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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Shelby, Pelosi Discuss War on Terror; Bremer, Lang, Jenkins Talk About Airport Security; Merrit, Alksne Debate Elizabeth Smart Case

Aired July 7, 2002 - 12:00   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad and 8:30 p.m. in Kabul. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.

We'll talk with those two top U.S. lawmakers about what's next in the war against terrorism in just a few minutes, but first, a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: And joining us now are two top members of the U.S. Senate and House Intelligence Committees: In his home state of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the vice chairman, Richard Shelby. And in her home state of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and the highest ranking woman in the U.S. Congress, Nancy Pelosi.

BLITZER: Senator Shelby, Congresswoman Pelosi, welcome, both of you, back to LATE EDITION.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: Thank you.

BLITZER: Senator Shelby, how worried -- we will get to Iraq, we'll get to other issues involving the Intelligence Committee in just few moments, but how worried are you as a Republican that these corporate scandals could hurt your efforts to win in not necessarily your personal effort, but Republicans' efforts in the House and the Senate in the fall elections?

SHELBY: Well, Wolf, obviously, it could be an issue. And we don't know where it would fall yet, on the Democrat or Republican side or no side.

But I do believe that the president needs to get in front of the issue. I think he's going to do that. And the way he can do that is come out for the toughest legislation, the toughest penalties, criminal and civil, that we can do to bring hope and responsibility back to our capital markets.

There are a lot of people, Wolf, that just don't trust the capital markets today, and for good reason. BLITZER: Is it time for him to find a new head of the Securities and Exchange Commission?

SHELBY: I'd leave that up to him. You know, Harvey Pitt, who is the chairman, is a very able person. He's been on every side of the issue. He was in private practice before then. He knows the issues.

And the question is, will he lead rather than follow? If he leads, if he gets in front of the issues, that's one thing. He knows where to go. And I hope he will. We'll know within a few days.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Pelosi, as you know, a lot of Democrats out there are salivating. They think that this is going to be a huge political bonanza in the fall elections in the House and the Senate.

But a lot of these scandals were brewing well during the Clinton administration. It didn't just all start when President Bush came to the White House.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think that the record will show, Wolf, that the Republican Congress was the enabler of some of these activities to go forward. The Republican Congress resisted the suggestions and recommendations of the then-head of the SEC, Arthur Levitt.

I think that it is -- that Pitt should not be in that job. He is a person who represented the association of accounting firms before he came into the head of the SEC.

So I think that even now, the bipartisan bill passed by the committee, the Banking Committee, in the Democratic Senate was not supported by Senator Gramm, an important figure on the Republican side when it comes to financial institutions.

We have to remember the impact that this has had on individual investors throughout the country. People have lost their pensions, their retirement, the prospects for their children's education and their children's future.

The American people need answers. Sure, jail terms that the president has recommended, criminal penalties, are an important signal. But that's about after the cat -- after the event has already taken place. What do we do to make things right for these people who have lost their pensions? Nothing.

BLITZER: Well, specifically...

PELOSI: We have to change the law so that it does not happen again.

And yes, I do think that, while we cannot all business with the same brush, and we don't want to do anything that would contribute to losing confidence in the markets, that we can go forward in a very, I hope, bipartisan and sensible way to not only punish those for what they have done, but to make sure it doesn't happen again, and to put people at the SEC in whom we can have confidence, not a former employee of the accounting firms.

BLITZER: In addition to firing Harvey Pitt as chairman of the SEC, Congresswoman Pelosi, what else specifically do you want to hear from the president when he delivers this speech on Tuesday?

PELOSI: I would like the president to support the bipartisan bill that was passed out of the Banking Committee a few weeks ago with all but four, including Senator Gramm of Texas, who, by the way, whose wife was on the auditing committee of Enron Corporation. Republicans are very tied to this.

And again, as I say, we're not painting all -- I don't want the president to paint all business with this brush. I want his speech, as I would want the Democrats and Republicans to work together, to increase confidence in the markets so that the value of people's retirement and the hopes and aspirations for their children from their savings is worth something.

But I think that criminal penalties is interesting, but it's not the only answer.

SHELBY: Wolf, let me just add one thing. Since I'm the number- two Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, the majority, as Congresswoman Pelosi pointed out, the majority of the Republican Senators supported the bill authored by Senator Sarbanes.

We moved it to the floor. And I believe that that is a strong bill. He's going in the right direction. And I believe we can improve it and make it even stronger.

BLITZER: Well, what else do you want to do, Senator Shelby, to make it even stronger?

SHELBY: Well, I think you've got to have individual responsibility everywhere we can get it. We need to close every loophole that we can imagine there. This is a very complicated piece of legislation. We've got our staffs, our lawyers looking at it. But not to weaken it, but to make it strong.

I agree with the congresswoman from California. It's very, very important that we bring credibility, which is integrity, to our capital markets. And we're going to have to do this by strengthening, in a big way, our accounting profession and also the analysts that make these comments about various stocks.

A lot of people have been hurt, and a lot more people will be hurt if we fail to do our job.

BLITZER: So you basically want to see people go to jail, not just necessarily pay a fine but actually go to jail and serve some hard time?

SHELBY: Absolutely, Wolf. I think you have to have accountability.

Let me tell you what, people could steal more money from these companies, from the people, from the investors, from the pension holders that have invested than the Mafia could ever steal in hundreds of years probably. They can do it in less time than you can blink an eye.

PELOSI: Wolf, if I may add something to that.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

PELOSI: I would like to say that, when we go forward with this, we all have to express our confidence in the markets. We want people to invest. We want small investors to continue to invest. But in order for them to do that, they need transparency and they need integrity.

People say to me, well, they didn't complain when their stocks were going up. But what was the reality of that? It wasn't even real.

So whatever we do and whatever the president recommends, I hope he will associate himself with the bill, as Senator Shelby has supported in the Banking Committee, but also demand transparency and integrity, so the markets will be invested in and people can take their risks up or down, be entrepreneurs but know that they are being dealt with honestly and with integrity and with transparency.

These men -- these people have to sign their own -- the managers have to sign their own annual reports, so they have associated themselves directly with the figures and facts that are in them, if they are, indeed, facts.

SHELBY: Wolf, the key to all this is integrity and honesty in the market. That will drive confidence in the market. Lack of confidence, lack of integrity go hand in hand. We need the integrity.

BLITZER: As you know, Senator Shelby, the markets have collapsed to the tune of $6 trillion over the past couple years. That means a lot of average investors out there, you know, people all over the country, a lot of your constituents, have lost a huge chunk of their retirement funds, of their portfolios.

SHELBY: Absolutely.

BLITZER: And there are a lot of angry people right now in the United States.

SHELBY: And they should be angry because of this -- the dishonesty and misleading accounting statements. They should be.

And we have the responsibility, Wolf, in the Congress to do something about it, and I think we're going to do it. We have to do it.

BLITZER: All right. Let's move on now.

Congresswoman Pelosi, I want to refer to a front-page banner headline, a top headline in the New York Times today, that reads, "U.S. To Vaccinate 500,000 Workers Against Smallpox" is their lead story.

Is this a good idea, to move beyond the 10,000 to 15,000 health care workers, the first responders originally discussed, to move on to hundreds of thousands of health care workers, first responders around the United States?

PELOSI: Well, first, let me say that -- getting back to your other issue, the issue of the downturn and the collapse of the stock market is not unrelated to the issue of terrorism. I think the uncertainty that exists now, plus the warnings from time to time, have also contributed to that collapse.

And that's why we have to get to a place, and indeed, we have an obligation to the families affected by September 11, to get to a place where we diminish the risk to the American people of terrorism and the impact -- recognizing the impact that it has in every aspect of our lives, whether it's personal or economic or, in this case, from a health standpoint.

I'll be interested to see the facts behind the decision, the justification, when we go back to Washington -- I'm going in a few minutes -- but when we go back to work tomorrow to that, because that's a very large number of people to vaccinate. And as you know, there are some risks involved. I hope that we're not doing this for symbolic reasons but that there is a real justification for it.

SHELBY: I think it's most unfortunate that we have to be at this place. I would have hoped that anyone that had possession of a smallpox vaccine -- and as you know, there's supposed to be only one or two or three or four left in the world -- that that would not be a threat to the American people or the people -- any people in the world.

BLITZER: We're going to take a quick break, but before we do, Senator Shelby, I want to let you weigh in on this New York Times story today, as well. A couple of weeks ago on this program, Dr. Julie Gerberding was a guest. Since then, she's been asked to become the head, the new head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I want you to listen to what she said. She seemed to suggest, on this program a couple of weeks ago, that they were moving, potentially, in this direction. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JULIE GERBERDING, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I think that one of the things that Secretary Thompson will be looking at is, how do we phase in a program of immunization? We're already immunizing people working with the virus in the laboratory situation, and we're talking now about immunizing the people who are at highest risk of coming into the very first cases, should we have an attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I guess the question to you, Senator -- you're the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the Senate -- how realistic, God forbid, is this potential of terrorists using smallpox against Americans?

SHELBY: I think you cannot rule that out, Wolf. We've talked about this before. It's always a chance.

You know, we thought -- we've been fighting the anthrax, trying to find out who was responsible for the anthrax. Well, anthrax is very important. It's deadly, but nothing compared to what smallpox would be.

So, our authorities are working in the right direction. The question is, who do we immunize, and how fast, and do we have the serum to do it?

BLITZER: What are the answers?

SHELBY: Well, we're getting there, but that will have to be made -- you know, there are 280 million people, more or less, in this country. Where do we start? And I think there have to be some priorities.

I don't think we should panic, but we should be moving in this same direction that the new director-to-be of the Centers for Disease Control spoke of and knows a lot about.

BLITZER: All right. Senator, Congresswoman, we're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more ground to cover on the war on terrorism.

Our conversation, including your phone calls, will continue when LATE EDITION returns. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Perhaps my biggest responsibility is to keep our homeland secure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush making note of this chief task. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're talking with two key members of the U.S. Senate and House Intelligence Committees, the Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama and the Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California.

Congresswoman Pelosi, how frustrated are you that it's been, what, nine months since the anthrax letter attacks against Senator Leahy, Senator Daschle, some top television anchors. Five people, at least five people we know, were killed as a result of that, those anthrax attacks. There doesn't seem to be much progress in this investigation.

Is the FBI doing its job?

PELOSI: I'm certain the FBI is doing its job. It's very difficult to trace. Yes, it is frustrating, but we are just all hoping and waiting to see what the answer is.

At first, everyone was certain it was connected to the international terrorist activity. We don't know that.

And it's hard to believe, Wolf, that something like this could happen in our country and we would not have the capability to identify the perpetrators immediately. But that is the case. And we just have to be patient.

And we get regular reports on the activities of the FBI in this regard, and I'm certain they're doing their best.

BLITZER: Senator Shelby, as you know, the FBI did search, a couple of weeks ago, the home of a worker from the Fort Detrick Army lab that deals with these kinds of agents, including anthrax, since then. They seem to have backed away from that trail.

What's going on in this investigation? What can you share with our viewers?

SHELBY: Well, as Nancy said, it's a very complex investigation. I believe the FBI is looking at every lead, possible lead. And at the end of the day, I believe, myself, that the FBI is going to turn up who is responsible for this. I could be wrong.

But, you know, you can narrow it down to a certain group, but you've got to have some kind of evidence out there to tie it all together. We have to look back on the Unabomber. It took his brother turning him in, basically, to catch him. Maybe we're going to have a break in this case.

But the FBI is working a very, very complex case here.

BLITZER: All right. Congresswoman Pelosi, this past week, the Iraqi government once again rejected United Nations' request to allow international weapons inspection teams to go back. It's almost four years since those inspection teams were kicked out of Iraq.

All this happening as the Bush administration appears to be moving closer toward some sort of strike against Saddam Hussein. Is this a good idea?

PELOSI: Well, I think it's a good idea for us to continue to insist that the inspectors be allowed into Iraq. Indeed, every country in the world that has a relationship with Iraq -- we are not among them -- but every world power should be demanding that from Saddam Hussein, rather than going to the next option, which is putting our young people in harm's way. Because the justification, as I understand it, is that he might be close to developing weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems to go with them.

So I think our efforts have got to be focused on supporting the U.N. and demanding and isolating Saddam Hussein if he does not allow the inspectors in.

As far as the plans to attack by land, air and sea into Iraq that has been revealed this week, well, I certainly see the element of surprise gone from that. But should it be determined that we should go into Iraq? And I would be very, shall we say, bearish on that. I would be reluctant to put our young people in harm's way, unless we could see a prospect for success, an exit strategy, a government that could replace Iraq, people working together there, what happens if there is an urban warfare in Baghdad, what happens if the Kurds do not weigh in from the mountains or even cooperate with each other to fight against Saddam Hussein.

I think that there are so many unanswered questions about our going into Iraq, and I think that those questions exist even within the Bush administration, that everyone is not yet in agreement. Far be it for me to speak for them, but I'm just saying from what I can see from the Congress.

So I think that we have to proceed with great caution and come down on the side of demanding that the inspectors be allowed in.

BLITZER: Where do you stand? Are you as concerned about those questions, Senator Shelby, as Congresswoman Pelosi?

SHELBY: I'm not that concerned. I am concerned about this regime remaining in power. I believe we need a regime change. I've spoken out on that before. I believe President Bush sees that, and a lot of the top officials -- I won't say all of them -- agree with him.

