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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview with John McCain; Interview with Maleeha Lodhi; Politicians Discuss Daschle's Comments

Aired March 3, 2002 - 12:00   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.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington; 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles; 7:00 p.m. in Jerusalem; and 9:30 p.m. in Kabul. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.

We'll get to my interview with Senator John McCain in just a few minutes but, first, the hour's top stories.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Within the past hour, I spoke with the Republican Senator John McCain about the progress of the war on terrorism and much more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Senator McCain, thanks once again for joining us. Always good to have you on LATE EDITION.

Let's begin with a front-page headline in today's Washington Post, an alarming headline: "Fears Prompt U.S To Beef Up Nuclear Terror Detection," a story suggesting that there's serious concern at high levels of the government that Al Qaeda, other terrorists, may, may have access to a crude nuclear device.

How concerned should the American public be?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think there should be a level of concern. I think there's been a concern ever since the fall of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, when places like Kazakhstan and others, there was large amounts of material as well as talent that were believed to be for sale.

Also, as you know, we uncovered some Al Qaeda information that at least they were seeking the nuclear weapons designs and material.

MCCAIN: But I'm not sure that it's a reason for panic, but I think it's a reasonable precaution that should be taken. But I have seen no hard evidence that any terrorist organization has acquired these weapons, although Saddam Hussein, as we know, has been making significant progress in that direction.

BLITZER: We are told also, Senator McCain, that that's probably one of the reasons this fear of a nuclear potential capability that the Bush administration has had this secret stand-by government in place outside of Washington, an executive branch of the U.S. government, in effect since September 11. That sounds like a prudent measure. Are you supporting that?

MCCAIN: Yes. I think that it's probably a prudent step to take. I think that the American people should find out in other ways besides it being scooped by an enterprising reporter, but I think it's a prudent measure to take. I think perhaps the American people should have been informed of it, but I'm sure it's no reason for them to be alarmed.

BLITZER: The point that you are making is there should have been, presumably, greater consultations with the U.S. Congress. The top leadership of the Congress was apparently not informed that the stand-by government of bureaucrats within helicopter reach of Washington remained in effect since September 11.

MCCAIN: Well, I think so. I think that they probably should have informed the leadership of that and any other activities that are going on.

But I have to also say, on behalf of the administration, if you brief a group of members of Congress, it is either directly or indirectly leaked to the media. We've seen that time after time. And early in the conflict, some rather sensitive information was leaked, at least in the view of the administration.

So there's a careful balance here, and I think that perhaps maybe we should have some ground rules as to who should be consulted and under what circumstances.

BLITZER: But in this particular case, since the Congress apparently was not consulted, the leak to The Washington Post, the surprise headline that we all read earlier this week, clearly must have come from inside the executive branch of the U.S. government, not the legislative branch. MCCAIN: Yes, just as the leak about the office of strategic information that someone, whose name will never be known, had contemplated setting up some kind of disinformation campaign both to friends and allies.

Frankly, I don't pretend to tell the administration what to do, but I've found if there's information, it's always better to present it yourself so you can put what you think are the most accurate depictions.

(AUDIO GAP)

BLITZER: ... to have a similar continuity of government stand-by procedure or, God forbid, in case of catastrophe?

MCCAIN: Well, I don't know how you replace a judge or a member of Congress. We do have plans which were exercised to make sure that the leadership of the Congress was made as secure as possible. And I think those plans are still in effect. But I don't know how you have a shadow majority leader or speaker of the House, and so I think that presents some dilemma there that I don't know how you solve it.

BLITZER: A lot of eyebrows were raised, a lot of concern was expressed by Republicans over comments from the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle earlier this week. Among other things, he said this, and I want to play for you what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

U.S. SENATOR TOM DASCHLE (D-SD): Clearly we've go to find Mohammad Omar, we've got to find Osama bin Laden, and we've got to find other key leaders of the Al Qaeda network, or we will have failed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That seemed, at least some Republicans, to suggest criticism of the Bush administration conduct of the war against terror. Did Senator Daschle go too far?

MCCAIN: No, I don't think so. I think that it is obvious, because of the symbolic importance of Osama bin Laden in particular, that it's important that we eliminate him one way or another.

MCCAIN: Congress does have a role to play. I believe that the Congress been very supportive of the president, which is entirely appropriate because he's been doing -- the administration has been doing an outstanding job.

But it is the right of Congress to ask questions. But there is a line that you don't want to cross, in particular while young Americans are in harm's way, as they are as we speak.

BLITZER: Among the outcries, Representative Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia, suggested that Tom Daschle had given aid and comfort to the enemy.

Listen to this exchange earlier today on Meet the Press that Senator Lott, the Republican leader, had with Senator Daschle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

U.S. SENATOR TRENT LOTT (R-MS): Any sign that we are losing that unity or cracking that support will be, I think, used against us overseas.

DASCHLE: We need to support our troops. They've done an outstanding job, but we also have to ask the right questions. That is the role of Congress. We're a co-equal branch of government, and I don't think we ought to rubber-stamp any president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The question that Republicans, some Republicans at least, are asking is, why does Senator Daschle have to raise these questions when U.S. troops are in harm's way? MCCAIN: U.S. troops are going to be in harm's for a long, long time, I'm afraid. I think the administration has done a great job. I wish that we would just, all of us, calm down here, talk with the administration, talk with each other. And it's not going to help anybody for us to start pointing fingers or yelling at each other.

During the Clinton administration, there was some Republicans who criticized President Clinton, and then there was this same kind of rhetoric that went on, whether it was justified or not.

So the important thing, I think is for us to have close consultation with the administration. Let's hear what their proposals are in various parts of the world, as we hear in Georgia, Yemen, the Philippines, et cetera.

I am convinced that every American is going to support the president in this effort, and I believe that the best thing for us to do, rather than appear on programs and take shots at each other, is to sit down and talk together and make sure we do present that unified position to the world and to the American people.

But there is a role for Congress to play, and I'm not sure it's equal in this case, because the president is the commander in chief. But it's certainly is legitimate ask for consultations -- and that's, I believe the administration believes that's appropriate as well.

BLITZER: Some Democrats both in and out of government -- Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic senator from Nebraska, Jane Harman, an incumbent Democratic congresswoman from California -- say U.S. military may be stretched too thin right now to go into additional missions in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, the Philippines, Yemen.

You know the military well. You served in the military, obviously. Is the military being stretched too thin right now?

MCCAIN: I don't believe so. I think these are very small numbers of troops, although they are obviously our most highly trained and most capable troops that we have, and perhaps we -- and we have plans to improve and enlarge those capabilities. But it's all got to do with reform of the military, which we have not done enough of.

But I don't think the military is stretched too thin. And I also believe that some of these mission are required to be carried out. I don't think there's any doubt that there are terrorists in Yemen. I think the situation in Georgia, which I was pleased to see President Putin agree with, is exceedingly dangerous, given the Al Qaeda presence there. I think these are legitimate places for us to go, and I don't see us in the role of a massive military operation.

BLITZER: OK, Senator McCain, stand by. I want to take a quick break. A lot more to talk about, including Iraq.

Should the U.S. military target Saddam Hussein? More of my conversation with Senator McCain when LATE EDITION returns. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Senator McCain, is it time for the U.S. to target Saddam Hussein and Iraq?

MCCAIN: I believe that Saddam Hussein presents clear and present danger to the United States of America with his continued pursuit to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And there is very little doubt that he would use them.

Exactly how we'd go about that is something that I think the administration and others are discussing and planning. Whether to pursue diplomatic, economic and other means is clearly on the table. But I don't think there's any doubt that Saddam Hussein -- that there should be a regime change.

I would like to see support for the Iraqi National Congress and aid and assistance to elements both within and without -- inside and outside of Iraq to accomplish. But if necessary, the United States I think has to exam all options.

I don't think there's going to be a precipitous invasion of Iraq. But I do believe that we have to explore the options necessary for a regime change.

BLITZER: Put on your old hat, Senator McCain, as a POW during the Vietnam War. Take a look at the detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo and answer this question.

Will U.S. troops, if captured by enemy forces, be hurt down the road if this precedent of not giving the detainees at Guantanamo Bay formal POW status is upheld?

MCCAIN: I think it would give some ammunition to those who would chose not to respect the Geneva Conventions as the -- for treatment of prisoners of war, as the Vietnamese did during the Vietnam war.

But I don't see how you can make a credible argument that a member of Al Qaeda, which has no allegiance to any country nor any leadership that is in any way internationally recognized, could possibly be legitimately treated as a prisoner of war.

The Taliban is a little bit more of a gray area. But there was only one country that recognized the Taliban, Pakistan. So it's a little bit of a gray area.

I also believe the administration is working to more clearly define these people's treatment. And the fact is also true that these people are being well treated in Guantanamo Bay. And that is really an important aspect of this whole issue. They are being well treated.

BLITZER: Very briefly, I want to just get your thoughts on this Saudi peace proposal that's been floated to try to end the violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Is this something that the U.S. should be aggressively pursing, the Saudi plan put forward by the Crown Prince Abdullah?

MCCAIN: I think it's an important beginning point, an important framework. There's a huge number of details involved. Exactly what does complete withdrawal from occupied territories mean? It does not address the status of Jerusalem, et cetera.

But the fact that it came from Saudi Arabia, the fact that it is part of a terribly degenerating situation of violence and death, which is going to cause the situation either to be resolved in some way or literally explode -- I don't think you're going to continue this situation as it exists today. Twenty-one Israelis and a number of Palestinians killed in less than 24 hours. This is getting really serious.

So I think that Prince Abdullah's plan can be and should be at least embraced as a framework for serious negotiations. And Colin Powell has certainly said that it's a good thing to pursue, and I think the administration will use it to its advantage, at least the advantage of trying to restart what is a terribly, terribly explosive situation.

BLITZER: Finally, Senator McCain, on campaign finance reform, which has been a centerpiece of your efforts over these many years, it looks like it's close to being passed, but it's not yet there.

Listen to what Senator Mitch McConnell, who opposes your legislation, said earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

U.S. SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We don't have to prove anything to each other right now. We're in a good faith discussion about what kind of relatively minor changes might be appropriate. So I don't think either of us are in the mood to go out and try to slam dunk each other right now. We're trying to work this out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Do you think he's working -- trying to work this out with you in good faith?

MCCAIN: I do. Over the years, we've grown to have respect for each other. And I respect Senator McConnell's tenacity and his dedication to his side of this effort. This bill does not need to be changed. There are some technical things that perhaps may make the opponents of the bill more comfortable than they are, and we'd be glad to consider those. But any changes would have to be in a separate bill that would be taken up separately.

We need to move forward with campaign finance reform. We've been through years of debate. The House has acted, the Senate has acted. It's time now to move on to other issues.

And as we all know, the opponents are preparing to challenge it in the court. Let's move to the courts.

BLITZER: Senator McCain, I always ask this question at the end of all our interviews. How are you feeling, given the melanoma, the skin cancer, the procedure that you recently had?

MCCAIN: Just fine. It was detected early, and that's the key to addressing this very vicious disease. It's fine. I will continue over the years to be cut and have these things removed because of the damage that I received in childhood, plus my northern European heritage.

But everybody that -- particularly the fairer your skin is, you have a discoloration, go see your dermatologist, and then there's nothing to worry about. It's when it's not examined and unchecked, that's when it gets dangerous.

MCCAIN: I'll be fine. The good news and the bad news is, I think I'll be around for a long period of time.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Good news, good news for LATE EDITION, good news for those of us in the press corps. I'm sure good news for many of your friends out there in Arizona.

Thanks, Senator McCain.

MCCAIN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good luck to you. Always appreciate your joining us on this program.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And up next, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi, in her first television interview since the murder of the American journalist Daniel Pearl. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Joining us now is Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi.

Ambassador Lodhi, always good to have you on LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.

You woke up this morning, like I did, here in Washington, read this headline in The Washington Post, front page: "Pakistani Scientist Who Met bin Laden Failed Polygraphs, Renewing Suspicions." Not just any scientist, a nuclear scientist, someone who used to head the nuclear program in Pakistan.

What's going on? MALEEHA LODHI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, that's just my point. To start with, you said from -- quoting from The Washington Post, that he's supposed to have head Pakistan's nuclear program. Wrong, factually incorrect. This gentleman never headed the Atomic Energy Commission of Pakistan, as The Washington Post claims.

I think we have to put this issue in perspective. To begin with, Pakistan, as you know, is a nuclear-capable state. But you also know that Pakistan has an impeccable record in custodial controls for nuclear safety and security. And this impeccable record means that there hasn't been a single incident to date of any kind of nuclear theft, nuclear leakage of nuclear material, or anybody gaining access, unauthorized access to our nuclear capability and nuclear materials.

