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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Interview With Stephen Hadley; Interview With Pervez Musharraf; Interview With Ahmed Chalabi
Aired November 13, 2005 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's just after 11 a.m. here in Washington, 8 a.m. in Los Angeles, 7 p.m. in Amman, Jordan, and 9 p.m. in Lahore, Pakistan. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for "Late Edition." We'll get to my interview with the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, in just a moment. First, though, let's get a quick check of what's making news right now.
BLITZER: Thanks, very much, Fred. With growing public opposition here in the United States over the war in Iraq, President Bush is firing right back against charges his administration deliberately misled the country into war. Just a short while ago here in Washington, I spoke with the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, in an exclusive interview.
BLITZER: Stephen Hadley, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome back to "Late Edition."
STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Nice to be here. Thank you.
BLITZER: The president was very forceful on Friday in defending his record and going after Democrats and other critics of the war in Iraq. But when all is said and done, it's the president of the United States who was responsible for that bad intelligence on weapons of mass destruction that led to the war.
HADLEY: The president made clear yesterday -- on Friday that he took responsibility for the difficult decisions that he had made. He also made clear that he made those decisions on the basis of intelligence which reflected the best collective judgment of the intelligence community. This was intelligence that had been developed over a period of over a decade.
It was roughly the same intelligence that the Clinton administration saw. They drew the conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a threat to peace, that he had weapons of mass destruction. They acted against him militarily in 1998. It was the same intelligence that other world leaders had that led them to conclude that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It was the same intelligence that 77 members of the Senate relied upon in authorizing the president to use military force in 2002. So this was a collective intelligence judgment. It was relied on by the prior administration and other world leaders, the Congress, the president of the United States. Turns out we were wrong.
But I think the point that we need to emphasize here was, allegations now that the president somehow manipulated intelligence, somehow misled the American people are flat wrong. They were looked at by the Silberman-Robb Commission, they were looked at by the Senate Intelligence community -- Committee. Both of them concluded that there was no manipulation of intelligence.
BLITZER: All right, let's go through those points, because you make several points. The Silberman-Robb Commission, this bipartisan presidential commission, came out with its report at the end of March of this year. They concluded: "We conclude that the intelligence community was dead wrong in almost all of its pre-war judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. This was a major intelligence failure."
How could the United States of America, with the best intelligence community in the world, presumably, have been so wrong?
HADLEY: That, of course, was the subject of the Silberman-Robb Commission. They did a wonderful job identifying some of the problems that occurred. We have taken that report. There is now comprehensive legislation that is adopted by the Congress.
There is now a director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, who is implementing those reforms. But I think the point is, yes, we were all wrong in the intelligence, but to go back now and to argue that the president somehow manipulated the intelligence, somehow misled the American people in a rush to war is flat wrong.
BLITZER: Let's go through another conclusion of the Silberman- Robb report, because you raise this as well. "While the intelligence services of many other nations also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, in the end it was the United States that put its credibility on the line, making this one of the most public and most damaging intelligence failures in recent American history." Raising questions right now about U.S. credibility. You're trying to make the case that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. Why should people around the world believe you?
HADLEY: Well, interesting, the people around the world do believe -- this has been very interesting that there has been a great deal of international consensus on the problem Iran presents, if it should have a nuclear weapon. We've been working through this with -- through the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, board of governors, with 35 member states. They have acted on this issue together, and of course the diplomacy on this has been led by the EU3, in close -- the three countries of the European Union.
BLITZER: But I think you'll acknowledge...
HADLEY: France, Germany... BLITZER: ... that there is a credibility problem right now in the aftermath of the horrendous failures leading up to the war in Iraq.
HADLEY: There is an issue of our intelligence, and obviously we need to do a better job of our intelligence, and that's why the reforms in response to the Silberman-Robb Commission are so important. But it has not impaired our ability to pursue our policies. We have been able to work with Britain, France, and the United Kingdom to pursue the issue of Iran's nuclear weapons.
We've been able to work in the six-party talks to pursue the issue of North Korea's effort to get nuclear weapons. So we've been able to move our diplomacy forward. At the same time, we are taking the steps we need to do in order to improve our intelligence.
BLITZER: Before the war, the president of the United States, the secretary of state at that time, Colin Powell, both made very categorical statements. I want you to listen to what they said, leading up to the war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaeda members in bomb making, in poisons and deadly gases.
COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Al Qaeda continues to have a deep interest in acquiring weapons of mass destruction. As with the story of Zarqawi and his network, I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these weapons to Al Qaeda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, here is what we have learned in recent days on declassified information. The Defense Intelligence Agency months earlier, before either of those statements were made, had concluded that the source, this Iraqi source, was a fabricator and should not be believed. How is it possible that that DIA analysis was circulated, presumably you saw it, yet the president and the secretary of state made those erroneous statements?
HADLEY: The president and the secretary of state relied on the collective judgment of the intelligence community as conveyed to him by the director of Central Intelligence. They were contained in a national intelligence estimate, a classified document that was provided to the president and provided to the Congress of the United States.
There were some dissenting views that were set out in that national intelligence estimate. But at the end of the day, the president has to go with the collective judgments of the intelligence community.
BLITZER: Did you know about that DIA analysis? HADLEY: I have no recollection of it. I do know, from reading the NIE, that there were dissenting views on a number of points on the case, but the president had to take the collective judgment of the intelligence community.
You know, Wolf, that introduction to that national intelligence estimate has been made public, and if you read it, it is a very strong case for Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. That was what the president relied on. And the point I am making is to say now that the president somehow misled the American people or politicized the intelligence has been rejected by both the Silberman-Robb Commission and the Senate Intelligence investigation.
BLITZER: But it wasn't...
HADLEY: And it is unworthy and unfair and ill-advised, when our men and women in combat are putting their lives on the line, to relitigate an issue which was looked at by two authoritative sources and deemed closed. We need to put this debate behind us. It's unfair to the country. It's unfair to the men and women in uniform risking their lives to make this country safe.
BLITZER: Well, let's be precise what these committees concluded. And Richard Kerr's report, the CIA former deputy director, came out with a report in July of 2003, right after so-called major combat was over.
In his report at the CIA, he says: "Requests for reporting and analysis of Iraq's links to Al Qaeda were steady and heavy in the period leading up to the war, creating significant pressure on the intelligence community to find evidence that supported a connection."
And the Silberman-Robb report concluded this, just to be precise: "We were not authorized to investigate how policy makers used the intelligence assessments they received from the intelligence community. Accordingly, while we interviewed a host of current and former policymakers during the course of our investigation, the purpose of those interviews was to learn about how the intelligence community reached and communicated its judgments about Iraq's weapons programs, not to review how policymakers subsequently used that information."
The Senate Intelligence Committee is now looking precisely at that. They haven't concluded how you used the information that you obtained, because the argument that many Democrats and other critics are making is, the president, the vice president, the defense secretary cherry-picked, manipulated the intelligence in order to come up with a justification for war that was not appropriate.
HADLEY: It is not the case in terms of manipulation and cherry- picking. What you're going to find as you look at those statements, which were made based on the collective judgment of the intelligence community, that some of those statements are going to turn out to be wrong, because the underlying intelligence was wrong.
But let's be very clear. You raised these two reports. What the Silberman-Robb Commission found was there was no evidence that any intelligence judgment was changed as a result of any political pressure from the White House. And the Senate Intelligence Committee found that there was no effort by the White House to pressure and change intelligence judgments.
They did find that there was probing of the intelligence community and asking hard questions, and both reports said that is exactly the thing that you expect and want your policymakers to do.
BLITZER: Neither one of them said they were then authorized to assess -- and now the Senate Intelligence Committee is doing it -- how you used the intelligence, whether it was appropriate. That's still an open question.
HADLEY: That is an issue that is being looked at in so-called phase two of the Senate Intelligence Committee effort. We are supporting that effort. I think what you're going to find is that the statements by the administration had backing at the time from accepted intelligence sources.
We're going to find that a number of those statements were not true, because the underlying intelligence was not true. But that's not the same as manipulating intelligence, and that is not misleading the American people. It's unfair to accuse the president of that any more than you would accuse the 77 members of the Senate, who voted for the resolution authorizing use of force, to say that somehow they misled their constituents, because they relied on the best collective judgments of the intelligence community, and that turned out to be wrong.
BLITZER: So what you're saying is the intelligence community duped these members of Congress just as they duped the president.
