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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Whistle-Blower Sends Shock Waves Through FBI; U.S., Russia Sign Nuclear Arms Treaty; What Terror Threats Worry Americans Most?

Aired May 24, 2002 - 16:00   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.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. A whistle-blower sends shock waves through the FBI with claims that headquarters hindered the investigation of a terrorism suspect.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jonathan Karl on Capitol Hill. That FBI letter has added fuel to the investigation into what went wrong on September 11.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider. One terror threat worries Americans more than any other. And it is affecting political views on which issues matter the most.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm John King with the president in Moscow. President Bush says a new nuclear arms treaty is proof of a new era in U.S.-Russia relations. But major tensions remain over Russian nuclear dealings with Iran.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. The questions surrounding American intelligence efforts before September the 11 turned inward today. The focus shifting to a letter written by an FBI agent addressed to the bureau director.

As reported in "TIME" magazine, the 13-page letter by Minneapolis agent Coleen Rowley accuses superiors in Washington of having -- quote -- "omitted, downplayed, glossed over and/or mischaracterized the investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui."

Moussaoui, you'll recall, was arrested on immigration charges about a month before the September attacks. At the time, FBI headquarters refused to allow field agents to search Moussaoui's computer. The government now considers Moussaoui to have been the so- called 20th hijacker.

With more now on the FBI letter and the reaction on Capitol Hill, our congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl. Jonathan, is this new revelation about Coleen Rowley's letter causing more anger up on the Hill?

KARL: Well, certainly Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle pounced on the letter today and said it's yet another reason why there needs to be a broad, independent commission to look into exactly what went wrong on September 11. What you should also know, as the intelligence committee's investigation goes forward, both the Republican in charge of that, Porter Goss from the House, and the Democrat, Bob Graham in the Senate, have seen Rowley's letter. And they're saying that they have already interviewed her. The committee has already talked to her, and they full expect to call her to talk once again to the full intelligence committee when their hearings get under way.

WOODRUFF: Are we learning more, Jonathan, now at this point, about the congressional hearings that are -- that they have been talking about?

KARL: Well, we learned a lot more about them today, Judy. The first thing is, they will actually start those hearings as soon as Congress gets back from the Memorial Day recess. June 4 will be the first hearing.

It will be a closed hearing. But they plan to have public hearings starting in the end of June. And at those public hearings, what you can expect to see, the very first witnesses right off the bat, CIA Director George Tenet and FBI Director Robert Mueller. They'll both be kicking off the first public hearings in June.

And, Judy, you can expect to see those hearings go on for sometime. They're expected to go on throughout the summer and well into the fall, probably bringing you right through the elections.

WOODRUFF: All right, Jon Karl at the Capitol. Thanks very much.

Those planned congressional hearings are not enough, in the eyes of lawmakers who want an independent commission to investigation U.S. intelligence efforts. Political analyst Ron Brownstein of the "Los Angeles Times" has some new information on these proposals.

Ron, what are you hearing about the pressure on Senator Joe Lieberman?

RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, as you know, the main proposal is a Lieberman-McCain bipartisan proposal to create a commission. And we're hearing there is some pressure on Lieberman to change the proposal.

One of the things that people don't know is that in the proposal now, the president gets to appoint the chairman of this commission that Lieberman and McCain would set up. Senate Democrat leadership is a little cool to that idea. And privately they'd be pressing Lieberman to move away from that so he could have more leverage over the eventual makeup of the commission.

The concern would be, of course, that if you did that, you would make it even more unlikely for Republicans to support it, and they're having a hard time getting Republican support as it is.

WOODRUFF: What is the thinking at this point, in terms of who is doing the investigation and in terms of who comes out of this looking better or not? BROWNSTEIN: Well, there are different political incentives for the two parties, and certainly for the White House and the Democrats on this. Certainly, an independent commission looks attractive to many Democrats after the events of the last two weeks, Judy, in which they really got scorched by a very fierce White House counterattack for criticizing the president.