Now, as far as this gentleman is concerned, who is mentioned in The Washington Post story, this gentleman really had nothing to do with Pakistan's nuclear weapon program. He was a very junior official in our nuclear establishment and, therefore, would never have had the kind of knowledge or capability to frankly share or impart to anybody.

BLITZER: Let's talk about who this individual is. Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, that's the name of the individual.

Did he fail a polygraph test involving his association with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda?

LODHI: Well, I'm not aware of the specifics of the interrogations and the inquiry that we conducted in Pakistan when it was brought to our attention that this gentleman, who had set up a so- called welfare organization in Afghanistan, then being run by the Taliban, had actually visited Kabul several times and so on. So we wanted to get to the bottom of this.

There is nothing that we have concluded from this inquiry to underscore or to raise any kind of concern about nuclear leakage, simply because this man would not have access to anything that he could share with anybody.

The kind of stuff that's been found in Afghanistan leads to the conclusion that the Al Qaeda people were in desperate search for nuclear material, as well as for weapons of mass destruction, but actually, they failed in that quest. And that is something that has also been mentioned in your press, in the American press, in an earlier story in the New York Times, just a few days ago, which basically says quite the opposite of this morning's story.

BLITZER: Is he, Bashiruddin Mahmood, is he under house arrest right now?

LODHI: He is under house detention, because we want to be sure that whatever he has been telling us is something that we're satisfied with.

And so far, we're satisfied that there is no way that anybody can gain access to our nuclear weapon program and to be responsible for any kind of outward proliferation. That is something that's not happened, and it's not going to happen in the future.

BLITZER: Having said that, though, in that same Washington Post story that all of us read this morning, there is this excerpt that I want to put up on the screen referring to the CIA director George Tenet. Supposedly told President Bush that Pakistan's nuclear weapons program was more deeply compromised than either government has acknowledged publicly.

If that's true, that's obviously a very serious concern.

LODHI: Well, again, you know, this kind of speculation in the press, I think, has to be balanced by the facts and the reality on the ground.

And the reality on the ground is something that I just pointed out, which is Pakistan's impeccable record in ensuring complete safety and security of its nuclear weapons program, as well as its nuclear material. There has been absolutely no incident to suggest that the contrary is true.

BLITZER: So how worried do you believe Americans should be that some Al Qaeda or Taliban-related terrorist cell might have gained access to some sort of crude nuclear device?

LODHI: Well, there is no question of the fact that they could not have gained any kind access from material that we in Pakistan possess.

It is also true that the IAEA, for example, the international atomic agency commission, which keeps a record of incidents of nuclear theft and nuclear smuggling of nuclear material, has recorded something like 550 incidents of such theft since 1993, 1994.

LODHI: Now, all of these incidents have emanated from the former Soviet Union. So I think concerns about the fact that the Russian program and Russian nuclear scientists may be responsible for some nuclear theft or nuclear smuggling is something that should concern all of us.

BLITZER: The other surprise that a lot of us have had this weekend is the nature of this major U.S. military offensive in eastern Afghanistan, near Pakistan, the biggest military assault since the start of the actual air campaign in October.

What is going on, and is Pakistan directly involved in this?

LODHI: Well, Pakistan remains committed to the three things that we had agreed to do with the United States when the military operation began some months ago in Afghanistan, and that remains the case. And these three areas of cooperation are, of course, intelligence sharing, the use of logistical support, as well as the use our airspace. So, therefore, these three areas of cooperation remain.

Now, having said that, I think it's very important and current, you know, the current events in Afghanistan underscore that, the need for the international security force in Kabul to be expanded beyond and to ensure that security returns to Afghanistan and all of Afghanistan to ensure that we all in the international community support and strengthen the hands of Chairman Karzai and help him strengthen the central authority in Afghanistan. I think that's very important to ensure that Afghanistan doesn't descend back into the violent chaos that we saw before and that warlordism doesn't take root in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: So right now you would hope that President Bush is considering this proposal to expand the international peace-keeping force outside of Kabul. You hope the U.S. gives the green light for that.

LODHI: Absolutely. We think that would be very important for stability to return to Afghanistan and also for the gigantic effort that needs to be made now for reconstruction and rebuilding of a country that has been ravaged and torn apart by over two decades of war. It's very important to get that going.

BLITZER: This is the first time we've heard from you since the confirmation that Danny Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, was in fact murdered.

As far as you know, have all of the suspects in that kidnapping and murder been apprehended by Pakistani law enforcement authorities?

LODHI: We are still looking for some accomplices of the prime suspect whom, as you know, is in our custody, and in fact trial proceedings have begun against him. So the criminal investigation into who carried out this atrocity is something which is intensive, it's under way. And I can tell you, and my president has said that, we will not rest until we bring the perpetrators of this atrocity to justice.

BLITZER: Danny Pearl's body has not yet been discovered?

LODHI: No yet.

BLITZER: Omar Saeed Sheikh, the prime suspect who is arrested, the U.S. has asked that he be extradited to the United States. Will he be?

LODHI: We are in discussions with the U.S. authorities. We remain engaged on this matter. The request is under consideration. We just want to ensure that the most effective way is found to meet the ends of justice.

And I think the U.S. understands our concerns; we understand U.S. concerns on this matter. And neither side wants to do anything which in any way can compromise the criminal investigation which is under way today in Pakistan.

Certain trial procedures are in place at the moment. And what we want to ensure is that we get to the bottom of this, we bring to justice those who carried this out.

BLITZER: There has been some suggestion in the American news media that elements of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, may have had some sort of role, did not even keep the Pakistani president, President Musharraf, up to speed on what was going on in the search for Danny Pearl.

How concerned should people in the West be about perhaps some renegade officers in the Pakistani intelligence service working against President Musharraf?

LODHI: You know, there's been so much speculation in the press about this very issue that you mention. But not a shred of evidence has ever been produced to suggest, for example, that our intelligence service is not under the control of the government.

BLITZER: What about that the week-long activity where some officials in Pakistan knew that the suspect, Omar Saeed Sheikh, was in fact in captivity but nobody bothered to tell President Musharraf?

LODHI: No, I think -- you know, there's a lot of confusion surrounding this matter.

The important issue here is that, once we have taken custody of the prime suspect, we wanted to ensure that this didn't come out into the public too quickly to give a tipoff to the kidnappers who were holding Danny Pearl. And don't forget that at that time Danny Pearl may have been alive. So our efforts were focused on trying to get Danny Pearl freed from his captors.

LODHI: So, I think to read into these sorts of issues something much more than actually exists would be a big mistake.

The ISI, because a lot of the speculation has been about the ISI, is an arm of the government. Once the government takes a decision, they follow out orders, and that's all there is to it.

And I think some of the speculation, frankly, is so completely off the factual situation on the ground, that I would be very careful when I read such speculative stories. And I'd look for some hard facts and evidence to back this up. And as I said before, I've not found any to back such speculation.

BLITZER: Maleeha Lodhi, thanks for joining us.

LODHI: Thank you.

BLITZER: And just ahead, nearly six months into the war against terrorism, some Democratic members of Congress are beginning to question the Bush administration's strategy. Are there cracks in what had been a united U.S. front?

We'll talk about that and much more with Republican Senator Larry Craig and Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must hunt down the killers and would-be killers, terrorists, Al Qaeda terrorists, and bring them to justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush emphasizing his administration's mission in the war against terror. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now are two members of the United States Senate. In Spokane, Washington, is Republican Larry Craig of Idaho. He chairs the Senate Republican Policy Committee; and, in San Francisco, Democrat Barbara Boxer. She's a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senators, welcome to LATE EDITION.

Senator Craig, let me begin with you with a quote that Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia, a Republican, said earlier this week. The Washington Post quoted him as saying this about the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle: "Daschle's divisive comments have the effect of giving aid and comfort to our enemies by allowing them to exploit divisions in our country."

Do you agree with that strong statement by Congressman Davis?

SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R), IDAHO: Well, Wolf, I think we have to be very careful in a time of war when we have men and women in uniform that are in harm's way.

Our commander in chief, I think, has done an excellent job keeping the Congress informed. He's cautioned us and cautioned the American people, time and time again, that this was going to be a long and lengthy battle in a lot of different locations around the world.

Clearly, as commander in chief, he has a right to engage our military. Then, of course, he must bring us into that informational flow, and he must do so both with briefings and with budget and the necessary expenditures.

So, I hope we can stand united here. It is not a time for the Congress to become divisive on this issue. BLITZER: But the notion of giving aid and comfort to the enemy that Congressman Davis is suggesting, would you go that far in describing what Senator Daschle was questioning?

CRAIG: What I'm going to say to Tom is, Tom, let's stand united here. I think that we are well informed. We have been properly briefed. And we will be in most instances, Wolf, after the fact.

When you have some of our elite forces moving into Georgia, or into the Philippines, or into Yemen, we don't telegraph that to the world ahead of time. And I'm afraid that if you tell Congress ahead of time, that might happen. But certainly after the fact, the commander in chief should and does bring us into these conversations. Aid and comfort to the enemy? That's a pretty loud statement, but I think we need to stand united here. I want Tom and our leaders to be on the same side of this issue with the president.

BLITZER: Senator Boxer, the Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said pretty much what Senator Craig just said. Listen to what Senator Lott said earlier in the week after Daschle spoke out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

U.S. SENATOR TRENT LOTT (R-MS): Any crack, or perceived crack, in the support and unity of the American people in our leaders in Washington is not helpful. And I think it's important that we not be critical of the commander in chief at a time when we are at war against terrorism.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Did Senator Daschle go too far, Senator Boxer?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALAFORNIA: Well, if you reread what Senator Daschle said, he was most supportive of our president.

But I have to say there's something very alarming about this, because the war against terrorism is the biggest issue of our time. It is serious; it is frightening to the American people. And if we cannot discuss the future of this war, the best way to move in the future, while being 100 percent supportive of our people on the ground, of our commander in chief, I think our democracy is in trouble.

And I would make one more point. Two weeks ago Republican Senator James Bunning said the following at a hearing. He said, "Are you telling us we can't do a better job in finding out who escaped, where they escaped to? I'm not pleased, and I don't think any Americans are pleased, that we have not done a better job on Al Qaeda." This, he said two weeks ago to General Tommy Franks.

So please, let's be united. I think that is true. And I think our definition of "united" should be that we respect each other, that we want this war on terrorism to be successful. The reason it has been successful thus far is that we've been patient with each other. I think we need a return to that.

BLITZER: Senator Craig, though, what some of the Democrats and others have been questioning is this decision to deploy U.S. forces to the Philippines, to the former Soviet republic of Georgia, to Yemen, and they are wondering whether the military is being stretched too thin.

CRAIG: Well, Wolf, we've known that the Al Qaeda disbursed itself into units, training units around the world. We've known that for some time. We've also known that we might need to send our elite forces in there, not necessarily to engage, but to assist and to train. CRAIG: We are very capable of doing this. I don't think we're stretched too thin. Certainly, we now are putting the budgets together and the material and the equipment together.

We have had these forces training for some time. They are highly skilled men and women. And they are not, in many instances, directly engaging as much as they are there to assist and advise in all of these operations.

Now, most of these countries, of course, have willing said, "Come help us, we have a problem." And when that instance occurs, and our goal is to take terrorism down worldwide, I think we are answering that call in the appropriate fashion.

BLITZER: Senator Boxer, can the U.S. military undertake all these missions simultaneously even while the war, the ground offensive in Afghanistan, as we've discovered this weekend, is continuing more so than ever?

BOXER: The scope of what we're doing in these other countries is really being advisers. I remember being on the show with you a long time ago and you asked me to predict where we'd go next and I said the Philippines. I remember, I was on there with Jim Inhofe at the time.

The bottom line is, we did give the president the authority to follow the dots here, to go after the terrorists where they are. I do believe, though, we need to get back to the intensive dialogues and conversations that we have had in the past about what the plans are for this administration.

As has been pointed out earlier in your show, a lot of leaks have been coming from the administration itself. And I think, as the representatives of the people, I have much more faith in the institution of our government, really in the honor of my colleagues than perhaps others might. We have shown that we can stick with this president when he's -- we think he's doing the right thing.

And I think that we ought to know where we're going next. Because if we're surprised about it, how can we really be as strongly united behind our president as we should be and bring our constituency along?

So I think there needs -- we need to get back to that continual meetings and talking about what's happening. The administration was doing a great job early on this war, but now I think it's really a lot less than it was before. BLITZER: Senator Craig, all these alarming reports about heightened measures being taken to protect Washington, the American public, from perhaps a crude nuclear device in the hands of terrorists. Are we going overboard?

And as you answer this question, I want to show our viewers a live picture of Marine One now on the South Lawn of the White House. The president returning from Camp David.

Go ahead, Senator Craig.