HADLEY: I am not saying that at all. I am saying that the intelligence community took -- made their best effort to develop a collective judgment about what Saddam Hussein was doing in face of a regime that was closed, that frustrated efforts by the intelligence community and particularly effort by the weapons inspectors, to get the truth. It's a very hard target. The intelligence community did their best, and they turned out to have been wrong.
BLITZER: We'll resume the interview with Stephen Hadley, President Bush's national security advisor, shortly, but we're just getting these pictures in to CNN from Jordanian television. This woman, her name Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, the wife of one of the suicide bombers in the three terror attacks in Amman, Jordan last week, confessing on Jordanian television only within the past few minutes, that she, too, attempted to blow herself up in one of those attacks.
She walked into that hotel, she says, wearing a belt full of explosives. Her husband's belt went off. He killed himself and killed a lot of other people in the process. She says, my belt failed to explode. CNN's Jonathan Mann is on the scene for us in Amman. He's joining us with more. Very dramatic video that Jordanian television is showing, Jonathan, this confession. Also the actual vest that she wore, apparently, going into the hotel. What else are you picking up?
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was an unprecedented effort, Wolf, an unprecedented attack. A husband and wife who both set off to be suicide bombers together. And as you say, Jordanians were treated to a strange bit of television just a short time ago. Sajida al-Rishawi, looking older than her 35 years, explaining very calmly how she and her husband tried to carry out the attacks.
She said they were brought by truck from Iraq. They both had fake passports. They met up with two other men who her description suggested she did not know well. They dressed up as if for a party. They went into a hotel ballroom where a wedding was being celebrated. And as you said, their attack didn't go according to plan. What's intriguing is we've had different accounts from the very start of how this attack was carried out.
The Jordanian government has been telling us, in fact, that her husband pushed her out of the ballroom when they realized that her belt would not explode. She tells the story a little bit differently. She suggests her belt would not explode. Her husband's did. And as people rushed out of the hotel ballroom, she joined them and ran away.
She, like the others, is identified as an Iraqi, and she's a woman who we are learning, well, terror runs in her family. Her brother was believed to be a right-hand man of Al Qaeda in the volatile Anbar province of Iraq. U.S. forces are believed to have killed him, but she, it would seem, tried to carry out his work.
Once again, a strange bit of television. A confession that was made to the people of Jordan, putting a human face, a still breathing, living human face, on the attacks that terrorized this country on Wednesday and took more than 56 lives. Wolf?
BLITZER: There she is on Jordanian television, wearing a black outfit with the belt around her, calmly confessing to what she says she did. Let me translate, according to the Associated Press, what she said: "My husband wore an explosive-packed belt and put one on me. He taught me how to use it."
This is the 35-year-old woman, what she said. She goes on to say this: "My husband detonated his bomb, and I tried to explode my belt, but it wouldn't. People fled running, and I left running with them." The 35-year-old woman on Jordanian television only moments ago, confessing to this.
What are Jordanian authorities, the government, what are they saying in explaining why they decided to put this unprecedented confession on Jordanian television?
MANN: We have not had, I have not had explicit word about why they did this. But it's interesting what they have done, the measures that they went to. Because, as we looked at those pictures, keep in mind, the belt presumably was not found on her when she was arrested. Jordanian officials, even if they had found it on her, certainly would have taken it off her.
So, in a sense, they have reconstructed for the television cameras the way she might have been dressed, had the belt been outside of her clothing. But they put it outside her clothing. Of course, no would-be suicide bomber would wear it quite so obviously. So they reconstructed her outfit the day of the attacks in a way that was artificial, to allow television viewers to see the belt.
A real effort by Jordanian officials to put a face on the suicide attackers, to tell their own people how it was done. Not quite a staged event, but certainly a carefully managed television appearance by this woman.
BLITZER: And this woman is Iraqi, not Jordanian. Is that right, John?
MANN: All four of the bombers have been identified by the Jordanian government as Iraqis. All four of them from Anbar province, which has been among the most violent parts of the country. The Jordanian government also says that their suicide belts, the bomb belts, were constructed in Iraq as well. Now, this is all very loaded for the kingdom of Jordan.
There are, depending on whose estimates you trust, 700,000 or perhaps a million Iraqis who have fled their own country to come here. And the Jordanian government has really been trying to make two points very clearly from the outset: that the bombers were not Jordanians. They are Iraqis, according to the official account. But that the Iraqi people in Jordan are welcome guests here, and that nothing in what the government is learning or saying is meant to detract from the welcome that Iraqis enjoy here.
It is a careful mix for the kingdom. It has received millions of Palestinian refugees. It is now receiving about a million Iraqis, who some people call the new Palestinians.
And this is a small kingdom of 5 million people. The ethnic mix is sensitive. The government is approaching all this with extreme caution.
And so once again, the bombers have been identified as Iraqis, but the Iraqis in Jordan are being reassured that this doesn't change their status or their welcome here.
BLITZER: Let me just recap, Jon, for our viewers. This is an extraordinary moment on Jordanian television when this woman confesses to going ahead, trying to kill herself to blow herself up in these terror attacks at Jordanian hotels in Amman over the past few days.
Let me read a part of the translation as provided by the Reuters News Service. She, talking about how she tried to blow herself up together with her husband, "We went into the hotel. He took a corner, and I took another. There was a wedding in the hotel. There were women and children," this woman says. "My husband executed the attack. I tried to detonate, and it failed."
Three other suicide bombers killed some 56 or 57 people at these three hotels in Amman over the past few days.
Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi confessing on Jordanian television, saying she tried to blow herself up but that suicide vest didn't work.
We'll continue to follow this story.
Coming up, more on that, as well as more of my interview with president bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley.
"Late Edition" continues right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition."
Part two of my exclusive interview with the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Ahmed Chalabi. You met with him this week, the Iraqi deputy prime minister, former head of the INC, the Iraqi National Congress.
Did he and his organization, in the buildup to the war, feed you bad information?
HADLEY: That issue was also looked at by the Senate Intelligence Committee, I believe also by the Silberman-Robb Commission. There is some intelligence that they provided. Some of it did not prove out. But I think one or the other of those reports said that the intelligence had minimal impact on the intelligence case that was put together before the war. That was an intelligence case put together by our intelligence community.
And let me mention one other -- say one other thing, Wolf. And that is, we've all focused on the WMD, but if you look at the U.N. Security Council resolutions that were the 17 resolutions dealt with Iraq, they were not just about weapons of mass destruction. They were also about his support for terror, his threatening his neighbors, his oppression of his own people, and the president went to war to enforce the will of the international community, to make good on those words, and to address the full range of problems. Saddam Hussein...
BLITZER: The main reason, though, the main reason was WMD, though.
HADLEY: ... Saddam Hussein was a threat to peace. He was a threat to his neighbors, and he oppressed his own people, and the world is better with him gone. BLITZER: But the main reason was WMD.
HADLEY: A significant reason was WMD, but my point is, the U.N. Security Council resolutions, and the case for war was broader than just WMD, but I'm not stepping away. Obviously, weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a regime that hand links to terror, was something after 9/11 that we had to deal with.
BLITZER: The assistant director of the FBI, John Miller, said this week as far as Ahmed Chalabi is concerned, and the allegation that he handed over secret, classified information to Iran about U.S. codes and things like that. Miller says, "there's currently an open investigation and an active investigation of whether Chalabi passed this classified information to Iran, and for that matter," he goes on to say, "whether U.S. officials illegally passed along classified information to Chalabi." Miller says: "Numerous current and former government employees have been interviewed."
Is Chalabi still under suspicion of passing on classified information about U.S. codes to Iran?
HADLEY: As you said, this is something the FBI is doing. Therefore, it is a law enforcement matter. That is outside my purview. I really can't comment on it. That's a question you need to put to the FBI.
BLITZER: But do you think that he should be questioned by the FBI?
HADLEY: It's not an issue for me to decide. This is a law enforcement matter, and obviously we support the FBI and other law enforcement institutions as they pursue their responsibilities.
BLITZER: John McCain, listen to what he said this week about the war in Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: To enhance our chances of success with this strategy and enable our forces to hold as much territory as possible, we need more troops. For this reason, I believe that current ideas to affect a partial drawdown during 2006 are exactly wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is he right or wrong in this case?
