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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Interview With Zalmay Khalilzad; Interview with Dan Bartlett
Aired October 1, 2006 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: This is "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By withdrawing from Iraq before the job is done, we would be doing exactly what the extremists and terrorists want.
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BLITZER: President Bush reaffirms his intent to stay the course in Iraq. But is the U.S. losing the fight for Iraqi hearts and minds? We'll talk with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PRESIDENT OF PAKISTAN: Don't compare Pakistan with Afghanistan. Pakistan is a very stable country.
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: We're not trying to blame Pakistan. We're not trying to blame President Musharraf. We're simply seeking cooperation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush tries to mend fences between key U.S. allies in the war on terror. We'll get assessments of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, Pakistan and more from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The book's sort of like cotton candy. Kind of melts on contact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: An explosive new book by journalist Bob Woodward claims a White House dysfunctional and divided over Iraq. White House counselor Dan Bartlett responds in an interview. Plus, reaction to the book and a controversial intelligence report on the war in Iraq from two key members of the Senate foreign relations committee, Republican Chairman Richard Lugar and Democrat Chris Dodd. "Late Edition's" lineup begins right now. It's 11 a.m. in Washington, 8 a.m. in Los Angeles, 4 p.m. in London and 7 p.m. in Baghdad. 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 U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, in just a moment.
First, though, let's get a quick check with what's in the news right now. CNN's Fredricka Whitfield standing by. Fred?
BLITZER: Thanks very much. We'll get to the U.S. ambassador in Iraq in a moment. First, an update on a major scandal unfolding in the United States right now. Republican Congressman Mark Foley of Florida forced to resign over allegations he sent sexually suggestive e-mail to a 16-year-old boy, a former Congressional page, and House Republicans are taking heat for the handling of the scandal. Our Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is following this still developing story. Lots of fallout here in Washington, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure, Wolf. And you know, yesterday, all day long GOP leadership aides huddled in the Capitol. They're trying to explain their own conduct in the Mark Foley scandal.
And what we found out is that three Republican leaders knew months ago, last spring, about one questionable e-mail exchange between Foley and a former page. Now, one of those leaders is House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who had to issue a correction of sorts. Now, top Hastert aides insisted to CNN Friday that Hastert knew nothing about any questionable Foley conduct until late last week.
But yesterday, Congressman Tom Reynolds of New York revealed he actually knew about one incident a few months ago, last spring, and brought it to the speaker's attention in the spring. Now, Hastert says he has no reason to dispute that, but insists he, quote, "does not explicitly recall this conversation."
The question isn't, though, just when did they know about this. It's what did they do about it. And Republican leaders say GOP representatives on the page board, the House page board, confronted Foley and told him to cease contact with the young man and to be mindful of his conduct with pages. And allegedly, Foley then promised that he would do so.
So the GOP leadership maintains they investigated one incident that they knew about. But one Democrat on the House page board, the only Democrat on that board, says he knew nothing about any of this. Democrat Dale Kildee said, quote, "I was never informed of the allegations about Mr. Foley's inappropriate communications with a House page, and I was never involved in any inquiry into this matter." So even after spending 36 hours trying to coordinate statements, they're still, Wolf, facing intense criticism, especially from Democrats, who say this is not the way to investigate. It is not appropriate to keep this an internal Republican matter, something that could be potentially this serious.
BLITZER: And right now, I guess the Republicans are being very, very harsh on now former Congressman Foley.
BASH: They are. You know, we should point out that what Republican leaders insist is that they didn't know really anything about the much more explicit e-mails, instant messages, I should say, that came out on Friday night that really forced Foley's resignation. But right now, what they do know and what they are trying to do is try to make the point that what he did, what Foley did, was, quote, "unacceptable and abhorrent."
And what GOP leadership said in a statement yesterday is that there should be the full weight of the criminal justice system forced on Foley. And they're taking new measures to protect pages in the future, setting up a toll-free number, for example, for pages and family members to call with complaints and concerns. But, Wolf, there is a fair amount of eye-rolling, if you will, about this, because this is perhaps another example, many people out there will say, of members of Congress treating themselves differently from how average citizens would be treated.
Remember a few months ago, Patrick Kennedy, for example, he had a DUI incident, and he wasn't given the same treatment by Capitol police that others might have been. So, this is going to probably raise other questions about how members of Congress are treated versus average citizens.
BLITZER: And we're going to be speaking much more about this with Dan Bartlett, the White House counselor, also the two key senators who will be joining us. I suspect this sandal only just beginning here in Washington. Dana, thanks very much for that. Much more on this story coming up later on "Late Edition."
But now let's move to the war in Iraq. President Bush trying to reassure an uneasy American public about the situation in Iraq, but he isn't getting much cooperation from the actual developments on the ground. The country is struggling with brutal sectarian violence, and new polls indicate Iraqis are growing increasingly wary of the U.S. military presence in their country.
Just a short while ago, I spoke with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.
BLITZER: Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome back to "Late Edition." Lots going on in Iraq, as is always the case. Let's begin with some assertions in Bob Woodward's new book, "State of Denial." One section suggesting that next year, 2007, is going to be even worse than potentially this year, 2006. He quotes -- he writes this in the book:
"Wednesday, May 24th," of this year, "the intelligence division of the Joint Staff, J-2, circulated an intelligence assessment classified "secret" that showed that the forces in Iraq were not in retreat. In large print that assessment said," quote, " 'The Sunni Arab insurgency is gaining strength and increasing capacity despite political progress and Iraqi security forces development. Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through next year."
Is that your current assessment?
KHALILZAD: Well, no. I believe that a main part of the violence now is sectarian violence, violence between death squads associated with militias, and some of the insurgents.
It is true that the insurgency's still there and is targeting us. And the terrorists are there, although I believe that the al Qaida terrorists in Iraq are weaker now than they were a while back, and that they are under pressure.
But there is the sectarian violence that has increased. And there is also some Shia-on-Shia violence in the south. That is the situation. And I believe with the reconciliation program that the prime minister has put forward with the Baghdad security effort that we and the Iraqis are making, it is very plausible in my mind that next year the level of violence will be lower than this year.
BLITZER: What you are saying is that the sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia right now is the main threat to Iraq as opposed to the al Qaida or other insurgency that has been so prevalent over these past few years.
KHALILZAD: I think that is true that the importance of the sectarian violence has increased. While the insurgency persists, the terrorists, I think -- the al Qaida terrorists are weakened in the course of the past several months.
BLITZER: Can we describe this level of the sectarian violence right now between Sunni and Shia as a low-grade civil war?
KHALILZAD: Well, I don't know. It depends on the definition. I don't call it a civil war because the main political leaders want Iraq to stay together.
KHALILZAD: They are in the government together. They have not left the government. The security forces that are mixed have not fragmented.
But there is the sectarian violence that is there. And forces associated with them of the political groups are involved in the sectarian violence. So it is a matter of definition, but I believe that based on the definition that I gave, that it is not a civil war. BLITZER: Here is what you said early in June of this year to Der Spiegel. You said: "The next six months will be critical in terms of reining in the danger of civil war. If the government fails to achieve this, we will have lost its opportunity."
It's been four months since you said that. So based on your assessment, the next two months will be critical. Is that a fair assessment?
KHALILZAD: That is a fair assessment. I stand by that. The government, in the course of the next two months, has to make progress in terms of containing sectarian violence. And the government has been working hard. And the prime minister's reconciliation effort is moving forward.
He has meetings, even tonight, of the political leaders, to bring an agreement among them to decrease violence in Baghdad. The Baghdad security plan is moving forward.
In the areas where the security forces have cleared, the level of violence in general has come down significantly. But in the areas that have not yet been cleared, there is significant, and in some cases, increased level of violence, as the people responsible for violence have been pushed out into those other areas.
