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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Charles Rangel Discuss U.S.-Cuba Policy; Dore Gold and Nabil Sha'ath discuss violence in the Middle East; Russ Feingold and Mitch Mcconnell Discuss Violence in the Middle East

Aired March 31, 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.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: It's noon in Washington; 11:00 a.m. in Crawford, Texas; 7:00 p.m. at the Vatican; and 8:00 p.m. in Jerusalem. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for Late Edition.

Wolf is away this week. I'm Candy Crowley.

We are expecting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to address his nation in about 30 minutes. CNN will carry that live.

In the meantime, we'll talk with Israeli adviser Dore Gold and Palestinian cabinet minister Nabil Sha'ath.

But first, we'll get up to date on the latest developments with this news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

CROWLEY: We want to remind our viewers that we are waiting for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He will address his nation in about 20 minutes. We, of course, will carry it live.

But now we want to hear directly from both sides of the Israeli- Palestinian dispute. Joining us from Jerusalem is Dore Gold, a top adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. And in Cairo, Egypt, is Palestinian cabinet minister Nabil Sha'ath.

Gentlemen, welcome to Late Edition. Thank you so much for joining us.

I want to go first to Mr. Gold and ask you, what is it that we are going to hear from your prime minister?

DORE GOLD, ADVISER TO PRIME MIMISTER SHARON: Well, I think it would be premature for me to try and disclose what the prime minister is about to say.

But clearly, the people of Israel are bleeding this week. We've been hit very hard by terrorism in restaurants, in cafes, in virtually every public location and virtually every city. This is a borderless conflict. It's not over the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It's over all of Israel.

And the prime minister, I'm sure, will provide the people of Israel with the sense of his determination and the determination of his National Unity government to defend Israel from this wave of terrorist attacks.

CROWLEY: Let me, Mr. Gold, go at it just a slightly different way. Since you moved into Ramallah with tanks, there have been more suicide bombings.

Is there any thought that you might want to rethink this? Are you accelerating what you were doing? Is there any change since those suicide attacks?

GOLD: Well, you have to understand what the problem is. Under the Oslo agreements, Yasser Arafat was supposed to become the Nelson Mandela of the Palestinians, a man who would set aside violence as a political tool, renounce terrorism.

Unfortunately, in the area under his jurisdiction, a vast network of international terrorism has grown: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, the organization that invented airplane hijacking. All have been operating against Israel.

We had hoped that under Oslo and under agreements which I personally negotiated with the Palestinians in '96 that he would dismantle this infrastructure. He's failed to do so, and Israelis are being killed every day.

If he will not dismantle the international terrorism in his area, we will have to do so. And that is what the Israeli army is doing now.

CROWLEY: Mr. Sha'ath, I want to bring you in on this and continue on the subject of Yasser Arafat. First, I want to play you something the U.S. president said within the past couple of days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know he's got a lot of forces. He's got a lot of people that listen to him still. And he has got to speak out clearly. He's got to make it absolutely clear that the Palestinian Authority does not support this terrorist activities, and use his security forces to prevent them from happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Mr. Sha'ath, that's the president of the United States saying he believes that Mr. Arafat does, in fact, have the power to stop some of these suicide bombings. Some of those bombings that we have seen in recent days actually come from people who at least are connected to Mr. Arafat's group.

Is Mr. Arafat able to stop these suicide bombings, or is he not? NABIL SHA'ATH, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: Well, this is, you know, a rather oversimplified version of what the world is about. Mr. Arafat is a hostage to the Israeli armed forces. He's surrounded by tanks. He barely exists in two rooms with very little electricity, telephones or anything else.

The Israelis yesterday shot and killed, in cold blood, five of his policemen and, this morning, nine who were unarmed. Their barracks are totally destroyed. They have no vehicles, command and control centers or even telephones.

And President Bush expects them to go out and protect Israel's borders? I mean, this is something very difficult to understand. While the Palestinians are being devastated with the onslaught, the juggernaut of Israel's fourth most powerful army in the world, President Arafat is asked to protect the borders of Israel.

CROWLEY: Mr. Sha'ath, as you know, for weeks and months and in some cases years, the U.S. and Israel has been asking Mr. Arafat to stop these suicide bombings and he has not. So you have to come to the conclusion -- or at least they have not stopped, and one has to come to the conclusion that he is either unwilling or unable to stop them, since these suicide bombings have gone on long before he was isolated in Ramallah.

SHA'ATH: There was a spate of suicidal bombings in the spring of 1996, and President Arafat was able quite effectively to deal with them and bring them to a total stop. That is because, in the spring of 1996, President Arafat had both abilities to persuade, by bringing the hope after Israelis really have started to withdraw from the West Bank and having allowed elections for the president and the legislative council, and his policemen were intact and capable of doing the discipline.

Now, in the last few months, after this long and extended confrontation with the Israelis, who violated every tenet of Oslo by deepening occupation, by not delivering land on time, by remaining by and large occupying and controlling the Palestinian territories, after nine years of the peace process, these suicidal bombings came back to fore.

He is neither capable of persuading the people who are willing to die for what they consider to be really their cause, nor is he able to discipline, because the Israelis totally destroyed his police force.

CROWLEY: Mr. Gold, let me continue with that then and ask you, how do you expect Mr. Arafat to control anything when he has no means to communicate to these people, where you have holed him up there and confined him to two rooms? I mean, do you expect him right now to stop these suicide bombings that have gone on in the past several days?

GOLD: Well, frankly, we think that Yasser Arafat is irrelevant, and we've said so. He's had eight years to implement his obligations under the Oslo agreement and dismantle these terrorist organizations. He hasn't, and Israelis have died. We dismantled our entire military government over the Palestinians. We withdrew it, and we established a Palestinian administration. So that this charge that the Palestinians were under occupation before this violence is simply unfounded.

We have gone the extra mile to try and make every cease-fire work. Arafat has failed to implement his end of the bargain.

I think the most important point we have to have now, we have to think about now, and we see Israeli forces at play -- we see Israeli forces entering these areas such as Ramallah, we have to have the moral clarity that President Bush has brought in the war against terrorism. We have to distinguish between those engaging in terrorism and those engaging in self-defense. Today, the Israeli army is defending the people of Israel from what is unquestionably a war of terrorism against us. When a young man walks into a cafe full of teenagers and blows himself up, that's called terrorism. You don't have to be an international lawyer to figure it out.

And nothing, no cause, no sense of deprivation can possibly justify the murder of innocent civilians, the targeting of civilians. That's what the war on terrorism is about here. That's what the war on terrorism is about in Afghanistan, as well.

CROWLEY: Mr. Gold, let me ask you to quickly -- because we have to take a break -- but I want you to quickly answer this question. If Yasser Arafat is irrelevant, who are you going to talk to to make peace in the Middle East?

GOLD: Well, before we can make peace, we have to have security. That's the sequence that works.

Right now, since Yasser Arafat has failed to dismantle both the terrorist infrastructure of others, as well as his own Tanzim, which is now responsible for most of the murder of Israelis, we have to act by ourselves, with the Israeli army, to dismantle that military presence.

Afterwards, it will be clear to the Palestinian leadership that violence and terrorism is not the way to realize Palestinian goals, that Yasser Arafat's strategy has backfired, and he has caused greater damage to the Palestinian people than anyone since 1948.

CROWLEY: OK. As I said, we have to take a short break. We're going to talk more about the Palestinian-Israeli crisis with Dore Gold and Nabil Sha'ath when Late Edition returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to Late Edition. We are talking about the very explosive situation in the Middle East with Israeli foreign policy adviser Dore Gold and Palestinian cabinet minister Nabil Sha'ath.

Mr. Sha'ath, I want to go to you and talk just a little bit more about Yasser Arafat and the situation that he is in. Is there anyone else -- you have heard from Mr. Gold that they just don't consider Mr. Arafat the least bit relevant.

Where does that put peace talks? Who else is there to talk to, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, than Yasser Arafat?

SHA'ATH: Well, Mr. Gold's government considers the whole Palestinian people irrelevant, let alone their leader. If they had ever thought of the Palestinian people as human and relevant, they would have never continued the policy of occupation, of deepening of settlements, of violation of human rights, of killing of women and children, of letting 30 women die on their checking points because they couldn't get to hospital and had to bring birth to their children on the checking point, on the asphalt.

The domination of the Palestinians by the Israeli policy and the humiliation through the sieges and other methods of manipulation has been at the heart of this problem. International law calls it occupation and violation of human rights.

I think if Mr. Gold was to talk about the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people as irrelevant, that says a lot about occupation. And that says a lot as to why the Palestinian people are fighting that occupation.

CROWLEY: Mr. Gold, what I wonder is...

SHA'ATH: Mr Arafat is the only person who can lead the Palestinians.

CROWLEY: Mr. Gold, what I am wondering is, with this attack on Ramallah and isolating Yasser Arafat, if there is any fear within the Israeli government that you perhaps have made his position even stronger, that he perhaps looks like a martyr, that in fact perhaps, as far as PR is concerned in the global universe, what you have done is enhance his positions? Does that -- has there been any fear of that in the Israeli government? GOLD: Well, public relations is always important, but right now we have to defend the lives of our people from these incessant bombings that are going on in our cities. And right now that is our priority.

But one thing one also must take into account, what Yasser Arafat as done not just to the people of Israeli, but to the Palestinians. He's brainwashed an entire generation of young, talented people to become suicide bombers, being promised that they will go to heaven if they commit suicide. This is not just a terrible crime against Israel, it's a terrible crime against humanity.

Our future Palestinian partners, I am sure, will not educate their children to do this. We will have peace, but only once security is achieved.

CROWLEY: Mr. Sha'ath, let me turn the corner a little bit about peace. The Saudis have a plan on the table. As far as you are concerned, is that off the table? Is there still some hope in that? Where does it stand?

SHA'ATH: There is hope. There is always hope. Because I think in Beirut was the first time the entire Arab nation voted unanimously for a peace plan with Israel. And the answer of the government of Israel in 24 hours was to invade the Palestinian territories and commit these atrocities.

There is hope in the large majority of the Israeli people, who reject the policies of occupation and devastation and have shown in public opinion polls their willingness to accept the Saudi plan, now a unanimous Arab plan. I can assure you this is also the feeling of the majority of the Palestinians. But they want peace that will bring them independence and freedom and dignity, not the humiliation and devastation of the occupation.

President Arafat did not teach anybody to be a suicidal bombing. It is the Israeli occupation who taught people that they have -- that seeking death is far more relevant that hoping for life, a life that they don't see any light at the end of the occupation tunnel.

I have hope, and most Palestinians have hope, that once Israel is wiling to end that occupation, they are still committed to have peace with it on the basis of independence and freedom and neighborliness. That is the kind of hope that brings real peace.

CROWLEY: Palestinian cabinet minister Nabil Sha'ath and Israeli foreign policy adviser Dore Gold, thank you both so much for joining us. I'm sorry, we're going to have to leave it there.

But a reminder, we are waiting for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to address his nation. It's expected any minute, and CNN will carry it live.

Late Edition will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to Late Edition.

Joining us now, two members of the United States Senate: in Louisville, Kentucky, Republican Mitch McConnell; in Madison, Wisconsin, Democrat Russ Feingold.

Senators, thank you so much for being with us. We apologize for the delay getting to you, but let's get right to it.

Senator Feingold, has this spiraled so out of control in the Middle East that it's beyond U.S. capabilities to stop it right now?

SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: We cannot allow that to be the conclusion. All I can say today is, my deepest condolences to the people of Haifa -- a beautiful city that I love -- the people of the state of Israel.

And, in fact, this incident included Arab owners of this restaurant, or at least people who were running the restaurant. This is Arabs, Jews, Christians alike who are being terrorized in this situation.

I believe that the Israeli spokesman is right. Israel is on the front line of the worldwide fight against terrorism.

And I also agree with Secretary of State Colin Powell, who, even in that context, said the other day that Israel must still try to leave some path open for peace.

But they're fighting the same battle that we learned about on September 11, which is that there are people who apparently have determined that they want to not just have a Palestinian state, which is a legitimate goal, but it appears that these groups want to destroy the state of Israel. And no country would tolerate that.

CROWLEY: Senator McConnell, do you take issue with any part of that analysis of what's going on?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: No, I don't. You know, you just have to go back a mere 18 months to remember that the previous Israeli administration offered Arafat everything any Israeli government could ever offer: virtually all of the West Bank, 100 percent of Gaza, a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and a Palestinian state. And Arafat said no. And then the intifada began. It leads you to believe that they believe, truly believe the rhetoric they've been spouting to their youngsters over the years in Arabic and in the schools, that they want Israel to be eliminated. And that is what began this spiral of violence.