CRAIG: Wolf, if we were to have any kind of nuclear attack or detonation and it killed tens of thousands of American people, my guess is we would be saying after the fact, "Oh my goodness, why didn't we do something?"

We clearly are in heightened alert, and we should be. At the same time, the American people have to get on with their lives. But I want to make sure that they are as safe as we can possibly make them.

We know that the Taliban and the terrorists were very interested in radioactive material and nuclear devices. Clearly, the discoveries that we have made in Afghanistan in the raiding of these camps and the information that has been made available through that indicate that.

Do we know that they have those devices? No, we don't. Did we deploy radioactive detection equipment in Salt Lake? Yes, we did. And at other places, at the Super Bowl? Yes, we have.

And so it is appropriate that the public know and be involved. And at the same time, I don't want to be an alarmist, but I certainly don't want to be second-guessing after the fact.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Craig, Senator Boxer, please stand by. We are going to take a quick break.

We have a lot more coming up in the next hour of LATE EDITION. We'll continue our conversation with the two senators. They'll also be taking your phone calls.

Then, some analysis on the Bush administration's widening war against terrorism. Is the U.S. military being stretched too thin?

Plus, Democratic strategist Paul Begala and former Republican Party communications chief Cliff May square off on wartime election- year politics.

All that and more.

And we leave you know with a picture of the president and the first lady returning to the South Lawn of the White House. Let's keep this picture going up. See if the president stops and answers some questions from waiting reporters as he walks into the White House. The president now on the South Lawn, having spent the weekend at Camp David. Usually he doesn't answer questions; sometimes he does. But let's listen in to see if we can hear anything.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This is LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: It doesn't matter how long it takes. It doesn't matter where we have to go. We will protect freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush renews his commitment to win the war on terror. But is the U.S. military stretched to a breaking point? We'll ask former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. George Joulwan, former U.S. Arms Control Director Ken Adelman, and retired Air Force General Don Shepperd.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DASCHLE: We're not safe until we have broken the back of Al Qaeda, and we haven't done that.

LOTT: It's important that we not be critical of the commander in chief.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BLITZER: Political bickering resurfaces in Washington. We'll talk with two political strategists about the wartime political rift, and what it means during this election year and beyond.

And Bruce Morton evaluates the new U.S. role as global terror cop.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. In a moment we'll have all that. We'll also continue our conversation with Senators Barbara Boxer and Larry Craig. But first, this news alert with Fredricka Whitfield.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Now back to our conversation with Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig and California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer.

Senator Boxer, the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, will be in Washington this week for meetings with President Bush, members of Congress. Are you satisfied, with Egypt's stance in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process? I ask you that because of the billions of dollars in aid that Egypt continues to receive from the United States.

BOXER: I think it's a very legitimate point, because, under the Camp David accords, Egypt and Israel get enormous amounts of aid to keep the peace.

Well, the kind of peace, unfortunately, between Egypt and Israel has been what we call a "cold peace." I have met Hosni Mubarak, I plan to be with the Foreign Relations Committee and Senator Biden, and have luncheon with him when I get back to Washington. And I am going to ask him about this, because it seems to me, when we go back to the Clinton days, and there was really a momentum for peace, and the administration was involved, they really didn't have the voice that we wanted them to have.

Perhaps now, that Saudi Arabia seems to be moving forward with a proposal, which God knows we need some light in that region, maybe he can take a more aggressive role, and I do plan to ask him that.

BLITZER: What about you, Senator Craig, how do you feel about Egypt's role in the peace process? A lot of publicity given to the Saudi peace initiative floated by Crown Prince Abdullah, but are you satisfied with the position taken by Egypt?

CRAIG: Well, of course the peace process largely collapsed with the violence that has occurred there, and I'm not quite sure we would know where to ask Egypt to stand at this moment there, with the kind of instability, and the tight wire that Mubarak clearly has, between the street politics of Egypt and the position of the central government, and how they deal with that. I think we have to take a serious look at what the Saudis are at least extending at this moment.

We would love to see that violence stopped over there. There has to be a reason to stop it. And if that is comes, then I think ought to work hard to bring those parties together.

CRAIG: But right now I cannot blame Israel at all for their reaction to the kind of violence that is increasingly killing their people in a very indiscriminate way.

BLITZER: Senator Boxer, let's shift now to the Enron collapse, a huge story here in the United States.

Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron CEO, was on Larry King Live Friday night. He insists that he had no idea what was going on. Listen to this excerpt from that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFFREY SKILLING, FORMER ENRON CEO: I don't think there was anyone that was as shocked by the collapse of the company as I was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You've raised questions about his credibility. Are you more convinced, now that you saw him testify and his public statements on Larry King Live?

BOXER: Many of us question his credibility on both sides of the aisle. This is a man who saw no evil, spoke no evil, heard no evil, when in fact there were analysts all around him and people with lesser education, lesser degrees, less access to information who figured it out pretty quickly.

You know, when he came before the Commerce Committee, I said to him -- actually it was Max Cleland who said to him, "What do you think is to blame for all this?" You know what he said? He said, there were clauses in the bank's contracts that allowed them to pull out if there's material adverse change, and he blamed the banks for calling in their loans.

The bottom line is if the banks hadn't done that, and since the federal government and taxpayers insure the banks, FDIC, this would have been a worse disaster than it was. This is a man who takes no responsibility.

And to be very honest with you, as I look at it, the thousands of people who lost everything in their 401(k) plans while he sold out his shares, telling them to buy all Enron stock all the time for their 401(k)s, honest to God, I don't believe him, Wolf. I don't believe him.

BLITZER: Senator Craig, you've been outspoken on this whole issue. Do you believe Jeffrey Skilling?

CRAIG: There's no basis to believe him. If he's as bright as he'd like to have us think he is, then I totally agree with Barbara.

Skilling, Lay, all of them, absolutely mishandled the trust that they were handed in a publicly held corporation with stockholder money, and of course the retirement funds of the very valuable employees. Shame on them and shame on them big time.

Now, we can continue point fingers of blame, or we really ought to see if there's a way to create greater transparency, greater accountability in accounting and auditing.

I've introduced legislation to protect the 401(k)s. Myself and Kay Bailey Hutchison and Trent Lott have introduced this legislation to clarify, to give greater diversity and control.

I hope we can point the fingers and find the blame, but in the end, I hope we can create some transparency and some legal-structured protection that allow publicly held corporations not only to function properly, but to do so in a way that protects the stockholders as best as is possible but, most importantly, the employees and their retirement funds.

BLITZER: All right, Senators, let's take a caller from Arkansas. Arkansas, go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Yes. We are told that the Enron scandal is a business scandal, but I would submit to you that it is also a political scandal. And the political scandal relates to the fact that we've been sold a bill of goods on this limited government. And I think Enron clearly exemplified the fact that our government is not big enough to do the job that should have been done to prevent Enron from happening in the first place.

BLITZER: All right, let's ask Senator Boxer and then Senator Craig next.

Senator Boxer?

BOXER: I think as you follow the dots of Enron you find out that they did everything they could to get out from under any oversight at all.

Certainly, in my state of California where we suffered so much, we just were bled dry by them during this phony crisis. And I don't have time to go into it, but they got out of all state regulation. They got out of all federal oversight except for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

And I am very concerned that they did exercise undo influence on that commission. I have asked for all the meetings. They had 25 meetings with FERC commissioners, and FERC was the only one that could help us in California.

So I think deregulation is a good thing to do when it makes sense, but clearly when it's about something as necessary for life itself as energy, people need energy. People in my state, in the hot weather, elderly people need that air conditioning. If you can't get that, it's really a big danger.

So the bottom line is, we do need more oversight. I would agree with the caller.

BLITZER: What about that, Senator Craig? You've always believed in smaller government.

CRAIG: Well, I have believed and I still believe.

CRAIG: I talk about safeguards. I talk about rules and procedure. But let us also say that there is a private marketplace out there, and there is an element of "buyer beware." The government cannot protect everybody. The government cannot be the absolute controller and the guaranteeer of everything. And we shouldn't have it that way.

Clearly, there were a lot of investors out there who saw Enron manipulating itself, and they walked away well before the bankruptcy occurred. There is also the Securities and Exchange Commission, under the Clinton administration, that gave the board of directors of Enron one waiver after another waiver after another waiver to do their kind of schematic financing that ultimately brought them down.

Regulatory on energy is one thing, but the management of a corporation is an entirely separate thing. And while we will have regulation and set those standards for energy, and set the standards under how publicly held corporations ought to operate, let's remember that it is our responsibility as an investor to be informed, to be educated.

That is why I argue, Blitz, that we have transparency. I'm not going to suggest this was government's fault totally. At the same time, I don't think government is the answer to the problem.

BLITZER: All right, Senator...

BOXER: May I just say that...

BLITZER: Senator Boxer, if you can say it in 10 seconds, say it.

BOXER: OK. "Buyer beware" is fine, but when you get electricity you don't have much choice. You've got to buy it where it is sold.

BLITZER: On that note of somewhat disagreement, let me leave it right there. Senators Craig and Boxer, thanks for joining us on this Sunday on LATE EDITION.

And just ahead, the Bush administration is widening the war against terrorism. But once again, how is the military dealing with all of this? We'll get analysis from the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General George Joulwan, the former U.S. arms control director Ken Adelman, and CNN military analyst, retired Major General Don Shepperd.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: This war against terrorists is far broader than Afghanistan, and we're making good progress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush this week defining the scope of the war against terror. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Even as the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan continues full speed ahead, the Bush administration is sending military advisers to the Philippines, Yemen and the former Soviet republic of Georgia as part of the expanding war against terrorism. But there are concerns the administration is perhaps broadening the fight even though it has yet to achieve its initial goals.

With us now for some perspective, the former NATO supreme allied commander, General George Joulwan; Ken Adelman, he served as the U.S. arms control director during the Reagan administration; and joining us from Denver, the CNN military analyst, the retired Major General Don Shepperd.

Gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION.

And, General Joulwan, let me begin with you. This offensive that's now underway in eastern Afghanistan, I don't know about you, but I was sort of surprised to hear that this offensive is now under way with B-52 bombers striking. I thought the war on the ground was basically over, didn't you?

GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN, FORMER NATO SUPREME COMMANDER: Not at all. We said on this program whatever the last time we met that this is going to be a long campaign. This war is not over. We have to understand that. It's going to take time.

And it's going to take a commitment by us, by the United States, I think more of a commitment, to close the deal, to really impose our will on those factions that are still there. We need to do that, and we need to do it quickly.

BLITZER: What about you, General Shepperd? Were you surprised to read of this major offensive under way now in eastern Afghanistan?

MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Absolutely not. These are the opening minutes of a long, long war in many places. These people have obviously escaped in small cells and also in maybe in large numbers. Their intent was to regroup, as we found out in the intelligence that we came across, particularly in the Kabul area there. And they're going to regroup like this. And when they regroup, we're going to hit them. And it's going to take a long time. We're going to do it.

BLITZER: So, Ken Adelman, what our two generals here are suggesting is that this war in Afghanistan, forget about all the other places, but in Afghanistan, may be just beginning.

KEN ADELMAN, FORMER ARMS CONTROL DIRECTOR: Wolf, I think it's just beginning. I think it's just ending, to tell you the truth. I think that we accomplished our main objective, which was to overthrow the Taliban. We accomplished our main objective, which was to disperse the Al Qaeda network.

It hasn't ended, but, you know, let's not moan the fact that there is, you know, 15 percent left to do. Let's celebrate the fact that we've done 85 percent of the work.

JOULWAN: Wolf, we've said before, and on this program, that there are really three campaigns going on: One is in Afghanistan, another is globally, and the third is here at home. I think we have to take all of that into consideration. And what we're seeing in these other countries is part of that global campaign that we talked about earlier.

I think it also buys time here at home to get our act together in this homeland security and keeps this threat off balance.

BLITZER: General Shepperd, the whole notion, though, that there are warlords that are basically operating on their own in various parts of Afghanistan who may or may not be in cahoots with some renegade Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters still out there -- how much of a threat does that represent to the U.S. effort inside Afghanistan?

SHEPPERD: Well, of course, it represents a threat, but it's gone on for centuries. This is nothing new.

And the particular area that we are concerned with, which is the area south of Kabul in the area of Gardez, is the lawless, tribal area of Afghanistan, large mountains and mountain valleys next to the lawless area of Pakistan. This is just a very tough area of the globe to fight in. And it's ringed with these people that have their own agendas and do it for their own reasons.

And again, it's not going to end. We're going to be there for a long time doing this in Afghanistan itself.

BLITZER: And you weren't surprised, Ken Adelman, at all when you heard about this major offensive?

ADELMAN: I'm not disturbed. I didn't know that there was going to be an offensive, but I'm not disturbed on this.