But if we're successful, if we put together the right plan and follow through, we will be successful militarily, and that will be the big thing in that whole area of the world. We can get rid of him. We've got to have the right plan. We've got to time it, but I leave that up to the administration.

I believe myself that if the Congress were asked, I believe that the overwhelming majority of the Congress, Republicans and Democrats, would support the president in that regard.

BLITZER: I want you to listen, Senator Shelby, to what one of your colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee said yesterday on CNN's Saturday Edition when he was asked about other potential threats out there that the U.S. might want to consider dealing with on an immediate basis. Listen to what Senator Evan Bayh had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: One of the lessons that we learned in Afghanistan is we waited too long to clean those camps out, and you allowed thousands of individuals to get training, disperse around the world to then come back and attack us.

There are camps in Lebanon that serve a similar function. And we have to look very carefully at those, along with any country whose pressure we can bring to bear, to try and eliminate that long-term threat to our country. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Just as the U.S. took military action against terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, Senator Bayh is suggesting perhaps doing the same thing to some terrorist training camps in Lebanon. Are you with him on that?

SHELBY: I think Senator Bayh is on the right track. I'd like to see more specifics. But he is a very valuable member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and he's very involved. He's saying, basically, as I understand it, what we all know, that if we continue to let these camps flourish, there will be more terrorists to come hit us, do more damage to us, to our own people and to our allies. Let's preempt them. That's what we should be thinking about.

And I think that's what the president was talking about and has talked about, as he reiterated the fact that we've got to go after the terrorists wherever they are.

BLITZER: All right, Congressman Pelosi, preemptive strikes against Hezbollah or other Islamic Jihad camps in Lebanon, is that something you want to see U.S. military forces engage in?

PELOSI: I haven't heard from the military on that, as to what the prospects of success would be and what the risks are to our young people.

But I think we've got to enlarge the issue. We're getting down now into tactics, and I think we've got to enlarge it back to strategy.

What is important is what the president has said, is that we will eliminate terrorism wherever it exists, terrorism against our country or our interests throughout the world and, indeed, terrorism against all people in the world. It has no place in a civilized society.

We have to increase our capability to know the plans and intentions of terrorists so that we can get to the root of the problem rather than risking our -- putting our people, our young people in harm's way and having untold civilian collateral damage. Because that will happen. Once you go in, you know that there will be civilian damage.

We're the greatest country that ever was. We can do things in a better way. This Fourth of July we celebrated that greatness. We proved to the terrorists that they cannot frighten us. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. And we can do things in a way that respects people and respects our own young people whom we would put in harm's way while getting to the root of the problem. And that is understanding their plans, their intentions and being much more sophisticated about it than, I think, we have been so far.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to take another quick break. We have a lot more to go through, including what happened at Los Angles International Airport last week. Was it an act of terrorism?

More of our conversation, plus your phone calls, when LATE EDITION continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby and California Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking woman, by the way, ever to serve in the United States Congress.

I hope, Senator Shelby, you show her that kind of respect, as I'm sure you will.

SHELBY: Absolutely.

PELOSI: Yes, he does.

SHELBY: She is a friend of mine. I have deep respect for her.

BLITZER: All right. Let's move on. Senator Shelby, an incident at the Los Angeles International Airport last week. On July 4, an Egyptian national starts shooting at an El Al ticket counter in LAX. Two people are killed. Several people are injured. He is eventually killed, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, after an Israeli El Al security guard shoots and kills him.

Was this an act of terrorism or an isolated criminal incident?

SHELBY: Perhaps we don't know yet. A lot of the early indications were that he was acting alone, but that has to be investigated, it's got to be vetted.

But I believe, Wolf, even if it were just this individual acting alone, it is a terrorist act, and we've got to do everything we can to prevent it.

I think it showed that somebody could get into the Los Angeles airport with a gun, which is scary, and do a lot of damage to life and property, take people's lives, and look what they're doing. And I think that could happen again. Let's hope it won't.

We've come a long way with airport security, but we're not there yet.

BLITZER: Would you move the perimeter, Senator Shelby, outside the security, put those metal detectors, the security guards outside the actual terminal, to make sure that people can't get into a terminal with a gun?

SHELBY: Well, I would do whatever it took, Wolf. I'm not an architect, an engineer, to retrofit the design, the retrofitting of the LA airport or any airport.

But they ought to do what it takes. They have to narrow the perimeter, to keep people from the danger zones, and I guess you do that by moving it back some way.

BLITZER: What about that, Congresswoman Pelosi? PELOSI: Well, I agree with much of what Senator Shelby has said. We don't know whether it's an act of terrorism. We have to look into it to find out. And we want to reduce the risk to travelers, because airports appear to be targets.

To the family of the people killed, it is a terrorist act, and it -- I think that we have to get back to the families. In my response to you, I would say that the families affected by September 11, when we have met with them, they have told us they have concerns when they hear a plane going overhead, that there's still deep fear. And of course it will be a long time to come before hopefully that will be eliminated.

But we can get them some answers. We can reduce the risk to the American people. We can do everything in our power to find out if this was an isolated act, as it appears to be. But nonetheless it is still a source of fear. The goal of terrorists, as you know, is to instill fear. We cannot let them have that success, even if it's just by an isolated gunman, as this appears to be.

Whatever it is, our mitigation or our enlarging the perimeter, whatever it happens to be, we'd have to review very carefully and make wise decisions and call upon those who know much more about these things than a member of Congress would, about how we protect the American people.

BLITZER: Senator Shelby, we only have a little time left. Did you have a chance to get briefed on that curious story this week, the stepson of Saddam Hussein coming to the United States from New Zealand and going to a flight training academy in Miami, the same place where one of those hijackers trained before 9/11? What was all that about?

SHELBY: Well, it could have been a big mistake, but because of the relationship, Saddam Hussein's stepson, you've got to check everything about it.

You know, I believe his stepson is a citizen of New Zealand, and if he hasn't gone back there, he's going back there.

I'm not sure that his intention was to create -- to be a terrorist himself, but we should leave nothing unturned in this investigation, like all of them.

BLITZER: What about that, Congresswoman Pelosi?

PELOSI: Well, this week we will go into our homeland security legislation, hopefully working in a very bipartisan way, moving quickly but not hastily, to protect the American people. Certainly, as we do this, we will see where our exposure is, where we're vulnerable.

I have no idea, I was not briefed on this. I was in Russia this past week on an intelligence trip, and I have no idea about what happened as far as the stepson of Saddam Hussein, is it, of Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER: Right.

PELOSI: What I do know, whether it's him stepson or somebody else's stepson, we don't want anyone who may have the wrong intentions going into those schools, exploiting the opportunity that is there, to do harm to the American people.

We will be addressing these and other issues in our homeland security legislation, which we hope to have signed into law by September 11, to have some answers for the families, to have some -- to reduce the risk for the American people, and to do so in a way that protects the civil liberties of the American people.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Pelosi, Senator Shelby, thanks for spending some time with us...

SHELBY: Thank you.

PELOSI: My pleasure.

BLITZER: ... on this Sunday.

PELOSI: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

Just ahead, questions about the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan after civilians are killed when a bomb falls near a wedding celebration. What's the risk of so-called collateral damage?

We'll get some insight from the former NATO supreme allied commander, General Wesley Clark, and the retired Air Force major general, Don Shepperd, when LATE EDITION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Joining us now with some perspective on the pitfalls and challenges of the ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan and a potential U.S. strike against Iraq are two men who have been in battle.

In Little Rock, Arkansas, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, and CNN military analyst, General Wesley Clark. And in Tucson, Arizona, the retired Air Force major general, also CNN military analyst, Don Shepperd.

Generals, thanks to both of you for joining us.

And let me read to you a little bit from that major article, the front page of the New York Times on Friday, possible signs that the U.S. is gearing up for war against Iraq. "President Bush has been briefed twice on the broad outlines of a possible attack against Iraq in recent weeks. Thousands of U.S. Marines in Persian Gulf units have stepped up their so-called Mach assault drills. Military buildup in several other Persian Gulf states are continuing. The U.S. has stepped up weapons production and is stockpiling weapons in the Middle East that potentially could be used against Iraqi targets."

General Clark, how close is the United States to launching military strikes against Iraq?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, clearly there are plans under way. There are plans being developed. The president has been briefed twice. I never briefed the president during the Kosovo operation on the so-called ground invasion of Kosovo. So we're moving along with this planning process.

The rest of the activities are more or less routine or they are to compensate for munitions expended during the Afghanistan campaign or shifting to give us greater capabilities to act without relying on Saudi Arabia.

But the briefing of the president, it's a very strong signal that we're moving ahead with the planning. I'd say there's some possibility of going ahead in near months. I think the most common belief is that we'll go in some time right after Christmas.

BLITZER: And I'm sure weather and other factors would be a major part of that.

The "New York Times" cites a document that is in the preliminary draft stages of outlining of various different scenarios. Among other things, General Shepperd, that the document says, according to the "New York Times," is this: "The document envisions tens of thousands of Marines and soldiers probably invading from Kuwait. Hundreds of warplanes based in as many as eight countries, possibly including Turkey and Qatar, would unleash a huge air assault against thousands of targets including airfields, roadways and fiber-optics communication sites. Special operations forces or covert CIA operatives would strike at depots or laboratories storing or manufacturing Iraq's suspected weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to launch them."

It looks like it's a pretty sophisticated document, doesn't it, General Shepperd?

GEN. DONALD SHEPPERD (RET)., CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it is a sophisticated document, Wolf. And this article by Eric Schmidt, who is a very good journalist for the "New York Times" and very careful, lays out what is again blinding flashes of the obvious.

This is the way you would go about attacking Iraq if you had to attack it today. Now, there is a big difference between Iraq this time and Iraq last time in the Gulf War. Iraq militarily is much weaker than they were during the Gulf War.

But the difference between throwing someone out of Kuwait and stopping and going all the way the Baghdad to capture or kill Saddam Hussein and change the regime and establish a new government, that's a whole different story. And it appears that we are taking at least the preliminary steps to get ready to do those things, Wolf.

BLITZER: General Clark, if that is going to happen, if the U.S. is going to try to overthrow, get rid of Saddam Hussein, capture him or kill him or have this regime change, won't he have an incentive this time to use biological or chemical, poison gas, the same kinds of weapons he didn't use the last time when the U.S. objective was simply to liberate Kuwait, not overthrow his regime?

CLARK: Wolf, I think that's exactly right. It's a very strange scenario that we're caught up in. We're building a tactical plan, an operational plan. We've announced that we want a regime change. We don't yet, or at least we haven't explained if we have it, the legal basis to invade another nation. We haven't handled the diplomatic piece. We don't have an exit strategy. And we are giving our opponent full advanced notice of our intent to do him permanent injury. I mean, it's a great scenario for him to take action.

Now if he does, that plays into the United States hands, because it gives us then the rationale we need to finish the job.

But that's not what Saddam Hussein is doing. What he's doing is he's strengthening his relationships with his neighbors and making it harder for us to come up with the diplomatic and legal underpinnings for this operation. So it is asymmetric warfare at its worst right now.

BLITZER: General Shepperd, you're a retired general in the U.S. Air Force. How important would it be for Saudi Arabia to allow the U.S. to use its airbases, facilities in Saudi Arabia?

I will put a map up and show our viewers the various countries around Iraq. If you look at Iraq in the middle there, there's Turkey of course to the north. There's some Gulf states like Kuwait and Qatar in the Persian Gulf.

But Saudi Arabia, the last time around, was critical. I assume it would be critical this time, or could the U.S. get the job done without Saudi cooperation?

SHEPPERD: Wolf, there are ways you can do it without Saudi cooperation, but it would be much, much more difficult. We've always found out ways to work with the Saudis in the past, despite differing objectives and different viewpoints, if you will, and I suspect we will this time.

One of the keys to such attack that was described in the New York Times would be the use of Saudi airspace. Now, you could do it without Saudi bases, from bases in Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, et cetera, Bahrain. On the other hand, it would be much more difficult.

So you would like to have access to Saudi bases and, clearly, access to Saudi airspace to make this work, Wolf.

BLITZER: You would also have the U.S. -- would also have aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, at least four, maybe even more, aircraft carriers, from which a lot of planes could launch, right, General Shepperd? SHEPPERD: Indeed. You'd have aircraft carriers in the Gulf. You'd also have land-based aircraft coming probably from the north and Turkey, as well as other bases in the Gulf, outside of Saudi Arabia. And, of course, you can always strike the United States with long- range bombers.

But, again, Saudi Arabia is key in this area, and you want their cooperation. You want their airspace. You want their bases, if you can get it. And we'll be working on that if we go ahead with this plan, Wolf.

BLITZER: General Clark, I got a lot of e-mail in the past few days from viewers saying that the New York Times did a major disservice to the U.S. military by publishing this plan, giving Saddam Hussein, in effect, all this advance warning.

What was the responsibility, in your opinion as a retired NATO supreme allied commander, for a publication like the New York Times, a news organization, to consider that suggestion?

CLARK: Well, you're asking me as a retired military guy. I tell you that the leak came from somewhere within the United States armed forces. Probably from someone who felt that the plan wasn't imaginative enough and didn't make enough use of special operations forces or precision airstrike or whatever. Someone leaked this plan from within.

