CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Leaders of Sniper Investigation Speak Out
Aired October 27, 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, 11:00 a.m. in St. Paul, Minnesota, 5:00 p.m. in London and 7:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.
We'll get to my interview with Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Chief Charles Moose and the other leaders of the sniper investigation in just a few minutes. But first, this news alert.
BLITZER: Meanwhile, for the first time in three weeks, fear, tension and anger have given way to relief here in the greater Washington, D.C., area. Two men suspected of the sniper attacks that killed 10 people and wounded three others are in police custody after being caught Thursday morning.
This weekend, I spoke with the leaders of the investigation. They reflected on the 23-day ordeal, its impact on area residents, investigators, and what lies ahead.
BLITZER: And joining me now, Chief Charles Moose, the Montgomery County police chief, Gary Bald, the FBI agent in charge, Michael Bouchard, the agent in charge from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The three of you, I think it's fair to say, led this task force and did yeomen's work. Thanks on behalf of all us.
But let me begin with you, Chief. What, in your mind, cracked this case?
CHIEF CHARLES MOOSE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: Probably no one thing, but just the combination of all of the hard work, all of the members of the task force. And then the effort of the citizens that called in to our tip line. We had a lot of leads, followed them all up, and finally turned up the right leads. So a real cooperative effort.
BLITZER: Was there ever any moment at the end when you said, "We've got it"?
MOOSE: Well, I think that I'll continue to process it, and when all of the indictments and the convictions and the sentencing is done, then I'll probably have that moment.
BLITZER: You haven't had it yet, though?
MOOSE: No, sir.
BLITZER: You suggested that there is still work to be done. What do you mean by that? Is there -- are there more arrests to be made? Is there a broader conspiracy out there?
MOOSE: Well, we'll continue to follow where the evidence takes us, but our job is to, as always, get the weapon off the street, get the criminals off the street and give our prosecutors the best case possible.
BLITZER: But the question is, are there more criminals and weapons part of this conspiracy?
MOOSE: Well, certainly, as I sit here today, I don't have any evidence of that. But if I didn't learn anything else during this investigation, it's to keep an open mind.
BLITZER: So basically, you can't snap a case closed yet?
MOOSE: Well, you know, we wish that we could say that there's never going to be any more crime in the county, in the country. But we feel very good. We got the weapon off the street. People are safe. Just the faces of the young people in Montgomery County and the Washington metropolitan area yesterday should be a clear sign that we've got this matter at hand.
BLITZER: Agent Bald, was there a moment in your mind where you thought, "We've got the guy"?
GARY BALD, FBI: I think we all share the chief's thoughts on that. This is a case that is really just kicking in now. We've got a lot to do to be able to bring all of the pieces together and prepare for charges and for an eventual trial. So like the chief, that moment will come after the jury has spoken.
BLITZER: Do you have evidence that there are still more arrests to be made in connection with these sniper murders in the Washington area?
BALD: Well, there's an extensive amount of work that's ongoing, including investigative activities today and tomorrow. There are a lot of pieces that have surfaced in the last couple of days that we need to round up. So I'm not in a position to be able to answer that question right now.
BLITZER: What can you tell us about Nathaniel Osborne, his role, if any, in this conspiracy?
BALD: Well, the only comment I can make on him is that he has been arrested today as a result of a material witness warrant. And I won't be able to comment further on that.
BLITZER: He's arrested as a material witness, not necessarily as a suspect?
BALD: That's correct.
BLITZER: And the difference being?
BALD: I think it's self-explanatory.
BLITZER: You just want to question him.
BALD: Yes, sir.
BLITZER: And because -- can you tell us why you want to question him?
BALD: No, it wouldn't be appropriate to do at this time.
BLITZER: He was one of the owners of that Chevy Caprice?
BALD: He was the subject of a material witness warrant that was executed today.
BLITZER: Agent Bouchard, when you look at this case -- and you had some specific responsibilities because you represented the ATF -- what did moment did you say in your mind, "It's over"?
MICHAEL BOUCHARD, ATF: I think when I found out from our laboratory, the ballistics examination to say that this gun was responsible. We linked it to 11 of the shootings. That was a tremendous feeling of relief. I thought we finally got a break that now we're going to be able to conclude this successfully. And I think it made everybody happy to know that the gun that killed all of these people was no longer on the street anymore.
BLITZER: As far as you know, were there other weapons involved besides that Bushmaster that was found in the Chevy Caprice?
BOUCHARD: The searches of the car is still under way. There's a lot of detail work that's going on.
As far as evidence of other firearms, we're still looking into that.
BLITZER: Because, as you know, in Montgomery, Alabama, the police chief down there says a handgun was used in connection with the murder, the two shootings that occurred at that liquor store down there. They suspect these two suspects were involved in that.
BOUCHARD: Right. And again, our work is certainly not over yet. We're still getting tips. We're still looking to see where they've been. We're looking to hear from other people who may have known them that may be able to provide additional information. So our work certainly isn't over yet.
BLITZER: But as of this point, the only weapon you've recovered is the Bushmaster high-powered rifle?
BOUCHARD: The only weapon we're discussing in the Bushmaster rifle.
BLITZER: One you're discussing, but does that mean you have found other weapons?
BOUCHARD: We can't go into anything else that we've recovered.
BLITZER: Because you leave open that option by saying that, right?
BOUCHARD: We're not going to discuss any additional evidence that we're...
BLITZER: All right.
BOUCHARD: ... working on.
BLITZER: Let's get into this point, Chief Moose. Maybe you could help me understand. Did both John Lee Malvo and John Allen Muhammed shoot that Bushmaster, or did one of them shoot the rifle?
MOOSE: You know, in all due respect, it's just not something I'm going to discuss this morning.
BLITZER: You can't -- I just want to know if both of them are accused of actually firing the gun, pulling the trigger?
MOOSE: I'll try to be real clear, I'm not going to go down that path with you, sir.
BLITZER: And I assume neither of you two want to discuss that as well.
BALD: Wolf, I'll just comment by saying that neither has been charged with any crimes in connection with the sniper shootings as of this time.
BLITZER: There's a dispute going on between the federal prosecutors and the state prosecutors. That's what you're alluding to, right?
BALD: No, frankly, I'm not aware of a dispute. I know that a decision has not been reached. I'm not aware of charges that have been brought as of this moment. If they have, I've not been briefed on them.
BLITZER: All right, well, we'll get into that in a moment.
Let's pick up on a very sensitive issue, Chief Moose, the white vans, the white box trucks. Were there ever, as far as you know right now, any white vans or white box trucks involved in these murders?
MOOSE: Well, we always asked people to give us information about the white vans, the box trucks because witnesses described them, witnesses told us about them being in the area, about them driving erratically. And I guess if there is anything for people to learn, we did have a couple of situations in two different shootings where people with vehicles similar to this actually said, "Yes, I was in the area there." They stopped at their local police station. They explained why they were there. They explained what they were doing. They explained that, because they were afraid, they drove away erratically, and we were able to eliminate their vehicle.
Throughout this investigation, when people described a vehicle to us, we asked our police officers to look for it. But again, the community members that said, "That was me, and I'm going to go tell the police about it, and what I was doing and why I was there," that's how you actually should do it.
BLITZER: So is it fair to say, though, that as of this moment, that entire effort, looking for those white vans or that white box truck, was a wild goose chase?
MOOSE: Sir, again, the people in those vehicles potentially were witnesses, and never in my mind would I classify a potential witness as a wild goose chase.
BLITZER: You probably -- I don't know if you will remember, but two weeks ago, when I interviewed you, I asked you about that Chevy Caprice that Chief Ramsey, the District of Columbia police chief, said that there was an eyewitness who saw a dark, at that time burgundy- colored Chevy Caprice leaving the scene of Northwest Washington. In response to my question, you said, among other things, you said, quote, "There's not a big push for public feedback on that." Why?
MOOSE: Well, for any number of reasons. And certainly I'm not here to try to defend that. And I was also somewhere in the investigation told that we had located that, that it had been somehow abandoned. So there were various pieces of information but nothing ever definitive enough to ask for a public lookout on that type of vehicle.
BLITZER: Agent Bald, was there a screw-up on the whole issue of the vehicles?
BALD: On the...
BLITZER: The Chevy Caprice, the fact that nobody paid much attention to looking for a Chevy Caprice, there was no composite, no diagram released of that vehicle, which of course turned out to be the vehicle in question?
BALD: Wolf, I don't think there was a screw-up on it. We've had a lot of witnesses at the crime scenes that have described the vehicles that they've seen. We've done our best to go out and locate the people that were driving those vehicles.
In some instances, the crime scenes were in very populated areas with businesses and many cars around. What leads you to a vehicle is something that might be suspicious in a witness' mind. So the white box truck and the vans that were described were vehicles that were in the immediate vicinity of several shootings.
We needed to try and locate those people to see whether they were connected with the crime or might have observed the crime. And the same thing would be true for vehicles at other scenes, including the Chevy that you're referring to.
BLITZER: Chief Moose, when you hear -- and you obviously know a lot more about this than any of us -- when you hear that that Chevy Caprice with at least one or two of the suspects inside were stopped multiple times during the course of this killing spree in the greater Washington area, including here in Montgomery County, what goes through your mind?
MOOSE: Well, one, I would hope that no one would rush to judgment and assume that it was stopped. We put a lot of plates in the computer. We checked the status of that plate. At this point, we're still finalizing that work, whether they actually had a conversation with a police officer.