The Israelis, I think it's important to note, don't strap bombs on youngsters to send them into cafes to kill innocent people. The action the Israelis have taken, going into the West Bank and surrounding his headquarters in Ramallah, are by military people targeting militarily significant individuals. When the Israelis kill innocent people, it's not on purpose, it's incidental.

I think there is not a moral equivalency here, in looking at this situation.

CROWLEY: But, Senator Feingold, I think, you know, talking here to a liberal Democrat and a conservative Republican, and you both agree and put the blame on the suicide attacks and the PLO. Is it any wonder that so many Palestinians believe that the U.S. can't deal with this issue fairly?

FEINGOLD: Well, I think that's not the record. I think the United States has taken a number of tough stands. In fact, as Senator McConnell pointed out, the offer that was made to Arafat was one that many, many Israelis were very uncomfortable with. The United States voted with, in the United Nations Security Council, to ask Israel to remove its troops from Ramallah. I don't accept this interpretation, that the United States is one-sided, and I don't think the record really demonstrates that.

But the fact is, is that somehow we have to persuade the people in the Middle East, Islamic peoples throughout the Middle East and especially those in the affected countries, that our goal here is to have peaceful countries side by side, a Palestinian country and an Israeli country, where they have secure borders. That is a legitimate, balanced goal. And I think it has been American policy for some time.

CROWLEY: Senator McConnell, before I go to your question, I want to read something we picked up out of U.S. News and World Report. It says here, "Senators Dianne Feinstein and Mitch McConnell are working on a bill to declare the Palestinian leader out of compliance with his obligations to work toward peace. Possible punishments include mandatory denials of visas to Arafat and senior aides and the shuttering of the Palestinian Authority's D.C. office."

Do you want to go that far? Do you want to shutter the PLO's office? Do you want to keep Yasser Arafat from coming here?

MCCONNELL: Senator Feinstein and I were prepared to introduce a bill very similar to that before the terrorists had struck on the United States September 11. Decided not to do it after that, in deference to the administration. But even at that time, the intifada was under way. Now it is much worse.

MCCONNELL: I think it is time for the United States, through its Congress, to indicate that unless Yasser Arafat is prepared to take the steps to stop the suicide bombing, we can't treat them in a normal way that we treated them at least since 1993. And that would involve eliminating visas, potentially seizing whatever Palestinian assets there might be here in America, and other steps to hinder travel to the U.S. I think it's a logical response to what's been perpetrated in the Middle East by these Palestinian extremists.

CROWLEY: Senator Feingold, good idea, bad idea? Should the Senate get involved in this, Congress get involved in this?

FEINGOLD: Well I think some of those ideas may have some merit, and I strongly prefer it to this idea of declaring Arafat irrelevant. What that's really saying is that he's not irrelevant. His performance has been terrible, abysmal in recent months. He hasn't gotten the job done, but nobody has a good answer to who's the alternative.

So I think the first thing to recognize is that, despite the claims that Israel was going to kill Arafat, they have specifically indicated and shown by today's report on your network that that is not the case; and that, instead, they still understand that he may have an important role in this process.

So a message has to be sent to Arafat. And it may be through the executive branch; it may be through the kinds of things that Senator McConnell's talking about. But I think it's better to continue on that path than to simply declare him irrelevant.

CROWLEY: Senator McConnell, I want to ask you a little bit about Bush policy in the Middle East and read a little excerpt from a Washington Post editorial on Tuesday. The Bush administration, the Post says, "stood on the sidelines and watched suicide bombings and Israeli retaliations mount for three full months before finally returning Mr. Zinni to the region two weeks ago. Now the momentum of hatred and bloodlust is proving hard to break." Should the Bush administration have sent Ambassador Zinni back there sooner? Has it made some errors in judgment, as far as Middle East policy is concerned?

MCCONNELL: Look, I think it's pretty hard to blame President Bush for Palestinian suicide bombers. I think that's ridiculous.

The president sent General Zinni out there last fall. He's been available consistently since last November, when the appointment was announced. But there's been a lack of willingness on the part of both sides to adopt the Tenet plan, which they'd earlier indicated some interest in adopting. Particularly the Palestinians don't have an interest in it.

So I think the president is trying to do all he can possibly do here. He's got General Zinni out there. They've got the Tenet plan on the table. As Russ indicated, we even voted yesterday in the United Nations for the resolution suggesting Israel ought to pull back.

We're trying to be even-handed here, but when you look at the factual situation, Candy, it's pretty hard to see a moral equivalency between the acts that are being perpetrated on Israel by the Palestinians and the Israeli response. It's just a lack of moral equivalency.

CROWLEY: Senator Feingold, your Democratic colleague Senator Lieberman said today that he thinks there's been some contradictory actions by the Bush administration.

Do you have any quarrel with how the Bush administration has been carrying out its Middle East policy?

FEINGOLD: For me, we're all Americans on this one, not Republicans or Democrats. I think the Clinton administration did everything it could to resolve this, and I frankly think the Bush administration is trying everything it knows.

This is one of the toughest problems that has ever existed in our foreign policy. And you can flyspeck exactly what the Bush administration is doing here or what they did three months ago, but what good does it do?

The fact is, they're trying as hard as they can to try to resolve, to try to recognize, by saying that there should be a Palestinian state, the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. But also recognizing at the same time that the kinds of acts that are being perpetrated against the Israeli people are just the kinds of things that President Bush has identified as intolerable in this world.

And so, I see no benefit other than to work together across the aisle with the administration to figure out this almost impossible puzzle.

CROWLEY: I want to just turn the corner here because we invited you both on because you are experts on a domestic issue, campaign finance reform, which, as you know, the president signed into law.

Mr. Feingold, you were instrumental in all this.

Senator McConnell, you have gone to court with your dream team to try to undo much of the bill that was passed. How much do you expect will survive once the court suit makes its way through the courts?

MCCONNELL: Well, you're right, we did file suit shortly after the president signed the bill last Wednesday.

And we're hopeful that we'll be able to strike down a good portion of it, particularly, I think, one item that stands out right at the beginning is the gag order against citizens and groups within 60 days of an election. That simply makes it impossible for them to criticize people like us unless they go register with the federal government and raise hard dollars. I think there's a very, very high likelihood of striking that down.

MCCONNELL: We also believe there are First, Fifth and Tenth Amendment claims that can be made successfully against the federalization of the parties by eliminating their non-federal money and making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to engage in governors races and legislative races and the like.

So we're optimistic as we go into court. I'm sure there will be talented lawyers on both sides, and this is going to be a case that's going to be much watched.

CROWLEY: Senator Feingold, are you going to have to start all over again, if Senator McConnell is successful?

FEINGOLD: I don't think that's going to happen. Despite the enormous tragedies in the Middle East, apart from that, this was a happy week. McCain-Feingold, instead of law that Senator McConnell said would never pass, became the law of the land. And I'm liking Mitch better as a plaintiff than as a filibusterer on the floor of the Senate.

(LAUGHTER)

We're getting along very well.

The fact is, our bill is going to survive a court challenge. Ninety percent of the purpose of the bill it to ban these unlimited soft money contributions from corporations, unions and individuals. And I will bet that if it were legal, some Wisconsin cheese...

CROWLEY: I'm sorry, Senator Feingold, I'm sorry to interrupt you but we do have the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on right now.

ARIEL SHARON, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): ... for a speedy recovery to the many people who are in hospital, recovering from their injuries.

Citizens of Israel, the state of Israel is in a war, a war against terrorism. It's a war that has been imposed upon us. It's not one that we have chosen to undertake. It is a war for our home.

The state of Israel, under my leadership, has made every effort in order to achieve a cease-fire. Every single moment since I was elected in the midst of the wave of Palestinian terrorism, we have set for ourselves a goal of achieving peace and quiet in order to be able to undertake political diplomatic negotiations. We have cooperated with the American emissary, Zinni, and we've received terrorism in return. We've cooperated with Vice President Dick Cheney, and we've received terrorism in return. We gave our -- in order to achieve a cease-fire, our requirement of seven days of peace and quiet, and we got terrorism in return. We removed our troops from the cities, and we got terrorism in return.

The only thing we've had in return for our efforts has been terrorism, terrorism and more terrorism.

We have to combat this terrorism uncompromisingly. We have to uproot it. You cannot make any compromise with terrorism. You cannot compromise with people who are prepared, like the suicide bombers in Israel's street, or the Twin Towers in the U.S., to die simply in order to kill innocent people -- men, women and children to die in order to sew terror and horror.

This terrorism is being directed, promoted, initiated by one person, Yasser Arafat. Yasser Arafat is the head of a coalition of terrorism. He operates an infrastructure of terrorism. Yasser Arafat is the enemy of Israel and the enemy of the free world. Everyone who is peace-loving, everyone who has been educated in the values of liberty and democracy must be aware of the fact that Yasser Arafat is a stumbling block to peace in the Middle East. Yasser Arafat is a danger to the entire region.

In the Israel government session on Thursday last, the decision was taken to uproot the infrastructure of terrorism directed by the Palestinian Authority. We will uproot the whole of this infrastructure because we know the only way of achieving a cease-fire proceeding to negotiations and reaching a settlement in peace, is only if we manage to wipe out this infrastructure of terrorism.

The state of Israel is a state which strives for peace. Our hand has been, and still is, outstretched to the Palestinians in peace. But no one should be deceived: Our hand is not outstretched toward terrorism.

Citizens of Israel, the state of Israel is currently in a very difficult situation. We have been in very difficult situations before and we have overcome them. This time, too, we will win out. This time, too, we will be victorious.

SHARON (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): And when this happens, we will be able to live here together in peace.

CROWLEY: That was Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saying in part that they are not about to make any compromises, and saying again that Yasser Arafat is head of a coalition of terrorists, that he is the enemy of the free world, that Israel's hand is outstretched to Palestinians but not to terrorists.

Coming up next, reaction to Ariel Sharon's address from some top foreign-policy experts. We'll talk with former Carter National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Reagan National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and the former chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Lee Hamilton.

Please stay with Late Edition.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to Late Edition. Joining us with their perspectives on how the United States should approach the Israeli- Palestinian crisis, as well as the war on terrorism, are former Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Reagan national security adviser Robert McFarlane, and Lee Hamilton, the former chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

Mr. Brzezinski, let me go first to you. We just listened to Mr. Sharon. In summing up, what did he tell us?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: He said that the problem is terrorism, that the problem is terrorism, that the problem is terrorism. And I could go on.

(LAUGHTER)

And secondly, he said that, in effect, the American struggle against global terrorism should be synonymous with Israel's struggle against Mr. Arafat and the Palestinians.

CROWLEY: Now, isn't that...

BRZEZINSKI: That's clearly his strategy.

CROWLEY: And let me ask you, Bud McFarlane, isn't that sort of a problem for the Bush administration, having said "If you support a terrorist, if you house a terrorist, you are a terrorist"? So Israel comes out and says, "Well, this man's a terrorist." Hasn't the Bush administration put itself in a kind of rhetorical box that will not let them reach out to Yasser Arafat?

ROBERT MCFARLANE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think you can acknowledge that there is a terrorist dimension to this, which is intolerable, and which the United States has to reject. And on that issue, Sharon is right. We have to reject the terrorism, wherever it occurs and seek to combat it.

However, there are other issues here. It isn't that Palestinians and Israelis don't want to live peacefully together. The polls show that both sides do. But both sides are afflicted with awful leadership. On Sharon's side, I don't believe he accepts the basic land-for-peace paradigm. And on the Palestinian side, there you have Arafat, a feckless man of no courage or character.

I don't believe we're going to be able to get out of this, until we see a change of leadership on both sides.

CROWLEY: Is it that hopeless?

LEE HAMILTON, FMR. CHMN, HOUSE INT'L. REL. CMTE.: Well, it's certainly a formula for stalemate at the present time.

I share some of the views that Bud McFarlane has stated, with regard to the leadership. On the other hand, I don't think U.S. policy can be based on that fact. I think we have to go ahead and do the best we can under the circumstances. And rarely have the circumstances been more discouraging than they are right now.

But to reject the idea that either leader can make the moves we'd like them to make, while there might be quite a bit of support for that on the facts, would be a formula for no progress at all.