Now, as far as the New York Times is concerned, they have to weigh it. It seems to me they're weighing two factors here. One is, yes, there's a certain compromise of security, but there's nothing in what they presented that does anything other than reinforce the statements of the president that he's determined for a regime change. We don't know any of the details of the plan, and the fact that we're considering 250,000 troops, it says the United States is serious.

As far as the other side of it is concerned, of course, this is a legitimate topic for national discussion. We're in unprecedented waters here. The president's announced a new strategic policy of preemption. We're talking about attacking a sovereign state. They have the right of self-defense. We haven't been attacked first by Iraq in this case.

So it is a legitimate national security debate that is going to ensue here.

I think the "New York Times" weighed it and considered that they had to take the side of responsible journalism here.

Wolf, I would say just one more thing on this, and being now part of a news organization and talking to a lot of other people in the news organizations, I know that the networks and the newspapers have lots of information that they do hold back from the public. And I think, after 9/11 in particular, the media has tried its best to be sensitive to concerns of national security.

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

Much more of our conversation, including what's going on in Afghanistan right now, and should U.S. military troops be immune, not subject to prosecution from the International Criminal Court? All that, your phone calls, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're making things happen. Things are getting better by the day. It looks like we're bringing a little stability to this region and rooting out the people that need to be taken out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A U.S. soldier on the front lines in Afghanistan offering his assessment of the military campaign there.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our discussion with the former NATO supreme allied commander General Wesley Clark and the retired U.S. Air Force Major General Don Shepperd, both CNN military analysts.

General Shepperd, despite that optimistic statement we just heard, there seem to be some setbacks, that collateral damage, that so-called friendly fire incident. A lot of Afghan civilians were apparently killed when the U.S. mistakenly bombed a wedding. The president has now expressed his deepest condolences to the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.

Is the situation in Afghanistan on track, or is it unraveling a little bit?

SHEPPERD: Well, any time you have civilian casualties in an area that you're trying to pacify and trying to gain the hearts and souls of the people, the Pashtun areas, it's going to be a setback, Wolf.

It's going to be a series of ups and downs in Afghanistan as long as we are there. We're not going to fix Afghanistan with military action. We're going to fix it with the international community over a period of time.

The problem with this strike was, no matter what the details come out being, it was a terrible mistake. We did not intend to hit civilians. The numbers are in question, and what we hit is also in question. Reports recently from the military side say this was a part of a planned area to go against four anti-aircraft sites, a mortar position, and a cave complex that had been watched since October.

Now, who authorized this strike, whether it was done from the ground, or whether it was done in self-defense, is all being sorted out by an investigation. But lots of details to be coming out.

We must fix this type of thing, if you're to gain the cooperation of the people in these Pashtun areas.

BLITZER: General Clark, as you know, yesterday the vice president of Afghanistan was assassinated. Another cabinet minister a few months ago was assassinated.

There's some concern that some U.S. experts have that the U.S. is simply not committed enough to peacekeeping, to nation-building in Afghanistan to let this situation unfold the way it's supposed to.

Listen, for example, to what Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a key member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said earlier today on Meet the Press.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: I fear that we may see this government and our efforts unwind here if we don't make the appropriate investment of men and effort and resources in order to sustain this.

If we lose there, if this goes backward, this will be a huge defeat for us symbolically in that region, in the world, for our word.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What about that, General Clark?

CLARK: Well, I tend to agree with Senator Hagel on this. I think we've had to very much constrict our commitment in Afghanistan.

As you know, we're not participating in the peacekeeping force. We've kept the peacekeeping force from going outside Kabul, and we keep our 4,500 combat troops there as a reserve backup, a contingency response force backing up the special forces, doing the reconnaissance and able to reinforce peacekeepers in Kabul if necessary.

This is a terribly difficult problem. It's a huge country. We don't speak the language. We're not from there. We've got to build up Afghan intelligence sources. We've got to train their police, and they've got to protect their own dignitaries. And these are all enormously difficult problems and probably beyond the level of commitment that we've made.

BLITZER: General Clark, as a former NATO commander, you see the debate in Washington, around the world about the Pentagon's plan to pull out of various peacekeeping operations, maybe even in Bosnia and Kosovo, if U.S. troops are subject to prosecution from this International Criminal Court. What's your assessment on that?

CLARK: General Dick Myers said we weren't leaving. He restated President Bush's policy: We went in together, we'll come out together from Bosnia. I think that's very important.

I know that the worst-case analysis of this is that American soldiers could be subject to whimsical or politically motivated charges, but the honest truth is, the United States intends to operate under international law. We helped build international law, we need international law. And we've got to find a way to work with this court and bring it around and make whatever modifications need to be made to it.

But I was subjected to a war crimes investigation in my role as NATO commander. It didn't bother me a bit. We had full integration of lawyers in all of our activities. We never did anything that was the remotest bit beyond the shade of the law. We would never want to do that.

BLITZER: All right. Let me just bring in General Shepperd, because we only have a few seconds left.

General Shepperd, a lot of U.S. military personnel, you know, are concerned that some Belgian or French judge may have a grudge and decide to charge U.S. troops with war crimes in a peacekeeping operation, almost as a whim. Is that a fair concern?

SHEPPERD: That's a fear, but, as General Clark said, we cannot pull out of peacekeeping worldwide. We are the worldwide peacekeeper, like it or not. What we have to do is work the legal systems to make sure that our troops do not become political pawns. But we must be subject to the rule of law wherever we are, and we will, Wolf, for sure.

BLITZER: All right, General Shepperd, we've got to leave it there, General Clark. Thanks to both of you for coming in on this Sunday, helping us better understand these very complex issues.

Coming up in the next hour of LATE EDITION: With the summer travel season in high gear, we'll get perspective on security. What has been strengthened, and what holes are still out there?

Then, are you looking for a good book to read this summer? Don't worry. We'll talk to three editors who will offer their top picks.

Plus, your letters, phone calls, Bruce Morton's essay, all of that when LATE EDITION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We'll get some insight into terror and security just a moment, but first, here's CNN Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta with a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Although safety measures have tightened significantly since September 11, a deadly shooting this past week at the El Al Israeli airline ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport demonstrates that security gaps remains.

Joining us now are three guests: Paul Bremer is a former United States ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism. Patrick Lang is a former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency analyst. And in Los Angeles, CNN terrorism analyst, Brian Jenkins with the RAND Corporation.

As usual, gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION.

And, Brian, let me begin with you. You're in Los Angeles. What is your reading on what happened there? Was this an isolated incident, or was this a broader act of terrorism?

BRIAN JENKINS, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, the answer to that is, we don't know yet. The investigation is continuing. You know, autopsies can weigh organs, they can't weigh motives.

We do know that the individual, the gunman that carried out this attack was an individual who had some economic difficulties, may have had some domestic difficulties. We don't know the state of his mind when he got into his car that morning to drive out to Los Angeles Airport.

The question is, is the killing by any Arab of any Israeli of any Jew in any airport automatically make it terrorism? I'm not sure that is the case. This is a fascinating area where the debate centers on motives, perceptions and public policy and how those shape each other.

BLITZER: Ambassador Bremer, as you know, the Israelis assume it's terrorism precisely the way the Brian just laid it out. The FBI is a lot more cautious in this kind of situation.

But if an Arab, in this particular case, is not working with any broader group like al Qaeda or Islamic Jihad or Hezbollah or anybody else, but is simply incited perhaps by the media or articles, whatever, to go ahead and go into an airport with two guns, ammunition clips and start randomly shooting people at an El Al ticket counter -- only two people, I say "only" were dead, a lot more could have been killed, he had a lot of ammunition there -- is it terrorism?

PAUL BREMER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM: Well, you know, you can look at the definition of terrorism, which is usually a politically motivated violence usually with an effort to influence a broader audience. It's not clear to me that he really falls into that legal definition of terrorism.

And I do think we have to be a bit careful, as Brian suggested. We should not assume that every act of violence in the United States from now on is automatically an act of terrorism, even if it is between, as it was in this case, an Arab and some Jews.

Let's wait and see where the investigation takes us.

BLITZER: What's your take, Patrick?

PATRICK LANG, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY ANALYST: Well, I come at this from a different aspect. I'm not really a counterterrorism person. I'm an analyst of Arab culture and history and things like that.

And I would say that if you have an Egyptian immigrant to the United States who is a Muslim who goes specifically to the El Al counter and shoots people, I think you can't treat as though he was some sort of empty organism. I mean, his life history and all of the ideas in his head went into that decision to do that.

And if you look at this guy, you can see that there are aspects of his history in the United States -- dislike of the flag, et cetera -- which indicate that he has a certain ideological hostility to the United States.

So I think we shouldn't just semantically split hairs here. I think individual terrorism is a possibility.

BLITZER: Individual terrorism.

And listen, Brian, to what the Israeli transportation minister, retired Israeli general, Ephraim Sneh, said specifically immediately after this incident occurred, his initial reaction. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EPHRAIM SNEH, ISRAELI TRANSPORTATION MINISTER: I don't say definitely, but we presume that when El Al passengers are attacked by a gunman at an international airport, we believe this is a terrorist attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And I know we reviewed that, but when the Israelis have that sense, that there could be in fact individual terrorism as opposed to organized terrorism, do they have a point there?

JENKINS: Well, it's entirely understandable that would be put in that framework from the Israeli perspective. I mean, there is a history of attacks on El Al, on El Al ticket offices around the world by Arab terrorists. Israel has also undergone the experience in recent months of individual bombers and individual gunmen carrying out random attacks in Israel. So when an attack like this occurs, it is entirely understandable that that would be, as the gentlemen mentioned, a reasonable presumption.

And it's still a reasonable presumption now for the investigation. It is a hypothesis. Now, there may be other factors that we haven't learned about yet which will provide us with a better understanding of this individual's motives. That hatred toward the United States, that hatred toward Israel, that hatred toward Jews in general may have been part of that make-up certainly is a possibility. But, again, we're going to have to content ourselves with waiting for the investigation.

You know, the matter of attaching labels here does count, and we ought not to be too promiscuous with this label of terrorism. We can't view every act of violence that takes place automatically as an act of terrorism, even when it seems to be a hate crime. We don't want add to the alarm that already exists in this country. We don't want to perpetuate the prejudices that exist in this country. And I think it would be corrosive to our concept of democracy if we were to automatically assume a political connotation behind every act of violence.

BLITZER: Take us inside, Ambassador Bremer, into this FBI investigation right now. They're the lead agency looking, I guess, into every little aspect of the shooter's life. I guess what they're looking for is any evidence that he was part of a broader conspiracy.

BREMER: Yes. They've now obviously searched his apartment, taken away, according to the press, quite a lot of materials there including some computer information. And they will be looking at telephone numbers and address books, trying to trace those numbers, find out if they lead them toward a larger conspiracy of some kind or toward known terrorist groups. They will be looking at every aspect of his life to see what more they can find out.

BLITZER: And they'll be going, Patrick, to Egypt. They're already in Egypt. They're trying to find out what the Egyptian government might know, his friends, associates, family members in Egypt.

How much corporation can the U.S. government, the FBI in this particular case, expect to get from Egypt?

LANG: I think they can expect to get a great deal. I mean, the Egyptian government's campaign against Islamic terrorists within their own country is one of the great success stories of police work in the Arab world. And they have effectively suppressed this movement and have records on just about everybody who was ever a problem in any way.

If this man had connection with Ayman Al-Zawahiri or somebody like that, who was mentioned, they will certainly have a record, and I think they'll be eager to cooperate.

BLITZER: Ayman Al-Zawahiri. He's the number two in al Qaeda, who's an Egyptian national himself. There was one report, one Arab newspaper suggesting there might be some connection. We have no idea whether that report is true.

LANG: No. But if there is such a connection, the Egyptians will have some record of it.

BLITZER: The Egyptians would know it, you're confident about that.

LANG: I'm confident.

BLITZER: Is there a need to expand the perimeter at LAX, Brian Jenkins, or other U.S. airports, to move those metal detectors outside, basically, so individuals with guns can't step into the terminal, as opposed to keeping the security perimeter inside the terminal when you're going to the actual gates?

JENKINS: Wolf, we have to make a distinction here between the security that we have at airports and security for airports.

The security we have now at airports is designed to protect the airliners themselves, to keep bombs, guns, hijackers off of airplanes. And we do that because an airplane going down can result in hundreds of fatalities. A hijacked airplane, as we saw demonstrated on September 11, can be turned into a missile that can result in thousands of casualties.

Protecting airports is a completely different matter. This is a public space. Now, we can decide to move that perimeter and to make it more difficult to carry out any act of violence inside that space, but that doesn't mean we're going to prevent terrorism. Physical security merely displaces the risk. It does not prevent the action.

There are many public places in our society where attacks could take place. If we look at the Israeli example, Ben Gurion Airport has layers of security around it, although the Israelis themselves admit that they might not have been able to prevent a single gunman from coming into the airport. But instead we see acts of violence, acts of terrorism carried out in shopping malls, at bus depots, in pizza parlors, on crowded streets in Tel Aviv.

BLITZER: OK, we're going to pick up that point in just a moment, but we're going to take a quick break.

Our security panel will be taking your phone calls. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're getting some insight into the strengths and weaknesses of U.S. security from the former U.S. ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism Paul Bremer, the former Defense Intelligence Agency Middle East analyst Patrick Lang, and CNN terrorism analyst Brian Jenkins.