A commission might allow them to unearth whatever is out there that needs to be unearthed, without having their fingerprints on it and without making themselves as vulnerable to counterattack. I think the White House is kind of intriguing, in how strongly it prefers Congressional investigation over the independent commission. Even some insiders aren't sure why they are so fervent on that.

But the congressional investigation may give them a more contained and controllable process. The intelligence committee is going to focus relatively narrowly in the intelligence area. And also, there are partisans on the committee by definition, who will see it as part of their interest to defend the president. That's less guaranteed in an independent commission, even if he does get to make the appointments.

WOODRUFF: So if I were to ask you, politically ,why is the White House, the administration so opposed to an independent commission, is that part of...

BROWNSTEIN: I think they see it as a more uncertain process, and one that could carry a lot of weight at the end. It's a question of, really, short-term and long-term political interest, though. It may in fact carry more short-term political risk to have an independent commission for the White House.

But the long-term, the president is almost certainly going to be judged, above all, by preventing another attack. And if a commission helps and gives him the leverage by creating public pressure to get the kind of reforms in the security and the intelligence agencies that would help him prevent another attack, it may serve his interests in the long run. It really is a question of balancing both the short term and the long term, not to mention the long-term interest of the country.

WOODRUFF: And for now, they're very much against the independent commission.

BROWNSTEIN: From top to bottom.

WOODRUFF: All right, Ron Brownstein, thanks very much.

The results of a new CNN-"TIME" magazine poll reveals some interesting changes in how Americans view potential terrorist threats. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is with us now. Bill, what sort of terror threat would you say, looking at this, worries Americans the most?

SCHNEIDER: Judy, there's no question. It's suicide bombings in which terrorist blow themselves and others up in crowded areas, like restaurants and shopping malls. Nearly 60 percent of Americans believe terrorists are very likely do that in the next year. Far more likely than other kind of attacks, including some the government has been warning about.

Forty-two percent believe attacks on landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge are very likely. Thirty-one percent think it's very likely we'll see apartment bombings. Only 27 percent believe it's very likely we'll see another September 11 -- hijacked airliners crashing into buildings.

Why are suicide bombings the biggest threat? Because they are the most difficult to prevent, and because they've been happening in Israel. If Israel, with all of its security precautions, can't stop them from happening, people wonder what can the U.S. do?

WOODRUFF: Bill, do people see any politics behind all of these spade of recent terror warnings?

SCHNEIDER: The answer to that is no. By better than 2-1, Americans believe that the terror warnings from the government are based on intelligence reports, and were not created to divert attention over the government's lack of action to prevent the 9/11 attacks. Nevertheless, the new warnings are having a political impact.

Look at this. In January, twice as many people said domestic issues, like the economy and Social Security, would determine their vote for Congress this year. As opposed to national security issues like terrorism and the war in Afghanistan.

Now domestic issues and national security are just about equal in importance. The White House warnings have ratcheted up the political salience of national security, to the Republicans' advantage. Because people who cite domestic issues as the motivation for their vote vote Democratic. Those who cite national security give the edge to the Republicans.

WOODRUFF: All right. Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Turning our attention now to Russia, where earlier today President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a major nuclear arms reduction treaty. The agreement calls for both nations to reduce their nuclear arsenals by 2/3 over the next ten years. The treaty will allow the warheads to be stored instead of being destroyed.

Another key issue discussed with the two leaders was Russian nuclear aid to Iran. President Putin defended that policy, and he said the technology is for energy only. President Bush said he remained concerned.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I worried about Iran and I'm confident Vladimir Putin worries about Iran. And that was confirmed today. He understands terrorist threats, just like we understand terrorist threats. And he understands a -- you know, that weapons of mass destruction are dangerous to Russia, just as they are to America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Our John King is travelling with President Bush. John, these two leaders in public agreed, or disagreed, about Iran. But in private, did the president get any of the assurances that he was looking for?

KING: He did not get any of the big ones he was looking for, Judy. Yes, President Putin, as President Bush said there, did say that he was concerned about Iran as well. We are told President Putin told President Bush Russia wants no part in helping Iran improve its ballistic missile program, no part in watching Iran become a member of the nuclear nations, if you will.