CROWLEY: Mr. Brzezinski, what went wrong here? How did this suddenly explode in a way that we haven't seen for a couple of decades?

BRZEZINSKI: I think we have the interaction here of three players, each of which, in some respects, has been deficient. Mr. Arafat has been evasive and he really doesn't control the situation. Mr. Sharon, for 10 years, has opposed the Oslo peace process. He was against the compromise that led to the establishment of the Palestinian authority and to the Rabin-Arafat agreement.

And don't forget Rabin and Arafat both got the Nobel Peace Prize. And Mr. Rabin was assassinated, in the context of an atmosphere of hate and hostility, that was stimulated in Israel by Mr. Sharon, Mr. Netanyahu and others.

And lately, we've had on the American side, a posture of strategic incoherence, which doesn't contribute to any sense of direction.

In my view -- and I agree with Bud's characterization, both of Sharon and of Arafat, and with Lee's point that more needs to be done. In my view, the U.S. has to step into that breach and put on the table a comprehensive concept of a settlement, relating it perhaps to Abdullah's statement.

And don't forget, what Abdullah said was historically significant. For the first time in 50 years, the Arabs are beginning to be willing to recognize Israel.

And on that basis, push the parties -- and we have a lot of leverage with both -- toward a settlement. But push both of them, and not line up with one against the other.

CROWLEY: We have about a little under three minutes left, so I want to give each of you a chance to tell me the first thing the U.S. should do next. You all seem to be in agreement that we are dealing with two people that may not actually want peace.

CROWLEY: But in order to bring the violence down, what happens next, what must President Bush do?

MCFARLANE: Well, I think, first of all, that the president would be justified in pointing out to the Arab leaders that to come forward and be willing to recognize Israel is progress. However, they cannot be silent on the issue of terrorism entirely. There has to be some help coming to this process from Abdullah, Mubarak, and others to focus on the terrorist issue. This is a controllable phenomena on the Arab side. And we just haven't seen enough invocation of influence from these other Arab capitals.

CROWLEY: Congressman?

HAMILTON: For a short term, you've got to link the push for a cease-fire with a political settlement. As of this point, the Bush administration has insisted that you solve the cease-fire problem and not discuss a political settlement. That has not gotten us anyplace in the past, it won't get us anyplace. And we have to make that linkage in order to bring the Palestinians in. That's the short term.

For a little longer term, I think the president has to take a much more personal, vigorous role in doing what Zbig mentioned a moment ago. We need a new framework for attacking this problem. You need a new Madrid, you need a new Oslo. And we have to re-energize the entire process.

From my standpoint, the administration, though very well- intentioned and wrestling with a terrifically difficult problem, has to become much more energized and involved in this, if there's any hope for resolving this.

CROWLEY: We're going to get to you after the break, Mr. Brzezinski, and I want to hear your thoughts on that. But we do have to take a break.

Coming up in the next hour of Late Edition, we'll check the hour's top stories, then continue our conversation with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Robert McFarlane and Lee Hamilton. We'll also get insight into some of the big legal stories of the week. That, plus your phone calls and e-mails, when Late Edition continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to Late Edition. We'll continue our discussion in just a moment, but first here is Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta with a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

CROWLEY: We continue our conversation now with former Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Reagan national security adviser Robert McFarlane, and former House International Relations Committee Chairman Lee Hamilton.

First, we want to remind out audience of part of what Ariel Sharon, the prime minister of Israel, had to say in his address just a few moments ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARON (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Yasser Arafat is the head of a coalition of terrorism. He operates an infrastructure of terrorism. Yasser Arafat is the enemy of Israel and the enemy of the free world.

(END VIDEO CLI)

CROWLEY: We have on the phone now Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian cabinet member. We'd like to ask him for his reaction to that.

Mr. Erekat, the prime minister of Israel and Israel believes that Mr. Arafat is irrelevant and that he is a terrorist. Could we have your reaction, please?

SAEB EREKAT, PALESTINIAN CABINET MEMBER: Well, Ms. Crowley, I think Mr. Sharon tonight slammed the door in the face of all of those who are trying to exert every possible effort in order to de-escalate and to de-conflict.

I think his speech was a reflection of his real intentions. The end game here is to destroy the Palestinian Authority, to destroy the peace process and to kill President Arafat. The speech was void of substance, void of hope, void of any realism.

And I believe tonight, when people will ask how do you spell "number-one enemy of peace," it will be spelled "Ariel Sharon." I think he is pushing Palestinians and Israelis deeper and deeper into the cycle of the vicious cycle of violence and counterviolence. And, you know, the thing that when he compares New York to what happens here, you know, we don't condone the killing of innocent civilians, Israelis or Palestinians. But I believe the people in New York were not occupying other people, were not subjugating other people to siege and closures, were not building settlements. So this comparison cannot stand.

And I believe that the international community must gather, as a result, tonight, in order to see to it that Resolution 1402, which was passed yesterday, is implemented. Because I believe if the region is left in the hand of Sharon, I think the whole Middle East region is going down the drain toward chaos, extremism. And it's a very dangerous deterioration.

CROWLEY: So, Mr. Erekat, I am gathering from what you are saying that there is no hope at this moment unless Mr. Sharon goes? Is that what you're saying?

EREKAT: No, I'm saying that Mr. Sharon is Mr. Sharon. There are certain things here that won't change, and I don't think Sharon will change. Sharon lived all his life believing ideologically that a strong and united Israel needs enemies at its borders and not good neighborly relations.

EREKAT: What I'm saying tonight is President Bush, the other members of the Security Council, must see to it to save lives of Israelis and Palestinians, that mechanisms in order to de-escalate and to de-conflict must be found.

And I could see that in Resolution 1402, which was passed yesterday, calling upon an immediate cease-fire, a withdrawal of Israeli forces, full cooperation with General Zinni, implementation of Tenet and Mitchell, and a political settlement. I believe this is a good road map.

And they must enhance immediately, because if things are left to Mr. Sharon, all what we have to hear is just the deterioration and things going from bad to worse.

And I'm afraid to tell you that what Mr. Sharon is doing tonight is saying to the whole world, "I will win." I don't know what he will score victory over what. But at end of the day, Sharon's tanks, Sharon's closures, Sharon's siege, Sharon's sustaining occupation will not bring security or peace for anybody in the region, will not bring peace to Israelis.

The shortest way is through a meaningful peace process that will ensure the ending of this Israeli occupation, which Mr. Sharon is trying to maintain and sustain as if it's the last thing he will do in his life.

CROWLEY: Saeb Erekat, Palestinian cabinet minister, in Jericho, thank you so much for your time.

OK, this is beginning to seem more and more dire to me. I mean, each comment from each side just seems to ratchet this up higher and higher. Is there any way out of this?

BRZEZINSKI: Well, what is striking is that we have heard from Mr. Sharon, we have heard from spokesman for the Palestinians because Mr. Arafat is, in effect, in isolation. What we're not hearing is any sense of direction from the United States. The president spoke casually yesterday, in a rather relaxed fashion, in fact, focusing on the one issue, terrorism. And the secretary of state made an appeal for restraint.

But the fact is that unless the United States steps in and insists that the U.N. resolution, for which the United States itself voted, is respected and is respected immediately, the situation will gravely deteriorate. And beyond that, we need what Lee has already mentioned, namely an American initiative for peace that is comprehensive, articulate, specific, and which we're prepared to back with our political resources and, if necessary, guarantee if the parties agree, with our own forces on the ground, so that peace and accommodation eventually between the Israelis and the Palestinians can be enforced. Nothing less than that will do.

And let's not kid ourselves. Our ability to conduct the war against terrorism is going to be in jeopardy as a consequence of this. America will be more a target of hatred. And if things get really bad in the Middle East, we could even face an oil embargo. So the stakes here are enormous, and the failure of leadership could be very costly.

CROWLEY: I think in very undiplomatic terms, if I can translate what I've just heard, that is that the Bush administration thus far, you believe, has blown it. Is that fair, unfair?

BRZEZINSKI: Well, I would put it more diplomatically. It certainly has been not very active.

MCFARLANE: Candy, I think there's little prospect from the beginning that there was going to be compromise between Prime Minister Sharon and Yasser Arafat -- not a year and a half ago and not today.

That said, I think we have seen the outlines of what the ultimate agreement is going to have to look like, and it was in the summer of 2000. When the division of Jerusalem, the return of most of the West Bank, and limited return for Palestinian refugees, is bound to be something close to what both sides are going have to compromise on.

I don't think I would recommend, however, a terribly high- visibility effort by president...

CROWLEY: Because you can fail, right?

MCFARLANE: Well, I think right now, as tense as matters are, the first step ought to be a cease-fire. I think we ought to expect a little bit more intervention on the part of Arab leaders, as I mentioned before, to try to achieve that.

Once that is in place, then we begin to chart the kind of road map that Lee had in mind, a kind of major new, presidentially endorsed and, ultimately, brokered paradigm for the Bush administration.

MCFARLANE: The first step is a cease-fire, however.

CROWLEY: Has the Bush administration blown it?

HAMILTON: I think you've got two basic approaches to the Middle East. The one approach we saw with President Clinton, at the end of his term. Heavy engagement by the president. The president was on his hands and knees, drawing the map of where the dividing lines ought to be.

The Bush administration comes in and says, that's not the way to do it, the way to do it is to stand back, to disengage, to let the parties work it out themselves.

On the one hand, heavy engagement. On the other hand, disengagement.

I think the disengagement process that President Bush has basically followed, with some exceptions, is not working. And I believe now, we must swing into a much, much more active role.

But, of course, it's correct, you can't do anything unless you have a cease-fire. That's what we have to focus on. So the immediate thing is to get that cease-fire in place.

But the United States has been focused on getting a cease-fire. General Zinni has said, that's my mandate, to get a cease-fire. What I said a moment ago is that that's not enough. You are not going to get a cease-fire just by focusing on a cease-fire. You have to have a cease-fire linked to a political process, or there is no incentive for the Palestinians to come into it. That is what has to be done now.

CROWLEY: Let me throw one thing into the mix, and I don't have time to read them both, but I was struck by editorials, one in the Wall Street Journal, one in the New York Times, on the subject of Iraq.

The Wall Street Journal said, now the path to a common Mideast would be to deal with Iraq right now, get a stable government in there, a friendly government in there, and then we could solve the Palestinian problem.

The New York Times said, well, Iraq's off the table. Unless we can get some peace between the Palestinians and Israel, we can't do anything about Iraq.

Which is it, Mr. Brzezinski?

BRZEZINSKI: Well, I, first of all, don't understand what the Wall Street Journal is claiming, if you cited it correctly. The Iraqi problem is not that simple. It's not going to be solved just like that. It would require a very major effort, and I'm not sure the moment is opportune for that.

So I lean towards what the New York Times said, namely, if we want to deal effectively with Iraq, we have to have some preconditions, both in the region and internationally, to make that feasible and desirable. And that requires a much more sustained diplomatic, as well as political, effort, and it does require some progress toward peace in the Middle East.

CROWLEY: How does Iraq figure into this, the current violence in the West Bank?

MCFARLANE: Well, I think Iraq's reputation and long history of support for terrorist cells is very well-known, and it hasn't stopped.

I think, to me, there's another dimension of what is going on in Iraq today that is more serious, and I think I would separate it, and it is the weapons of mass destruction that it's developing. And specifically, its biological weapons program, which I understand is very mature, to a point of being able to be deployed in a matter of months.

This is something that has to be dealt with, and I believe we have the means at hand to be able to deal with it. It will be violent. And that doesn't replace the regime probably, or give you a more stable situation. But it's something we cannot delay. It is a capability that puts at risk not only Israel, but states throughout the region.

CROWLEY: We are going to have to take a break, but we will be back. Your phone calls for Zbigniew Brzezinski, Robert McFarlane, Lee Hamilton, when Late Edition returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to Late Edition. We're talking about U.S. international policy and the war on terrorism. We have a lot of brain power around this table, a lot of knowledge about the Middle East.

And we have a question out of California. Go ahead, caller.

I'm -- OK, I can tell what the caller was going to ask.

(LAUGHTER)

And that is, why wouldn't the U.S. be better off staying out of the Middle East and concentrating on its own war on terrorism? Why wouldn't that work?

And I think, actually, we need to start here.

