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CNN CAPITAL GANG

Panel Discusses Airline Security

Aired December 29, 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.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG, and happy new year to you all. I'm Mark Shields, with Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne and Margaret Carlson. Our guest is former California Democratic Congressman Vic Fazio. It's great to have you back, Vic.

VIC FAZIO, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Thank you very much.

SHIELDS: Thank you. 28-year-old Richard Reid, apprehended by crew and passengers last weekend aboard a U.S.-bound airliner is being held without bail in Boston after the FBI tested material found in his sneakers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL SULLIVAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: Special Agent Cronin (ph) indicated that the device was described as TATP, I believe, in that it was an explosive material. She described the extent of the damage, potentially causing a hole in the fuselage if the sneakers were put against the fuselage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: President Bush commented on the incident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's an indication that the culture of America has shifted to one of alertness, and I'm grateful for the flight attendant's response, as I'm sure the passengers on that airplane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, what does this tell us about airline security?

MARGARET CARLSON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, it's still porous. There's a long way to go. The ground crews still have not been checked. There's no way to check for bombs in checked luggage. The problem is there are 100 ways for -- there are 100 things that airport security has to check, and a terrorist only needs one way to bomb an airplane. So it's an overwhelming problem. Now, the shoe bomb is something we have known about, but to have people take off their shoes at airports is going to be a huge ordeal, and they know that the magnometer doesn't always get down there, so it's a possible way.

Tom Friedman wrote a wonderful column this week, saying that "soon we may all have to fly naked." Because while, you know, terrorists have access to our technology but not to our ethics. Bob, are you pulling your shoe off? Are you going to bang your shoe on the table? That would be good.

SHIELDS: If Tom Friedman's alternative is followed, I think I'd buy Greyhound and Railways stock immediately. Bob Novak.

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": You know, this business, the word "alert," that was the word they used at the time of all these warnings. Everybody is supposed to be alert. I guess you're just supposed to look like this all the time.

I think this was a disaster, the Richard Reid thing, because it isn't anything to do with whether you check -- that's the cliche now, they're not checking the luggage in the hold. He didn't have any luggage. The question is checking the passengers, not the luggage. And this guy never should have been permitted on the plane. They gave American Airlines, which wouldn't permit an Arab-American Secret Service agent on another flight, gave this guy a luxury hotel in Paris because they didn't let him on the flight in the first place. He never should have gotten on.

The problem is the screening process. And what the problem is like typical bureaucrats the FAA has made life as miserable as they can for passengers without increasing security. That's hard to do, but I think they've done it.

SHIELDS: Vic Fazio, you've heard Bob Novak before, I'm assuming (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but I mean, there really is no way -- other than what Margaret described as far as the luggage being checked technologically -- I mean, you don't have to have any luggage go through security.

NOVAK: He didn't have any luggage.

SHIELDS: You don't have to have any. They don't ask you if you walk in without -- if you've already checked your bags.

FAZIO: Well, you know, it's a little like our failure in intelligence. We need more human resources. It's one thing to put technology in place -- and of course, it's inconsistent and not operating in an equivalent manner all across the country, let alone in Europe -- but we don't have the right people making human judgments about who should or should not be able to get on an airplane.

That, Bob, does take you in the direction of law enforcement, experienced, trained people, who we've seen in other countries, like Israel, can make a huge difference. We are going to have to pay that price, and we haven't been able to turn the system over overnight, but we have a lot of ground to make up quickly, because this is part of our economic problem in this country.

SHIELDS: But Kate, as you look at it, I mean, what if this fellow instead of sitting in his seat trying to light his Nikes or Adidas or whatever they were on fire, went to the lavatory and did it? I mean, he did it in clear sight, and quite frankly, I mean, it was an alert to everybody on board.

KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, he attempted to do it with a match, and the flight attendant detected the odor of the match. What if he had a cigarette lighter, which would have given off no odor whatsoever? So being alert does not quite -- on board the flight -- does not quite make everybody safe.

It seems amazing that we used to worry about having an overly friendly fellow passenger on board. That was the thing you dreaded most on a flight. I agree he never should have boarded that flight, and I'm not sure what the lines of authority are. There's a lot of finger pointing going on there. American Airlines says that once the French authorities cleared him for the flight, they had to board him.

