of potential supporters. The Annenberg survey finds only 16 percent of bush supporters and 15 percent of Kerry supporters ever thought that they would vote for the other candidate.

And there is yet another possible entrant into the crowded field of candidates for Democratic Party leader. CNN has learned abortion rights activist Kate Michaelman plans to decide this weekend whether to enter the race to lead the DNC. Michaelman says a number of women's rights activists have encouraged her to run.

New questions are being raised today about a financial relationship between the White House and a well-known pundit who promoted the president's education reform plan. Some lawmakers want to investigate whether Armstrong Williams was paid to make his pitch. Let's go now to our congressional correspondent Ed Henry who is right here in the studio.

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, last year Armstrong Williams talked an awful lot about the president's signature education reform law, "No Child Left Behind." The conservative commentator promoted the law on his radio and television programs and in at least one appearance on CNN. But what Williams did not talk to his audiences about is the fact he was being paid through a P.R. firm $240,000 by the Bush Education Department to promote that law and urge other black journalists to follow suit. Now, I just spoke to Congressman George Miller, the top Democrat on the House Education Committee and he thinks this is more than just a perception problem. He thinks that it broke the law and that there is actually a pattern of abuse by the Bush administration.


REP GEORGE MILLER, RANKING DEMOCRAT, HOUSE EDUCTION COMMITTEE: I think it does rise to the level of illegality. The Congress doesn't let you provide information or publicity or advertisements with taxpayer dollars without telling the public that that's what you're doing. You don't get to conceal it.


HENRY: Now, Miller is referring to the fact that the Government Accountability Office found the administration violated federal law by producing television news segments promoting the president's new Medicare law without disclosing the administration produced those segments.

Now, the accountability office this week also found the administration violated the law by distributing television news segments about the effect of drug use without revealing the Office of National Drug Control Policy was behind it. A short while ago I sat down with Armstrong Williams and he sharply denied that this arrangement was illegal in any way but he acknowledged that there is a perception problem.


HENRY: It looks like you'd been bought by the Bush administration.

WILLIAMS: It does appear that way, but it's not true. The advertising campaign was a legitimate campaign. I was an advocate. I advocated something that I believed in. It's a thin line, it's a thin gray line. I can understand why somebody not knowing all the facts as to why I'm on this show now would say he's not believing in this, he was bought and paid for. That's a legitimate thing to say.


HENRY: Now, Williams told he will no longer accept these kinds of government contracts because of that perception. But he's not giving back nearly the quarter of a million dollars he's already taken. The White House today referred inquiries to the Education Department which says this contract was a completely permissible use of taxpayer funds, Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Ed, he's keeping the money he received.

HENRY: That's right.

WOODRUFF: Any information or evidence about any other, either news commentators, TV or radio hosts who might have had a contract. HENRY: We have not been able to find others. But that's what Congressman Miller wants. He's asking the Education Department's inspector general conduct an investigation into this and see if they can find any other problems. And what is interesting is that Congressman Miller, even though he's a Democrat, today got the backing of the Republican chairman, John Boehner of Ohio, who said he also wants an investigation by the inspector general. But unlike Congressman Miller, Congressman Boehner said that he's not saying it's illegal. He's keeping an open mind, he wants an investigation.

WOODRUFF: OK. Ed Henry. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. By the way Armstrong Williams will be in the CROSSFIRE on CNN at the bottom of the next hour.

Two top journal is will join us next to talk about the Armstrong Williams controversy and about the growing violence in Iraq and growing threat to scheduled elections. Also ahead, did majority leader Bill Frist leave Republican colleagues in the lurch by flying off to the disaster zone?

And later, did Alberto Gonzales do himself justice in his confirmation hearings? We'll get dueling takes from the top Republican and top Democrat.


WOODRUFF: With me now to talk more about some of the day's top stories, two of our favorite Washington journalists, Liz Marlantes of the "Christian Science Monitor" and Jonah Goldberg of the "National Review" online. Jonah, let me start with you. The Pentagon announcing they are sending retired General Gary Luck to Iraq just to review the entire military situation there. Is this an acknowledgement they are worried?

JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I think you have to read it this way. If you are asking this guy to go and give a soup to nuts top to bottom review of everything that's going on over there, I don't see how you can see it as anything but a reappraisal and necessary one, alas.

WOODRUFF: So what could this lead to, Liz?

LIZ MARLANTES, "CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR": I mean, well, frankly it's quite interesting because given all the coverage of the tsunami this week, Iraq has really not been in the center. And Iraq has been a mess. There's just been an incredible amount of bad stuff and really all of these indications that the Iraqis are increasingly pushing to possible postpone the election. I think the Bush administration, in a way, got a political break this week that the tsunami coverage was so extensive. Because there's a big problem there and obviously with the elections coming up they really want to make sure they can kind of hold on.

WOODRUFF: Speaking of those elections, yesterday, President Bush's father national security advisor, Brent Scowcroft said in here Washington, in fact I heard him, said he thinks these elections could lead to the country being further splintered. Now, the president was asked about that today, President Bush, he said, no, he disagrees. Who is right?

GOLDBERG: I hope and think that the president is right. Everyone knows that Scowcroft is a realist. He comes from a different school of foreign policy. And even if he is right, I think the repercussions of calling off the elections at this point would be so profound that it wouldn't be worth doing anyway. I think we have to have these elections. It's a real hail Mary pass at this point. I have -- I'm fairly optimistic about it. But I think the Scowcroft position is not irrational.

WOODRUFF: Is the Scowcroft position, the question about the election, is this something that's getting more traction now, Liz?

MARLANTES: I mean, what I was saying before was that one problem we started to see this week there was more and more indication that the Iraqis might want to postpone the election. And the Bush administration moved very quickly to try to sort of tamp that down. But that's a real potential political problem for them because, of course, this is their country. This is what we've been trying to say all along.

GOLDBERG: The Iraqi Sunnis which is an important distinction. I mean, but ...

MARLANTES: If the Iraqis finally say, look, we don't think this is tenable, then the Bush administration is not really going to be able to say, well, no, you have to have this.

GOLDBERG: But one of the main reasons we are going to have the elections is so set in stone is because the Shia have demanded they be held ...

WOODRUFF: The majority.

GOLDBERG: And they are the majority of the country. If it weren't for them you really would have a civil war. It's a catch-22 problem, but kowtowing with the Sunni demands I don't think at this stage make as lot of sense.

MARLANTES: And the other problem, of course, politically, if you were to postpone it, then when do you have it? Do you postpone it until the violence stops? Well maybe that will be a very long time.

GOLDBERG: Then you are rewarding violence.


WOODRUFF: Very quickly, the other story we were talking to Ed Henry about and that is Armstrong Williams, the conservative radio commentator. Now it turns out he was paid almost a quarter of a million dollars to advance the president's education policy. You have Armstrong Williams saying there's no problem here but you have Congressman George Miller, a Democrat, saying a law might have been broken. Which is it, Liz? MARLANTES: Well, I think in a way it's just a big embarrassment for everybody involved. Obviously this is one of the reasons that people don't trust the media anymore. This is the kind of thing that doesn't give the public a whole lot of faith in the media. And for the Bush administration this comes at a time where we have the other -- the GAO is looking into these fake news reports promoting other Bush administration policies. In a way, the whole thing seems incredibly hackneyed and ...

GOLDBERG: I have a big problem with it. I think it's embarrassing. I think Armstrong Williams should give the money back. I think he should probably be ashamed of himself for taking it. I think the White House really screwed up. Obviously this was a problem when grown-ups weren't paying attention to let this happen in the first place. And all I can say is that if Bill Clinton had gotten caught giving Joe Connisan (ph) a quarter of a million dollars to be flogging their policies, guys like me would have smoke coming out of our ears and the right would go crazy. It's a bad story. I think George Miller is totally wrong on the law but that's a different issue.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there on that note. We bid you both a good weekend. Jonah, Liz, thank you both. And by the way, again, Armstrong Williams will be on CROSSFIRE at the bottom of the hour. 4:30 Eastern.