HAMILTON: Well, because you can't do it. In the Middle East, everything is linked to everything else. Vice President Cheney goes to the region, he wants to talk about Iraq. He wants to talk about Iraq for very good reasons. He can't talk about Iraq. He's got to talk about the Middle East dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

We may not like the fact -- the United States may not like the fact that the Arab countries link the Israeli-Palestinian dispute to the war on terrorism. From our standpoint, we might like to separate those and deal with them separately. It doesn't work that way.

You have -- even if you're the president of the United States, you have to deal with the facts on the ground, as they are. And that linkage is clearly set. That doesn't mean you have to solve one problem and then turn your attention to the other. What it does mean, you have to deal with both situations at the same time. The United States is capable of doing that.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, Mr. Brzezinski, something that you said earlier, sort of has stuck in my head, and that is about Sharon and whether or not he is capable, at this point, of changing. There are a lot of people who don't think that Yasser Arafat is capable of changing.

Don't we have here two warriors who, for their whole life, have known nothing but war, not just against each other's entities, but against each other? It seems like a very personal thing. Is either one of these men capable of making peace?.

BRZEZINSKI: I doubt it very much. And this why is I'm of the view, which I've expressed many times, that only the United States can do what is needed to make the Israelis live in a secure and peaceful state and give the Palestinians a viable and dignified state of affairs, as well. Only the United States can do it. And this is why there is such an urgent need for genuine American involvement.

CROWLEY: Do you give George Bush any credit for being the first president to talk about a Palestinian homeland? BRZEZINSKI: I give him a great deal of credit, although he is not the first one to talk about that because I know some other ...

CROWLEY: You know another one?

BRZEZINSKI: ... American presidents who did that some years ago. But I certainly give him credit. And I think he was pointed in the right direction.

But he's become very preoccupied with the war on terrorism -- as he should be -- but I think it would be a mistake to think of American foreign policy in the world, or even in that region, as being specifically defined, predominantly, by the war on terrorism. We have to deal with other political issues of the kind that we have been discussing.

CROWLEY: Mr. McFarlane, you also talked about two warriors. Are they incapable of making peace? So is the best we can do at this point, get them to stop fighting until one of the other fades from the scene?

MCFARLANE: Well, I said at the beginning that I think a change in leadership on both sides ultimately will have to occur before real compromise is feasible.

And I have to say, I may disagree with Dr. Brzezinski a bit, in the sense that there's 2000 years of history of people trying to exterminate Jews, not only in the Middle East. This colors the current debate. There are other arguments on the Palestinian side, asserting legitimacy of their own claims.

I think, today, to say that the United States can or should impose our own model of what peace ought to be, is an unrealistic proposition.

We do have to take a more active role. We do have to nurture compromise. I think we have seen the outlines of it. If we can get a cease-fire and then evidence of a major focus and allocation of time on the part of the president, we can chart a course that will get us to something very close to what we were looking at two years ago, but I think it's going to take new leaders.

CROWLEY: Congressman Hamilton, if the Bush administration decided to get more involved -- Mr. Sharon does not strike me as someone you can push around too much, doesn't strike me that the U.S. has the power over Sharon that a lot in the Arab world seems to think we do.

CROWLEY: What do we have to encourage him?

HAMILTON: I think my colleagues here are right. The United States cannot impose a settlement here. But the United States can make very clear what we think these parties ought to do. And we have plenty of levers to put pressure on them to do that, and I think it's time for the United States to do that. I don't think we should become too discouraged about the leadership. I understand the failures of the leadership, of Sharon and Arafat. But they are the leaders, and you have to deal with them at this point. I can dream up a number of people I'd prefer to have in those positions. But we don't have them there, so you have to deal with them.

Keep in mind that Shamir, that Netanyahu, were said not to be able to compromise, and they did with the Palestinians. So leaders can change.

At some point, the violence in this region, the suffering of the people, both sides, Israelis and Palestinians, at some point that violence, that pain will become so heavy that the pressure on these leaders will be to make an agreement, to negotiate. I keep thinking that point is long since passed, and I've been wrong. But it will come; it has to come.

CROWLEY: Sooner or later.

Congressman Lee Hamilton, you have the last word today. Thank you so much for joining us.

Former Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, pleasure to have you here. Bob McFarland, national security adviser for Ronald Reagan, also.

Great pleasure to have you all here. We thank you very much.

Just ahead, U.S. prosecutors are preparing their court case against the man suspected of conspiring to carry out the World Trade Center attacks. But will it be strong enough to obtain the death penalty for the so-called 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui?

We'll talk with a pair of legal experts about that and some other big cases when Late Edition continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to Late Edition.

This past week, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that federal prosecutors would seek the death penalty against terrorist suspect Zacarias Moussaoui. Although Moussaoui has been in federal custody since August, investigators say he would have participated in the September 11 attack, had he not been detained beforehand.

With us now to help sort out this case, as well as some of the other major legal topics in the news, are federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne -- former federal prosecutor, sorry -- and attorney and former congressional counsel Jack Burkman.

It's good to have both of you on Late Edition.

JACK BURKMAN, FMR. CONGRESSIONAL COUNSEL: Good to be with you. CROWLEY: OK. Well, it's just really hard for me to believe that someone could get the death penalty because he was thinking about participating in something. Is this going to stick? Isn't this kind of hard to prove?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, here's the rub in this case. Moussaoui, as you know, had been in jail for a month by the time September 11 happened. And we've never had before a federal criminal case in which somebody is -- we try to seek the death penalty when the person was in jail and may not have known exactly what was going to happen. Because, remember, we have the evidence from bin Laden; he says nobody knew what was going to happen.

There are two major Supreme Court cases on this, but it seems that this case is more similar to the case that would allow the death penalty, because Moussaoui has shown a reckless disregard for human life.

You have to look at the underlying facts. In his case...

BURKMAN: That's the understatement of the millennium, Cynthia.

ALKSNE: No, no, I understand. This is the legal...

BURKMAN: You say there's never been the death penalty in a case like this. We've never had two buildings collapse. This guy not only conspired to kill 3,000 or 4,000 people, which was the lighter end. This guy wanted to kill hundreds of thousands of people.

I am shocked...

ALKSNE: And, Jack, no, but here's the legal issue...

BURKMAN: I am absolutely shocked -- well, the legal issue is...

ALKSNE: The legal issue has to do with...

BURKMAN: ... conspiracy, in a case of conspiracy the death penalty is rare. Yes, that's true. But you have to look at the magnitude of the crime, and I think the Supreme Court would do that. We cannot be blind to results. This is not a case where two, three, five, or even 100 people died.

This was a case where Moussaoui, number one, beyond -- without any question, we can show that -- the prosecution can show that Moussaoui knew exactly what was going to happen. This guy went to flight school. This guy knew -- there is very little doubt.

The only way Cynthia's argument works...

ALKSNE: No, Jack...

BURKMAN: If she were defending this guy, she would go into court and argue that he's a congenital idiot.

ALKSNE: I'm not going to be put in the course of defending. I'm just trying to explain the legal issue.

CROWLEY: He's a hard guy to defend, right?

(LAUGHTER)

ALKSNE: I'm not trying to defend him, I'm just trying to explain the legal issue to our viewers, about the difference between conspiring to do an act and participating in the act. And that's what the Supreme Court has gotten involved in.

In this case, though, let's look what we know about his conspiracy and reckless disregard. He not only went to flight school, he also was in the same flight school with Mohammed Atta. He received money from cell members that were with Atta. He purchased videos and training materials about 747s. He told the flight school he didn't need to know how to land or take the plane off. So there is a lot of evidence that he knew what was going to happen.

But there is a reasonable legal issue in this case about whether or not we're going to apply the death penalty to somebody who did not participate in the act. And...

BURKMAN: I don't see how...

ALKSNE: ... we have to look at it in terms of...

BURKMAN: If he's convicted... ALKSNE: ... the long-term aspect of how we deal with the death penalty.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Hang on one second, because I want to throw something out here from France, OK? And this is -- as you know, France is against the death penalty. And so, this from the justice minister: "No document, particularly in the case of Moussaoui, will be handed over" -- that is, to the U.S. -- "if it can be used to back the case for the death sentence."

So...

BURKMAN: I am irate, I can't even -- it's very difficult for me to discuss the Moussaoui case, as you can see, without some emotionalism. I am absolutely irate at the government of France. I think their comments on this case have mocked the deaths of every person who died in the World Trade Center.

First of all, there's no issue of extradition in French law. These crimes were committed in the United States. I am shocked that the government of France would be interfering in our internal affairs, suggesting that we, who have suffered the brunt of all this terrorism, should -- if this guy is convicted, yes, he gets a trial, yes, it could be the case he's found guilty; I don't think so. But if he is found guilty of conspiracy and whatever other charges will be brought against him, I cannot understand how and why the government of France would take these positions. This is a very serious -- I know the president is irate about this, as well. He can't -- I don't think he can be as public with his comments as I am. But I think the French government should really understand what they've said.

CROWLEY: But this is a matter of principle with the French government. I mean, they don't believe in the death penalty, so to participate in another country's convicting a man for the death penalty -- I mean, do you have a problem with France's...

ALKSNE: I don't -- I think they have to say what is in accordance with their law, and they can say that.

I think the American prosecutors will be very careful to get the information they need...

CROWLEY: In some way...

ALKSNE: ... in come way, so they can get around the French...

BURKMAN: The French law is not an issue.

ALKSNE: ... because the American prosecutors do not want to get involved in a diplomatic battle. They want to convict Moussaoui. And I would be supportive of that, and the French can say whatever they want.

BURKMAN: But we may need to get involved in a diplomatic battle. And I very much -- and I think the president agrees -- I think we should fight this fight to vindicate the memories of the thousands of people we lost.

I mean, France is, again, mocking all of those who died for the purpose of upholding a principle in their law. But their law is not -- French law is not an issue, and I think the French need to understand that.

I don't think the French government understands how much damage they have done to the relationship with the United States.

CROWLEY: Let me go back to something I thought I heard you say earlier. You don't think, looking at this case, that they're going to get a conviction on Moussaoui?

BURKMAN: Oh, no, I do. I...

CROWLEY: Is that what you said? OK, I'm sorry...

BURKMAN: ... I definitely do. I may have misspoke. I think that they almost certainly will, but I hold open the possibility that he may be acquitted. CROWLEY: Hang on, Cynthia. We've got a caller from California with a question for legal beagles.

Yes, sir, go ahead, or ma'am.

CALLER: Hi, Candy. This is Bob in Sacramento. CROWLEY: Hi.

CALLER: This Moussaoui case, he's being used as a scapegoat, I do believe. Nobody has ever been convicted of first degree murder in a conspiracy case and given the death penalty.

I think we should use somebody out here in Sacramento, Kid Criss (ph)...

BURKMAN: Well, it might be a case of first impression, but this is an incident of first impression. And there is a long-established principle in American law and Anglo-American jurisprudence that you look at...

CROWLEY: First impression, let's just...

ALKSNE: Well, it's not the first time the Supreme Court has dealt with this. Here are the two basic cases, and I think people are pretty interested in them because it's hard to believe you can kill 3,000 Americans and not get the death penalty.

And here is what the death penalty people say. There was a case out of Florida where a man was driving the car. Somebody went inside -- his buddies went inside, robbed an elderly couple, and killed the couple. He was the wheel man, and drove away. And he drove them away. The Supreme Court said, "Sorry, the wheel man cannot get the death penalty."

BURKMAN: That's different...

ALKSNE: Just let me...

BURKMAN: ... because the jury makes -- but it is very different.

ALKSNE: ... let me just explain the case. Hold on one second, and let's just talk legally for a second. It's not a fight, it's a discussion.

That's what the Supreme -- the people are saying about the death penalty.

On the contrary, there is a more recent case where two brothers got their dad, who was a convicted murderer, and his buddies out of jail, gave them guns. They all went together and kidnapped the -- the dad kidnapped a family of four. The brothers stood by and watched the family of four be murdered. Then they didn't help the victims. And then they drove their dad away.

And what the Supreme Court said, was "Hey, that was such a reckless disregard that they can get the death penalty even though they were not actively involved in the murders."

So there is sufficient precedent, but it is a legal issue which will come up.

CROWLEY: Let me just hang it right there, because there are a couple of other cases we want to talk about, and we have to take a break.

But just ahead, more with our legal guests. They'll also be taking your questions when Late Edition continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back. We're talking about some of the hot legal stories of the week with former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne and former congressional counsel Jack Burkman.

OK, let me move you along to a different case, and that is the case of Mr. John Walker Lindh, American Taliban. The defense had filed some of its papers and today -- and this week, the prosecution filed its responses. Let me read part of what they said.