Well, I'm not sure that's true. He was arousing suspicions of passengers in the gate area. They all thought he was acting strangely. Paid cash for a one-way ticket. No luggage.

CARLSON: $1,600.

O'BEIRNE: Exactly. There is one common denominator, beyond the obvious one of being members of the Muslim faith and largely Arabs, they're all unemployed, all these terrorists. They have the time to fly around sight-seeing, extensive traveling. None of them have jobs. I mean, there ought to be a way to screen for these characteristics without making 70-year-old ladies and small children now take shoes off at airports.

SHIELDS: To be a Pollyanna, I do want to say that the Kitty Genovista (ph) syndrome seems to have been repeated. Remember Kitty Genovista (ph)? You had a woman in Queens who was stabbed repeatedly in a neighborhood while neighbors ignored it. This time, we saw, A, the courage of flight attendants; and B, the willingness of people not to be spectators but to jump in and...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I agree with that, but that doesn't take the FAA off the hook. But the question is, I went on a flight the other day, they asked four times for my driver's license. Nobody can explain to me what happens that I have to show it four times. It doesn't accomplish anything. What they ought to do is like the Israelis is to have more thorough interrogation of the questioners, talk to them, ask them several questions.

SHIELDS: The reason they want your driver's license, Bob, is they know your reputation for road rage.

And that's it! Vic Fazio and the GANG will be back with the latest from Osama bin Laden, and later our picks for person of the year.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. A new videotape of Osama bin Laden was broadcast by the Al Jazeera network.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): They have shaken the throne of America and hit hard the American economy in its heart, in its core. I'm just a poor slave of God. If I die or live, if I live or die, the war will continue. We pray for God to accept these people who committed -- who carried out the attacks. They have done a great deed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Meanwhile, Afghan government officials speculated that bin Laden had escaped to Pakistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: He is not escaping us. There's all kinds of reports and all kinds of speculation, but one thing we know is that he's not in charge of Afghanistan anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: President Bush meeting with General Tommy Franks at his Texas ranch was asked how long United States troops will be in Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I imagine us being there for quite a long period of time, but my timetable is going to be set by Tommy Franks.

We must show that we will complete the mission, and part of that mission is, as Tommy will tell you, is to make sure that Afghanistan is a stable country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, how serious a problem is it that we don't know the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden?

NOVAK: I think it is serious from the standpoint that we've made him a symbol of the war against terrorism. That may have been a mistake in the first place. Now, all indications are that he has slipped the coup. He's out of there. Either that or he's dead. I don't think he's hiding in a cave. And that's the problem because of the PR build up.

The problem that bothers me is what's next in this war. The president at one time says, well, he doesn't have control, that Osama doesn't have control of Afghanistan. He sure doesn't, but when the president says that we have to stabilize Afghanistan, I don't see how that's integral to the war on terrorism, because that is a country I think Mark that's going to be very hard to stabilize.

SHIELDS: Kate, do you agree or disagree with Bob Novak?

O'BEIRNE: Well, I think what the president's aim is is to make sure Afghanistan is no longer a safe haven for terrorists, and that I think is doable. And as the president said, we will stay long enough to make sure that's the case, as opposed to reaching some ideal level of stability. I don't think that's what he's talking about at all.

I agree with Bob, though. I think that the campaign will be considered less than fully successful if Osama bin Laden isn't captured. On the other hand, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and the president keep reminding us this doesn't end with his capture or death either. I mean, we are constantly told that al Qaeda is active in some 60 countries, and the Afghan allies, it seems to me, were very helpful on the offense, taking the war to the Taliban with lots of help from us.

I they are proving themselves to be less reliable in the military policing kind of operations that are going on now, and I wonder whether it's the United States that ought to be doing more of that, searching those caves, and making sure that thousands of al Qaeda terrorists don't escape from Afghanistan in order to pop up someplace else.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson, as you look at what has been called the Elvis syndrome, that is that he's gone but he reappears. The Afghans say now he's in Pakistan. Pakistanis says he's in Calcutta. But...

NOVAK: It's a big world.

SHIELDS: Yeah, it's a big world out there. I mean, isn't the worst thing he could do just to disappear?