But when we're doing roadblocks, when we're stopping a lot of cars, you run those plates, it comes back clear, it comes back with no lookout attached to it, you move on to the next car.
So let's not be premature in judging a tremendous job by law enforcement in the Washington metropolitan area.
BLITZER: And all of us acknowledge there was a tremendous job done, and I think that goes without saying. But some of these loose ends I think are worth tying up to our viewers who obviously paid a great deal of attention to it.
MOOSE: What I would say is that we're following up in the sense that if there are lessons learned there for law enforcement as we continue in the 21st century, we'll make note of that, we'll use that to train our people. But again, to use this simply for hindsight I think does us no good, from that standpoint.
BLITZER: Agent Bouchard, do you want to talk about that letter that was left at the Ponderosa Steakhouse in Ashland, Virginia? Had some plastic on it. You were looking for evidence, and as a result, you delayed opening up that letter for what, 24 hours or so? And there could have been a slip-up as a result of that?
BOUCHARD: We really can't discuss any of the particulars on any evidence, but we certainly process scenes thoroughly. We do things very meticulously. So to ensure that we're doing things the right way, it may take longer than people may expect. So I don't think there was anything else we could have done there. Certainly people wouldn't rush to open or look inside or look to see what evidence was there right away. We processed the scenes...
BLITZER: But it took a long time to actually get into the letter, the contents of the letter, because you were searching for fingerprints or other evidence that might have been on that plastic cover. Is that fair to say?
BOUCHARD: Again, we processed the scene thoroughly and made sure that we had collected all the evidence that was at the scene.
BLITZER: Because, as you know, in the subsequent letter, he said you missed a deadline that he had imposed because of the delay.
BOUCHARD: Again, I can't discuss any evidence of any particulars of any evidence that was taken at any of the scenes.
BLITZER: Agent Bald, let's talk about the phone calls that the suspects say they made that were treated as hoaxes or jokes and nobody paid attention. There were a few phone calls that were made to the task force. Did you discover, were there tapes of these conversations that you'd subsequently discovered, yes, they were calling your number?
BALD: In some instances, there were some phone calls that maybe linked the sniper or the snipers. But please understand that there were about 60,000 that were received from the public to the tipline alone, and there were many others to other law enforcement agencies. And there was not just one or two people that were claiming responsibility for these shootings. So I don't think it would be appropriate to characterize the calls the way you have, at least at this point.
BLITZER: I have...
MOOSE: Maybe you could tell us about the calls that -- the claims that were made to CNN and why you didn't bring that to us right away.
BLITZER: Well, you know, that's a good question, and I -- I don't think I at CNN got that call, but he did say in the letter that he did call that number that was the Washington bureau of CNN. Obviously, no one at CNN remembers that, no one at CNN recalls that.
But it's fair to say that somebody calls up and says, "I am God, and I've got information for you," all of us think that's probably a joke. In this particular case, that probably was a mistake, right, Chief?
MOOSE: Well, again, we're looking for lessons learned. And this was a very complex case.
BLITZER: We have to take a very short break. When we return, what could be the sniper suspects' motive? I'll ask the chief of Montgomery County police, Chief Moose, as well as the agents, Gary Bald and Michael Bouchard.
More of LATE EDITION when we come back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We return now to my interview about the capture of the sniper suspects with the Montgomery County Police chief, Charles Moose; Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agent in Charge Michael Bouchard, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Gary Bald.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the motive of these killings. Obviously, $10 million that they sought in one of these letters. That's a motive, money. Was that the motive, as far as you can tell?
MOOSE: Again, you're talking about things that are evidentiary matters things that we turned over to our prosecutor, areas that we are not really authorized to discuss.
BLITZER: Can you discuss that?
BOUCHARD: No, I agree with the chief. It's not an appropriate time to determine the motive. That will be -- those decisions to be made after the investigation has reached a point that we feed into the prosecution.
BLITZER: Beyond money though, is there any evidence, without going into specifics, of any political objective that these suspects may have had?
BOUCHARD: Well, at this point, it's just premature to say. The investigation is not concluded. After we finish the investigation, we'll be in a better position to make that conclusion.
BLITZER: Agent Bald, what exactly is the relationship between Muhammed and Malvo?
BALD: Again, Wolf, I think that it would be premature to describe that relationship. There's a lot of investigation that has to take place, and that kind of covers that particular area. We want to know as much as we can about the two of these people, and we're just getting started on this.
BLITZER: Is there any evidence that suggests that they were in fact stepfather, stepson?
BALD: To my understanding, there was not that relationship. But I need to qualify that because we are just now getting into that investigative portion of the case.
BLITZER: Do you have a firm age of Malvo? This is significant because if he's 17, he's a juvenile. If he's 18, I believe he's not a juvenile.
BALD: Yes. I'm not in a position to discuss that particular individual.
BLITZER: There was another shooting, Agent Bouchard, a murder in Tacoma, Washington, on February 16th, 2002, a woman named Kenya Cook, whose mother worked with Muhammad.
Is there any evidence, as far as you know right now, to suggest that John Allen Muhammad was involved in some way in that murder?
BOUCHARD: Well, each jurisdiction is handling their own homicides. And we're certainly exchanging information between the investigators here, Montgomery, Alabama, and in Washington state.
BLITZER: So you really don't want to comment on that?
BLITZER: But you're looking into it?
BOUCHARD: We're exchanging information with everyone, which is the responsible thing to do.
BLITZER: And, Chief Moose, on September 14, there was a shooting at a liquor store in Silver Spring. As you well know, unclear exactly what happened. Do you suspect at this point that these two suspects were involved in that shooting?
MOOSE: We've certainly covered this ground for the last 20-plus days. We still find the ballistics evidence inconclusive. We continue to keep an open mind. We haven't ruled it in; we haven't ruled it out.
BLITZER: Let's step back and try to draw some lessons from what all of us have endured, especially the three of you and a subject close to my heart, the news media.
When you look back, Chief Moose, on how the news media covered this story, where did we go wrong and where did we go right?
MOOSE: You know, it's really not for me to judge. I think that we've known for a number of years that the news media in the 21st century is a wonderful tool to assist law enforcement, to provide information to the public.
I think we occasionally are very impressed with some of your resources, your ability to get information that we would like to keep, for fear that it may compromise the investigation.
But it is the nature of being in America in the 21st century. So it's not appropriate to judge good, bad, right, wrong, how did you do good, how did you do bad?
I continue to wish that in some criminal cases when people are still at risk that we could be a little less competitive. The rush to get the information out, to beat the other stations, that pains me a little. But I also understand that it is a competitive business.
BLITZER: You were critical at one point of the news media. Was there anything that we did that you believe, looking back now, that effectively, seriously undermined the investigation or, in effect, caused more deaths? MOOSE: Sir, again, that would really be inappropriate for me to have that kind of judgment or attitude. We very much wanted to have communication with the people responsible for this, and certainly early on I felt that some information that was put out potentially kept us from starting that communication.
But as we get further into each day, you learn more, your perspective changes. But early on, I was very anxious to start a dialogue, and I felt that some things were put out there that may have compromised that. I don't have any proof. We'll never be able to prove it. I certainly felt it in those first days of the investigation.
BLITZER: Specifically, the release of that Tarot card? Is that what you're referring to?
MOOSE: Yes, sir.
BLITZER: Agent Bald, are these two suspects answering questions now? Are they cooperating with the investigation, or are they silent?
BALD: Well, Wolf, I know the public and you are very interested in that kind of information, but at this point it's not appropriate for us to discuss those issues.
BLITZER: Who do you believe should prosecute these suspects, you being the agent in charge from the FBI, the federal government or one of the state jurisdictions?
BALD: You know, I think that's a decision for the prosecutors. We've been very fortunate in this investigation that we've brought together a lot of investigative jurisdictions, a lot of law enforcement agencies, and we've worked very closely together and very well together. And now I'm looking forward to seeing the prosecutors do the same thing.
BLITZER: Who should get the reward, Agent Bouchard, the $500,000 reward, as far as you're concerned?
BOUCHARD: We typically don't get involved in any decisions on rewards. Our job is mainly to find the responsible parties, submit the evidence for prosecution and be available for a trial.
As far as rewards, that's up to the jurisdictions that had the homicides and the jurisdictions that offered the reward.
BLITZER: So that would be you, Chief Moose. I think you're basically the guy who is going to make that decision, who gets the $500,000, aren't you?
MOOSE: Well, certainly Mr. Duncan did a tremendous job asking for that plea.
BLITZER: He's the county executive of Montgomery County.
MOOSE: Yes, the county executive got that. I think that assisted us in helping people feel like it was the right thing to do in terms of calling in tips. We'll work through that.
You know, I did want to say with regards to the prosecution that we all need to remember that the American criminal justice system is set up as a system. And as we get all of these questions about the prosecution, the system is set up so that the police don't make those decisions. And I think that that system has proven to be a very fair and just system.
And so, the system will do what the system does. We designed it that way, and as American people, we're very proud of that.
BLITZER: That trucker near Frederick, Maryland, who made that call in the middle of the night, he did a pretty courageous thing, didn't he?
MOOSE: He did exactly what he was supposed to do. He didn't try to confront them, he didn't try to do it himself. He recognized it was a 911 call instead of a tip line call, very bright man. And we're very thankful that he understands his role and he did what was necessary.
