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CNN CAPITAL GANG

Is America Going to War?; Bob Kerrey Discusses Military Strategy; Diplomat Ed Walker Discusses Need for Military Secrecy

Aired September 22, 2001 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG.

I am Mark Shields with a full CAPITOL GANG: Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

President Bush addressed a joint session of Congress to call the nation to arms.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not forget the wound to our country and those who inflicted it. I will not yield. I will not rest. I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: The president delivered an ultimatum to the Taliban regime ruling Afghanistan that was quickly rejected.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Deliver to United States authorities all the leaders of al Qaeda who hide in your land. Give the United States full access to terrorist training camps so we can make sure they are no longer operating. These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion. The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MULLAH ABDUL SALAM ZAEEF, TALIBAN AMBASSADOR TO PAKISTAN: There are many culpabilities -- who are the real culprits behind this event. If there is no evidence and proof given to us -- that will not be needed to get Osama bin Laden without any proof.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, was the president able to give Americans a clear picture of the coming war?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, it was -- it was a clarion call to war, and it was a very effective one. He showed the public that he was tough and determined, and he gave voice to the righteous anger, and he showed the military that he was smart about it. And he showed, perhaps most importantly, other countries that he was -- he was going to be prudent about this. The "wanted dead or alive" was counteracted, I think, by the intelligence and the nuance nature of the speech.

But no one can give a clear picture at the moment because we don't know where Osama bin Laden is. We don't know how to fight a war in Afghanistan. Two countries have been defeated there. The intelligence isn't good enough. Maybe Pakistan will end up helping us, and Saudi Arabia on that; but there are so many things we don't know.

And he did something very important because it's -- we don't want other Muslims getting angry at the United States for retaliating. And he said the -- Osama bin Laden hijacked the Muslim religion. He's using it for his own purposes. And if he can keep other Muslims from going against the United States here, it will be a great thing in this war on Osama bin Laden.

SHIELDS: Kate.

KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Mark, the exact cause of this war is, of course, unknown. But I agree with Margaret. He prepared the public in a very effective way, as much as is possible at the moment, by explaining it is going to be a lengthy campaign. We face a continuing threat.

He specifically said what it's not going to be. It's not going to be the most recent wars we've experienced. He specifically explains it's not going to be like Kosovo where there was a clear liberation at the end of it. It's not going to be like the Persian Gulf. It's not going to be like Kosovo, where it was just an air war and no troops. He's letting us know there could well be troops involved. It's not going to be a short war fought at a distance. And that's all he can do now, I think; and I think that's all the public expects of him now.

He was so resolute and determined. But despite the inability, because of all the unknowns, to track the exact cause of the war, the public is clearly overwhelmingly with him.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Speeches are important in wars, as Winston Churchill proved a long time ago. But with Winston Churchill, you knew exactly where you were going. You knew that you had to fight Hitler somehow. Nobody knew how they were going to do it, but you knew what the goal was.

The president gave a terrific speech. It was the speech of his life. It was well-written, well-delivered. But the American people now expect something to happen, and they don't know exactly what. And the -- what he did was he put an ultimatum against Afghanistan.

Everybody I talk to says that the -- destroying Afghanistan or defeating Afghanistan does not win the war against terrorism. And a lot of people think that the -- I don't happen to -- but a lot of people think that the target is Iraq. He didn't mention Iraq in that speech.

So I think this is fine for the -- I agree with both Kate and Margaret -- it's fine for now. But it is not the answer to what -- the American people have to know where they're going. And people in the White House and Pentagon say, well, we're not going to let anybody know anything. That's not going to work either.

AL HUNT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, but that's evolving. This is quite, quite complicated. It was a terrific speech, as been said countless times over the last 48 hours. It was magnificently written, well delivered. And he did lay out a very important short- term objective, which is not only just to get Osama bin Laden, but really to topple the Taliban government, because there's no way in the world they're going to meet those conditions and let us...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BEIRNE: In which case they share the...

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: ... so therefore, you know, Bob, you're absolutely right about the long run. There are lots of issues, some of which we'll try to get into later.