CARLSON: Well, as Bob says, psychologically it's going to be very bad not to have -- not to know what happened to Osama, is he dead or alive, and people will spot him everywhere I think if we don't ascertain that.

But we may not, and that will be something we have to live with. What Bush said today -- he put it well -- he said, three months ago Osama bin Laden was running a country. He was in control of a country. Now he may not even be in control of a cave. What we hope is he will never be in control of al Qaeda, that there's no way -- he's constructively dead, because he can't do that anymore, and that may be what we have to be satisfied with.

The other thing Bush said was, you know, we are going to be involved in some nation-building, which I know Bob hates, but you cannot just leave it and think that it's not going become again a haven for all kinds of terrorist groups just as it was before.

SHIELDS: Vic, can we bring stability to Afghanistan? Should we bring stability, and is that the cure for spawning terrorists?

FAZIO: I have to certainly give a lot more effort to doing that, if we possibly can. This is a president who is not going to repeat the criticism of his father in taking troops out of Iraq prematurely. I think we will stay the course in Afghanistan until we have a government that's at least nominally in control of its own military. Right now, we have Afghan leaders who want us to stop bombing. We have those who are unhappy with U.N. peacekeeping forces in their midst. It's extremely unstable, and we need to be there not just rooting out al Qaeda, but making it impossible for al Qaeda to come back and plant once again the seeds that bin Laden helped them plant.

SHIELDS: Let me just ask one follow-up. OK, just one follow-up. That is, you know Capitol Hill. Is there the will there to underwrite in perpetuity long-term commitment and aid to Afghanistan?

FAZIO: I hope there's an attitude now that will permit that, because we can't win quick-fix victories and expect them to have long- term implications. This is not going to be an easy war against terrorism. It's going to go on for a long time, and we are going to have to stay the course with domestic as well as international expenditures in the face of these deficits.

NOVAK: But the question is whether the war against terrorism requires a stable Afghanistan. All it requires is an Afghanistan in which we don't have Osama bin Laden and his Arab pals launching terrorist attacks against this country. But the idea...

(CROSSTALK)

O'BEIRNE: Bob, I think that will prove to be the administration's test.

NOVAK: Exactly, but that doesn't require political -- you know, we are relying on some really bad guides. A Commander Dostum up in the north, the warlord up there, he's a really bad guy. He's been on every side. He is, with our approval, the deputy secretary of defense. That's OK, because we shouldn't be into nation-building, because there's a lot of -- Afghanistan has got a long history, and it's not California, Vic.

CARLSON: We are not building Iowa. We are just stabilizing a country that was a haven for terrorists. You know, one way we will know about Osama is there's another Osama bin Laden show coming our way. He looks none too good in this tape. The war is not agreeing with him. The lighting is as bad there as it is on this set.

SHIELDS: Bob, I have to ask you, you got into bed with some pretty ugly fellows in Latin America, you know, you weren't asking about Pinochet, you weren't asking about all those hoods in Nicaragua that you lined up with.

NOVAK: Something you weren't all that interested in, and that's beating communism down there. That's what we were trying to do.

SHIELDS: How about promoting democracy, Bob? That's the last word. Next on CAPITAL GANG, was Rudy Giuliani really the person of the year?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. "TIME" magazine chose as its person of the year mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK: There's no question that the only reason that I was selected the person of the year is that people of New York are the people of the year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, did "TIME" magazine make the right choice, or do you have a different candidate to be person of the year?

O'BEIRNE: Mark, I think President George Bush should have been person of the year. "TIME magazine explains how it ducked the bin Laden choice by saying that what happened after what his henchmen did was more important than anything bin Laden launched. And Rudy Giuliani certainly performed beautifully after September 11. He hit all of the right emotional notes. It made for a very handsome, good looking cover.

But he's not affecting what's happening like President Bush is, on every front in the war on terrorism. And I know he was on "TIME's" cover last year, but the contrast I think would have been interesting. Last year, it was a divided nation after the election. Now we are united. Was that fellow up for the job? Well, he is performing beautifully. What used to be viewed by some as shortfalls or deficiencies wind up being his strengths. So I think President Bush would have made a fitting person of the year.