But we are also told that President Putin vehemently denied the allegations, the suggestions, put forward by the United States that a Russian nuclear power plant in Iran is being used for military purposes. President Putin, we are told, said the necessary safeguards are in place. He compared it to the United States, as he did in public, building a light water reactor for North Korea. President Putin suggesting the problem was elsewhere, that other countries, including western countries, were providing the technology Mr. Bush was objecting to.

But we are told, in one ray of hope, if you will, from the U.S. standpoint; President Putin, despite forcefully defending his actions, did say he was open for further negotiations on this. He suggested those be done at the expert level, perhaps a new group formed or perhaps -- and U.S. officials like this option most -- Russia next week will sign a new partnership agreement with the NATO alliance. Look for that agreement, quickly after that agreement, for a new group on nonproliferation issues, with Iran at the top of the list -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And, John, on a personal level, these two men have been described in the past as having a fairly close personal relationship, a close relationship with one another -- how is that looking now?

KING: Not the back slapping we saw under Former President Bill Clinton and Former President Boris Yeltsin. But both sides say these two men get along, that they trust each other. And because of that, even when a contentious issue like Iran comes up, they approach it with a -- quote -- "problem-solving" approach.

As a sign of the friendship, President Bush and Mrs. Bush tonight outside of Moscow spending the night at the Putins' house in the suburbs here -- a rare glimpse. The Russia media says it's very rare to see President Putin's home outside of Moscow, and to see him and Mrs. Putin on the grounds. They greeted the Bushes tonight.

That, a payback, if you will, for the hospitality Mr. Putin received on the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas. Both of these men, we are told, speak frankly to each other about the issues, even we they disagree. U.S. officials say that is why, remember the anti-ballistic missile treaty? That was supposed to be a big debate, contentious between the United States and Russia.

It is not. The two leaders today agreed even to move forward and cooperate on missile defense. All of that, U.S. officials say, is because they trust each other. They have a good relationship. They believe in the Clinton-Yeltsin days, a lot of talk. They say in the Bush-Putin days, there will a lot of action -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: John King travelling with President Bush in Russia. Thank you, John.

Coming up, we'll have a closer look at the issue of nuclear weapons. "On the Record," I'll talk about safeguarding nuclear warheads with former Senator Sam Nunn of the nuclear threat initiative.

Plus, is air marshal training missing its target? One of the issues up for debate in taking issue segment.

And later, old enemies and new friends. Jeff Greenfield on America's newest ally.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: The U.S.-Russia nuclear treaty signed today doesn't say whether the warheads on those missiles should be destroyed or stockpiled, leaving that decision to each nation. But the possibility of a mothball Russian warhead falling into the wrong hands is causing concern. There's a new CNN-"TIME" magazine poll showing 78 percent believe it is likely that terrorists will get nuclear weapons if Russia puts them into storage.

Former Senator Sam Nunn follows nuclear disarmament as closely as anyone. I asked him today on the record about the significance of this treaty.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAM NUNN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I think it's an important step in the right direction. It is a general agreement in spirit, more than it is an agreement that would have a lot of details. But it refers back to the START I verification procedures, and incorporates those by reference.

It has a lot of things that are missing, in terms of mileposts. There is no way to measure how both sides are doing in terms of getting the numbers down until the end of the treaty. But I think that can be filled in.

And one of the things we're going to also have to realize is that as the Russians take the warheads off the launchers, we have to help make sure that they are safe and secure, and that the material that comes out of those warheads, if they do actually destroy them, which a treaty does not require, but it they do, we have to make sure that that is handled safe and securely. Because we have a tremendous problem in Russia today that is not yet taken care of. And we have a long way to go in securing their weapons material. That's highly enriched uranium and plutonium.

WOODRUFF: Well, in fact, this treaty does permit both sides to stockpile nuclear weapons, nuclear warheads. And in the case of Russia, are you saying that unless the U.S. is involved, we can't be secure at all in knowing that those are loose and out there?