HADLEY: Senator McCain is a strong supporter that we need to succeed in Iraq, that we need to defeat the terrorists in Iraq, and so does the president of the United States. We have a strategy to do that that involves acting against the terrorists, but it also involves building the Iraqi security forces so they can be partner with us in the war on terror, and a partner against the terrorist elements in Iraq. As the president has said, as we train up those forces, as they are able to do more, we can step back a bit, we can rely increasingly on them to conduct these operations. But Senator McCain is a strong supporter, that we need to succeed in Iraq, and so is the president of the United States.
BLITZER: Is he also wrong when he and 90 -- some 89 other senators say there should be legislation banning torture of prisoners in -- by civilian, as well as military personnel? Because you and the vice president, the president are strongly fighting McCain on this amendment.
HADLEY: The president has made clear from the very beginning: We do not torture.
We have an obligation -- the president has an obligation, the Congress has an obligation to do what we need to do to protect the people of the United States from terror attack.
But the president has said that while we're going to be aggressive in that effort, we are going to do it consistent with law, consistent with our international obligations. That means we do not torture.
What is at issue with the McCain amendment is to try and deal in this issue of detainees and interrogations, and come up with an approach that both allows us to do what we need to do to defend the country against terrorist attack, and at the same time, make good on the president's commitment that we will not torture and we will act within the bounds of law.
In the details of what he's addressing, that requires some tradeoffs, and we are in close consultation with the Congress and the leaders on these issues to try and come up with an approach that achieves those two objectives.
BLITZER: What's wrong with letting the civilian -- the CIA, the contractors -- those civilian elements of the U.S. government have the same rules as the military?
HADLEY: That's exactly what we're talking about with Senator McCain.
BLITZER: Can you come up with a way that everybody plays by the same rules?
HADLEY: That's what we're trying to see, if we can do that.
BLITZER: What's the problem right now?
HADLEY: The problem is that in the details striking the balance between doing what we need to do to fight the terrorists, and respecting and ensuring that our people respect the law and the need to comply with the law. And that's how we're operating.
You've seen it in terms of instances where people have violated that and have stepped outside the law, and in every instance, they have been investigated, prosecuted, and punished.
This is the president's direction, and what we're trying to do is to work with the Congress to see if we can come up with a common approach that achieves the two objectives I described.
BLITZER: Under extreme, rare circumstances, would torture be appropriate?
HADLEY: The president has said that we are going to do whatever we do in accordance with the law. But Wolf, you know, you see the dilemma. What happens if on September 7th of 2001, we had gotten one of the hijackers and based on information associated with that arrest, believed that within four days, there's going to be a devastating attack on the United States?
It's a difficult dilemma to know what to do in that circumstance to both discharge our responsibility to protect the American people from terrorist attack, and follow the president's guidance of staying within the confines of law. These are difficult issue.
We are in consultation with the Senate and other leading members of the Congress on these issues. There are conversations going on. There are briefings going on, so they know exactly what it is we're doing and what it is we're not doing. And we hope to be able to come forward with some kind of a common approach that will allow us to both safeguard the country and deal with the president's guidance that we do not torture.
BLITZER: We're completely out of time, but on September 7th, would it have been appropriate to torture Mohammed Atta or someone like that, if you had indications that a big attack was coming?
HADLEY: That's an issue that people ought to be talking about and discussing. The president's guidance has been clear: we will not torture.
BLITZER: Well, even then, it wouldn't have been appropriate? Because some scholars, like Alan Dershowitz of the Harvard Law School, say with a ticking time bomb like that, and you've got to get the information to save lives, go ahead and torture the suspect.
HADLEY: This is why this is a difficult issue, and why we are having conversations with the Congress right now. And I think it's an issue worthy of some discussion.
I think this issue has been very -- has been amenable and has been sort of hijacked in a way by simplistic declarations and bumper stickers, rather than the wrestling with the hard issues that are in the example I just described. That is what we're trying to do right now in our conversations with the Congress.
BLITZER: We'll leave it there. Thanks very much, Stephen Hadley, the president's national security advisor.
HADLEY: Thanks. Nice to be with you.
BLITZER: And coming up, more on that remarkable development on Jordanian television only moments ago. Take a look at this: this woman confesses to being one of the so-called suicide bombers, tried to kill herself at one of those three American hotels in Amman, Jordan in recent days. She says she was wearing a vest like this one. She walked in with her husband. Her vest, she says, did not go off.
Much more on this coming up. We'll speak with Jordan's deputy prime minister, Marwan Muasher. He's standing by live in Amman, Jordan.
Also, my exclusive interview with the president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf.
Much more "Late Edition" right after this.
BLITZER: This is video that was just on Jordanian television only moments ago. This 35-year-old Iraqi woman, Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, confesses to trying to kill herself in one of those American hotels in Amman, Jordan this past week. She says her vest, unlike the vest her husband wore, failed to detonate. That's why she's confessing on Jordanian television right now.
We'll have much more on this part of the story coming up. We'll speak live with Jordan's deputy prime minister, get an explanation of why she's on Jordanian television right now. Much more on this coming up.
This week's bombings in Jordan are raising fears of attacks that other U.S. allies on the war on terror. Just a short while ago I spoke with Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf about his country's fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
BLITZER: Mr. President, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome back to "Late Edition."
I want to get to the earthquake in Pakistan shortly, but let's start with what happened in Jordan this week: the war on terror. How concerned are you that American-owned hotels in Pakistan or other U.S. facilities in Pakistan could be targeted, as they were in Amman, Jordan?
PRES. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTAN: Well, one cannot guarantee 100 percent their safety, but I can be sure that in the last over one year, almost one and a half years, there hasn't been a terrorist attack in Pakistan because of the success of our anti-terrorist campaign. So I am reasonably sure that nothing of this sort will happen in Pakistan, hopefully.
BLITZER: Hopefully, indeed. Listen to what the president of the United States, George W. Bush, said on Friday here in the U.S. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Jordan for potential takeover.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: How worried are you that the radicals are attempting to take over your country?
MUSHARRAF: Wolf, that is just not a possibility here. No radical can take over Pakistan. The result of the last local government election are very, very clear, and everyone understands that.
The radicals, the religious parties, have gone down in their support substantially. Where they had about 76 percent support in the 2002 elections, they've gone down to 25 percent now. They've lost in both the Frontier Province and Baluchistan, that were their main support block.
So there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this country is a moderate country, and moderate forces have reasserted themselves, and religious forces have gone down.
BLITZER: Listen to what King Abdullah of Jordan told our CNN correspondent, Brent Sadler, only yesterday, on what's going on in the Muslim world. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING ABDULLAH II, JORDAN: But at the end of the day, the main target that they have is fellow Muslims. In other words, what they call takfir (ph), the ability for them to call another Muslim an apostate. If you don't agree with me, I have the right to kill you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He's referring to Al Qaeda and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda in Iraq, the radical Muslims. Do you agree with King Abdullah on that front?
MUSHARRAF: Yes, I do agree with him. There are these radicals, these extremists and terrorist organizations that they are running, who are targeting interests, Western interests, as well as I would say they are bringing a bad name to Islam itself, and they are targeting mainly Muslim countries. Whatever has happened, mainly is happening in Muslim countries.
But this is a small force, which we are fighting against, and we are all united to fight against them. I have no doubt that we are winning this battle against them, especially in our area in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We are winning the battle against extremists and terrorists, and we'll keep winning. BLITZER: It gets very personal, as far as you're concerned, because you have been targeted on a few occasions for assassination in Pakistan. How worried are you personally that radical Muslims, whether al Qaeda or others, are targeting you?
MUSHARRAF: Yes, indeed, they did target me. There is no doubt about it. But then we moved against them, and may I give credit to all our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. We succeeded against them. We succeeded in our cities, where we got about over 600 of them, and we have always unearthed (ph) any action that they did after the assassination attempt on me.
We have got most -- we have broken most of the gangs, the terrorist organizations. So they are on the run in the cities. They are almost neutralized.
Then, in our mountains, we are operating against them in the mountains, and I think we are succeeding in the mountains also. So therefore, one has to see whether they are on the winning side, or we are winning. I think since the assassination attempt on me, we certainly are winning. We have put them on the run, and we have broken their organizational ability here within Pakistan.
Therefore, I am reasonably sure, I'm very sure that as far as I personally am concerned, I would say that I'm more secure. I feel more secure. Yes, one has to take security measures also, but within Pakistan, we have really succeeded against the terrorists.