But short term, it's very clear what America has to do, and I think that it will be achieved. It may not be at all easy. I think getting Osama bin Laden may be the easier part of it. I think between air power and special forces, we'll probably do it. The worst nightmare for us would be if Osama really is shrewd, if he went to Pakistan. That would really create problems for us.

But toppling the Taliban is a little bit more difficult in the sense that we have people over there, the Northern Alliance and others that we -- our natural allies, they hate the Taliban. But they're splintered. It's not as easy to do; it'll take a while. And they're talking now about what happens afterwards: a permanent -- a temporary U.N. force there. That's fraught with peril.

SHIELDS: Let me just say: A landlocked country, 27 million people, incredibly poor, $80 million in exports -- the whole country. I mean, talking about Afghanistan, we're talking about really, I mean, the poorest of the poor. And we're talking to the United States going in. This is a different kind of war. To say a different kind of war, it sounds an awful lot like Vietnam to me.

NOVAK: Well let me just say one factual thing. That if -- nobody likes the Taliban regime. I don't even like it.

SHIELDS: No.

CARLSON: It must be really bad. NOVAK: It's a really bad regime. But if we, next week, exterminated the Taliban regime, we would not have won the war against terrorism.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: That's the difference.

O'BEIRNE: The president has not led -- has not let us to expect that to be the case. He talked about the Taliban and then he talked about other regimes or -- who aid and comfort and harbor terrorists will also be considered hostile regimes, and they're unspecified at the moment.

But he knows, and I think has prepared the public for the fact this goes well beyond the Taliban.

HUNT: But I also think the...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It may go well beyond it, but it is -- one at a time. It's going to be a separate speech when we go further. But the immediate task is to do that, and I don't know that we can do much more because the -- you need a narrow goal to build a wide coalition.

HUNT: Well, the only thing I'm convinced of, that the American people are very patient on this. I think there is a sense this has deeply affected Americans.

I was at a ballgame Friday night. The seventh inning, they didn't play "Take me Out to the Ballgame." They sang -- everyone at the stadium sang "God Bless America." That -- Hollywood shorn of ego, if you can imagine that -- put on that magnificent fund-raiser the other night.

I think the American people will give the president time, both with Afghanistan and other issues. And we've heard a lot about a loss of innocence. Congressman Barney Frank puts it better: What we've lost is our guilt; our guilt over Vietnam, our guilt over being the richest, most powerful country in the world. I think that's a sea change.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Bob hasn't felt guilty.

NOVAK: I have never felt any guilt. I felt pride in Vietnam.

SHIELDS: Let's just close with this one thing: One-third of this country's people fled during the Russians -- I mean...

NOVAK: Afghanistan.

SHIELDS: Afghanistan. We're -- I mean, we're talking about something -- if you're talking about occupation for a long time, talk to the Soviets. Well -- I mean, I don't know who we'd put in their place because there isn't indigenous leadership there. It's a big bite...

HUNT: But we get them out first.

SHIELDS: Well, listen, you're not going to find me saying a good word about the Taliban. But if you knock them out, there's still a big job to be done, and not the resources to do it with.

But the GANG of five will be back with a backstage war in Washington, which is the Pentagon against the State Department.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: There is the flag of the United States at the Capitol of the United States. It has been restored to full mast from half- mast as of sunset today.

Welcome back.

Immediately after the September 11 terrorist attack, contradictory views on how to respond were voiced at high levels of both the Defense and the State Departments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL WOLFOWITZ, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We're after ending terrorism. And if there are states and regimes, nations that support terrorism, we hope to persuade them that it is in their interest to stop doing that. But I think ending terrorism is where I would like to leave it and let Mr. Wolfowitz speak for himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: The secretary of state tried to build a coalition, meeting with Chinese and Russian diplomats and strengthening ties with Latin America and Europe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: The European Union's principled response to the September 11 attacks and to our call for a worldwide effort against terrorism is just the latest demonstration of the fact that a strong united Europe is good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Wolfowitz and other Pentagon officials are reported much less interested in coalition building.