BLITZER: Here's some statistics we'll put up on the screen, Mr. Ambassador. In August and July of this year, more than 3,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, according to the latest statistics, 36 attacks a day earlier, now increasing to about 42 a day.
And as far as the internally displaced persons, according to the Brookings Institution, in August of 2003, 100,000, a year later, 200,000, then 250,000. And in August of this year, half a million Iraqis have been internally displaced.
It seems to be getting worse, not better. KHALILZAD: Of course, it's cumulative. And the displaced people and the level of violence -- there are days that it's higher than other days. But it has been quite high since the Samarra attacks that took place by the terrorists in the spring.
But I believe that progress is being made in terms of the reconciliation, which is necessary. In order to deal with this situation, you need to reduce the sources of violence -- that is reconciliation -- and increase the capacity of the security forces, and to go after those who are responsible for violence.
And steps are being taken with regard to each of those. But the situation remains a difficult one. I don't want to sugarcoat it in any way.
BLITZER: Here's what the spokesman for the multinational forces, Major General William Caldwell said on Wednesday. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, MNF-1 SPOKESMAN: This week's suicide attacks were at their highest level in any given week with half of them targeting security forces.
Last week, almost 50 percent of the vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices were suicide attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Well, if it's the worst week yet since the start of this war, what, three-and-a-half years ago or so, it doesn't sound like it's getting better. It sounds like it's getting worse.
KHALILZAD: Well, as I said, if you look at the Baghdad situation, the cleared areas are getting better. But the terrorists and the death squads are punching back. And they have used IEDs and suicide attacks as one of their responses, using quite a number of them. But they have been largely less effective than they were earlier.
But it is a challenging environment; there is no question about that. But, as I said, with reconciliation, building security capabilities of the Iraqi forces, and going after those who were involved in violence, we are making progress on each of those tracks.
But difficulties remain, of course.
BLITZER: And just ahead, Ambassador Khalilzad talks about his deep concerns that the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, may not necessarily be able to hold his country. He says he's confident in this man, but we'll see how far he can go in dealing with the death squads.
And at the top of the next hour, on "Late Edition," White House counsel Dan Bartlett responds to Bob Woodward's stunning new book about the war in Iraq.
And insight from a man who has President Bush's ear, the top outside adviser to the president, according to Bob Woodward's new book; that would be the former secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
And this note for our North American viewers: Don't forget to join John Roberts for an in-depth look at "This Week at War." That comes up at 1 p.m. Eastern, right after "Late Edition." We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." We're speaking to -- we're standing by, that is, to speak live with former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. That's coming up shortly.
First, though, let's return to my interview with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.
BLITZER: A lot of people seem to be losing confidence in the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, that he's so far not taken the steps to deal with the death squads, the militias, the kind of tough political decisions that you and others have been urging him to take.
And when I reading Bob Woodward's book, "State of Denial," I came up along this quote from the former secretary of state, Colin Powell, who said this.
He said: "I'd like to" -- back in May of this year -- "I'd like to offer you caution about Mr. Maliki, because, frankly, I don't think any of us have heard anything about him or knew anything about him. I have a little bit of caution about somebody who spent most of the last 20-odd years in Iran and Syria."
Is the prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, up to the job or have you lost confidence in him?
KHALILZAD: No. I have full confidence in him. He has made tough decisions. And he is making tough decisions. He has authorized moving against death squads. He has moved forward in terms of the reconciliation.
There is the issue of militias. And we have agreed that there should be a plan for demobilizing, decommissioning, and reintegrating militia forces by the end of this year.
KHALILZAD: There are some people who say that force should be used immediately against the militias. But he believes, and I agree with him, that there has to be an integrated plan that is political to begin with to convince the political leaders who have militias to agree to a decommissioning and demobilization and reintegration plan, and to keep the military option as a last resort, if necessary, to coerce them into cooperation.
Also, he has agreed that all of Baghdad, no matter who is in charge of which parts of it, ultimately has to come under the control of the government and that is willing to use force if that becomes necessary, and use necessary amount of force to bring that about.
I think he is a strong leader. He is a good decision-maker. He sets priorities. And he follows through.
BLITZER: Let me read to you from the portions of the National Intelligence Estimate that were declassified this week: "We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives. Perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere. Fighters with experience in Iraq are a potential source of leadership for jihadists."
Lots of other stuff in there as well. The bottom line, though, that's has been widely interpreted from this NIE, this National Intelligence Estimate, is that the war in Iraq is exacerbating the terror threat against the United States.
KHALILZAD: I think that the al Qaida folks that came here, they came in order to attack the coalition forces. And according to the leader of al Qaida in Iraq that replaced Zarqawi, al-Masri, 4,000 al Qaida terrorists have been killed in Iraq who probably would have gone elsewhere to cause difficulties and do destruction.
Whether the U.S. presence, the coalition presence here, produced more people to come and join al Qaida, the issue now is that the fact that we are here, if we leave Iraq before the job is done, before Iraq can stand on its own feet, a terrorist problem will be created that will be far greater than what we have faced so far, because al Qaida could gain control of a region of Iraq, and from there expand further into Iraq and the rest of the world and use the resources of Iraq to threaten the United States and the world.
So it's very important, given where we are now in Iraq, that we help Iraq succeed in order to avoid the scenario that I mentioned. BLITZER: We are almost out of time, Mr. Ambassador. But a quick question about this book, "State of Denial," by Bob Woodward, a couple of references to you in there, historic references.
One suggesting that you were among those, together with retired General Jay Garner, who was originally brought in for reconstruction in Iraq, thinking there should be an Iraqi face quickly, an Iraqi provisional government put forward, rather than a U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority that Ambassador Paul Bremer undertook.
Were you -- is that an accurate depiction of your thoughts at that time that it was a mistake for a U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority to be put in place, as opposed to an Iraqi face on this government?
KHALILZAD: Right. Well, as you know, I was earlier working on Afghanistan. And I participated in a process that immediately after the U.S. forces went there to produce a government -- a transitional government headed by Mr. Karzai.
And my thought was that we should do the same in Iraq, that in the aftermath of the liberation here, we ought to put a government together. And the president assigned me the task of doing that.
And I had organized a number of meetings, and the last of which was then March in Baghdad. But then, of course, Mr. Bremer was appointed, and I was nominated to go to Afghanistan.
BLITZER: So you disagreed with that assessment. Did you threaten to resign? Did you want to quit when Bremer replaced General Garner?
KHALILZAD: No. The idea was that I would come together with Bremer and that he would work -- there was at least the idea before the final decision was made that I would come together with him, that I would work on the government formation, and Mr. Bremer would deal with the rest. And ultimately the president decided to send only Bremer. And I was nominated by the president to go as our ambassador to Afghanistan. And I accepted that. As you know, I went and served there before coming to Iraq.
BLITZER: Because in the book, Bob Woodward quotes you. There is a quote of you as saying, "I quit," when you heard that Bremer was going to replace -- "then I would quit," something like that, when I -- when you heard that Bremer was going to replace Garner.
KHALILZAD: That's not accurate.
BLITZER: We will leave it at that, then. And we will continue this discussion down the road. Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for joining us.
KHALILZAD: Well, it's good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And coming up, critics of President Bush accuse him of having a deaf ear when it comes to the war in Iraq. We'll get two views on that and more from the former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, and the former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Bob Woodward in his new book says Kissinger has been a secret outside adviser to the president and the vice president on Iraq. We're going to ask the former secretary of state about that.
And this program reminder: Bob Woodward will join our Larry King tomorrow night, 9 p.m. Eastern. You're going to want to see that. Bob Woodward will be taking your phone calls as well.
