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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Showdown: Iraq

Aired October 20, 2002 - 12:00   ET

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, 5:00 p.m. in London, 7:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this special LATE EDITION, SHOWDOWN: IRAQ.
We'll talk about Iraq, the war on terror, the situation involving North Korea, much more, with the president's national security adviser, Conoleezza Rice. We'll get to that in just a few minutes, but first this news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: We're going to go back to Ashland, Virginia, now. That's where Congressman Eric Cantor is standing by. The shooting occurred in his district.

Congressman Cantor, thanks for being with us.

First of all, what can you tell our viewers about the status of this investigation?

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: Well, I think clearly families in the town of Ashland and the entire Richmond area are waiting some definitive word as to whether this particular shooting was connected to the sniper shootings that have occurred a bit up the road in northern Virginia and in Maryland.

BLITZER: All indications, correct me if I'm wrong, would appear to be this is part of the same sniper activity even though there's no official confirmation of that. Is that the assumption that the law enforcement authorities are working under?

CANTOR: Well, you know, and I think some credit needs to be given to law enforcement authorities. They were on the scene almost instantaneously after the report of the shot was made to them.

But I think that the folks in the town of Ashland, it's a town of about 6,000 people, I don't think they've seen a shooting in almost a year here. So clearly, clearly, we want to see whether this is a linked act to those up in northern Virginia.

And there's just a lot of concern on the part of local families, their children, as to what to do next. I woke up this morning and I have to tell my children that perhaps their soccer game may not go on today because of this incident. BLITZER: This was the furthest incident, if in fact it is connected, to this sniper killings that have plagued this area now for almost three weeks. This was the furthest away from Washington, D.C., some 90 miles. Were people, were law enforcement authorities in the Ashland area, where you are, prepared for this nightmare?

CANTOR: Well, I think a collection of law enforcement agencies of the several jurisdictions that make up the greater Richmond area got together shortly after the sniper began his activity up in the greater Washington area. They got together and really acted to anticipate something like this.

I don't think any of the residents particularly believed that the 100 miles that separates Richmond and Washington would simply act as a block to something like this.

So I do think there was some anticipation, and I think the rapid response of the team here on the ground with the sheriff's department, the state police and all the other jurisdictions, police departments that have come to bear here, I think is evidence of that cooperation and anticipation.

BLITZER: Congressman, we're standing by for a news conference from police, law enforcement where you are. Do you have any understanding why it's been delayed? It was originally scheduled for about two hours ago.

CANTOR: Wolf, I have no information on that. I know that the investigation is going on all around us.

BLITZER: You do suggest, though, in earlier comments that the high-tech Pentagon -- the military equipment that supposedly was in place to deal with this kind of situation may not have extended to the area as far away from Washington as where you are right now. What can you tell our viewers here in the United States and around the world on that?

CANTOR: Well Wolf, I don't have any definitive statement as to that.

I can tell you again, this is some distance south of the Washington area, and perhaps the military surveillance effort ongoing in the skies over the Washington area may not have reached 90 miles south. And I do think that that could very well have been the case.

BLITZER: Tell us a little bit about the people who live in your district. What kind of district is this, Congressman Cantor?

CANTOR: Well, the particular town of Ashland is a town of 6,000 people. It's in a county that is largely rural, although it's becoming more and more suburban, and belonging to the greater Richmond area. I represent a largely suburban district, the rural areas are growing fast.

And, again, these are people that have families and go to work every day, most of whom work in the greater Richmond area, and have a great concern. I mean, this affects all of us. It affects how we go about our lives.

You know, just this weekend, the high schools up in the greater Washington area brought their football games down this way because they thought perhaps their children and the players would be safe in doing so. So obviously quite a shock here to the folks in the Richmond area.

BLITZER: Congressman Eric Cantor, thanks for spending some time with us. Good luck to you. Good luck to all the people in your district in the Ashland area just outside of Richmond, Virginia. We'll be checking in with you periodically as well. Appreciate it very much.

President Bush, meanwhile, has been receiving daily briefings on these sniper attacks. A short while ago I spoke with the president's national security adviser, Conoleezza Rice, about the shootings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Dr. Rice, thanks once again for joining us. I want to discuss all the important issues, North Korea, Iraq, in just a moment. But the sniper that's terrorizing this area, an area you live in right now, how is it affecting you personally?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think we all are appalled by what is going on here. It's really sickening that this is happening, and I think we wish law enforcement the very best and hope that this can be resolved soon so that people can get back to normal lives. It's a very, very sad situation.

BLITZER: The president, we're told, is being briefed on this on a regular basis.

RICE: Every morning. Every morning the FBI director, Bob Mueller, comes in and briefs him, often with Attorney General John Ashcroft there. He's keeping very close eye on it. And he's made it very clear that anything that the federal government can do to assist local enforcement officials should be done.

BLITZER: Isn't it time, or a lot of people say it should be time, that the federal government should take charge of this investigation and let the FBI be the lead agency?

RICE: Well, this is a decision that is not mine to make. I will just say that the president believes that this being handled well, and everything that the federal government can do to assist local enforcement officials is being done.

BLITZER: But how frustrated -- you see him on a day-to-day basis. How frustrated is he when he sees this toll continue to mount?

RICE: Like all Americans, and particularly Americans who live in this area, he wants to this to be resolved as quickly as possible. It is a very bad thing for people's lives. And we're all pulling for law enforcement officials, trying to help them, and of course keeping everybody in our prayers, especially the victims and their families. BLITZER: There's been some speculation, as you know, that terrorism might be behind this, organized terrorism. Have you seen any evidence to back that up?

RICE: We don't have evidence that this is the result of terrorism. Of course, no one can rule out that possibility.

But right now Bob Mueller and the FBI are working very closely with local law enforcement officials. They're doing everything that they can. I think local law enforcement officials have been very aggressive, and we have to hope that this can all be resolved very, very soon.

BLITZER: What was the thinking behind the decision to send investigators to Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. naval base in Cuba where al Qaeda detainees are being held, to interview al Qaeda people down there?

RICE: Well, of course, you want to look at every possibility and to garner as much information as you can and to turn over every rock possible. And so, that was the reason.

BLITZER: And so far, as far as you know, has there been any evidence that's come forward to suggest that anyone from al Qaeda might be responsible for this?

RICE: I think right now there is no evidence to suggest that this is a terrorist act of some kind or related to terrorism. But as I said, everybody will keep looking for clues. Nothing will be ruled out, because you want to make certain that you've looked at all possible information.

BLITZER: Just to button us up, there's no terrorist organization, as far as you know, that's claimed responsibility or credit for this...

RICE: No, no.

BLITZER: ... these kinds of activities?

RICE: No.

BLITZER: Was there a history, though, of al Qaeda or other terrorist groups training for snipers?

RICE: Well, al Qaeda trained for a lot of things. But I just have to emphasize, we don't have anything that would tie at this point al Qaeda or terrorist organizations to this terrible string of sniper shootings. But we have to keep looking, we will keep looking. But right now, while you can't rule it out, I don't think there's anything that suggests that that's the case.

BLITZER: We did seem to get a little conflicting information from the White House this week on the whole issue of guns and so- called ballistic fingerprinting, whether or not it would be time to rethink some of the existing laws on whether you could go back and find these kinds of weapons based on the bullets.

RICE: Wolf, I think you'll have to refer those issues to Justice and to the FBI. I'm really not competent to comment on that.

BLITZER: That's not an area...

RICE: Not an area that I follow closely, no.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We'll hear much more from Condoleezza Rice shortly. She'll talk about the war on terror, the situation with Iraq, North Korea's nuclear capabilities. But now let's get some more analysis on this story of the sniper that has gripped much of the United States.

Joining us to help sort through the latest shooting, as well as the overall sniper investigation, are three guests: In New Haven, Connecticut, Dr. Dorothy Lewis, she's a psychiatrist, a professor at Yale University. She's studied closely killers on death row. She's the author of a book entitled, "Guilty By Reason of Insanity: A Psychiatrist Explores the Mind of Killers." In Atlanta, retired Sergeant Major Eric Haney, he's a founding member of the U.S. Army's elite counterterrorist Delta Force and now a firearms analyst for CNN. And here in Washington, Lou Hennessy, he's a former commander of the Washington D.C. Police Department's homicide unit.

It's good to have all of you here with us.

Let me begin with you, Lou Hennessy. This seems to be at least consistent, this latest shooting in Ashland, Virginia, with the earlier shootings. No official confirmation of that yet. But the pattern seems to be very, very familiar. Is that what you think as well?

LOU HENNESSY, FORMER COMMANDER OF WASHINGTON, D.C. POLICE DEPARTMENT'S HOMICIDE UNIT: Well, it would probably be a bigger story if it were not related than if it were.

BLITZER: Why do you say that?

HENNESSY: Well, because it fits the pattern, just as you said. I mean, there's no actual scene, haven't recovered any evidence, it's identical to the other types of shootings, and all indications are that it is related.

I'm sure they don't have any facts to support that right now, but I'm sure that they're handling this matter as if it were related at this particular time.

BLITZER: Eric, I think what Lou is driving at, that if it were not related, it could be a nightmare situation involving so-called copycats, a copycat kind of killing. That would be pretty frightening, if that were to begin to develop, wouldn't it?

ERIC HANEY, CNN FIREARMS ANALYST: Well, it really would. I've had a fear of that all along, that someone in another location could say, "Oh, I'm just as good as this, I can do all of these things," and you know, there are a number of flakes wandering around this country.

BLITZER: What about that, Dorothy Lewis? You've spent a lot of your professional career studying these kinds of people who may be engaged in spree killings or serial killings. What motivates, in a nutshell, someone to go out and just randomly start killing people?

DOROTHY LEWIS, PSYCHIATRIST: There is no nutshell that you can put this sniper in. We have now evaluated somewhere between 100 and 200 serial killers -- not serial killers, 100 or 200 killers, 20 of whom are serial killers, and we are still going over our data. It is very complex. They are not all alike.

But I can tell you a little bit about how we think the brains of very violent people work or how they malfunction. For example, can you see this brain?

BLITZER: If you just raise it up a little higher, yes, go ahead.

LEWIS: OK. Well, this big cortex of ours is what makes us very different from animals and particularly from reptiles. I'm going to open it now. And if you look here, deep in the brain are structures that are related to appetites, to sex, to aggression, to hunger, what have you. And we have these incredible frontal lobes that put the brakes on the limbic system and that enable us to judge, not to act on our impulses.

Now, what psychiatrists have found and researchers have found is that, in many disorders, the frontal lobes are working abnormally. And this you can see in -- certainly in brain damage or brain disfunction. But you see it in manic depressive illness, you see it in schizophrenia, you see it in many different disorders.

And if there is something wrong with the brakes, then the impulses can break through. And I think that we can say that this sniper is driven, and so that we don't know exactly what is motivating him. It would be presumptuous. It takes hours to find out what motivates a serial killer.

BLITZER: And even after that killer is found, it may take not only hours, it could take years to really come up with the answer.

I want all of our panel to stand by because we're going to take a quick break.

Much more to talk about with our guests. They'll also be taking your phone calls.

LATE EDITION, still standing by for a news conference in Ashland, Virginia, on this latest shooting. We'll find out maybe, maybe if it is connected to the earlier sniper killings. Sniper on the loose and much more when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have this feeling that we're not safe here anymore. It's really sad to say that but we are not safe anymore.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A Washington-area resident, no doubt expressing the sentiment of many of us who live here in the greater Washington area, coping with a sniper on the loose.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation about the sniper investigation with the psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis of Yale University, CNN firearms analyst and retired sergeant major Eric Haney, and former D.C. police homicide commander Lou Hennessy.