I think the general is quite right in saying that this is a local issue in Afghanistan. But it's also a global issue, and that global issue is -- has to be military in the largest aspect. But it also has to be beyond military.

You mentioned a few minutes ago, Wolf, that you're going to have President Mubarak, who is coming into town. I mean, the Egyptians are going to concentrate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But that's not where I think the big problem with Egypt is. The big problem with Egypt has been funding the hate toward the West, toward Israel, toward the United States, toward Christians, toward Jews, that has been going on now for 15 years.

BLITZER: You mean inside Egypt?

ADELMAN: I mean inside Egypt and through the Islamic establishment around the world. And this is after we give them $2 billion a year.

BLITZER: All right. Let's get into that later. But I want to continue on this military effort.

SHEPPERD: Let's get into that.

BLITZER: Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic senator from Nebraska suggested this past week, here on CNN, that the U.S. military was being stretched too thin. And he cited comments that President Bush himself made as a candidate in 2000, during the 2000 campaign.

BLITZER: We have an excerpt of one thing the president said then. Listen -- almost two years ago. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander in chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, "Not ready for duty, sir."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Later, they had to backtrack a little bit from those two Army divisions. You're very familiar...

JOULWAN: (OFF-MIKE)

BLITZER: But is the U.S. military being stretched too thin right now?

JOULWAN: We are committed, globally, against this global threat,

Wolf, there's has been a sea change in our strategic thinking since 11 September. We're catching up to that.

I'm not sure we have the right force structure in order to do what's required, but we have no choice. We are faced with this threat, this enemy that is global, that is scattered. It's not a front line like it was in the Cold War. And we have got to take the fight to him, or it makes us vulnerable here at home.

So I think it's -- we need to look at this structure, we may have to add more people to it, we may have to get different sorts of equipment. We should be concerned about repair parts and spare parts, and the impact it's having on our reserves. All of that needs to be considered. But we are engaged, we are at war, and we have to understand that.

ADELMAN: Let me pick up on this, because this is a very important point that the general made, when he says we have to take the fight, especially the fight to protect ourselves, to the enemy.

What we are doing, and what we are seeing, Wolf, is a historic change from one of containment, as we lived for 30 years in the time of Communism, to one of preemption. And the United States' overall global posture has to be preemption. We have to go and, for our own defense, stop people who are going to attack us and who are spreading hate against us.

BLITZER: General Shepperd, you know the Pentagon quite well, you've studied readiness, preparedness. Is the U.S. military, since September 11, adjusting its strategy, as General Joulwan suggested it must, to deal with this threat, which of course is very, very real, this threat of terror I'm talking about?

SHEPPERD: They are indeed, Wolf. They are examining many things they're doing, including transforming the military for the new world.

The military itself, in a word, is not stretched too thin. A force the size of 4,000 within Afghanistan itself doesn't stretch us too thin.

But where we are really stretched thin is in the support mechanism. This is halfway around the world in an area with no ports, where everything for this war effort has to be flown in, and that really stresses our airlift.

So, depending on where you are and where you fight, certain things can get really stressed. And if something broke out in Iraq, for instance, at the same time, then we would really be stretched and stretched thin.

But we have mechanisms to deal with this, and the military is appropriately sized and equipped to do what we have to do, but it isn't easy.

BLITZER: When I used to cover the Pentagon, General Joulwan, we used to call it the tooth-to-tail ratio, which is the logistical support. And in this kind of situation, the air support has got to be enormous.

Can the U.S. Air Force handle this continuing, especially if it goes beyond Afghanistan?

JOULWAN: It's a challenge, and to go beyond Afghanistan really needs to be studied. But much of our logistic structure now is in this reserve structure that we've placed. Most of our active duty are at the combat, fighter range, but in the logistics, it's in the reserves. So all of that needs to be considered. We call these reserves up, and that creates an enormous amount of disruption in their families, communities, their jobs.

All of that needs to be considered, as we look at this new threat that we face.

BLITZER: All right, stand by for a second. We're going to take a quick break.

We have a lot more to talk about, including your phone calls for our military analysts. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We're continuing our discussion with the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General George Joulwan, the former U.S. arms control director Ken Adelman, and CNN military analyst, retired Major General Don Shepperd.

General Shepperd, I want to play for you a sound bite from what Hamid Karzai, the interim leader in Afghanistan, said on Friday in Paris in an apparent appeal to the United States to allow the international peace-keeping force to go beyond Kabul and to help secure the rest of the country. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAMID KARZAI, INTERIM LEADER OF AFGHANISTAN: Afghan people want a kind of commitment from the international community to stay with Afghanistan. This is done as a guarantee of the commitment of the international community to remain with Afghanistan, to stay committed to Afghanistan, so that Afghanistan will not be interfered with or troubled again like it was in the past.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Shepperd, was on CNN this weekend, on Novak, Hunt and Shields, and suggested that right now the president has to make a decision whether to allow that international peacekeeping force, led by the British and the Turks, to go forward outside of Kabul.

How much of a danger would this be for the U.S. military?

SHEPPERD: Well, it is not so much a danger for the U.S. military as it is a danger for the expanded peace-keeping force. Clearly, spreading security across that nation, establishing a police force out there for security, and disarming the populous, and establishing an Afghan army needs to be done.

But the choice that you have is doing it through the Afghans themselves by training them, getting the cooperation of the power brokers and the various areas of Afghanistan, or expanding largely the peace-keeping force itself, which can also become targets. It's not clear which is the way to go, but you do have to spread security and make some decisions, Wolf.

BLITZER: General Joulwan, you are familiar with peace-eeping forces, you had one in the Balkans. But what's the debate here?

JOULWAN: Well, I think it is very important. In Bosnia, for example, people call that a peace-keeping mission. We imposed our will on the warring factions. There are 200,000 armed insurgents in that country, and we went in there if we had to to fight. And we went in there..

BLITZER: The NATO alliance.

JOULWAN: The NATO alliance went in there to fight with clear, robust rules of engagement, and that was understood. And we haven't lost a soldier to hostile fire, yet. I think we've been there too long, six years, but you need that sort of commitment.

Now we have mission A, which is what we are doing in the combat role there with U.S. forces, and now you have this international peace force, mission B. So, you have to have some unity of command, some effort. But you need to get control of this country, and we don't have control of this country yet, and I think it needs to be done.

BLITZER: The argument against allowing those international peacekeepers, Ken Adelman, and I believe you support this, is if they go outside of Kabul and they are in danger, the U.S. is going to have to go in there and protect them.

ADELMAN: That's part of the argument I made the other night on your show, Wolf. It also really gets back to what Don Sheppherd said just a minute ago: Whether you want to strengthen the Afghan government sufficient to start being a real government, or to have this dependency brought up over the years so that you have the international force.

Plus, I think we should learn the lessons that the British and the Soviets in Afghanistan teach. And that is to get out in the countryside for extended periods of time thinking you're going to pacify the population is a very dangerous mission.

JOULWAN: Maybe I'm one of few that think we can still lose this effort in Afghanistan. And we have got to understand that our troops are vulnerable, there are still sizable forces that are on the ground, enemy forces. And we have got to close with and eliminate this force, or they are going to pose a danger to our small forces on the ground. And the sooner we do that, the better.

We cannot let them get momentum back. We took the momentum away from them, and the initiative. We cannot let the Taliban or these fighters, whoever they may be, get that momentum back.

ADELMAN: I don't think there is much danger of that.

Plus, I don't think there is much a danger, to tell you the truth, of the U.S. military being stretched too thin. We have 1.4 million people in the U.S. active duty in the U.S. military. We have a few thousand here, a few hundred here, a few score here. And to think that "Oh my God, we're so stretched," with all this military might we have, I just don't think it's true. BLITZER: Well, I'm going to let General Shepperd weigh in and ask you a question, General Shepperd. Ken Adelman wrote that highly controversial article in The Washington Post a few weeks ago, in which he said a U.S. effort to get rid of Saddam Hussein in Iraq would be, in his words, a "cake walk, militarily speaking."

BLITZER: Do you agree with Ken Adelman on that?

SHEPPERD: Well, somehow military operations are never cake walks, but it would certainly be quicker and shorter than the last campaign. The Iraqi military is much weaker than they were when we went to war in the Gulf War right now. So from that standpoint, it would it be much less of a problem.

But it still involves air attacks, it still involves forces on the ground if you went in militarily. And ideally, you want to do it in other ways -- diplomatically and economically -- rather than troops on the ground, if you can.

But in the end, if you got to put troops on the ground, we're prepared to do it. And it's never, never a cake walk, but it should be easier than the last time.

BLITZER: You think so?

JOULWAN: Well, I think just to have truth in lending here, I think Saddam Hussein has got to go. How we do that is going to be very important.

We had 900,000 troops in the Army during the Gulf War. We have half that now. Someone said it's going to take 250,000 ground force.

ADELMAN: Yes, but that's not...

JOULWAN: We have, well...

ADELMAN: ... people say all kinds of things.

JOULWAN: But we have 10 divisions now, and the maximum you're going to get out of those 10 divisions is about 180,000 to 200,000 troops, every division in the Army plus the Marines.

We just have to have some clarity here about what has to be done, what are the rules, what are our objectives. The military can carry it out, but it will not be a cake walk, it will not be easy. It will be tough fighting, we have to understand that.

BLITZER: You got the last word, Ken Adelman.

ADELMAN: Yes, I think that it's absolutely essential that we do something like that. I would hate for President Bush to look back at his time of office and to think to himself, "We could have saved the United States from getting attacked by chemical weapons or nuclear weapons. And because of the diplomats not lining things up or because of reluctance of this or the other, we didn't take that opportunity."

I think that is a terrible burden, and I don't want to risk that possibility. And not getting rid of Saddam Hussein risks that possibility every single day.

BLITZER: Ken Adelman, General Joulwan, General Shepperd, always good to have all three of you on our program. Thanks so much for joining us.

And just ahead the war against terrorism isn't stopping President Bush and congressional Democrats from drawing some political battle lines here in Washington. We'll talk wartime politics and the battle for control of the U.S. Congress with Democratic strategist Paul Begala and former Republican Party communications director Cliff May.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Partisan politics alive and well here in Washington, especially with the control of Congress very much at stake this November.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now, Democratic strategist, the former Clinton adviser and the future co-host of CNN's Crossfire, Paul Begala, and the former communications director for the Republic National Committee, Cliff May. He's now the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION.

Paul, your first time on CNN since the announcement you're going to be hosting -- co-hosting Crossfire, starting April 1, before a live studio audience at George Washington University every night.

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Can't wait. April Fool's Day, my national...

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: You and James Carvile going up against Tucker Carlson and Bob Novak. We'll see who wins those CROSSFIRE battles.

But let's talk about the battle with Tom Daschle, Trent Lott, what Tom Daschle said this week. In response to his raising some questions about the way the president's conducting the war, Trent Lott issued a press release in which he said this: "How dare Senator Daschle criticize President Bush while we are fighting our war on terrorism, especially when we have troops in the field? He should not be trying to divide our country while we are united."

If this had happened when you were in the White House, the Republicans were trying to question President Clinton's efforts against Iraq or the Balkans, you'd be pretty upset right -- you would have been pretty upset too, wouldn't you?

BEGALA: Well, first off, Daschle didn't question what Bush is doing. What he said was this: "Nobody can gainsay the great successes we've had in this war." That's certainly not a very controversial statement. But he also said, "It's going to be a long and difficult war", which I agree with and the president has said himself. Third, he said, "We can't consider it a victory until Al Qaeda is crushed in Afghanistan and around the world and bin Laden is killed or stopped." I think that's absolutely just repeating what Bush has said.

What's instructive is the Republican reaction. You know, they all have the vapors. They all get their panties in a wad because they don't brook any kind of discussion. They haven't been briefing the Congress on what they are doing. They want to try to use this bloody fight -- Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, said so. He said, "We are going to use the war for our political ends."

And this is reminiscent of September 11 when Bush himself did not exactly -- he looked a little wobbly on the first day, and they overreacted the next day after that.

BLITZER: We've got a good Republican -- Cliff May, go ahead.

CLIFF MAY, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I'll make a couple of quick points here. One, more than 80 percent of Americans agree and favor the way this president has conducted this war. That's got to include quite a few Democrats, since we don't have an 80 percent Republican registration in this country. That's important.

Secondly, Congress has been very supportive in a bipartisan way of the president. And the president has said so. And organizations like mine, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, we have strong Democratic as well as Republican backers. We are for a comprehensive fight against terrorism and eventually abolishing terrorism.

And if you heard Senator Lieberman this morning, I think what he said was very important and very much backed the president. One, what we need here is not an exit strategy, which people like Biden -- not like Biden -- people like Senator Byrd and Senator Daschle have been implying, but a victory strategy. And we have to give the element of surprise to the president.