NUNN: The dilemma we face is the Russians don't have the resources to take care of the huge stockpile of weapons material they already have, let alone additional material. This treaty does not require that the warheads be destroyed. In my view, that's a mistake.

I think the United States should lead the way in getting down the number of warheads. But we have to understand that if the Russians dismantle those warheads, we have to use some of our resources to help them, if they do retain them. Or even if they don't retain them, we have to help them with their materials.

Because about 60 percent of the existing stockpiles of weapon- grade uranium and weapon-grade plutonium is not secure in Russia by our standards today. And that's something that should be greatly accelerated. It is one of the things I was hoping would come up in this summit, with a pledge by both nations, by both presidents, to make that a top priority. Because this is the raw material of terrorism.

WOODRUFF: But haven't there already been a number of instances, Senator, where nuclear materials have been stolen or now missing, and we don't know where they are? No one knows where they are in Russia -- no one in either their government, or ours.

NUNN: Judy, there have been a lot of stories along that line, but none that I know of that are completely verified. The other problem is not just materials, but it's tactical nuclear weapons. We don't know how many tactical nuclear weapons the Russians have. We hope they know. But that is a subject that's not dealt with in this treaty.

Those are battlefield type weapons, and they are much more accessible than the strategic weapons. And they're much more portable and they're much more concealable, than strategic weapons that this treaty deals with. Now, that is a glaring omission between the two countries. And we're going to have to address that. And the sooner we address it, the safer we're going to be.

WOODRUFF: What do you mean by address it? Are you talking about another treaty, are we talking about spending money to secure this material?

NUNN: Well, we need to have a reciprocal pledge by both President Bush and President Putin, that we are both going to get our tactical nuclear inventories and accountability, so that the other side will know how many we have, and so that we properly safeguard those weapons, those tactical nuclear weapons, and that we have sufficient monitoring on both sides to assure the other side and the world that that's the case.

That's the kind of example we're going to have to set if we're going to get other nations in the world to step up to the plate and deal with the overall subject of catastrophic terrorism, where we need a worldwide alliance to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of the most dangerous groups.

WOODRUFF: Are you as worried as the Bush administration says it is about terrorists? About these kinds of weapons and this kind of material getting into the hands of terrorists?

NUNN: Yes, the president is entirely correct in saying this is the top danger and the top priority. He said it again in this summit and he and President Putin agreed on it, according to President Bush's words. But the programs don't reflect that.

The agreements don't reflect that. The budgets don't reflect that. And we have not rallied world -- an alliance to deal with this subject. So all of the words are correct. But we simply haven't put meat on the bones. And that is the most important part of the U.S.- Russian dialogue.

They have acknowledged that it's important, but they've postponed all consideration of this to July, according to the news reports that I read.

WOODRUFF: "They" being...

NUNN: The two presidents.

WOODRUFF: Both presidents, both the Russian and the U.S.

NUNN: They've agreed to talk about this subject in July. I think the clock is ticking, because the thing I fear the most is a group without a return address having possession of these weapons.

That's also true on the biological front. We've got a lot of work to do on the biological front. And we need to do it together.

WOODRUFF: All right, former Senator Sam Nunn, who's now CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Senator, we thank you for joining us. We know you are headed off to Russia right now yourself, for a meeting there with their legislators.

NUNN: Yes, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) right.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate your being with us.

NUNN: Thank you, Judy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Up next, a debate about airlines and profiling passengers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Time now for a check of the INSIDE POLITICS "Newscycle." A Minnesota FBI agent's letter to Bureau Director Robert Mueller apparently will be a key part of upcoming congressional hearings into pre-9/11 intelligence failures.

Today, Senator Bob Graham described Coleen Rowley's letter as -- quote -- "very serious."

President Bush and his Russian counterpart signed a landmark treaty today aimed at reducing both countries' nuclear arsenals by 2/3 over the next 10 years. The agreement allows the option of destroying or moth-balling existing stockpiles.