But up next, a quick check of what's in the news right now. Stay with "Late Edition."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUMSFELD: I haven't seen the book. I haven't read his first two books yet, either. So I wouldn't hold your breath on this one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, commenting on accounts of Bob Woodward's new book of a Bush administration sharply divided over the war in Iraq, as well as Rumsfeld's own leadership.
Welcome back to "Late Edition." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Joining us now from Connecticut, another prominent figure mentioned in Bob Woodward's book, the former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, and here in Washington, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. He served during the Jimmy Carter administration. He's not mentioned in Bob Woodward's book. But Dr. Kissinger, I want to go to you first. The picture we get from this book is that you, in effect, over these past six years, have served as an informal outside adviser to the president and the vice president, playing a key role in shaping President Bush's policies and decisions. I want your reaction.
KISSINGER: I haven't read the book, but I have -- first of all, my conversations with the president and the vice president -- I think if they counted the number of times Secretary Powell and Secretary Rice have asked my opinion, they would be at least as frequent as the other two.
BLITZER: Excuse me for interrupting, Dr. Kissinger, but the book suggests that, at least once a month, if not more frequently, you're consulted, you're brought in by the president or the vice president.
KISSINGER: I have told you what the balance is. And I think you will find that I have seen the secretary of state as frequently as I've seen the president and the vice president and that it's almost always at the request of the people that I'm talking to.
But there's a more fundamental point to be made. It is absurd to believe that an outsider who comes in, at most, once every six weeks for an hour or so, has any significant influence on tactical decisions.
Where outsiders like myself and Zbig can be helpful is to give a middle-term perspective and to deal with and to advise on issues that may not be right front, center.
And that has been the role that I believe where I can be useful. I have tried to play that with every president since I left office and, to some extent, have.
And it is simply wrong to imply that I am a shaper of day-to-day decisions. This is not my role. I'm an outsider; I'm a friend. And I respond to questions that are put to me, but they're mostly conceptual and have to do with problems that are not ready for decision.
BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski, you've been an outside adviser to other presidents, not necessarily to this one. You've been a serious critic of this president.
But on one page, page 427, in Bob Woodward's book, "State of Denial," he says this: "The document was given the title "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" -- referring to a document the Bush administration released -- "It was right out of the Kissinger playbook -- the only meaningful exit strategy would be victory."
Now, Dr. Kissinger and you have been on "Late Edition" several times. You know his views. His view, basically, is that the United States must win in Iraq and can't allow to happen in Iraq what happened in Vietnam. Is that an excellent strategy or not such an excellent strategy that he has been recommending to the Bush White House?
BRZEZINSKI: Gee, you're really throwing a tough question at me, aren't you?
We have been at this for a couple of years, now, Henry and I. We have appeared on your program many times. And you know and the viewers know that I think the war is a calamity for the United States.
It was undertaken under false pretenses. It's been conducted badly. And it's destroying the American position in the Middle East, eventually posing the risk that the United States will be pushed out of the region. Israel, incidentally, at that point, will be in mortal danger. And therefore, it is a policy that is destructive, self- destructive.
I think that the United States ought to decide, think through, the implications of its quest for quote, unquote "victory." That word is used, but what does it mean?
When all of the indices that you have cited earlier in the program about the level of violence, the destructiveness, the killings, the hostility of the Iraqi people toward us, indicate that a simple-minded victory is not attainable.
We have to re-think the strategy fundamentally. And I don't blame Henry for the strategy because he's right. He didn't formulate it. He gives them, however, external reassurance.
What the administration needs is a willingness to meet with the critic critics, not me, but think of Senator Hagel, for example...
BLITZER: He's described in this book as well...
BRZEZINSKI: ... people like that.
BLITZER: He's been an outspoken critic of the policy.
BRZEZINSKI: The administration needs to reconsider what it is doing, quite fundamentally.
BLITZER: Is this, Dr. Kissinger, an accurate assessment of your view, what Bob Woodward, in this book, suggests, that you're telling the president and the vice president the only exit strategy for the United States is victory in Iraq?
KISSINGER: Well, first of all, I will obviously not comment on any discussions I have in private conversations with the president, the vice president, or the secretary of state.
That phrase that Mr. Woodward quoted is from an article I wrote 15 months ago -- so it's been publicly available for a long time -- in which I said the only effective exit strategy is victory. Nobody can question this.
Now, as one analyzes the situation, one could think (ph) to ask, what could does one mean by victory?
And secondly, what is attainable at any given point?
And finally, what are the alternatives?
I have been opposed to setting a deadline because I believe that it will shift the psychological and political pattern. And I believe, also, that leaving a vacuum in Iraq which will then become the target for all the surrounding forces, plus an intensified civil war, plus the conflicts that may arise between the fragments that then exist and the surrounding country, is an extremely dangerous strategy.
BLITZER: Let me let Dr. Brzezinski weigh in on that issue of a deadline.
You're suggesting -- correct me if I'm wrong, Dr. Brzezinski, because you've been on this program with Dr. Kissinger several times, that the United States should set a deadline and effectively get out?
BRZEZINSKI: Let me be more precise.
BRZEZINSKI: What I've suggested, and I stick with it, is that we ought to initiate serious discussions with the Iraqis about setting a deadline, discuss it with them, set it jointly. I would push for leaving within a year. I believe that it is absolutely mistaken to stay, quote, unquote, "on course."
All of the negative scenarios that Henry outlines of our departure have to be weighed against the negative consequences of staying on course. We're heading towards an increasing disaster. In Iraq itself, where the overwhelming majority of the people want us to leave and to leave within a year. And we're heading toward a disaster in the region as a whole, where we're becoming increasingly identified as enemies of the Muslims, as hostile to all of their aspirations, and indifferent to their suffering.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to continue this conversation. I'll pick it up right after a short break. I first want to just read what Bob Woodward wrote specifically about Dr. Kissinger in the book, "State of Denial": "Former Secretary of State Kissinger has a powerful, largely invisible influence on the foreign policy of the Bush administration. Vice President Cheney told me in the summer of 2005, 'I probably talk to Henry Kissinger more than I talk to anybody else.' "
"The president also met privately with Kissinger every couple of months, making the former secretary the most regular and frequent outside adviser to Bush on foreign affairs." All right, Dr. Kissinger, Dr. Brzezinski, stand by. We're going to pick up that thought. Lots more to talk about, including the rift between two major U.S. allies, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Are both countries doing enough to fight the war on terror? And for our North American viewers, a reminder that coming up right after "Late Edition" at 1 p.m. Eastern, "This Week at War" with John Roberts. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." We're getting perspective on the situation in Iraq and the overall war on terror from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Dr. Kissinger, let me quote one other passage from Bob Woodward's book, "State of Denial": "Kissinger liked Bush personally, though he told colleagues that it was not clear to him that the president knew how to run the government. One of the big problems, he felt, was that Bush did not have the people or the system of national security policy decision making that ensured careful examination of the downsides of major decisions. Kissinger sensed wobbliness everywhere in Iraq."
Is that true?
KISSINGER: Look, it is amazing that I'm asked to comment on a book that I haven't read, that Brzezinski's asked to comment on views that I don't hold. I have written nine articles on Iraq in the last two years. Anybody can get them on the Internet and can see that I have tried to analyze the various aspects of the war. In some of them I have made recommendations for changes.
I agree that we need a comprehensive strategy. I do not believe that there is wobbliness within the administration. Of course there are sharp differences, which have been widely reported, but in almost every administration that I have seen, there have been differences, sometimes more, sometimes less intense.
And I think we should focus our national agenda -- discussion on where we should go now. I believe at some point, at some early point, other countries have to be brought into the discussion of the future of Iraq. Something that I've been writing about also for some time. I don't think the choice is between victory in the abstract and pulling out in the abstract.