And I'll be talking about the Alberto Gonzales nomination for attorney general with senators Arlen Specter and Chuck Schumer later in the show. Up next, Senator Bill Frist is in the tsunami disaster zone. But some Republicans wish would he have wait add little longer before leaving town. Bob Novak explains when he shares the scoop from his reporter's notebook.


WOODRUFF: Bob Novak joins us now from the CROSSFIRE set at George Washington University with some inside buzz. Now, Bob, what is this about some House Republicans unhappy with Senator Bill Frist?

BOB NOVAK, CNN COHOST: Yes, that comes under the general category of no good deed goes unpunished. Senator Frist is the only physician in the Senate. He went out to the Indian Ocean to try to help those people with his medical services. And they -- some of the House Republicans are really complaining he left them in the lurch because the Ohio challenge came up on Thursday. He left on Wednesday. They say he should have waited another 24 or 48 hours to get the thing straightened out.

WOODRUFF: No good deed goes unpunished as they say. A favorite you are hearing emerging among the candidates for Democratic National Committee chair.

NOVAK: Surprising favorite, former Congressman Martin Frost who was defeated in Texas in the last election seems to be the early favorite. The other two were in the race, Howard Dean, we all know him and none other than Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman who wants another term. He says it was John Kerry's bad campaigning that lost the election, not him and he would like to redeem himself.

Now, the state chairmen all over the country are having a bit of regional meetings and the people running for this office are going to have to campaign. I don't know if McAuliffe and Dean will do that. I think Martin Frost will go out and campaign with the state chairman. So I think Martin Frost is a slight favorite.

WOODRUFF: So we are watching that one. All right. Moving up to New York State. The man who is looking at being the state's next governor, Democrat Eliot Spitzer in some hot water?

NOVAK: Well, not exactly hot water, but Eliot Spitzer the state attorney general is supposed to be squeaky clean. The prosecutor of corporate corruption, and lo and behold he's the speaker at a fundraiser on January 26 at the Four Seasons in Manhattan for a man named John Garamendi who is the insurance commissioner of California. Quite a colorful figure. He's running for lieutenant governor. He's run for a lot of things including governor. He was in a corporation himself that had some questionable aspects of it when he was out of office. And he hasn't gotten the nomination for lieutenant governor. I wonder who talked to Eliot Spitzer into making this speech for this very controversial figure.

WOODRUFF: And very quickly, finally, the inaugural balls, you're saying a little grumbling there.

NOVAK: Trying to save money, Judy on the $150 ticket balls. No favors are going to be given out. Can you imagine those people coming all the way from Kansas and there's no favor for the inaugural ball? So some people are talking about giving them wristbands to wear on their formal, I guess.

WOODRUFF: That's interesting. So we're going to look to see what you're wearing the day after the inaugural. All right. Bob Novak, thanks very much. We'll see you on CROSSFIRE at 4:30 eastern.

Meantime, the inauguration is less than two weeks away and Bob has a sneak peek. He talks with the executive director of the president's inaugural committee tomorrow on the Novak zone at 9:30 a.m. Eastern.

How well did Alberto Gonzales survive yesterday's grilling? And is his confirmation at our next attorney general still on track? I'll speak with the chairman and a top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee when we come back.

Plus, helping those in desperate need. Senator Mary Landrieu visited tsunami disaster victims. She's our guest when INSIDE POLITICS continues.


WOODRUFF: It's just about 4:00 on the East Coast. And as the market gets set to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Lou Dobbs in New York with the DOBBS REPORT. Hello, Lou. LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Hi Judy, thank you. One of the largest corporate scandals in American history is back in the news. The Supreme Court has agreed to review the conviction of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen. The defunct accounting firm charged with obstruction of justice in the infamous Enron case. Andersen was accused of destroying Enron related documents as the energy giant was collapsing. The scandal put the accounting firm out of business.

But the firm continued to fight, claiming it didn't receive a fair trial. And despite Justice Department objections the U.S. Supreme Court will now hear arguments in the case in April. Enron's collapse led to one of the largest bankruptcies in history. And on Wall Street today, stocks finished all but unchanged. They are down for the first week of this new year, investors today were unimpressed by the unemployment report today. As the final trades are now being counted, the Dow Jones Industrials down just about 22 points, the NASDAQ is flat on the day.