Look, one of two things is happening here. And I think in either one it's ill advised for Daschle to do.

One is, he is playing politics with the issue of the war. And I don't think he should do that. I really -- it's a mistake.

BEGALA: Do you think it's a success if we leave bin Laden alive?

MAY: The other possibility...

BEGALA: It's going to be just like old man Bush who left Saddam Hussein alive who is still now causing havoc. MAY: We want -- let me answer that.

BEGALA: If we leave bin Laden alive, that means failure.

MAY: No, I think we want to get bin Laden and we want to get Mullah Omar. That's important too. But that's not all there is to it.

What Bush is saying very clearly is of course we want to do those things, just like we wanted to get Hitler, but mostly we wanted to stop the German advances and push them back and destroy them in Europe. Now what we want to do beyond that is stop terrorists from getting weapons of mass destruction they can use against them.

Look, there has been criticism before of the president. It's come from people like Michael Moore on the left. It's come from people like Pat Buchanan on the right. What you're hearing from Senator Daschle sounds suspiciously like them.

I don't think he is well advised to be opening up a Democratic wing with Pat Buchanan or with Michael Moore. I think if he...

BEGALA: Wait a minute. When Bill Clinton was in the White House and Trent Lott was the Senate majority leader, Bill Clinton led us to airstrikes against Iraq. He led us to cruise missile attacks against Osama bin Laden. And Trent Lott criticized Clinton. Tom DeLay and the House Republicans refused to vote to support...

BLITZER: He criticized the timing because it came right before the...

BEGALA: And the target. He said, "I criticized both the timing and the target," and the target was Saddam Hussein.

And Tom DeLay led a fight when General George Jowlan, who was just sitting on this set, was leading us to victory in Bosnia. Tom DeLay pushed through legislation that undermined our troops in the field. So the Republicans are full of such hypocrisy here.

MAY: Let's try to understand, it is very hard for political people like yourself or like me not to play politics with an issue. It's as hard as asking Britney Spears not to reveal her navel. It's just something that goes against nature.

At the same time, this issue at this time, this war on terrorism should be above politics.

Now, we know -- and I don't want to criticize Daschle. I don't want to criticize Lott. I don't want to criticize Tom DeLay. I want to look at this right now.

We know that Daschle met on Wednesday -- on Wednesday for breakfast with President Bush. Time to raise all sorts of questions. On Thursday, he comes out and has a press conference in which he raises questions that are really implicit criticism. I think that was a mistake on his part. I don't think he wants to walk away from the president on this issue. I don't think he wants to be seen as somebody who is softer on terrorism than President Bush is. And most Democrats don't agree with him on that.

BEGALA: He said... MAY: You and I know -- and you told me this -- there is a split in the Democratic Party, with people like Lieberman and Gore on one side. They're pretty strong on the war against terrorism. There are people like Senator Byrd who think we maybe we are doing way too much and we should be backing off. That's true, right, there is a split?

BEGALA: Daschle said we need to fight on until bin Laden is crushed. We are now engaged in a multi-day fire fight that occurred after he said that. That just proves that Daschle was right.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Hold on one second. Let's listen to what Senator Daschle said on Friday, trying to clarify what he had said the day before. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DASCHLE: I think the Republicans' reaction is nothing short of hysterical. I'm amused, frankly. I'd asked them to look at what I said, because I stand by what I said. The Congress has a constitutional responsibility to ask questions. We are not a rubber stamp to this president or to anybody else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MAY: Of course he can ask questions. I would say that he can do it certainly when he meets with the president or he can pick up the phone. He can do it in public too.

But what he seemed to be doing here was saying, "I am going to set up a goal that, if we don't meet, I can say later we haven't really succeeded."

It's also important that we understand what the Bush doctrine is and what the Bush plan is. It's not just to punish terrorism. It's also to prevent terrorism. It's to not allow terrorists to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction that they will use against us.

MAY: Look, there are seven nations on the State Department's list of terrorist-sponsoring nations, right? Three of them are well along to developing weapons of mass destruction and proliferating them. Which are they? Iraq, Iran, North Korea. What's the axis of evil? Iraq, Iran, North Korea. That's what he's saying.

BEGALA: But were they -- two of those nations were on Dick Cheney's customer list when he was running Halliburton. And they were so evil, Dick Cheney tried to make money off of them a year or two ago. Now, all of a sudden, they're all -- they're evil?

MAY: And this is what I mean by partisanship...

BEGALA: Is it right for Dick Cheney to do business in Iraq and Iran?

MAY: I think that, since September 11, we have a new world order.

BEGALA: But they weren't evil before then?

MAY: They were, and I would have taken a very hard line on all of them before. But after September 11, there can be no doubt that this war on terrorism is something we need to comprehensively wage, and ultimately see that.

BLITZER: All right.

MAY: And, look, I think most people in the country do not want to see you and I, Paul, out here in a partisan way bickering over the war on terrorism. I don't think they want to see politicians doing it. I think it's a mistake, not only as a matter of policy, but as a matter of politics.

BEGALA: But the Bush doctrine is trying to politicize the war. That's what the Bush doctrine is.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Stand by, both of you. We're going to continue this. We have a lot more to talk about.

We're going to take a quick break. We're also going to be talking to some viewers. They've got phone calls for Paul Begala and Cliff May. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. We're talking wartime politics with Democratic strategist Paul Begala and Republican strategist Cliff May.

We have a caller from Hawaii. Go ahead with your question, please.

CALLER: Aloha, gentlemen. It just seems like during the last four years of the Clinton administration, the Republicans were always badgering about some kind of exit strategy for any military campaign put forth. I just find that somewhat lacking of the Republicans, especially. What kind of exit strategy do we have for Afghanistan?

MAY: It's a very good question. Let me try to address it as Joe Lieberman did this morning. He said we need not an exit strategy, but a victory strategy. Why? Because we're talking about an all-out war against American civilians.

Look, imagine that it's 1941 or 1940 and people are saying to President Roosevelt, "OK, you're going to go into Europe, you're going to go into Asia, you're going to go into North Africa. What's your exit strategy?" He could not have said what his exit strategy is. He would have said we are going to win, whatever has to be done, however long it takes.

BEGALA: In fact, if I can pick up on that, a rare moment of bipartisan agreement. Cliff's right. The World War II phrase was "for the duration."

Candidate Bush, I actually studied him, wrote a book on him, and played him in the debates with Al Gore, and so I memorized all his lines. And one of them was, "We'll never go in without a clear national purpose, an overwhelming chance of victory and force, well- trained army, and an exit strategy." Well, he's dropped the exit strategy from his rhetoric, and I think wisely.

This is going to be a long and difficult fight. It's, in fact, something that Tom Daschle was saying the other day when the Republicans jumped ugly with him. This is not going to be over soon. We're going to, I hope and pray, go after Al Qaeda all around the world, not just in Afghanistan. But until they are completely crushed, they continue to be threat to us, and I think we should be in there for the long haul.

BLITZER: Let's take another caller from Georgia. Go ahead with your question, please.

CALLER: Wolf, you have an incredible program. My question to Mr. May, Mr. May, what impact will the Enron scandal have on the Bush presidency and the mid-term elections?

MAY: I don't think it is going to have a whole lot of impact. I think it is an important scandal. It's about accounting practices. I don't think you can see it from the polls that it hits one party more than another. It means some of the reform is probably called for. I don't see it as having a big impact.

But understand that what's going on in terms of the elections. Normally, the party that doesn't have the White House in an outyear will gain. So, by all historical precedent, the Democrats should gain, and may gain, very well in November.

On the other hand, you do have a president who has a lot of popularity right now and there's a concern among Democrats, natural enough, that he may have some coattails so they may not get gains they want.

That's why I think Democrats are looking for an issue. I just think Senator Daschle is wrong to make this the issue. I don't think this will work for them, and I think it raises some dangers.

BEGALA: Well, first off, 75 percent of Americans in a poll that CBS News did this week said that they think the White House is hiding or lying about something in Enron. Why? Well, because they are. They are even being sued on several fronts to try to hide the records of their meetings with Enron and other lobbyists.

Now, reporters are still finding the information, though. We found out this week that 18 of the top 25 donors from the pollution lobby, the energy business, actually all 18 of those 25 got to meet with the energy task force. We found out that the Energy Department met with 65 different organizations. 64 of them were from the polluter lobby. I mean, this is an enormous scandal.

An EPA administration official, this week, who was in former President Bush Sr.'s administration, not a Democrat, he resigned this week, saying that the Bush administration is so completely in bed with the polluters' interests that he could not, in good conscious -- so, there is an enormous scandal here.

MAY: Well, I don't agree that this issue plays in November. Nonetheless, I agree that Paul's better off making an issue out of Enron than he is about the war against terrorism. I think that's a better way for him to go.

BLITZER: You think that this Enron thing can be an issue in November...

BEGALA: I think it's going to be a huge issue.

BLITZER: ... in terms of the future of the House and the Senate, given the fact that Democrats, across the board, have taken a ton of money from Enron as well?

BEGALA: George W. Bush alone, one man, took 66 percent more money from Enron than the entire Democratic Party across America -- one man. If you add every Democrat, every candidate for federal office -- so this is an enormous scandal for Bush.

MAY: It is a bipartisan scandal, but really it's a nonpartisan scandal. It's not really about -- look, nobody really helped Enron in the end; that's why they're bankrupt. But, again...

BEGALA: Bush gave them everything they wanted.

MAY: But again, do Enron, make that the political issue. Don't make the war on terrorism. And I would advise Daschle, when he reads your memos, to be careful.

BLITZER: This is why Karl Rove is waving...

MAY: I advise Rove the same as I would advise Daschle, don't make the war a partisan issue. It's too big.

BLITZER: All right. Cliff May, Paul Begala, the newest edition to CNN, thanks to both of you for joining us.

And just ahead, your letters, plus Bruce Morton's essay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON: You can argue whether Iran, North Korea and Iraq are an axis of evil or an axis of anything else, and they are certainly not an alliance. But Mr. Bush sees them as linked, and that's all that matters. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is the war on terrorism turning America into the world's policeman? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: And now, Bruce Morton on how the war against terrorism may be changing America's approach to international threats.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON: "The president is a war president, totally preoccupied," The Washington Post quotes Alaska Governor Tony Knowles, a college friend of Bush's, "by the war."

And he is a different kind of war president from the ones who led alliances during World War II or the Cold War. This president will strike any people or countries he sees as bad, whether or not anyone else agrees with him.

He said, this past week, he thought guerrillas in Georgia were influenced by Al Qaeda, so he'll send troops to Georgia -- nevermind that Russia protests.

Campaigning in North Carolina, he said to the rest of the world:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Either you're with us or you're against us in the fight for freedom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: My way, in other words, or the highway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Imagine, for example, if a faceless terrorist organization was able to team up with a nation which sponsored and developed weapons of mass destruction. We're not going to let that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: That's we as in the United States, world cop.

The U.S., the president said, would:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: ... find out terrorists, where they live, where they hide and bring them to justice. And that's what I'm going to do, so long as I am president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MORTON: That's pretty clear. You can argue whether Iran, North Korea and Iraq are an axis of evil, or an axis of anything else, and they are certainly not an alliance. But Mr. Bush sees them as linked, and that's all that matters.

Some allies will support an intervention in Iraq or Iran or wherever -- Britain has been perhaps the most supportive so far -- and some won't. But again, the point is, that doesn't matter. President Bush's America will decide who the bad guys are and go after them.

North Korea, of course, has trouble just trying feed its people. Some observers foresee more moderate governments in Iran simply because of the growing number of young people in the population. But the judgments that count will be made in the White House, not in Europe or at NATO meetings.

This is a new role for the United States, world policeman, and so far the president and his anti-terror campaign are popular.

True, the federal government is running up the national debt again. True, state governments, which can't just print money, are cutting programs to cope with the recession.

But the voters don't seem focused on things like that. They, like the president, are concentrating on the war against terror. And so far, they approve of what he's doing.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Bruce.

And now time to hear from you.

Regarding the controversy over the Bush administration's refusal to release the names of those who attended closed energy policy meetings, Jerry from California e-mails us with this: "When one makes an energy plan, one talks to the energy industry. Does the Congress tell the public who they talk to as they write and vote on bills? No. Who has tried to run the country and take away the powers of the executive branch?"

About Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, 16-year-old Andy asks this: "I'm very proud of Senator Daschle. He showed us a man who is willing to stand up and do his job as the Constitution dictates. He has the courage to do what is right."

Finally, Richard from Pennsylvania asks, "The reason President Bush didn't tell the senators about our troops going into Georgia and Yemen, is it possible he didn't know?" I doubt that, but you never you. I doubt that the president didn't know.

As always, we welcome your comments. You can e-mail us at lateedition@cnn.com.