BLITZER: You support the United States, especially since 9/11. You've been aligned with the United States in the war on terror and the West. More recently, you've even had some dealings with Israel. Your foreign minister has met with the Israeli foreign minister.
You met with American Jewish leaders when you were here in the United States recently. This is causing anger, at least among those radical Muslims and some in the Arab world. How concerned are you about your relationship with Israel that's emerging could cause you some serious political problem?
MUSHARRAF: Again, negative. Yes, indeed, it is causing some concern in the radical, as you are saying, radical extremists. It will -- we are fording a totally different strategy, and their strategy and their thinking, I would say, is totally different. They don't have a strategy, actually.
Their thinking is very different to what my thinking or what any moderate country's thinking is, and also, may I say, in the thinking of all the Muslim countries also is very different to what these radicals are thinking. So we shouldn't be too concerned about what the radicals are saying.
Now, the question is whether the radicals have the kind of support and force and influence in any country in the Muslim world to take over that country. At the moment, at least (inaudible) as I would like to talk about my country, there is no doubt in my mind that it's not a possibility at all. So when we are talking to the Israelis and the Israeli foreign minister, or I address the Jewish congress, I am very clear that this is the strategic direction that Pakistan needs to take.
And I also know, and I'm very positive about it, that the vast majority of Pakistanis, the media, the intelligentsia, the masses, have all accepted this. Nobody is questioning me at all here why I am doing that. It is the radicals in the world, may I say, in the Western world, some of the radical organizations -- yes, indeed, they are more vocal about it, not the people in Pakistan. It is more the radical organizations in the West who are talking against it.
So therefore, it doesn't bother me. I am interested in Pakistan's interest, and I know what Pakistan's interest is, and I know that the people of Pakistan are totally supportive of whatever my policies and the strategic direction that I'm following. So it doesn't bother me at all.
No radical is dictating terms here. They don't have the power. They don't have the authority to dictate terms for the government here. They don't have the power to take over the government. So we are following a strategic direction which we have found for ourselves, we have evaluated for ourselves, for the good of the country and the people of Pakistan, and we'll keep following and pursuing that.
BLITZER: In September, a former CIA officer, a former station chief in Pakistan was quoted in The New York Times magazine as saying the following: "We're never going to get bin Laden without the total cooperation of Pakistan, and there is a lot more they could do. If [Musharraf's] hand was ever seen as the one that turned bin Laden over, he wouldn't be able to survive."
I assume you saw that quote from Gary Schroen. What do you say about that?
MUSHARRAF: I think there is a lot of misquoting in this. I think maybe he has been taken out of context. I haven't met him really to find out what exactly he said, but if I was to take purely whatever this quote is, and if it is whatever it is, right or wrong, I don't want to comment on that. But I am told that it is not -- it is out of context.
But I don't agree with it at all. I don't agree with it. Now, all of Pakistan's intelligence organizations, the armed forces are totally involved in fighting terrorism, and in the process, Osama bin Laden, yes indeed, or Zawahiri, they send threats to me, but they are my enemies. Quite clearly, we are operating against them. And there is no doubt that we will keep operating against them. I'm not scared of that. I'm not at all.
I'm very optimistic about the outcome. And let me also say that we are in total contact with their -- with intelligence organizations. The CIA and the ISI are totally coordinated on all intelligence work. So I really don't know -- this statement is not in sync with what is happening on ground and what is told to me when I meet various people, important personalities, or what my intelligence organizations tell me. So this is not at all in sync with that. There is no apprehension in my mind. We are quite clear. And I also am clear that the CIA and ISI are totally in sync in whatever we are doing. There is no difference of opinion on whatever we are doing.
BLITZER: What about...
MUSHARRAF: And there are no doubts also. There are no doubts. There are no suspicions of each other.
BLITZER: What about when it comes to interrogating A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist? Have you allowed U.S. authorities yet to directly, personally question him?
MUSHARRAF: No, no, that is a sensitivity. No, I haven't. And I think the sensitivity of ours is quite clearly understood. I have said that there is a sensitivity. This man has been a hero to the man in the street, and therefore, we have to tread some certain sensitive areas. Then I've also been saying when we talk of interrogation or giving access to the IAEA or world organizations, I take it with a pinch of salt.
Why is it that we are not being trusted for our capability in interrogating him? Why is it that we are not being trusted that we are sharing all the intelligence and information that we get out of him? Now, if there is a new piece of information that is acquired by anyone, if that is passed onto us, we will again interrogate, and we have full capability of interrogation, and we will again share the information which we have with anyone.
So therefore, I think, yes, indeed, I did not allow any foreign organization, any foreigner to directly contact Dr. A.Q. Khan. We are doing it ourselves, and we are capable of doing it. And we are very sincere in sharing all that we acquire in the form of interrogation from him.
BLITZER: On the earthquake, how many people, how many Pakistanis have died?
BLITZER: We'll have more of my interview with President Musharraf later here on "Late Edition," but there is some important news we're following out of Amman, Jordan right now. Only moments ago, a woman confessed to being one of those suicide bombers on Jordanian television. Told us that her vest, her bomb vest simply did not go off.
Joining us now live from Amman, Jordan is the deputy prime minister of Jordan, Marwan Muasher. Minister, thanks very much for joining us. I want to play for our viewers in the United States and around the world an excerpt of what this 35-year-old woman, Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, said on Jordanian television. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAJIDA MUBARAK ATROUS AL-RISHAWI (through translator): My name is Sajida Mubarak Atrous, born in the '70s, Iraqi national, and I reside in Ramadi. On November 5, I accompanied my husband to Jordan, carrying a fake Iraqi passport. On his was Aleh Sain Ali (ph), and mine was Saji Abdul Qadeer Latif (ph). We waited, and a white car picked us up. There was a driver and another man, and we entered Jordan together.
My husband is the one who organized everything. I don't know anything else. My husband wore an explosive belt, and he put one on me, and he taught me how to use it. The targets were hotels in Jordan. We took a car, and we went on November 9 to a hotel. We went into the hotel. My husband took a corner, and I took another one. There was a wedding in the hotel. There were women and children. My husband executed and detonated his belt. I tried to detonate mine, but I failed. People fled running, and I left running with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was the statement, part of the statement that she made on Jordanian television. Minister Marwan Muasher, the deputy prime minister of Jordan, what's the story behind this confession? Why did you decide to put this on Jordanian television?
MARWAN MUASHER, JORDANIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, Jordan has went through a lot in the last three days. And the Jordanian public wanted to know what exactly went on. We felt it would give the Jordanian public some relief to at least know some details of the operation, which is why the confession was put on TV.
BLITZER: Was this vest that we saw that she wore on this confession the actual vest that she wore allegedly going into one of those three hotels in Amman?
MUASHER: Yes, the vest was caught with her. In fact, there were two vests. One was filled with explosives, a material called RDX. And the other was full of these ball bearings, these small metal balls as the aim was to inflict the largest number of casualties. And this technique was used in all three suicide bombings in the three hotels in Jordan.
BLITZER: Have you determined, Minister, why her vest did not work, did not detonate?
MUASHER: Our information suggests that she tried to detonate the belt. She couldn't do that. Her husband asked her to step out of the room, which she did. After she did, he then proceeded to detonate his own belt. Subsequent to that, the investigation led to her arrest early this morning.
BLITZER: Did she confess as to who sent them, her and her husband and the others, into Jordan to commit these terror attacks?
MUASHER: She is the sister of the right-hand man of Abu Musab Zarqawi, a man that was killed in Fallujah earlier by U.S. forces. It is clear to us from her confessions, from the course of the investigation, that indeed it is the work of the Al Qaeda organization in Iraq, particularly the group belonging to Abu Musab Zarqawi.
BLITZER: What will happen to this woman now?
MUASHER: Well, she will be tried in a Jordanian court. She is entitled to her fair trial, and she will get one.
BLITZER: Is there any suspicion in Jordan there are still other Al Qaeda cells operating or potentially operating there right now?
MUASHER: Well, certainly the interesting investigation is not over with the rest of these people. And I will not -- if you allow me go into the details as they might obviously obstruct the course of the investigation. But we are still -- we are still investigating to make sure that this is the end of the story.
BLITZER: Marwan Muasher is the deputy prime minister of Jordan. Thanks so much for joining us. Good luck in the investigation, appreciate your being on "Late Edition."
MUASHER: Thank you.