And as we stand by, we've just been informed that the news conference from Ashland, Virginia, law enforcement authorities, has now been rescheduled for the top of the next hour, 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. CNN, of course, will have live coverage.

And as we await that news conference, Lou Hennessy, let me ask you, why is it so hard to catch this killer or killers?

HENNESSY: I think what's very difficult here is that there's no evidence and there's no witnesses to link this individual to the crime. That's not entirely unusual in law enforcement.

But in those cases where there's no evidence to link someone to a crime, you look deeply into the background of the victim. All indications are these victims were randomly selected and it was no known motive for these victims to be killed.

So it really, from a traditional investigative perspective is, it's not going to prove -- those methods are not going to prove fruitful in this case because of the randomness of it.

BLITZER: I think there have been some cases in serial killings or spree killings, and we can discuss the difference later in this program, there have been some cases, Lou, where somebody killed an individual deliberately, there was a motive, but then went out and killed some other people to sort of conceal that original motive.

Is that theoretically possible in this kind of a situation?

HENNESSY: In this case, I think that the police aren't going to rule out anything. What they'll do is allow the facts to unravel, so to speak, and let the theories rise as a result of what the facts dictate.

It's certainly possible, but it just appears from all indications this is totally random. And that makes it much more difficult for the police to project where it's going to happen or to learn anything about the perpetrator from the victim and the victim's background.

BLITZER: In this case, Eric, the police do know what kind of bullet was used, what kind of bullets have been used in these various killings. They're not 100 percent sure of the nature of the weapon because some 30 high-powered rifles, other kinds of weapons, can use that specific kind of bullet. But what does it say to you about this killer, the nature of the ammunition?

HANEY: Well, the round itself in that caliber they're using was selected for ease of use. It has very low recoil but it's quite powerful, particularly at close ranges. It delivers a devastating wound that you see in most of these instances have been fatal.

And also, in my mind, I believe these are a couple sniper wannabes. They want to do the things that they believe police marksmen do and military snipers do, so the selection of the rifle and the selection of the round fits into that.

BLITZER: When you say they're sniper wannabes, you don't think they could be professional snipers who just went bad?

HANEY: No, I'm certain of that. There's...

LEWIS: I don't think you can be certain of anything, Wolf. I think, and to demean this person is egging him on some more. To call him a wannabe, I think that what we're doing is dangerous, if we're baiting him.

BLITZER: Well, I don't think Eric Haney is trying to bait him, he's just trying to give us some analysis.

Eric, go ahead and finish your thought.

HANEY: Well, no, we're not baiting him. And he's decided to start killing, he and his partner on their own, they've been planning this for quite a long while.

BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt you on that point, Eric, though. How do you know there's a partner, how do you know there are two people in this particular case, as opposed to the lone gunman?

HANEY: Everything about it. The lone gunman is unable to pull security for himself. So eventually somewhere inside of this shooting spree someone is going to walk up on top of him. When you work in conjunction with a partner, one person is a spotter and that person's also providing local security, it allows the other shooter to bring off a shot unimpeded.

So what they're doing is lying in their position, possibly in a vehicle most of the time, the driver is looking around and he tells the guy in the back, "OK, no one's near us right now, now when you have a target take your shot."

It also explains why the shots have been concealed. No one's ever been able to really pinpoint where the shot exactly came from.

And even in last night's incident, the wife of the victim said, "I heard a sound. I didn't associate it with a rifle shot." But no one said, "I saw a muzzle flash," and that would have been the most accurate indicator of where a shot was fired from. BLITZER: Dorothy, you seem to suggest that this killer, or killers -- we don't know one or two or three or four, we don't know what the number of people involved -- may be obsessed with watching the news media and may be reacting to what we in the news media are reporting.

LEWIS: Absolutely. And I also think that we may be on a wild goose chase in terms of the white van. The sniper whom I evaluated -- of the 20 murderers, one was a sniper -- he rode a bicycle. And who knows if he rode a van, maybe the rack on top of it was for his bicycle. But this individual may be walking away or jogging away, and we're all looking for a white van.

BLITZER: Well, the reason that we're looking for a white van, either the Chevy Astro van or the Ford Econoline, they're also looking for this white box truck, there have been various eyewitness accounts. Are you suggesting, Dorothy, that the police who get these eyewitness accounts shouldn't be releasing this information so that perhaps citizens might be able to help in the investigation?

LEWIS: Well, I'm saying that one I think should broaden the suspicious kinds of people that -- to broaden the area in which you're looking. There is a possibility that this person walks away. The sniper I saw bicycled away. And I so that, while he may indeed have started with a white van and he may now have parked his white van, God knows where, and be bicycling toward it while we're all looking for white vans right around where it happened.

BLITZER: Lou, when I was driving last night from the District of Columbia into Montgomery County, Maryland, the Montgomery County Police were all over the place checking every car, including my black car which is clearly not a white van or anything. But they were looking for all cars entering Montgomery County shortly after this shooting occurred near Richmond, Virginia. Why were they doing that?

HENNESSY: Well, they probably believe since the initial shooting started there that the individual may go back there afterward, may reside there, may know somebody there. And it's probably a pretty good tactic on their part.

I think that the police, we need to really give the police a lot of credit for the way that they've handled this investigation. This has been an extremely difficult case. And we need to, you know, let them know that we really believe that they're doing the right thing. And eventually, I think that they'll probably solve this and we'll all be very happy in the end.

LEWIS: Could I add just one thing to what you're saying? The sniper whom we evaluated used to change cars frequently. Sometimes it was a green car, sometimes it was a white car, sometimes it was a red car. So that one should keep in mind that he may have started out with a white van, but he may now be driving a green Chevy.

BLITZER: You never know.

All right, I want all of our guests to stand by. Dorothy Lewis, Sergeant Major Eric Haney, Lou Hennessey, please stand by. We're going to be coming back to you. We're also taking phone calls for you in the next hour.

But just ahead, the rest of my interview with President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. We'll talk about Iraq, the war on terror and a potentially nuclear-armed North Korea. LATE EDITION, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION, Showdown: Iraq. Much more coming up on the search for a sniper in the Washington area, a news conference at the top of the hour. But now we return to my interview with the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: George Tenet, the national -- the CIA director, was outspoken this week in saying that al Qaeda has been reconstituted to a certain degree and is coming back against America.

RICE: Well, we've always worried that al Qaeda would try and reconstitute in some fashion. On September 20th, when the president first talked about the threat, he talked about a war on terrorism and it was going to go on for many, many years. And no one has ever said that we have completely defeated al Qaeda.

We have made some progress. They don't have the base in Afghanistan. They're not training in the way that they were. They're not capable of communicating in the ways that they were. We are making progress against their financing, and we have a worldwide intelligence and law enforcement network in place to try and catch them.

But they're still dangerous. And we believe that we've seen evidence of those dangers in organizations that are related to them in the Philippines and Indonesia, perhaps in Kuwait. And it means that we have to have extreme vigilance during this period of time to make certain that we're doing everything we can to secure the homeland, secure American forces abroad, secure American diplomatic personnel abroad.

And that's the focus very much every day of the president, of Tom Ridge, my counterpart for homeland security, and for the rest of the national security apparatus.

BLITZER: I want you to hear what, specifically, what Mr. Tenet said this week during his testimony before Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE TENET, DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: When you see the multiple attacks that you've seen occur around the world, from Bali to Kuwait, the number of failed attacks that have been attempted, the various messages that have been issued by senior al Qaeda leaders, you must make the assumption that al Qaeda is in an execution phase and intends to strike us both here and overseas. That's unambiguous, as far as I am concerned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And he also says the threat seemed to be as serious as it was before 9/11, which raises the obvious question, why haven't you elevated the threat status from so-called yellow, which is where it is right now, to orange or perhaps even the highest level, severe, which is red?

RICE: Well, the decisions concerning the threat levels first of all relate to specificity, relate to timing. It is also the case that when these alert levels were put together, they were put together in ways that it was possible within an alert level to do sector-specific alerts, to alert law enforcement, and to make more aggressive actions within an alert level.

The feeling right now and the sense right now is that within the current threat level we can do what we need to do to deal with the threat. There are certain sectors, and I'm not going to go into which sectors they are, they know because they've been alerted, that there are several sectors that are more vulnerable than others. There appears to be some more specificity about them. And so there's a rather tailored program to work with those sectors to make sure that they are taken care of and doing as much as they can to secure themselves.

But it's something that we review daily and will continue to review.

BLITZER: So right now no plans to change the threat status, although that could change on a day-to-day basis?

RICE: That's right. That's something that has to be reviewed as new intelligence comes in, as the picture fills out. But right now there is a great deal that is being done network-wide, but particularly in certain sectors, to deal with the threat.

BLITZER: Given the attacks that we've recently seen in Bali, the oil tanker, the French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, against U.S. troops in Kuwait, first of all, are these al Qaeda-related?

RICE: We have every reason to believe that there are connections there. The organizations that are believed to be responsible clearly have connections to al Qaeda.

You remember that al Qaeda is the kind of broad umbrella which provided training and provided (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and logistics for a number of organizations.

Al Qaeda, the way to think of it in some ways is that they've often franchised out. And we do believe that these organizations have had contacts. A lot of these people have trained in Afghanistan. A lot of them have been financed and helped by al Qaeda. And so in that sense, they are clearly related to al Qaeda. BLITZER: And the statements we've heard from al Qaeda spokesman, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and others that have been released in recent days and weeks, do you take those statements seriously?

RICE: We have to take them seriously. It would be imprudent not to take them seriously, because we are concerned, of course, that there is, as George Tenet said, some kind of call to action by various elements of the organizations that might be associated with al Qaeda's cause, so of course we take it seriously.

BLITZER: Do you have any new information about the whereabouts, the existence if you will, of Osama bin Laden?

RICE: We do not. And in fact, we are where we were several months ago on this. We don't know his whereabouts. We don't know if he's dead or alive. But we will continue to pursue him. And more importantly, we will continue to pursue the entire al Qaeda network.

Afterall, we have had some successes in bringing to justice, and therefore bringing into our network of people who can report on what al Qaeda is doing, a number of high-level al Qaeda operatives.

One reason that we have as good of information as we have today, much better information than we had prior to September 11th, is we do have high-ranking al Qaeda people in custody who can explain to us what might be going on.

I would make one other point, Wolf. We are, as a country, at a far different level of alert and security precaution then we were prior to 9/11. So in that sense, while we are concerned about the level of threat and very concerned and looking at it every day, the country is already on a higher security footing than it was prior to 9/11.

BLITZER: Automatically.

RICE: Automatically, just because of what we've been through.

BLITZER: But the last thing you need now in the midst of the terrorist threat, the sniper, the crisis with Iraq, is a new crisis with North Korea that has unfolded in recent days and weeks.

How big of a deal, first of all, is this potential nuclear program in North Korea right now, as far as you're concerned?

RICE: This is a big deal, because North Korea has in effect told us that a political arrangement between the United States, North Korea and several other parties has been nullified. They are the ones who've blown a hole in this political arrangement and, in the most brazen fashion, admitted that they have been looking for an alternative path to a nuclear weapon from the plutonium path that we thought they were on. It's a very serious matter.

It is a matter that we believe that we have some leverage to be able to achieve a diplomatic solution to it. We want and are seeking a peaceful and diplomatic solution to it. There are a lot of other countries with equities here. There are other parties to these agreements, and we are in a full-court press for consultations with those affected parties.

BLITZER: What if the diplomacy, though, doesn't work?