Ambassador Bremer, you know, we're picking up on there's no such thing as 100 percent security, is there?

BREMER: That's really where you've got to start in this whole thing. We're not going to have 100 percent security. There will be terrorist attacks. Whether this was or was not, it remains to be seen. But there's going to be more terrorism in the United States.

And we can't protect all of the public places, as Brian Jenkins points out. We can't protect every stadium, every railroad station, every airport. We can do prudent things to make it more difficult for terrorists to conduct major terrorist attacks, and that ought to be the focus of our efforts.

BLITZER: And one of those things, Ambassador Bremer, look at what I put up on the screen, some results of a survey, failures to detect weapons, potential weapons, ammunition, at various airports. The best airports that came through were Miami, Newark, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, and John F. Kennedy airport.

But some of the other airports did not fair as well. Look at this, Cincinnati, Las Vegas, Jacksonville, Los Angles, LAX, Sacramento. People were -- undercover agents managed to sneak through weapons, ammunition, explosives, look-alike devices in relatively large numbers of times.

BREMER: Well, there's -- this, of course, is disgraceful and has to be fixed, and obviously the new Transportation Security Agency is going to have to get at that.

But you have to also remember that 92 percent of the flights in the United States have no security. That is to say, we're looking at commercial aircraft here when we're talking about this. But general aviation, or the private airplanes, basically until now have had no security whatsoever.

BLITZER: They did issue an alert this week saying, "Be more careful."

BREMER: Right, but that's -- that's a long way from having the kind of security that we eventually want to have around our commercial aircraft.

So we have a very long way to go on real airline security, real security here.

BLITZER: Brian, on that issue of general aviation, the smaller planes, the charter flights some of them obviously very big planes, you really don't need much security to get on board one of those planes right now. Is that a huge gap in the system?

JENKINS: It is a gap, and as Ambassador Bremer points out, it's a gap that we are just beginning to address. The problem is that we have thousands of private aircraft in this country, some of them quite large and capable of carrying quantities of fuel and other cargoes that would be dangerous if these planes were used in the same manner that the planes, the hijacked aircraft were used on September 11.

In many cases, these aircraft are simply parked at unprotected airports. And there's really nothing between that and basically locking the door or having the key to start the motor. We can do better than that.

BLITZER: Patrick, you do a lot of traveling around the world. You have visited a lot of airports. Ben Gurion, we all know, the Ben Gurion Airport in Israel, very secure, very tight, a lot of potential problems that they try to deal with.

But in your experience, American airports compared to airports in the Middle East, in Asia, South Asia, security is much tighter elsewhere around the world, including in Europe, isn't it?

LANG: Oh, that's true. Even with regard to Ben Gurion, though, I think if you, if you're in a car driven by a driver from a major hotel and you look good, the chances of you getting into the terminal unmolested by the security people are pretty high. I've been through there many times. And so the fact that somebody could have gotten in the lobby with a gun, I think, at Ben Gurion is quite possible. As with regard to your other question, yes, I think if you look around the world, you see that security is inherently tighter. Italians and Frenchmen and all sorts of people like that are accustomed to the sight of security policy with submachine guns walking around the terminals, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or something like this, and like to see that.

Americans were horrified to see the National Guard with weapons in their terminals. They could hardly wait for them to leave. This is probably something we're just going to have to get over.

BLITZER: Is it going to happen, though? Do you think the kind of security we see in Europe or the Middle East, elsewhere around the world, is going to come to this country, Ambassador Bremer?

BREMER: I think it probably will. I think we're going to have to always look for the balance between taking prudent measures and not doing things that upset our civil liberties. I don't, frankly, feel that my liberties are upset by having a National Guard there. I feel, actually, more comfortable, the way the Europeans do, seeing armed guards at the airports. And I think we will see that.

BLITZER: Brian, do you agree with that?

JENKINS: I agree. In the wake of this event in Los Angeles, whether it's terrorism or not, we will respond. We probably will see the deployment of both uniformed and undercover police to the airport.

Whether this will be taken over by the new Transportation Security Agency as part of their function or whether it will be conducted, as it is now, by local police departments, that's something that's going to be worked out.

It would be a huge additional mission for the Transportation Security Agency to take on that particular task. I suspect that we're going to see some combination of local, state and federal response to this particular incident.

BLITZER: All right, let's take a caller from New York.

Please go ahead with your question, New York.

CALLER: Yes, thank you.

Considering it's safe to say that you can't protect all Americans, do you believe, or does the panel believe, that it's a good idea that Americans do things themselves, such as purchasing gas masks, et cetera?

BLITZER: All right, Brian, what do you think about that?

JENKINS: Well, I think there has been a certain degree of alarm that has been created by these jolting threat announcements that continue to come from Washington. We have allowed a handful of terrorist thugs to erode confidence in our security, in our economy, in ourselves. And one of the manifestations of behavior is for people to go out and to buy gas masks or to buy weapons.

The fact is, look, while the probability of another terrorist attack is extremely high, and potentially may take place on American soil, the risk to the individual citizen is very low. People have to make their own decisions about how they're going to react to that. They can arm themselves, grab their gas masks and spend the rest of their lives under the kitchen table, or they can go on with their lives, with a realistic appraisal of risk.

BLITZER: Are you afraid, Ambassador Bremer, that Americans are going to go overboard, concerned about terrorism?

BREMER: Actually, I've been rather comforted by the polls that show most Americans accept that there will be more attacks, and most of them are not too panicked.

I don't think buying a gas mask makes much sense. You have to have it professionally fitted, and it's only useful if you know what kind of an agent you're playing with, whether it's a biological or chemical one. It really doesn't make -- it's a waste of money, basically, buying a gas mask.

BLITZER: Patrick, do you agree?

LANG: Well, I think that people shouldn't get too excited about this.

You know, one of the things that has surprised me in the post- 9/11 world is the discovery on my part that so many of my countrymen felt so very safe in the world before this. In fact, if you spent a lot of time overseas, in the harder places of the world, you never felt that level of security, which people evidently felt.

Now what we're experiencing here is more in the way of reality, as the way the world really is, and I think people just have to adapt to it. And going out and buying gas masks is not going to contribute anything much to your life really.

BLITZER: All right. I tend to agree.

But we're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to ask our security experts, more of your phone calls as well. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation about U.S. security and intelligence with the former U.S. ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism Paul Bremer, the former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Patrick Lang, and the CNN terrorism analyst Brian Jenkins.

Brian, I don't know if you saw the headline in the New York Times today saying that the U.S. government may decide to give about a half a million health care workers, first responders that smallpox vaccine, moving it up from 10,000 or 15,000, the number that was suggested only a few weeks ago. Is that overkill, or is that prudent? JENKINS: I don't know. I think we are moving in the direction of taking more and more preventive precautions when it comes to the possibility of responding to some sort of terrorist attack using biological weapons, and certainly smallpox is one at the top of the list.

I think that is the logical step, that we certainly do want to inoculate those who may be confronted with, as emergency workers, as health workers, on the front lines, with such a threat.

It is -- many Americans, I think, would like to see as the next step the voluntary inoculation of all Americans, which would reduce, of course, levels of concern for the future, and would also reduce the huge requirements of an inoculation if indeed there were an outbreak.

But all of this has to be put in context, as well, of broad health policies, in fact be part of an international health policy, and how we are going to address these diseases, whether they emerge naturally or whether they are man-made.

BLITZER: I think, Ambassador Bremer, all of us on this panel are old enough to remember when we used to routinely get smallpox vaccines, in the '50s or '60s. We all lived through that. Is it time for all 280 million Americans who want it to get that smallpox vaccine?

BREMER: I think it's probably a prudent step. The National Commission on Terrorism, which I chaired, predicted two years ago that we would see biological terrorism, and of course we have seen it, the beginning of it, with anthrax.

And it turns out that we now have an ability to produce or dilute the amount of vaccines we have available to be able to cover the entire population.

It should be voluntary, obviously, because there is a certain health risk, as there was, incidentally, when you and I got vaccinated, and I guess our parents decided the risk was worth taking. I don't see why people can't be offered that same opportunity now.

BLITZER: I remember it very vividly, the nurse in elementary school...

BREMER: Right. Poking your arm.

BLITZER: ... giving us those little smallpox vaccines.

Patrick Lang, a lot of our viewers don't know that, when you were in the DIA, before the Gulf War, you were one of the top Middle East analysts, one of the few, a handful -- you could count them, maybe, on one hand, if that -- who did in fact predict that the Iraqis would invade Kuwait only days before when everybody, all the big shots were suggesting the Iraqis were simply bluffing.

If the U.S. goes to war against Saddam Hussein this time, will he use weapons of mass destruction, whether chemical or biological agents or any other form?

LANG: Well, I think that, you know, if he were to do that, they would have to be either aircraft- or Scud-missile-delivered. You can expect that the United States Air Force would eliminate his air capability very, very quickly, in the event of hostilities like this.

And in the case of Scud missiles, we used to know exactly how many he had, how many were destroyed, how many were used up, how many were left, and the resulting number is very small. They haven't been maintained. They haven't been exercised. So I would say he probably has a very small capability.

So there is some possibility, I would think, with chemical weapons, especially, of a strike against Israel or gathering U.S. forces. These are really in the nature of point attacks. It isn't something that would stop us.

So I think he has to think carefully about this, because the last time around, thinking was that, if they did this to us, then he would probably suffer -- they would probably suffer a much more horrendous ending than they in fact experienced.

BLITZER: He could have done it the last time, but he didn't.

LANG: Sure.

BLITZER: Why didn't he do it the last time?

LANG: I believe, and a lot of us believe, that he was deterred by the possibility that, if they did this to U.S. troops, they might in fact face the use of nuclear weapons.

BLITZER: But if he's got nothing to lose this time, if he's going down, what's the deterrence?

LANG: Well, I don't think he has a great deal of capability. And there is still the possibility that the particular place where he is located might be the target of a retaliatory strike, which would end forever his career.

BLITZER: Ambassador Bremer?

BREMER: I'm less sanguine.

First of all, this is a guy who has used chemical weapons against his own people and against the Iranians.

Secondly, we've had no inspections now for almost four years, so we actually don't know where the Scuds are.

And thirdly, he did upload chemical artillery shells in the -- before the war. I think he was deterred by the statement that Secretary of State Baker made at that time that suggested we would be prepared to use nuclear weapons in response.

BLITZER: All options were open. BREMER: All options were open, and he would face a devastating response, I think was the words that the secretary used.

BLITZER: Brian, you've got the last word on this. What's your assessment?

JENKINS: I'm afraid I'm going to sound like the Roman senator Cato, who ended every speech with "Carthage must be destroyed." We have the real enemy right in front of us now, the imminent danger posed by the al Qaeda terrorists. We have been successful thus far in dealing with them in Afghanistan, but for the immediate future, we have to stay focused on that particular threat.

We are in a more complex phase of the war right now against terrorism. It's going to require more international cooperation and coordination. Events are going to conspire to distract us. While we deal with these other national security events, other than national security threats like Iraq, we still cannot afford to lose our focus in going after relentlessly the remnants of al Qaeda.

BLITZER: All right. Good point. Brian Jenkins, thanks to you for joining us, Patrick Lang, Paul Bremer, three excellent members of our security and intelligence panel. Appreciate it very much.

When we return, books for the beach or anyplace else you want to relax this summer. We'll ask three editors what tops their list for the hottest summer reading. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

If you're looking for a good read during your summer vacation, you're at the place you want to be right now. Our guests can help. They're the book editors at three of the top newspapers in the United States: "San Francisco Chronicle" book editor Oscar Villalon, "Chicago Tribune" book editor Elizabeth Taylor -- it's worth noting she's actually met the famous actress who bears the same name -- and "Washington Post" book editor Marie Arana. She's also the author of a national book award finalist, entitled "American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood."

Welcome, all of you, to LATE EDITION.

Elizabeth Taylor, let me begin with you. We asked all of our book editors to come up with some of their recommendations for the hot books, the good books that you should be reading this summer. Let me put up on the screen some of your suggestions, Elizabeth, and we'll show our viewers what you're recommending right now.

One book, entitled "Prague" by Arthur Phillips, "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold. Non-fiction: "The Perfect Store" by Adam Cohen, a book about eBay; "Why I Am a Catholic" by Gary Wills, "The Pirate Hunter" by Richard Zacks.

Let's talk about one of those books that you recommend, "Prague." What's so good about this novel?

ELIZABETH TAYLOR, CHICAGO TRIBUNE BOOK EDITOR: Well, I generally prefer not to dwell on an author's biography but in this case it sort of fits because it's a way to understand his novel.

Arthur Phillips, as a young man, grew up in Minnesota, went to Harvard, has lived much of his life abroad, was a child actor and a five-time Jeopardy champ. So with this package, you have a really kind of quirky novel.

First of all, the novel, titled "Prague," is not really about Prague. It's actually set in Budapest. And it focuses on a bunch ex- patriots, Americans and one Canadian, who really just are kind of bummed out to be stuck in Budapest when they really just want to get to Prague. And it's a funny book, and it's sort of about this interesting culture. And it's sort of like, you know, "The Sun Also Rises" meets "Friends."

BLITZER: Well, it sounds like fascinating book.

TAYLOR: It is.

