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Deep Throat Highlights Role of Anonymous Sources; Amnesty International Calls Guantanamo Bay an American Gulag; Supreme Court Throws Out Arthur Andersen Conviction; 20th Anniversary of Watergate with Senator Lott; European Union Constitution Rejected by France and the Netherlands.

Aired June 4, 2005 - 19:00   ET


AL HUNT, HOST: Welcome to THE CAPITAL GANG. I'm Al Hunt, with Mark Shields, Robert Novak and Margaret Carlson. Our guest is former Nixon aide John Sears.

Thanks for coming in, John.


HUNT: It is good to have you.

The revelation that former associate FBI director Mark Felt was "Deep Throat" triggered immediate debate about his role uncovering the Watergate scandal.


NICK JOHNS, W. MARK FELT'S GRANDSON: I guess people used to think Deep Throat was a criminal, but now they think he's a hero.

MARK FELT, JR., SON OF W. MARK FELT: We believe our father, William Mark Felt, Sr., was an American hero. He went well above and beyond the call of duty, at risk to himself, to save this country from a horrible injustice.


HUNT: Former Nixon White House aides jailed in Watergate took a different attitude towards Felt.


CHUCK COLSON, FORMER NIXON SENIOR ADVISER: To think that he was out, going around in back alleys at night, looking for flowerpots, passing information to someone -- it's just so demeaning. It's terribly disappointing. It's not the image of the professional FBI that you would expect.

G. GORDON LIDDY, FORMER NIXON ASSISTANT: According to the story, because he was urged to do so by his family for the money -- he was very reluctant to do so because he feels -- and correctly, in my view -- a sense of dishonor. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT: Watergate reporter Bob Woodward took issue with these critics.


BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": This is the old crowd kind of relaunching the wars of Watergate and saying, Oh, let's make the conduct of the sources that we used...


WOODWARD: ... the issue, rather than...

BERNSTEIN: Than the president and his men.

WOODWARD: ... their own. And you know, the record about Watergate crime is staggering, voluminous and irrefutable.


HUNT: Mark, should we be grateful to Mark Felt?

MARK SHIELDS, CAPITAL GANG: I think, as citizens, we should be grateful to him, Al. But if we could please be spared any more sermons on ethics from Charlie Colson, who was talking about how unacceptable it was to be in a parking garage late at night, as opposed to breaking into doctors' offices under black-bag operations run by the Nixon crowd, or G. Gordon Liddy, you know, I think we -- I think we'd be better off.

Al, it's a classic example. They have somebody here who they cannot attack any of the substance, criticize any of the substance of what Mark Felt told, and therefore, they go after the source. And I don't know who else he was supposed to talk to, his boss, Pat Gray, who was busy tossing documents over the 14th Street bridge into the Potomac River (INAUDIBLE) or his -- the attorney general, who was on his way to the slammer. And certainly, there weren't many attentive, responsive ears at the White House.

So I think he did what was right, and I think history will vindicate him.

BOB NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: Yes, I don't -- I disagree with Bob Woodward about having -- this is -- saying (INAUDIBLE) Nixon wasn't such a bad guy, so we'll attack Felt. I think anybody -- I don't think there's any argument now what a bad record Nixon had. And I do feel that Felt was one of the bad guys at the FBI. I covered the FBI pretty closely, and I thought one of the good guys was the late Bill Sullivan, who was forced out. He was one of three (ph) people trying to reform it. So Felt was one of J. Edgar Hoover's toadies. I think he was playing all kinds of games. I think he was angry that he didn't get named director when Hoover died.

And Mark, the guy he could have gone to was -- was the prosecutor, Earl Silbert -- very straight guy. And I think Woodward and Bernstein will tell you he was a very straight guy. Or he could have gone to the House Judiciary Committee and said, Here is my evidence. He didn't have to do it in a parking garage.

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: I think in those circumstances, he wanted to remain -- he wanted protection, and he didn't -- he did not know who to trust at that time. Here are these crusading reporters. He knew what side they were on. He's mostly being criticized for having mixed motives, that he had an agenda of his own. You very often don't get in a source this kind of moral purity that you want. They're -- people are very complicated.

Bob, I think all over America, people are racing to their computers to look at your columns on Nixon, to see what -- what you...

NOVAK: Well, if you...

CARLSON: ... what you really thought.

NOVAK: If you -- if you don't -- if you don't think I was tough on Nixon, I'll send you a copy of it because I think you were probably in grade school then.