SHIELDS: Let me tell you my person of the year. My person of the year is the New York firefighter. This is an era of self in which individualism, unbridled individualism is praised, it's practiced everywhere around us, it's getting in touch with number one and all the rest of it. It's a time when citizenship is all about rights and very little about responsibility. And that moment when they stared into the fires of hell and they marched into buildings to save people they have never met, whom they have never exchanged names, and probably in many cases people who looked down their noses at these very people who were the heroes.

These people taught us about duty, about honor, about responsibility, because they had taken a vow, they had taken a promise, they saw their duty and they performed it. It stands as a -- they stand as an icon, an icon to be admired and to emulated by our society. Bob Novak.

NOVAK: It clearly the person of the year was clearly Osama bin Laden. When Henry Luce devised this brilliant idea of the man of the year -- it was man of the year then, ladies -- it was to who had affected the world most for good or ill. So we had Hitler on, we had Stalin on. "TIME" clearly didn't pick Osama bin Laden because they couldn't sell the magazine with his face on the cover! So it was a commercial decision. It's not supposed to be a commercial decision. It's supposed to be a journalistic decision.

I think it's a fairly close call with George Bush. I would pick Osama bin Laden. I can see George Bush. I can't see Rudy Giuliani, but I really can't see these generic suggestions for the firefighter. You can -- I mean, that is a cop-out and it's not what it's intended. Let's have a real human being or a pseudo human being like Osama bin Laden on the cover.

FAZIO: We've had a lot of symbolic people and groups elevated before, and I think we did the right thing when we followed Mark and say, the police and fire in New York came through for us. They venerated public service in a way we hadn't seen done in decades.

SHIELDS: So you would put them both on?

FAZIO: I'd put police and fire as symbols of all the public servants in every level of government across the country...

NOVAK: Congressmen too?

FAZIO: ... people at the Postal Service, people at CDC, people -- Capitol cops. I mean, they came through for us.

O'BEIRNE: You're losing me now, Vic. I was with you on the firefighters and the police. Now you're losing me.

FAZIO: People who really turned the country around in terms of an attitude toward government...

NOVAK: Agriculture Department workers?

FAZIO: ... but it's awfully easy to be critical of them. They're people fighting bioterrorism across the spectrum. And you know something? This is going to have political implications, because it's been so easy to be critical of bureaucrats and, you know, crooked or brutal cops or lazy firemen. Today, you don't hear that.

NOVAK: You hear it from me.

FAZIO: You know, there are throwbacks, Bob. But there are many, many people who are looking positively about what service beyond self is all about, and that's what I think comes out of this tragedy.

SHIELDS: Service beyond self is a subversive notion, right, bob?

NOVAK: It's not what this is about, this selection.

CARLSON: But you'd include the American military?

FAZIO: I certainly would.

NOVAK: I didn't hear him say it, though.

FAZIO: But I certainly would. CARLSON: Well, you all have good points, and Mark you nearly made me cry. That's the best version of why it should be firefighters that I have heard, but my oath of office requires that I say that my editor, Jim Kelly, chose the right person for man of the year, and that be Rudy! Because he didn't -- he didn't hit a false know. Everything he did during that period was right, and as Jim Kelly said, I think that if graves were the measure, it would be Osama bin Laden, but he's a blip on the world stage.

As we saw from that tape, he's already faded -- nearly faded away. He may, you know, he may be dead. He -- he's not Stalin or Hitler. He's not leading a movement of any consequence whatsoever. He's just a murderous villain. I would have liked it to be Bush, because then I would have gotten two pages for my Laura Bush piece. But this is a selfish concern. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) being selfish as of September 11.

O'BEIRNE: I fully understand you supporting the choice of Rudy Giuliani, and I can see how if you feel like arguing with a colleague you come here...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I really do believe that everybody has forgotten about this. This is not a reward for goodness, Vic.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: It's what has affected the world. We would not have had this catastrophe -- and it was a catastrophe -- if it wasn't for Osama bin Laden.

O'BEIRNE: Well, Khomeini was on the cover.

NOVAK: Yes!

O'BEIRNE: One year, "TIME" magazine made Khomeini...

NOVAK: Exactly!

SHIELDS: Let's get one thing straight. It isn't simply who makes the catastrophe, how -- it's the reaction to it, how you respond to it, and I think in the case of Giuliani -- we talk about Bush growing, except Bush people don't want to say he's grown.