And a high-altitude rescue operation took place in Oregon just a few minutes ago. A helicopter crew reached an unconscious snowboarder who had been stranded on Mount Hood since late last night.

With us now: Maria Echaveste, deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House, and Rich Lowry of "The National Review." I think as both of you know, the American Civil Liberties Union announcing today that it's preparing to file lawsuits against three different airlines, alleging discrimination against passengers in the way they were treated.

Maria, is profiling now just pretty much to be expected, at American airports going forward?

MARIA ECHAVESTE, FMR. CLINTON WHITE HOUSE DEP. CHIEF OF STAFF: well, it certainly was happening even before September 11. Indeed, when we were in the Clinton administration, this was a big issue in the Arab-American community. But obviously now, it's much more intense.

The question is, are they profiling with a reason, with sufficient basis? Are they using real police work to determine who to detain? And, frankly, I really wonder about that.

WOODRUFF: Rich?

RICH LOWRY, "NATIONAL REVIEW": Well, I have to disagree.

I don't think we are using profiling. We didn't use profiling in the Clinton administration. The Gore Commission came out against any meaningful profiling measures, which is one reason that four or five Arab young men from the Middle East were able to waltz on to airliners, no questions asked, on September 11. So I think these suits -- we obviously haven't seen the details yet -- but I think they have very little merit, because there's not profiling going on. Instead, we're searching very intensively every other grandmother who comes through a security checkpoint, which makes no sense.

ECHAVESTE: Well, actually, that's the problem.

What's going on in the airports right now is that people -- I know a young woman who works for the leading Hispanic organization that, every time she goes through the airport, in every single instance, she gets stopped. What's going on? What is the basis for having her being stopped? And this is repeated all over.

So, something is triggering. And what are those key factors?

LOWRY: Well, the key factors would seem to be obvious. Al Qaeda is basically an organization...

ECHAVESTE: Oh, are they obvious?

LOWRY: ... made up of young Arab men. They have explicitly told us, "We're going to come into your country and try to murder as many of your citizens as possible." So, it is just simple common sense to pay more attention to young Arab men from foreign countries who are getting on airplanes. That's common sense.

ECHAVESTE: But that's not going on.

LOWRY: Right. It's not. It's not going on. That's why we don't have profiling.

ECHAVESTE: I'm describing the situation that I know of a woman who is clearly triggering something. But this is a woman who is a lawyer, who is established. Why is she consistently harassed? And it is not just her. It's thousands of people.

(CROSSTALK)

WOODRUFF: My question is, should there be some profiling, Rich Lowry? Should there be profiling?

LOWRY: Of course there should.

One, courts have looked at this repeatedly and said there's nothing illegal about profiling. But, two, young men age 17 to 35 have been involved in almost all these Islamic terrorist acts in the United States since 1993. So, it's perfect common sense. And I think the average person cannot understand why their grandmother has to take off her shoes before she boards a plane. It makes no sense whatsoever.

ECHAVESTE: That's one place where I really agree with you.

I think what's going on in the airports right now is sort of a blanket stop anything, stop everyone. And there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. So, why don't we have good police work? Why don't we have good police work.

LOWRY: That's my point. But that's the opposite. Stopping everyone is the opposite of profiling. And that's why I think there's probably no merit to these suits, because profiling is not happening, obviously. We see it every day that it is not happening.

WOODRUFF: We're going to leave it there.

Rich Lowry, Maria Echaveste, thank you both. And have a safe holiday weekend, both of you.

LOWRY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you.

ECHAVESTE: Good to see you.

WOODRUFF: Question: Does Gary Condit still hold political influence back home? Bob Novak has the "Inside Buzz" on the race for Condit's seat in Congress.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Some "Inside Buzz" now on the proposed date for the 2004 Democratic National Convention: CNN has learned that top Democratic strategists met today in the office of House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt's chief of staff to talk about potential dates. Representatives for Senators John Kerry and John Edwards attended that meeting, along with a former aide to Senator Tom Daschle.