BLITZER: Agent Bald, how did this investigation change your life, assuming it did?
BALD: Wolf, I don't know that it has changed my life. It certainly enriched my life by the individuals I've been able to meet and work with on this case. It has brought home to me the terrible pain and suffering that the victims' families have gone through.
It's something that I'll never forget and something that I don't think any of us on the task force will forget.
BLITZER: Can the people of this greater Washington area, in Maryland, the District and Virginia, sleep easy right now?
BALD: You'll have to ask the people that. I hope that they feel that they can.
BLITZER: Agent Bouchard, did this investigation dramatically change your life?
BOUCHARD: For the three or so weeks we've been here, it's certainly changed our lives.
For long term, you know, I think we've all come to learn that we were criticized quite often, that we may not have been doing the right thing, that this group, different organizations working on an investigation like this may not be successful. I think we've proved people wrong. I think we've proved that when everyone puts their best foot forward, all the best resources come together, that you get a successful conclusion like this.
So I think that's the message I'm certainly going to go out with. And I think all of our younger agents and police officers start to realize that you have to work together to be successful.
BLITZER: The teamwork was pretty impressive -- the local, state, the federal level.
BALD: I've never seen anything like it, and I hope the rest of the people in the country take note of that, that it will work as long as you persevere with that.
BLITZER: Chief Moose, it's obviously had a dramatic impact in your life. You've gone from being the Montgomery County police chief to being a person well-known around the world, not only in the United States. It's going to have a dramatic effect on you.
MOOSE: Well, Wolf, I -- you know, I will always remember that we didn't ask for this to land in Montgomery County. There's going to be other problems somewhere else. There's going to be another police chief somewhere else. It'll move on. It's not about me. The team worked well together. Law enforcement did the best that they can.
I'll always wish that we could've found these people sooner so we could've had fewer victims, impacted fewer families. But it really -- it's not about me.
BLITZER: Chief Moose, congratulations to you. Good work. Thanks very much.
Agent Bald, congratulations to you.
BALD: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Agent Bouchard, thank you, on behalf of all of us who live in this greater Washington area.
BOUCHARD: Thank you, sir.
BLITZER: Job well done.
BOUCHARD: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you.
BLITZER: And there's much more ahead on the sniper investigation. We'll talk with the Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan and the state's attorney, Doug Gansler.
But next, a death in the U.S. Senate family. We'll reflect on the life and legacy of Minnesota's Paul Wellstone, along with two of his colleagues, Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah. They'll join me live when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: You're looking at a live picture of the U.S. Capitol, where flags are being flown at half-staff in honor of Senator Paul Wellstone, who was killed, along with his wife Sheila and his daughter Marcia, as well as five others, in a plane crash on Friday. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Here now to share their reflections on Senator Wellstone are two of his colleagues. Joining us from his home state of Nevada is the Senate's second-ranking Democrat, the majority whip, Harry Reid. And here in Washington, the Utah senator, Orrin Hatch. He's the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Always good to have you on the program.
And, Senator Reid, let me begin with you. For all practical purposes, as far as you know right now, is it a done deal that former Vice President Walter Mondale will emerge as the Democratic nominee, the Democratic candidate to run for the Senate on November 5th?
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NE), MAJORITY WHIP: I think that we all should wait until after the public funeral is held for Paul and Sheila and his daughter -- their daughter. I think that there will be an announcement made after that. But I think in the next few days people should stop campaigning in Minnesota and let the grieving take place.
BLITZER: He was, Senator Wellstone, a unique voice almost in the Senate. He was outspoken in terms of his positions, well-known as a liberal. Is there anyone who comes to mind who will fill his shoes in that role in the Senate, Senator Reid?
REID: There's only one Paul Wellstone. I've served in public office for many years, served in Congress for 20, and there has only been one Paul Wellstone. There will always be only one Paul Wellstone.
He was a man of unique characteristics. His whole adult life was spent in doing what had to be done for people who didn't have a voice. When he was at university, Carlton College, one of the fine universities in America, he did things that other professors, they weren't doing. He involved the students. In fact, they wouldn't renew his contract, they wouldn't give him tenure, they in effect fired him, and the students revolted and got his job back.
In the Senate, he's been that same type of personality. The people that come -- you know, how many senators come back late at night and thank the janitorial staff? He actually did that. You know, we never see the janitorial staff, but Paul Wellstone came late at night to make sure he could say thanks for cleaning his office. That was Paul Wellstone.
BLITZER: Senator Hatch, you, of course, well-known as a Republican, a conservative. He was a liberal, a Democrat. But from everything I can tell, even the conservatives, even the most ideological amongst the conservatives of the Republicans admired Paul Wellstone.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, you know, the Senate's really a big family. I mean, we may get very partisan from time to time, we may fight each other very hard, we may get irritated with each other, we may scream and shout, but, you know, we look toward the person. We look toward somebody who's a member of the family, and Paul was.
Paul was a really decent, honorable guy. Very ebullient. You know, always kind of moving around, hugging people, running here and there. And, you know, he was the type of person you just couldn't help but like.
He was, of course, as they've said, a liberal's liberal. He and just, I'd say, one or two others were the most liberal senators I've ever seen in my whole time in the Senate.
BLITZER: Some say he was even more liberal than your good friend, Ted Kennedy.
HATCH: Oh, he made Kennedy look a little bit more moderate. I think Kennedy was really happy to have him there for that standpoint, as well as many others.
But Paul's a good person. Sheila, his wife, was a very good person. And it's so -- I'm so sorry that he and his wife, his daughter, the five others have lost their lives. And of course all of us are grieving as a Senate family for them.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about the political fallout, as we must.
And, Senator Hatch, the possibility that Walter Mondale might now emerge as the Democratic candidate, I want you to listen to what the former vice president said on Friday. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER MONDALE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I think if Paul were here, he'd want us to think about one thing, and that is to carry on the fight that he led with such brilliance and courage over all of these years. And, Paul and Sheila, we intend to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That sounds to me like someone who's seriously thinking about accepting the draft from the party and running for that seat?
HATCH: Well, as Harry said, I think we're going to have to just wait and see what happens. But of course, he was vice president of the United States, former senator, ambassador to Japan. He's a fine man, but so is the Republican running. And, you know, I just hope that, however it turns out, it turns out for the best for America.
BLITZER: Do you have any doubt that Mondale would win if he ran against Norm Coleman, the Republican candidate?
HATCH: Coleman's very popular. He was a great mayor and people know him. He appeals to both Democrats and Republicans, so I don't -- I'm not sure anybody can be too awfully sure who would win in that case. But, you know, we'll have to wait to see who is the nominee.
BLITZER: Senator Reid, put on your political hat for us for a moment. I know you don't want to because of the death, Friday, of Senator Wellstone, but if it were a Mondale-Coleman race, who would win in Minnesota?
REID: I think the people of Minnesota have to appreciate who they would have. Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, those words are spoken in the same breath along with, of course, Paul Wellstone.
Someone who would bring to Minnesota a vibrance, someone who would, in effect, hit the Senate running. I mean, he knows the Senate. He lived there. He's a person who has respect from everybody.
He's a person who would look forward to doing the things that Paul Wellstone wanted to do -- do something about health care reform, take care of the underprivileged by passing a minimum wage. He would do something about prescription drugs.
He would do things that simply need to be done. He would help us -- I think he would be a bridge to those of us who are not from Minnesota. I think he could work across party lines.
I also think that it's important to recognize that, you know, Mayor Coleman switched parties to run. He, until Paul was announced dead was -- he stood for everything that Paul was against. He was against everything Paul was for.
So I can't determine what Minnesota politics would be, but if I were in Minnesota, I would certainly want a Walter Mondale over a Coleman, I'll tell you that.
BLITZER: This is -- Senator Hatch, this sounds like it is an enormous challenge for the former mayor of St. Paul, Norm Coleman, if, in fact, he has to run against Walter Mondale.
HATCH: Now, keep in mind, keep in mind, he was the mayor of the largest metropolitan district in that whole state. He...
BLITZER: But you remember he lost to Jesse Ventura for the governor's race a few years ago.
HATCH: Well, I think almost anybody would have lost to Jesse Ventura...
... under the circumstances of that race.
But keep in mind, almost everything that Harry said about Walter Mondale, Coleman has already proven as a mayor. He's very highly thought of by both Democrats and Republicans. He's run a very principled and good race.
So I'm not sure who is going to win, but I served with Hubert Humphrey, I served with Walter Mondale, both very liberal senators, both fine people. I loved Hubert Humphrey, and I think he loved me. And at least showed it and said that he did. But I also think the world of Mayor Coleman, and I suspect that -- I suspect it's going to still be a race right down to the wire.
REID: Wolf, if I...
BLITZER: Before we take a commercial break, Senator Reid, let me ask you very...
REID: Wolf, if I could just...
BLITZER: Go ahead.
REID: ... say this though. Talk about a principled race. You know, one of the things, one of my responsibilities is to look at Senate races all over the country and how they're going and what's happening. In Minnesota, the most negative, derogatory campaign to take place anyplace in the country was conducted by Mayor Coleman. So let's not talk about all this principled...
HATCH: Well, I don't agree with that, Harry. Not at all.
REID: Listen, I'm just telling you. I was there.
HATCH: Harry, I was, too.