CARLSON: That was always there.

SHIELDS: That was always there, we just missed it. But there's no question, the reaction to it has changed the values and changed I think the priorities of our society positively.

FAZIO: I do too.

CARLSON: "People" magazine is now profiling firefighters.

(CROSSTALK) NOVAK: I'm certainly always listening to you, Mark.

SHIELDS: Yes!

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: But I really do believe that you missed the whole point of what this is supposed to be, and I think that Henry Luce would be rolling over in his grave.

CARLSON: Bob enjoys celebrating evil.

SHIELDS: Bob enjoys that, and he also knew Henry Luce and we didn't.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: I did, I did.

SHIELDS: Thank you for being with us, Vic Fazio. We will be back with the second half of CAPITAL GANG. Republican sage William Bennett is our "Newsmaker of the Week." "Beyond the Beltway" looks at India/Pakistan penchants with career foreign service officer Dennis Cook, and our "Outrage of the Week." That's all after the latest news, following these important messages.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

MARK SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields with Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne, and Margaret Carlson.

Our newsmaker of the week is William Bennett. William J. Bennett, age 58, residence, Chevy Chase, Maryland, religion, Roman Catholic, Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, law degree from Harvard, Secretary of Education under President Reagan, drug czar under the first President Bush. His 14th book, "The Broken Hearth" was published in September. Earlier this week, our own Kate O'Beirne sat down with Bill Bennett.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE O'BEIRNE, NATIONAL REVIEW: Bill, in your new book, "The Broken Hearth," how do you define what you call "the moral collapse of the family?"

WILLIAM BENNETT, CO-DIRECTOR, EMPOWER AMERICA: Well, the moral collapse of the family, I think, Kate, can be defined quite by the numbers, record number of abandonments and desertions by fathers of their families, increase in out-of-wedlock births, dramatic increase from 1 in 20 in 1960 to 1 in 3 two years ago, record number of divorces, all of these looked at over a 20 or 30 year period gets us into unchartered territory. O'BEIRNE: You say in "The Broken Hearth," we have many lessons to learn from the kind of family stability we had in the '50s. Can we turn back the clock?

BENNETT: Sure we can. You know, this notion that you can't turn back the clock, I actually use that expression in the book and talk about C.S. Lewis said about it. If you're going the wrong way, stop, turn around and go back.

Look, we've reversed direction on several things in our society lately. One is crime. We've brought the crime rates down because we had enough of it, too much. We're going to do something about it. Welfare. You know 20 years ago, if you thought about the most intransigent and difficult social problem. And you know, is there something that's so deeply embedded in the culture, we won't be able to change it.

O'BEIRNE: Bill, have the events of September 11 presented an opportunity for us to re-evaluate what's important? And are you encouraged by what you've seen since then?

BENNETT: I am encouraged. And indeed, Kate, particularly on these family issues, one of the findings in the book, I think, is very interesting, given September 11. I think about a number of these widows. The research that I cite in the book points out that children who grow up in families where their families have left them, whether divorce has taken place or desertion, often turn out not to have very happy lives.

By the way, I'm -- my brother and I are a product of divorce. We're arguably successful. Maybe one of us, one of us isn't, depending on your view of the world.

O'BEIRNE: My choice.

BENNETT: All right, anyway, but the more interesting thing is, children whose fathers die in the line of duty, wearing the uniform of a firefighter or a policeman or wearing no uniform like those brave business guys on flight 93, those children are likely to grow up as healthy as if -- almost as healthy as if they had a father in their house caring for them everyday. The moral presence of the father through the eyes of the mother has profoundly positive effect.

The other thing, I think, in response to your question is it seems -- the evidence seems to be that families are drawing closer together since September 11. Some evidence that filings for divorce are down.

O'BEIRNE: Now Bill, you're engaging on the home front. Tell us about this committee you're a part of?

BENNETT: I'm the chairman of the committee on terrorism and American culture. I'm not an expert on foreign policy or weapons or warfare, though I follow it very closely. But I do know something about cultural warfare. I do know something about the opinions that young people get as they go through school and through our colleges and universities. And that's the front I'm interested in.

I'm interested in keeping public opinion four to five strongly behind this effort against terrorism. And in trying to ensure that we have a fair debate, a really fair debate in our op/ed pages, in our magazines, on our university campuses, in our school boards. You can see the counterattack already.