The meeting, we're told, adjourned without a final decision. Republicans this week announced that their 2004 convention will be held the week of August the 30th -- getting close to Labor Day.

Well, here now with some "Inside Buzz": our Bob Novak.

All right, I understand, in the wake of all these findings about the remains of Chandra Levy, you've been talking to some people about the political role that Gary Condit may still play in his congressional district?

ROBERT NOVAK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: One little-known fact is that Gary Condit, who was defeated in the Democratic primary by his former aide, Dennis Cardoza, has never endorsed Cardoza for the Democratic nomination.

Now, he got 37 percent in that primary. It's hard to believe that, with all the trouble Condit had. And the Republicans are making a huge play for the Condit vote. State Senator Dick Monteith is the Republican. He's behind in the polls, but single digits. Everybody had thought that this was going to be a cinch Democratic seat. It may be at least a contested election.

WOODRUFF: All right.

Back here in Washington, you're picking some Social Security politics up?

NOVAK: If you had followed at all the debate in the House of Representatives over the last couple of days on the supplemental appropriations bill, it didn't have much to do about appropriations. It had a lot to do about Social Security.

And there was an errant e-mail that was sent out to all the Democratic members. And it ended up in the hands of one Republican, saying they were going to scare the seniors and they so like to bash Republicans. Well, that's fun and games. But the truth is, the Republicans are scared to death of the Social Security issue. There are some Senate races where the Republicans are running ahead, but they are very worried about this Social Security issue.

Judy, you're going to hear a lot about Social Security in the weeks ahead.

WOODRUFF: All right.

Still in the Senate: some new information about Senator Robert Byrd and his spending priorities.

NOVAK: Well, the other day -- yesterday, actually -- John McCain and Trent Lott -- who are not soul mates -- got together to object to Senator Byrd trying to rush through his version of the supplemental appropriations bill. He had already added several billion above what the president wanted.

And he also added two little things in there that are kind of interesting. One is, he elevated Tom Ridge to Cabinet status in the appropriations bill, which is going to be a problem if it gets through to the final version.

And the other thing is, he has a provision in there for a humane treatment of dogs on puppy breeding farms. Billy Byrd, his 15-year- old dog that the senator thought highly of, died recently. And he wanted to get this provision in the bill. And so the Appropriations Committee does whatever Senator Byrd wants. But the Senate would not take that up and hurry it through. So, after their Memorial Day break, they'll have to consider whether they want to force President Bush to make Tom Ridge a Cabinet member.

WOODRUFF: Very, very quickly, finally: Republican, Idaho Republican Larry Craig not in favor?

NOVAK: Not in favor at the White House. He put in what the White House consider a killer amendment on the trade bill. It's still in the bill. And now he is blocking the insurance terrorism bill. He says the insurance companies can take care of themselves. One of the Republican critics of Craig said there's no building in Idaho over three-stories tall, so he doesn't understand the problems of terrorism.

WOODRUFF: We may be hearing from some Idaho people on that one.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: Bob Novak, thanks. Have a good Memorial Day weekend.

NOVAK: You too, Judy.

WOODRUFF: I'll see you next week.

And now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": A new poll finds Connecticut Governor John Rowland leading both of his potential Democratic opponents by wide margins. The Republican incumbent leads former State Comptroller Bill Curry 55 to 27 percent. Rowland also leads state Senate Majority Leader George Jepsen by 32 points. Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney is working to shed his venture-capitalist image. Romney spent the day with workers at a fish-processing plant in New Bedford. He plans future workdays helping construction workers and harvesting cranberries. A Democratic spokesman called the work events -- quote -- "phony."

In New York, a new poll shows Andrew Cuomo leading his Democratic opponent Carl McCall, but the race has tightened. The Marist poll shows Cuomo backed by 47 percent of state Democrats, while McCall has 38 percent. Cuomo led McCall by 17 points last month.