Kate O'Beirne, how does this debate affect what the U.S. military response actually will turn out to be?

O'BEIRNE: Well, Mark, we saw it even in that introduction that they share the same aim, just as Paul Wolfowitz's boss Don Rumsfeld has said this problem's bigger than bin Laden. Secretary Powell says the goal here is ending terrorism; going after groups that mean us no good, he says, even those responsible for previous attacks. So the aims are the same, they're all echoing their president.

Now, obviously, as secretary of state, Colin Powell's going to be more interested in broader coalitions. But in the short term, militarily, there's no operational affect. His emphasis on broad coalitions, more of an interest in that than the Defense Department might have because they're all on the same sheet about the need to go after bin Laden and Afghanistan.

So we won't know for some time whether or not a coalition could be put together for other phases of this war to end terrorism, in Powell's words.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, the Defense Department people are not nearly as respectful of Secretary Powell's approach as is Kate O'Beirne.

HUNT: No, Kate, I think they're on the same page as far as the initial stage is concerned, as far as Afghanistan. But I think they're already in different books when it comes to the next stage.

And at the center of that debate right now, although there will be other issues that are equally profound is Iraq. And there is no question that the Wolfowitz faction thinks that this is an opportunity to get Iraq. It's justified because of their actions in the past. And the Powell faction basically thinks unless you can prove that Iraq was involved in this, that that would be really a misguided priority right now.

And if Iraq -- I talked to a couple people who, I think, know a lot about this. They said, look, if you can prove that Iraq was involved in this, we have no choice but to take Saddam out. But what that involves is a carnage and killing of a magnitude that, if we don't have proof, is going to turn off the rest of the Muslim world. And that's a very, very tough issue right now.

There -- I will just add one more thing. A bunch of other conservatives said not only Iraq -- I'm talking about Bill Kristol, Bill Bennett and Jeane Kirkpatrick -- they said we've got to give the same kind of ultimatum to Syria and Iran, and Iran is tougher than Iraq.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, Senator Jesse Helms, the ranking Republican of the Foreign Relations Committee said on "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS" today that Iraq -- he backed going right in there and he stood strong with odds (ph).

NOVAK: That's right. And of course, he said that he couldn't expect any help from China or Russia, which is a position you also hear privately at the Pentagon.

A lot of this, really, I think is very worrisome, because if -- that's why all this talk about a third world war bothers me, but after you dispose of the Taliban, that you go after Iraq, you go after Syria, that you wage a war against all the bad guys in the word. And this is very much tied up with the people who are very much dedicated to Israel's position, because Israel wants to put Yasser Arafat right in the same position as bin Laden.

So that's why I worry about the fact that -- that we don't know exactly where we're going, and when you ask where we're going that's a military secret. Because I think these are very serious questions that after -- after the patriotism, we're all saying we want to get these bloody bastards who did this terrible deed, that where does that mean we are starting to engage in a world war against this many nations.

SHIELDS: And Margaret Carlson, there isn't much of a debate in the country, because the Democrats have signed on as full defenders, full supporters and almost full participants in the Bush policy, whatever it is.

CARLSON: It's a loving up there, their bodies slamming hug. So you're not going to -- you know, maybe they are right. It is not a time to be having a huge, huge to do when what it looks like is we have a focused mission, which is to get the people who did this.

Now, it might be nice to use it as an opportunity to get Saddam Hussein, we've never finished up with him. But Powell would be against it, because he's the one who has to build this broad coalition, and the more you want to do, the less you're going to be able to do that. Countries can start dropping out. And we need them. We need Pakistan, we need Saudi Arabia and we need the United Arab Emirates. We can't risk that at the moment.

O'BEIRNE: But there's something else we need, which is why the president does talk in terms, as does Colin Powell, about a war against terrorism. We need Americans to be safe. And that goes beyond that mission of defending America, now that we know what this new M.O. is on behalf of these people, goes beyond just the Taliban. As Colin Powell himself said, those regimes who have been responsible for this sort of thing in the past, that it is clearly Iraq, and how you can leave Iraq sitting right there, knowing what a threat the kind of terrorism they...