O'BEIRNE: And how is the new book you're working on related to the events of September 11?

BENNETT: Well, it's kind of a philosopher's handbook on the war. It's called "Why We Fight: Moral Clarity in the War on Terrorism." But the first and major insight that I think I'll try to make in the book is that we achieved a kind of moral clarity on September 11. And the book talks about the moral underpinnings for this war, takes up issues such as just war, moral relativism. You know, are all cultures and all societies created equal? Pacifism. And I take up the issue of religious relativism. Are all religions created equal? That will be a highly controversial matter.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, I'm a little confused by what Bill Bennett said. Right now, the President has a 90 percent favorable job rating, by better than 9 to 1, Americans support the President's leadership on the war against terrorism. And he says you can see the counterattack. And he wants to keep a fair debate.

If anything, the debate has been tilted very much, I would say it has been precious little criticism in the public print about our policy.

O'BEIRNE: Let me explain it to you, Mark, because Bill's right. We've seen some of it. We've some of the moral equivalency. We've seen some of the what have we done to invite this kind of hatred directed against us?

It's been muted though, given what public opinion looks like. It's been muted from the academic left. But Bill Bennett is such a talented battle tested cultural warrior, that I do think as months and maybe years go on, Mark, he is going to be a valuable ally to the President, to those prosecuting this war from the academic left, the ho, ho, ho Western civ has got to go crowd, because they remain muted, I don't believe, over the months ahead.

SHIELDS: Sounds like a strawman to me, but what about Robert Novak?

NOVAK: No, I think Kate is correct on that. And I think Bill Bennett is the top conservative cultural warrior. There's only one thing in his interview that bothered me. Maybe I'm inferring too much, but I thought he was laying the predicates for this war against Islam. When he talks about cultural -- that all religions are not equal, civilizations are not equal.

We really don't need that. I really think that the idea of the left waging its counterattack, it's a good thing to have Bill Bennett on the front line. I don't think we need to say, "Gee whiz, we're fighting this war. Christianity is better than Islam."

CARLSON: Listen, they're hoping for a counterattack. I mean, I agree with Mark. They keep citing Susan Sontag. This is the only person who's written anything that's just been -- I can't think of any other than Susan Sontag. So I don't know what is going to be fought on this front.

SHIELDS: There's some instructor in an obscure community college somewhere...

NOVAK: There's a lot of instructors.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BEIRNE: No, a lot of it is going in colleges that aren't that obscure.

NOVAK: That's true.

O'BEIRNE: Famous universities.

NOVAK: That's right. But somebody answer -- somebody say that I'm wrong about this -- you say I'm wrong.

O'BEIRNE: Well, it's certainly going to be a defense, his new book out in March is going to be a defense of Western civilization. I think you and I would agree there, but that is going to be worthy. And certainly against the strain of Islam, this radical strain of Islam.

NOVAK: I think that's a danger of Islam bashing the President is against. And I don't think is viable.

CARLSON: I mean, isn't everybody against this particular strain of Islam that bombed the -- that ran into the World Trade Center with (INAUDIBLE)?

NOVAK: Agains the bombing of it, but you're not...

CARLSON: No, I mean, this particular -- I mean, we've said again and again that the religion was hijacked. This is not the religion. This religion was used.

SHIELDS: Last word, Margaret Carlson. Next on CAPITAL GANG, beyond the beltway looks at India-Pakistan war dangers with Ambassador Dennis Kux.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Welcome back. Beyond the beltway looks at confrontation between India and Pakistan. Leaders of the two nuclear armed countries issues war-like statements.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ATAL BIHARI YAJPAYEE, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: We do not want war, but war is being thrust on us and we will have to face it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PRESIDENT, PAKISTAN: We confront an external and internal challenge. But let me assure my countrymen that your armed forces are fully prepared and capable of defeating all challenges by the grace of allah.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Indian and Pakistani troops shelled each other. India bought ballistic missiles to the border and severed links with Pakistan. The Pakistani government arrested Islamic militants, accused of the suicide attack on the Indian Parliament.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm pleased to note that President Musharraf has announced the arrest of 50 extreme terrorists, extremists or terrorists. And I hope India takes note of that, that the President is responding forcefully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Joining us now is Ambassador Dennis Kux, whose 39 years in the foreign service included three overseas tours in India and Pakistan. He is author of "The United States and Pakistan, 1947-2000, Disenchanted Allies."