Well, that treaty signed today in Moscow shows the stark contrast between now and then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: Soviet offensive missiles in Cuba in 1962 brought the world very close to all-out nuclear war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: When we come back, Jeff Greenfield puts some perspective on today's pact.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: With the nuclear reduction treaty signed today in Moscow, our Jeff Greenfield says a look back at where we've been makes you appreciate how far the U.S. and Russia have come.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GREENFIELD: A U.S. president and a Russian leader sign an arms agreement in Moscow, not as adversaries, but as allies. Last fall, the U.S. director of Central Intelligence briefed the Russian leader at the president's Texas ranch.

Now, I know we are supposed to be used to this sort of thing by now. But still, to a child of the Cold War, it's still can seem nothing short of astounding.

(voice-over): It was Russia, after all -- the Soviet Union then -- under Joseph Stalin, one of history's worst tyrants, that was our adversary, our enemy at times, for close to half-a-century all around the world.

That fact drove almost every aspect of U.S. foreign policy. It was why America launched an unprecedented rescue operation in Europe after World War II, the Marshall Plan, to rebuild shattered economies, the better to withstand a Soviet political push. It was why the United States and Western Europe formed NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the better to withstand a possible Soviet military push westward. The U.S. fought two costly wars in Korea and in Vietnam under the theory that a communist takeover anywhere was part of a worldwide Moscow-directed communist movement. Soviet offensive missiles in Cuba in 1962 brought the world very close to all-out nuclear war. The Israeli-Arab conflicts, most notably the 1973 Yom Kippur War, threatened a U.S.-Soviet showdown, as Washington warned Moscow not to help the Arab side.

In fact, hard as it is to remember, in the early 1980s, the U.S. aided the very forces in Afghanistan that later would become the Taliban, because, at the time, they were resisting the Soviet invasion of that country. "The enemy of our enemy is our friend," America thought. But the enemy of our enemy turned out to be our enemy.

Now, as Bush and Putin sign a treaty to reduce drastically our missile stockpiles, we face a world where the threats no longer come from a nuclear adversary, but from the forces who may literally be working almost anywhere in the world, even here at home.

(on camera): So, does this mean Moscow is now a permanent friend of the United States? No. For one thing, they still may have very different interests in Iran, in the Middle East, in Europe.

For another, it is by no means certain that Russia will become a stable, free society. And a nuclear Russia in the hands of ultranationalists, who dream of restoring empire, would be a distinct threat to the United States, even if communism remains dead and buried.

Jeff Greenfield, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: The next steps in the Chandra Levy mystery -- up next: updating that case and what investigators hope to learn from the evidence collected so far.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: A public memorial service is expected Tuesday in Chandra Levy's hometown of Modesto, California. Here in Washington, meantime, the investigation continues into how Levy may have died.

With me now from "The Washington Post" newsroom: reporter Sari Horwitz.

Sari, you reported today in "The Post" that police never actually went over that area where the bones of Chandra Levy were found? How could that be?

SARI HORWITZ, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, a lot of people are wondering that.

Apparently what happened is, they said they had some kind of a grid of Rock Creek Park, which runs through the middle of Washington. And they apparently had a search a couple of 100 yards to the west of where her body was. They also had a search team a couple of 100 yards to the east of where her body was. But her remains were actually found in a gap between where the two teams searched.

We also found out that they were not using cadaver dogs in that area. And there have been some experts that said they should have been.

WOODRUFF: So, something here less than 100 percent professional.

Sari Horwitz, there's also been a local television report that perhaps she was tied up, restrained in some way. What is that based on?

HORWITZ: Well, it is interesting, because, although the police department did not search in that area last year when they searched other parts of the park, they are searching there now. They are out there, scores of officers. And they're finding various fragments.

And there was a television report that something that indicated that there had been some sort of restraint used with Chandra Levy was found. We asked the police officials about this last night. They responded very angrily. They said they would not confirm or deny that, but that they were angry that that kind of information would be released and that it would hurt an investigation.

WOODRUFF: Suggesting that perhaps there's something to it, although they're obviously not confirming it.

HORWITZ: Correct.

WOODRUFF: Is there an operating theory right now among the police?