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: Iran is just as -- as complicit.

O'BEIRNE: Well, then either -- well, then their job is to help us root out the kind of terrorism they are...

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: But no one has supported Hezbollah more than Iran.

NOVAK: But the point, but the point...

O'BEIRNE: Well, we'll find out if that's going to continue to be the case in the face of this relentless effort that we're preparing.

(CROSSTALK)

HUNT: Paul Wolfowitz talks about ending regimes. That's different than bringing pressure on people.

NOVAK: The point is that people are talking about these attacks and are not really interested in determining whether Iraq had anything to do with the September 11 attacks. They think that now is the time to get him. And there's no question about that.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are not friendly, they are not friendly regimes, that it's unlikely that you can nail Hussein for this.

SHIELDS: I would just say this, this is a total violation of the Powell doctrine. There is no clear enemy. There is no decisive advantage to having superior power.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Next on CAPITAL GANG, does the economy need further stimulus?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. Ten days after the terrorist attack, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill trumpeted strength and resiliency in the American economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL O'NEILL, TREASURY SECRETARY: We need to be sensitive to needs that may develop for additional federal stimulus in one way or another, but that we should give ourselves 10 days or two weeks to assess what's going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Did Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan agree with that timetable?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN GREENSPAN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: I would hope that within 10 days -- it may be a little longer. It usually tends to turn out to be longer than we expect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Addressing the nation, President Bush did not ask for a new stimulus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy. Terrorists attacked a symbol of American prosperity; they did not touch its source.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: That did not reassure investors, as stocks continued to dive. The week ended with the fourth deepest drop ever in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the worst in 68 years.

Late last night, Congress completed action on a $15 billion financial aid package for the airline industry.

Bob Novak, is the government doing all it can to bolster the economy?

NOVAK: No, and that was the great failure of the president's otherwise magnificent speech. The people in Wall Street wanted to declare war on the economy as well as on terrorism, and he didn't.

Dr. Greenspan in private meeting said we need more data. Well, the data you can get, Mark, by looking in restaurants, in empty hotels, in airports. You don't need data on a green screen. And of course, I can't blame Dr. Greenspan on it, because he isn't the president. The president should have overridden this, and it was a great failure not to come out with something that would reassure the business community and reassure investors, and by that I mean a tax stimulus package.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, did the president do the right thing?

HUNT: Yes, he did, Mark absolutely. There's a great deal of fiscal stimulus going on right now with added spending. We've gotten rid of all these arguments about lockboxes and budget surpluses. We will have a budget deficit this year, as we ought to.

And there may be other things that have to be done, because the issue is one of consumer confidence. And there are other spending programs that you can do. You may even want a payroll tax rebate. There may even want to be a temporary investment tax credit.

What you don't want to do is do anything that undoes the long- term healthy foundation of the American economy. You know, they had a meeting with Alan Greenspan, Paul O'Neill, Bob Rubin, Trent Lott and all the Hill leaders -- and Bob, they met on Thursday, I think, the subject of capital gains tax cut was not even brought up. And what the big boys in Washington are going to try for now is going to be a corporate tax cut, and I'll tell you something, I think that really would be shameful at this stage and unnecessary.

SHIELDS: Margaret, should the president mix national security and the economy in that speech the other night? CARLSON: No, only Bob wants that. And it's interesting how the capitalists want the government to fix things when capitalism isn't working well enough for them. The airlines were in trouble before this happened, and now they come in for a bailout, which actually is bigger than the problem caused by the attack on September 11. They were already in trouble. They were pulling back on some of the stupid decisions they had made before.

And in that package, it's very interesting to see how the CEOs and protected. In fact, the head of U.S. Air has a $45 million severance package, along with two other people. But not one cent of that is going for the people laid off.

SHIELDS: And the health plans are for 12 months. Go ahead, Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: I don't know any good conservatives looking for the government to bail us out. What they are looking for is for the government to stop sucking all of this money out of a private economy at a time like this.