CARLSON: I am going to race to my computer...

HUNT: She loves that.

CARLSON: Yes. Thank you, Bob.

HUNT: John Sears, your -- your take on Mark Felt?

SEARS: Well, I don't think he was a hero because, to me, it was fairly obvious he was just pursuing a plan of which Mr. Woodward was only a small part, that was directed toward having himself named as director of the FBI. I don't think he's a villain, either, though. I think that, probably, as we sit here today, there are more than 100 people sitting around imparting information they probably shouldn't to others here in Washington. It goes on all the time. And what would the press do without them?

HUNT: Yes. I -- yes, I want to pick up -- I think you're absolutely right. I think that any of us, the press better be very careful when we start assigning motives to people who leak stuff. We're not quite sure what people's motives are. They're usually quite mixed.

The fact is, also, he began this right after the Watergate break- in, began talking to Woodward. No one knew about an Earl Silbert. The House Judiciary Committee was a -- was a remote concept at that idea. And the fact of the matter is that what he confirmed to Bob Woodward -- not gave him, in most cases, but confirmed -- ended up being historic.

NOVAK: Al, are you implying he didn't know that Earl Silbert was the prosecutor on this thing?

HUNT: On June 9 -- on June 20, 1972...

NOVAK: Not that very day!

HUNT: ... he didn't even know what Earl Silbert's name was.

SHIELDS: And I -- I want to say, I have great respect and enormous admiration for Earl Silbert, but let's be very frank about this. Mark Felt and Bob Woodward's relationship went back to when Bob Woodward was a naval officer and bringing papers to the White House. And so I think that's -- that's not unimportant.

The other thing that's gotten lost in this whole thing is the important and critical role played by Judge John Sirica. John Sirica was a Republican judge, a Republican lawyer, and he's somebody who took it very seriously when the break-in -- the people who broke into Watergate appeared before his court. and Jim McCord. And "Maximum John" deserves his place in history, as well.

HUNT: As does Sam Ervin, of course.


NOVAK: Just a little history. They finally brought in a clean FBI director toward the end of Nixon, Bill Ruckelshouse. And -- and Felt and his gang did everything they could in the brief interlap (ph) there was before he finally was forced out -- Felt was forced out -- to undermine Ruckelshouse. So I'm sure that he was valuable in -- in this very necessary story, but I really resent Felt suddenly being portrayed as a really good guy because he wasn't.

HUNT: I'm going to just take 15 seconds to say that there still is this great myth that it was all some guy in a garage giving something to a reporter.

NOVAK: No, it wasn't.

HUNT: Woodward and Bernstein did incredible reporting. Ben Bradlee, the greatest editor of our times, was the editor of those stories. And Felt was an important confirming source, but only an important confirming source, not the original source...


SEARS: I think that I'd feel a little better about Mr. Felt, if, indeed, he hadn't resigned from the FBI as soon as it was apparent he couldn't be made the director. And secondly, if he had gone to Mr. Ruckelshouse -- because he was obviously somebody who could be trusted, and at least given him even ground with Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein about what was going on -- now, I -- speaking in behalf of all those who were falsely accused of being Deep Throat over the years...

SHIELDS: I was going to say, yes.

SEARS: ... we all might have appreciated it if he hadn't lied about it for 30 years, too. HUNT: John Sears identified once in a book as Deep Throat. We can now say to our audience John Sears was not Deep Throat.

John Sears and THE GANG will be right back to consider whether Deep Throat justifies anonymous sources.


HUNT: Welcome back. The revelation of Deep Throat also renewed debate over the role of anonymous sources in journalism.


BEN BRADLEE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Anonymous sources have been beaten to death all year, and quite recently, and I think this proves that anonymous sources, if treated properly, are invaluable.

WOODWARD: We were -- Carl and I and Ben Bradlee and "The Washington Post" were and are committed to protecting confidential sources. They're our lifeline, so we can get to a better version of the truth.


HUNT: Margaret, is Deep Throat now going to be used as an excuse for retaining anonymous sources?

CARLSON: I hope so! We need some excuse because, as Ben Bradlee said, it's under attack. And at the very moment Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are -- are out in the public again and reviewing this, Matt Cooper and Judy Miller are possibly going off to prison for protecting some thug in White House who gave them bad information and who won't -- who won't admit that he or she did it.