The choice is between trying to leave the situation in such a way that the security of the free people is not being threatened by the emergence of al Qaida-type regimes on Iraqi territory and that America does not leave the conditions under conditions of total chaos. But that does not preclude that one -- and in fact, it requires that one also has a strategy that expresses this in concrete terms, and that has been my major theme. And not platitudes like victory or wobbliness.
BLITZER: All right. Well, that's fair enough.
KISSINGER: That is not my view.
BLITZER: I'm just quoting from Bob Woodward's book, "State of Denial," Dr. Kissinger. I want to move on and talk about a huge issue that developed in Washington this past week, the summit, the three-way summit involving the president of the United States and the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Pervez Musharraf and Hamid Karzai.
Dr. Brzezinski, it looks like these two critical allies the United States has in Afghanistan and Pakistan are at serious odds right now, precisely at a time when the United States needs them to cooperate in this war against the Taliban and al Qaida. How big of a problem is this?
BRZEZINSKI: I think it's a very serious problem. It's a very serious problem because the animus between the two creates room for groups such as Taliban to stage a comeback. We have a real problem with Pakistan because we've asked Pakistan to do a lot for us. Now, Musharraf has put his life on the line. But, at the same time, for example, we have cozied up to the Indians. We're supporting the Indian nuclear program while we're still maintaining a series of restrictions in Pakistan and so forth. So there's a lot of resentment in Pakistan, not only against Musharraf but against us.
At the same time, in Afghanistan, it is a fact that Karzai is our best friend. We have a government in Afghanistan that's based on people whom we supported in the war and who feel grateful to us. And that's a big difference than Iraq. But it is also a government that is weighed heavily against the dominant Pashtuns in the country. And they feel discriminated, and some are gravitating toward the Taliban.
BLITZER: Dr. Kissinger, what does the president of the United States need to do to get these two allies on the same page?
KISSINGER: These two allies in these two countries haven't necessarily been on the same page for a few hundred years. We should make it clear to Pakistan that tolerating al Qaida on their territory and supporting the insurrection in Afghanistan is not compatible in the long term with good relations with the United States.
KISSINGER: But it is without doubt an extremely complicated situation. What we need is a bipartisan national strategy on these issues. It is a very complex problem. It has turned out to be more complicated than the administration expected at the beginning or could expect at the beginning. And therefore, we have to define the direction in which we can move and carry it out. But there isn't any quick gimmick by which it can be solved.
BLITZER: Dr. Kissinger, we have to leave it right there. We're out of time. But a quick -- I want to put a picture up on the screen. You were in Rome this week at the Vatican. There it is, a picture of Dr. Henry Kissinger and Pope Benedict XVI. You had an audience with the pontiff. How did that go, briefly? And did you discuss the issue that's come up, his critical comments, if you will, about Islam that's caused so much of a stir in the Muslim world?
KISSINGER: Look, Wolf, you know that it is not appropriate to discuss the substance of a papal audience on television. I've had the privilege of conversations with the Pope when he was cardinal. And I found him then and now a man of great profundity. BLITZER: Only appropriate that the German-born Henry Kissinger would have an audience with the German-born pontiff. Just as the Polish former national security adviser often met with the Polish pontiff, John Paul. Is that right, Dr. Brzezinski?
BLITZER: All right. Good to have both of you on "Late Edition" as always. Thanks to both of you for coming in.
And we're going to have much more on "Late Edition," including a revealing profile of the U.S. defense secretary that airs tonight. "CNN Presents: Rumsfeld, Man of War." We're going to bring you an excerpt of that. "Late Edition" continues right after this.
BLITZER: Tonight on CNN, an unprecedented up-close look at the U.S. secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld. CNN special correspondent Frank Sesno was given rare access to the defense secretary, his allies and critics of his stewardship of the war in Iraq. Here's a look at the Rumsfeld military strategy.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Even before Tora Bora, President Bush told Rumsfeld to have his generals start looking at Iraq. Rumsfeld had a long history with the place. As Reagan's envoy, he went there, shook Saddam's hand when Saddam was at war with Iran, America's archenemy.
But after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War, Rumsfeld signed on to a new line of neoconservative thought, that America should actively promote democracy in Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein. At the end of 2001, Rumsfeld ordered Tommy Franks to throw out the existing Iraq war plan, which called for more than 400,000 troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It didn't reflect any of the lessons from Afghanistan, that it didn't reflect the current state of affairs in Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESNO: Rumsfeld was adamant, leaning hard on General Tommy Franks, who was putting together the war plan.
THOMAS RICKS, THE WASHINGTON POST: There was quite a lot of friction. Fairly harsh tone. Franks would fly up to Washington, show it to him, and Rumsfeld would say, fewer troops, faster. Cut it down. Pare it down.
SESNO: Rumsfeld was thinking transformation and asking tough questions.
U.S. ARMY GENERAL JACK KEANE, RETIRED: The question sort of goes like this: Listen, Saddam Hussein's army today is half the size it used to be. Why do we have to attack with the same size force we did back then? Isn't it reasonable to do it with less? Well, that's a very good question, and it deserves to be asked.
SESNO: The U.S. would attack with fewer than 150,000 troops, though more were available if needed. Rumsfeld's vision had prevailed. It was about to be tested again but on a very different battlefield.
BLITZER: And don't miss "CNN Presents: Rumsfeld, Man of War." That airs tonight, 8 p.m. Eastern.
And still ahead here on "Late Edition," our conversation with one of the president's top advisers, Dan Bartlett, about Secretary Rumsfeld's future, the Bob Woodward book and lots more.
And with only five weeks until the 2006 elections, stay with "Late Edition" and CNN, featuring the best political team on television for all of your campaign news. And you can also find the latest political news, including highlights from all of the network Sunday talk shows. Check out our CNN political ticker. Just go to cnn.com/ticker for all that information.
You're watching "Late Edition, " the last word in Sunday talk.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We'll have my interview with the White House counselor, Dan Bartlett, in just a moment. First, though, let's check in with CNN's Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN center for a quick look at what's in the news right now. Hi, Fred.
BLITZER: Thanks, Fred.
Just five weeks before key congressional elections here in the United States, House Republicans are finding themselves in hot water over one of their own. Republican Congressman Mark Foley of Florida resigned Friday, suddenly, over alleged sexually suggestive computer messages he sent to a 16-year-old boy, a former congressional page.
Our congressional correspondent Dana Bash, joining us, once again, with the latest. What a story this is. It's caused a huge uproar here in Washington.
BASH: It has. Because we now know that three Republican leaders actually knew about this months ago. In addition, several other Republican lawmakers knew, as well, about one questionable e-mail exchange between Foley and a former male page, but they kept it secret.
And over the past 36 hours, we've been getting some contradictory explanations from Republican leaders about their own conduct and knowledge about this matter.
For example, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Friday he knew nothing about any of this. And now he's issued a correction of sorts after it was revealed that he was, in fact, informed.
Now, beyond the question of what did they know, it's what did they do about it?
Republicans say they confronted Foley late last year when they found out about that one questionable e-mail exchange, but Democrats are saying, that's simply unacceptable. They were never notified about this.
Even the Democrat on the House page board, which allegedly investigated, was not part of that inquiry at all. Listen to what the Democrat running for Foley's seat in Florida said yesterday about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM MAHONEY, DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CANDIDATE: It's now clear, from all the press reports, that the Republican leadership team knew this was going on and they had to make a choice. They had to do what was right for the children that were in the care of the government, or they could try to hold on to a seat and they decided to try to hold on to a seat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, it should be noted that Republicans say they only knew about what they call an overly friendly e-mail, not the sexually explicit instant messages that, of course, forced Foley to resign on Friday.
BLITZER: And let me read some of those to give this some context of this uproar here in Washington, this reported by ABC News, which broke the story.