BLITZER: Oscar, let's take a look at some of the hot books, some of the good books that you're recommending. We'll put that list up on the screen, as well. Among the various books, "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress," "Edgewater Angels," "Atonement," "Female Trouble," "Lovely Bones." I'm fascinated by that book. You have another book, a non-fiction book, entitled "On Koba the Dread" by Martin Amis.

What about "Lovely Bones"? Tell our viewers about this book. It's got a lovely title but it's not necessarily a lovely subject.

OSCAR VILLALON, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE BOOK EDITOR: No, not at all. "Lovely Bones" is Alice Sebold's first novel. She wrote another book a couple years ago, a memoir called "Lucky" that dealt with an attack on her when she was in college.

So, kind of, this is almost an extension of that, in terms of theme, because it tells a story of a 14-year-old girl who's murdered by a serial killer. And where normally that might be pretty much the end of the book, the girl now goes up to heaven and she can see how her family deals with her horrible death. But not only can she see how family deals with horrible death over the years, but she can also see what her killer's up to.

And as the years go by, we also get -- it becomes like the cat- and-mouse game as she witnesses his further killings and how he is getting closer and closer to maybe being caught.

It's great. I mean, it's great in two senses. One, you have the thriller sort of aspect of it, of the murder, you know, will the killer be caught. But you also see how people come through grief, how even the most horrible circumstances, things you couldn't possibly imagine that people could survive, you do somehow survive.

BLITZER: All right. Let's move on and talk to Marie.

You've got some books on your recommended list, your summer picks. Let's put those up on the screen, as well. In the non-fiction category: "Fall of Berlin: Supreme Command" by Eliot Cohen, "Trail of Feathers," "Fire Lover," the Joseph Wambaugh book. Among your recommendations in the fiction category, "Everything is Illuminated," "A Simple Habana Melody," "Atonement," "The Dive From Clausen's Pier."

In the non-fiction area, Eliot Cohen's book -- and I'll be upfront. He teaches at Johns Hopkins University. I am a graduate of the School of Advanced International Studies. He's a friend of mine. But what's so good about this book?

MARIE ARANA, THE WASHINGTON POST: This is a book, I think, that's really appropriate for the time. What Eliot Cohen has done is he has taken four great statesmen -- they are George -- well, Abraham Lincoln first, the most ancient; George Clemenceau, Winston Churchill, and David Ben Gurion.

ARANA: And what he has done is he has analyzed exactly why these four statesmen really excelled in war time. Of course a wonderful topic to be explored today, a very topical one.

What he finds, which is really interesting, is that we have assumed that in war time, statesmen sort of give everything over to the generals and the generals run the war. And by giving it up to the generals, the war is won and the statesman has done the right thing.

What Eliot Cohen finds that is really interesting is that all of these four, who were splendidly victorious and who really managed the war well, never really let the generals have free reign. It was because these politicians, these statesmen could see the big picture, really, that they managed the strategy so well.

And I think that has a lot of application today, not only for President Bush's White House and managing the state of affairs today, but also for leadership in general. So I think this is something that applies to business or to management or to education. It's a metaphor really for how to manage in stressful and dangerous times.

BLITZER: And I believe his point, as you say, his main point, was to have a successful military campaign you need a strong and brilliant political leader.

ARANA: Correct, correct, who can really draw back and see the greater picture.

Summer reading? I say yes, because it's -- I take summer reading as being the sort of project where you learn something about something you're not necessarily working on at the moment. This is a splendid opportunity, I think, to draw back and see something of the greater picture of something that we're undergoing today as citizens.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break, but we have a lot more fun stuff to talk about. The hot books of the summer, what you should be reading, that you want to read. Our panel of book editors will also be taking your phone calls. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

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BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking about some of the best summer books with San Francisco Chronicle book editor Oscar Villalone, Chicago Tribune book editor Elizabeth Taylor, and Washington Post book editor Marie Arana.

Elizabeth, take a look at the New York Times Book Review section today. You should forgive me for referring to the New York Times Book Review section.

(LAUGHTER)

But in their best sellers list, when it comes to fiction, look at these books -- "Hard Eight," "The Beach House," "The Emperor of Ocean Park," -- the Stephen Carter new novel -- "Fire Ice," "In the Mountain." If we take a look at the bottom five in the top 10, among the books, the "Nanny Diaries," "Mount Vernon Love Story," -- what is it, "The Shelters of Stone," "The Summons," "Dragons of a Vanished Moon."

I didn't see any of those books on any of your book lists, recommended book lists that you offered. Are these books any good?

TAYLOR: Well, I think -- isn't "The Emperor of Ocean Park" on my list?

BLITZER: Ah, yes, you're right.

TAYLOR: It is.

But I guess I have a sense that all of those books on the best seller list are getting plenty of attention. But you know, my job is sort of to try to be -- I guess I'm characteristically just on that side of the underdog in trying to bring books to people's attention, you know, books that are overlooked and, you know, just need someone rooting for them.

BLITZER: One book you do like is the book, "The Perfect Store," about eBay by Adam Cohen. You once co-authored a book with Adam Cohen about Mayor Richard Daly in Chicago. But tell us what's so good about "The Perfect Store."

TAYLOR: Well, Adam, yes, you're absolutely right, Adam is my best friend, even though we did work on a book for 10 years together. And this is to the flip side Marie's point about being topical. This one is sort of an escapist book. If you're tired of tales about Enron and corporate greed and ImClone and want sort of a counterintuitive view of the Internet scene, this is the book.

It's a -- eBay, of course, is the most successful commerce site, and you can get everything from new eye glasses to Ford trucks on this site, college memorabilia to waffle irons. And Adam traces this little company from, you know, its beginning in a garage selling a laser pointer to becoming a, you know, multi-billion-dollar business.

But really, it's about all of these ordinary people across the country who, because of eBay, sort of find themselves. My one favorite is a lady in Indiana who starts collecting all of this bubble wrap. And then she realizes that, oh my gosh, she herself has a business there. And she starts selling the bubble wrap out of her house, so she can actually take care of her kids. And she has a business of 30 now. And in fact, every woman's dream, her husband now works for her.

It's a really fun book.

BLITZER: Oscar, what about the book "Atonement"? It's on your recommended list. What's so great about this novel by Ian McEwan? Am I pronouncing his last name right?

VILLALONE: Yes, it's Ian McEwan. There's a lot of things that are great about that novel. I think this maybe about the seventh or eighth novel. McEwan has been writing for a while. And frankly, it's a masterpiece.

What he's done in the book, it tells the story of a British family, rich, well-to-do family, right before World War II. And it gives you this glimpse of this sort of life that they have, very ideal, very lovely, you know, nice dinners, the whole bit, butlers, et cetera, et cetera.

And what starts off as being a book about love that's been squashed, but never really quite got off the ground, but then it shifts gears and goes into Dunkirk and the disastrous retreat of the British from there and the horrors of war.

And then little by little, once you start piecing the book together, you realize it's more than its parts. It's not just about a love story, and it's not just about war. It's really about, one, the way we -- the way we compromise -- or not compromise really -- the way we make up for life's deficits. And two, the way literature plays into that. And once you tie the two together, you get a pretty good glimpse of why it is even that literature matters.

It's a stunning book.

BLITZER: Marie, you loved the book, "Dive from Clausen's Pier," by Ann Packer, don't you?

ARANA: Well, certainly our reviewer loved it. And this is a wonderful book. It's a first novel which makes it even that more wonderful, because it's really beautifully told.

But it's a classic story. Girl from small town goes to the big city, but look at what she does with it. It is the story of a young woman from Madison, Wisconsin. Her life has been utterly predictable throughout. She is 23 years old. She is going to marry her boyfriend of many, many years through school.

And there is a terrible incident that happens. It's the dive from Clausen's Pier, which renders her boyfriend paralyzed.

She goes off to New York, and in a sense, the whole book is what is our responsibility to the people we love, what is our responsibility to ourselves? How should she take on this enormous, difficult love that's just -- now it's become very complicated, or should she think about herself?

It addresses a lot of questions about the right thing to do. We don't know, until the bitter end, what she's going to decide. She goes into a completely new world in New York City, and her life opens up as it never has before. It's a wonderful book and quite -- the language is lovely.

BLITZER: Let's take a caller.

Go ahead, caller. What's your question?

CALLER: Yes, hi.

BLITZER: Go ahead.

CALLER: I'm a big fan of biographies and autobiographies. Are there any new biographies or autobiographies due out this summer that you would recommend?

BLITZER: Elizabeth, what do you think?

TAYLOR: Well, that's a great question, because it gives me an opportunity to mention one of my favorites, which is from Gary Wills, "Why I Am a Catholic." This is just, you know, a wonderful book from one of the country's most important writers and intellectuals.

The publication date was pushed up. It was originally intended to come out in the fall, but because of all the sort of events with the Church and pedophilia and the fact that the Church is so much in the news, I think it was brought out much more quickly.

And the book is not -- the book is "Why I Am A Catholic" by Gary Wills. And it's...

BLITZER: All right. Well, let me bring in Oscar and ask him. What book, Oscar, are you reading right now?

VILLALONE: "Koba the Dread," actually, which I'm just about ready to finish, from Martin Amis, it's one of the books, also, that I'm recommending. It's called "Koba the Dread: Laughter of the Twenty Million." It's about the legacy of Stalin. It's something of a sequel to Amis' memoir from a couple of years ago called "Experience."

And what he does in this is examine, what does it mean that 20- million-odd people died during Stalin's reign? And, I mean, is there any sort of -- how can you comprehend this? How can you wrap your mind around this?

At the same time that he's exploring this, he's also trying to figure out why people, you know, why would they follow it to believe it, I mean, why was this allowed to happen?

And then he looks at his father, Kingsley Amis, and shows you how he was at one point a fellow-traveling member of the Communist Party, and how he ended up becoming very right-wing, a rabid Tory, frankly.

BLITZER: Marie, maybe you can explain this to me. I'm always fascinated when I look at these best-seller lists, whether in Amazon or the New York Times or The Washington Post Book World. Some books, out of nowhere, become huge best-sellers. Other books, with enormously well-known authors, die and don't do well at all.

What makes a book a hot best-seller?

ARANA: Well, you know, it's a phenomenon that you can't really plan for. I mean, it's quite extraordinary in the book business, because it's a business that still has so much room for happenstance, for error, for that sort of serendipity, when something takes off.

As much as a publisher can plan for something to succeed, there will be the book that comes from nowhere. And by word of mouth, by people talking to each other and recommending it to each other, it becomes a best-seller. We often have that happen on The Washington Post best-seller list, and it's really surprising to see these books bubble up.

There is, for instance, on our list, on The Washington Post's Book World list is a book that I recommended for my fiction list, which is "Everything is Illuminated," by Jonathan Safran Foer, a 24- year-old kid. He wrote this novel -- I believe he began it while he was a junior at Princeton, and here it is. It's published. No one has ever heard of this man before, this young man, and yet it is such an original book, a book that takes in history and it's really...

BLITZER: A hot book, and he's a local product. He...

(CROSSTALK)

ARANA: He's a local product, he's from Washington.

BLITZER: He grew up at Washington, went to Georgetown Day School.

ARANA: Right. And out of nowhere.

BLITZER: Out of Nowhere. He's going to do well.

Thank you very much, Marie, Oscar and Elizabeth, three of the best in the business. We now know what to read, thanks to you. Thanks for joining us, and have a wonderful summer reading a lot of those great books.

VILLALON: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up next, your letters to LATE EDITION, plus Bruce Morton's essay: The Arab world at a crossroads, what path will it choose? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Time now for Bruce Morton and some thoughts on the state of the Arab world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United Nations Development Program has issued a report on the Arab countries which may surprise you. It notes progress. Life expectancy, for instance, has increased about 15 percent over the last 30 years. It notes that Israel's illegal occupation of Arab lands is one of the most pervasive obstacles to progress.

But then it takes the Arabs themselves to task. First, for what you might call a freedom gap. Critics said after President Bush urged the Palestinians to elect new leaders and independent legislature, judiciary and so forth, that most Arab countries don't have those, and the report agrees. The wave of democracy, which swept Latin America, East Asia and Eastern Europe in the 1980s and '90s, it says, barely reached Arab states.

Democracy and human rights appear in constitutions, the report say, but are neglected and sometimes disregarded in real life. Freedom of expression and association are curtailed.

Second, the report says Arab states should empower their women. Yes, women's literacy is three times higher than it was in 1970, but more than half of Arab women are still illiterate. And society, the report says, suffers when so much of its productive potential is stifled, resulting in lower incomes, lower standards of living.

Third, an education gap. Sixty-five million Arabs are illiterate, a rate much higher than in poorer countries. Ten million children between six and 15 are out of school. And there's no access to technology. Six-tenths of 1 percent of the population uses the Internet; 1.2 percent have personal computers.

The report isn't talking about religious schools of course, but about the kind of education which leads to jobs. The population, it says, it growing more quickly than job opportunities.

What's interesting is that the report was written not by U.N. bureaucrats, but by Arab scholars. They want their region to compete, and so should the rest of us of course. Whatever the justice of the Palestinian cause, suicide bombers almost must be young people who don't have much to look forward to, who don't foresee good lives for themselves. The report argues that, absent change, they're right .

There are limits to what the West can do, of course. Advice from the United States surely won't be welcome, but the United Nations may be able to offer some and some money to try to encourage those Arab moderates who want their countries to live in this century with its technologies and its problems and not just crouch over the fires of old hatreds.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Bruce.