So you know, there's a lot at stake. We all have to be careful that we're not being used, figure out what axe to grind the person might have, but it's -- it's one of the ways that you have to use to get information out.

HUNT: Chuck Colson, you know, the ex-con, was shocked that a public official violating the public trust. I don't think there's anybody here -- maybe John Sears, but nobody here is going to -- going to -- going to be shocked at the use of anonymous sources, are they, Bob?

NOVAK: Well, no. We use anonymous sources all -- you can't -- you can't exist in this town without anonymous sources, particularly on a story like Watergate. But just on a normal little story, a little -- a little story I'm doing on -- on how -- whether the president's doing a good job on congressional relations -- nobody's going to talk to you on the record on that. And these editors, self -- self-important editors and reporters that say, We're going to -- we're going to give it -- put a stop to this -- so I get a -- I give -- I hope that this does stop some of that, but I'm afraid it won't.

HUNT: John, do you think it's a problem, anonymous sources? SEARS: Well, obviously, the business that you're all in couldn't survive without anonymous sources. I think more the problem is people perhaps do not verify them as well as they used to, and that's why I think there's been more difficulty over it. And I think partly, if I may say so, that's the effect of television, where everybody seems to be under pressure to beat, you know, somebody else on what's going on the news. So there -- people don't take the time of reflection necessary to check what they're told.

HUNT: Mark Shields.

SHIELDS: Al, I think John Sears puts his finger on it. I think the promiscuous use of anonymous sources is the -- the journalistic equivalent of soft money. I mean, there's a dependency that's grown up on it politically.

Any -- any semi-honest journalist admits at the outset that it isn't our dazzling charisma that sources come to us for, you know, because they have -- as Margaret put it well, they have a mixture of motives, I mean, some that's noble, other times it's settling a score. Other times, it's just a sense of -- they want the vanity of playing that game and all the rest of it. And I think it's the responsibility, and too often ignored -- responsibility of journalists to find out what that motive is because it does influence, obviously, what the person is telling you.

NOVAK: Just -- just to take this -- this story -- when Felt was -- was talking to Woodward, apparently saw him a dozen times in the course -- in the course of a year, he obviously -- people don't want to say that -- he had -- he had a great bitterness against Nixon. He had great bitterness against some of the people who had jumped ahead of him in the FBI. But that isn't really what -- what the question is. The question is, was this accurate information he was putting out? And so it really is immaterial whether his motives were good or not.

HUNT: Yes, and it was accurate information. I -- I think that -- I agree with everyone on the use of anonymous sources, and I think this story underscores the importance of using them. You can't do many national security stories that are really sensitive without that. John's right, they ought to be verified more. And also, they have become a very -- a device for lazy journalists. It's a lot easier to get a cheap shot anonymous quote, for instance. I think anonymous quotes ought to be used almost never.


HUNT: ... ought to be used almost never.

CARLSON: And someone in the White House wanted to dish out a story about Joe Wilson's wife, to be mean and undercut the story and whether -- and now won't be called to account for it, while two reporters march off to jail. Now, that's a -- you know, I think there should be some way that if a source lies to you or commits a crime, that then the privilege is diminished.

HUNT: Certainly, if they lie to you, but not if they're wrong. There are some people who...

CARLSON: No, not if they're wrong...

HUNT: ... said if they're wrong...

CARLSON: ... but if...

HUNT: Some people want to be...

CARLSON: But this -- this is...

NOVAK: I do -- I do believe...

CARLSON: This is a lie.

NOVAK: ... one of the (INAUDIBLE) of journalists, since we have my colleague, Margaret, making rather broad declarations, I don't think reporters should make judgments and declarations on things they don't know anything about.

HUNT: John Sears...

CARLSON: Well, we wouldn't have a show!


SEARS: Well, the only thing I'd say -- yes, I think, as far as you people are concerned, the purpose for which somebody tells you something is not so important as to whether it's accurate. And you should try to check that. But I mean, the accuracy is what's important.

I think, though, before we go calling people heroes, we ought to look at their purpose, and that's what's at stake here.

HUNT: Final word, Mark?

SHIELDS: OK, Al. And I say that motive is important because -- substance obviously dominates, but motive is important because it tells you how much that person's going to tell you and what they don't tell you.

HUNT: When you can determine motive, which sometimes can be quite elusive.

Next on CAPITAL GANG: President Bush defends U.S. treatment of detainees at Guantanamo.