Here's one of those very sexually explicit instant messages: "What ya wearing?" "tshirt and shorts" "Love to slip them off of you."
And another one said this: "Do I make you a little horny?" "A little." "Cool."
Now, it's that kind of stuff -- these are young boys who, in effect, are being hit on, allegedly, by a member of Congress in his 50s.
And that's bad enough, but the question is this: Did other leaders, Republican leaders know about this and decide, you know what, we're going to turn a blind eye; we're going to admonish him and warn him of this but not pay attention and let him go on.
I mean, potentially, the scandal is only just beginning. BASH: That's right. And again, they say they didn't know about what you just read; they only knew about one e-mail that was what they considered overly friendly. It wasn't anywhere near as explicit as what you read.
But another question is, what happens in terms of Congressman Foley, criminally?
As of Friday, before what you just read became public, there was no indication of any criminal investigation. But now, considering what we know, it is possible, of course, federal investigators are going to have to look into whether any federal laws were broken.
And in a statement yesterday, Republicans seem to encourage the idea of a criminal investigation. They said that former Congressman Foley should fall under the full weight of the criminal justice system. And we do know that Foley used a private e-mail account, but we don't know where he was instant-messaging from, whether it was home, somewhere else or in his office.
But as of now, the Capitol police have sealed off his former office on Capitol Hill. And they're apparently guarding it, potentially, to protect any evidence.
BLITZER: We'll watch the story. We're going to have more on it this hour. Thanks very much, Dana Bash, reporting.
President Bush came out swinging this week. He slammed Democrats as cut-and-run second-guessers of his Iraq policy. And his team dumped on a new book that claims he's giving a false, overly optimistic picture of what's actually happening on the ground in Iraq. I sat down with one of President Bush's closest advisers, the counselor Dan Bartlett, earlier today.
BLITZER: Dan Bartlett, thanks very much for coming in.
BARTLETT: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, we've got a lot to talk about. This book, "State of Denial," by Bob Woodward, the national intelligence estimate, lots more.
But first, this uproar that's developed over the past couple of days, Republican Congressman Mark Foley of Florida resigning suddenly because of inappropriate e-mail to a teenage boy, who was a page. Apparently, there's a lot of this going on.
When did you at the White House begin to learn that this was unfolding?
BARTLETT: It's my understanding, Wolf, we learned when the American people learned, when Representative Foley put out a press release saying he was stepping down. We were all shocked by it, deeply concerned about what exactly happened, and we're glad to see that there's going to be an investigation into the particulars of this case.
But the president, the entire administration was just as surprised as everybody else.
BLITZER: Because there are suggestions that the Republican leadership in the House knew much earlier about this inappropriate e- mail and effectively did nothing.
BARTLETT: Well, the speaker's office and the leadership offices have all put out statements explaining what they knew when and why. And I think that's the best place for it to be handled, and my understanding is there's going to be an investigation. BLITZER: Should there be an independent, outside investigation, given the fact that the Republican leadership, at least by some, have been implicated, at least tacitly in complicity with this?
BARTLETT: Well, I think the leadership is being very forthcoming about what they know and when they knew it. There is going to be, I'm sure, a criminal investigation into the particulars of this case.
So I don't think anybody has to worry about this being thoroughly investigated. We're going to get to the bottom of this, the leadership is, and that's very important, because we need to make sure that the page system is one in which children come up here and can work and make sure that they are protected.
BLITZER: When you say a criminal investigation, who would undertake that kind of criminal investigation?
I assume a criminal investigation of Mark Foley.
BARTLETT: Well, if you take the allegations at face value, I think there would have to be at least a preliminary look to see if there's any breaking of criminal law.
I'm not a lawyer and I don't know all the particulars of the case, but I think this is going to get a lot of scrutiny, and it should get a lot of scrutiny, and I'm sure if there's, as Speaker Hastert and others have said, if someone needs to be held accountable -- Representative Foley -- they will be.
BLITZER: I want to move on, but what about this notion, though, that there were leaders, Republican leaders in the House -- suggestion, including the speaker of the House -- who knew earlier about this inappropriate e-mail.
Should they be held accountable if they, in effect, turned a blind eye and said, just make sure he stops doing this?
BARTLETT: Well, Wolf, I think it's important, at least from the reports I have seen, is that the leadership made clear that they did not know about the specific e-mails that are now being discussed, that they saw were described in a much different way, maybe not an appropriate way, but much different than the sensational e-mails that have now been revealed.
And the referrals were taken by the speaker's office, and they were given to the appropriate people. But again, this all is going to be looked at. It should be looked at.
Most importantly, we have to make sure that we have the integrity of the page system on Capitol Hill, and no one takes that more seriously than the speaker.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about this bombshell of a book, "State of Denial: Bush at War Part III," by Bob Woodward.
BLITZER: The final paragraph basically sums up the main theme of the book: "With all Bush's upbeat talk and optimism, he had not told the American public the truth about what Iraq had become."
It's in effect suggesting, as the title says, that the president of the United States and his top advisers were in a state of denial.
BARTLETT: You know, Wolf, it's interesting, because I've obviously spent a lot of time with Bob over the last six years, five years, talking about his various projects, and a lot of the discussions, a lot of the debate about this book is about old debates that we've had about the number of troops and the post-reconstruction phase, disagreements between Jerry Bremer and the Pentagon and the State Department.
But I must say, I was quite struck by the cover of the book and the central thesis of denial, because the evidence in the book itself -- and I've read it over the last 48 hours as quickly as I could -- but I was struck by the fact, Wolf, that there is evidence that contradicts his very thesis of denial. Throughout this book, throughout many of the president's public speeches, he's been very blunt with the American people about the difficulty of this war. He's been very blunt about the challenges we face.
He's gone to great lengths to explain how we're adapting our strategy to the enemy's tactics. As you've covered before, in late last year and early this year, the president gave a series of speeches where he was talking about how we had made some mistakes, how we've changed the way we're training Iraqi security forces, for example.
In this book, I must say, I was really -- I am puzzled by the fact that he's come to the conclusion of this title, this central thesis, because I don't even think the evidence in his own book backs it up.
BLITZER: Because his two earlier books on President Bush were seen by the White House, seen by many as very sympathetic, very supportive, if you will, of the president. That's why this one stands in stark contrast.
Let me read from page 471 and 472: "Wednesday, May 24. The intelligence division of the Joint Staff, J-2, circulated an intelligence assessment, classified, secret, that showed that the forces in Iraq were not in retreat. In large print, the assessment said, quote, "The Sunni Arab insurgency is gaining strength and increasing capacity despite political progress and Iraqi security forces development. Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase level of violence through next year."
This at a time when the president was saying this publicly. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Years from now people will look back on the formation of a unity government in Iraq as a decisive moment in the story of liberty. A moment when freedom gained a firm foothold in the Middle East and the forces of terror began their long retreat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. The contrast being that he was privately being told about a gloomy assessment, the situation in Iraq would probably be worse next year than it is this year, and suggesting to the American people publicly that, in his words, the terror forces were in a long retreat.
BARTLETT: Well, the first part of that quote -- and I think this is a very classic example where you can take a quote from a presidential speech and draw any conclusion you want.
The bottom line, the president years from now, he has taken a historical perspective that we're going to look back on this project and decide that when an Iraqi government was formed, when 12 million Iraqis came together and voted for a new way of life, that this was going to be a demonstrable difference in the lives of the Iraqi people.
In that very speech, the president talks about the necessary sacrifices, a lot of challenges going ahead. As you know, Wolf, because you were reporting at the time, this was in the wake of the sectarian violence that erupted after the bombing of the Golden Samarra Mosque.
We recognized that there was a very difficult period. The president was explaining that to the American people, but...