REID: I've spoken to the Wellstone family, both Sheila and I've talked to Paul, and I know how they felt about Coleman and his campaign. So I'm willing to go along and be nice guy, but don't talk about principled race that he conducted against Paul Wellstone, because it wasn't.
Maybe he'll try to change tactics like he did parties and have a positive campaign now, but his was the most negative campaign in America.
HATCH: Harry, you sound a little bit bitter. Quit being so bitter about it. The man's entitled to change parties just like Jeffords was.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break, but we have a lot more to talk about with both Senators Reid and Hatch. They'll also be taking your phone calls.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.
Senator Reid, if Walter Mondale does become the next candidate, the Democratic candidate, and wins that Senate race and if the Democrats retain the majority, will he have his seniority and will he be a chairman of a key committee in the Senate?
REID: That's something that I have not spoken to him about, and I think it's something we need not talk about.
Walter Mondale doesn't need his seniority from the past to become an important, effective representative of the state of Minnesota. He is a man who brings his seniority, his qualifications, his vibrancy with him.
So that's something we need not even discuss, as far as I'm concerned. I haven't discussed it with him.
BLITZER: So as far as you know, has anyone made any promises to Walter Mondale on that issue?
REID: Walter Mondale is not a promise type guy. He is going to run if he feels it's the best thing for the people in Minnesota and this country. He's not going to do it because he might get on this committee or that committee.
BLITZER: Senator Hatch, it was almost exactly a year ago when I interviewed Senator Wellstone, and we spoke about the whole issue of terrorism, a subject that you spend a great deal of time thinking about.
I want you to listen to what he said to me here on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PAUL WELLSTONE (D), MINNESOTA: Well, it's a moral justifiable goal, easier said than done, to try to have a world where terrorists are not free to reign and cannot reign free. And I think, you know, this is yet another example of the kind of thing that we're really worried about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Yet this week, two of your former colleagues, Warren Rudman and Gary Hart, came out with a blue ribbon panel on the Council on Foreign Relations, and they came out with this conclusion on the state of U.S. readiness as far as terrorism is concerned. They said this: "America remains dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond to a catastrophic terrorist attack on U.S. soil."
HATCH: They're absolutely right. They've done this country a great service, both Warren and Gary, because they've pointed out some of the things that have to be done.
We still haven't done the homeland security matter. That's still hung up over politics, not over what's best for the country.
And it's not just that but we know that this country is ill- prepared for some of the terrors. We have known terrorists within our boundaries, and there's not much we can do about it, because even the Patriot Act hasn't gone far enough to catch some of these that we strongly suspect are terrorists.
BLITZER: Senator Reid, is Senator Hatch right?
REID: Wolf, I think it's very important we pass a homeland security bill, and we're working hard to do that.
We've had a lot of problems, as you're aware. There are some who say that the people talking they want a bill don't really want one, including the president.
But the fact is, if we're going to do something about homeland security, what should have happened is, when we passed our emergency supplemental, Senator Byrd and Stevens, on a bipartisan basis, put several billions of dollars in that for things we needed to do for homeland security.
You know, the 170,000 people that are in the homeland security bill that's on the Senate floor, they're there, they're working, they're doing the best they can.
But what we wanted to do, supporting Senator Stevens and Senator Byrd, is to get more money so that their programs that are ongoing in states and local governments could be implemented now. That hasn't been done.
BLITZER: Let me let Senator Hatch...
REID: So I think there is a lot of talk about people supporting fighting terrorism, and I know everyone's heart's in the right place, but they've to get their heads in the right place.
You can't do it on the cheap. It's going to cost some money.
BLITZER: What about that?
HATCH: Well, I certainly agree with Harry, but on the other hand we should have passed a homeland security bill, which is hung up for one reason, and that is the public employees' unions that are trying to take advantage that we have to get this done and so they've asked for a diminishment of presidential powers.
It takes now five months to be able to hire somebody in the federal government. It takes up to 18 months to be able to fire somebody who is an incompetent employee.
And the president just simply cannot have his powers reduced.
BLITZER: We only a few seconds left. Go ahead and respond, Senator Reid.
REID: Wolf, this is ridiculous.
HATCH: Oh, come on here.
REID: I mean, this is silliness. This simply has not proven to be a fact. They can't take yes for an answer. We agreed to give them any vote they wanted. They said they wanted their vote first. We said "OK, we'll give that to you." Phil Gramm has not let us move this.
We want to move this bill. It deals with people who have jobs, and they have jobs that they shouldn't be fired outright. That's all. All the federal rules would still be in place.
HATCH: The president ought to have power in national security affairs to be able to fire incompetent people, and that's the issue here.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to have to leave it right there.
REID: He has the authority now.
HATCH: Yes, he has it now. You're trying to take it away.
REID: No, not true.
HATCH: It is true.
BLITZER: Senators, sorry, unfortunately we're not going to resolve the Homeland Security Department on this program...
... as much as I'd love to be able to do it.
I want to thank both of you for joining us. And I know you share with me in expressing all of our condolences to Paul Wellstone's family and friends and everyone out there in Minnesota. Thanks to both of you, Senator Hatch and Senator Reid.
Just ahead, we'll get some insight into the mind of the sniper suspects from three experts. We'll also have a conversation with the leaders of the communities directly affected by the attacks.
LATE EDITION's second hour will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We'll get some perspective on the impact of the sniper attacks from the executive of Montgomery County, Maryland, in just a moment, but first, here is CNN's Heidi Collins in Atlanta with a news alert.
BLITZER: While the sniper attacks terrorized the entire Washington region and beyond, Montgomery County, Maryland, was especially hard-hit. Six of the 10 killings were in Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
Joining us now to talk about how that community has coped is the county executive, Doug Duncan.
Mr. Duncan, welcome to LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.
DOUG DUNCAN, MONTGOMERY COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Thank you.
BLITZER: Congratulations to you on getting this case apparently resolved. We all hope, of course, it is resolved.
The arrest of this third person, Nathaniel Osbourne, as a material witness, we're told now he is cooperating. What you can tell us about his role in all of this?
DUNCAN: Well, I can't speak about his role. But clearly what the investigators are doing is they're wrapping up the case. They're getting as much information as they can to present a complete package to the prosecutors so that we can get swift justice here for the shooters.
So they're tying up all loose ends, getting up as much information as they can to tie them to the scenes of the shootings, tie them to the weapon, tie them to everything else. And whoever they need to talk to, to do that, they're going to do it.
BLITZER: As far as you know, are there any others out there who may have been part of a broader conspiracy?
DUNCAN: No, I have been given no information that would indicate anything like that.
BLITZER: And where were they getting their money to roam around the country, if you will? Do you have information on that?
DUNCAN: That's all part of the investigation and the work they are doing, looking into other incidents around the country and certainly within the Washington region, trying to piece it all together to answer those questions.
BLITZER: But can our viewers, especially those who live in this area, rest easy with the assumption that they were not part of a formal terror group?
DUNCAN: Yes, they can. And that was a question that we talked about quite a bit before we went out Thursday night and said, "We've got the weapon, it's off the street, and we've got the suspects in custody."
And we knew the questions would be, was this part of a broader thing? We have seen nothing that would indicate any of that.
BLITZER: Do you know why they started this shooting rampage, allegedly, in Montgomery County?
DUNCAN: You know, Chief Moose, and I would look at each other through this whole ordeal and just say, why Montgomery, what led them to do this in the first place, but what led them do to that in our county? I'd love to know the answer to that. I don't know if we ever will.
But I don't know why.
BLITZER: Is it just a random coincidence, they happened to have been here and they decided this was a place to do it?
DUNCAN: I think they're trying to find that out now, as to what led them to do it and why they picked Montgomery County to start.
BLITZER: Can help us better understand any motive, the motive that they may have had?
DUNCAN: I can't speculate on that. I've stayed away from any speculation during the whole investigation. It was, we're just going to catch them, and we'll let the police deal with that once we catch them, and present that as part of the prosecution.
BLITZER: Do you think it was the $10 million that they sought in one of those letters, it was as simple as that? They thought if they killed a bunch of people and then they made a demand for money, saying, we're not going to kill anymore if you give us the $10 million? Was it as simple as that or more complex?
DUNCAN: Well, they certainly would have gotten -- as Chief Moose said, they certainly would've gotten our attention with just one shooting. They didn't need to shoot multiple people to get our attention, if that's what they wanted.
So, I don't know why they asked for that when they did, but they had our attention from the first shot.
BLITZER: The death penalty. Do you personally support the death penalty?
DUNCAN: I'm going to leave that to the prosecutors. I've got my own personal feelings about what needs to be done here. The prosecutors need to take the model of the investigators. They need to have a unified front, they need to come together and say, here's what we're going to do.
And wherever we have the strongest case with the strictest penalties, I think that's where the prosecutions need to take place. The public wants swift justice brought here. They want the prosecutors to show they can work together the way the investigators did. And it's important that we do that for the sake of the families of the victims and the sake of the public.
BLITZER: By all accounts, there are strong cases in a lot of jurisdictions. But the swiftest and the most strict penalties are not necessarily in Montgomery County.
DUNCAN: I'll leave that for the prosecutors to do. I'm not a lawyer. I'll let them figure out what's the best way to do this. But they need to say with one voice, here's what we're doing here, and here's how we're going to bring justice to these people.
BLITZER: Has your community in Montgomery County, Maryland, which includes about a million -- almost a million people, are they back to normal, or are they still shaky?