And it's time now to say goodbye to our international viewers. Thanks very much for watching.

For our North American audience, stay tuned for the next hour of LATE EDITION. We'll get some expert legal insight into the big legal stories of the week, and of course our Final Round. They'll be taking your questions as well. All that, plus a check of the hour's headlines, when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This is LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): Humane treatment and security of our folks are utmost important to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Balancing the rights and restraints of the Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees. We'll get analysis on the situation in Guantanamo Bay, and we'll discuss the other legal stories of the week with three attorneys, Ann Coulter, Michael Zeldin and Cynthia Alksne.

Then, fast-paced talk, Sunday-style.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW": More power to you for speaking up for the Druids and the atheists and all of these people.

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: They should find him. He can run, but he cannot hide.

PETER BEINART, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": Atheists have a structure of morality too.

ROBERT GEORGE, "NEW YORK POST": If it was just a trial balloon, it should be popped immediately.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BLITZER: LATE EDITION's Final Round. You've got questions, they've got answers.

Welcome back.

We'll sort through some of the major legal stories of the week in just a moment, but first, let's go to Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta for a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: The condition of Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees at the Guantanamo Bay airbase was one of several legal stories making headlines this week. With us to offer some insight are three guests: in New York, the legal analyst Ann Coulter; here in Washington, former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne; and Michael Zeldin.

Good to have all of you on LATE EDITION.

Cynthia, let me begin with you and talk about the Andrea Yates murder trial. She's accused of drowning her five little children in a Houston suburb. This week we heard from her husband, Rusty, make the case she should not be given the death penalty; she was insane, and as a result, she should be found not guilty.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right. Well, the case is interesting on many levels. First of all, factually, whether or not she's insane. And it's interesting for trial watchers, strategically, the manner in which it's gone. And also, what is going to be the national effect? Will there be policy out of it?

Factually, while Rusty Yates, as you pointed out, was maybe the most interesting witness for those of us who are watching, I think the nurse who testified -- there was an M.D. Anderson nurse, who's been her friend for a long time. As you know, M.D. Anderson, very respected cancer center, very respected in Houston -- came in and said she watched her best friend, Andrea Yates, downwardly spiral for a year. And she talked about her taking notes because it was so bad. And she couldn't bathe herself. She was staring into space. She couldn't take care of the children. She couldn't do a number of things. And she really did paint a picture of a woman who's crazy as a loon.

So there's not only the doctors saying she's crazy as a loon, but also this nurse.

And then, from a strategy point of view, the interesting thing that's happened is the defense attorney has become the truth-teller in the courtroom. When I was a prosecutor, I was the truth-teller in the courtroom. It was my courtroom, I ran it. Here that hasn't happened. Here the defense attorney has taken over and has defined what's gone on in this trial. And it makes a big difference with the jury.

BLITZER: Ann Coulter, in the insanity defense, you have to prove that not only was the person insane but couldn't tell the difference between right and wrong.

Is it clear cut, in this particular case, that Andrea Yates could not tell the difference between right and wrong, that she didn't know murdering her five children was wrong?

ANN COULTER, COLUMNIST: No, I'd say quite the contrary. And criminal defense lawyers often confuse the issue by using term "insanity" as in legal insanity, the way people use it colloquially.

I mean, anyone who's going to kill five children is insane on some level. But what the legal definition of insanity means is exactly what you have said, that you can't tell the difference between right and wrong, you did not know what you were doing was wrong. In other words, you think you're shoveling snow, but in fact you're killing your mother with a shovel. Evidence that she knew this was wrong is that she immediately called her husband. She then called the police and turned herself in. She knew it was wrong. So I think legally there is no insanity case at all, on the basis of those facts.

You know, it's merely insane in the colloquial sense. Anyone who would kill five children is insane. On that theory, only people who commit the most heinous murders would get off on an insanity defense.

BLITZER: And Ann Coulter's point is valid, Michael. The burden, in this particular case, is on the defense to prove that she didn't know the difference between right and wrong.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, FORMER SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Well, the burden on the defense is to prove that she was insane. The presumption in Texas law is that you are sane unless you prove otherwise.

The test in Texas is severe mental incapacity, and didn't know the difference between right and wrong.

The prosecutor has essentially stipulated that she was suffering from a mental disease, but that she did know that it was a wrong. And the two points that he makes are, she said, five days later, she knew that she would go to hell, and that she made the 911 call.

I don't know that that's very compelling evidence, given the circumstances of the murder here.

ZELDIN: I don't know that the prosecutor has -- when stipulating that she is mentally ill and having testimony of people that said that -- one of the psychiatrists said this was, in her 27 years, one of the five worst cases of mental illness that she's ever seen in her entire practice. Seems to me saying I know I'm going to go to hell, especially a woman who is so, sort of deeply involved in religion -- Luke, Matthew, Noah, Mary, John, these are the names of her children. And she says that she has led them astray by being a bad mother. There is a lot of psychosis going on here.

BLITZER: It seems though, Cynthia, she did know that what she did was wrong.

ALKSNE: Here's the interesting thing of the expert on Friday. And that is that she doesn't understand the concept so much of right and wrong. They're sort of confused. She's on a different time and space continuum. She thinks it's right to kill your children to save them from Satan. I mean, she is way out there.

And as Michael points out, this jail psychiatrist said she was one of the sickest people she ever met. Well, let me tell you what, the jail psychiatrist has a paycheck that has State of Texas in the corner. Jail psychiatrists don't testify for defendants very much.

BLITZER: All right. What about that Ann Coulter?

COULTER: Well, of course she's mentally ill. As I say, the question is whether this is legal insanity. And the fact that she called 911 is the despositive on this point. That is to say, if she thought her acts had the legal consequence of washing clothes or washing teddy bears, you don't call 911.

It doesn't even matter, you know, if she thought there was some grand, moral rightness to what she was doing. She knew what she was doing was against the law, and that's why she called 911.

BLITZER: All right. And just to be precise, Ann, you believe she should be convicted and she should presumably, potentially be sentenced to death?

COULTER: Yes. I mean, I think that ought to be one of the possibilities considered by the jurors. I don't know that I'd necessarily vote for death. But I would not say just because she is a white woman, she shouldn't be subject to the death penalty.

BLITZER: All right. What about that, Michael? ZELDIN: Well, firstly, I don't think that this is a case that requires a conviction at all to do what is appropriate, which is to hospitalize this woman indefinitely and give her treatment, which everyone says she has needed since the birth of her first child.

BLITZER: She murdered her five little children.

ZELDIN: She did murder her five little children. And she was mentally ill at the time, by my reading of the statute. And it seems that the psychiatrist who testified in her behalf said she suffered from an acute psychotic episode at the time.

After the fact, things begin to change. After the fact, she may know that it was wrong. But you measure it at the time of the event. And it seems to me, at the time of the event, it's awfully difficult to sustain...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right. Let's move on to another major case. In San Diego, Cynthia, the case of Danielle Van Dam, the 7-year-old. Now David Westerfield, a 50-year-old who is accused of kidnapping her, murdering her. The body of this little girl has now been found, confirmed by local law enforcement authorities.

Does that mean that the prosecution, given the DNA, blood samples linking him to her, that the prosecution has a slamdunk case against him?

ALKSNE: Well, it doesn't mean slam dunk until all the forensic evidence comes in. Much of the DNA isn't in yet, nor have they had time to compare the DNA evidence in this case and his DNA to the other missing girls that have happened in San Diego.

I tell you what it does mean, it means he's got no deal to make. Because when she was missing, he could have said, OK, I'm willing to produce this child and there could have been a deal. Now he has no deal. Now what we know is there's going to be a trial. We're all going to watch it because there's cameras in the courtroom. And this case is going to reach its ultimate conclusion, because the prosecutor is not going to deal away the death penalty.

BLITZER: It would seem, Ann Coulter, that the prosecution has an incredibly strong case against David Westerfield.

COULTER: Yes, it's an incredibly sick case. And one thing that occurs to me looking at a case like this is that I think it ends the arguments on whether pornography is a release for bad tendencies or whether it encourages them and augments them.

I mean, I think it's striking in these child molestation -- in this case, child molestation and death cases that you always find things like trailers, you know, littered with child pornography. It seems to be quite the opposite of the argument that's often made, that it's a release. No, it gins up bad, sick instincts in people who have these predispositions.

BLITZER: Michael, if you were defending David Westerfield right now, there is a body. There is DNA, there are blood samples. There is apparently strange behavior, he took his motor home out to the desert. How do you defend -- I mean, what do you do if you're the defense attorney?

ZELDIN: Well, first and foremost, you try to get him a deal that is not going to have him executed. I think that's what his...

BLITZER: Is that best to hope for?

ZELDIN: ... primary thing. You have a -- or hope for an O.J. Simpson jury because what...

(CROSSTALK)

ZELDIN: Because what you have here, the evidence, leaving aside what we'll find on the little girl's body, is the presence of her blood on his jacket and in his mobile home after he's been on an excursion and had the thing cleaned during the time that police were looking for her. You have a very difficult time overcoming that. And so, I think if I were defending him, I would look for something that would save his life.

BLITZER: OK, we're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about.

We'll also be talking about the dog mauling case in Los Angeles. That was originally in San Francisco, but the case was moved to Los Angeles. We'll talk about the Abner Louima case in New York City. We'll talk about those military detainees at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back. We're talking about some of the big legal stories the week here in the United States with legal analyst Ann Coulter -- she is in New York -- and former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne, and Micheal Zeldin.

Cynthia, this dog mauling case in Los Angeles, tell our viewers, remind our viewers what's at stake here.

ALKNSE: Well, what's at stake is that it's a murder-in-the- second-degree case. And these two people, two lawyers, had very, very vicious dogs. The prosecution has introduced evidence that the lawyers had 30 warnings that the dogs were dangerous. And on the day when the victim died, she lived next door to the lawyers, the female lawyer was holding the biggest and the meanest dog, and the dog got away from her and mauled this woman to death.

It's been stunning in the courtroom, because not only has the prosecution found 30 people who said those dogs were vicious, but the defense attorney blamed the lover of the victim, who wasn't even there, saying, "If you had complained, you could have saved her life." It was sort of a surreal moment in trial training on what not to do, which is blame the victim.

BLITZER: There's a lot of interest, Ann Coulter, in this case, because so many people have dogs. And if those dogs go crazy and decide to kill someone, maul someone to death, the people who own those dogs will be held accountable. Right?

COULTER: Right, right. And I have to say, I mean, the two felony charges against them seemed quite legitimate and provable by the prosecution, a manslaughter or reckless endangerment and possession of a malicious dog.

The second-degree-murder charge, I think, is an example of overcharging. I mean, for that, you essentially have to have -- that's only against the woman who was present when the dog attacked. And you have to have an intent, malice, even implied malice. It would be something like her saying, you know, sic 'em against the neighbor.

And in fact, I mean, the evidence is, yes, they should have known. I mean, it's not like they're going to get away from a felony. But the defendant was covered with blood, she appears to have stopped this attack. Yes, she should have known. Yes, it was reckless. Yes, it was negligent. But second degree murder, I really think that is overcharging.

BLITZER: The difference, Michael, between negligence and manslaughter versus second degree murder is significant. Explain that difference to our viewers.

ZELDIN: Well, it's significant, one, in the amount of time that the person would serve if convicted; and it's relevant in the sense it proves the mental intent. Recklessness is a little bit more than accidental. You should have known and you didn't do anything about it. Second degree murder is an intentional, not quite murder one with malice and all that stuff, but it is an act that is deliberate. And I am not sure as to the second degree murder charge, as well. It depends on the level of knowledge that this woman had, the dog owner, and what she didn't do to stop it when it started, because apparently there was a stop and start in the course of the attack. But this is an involuntary manslaughter case.

BLITZER: Cynthia, a lot of our viewers remember the Abner Louima case in New York City. This Haitian immigrant, he was sodomized, he was brutally beaten. Convicted, these police officers were convicted. But now the conviction has been thrown out. What happened?

ALKSNE: Well, the important thing to remember is the man who actually sodomized Abner Louima pled guilty and is in jail.

BLITZER: The police officer.

ALKSNE: The police officer. He's going to be in jail for a very long time. We're talking about the other people in the case.

There were two different types of cases that were overturned. The first revolves around the question of who was the second officer in the bathroom? Abner Louima has not been able to say because the officer was behind him. And he believed it was the driver of the car. If you look at the driver of the police car, it's the Officer Schwartz who was convicted. There was conflicting evidence about whether we was.

The reason why the case was overturned was because the second officer's lawyer worked for the police union. And the court said, your interest in working for the police union meant that you didn't point the finger at anyone else. And so, there's going to be a new trial on that.

The problem is that the officer who actually sodomized Louima says it wasn't Schwartz, it was somebody else.