The pace of hiring did pick up last month with job growth remains sluggish. Employers added 157,000 jobs last month, inline in the pace of population growth but certainly no better. For the year, 2.2 million jobs were created. That's the most created in five years. And tonight, coming up here on CNN at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, our special series of errors on jackpot justice. Nearly 100,000 people in this country each year die because of medical mistakes, sparking thousands of malpractice lawsuits.

DOBBS: Tonight we take a look at why the focus is on those so- called frivolous lawsuits instead of actually putting an end to malpractice itself.


JOY CLAYBROOK, PUBLIC CITIZEN: The best way to end lawsuits is to prevent the problem. And that's where not enough money has been expended and investment made. If you don't want to have medical malpractice lawsuits, you get rid of the bad doctors or you discipline them severely.


DOBBS: Also tonight we'll be taking a closer look at President Bush's tort reform legislation proposals. We have a debate tonight between the American Tort Reform Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers on that very issue.

And more than three years after September ah, a new report is expected to blast senior CIA leaders for intelligence failures. We'll have the report for you and the latest on the South Asia tsunami disaster. My guest tonight, Major General David Deptula. He's supervising U.S. air operations for the relief efforts throughout the region.

All of that and more coming up tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Please join us.

Now back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Lou, on that first story you mentioned -- back when Enron was in the news everyday, you, I remember, had some very strong opinions of what the government's treatment of Arthur Andersen. What do you think about these latest developments?

DOBBS: Well, I think this is a case of justice delayed, but at least the offer of justice. It is still my opinion, Judy, and I am pleased to say the opinions of others over the course of the past three years, that the Justice Department decision to indict the law firm of -- the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen was totally misguided. In point of fact, 85,000 people lost their jobs as a result of that when the real issue was Enron itself.

But 85,000 innocent people lost their jobs because the Justice Department took a very easy path and indicted a firm, something it had not done before. And in point of fact, after three, just about three years now, not a single executive, presumably, who would be responsible for such criminal behavior, has ever been sent to jail. Not one single executive or responsible party at Andersen has ever gone to jail or been indicted. And that is just a travesty, it remains so, in my opinion.

WOODRUFF: Well, it's interesting how this has shaken out. But it's taken so long for that to happen. All right, Lou, and we'll look for much more on "LOU DOBBS" at 6:00. Thank you very much.

DOBBS: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: Touched by tsunami victims. Senator Mary Landrieu shares her impressions after seeing the devastation up close.

On track for confirmation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think overall, Judge Gonzalez acquitted himself well.

ANNOUNCER: We'll hear from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and an outspoken Democrat on the panel, Chuck Schumer.

A touchdown after a fumble. Football metaphors abound in the political "Play of the Week."

Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. United Nations officials assessing tsunami damage say the heart of the crisis in Southern Asia remains in Indonesia, even as they report making substantial progress in distributing aid where it is needed most. Of the more than 155,000 killed, the United States is reporting two more dead Americans, bringing the total up to 37. Former presidents George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton star in new public service announcements released today, aimed at soliciting donations for tsunami relief. Earlier this week, President Bush tapped his predecessors to head fund-raising efforts.

Our new poll shows 70 percent of Americans say they believe the United States is doing enough to help tsunami victims. 74 percent say they have prayed for victims of this disaster. 45 percent say they've contributed money. 26 percent say they've donated supplies.

CNN has an unprecedented team of anchors and reporters in the region to bring you up-to-the-minute disaster news.

Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, has been getting an up-close look at areas devastated by the tsunami. She traveled to the region along with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. I spoke with Senator Landrieu by telephone a little while ago and I asked her what she saw in person that took her beyond what the rest of us have seen on television.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Well, Judy, there were so many things. First of all, the scale of the devastation and damage is just hard to convey in these pictures and videos coming across these screens of our television and computers. So until you get up in a helicopter, you can't really understand the breadth and length of the devastation along the coastline.