"Were conditions at Camp Rhino ideal?" Camp Rhino being where John Walker Lindh was. "Of course not. But the United States military forces ensured his" -- Walker Lindh's -- "safety, medicated him appropriately, tended to his hygiene, fed him healthy and nourishing meals, gave him plenty of water, and made it possible for him to conduct his religion observances. This wasn't torture."

So, and you know that the defense has said he was tortured, that he was strapped to the gurney, wasn't allowed to...

ALKSNE: Right. The prosecution even listed in a footnote everything he'd gotten to eat, and it sounded pretty good. I thought it was a pretty good little meal.

(LAUGHTER)

I couldn't believe it!

CROWLEY: Well, but the question is, I mean, I think, in all of these cases we have this sort of confluence of events, which brings a war that's not quite an actual war, with prisoners that aren't exactly defendants, and try to fit it into a classical courtroom setting, right?

BURKMAN: You can't. And that's -- you ask exactly the right question. You can't. You cannot treat issues like the Fifth Amendment the same in a wartime situation as you treat them in the United States.

Walker didn't -- the Justice Department didn't take Walker there. He was there, and the U.S. military had to deal with him, read him rights, do everything they needed to do under wartime conditions. It's not the fault of the government.

I think the standard is, did the government do everything humanly possible? Did they do the best they can?

And, you know, that's really -- the argument that the defense is making in the Walker case is that, you know, he was there as a prisoner, he had no opportunity to leave. The reality is...

ALKSNE: That he was denied his rights...

BURKMAN: The reality is...

ALKSNE: ... to a lawyer and...

BURKMAN: They got him counsel -- right to counsel as quickly as possible. This guy had every opportunity to leave. He went there of his own free will.

I think the mistake that Ashcroft made in this case was not charging him with treason, because I think there was a clear opportunity to do that, and I think they should have brought treason charge.

CROWLEY: Has the government made some mistakes in this case? And is it a problem of trying to fit a not-quite war into a -- you know, I mean, this is stuff people understand. They understand about your right for a lawyer and you're right not be tortured, and so it's a little hard to look at this...

ALKSNE: Well, there is this -- as we go through this discovery process, when people are sharing, you know, the government shares what they have, the defense attacks it; the whole battle in this case is about his statements and how -- when he got a lawyer and what statements he made and how that was handled.

CROWLEY: Because they were pretty incriminating at first.

ALKSNE: Because they're very incriminating, and there's quite a few of them, quite more than we initially thought. In that vein, the defense has gone very hard against the government about how he was incredibly mistreated, and so the government came back hard.

The interesting thing in this discovery motion is, it doesn't have really -- all these statements about how he was treated or how he wasn't treated have nothing to do with the discovery. But because we're fighting about the voluntariness of his statement down the road, we're fighting that in public opinion now...

BURKMAN: You can't treat...

ALKSNE: ... when it comes to jury selection and the battle for the hearts and minds of people about this case.

BURKMAN: And here Cynthia and I may have some agreement, rare as that is, for your viewers.

(LAUGHTER)

But the agreement is that you just can't treat the Fifth Amendment in that kind of a context. And there's not a lot of case law on this, there's some. But you can't treat it the same over there in a wartime situation as you would treat it here. It's a different kind of situation.

CROWLEY (?): Well, then, why (ph) try him here in a courtroom under rules that everybody understands?

BURKMAN: I would give him a military tribunal. And I think this is -- everybody has criticized the president on military tribunals. They say he's been harsh, he's been too tough. I would have given both Moussaoui and Walker -- and the law allows you do that -- I would have given them both military tribunals.

Because there's some dispute about this, but if you look at the Quirin case from the '40s, in a time of war, under certain conditions, you can give even a U.S. citizen a military tribunal. I think in Walker's case that was appropriate.

There's one more issue with Walker that's not widely talked about that, and that is, if you -- there's a body of case law that says if you take up arms against your country, against the United States, you can lose your constitutional rights. Now, that we have not courts have not ruled on that, but if the court were to -- if DOJ makes that motion and the court finds in favor of the prosecution, Walker could lose his Fifth Amendment rights, and this whole discussion would be moot.

(CROSSTALK)

ALKSNE: That's not going to happen. We're not dealing with that.

What we are dealing with is whether or not he had an attorney. You know, Mr. Brosnahan, now his lawyer, was trying to reach him as he was in Afghanistan and has filed with the court all the documents showing he was trying to reach him, and he was not allowed to talk to him.

ALKSNE: The government responded and said, "Hey, you didn't represent Walker, you represented his dad." And that is something that actually comes up in the courts a lot.

BURKMAN: Here's what I don't understand, why does the federal government have a -- why does the U.S. Defense Department have an obligation to not only allow someone counsel -- yes, that's the law -- but why do they have an obligation to fly his lawyer to him? He brought them there...

CROWLEY: I think he was just asking to talk to him on the phone. I mean...

ALKSNE: Yes.

CROWLEY: But let me just move this forward just a little bit. Is it possible that you take this young man, you put him in court, you try him with a panel of his peers, wherever that might be, and they find him not guilty and he walks? Then what?

BURKMAN: That's our system. That's the American system of justice.

CROWLEY: So, it's possible that... BURKMAN: There's a minute -- I think there's a minute chance that that will happen, particularly given where he's tried.

ASLKNE: Let me tell you what...

CROWLEY: You know, if they throw out the evidence you're talking about, saying, "OK, you're right, they violated...

ALKSNE: If the court throws out his statements, the government very well may lose this case.

The other reason why they may lose, the top count, you know, the major count is taking up arms and trying to kill other Americans. OK, let's look at that. Because Mr. Brosnahan who's a very experienced lawyer -- and many people believe, one of the finest trial lawyers in this country -- has gone head on at that and said, you know, "My guy was afraid, my guy wanted to leave." Now, we can all laugh about that because he might have...

BURKMAN: It's not just... ALKSNE: One second. But it's an interesting legal point. If he says, "I went in there to fight with the Taliban, not to fight against Americans," and we have our own facts that have developed that said he was given the option going to Israel and the U.S. and he chose fighting with Taliban instead, they have something to go on. It may not go anywhere, but this not a slam- dunk case.

BURKMAN: Even if the statement gets thrown out, the bottom line is this guy knew, even if it's case he wasn't fighting against Americans or didn't expect to be fighting against Americans, he knew -- this is not in dispute -- he knew that he was part of a force that was fighting against the United States of America.

CROWLEY: Let me just ask you to, quick, just stop right there, because we have someone from New York, and I want to get him in -- him or her in.

Yes, do you have a question?

CALLER: Yes, I do. Hello?

CROWLEY: Yes.

CALLER: Yes. My question was, why isn't John Lindh charged with murder, when he has a more clear connection to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations compared to Moussaoui?

CROWLEY: Moussaoui, yes. So the point is, you've got one guy who was in jail during the September attacks, and you have another guy that was over fighting with the Taliban. And one faces the death penalty, and the other one doesn't.

BURKMAN: Yes, but the difference is that Moussaoui was very -- in a very concrete way, linked to the conspiracy and to the very delicate chain of events that produced 9/11; Walker was not. But Walker's offense, in my mind, came after that, in that he continued to fight with the force. Look, this is a free country. If you want to go join the Taliban, that's your business. My beef with Walker and the reason I think he should be charged with treason, above and beyond what he's already charged with, is that he was part of a force that was fighting the United States. That happened after 9/11.

ALKSNE: Right. And Moussaoui is linked, very clearly, to the group of men who came into the U.S. for 9/11, not only because of these flight schools that we talked about, but also was receiving money from the same people that Mohamed Atta was receiving money from. And there are a lot of links in this conspiracy which are very interesting and not well-known.

CROWLEY: OK, let me ask you all to stand by. Our legal panel is going stick here with us. We'll take your phone calls when Late Edition continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We're talking about the week's legal news with former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne and former congressional counsel Jack Burkman.

OK, I want to move on to a different case, and that is the Guantanamo Bay detainees.

This week we heard something from the secretary of defense that I wanted to play for you all before I got your reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Enemy combatants who have the good fortune of being captured instead of killed during an armed conflict are normally not in a position to challenge their continued detention. To release enemy captives so that they could return to the battlefield would put the lives of more young American servicemen at risk and, in my view, would be mindless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: OK. So, we're in a situation where we may try some of these detainees down in Guantanamo Bay, but even if we find them not guilty, we're still going to keep them.

And this is where I think we -- again, we have this sort of meshing of, you know, the sort of domestic jurisprudence and war.

BURKMAN: But there's another issue here. Rumsfeld is largely correct, and that is that, yes, you could have a situation where they're tried and still detained. The reason is that there could be additional evidence of involvement in terrorism. It's a question of what the charges against them will be.

Under international law, the United States has a legitimate right to self-defense. If these people continue to be in an ongoing way, if there's evidence that they are involved in, you know, organizations that have terrorist thoughts against the United States, there is a continuing legitimate basis to hold them and try them for other crimes.

ALKSNE: Well, here's the rub.

CROWLEY: Seems like a recipe... ALKSNE: We can keep them to the end of the hostilities. Now, here's the problem. When is the end? Is that Afghanistan? When we get out of Afghanistan? Is it until we've reached -- found everybody who's involved in the Al Qaeda network? Is it when we have eradicated terrorism? We just don't have answer to that.

So it makes, actually, sense to me, what Rumsfeld is saying, is that we're going to keep them for now, and we're going to wait and see. Because international law isn't clear about how long we can keep them, because we can't define when -- who they are and what they've done and what are the actual hostilities because of the amorphous nature.

BURKMAN: One thing to keep in mind -- I think we're losing a little bit of perspective on this. Yes, you have to give these people trials. Yes, we have to follow the American way of system and make sure justice is done.

But 95 percent of the people being held in Guantanamo are the dregs of the earth. I mean, these people are either Al Qaeda, they're Taliban. Most of them, if you polled these people, probably 90 percent of them would rejoice at the prospect of seeing a nuclear weapon go off in the United States.

I mean, this is -- there aren't too many innocents down there. Yes, there are a few, and for that reason, we have to make very sure that justice is done. Cynthia and I will agree on that. But we have to keep a broader perspective of just who it is that we're holding down there.

The other thing is, people talk about the Geneva Convention, are we are giving them this, that and the other. Under U.S. military care, this is the first time any of these people have ever had medical care in their lives. This is the first time most of them have had decent food or clean water.

CROWLEY: Well, OK, but I'm not sure they're overly grateful to be there. I mean, I just...

BURKMAN: They should be.

CROWLEY: I mean, I take the point. You know, but the problem is, and maybe I'm just really being thick about this, but it just seems to me that we have, you know, different forums here, and we're sort of like taking the rules from this one. You know, OK, well, you know, we're going to try them, so therefore, you know, they'll get a jury or they'll get whatever they're going to get. And they're also sort of prisoners of war, so we're going to keep them anyway. Isn't the problem that we've just taken -- put them in too many different arenas? Wouldn't we have been better off saying, we're going to call them "X" and therefore they fit under these rules, instead of trying to make them all rules...

BURKMAN: You're right. You're exactly right, and you raise exactly the right point, Candy. But the issue is, you have to have some sympathy for Rumsfeld and DOD, because this whole thing is a case of first impression. This is the first time in the modern history of the world that anybody has had to deal with thousands of prisoners. We could potentially have thousands of trials. I mean, God knows how this will be done.

The point is, all of this was thrust upon the Defense Department, and they're sorting out -- you say they're making things up as they go along. To an extent, they have to, because that's the way in which all of this came to them.

ALKSNE: Well, you know, we've had military tribunals before there, and there's never really been a question of whether or not they were fair.

I think it's actually more likely that most of these guys will not go through the military-tribunal process mostly because we don't know anything about them. Most of them will just be -- the question is going to be, how long are we going to hold them?

And we just don't have an answer yet, and it's better to just wait a little bit and reflect before jumping too quickly.

CROWLEY: PR-wise in the United States, how long do you think they can hold them?

BURKMAN: Well, I think I think Bush is a little tougher than people give him credit for. I think they're a lot more immune to -- I think the American public is behind holding them for a very long time. I think the issue is European public opinion, which is really the rub here. But I don't think neither Bush nor Rumsfeld will pay too much heed to that.

CROWLEY: Cynthia Alksne, Jack Burkman, thank you so much for hanging in with me on Easter Sunday.

BURKMAN: Happy Easter.