DUNCAN: They're getting back to normal. It was such a tremendous release of motion Thursday night, when Chief Moose and Mike Bouchard and Gary Bald stood up and said, "We have the weapon. We've tied it to the shootings. And we have the suspects in custody." And people just flooded police headquarters with balloons, with flowers, with candy, with cookies, with whatever they could to say thank you. And this emotion has been sort of pouring out ever since then.
I temper it a little bit, because I still had a -- there was still one more funeral. I went to a funeral yesterday for Conrad Johnson. He was a county employee, one of our own family.
BLITZER: He was the bus driver.
DUNCAN: A Ride On bus driver. And we went to the funeral yesterday. And it was like, OK, we're going to continue to grieve with the families, continue to work with the prosecutors, but we're going to get back to normal.
I think yesterday, for the first time, people sort of felt comfortable enough, a couple of days later. They felt comfortable enough that they can -- as they stepped out of their house, they didn't have to look around and look behind their shoulder everywhere they went.
BLITZER: Well, I know I was driving around Montgomery County, Maryland, yesterday. I saw kids playing soccer.
DUNCAN: It was...
BLITZER: The shopping centers were packed. And it looked back to normal to me.
DUNCAN: I went to my kid's football game last night outdoors. And it was an answer to my prayers.
BLITZER: Did they win?
DUNCAN: Actually, the other team didn't show, so...
DUNCAN: ... because there was some confusion about when they were going to start. But the kids were out. There was another game after that. And it was just great to see kids out playing and having a good time and not worrying.
BLITZER: Doug Duncan, thanks for all your help.
DUNCAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Good work.
DUNCAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: And just ahead, prosecuting the sniper suspects. Montgomery County is the first to file criminal charges in the attacks. We'll talk about the case that's being built with the state's attorney from Montgomery County, Doug Gansler. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Montgomery County, Maryland, has filed six counts of murder against sniper suspects John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo. We're joined now by the Montgomery County's chief prosecutor, the state's attorney, Doug Gansler.
Mr. Gansler, welcome to LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.
You know you've caused quite a stir by coming out on Friday, as you did, saying you're going to start the prosecution even in advance of working out some sort of arrangement with the federal government and the other jurisdictions, let's say in Virginia, Alabama, Washington, D.C.
Why did you rush to make that announcement?
DOUG GANSLER, MARYLAND STATE ATTORNEY: Actually, we didn't rush to make that announcement. And I didn't imagine that by doing my job of filing charges against two men that we had probable cause to believe committed six murders in our county, would cause any kind of a stir.
In fact, can you imagine if we were sitting here today, four days later, and no law enforcement authority had filed charges for murder against these two men? People would still be wondering whether or not they're the people.
BLITZER: Well, why didn't you sit down with everybody from all the jurisdictions, have a meeting and spend all night, if necessary, and work it out and come up with a consensus that, "You know what? Six of the 10 people who were killed were from Montgomery County," and let's say you've got the best case.
GANSLER: Actually, we did just that. We did have a meeting. We talked to people from the Department of Justice, we talked to the U.S. Attorneys offices involved. We talked to each and every local prosecutor in Virginia, the District of Columbia, Prince George's County.
Everybody was on the same page. Everybody knew we were going to file charges on Friday. They're going to file their charges. Virginia is going to file their charges tomorrow.
That doesn't mean we're going first, and that doesn't mean we're the only jurisdiction that will prosecute these people. Each and every jurisdiction will have the opportunity to prosecute these two men and to impose what penalty they would like to do. We just wanted to make sure that we have filed our charges, and everyone, we think, will do the same following us.
BLITZER: One senior government source told us -- and I want to put it up on the screen, what he said. He said, "It's unfortunate he" -- referring to you -- "is trying to exploit tragedy for political gain."
That's a very, very strong indictment, if true, obviously.
GANSLER: Right. Well, there's a couple of things. I don't have a political election. I'm running unopposed. I know my mother's going to vote for me. So I think I'm going to actually win that election.
Second, politics should have no part whatsoever ever in any prosecutorial decision, in the use of prosecutorial discretion.
I was elected four years ago to do just this. My job is to prosecute people that commit crimes in my jurisdiction. That is all we are doing here. We have filed six first-degree murder charges against the two men who we believe -- we have probable cause to believe committed these murders.
In terms of the logistics as to who's going to prosecute first, that's something we're going to continue in our cooperation and our partnership with the federal government and the other local authorities.
BLITZER: But you do have political ambitions for higher office down the road.
GANSLER: My ambitions are to do a good job and to do my job. Just like your ambitions and everybody else that we would hope in America, the ambition is to do your job and do it in a good manner and a fair manner and that's what I believe I'm doing.
BLITZER: How old is John Malvo?
GANSLER: We don't know.
BLITZER: Is it possible -- do you have a birth certificate for him?
GANSLER: Well, he's an illegal alien. My understanding is he came into the country illegally. And the documentation he has says he's 17. Right now we are operating under the assumption that he is, indeed, 17. That is something we will find out during the course of our investigation as to his exact age.
BLITZER: But do you suspect he's older than 17?
GANSLER: I have no reason to suspect he's older than 17.
BLITZER: But you don't know for sure how old he is at this point?
GANSLER: That's right.
BLITZER: Because under Maryland law, he is not eligible for the death penalty. GANSLER: That's right, and I agree with that. I don't think -- I agree with the law that says we should not be executing juveniles. Virginia has a different view. Juveniles can be executed there. The District of Columbia doesn't execute anybody.
BLITZER: Alabama has a different view, as well, if he's in fact connected to the killing down there. And as the police chief in Montgomery, Alabama, says, he could be executed there.
GANSLER: Possibly. But what people have to understand is, the case in Alabama is not related to the sniper shooting in the metropolitan area. There are -- perhaps the same defendants may be involved, but it's a completely separate incident than the one we're talking today.
BLITZER: Why not let Virginia, for example, which does have a death penalty and it moves a lot more rapidly on these death penalty murder trials than Maryland does, why not let them, for example, take the lead? They're going to have a swifter -- if you're convinced these guys are the guys who terrorized this region, don't you think the people, the citizens of Montgomery County want them to be punished and justice served as quickly as possible?
GANSLER: I do. And I think prosecution is not just about outcome, not just about what's going to happen to the defendants, but it's part of the healing process. Our community, Montgomery County, was disproportionately affected by these shootings, and we feel that we need to begin the healing process as soon as possible.
We actually also feel that we're in a better position to get the death penalty, because we're able...
BLITZER: Only for John Muhammad.
GANSLER: Only for John Muhammad, because we are able to prosecute seven of the crimes at one time, because we had seven of the 14 shootings in our jurisdiction.
The Virginia jurisdictions can only do one of the cases at a time. So we're actually in a better position to seek and get the death penalty against Mr. Muhammad.
As for Mr. Malvo, he would be -- after we do our prosecution, we would send them to Virginia, they would do their prosecution, and they can carry out the punishment that they feel as a community is appropriate.
BLITZER: You want John Muhammad, do you want him executed?
GANSLER: We have every intention to seek the death penalty against Mr. Muhammad at this point.
BLITZER: But you know that Maryland's track record on the death sentence since it's come back here in the United States, only three over all of these years, and right now there's a moratorium.
What makes you think if he's convicted here he's not going to live a long life sitting in some prison in the state of Maryland?
GANSLER: Well, the moratorium only affects the actual implementation of the death penalty, not the seeking of the death penalty. So we are able to do that. It's also going to be lifted in a few months after a study comes out.
But the other point about that is, I think this is a case that's different than any other case. We all understand that, we all feel that if this case goes to a jury, we can more likely get the death penalty in this case than any other, because the death penalty should be reserved for the most egregious cases, and I feel that a jury might think this is one of those cases.
BLITZER: Is there any sense right now that the federal government, when all is said and done, if they want to take this case they certainly can. They can, as we say in our business, big-foot you.
GANSLER: They could. They have possession of the defendants at this point. We're going to continue our partnership with the federal government. It has been a seamless one during the course of the investigation with the FBI, with the ATF.
We feel that -- they obviously have not made their decision yet. They will make their decision early this week, we're hopeful. They can, they have some hurdles, obviously, to overcome. They're going to have to make the decision whether they can do that. And then down the road we hope to work in a partnership with them in a continued way.
BLITZER: And so explain why you think that would be inappropriate, for the federal government to take the lead in prosecuting these two suspects as opposed to, let's say, Montgomery County?
GANSLER: Well, I think they have some hurdles to certainly overcome. One, if they were to prosecute it would be under something called the Hobbes Act. And they would have to show that extortion was the means by which and the reason for all of these 14 killings, not that it was an afterthought.
BLITZER: The $10 million that they sought.
GANSLER: That would be the $10 million they sought after the 13th or 14th shootings.
They also, the federal government is not equipped to prosecute juveniles. So if they were going to prosecute this case, they wouldn't even be able to start a prosecution for a year because they have to go through a procedure with an appellate right for Mr. Malvo to be treated as an adult.
And finally, the local jurisdictions in Virginia would never be able to prosecute these cases because of a double-jeopardy problem.
So these are things that they know, they're considering, and I'm sure they'll do the right thing in the end. BLITZER: As far as you know, are there still other suspects at large?
GANSLER: There are not any other suspects directly involved with this case, as far as I know, that are at large.