Now time for your letters to LATE EDITION. These on school vouchers:

Karen writes this, "I see nothing wrong with giving lower-income families the same choice that middle- and upper-income families have. Vouchers are simply a way to give these people the same advantages as wealthier families. It is essentially not any different from giving a tax credit. A tax credit is given, and it is up to the individual to determine how he or she wants to spend it."

But R.S. counters with this: "Does anyone care about or speak for the children of parents who are uninterested or unable financially to take advantage of vouchers? They will be left behind even more than they are now."

As always, we welcome your comments. Our address, lateedition@cnn.com.

It's time now to say goodbye to our international viewers.

In the next hour of LATE EDITION, we'll get some analysis on the hot legal issues of the week, including the Elizabeth Smart investigation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll talk about the week's major legal developments in just a moment, but first here is CNN's Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta with a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: And now, time for some of the big legal stories of the week. Here to help us sort through them are the criminal defense attorney Jeralyn Merrit. She joins us from Denver. And here in Washington, the former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne.

Welcome to both of you.

Cynthia, let me begin with you and ask you -- I know you've spent a lot of time looking into the whole sad investigation of the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart, the 14-year-old in Utah. It's now been more than a month that she's been missing. Why is it taking so long to even name a suspect?

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, they haven't named a suspect yet. What they are doing is they have this handyman, ex-con, in and out of jail for 30 years, that they're looking at very seriously, and they are sort of shaking the ex-con tree. They're looking at all his other buddies, looking for that person who doesn't have an alibi for the night, who probably has a sexual history in his criminal record.

BLITZER: But doesn't he -- Richard Ricci we're talking about now.

ALKSNE: Right.

BLITZER: But doesn't he -- his wife says she was with him that night, doesn't she?

ALKSNE: She does say that, but she also says some other strange things, and he has not -- he's taken two polygraphs, presumably hasn't passed them, otherwise he wouldn't continue to keep polygraphs.

And the cops believe he's their best lead. He's the man who had access to the house. He told some of his neighbors, you know, maybe I'm going to be a suspect. He told this one neighbor in the trailer park next to his that he -- the girl was very beautiful. You know, sort of a little bit of a preoccupation, according to the neighbor. So he's the best suspect they have, and what they have to do is look at every single person he's ever been arrested with, everybody who was on his cell-block.

It turns out, this neighborhood, they're sort of like an ex-con group of guys who were being the handymen in this neighborhood.

BLITZER: In this trailer park?

ALKSNE: Yes, in the neighborhood where she disappeared. And it's the best they've got, and they need to go with it.

BLITZER: Jeralyn, there was a lot of attention focused only a few weeks ago on another potential suspect, Bret Michael Edmunds, and he wound up in a hospital in West Virginia, and nobody's paying much attention to him now.

Do we fall into a trap, those of us in the news media who are trying to cover this story, by simply following these potential leads that the police may be throwing out there?

JERALYN MERRIT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, we do if we're deciding that these potential leads are guilty, or that they likely committed the crime.

For example, one of the problems with the handyman is that he did some remodeling work at the Smart residence, and the Smarts sold him a Jeep. So the Jeep that he was driving, even should there be DNA or other evidence of Elizabeth Smart in it, isn't going to mean anything because they can't date the DNA.

The handyman, the night -- not only does his wife give him an alibi, but the night before Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped, or the night that she was kidnapped, the missionaries came over to their home, because his stepson was being baptized the next morning. And so they were preparing for the procedure.

You know, it's really hard to believe that this man would go to sleep knowing that he was getting up to attend this baptism and decide to go out and kidnap someone.

Despite his lengthy record, he has nothing with respect to kidnapping or sexual offenses in his background.

ALKSNE: I would agree with that, and I think that's why they're shaking the con tree.

On the other hand, he has this other weird story about the car, and his wife denies that he picked up the car when clearly he did. And then, there is the removal -- he took this car in to be repaired, and he removed seat covers. Nobody knows where those seat covers are. A second man helped him get away from the car-repair shop with these seat covers that he removed. Nobody knows who the second man is.

So the police are smart to go down this vein, although I would agree with Jeralyn, it doesn't seem to me that, if he is involved in this, he was acting alone, and they have more work to do.

BLITZER: So, Jeralyn, might what you're suggesting, and what Cynthia, I think, is suggesting is, he, this individual, Richard Ricci, might not be the suspect, but maybe, by shaking him down, he could help point to perhaps someone else?

MERRIT: I think that's true. And I also think, you know, he denies that he took the car and removed the seat covers. Maybe he lent the car to someone. Maybe by leaning on Ricci, they can find out who that person was.

ALKSNE: One of the amazing things, as we look at this story, is Ricci is continuing to talk to the police. He has 26 hours of interviews that he's given the police, which is sort of outrageous for a person who has multiple felonies, has spent his entire life in jail. They're clearly looking at him as a suspect. And why he continues to talk to the police sort of amazes me, to give statements, only because, as a prosecutor for so many years, I learned how to take advantage of all of those statements.

So I'm sort of surprised as the investigation goes on that he continues to talk...

MERRIT: Maybe he's innocent.

ALKSNE: ... but talk he does.

Let me tell you what, if you were an ex-con in this situation, would you ever advise one of your clients to continue to talk to the police, Jeralyn? I don't think so.

MERRIT: I probably wouldn't, but, you know, I've seen his...

ALKSNE: Of course not, because you're a good criminal defense attorney.

(LAUGHTER)

MERRIT: I've seen his counsel on TV, and his counsel seems to just say, "But the man is innocent. He has nothing to lose. He wants to talk to the police. He's not guilty."

ALKSNE: Right. And he may be the one making the determination. The counsel may be saying, "Don't talk to the police" and...

MERRIT: Right .

ALKSNE: ... ex-cons have a tendency to think they're so smart, which is why they're ex-cons and they continually go back to jail. But that's an interesting twist in the story.

MERRIT: Sure.

BLITZER: As far as you could tell, Jeralyn, is the police department, is the investigation, local law enforcement in Salt Lake City, are they doing a good job?

MERRIT: You know, I think they are doing a good job in this case. It seems like they are not rushing to judgment. It seems they are refraining from labeling the people they're looking at as suspects.

And what you want in a police investigation like this is for them to first look for all of the evidence and then develop the theory. The problem is when they rush to judgment by picking out a theory and then looking for facts that are going to support that theory.

ALKSNE: You know what else, what I also like about it is, as somebody who has been in the business for a while, is they're tough. They're looking, as they shake this con tree, they're not just bringing them in and sort of pussy-footing around. "Wouldn't it be nice if you would tell us?" They're just violating their parole. They're putting them in jail. They're letting this community, as they shake the ex-con tree know, that they're not going to put up with anything. And they're going to get the answer to this. And they're being very tough, yet fair. I think they're doing a good job.

BLITZER: Do you think that we're going to know something concrete anytime soon?

ALKSNE: You know, I would like to think so, but the indications are that they're going to charge this guy Ricci with a burglary, an old burglary that he's already confessed to, which was really that difficult to charge him with since he's confessed to it, having nothing to do with her disappearance.

The fact that they're going that way leads me to believe they don't have anything else to do and so they're trying to come up as they shake.

I don't think we're going to know anything any time soon.

BLITZER: I was surprised, Jeralyn -- I'm sure you were as well -- that someone with this kind of criminal background could be hired by a prominent member of the community in Salt Lake City, like Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart. MERRIT: Well, you know, it is somewhat unusual. And on the other hand, there were a lot of people remodeling that house. I don't think he was the only person working on the remodeling.

But, you know, I think it's only fair to point out that there are many ex-cons who are worthy of a job, and we certainly don't want to be giving the impression to people out there, "Let's not hire somebody because they have a prior felony." It's hard enough for these ex-cons to come out and make a living so they don't have to go back to a life of crime. I'd kind of like to support it when someone does give them a job.

BLITZER: As you know, as you know, Cynthia, in a case like this, the focus of attention of the police when a child is missing is immediately on the family...

ALKSNE: Right.

BLITZER: ... because of the history there. In this particular case, do you think the family has been, by and large, cleared by the police?

ALKSNE: I don't think the police are clearing anybody. And the family has a healthy attitude, which is "We know we have be scrutinized." Several of the family members have taken polygraphs.

This family is interesting for many reasons. One, it's so big, it's hard to sort of figure out who you would focus on.

And the other is -- I think that as I look at seriously at the case over time, they have a different attitude, maybe because of their religious beliefs, their deeply held religious beliefs, that they are -- they sound different than you would expect. If you look at a traditional case and someone said, "I have sympathy for the perpetrator," that would be a red flag for police. In this case, it comes out of every member of the family.

It's really interesting as you analyze how you figure out who to go after in the family, given their religious beliefs. It's interesting.

BLITZER: Jeralyn, I don't know if you thought about this, but I've given it a lot of thought, and I got a lot of e-mail on this. But why has this missing girl taken on such a big proportion, become a national story? There are so many other missing children out there that no one ever pays any attention to.

MERRIT: I agree, and I think it's because she's a beautiful child or a beautiful young woman, just like JonBenet Ramsey was a beautiful child, just like Chandra Levy was a vibrant, attractive woman. I think that's what compels the public's attention, and then the media goes along with it.

One fact, though, that was different with Elizabeth Smart and her family is that, in this case, the sister actually saw the crime being occurred, which deflected the police attention away from at least her parents. So the parents obviously were forthcoming and helpful immediately after the daughter was taken because they knew they really weren't under suspicion, unlike the parents in JonBenet Ramsey.

BLITZER: Same question to you, Cynthia, what do you think?

ALKSNE: You know, I'm pretty cynical about this. I think it's because she's beautiful and white. I mean, I hate to say that, but I do. I think minority children that are missing don't get this attention, and it's not fair.

BLITZER: It's not fair, indeed.

All right, we're going to take a quick break. When we return, your phone calls for our legal guests, Cynthia Alksne and Jeralyn Merrit. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're getting some insight into the week's major legal developments from the criminal defense attorney Jeralyn Merrit, she's in Denver, and the former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne, she's here in Washington.

Jeralyn, you know about this federal judge's decision in New York, saying that the death penalty in federal cases is unconstitutional. A lot of our viewers will remember you were among the legal team that defended Timothy McVeigh. He was executed according to the federal death penalty.

Is this judge in New York on the right track?

MERRIT: I think he is on the right track. What he is saying is that we can no longer ignore not just the risk but the actual probability that someone innocent is going to get executed, and you can't complain about your punishment after you're dead.

And he did not base this decision on the Eighth Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment. He really based it on the fact that it is a due process violation, you're taking away someone's life, which is what the due process clause is all about, without giving them an opportunity to be heard.

And we're up to 107 people now who have been released from death row after being found factually innocent of the crimes for which they were sentenced there. I mean, that's a pretty scary number.

BLITZER: What about that, Cynthia?

ALKSNE: Well, I think those arguments have a lot of weight. The question is, what's going to happen with the case, and will the federal death penalty statute be declared unconstitutional, and will the Supreme Court do that? I don't think they will.

BLITZER: Not this Supreme Court.

ALKSNE: Not this Supreme Court. I mean, we've had some big death penalty wins for the anti-death penalty people this term, that it was unconstitutional to apply the law to the mentally retarded, and also -- and they struck down sentencing schemes. But even in those opinions, it's clear that the death penalty for the normal person who gets it is constitutional, and this Supreme Court is not going to do that any time soon.

BLITZER: Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, Cynthia, he's representing himself in this trial. He potentially could get the death penalty in this federal prosecution against him.

You're a former federal prosecutor. How much more difficult does it become for the prosecution if there's someone like this trying to defend himself, and potentially that whole trial could turn out to be a circus?

ALKSNE: It is dramatically more difficult when there's not a normal, reasonable person on the other side, where, as a prosecutor, you want -- you not only have to make sure you present your evidence to convict the person, but you also have to do it in such a way to make sure that you don't somehow give them an appeal right, and not let the courtroom turn into a circus. And it's difficult.

I have to say, the Moussaoui case, to me, is almost the poster -- he's almost the poster child for a military tribunal, because he is going to affect maybe the entire death-penalty scheme in this country in the manner in which he's being handled. And he's -- it's a big problem for the prosecution.

BLITZER: A lot of people thought he should have been a part of that military commission or military tribunal.

Jeralyn, can he get a fair trial, Zacarias Moussaoui, given the passion, the feeling, what's going on, especially the fact that he's going to be tried only a mile or two away from the Pentagon, in Northern Virginia?

MERRIT: I don't think he can, and I wish the judge had paid more attention, or at least agreed with Judge Matsch's ruling, when he moved Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols' trial from Oklahoma to Denver.

Death is different. He's charged with a death offense. He is, as you pointed out, Wolf, one mile from the Pentagon. This is the community where the victims live. The families of the victims are still there. The jury pool is predominantly white. Moussaoui is a person of color.

And the issue isn't whether anybody has heard of September 11. Of course, everyone in the world has heard of September 11. It's whether or not they can put aside the opinions and their emotional feelings that they've formed to give this man a trial with a blank slate. And I think there are other places in the country where at least he could get a reasonably fair trial. I'm really concerned about him going to trial in Virginia.

ALKSNE: Well, I could be on the jury pool. I think I could be fair.