BLITZER: We'll take a quick break. When we come back, much more on this story as well as other developments we're following.
Still to come, Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi deputy prime minister, my exclusive interview with him. That's coming up live in the next hour of "Late Edition."
BLITZER: We're watching an important story developing in Amman, Jordan. A 35-year-old woman has just been on Jordanian television. There she is confessing, confessing to try to kill herself at a wedding at a hotel in Amman this past week. Her vest containing explosives did not detonate, unlike her husband's. We'll have much more on this coming up on "Late Edition."
Also, our web question of the week asks this: "Do you think the United States and its allies are doing enough to fight the war on terror?" You can cast your vote, simply go to cnn.com/lateedition. We'll have the results coming up in the next hour.
You're watching "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.
BLITZER: This is "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: And our war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and mislead the American people about why we went to war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The case for war in Iraq. What role did Iraq's deputy prime minister, Ahmed Chalabi, play? We'll get answers from him in an interview.
Reassessing prewar intelligence: what went wrong? Two top members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican chairman Pat Roberts and Democrat Carl Levin, weigh in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: The buck stops with me. And I take full responsibility for this election.
GOV.-ELECT TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: We surprised a lot of people tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Big victories for Democrats, setbacks for Republicans. Are Tuesday's results a preview of 2006?
Arkansas Republican Governor Mike Huckabee and Iowa Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack assess the political landscape.
Thanks very much for joining us. We're following a developing story out of Amman, Jordan. A woman just appearing on Jordanian television, an Iraqi woman, 35 years old, confessing to being one of the suicide bombers that tried to blow up those hotels in Jordan this past week.
This 35-year-old woman says she tried to detonate this vest, but it did not explode, unlike the vest containing explosives of her husband. He and two others did kill themselves and kill some 57 other people in the process. She says she walked into a wedding with her husband. She went to one corner. He went to another. His vest exploded. Hers did not.
Only moments ago, Jordan's king, King Abdullah, said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING ABDULLAH: I have just been informed that our intelligence services will be working very hard to track down the perpetrators of this crime. They've just arrested what seems to be the fourth suicide bomber. The woman that was indicated by the Zarqawi people to have blown herself up actually did not. It seems that her device malfunctioned, and she left the Radisson hotel. She did go in with her husband but had failed to, thank god, to succeed. And she is in custody at the moment, and we hope to be pursuing more leads that will allow us to take the trail back to those that started this operation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And we also heard here on CNN's "Late Edition" that from the deputy prime minister of Jordan, that Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born terrorist in Iraq, is responsible for these suicide attacks.
Our Jonathan Mann is covering the story for us. He's joining us now live from Amman with some more context of what has just happened.
Jon, give our viewers around the world a sense of what the Jordanian government has just done.
MANN: Well, essentially, Wolf, they gave the people of Jordan and now the people of the world, a chance to meet Sajida al-Rishawi, a 35-year-old woman who had hoped with her husband to become the first husband and wife suicide bombers I think, in history.
Essentially it didn't work out that way, and she calmly explained before a television camera with about as much apparent emotion as you might use to describe getting a parking ticket or having a car accident, she described how her husband and her came from Iraq by truck using fake passports. They found a place to hide on the suburbs of Amman, the Jordanian capital, and then dressed up for a wedding, a wedding that was being held at the Radisson hotel on Wednesday.
They went to the wedding, in their formal wear with bomb belts under their clothes. And she modeled one of those belts. She wasn't found wearing it, but authorities put it back on her, outside of her clothing to give the people of Jordan a chance to see what she was wearing at the time.
What happened was the first belt had high explosives in it. The second belt had ball bearings to increase the fatalities, and she had a detonator that her husband explained -- she explained rather, her husband had shown her how to use. Her husband set off his bomb. Her detonator didn't trigger.
And so when people began to run out of the Radisson ballroom, she went with them. It was an extraordinary recounting of what happened, and we were talking a short time ago to the deputy prime minister of Jordan who said that they put her on television for two reasons: to give people a chance to know that it was not a Jordanian who was involved but, in fact, an Iraqi woman, one of four Iraqis who were being blamed for the suicide bombings, and also, he said, to give them a face to attach their anger to.
There has been a lot of anger in this city and in this country and so by introducing this woman to television viewers in Jordan, the Jordanian government hoped to answer a few of their questions but also channel some of their anger towards a woman who they say still has a fair trial ahead of her.
BLITZER: All right, Jonathan Mann, in Amman, Jordan, on this remarkable development. Thank you, Jon, very much.
Let's get some analysis, some reaction to what has just happened on this and other subjects. Joining us here in Washington is Iraq's deputy prime minister Ahmed Chalabi. He's on a visit to Washington meeting with top Bush administration officials and members of Congress.
Minister, thanks very much for joining us.
AHMED CHALABI, IRAQ'S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
BLITZER: What do you make of this development, this Iraqi woman confessing on Jordanian television to trying to kill all these people at this wedding at the Radisson hotel in Jordan?
CHALABI: First of all, let me say that we condemn this terrorist act in Jordan, and our hearts go to the families of the victims and we give our condolences to the Jordanian people.
The suicide bombing that took place in Amman was perpetrated by Abu Musab al Zarqawi, whom I remind you is a Jordanian. He was in custody in Jordan. He was released by special pardon by King Abdullah prior to the overthrow of Saddam. He went to Iraq. He was associated with the intelligence apparatus of Saddam, and he's in Iraq working and also recruiting many other people from other countries to come and do suicide bombings in Iraq.
I also remind you that the suicide bomber in Hilla (inaudible) was a Jordanian, only last summer. So this terrorist network extends from Jordan to Iraq to Saudi Arabia to Yemen.
BLITZER: It sounds to me, and you've had your own problems with Jordan in your previous life, they've indicted you for fraud for stealing money in Jordan. But it sounds to me that you're pinning some of the blame on the Jordanian government, King Abdullah himself, for letting Abu Musab al Zarqawi not only go to Iraq, but then come back through these surrogates.
CHALABI: Well, Jordan has an equivocal situation with regards to Iraq post-Saddam. They need to clean up their money laundering rings that have been instrumental in Saddam's efforts. They should really look carefully at the Volcker report, at the Duelfer report about the oil-for-food program. They continue to have money laundering rings and a lot of this money seeps into the terrorist networks. I don't want to get into details of that.
We are very sorry for what happened in Jordan, but also we are concerned about what happened in Iraq. I wish the Jordanians would take more care to prevent their citizens from coming into Iraq and doing these suicide bombings and deaths in Iraq.
BLITZER: Are you encouraged though now that Jordan is going to become more aggressive in dealing with this problem in the aftermath of what happened this week?
CHALABI: I hope that this heightened sense of alarm will continue.
BLITZER: Let's talk about some other sensitive issues on your agenda. Before coming to Washington, you went to Tehran. From Baghdad to Iran, you met with Iran's new president. There's a lot of concern here in the United States about your relationship with Iran. As you know, the FBI is investigating whether you passed along classified information about U.S. codes, sensitive information to the Iranian government. What's going on?
CHALABI: First of all, I deny categorically that I passed any sensitive information to the Iranian government about the United States. I deny this completely.
Furthermore, I went to Iran to have talks with the Iranians. They invited me to go, and I had talks with them regarding the relation between Iran and Iraq.
We want to tell them that we are going to have a Democratic election. We want to have good relations, neighborly relations, transparent relations with them, but we are also committed to having a good relationship, strategic relationship, with the United States.
The Iraqi people and the United States people have formed an unbreakable bond, a friendship tempered by the fire of war and the removal of Saddam Hussein. And we told them that we are going have a strategic relationship with the United States.
BLITZER: As you know, there is a high level of suspicion here in the United States as well as in Britain that Iran is supporting insurgents against your government, against the Iraqi people right now.
Listen to what Major General J.B. Dutton of Britain said, and listed to what the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said after that. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJOR GENERAL J.B. DUTTON: The IED explosions, particularly the advanced technology ones, we believe the technology certainly is coming from across that border.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It is true that weapons clearly, unambiguously, from Iran have been found in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you believe that Iran, the Iranian government, the government of the new president with whom you met this past week, that they are supporting elements of the insurgency?
CHALABI: The insurgency is in western Iraq and I've called for a commission composed of Iraq, Britain, and Iran to look into the data that has been put forward about Iranian equipment coming to Iraq.
BLITZER: So you don't believe Iran is supporting the insurgency?