BLITZER: Do you expect the violence in Iraq in 2007 to be worse than it has been in 2006?
BARTLETT: Well, I can't make that prediction myself. But...
BLITZER: But what are you hearing from your intelligence and your military officers?
BARTLETT: I think it's interesting, Wolf, because General Abizaid has made very clear that we're going to keep the current strength of troops at about 140-something thousand at that level through the spring of '07. That's the difference here. The president at every step of the way, despite maybe the political expediency there may be to actually reduce troops, the president is listening to the generals on the ground, and I think that's what the American people want. It's going to be a conditions-based strategy. If we need more troops, we'll send more troops. If we need less troops, there'll be less troops there.
And the president has been very clear about that. And I think that's what so puzzling about this book, is that time and time again in this book, it points to evidence of saying we're in denial, when in fact you can look at the very same speeches or very same reports that show contradictory evidence to his thesis.
BLITZER: And coming up, more of my conversation with Dan Bartlett about how his boss, the president of the United States, is running the country and the war. And I'll ask him whether Donald Rumsfeld should be dumped as the defense secretary. And later, is Iraq out of control? I'll speak with two senior members of the Senate foreign relations committee.
And remember, tomorrow night, "Larry King Live" with Bob Woodward about his new book, "State of Denial." Bob Woodward will take your questions, 9 p.m. Eastern.
Stay with "Late Edition" and CNN.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." We're standing by to speak live with senators Richard Lugar and Chris Dodd of the Foreign Relations Committee. That's coming up. But first, more now of my conversation earlier today with one of President Bush's closest advisers, the counselor, Dan Bartlett.
BLITZER: Here's the part of the National Intelligence Estimate that was released publicly this past week: "The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities."
That's one segment. It's talking about the impact of the fighting in Iraq on the worldwide terror threat against the United States.
This is what the president said on September 7th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We are safer because we've taken action to protect the homeland. We're safer because we are on the offense against our enemies overseas. We're safer because of the skill and sacrifice of the brave Americans who defend our people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is there a contradiction there? Because the suggestion being is the American people are not safer right now because Iraq has become a breeding ground for jihadists and terrorists against the United States.
BARTLETT: Well, Wolf, you packed a lot into the question and the quotes and it's important to take a close look at the NIE because the NIE says that Iraq is one of four different factors that is fueling extremism and the recruits of the jihadists. And they're all very serious and they're all the type of underlying factors that had been there even before we went into Iraq.
Iraq is being used by the extremists as a recruiting tool. That is not a mystery. That is not -- they do it on their Web sites. They do it in calls by bin Laden himself.
BARTLETT: The irony is that bin Laden was using Iraq even before 2003 as a rallying cry for the jihadist movement.
The other point I would make: In that very speech that you quoted President Bush from, he went on to say that we are not yet safe, that the remaining challenges, that the enemy we're up against is very skillful, they're determined, they have a hateful ideology that they're trying to spread throughout the world.
In fact, the irony here is that about two weeks ago when right around September 11th, the critics were saying that the president has a campaign of fear; he is only talking about the enemy; he is only talking about how bad things are to try to scare the voters into voting for him.
Well, you can't have it both ways. The president is being very blunt about...
BLITZER: But the suggestion is...
BARTLETT: ... the prospects of what's happening in this war, the consequences. And one thing the NIE does say -- and it's an important debate to have in Washington -- is, if we leave Iraq, if the jihadists leave Iraq thinking they won this battle, they will even grow in more strength. We will have perceived to have lost if we pull out and that's the lesson the policymakers here in Washington should take.
BLITZER: But has the war in Iraq increased the terror threat against the United States?
BARTLETT: Well, that report doesn't say that. What the report says is there are four underlying factors that they are using to recruit more extremists. To say that that directly results in vulnerability here at home is not a conclusion that this NIE draws.
What we draw from this NIE is that it's a very frank assessment, that we have a very tough enemy that we're up against; they're very skilled at propaganda; they are very skilled at using age-old grievances or current conflicts as a recruiting tool but if we don't find this war on offense, Wolf, we will be more vulnerable at home.
And that's why this president will continue to fight for the tools necessary to fight them over there so we don't have to face them here at home.
BLITZER: Here's what Bob Woodward writes in his book, "State of Denial," quoting General Colin Powell, the former secretary of state: "I think things have gotten worse. We have a raging insurgency still. We still have terrorism. But the new element which came out from the bombing of the religious site at Samarra is that we now have sect on sect violence and it's serious. And this is a new war. And it's a war that American troops have less and less to do with. I understand that the CIA chiefs of station have a somewhat more negative view now."
Once again, the suggestion by Bob Woodward, in this book, that the president is misleading the American public on how bad things have deteriorated inside Iraq.
BARTLETT: Well, that would require somebody who -- a typical American who is out there following the news to not just see the obvious, every time you turn on your TV or open up your paper. People know how difficult it is in Iraq. And the president has been very blunt about that.
And the sectarian violence is something that we're seriously concerned about and the president has spoken at length about what we're doing to try to fix that.
And Colin Powell does raise a very serious point and it is, it's less and less about what we're doing but what the Iraqis are doing.
And part of our strategy is a political strategy to help this new unity government make the difficult decisions to reconcile differences between age-old sectarian divides. And it's a divide that Saddam Hussein himself exploited in order to rule his country in a brutal way, so it is a complicated strategy. It's the necessary strategy.
But most importantly, and I think the American people understand this, Wolf, is that, if we don't win in Iraq, if we don't have a victory in Iraq, sustaining a government there that can protect itself and be an ally in the war on terror, we will have made this country less safe.
And that is the conclusion all the intelligence reports show.
BLITZER: In this book, "State of Denial," and you read it now, basically, the other theme that comes across is that this has been an administration, a dysfunctional administration where you have bitter internal battles, that the president was under enormous pressure from some of his top advisers to fire the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.
He resisted. He obviously has not done that. But the dysfunctional White House, as it's depicted in this book, comes across.
I'll read to you from page 428: "After Thanksgiving, then-White House Chief of Staff Andy Card made another concerted effort to get the president to replace Rumsfeld. Many of the Republican and Democratic leaders were telling Card privately that they could just not deal with him. He was more arrogant and unresponsive than ever. Card was also hearing from members of the old foreign policy establishment connected to the president's father -- the gray beards, as he called them -- who were complaining more and more. A focus was Rumsfeld."
Is this true, that so many of the president's top advisers -- Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Andy Card, among others -- were urging the president to dump Rumsfeld?
BARTLETT: Well, you made two different points in here, and I'll take both of them squarely.
The first one was that there's dysfunction in the administration. And I think what's happening in this book is there's a conflation of disagreement with dysfunction.
You want to have an administration, a team, that has differences of opinion. These are very tough issues, Wolf. They're not easy, black and white, easy to call. They're very difficult, and they're ones in which when you have hindsight seem easy to make.
The president wants advisers that are strong-willed, that have differences of opinion, share those opinions with him so then he can make the best decision possible.
Now, the issue about Secretary Rumsfeld. And if you read the book carefully, Secretary Rice didn't call for Secretary Rumsfeld's dismissal. She suggested to the president maybe he ought to bring in a whole new national security team, starting in the second term.
Andy Card, his job as chief of staff is to analyze every senior post within the White House and within the cabinet. And he did that, even recommending to the president that he should replace himself. His job was to give him options.
But as we all know, the president is very -- has all the confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld, believes he's the right man to do the job, as he is doing. He has a very complicated job. He's fighting a war...
BLITZER: So he's saying Rumsfeld is not going anywhere?
BARTLETT: He has the fullest confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld.
BLITZER: One final question. Henry Kissinger: Has he been, as this book suggests, a major outside informal adviser to the president and the vice president, frequently visiting the White House and offering assessments on Iraq and other issues?