HUNT: Welcome back. Amnesty International issued a blistering report on the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying, quote, "The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law. Trials by military commissions have made a mockery of justice and due process," end quote.


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm aware of the Amnesty International report, and it's absurd. It's absurd allegation.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Free societies depend on oversight, and they welcome informed criticism, particularly on human rights issues. But those who make such outlandish charges lose any claim to objectivity or seriousness.

IRENE KAHN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SECRETARY GENERAL: The administration's response has been that our report is absurd, that our allegations have no basis. And our answer is very simple. If that is so, open up these detention centers. Allow us and others to visit them. Transparency is the best antidote to any misinformation or incorrect facts.


HUNT: Bob, it's a stretch, is it, to compare Guantanamo to a gulag?

NOVAK: Not only a stretch, it's an outrage. The gulags, where millions of Russian citizens were put in there because the tyranny,, the dictatorship did not like their views -- these are not American citizens. They are suspected terrorists. I think Amnesty International discredited itself, but it's part of this whole international bunch of left-wingers with lots of friends here who want to destroy George W. Bush and will use anything in their power.

The question of whether the use of this detention center is good is a serious question. I think it's a tough question. I probably come down on its side because there's so much at stake. But the idea to call it a gulag discredits the critics.

HUNT: Just to discredit George Bush?

CARLSON: You know, it's a shame they used the word "gulag," so I partly agree with Bob, because it's taken attention away from the report, which exposes all kinds of problems that remain, even though we've seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib and we've heard about fatal beatings and we've heard about prisoners no one knows about. They're not all terrorists. They're picked up in sweeps. They're picked up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Their families don't know where they are. They can't speak to a lawyer. They're in a black hole. Some of them are fatally beaten. We've just found out about two homicides covered up in Bagram, in the feeder to Guantanamo, the holding cell.

And that's why "gulag" was such the wrong word to use.

HUNT: John Sears.

SEARS: Yes, I definitely agree with that. Anybody who calls Guantanamo Bay a gulag doesn't know how bad the gulags were. That doesn't mean that there aren't offenses going on there. And it's fairly obvious we don't live in the USSR because they didn't allow Amnesty International into -- into their business, either.

But at least here, you can complain about it, and I think at least, by this report, people will take an interest in it.

HUNT: Mark Shields.

SHIELDS: Al, anybody who cares about the fate of our men and women in uniform, that -- is concerned, and deeply concerned, about what goes on at Guantanamo and what has gone on at Guantanamo because whatever does is going to be visited, you can be sure, upon Americans when they're prisoners. That's the first thing.

The second thing, Al -- Amnesty International was cited repeatedly by this administration about the abuses in Iraq. During the '70s and '80s, it was the greatest source of all on the mistreatment in the Soviet Union of the dissidents there. And I think they've done great work. I think they deserve credit for the work they continue to do. Yes, one word was wrong, but that's what really counts here.

HUNT: Well, we all can agree that that word was a stupid word to use, but -- and Mark, you're right, not only were they cited, the aforementioned Mr. Rumsfeld, just on TV, cited Amnesty International repeatedly in 2002 and 2003 and basically said to Iraq, Open up. You know, If you want to disprove this, you open up. I think this -- I don't think for a moment the treatment at Guantanamo is anywhere near as bad as what...

NOVAK: Of course -- of course...

HUNT: ... systematically Saddam Hussein did. But I think there's also been a systematic case of abuse...

NOVAK: It isn't...

HUNT: ... as Margaret as documented. And I think they ought to open it up. Bob?

NOVAK: It isn't one -- it isn't one mistaken word, it's an entire mindset involved there, and...

HUNT: At Amnesty International?

NOVAK: Yes, on this subject. And another thing is, I -- I talk to a lot...

HUNT: With Iraq and Russia?

NOVAK: I talk to a lot of people about this, and I know nobody who believes that the treatment of our -- of our people has anything to do with the way we treat them, as if these -- these are good- natured people, say, Gee, if you give us a lemonade and a cookie, we'll give you a nice treatment. They're going to treat us badly without -- without...

HUNT: I'm going to give John Sears the final word.

SEARS: Well, again, I think Amnesty International probably overstated the case, but I think the Bush administration should be held to account for the treatment that's going on.

HUNT: And that's what Amnesty International is here to do, and they do a terrific job.

John Sears, thank you so much for joining us, and it's nice...

SEARS: Thank you, Al.

HUNT: It's nice to know that you're not Deep Throat.