I've tried to explain it after seeing it in Sri Lanka. It's as if someone took an eraser and just started at Galveston, Texas and basically erased two or three blocks of coast all the way past Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, down the panhandle, up the East Coast, all the way to Maine. It's thousands of miles of coastline. This was a vicious monster that came out of the sea and scooped everything up along the coast and just dragged it back out.

WOODRUFF: Senator, your focus has been on children, on adoption issues here in the U.S.. But what about the effect on children there? What is needed now for the children who've survived?

LANDRIEU: Well, that's a very important question, Judy, and I think that's the central question. If you believe that children are our future, and what we do with these children, thousands of children, will determine whether this region has a good future, a solid future, or not.

And many of us feel strongly that those children need to be identified quickly and returned to their parent or parents, to caring and willing relatives, and then if not, for the world community to place them gently in another family. Not in an orphanage, not in an institution, but in a family that can teach them character and strength, hopefully in their own countries, and if not, then somewhere in the world family.

WOODRUFF: Senator, I want to quickly ask you an extension of that question, and that is do you think Americans will eventually be called on in some way to take these children in, these orphans, and, if so, is there a system in place for that to happen?

LANDRIEU: Let me answer yes. I do think that there will be a time. It probably won't be for several months, because you can understand the importance of spending time trying to reconnect children with family members that may be still alive and are willing to take them in. But at some point, it's probably going to be necessary for people from other countries to step up.

I know that there'll be an outpouring of support to do that, but I just heard even several of the presidents of these countries have encouraged their cabinet ministers to become adoptive parents. They, themselves, in one case, have considered and publicly said something about adopting themselves. So the outpouring of support within these countries, I think, will be tremendous, but there might be opportunities and there might be a need for other countries to step up and take these children in.

WOODRUFF: Senator Mary Landrieu, who in the last day or two has been touring the devastated areas.

Well, in many ways, the tsunami disaster has transcended politics, and yet, there be political implications, which brings us to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you fumble, and then you recover. It's a play that works in football and in politics. . It can even be the political "Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Bush spoke publicly about the tsunami disaster three days after it happened.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATED: We pledged an initial $35 million relief assistance.

SCHNEIDER: The response from the United States and other rich countries drew criticism.

JAN EGELAND, U.N. UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL: It is beyond me, why are we so stingy, really?

SCHNEIDER: That irritated the president.

BUSH: I felt like the person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed.

SCHNEIDER: But there was criticism from some Americans.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D, MICHIGAN: I do think the response was too slow from the administration.

SCHNEIDER: And from Muslims.

MOHAMMED ALAMI, AL-JAZEERA WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: ... in the beginning a lot of people couldn't understand the initial hesitation of this administration to react to the disaster, especially with the image problem the United States in the area and around the world, for that matter.

SCHNEIDER: But President Bush acted quickly to recover. He came up with 10 times more money.

BUSH: Our nation has committed military assets and made an initial commitment of $350 million for disaster relief.

SCHNEIDER: He sent 2 emissaries. One, a respected world figure, the other, someone with guaranteed access to the president, his brother.

BUSH: Secretary Powell and Governor Bush will report their findings directly to me.

SCHNEIDER: He recruited two figures with very positive images in the world.

BUSH: I have asked two of America's most distinguished private citizens to head a nationwide charitable fundraising effort.

SCHNEIDER: American troops suddenly had a friendlier face.

ALAMI: The footage of U.S. soldiers giving, you know, bottles of water will go a long, long way to rectify some of those bad images streaming out of Iraq and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SCHNEIDER: While criticism shifted from the United States to other wealthy countries.

ALAMI: A lot of people are criticizing Arab and Muslim governors for not doing enough.

SCHNEIDER: The U.S. is ready to do even more.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We will continue responding to legitimate demands until the 350 is reached, and if more money is needed at that time, then the president will take it under consideration, and discuss with Congress.

SCHNEIDER: So what do the critics say now?

JAN EGELAND, U.N. UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL: I'd like to say that the United States has been ideal in the way they have responded.