BARTLETT: Well, I think it's funny because there's a lot -- the conventional wisdom is that the president's in this bubble, that he doesn't listen to anybody.
But he's always talking to people, outside advisers, people who have long experience, such as Henry Kissinger. Of course he listens to Henry Kissinger. The man's got a wealth of experience and knowledge. But to suggest he has -- he's the driving influence behind the president's policy, I think, is a mischaracterization. BLITZER: Dan Bartlett, thanks very much for coming in.
BARTLETT: Thanks for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: And from inside the White House to two insiders in the United States Senate, I'll speak live with two senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the chairman, Richard Lugar and Democrat Chris Dodd.
And remember, for our North American viewers, in the next hour, much more on the situation in Iraq as well as the war on terrorism. "This Week at War" airs at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
But up next, a quick check of what's in the news right now. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: We're just getting this in, some new videotape that has just come in, very disturbing videotape showing two of the 9/11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 attacks, as well as Ziad Jarrah. He was the hijacker that piloted United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.
You can see both of them smiling. This was video that was supposedly taken in Afghanistan as they went there to meet together with Osama bin Laden just before they went on their mission here in the United States, and we all know what happened as a result of that.
The Sunday Times says the video is dated January 18th, 2000, about a year and a half before the attacks against the United States, and was made in Afghanistan to be released after their death. Not exactly clear why this is being released right now, but let's get some instant analysis of what we're seeing here, disturbing video.
Joining us is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, Republican of Indiana, and a senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Senators, thanks very much. Mr. Chairman, when you see this kind of video, you see these guys planning and plotting, working together, what goes through your mind?
LUGAR: Well, what goes through my mind is the same thoughts as when I learned some of the hijackers were exercising in Gold's Gym out here in Maryland the week before. You wonder what kind of people these are, what motivates them to do this. Now, we've thought a lot about this during the last five years because this is a jihadist movement of an extreme sorts, but these exemplify that type of psychology. It is horrible to witness, and it's horrible to witness in our world currently.
BLITZER: What about you, Senator Dodd, because these were not necessarily individuals who came from poor backgrounds, uneducated. They were educated, sophisticated. They could float around and mingle in the Western world, and we all know what they did in commandeering those planes.
DODD: What bothers me most I think as I'm looking at this is that's almost six years old, that video, and today according to the administration figures, not mine or anyone else's, the ranks of al Qaida have swelled from 20,000 members to 50,000 members. So we're looking at two individuals here who were prepared to take their lives and the lives of innocent people.
How many more people are we looking at today prepared to do that? And that's -- I know we're going to talk about this, but I think frankly we're at greater risk today as a result of not really taking the -- doing the steps, taking the steps necessary to deal with this. So I'm worried we're looking at a bigger problem.
BLITZER: So, in other words, not just the 19, but right now there may be a lot more...
DODD: A lot more.
BLITZER: ... of these guys.
DODD: We know there are a lot more.
BLITZER: Well, here's what the National Intelligence Estimate, the declassified estimate that was released this week, portions of it, concluded, among other things: "Jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion. If this trend continues, threats to U.S. interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide."
You've read this National Intelligence Estimate, and one of the conclusions is that a key factor in promoting the creation of this -- these jihadists is the war in Iraq.
LUGAR: Well, the key factor you've just mentioned is clearly disputable. The fact is that Iraq is a battle zone, and it has brought a lot of people in. Of course, the sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis and the militias and elsewhere likewise is equally violent. I think before jumping to the conclusion that Iraq is the cause of all of this, you have to examine why our embassies were bombed in Africa long ago, why Afghanistan happened, why jihadists have been, really, throughout the Middle East with the Saudis now planning a 550-mile fence to keep them out. It is a worldwide phenomenon.
BLITZER: And 9/11 happened before the U.S. invaded Iraq. LUGAR: That's true, and let me just point out that we are vigilant, but we have not had attacks upon America since 9/11. The attacks have come in European capitals. The dispersion of jihadists has really headed more in that direction. Maybe they are learning some things and we are working better together in terms of our intelligence, as we found with the reports on the potential blowing up of aircraft across the Atlantic.
BLITZER: Senator Dodd?
DODD: Well, it's pretty bleak here. This is a war of choice, and it's causing a serious problem. These are 16 agencies who comprise the intelligence community, have drawn the conclusion here that this war is a failure. It's causing us deep and serious problems. We prematurely have abandoned Afghanistan or at least apparently so because that is collapsing as we talk. And have given up on some time for the search for Osama bin Laden and became obsessed with Saddam Hussein, and this is causing us serious, serious problems.
Now, all of us, of course, recognize we've got a major threat to our country, and certainly while we have not been attacked in the United States, it's not much consolation to the families of almost 3,000 of our young men and women who lost their lives in Iraq, not to mention the loss of treasury. And certainly when our allies are faced with these difficulties, the problem persists.
BLITZER: Listen to what the president said on this National Intelligence Estimate, Senator Dodd. And I want you to respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The Democrats are using the NIE to mislead the American people and justify their policy of withdrawal from Iraq. The American people need to know what withdrawal from Iraq would mean. By withdrawing from Iraq before the job is done, we would be doing exactly what the extremists and terrorists want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you agree with the president?
DODD: No, absolutely. I mean, 65 percent of the Iraqi people want us out of their country. Many people think that we're actually becoming the fuel that causes the loss of life in that country on a daily basis. I'm not advocating any instantaneous withdrawal. Nor are many, many serious people that I know advocating that.
But clearly, we need to be talking about redeployment, and clearly, the Iraqi people have to assume this responsibility. It's not going to be resolved. There isn't a treasury deep enough or an army big enough that can guarantee for the Iraqis what they have to decide for themselves.
BLITZER: All right, but that University of Maryland survey said close to 70 percent of Iraqis want the U.S. military out of their country within the next year. LUGAR: Almost 100 percent of the Sunnis were a part of that sample. Fifty-six percent of the Kurds want us to stay.
LUGAR: We have just an exemplification of what Chris Dodd has pointed out. The real battle is to find an Iraq in which three parts come together.
BLITZER: Can that happen?
Can these three parts of Iraq...
LUGAR: Well, it really has happen...
BLITZER: ... come together, Kurds, Shia and Sunni?
LUGAR: If they're going to have a future, they'll have to. Because the 303,000 people, now, are trained. But there isn't a government that knows, really, how to deploy and make effective the defenses Iraqis have built for themselves.
BLITZER: Do you have confidence in Nouri al-Maliki the prime minister?
LUGAR: I'm not going to make a comment whether I have confidence or not. He is the prime minister and we need to give him every bit of support right now and push to get on with it.
BLITZER: Stand by, guys, because we have a lot more to talk about. We're going to continue our conversation with these two influential senators. I'll ask them more about what's happening in Iraq and other hot spots.
And remember, for our North American viewers and all of our viewers, in fact, Bob Woodward will be talking about his new book, taking your phone calls on "Larry King Live." That airs tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're just getting in a copy of a letter that the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House has just written, demanding a full-scale investigation of the Mark Foley incident, Mark Foley, the Republican, now former Republican from Florida accused of getting engaged in sexually explicit e-mail with a 16-year-old congressional page, a young boy.
It is a nightmare for every child, parent and grandparent to learn that a child is being stalked on the Internet by an adult in a position of authority. She goes on to say she believes that Republican leaders who knew about this for six months to a year must be investigated themselves.
Since that resolution unanimously passed on Friday, Republican leaders have admitted to knowing about Mr. Foley's outrageous behavior for six months to a year and they chose to cover it up rather than protect these children.
Joining us, now, once again, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar and a ranking Democrat, Chris Dodd.