HUNT: THE GANG will be back in the second half. A Supreme Court ruling comes too late for the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. We'll go "Beyond the Beltway" to London, as the EU's new constitution is rejected. And our "Outrages of the Week" all after the break.



HUNT: Welcome back to the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG. The unanimous opinion by the United States Supreme Court threw out the conviction of Arthur Andersen accounting firm in the corporate finance scandal. The opinion, written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist said, quote, "The jury instructions at issue simply failed to convey the requisite consciousness of wrongdoing. Indeed, it is striking how little culpability the instructions required," end quote.

For the prosecution, acting Assistant Attorney General John Richter responded, quote, "We remain convinced that even the most powerful corporations have the responsibility of adhering to the rule of law. We will carefully examine today's decision and determine whether to retry the case."

Mark, is this a matter of correcting prosecutorial excess?

SHIELDS: It wasn't prosecutorial excess, Al. I mean, this decision says you must prove criminal intent when Andersen executives were shredding thousands of pages of documents involving Enron. It was mistreatment here. It was mistreatment of the 90,000 Arthur Andersen employees and 110,000 employees of Enron by corrupt, criminal leadership of those corporations.

HUNT: Corrupt, criminal leadership, Bob?

NOVAK: Yes, but the corrupt, criminal leadership in Andersen went to other accounting firms and did well. This was prosecutorial excess, and the kind of people that you profess to be worried about, Mark, are the ones who've suffered. The 29,000 people out of work because the big boys did OK. To say that you can't -- that a criminal -- a criminal event to shred documents is really ridiculous. It is the idea of the government going too far, the Securities & Exchange Commission has gone too far. You -- you -- I'd expect this kind of excess from a Republican -- from a Democratic administration, but to have it in the Bush administration is very disappointing.

HUNT: Bring -- bring light to this division, Margaret.

CARLSON: What it says is that you can't shred after you're being investigated for fraud. That's what it says. It doesn't say you can never shred documents. This was a case where they went at it as soon as they knew they were in trouble.

You know, it's a shame that every time one of these corporations gets in trouble, it's the little people that suffer. They're the ones who lose their...

NOVAK: Well, I...

CARLSON: The big guys are always protected. I'm not -- I'm not...

NOVAK: Why...

CARLSON: I'm not finished. And Arthur Andersen was the accounting firm for so many of these corporations that were found to be engaging in corrupt practices.

NOVAK: Why not go after -- why not go after the big guys and not after the firm? I got a kick out of the guy from the -- that Dodo from the Justice Department saying, we're thinking of whether to retry them. It's like saying, the guy is dead, we're going to try him for murder. It is outrageous. And I hate these government lawyers who think they're on some kind of a missionary...

CARLSON: Then you like corrupt corporations.

SHIELDS: Listen, Al, Al, when I hear the -- the champion of the Goliaths over here talk about compassion for little people and all the crocodile tears he wants to shed, and he's -- he's cheering. He's leading the hosannas that Bill Donaldson, who has been a courageous chairman of the SEC, who has held them, who has stood up for investor rights...

HUNT: For the little guy.

SHIELDS: And stood up for the little guy, that he is -- his head is swallowed, and they're going to bring in a business toady, Chris Cox.

NOVAK: You know, I can't -- I can't believe how uninformed you are, and putting out this propaganda. First place, Chris Cox is a very distinguished Republican congressman. He should be a federal judge now if it wasn't for Barbara Boxer knocking him out.

Secondly, Bill Donaldson sided with the Democrats on the SEC. Why did Bush have to name a chairman who is with the Democrats all the time? And they are not for -- just a minute -- they are not for the little guys; they're for the New York Stock Exchange.


NOVAK: .... Champion of the New York Stock Exchange.

SHIELDS: Standing up for investors who were fleeced under this administration!

HUNT: As a lawyer, Margaret, you can bring some...

CARLSON: They needed to hire a clean guy. He needed to hire a clean guy at the SEC to show that he cared of doing something about it, so it ended up being a Democrat, Bob.

HUNT: I thought, just as we believe in accountability for government officials, there should be accountability for CEOs in America. I...

NOVAK: All three of you just hate business, but you can cry your crocodile tears yourself over those 29,000 people, but people of your ilk are the ones who put them on the street.

CARLSON: Ken Lay is still living in a mansion, by the way.