RICE: Well, I think we have to give the diplomacy a chance to work. The fact is that North Korea has been signaling and saying that it wants to break out of this economic isolation. It has to break out of its economic isolation.

This is a regime that is, in terms of its economic conditions, going down for the third time. Its people are starving. It has tried, with talks about economic zones and trade and opening for investment, to signal that it needs to break out of its economic isolation. Well, it's not going to break out of that isolation while its brandishing a nuclear weapon. And so we believe that in this case we have leverage.

We also believe that there is no other power, including China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, the Europeans, that want to see Kim Jong Il as a nuclear-armed North Korea -- an avowed nuclear power.

BLITZER: Can you say flatly, though, whether the U.S. feels diplomatically or with other means, the United States is not going to allow North Korea to become a nuclear power?

RICE: I can say flatly that this is the situation that cannot remain unresolved.

BLITZER: What does that mean?

RICE: It means that the United States -- the president said it in his State of the Union, that we cannot allow these regimes to with impunity violate their agreements and acquire nuclear weapons.

The good thing is there is fundamental agreement around the globe, and particularly states who are in the region, that a nuclear armed North Korea is a huge problem for people's security.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Still to come, more of my interview with Condoleezza Rice. I'll ask her why the Bush administration is treating Iraq differently from a potentially nuclear-armed North Korea.

We're also standing by for a news conference at the top of the hour on the search for the sniper, or snipers, in the greater Washington area.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

As we await the start of the news conference at the top of the hour on late developments involving possibly the continuing search for the sniper in the greater Washington area, more now with my interview with the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Why is the Bush administration treating North Korea differently than Iraq, when it comes to a nuclear capability?

RICE: Oh, we're not going to have cookie cutter for foreign policy where we try to apply the same formula to every case. It would be foolhardy to do that. Conditions are different, circumstances are different, and your methods are different.

The president put it very well when he said there may be many modalities, but there's only one morality. And the morality is that we are not prepared to allow nuclear powers of this kind to grow up.

North Korea is a country that is sitting there on the Korean peninsula, I have to remind people often that it is deterred by 37,000 American forces and a strong alliance with the Republic of Korea that has kept the peace for 50 years.

It is also a poor and isolated power that we believe, in perhaps trying to break out, if it wants to break out of that isolation, can be told very bluntly that it cannot break out of that isolation at the same time that it pursues illegal nuclear weapons.

Iraq, we've tried everything. We've been down many, many roads with Iraq over 11 years. Iraq has also, in the last 20 years, aggressively attacked its neighbors. It has aggressively tried to assassinate a former American president. It sits in the Middle East with a homicidal dictator there who has used weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons, against his own people and against his neighbors.

And so these are not comparable situations. They're dangerous, both of them dangerous. But we believe that we have different methods that will work in North Korea that clearly have not and will not work in Iraq.

BLITZER: So basically what I hear you saying is you've tried the diplomacy over years with the Iraqis, it hasn't worked, that's why you're threatening war right now.

RICE: Well, it's even worse than that. We defeated Iraq in a war, and Iraq signed on to a whole list of obligations in order to get a cease-fire, a cease-fire that was put there not by the United States but by the U.N. coalition. And then Iraq has systematically, year after year after year, defied those obligations. That cannot continue.

BLITZER: Before we talk a little bit more about Iraq, one final question on North Korea. Your critics, the critics of the Bush administration, say you effectively pushed Kim Jong Il into a corner because you included North Korea in a so-called "axis of evil" statement with Iraq and Iran, you outlined a statement of preemptive strikes, justifying preemptive strikes against these kinds of regimes, and in effect you severed the dialogue with North Korea that the Clinton administration had established.

What do you say to those critics who effectively are blaming you for this current crisis with North Korea?

RICE: I would say to those people then you have to explain why the North Koreans have aggressively been pursuing this program since 1999. There's no timeline here that suggests this has anything to do with anything the president has said.

Now, the shards of evidence that have...

BLITZER: So you're saying in 1999, that's when they started to rebuild...

RICE: I'm saying that the shards of evidence go back farther than that, but by 1999 it's clear that they were aggressively pursuing this. And we had confirmation of it in the summer of 2002, this past summer.

So, this has been a program to pursue an alternative path for a nuclear weapon, an alternative to what they signed on to with the Clinton administration. There's the plutonium path, they agreed to constraints on the plutonium path through the agreed framework, and almost immediately started down the highly enriched uranium path.

Now, I think the North Koreans are to blame for this crisis.

BLITZER: So, all that preceded any axis-of-evil discussion...

RICE: All of this preceded any axis-of-evil -- it's one of those things that the facts just don't support.

BLITZER: Have Russia and Pakistan been assisting North Korea in the development of nuclear weapons?

RICE: Well, there were a lot of countries that we -- that may have been assisting. This is a shadowy network, this proliferation network.

But we have very different relations now with many of the countries that might have been involved in one way or another. And we have to press those relationships to make certain that these paths are cut off.

But the proliferation network, some of it governmental, some it non-governmental, is a pretty shadowy network. The Soviet Union had relations with North Korea going back a long, long way. But it's a different day. We have different relations with these countries, and we think we can make a lot of progress here.

BLITZER: Right now, though, as far as you know, is there any cooperation between Russia, Pakistan, or any other country and North Korea and its own nuclear weapons program? RICE: Well, we don't know what we don't know. But I will say that the countries that have the potential to be involved in any way in supporting the North Korean program have now very good relations with the United States and we're going to pursue those relationships to make certain that we shut off any avenues that North Korea may still be exploring.

We have every reason to believe, too, that a lot of this capability is now indigenous capability in North Korea.

BLITZER: As you know, many Democrats in Congress say they're upset you didn't inform them about the North Korean nuclear weapons program before they had to vote on the Iraq resolution authorizing the president to use force if necessary, and they think that you should have told them that before the vote.

RICE: We have, for a number of months, been briefing congressional staffers, Congress people, senators, about our concerns about the potential that the North Koreans were going down the highly- enriched-uranium path.

There is a long list of briefings that was being systematically gone through over this entire period of time.

BLITZER: But you knew for 12 days or 14 days...

RICE: No, no, we knew quite a long time before Jim Kelly went to North Korea that we were concerned about a highly-enriched-uranium program, and we had been briefing that on the Hill for quite a long time. When Jim Kelly came back from North Korea, several briefings were in fact offered and others taken up by a number of key people on the Hill, to talk about what Kelly had found.

But the fact is, the administration, for 12 days, had to decide how we were going to handle this situation. We needed to have preliminary consultations with allies. There were some preliminary discussions in Congress with a number of people.

But the president of the United States was briefed on recommendations on what to do on Tuesday, October 15th. It really doesn't make sense that you would go public with this information before the president's had an opportunity to reflect, to review it, to think about what he was going to do, and to go ahead and make a decision on how to move forward.

BLITZER: Are you close to getting a new U.N. Security Council resolution, working with the French and the Russians and other members, that would allow the inspectors to go back into Iraq?

RICE: Oh, we're making progress. The diplomacy has been intense, and we expect that some time early this week, we'll probably table a resolution, so that all members of the Security Council can consider it.

We are very clear that this is a resolution that must state that there should be consequences, that must state that the Iraqis are in breach of their obligations, that has to have an inspections regime that this time has a chance.

And this is not inspections for inspections' sake. The goal here is to disarm Saddam Hussein. And in order to do that, we are going to have to test his willingness to cooperate this time around. He can always defeat, as he has before, an inspections regime if he's not prepared to cooperate. This is a country the size of France. He can hide things.

So what we've got to test is his willingness to cooperate. And the world is going to have to have a zero-tolerance view if he is unwilling to cooperate this time. We cannot get back into cat-and- mouse games where he holds these people up for two hours here, and then six hours later he lets them in, after he's destroyed documents. We can't do that this time. This time it has to be a test of his willingness to disarm, because if he is not willing to disarm, then the world is going to have to disarm him.

BLITZER: And so, basically, what you're saying, if the inspectors go back in, as you hope they will, they have to get complete, unrestricted access, and if there's any violation of that whatsoever, the inspectors leave, and then the U.S. goes to war?

RICE: It's the U.S. view, and I would hope it's the world's view, is that, after 11 years of defiance, after 11 years in which he's completely thumbed his nose at his obligations, and after four years in which he's had a chance to be outside of the watchful eye of inspections and monitoring, we can't afford to get back into cat-and- mouse games with the Iraqis.

This time, either we disarm him, or he disarms himself by cooperating, or we're going to have to disarm him.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, one final question, totally unrelated to anything else. Harry Belafonte, the entertainer, had some very, very disparaging remarks about the secretary of state, Colin Powell, and you earlier in the week, basically suggesting that you were, quote, "house slaves" because you work for President Bush in the White House.

There was this exchange that Harry Belafonte had with Larry King, and I want to play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

LARRY KING, HOST: Do you have the same views about Condoleezza Rice?

HARRY BELAFONTE: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Even more so. Because I've never heard from Condoleezza Rice even the suggestion toward some of the more lenient thoughts, or some of the more appropriate thoughts that Colin Powell has expressed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I wanted to give you a chance to respond to Harry Belafonte. RICE: Look, it really doesn't need a response.

If Harry Belafonte disagrees with my political views, that's fine. That's a conversation that is worth having. We're Americans. Everybody should be able to debate views. But I don't need Harry Belafonte to tell me what it means to be black.

BLITZER: On that note, Condoleezza Rice, thanks for joining us.

RICE: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And we're standing by for a news conference in Ashland, Virginia, from law enforcement authorities on the shooting at a restaurant last night. We expect that just a few minutes from now. CNN will, of course, have live coverage. Also, our experts on the sniper, the search for the sniper. We'll be taking your phone calls about the investigation. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. They're about to begin a news conference in Ashland, Virginia. Let's listen in as we get ready to hear the latest on this investigation, this search for a sniper. As you know, there was a shooting last night in Ashland.

COLONEL STUART COOK: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We appreciate your patience in waiting for us. We'll brief you on how the investigation is progressing.

As all of you have seen because you've been here all night just as we have, we have been here all night processing the scene. That process has been completed. We will be removing the evidence tape in just a few minutes and opening up the location in question.

We have very little that we're going to share with you in the way of evidence that's been recovered. I will tell you that if you look behind me and see the agencies that are represented, they have been here all night with us since this incident took place: the Virginia State Police, the City of Richmond, and Henrico County division of police, the Chesterfield County division of police, the town of Ashland, ATF, the FBI, and the U.S. Secret Service.

All of the resources from all of the agencies that I just described have been made available to the town of Ashland and the county of Hanover as we progress with this investigation. Hopefully that will be reassuring to the public that we all serve in the Richmond metropolitan area.

We're following up on all leads at this time. They are numerous. We hope that they will continue. As I pointed out to you last night, we hope that the people who did witness something last night will continue to call the tips hotline. And I think you have that number, but just in case you don't, that number is 1-888-324-9800. We want you to understand, and again to reassure the public, that we are working as diligently as we possibly can. We're in collaboration with the task forces in Maryland, as well as Northern Virginia. All information is being shared back and forth between those agencies.

As to the condition of the victim, he is still in serious but stable condition at this time, still critical. And we've been advised by the hospital administration that they have no intention of trying to operate at this time. Possibly this afternoon, they may be able to proceed with the procedure to complete that operation.

There have been a number of questions in regards to the school systems in the Richmond metropolitan area. And I'll answer that as best as all of us can. Each chief that's represented here today has been in contact with the superintendent of the public schools in their respective jurisdictions.

The decision as to open and close those schools will be made by the superintendents, and when that decision is made, law enforcement is prepared to offer all of assistance that we have and we can bring to bear. So that decision will be made later today, and the public will be so informed. But again, that recommendation will come to us from the superintendents.