We're in a business recession. Corporate tax cuts makes perfect sense. I'm delighted Paul O'Neill is talking about it. We are in a stock market recession. There are a hundred million investors -- a cap gains tax cut, maybe they are not discussing it because we all agree that that's exactly what the stock market could use at the moment.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BEIRNE: We ought to be accelerating. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) buying and selling then. We ought to be accelerating the personal income tax cuts. The Congress is spending tens of billion of dollars to address the wreckage left. They ought to devote a big piece of that to the kind of stimulative tax cut package we need.

NOVAK: Let me just say one thing. At that meeting that Al talked about, Bob Rubin, the celebrated former secretary of the treasury, said that the thing we have to look on is the long bond rate. That's what he actually said, we have to look at the long bond rate. This in a week when $1.4 trillion in wealth was lost in a stock market! I'll tell you, it's just petty little minds of Washington who think...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Just let me finish! I don't interrupt you. The petty little minds in Washington who think that this is going to help some corporate executive, when we're going into a deep recession.

HUNT: And Bob, Rubin also said is if you want to give -- if you need a tax cut, you ought to give it to the people who need it, who will spend it. You ought to have a tax rebate for low-income Americans, and that means it does not go to the K Street lobbyists, Bob.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: ... took a $1 salary when he asked for his bailout.

NOVAK: Oh, what garbage!

SHIELDS: Last word. Margaret Carlson, strike Novak. We'll be back with the second half of CAPITAL GANG, former Senator Bob Kerrey as the "Newsmaker of the Week." "Beyond the Beltway" looks at Saudi Arabia, with Ambassador Edward Walker, and our "Outrages of the Week," but first the latest news after these messages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. I'm Mark Shields with the full CAPITAL GANG, that's Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska who is now the president of the New School University in New York City.

J. Robert Kerrey. Age: 58. Residence: New York City. Religion: Congregationalist. University of Nebraska, degree in pharmacy. Congressional Medal of Honor winner as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer 1969 in Vietnam. Governor of Nebraska, 1983 to '87. United States Senator, 1989 to 2000.

Al Hunt interviewed Bob Kerrey earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HUNT: You're the president of a university in lower Manhattan. What do you tell your students about how to deal with this trauma?

BOB KERREY, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, what I tell them is it is still a very safe place to live. New York was safe before this thing happened, and it's safe now. And I tell them, don't run away.

HUNT: And how has your adopted city of New York dealt with this tragedy?

KERREY: Well, they've gone from, you know, being a place where everybody has got an opinion and they argue it all the time to being a community. The mayor has been fabulous in holding us all together.

HUNT: And how has the United States government responded?

KERREY: Well, I think the United States government has responded quite well to them. It's been very comforting to see the Congress pull together with the president and see the unity of purpose that has come out as a consequence of this disaster.

HUNT: Washington's Reagan National, security people say it's too close to the Capitol, the White House and the Pentagon. How long should Reagan Airport stay closed? KERREY: Twenty-four hours. If they can't figure it out, then they should call one of two people -- call El Al and say, "we don't have the competency to provide security, can you get this thing reopen it in 24 hours?" The Israeli airline. Or call Rudy Giuliani, get him to reopen it.

It sent a very bad signal. I mean, what happened is 19 people hijacked four planes in the span of half-an-hour with pen knives. You shouldn't be able to do that. Yes, it's close to the Capitol, but when this thing is shut down this way it sends a signal throughout the country that it's not safe. We don't need to study this, we need action.

HUNT: For four years you were the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Do you think it's more likely that Osama bin Laden's network could have pulled something like this off by itself, or that it had state support?

KERREY: Oh, I think it's more likely that it had some state support. I mean, it certainly has been given state refuge, at the very least.

But I think the fundamental problem that we've had with bin Laden is that we've treated his previous attacks -- attacks he's been involved with in the past -- in this case Khobar Towers in 1996, the East African embassy bombings in 1998 and the Cole in 2000. We've treated them as if they're law enforcement cases. We should have treated them, as we're now doing, as an attack on the United States, as an attack on our military.

HUNT: President Bush says he's wanted dead or alive. Can he deliver on that?