BLITZER: When you say "directly involved"?
GANSLER: Well, there are people that may know these people, Mr. Muhammad and Mr. Malvo. There's the person they just brought in that had a part ownership in the car, that kind of thing.
But in terms of the direct involvement in the sniper shootings, we're unaware of any other people.
BLITZER: And who pulled the trigger on that Bushmaster rifle from the trunk of that Chevy Caprice?
GANSLER: We feel that both men are equally culpable at this time. And as to who shot in which particular case, that's something that we're going to still work out during the course of our investigation.
BLITZER: Do you know?
GANSLER: We have an idea as to who shot, who was the trigger man in different cases, but we're not going to be discussing that at this time.
BLITZER: Is it fair to say both of them at some points actually pulled the trigger and killed individuals?
GANSLER: We are operating under that theory at this time.
BLITZER: And as far as you know, looking at the track record, are there other killings beyond Montgomery County, the Washington area and Alabama, are there other killings elsewhere that they may have been involved in?
GANSLER: You know, I've heard reports of that. I just don't know one way or the other. Our concern is to make sure that the people who committed the sniper shootings in the Washington metropolitan area, that justice is served in those cases, that the punishment fits the crime and that they're held accountable.
BLITZER: Douglas Gansler, thanks for joining us. Good luck to you.
GANSLER: My pleasure, thank you.
BLITZER: And up next, on the trail of the sniper suspects, what led investigators to crack open the case? We'll get analysis from three veterans of high-profile criminal investigations.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now with some insight into the mindset of the sniper suspects, as well as the overall investigation, are three guests: In New York, Dr. N.G. Berrill, he's the director of the Center for Neuropsychology and Forensic Behavioral Science and a faculty member of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York. Also in New York, Joe Coffey, he supervised the investigation of New York's infamous Son of Sam serial killer case back in the late 1970s. And in Philadelphia, that city's former police commissioner, John Timoney.
Gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.
Let me begin with you, Mr. Berrill. And I want a quick assessment from the entire panel. What kind of grades would you give the local, state and federal law enforcement for the way they conducted this investigation?
DR. N.G. BERRILL, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR NEUROPSYCHOLOGY AND FORENSIC BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE: Well, you know, as we see the outcome and how it was wrapped up, I feel a lot more positive, certainly, at the end game of this. You know, at the beginning, I was a little concerned and confused as to what exactly was going on.
But, you know, there's kind of some good, solid, neat lines drawn between the evidence, how it was collected. And, you know, as these guys were apprehended, it's not uncommon that it would be done by, to some degree, happenstance.
BLITZER: So you'd give them an A, B, C?
BLITZER: A- from a college professor, I guess that's pretty good.
What about you, Joe Coffey?
JOE COFFEY, SUPERVISED SON OF SAM INVESTIGATION: I'd give them an A+ all the way. I particularly admire the cooperation between the federal, local and state officials there.
It's unusual, to say the least. I mean, I spent most of my career investigating organized crime. And it was the other way around there, where we always ran into turf battles, and we had problems with the FBI.
But in this case, apparently it worked very well. And it's a good model for the future.
BLITZER: John Timoney?
JOHN TIMONEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Yes, this case really highlighted the systemic weakness of American law enforcement, in that it really is dysfunctional. And so those guys, those three gentlemen are to be commended, and they get an A+. And let's see if the prosecutors can learn from them.
BLITZER: But, John Timoney, were there some highly visible screw-ups that perhaps could have ended this killing spree earlier? I specifically am referring to the vans, the white vans.
BLITZER: We saw those pictures of the Chevy van and the Ford van, that box truck. And all in all, they really should have been looking for a dark Chevy Caprice.
TIMONEY: Without a doubt -- listen, in a big case like this, there are always going to be -- I wouldn't even call them mistakes. But there are -- issues like that are going to come up all the time.
And part of the problem is, I mean, you're looking for cooperation from the public. And in the mindset, as a result of, you know, not just the police but television putting it out there, the white vans, there's this almost understandable focus on white vans. You hear a shooting, a minute later you see a white van, you figure that's it. You're making a false connection.
You know, but I think overall, once they got their sea legs, by the way -- the first week, it was a little turbulent. But once they got their sea legs, I thought they performed, given the circumstances -- I mean, this is an extraordinarily difficult case. Multi- jurisdictional, really in suburban America, this isn't the big cities. And I thought they performed remarkably well, given all the possibilities that could have made things, you know, that much worse, if you will.
BLITZER: Mr. Berrill, in your study of these kinds of situations, eyewitnesses' accounts, were you surprised that, when all was said and done, it wasn't those white vans that were the suspect vehicles, but a dark Chevy Caprice?
BERRILL: Not at all. In fact, you know, while this was taking place, one had to wonder aloud, you know, are these accounts accurate? You know, there was an awful lot of hysteria, I think, that was fueled in part by a fellow coming forward with bogus eyewitness information.
I mean, the public is afraid, and naturally so. They get whipped up into a frenzy. And, you know, you mix that with a certain degree of hysteria, and you're going to get lots of distortion.
BLITZER: You know, we got a copy, Joe Coffey, of a police document, a look-out for a vehicle -- you're familiar with these kinds of documents -- that was released on October 7th. The killing spree started October 2nd. It was a District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department look-out vehicle to be read at all roll calls, not for the press. Older model Chevrolet Caprice, or vehicle of similar style. Burgundy-colored, four-door, with dark-tinted windows. Yet they quickly forgot about that.
What's your take on that situation?
COFFEY: Well, the question is, who forgot about it? I don't think law enforcement forgot about it. Maybe...
BLITZER: Well, law enforcement did forget about it. Because when it was released by the District of Columbia police chief, Charles Ramsey, really publicly on October 12th and October 13th, I interviewed Chief Moose on this program. I asked him about it. And he suggested that there really wasn't much interest in that Chevy Caprice.
COFFEY: Well, you know, hindsight is 20/20. Most of the vehicles in this country are white. So putting out a white vehicle as a target is kind of nebulous, because, like John Timoney pointed out, it plants something in peoples' minds that white is the only color you're to look for.
Earlier this week -- it might have been on your show -- I said, "You can't lock yourself into white. You've got to go blue, yellow, green. It's a vehicle. It has to be a vehicle because of where these occurrences occurred. They occurred near major arteries. So there had to be a vehicle. It didn't necessarily have to be white." As it turned out, it wasn't.
BLITZER: Have you ever seen, Mr. Timoney, anything like this, as far as vehicle screw-ups from eyewitness accounts?
TIMONEY: Oh, you do it all the time. You don't want to call them screw-ups. They are people's perceptions.
For example, in the area of rape, sexual assault, where you see the perpetrator head-on -- and there's been a study done by Jim Dwyer (ph) and Barry Scheck (ph) produced the book -- that in cases where an arrest is made based on an eyewitness' identification, the person who was victimized by the criminal, when they come up with DNA, the victim is wrong 35 percent of the time. And this is with a face-to-face confrontation.
BLITZER: I want you to take a look at this diagram we drew up, Mr. Timoney, of the Caprice and the way it was created to become an effective killing machine, if you can see that. Somebody is lying through the back seat with a hole boared through the rear trunk, from which they don't even have to emerge to start killing people.
In your career as a police officer, have you ever seen anything like that before?
TIMONEY: Never. I've spent 25 years in the NYPD, four in Philadelphia. Never seen anything like that.
And this will go to intent, by the way, because those seats, they don't come back like a convertible. You've got to actually hacksaw those seats back down. So this will really point to the intent.
Which is why, by the way, they're looking for this guy Osbourne, which they picked up in Flint, Michigan, yesterday. They're going to ask him, when you bought the car, was this hole there? Was this seat drawn back? And, you know, depending on his answers, will all go to the notion of not only a motive, but also predetermination.
BLITZER: Joe Coffey, have you ever seen any car configured like that?
COFFEY: I never saw anything like that in my career in the police department or in the military. These people, you know, even though they're street thugs and they're criminals and they're low- lifes, they still had a certain amount of intelligence to think of doing that and actually doing it.
BLITZER: And, Mr. Berrill, when you take a look at the whole issue, as they say, these are two suspects -- remember they haven't been convicted of anything. But if you see that diagram, and it goes to motive, it goes to an explanation, what does that say to you?
BERRILL: Well, you know, as a forensic psychologist, the issues become, as was mentioned, intent, state of mind at the time that a crime was committed.
And certainly one couldn't make the argument easily that this was random or the product of a mental illness. When you go through, you know, sort of careful, meticulous plans to enact a crime and you get a diagram like you have, I mean, it illustrates amply that, you know, they were quite clear about what they wanted to do and and what their goals were.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break, but we have much more to talk about with our panel. They'll also be taking your phone calls. Call us now about the sniper investigation.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking about the sniper investigation with the forensic psychologist Dr. N.G. Berrill, the former Son of Sam investigator Joe Coffey, and the former Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney.
Gentlemen, we have a caller from New York.
Go ahead, New York, with your question.
CALLER: Hi, good afternoon. I'm calling -- I wanted to ask the authorities, do they believe that these are the only three suspects left or, you know, the only guys that's involved in this case.
BLITZER: What about that, Commissioner Timoney?
TIMONEY: Well, we know we've got two definites. And this guy Osbourne, you know, there's a belief that he may -- that there may be a third person involved in the Alabama shooting.