CROWLEY: Happy Easter to you all.

Up next, your letters and, later, an observer of the royal family offers some perspective on the impact of Britain's late Queen Mother.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to Late Edition. Now time for your letters.

Connie from Illinois asks, "Why, on one hand, do we say, "Kill the terrorists," and on the other hand, tell Israel to talk to the terrorists?"

Rod from Texas asks, "Why don't we see any outrage from the leaders of this country to the fact that the Israeli government can hold the elected leader of the free Palestinian people as a prison in his own territory?"

And John from New York writes, "The Arab nations have treated the Palestinians like cheap cousins. And they have the means to end the conflict anytime they please by giving the Palestinians refuge on established Arab territories."

And finally, Shane from Minnesota says, "If Israel is interested in peace, let's hold them to the same standard that we expect of the Palestinians. The double standard is immoral and disgusting."

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

It's time to say goodbye to our international viewers. Thanks for very much for watching.

For our North American viewers, stay tuned for the next hour of Late Edition. Two members of Congress debate U.S. policy toward Cuba. An observer of the royal family offers some perspective on the impact of Britain's late Queen Mother.

Plus, Late Edition's Final Round. Our panel will weigh in on the day's major stories. They'll answer your questions as well.

All that and a check of the hour's headlines, when Late Edition continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back. We'll debate U.S. policy toward Cuba in just a moment, but first here's Fredricka Whitfield with a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

CROWLEY: If the Bush administration gives the green light, former President Jimmy Carter will travel to Cuba at the invitation of Fidel Castro. A visit by Carter would make him the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Cuba since America imposed an embargo against that communist island 40 years ago.

The former president's impending visit is renewing debate over U.S.-Cuba policy. Joining us now are two members of Congress on opposite sides of this debate.

In Miami is Florida Republican Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Ballart, and in New York, Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel.

Congressmen, welcome to Late Edition. Thank you so much for joining us, particularly on this day.

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Happy Easter, Candy. CROWLEY: Happy Easter to you both.

Congressman Diaz-Ballart, let me just start with you and say, after 40 years, isn't it about time to talk about lifting sanctions?

REP. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART (R), FLORIDA: No. It's about time that the international community take seriously a dictatorship that makes known its intention not to permit any sort of democratic opening.

Just weeks ago, when President Fox was in Cuba, perhaps the most respected dissident who's not in prison, Marta Beatriz Roque, after meeting with President Fox, was stripped searched, harassed, her house was ransacked and her furniture destroyed. What is the international community going to do?

This month, the European Union and Switzerland imposed a freeze on the funds of Mr. Mugabe because of a flawed -- he held a flawed election in Zimbabwe. Mr. Castro has refused to hold any election in 43 years. At least we have a policy saying that until he liberates political prisoners and holds elections, there's going to be no normalization. What is the international community going to do?

CROWLEY: Well, let me just take a pause right here and let you hear what former President Jimmy Carter said recently on the subject of lifting sanctions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... not to punish the Cuban people themselves by imposing an embargo on them which makes Castro seem to be a hero because he's defending his own people against the abusive Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So, Congressman Rangel, the point being there that basically what we have done is sort of make the U.S. look bad over 40 years of sanctions, depriving the Cuban people, and making Castro look good. You think it's time to go ahead and lift this embargo.

RANGEL: I think that Lincoln has deep-seated personal and political beliefs, and I respect him for it, but the embargo and the isolation of Cuba is against our national policy.

The whole idea that a former president or any American citizen has to get permission to travel, especially to the Caribbean, is absolutely ridiculous.

But not having a normal trade and commercial relationship is insulting to Americans to believe that they are fearful that Americans are going to succumb to Communism. That's the greatest thing that we got, our travelers, our merchants, to sell our American way of life.

We believe that it's going to work in China. We believe that it's going to work in North Korea and Vietnam. We believe that it's working in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. But I know one thing, Candy, this has nothing to do with common sense and reason. The real reasons why we don't have normalization, whether it's a Republican president or a Democratic president, is the Electoral College in Florida and a handful of very political people who can make the difference, as they did in last presidential election.

CROWLEY: Well, Congressman Rangel, I mean, this isn't the only president that has been opposed to lifting sanctions again Cuba, long before Florida become sort of a flash political word, correct?

RANGEL: I said Democrat and Republican. But no, no, no, no. It's always been, with the exception of the time they had the Soviet missiles there where the whole country was opposed to it, but, no, there is no former secretary of state or assistant secretary of state that doesn't condemn this policy. And yet, under Democratic presidents, they were fearful that if they got this group antagonized in Florida, that they could lose the election there. And let me tell you this, that Al Gore, with his bumbling, did loss the election there.

CROWLEY: Congressman Diaz-Balart, let me pull you in here.

DIAZ-BALART: It's interesting...

CROWLEY: Go ahead.

DIAZ-BALART: Well, I think it's interesting that my colleague talks about the Electoral College as the reason why we have a policy of solidarity with the Cuban people.

I don't think it's related to the electoral college, that the only terrorist state that is in this hemisphere is the Castro totalitarian state. It's not related to the Electoral College that that terrorist state has had over 15 spies, captured and convicted in the last two years in the United States, including a spy who, just days ago -- she was a very high-ranking spies within the Defense intelligence agency in Washington and she pled guilty and is, by the way, offering very good cooperation and talking about many other spies that exist here in the United States from the Castro intelligence services.

So on the terrorist state, just last week the State Department said that the Cuban regime has a biological weapons component that it has shared with other anti-American terrorist states, and it's 90 miles away. It has spies convicted by the dozens.

And of course, our opponents are saying that it's because of the Electoral College that there's a concern with a terrorist state in Cuba? The reality of the matter is that, in addition to it being in solidarity with the Cuban people, it's in the national interest of the United States for there to be a Democratic transition in Cuba. And that's why we say we don't want the embargo.

What we want is -- what we want is liberation, the liberation of all political prisoners and the scheduling of free elections. And then we'll be the first ones calling for the end of embargo. Why don't we have our colleague, Charlie Rangel, asking for the liberation of all political prisoners and the scheduling of free elections, or, like in the case of Zimbabwe, can you join me, Charlie, in calling for Castro's assets to be frozen in Switzerland and in London? I think that would be a good step.

RANGEL: Two hundred members of Congress disagree with you. They believe that we should travel to Cuba. Over a majority of the House and Senate has voted to allow us to sell food to Cuba. In this hemisphere, we have Canada, Mexico, South American countries and the Caribbean countries all wanting to normalize relationship with Cuba. And so, it's a very lonely struggle that you're fighting now.

I would say this, that we should demand democracy in Cuba, the same way we demand to get it in China, that we should really have our business people -- the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to do business there. Two hundred churches and social agencies want to go there. And we should not deny food and medicine to the people in Cuba. And these people love us. Even though we have a problem with Castro, we don't have a problem with the Cuban people.

And best way to bring democracy is to talk with people. But the whole idea that a former president has to get permission to visit a small island in the Caribbean really shows how ridiculous the policy is.

CROWLEY: Congressman Diaz-Balart, let me just see if I can get you -- I just want to focus on a couple of things that Congressman Rangel has brought up, and that is, you know, Americans can go to North Korea, they can go to Iran, and they can't go to Cuba. And it does seem a little out of whack.

Can you explain to me why that seems OK to you?

DIAZ-BALART: Well, we have something called geography and something called history and something called differences.

The reality of the matter is that there is a national interest in the United States for there to be a democratic transition in a terrorist state that is 90 miles away. And we don't think that it is appropriate to give billions of dollars to that regime from the United States, until there is a liberation of political prisoner and a scheduling of elections. Because it's in our national interest for Cuba to be a friendly democracy and not a totalitarian terrorist state.

So that's why there are differences in the world. There's differences in geography and history and sociology, et cetera. The only region that has a requirement in its international law -- it's inter-American law that says that only representative democracy is legitimate in this hemisphere.

So for legal reasons, for national security reasons, for reasons of solidarity with the Cuban people, we have a different policy with regard to a state that is terrorist and that's totalitarian and that's anti-American 90 miles away. No matter how much you want to whitewash this issue, the reality of the matter is the only terrorist state that has had over 15 spies captured and convicted in this country, including a very high ranking spy at the Defense Intelligence Agency, who is now talking and talking about other spies who have not been captured and soon will be, is the Cuban regime.

The reality of the matter is that, while the world condemns the dictatorship in Zimbabwe for holding a flawed election, and now we see the European Union freezing the assets of the dictator, Mr. Mugabe, why here, in the case of a 43-year-old dictatorship that has not had any flawed election, it has had no elections, is there a call for the end of all sanctions and the giving of funds?

The reality is, we should end the double standard and say the same standard we have -- I remember when my colleague Mr. Rangel called for sanctions against the Haitian dictatorship. I joined him. I remember when he called for military action in the case of Haiti. I didn't go that far, but I always supported the sanctions. And yet in the case of Cuba, a dictatorship not of three years but of 43 years, and he and others are seeking an end to all sanctions. And so, I'm saying lets be consistent.

CROWLEY: Congressman Rangel...

DIAZ-BALART: Let's not have double standards.

CROWLEY: Congressman Rangel...

RANGEL: There's just one...

CROWLEY: ... let me just...

RANGEL: OK.

CROWLEY: ... I just want to -- go ahead and make that point, but then I want you to answer this question.

RANGEL: I was just saying to Lincoln, not one country, not in the Caribbean, not in Central or South America or Mexico, not one country in the hemisphere, or the whole world for that matter, agrees with anything that have said.

And so, why should America have an isolated view merely because of the political concerns we have in Florida? I mean, we cannot be that stupid that the whole world disagrees with us.

DIAZ-BALART: No, Charlie, it's a difference -- look, the reality of the matter is that, in the case of Cuba, in the 19th century, after the Cubans had fought for almost 100 years against European colonialism, it was only the United States that stood with Cuba and helped through the Congress of the United States...

RANGEL: Name the country that agrees...

DIAZ-BALART: No, what I'm trying to say is... RANGEL: ... name the country, Lincoln, that agrees with you. I mean, you're saying that it's a terrorist country...

DIAZ-BALART: Charlie, what I'm trying to say is...

RANGEL: ... they threaten our national...

DIAZ-BALART: ... what I'm trying to say is they...

RANGEL: Do they threaten our national security?

DIAZ-BALART: What I'm trying to say Charlie...

RANGEL: I mean, we're the leader of the whole world, and you're asking... DIAZ-BALART: The ethical and moral leader of the world, yes...

RANGEL: ... and you're telling me...

DIAZ-BALART: What I'm trying to say, Charlie, if I may, is that there is an historic, as well as geographic, very close relationship between the people of the United States and the people of Cuba.

And when you're talking about the fact...

RANGEL: What's that got to do with the president going to Cuba?

DIAZ-BALART: No, no, Charlie, Charlie, please. You're beginning to interrupt too much. I don't interrupt you.

What I'm trying to say is that historic closeness is also seen when we say with our policy, until there is liberation of all political prisoners and people are not imprisoned because of their beliefs in Cuba, until there is a scheduling of re-elections, we are going to maintain our policy.

RANGEL: OK, good.

DIAZ-BALART: And guess what? If the rest of the world doesn't agree, we're proud of our policy. And it's...

RANGEL: OK, very good.

DIAZ-BALART: ... going to be very important in a transition in Cuba. And then...

CROWLEY: OK, gentlemen, I have to...

RANGEL: But you didn't name one country, you know that, Lincoln.

CROWLEY: I'm sorry, I've got to interrupt the two of you here. I'm so sorry. We have run out of time. You got to love a debate where I don't have to ask a single question.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you very much.

DIAZ-BALART: Happy Easter.

CROWLEY: Happy Easter to you all. Florida Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Congressman Charlie Rangel, thank you so much. Happy Easter to you both.

RANGEL: Happy Easter.

CROWLEY: Just ahead, Great Britain prepares to say goodbye to a beloved member of its royal family. We'll get reflections on the Queen Mum when Late Edition returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

(UNKNOWN): 101 years old, she's been a part of our community and our life all my life.

(UNKNOWN): She always conducted herself with such dignity. It was a delight to see her all the time.

(UNKNOWN): I think she was a great lady.

(UNKNOWN): She was a very, very, very great lady. I'll never forget her for her spunk and spirit.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

CROWLEY: Just a few people sharing their thoughts about the woman affectionately known as the Queen Mum. The Queen Mother Elizabeth died yesterday afternoon in her sleep.