KERREY: Yes, I 100 percent guarantee that he can. But I find that a bit unfortunate because, again, I don't think we should build this guy into a big hero, because then we create more problems for ourselves.

HUNT: You were a Navy SEAL, you received the congressional medal of honor in Vietnam. And most experts say that in order to go air power, in order to go after Osama bin Laden, it has to involve not conventional military operations, but special forces, perhaps including some of the Navy SEALs commandos. How difficult a task do the mountainous terrains, the landlocked Afghanistan pose for the special forces?

KERREY: Well first of all, I'm 58 years old; I'm a long ways removed from being able to conduct an operation like this. But let me just take 1998 when we put Tomahawk missiles into his camps and tried to kill him then. What was needed then were spotters; somebody to tell us where he was, and are you on target.

HUNT: If they have to be used, are they best suited only for a quick in-and-out strike, or can they stay if necessary and wage conflict for a protracted period inside a country?

KERREY: No, they can't stay inside and wage conflict. They can plan an operation if that's the targeted.

I don't think that bin Laden is the only target here. There's likely to be lots of other planning that needs to be done. When you're fighting an opposition, is you never want to be underestimate them. And I think we did that in this case.

HUNT: When do you think normalcy, as we understood it on September 10 will return to America?

KERREY: Well, I think it's not going return until the minimal security that's required to keep our airports safe is provided. I've got metal in my body, and every time I go through an airport detector I set off the security device. And so I have direct experience, intimate relations with these people. They've contracted out with minimum wage people. We're not putting a first-class effort to keep America safe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is Bob Kerrey out of touch with the American people or reflecting the American attitude when he says re-open Reagan National Airport here in Washington immediately?

HUNT: Mark, he's absolutely right. I think that a great deal of the problems we confront deal with the issue of confidence. And I think opening Reagan Airport is an incredibly important symbol. You cannot tell people it's safe to fly in America if you will not open the airport that's closest to the nation's capitol. And so I think Bob Kerrey is absolutely right about that. He's also absolutely right about the way we've abdicated on airport security beforehand.

SHIELDS: Do you agree with Al Hunt on this one, Bob Novak?

NOVAK: One hundred percent. I had one national security adviser tell me, not for retribution, that the White House, the president -- the president's aides have been too deferential to the Secret Service on this. Close another street back of the White House. They don't even let window washers in buildings three blocks away from the White House get up and wash the windows. It doesn't make -- it's not serious, but it just shows the mindset that's going on. And if we're going to stop living in fear, we've got to get reasonable about these security precautions.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, do you think Bob Kerrey makes sense when he says the president has elevated bin Laden to a point where he's a figure bigger than life?

O'BEIRNE: Well, I don't think -- I take his point, Bob Kerrey, that that shouldn't be the case. The president mentioned him almost in passing the other evening, so I don't think the president himself has done that.

What I really appreciated hearing from Bob Kerrey, though, all these hand-wringers about how difficult it's going to be to get bin Laden, and maybe we shouldn't have set this goal for ourselves. And here's somebody who knows far more about the kind of task ahead of the brave young men heading over there -- a former SEAL -- who says I 100 percent guarantee you're going get him. Because he reflects the kind of can-do attitude; he knows what our capabilities are, of the Delta Forces and the Rangers and the Navy SEALs who are going to be executing on behalf of the president.

SHIELDS: Maybe Richard Perle could lead that mission -- Margaret.

CARLSON: That was a cheerful message from Bob Kerrey. You know, we now have a terrorism czar. Tom Ridge was named the other night in Bush's speech as the director of homeland security...

SHIELDS: Governor of Pennsylvania.

CARLSON: The Governor of my state of Pennsylvania. And he has a Cabinet-level title and he doesn't have a Cabinet department, however, which may be a problem down the road. But as a czar he should be able to get National Airport open, don't you think? Because he's supposed to regulate all these people that have anything to do with terrorism.

SHIELDS: First challenge to Tom Ridge.

Next on CAPITAL GANG: "Beyond the Beltway" looks at Saudi Arabia with career diplomat Edward Walker.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back.