That is basically all that we're prepared to release to you at this time. We will not discuss what has been found, what has not been found, nor speculation.

QUESTION: Where's the victim from? Can you tell us that?

COOK: No, we're not going to release the name nor the location as to where the victim is from at this time.

QUESTION: Sir, can you reflect on the usefulness or futility of blocking all the highways? Apparently every time the shooter has operated, he's be able to slip through that. Do you think it's maybe outlived its usefulness?

COOK: No, I do not. I think that, again, this task force here, the men and women of the law enforcement agencies represented in the Richmond metropolitan area, have been meeting for weeks discussing the what-ifs. Unfortunately, the what-if hit us. We were hoping that it never would, but I think we were as prepared as any metropolitan area could have been under the circumstances.

The network, if you will, or the attempt to hold the individual or individuals in check was put into place, and we think it was effective, and we will continue to use that operation.

QUESTION: Do you have confirmation that this was the work of the sniper?

COOK: Do we have confirmation? We're still waiting for the forensic evidence to come back to us to verify that for sure. We are acting as if it is. We will continue in that mode until we know that it is not.

QUESTION: Sir, a forensics gentleman told us that they can do X- rays from various points of view to determine the caliber of a bullet, or the approximate caliber of the bullet, if it's intact enough. Is that being done right now?

COOK: All the forensic capabilities of both the FBI, the ATF, and the Secret Service are being applied to this case, as they are to all the cases in Northern Virginia.

Again, I want to thank all of you for being here today. As the case develops, and if and when, and hopefully soon, we're able to bring it to a termination, we will notify the media and give you an immediate release.

We will not be meeting. A decision was made by the respective chiefs and the superintendent of the state police, as well as the federal agencies, not to have a press conference every 30 minutes, maybe not even one until tomorrow, until we have something that we can add. It's a waste of your time and certainly a waste of our resources to do this.

QUESTION: Sheriff, will this be the new policy of the task force, to not release really any information until you have what, sir?

COOK: We will release the information that we think that will aid you in aiding us.

QUESTION: And what might that be?

COOK: And until that occurs, you won't know and I don't either.

QUESTION: Sir, do you think there's been information that's been released that has caused the sniper to act somewhere else? Last night there was -- the FBI agent in charge said that he wouldn't discuss whether or not the military plane could have been used, and he kind of indicated that he wished that information had never been put out there.

Do you think information has been put out that has changed the sniper's approach or his geographic location?

COOK: I think that would be pure speculation on our part until we make an arrest in this case.

QUESTION: Sir...

COOK: Thank you very much. And that's all that we intend to answer.

QUESTION: Will briefings be held here or somewhere else?

COOK: Thank you.

BLITZER: That was Colonel Stuart Cook, the sheriff from the Hanover County Sheriff's Department, speaking briefly to the point about the latest in this shooting that occurred last night in Ashland, Virginia, just outside a Ponderosa Steak House right off of I-95, Interstate 95, at an intersection just north of Richmond, Virginia, about 90 miles south of Washington, D.C.

The sheriff saying that they're continuing to search for evidence. The process has been completed in the area itself, but there's no forensic evidence yet that would officially link this latest shooting in Ashland, Virginia, to the earlier sniper killings that have plagued the greater Washington area.

He also says the victim in this case is in serious but stable condition, still critical, not yet ready to be operated on, but hopefully that could take place soon.

CNN's Carol Costello is standing by for us in Rockville, Maryland, just outside of Washington, in Montgomery County, where the first five sniper killings occurred and where the task force is based, the task force that has been investigating all these killings.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: I want to bring back a panel of experts who have been helping us understand, try to understand a little bit better what's going on. Joining us once again, Dr. Dorothy Lewis, she's a psychiatrist at Yale University, a professor, an expert on these kinds of matters; retired Command Sergeant Major and CNN firearms analyst Eric Haney, he's joining us in Atlanta; and here in Washington with me, the former D.C. Police homicide commander, Lou Hennessy.

Lou, you listened to Sheriff Cook, short and sweet, to the point, not a whole lot of information. But he seems like a no-nonsense kind of guy who's not trying to showboat or anything like that.

HENNESSY: Yes, he certainly came across as sincere. And he's in the same situation that everybody is involved, with respect to what information should be released.

Yes, they do want to release information to the community that will assist in identifying this individual or assist in his apprehension. But it's important that they not release too much information because it could interfere with the investigation and it could tip the suspect off as to what they have gained and exactly what steps he needs to avoid in the future.

BLITZER: Eric Haney, what was going through your mind as you were listening to Sheriff Cook reveal what he could reveal?

HANEY: Well, it sounded so very adult to me. We've gotten away -- he's trying to hold down the speculation because that doesn't help anyone, and all the what-if, what-if, what-if, that doesn't lead to the apprehension of these shooters. It's, you know, it's specious. It's just not helpful to anyone. And it wastes the time and the energy of those overworked police officers and authorities who are desperately trying to solve this and run it to ground.

BLITZER: Dorothy, have you had a chance in your work over the years to take a look at the toll that these kinds of investigations, the search for street killers or serial killers takes on law enforcement authorities who have to deal with this on an hour-by-hour- by-hour basis?

LEWIS: Wolf, I'm really much more knowledgeable about the serial killers themselves.

Let me share something verbatim from one of my interviews that should shed a bit of light on this. When asked about his moods, this was a sniper, he said, "I was really going. I get energized. I was committing as many murders as I could."

Now, this is about the media. "I felt the media is blocking out what I was doing. I was on a roll. The media, it was like a blackout. They knew I was trying to start a race war. I said I'll do as much as I can. The Pentagon tried to quiet it." It shows you how grandiose he was. And then he says, "I wanted them to think it was a whole organization doing it."

And I think this tells you how the mind of a sniper, you know, a serial sniper works. And it certainly has gotten us guessing. Are there two of them? Is it al Qaeda? Is it this, is it that? But a big clue was the tarot card that said, "I am God." And that gives you a sense of that.

BLITZER: Lou, let me pick up on that one point because we don't have a lot of time. That's the only hard evidence, as far as I can tell right now, the actual shell casing that they found alongside or not far away from that tarot card in Prince George's County outside of Washington near the shooting at the Benjamin Tasker Middle School, that 13-year-old little boy.

HENNESSY: Yes, unfortunately, for what we know, that is the hard evidence that they have in the case. And a lot can be gleaned from that.

We can learn if there was any type of body fluid on the card, maybe do some type of DNA analysis. Obviously there could be fingerprints. Handwriting analysis may be helpful in this case. But unfortunately, even when we get all that, we still need a suspect to match it with.

And this is going to be a difficult case. The shell casing was recovered from there as well. You can pick things up on that, particularly if it was a reload, this particular shell had been fired once before and reloaded. There may be prints on that. There may be some distinguishing characteristics from that.

But there's very little physical evidence the police have to go on right now.

BLITZER: Lou Hennessy, thanks for joining us. Eric Haney in Atlanta, we'll be talking to you a lot over the next hours and days. And, Dr. Dorothy Lewis at Yale University, thanks to you for your expertise as well. We'll have you back also. When we come back, we're going to continue our look at the mind of a sniper. But we're going to speak to the Senate Republican leader, the minority leader, Trent Lott, see what the impact this search for a sniper is having on Capitol Hill.

You're looking at a live picture of Marine One. It has now landed on the South Lawn of the White House. President Bush will be exiting Marine One momentarily, returning to the White House from Camp David. We'll have that as well.

Stay with us. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: You're looking at a live picture of President Bush just back at the White House from Camp David. He's being greeted by some friends, some tourists who've gathered on the South Lawn of the White House. You saw Marine One land on the South Lawn just a while ago. If the president stops and speaks to reporters, we'll of course bring you his comments live.

Although President Bush has been pushing for congressional approval of legislation creating a Department of Homeland Security as soon as possible, the measure is stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Joining us now from his home state of Mississippi to talk more about that and other subjects is the Senate's top Republican, Trent Lott.

Senator Lott, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Good to have you back on the program.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: Thank you, Wolf. Glad to be with you.

BLITZER: I want to get to some of those legislative issues in just a moment, but this search for a sniper in the greater Washington area, you live here part-time in Washington.

How has it affected members of Congress, members of the Senate in particular? What kind of advice are you getting in order to, obviously, deal with this potential threat that is clearly out there?

LOTT: Well, you know, Wolf, it is a tragic situation, and it has affected people's lifestyles. People are very nervous about going to fill up at a gas station or going to a shopping mall. I mean, my wife and I talked about it at the breakfast table. Everybody's being a little bit more cautious.

And what really is troublesome is this sniper or snipers continues to be out there, they've not apprehended him yet.

You know, this is really a deranged person that would be taking these shots and killing people or injuring people. They're totally innocent, that have done nothing to them. And so it is a very scary situation. A lot of people I've talked to since I've been home have said, "Have you been keeping your head down in Washington?" And the answer is yes, you do start thinking about it. So it's affected people's thinking.

BLITZER: In all the briefings you've been getting, Senator Lott, and I know you're privy to the most sensitive national security information, has anyone suggested any evidence is out there whatsoever perhaps linking this to some sort of organized terror plot?

LOTT: Well, obviously, Wolf, we asked that question, and the answer has been no, there's no evidence linking it to terrorism. Although, I mean, these are acts of terror themselves.

Some people have specifically said, "We have not excluded that possibility." I mean, we do know that al Qaeda terrorists have been given all kinds of training, including, you know, sniper-type training.

So it could be related to that. We just don't know. And I think before we jump to conclusions, start including or excluding things, we ought to wait and find out who's really doing this and what's behind it.

BLITZER: Are you confident in the way local, state, federal law enforcement has been dealing with this investigation?

LOTT: Well, you know, Wolf, it's very frustrating because they have not been able to get evidence that leads them to some suspect that they can arrest, and this person has been able to fire and get away even with the blockades that are set up right away.

But I have a lot of confidence in our law enforcement people at every level -- local, state and federal. I know that they're all working together, I know the FBI is involved, even the Department of Defense is trying to be helpful.

They'll find this person or persons at some point. Sooner, hopefully, than later.

BLITZER: Does it open the door for some rethinking on some of the existing gun-control laws, laws of the land? For example, this ballistic fingerprinting that some people are now saying might be a good idea to take a look to see if you could change some of the laws in order to pinpoint where these bullets are coming from, specifically from which kinds of weapons?

LOTT: Well, once again, I think we should wait and find out who's involved here and where they got their weapons and, you know, who are they.

You know, always you can reevaluate what you're doing with modern technology playing, you know, a bigger role. I understand the administration's indicated they're going to have a study to look at this ballistic fingerprinting, although there are a lot of the questions associated with that. The other one is to try to make use of our modern technology to get instant checking of people's criminal backgrounds, to make sure as best we can that people with criminal backgrounds, or certain other problems, don't get access to weapons.

But this could be a weapon that's been stolen, there are all kinds of, you know, explanations of how this person might be arming himself or themselves. And let's wait and see what the evidence reveals.

BLITZER: As you know, the CIA director, George Tenet, this week said that al Qaeda is on the offensive once again, they've been reconstituted, and they're coming back to attack U.S. interests.

There still is no Department of Homeland Security. Your counterpart, the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, earlier in the week says it's the Republicans' fault in the Senate. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: ... because I believe the Republicans have chosen to politicize this issue rather than resolve it. They want to make homeland security an issue in the election. They don't want to get this done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is that true?

LOTT: Absolutely wrong.