SHIELDS: Yeah, and listen, I don't understand -- we (INAUDIBLE) benefits for these Arthur Andersen or Enron execs, Bob. Let's get that straight, that this administration but for Eliot Spitzer in New York, let's be quite frank, there wouldn't have been any prosecutions.

NOVAK: I would not say...

SHIELDS: There wouldn't have been any prosecution.


SHIELDS: And I say, thank God for Eliot Spitzer!

NOVAK: God save the country from the Eliot Spitzers of the world...

SHIELDS: Standing up for investors?

NOVAK: If I could speak without being interrupted?

SHIELDS: Excuse me.

NOVAK: God save the country from the Eliot Spitzers of the world, or else we'd be in the same kind of a waste basket of economics that the Europeans are. This is -- this is -- guys like Eliot Spitzer and John Donaldson (sic) and Mark Shields are the people who fight...

HUNT: First of all, it's Bill Donaldson.

NOVAK: Bill Donaldson. HUNT: Not John Donaldson. He did a terrific job at the SEC.

NOVAK: I know, you love him! You all do!

HUNT: Eliot Spitzer is doing an incredible job. And you know what? They are going -- they are protecting the interest of the vast majority of honest businesses in America...

SHIELDS: And employees.


HUNT: The vast majority of honest CEOs, because the people who are not -- there ought to be accountability. That's all they're saying. And if you're not accountable, you cheat, then you ought to be penalized, the same way little guys ought to be penalized.

And you shouldn't be immune...

CARLSON: By the way...

HUNT: ... because you're rich.


CARLSON: ... every time Eliot Spitzer pulls...

HUNT: Yes.

CARLSON: ... back the curtain on one of these industries, he finds rot at the top.

NOVAK: I'm going to send you some editorials from your old publication, "The Wall Street Journal," showing what a danger and what a threat to corporate America and -- who create the jobs. You guys don't create the jobs; the corporations do.

HUNT: And Bob, I will then send you some very good news stories from "The Wall Street Journal" that were frankly -- hope would inform and edify you, because they really are far more in-depth and far more substantive, and that is the last word.

Coming up next, the CAPITAL GANG Classic: Rethinking Watergate.

ANNOUNCER: Here is your CAPITAL GANG trivia question of the week. How many former Enron executives are currently serving jail time? Is it, A, zero? B, two? Or C, six? We'll have the answer right after this.


ANNOUNCER: Before the break, we asked, how many former Enron executives are currently serving jail time? The answer is B, two.

HUNT: Welcome back. THE CAPITAL GANG marked the 20th anniversary of the Watergate break-in on June 20th, 1992. Our guest was Republican Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi.


HUNT: Trent, did this course of events save American democracy?

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: That's totally ridiculous. You know, and now we have -- to show you the press didn't have anything to write about or talk about in the campaign, they spent -- give us a week of Watergate again.

HUNT: I thought the system worked magnificently back then. I think there are still lessons to be learned, don't you, Margaret?

MARGARET WARNER, NEWSWEEK: The press really has suffered since Watergate fell, because I think that we've become sort of obsessed with scandal, and I think the public has too. And we lose sight of where is the real scandal.

NOVAK: I have come to feel that this was a coup d'etat, to bring down a president of the United States. The idea that you drive a president out of office because of what Ziegler was right in saying was a third-rate burglary...

SHIELDS: Margaret has just been vindicated by Bob. I mean, Margaret said we've become all these conspiracy buffs and conspiracy -- I mean, here's Bob still pushing a conspiracy...

NOVAK: It wasn't a conspiracy.

SHIELDS: ... this late in the game.


HUNT: All right, Bob, 13 years later, now a mea culpa, right? That was kind of silly, wasn't it?

NOVAK: I don't think it was artfully put.


NOVAK: But I think there was an intent by a lot of people to try to get rid of him. I thought the fact that one of the impeachment provisions was the bombing of Cambodia, which is not an impeachable offense -- I think that's what they really cared more than breaking into somebody's office or something or another, or moving -- doing the Watergate burglary. I really believe that there was an intent to get rid of him, and they succeeded. And I think it has cast a show I think -- I don't think there ever would have been an impeachment of Bill Clinton if there hadn't been for the impeachment of -- impeachment attempt of Nixon.

HUNT: Margaret.

CARLSON: Well, I'm glad to see that clip, because now I don't have to go back and read Bob Novak's old columns, to see how he treated Richard Nixon and the Watergate reporters. I'm going to have a better weekend.