CHALABI: I want to have evidence. The Iraqi government must be part of this investigation. We want to know what happened. This is our country. We don't want our country to be a battleground between the coalition countries and Iran. Iraq needs to know, and Iraq is an independent country which is a sovereign country, and we must assert our right to know through this commission.
BLITZER: As you know, the Bush administration regards Iran as one of the axis of evil countries, together with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea. A sense that was fueled, if you will, by recent comments by the president of Iran, in which we said this: "Israel must be wiped off the map of the world, and God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism."
Even some of your supporters here in Washington are outraged that you would go to meet with the president of Iran, who had said not only Israel but the United States should be off the face of the earth.
CHALABI: Nevertheless, Iran is a country which has 1,400 kilometers of border with Iraq. This statement was retracted by the Iranian government.
BLITZER: Not by the president. Not by the president.
CHALABI: It was not repeated to me, and the president there is part of a team. The national security chief, Mr. Larijani, made no mention of this when I met with him, and I believe that this situation must not proliferate at the expense of Iraq. We already have enough trouble. We don't want to be a battleground between the United States and Iran.
BLITZER: Did you ask the president of Iran about this statement?
BLITZER: Why not?
CHALABI: This is a statement that concerns other countries. I went for the relationship between Iraq and Iran and Iraq's relationship with the United States.
BLITZER: But the statement refers to the United States.
CHALABI: We do not agree, we do not agree with this statement. He did not mention anything. I told him categorically that we are going to have a relationship with the United States and that we are going to have a long, strategic link to the United States, and this situation was not an issue there, and he did not mention at all any threats to the United States.
BLITZER: The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper here in Washington, reported this on Wednesday. The FBI is in charge of the 17-month-old probe into charges Mr. Chalabi told Iranian agents in Baghdad that U.S. intelligence had broken secret diplomatic codes used by Tehran. Iran immediately changed its codes, depriving U.S. analysts of critical information on Tehran's activities inside Iraq. You categorically deny that.
CHALABI: Yes, I categorically deny that. BLITZER: They came to your house, what, 17 months ago, U.S. and Iraqi authorities, and ransacked your house looking for evidence, didn't they?
CHALABI: They did not ransack my house.
BLITZER: Your office.
CHALABI: They came to my house, and they did not mention anything about this. They went to my office. They ransacked the office, indeed, and they took computers and papers, which some were subsequently returned several months later by court order of the Iraqi judicial system. They found nothing in those computers, and they found no evidence there to support any of these allegations, and I deny them completely.
BLITZER: Here's another source of some concern. Your relationship with Muqtada Al Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric in Iraq. Someone U.S. officials had once pointed to as terrorist number one because of his operations against the U.S. military inside Iraq. What kind of relationship do you have with Muqtada Al Sadr?
CHALABI: I have a good relationship with Muqtada Al Sadr. Now, what we did, we should get credit for. We moved Muqtada Al Sadr and his militia from fighting and shooting to being major participants in the Iraqi political process.
They participated in the last elections. They have a large contingent of members of the assembly. They also participated in the drafting of the constitutions. They voted for it. And now they are going to participate in the upcoming elections.
BLITZER: We're almost out of time, but I want you to respond to what Dick Durbin of Illinois said this past week about you. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Bring this man before the committees to answer the most important questions about what he did to mislead America into the invasion of Iraq. What misleading information he gave this government that led to our decision to invade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: As you know, there's this notion out there that so much of the bad intelligence on weapons of mass destruction that motivated the Bush administration and many members of Congress to go to war against Saddam Hussein came from you, from your Iraqi National Congress, and so much of that information was fabrication.
CHALABI: I deny that we misled the United States. I deny completely that we provided false information. What we did was provide people who knew about the weapons to be interviewed. Only three of them. And I want to put this to rest. I offered back on 23rd of May of 2004, probably on your program, too, I offered to go to the Senate and talk to them about what happened throughout this intelligence business from the inception of our relationship with the United States over a decade ago to overthrow Saddam. And now I want to tell you this information, these charges are false.
We deny that we misled the United States, and now we are -- the United States, of course, is concerned with the previous war, but now we are fighting a new war against terror and we want to win this war, and we are ready to disclose whatever information and answer whatever questions are asked to us before the United States Senate.
BLITZER: Will you testify under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee?
CHALABI: I asked to go to the Senate to speak to them about this.
BLITZER: Do you want to be Iraq's next prime minister?
CHALABI: If there is a national coalition that has a chance of restoring peace, yes.
BLITZER: So you are running?
CHALABI: I am running for parliament.
BLITZER: And you'd like to, obviously, become prime minister.
CHALABI: If there is such a chance. I want to be a prime minister of a strong government in Iraq.
BLITZER: Ahmed Chalabi, kind of you to join us on CNN's "Late Edition." Thank you very much.
CHALABI: Thank you.
BLITZER: Welcome to Washington.
Coming up, the Bush counterattack. Republican Senator Pat Roberts and Democratic Senator Carl Levin. They are standing by to weigh in live on the president's new offensive against his war critics. Much more "Late Edition" right after this.
BLITZER: There is still time for you to weigh in on our Web question of the week: Do you think the United States and its allies are doing enough to fight the war on terror? You can cast your vote. Go to cnn.com/lateedition. You're watching "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.
BLITZER: A beautiful fall day here in the nation's capital. Welcome back to "Late Edition."
Joining us now here in Washington, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and one of the panel's key Democrats, Carl Levin of Michigan. He's also the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Senators, welcome to "Late Edition." Thanks very much for joining us.
Senator Roberts, let me start with you. Your quick reaction to what we've just seen on Jordanian television, this Iraqi woman confessing to trying to kill herself at one of these American hotels, the Radisson, in Amman, going into a wedding with her husband. He blows himself up, kills a lot of people. Her belt apparently containing explosives failed to detonate. What's going on?
SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: Well, first of all, it's a tragedy, and we give our heartfelt condolences to the country and to the people who lost their lives.
But it shows you again this absolutism in religion -- in this Wahabi religion that has produced an adversary that we have never seen before. They think of us as dust. You, Carl, myself and the people they killed at a wedding. And under the guise...
BLITZER: The people they killed at the wedding were mostly Muslims.
ROBERTS: Yes, I understand that. That's the enemy and that doesn't count. All of their enemies are dust. They have no human moral value, and so when you look at that kind of an adversary, you can really realize what we're up against and the rules of war and the Geneva Convention, etc, etc, don't really apply. I'm not talking about any other means, but it just shows you the dedication.
You can do great things with religious passion. But you can also do very murderous things. And that's exactly what's happened with the jihadist group all the way around the world and their franchises.
BLITZER: What do you think, Senator Levin, because if the rules of war, the traditional rules, the Geneva Conventions don't apply to this enemy, then there are serious ramifications from that.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: There are serious ramifications to terrorism. Generally this form of jihadism is obviously the number one enemy. And Iraq has become an exporter of terrorism. These were Iraqis now who went into Jordan from Iraq.
And so I'm afraid we're going to see Iraq is not only the center of the war on terror, which it was not before we attacked Iraq, but now it is going to, I'm afraid, export it. And we've got to all watch out for that. We've got to get allies, as many as we can, including in the Muslim world because this is a form of fanatic Islam which has to be defeated by the moderate Islam.
BLITZER: But it was going on, Senator, long before the war in Iraq. 9/11 occurred before the war in Iraq, the '93 World Trade Center bombing, the Cole -- the attack on the Cole, the East Africa bombings.
There's been a lot of these terrorist attacks against the United States long before the war in Iraq. I don't think you're suggesting that simply because the U.S. invaded Iraq that all of this has resulted.
LEVIN: No, I'm saying that Iraq has now become the heartland of terrorism. It was not before we attacked Iraq. Al Qaeda were the attackers in all the cases that you mentioned from their base in Afghanistan.
BLITZER: So in other words, what the United States has done, according to Senator Levin and other critics, is create sort of a training ground in Iraq for these terrorists to use their suicidal efforts or whatever to go out and kill westerners, kill Americans, kill fellow Muslims.
ROBERTS: I wouldn't buy that. I think the training ground is in Pakistan. And Mr. Zarqawi is now public enemy number one. He's from Jordan originally, and so consequently, what you said before is exactly right.
It was the USS Cole investigation in the Senate Intelligence Committee that first made me realize -- hello, this is a worldwide terrorist operation, and the same people that planned the Cole are the same people that did 9/11 are the same people that do the things in regard to London on 7/7 and now also in regards to Amman.