Look at what happened in the House of Representatives. They came together with a select committee, Republicans and Democrat of all persuasions, and produced a bill with a wide margin back July the 26th. Why would we want to in any way, you know, kill this department? We have endorsed it. The president has asked for it.

We need to get better cooperation between these various agencies and departments. We need to stop duplication. We need management capability and flexibility to move manpower and money to wherever the greatest threat is. Terrorism, you know, doesn't pay any attention to, you know, who is, you know, involved or who is getting -- giving the orders at the Border Patrol Agency or at the INS. They're just going to do their damage. And so we need to have that better coordination.

As a matter of fact, Tom Daschle brought this up in such a way that he knew we wouldn't be able to get it done right away. Bob Byrd filibustered it for three weeks. Senator Byrd was the one that was delaying it.

But still they do not want the president to have the authority he needs to do the job. They're still paying more attention to bureaucratic security than they are homeland security. We could have gotten this done. Here's the example, Wolf, of what really happened. I got a group together that included John Breaux, Joe Lieberman, Fred Thompson, Phil Gramm, Linc Chafee, Zell Miller, and we were making progress on coming together on language that we could live with. And then we took a break to write it down and the word came back was, Senator Daschle said, "Don't do that. Don't agree to anything that the labor union bosses are not willing to accept." There is your problem.

BLITZER: Well, they say that the people who work in the new department of homeland security should have the same kind of civil service protections as other federal workers, and it's unfair to them to take them out of that mix.

LOTT: We are talking about homeland security. We're talking about terrorists. We're talking about trying to bring together a new department of 170,000 people and make them work together and stop duplication and deal with this terrorist threat.

I think that you need to be able to do things a little differently. This is not the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Education. This is homeland security. So I think you need to be able to waive some of these traditional rules, workplace rules that inhibit your ability to do the job.

Plus, the language they have actually takes away some of the authority that presidents back to Jimmy Carter have had.

We could work through this, there's no question that people that are fired should have some process of having that reviewed if they feel it's not fair. But how that is done, how long it takes, and does it interfere with, you know, protecting people here at home in America, that should be the focus and not trying to set up just another bureaucracy in Washington. There are too many there now. The systems we have don't work even now, so we ought to do it a little better next time.

BLITZER: Senator Lott, there's been reports that the White House did not, did not inform you about the latest North Korean admission about developing a nuclear bomb in advance of the vote on Iraq authorizing the president to use military force if necessary.

Should they have at least informed you, the top Republican, the minority leader of the U.S. Senate, of that bombshell?

LOTT: Well, certainly it's very troublesome to hear that the North Koreans have been going forward with this secret system to develop nuclear weapons, even after they promised not to do it in multiple accords. And they've been getting economic aid because of it.

As to when we were notified and how, I'm not sure that the mistake was made there. I did not know before the Iraq vote. We were getting briefings as we went along, but they were focused on Iraq and the terrorist threat. So I don't know quite what the timing was.

But it is a very different situation, Wolf. It is dangerous, obviously the North Koreans are a very clandestine, paranoid government and people. There have been some positive signs.

I think we'll have to work with them differently in working through this problem than we have with Iraq. You know, Iraq is an imminent threat, led by a person that has used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and his neighbors, and he has weapons that could be used by terrorists very easily in the morning.

North Korea is surrounded by, you know, China and Japan and South Korea, and there are European interests and Russian interests. We will have to, you know, take this very seriously, and we're going to have to review the accords that they have now very, you know, cavalierly disregarded. But I do think it's a different set of circumstances.

LOTT: And the leader there, Kim Jong Il, has been giving some signs that maybe they're willing to make some changes.

This is disturbing. We're going to have to think about it very carefully, as to how we go into the future.

BLITZER: Before I let you go, Senator Lott, you're now the minority leader. You've been the majority leader. I assume you like being the majority leader more than you like being the minority leader. By all accounts, if the Republicans regain the majority in the Senate, you'll continue to be the majority leader.

What do you think? What's your prediction in the elections, which are only about two weeks away?

LOTT: Well, first of all, I certainly would prefer to be majority leader and to be able to call up bills that need to be considered. We need to get a new national energy policy. We need to do some things that help the economy. We need to make sure our national security and our homeland security is taken care of.

So, it would be fun, frankly, to get back into a position to work with this president to get these things done for the best interests of our country.

I think we have a historic chance to get back the majority. You know, usually the party of the president in the White House doesn't make gains in a mid-term election like this, but we're poised to see that happen. There are several close races, maybe as many as four, or a half a dozen, that will determine how it goes. But we feel very good about our chances.

And let me tell you this, Wolf. When we get back in there, we're going to be aggressive in confirming the judges the president nominates and moving forward an agenda that will help working Americans do better in a growing economy, rather than one that has been sort of haphazard in the way it's recovered.

BLITZER: Senator Trent Lott, thanks for joining us from Pascagula, Mississippi. We'll see you back here in Washington...

LOTT: All right. Thanks a lot, Wolf. BLITZER: ... very soon. Always good to have you on the program.

LOTT: Thank you, my pleasure.

BLITZER: Just ahead, now that North Korea has acknowledged it has nuclear weapons, or at least is developing nuclear weapons, how should the United States and its allies respond? We'll get insight from the former Nixon and Ford secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, and the former Carter national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush in his State of the Union address back in January, saying that Iran, Iraq and North Korea pose a threat to global security.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Despite the president's earlier proclamations about North Korea being a danger, the Bush administration was nonetheless stunned by the communist nation's acknowledgement in recent weeks that it does indeed have a nuclear weapons program, despite promising not to pursue one in a 1994 agreement with the Bill Clinton administration.

Joining us to talk more about what all of this means are two former presidential advisers. In Connecticut, the former Nixon and Ford secretary of state and national security adviser, Dr. Henry Kissinger. And here in Washington, the former Carter national security adviser, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Dr. Kissinger, let me begin with you and ask you for your assessment. This bombshell, this disclosure by the North Koreans, acknowledging that, yes indeed, they're working on a nuclear weapons program, how serious of a problem potentially is this?

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it should not have been such a bombshell, because this was a regime that one should always have thought capable of anything.

But North Korea is located at the intersection of China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and of American interests due to the army we have in South Korea. The possession of nuclear weapons by North Korea creates a possibility of enormous mischief on the peninsula and a huge incentive for Japan to follow suit. And any nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula would have the most dramatic consequences.

So it is in the overwhelming interest of all these countries, and including ours, to see to it that this weapons program not proceed.

BLITZER: Well, does that mean, Dr. Kissinger, that if diplomacy fails to prevent the North Koreans from building a nuclear bomb, the military action, a preemptive, indeed, U.S. strike would be justified?

KISSINGER: Well, I find it difficult to believe that in talking to China, Russia, Japan and South Korea -- from all of which will be more directly and more immediately affected by nuclear weapons in North Korea than we are -- that some consensus will not emerge by which pressure can be put on North Korea before we talk about military action.

In the extreme, I think military action may have to be used. But I would hope then that it would have the cooperation of at least some of the countries that I have mentioned. But we are not yet anywhere near that point.

BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski, how concerned are you?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I'm quite concerned. In fact, Iraq's military capabilities are significantly greater than Iraq's.

BLITZER: Wait, North Korea's military...

BRZEZINSKI: North Korea's, of course, excuse me, are considerably greater than Iraq's.

BLITZER: North Korea has a million-man army standing...

BRZEZINSKI: Has a million-man army which...

BLITZER: ... not very far from the DMZ.

BRZEZINSKI: ... which has been upgraded. It has a defense budget, or an offense budget actually, twice as large as Iraq's. It has several hundred delivery systems, including some intermediate- range which could hit Japan. And last but not least, it may even have already atomic weapons.

BLITZER: So what are you saying? So what is the point?

BRZEZINSKI: Well, my point is that we have to address this with the degree of gravity and seriousness that we have addressed the Iraqi problem.

And in doing so, we basically have to follow the same formula. That is to say, to be effective, we have to have international support. We can't solve it on our own alone. But with international support, the powers around North Korea or the country's concerned with Iraq cumulatively can, and maybe compel the countries involved to disarm. If not, we have to use force. But if they comply, we also have to be willing to give them some carrots. And in the case of the North Koreans, I think we know that they are in a deep, deep economic crisis.

BLITZER: But your point is that North Korea -- correct me if I'm wrong -- represents a greater security threat to the United States than Iraq?

BRZEZINSKI: Militarily, it does. But Iraq poses a different problem, namely Iraq is actually in defiance of existing U.N. resolutions, in active defiance. And therefore a collective response is necessary now.

But basically, in terms of the capabilities involved, yes, Korea is a significantly more menacing military power than Iraq.

BLITZER: Dr. Kissinger, do you agree with Dr. Brzezinski on that?

KISSINGER: I think, in terms of military capabilities, North Korea is a larger threat than Iraq. But Iraq is located in the center of the area from which the terrorist attacks on the United States originated, and therefore the symbolic effect of our actions in Iraq will affect the willingness or maybe even ability of these countries to finance terrorism and supply bases for them.

So it represents a somewhat different problem. But as a purely military challenge, North Korea presents a greater difficulty, a greater problem for the United States.

BLITZER: All right, gentlemen, we're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about, including the differences -- the Bush administration had decided to use vis-a-vis Iraq on the one hand, North Korea on the other.

We'll continue our conversation with the former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, and the former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski. They'll be taking your phone calls as well.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Oceans no longer protect us. The threat is real. The threat's alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush reiterating his case this past week against Iraq.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking with the former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, and the former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Dr. Brzezinski, who's to blame for this current crisis right now with North Korea? Because as you know, critics of the Bush administration say the Bush administration's talk of an axis of evil, including North Korea in the equation, the preemptive strike doctrine or strategy that was unveiled at West Point earlier in the year, the suspension of the dialogue with North Korea, pushed Kim Jong Il in a corner.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, I think the issue is big enough for the blame to be shared rather widely.

It seems to me that perhaps earlier, in the '90s, the Democratic administration, President Clinton administration, was somewhat too eager to accommodate, reflecting in part political changes in South Korea, which pointed in the direction of accommodation, the so-called Sunshine Policy.

And that may have given the North Koreans the impression that they can have their cake and eat it, too, namely get some benefits of accommodation while pursuing a surreptitious nuclear program, which is a serious program.

And then lately, the Bush administration swung to the other extreme. Threats, we won't make any deals, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And the North Koreans began to conclude that there's no benefit whatsoever in accommodation.

I think the broader lesson of this is that we ought to be following a policy in some respects similar to the one that the president articulated and finally adopted on September 12th at the U.N. when speaking of Iraq, namely that we are willing to use force if it's the last resort and if the threat is imminent, which is neither the case in North Korea yet or Iraq, but it could be.

Second, we expect the international community to insist on accommodation, compliance, inspections. If the other party accommodates, then there are some rewards for either. And if it doesn't, there's international action based on military force.

BLITZER: Dr. Kissinger, is it smart for the Bush administration to seemingly have two different strategies in dealing with a nuclear threat from Iraq and North Korea, more diplomacy and pressure, economic pressure, if you will, on the North Koreans, as opposed to military threats involving Iraq?

KISSINGER: No, I don't think they're pursuing two different strategies. They're pursuing different stages of the same strategy. They are now beginning in, with respect to North Korea, the strategy that had been earlier implemented with Iraq and that is now coming to a point, namely the international community is demanding observance of U.N. agreements and an end to weapons of mass destruction.

The same end will be reached or should be reached with respect to North Korea. I think it's two sides of the same policy. And the circumstances are somewhat different. The role of Japan will be larger with respect to North Korea than it is to Iraq. But the basic principle is the same.