NOVAK: I think you'll read it, and you'll find I was tough.

SHIELDS: Al, I'll say this: Prior to Watergate, prior to Vietnam, three out of four Americans trusted their government to do what was right most or all of the time. This was a lot more than a third-rate burglary. It was the mugging of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and it's nice to hear Bob renege on his -- repeal his charge that it was a coup d'etat.

NOVAK: I didn't repeal it. I did not repeal it.

HUNT: Why don't we just say...

NOVAK: I said it was not artfully put.

HUNT: Well, Peter Rodino, Sam Irvin, John Sirica, "The Washington Post," we all owe them a great debt. They were incredible patriots, incredible American patriots, and they did their job.


HUNT: Next on CAPITAL GANG, a big step backwards for the European Union.


HUNT: Welcome back. The proposed new European Union Constitution suffered a double blow, rejected by voters of France and the Netherlands.


PRES. JACQUES CHIRAC, FRANCE (through translator): This vote is not the rejection of the European ideal. It is a request for listening, for action and for results.

JOSEP BORRELL, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: The French know we are continuing our work in much the same way as if there had been a yes vote in France, but in terms of the day-to-day running of the European institutions, things remain as normal.

JACK STRAW, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: The result raises profound questions for all of us about the future direction of Europe.


HUNT: Joining us now from London is CNN European political editor Robin Oakley. Robin, what did these votes do to the effective operation of the EU?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR: It goes on, much as it did before. The problem is that with 10 new countries having come in the last year, 25 countries in the EU in all now, they do need a new constitution, a new voting system, slimmed-down commission, if they are not going to reach a point of decision gridlock before too long.

But Europe isn't going to fall apart. They've been operating; they'll go on operating. The big question is whether they try and revive this constitution, and as one former European Union commissioner said, there's no point, actually, in trying to chase a dead duck around the farm yard.

HUNT: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: But Robin, when you have France, one of the creators of this organization, killing its own, isn't Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, correct, that this raises grave and widespread questions? And it would seem to me that the European Parliament's president said, well, we're just going to act as if the vote was yes, is putting a sheet over his head.

OAKLEY: You're absolutely right. That's the big danger. These people get to Brussels, and they seem to suspend the laws that they operate national politics by. They don't bother to take the people along with them. That's why they've had trouble on this constitution. Europe's leaders have taken a big knock from these two votes in France and in Holland, simply because they got too far ahead of the people. Instead of concentrating on the economics, growth and jobs, they've built these great political projects, but they haven't taken the people along with them. And now, they are paying the penalty for that.

HUNT: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: Robin, France is in a deep funk, and not just because Rumsfeld brushes them off as part of old Europe. The economy is doing so badly, and the new prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, excuse my French, has promised that he will turn the economy around in 100 days, which is such a bold statement. What do you make of that? Or I think resign from office?

OAKLEY: I think he's got about as much hope of doing that as I have of winning the 100 meters at the next Olympics, because the French system badly needs a complete shake-up, and Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin, his new prime minister, have said they're going to defend what they call the French social model. Now, one of the reasons why the French turned down the EU Constitution was that they felt that that constitution helped Europe to move in the direction of what they call Anglo-Saxon liberal economics, the kind of economics operated in the U.S., in the U.K. But Nicolas Sarkozy, the other man drafted into a key position in the new French government, says the French social model doesn't work. That's why they've got 10 percent unemployment. You can't go on having high protection for jobs, high social benefits, and compete in the modern global world.

So basically, they've got to take a reality check, both in France and in Germany, where the economies have been moribund, and if Dominique de Villepin sticks to the old social model, there is no way he's going to transform France or its prospects for employment in 100 days.

HUNT: Robin, you're too valuable in your day job to train for the Olympics, so you're going to have to skip that. Mark Shields.

SHIELDS: Robin, as you look at this, the pattern that does emerge, the old aphorism that all politics is local, you have Schroeder in Germany and Chirac in France and even Tony Blair in England, all leaders who are unpopular. How much did the local or the indigenous unpopularity of their national leadership play in this, into negative votes?

OAKLEY: All across Europe, electorates are in a mood to kick their politicians. We've seen Tony Blair's majority, as you say, shredded in the British general elections. Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, big setback in regional elections. Gerhard Schroeder, the German chancellor, hammered in the state elections there, having to call an early election. Jacques Chirac and his government very unpopular in France; the prime minister down to a popularity level of 19 percent, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who's now been booted out.