CNN's Bruce Morton shares his thoughts about the woman who was arguably the most popular member of Britain's royal family.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON: She was tiny, 5'2", and brave. And the British loved her. Probably the only royal they really cared about in the last 50 years.

When she was born, Queen Victoria was still alive, the Wright brothers hadn't flown the first plane, radio networks hadn't happened yet, nor television.

She was born Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lynn (ph). That's an old Scottish family. And she married, after he asked her several times, Albert Frederick Arthur George, second son -- and, therefore, never to be king -- of George V. But when older brother Edward abdicated the throne to marry a twice-divorced American, Bertie, as he was nicknamed, became George VI.

They ruled during World War II. She helped him get over his stammer, so that he could speak to his subjects on the BBC. They stayed in London during the Blitz. And when, in 1940, Hitler's Luftwaffe bombed Buckingham Palace, Elizabeth clambered through the wreckage and said, "It makes me feel I can look the East End in the face," a reference to the working-class neighborhood near the docks along the Thames which the Nazis had bombed repeatedly.

She visited bomb sites, worked with refugees, and pretended, the historians say, to strictly observe food rationing.

George VI died in 1952. Their daughter, the present queen, took the throne. And Elizabeth, newly a widow, became the Queen Mother and almost instantly the Queen Mum.

Why did they love her? A link with history, probably, with the old days of the empire. Her smile, maybe. "She has this way of catching people's eyes," said the editor of Majesty magazine a few years ago, "and they feel she's had a personal moment with them."

And part of it was what she did and how. She was old-fashioned royalty, hardly ever spoke to reporters, but she almost always paused so the photographers could get a shot. "I need them," she said once, "as much as they need me."

So the country saw the diamonds sometimes, but it also saw the small woman with a pint of beer in her hand and liked that; the small woman shooting pool and they liked that. They knew she didn't just own horses, she bet on them, and they liked that. And if she enjoyed a tot of Scotch whiskey every now and then, well, they liked that too.

On her birthday, crowds would gather to wish her well, and she'd come out in one of those improbable hats and wish them well.

A love affair that lasted years and years.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Joining us now from London is Andrew Roberts. He is author of the book, "The House of Windsor: A Royal History of England."

Mr. Roberts, welcome to Late Edition.

ROBERTS: Thank you.

CROWLEY: I want to start out by asking the question that Bruce posed in his spot just now, is, why did the people of England love the Queen Mother so much?

ROBERTS: Well, I think Bruce put his finger on it absolutely. It was her way of being able to get on with ordinary people, and yet also to walk with kings and presidents. Cabinet ministers, small children, everybody came to love her, because she had that special way of making you feel that you were the most important person in the world when she was talking to you. It's a very royal touch and a rather magnificent one. CROWLEY: And, Andrew, other than her sentimental -- the sentimental affection for her in England, is there something substantively that England loses now, or was she just a beloved sort of figurehead?

ROBERTS: I don't think it was just sentimental. There's a very genuine sense of thanks for what she did during the Second World War, and the way in which she did help to give the nation its lion's roar. And the remarks that she made, that one, of course, that you heard about looking the East End in the face, but also one where she said that she wouldn't leave London, her children wouldn't leave London, and the king certainly wouldn't leave London. And that's what Londoners needed to hear in the dark days of the Blitz in 1940. And so it's not just sentimental. It's a real genuine thank you.

But at the same time, of course, there is sentimentality. She was the nation's grandmother. She lived to be 101. And she was a tremendously special person.

CROWLEY: And how does this change things within the royal family? Do any of those dynamics change now? It seems to me that she was the one that sort of held together the kind of dignity of the royal family. Does that now fall to her daughter?

ROBERTS: That certainly does. And nobody could take the mantle on better than Queen Elizabeth. She has, of course, never put a step wrong in the 50 years that he's been queen, largely because she has been advised, pretty much every day, it's said, by the Queen Mother.

Now that that advice has stopped and that voice has fallen still, it will be pretty much up to the queen herself to take the important decisions, but she has, at least, had a long life -- her mother's had a long life, in which to be able to train her. And she's in her seventies, and she's doing a tremendously good job already.

CROWLEY: And, you know, I think the people that most Americans of the younger generation see as royalty over there, of course, would be Prince Charles and of course his two sons.

What was their relationship to the Queen Mother, and is this a major loss for them as well?

ROBERTS: It really is a major loss, specifically for Prince Charles, who was her favorite grandson. They were very close indeed. He says he's completely devastated by this news. It's an extra step, really, down to William and Harry. Of course they were great- grandchildren.

But nevertheless, I think that it's important and very useful for Prince William, when he finally does come to the thrown, to have known somebody who was every inch a queen, who understood to the very fingertips what it was to be a monarch.

CROWLEY: And from an international point of view, is there any international impact to this other than, again, that it symbolizes the dignity at least of royalty? Is there -- was she ever involved in anything that might have impact internationally?

ROBERTS: I don't think so, no. I mean, for the last half century, of course, she has no constitutional role of Queen Mother in the British constitution, so she really had to carve out a job for herself. And although she did an enormous amount of visiting commonwealth countries after her widowhood, she was of course widowed at the tragically early age of 51.

She has traveled a great deal. She knew most of the heads of states in the world. But in the last 10 years, she has, as a monogenarian, of course, calmed and slowed down. And so I don't think that this is going to have any negative impact for Britain's standing in the world today.

CROWLEY: I'm just guessing here, but I imagine that you would tell me that they sort of broke the mold here and that the new generation of royalty in England is not along the same lines as the Queen Mother. Is that true?

ROBERTS: I think that's not true, really. I think that they still have a tremendous sense of the importance of tradition and of duty. And, of course, a lot does depend on how Prince William grows up. But he's a feisty, I think you Americans would put it, adolescent. At the same time, however, there is a seriousness to him. Of course the tragic death of his own mother adds to that sense.

And I think that the -- I think that the sense of kingship that both King George VI and the Queen Mother brought to the crown is something that will endure in fact.

CROWLEY: Andrew Roberts, author of "The House of Windsor," we thank you very much for your insights on this.

Coming up next, the Final Round. Our very opinionated panel sounds off on the day's major stories. You can join in as well. Late Edition's Final Round right after a news alert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to Late Edition's Final Round. Joining me, Donna Brazile, Democratic political strategist; Peter Beinart of the New Republic; Rich Lowry of The National Review; and Robert George of the New York Post.

With Israelis and Palestinians now literally at war, there is no sign of a peaceful resolution on the horizon. A short while ago, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made it clear where he stood.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARON (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Yasser Arafat is the enemy of Israel and the enemy of the free world. The state of Israel is currently in a very difficult situation. We have been in very difficult situations before, and we've overcome them. This time, too, we will win out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Earlier today, in an exclusive interview with CNN, Yasser Arafat argued that it is the Palestinians who are being victimized.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARAFAT: I insist today, and yesterday it was Mr. Colin Powell on the phone, that we're in need of urgent sending international forces to stop this aggression and this escalation, military escalation, against our people, against our cities, against our towns, against our refugee camps, against our -- even women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: Peter, I can't even imagine how this will end. Seems to me we just keep escalating, escalating, escalating.

PETER BEINART, "NEW REPUBLIC": Yes, absolutely. It seems to me there are two paths. The first is, is you actually do rely on Arafat to stop the terrorism, which means you actually have to allow him to recreate his security forces and start a political solution. Because he won't be able to do it while he's locked in a room with candles and no electricity.

The other path is the path that I think Sharon wants to take, which I think he will probably take if there's another big suicide bombing, which is to expel him. But if Israel does that, it's going to have to reoccupy the West Bank, I think, for a generation, if it wants to try to recreate a new Palestinian leadership.

ROBERT GEORGE, "NEW YORK POST:: And I mean, the irony, of course, in Arafat's words saying, you know, that the Israelis are even targeting women, is that even women are suicide bombers. I mean, we've got these teenage girls that are going into Israeli supermarkets and shopping areas and blowing themselves up.

So, I mean, what other response does Israel have other than what it's is doing, which is to put more pressure on Arafat?

CROWLEY: Well, look, though, doesn't somebody have to stop this? We keep getting this, "Yes, but we did this, because they did this; well, yes, but they did," and can go back hundreds of years this way.

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Right. I mean, clearly, the strategy of tit-for-tat revenge, retaliation is not working.

Earlier this week, the Saudis offered a plan. The Arab nations endorsed it. It's not the panacea, but it's a starting point for United States and the Bush administration to give back into the region and to re-engage both sides.

LOWRY: Look, to make sense of this you have to start from the premise that Yasser Arafat chose the path of violence and war going back 18 months. And that is because -- it's not because he is a psychopath or insane, it's because terrorism works. In works in two senses: One, it might wear down the will of the Israel people. Or two, if Israel retaliates, it might bring massive international condemnation, including from the U.S., against Israel. So it's a win- win proposition for him.

And not until he sees it's a losing proposition, will he stop. And that's why Israel has to make him hurt in a big way.

BEINART: But, Rick, you know it's even...

CROWLEY: Hang on one second. Let me just move us a little further. We will come back here.

Our quote of the week comes President Bush, who initially stayed quiet as events in the Middle East unfolded. But when he finally did talk this weekend, he put the onus for stopping the violence on Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I can understand why the Israeli government takes the actions they take. Their country is under attack. Every day there has been a suicide bombing, and every day the government sees the loss of innocent life. I think that Chairman Arafat can do a lot more. I truly believe that. I believe he needs to stand up and condemn, in Arabic, these attacks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: So, Robert, I guess the question is, should the U.S. be doing a lot more? What role is there for the U.S. here?

GEORGE: Well, I mean, I think we, in a sense, we're going to have to do more than just saying, well, Arafat should step up. I mean, we've been telling them that for, you know, months now, and there hasn't been anything.

I mean, I think that one thing the United States can starting looking at is in fact actually putting more pressure on Saudi Arabia, because there are a lot of reports that suggest that the funding for a lot of these Martyr Brigades have come from Saudi Arabia. And we say that picture on the cover of the New York Times this week, where Saudi Arabia is embracing Iraq.

I think, in a sense, there is going to have to be as much pressure from state to state -- from the United States to Saudi Arabia -- as there is going to have to be from the United States to Palestine.

BEINART: I think that's right, and I think the other thing the United States is going to have to do is probably to take the focus off Arafat and focus on the Saudi proposal. The Saudi proposal is a move forward certainly. And particularly tantalizing is the suggestion, the implication that they're not demanding full return of refugees, which would really open up a wide array of discussion. And I think that's where the United States should put its efforts, because the problem is, we're actually worse than Rich suggested, because it's not only that Arafat has chosen war, it's that in Israel we have a prime minister who himself has always opposed the Oslo peace process, who throughout his career has shown no serious interest in peace processes and has expanded the settlements.

So the United States is really going to have to bash heads on both sides.

LOWRY: I'm not sure how much or a departure the Saudi proposal is. It's kind of the maximalist Arab demand with a nice bow...

BEINART: It's not, on refugees. That's what is so important.

LOWRY: ... a nice bow...

BEINART: But it's not the -- if you look at the refugees, it's not the maximal demand.

LOWRY: Peter, the Arab governments are talking on both sides of their mouth. On the one hand, they say, "Oh, we have this grand peace proposal." On the other hand, they fund these suicide bombers.

BEINART: Absolutely.

LOWRY: They give these families, you know, thousands of dollars for every suicide bombing.

And the fact is, I will give Crown Prince Abdullah this, he has proven himself a brilliant diplomat in the last two or three weeks, undermining U.S. policy, both on Israel and Palestine and also on Iraq. He is a formidable adversary, and "adversary" is the right word.

BRAZILE: Well, I still believe that Secretary Powell needs to go into the region. He has enormous credibility. He will go, hopefully, with the approval of the administration and, perhaps, the Pentagon and others, and perhaps we can take semblance of the Saudi proposal. We have a Tenet plan that called for a truce. No one's paying attention to that. But you got to start from somewhere, and we just cannot sit by and let the violence continue to exploit.

GEORGE: And also, too, the United States should also, frankly, put some pressure on Kuwait because Kuwait, if you remember, after the Gulf War, kicked out a lot of -- kicked out all the Palestinians who were living there, which, in fact, you know, increased the pressure on Israel and the whole right-of-return issue.

CROWLEY: Let me push forward the discussion on U.S. policy and what the president should do, because although the president is suggesting that ball is in Yasser Arafat's court, his administration has also urged Israel to show restraint.