BLITZER: A lot of people just assume, Dr. Kissinger, that a war with Iraq is going to happen. It's not going to be averted. Are you among those who believe that a war can be avoided?

KISSINGER: We have not even seen the U.N. resolution that is being discussed. If there is a U.N. resolution that demands an inspection system that it is impossible to evade and that permits immediate enforcement of that inspection system in some manner, then I think -- and if Saddam accepts this, then, as the secretary of state has stated, then war can be avoided.

Am I optimistic that Saddam will accept such an inspection system, even if the U.N. can come up with one? I'm more optimistic that the U.N. will come up with a system than that Saddam will accept it.

Now, with respect to North Korea, we are one stage or several stages back of that. On the other hand, we have major powers like China and Russia and Japan who really ought to have an overwhelming interest not to see nuclear weapons within reach of their territories, within relatively easy reach of their territories. So, I think that if a common position can be achieved, that it will be more -- perhaps more rapidly impressive as with Iraq.

I don't consider it (inaudible) that there's war with Iraq. I think it's very possible given the previous performance of Saddam.

BLITZER: All right, Dr. Kissinger, Dr. Brzezinski, we're going to take another short break.

Up, more of our discussion. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our discussion with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Dr. Brzezinski, had you been a member of the Congress and asked to vote on that resolution authorizing the use of force for President Bush if necessary against Iraq, would you have voted yea or nay?

BZEZINSKI: I probably would have voted yea, particularly because the vote came after the September 12th speech, when the president made it clear that going to war unilaterally on a solitary basis was the last resort, and only the threat was imminent, and the president went out of his way at the U.N. not to define the threat as imminent, but as a grave and gathering one.

So that was to me I think very reassuring. Because I do believe that we can achieve our objectives acting in common, but if we act alone, we could hurt our vital interests and make it more difficult to deal with other problems.

But on the question you asked Henry, what's likely to happen, let me just introduce my perspective on that. I think Saddam will accept inspections initially. He'll try to stall. But I will give him until the spring. Then he may try to obscure the issues or obstruct. But in any case, it means that hostilities are not likely until some time in the spring, and maybe even slightly further. And there's always the possibility that he will conclude that he can survive by accommodating.

BLITZER: But the weather is a factor then, and the summertime is not a time the U.S. would like to initiate military action.

BRZEZINSKI: Exactly. I think the chances of war have significantly declined.

BLITZER: Dr. Kissinger, on the whole issue of notifying the Congress about North Korea's nuclear weapons program, as you know, the administration kept that secret for what, 12 days, including before the vote on Iraq. Was that smart, to delay releasing that information?

KISSINGER: Well, I don't consider myself an expert on congressional relations. I think it should not have affected -- it would not have affected the vote. It made the vote more urgent.

What I suspect the administration wanted to achieve was to get some time to reflect about the consequences of this new development and not to hype it into a big crisis before they had a clear answer. The outcome would have been the same, I'm sure, because it would have been preposterous for the Congress to say, you cannot act against the threat in Iraq because we also have a threat in North Korea.

BLITZER: And on a final note, Dr. Kissinger, I just want your very, very brief assessment: Seven years ago, on the referendum when Saddam Hussein was up for reelection, he got 99.996 percent of the vote. This time he got 100 percent of the vote.

What's your assessment of his popularity in Iraq right now?

(LAUGHTER)

KISSINGER: Well, he made great progress in the last seven years.

BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski?

BRZEZINSKI: Obviously he's a great political campaigner.

BLITZER: 100 percent.

(LAUGHTER)

BRZEZINSKI: 110 percent.

BLITZER: Maybe next time.

(LAUGHTER)

All right. Dr. Brzezinski, Dr. Kissinger, always good to have you on LATE EDITION. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

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

Coming up for our North American audience, the next hour of LATE EDITION, some unique perspective on the sniper attacks affecting the greater Washington area. We'll be joined by three experts. Plus, more of your phone calls and our "Final Round."

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll get some insight into where the sniper investigation stands right now, but first, here's CNN's Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta with a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Joining us now with some further analysis on the search for a sniper are three guests: in New York, Bo Dietl, he's a highly decorated former New York City police investigator; also in New York, CNN criminologist Casey Jordan; here in Washington, CNN security analyst Kelly McCann.

Thanks to all three of you for joining us.

Bo Dietl, let me begin with you and ask for your assessment where this investigation, as far as you can tell, seems to stand right now.

BO DIETL, FORMER NYC POLICE INVESTIGATOR: Well, you know, I just like the way this Colonel Cook did his interview. It was fast, in and out, there was no nonsense. He says, "I'll tell you what I want to tell you, what I want the news media to know." He didn't plan for four news conferences a day. I think right there we're doing something good.

You know, the other side of the coin, I want to let people explain how I believe that this person or persons is escaping. Today I brought in something. I want to show you something. This is an AR- 15. What this AR-15 is, is the type of gun that uses the .223 ammunition. This is the exact ammunition.

A lot of people don't realize there's a collapsible stock. You can open up, you can put this under your jacket. I'm wearing a leather jacket now, because what I did, I had it under my jacket when I walked out of my car and I put a plastic bag around it. And I walked into the -- even into the studio with it.

My point I'm trying to bring out, here you have an electronic telescopic sight. This gun I bought for my son when he was 13 years old. I took him out for shooting at a range. He was shooting after about five, 10 minutes of instructions, he was shooting them right in the target, 200 yards away.

What it is, it's a battery-powered sight that puts a red dot on the torso. The bullets go exactly where you want them to go.

The problem, again here, is people have to be aware that you're not going so see a big, long rifle. This is the size of the rifle. It could be even the actual type of gun that is used in these homicides. So you're not going to be looking for a real long one.

The other thing, Wolf, is the fact about the police telling them everything. How about if I set up now, I set up by the Ponderosa, I see there's a road through the back, I've got my exit strategy ready. Now, I sit and wait.

I tell you what, everybody's looking for these stupid white vans. I'll wait for a white van to go by and my shot will go off. Whoever comes out of the Ponderosa is going to be unlucky. I fired a shot, now people see the white van -- I could be in a maroon Ford, I could be in anything.

Again, Oh, wait a second, I've got planes flying around that could maybe see the shot go off. I tell you what I'd do, I'd go undercover. I'll put some blanket over me and I'll cover myself so when the shot goes off, they can't see it from the air.

If we keep telling this homicidal maniac what we're doing as police, they're going to be one step ahead. Hey, guess what, we're not going to have any football games outside.

Hey, enough with telling this homicidal maniac, not a sniper, a homicidal maniac what we're doing.

BLITZER: Let me pick that point up with Kelly McCann, and I think that Bo makes an excellent point. You don't necessarily have to be a marksman, an expert to be able to shoot someone from a relatively short distance.

KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Exactly. I mean, that rifle was designed so the average infantryman could engage at range. So, in fact, it's a very user-friendly weapon.

Because of that, it takes a little bit of time to get used to, and in fact Grossman (ph) has put forward the idea that if you played video games that had the same kind of hand-eye coordination, the same kind of focusing capability, that you could actually be a fair shot and never touch a weapon.

BLITZER: Do we read too much into this whether the victim has been shot in the head or in the torso?

MCCANN: Not necessarily. The only link you can really go to there -- and all of this conjecture. I mean, really there's a few things that we really know and there's a lot we don't know.

But because of the trajectory of the round, if you zero the weapon at 200 yards, there's a 10-inch difference from 50 to 350 yards. So if it is determined that the three people that survived were shot low because the range was significantly less, than I think we know something more than we do now. BLITZER: Casey, our research did some work and we checked the FBI records and we came up with this, as far as unsolved crimes between 1976 and 2000. Take a look at this. Forty percent of sniper attacks were unsolved, according to the FBI's webpage. Homicide -- over on homicide, 25 percent were unsolved.

What does that say to you?

CASEY JORDAN, CNN CRIMINOLOGIST: Well, that jibes completely with what I know about homicide statistics. And it may surprise you to know that homicides are solved at a far greater rate than just about every other type-one index crime, or violent crime.

But the fact that we have 25 percent of your generic homicides uncleared but 40 percent of your snipers goes toward the entire modus operandi of this sniper. This is a police officer's worst nightmare. It is a shooter who is on the move, who is acting in an unpredictable way.

And unless they are on a mission to actually rid the world of a particular person or they want to get attention and then just give themselves up or commit suicide, when they are determined to avoid capture and keep their pattern random, they very often can get away with it. The statistics absolutely support that.

BLITZER: And, Bo Dietl, that jibes with what you know as well, that it's much harder to solve a sniper murder as opposed to a close- range murder with a handgun, let's say.

DIETL: Well, you leave -- you have physical evidence when you're close range.

The other thing is, to go back on this, about 85 percent of the homicides overall are caused by people who know each other or have been involved. It's a personal thing 85 percent of the time.

When you get this thing like the sniper, or snipers, the homicide maniac -- let's not give him credit. When you get a homicidal maniac like this is just shooting anybody, it's much more difficult. We have in New York some idiot over here shot at three different cars passing by, copycat. I don't know if this thing in Virginia is going to turn out to be the sniper, it has all the earmarks of this homicidal killer.

Again, when you get tips in there and then you have someone witness, it takes you on a wild goose chase. It's terrible. During the Palm Sunday massacre in 1984 where the guy killed 10 people in New York, including eight children under the age of 12, I was part of a task force and we eventually arrested him. But we had a guy that took us around for three days. We went into phone booth to phone booth. Finally we got him after three days.

After four hours interrogation, you know what he says to us? "I want to go home. I was only kidding." My lieutenant took him by the neck...

BLITZER: Well...

DIETL: ... and put him through the wall and said, "Excuse me, you took us for three days off of a homicide investigation, and you think it's a game?" They should prosecute these people to the fullest extent of the law for compromising an investigation.

BLITZER: Well, on that point, Bo, they have arrested an individual, this Matthew Dowdy -- we'll put a picture up on the screen -- in Northern Virginia for providing false information...

DIETL: Good.

BLITZER: ... about this so-called witness, eyewitness account that he had.

How much of a setback is it, according to your experience, when somebody comes up and makes it up and gets police going on a wild goose chase?

DIETL: Well, this setback wasn't that bad because they did this immediately.

I knew when that second -- two shootings ago when they supposedly had three witnesses, then they said it was olive skinned and all that. I said immediately, if they had a composite. You could put a composite together within two hours which we've done as homicide detectives. You get it right out there. Now you're looking for someone. But when you have three different sightings of the same person and there are three different total descriptions, I knew there was a problem there.

And what you do is you ask them right off the bat, "Hey, take a polygraph." Ninty-nine percent of the times, Wolf, you know what happens? They call their lawyer and the lawyer says, I don't want him to take a polygraph. Polygraph's are no good for court, but you certainly can eliminate people who are going to lie to you.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break, but we have a lot more to talk about, including your phone calls for our sniper panel.

LATE EDITION, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're talking about the latest shooting near the Washington area and the overall sniper attack investigation. Joining us once again, CNN's Ed Lavandera, he's in Ashland, Virginia; former New York City police investigator Bo Dietl, he's in New York; CNN criminologist Casey Jordan, also in New York; CNN security analyst Kelly McCann, he's here in Washington.

Carol Costello is out in Rockville, Maryland. She's covering this story for us as well. (NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: We're also standing by at the bottom of the hour for a news conference from the hospital in Richmond where this 37-year-old man is being treated. We'll get an update from his physicians on his condition, earlier described as serious but stable. Very, very critical condition for this 37-year-old man. His name has not yet been released to the public.

Bo Dietl, why do you think that -- and I've interviewed before, and I assume you still hold by this -- there are two people involved in these homicidal attacks?