So I think we have a real problem on our hands. We just have to recognize the seriousness of the adversary and Carl is exactly right. It's time for moderate Muslims to stand up. Whether they will do that is another thing.
One of the big reasons they attacked Amman in Jordan was the peace treaty they signed with Israel. It wasn't so much our relationship with Jordan, although I'm sure that played a part in their thinking.
BLITZER: You want to elaborate on that? Before let's listen to what the president said on Friday in going after his critics on the Iraq war and you are one of those top critics, Senator Levin. Listen to what President Bush said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Some Democrats and anti-war critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community's judgments related to Iraq's weapons program.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Do you have evidence that administration analysts, CIA or DIA or NSA or any intelligence analysts were pressured by the president or his advisers to manipulate intelligence so that it would come up with some sort of conclusion they wanted to hear to justify this war?
LEVIN: The committee found no evidence. There were two independent groups that found evidence of pressure. One was the inspector general, I believe, of the CIA and one was a special panel of the CIA...
BLITZER: Richard Kerr, former deputy director of the CIA.
LEVIN: And there was another panel also, which found pressure put on the analysts. But our committee found none.
But the manipulation that I'm referring to is not the manipulation inside the intelligence community. It's the manipulation of administration people who took the intelligence that was given to them as flawed as it was relative to weapons of mass destruction.
It was not flawed relative to the alleged link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. The intelligence community was dubious of that link, and yet the president of the United States made out that link to exist. He said there was no difference between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
As a matter of fact, he said on the bridge of the aircraft carrier where he landed that we've now defeated an ally of Al Qaeda. That was not the consensus of the intelligence community at all.
The intelligence community was very dubious about any link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. That's where the real manipulation took place, not inside the intelligence community, but by the administration spokesman exaggerating what they were given.
BLITZER: We're going to take a break, but I want you to respond to that, Senator Roberts. In the aftermath of Senator Levin's ability to declassify a DIA report saying that this source of this information alleging this link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda was known to be a fabricator and a liar, long before the president or the then secretary of state, Colin Powell, ever made this accusation, but they went ahead and made the accusation in any case.
ROBERTS: It never got to that level. It never got to the policy maker's level...
BLITZER: What didn't, the DIA report?
ROBERTS: Yes, what Senator Levin is talking about, what we're now calling the Levin document, basically never got to the level of the policy maker, along with the caveats....
BLITZER: But isn't that shocking that the defense intelligence agency...
BLITZER: ... comes up with an analysis saying this source that the president is relying on, the secretary of state is relying on, turns out to be a fabricator and within the Pentagon they know this, and they don't share it with the president or secretary of state?
ROBERTS: Well, one of the things we're trying to do is to get better information access and sharing so this doesn't happen again.
I'd like to go back to the pressure issue. Over 250 analysts said there was no pressure, so did the Butler commission over in Great Britain and so did the WMD Commission for the Silberman-Robb Report.
Now what the senator is alleging is basically repetitive questioning is pressure. I hope to heck we are doing repetitive questioning on the analysts.
Many of the caveats that we have heard about -- and that's not the right word for it -- bad mistakes, systemic flaws in the intelligence worldwide, not only us but the British and the Israelis and the French and even the Russians.
There was a lot in there that the Intelligence Committee had prior to the war.
Now if we're going to look backward to that with 20/20 hindsight and cherry pick a nugget of information like this one is, and then say, why didn't that come to the attention of the president, there you are.
BLITZER: Let me move on quickly. We don't have a lot of time.
LEVIN: This isn't 20/20 hindsight. I just want to make this clear. These were statements that the intelligence community made before the war, which were accurate. Which were then...
BLITZER: Well, he said this DIA report didn't reach policymakers.
LEVIN: But what did reach the policymakers, for instance, was on the uranium tubes. There was a difference on the uranium tubes question as to whether they were there in order to promote (inaudible)... (CROSSTALK)
LEVIN: ... Wait a minute. Except the administration, the administration...
ROBERTS: No, you wait a minute...
LEVIN: ... Well, let me finish. I let you finish. The administration said that this is without any dispute, there is no dispute that these aluminum tubes were for fissile material manufacture. That was not true. That is not...
BLITZER: The Department of Energy and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research had serious doubts about that.
ROBERTS: Both the DOE, the Department of Energy, and INR and several other agencies had different views. We knew that as members of the Intelligence Committee at the same time that the president did.
The PDBs, according to the Robb-Silberman..
BLITZER: The presidential daily briefs
ROBERTS: ... Yes, O.K., said they reinforced the slam-dunk theory. The infamous now slam-dunk theory. So it never reached the policy maker when they made the decision to go war. To go back over what we knew and they knew and look backwards and say, whoa, wait a minute, they should have known about it -- I agree with that. That's why we are now doing intelligence reform. That's why we're looking ahead. That's why we're doing the phase two report.
BLITZER: Very quickly to both of you. Torture. Is it ever justified? Will you continue to oppose Senator McCain's legislation?
ROBERTS: I was one of the nine basically worried about that we're writing a manual that has to be written yet -- it hasn't even been written yet -- on the classified annex, and the fact that that manual would set forth and be the first chapter in the Al Qaeda guidebook. But I do think the discussions, as Stephen Hadley said on your program just a while back, need to continue between the Senate and the House and also the administration.
By the way, we just passed in the Defense Authorization Act that the DNI would provide us with that information. But it would go to the intelligence committee where, to date, only a selected few, the chairman, myself and the vice chairman, are informed of things of this nature. Nobody is for torture. I don't know anybody in the Congress or for that matter in the administration that is for torture because it doesn't work well.
It doesn't work well at all. And nobody is for cruel and inhuman punishment. But there are situations where if you get to the worst of the worst, and you are getting 60 percent of your intelligence to save American lives and Iraqi lives, certainly those programs should continue.
BLITZER: All right. I'll give you the last word, Senator Levin.
LEVIN: Torture can't be justified. It should never be our policy, and I think the administration is totally wrong in disagreeing with McCain on this. If anybody knows that torture should not be used, it is John McCain.
I'll stand with John McCain any day against this administration when it comes to the definition of torture and when it comes to the use of torture. It is the wrong policy. And it seems to me it's unthinkable that the vice president of the United States continues to insist upon an exception for the CIA, saying they should not be bound by our torture policy.
ROBERTS: We don't have torture. We don't have torture. We don't practice torture.
BLITZER: I guess it depends on the definition of the word torture, but we'll leave that for another occasion. Senator Roberts, thanks very much for joining us. Senator Levin, good discussion. Thanks to you, as well. Coming up, what's happening in the world of politics here in the United States. Two top governors, both of (inaudible) want to be president of the United States, standing by to join us. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. Some important results in Tuesday's elections in the United States. For insight into the implication for next year's midterm Congressional elections and beyond, we're joined by two key U.S. governors. In Des Moines, Arkansas, Democratic Governor Tom Vilsack, and in Little Rock, Arkansas, Republican Governor Mike Huckabee. Governors, welcome to "Late Edition." Thanks very much for joining us.
Governor Huckabee, you're a good Republican. It looks, by all accounts, a major setback for Republicans in Virginia, in New Jersey, in California. The president's job approval numbers in these latest Newsweek polls down at 36 percent approve. Fifty-eight percent disapprove of the way he's handling his job. Has he become a drag on politicians?
GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE (R), ARKANSAS: Well, I don't think so. I mean, it was not a good day for Republicans last Tuesday. No doubt about it. But we had 28 governorships going into the day, and we still have 28. We did not win seats, but we didn't have those seats. But let me just say, as bad a day as it may have appeared to be, I don't hear any Republican who's sitting in a tub of warm water with a handful of razor blades ready to say it's all over.
If anything, it's a great motivating opportunity for us, and the big race is going to be next year, when 36 governor seats are up. And that's when we're going to put on the game face, and, you know, play the "A" game.
BLITZER: A lot of Senate seats and all of the House of Representatives as well. Governor Vilsack, listen to what the White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said in offering his assessment of what happened last Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think any thorough analysis of the election results will show that the elections were decided on anything other than local and state issues and the candidates and their agendas.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: A status quo election, that's the line coming out of Republicans, Governor Vilsack.