"Beyond the Beltway" looks at the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi foreign minister met with President Bush, who asked for his help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRINCE SAUD AL-FAISAL, SAUDI ARABIA: There was a very clear message that this requires a very persistent battle to remove the infrastructure that terrorism relies upon. It should in no way follow the objectives of the terrorists themselves in creating an unbridgeable gap between the Western world and the Islamic world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: He may have spoken in general terms at the time you heard him, but he was rather specific in our conversations about things they will do within the kingdom to support us in this effort.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Joining us now is career diplomat Edward S. Walker Jr. He's currently the president of the Middle East Institute. He has served as U.S. ambassador to Israel, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. He most recently was assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. He also was deputy chief of mission in Saudi Arabia.

Thanks for coming in Ned.

EDWARD WALKER, PRESIDENT, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: It's a delight to be here.

SHIELDS: Ned, can the anti-terrorism coalition really count this time on Saudi Arabia?

WALKER: Yes, I believe it can, Mark. One of the reasons is that Saudi Arabia is, after all, the No. 1 target of Osama bin Laden. I don't think they've got any other option.

SHIELDS: Tell me this: There seemed to be some foot-dragging, or at least lukewarm attitude as far as airstrip availability to the United States.

WALKER: Look, we can make this easier for them or harder for them. Every time you start leaking stuff out about our war plans and about our dispositions it's going to make it a lot harder for them. But I think they'll be there for us in the end.

SHIELDS: The question I guess I have about the Saudis is: If, in fact, we trace this entire Taliban financial effort, all its network, isn't there a possibility that it could reach all the way back to some Saudi Arabian families?

WALKER: Well, I think the financial network is going to be the hardest thing for them. And yes, it can reach back into Saudi Arabia because there are many private individuals who have given money to Islamic organizations, some of which have links to the Taliban. So yes, it could definitely reach back in there, and that's going to be very hard to do.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

HUNT: Ned, I hope your optimism is justified. But if you look at the past, the Saudis invariably say they're going to be supportive and then the hedge their bets -- they buy protection; they give $10 billion a year to various charities, much of which goes to terrorists. The 1996 bombing where 19 Americans were killed they express outrage, and then they have done everything to impede the investigation. Why is it going to be different this time?

WALKER: Because it's so important to us. And this is the big difference between what we're doing now and what we've been doing in other attacks, whether it's on Iraq or in response to the Taliban, al- Kobar (ph) and so on.

I think the world knows that we're deadly serious now. I think they understand that the people have to make choices. Those choices are going to be important to their future as well as to ours. And so therefore I think that's the difference that we'll see this time around.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne. O'BEIRNE: Mr. Ambassador, it's been striking, I think -- and a new model of murderous suicide bombers. Most recently it seems that bin Laden's henchmen are not the impoverished and the dispossessed, they're middle and upper-middle class. They travel to the West. In fact, there's some evidence, or some opinion that they wind up coming to the West and being sort of radicalized in the West.

What does this say about the kind of exchanges we've always enjoyed with that part of the world in the interest of increasing understanding, and what does your experience tell you about the background of these murderers, most recently?

WALKER: Well, we had a considerable effort in Egypt to help the Egyptian government with their terrorist problem -- many of the same types of organizations, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

And you're quite right, a lot of their people came out of a relatively educated group of people; but usually they were embittered people. People who weren't able to accomplish their goals or objectives in life. And they blame the government, they blamed others for their misfortune, and they took refuge with other like-minded people. And they were radicalized at that point. So it is a problem, but it's a very small minority of people.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Ned, when you hear people talking about we've got to attack Iraq, we've got to attack Syria, we've got to attack the Lebanese in the Becca Valley, do you think that perhaps the Saudi foreign minister, when he's worried about a war between the West and Islam, may have a point that there's a danger of this developing and going a direction that certainly our government doesn't intend it to go?

WALKER: Well in the first place I don't see why we're going to have to come to that kind of a denouement here. I'm expecting to see a change in attitudes of other governments as well, partly because of the seriousness and gravity of this situation. But I can guarantee you, we start bombing Syria and you've lost the Saudis right away.