(LAUGHTER)

I live in that district. Do you think they'll let me?

BLITZER: I don't think you're going to be on the jury pool.

ALKSNE: No, OK, all right.

MERRIT: Cynthia, I'm not sure I'd leave you on the jury.

(LAUGHTER)

ALKSNE: You know, the problem is that, no matter where Zacarias Moussaoui is end up tried, he is -- we know this already -- he's going to turn it into a circus. You know, he demands to go to Congress and testify. He demands to speak with the director of the FBI about his being trailed. He refuses to enter pleas. He yells and screams and says terrible things to the judge.

It doesn't really matter where he's tried. It's going to be a very difficult case for the judge and for all the lawyers.

BLITZER: What about the John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, case? The whole notion that he supposedly could get a fair trial?

What do you think, Jeralyn? The government, in papers filed this past week, insisted that he's been treated sort of as a model prisoner, hasn't been mistreated at all.

MERRIT: You know, I think his trial ought to be moved also. I mean, if you look at why he's being tried in Virginia, it's because he was arrested abroad. And the statue on venue gives the United States the power to try him either where the crime occurred or where he's from or where he first lands when he gets to the United States.

So they flew him to Virginia so that they could try him there. It's such a conservative district.

BLITZER: They flew him to Washington's Dulles Airport, right in Northern Virginia, precisely for that reason.

MERRIT: Exactly. That's my -- yes. And I just think that it's unfair. What do we have to lose by giving these people a fair trial? If we can't trust in the fairness of the trial process, we're not going to be able to trust in the integrity of any verdicts that come down.

If we give these people a fair trial and then they're convicted -- and then we convict them, we can all breathe a little bit easier. Our system worked.

BLITZER: What about that?

ALKSNE: I feel pretty comfortable that he'll get a fair trial. First of all, the people of Virginia are a fair people. They're tough, but they're fair.

And my experience with juries is they work very hard, especially the more the spotlight is on them, to be as fair as possible.

And for the third reason is, he's got a great lawyer. And he's a passionate lawyer, and he's very good at arguing in front a of a jury.

I think he will get a fair trial.

BLITZER: The point, though, I think that Jeralyn makes is that in Northern Virginia, a lot of government workers. That jury pool might be biased against him. Is that a fair point she's making?

ALKSNE: It's a fair point, but I think if -- the biggest problem for me in the Northern Virginia pool is that speed somehow has taken on this wonderful importance, and judges pick juries so quickly. If they can slow the process down, and make sure that both sides have enough ability to strike jurors they think is a problem, I think they can get a fair trial.

BLITZER: Before I let both of you go, I want to talk about another major political issue that's turned out to be a legal issue, the whole issue of school vouchers.

Jeralyn, listen to what President Bush said this week about the decision allowing school vouchers, poorer kids to use some money, some federal grants to go to a private school or parochial school and get out of a bad public school. Listen to what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Most notable and important is that the court declared that our nation will not accept one education system for those who can afford to send their children to the school of their choice and for those who can't.

(APPLAUSE)

And that's just as historic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Did the Supreme Court make the right decision this time, Jeralyn?

MERRIT: I don't think so. I think it runs afoul of the establishment clause of the Constitution, the separation of church and state. The reality is that these private schools that people are going to send their kids to are usually parochial schools, they're places where these children are going to learn religion.

And why shouldn't we just fund public schools to make them better, give every child an equal chance to succeed in the public school environment? Let's not segregate them out into small little groups of religion -- you know, sorted by religion. They should be together, united. BLITZER: All right. What about that, Cynthia?

ALKSNE: This is sort of a weird issue for me because I think Jeralyn is right legally, but the reality of the situation is, if you live in Washington, D.C., is that while they have a very high amount of money they give to these public schools, they're terrible, and you can't sent your kids to public schools.

And poor people in the District of Columbia have no choice. It happens that I live in Fairfax County. We don't need vouchers. We have great schools.

And so I struggle with it as a parent. As a lawyer, I think Jeralyn is right. As a parent, if my children were in the schools in the District of Columbia, I would be pretty darn...

BLITZER: Very briefly, Jeralyn, why is it OK for the federal government to give scholarships, grants to college kids to attend religious colleges, Catholic colleges or Jewish colleges, and not OK to give those kinds of grants to attend a parochial or Catholic high school for example?

MERRIT: Well, I'm not sure I really have an answer to you for that.

I really think that when we give out money for education, it should be something that goes to education for all, that is not going to be slanted in terms of one particular religious view. It's very important that we not mix those two.

BLITZER: All right, we've got to leave it right there unfortunately.

MERRIT: OK.

BLITZER: Jeralyn Merrit, Cynthia Alksne, thanks to both of you for joining us.

Coming up next, our Final Round. Our panel sounds off on future U.S. action in Iraq, corporate corruption and Michael Jackson. Our Final Round, right after a news alert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Time now for our Final Round. Joining me, Donna Brazile, the Democratic political strategist, Peter Beinart of the "New Republic," Jonah Goldberg of the "National Review Online," and Robert George of the "New York Post."

We begin with reaction to news that the Bush administration is putting together plans for a possible military invasion of Iraq. Earlier today, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrat Bob Graham, said the U.S. has higher priorities right now than toppling Saddam Hussein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: There are some things that we need to do that are more urgent. One of those is to deal with these training camps that have developed, particularly in Syria and Lebanon, where the next generation of terrorists are being prepared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Jonah, is Senator Graham right, or should Iraq be right at the top of the agenda right now?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Iraq should be at the top of agenda right now. I'm turning into a bit of Cato the Elder on this. We all know Cato the Elder was the Roman senator who concluded every speech by saying "Catargot delinda est (ph)," which is "Carthage must be destroyed."

(CROSSTALK)

GOLDBERG: Well, I do it for "National Review."

And I think -- and the point of that is that we -- Iraq is our Carthage. Everything that we want to do in the Middle East, everything that we want to do in the world goes through Baghdad. If we want to get rid of these terrorists camps, sounds like a good idea -- it does, although, sound like this sort of came out of the blue today. That would be a lot easier after we take care of Iraq. Everything is a lot harder if we don't take care of Iraq.

BLITZER: Yesterday, on CNN's "SATURDAY EDITION," Senator Evan Bayh, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said exactly the same thing: Go after some of these terrorist camps in Lebanon, that's a higher priority right now.

PETER BEINART, NEW REPUBLIC: Well, I think it's kind of a non sequitur, but there is a reason for this kind of confusion, which is that George W. Bush changed the definition of the war we were fighting in the State of the Union address. He shifted it from purely a war on terrorism to a war against dictatorships that have weapons of mass destruction. And so these guys are now saying, well, from a purely terrorist point of view, Iraq and Syria are our biggest problem. Yes, they are, but that's not the only war we're fighting. We are also fighting a war against governments that might get weapons of mass destruction, and Iraq is that primary threat.

BLITZER: So you are all with hawks in the Bush administration when it comes to going after Saddam Hussein?

ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: Yes, generally speaking, though -- actually, I am kind of glad that Bayh and Graham have sort of put this forward, because I think with the Democrats having some kind of a vision, if you will, on what should happen next, I think it forces the administration to actually engage them, and once again make a clear case as to why they want to go into Iraq now, as opposed to going after Syria and Lebanon.

BLITZER: So if you were a terrorist -- and you're not a terrorist...

(LAUGHTER)

... but if you were a terrorist in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, training at a Hezbollah training camp, should you get nervous that the U.S. might come in after you?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, absolutely, if I was a terrorist. But I don't think these terrorists are scared right now, because we are all over the map.

Look, we should continue the plan right now to go after Saddam. This is too hot politically to put on the back burner. At the same time, there is broad support on Capitol Hill for, you know, looking at what our options should be, and perhaps the president should engage some of these Democrats who agree with him on regime change, but they also believe that at first we need to find al Qaeda, we need to destroy the al Qaeda cell networks, and find Osama bin Laden.

BLITZER: All right, let's move on and talk about Afghanistan. The United States is helping investigate yesterday's assassination of the country's vice president, Hajji Abdul Kadir.

Earlier today, Senator Chuck Hagel, a key Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, expressed concern about Afghanistan's stability and the U.S. role there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAGEL: I fear that we may see this government and our efforts unwind here, if we don't make the appropriate investment of men and effort and resources in order to sustain this. If we lose there, if this goes backward, this will be a huge defeat for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is it time, Robert, for the U.S. to get more involved in Afghanistan?

GEORGE: Yes, I think so. I think Hagel's right. I think there seems to -- there seems to be a sense of, like, from the administration of wanting to put Afghanistan in our rearview mirror, but I think they have to realize that a proper solution to what's going on in Afghanistan is integral to what we want do in Iraq, because if it looks like we just, you know, bomb and then leave Afghanistan and Afghanistan completely falls apart, people will then say, well, what is your exit strategy after we go into Iraq. So I think they are intricately linked, and we do have to focus on Afghanistan.

BLITZER: U.S. doesn't even want to participate in the peacekeeping force in Afghanistan.

BEINART: No, and I really think -- and I may sound like a broken record on this -- this is in some ways at the root of a lot of these problems. The problem is Karzai needs to bring these regional warlords, often very bad guys, into his government. Why? Because they are the ones who really have control over a lot of parts of his country. Why? Because we didn't send the international peacekeeping force there, which would have strengthened Karzai's government at the center and made him less dependent on some very bad people. I think it's a very, very bad idea.

BLITZER: Jonah?

GOLDBERG: I agree entirely with Peter on that. And to pick up on Robert's point, it will be very difficult to create the equivalent of a Northern Alliance in Iraq or any place else in the world if the message is, once you win the victory as we see it, we are going to leave you to get swamped by everybody else.

There is also the thing, which I think explains a lot of this, is a Cold War mentality. It made total sense at the end of World War II to take over Japan and make it our ally; take over Germany, in effect, make it an ally, make it a strong ally. Without that sort of Cold War atmosphere, it doesn't make nearly as much sense to a lot of these military planners to sort of stay in there for the long haul. It's a shame.

BRAZILE: Well, whatever happened to burden sharing? I mean, the United States took out the Taliban, but we took it out by ourselves, and we need help from our allies. I mean, Great Britain was there with us in Kabul, but we need more countries to help us, you know, ensure that we stabilize and bring peace to that region.

BLITZER: Let's move on and talk about this week and corporate responsibility. A Senate subcommittee report released earlier today blames Enron's board of directors for at least a big chunk of the company's collapse.

Meanwhile, the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle suggested the Bush administration's close ties to big business is a part of the larger problem of corporate corruption.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: On many occasions, there has been too much of a permissive atmosphere, Bob, all the way through. We have seen this from top to bottom. We have even seen that in relationships that some of the members of the administration have had with their own corporate roles and the responsibilities they had in the corporate sector.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let me guess, Donna, you agree with Senator Daschle. You don't have a whole lot of confidence that this administration is going to get the job done despite the president's speech on Tuesday? BRAZILE: Well, they keep talking the talk, Wolf, but they're not walking the walk. I mean, every time you look around, they give corporate America a green light. And I tell you, it's time. The president has co-opted Democrats on a lot of issues, but on this one here he should co-opt with Democrats on the substance and back the Sarbanes approach.

BLITZER: What do you think? The Paul Sarbanes approach, is that the way to go?

GOLDBERG: Well, I think a lot of people in this town who think that Sarbanes' approach is the way to go don't actually know what makes the Sarbanes approach all that different than the SEC approach on this. I can't see that much of a difference between the two. It doesn't sound like a terrible bill to me.

But I got to tell you, the politics of this I find very confusing. I am -- look, wrongdoers should go to jail, Bush should get in front of this issue -- all of that, fine. But when we had Reagan -- during the Reagan years, all of the excesses of the Reagan boom were attributed to Reagan policies, and yet all of these excesses that are coming out now, which have longstanding roots going well into the 1990s, they are somehow being laid at the feet of a guy who's only been in office less than two years. I don't understand it, and I think...

BEINART: Let me tell you who we should lay this at the feet of -- Newt Gingrich. Because Bill Clinton doesn't have a flawless record on this, but Bill Clinton fought -- Bill Clinton vetoed a bill in 1999 -- 1995 that would have exempted the accounting industry from a lot of the lawsuits that we now realize they need to be subject to. Arthur Levitt, his appointee to the SEC, tried do what Sarbanes is trying to do now. In both cases, they were killed mostly by Republicans in Congress. It's not mostly Bill Clinton, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it's mostly the Republican leadership in Congress.

GEORGE: And I hate to come to the defense of my former boss, Newt Gingrich, however, the person who was primarily responsible for getting that veto override actually was Chris Dodd.

BEINART: No, not -- in the Senate, but in the House it was Oxley and other House Republicans. It was Dodd, yes, but also most of the Republicans.

(CROSSTALK)

GEORGE: But what happened, though, if Dodd hadn't been leading many Democrats against that same bill.

BEINART: But Clinton vetoed it.

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

BLITZER: All right, so what are you saying? That Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman, who were supporting the accounting industry at that time, were wrong? GOLDBERG: Off with their heads.

BRAZILE: No. I'm saying that given the current environment, the president must come down hard this week, and the first thing he should do is take that sign he used in Milwaukee with those welfare reformers, and bring it to Wall Street, and talk about corporate responsibility.

BLITZER: I'm guessing there is a lot of accountants in Connecticut, is that it?

BEINART: Accountants, insurance companies.