So it's going to be a very difficult prosecution, and we'll have to see how that goes.

BLITZER: Ann Coulter, you're in New York, as you well know better than all of us here in Washington, this is a highly charged, emotional situation right now, isn't it?

COULTER: Yes, though I think the fact that Lemrick Nelson's conviction was overturned just a few months ago, also by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, without much protest, has limited the protest we're having now.

In addition to the fact that it's pretty stunning when a federal appeals court overturns a conviction on an insufficiency of the evidence claim. Those are raised in pretty much every criminal conviction you will ever get. There will be an insufficiency of the evidence claim.

To say it's a legal matter or the evidence was not sufficient to convict Officer Schwartz is stunning, and it was a unanimous federal ..

ALKSNE: They didn't say that. That's incorrect. That's incorrect, Ann. The Officer Schwartz was overturned on being the second officer because of the conflict of the lawyer...

COULTER: Because of the conflict.

ALKSNE: Insufficiency of evidence had to do with the obstruction count, which is later and very different, that can't be retried. But the big issue that we're going to have to retry on Schwartz was not insufficiency of the evidence, it was the conflict of interest.

BLITZER: All right.

COULTER: And we wonder if they'll try Schwartz again.

ZELDIN: A couple of things. First, they will try Schwartz again.

As to Schwartz, there were two things that happened. One was that they said that the jury was infected by information that reached it during its deliberations of Volte (ph) having said it wasn't Shwartz. That was never introduced in evidence. The jury heard it, three jurors swore that they heard it during deliberations. And they said that jury pool is poisoned and that's clear stuff. You can't bring in extra material before the jury.

The second thing was this conflict of interest. The lawyer for Schwartz represented the police union. There was a separate hearing on this before Judge Nickerson. He waived the right to a new counsel and still went further.

But the thing about the two officers who were tried with conspiracy to lie, that was not just failing to prove the case, that was the prosecutor, Zack Carter, choosing whether it was to be conspiracy to lie to a grand jury or conspiracy to lie to police investigators. He chose the grand jury. The court said, you chose the wrong one. If you had chosen the second one, we would have convicted these guys.

BLITZER: Ann Coulter, we don't have a whole lot of time, but I want your take on what is going right now at U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, of the more than 300 detainees that are there. Some of them have gone on hunger strikes this past week, complaining that the guards have forced them to remove their head coverings while they prayed.

How much sympathy do you have for their legal standing, their legal rights right now?

COULTER: Well, very little for two reasons. One is, remember what happened a couple of years ago at a correctional facility here in New York regarding various presumed members of Al Qaeda.

COULTER: One of them, the alleged financial officer for Al Qaeda, before going on trial, shaves down a comb, stabs a guard straight through the eye, causing permanent mental damage. And this was a guard, you know, had been very kind to them. Was bringing them to pray, wouldn't always handcuff them, and now he's permanently mentally damaged because of that attack. And it was because they can hide these weapons in their turbans. So, I mean, there is a security issue here.

And moreover, consider that we don't allow head coverings for military officers. Once again, we seem to be trying to provide better treatment for the detainees than for the military guarding them.

BLITZER: Michael, I'm going to give you the last word on this.

ZELDIN: Well, the last word is prison security. First and foremost, if they can secure these people and respect their religious rights, they should do so. If they can't, end of discussion.

The harder part, though, is this question of the indefinite nature of their imprisonment. And I thought that the heart of the hunger strike was really more about they want to know what's going on with them, they've received no information and they're concerned about that. And that's another broader issue that dovetails into the stuff that we've heard before about the Arab world thinking that this is an atrocity.

BLITZER: We are all out of time. I want to thank all three of you. Ann Coulter in New York, thanks so much for joining us.

COULTER: Thanks.

BLITZER: And here in Washington, Michael Zeldin and Cynthia Alksne, thanks to both of you, as well.

ALKSNE: Thank you.

BLITZER: And up next, our LATE EDITION Final Round, very opinionated panel, our panel. We'll weigh in on the big stories of the day and join us as well. LATE EDITION's Final Round, right after this news alert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION's Final Round.

Joining me now, Donna Brazile, Democratic political consultant; Peter Beinart of the New Republic; Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online; and Robert George of the New York Post, not online.

(LAUGHTER)

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is taking heat for questioning President Bush's war strategy.

Today the Republican leader, Trent Lott, suggested Daschle's comments could aid the enemy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) LOTT: Any sign that we are losing that unity, or a crack in that support, will be, I think, used against us overseas.

DASCHLE: We need to support our troops. They've done an outstanding job. But we also have to ask the right questions. That is the role of Congress. We're a co-equal branch of government, and I don't think we ought to rubber-stamp any president.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BLITZER: Jonah, is there room for dissent in this war on terrorism?

GOLDBERG: Yes, I think there's plenty of room for dissent in this war on terrorism.

Here's what I think what happened with this great story, is that the Democrats are moping like a big dog whose food bowl's been moved, over the fact that the recession is over. And so...

GEORGE: Or may not have existed at all.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: Or may not have existed at all, thanks to that wonderful tax cut.

(LAUGHTER) And so Tom Daschle decided that he was going to step up his criticism or his questioning of the war effort. It's perfectly legitimate for him to do so, even though his timing may not be that pure.

Trent Lott sounds like he was channeling Lee Atwater or Karl Rove through his fillings and way overreacted and tried to make the issue Daschle's patriotism or something. And he sounded very silly doing it and, by comparison, he made Daschle look good. I don't think Daschle's motives were pure, but Lott went way overboard.

BLITZER: You know, Peter, it's not just Daschle, though. It's Senator Byrd. Senator Biden's complaining he wasn't fully informed; Jane Harmon on the House side.

Is there a concerted Democratic strategy now to start questioning the deployment of U.S. forces in this war?

BEINART: I think yes and no. Not to, I think, question the deployment of U.S. forces overseas, which I think would be very bad politics and bad policy.

But there is a very valuable debate that I think Daschle was starting. It's about the defense budget. The defense increase is huge. Everyone agrees we need a big increase. But this has really become a kind of Christmas tree for Pentagon pork. That's the debate that I think Daschle is allowing to start, and that, I think, is a very good thing. BRAZILE: You know, it was like the pot calling the kettle black when Senator Lott made his comments. I mean, after all, during the war in the Balkans, he criticized President Clinton and the strategy there, when we had men and women on the ground.

I believe this is all part of the Republican Party strategy, as Karl Rove said in January, when he tried to mobilize the troops. He said, follow the coattails, follow the coattails. And let me tell you something, it's not going to work.

Senator Daschle had every right to question the president's strategy. The president himself said two years ago, when we were running the campaign, he said we should have a clear strategy. What's wrong with that?

BLITZER: Robert?

GEORGE: Peter is correct, in the sense that it's reasonable to discuss defense spending. But Daschle didn't say that. He said, specifically, the direction that the war is going.

Now, also, however, Daschle, keeping in mind actually Karl Rove's comments a few weeks ago, you would think that Daschle, of all people, wouldn't want to politicize the war.

Now, DeLay and Lott, frankly, could have acted -- responded more in sorrow than in anger and acted like statesmen. But I think Daschle needlessly politicized the war himself.

BLITZER: All right. Let's let...

GOLDBERG: He has no other issues right now...

GEORGE: Yes, exactly.

GOLDBERG: ... because Enron and the economy won't work anymore.

BLITZER: Let's move on and talk about something else we all learned this past week, that, since September 11, the Bush administration has been operating a so-called stand-by government out of bunkers around the Washington, D.C., area, within helicopter distance.

Donna, why didn't anyone notice? And should Congress have been formally informed of this?

BRAZILE: Well, this administration just loves secrets.

Look, we all believe that a shadow government should be in place, there should be contingency plans to establish a shadow government. But a shadow government that is in secret, with no contact with the executive and legislative branch of government, is a mistake.

And I think the president should sit down with Senator Daschle, Senator Lott, and members of the House, as well as the Supreme Court, and talk about the plans, and also inform the American people, not just alert us through leaks and misinformation.

GEORGE: Well, first of all, it's clear that the so-called shadow government has connection with the executive, I mean, so they definitely know what's going on.

Should the administration have discussed it a little bit more in detail with some congressional leaders? Yes.

But I think there's actually a larger problem here. This is like the second week in a row that what can be considered a rather embarrassing leak has come out from the White House. We had the whole strategic influence office and that fiasco. And now this has come out here. It seems to me that what had been a previously rather controlled White House has been springing leaks.

BLITZER: What about that, Jonah?

GOLDBERG: I think that's right. I mean, this is not the way the White House would want this story to get played out.

But, you know, let's say, on the merits, first of all, there is something to be said for burying lots of government employees deep underground, where you can't see them.

(LAUGHTER)

And the fact that no one noticed that big chunks of the executive branch of the federal government were missing for 90 days at a time says something about...

BLITZER: It's not big chunks, it's 100 people, basically.

GOLDBERG: Yes, 100 high-powered, top-level people in the American government were gone for 90 days or so, and no one noticed.

BEINART: I just want to note. You know, now Jonah and Robert have both criticized the Republicans twice. We're just a few minutes into the show. It's like we have a shadow panel here, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: In a sense.

GEORGE: Only the Shadow knows, Peter.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: We'll make sure that Donna starts criticizing the Democrats pretty soon.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: And let's talk about some of those Democrats. In the Senate, they're expressing their concern about the White House's decision to expand the war against terrorism in other countries. But today the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Shelby, said the administration does have a very clear mission.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

U.S. SENATOR RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): I would differentiate what we're doing, say, in Georgia, what we're going to do in Yemen, what we're going to do in the Philippines, as opposed to what we used to do as peace-keeping and probably are doing today in some areas.

We should use our soldiers as soldiers, or to train other soldiers to fight this war, not to direct traffic, not to hand out sandwiches, and not to pick up trash.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Peter, what about that? Can the U.S. military engage in so-called nation-building and fight at the same time?

BEINART: Actually, not only can we, we must, you know.

BEINART: Republicans like Shelby think that we can leave peace- keeping to countries like Turkey and Bangladesh.

(LAUGHTER)

Let me tell you something, Afghan warlords are not afraid of troops from Bangladesh. If we leave peace-keeping, the security of Afghanistan, to poorly trained, third-world troops with no U.S. involvement -- everyone knows when the United States is not involved in something, it's not important -- we will betray Hamid Karzai and his new government.

BLITZER: Well, Jonah, why does the United States always have to do everything?

GOLDBERG: Well, that's a great question.

(LAUGHTER)

And the flip side to what Peter is saying is that American troops are important, also makes them a target, which is what we've seen in the Middle East, in the Beirut barracks and on down. American troops are a geopolitical tripwire that troops from Bangladesh aren't.

And I have no problem with America trying to do a lot of stuff. But let's stop hearing the complaints about American unilateralism. If we're going to have to do the peace-keeping and everything else then, look, let's get the credit for it.

You know, the Europeans, they constantly complain that we're going it alone. I see no reason why they can't be peace-keeping forces. It doesn't mean that in Afghanistan we shouldn't do whatever we have to do. I don't think you need to be ideological about this. But the idea that somehow you can't have Bangladeshi or European peace-keepers, I don't understand. BEINART: The problem is, unless America takes part in it -- we all know from Bosnia and everywhere else, if the U.S. doesn't get serious about this, the Europeans can't be trusted to do this by themselves, not to do a good job.

GOLDBERG: There's no evidence that we're not serious about any of this.

BLITZER: Well, right now, Donna, what the peace-keepers are asking for, the British led, the Turkish involvement, there are about 4,500 of them, what they're saying is they need more peace-keepers and they need to go outside of Kabul to start patrolling other areas. What they're asking the United States for if permission to, in effect, go ahead and do it.

BRAZILE: Absolutely. And they should, and the United States should join them. And the United States should be on the front lines helping to rebuild that country. After all, we just bombed it. The Soviets ruined it. The Taliban destroyed it. We should help rebuild it and put a new infrastructure in place.

GEORGE: Yes, the fact is, though, the United States is really the only one that has a clear vision on the whole concept of the war on terror. So obviously, we have to take the lead there. We should act in a support role in terms of peace-keeping.

But I think, if anything, we do better in terms of actually leading wars and then just acting as a backup, in a sense, on the peace-keeping side.

BRAZILE: You don't like the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I take it?

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break.

When we come back, your phone calls and e-mail for our panel. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our Final Round.

The White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer, wins our quote of the week. During an off-camera briefing on Thursday, Fleischer criticized the Clinton administration's handling of the Middle East peace process, saying this, quote, "I think you can go back to when the violence began. You can make the case that the attempt to shoot the moon and get nothing, more violence resulted. As a result of the attempt to push the parties beyond where they were willing to go that it led to expectations that were raised to such a high level that it turned into violence."