DIETL: Well, you know, the other person, the security expert, I forget his name, just mentioned about it. I had a feeling about this, and I've been talking about this thing about two people.

Of course, on that date of October 3rd, when there were four homicides in a matter of two hours, it was like someone pushing someone. You commit one homicide, whatever stupid thrill you get, it's over with. Two homicides, you get your rush, whatever psychopathic thing you get. But to go for three and four, in a matter of two hours, it seems like someone taking turns. And then he even shot -- the last one, at 9:00 at night.

And again, we talk about Colonel Grossman, he mentioned about Colonel Grossman. I spoke with Colonel Grossman, who's the expert on these video games that draw people to these psychopathic states of mind. You have Jonesboro, you have Enfurt (ph) in Germany, and you have another case -- I think it's Paducah. And these cases are documented as far as kids playing the video games, and they went out on a spree, and tried to get the body count over what was in Columbine.

BLITZER: All right.

DIETL: This is serious stuff.

One fast thing is I just want people to see. You know, I showed you a gun here, this is the AR-15, but this is the .223 round. But the whole bullet doesn't go out of the gun. The projectile in the top, the size of a .22, is the bullet. It comes in over about 3,400 feet per second. If they wax around inside your body, it takes out all the organs. This is what kills you on the velocity.

So, Wolf, what we're looking for is this small little fragment here, when they go looking in fields. They have to find this little piece. It could have broken into several small pieces.

But again, neighbors, be aware of your neighbor coming home, acting strangely, young kids acting strangely, and always realize, they can have a garbage bag they carry into the house, and that could have this gun. And we know yourself, Wolf, you can put this in a garbage bag, and it'll look like you're taking out the garbage.

BLITZER: That's pretty scary when you think about it. Kelly McCann, a lot of people have suspected, have feared maybe this is a disgruntled ex-military sniper or police officer, for whatever reason, full of rage, doing this crazy homicidal act. One or two individuals. What's your best guess?

MCCANN: Sniper connotes a lot of training. It also connotes that you've been psychologically tested by a forensic psychologist with a written test and an interview.

So I kind of would agree with Casey Jordan, who's qualified to make those assumptions, and she says that she doubts that it would be that person. But it could be a person emulating that authoritative figure.

BLITZER: Somebody who just got carried away with what Bo Dietl talks about, these video games?

MCCANN: Or it could be someone who is a wannabe. Maybe they were refused to be a military member, or if they were in the military member maybe they couldn't become a sniper. There's thousands of possibilities.

BLITZER: Pick up on that point, Casey, for us, and tell us what's going through your mind when you try to assess this very, very troubling case.

JORDAN: Well, it's troubling because of the type of killing that it is. And I initially did think that there was a lot to this theory that the shooter had military training, was a military reject or a police reject.

After collectively listening to the experts on firearms and on shootings, you know, people like Kelly and Bo and Eric, I would have to agree with them that the shooting is probably more pedestrian than that. A person who is self-trained, has experience, no doubt, but probably in their own backyard or hunting in the woods or something.

Again, based on, everyone keeps saying it's a tough shot, and yet the more we learn, the more we realize it's not that tough a shot at all at that distance and with that weapon.

I think that the fact that we are hitting different areas of the body shows that the person is certainly not as carefully trained as a true military sniper would be.

BLITZER: Because a true military sniper would go for the head. That's what they're trained to do. Is that right?

JORDAN: Or the heart.

DIETL: Wolf, there's three head shots, the rest are torso shots in these murders. So we have to remember that. If it's Mr. Sniper from that movie "Behind Enemy Lines," whatever it's called, he'd be going for the head to show his great artsmenship. But this is a person who's putting them in the torso. And I tell you what, my son, 13 years old, 10 minutes 200 yards away, will put them in the torso. You lay it down, you look in the sight, you put the little red dot, you squeeze the trigger, there's no recoil with this rifle. This rifle's smooth as silk. So anybody could do it.

And, Kelly, you're right.

BLITZER: All right, well, let me ask a final question to you Bo before I let all of you go. What's it going to take to solve, to crack this case? You've been involved in a lot of homicide cases in New York City. What will it require to end this cycle of violence, this violence here in Washington?

DIETL: One word, organization. Now you've got, I think, six different counties. It's all this information is being filtered around. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand's doing.

I believe you have two states involved. The FBI should step up, be the lead investigators, make sure all these phone calls on the hotline, that's the most important thing, how we're going to stop this person other than catching him doing the shooting or other than a traffic stop will be when a witness says, "Hey, these kids have been acting weird down the block, they got access to this truck." "Hey, this kid here, he's been so depressed." "Hey, this guy there." This is where your tips come in, but you've got to follow through, because the right hand has to be fulfilling these tips and the left hand has to know that it's done.

When we set up a task force on a big homicide, you make sure the detectives go out and do that work. Because if that's not being done and you think that the other people are doing it, it's not done.

And I don't understand about this telephonic communication between the counties. You should have a task force set up, get your best detective from each county with the FBI, ATF, and have a task force together, send the guys out for one area and go out and follow up on all these leads. And let's catch these people before they kill again.

BLITZER: All right, Bo Dietl, let's hope that happens. Bo Dietl joining us from New York, Casey Jordan in New York as well, Kelly McCann here in Washington, thanks to all of you for joining us.

We're going to have much more coverage coming up on this search for a sniper. We're standing by for a news conference at the bottom of the hour, within the next few minutes, from that hospital in Richmond, Virginia, where the latest victim, perhaps the latest victim of the sniper attack is undergoing treatment right now.

We'll have much more on that, all of that, including our Final Round. But right now, Bruce Morton's essay on the midterm elections that seem too close to call.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sometimes elections have themes. In 1992, for instance, President George Bush was the hero of the Gulf War. But the voters' minds were focused on the economy, stupid, and that elected Bill Clinton.

This time the election is just over two weeks off, and I have no idea what it's about. I was in Iowa recently and both the Senate candidates there, Republican Congressman Greg Ganske and the man he hopes to replace, Democrat Tom Harken, thought it was domestic issues.

Social Security, Ganske said. Harken was more general -- kitchen-table issues, including health care, education and Social Security. And Iowa does have a relatively elderly population.

Then Republican Congressman Saxby Chambliss dropped by the bureau to talk about his Senate race in Georgia against incumbent Democrat Max Cleland. Chambliss said national security is the big issue in his state. And, of course, Georgia does have a lot of military bases.

Chambliss is trying to attack Cleland as soft on the issue, which may be a tough sell, since Cleland is a decorated Vietnam vet who lost two legs and an arm in that war.

But anyway, there doesn't seem to be one issue driving the voters this year. The war doesn't really cut along party lines. Democrats and Republicans voted to give the president authority to invade Iraq. Voters concerned about the stock market or Social Security don't seem to blame one party more than another.

And now they have to cope with a new worry: Does North Korea have nuclear weapons? They're part of the president's axis of evil, whatever that means. So will Mr. Bush want to invade them too? After Iraq? Before?

Trends in this campaign are hard to spot. The stakes are high. The Democrats need to gain six seats to win control of the House. Most experts think that's unlikely because so few seats are in play. That's because in many states when they redistricted after the 2000 census, they drew the lines to protect incumbents.

Republicans need just one seat to regain control of the Senate. A number of races there are too close to call. And most Senate watchers think either party could pick up a seat or two.

So it's close, it matters, high stakes, but no one theme. It's an odd year that way.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're standing by for a news conference momentarily from that hospital in Richmond, Virginia, where the 37-year-old victim of last night's shooting in Ashland, Virginia, is being treated. Once that news conference begins, we'll go there live.

Meantime, time now for our Final Round. Joining me, Julianne Malveaux, the syndicated columnist, Ryan Lizza of the "New Republic," Stephen Hayes of the "Weekly Standard," and Robert George of the "New York Post."

We begin with fears that the sniper or snipers may have struck again. A 37-year-old man was shot and critically wounded in Ashland, Virginia. This overall region, the greater Washington region, continues to be on edge.

Earlier today, on this program, the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told me this is a situation of grave concern to President Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICE: Every morning, the FBI director, Bob Mueller, comes in and briefs him with -- often with Attorney General John Ashcroft here. He's keeping a very close eye on it, and he's made it very clear that anything that the federal government can do to assist local law enforcement officials should be done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Robert, you live and work in New York. How is this affecting people in New York, if at all?

ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: Well, there's some concerns. I mean, there was a shooting on the New Jersey Turnpike last week, and there's a question as to whether we may have a copycat situation going on up there.

I mean, obviously, with everything else that's happened in New York over the last year or so, in terms of both anthrax and 9/11, et cetera, it's not our number-one focus, but it is something that people are definitely concerned about.

BLITZER: Are we going overboard, Ryan, in our coverage of this sniper story?

RYAN LIZZA, NEW REPUBLIC: No, I don't think so. I think people in the Washington area are basically pretty terrified right now. This is the first time since I've lived in Washington, D.C., that I've felt safer in downtown Washington than out in the suburbs.

But to go back to what Rice said about President Bush being briefed on this every morning, there is this strange disconnect between the president out there campaigning -- this week he was in Florida, talking about last year's education bill -- and the rest of the country talking about the sniper shootings. Sometimes the White House is so intent to stay on their own message that they just refuse to get him caught up in what everyone else is talking about.

BLITZER: How is the president handling, Stephen, this whole sniper crisis?

STEPHEN HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I'm not sure -- I mean, I'm not sure that, if the president were in Washington, he would be, you know, hanging out with Police Chief Moose and helping to solve the problem. I mean, I don't think that he can necessarily stop campaigning because people are sniping in D.C.

But, you know, on the other hand, the law enforcement, as strange as it might sound, with 12 shootings and nine killings, law enforcement is doing a decent job.

BLITZER: All right, stand by.

I want to go to the news conference right in Richmond, Virginia, where doctors are speaking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have with me Dr. Rao Ivatury. That's R- A-O, last name I-V-A-T-U-R-Y. Dr. Ivatury is the director of trauma and critical-care surgery here at the VCU Health System. He's been with the Health System about four and a half years.

He's going to read you a brief statement and then be available to answer questions about the status of the patient. Thank you.

DR. RAO IVATURY, DIRECTOR OF TRAUMA AND CRITICAL-CARE SURGERY, VCU HEALTH SYSTEM: Good afternoon.

We received a 37-year-old gentleman last night with a single gunshot wound to the upper abdomen, and he had injuries to multiple organs in the abdomen and chest.

We had to remove part of his stomach, pancreas and the spleen. And he's presently in the trauma intensive care unit in a very critical condition, and we plan to return him to the operating room this evening for further treatment.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Did you see any bullet fragments when you were working inside him? And why did you not remove any at the time? And do you plan to try again today?

IVATURY: We did not see any bullet fragments. We did not go after the bullet because the patient was not very stable at that time. And at the next operation, we'll make an attempt to see if we can take the bullet out safely.

QUESTION: Doctor Ivatury, was the bullet fragmented or was it in a fairly stable (ph) condition?

IVATURY: I cannot answer that question.

QUESTION: Were X-rays taken? IVATURY: X-rays were taken.

QUESTION: Have the authorities taken those X-rays to examine them?

IVATURY: I cannot comment on that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

IVATURY: His stomach was ripped apart, so we had to take out part of the stomach. His pancreas was torn in half, so we had to take out the left half of the pancreas and his spline was in multiple fragments, so we had to take the entire spline. And the bullet grazed the kidney and went into the chest where there was some bleeding.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

IVATURY: No, this is typical of that particular area gunshot wounds.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

IVATURY: Typical of gunshot wounds in that particular area.