So yes, of course, there were strong local reactions in these votes, but there were a different set of local factors in each case. In France, it was the worries about eroding the 35-hour week, making people work longer to get a pension, and that high unemployment level. The Dutch were rather more worried about immigration questions. And in a sense, in both countries, the resentment has been that too much is done in Brussels, not enough is done by national governments. And it was also a kind of post-event vote on enlargement of the European Union, which the people weren't consulted about. There were no referendums about that. And in France, they worried about jobs going off to Eastern European countries, where people take slimmer paychecks and where companies pay lower taxes.

HUNT: Robin, you noted the upcoming German elections. Will all this have any effect on Schroeder and how the German campaign is going to unfold?

OAKLEY: Well, it's interesting to see that Gerhard Schroeder is trying to put himself forward as a champion of sorting out this mess. All the politicians across Europe have called for a period of reflection. Well, when politicians do that, you know none of them have got an answer to the question. But Gerhard Schroeder has been hyperactive, going around saying Jean-Claude Juncker, the current president of the European Union, under the old six-monthly revolving system, he's going to have a meeting this weekend with President Chirac, and I think he's trying to put himself forward as a European statesman who can get the show back on the road. His chances of doing that are pretty limited, but I think he's trying to use that.

But basically, he is a very wounded politician at the moment, and he'll grab at anything, I think, to give himself a chance.

NOVAK: We only have about 30 seconds. Some journalists and other observers, Robin, some think that the United States of Europe is going to be a threat to the United States of America, a superpower, maybe better organized than we are. Do you think there is any basis for that?

OAKLEY: No, I don't think we're going to see an emerging superpower in Europe. I think the instinct of the Europeans peoples is not to move to any closer federal state, and of course, we're not going to see, because this constitution is going down, the creation of a European president and a European foreign minister. Henry Kissinger used to complain he couldn't pick up the phone and call Europe to get Europe's opinion. They were trying to meet that objection, and have an identifiable face and voice be Europe; now Europe is not going to have that identifiable face and voice, not until they can agree on a constitution.

HUNT: Hey, Robin, thanks for joining us. We hope your sprinting will be limited to the microphone. THE GANG will be back with our "Outrages of the Week."


HUNT: And now for the "Outrages of the Week."

There will be a number of controversial judicial nominations, probably including a new Supreme Court justice, before the Senate very soon. One question the press and politicians should thoroughly ask each nominee: Do they believe that rights for the disabled are fundamental, and in the purposes of the Americans for Disability Act? Some jurists, like Antonin Scalia, and Bush appellate court nominee William Pryor, want to gut the ADA. If so, let's debate that. Fifty three million disabled Americans deserve to know a nominee's position before anyone is confirmed.

NOVAK: Liberals blame the right for course language, but they should look at leftist Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. On the radio talk show of liberal Randi Rhodes, Harkin complained about the bipartisan agreement permitting votes on three of President Bush's judicial nominees, starting with the distinguished Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen.

Said Harkin of Justice Owen, his voice rising in excitement, "This is not a person to put on the bench for a lifetime appointment. This person is whacko, she's whacko!" End quote.

So much for civilized political discourse.

HUNT: Margaret.

CARLSON: Al, crusading ABC reporter Steve Wilson has now Detroit's Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick for running up thousands of dollars on a city credit card, leasing a $25,000 SUV for his family, and flying first class. Wilson caught him on tape.

Kilpatrick struck back with a film of a sweating and swearing Wilson denounced by the mayor as a liar, and suggesting Wilson entrapped officials on a junket by hiring prostitutes.

Kilpatrick then used city officials to produce and force the public access channel to run the film three times a day. No wonder Kilpatrick was named one of America's worst mayors.

HUNT: Mark. SHIELDS: Al, before he was killed fighting in Afghanistan, Army Staff Sergeant Anthony Lagman has already spent four years in the Marine Corps, served in the Persian Gulf and Bosnia, and earned the Bronze Star. But his mother was denied admission into the Gold Star mothers group, parents whose child died in the line of duty. Why? Mrs. Lagman, a Filipina, is not an American citizen.

Now, American parents discourage their children from enlisting; recruiting is way, way down. There are 69,000 foreign-born volunteers on active duty in the United States military. It's time to honor the sacrifice of the foreign-born.

HUNT: Very good, Mark. This is Al Hunt saying good night for THE CAPITAL GANG, and thanks for joining us.


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