But later that day, after complaints from Democratic officials, including Clinton's former national security advisor, Samuel Berger, the press secretary reversed his position saying this. Let me quote again, "I mistakenly suggested that increasing violence in the Middle East was attributable to the peace efforts that were under way in 2000. That is not the position of the administration. No United States president, including President Clinton, is to blame for the violence in the Middle East."

BLITZER: Robert, was Ari Fleischer speaking out of turn, or was he reflecting a widely-held position within the Bush administration that Clinton's really responsible for the mess?

GEORGE: Well, first of all, many of the people I talked to say that Ari Fliescher is so disciplined that he would not just go out and do this just -- say this just on his own.

The fact of the matter is, if you go back to the late 2000 peace negotiations between with Clinton, Arafat and Barak, there were many news accounts that said that Clinton was pushing this because he wanted a legacy. I think it's a legitimate point, but I think they also realize that it doesn't look good for one White House to explicitly criticize the foreign policy of a previous White House, though I think they were right on the merits.

BLITZER: Did President Clinton go too far and inadvertently set the stage for the violence that's unfolded since then?

BRAZILE: Absolutely not. He created a wonderful dialogue for two sides to sit down and try to come to some agreement. And for a time there, we did have some peace in the Middle East.

Look, I think the White House and the Republican administration will blame President Clinton for just about everything, from creating the recession to, you know, creating just about everything else. Bill Clinton did a fabulous job in creating 22 million jobs, and at this rate, they'll blame him for the death of disco if they could.

BLITZER: What about that?

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: Well, that would be one thing. That would be one thing in Bill Clinton's favor in my book, if he was to blame for the death of disco.

Look, Michael Kinsley once famously described a gaffe in Washington as "accidentally telling the truth." And there's no way that you can dismiss what Fleischer said out of hand as not having at least some truth to it.

At least in Israel, it's clear that the failure of those talks by going for, as he put it, shooting the moon, at least took the wind out of the Israeli doves entirely, and put Israel on high level resolve about there's just no way that you have peace. A similar thing happened with the Palestinians.

Does that mean necessarily that Clinton shouldn't have tried? No necessarily, you know. BLITZER: Michael Kinsley being a predecessor of yours at the New Republic.

BEINART: That's right. I don't think he was telling...

BLITZER: But Jonah makes a good point. Did President Clinton, did he set the stage for those kinds of talks with Ehud Barak, with the Egyptians, the Saudis, with the Palestinian public and the Israeli public. Were they prepared for the kind of concessions that Barak eventually wound up making?

BEINART: No, Arafat was not prepared. But we would not have known that conclusively, had we not pushed for it. And there's a great value in knowing that. In a sense, the Bush administration can only take such a hard line on Arafat because Clinton proved by really trying this that Arafat was not sincere in a way that we really could not have known.

BEINART: And secondly, if we ever do get back to the negotiating table, and most Israelis want us to eventually, we will go back to where we were at Camp David. Everyone recognizes that, almost everybody.

(CROSSTALK)

GOLDBERG: Your quote, unquote, "not sincere about peace" for Yasser Arafat is basically a synonym for saying that the violence ensued because that lack of sincerity was translated into violence.

GEORGE: And keep in mind also that Bill Clinton actually involved himself in Barak's election, which then allowed Barak to...

BEINART: Anyone who thinks that we're going to have a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians without a lot of American arm-twisting is living in a fantasy land, OK. That's the only way we'll have a -- smart Israelis have said that.

GOLDBERG: That may be true. How is what Ari Fleischer said not true then?

BEINART: No, because what Ari Fleischer said was that the violence was worse and precipitated because of Clinton. It wasn't. It was precipitated because of Arafat, because Arafat wanted a second intifada to put pressure on the Israelis and the Americans. But the truth is...

GEORGE: And Clinton didn't perceive that. He should have perceived that.

BEINART: If we hadn't pushed for negotiations, we would be in a worse position now. There would be even more violence probably.

GOLDBERG: How could there be more?

BLITZER: There could be more.

GOLDBERG: How could there be more?

BLITZER: There could be a lot more, unfortunately, as we all know especially those who have covered that. The war, as bad as it is right now, could get, unfortunately, a lot worse.

But earlier on this program, switching gears, I asked Senator John McCain how he's doing since his latest bout with skin cancer, the operation that he had on his nose. This is his prognosis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I'll be fine. The good news and the bad news is I think I'll be around for a long period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. Is that -- Donna, is that bad news for the Democrats or the Republicans?

BRAZILE: No, it's great news for America. John McCain is a real patriot and a man of his word. He has taken us a long way down the road to clean up our electoral system, and I hope he's around for a long time.

GEORGE: What Donna actually meant to say was, this is of course great news for the Democrats because McCain can usually be counted on to criticize the administration. And then the Democrats can say, well, "As a Republican such as John McCain would say," which gives them cover.

BRAZILE: No, Robert, John McCain's a man of principle and he can counted on going after both political parties.

GEORGE: That's why he was the -- that's why he was the leading recipient of Global Crossing funds, is that what you meant by a man of principle?

BEINART: Smart Republicans, I think, would actually realize that John McCain is very good for the Republicans. First of all, he counters the creeping isolationist tendencies they tend to have, which we saw with Senator Shelby a minute ago.

Second of all, he's one of the few people in the party who's not a yes man to corporate power. In the long term if the Republicans want to be a majority party, which they have a shot at, they're going to have to do that. They're going to have to separate themselves somewhat from the interests purely of corporate America.

BLITZER: So he is more of a thorn to Republicans or more of a benefit for Republicans?

GOLDBERG: Well, let me say off the bat that I think it's sort of unpleasant to be arguing about whether or not it's good or bad news for either party if John McCain's alive. You know, we all want him to be alive.

(LAUGHTER)

That said, I think to a certain extent it is good for the Republicans to -- you know, everything Robert said about how Democrats use McCain as a whipping boy against the Republicans is true.

I think it's good news for the Republicans because basically the McCain moment is over. Politics is about moments; John McCain had his. Campaign finance reform is going to be less and less of an issue in the future, not more and more of one and that means that John McCain is going to go back to being basically an attractive figure in the Republican Party, and that's good for Republicans.

GEORGE: Peter, I want to know if we're leading a war on terror, how are we isolationists?

BEINART: Well, look at Shelby's comments right now. Basically Shelby doesn't want to do the nation-building that's going to be critical for the war on terrorism to succeed. BLITZER: All right, let's move on. We're going to take a quick break, but let me echo on behalf of the entire panel what Jonah said. We hope John McCain is around for many, many years to come, as I said earlier on this program. He's been very, very good to us.

(LAUGHTER)

And the press corps, that's right.

Our lightening round, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Time now for our lightning round.

The latest issue of Newsweek magazine out today suggest that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a key suspect in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, is bragging he will only have to serve three or four years in prison if convicted in Pakistan of Pearl's death.

Should he be extradited to the U.S., Peter?

GOLDBERG: Absolutely. I mean, it's also possible now that he may have been a member of the Pakistani intelligence services. We can't count on them to come down tough on this guy.

GEORGE: Which is probably why we won't be extradited. He should be, but I think Pakistan is going to be too embarrassed to let him come over here.

BRAZILE: As long as it doesn't undermine Musharraf, he should be extradited.

GOLDBERG: I'm with Donna. I think there could be a case made for not extraditing him. But in a perfect world, we would and we'd execute him. BLITZER: OK, let's move on, talk about California Congressman Gary Condit. As you know, he's facing a strong challenge in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

Robert, was the media responsible for the demise, if you will, if he goes down on Tuesday, of Gary Condit?

ROBERT: No, of course not. The only person responsible for that is Gary Condit. He lied to the media. He lied to the investigators for the first part of it while people were looking for Chandra Levy. And then he blew up -- any possibility he had, he blew up with his Connie Chung interview. It's all on him.

BLITZER: You still are a good Democrat. He's a Democrat. Do you have any sympathy for Gary Condit?.

BRAZILE: No, I don't. Hey, hey, ho, ho, Gary Condit must go.

(LAUGHTER) GOLDBERG: Look, the media may or may not have been responsible in covering that story, but Gary Condit made his own bed, and he deserves whatever he gets.

BEINART: Yes, and there's a wonderful irony here, you know, because he put his political career ahead -- what he thought was good for his political career ahead of finding a missing woman. And lo and behold, his political career is ending. It's a nice irony.

BLITZER: Let's talk about careers and a story that interested all of us in the news media. And this question is now being asked: Will ABC replace Nightline and Ted Koppel with David Letterman? And should it, Donna?

BRAZIL: No. I'm a Ted Koppel fan, and if they replace him, I'm going to bed early.

BLITZER: What about ratings?

GOLDBERG: I like Nightline. I think Ted Koppel is great. I do not consider this to be some sort of high watermark or watershed moment or some other metaphor using the word "water" in it...

(LAUGHTER)

... to change American life.

You know, there are three, full-time cable news networks. The idea that somehow America's news needs aren't being met if Nightline goes, I don't think is fair.

BLITZER: What about that, Peter?

BEINART: Yes, but you know what Nightline does do they don't do? I mean, it was epitomized for me by a show they did in the Congo just a few months ago. They went out and did a story that no one else was covering, a very, very important, poignant story. That's the kind of thing we may miss. GEORGE: And in the '80s they did a five-day profile on South Africa before Mandela had been released, and it was just very remarkable.

But as Jonah said, it is a different day in news now. And unfortunately, it looks like Nightline's time may have passed.

BLITZER: All right. Personally, I can only hope no, but let's see what happens.

Saturday Night Live had some fun last night suggesting that anything negative will be added to President Bush's axis of evil. Let's listen to this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACTOR IMPERSONATING PRESIDENT BUSH: That is Iran, Iraq, Enron, the economy, and Daschle and one of those Koreas.

(LAUGHTER)

They all form a terrible axis of evil, standing in the way of all that we as Americans value.

And don't forget France.

(LAUGHTER)

The French don't like me saying "axis of evil," so guess what? They're now part of the very same axis of evil...

(LAUGHTER)

... that they don't like me saying.

How do you like them apples, France?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Well, who else should be added to that axis of evil?

GOLDBERG: I think you could pare that list down to just France and those other countries.

(LAUGHTER)

I'll leave it there.

BLITZER: That's it.

BEINART: I think that, you know, I'd like to throw in in Burma or Myanmar. I mean, these guys get -- what are they, chopped liver? They get no respect. They're as bad as anybody. They're tyrannizing their people, no one ever mentions them. What about Myanmar?

GEORGE: We know now that the reason why the state of Georgia was added to the axis of evil is because of what Jimmy Carter said about the president just a few weeks ago.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Jimmy Carter has a tendency to speak his mind.

Who do you want to add to that axis of evil?

BRAZILE: As a nation, I would add Sudan because of this issue of slavery, but I like to keep Osama bin Laden on my number-one list right now.

BLITZER: Osama bin Laden, he's your axis of evil. Mullah Omar, what about him?

BRAZILE: Second.

BLITZER: You don't like any...

BRAZILE: I don't like any of them.

GEORGE (?): In fact we could come up with a top 10 since, bringing the Letterman concept to (OFF-MIKE). The top 10 members of the axis of evil.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: It worked for our lightening round, top 10.

All right here's another question I want to ask all of our panel. Will you watch the HBO documentary tonight on HBO, a documentary entitled, "Monica in Black and White."

Jonah?

GOLDBERG: I will not watch it.

BLITZER: Why?

GOLDBERG: Well, let's just say I had more than my fill of Monica Lewinsky when Monica Lewinsky was around, and I always thought that she stayed lying. And I wish her a fine life, but I got no use for her.

BLITZER: Did you see the Larry King interview with her this past week?

GOLDBERG: I did, you know, and all that's revealed from any of that is that she is a nice girl who's kind of immature. And, you know, she still hasn't told all the truth.

BRAZILE: I won't watch it until someone put out a movie that Monica got a life. I'm not interested in "Monica in Black and White," but perhaps she should get a life and move on.

BLITZER: Have you heard enough from Monica, or do you want to watch some more?

GEORGE: I saw a little bit of the Larry King, Larry King interview. There's nothing new here, and I think The Practice is on at 10:00 anyway.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: I think we're (inaudible) for her. You know, it was kind of a pathetic, degrading incident in American history. I really have no desire to relive it.

BLITZER: And a lot of people are saying, including my mom, has she no shame?

BRAZILE: Right. Get a life.

BLITZER: That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, March 3. Please join us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

And Monday through Friday, remember join me for two additions of Wolf Blitzer Reports at both 5 and 7 p.m. Eastern.

Remember this important programming note. Tomorrow on our 7 p.m. program a special interview I'll have with Egypt's visiting president, Hosni Mubarak. He'll be at Blair House, I'll go over there to tape that interview.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

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