Today Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman accused the White House of flip-flopping on the Middle East. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT): I must say that there's been some inconsistency in the Bush administration's policy in the last couple of weeks. And I think this is the time not to stop the Israelis from doing what they are doing in their self-defense, even while we try with, I hope, much bolder moves, by Bush administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: I think, sort of reading between the lines, it sounds to me like maybe Senator Lieberman didn't like the U.N. Security Council resolution. I may be crazy, but...

(LAUGHTER)

... is the Bush administration sending mixed signals?

BRAZILE: It has been sending mixed messages all week and perhaps for the last 12 months.

CROWLEY: Well, in what way, though?

BRAZILE: Well, I mean, first of all, they send Ambassador -- I mean, General Zinni into legion and say, "Hey, we want you to get all the parties together," and they don't send him any backup. They send him a inconsistent plan.

He called, President -- not President Bush, one of administration high-ranking officials -- called Mr. Sharon earlier this week and say, "Give Arafat a way out to go to the Beirut summit." Then they dropped out of that picture.

So I don't think they have a clear policy. They don't have a consistent policy. They are so afraid of looking like President Clinton in engaging in this, that the Bush administration has decided not to expend any of its political capital for fear of failure in the region, and that's a bad strategy.

GEORGE: And even beyond that, you have the main phrase of Bush in the war against terror is either, you know, "You're either with us or you're against us."

Basically Israel is using that with Arafat. Either he can rein in these suicide bombers or he can't. And by not allowing Israel to push Arafat on that issue, it's undermining the moral impetus on the war against terror.

LOWRY: They have lost some moral clarity, and what happened was, about two weeks ago, the administration blinked. Because any time you go to an Arab government on anything -- their corruption, their backwardness, anything -- they'll say, "Oh, we can deal with that in some future date, as soon as you take care of Israel," and that has it exactly backwards.

If the administration takes care of Iraq first, then perhaps it will have the real leverage and prestige in the region to really force some changes, both from the Palestinians and Israelis. BEINART: I don't think that's quite right. Look, I mean, I agree about the Arab governments but the truth is that hundreds and hundreds, unprecedented numbers of Israeli have died because of a failed policy on both sides. The United States cannot just sit by.

I think the really interesting thing that's going on is that I think senior administration officials, reading between the lines, want Bush to get involved. Bush himself does not want to get involved, because I think Bush himself loathes Arafat, which is extremely understandable. But the problem is, only the president of the United States has the muscle to really make this work, and I don't think he's up to the job.

BRAZILE: But he called for a Palestinian state, so if you're going to call for a Palestinian state and then walk away from table and not come up with a political solution...

BEINART (?): ...a terrorist state.

CROWLEY: Hang on, hang on. I'm going to ask you all to sit still...

(LAUGHTER)

... and we'll be back on this. We have to take a short break.

Your phone calls and e-mails for our panel when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Welcome back to the Final Round. You'll be happy to know that, during the break, we solved the Middle East problem...

(LAUGHTER)

... so we are going to move on to a different subject.

As expected, President Bush quietly signed campaign finance legislation into law, but opponents are not giving up. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is spearheading a court challenge to have the law overturned.

So, Rich, is he going to win?

LOWRY: Well, first of all, let me say about President Bush, it's really -- he thinks this bill is unconstitutional, and it's really kind of shameful that he would sign it. And no wonder he signed it in a broom closet; it is something he should be ashamed of.

But on the question of the courts, you know, no one really knows what five Supreme Court justices are going to come up with on any given day. So, opponents of this bill speak with great, you know, authority that it's going to be thrown out, but we don't know. It seems probable that the advertising restrictions and the coordination provisions will go. But the soft-money ban itself is arguably dubious but will probably survive. BRAZILE: He should have signed this bill inside the Oval Office with a group of ordinary citizens and given them the pen and say, "Now you can control the political process. You can come back to the political table." Rather he signed it and then he ran off to raise millions of dollars in soft money...

LOWRY: As did the Democrats.

CROWLEY: Well, the Democrats are doing that too. Be fair.

BRAZILE: Just a little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: Just not as well.

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: The bank is not as open as it is.

But look, regardless of what happens in court -- and I do believe that Senate Mitch McConnell, his special interests allies will lose -- I would like to applaud the bipartisan group of legislators who stood up to the special interests and went out there and really put this bill into law. So, this is a victory for democracy, and the president should have been a champion this week and signed it inside the White House.

CROWLEY: Anybody here think this is a crummy law that won't stand?

GEORGE: Of course it's a crummy law. I mean, there are -- first of all, there are loopholes that you can drive a Brinks truck -- a Brinks truck through. I mean, most of the money -- most of the money -- or a lot of the money is now going to end up going to the state parties, and so all the special interests are just going to move to the states. And so you're -- and so you're not going to have any kind -- you're not going to be able to take the money out of politics anyway.

And as Rich said, the soft money ban at the national level will probably, will probably, will probably stay, but I can't see any of the judges on the left or the right holding restrictions on the issue ads.

BEINART: I think there are four strong votes to uphold the restrictions actually. I think if you look at a Colorado case -- and I think Kennedy could be the fifth. I really think -- actually, I mean, Rich is absolutely right, we don't know. But I think people who oppose this are very wrong when they think it's a slam dunk. The Supreme Court justices are not immune to seeing what's happened.

And the truth is, on your point about loopholes, we have an institution which is supposed to close these loopholes. It's called the FEC. And conservatives and Republicans have de-funded it systematically. If that really was an operating institution, then you could really -- this could really work.

CROWLEY: OK, moving right along, folks. Another subject...

LOWRY: We're just getting started.

CROWLEY: I'm sorry, you know, we're done campaign -- we've settled that now.

If the Justice Department has its way, suspected terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui will be sentenced to death for allegedly helping to plan the September 11 attacks.

CROWLEY: Earlier today, the government's decision was the subject of debate because Moussaoui was in custody when the attacks occurred.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BURKMAN: The bringing of death penalty charges against somebody who is in jail is really not...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(AUDIO GAP)

CROWLEY: ... view that here is a guy who was in jail when the attacks occurred. So the first guy we are going to try, granted the direct ones are dead, but the first guy were are going to try wasn't even, like, out roaming around in public. And the death penalty is there.

GEORGE: Well, basically you're talking about a conspiracy, a conspiracy obviously that ended up in the deaths of 3,000 people. I think the charges are legitimate.

However, I do believe that Moussaoui's lawyers are probably -- he's not going to be able to -- they're not going to be able to get him off in terms of exonerating. But they will probably be able to get him off the death penalty, because they may be able to basically suggest that he didn't know the full impact of the plan that they were putting forward.

CROWLEY: We've got less than a minute so I just want to poll you really quickly. Is the death penalty going to be imposed on this guy if he is found guilty?

BEINART: No, I don't think so. I agree with Robert. They should -- for tactical reasons, they should have gone for life in prison.

BRAZILE: I would agree with Robert and Peter on this one.

LOWRY: It probably won't. It should be. And ideally, he should have been in front of a military tribunal because he doesn't deserve any of these procedural protections of ordinary...

(CROSSTALK)

LOWRY: ... of ordinary American, red-blooded American criminals.

BRAZILE: Oh, no.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: OK, we have got to take another break. Believe it or not, this was not the lightening round. Our lightening round is just ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Time now for our lightning round.

Millions of doses of the smallpox vaccine been added to the U.S. government stockpile. Is anyone really concerned about a smallpox attack by terrorists?

LOWRY: I think we should be concerned about everything, potentially, but smallpox would not be on the top of my list.

CROWLEY: Why not? Why not? I mean, would anthrax have been on the top of your list pre...

BRAZILE: Absolutely. But, you know, apparently, the stockpile is under guard and lock and key, from both the Russians and the Americans. I'm glad we have a stockpile, and I hope Washingtonians are first in line to get a dose.

GEORGE: We should be prepared for every eventuality, so sure.

BEINART: Yes, keep the stock, but don't talk about it too much, I think, because then you could bring hysteria.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: Sort of like for residents of Washington.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

GEORGE: Hey, I live in New York.

(LAUGHTER)

LOWRY: We're second.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWLEY: The great-granddaughter of a South Carolina slave has filed a federal class action lawsuit against three corporations seeking reparations for African-Americans. Should the companies pay, Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, as a great-granddaughter of Louisiana slaves, I would hope that the political and the politicians on Capitol Hill support the Conyers bill, which would study the impact of slavery and perhaps give a court some guidance as to what, if any, liability the corporations and others owe.

CROWLEY: Is this even feasible?

LOWRY: With all due respect, it seems to me to be a typical junk lawsuit.

And this potentially could pose a big problem for Democrats if it becomes a more salient issue, because Democrats would have to choose between what their base wants and what is the common sense of an overwhelming number of Americans.

GEORGE: Yes, they would have a voter "blacklash," if I could use that phrase.

I think it's rather foolish. None of the -- not all the money in world is going to address the main issues focusing on a lot of African-Americans, in terms of access to education and choice and things such of that nature. It's basically to help some lawyers make a lot of money.

BEINART: Yes, I agree. You know, the history of reparations is that you give the reparations to people who suffered themselves, Japanese-Americans or survivors of the Holocaust. I really think that's an important moral distinction to maintain in all cases.

CROWLEY: British Prime Minister Tony Blair visits President Bush at his ranch on Friday. Is Blair prepared to back military action in Iraq? Yes?

BRAZILE: Well, I think they're going to talk about the Middle East, and I think that's going to be topic number one before they get to the situation in Iraq and how to basically reassemble an international coalition again.

CROWLEY: Can Tony Blair say no to the United States?

LOWRY: When push comes to shove, he'll back us on Iraq, as will many countries that are whining and complaining at the moment.

GEORGE: Yes, I would agree with Rich on that. Blair is getting a little bit more criticism on his home front, though, for supporting the United States so strongly. So that may cause him to restrain initially. But I think, when push comes to shove, he'll be there with us.

CROWLEY: Can you imagine a scenario in which Britain wouldn't be with us?

BEINART: No, I think he'll be with us. But, you know, it would have helped if we hadn't humiliated him on this steel-tariffs decision, I must say. If you want countries to be with you on a war, you can't humiliate them by playing unfair on trade.

LOWRY: The worst decision of the Bush administration so far, the steel tariffs.

GEORGE: I absolutely, 100 percent agree with that.

CROWLEY: Wow!

(LAUGHTER)

I love all of this comity.

Speaking of Great Britain, the Queen Mum has died at the age of 101. Why is the world still so enchanted with the monarchy, and maybe even particularly with this woman?

LOWRY: Well, the enchantment, I think, is beginning to end, but she was the reason why it used to be there. This is when the monarchy stood for something besides celebrity, kind of embodied important values of the British nation, and I think that's disappearing.

BRAZILE: A woman of tremendous courage who stood with her people and her king when it was being bombed. And I hope her spirit lives on. I don't care about the monarchy.

LOWRY (?): Here, here.

GEORGE: And that was Britain's finest hour, last finest hour in the 20th century, in the middle of World War II. And that's really the strength and fiber that she exhibited there, just stayed with her.

BEINART: I agree. I think she has no moral successor amongst the British monarchs, and I think for that reason they are in trouble, the monarchy.

CROWLEY: Maryland...

(LAUGHTER)

... highly different subject here -- plays Indiana in the Final Four NCAA championship tomorrow night.

Can Indiana make it six for six, or will Maryland win their first national title?

BRAZILE: I'm biased; I teach at Maryland. Go Terps, all the way!

And, Mr. Dyson (ph), just bring it on in.

LOWRY: My heart says Indiana. My head says Maryland, Maryland, Maryland. BRAZILE: Amen.

GEORGE: I think it's going to be Maryland though. Indiana had a great run. And Mike Davis has made people forget about Bobbie, whatever his name was.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: Yes, I have close connections on the Maryland side. And for my own well-being, I will say Maryland.

CROWLEY: Folks, it is unanimous: Fear the turtle!

(LAUGHTER)

That's Late Edition for Sunday, March 31. Thank you all very much. Rich Lowry, Donna Brazile, Robert George, Peter Beinart, we really thank you very much.

So next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

And remember to catch the debut of CNN's hour-long Crossfire tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Crossfire's new co-hosts, James Carville and Paul Begala from the left, will join veterans Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson from the right, live from the campus of George Washington University.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. Have a Happy Easter and Passover. I am Candy Crowley in Washington.

Go Terps!

BRAZILE: Amen.

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