SCHNEIDER: A quick turnaround from stingy to ideal in one week. Last week's fumble becomes this week's play of the week.


(on camera): Perhaps most remarkable -- the absence of criticism from radical Islamic organizations. The radicals are even trying to play catch-up in delivering aid. That is not a competition that they're ever likely to win. WOODRUFF: So does this have an effect, Bill, that will last longer than just the immediate time frame of this crisis in terms of U.S., Muslim, U.S. -- the countries that have been the enemies of the U.S.?

SCHNEIDER: Well, sadly, of course, the crisis everyone knows will endure, and American aid, we hope, will endure for a long time. All American leaders who have traveled to that region, like the ones you've been interviewing, have been saying, this is a long-term commitment. My guess is, these images sadly are likely to endure.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

And we want to tell you to -- please urge you to stay with CNN tonight for our special report on the tsunami disaster, "Turning the Tide." That's at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Later at 10:00 Eastern, a "People in the News" special, "Voices from the Tsunami." Plus this weekend, encore presentations of CNN special report, "Saving the Children." That's tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

Here in Washington, there is a general consensus that Alberto Gonzales will be confirmed as the next attorney general. But will the controversy over his nomination and his definition of torture linger on? Coming up, I'll talk with Senate judiciary committee chairman Arlen Specter and do a Democrat on the panel Senator Charles Schumer.

Later, the presidents' parents mark a milestone.


WOODRUFF: The president's nominee to be attorney general, Alberto Gonzales has rejected the idea that he somehow condoned the use of torture or rough interrogation tactics against suspects in the war on terror. Gonzales made his comments in yesterday's confirmation hearing before the Senate judiciary committee. A little while ago I spoke with the chairman of that panel, Republican Arlen Specter. I began by asking him if he thinks Gonzales will ultimately be confirmed as attorney general.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: I do think he will be confirmed. At the end of the session yesterday, Senator Leahy and Senator Kennedy were asking questions about whether he'd be willing to cooperate with them on a number of specific issues, and that's always a good sign. I don't count any of my chickens until they're hatched, but I think his chances for confirmation are excellent.

WOODRUFF: But there are still some pretty tough commentary, is some tough commentary, today, for example, the "Washington Post" editorial page says those senators who were able to reach clear conclusions about torture and whether the U.S. should engage in it have reason for grave reservations about Mr. Gonzales?

SPECTER: Well, he answered the question very forcefully that he is opposed to torture, that he thinks there were enormous mistakes made at Abu Ghraib, that the questioning went far, and was excessive and that the famous memorandum going back to August of 2000 by the Department of Justice cut much too broad a swathe. He could not recall all of the conversations he had going back two or three years ago, but, Judy, that's a pretty tough thing to do, but I think all in all he made a reasonably good presentation.

WOODRUFF: Senator, there are those who say Alberto Gonzales should, at the very least, take more responsibility for his role in drafting the memos and in drafting the policy?

SPECTER: Well, Judy, you're wrong on his role. He did not draft the memos. The memos were drafted by the Department of Justice. He was asked if he had requested them, and he said he couldn't recall specifically, but thought he had. A question of whether it came from the CIA, and he did not draft any of the lines of interrogation. The legal definitions have to be given by the Department of Justice. And then it's up to the Department of Defense to decide what the question and techniques are going to be, are going to be used. It's true as White House counsel he was in the center of it, but you have to have a clear-cut delineation as to what his responsibilities were.

WOODRUFF: So you accept his explanation that he simply didn't remember what he said he couldn't recall about his role?

SPECTER: Well, they asked him about some of the specific techniques. Waterbedding, making it appear to the person under questioning that he was drowning, and they asked him if there were conversations to that effect, and he could not recall the specifics on that or on the other techniques, which were discussed, but he did testify about this Department of Defense memorandum, and he did say that it went too far.

I asked him a very strong question, tough question, where that report said that the president had as much authority to question detainees as the president had on the battlefield which is a very vast statement of presidential authority. I asked Judge Gonzales if he thought that was correct, and he said, no. He felt that was wrong. So he did not subscribe to the very broad statement of presidential power in that Department of Justice memorandum.