Thanks for coming in, Dennis.

DENNIS KUX, WOODROW WILSON INT'L CENTER: Well, happy to be here.

SHIELDS: I -- one news report had that the United States government military had conducted 25 separate simulations of a confrontation between India and Pakistan. And every single one of them resulted inevitably in a nuclear war.

KUX: Not surprising.

SHIELDS: You think that's a realistic -- that's how serious these stakes are?

KUX: Right. If you had a full war between India and Pakistan, not just skirmishes along the border, what would happen is India would start winning. At a certain point, Pakistan, rather than going under would push the button, would go nuclear.

SHIELDS: Do you think India is the stronger of the two?

KUX: Oh, clearly, it's the stronger. It has -- but it's not as strong as people think. I mean, India's got a billion people. Pakistan's got 150 million, but the armies are about 2 to 1. And part of the Indian army is along the border with China. So it's not even 2 to 1 along the India-Pakistan border.

But India, you know, just has the weight. And if the war goes on, it's bound to, you know, it's bound to gain. And also, the way Pakistan is geography, it's long and narrow. And India could just cut across in the middle of Pakistan. And desert, it would be fairly easy to do.

NOVAK: And then the Paks start shooting their...

KUX: And Pakistan, rather than go under, to save their country, will say, "Well, if we're going to go under, we'll take you with us."

NOVAK: Ambassador, the President, it was announced today, has sent his phone (INAUDIBLE). The Pakistan and Indians told to restrain themselves. Does that do any good, do you think?

KUX: Oh, I think it does a lot of good, because what the Indians are trying to do, and I think it's important to understand this, they're trying to get the Pakistanis to stop supporting terrorists from fighting a proxy war in Kashmir.

NOVAK: And they have been supporting the...

KUX: Well, sure, they've doing this for, you know, the last 10 years. And up until 9/11, there wasn't really anything the Indians could do about it. The rest of the world said, "Well, there you were." We leaned on the Pakistanis somewhat. But after 9/11, the Indians joined us. And they said, "You're victims of terrorism. We're victims of terrorism, too. We're with you, but we want you to be with us."

And we waffled a little bit at first, because we needed Pakistan so badly. But we told the Indians, and this was in early October when some terrorists tried to blow up the assembly building in Srinigar. 38 people were killed. And we told the Indians, "We're with you. We don't have double standards about terrorism. It's not one, you know, one set of standards when we're the target and another one when you're the target, but be patient. Be patient. We're dealing with bin Laden. We're dealing with the Taliban."

And they were patient. And then came the 13th of December.

NOVAK: That was the raid on the...

KUX: That was the raid on the Indian parliament, when four or five guys tried to blow up the Indian parliament, tried to get the leadership. And the Indians all along have fingered these groups that have been based in Pakistan. Jashi (ph) Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other ones. And they said, "These are the guys that did it." And then they went a step further. They said, "Pakistanis orchestrated it."

SHIELDS: Margaret? CARLSON: Now you say if Pakistan seems to be losing, that they will go nuclear. Will India -- are you sure that India will honor its no first use policy?

KUX: I think it would, yes.

CARLSON: Even in...

KUX: Because it's a -- this is...

CARLSON: ...with the threat of -- they're playing chicken.

KUX: Yes, but they're not there yet. And frankly, I think the events of the last 24 hours or so have reduced the threat of war.

SHIELDS: You do?

KUX: Yes, I do.

CARLSON: Oh.

KUX: Absolutely.

SHIELDS: What event?

KUX: Well, the first was the President's -- well, the first was our action, it was last Friday, when we put these two organizations on our big league terrorist list. They'd been on another list before. That says they're in the al Qaeda category. And it also says that we want countries that harbor them, to do something about it -- about these groups.

Well then, they did do something. They arrested the leader of one of the groups. They froze the assets. They arrested some more people. And the President -- yes, it was -- yesterday, took note of that. You had the clip on television. And he also told India to take note of it.