NOVAK: And do you see that danger, though, that if we really start to extend this to all those -- to every place where they have terrorist contacts there could be some unfortunate consequences?

WALKER: Well I think one of the unfortunate consequences is we're going to start winding up with no airfields. We're going to find it very difficult to wage a war because we're going to be stuck to carrier air. So we've got to think very carefully how quickly, how far we extend this. And let's try and take the openings that governments are giving us in their words, at least, at this point and see if we can translate that into action on their part before with we start waving this big stick.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: We just have a minute left. But how can we keep secret some of the support that, say, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are giving us so it doesn't inflame the fundamentalists in those countries to say, for instance, overthrow the government of Pakistan?

WALKER: Well, in the first place we're going to have to have our own people start keeping secrets. You don't have to tell anybody where you're having your base of operations. That's not even visible, and yet it comes out in the "Washington Post." I mean, I think it's outrageous. I think it's treasonous.

SHIELDS: Oh, boy. Thanks for coming in, Ambassador Edward Walker, and thanks for your candor and your insights.

And the GANG will be back with the "Outrage of the Week."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: And now for the "Outrage of the Week."

For his outspoken leadership against the persecution and mistreatment of Arab-Americans and Muslims, President Bush deserves praise. But on Friday an Arab-American who had cleared four security checks was ordered to leave a Delta Airlines flight by the plane's pilot, who refused to allow him on board. That is wrong, outrageous, and profoundly un-American.

Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Was that Vice President Cheney seated, as usual, next to Speaker Hastert when President Bush addressed Congress? No, it was Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the Senate's president pro-tem. Dick Cheney had been spirited away because the Secret Service said the U.S. Capitol wasn't safe for both president and vice president. The seeming theory is that terrorists could eliminate the president, Cabinet, Senate and House, Supreme Court, joint chiefs of staff, diplomatic corps and the Prime Minister of Britain -- but we'd still have Dick Cheney.

(LAUGHTER)

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson.

CARLSON: And the press corps.

For six years, the United States has been struggling to cut off Osama bin Laden's money, but one single senator crippled those efforts: Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm. He sided with friends in the banking industry to kill a bill that would bar banks which refused to cooperate with money laundering investigations from doing business in this country. When Gramm's shilling for bankers was revealed last week, he blustered: "I was right then, and I'm right now" -- sounds just like him.

No, you're not. For that alone, America is fortunate he's retiring.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne. O'BEIRNE: One group that has joined in the outpouring of support to the victims and heroes of last week's attacks has received little notice: America's businesses from Coca-Cola and Pfizer, to Microsoft, Texaco and Verizon have donated over $100 million to the Red Cross and millions more in supplies for rescue workers. Shouldn't the relentless bashers of big business relent a little and give some credit where credit is due to Bob Novak's generous friends?

SHIELDS: Al Hunt.

HUNT: Mark, I join you in praising President Bush for going to the Islamic mosque to calm tensions.

In contrast, Louisiana Congressman John Cooksey, who I always thought was a distinguished ophthalmologist, a few days ago said, and I quote: "If I see someone come in that's got a diaper on his head and a fan belt wrapped around the diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over." This reinforces James Carville's observation that his home state of Louisiana leads the nation in, quote: "food, fun, football and fools." This week Cooksey joined the list of fools.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, tell us right now, are you sure that we're going into battle, into attack soon?

NOVAK: I think we are. It seems to be we're going to make some kind of attack on Afghanistan: where the experts tell me there are no good targets for bombing; where we certainly don't want to put a big expeditionary force in; where if we insert a commando Delta-type force, I don't know what that accomplishes. But that seems to be where we're going, and all we can do is pray it works out all right.

SHIELDS: Margaret, do you agree or disagree?

CARLSON: Well, if he's still there -- I think Al said the smartest thing that he could do would be to go into Pakistan and then we'd have a real problem because for the moment we have Pakistan with us. What would they do if he's in the country?

SHIELDS: OK, that's it. This is Mark Shields.

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