But there's also an issue of there may be other outstanding crimes. How did they support themselves during this spree over the last two or three months? And that's why this investigation -- certain parts of it are over, but the entire investigation is not over. And you've got to look to see if there are other individuals that partook of some parts of the crime spree itself or before or during -- you know, maybe armed stick-ups.
BLITZER: Joe Coffey, what about that?
COFFEY: I agree with John on that. I think there's some stuff here underneath the sheets, so to speak. I believe the two people they have are the shooters. They might have had accomplices. Maybe this guy Osbourne is an accomplice in the planning of this. I have no idea, but it's something to look at.
But I'll guarantee you one thing. The police here and the law enforcement officials in general in this case seem to have all their ducks in order. And they've done a very professional job, and they're not going to leave anything unturned.
BLITZER: Do you agree with that, Mr. Berrill?
BERRILL: Well, looking at the annals of criminal behavior, especially these type of crimes, it's rare enough to find two people working in tandem -- that is, doing the shooting. It's hard to imagine that there would be a third or fourth involved in this specific spree.
But as everyone has mentioned, you know, these guys have been out living in the community. One only wonders who has been supporting them, who knew, perhaps, on some level that this was takes place.
BERRILL: So there's more information that's going to come out.
BLITZER: But do any of you think -- and I'll start with you, Mr. Berrill -- that this was part of some much broader conspiracy, formal terrorism, for example, somebody giving these guys instructions to terrorize the nation's capital?
BERRILL: It certainly doesn't look like that now. I mean, if you look at, you know, how the crimes sort of unfolded, one has a sense that these guys were in over their heads. You know, for whatever psychologic reasons, and one can only speculate as to what those are, that this whole thing started, it doesn't look or feel like someone was masterminding this thing.
These guys got lucky. You know, they had the element of surprise. And as you see, you know, the quality of the communications that took place between presumably them and the law enforcement authorities, there's a kind of randomness, almost a silly, unbelievable quality to it, which suggests that this was not, you know, fed into or strings weren't pulled from outside.
BLITZER: Commissioner Timoney, you agree? TIMONEY: No, I think what you have to do is leave all the avenues open and continue this investigation. You know, maybe the state of Washington connections. There are all sorts of other sub rosa issues that at least have to be looked at before you can put this baby to bed.
BLITZER: Joe Coffey?
COFFEY: Well, I believe speculation is really counterproductive. This case is going to go on -- the past couple of weeks, the past three weeks, I've been watching some of these shows with these so- called psychological profilers on, speculating on who's who and what's what and who did what. I mean, it's very counterproductive, and speculation doesn't solve anything at this point.
We have to see the investigation through. The people in charge certainly have done a fine job, and I'm sure they will continue to do so.
BLITZER: Let's get to that letter that was left, Mr. Berrill, at that Ponderosa Steakhouse a week ago. Among other things, it said this, and we got a copy of the letter: "For you, Mr. Police, call me God. Do not release to the press." What do you make of the communications -- you were beginning to refer to it -- the communications these two guys allegedly were having with the police? What was the point?
BERRILL: Well, you know, that's a good question. What was the point?
I mean, I think they embarked on this spree. They were juiced up. You know, when individuals who commit these kind of crimes begin to enact the crimes, the spree crimes, serial crimes, there's a sense of grandiosity. Self-inflated, they feel very powerful.
And in a sense, what it would appear is that there's a kind of teasing, a sort of communication with the law enforcement people. You know, "Here I am. I want to let you in on a little secret. This is how I look at myself. This is how I feel about myself." But, you know, it's reflective of defective thinking.
BLITZER: Mr. Timoney, Commissioner Timoney, another part of the letter said this, and I'll put it up on the scree. It said, "If stopping the killing is more important than catching us now, then you will accept our demand, which are non-negotiable."
The grammer is not exactly perfect there. You get the point. They said they wanted $10 million, and effectively were starting to kill people to get the police's attention.
Was the motive as simple as that, extortion, they wanted $10 million and so they decided to kill a whole bunch of people?
TIMONEY: Well, if you look at the MO, if you go back to Alabama, which I know Mr. Gansler doesn't want to deal with, but to separate Alabama shooting, the killing there, from these I think is a mistake. There the motive was robbery. And it was an armed robbery that went bad. They didn't get any money. And of course the last shootings here involved an extortion note, again robbery, another form of robbery.
And so it may just be, it's an old-fashioned motive, they're looking to make money. These guys are down on their luck, they're looking to make money. That's as good a reason as any other I've ever seen offered.
BLITZER: What about you, Joe Coffey? That sounds like there's some logic, you can button it up, if it comes down to simply extortion for money.
COFFEY: Well, it certainly appears like that might be the case here.
But as I said earlier, speculating on all these things, including motive, doesn't do anybody any good. When I first heard about the people being apprehended before charges were filed, I said "Show me the gun. You got the gun and I'm very happy, I'll be convinced."
My second concern was the motive. That's yet to be determined. I think we will get that when they turn the young man, the 17-year- old, when they turn him against the other guy, which I think is going to happen.
BLITZER: All right, Commissioner, before I let all three of you go, a quick question on prosecution. Who, in your opinion, should take the lead in filing charges and putting these guys before a jury first?
TIMONEY: Well, I think that the federal authorities, they've got experience in prosecuting homicides. They prosecute all the homicides, by the way, in Washington, D.C.
This right now invloves at least three jurisdictions, maybe more if you start to include Alabama, maybe something out in Washington. And it becomes a bit unwieldy.
And you run into a situation where they're talking about change of venues. You know, once Montgomery County starts, I guarantee you the defense attorneys will be saying, "The atmosphere is poisoned. We need to change the venue." You're going to run into a whole host of of things.
At least with the feds, if it's a change of venue, like Timothy McVeigh, it goes from one federal jurisdiction to another and puts it to rest.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to leave it right there. Unfortunately we're out of time for this segment.
John Timoney, Joe Coffey, N.G. Berrill, thanks to all three of you for your expertise. And just ahead, how will the Washington area heal from the sniper attacks? We'll talk with Virginia Senator George Allen and D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be able to finally get out of your house and go grocery shopping without having to worry about anything is great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That no doubt speaks for everyone here in the greater Washington area.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining us now to discuss the aftermath of the sniper attacks are two special guests: the United States senator George Allen of Virginia and the United States congressional delegate from the District of Columbia, Eleanor Holmes Norton.
It's good to have both of you on the program.
And let me begin with you, Congresswoman. Do you want the District of Columbia to be able to get first crack at these two suspects?
DELEGATE ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D), DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Wolf, we're not in this competition, for two reasons: First, the District of Columbia had only one of the deaths. Very tragic for us. Last Saturday I was at the funeral of this Haitian immigrant who had been here for years.
Secondly, we don't have the death penalty, and here we have the two jurisdictions that do arguing over who's going to get to, in fact, put the death penalty in first.
So, we're not in it. We just want somebody prosecuted quick. We're so glad to be relieved, because the District was, for the first time in a very long time, not the center of a violent attack of people with arms. Only one of these deaths here.
So we just wanted to get it over with, and don't want to be in this competition. I'm glad that this competition did not invade the actual investigation when it was going on.
BLITZER: Three people were killed in Virginia. Do you think Virginia should try these guys?
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R), VIRGINIA: I agree with Eleanor in this regard and also with all of those who really do want to see justice. Justice should be swift and sure. And capital punishment is appropriate for both of them.
BLITZER: Even for the 17-year-old?
ALLEN: Sure. And...
BLITZER: Why do you say that? Because there are a lot people who think 17 is a juvenile, and he could have been influenced, it would be wrong to execute someone for committing a crime at the age of 17.
ALLEN: Well, the question is whether he could comport his behavior to the retirements of the law, whether he had the knowledge, whether or not he was part of the deliberations, the shooting, the whole enterprise for many, many killings, not just in Virginia, but in Maryland, D.C., and possibly also in Alabama.
So I agree with our attorney general in Virginia, Jerry Kilgore, as to what we'd like to see is swift and sure justice.
If you look at the comparison of the different jurisdictions that have laws here, you have D.C., which is generally the weakest...
BLITZER: Well, you've heard the congresswoman say they're out of this.
ALLEN: All right. Then you have Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, and the federal government.
Alabama may have a very strong case for murder during an armed robbery.
Virginia obviously allows the jury to determine whether or not capital punishment would be appropriate for someone who's 17 years old, as well as an adult. Maryland does not have that.
What the prosecutors need to do is, get together, determine who has the best evidence, what's the best way to proceed.
In Virginia's case, with our laws, if the federal government went in, that would preclude Virginia for getting justice for their citizens. And the citizens of all these jurisdictions want to see justice.
BLITZER: The reason I've invited both of you to come on is because we've had several other representatives from Maryland on. It's important to have somebody from Washington, D.C., and Virginia.
Congresswoman, among other things, you teach law at Georgetown University Law School. Do you think the federal government has the best case right now?
NORTON: I really don't. The federal government would have several different loops to jump over, because this wasn't a straight- out murder. It could have been -- might not have been a murder in the process of committing a federal crime. That would be extortion.
Maryland and Virginia have straight-out murder. And the way in which the federal government has gone at this -- as Tom and I were both in briefings, a briefing, a very good briefing by federal officials -- is they have deferred -- while being very clear that they were all the resources -- much of the resources and much of the expertise in, they were real clear that they wanted to defer to the local jurisdictions.