WOODRUFF: Senator Arlen Specter who is the chairman of the judiciary committee. We'll have more on the Gonzales nomination next, this time from a Democratic committee member. I'll talk with New York Senator Charles Schumer, when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOODRUFF: That's the beautiful United States Capitol this Friday afternoon. Well, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York is among those Judiciary Committee members who've expressed reservations about the nomination of Alberto Gonzales. A while ago I asked Senator Schumer if he's satisfied with the answers Gonzales provided at yesterday's hearing.


SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY), JUDICIARY CMTE.: I thought his answers, Judy, were somewhat vague and not to the point, not only on that question but on most. I've had a good relationship with Alberto Gonzales on an issue of great contentiousness, judges. He and I have sat in a room repeatedly and filled every vacancy in the New York bench, some with moderates, a few with conservatives, all with mainstream people.

And I was hoping -- to me it's not the specifics of what was done but the process that ruined everything. John Ashcroft was the most secretive, behind the scenes, dark of night attorney general that we have had in an area of such sensitivity. And the bottom line is, will Gonzales be different, will he consult, will he be out in the open?

To have three guys in rooms put together a memo on torture is the wrong way to go. And that's why it led to so many problems and why they had to backtrack. And the Justice Department is doing that like clockwork on so many other issues every couple of months. So we need a change in the way the Justice Department is run and the attorney general's attitude.

WOODRUFF: So does he represent that change?

SCHUMER: Well, it's hard to tell. I walked in to that hearing pretty favorably disposed to Gonzales based on my own personal experience with him. But he was so not forthcoming on the issue of torture, on the issue of so many other things that I think we're going to have to wait and see the questions, the answers in writing.

We're allowed to submit written questions to him. I've submitted a bunch and I know many of my colleagues have, both Democrat and Republican were not totally happy with his answers.

WOODRUFF: So you're withholding judgment on whether you're going to vote for him?

SCHUMER: I am. And I think I would be regarded as one of those Democrats at least on the Judiciary Committee more favorable to him than some of the other -- some of my colleagues.

WOODRUFF: Senator John Cornyn, as you know, a Republican, said Alberto Gonzales is being attacked, in his words, for a memo he didn't write, interpreting a law he didn't draft. Is some of this just partisan politics?

SCHUMER: Well, the bottom line is he didn't draft the memo but one of the jobs of counsel to the president is not simply to be a cypher and just pass on the documents without comment. Some of these documents were so egregious that they would allow the kind of torture that Saddam Hussein did to his people.

I'm not one of these people who looks down and says, oh, you did everything wrong. We're in a brave, new world. It's no longer Marquis of Queensbury rules, it's not soldiers line up on one side in one -- blue uniforms, and soldiers on the other in red, so the rules may have to change. And we may have to be adaptable.

If you have a terrorist who's put a bomb somewhere and you have 12 hours to discover it, you don't want to just pat him on the back and say, please, give us the answers. But the answer in all of this is to have a consultive process, to have set rules, and that would avoid the Abu Ghraibs of the world. That's what this Justice Department has not done in any way and that's what needs to be done.

So, you know, I think it's besides the point whether to blame Gonzales or not because he didn't write the memo, he just passed it without comment. What's more important is that as attorney general he'll have to change the direction of the department at least from the way John Ashcroft ran it.


WOODRUFF: Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Well, the first family is putting mom and dad first. Up next, an anniversary present for Bush 41 and Mrs. Bush.


WOODRUFF: They are the Bush family, and they tend to balk when somebody tries to describe them as a dynasty. But they almost looked the part last night, celebrating the 60th wedding anniversary of former President Bush and his wife Barbara. The Bush clan posed for this portrait at the White House, where they were joined by administration officials and former foreign leaders for a black tie anniversary dinner.

Happy anniversary, President and Mrs. Bush.

That's it for this edition of INSIDE POLITICS. More developments in the Armstrong Williams story. Congressman Louise Slaughter, Democrat on the Rules Committee, calling on his employers to sever contracts with the radio broadcaster. Much of that coming up on "CROSSFIRE." That starts right now. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us.


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