HORWITZ: I would not say there is one main operating theory.

I think detectives are looking at several different theories. They're wondering whether Chandra Levy was lured to Rock Creek Park. You know the report that she was on her computer and looked up Rock Creek Park and the Klingle Mansion. There's also a theory that she possibly was walking in that area or jogging in that area and was abducted. There are several theories they're looking at.

And we're really all waiting for a cause of death to be determined by the D.C. medical examiner to perhaps give us more information.

WOODRUFF: And that's coming when? Do we know?

HORWITZ: Well, the D.C. medical examiner, Jonathan Arden, said to me today in an interview that he's not going to make that determination today or during the weekend, and that the earliest he will come up with a ruling -- the earliest will be Tuesday. We're probably looking into next week.

WOODRUFF: All right, Sari Horwitz with "The Washington Post," thanks very much. HORWITZ: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

HORWITZ: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: When we come back: Bill Schneider's "Political Play of the Week."

But first let's see what's coming up at the top of the hour on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Here's Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Thank you very much, Judy.

As millions of Americans prepare to get on trains, planes, buses and automobiles, the government is issuing another terror alert. We will have details and talk live with Marion Blakey of the National Transportation Safety Board. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spells out the grim consequences for the U.S. and the rest of the world of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. We will have more of my interview with him.

It's all coming up at the top of the hour right after INSIDE POLITICS.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We are not even very deep into the 2002 election season, but some people already are caught up in plans for 2004.

Our Bill Schneider is with us once again, this time to talk about one high-stakes game and how its's being played out -- Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: And the game is political chicken. The players are the two parties. The playing field is the 2004 campaign calendar. And the score: one "Political Play of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(voice-over): First, the Democrats scheduled their convention for mid-July. Republicans saw a trap.

MARC RACICOT, RNC CHAIRMAN: We would, if we held it as soon as possible thereafter, bump up against the Olympics by about a three-day period of time.

SCHNEIDER: That would endanger their bounce: the party's all- important post-convention lift in the polls. So, the Republicans countered this week by scheduling their convention for the end of August after the Olympics. Democrats saw a trap.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: That might be too long of a time between the conventions. We may lose our bounce.

SCHNEIDER: So, the Democrats have come up with a radical proposal: Have both conventions the same week. Dueling conventions, what a concept!

MCAULIFFE: Literally to have both candidates two nights apart, for each to put their own agenda out and let the American people decide who they want to be their leader.

SCHNEIDER: Turn the political process into a television ratings war. Talk about reality TV: two shows with over-the-top production values, dramatic entrances, goofy characters, emotional moments, rock star flash, Broadway pizzazz, elaborate choreography, and big finales. The viewers get to vote with their clickers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's make sure that our prosperity enriches not just a few, but all working families.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we will extend the promise of prosperity to every forgotten corner of this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHNEIDER: What's a ratings war without sex and violence? Republicans got violence. Democrats got sex. The Republican move this week puts Democrats on the spot. A July convention means a short bounce. An August convention means a GOP counter-bounce.

The Democrats got bounced around the calendar and the Republicans get the "Political Play of the Week."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Now, let's see. The conventions have music, dancing, color, special effects, everything but a plot. And that's the problem. A lot of people have stopped watching because conventions haven't been a story for years.

WOODRUFF: But we'll never take our eyes off of them.

SCHNEIDER: That's right.

WOODRUFF: That's for sure.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

WOODRUFF: Well, here's what's in the works for our Memorial Day edition of INSIDE POLITICS: a one-on-one interview with the man in charge of safeguarding the nation. I'll talk with Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge at the Vietnam Memorial.

Plus, a band of bikers will come rumbling into the nation's capital this weekend. I'll talk to three members of Rolling Thunder about their Ride of the Patriots. And Washington city leaders are doing all they can to lure tourists to the D.C. area, but how has capital sightseeing changed in the post-9/11 world? Join me Monday as I play tourist for a day.

CNN's coverage continues right now with "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Thank you for joining us. I'm Judy Woodruff.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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