BRAZILE: Insurance companies.

BEINART: They are definitely -- Democrats have a bad record on this. There is no question. But it's essentially been the libertarian conservative idea that all regulation is bad that is the problem.

(CROSSTALK)

GEORGE: ... that's the reason why it's a bipartisan mess, and Bush will probably get in -- get in front of it, because the Democrats don't really have any answers either.

BLITZER: Let's see what he does on Tuesday.

We are going to take a quick break. When we return, we will talk about the deadly shooting at Los Angeles International Airport. Is the Transportation Security Administration dragging its feet on protecting you at airports? Plus, your phone calls, e-mail. The Final Round will continue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our Final Round.

The government says it isn't planning to speed up a placement of armed security agents at airports, despite the Fourth of July shooting at Los Angeles International Airport that left two people dead.

Robert, is this prudent?

GEORGE: Yes, I think it is prudent. I mean, we don't know exactly, you know, what this -- whether he was just a lone nut or whether it's terrorists or what. Obviously, there is going to have to be some kind of enforcement of higher security at the airports, but whether it's going to be, you know, just putting ticket agents behind bulletproof glass, or whether we'll need to put out -- put magnetometers close or maybe even to the curbside when people come in -- there are a lot of things to look at. But I think you don't just panic just because an incident like this happens.

BLITZER: Donna, you are flying all over the country, you are at airports almost every other day... GEORGE: And she's not a terrorist; we've established that.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: But -- they are making you take off your shoes.

BRAZILE: Taking off my shoes and a lot of other things, too.

(LAUGHTER)

GEORGE: Too much information.

BRAZILE: Too much information, yes.

But I believe a free and open society like our nation cannot protect itself from every threat. However, I do believe some airports require a little bit more safety measures, and perhaps Transportation Security Agency -- and I have seen some of the agents in the Baltimore Airport -- I was in Little Rock last week, and it was, you know, pretty hum ho. Las Vegas was a nightmare. So I think they need to look at it at a case-by-case basis and decide what's best in terms of security.

BLITZER: It sounds like good advice.

GOLDBERG: It sounds like good advice, and we should put -- I think the idea of having metal detectors closer to the doors makes a lot of sense. But I actually like to change the topic slightly and say that I think the media has largely covered this story wrong.

BLITZER: Which story?

GOLDBERG: This story about the LAX shooting, about whether or not he is a terrorist, or whether or not we should have metal detectors in the front, all these sorts of things.

I think, you know, look, when kids shoot up Columbine, or throughout the 1990s when people went on killing sprees -- we talked about angry white men, we talked about social trends that were going on that led to these things. This guy is not -- yes, he is unusual because he is murdering people and I don't want to paint with too broad a brush -- but there is a level of hatred and serious hard- heartedness toward America out there in many segments of the Arab- American community, of the immigrant community, and we don't want to talk about it in the media because it sounds like we're painting with too broad a brush. I don't want to do that either.

BEINART: Toward Israel as well.

GOLDBERG: Toward Israel especially. But the idea that this guy's views -- you know, apparently, he had problems with the American flag, he had problems with a Marine that lived across the street, or something along these lines. The idea that this guy's attitudes were somehow specially unique is just not true.

BLITZER: He didn't like the American flag flying from a neighbor above his apartment, and a Marine Corps flag. But what do you make about what Jonah says?

GEORGE: Well, I mean, I think -- I think -- I agree partially, but the point is, you just, as with Columbine, you can't extrapolate too much. Remember, Columbine came at a time when school shootings were actually going down. Everybody freaked out because of one incident. Incidents can be anomalies. If someone has good evidence that this -- that there is really an overwhelming sense amongst Arab- Americans of hatred toward America, I haven't seen any. That would be very troubling, but this incident doesn't show it.

GOLDBERG: I agree. And my evidence is anecdotal talking to people from the Arab community, Arab Christians and so forth, who often get mistaken for having these views and speak more openly with other people about this. And I don't want to extrapolate too much from it either. At the same time, I don't think you can necessarily say it's purely anomalous. I don't think you can say the media is overblowing the idea, since I think I am the only one who ever brought it up.

GEORGE: And you had the Egyptians suggesting, oh, you know, this is just a random occurrence, and that was actually similar to what they said when, if you remember, the Egyptian pilots who crashed the airplane a couple years ago as well. They don't necessarily want to recognize some of these views as well.

BLITZER: This investigation is just beginning, and I assume the Egyptian government, as everybody says, is going to be very, very cooperative.

But let's move on, talk about a little bit more about politics. Both parties in Congress trying to win over voters on the issue of prescription drug benefits for seniors. The Senate is expected to consider a $400 billion plan that would subsidize prescription drugs for the elderly, while the House has already approved one worth about $3 billion.

But one prominent columnist is giving a thumbs-down to both proposals. In the latest issue of "Newsweek" magazine, Robert Samuelson writes this: "A new Medicare drug benefit is widely popular among both Democrats and Republicans. It may be good politics, but it's lousy policy."

Peter, is Samuelson right?

BEINART: Yes and no. I mean, he's right that this would cost a huge amount. He's right it's not the most important pressing social need. Much more important, for instance, is health insurance for the uninsured who get talked about a lot less.

But there is a real need, because health care has changed in America. Prescription drugs are now an essential part of health care. A lot of the elderly don't have them. And the truth is -- and Robert and Jonah are going to roll their eyes when I say this -- but although this is very expensive, it would be affordable if we had not passed the tax cut, and it's why Democrats ultimately, both morally and politically, have to put the tax cut back on their agenda. BLITZER: All right. Jonah.

GOLDBERG: A free pony for every household in America would be affordable too if we didn't get rid of the tax cut. It's sort of irrelevant. The point is that whether or not it's necessarily good policy.

Now, I understand that it would be nice if we could give out this benefit to everybody else, but we are in a middle of a demographic train wreck right now, where so many people are heading into retirement that it is going to be incredibly expensive. Now, I'm in favor of a prescription drug benefit if it's part of a serious package of reform. The last package of reform, if we're going to go back and do these blame things again, was put forward by Breaux, a Democrat, and shot down by President Clinton to give Al Gore an issue in the 2000 campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right. Let's let Donna weigh in, because this was a big issue in the campaign. You probably remember that campaign, but nothing has happened since then.

BRAZILE: And that's because, I think, the Republicans have put more roadblocks out there, and not given the seniors what they really want, and that is they want lower, affordable drugs, and that is what the Democratic proposal in the Senate will do. It will help more people have this access to this medicine without, you know, paying through the teeth.

GEORGE: Baby boomers have been wanting lower, affordable drugs their entire lives...

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: Speak for yourself.

GEORGE: ... so why -- why should they be any different now that they are retiring? No, Jonah is exactly right, and this is the exact problem that you, though, with the entitlement culture. Once the entitlement is put in place, there is no -- there is no real kind of flexibility that you can find in the program. So the only response that politicians is to add more money to it.

BEINART: But there is good reform and bad reform, and only some of what Breaux was proposing made sense.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to move on. Want to take a break?

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Coming up, Michael Jackson has teamed up with the Reverend Al Sharpton. Find out why in our Lightning Round. That's coming up. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Time now for our Lightning Round.

President Bush celebrated his 56th birthday this week -- and happy birthday, Mr. President.

What birthday gift, Donna, would you give the president?

BRAZILE: Well, since I didn't give Ronald Reagan any, I thought I'd wait until this moment to give it all to George Bush, and I would give him what Bill Clinton and Al Gore left him -- that is record surpluses. Of course, I would also give him a great stock market, and, perhaps, I will give him another pair of running shoes so he can run away from Washington from time to time.

BLITZER: All right. What about you?

GEORGE: I think I'm going to give him an atlas so she'll show him every country where there are black people.

And otherwise, otherwise I will wish him a good fall in general.

BLITZER: A good fall.

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: Not a fall from grace.

GEORGE: A good summer and fall, because we've had a rather hectic nine months.

(CROSSTALK)

BEINART: You know, it's along those lines, I would give -- get him a subscription to a foreign newspaper. I really think that although this president does have strengths, his lack of knowledge about the rest of the world is going to make it hard for him to intervene in places where America needs to.

BLITZER: Well, he's learning a great deal, you got to admit.

BEINART: But he has a long way to go.

BLITZER: Jonah.

GOLDBERG: Departing from all my Trotsky brethren here who have to make every utterance somehow political or ideological, I will just say tat I would like to get him a good dog trainer, because his problem is every time he gets on the plane or off the plane, on Marine One, off Marine One, he has to carry that little Scotty dog with him, because the dog will just drag along, and that has got to change. It's a cute little dog, but you know, he's the president of the United States, he doesn't have to carry it.

BLITZER: Let's move on and talk about America's favorite pastime. The Major League Baseball Players Union meets this week and could set a strike date. Can baseball survive another strike?

GEORGE: No. It can't. And, in years past, the owners have been bad players and the owners in general have been pretty bad, and -- and as Bud Selig testified a few weeks ago and refused to open their books. So the players -- the players have -- have to -- have to give here. They need a luxury tax to bring parity in baseball.

BLITZER: We are talking about this week; Ted Williams dies.

BEINART: Yeah, I'm with Robert. I mean, culturally baseball is probably a little bit too slow-paced for America right now. Many of its great players are not being -- are not homegrown, and I think that sports is about fantasy. It's about believing in something, and many see it as just a business. I think it loses its magic.

BLITZER: Jonah.

GOLDBERG: To save time, they are a bunch of spoiled brats, and they should play ball.

BLITZER: Play ball.

BRAZILE: They struck out with me years ago. Oh, yeah.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: The singer Michael Jackson says his latest album wasn't properly promoted and is teaming up with the Reverend Al Sharpton to protest the music industry's treatment of black artists. Jackson called record producer Tommy Mottola, quote, "devilish."

Is this a case of sour grapes for the king of pop? Donna.

BRAZILE: Well, the king of pop is now sounding like he's singing the blues. I didn't know Michael Jackson was black again, so this is always surprising to me.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: What about that?

GEORGE: Al Sharpton and Michael Jackson teaming up for a new version of Ebony and Ivory, clearly.

It is -- what is happening here is Sharpton wants to -- there is actually a legitimate case here. A lot of African-American artists historically have been taken advantage of by the record industry. Michael Jackson, however, is not one of them. At one point, he had enough money to buy the entire Beatles catalog. He's frittered it away by having a ridiculous lifestyle, and he's just now -- this is ridiculous.

BLITZER: By all accounts, African-Americans have done quite well in the music industry, wouldn't you say?

BEINART: Yes. And again, as Robert said, there may be real issues there, but surely Michael Jackson is not the spokesman for anything. And if it would be anyone with less credibility to be a spokesman for anything than Michael Jackson, it would be Michael Jackson in the room with Al Sharpton.

BLITZER: The ultimate odd couple?

GOLDBERG: Yes. This strikes me as blackmail -- or in Jackson's case, beige mail -- and I think it's frankly outrageous. The guy is clearly -- well, a freak, and he is trying to recapture lost gold because he's an old has-been.

BRAZILE: But the truth is, African-American artists have been exploited across the board. I mean, many artists today cannot even claim rights to the songs that made hits for them in this country, but I don't think Michael Jackson should be a poster child for black art.

BLITZER: Is that in recent years, too? I mean, in early years, yes.

BRAZILE: Oh, absolutely.

BLITZER: But in recent years, you think?

BRAZILE: Oh, still, yes, absolutely.

BLITZER: You know that the Williams sisters won the Wimbledon doubles today.

GEORGE: They did indeed, and I think it's actually -- it's fascinating that, you know, tennis, which has been a white sport, is now being dominated by two black women. And golf is also being dominated by Tiger Woods. And a Chinese man was the number-one NBA draft pick. So it just goes to show how the world is changing.

BLITZER: Only in America.

BRAZILE: Only in America.

GOLDBERG: Only in America -- or possibly Canada.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Let's move on, talk about the running of the bulls. That was in Pamplona, Spain, today.

All right, you've got to explain to me, Donna. I have been to the running of the bulls in 1969, I was there, and I watched. I didn't run with those bulls, but what's the fascination of this running of the bulls?

BRAZILE: You know, Wolf, I have looked through my recipe book, and I haven't found any stew that you can make out of a bull, so I'm shocked. Maybe it's our fascination with violence, I don't know.

BLITZER: You know, there was a protest from PETA in Pamplona today, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They don't like the way they kill those bulls.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, but this is the one event the PETA should actually get behind, because the bulls win, more or less. They get to attack the humans for once. Look, the history of humanity is writ large with the stories of young men doing incredibly stupid things. This is just the latest example.

BLITZER: How stupid is the running of the bulls?

BEINART: Well, not to -- to pick up on Jonah, I mean, I'm more interested in what you were doing in Pamplona in 1969. We could really make some news here.

BLITZER: I was in college, I was spending the summer traveling around Europe. I went to see Pamplona.

GEORGE: At risk again of being referred to as a Trotskyite by my friend over there, this just goes to show that even though the United States, after the 2000 election, may have been bored with Gore, Spain is not bored with gore.

BLITZER: Who writes your material? You've got a speech writer over there?

GEORGE: Not yet. Not yet.

GOLDBERG: Good one.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Thanks to our LATE EDITION Final Round panel.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, July 7. Please tune in again next Sunday, every Sunday, at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

Please join me Monday through Friday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, for "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

For now, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

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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