GOV. THOMAS VILSACK (D), IOWA: I think Scott's got to get out of the press room, Wolf. The reality is that message matters. And there's no question about the fact that the reform message that Jon Corzine had in New Jersey made a difference and character counts. There's no question that Tim Kaine's focus on his faith and his family and his belief in a Virginia that's moving forward all made a difference.
I think the real winners, frankly, last Tuesday were the American voters. I think they are tired of partisanship. They are tired of negative campaigning. They want to know what folks are going to do to solve the problems of this nation. And I think they were excited about the fact that Democrats had a positive message, and they were attracted to it.
BLITZER: Here's the problem, Governor Huckabee, for Republicans right now who are up for election or reelection next year, next November.
Take a look at what happened on Friday in Pennsylvania. The president went in on Veterans Day to deliver a major speech on the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Rick Santorum, the incumbent Republican senator up for a tough reelection fight next year, he's a no-show at that event. Arlen Specter is not up for reelection next year. He's there with the president.
Are these candidates, these Republican candidates going to avoid President Bush given what's perceived to be his unpopularity right now?
HUCKABEE: Well, I don't think so, Wolf. I mean, person and politics can go from zero to hero and back to hero again and all in the space of a few days.
The president's approval ratings are down, but they were at an all-time high back in 2001, and we didn't win Virginia or New Jersey then.
I do think Governor Vilsack is right when he says the American people are not looking for bitter, angry, caustic partisanship. They are looking for solutions. And I think that's a message to every one of us. It doesn't matter what party we're in or what race we're running.
BLITZER: As you know, Governor Vilsack, money talks in politics and lots of cash can certainly help candidates.
Look at these numbers, and I'll put them up on the screen. The Republicans doing so much better in raising funds than the Democrats. So far, they've got more than $81 million compared to the DNC with about half, $42 million. In terms of cash on hand, the RNC has $34 million as opposed to only $6.8 million for the Democrats. Looks like they have a huge cash advantage, Governor Vilsack. VILSACK: Well, I'll tell you, Wolf, I think that Democrats are investing their resources in rebuilding the party infrastructures across this country. And I think that's going to be very, very important investment.
It really isn't about dollars in the bank. It's really about the solutions that you have for ordinary folks' problems.
Take Tim Kaine's victory, for example. He talked about transportation. Why? Because people are tired of spending so much time in their cars getting to and from work. That's a kitchen-table issue. That's the reason why I think people are interested in the Democratic message because we're getting back to the basics, making sure that we can solve people's problems.
That's what it's all about and frankly, if we continue to do that, there will be more than enough money to support our candidates next year.
BLITZER: We're out of time, but Governor Huckabee, I notice in the new issue of Time magazine that's just coming out today, you are named one of America's five best governors. That's a pretty good list given the fact there are 50 governors, 50 states out there.
Do you want to be president of the United States?
HUCKABEE: Well, I'm not sure if I do or not. Sometimes I look at what happens to the people that get the job and it makes one wonder. But we'll keep all the options open and there will be a lot of time to think about it.
BLITZER: You were not named, Governor Vilsack, as one of the five best governors. On the other hand, you weren't named as one of the five worst governors either.
Same question to you and then we'll end it. Do you want to be president of the United States?
VILSACK: Wolf, I want to be the best governor of Iowa I can possibly be. That's where I'm focusing my attention on today.
BLITZER: Well, what about president?
VILSACK: Well, I'll tell you, there's a long, long time until 2008. Let's take look at what happens in 2006. Let's focus on those 36 governors races that Mike Huckabee talked about. I think Democrats have a strong message, and I'm looking forward to those fall elections.
BLITZER: All right, we'll leave it there.
Governor Vilsack, Governor Huckabee, thanks very much for joining us. I suspect I'll see both of you on the campaign trail coming up. Appreciate it very much.
Up next, one month after a deadly earthquake, are the U.S. and other countries providing enough assistance to Pakistan? We'll hear from the country's president, Pervez Musharraf. In an exclusive interview, you'll want to hear what he says.
But first, NBA legend Magic Johnson has been honored for his leadership in addressing HIV and AIDS issues affecting minorities and for his efforts to bring businesses to lower income communities. As part of CNN's anniversary series "Then & Now," we look back at the life of Magic Johnson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): The basketball court was his stage. Earvin "Magic" Johnson could cast a spell over fans and foes alike. Magic led the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA titles and was three times named the league's most valuable player.
But the superstar stunned the world on November 7, 1991, and everyone was afraid the magic would soon be gone.
EARVIN "MAGIC" JOHNSON: Because of the HIV virus that I have attained, I will have to retire from the Lakers.
(UNKNOWN): Magic took some time off, started a strict drug regiment and managed to make a triumphant return to the Lakers in 1992, playing in the NBA all-star game and later as part of the U.S. Olympic dream team.
JOHNSON: I've always felt that I was going to be HIV, and I had to put that in my mind, and I have to live and breathe that every day, have that type of attitude.
(UNKNOWN): Thirteen years later, he's more often seen in a suit than a uniform. Besides speaking about HIV and AIDS, he is now involved in several business ventures from movie theaters to hamburger chains. Magic lives in L.A. with his wife, Cookie, and their children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Last month's massive earthquake in Pakistan still taking a staggering toll on the country. Just a short while ago I spoke with Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, about how his country is dealing with this disaster.
BLITZER: On the earthquake, how many people, how many Pakistanis have died?
MUSHARRAF: This figure is about 73,000, But some sources also quote 87,000. But I feel it is certainly 73,000. It may go a little over that. At the moment, I would quote the figure of 73,000.
BLITZER: How many people are homeless? MUSHARRAF: I would put it at about 500,000 homes -- households are affected. That is how I would like to put it.
BLITZER: Are you getting the international support that you need to deal with this enormous, enormous tragedy?
MUSHARRAF: In the relief operations, we are into the relief operations. At the moment, what is urgently required is relief for the people, affected people. I think we have got, I would call it, reasonable support in the relief operations, in the form of medical assistance, medical teams, hospitals, field hospitals, medical aid, medicines, equipment, and in the form of shelter, blankets, tents, other relief goods, including foodstuff.
Now, we have reasonable assistance in the form of helicopters to transport these. We have got good assistance from -- to transport goods, relief goods lying all over the world to Pakistan. So I would call the assistance to the relief operation reasonable, reasonably good, and we are extremely grateful to the world community and the United Nations and Secretary-General Kofi Annan to be projecting our cause.
But now we are into getting into the reconstruction stage and the rehabilitation stage. For that, we have called a reconstruction conference, the donors reconstruction conference for the 19th, and I personally am collecting a database, preparing a database, on a district-wide basis, to evaluate exactly and give out exactly what is the requirement of number of houses in the district, or -- and including the sub-district, and the schools, colleges and hospitals required in each sub-district and district.
Once I compile that data and I give it out, that is where we will seek assistance. And it is in the reconstruction and rehabilitation where I would say the assistance until now is not -- certainly not of the level that we expect.
May I also add that all the organizations, United Nations organizations, World Bank, and Pakistan authorities jointly have evaluated the support required, and it has come to about $5.1 billion, which is in the form of about $3.5 billion for reconstruction, about $1.5 billion for relief in the coming one year, and about $100 million required for rehabilitation.
This is the kind of money we are looking for, and I don't think we have even got a small fraction of this. But I hope on the 19th of November, when we have called this conference, we hope to be given assistance generously.
BLITZER: Our heart goes out to the people of Pakistan on this enormous tragedy, Mr. President. Good luck to you. Good luck to everyone. We'll stay in touch. Appreciate your joining us.
MUSHARRAF: Thank you very much.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: And up next, the results of our web question of the week: Do you think the United States and its allies are doing enough to fight the war on terror? We'll get to that. But first.
BLITZER: What's her story? New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is creating a lot of buzz with her new book, "Are Men Necessary?" She takes a provocative look at how women and men relate to each other, and at the path of feminism 40 years after America's sexual revolution.
Unlike her other writings, the book also includes some details about Dowd's personal experiences. Dowd has covered four presidential campaigns, and served as the Times' White House correspondent. She became a columnist on the paper's op-ed page in 1995. In 1999, Dowd won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary.
BLITZER: Those are the results of our Web question of the week. Remember, not a scientific poll. And that's your "Late Edition" for this Sunday, November 13. Up next, CNN's special report on today's confession on Jordan's terrorist attacks. That's followed by "On the Story."
Please be sure to join me next Sunday and every Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern for "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Thanks very much.
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