Well, India took note of it, but said, "Wait a second. We've been down this road before. This can be a shell game. You know, you're changing the name of the organization. The same people pop up somewhere else. We want -- you know, we want this time. We want it for real."

So today, the President called Musharraf again. And he also called Vajpayee. And he told Musharraf, and this is what the White House spokesman said, he urged Musharraf to take additional strong and decisive measures, to eliminate the extremists who seek to harm India, undermine Pakistan, provoke a war between India and Pakistan, and destabilize the international coalition against terrorism. That's pretty strong.

CARLSON: So tilting towards Pakistan is over?

KUX: Well, I don't think we've been tilting towards Pakistan. We maybe leaned a little bit. CARLSON: Well...

KUX: We were tender toward Pakistan.

CARLSON: We needed to.

KUX: We needed them to, right. And we still need them.

O'BEIRNE: Dennis, if they were isolated neighbors, the fact that they're both nuclear powers, of course, makes it terribly serious. How much more complicated is the situation, given China's relationship with Pakistan? Well, how might they react in the event of real flare- up between the two countries?

KUX: Well, I suspect they're working behind the scenes, trying to get the Pakistanis to put the lid on these extremists. Because the fundamentalists are a threat to China, as well as they are to India. Some of these people turned up, you know, in Sinjong (ph). And I think the last thing China wants is to have an India-Pakistan war. So I think...

O'BEIRNE: They could be helpful.

KUX: I think they are helpful quietly, behind the scenes.

CARLSON: How strong is President Musharraf internally now?

KUX: Well, I think he's very strong, but he has a difficult situation here in dealing with the fundamentalists and dealing with the Kashmir issue. It was one thing to deal with the Taliban. They were only popular in one part of Pakistan. But Kashmir is an issue that almost every Pakistani gets (INAUDIBLE). And so, it's harder for him to put the lid on these people than it was to deal with the Taliban.

SHIELDS: Dennis Kux, thank you so much for being with us. CAPITAL GANG will be back with our outrages of the week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIELDS: Now for the outrage of the week. In Bethlehem, 500 yards from the stable where Christ was born, is Holy Family Hospital, which has the West Bank's only neonatal intensive care unit and which delivers 3,000 babies and treats 14,000 women a year, regardless of nationality or ability to pay a religion.

Despite its total neutrality, Holy Family Hospital, with no provocation, has been shelled by Israeli tanks that occupy Bethlehem. Israeli troops arbitrarily detained pregnant mothers on their way to the hospital. Denied access to Holy Family, a mother in labor and baby both died. Tanks do not shell hospitals.

Bob Novak?

NOVAK: "The New York Times" today reports the left wing stars of Harvard's Afro-American Studies Department, Henry Louis Gates and Cornell West, are threatening to bolt to Princeton. It seems Harvard President Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary, hurt Professor West's feelings by suggesting he do some serious academic work, besides dabbling in politics and rap videos.

West now has warned Summers that he must speak out for Affirmative Action or else. Don't be intimidated, Larry. Let them go to Princeton. While you're at it, close the whole radical black studies nest.

SHIELDS: Margaret Carlson?

CARLSON: Mark, Ann Blackman and Elaine Shannon have just written a book showing how any fool could see Robert Hanson was a spy. He let a neighbor watch him and his wife in bed and his stripper use his credit card. He used his actual name on pornographic web sites. His brother-in-law, an FBI agent himself, tried to turn his brother-in-law in 10 years before the FBI finally arrested him and after three agents were executed.

Is it any wonder the FBI ignored the warning that a student pilot planned to use a 747 as a bomb? Shouldn't some heads be rolling?

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne?

O'BEIRNE: Today, the Hart Senate Office Building, closed since mid October, was subjected to a third fumigation to eliminate every single anthrax spore lingering, since Tom Daschle's office received that deadly letter. The work of 50 senators has been disrupted since the evacuation.

In contrast, Tom Brokaw, who received a similar letter, has been back in his office for weeks, following a thorough cleaning of NBC's headquarters by the private sector. It's an outrage that U.S. senators commit themselves to be held hostage to an impossible standard by the government's own EPA.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying good-night for THE CAPITAL GANG. If you missed any part of this program, Bob Novak has your name. But you can catch the replay at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up next on CNN, LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN with Nic Robertson. Thank you for joining us.

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