This is so awful, potentially, not only for the parents of these young pages -- and both of you have dealt with these pages for many years -- but for confidence in the United States Congress, right now, what is unfolding.
LUGAR: Well, I would join Congresswoman Pelosi in saying an investigation ought to occur. That's what she's suggesting.
BLITZER: But she's really saying, though, that the Republican leadership -- they failed. They knew about this six months ago, or a year ago. Maybe they didn't have all the details, but they basically said to Congressman Foley, you know what, stop. And that was it. If in fact that was the case, somebody was derelict.
LUGAR: Well, they will have to speak for themselves. I would just say, simply, that, to what has occurred is just as terrible as is being suggested.
There needs to be, clearly, protection for pages. There needs to be at least the opportunity for these young people to serve. It's a great experience, but it has to be unencumbered by the type of thing we're talking about now.
BLITZER: This is so worrying because parents, they send their 15, 16, 17-year-old kids to Washington. And there is a responsibility that all of you have.
DODD: First of all, I'll tell you, there is a very good program and it's much, much better today than it was years ago, where these young people came and basically lived on their own.
Today there's a school and dormitories and they're much more closely monitored and watched.
What is troubling here is the point that Congresswoman Pelosi raised. And that is, if people knew about this -- we saw examples of this -- as a Catholic, I say, we saw examples of this in the Catholic Church not that long ago, where hierarchy in the church neglected to pursue these matters aggressively.
And if that is the case, then she's absolutely correct. And the only way we're going to know that is by pursuing it. So I underscore what Senator Lugar has said here. This needs to be thoroughly examined and explored. And if, in fact, they did know, then people are going to have an awful lot of explaining to do.
BLITZER: All right, let's move on and talk about this book, "State of Denial," this Bob Woodward book, which basically accuses President Bush and his top advisers of being in a state of denial. I'll read to you from page 400 because it refers to Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, a friend of yours, a colleague of yours: "Hagel made a pitch that Iraq was a much bigger mess than they were acknowledging and the administration should do more on security, training, governance and infrastructure. He left unsatisfied and gave an interview to U.S. News and World Report, saying, quote, 'Things aren't getting better. They're getting worse.' His private assessment was worse. The administration had no strategic thinker. Condoleezza Rice was weak. The military was being emasculated and severely damaged by uniformed sycophants."
Tough words. You know Chuck Hagel. He's a serious member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. What do you make of this?
LUGAR: Well, I would just say that both Senator Dodd and I have sat through hearings that Senator Biden conducted when he was chairman, that I have conducted.
We have talked explicitly about Iraq, about the preparation for war, preparation, hopefully, for peace and reconstruction, the lack of reconstruction progress, the dilemmas that we've just been discussing today with the Al Qaida -- all of this, all of us have expressed ourselves on.
Sometimes we've been listened to and sometimes not. I would just say, clearly, we have responsibility to continue to do that and to offer the very best counsel that we can.
I'm not going to offer judgments, categorically, person by person as to whether the president should have this person or that. I would think, conceivably, a wider circle of advisers and, maybe, now, in a bipartisan way, would be very helpful to the president as opposed to a much narrower circle that, apparently, has been the case.
BLITZER: The president, this week, at a political fund-raiser down in Alabama this week said that your party, the Democratic party, of FDR and the party of Harry Truman, in his words, has become the party of cut-and-run.
DODD: Well, this is campaign season here. And let me just mention a couple -- the title of this book which is getting so much attention, "State of Denial" -- and I say this not because he's sitting here, but I sit on the committee with Dick Lugar. We've had hearings on Iraq and Afghanistan, on Iran, wonderful hearings, comprehensive hearings with people who have testified, who are not necessarily in favor of present policies.
Unfortunately, that's been the exception, Wolf, not the rule. And denial also has to go to members of Congress. The Republican leadership in Congress have not conducted the kind of oversight that should have been conducted.
Why are we having a rump hearing, listening to three senior military people who gave up a career in the military because of their total objections to what this administration was doing? Those individuals should have been before serious committees of the Congress. So members of Congress bear responsibility as well here, the leadership does, for not doing what Dick Lugar has done, I might add, on several occasions, giving us the opportunity to examine these issues more thoroughly.
BLITZER: We're totally out of time, but a quick question: Who's going to win, Lieberman or Ned Lamont, in your home state of Connecticut?
DODD: Well, it's going to be close. Look at it that way.
BLITZER: Who do you want?
DODD: Well, I'm supporting Ned Lamont.
BLITZER: That must be so painful for you...
DODD: Of course, it is. Thank you for asking me, though.
BLITZER: ... the tough...
BLITZER: .... very close relationship you've had with Joe Lieberman.
DODD: We're very good friends. But 145,000 Democrats, on August 8, made a decision.
DODD: I cannot not respect the decision of the members of my party and my state. That was the decision they made. I had a different one. I wanted Joe to win. Worked hard for him. But they reached a different conclusion.
BLITZER: All right. We'll leave it right there. Have you concluded yet whether you're running for president?
DODD: I'm exploring it very thoroughly.
BLITZER: Sounds like you are.
DODD: Sounds like I am.
BLITZER: Always good to have you on the program, Senator Dodd, Senator Lugar. Both of you are always good on the program because you're both candid and frank with our viewers. Appreciate it very much.
And up next, much more of our program. What was said on the other Sunday morning talk shows here in the United States about the U.S. mission in Iraq. We'll update you on that. And don't forget, to find the latest political news, including highlights from all the network Sunday talk shows, check out our CNN Political Ticker. Easy way to do it, go to cnn.com/ticker.
And for our North American viewers, coming up right at the top of the hour, "This Week at War" looks at how a big majority of Iraqis now say they want the U.S. out. John Roberts in "This Week at War," 1 p.m. Eastern. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: And now, in case you missed it, let's check some of the highlights from the other Sunday morning talk shows here in the United States. On all of them, discussion centered on the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq and the way ahead for the U.S. mission there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I think there is a genuine intellectual fight under way inside the government among professionals over the way ahead. And I think one group is saying stay the course, hold things steady, this will all work. And the other group of equally serious professionals is saying, this is much harder than you think it is. You had better rethink your entire strategy.
And this is a genuine fight in the intelligence community, and a genuine fight at the state and defense departments. And I think the president in that sense has two different camps in the government today over how to do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
U.S. REP. JOHN MURTHA, D-PENNSYLVANIA: Who do I believe, this administration, who said there's al Qaida connection, who said there's weapons of mass destruction, say it's going better every day? Do I believe them? Or do I believe the people I've been talking to, the troops in the field, the troops in the hospitals, and the generals who said we can't win it militarily? What is the point? We've got 130,000 people on the ground for two years. It's getting worse every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
U.S. SENATOR MIKE DEWINE, R-OHIO: We cannot leave Iraq with the job undone. And we cannot set an artificial timetable. It would bring disaster. Just to set a date that we will be out, it will embolden the insurgents. It will tell them when we will be gone. They just sit back and wait. That would be a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) U.S. SENATOR JOE BIDEN, D-DELAWARE: Within the administration, Bob, and all your sources -- ask them -- they are completely at odds with one another. They have no idea what to do next. As I said, there's 600,000-plus trained forces by us, counting our forces. Things are getting worse and worse. It's spiraling out of hand.
There's a political solution needed. And the president is doing nothing, nothing, nothing about it. He is the one should cut the old program and run on a new program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Highlights from the other Sunday morning talk shows here on "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: And that's your "Late Edition" for this Sunday, October 1st. Please be sure to join us again next Sunday and every Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. We're on from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern every Sunday morning.
I'm also in "The Situation Room" Monday through Friday 4 to 6 p.m. Eastern, back for another hour at 7 p.m. Eastern. Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
For our North American viewers, "This Week at War" just ahead, right after a check of what's in the news right now.
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