QUESTION: Upper abdomen, you mean?

IVATURY: Yes.

QUESTION: So the bullet wouldn't have necessarily fragmented and sort of perforated different organs, it could have been whole (inaudible)?

IVATURY: That's possible.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

IVATURY: Yes.

QUESTION: What's your prognosis? Does he have a good chance of making it or not?

IVATURY: The prognosis is still guarded. But since he's a very healthy man and is very young, the chances are fair to good, I would say.

QUESTION: Doctor, when you received this patient last night, was he conscious when he came in? What was he saying to you when he came in?

IVATURY: Yes, he was conscious, and we could talk to him. And he was complaining of some pain in the belly.

QUESTION: Did he have any idea what had happened to him or was he...

IVATURY: No, he did not say (ph) that. QUESTION: Is he conscious now?

IVATURY: He is conscious now. He is responding with opening his eyes and moving all extremities.

QUESTION: Is he talking?

IVATURY: No, he cannot talk because he has a tube for breathing in his throat.

QUESTION: So is he on a ventilator?

IVATURY: He's still on a ventilator.

QUESTION: Were his lungs affected?

IVATURY: His lungs, as far as we know, had no injuries.

QUESTION: No injuries at all?

IVATURY: No injuries, yes.

QUESTION: It grazed the kidney...

IVATURY: Grazed the kidney, that's correct.

QUESTION: Can you tell me a little bit about...

IVATURY: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Nothing to the kidneys?

IVATURY: We did not have anything to the kidneys.

QUESTION: Can you talk about how (OFF-MIKE)

IVATURY: I'm sorry, I cannot hear you.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

IVATURY: Yes, there was a lot of spillage of the stomach contents in the abdomen, and that might cause lots of potential problems with infections subsequently. So he will probably have a prolonged post-operative course. We usually have to go multiple times to the operating room to control that.

But again, as I said, because of his youth and because of his good health, he has a reasonable prognosis.

QUESTION: Do you know when he might go into surgery and how long that surgery might be? What would be a conservative estimate (OFF- MIKE)

IVATURY: Well, he might go sometime this evening or tomorrow morning. And we'll make that decision depending on what he's responding to in his treatment this afternoon. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

IVATURY: Well, we did not complete everything we had to do last night because he was not very stable. So we have to go back in, clean up the abdomen some more, and if he's stable enough to put the stomach and the intestines back together.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Would you call this life-saving surgery, sir?

IVATURY: Yes, it is.

QUESTION: Are you going to try and remove the bullet in the surgery, if it's possible?

IVATURY: If it is possible, yes.

QUESTION: Is that a priority, to remove the bullet, or...

IVATURY: It's not my priority. We'll certainly do it depending on the stability of the patient.

QUESTION: You said he wasn't stable enough last night?

IVATURY: That's correct.

QUESTION: How long after he was shot did you receive him? Was he stabilized on the way here or did you have to stabilize him at the hospital?

IVATURY: He reached here very fast, within 15 minutes to 20 minutes. And we were all here, and we immediately took him to the operating room. And he received some intravenous fluids on the way. But to the credit of the paramedics, they did not waste any time. They brought him very fast, and he reached the operating room very fast.

QUESTION: Does he now know -- does he now realize what happened to him?

IVATURY: I cannot answer that definitely.

QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about -- you said he's a healthy 37-year-old man. How large is he? Can you tell us is he white, black or what?

IVATURY: All I can tell you is that he's a big man.

QUESTION: 6'3"? What?

IVATURY: I can't guess really.

QUESTION: What kind of a sign is it to you that he is alert and responsive? What does that indicate to you?

IVATURY: That is a good sign. That means that he never suffered from any prolonged periods of low blood pressure or low oxidation. And his neurological status is pretty much good at this point.

QUESTION: So you're saying, you still haven't finished the work on his stomach and his intestines. They're still -- what's their status?

IVATURY: They are disconnected, so we need to put them back together so he can have normal, continuous gastrointestinal tract.

QUESTION: The stomach and intestines are disconected?

IVATURY: Yes.

QUESTION: Will you do the next surgery?

IVATURY: Yes, I am.

QUESTION: So you had to interrupt the surgery last night before you could reconnect some of his intestines? That's why you had to (OFF-MIKE)

IVATURY: That's correct. We had to interrupt the surgery last night because of excessive bleeding and because of instability, and we had to do only life-saving measures at that point and come back later for (inaudible) treatment.

QUESTION: How long was the surgery last night?

IVATURY: Last night was about three hours.

QUESTION: How big is the team? How big is the team you've got operating?

IVATURY: We had a wonderful team also in the emergency department as well as in the operating room. We are about four to five surgeons and surgical residents, and then we had the entire intensive care unit team and the operating room team helping us. So we have a big team.

That's what level-one trauma centers are all about. They're always ready for these kind of things. And all the necessary operating theaters, necessary equipment, necessary personnel are always ready for any moment.

QUESTION: Have you spoken to this gentleman's wife about his condition?

IVATURY: Yes, I did.

QUESTION: And how was her reaction?

IVATURY: Nancy, do you want to answer that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's doing very well. She's holding up very well under the conditions.

QUESTION: Can you step to the mike? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry. She's doing very well under the conditions. She's been holding up very well for the last 15 hours.

QUESTION: Is she here at the hospital?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has been, yes. She has, yes.

QUESTION: Any other family members here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not that we know of.

QUESTION: Do you know where they were going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't really want to comment on that.

QUESTION: How old is the wife?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know, honestly.

QUESTION: Do they have any children?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has been holding up very well. She's a very strong person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you. We will keep you informed if there's any change in anything, let you know if and when the patient goes into surgery again.

QUESTION: Do you know when you might be briefing next on after surgery?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I will be down every now and then, even if I have no news, to let you know I have no news. So, obviously this is a dynamic situation. So, all right? Thank you, all.

BLITZER: And so there it is, the latest from the Virginia College, the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond where this 37- year-old victim, this man who was shot last night at a Ponderosa Steak House off of I-95 in Ashland, Virginia, is being treated.

The doctors saying there's a fair to good, reasonable chance, a guarded chance he will make it. He's a relatively young man, was in good physical health, but there's extensive damage to his stomach, his pancreas, his spleen, perhaps even his kidney, and some bleeding in the chest.

CNN's Carol Costello, like all of us, was watching and listening, trying to understand, trying to get a better sense of what's going on.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Patty Davis in Richmond, Carol Costello in Rockville, Maryland, for us. Please, both of you, stand by.

Our coverage will continue. We're going to take a short break. More of our Final Round. LATE EDITION, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our "Final Round."

Julianne Malveaux, when you saw that news conference with the doctor, the surgeon describing all the detail of what this 37-year-old man is now going through, at least through my mind I said, do we need to know all that? Are they providing too much information to us?

JULIANNE MALVEAUX, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I think people have an inordinate amount of curiosity about the victims, who are just going about their business, their ordinary lives, pumping gas, coming out a restaurant, so people want to know.

But I got impatient with the press, I have to be honest. Wanting to know many children he has? How old is his wife? I mean, at some level irrelevant information when the man is sitting there fighting for his life.

So, I have mixed feelings. I mean, we talked a little bit before the news conference about whether the press was doing the right thing. But when you have press conferences and they come out and say, "I have nothing to report," let's not have the press conference.

BLITZER: That would make sense.

When you were listening to what was going on, what was going through your mind?

GEORGE: Same kind of thing. There was a sense of too much information. Even though it's a big public story, you're in a sense kind of intruding on some private grief there.

I think there is a little bit too much press conferences with the multiple law enforcement press conferences and so forth. I think one of your guests earlier on, Bo Dietl, was saying, you know, why put all this information out there?

BLITZER: Why are they doing all that? Putting information, because I'm sure a lot of our viewers probably felt the same way some of us felt. This individual and his wife have a right to certain privacy.

LIZZA: That's true, they do. But I think all of us are sort of hanging on every word of these news conferences despite the lack of news in a lot of them, especially the ones last night, because there's just not a lot we know about who this is, what his profile is, and why he's doing it. And to me, I can't get enough of this stuff.

BLITZER: Do you have confidence, Stephen, in how the police are handling this investigation? HAYES: Well, you know, I do. I think at least in distinction to how they handled the anthrax investigation, I'm thrilled that they haven't yet said, look, we know this is a lone whacko, like they did with the anthrax investigation. Because I think that foreclosed a lot of other possibilities and had people focusing on a certain profile that may or may not be accurate. I mean, I think we need to have kind of everything on the table here and do the investigation as it kind of ticks along.

BLITZER: Do you have confidence in the fact that there's local, state, federal law enforcement authorities, all of them as part of this committee, this task force, that they're all working on it? A lot of people think that one agency, the FBI for example, should be in charge.

MALVEAUX: There seems to be an unprecedented amount of cooperation between these agencies. You know how these interagency task forces usually are. You haven't seen a lot of the ego jockeying and any of the things you might have seen at other times. So I'm fairly confident that they're coordinating things well.

The issue is, again, this drip-drip-drip of information. And some of the informer that had us all on the wrong track about who was the driver, the person who lied -- those kinds of things, again, I think they're giving out too much.

I like the fact that that doctor said, I'm not going to discuss that with you, I'm not prepared to discuss that. We need to hear a little more of that.

BLITZER: Is this going to have any impact on the gun-control debate?

GEORGE: It may locally. You've got the governor's race going on in Maryland, where Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend has made a point of it.

I think nationally, though, it's not going to resonate.

LIZZA: No, it won't, because the Democrats, unfortunately, are too scared to bring up the gun issue. They've basically abandoned it as an important issue, and they're the only party that's going to do it.

GEORGE: It may have cost Al Gore a couple of states last time around, staying away from it.

BLITZER: Well, in Maryland, she's -- Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend, she's making it an issue against her Republican opponent.

LIZZA: That's definitely the exception.

HAYES: I think she needs to be careful how she does that, though. I mean, you don't want to do that too hamhandedly, I think. You don't want to be viewed as exploiting this controversy for obvious political gain. And I think she's come perilously close to doing that on several occasions. MALVEAUX: I think she's been extremely subtle with it. This was an issue for her before. She called Ehrlich on it before any of these shootings even happened. She took her ads off right after the first set of shootings, and then she put them back on. I think it's totally appropriate.

I think the gun-control issue, while you guys are right, it does not have a lot of traction, it should. I mean, the line from the NRA is, guns don't kill, people do. But people have a lot of help...

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: Montgomery County has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the country.

MALVEAUX: And in Virginia...

GEORGE: You have no idea exactly who this person is or where the guns came from. You don't even know whether it is, logically speaking, a, quote, "gun-control issue."

BLITZER: It may have an eventual impact on the so-called ballistic fingerprinting. There may be some new legislation along those lines.

LIZZA: Yes, and even the White House this week sort of said that they might take another look at their opinion on that.

But the Democrats, it's not going to be a national issue for Democrats anymore. They're going to allow local candidates to decide how they want to talk about gun control.

MALVEAUX: It's a mistake for the Democratic Party, I think, because I think you're wussing out on something that it's really important. I think this shows you.

Robert, I don't agree with you don't know where the guns have come from, but you do know that somewhere you can get a gun in Virginia a month.

BLITZER: You're going to have to hold your thought, because, unfortunately, we are all out of time. Our abbreviated Final Round.

We'll have all of you back. Thanks for joining us.

GEORGE: A short round.

BLITZER: That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, October 20th. Please be sure to join us next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

I'll be here Monday through Friday, twice a day, noon Eastern, for Showdown: Iraq, later in the day, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, for Wolf Blitzer Reports.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. Thanks. Have a great weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

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