I don't expect that they will jump in now and say, let's make this a federal...
BLITZER: Do you agree with that, Senator Allen?
ALLEN: Yes, I think that they have shown great restraint in it. They've been of great help, working with the local and state law enforcement. And the bottom line is that the people in all these states want justice.
In Virginia, as far as we're concerned, whether a 17-year-old shoots someone or rapes someone, the victim is just as harmed by that activity. And I think that, while that is tough, nevertheless, we feel that that is the appropriate approach. And because of that, our juvenile crime rates in Virginia are lower than the national average and have actually been dropping.
So I know that Spotsylvania, for example, is going...
BLITZER: Which is in Virginia.
ALLEN: In Virginia, where the killing was at the Massaponax exit, just south of Frederickburg. They're going to be supposedly proferring charges tomorrow.
Prince William has had experience. They've had capital punishment cases in that jurisdiction. And then Fairfax County also has an experienced prosecutor.
BLITZER: Have either of you received any information to believe that there are other suspects at large?
NORTON: We haven't. And, actually, I think it's amazing that there were two involved. None of the profilers thought that there were two culprits...
BLITZER: Except that some of the snipers, they work in tandem. The work -- you know, in the military, and John Muhammad does have a military background.
NORTON: That's true, but that was all real guesstimate stuff. Nobody, based on anything they saw, could have possibly thought that somebody would be poking a gun out of the rear of a trunk. So, you know, I don't think that we are in a position now to guess that there were more than two, or even that this third person was necessarily involved.
ALLEN: I go with the law enforcement professionals. They're not answering your question on that.
BLITZER: But in your briefings that you've received and both of you...
ALLEN: No, and indeed if I did hear anything, I wouldn't say anything more than the law enforcement professionals did. There were indications that they were thought -- they did believe that it is possible that there was more than one involved in these shootings. So obviously, there was so much speculation.
BLITZER: Right. But overall, do you both agree that Chief Moose of Montgomery County and his team, the task force, local, state, federal law enforcement authorities did an excellent job, or were they lacking?
NORTON: Actually, I was proud Chief Moose. I don't know him. I thought that so much was thrown at him that he couldn't possibly have prepared for, that he performed in a most professional manner. He cried early on, and it showed his humanity.
BLITZER: He's a human being.
NORTON: Yes. And when you consider the kinds of questions he got, how thoughtful he was in his answers. I think we are all very grateful for how he conducted himself.
BLITZER: Were Virginia people, Virginia law enforcement confident in the way this task force was run?
ALLEN: They all worked very well together, the Montgomery County police, the Prince George, Maryland, police, D.C., and then the various jurisdictions in Virginia from Hanover to Spotsylvania to Fairfax to Prince William, plus the federal agencies even deploying of federal military assets under FBI management.
And everyone worked together. In a round-about way, the attacks on September 11th, which so devastated this area when the Pentagon in particular was hit, had that sort of cooperation previously. And so, everyone worked the best they could. There were maybe a few times they shouldn't have been doing press conferences on top of one another in two different places. But they did best they could, and everyone worked together as a team.
And I guarantee you, everyone is this region is breathing freely. They're happy. Our kids are out playing again and running around. And we thank those law enforcement professionals.
BLITZER: We can all second that.
Senator Allen, Congressman Eleanor Holmes Norton, thanks to both of you for joining us.
And 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. We'll get more insight into the legal case against the sniper suspects. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll sort through some of the key legal aspects of the sniper case in just a few minutes, but first, here's CNN's Heidi Collins in Atlanta with a news alert.
BLITZER: While sniper suspects John Muhammad and John Lee Malvo are already facing murder charges in Montgomery County, Maryland, additional prosecutions from other jurisdictions as well as from the federal government could follow or could even come first.
Joining us now with some insight into all these legal possibilities on the sniper case, our two guests. In Austin, Texas, Catherine Crier of Court TV. She's also the author of a new book entitled "The Case Against Lawyers." We'll talk a little bit about that, as well. And joining us now from Miami is the criminal defense attorney Roy Black.
Good to have both of you on the program. Thanks very much for joining us.
Roy Black, as far as you're concerned, who should have first crack at these two suspects?
ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Wolf, I have to admit, I agree with Mr. Gansler. I think it makes most sense to try the case in Montgomery County first, because those are the people who have suffered most through this. And I think they're entitled to have a trial there.
Having said that, I believe Virginia will have an easier prosecution than they would in Maryland. But nevertheless, I still think that it ought to be in Montgomery County.
BLITZER: Why would it be easier in Virginia than Maryland?
BLACK: Well, because they have a little bit different death penalty laws, for example, there with multiple killings like this. And after 9/11, they added in a provision, causing terrorism on the public.
So I think it would be easier for them to seek the death penalty in Virginia than it would be in Maryland. And of course, Maryland is much more hesitant in imposing the death penalty.
BLITZER: Catherine Crier, what do you do you say?
CATHERINE CRIER, COURT TV: Well, I agree with Roy, but you've got all of these backup cases, whether it be Alabama or Virginia. So they can attempt this in Montgomery. If they are dissatisfied with the outcome, instead of pushing all of these other cases, they ought to wait, because there is no statute of limitations on this murder, and if they want to follow them up with the other cases one at a time until they're satisfied, they can do that.
BLITZER: Do either of you think the federal government should really take the lead on the prosecution? Catherine, let me begin with you.
CRIER: No, Wolf. I agreed with guests in the earlier hour, because the federal government provided assistance but this is a state matter. And I'm a little bothered when the federal government continues to reach outside of its jurisdiction to bring things in to remove power from the states.
And to take over this investigation, I think would be an inappropriate thing to do, would be overreaching on their part. They were supposed to assist and they did just that.
BLITZER: What about that, Roy?
BLACK: Well, this is a classic common-law crime, you know, first-degree murder. The states, local government are the best at prosecuting this.
The federal government could prosecute it, but it would be under very tortuous kinds of laws. I mean the Hobbs Act, interstate use of extortion. I don't even know if they could prove that, because personally, I don't know what that $10 million demand was about, and, as Gansler said, it was after the 13th victim, so I don't find that particularly compelling.
And I think the worst place to prosecute this would be in federal court.
BLITZER: And whether in Maryland or Virginia, have the U.S. Attorney file charges, you think that would be a huge mistake, is that what you're saying, Roy?
BLACK: Yes, I think so, because it just really doesn't fit into it as much as it does with first-degree murder.
Let's face it, everybody understands premeditated, first-degree murder. Being a sniper, setting up, killing people like this, doing it over two or three weeks, this is classic premeditated murder and ought to be prosecuted by the state.
BLITZER: So, Catherine, explain to our viewers why some sources in the Justice Department in the federal government were upset at Douglas Gansler, the state's attorney in Maryland, Montgomery County, Maryland, for coming out on Friday and simply saying they're moving ahead with these charges.
CRIER: Well, it's probably an issue of control. The federal government would like to get in there and say, "OK, we've analyzed all of these cases. This is how you should perform. This is how you should behave." But in fact, it's entirely appropriate for Montgomery County to step forward and say, "Yes, we were the heart of this horror, and we should proceed forward." They've got most of the investigators stationed there. Most of the key work came out of there and Washington. It's entirely appropriate for them to assert their jurisdiction and go ahead and make that claim.
BLITZER: Roy Black, as you know, there's a moratorium right now on the death penalty in the state of Maryland. There have been three executions, only three executions, going back since the time the Supreme Court lifted the moratorium, allowed capital punishment here in the United States.
I want you to listen to what the governor of Maryland, Parris Glendening, said this past week in explaining why that moratorium's not going to make a difference in seeking capital punishment against John Muhammad, the suspect this time. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARRIS GLENDENING, GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND: When you have something this horrendous, it seems to me that, if there's no question whatsoever about the guilt, that this is the type of incident for which that legislation was written. But it will not in any way be deterred or impacted by that moratorium.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is that -- does that make sense to you?
BLACK: It really doesn't. But the problem here, Wolf, just as the guests on your last hour, you know, the politicians are falling over themselves, you know, crying out for the death penalty, because they know that it's popular.
And so, of course, Maryland wants to try this case. They're trying to allay fears that they won't be able to get the death penalty. But there comes a time -- I think this is a little unseemly, everybody arguing who's going to get to execute these people first.
I mean, the first thing to do is to see that they have lawyers, they get a fair trial, that all the evidence is disclosed, and it's fairly convicted, and then determine what the penalty ought to be. I worry when you get politicians jumping in here, oh, you know, being cheerleaders for their prosecutors.
BLITZER: And on that specific point, Catherine Crier, a case like this can certainly make someone's career, given the history of these kinds of huge cases. Isn't that right?
CRIER: Oh, absolutely. Rudy Giuliani made such a career, it was the mob and the pizza cases, the famous mob cases. But you prosecute a big endeavor like this, your name is going to be throughout the state, if not the country. And yes, it's a great block, stepping stone, to do exactly that.
I think on your earlier question, though, Governor Ryan really went for his moratorium in Illinois because they were so concerned about the conviction of many, many of their death row inmates. Here I think Montgomery would take the right stance to, as Roy said, be careful, cross all your t's, dot all your i's. I think the evidence is there, and you don't want to make any mistakes in this rush to fulfill some vengeance.
BLITZER: All right. We have a caller who's just on the line right now.
Go ahead with your question, please.
CALLER: Yes, I'm calling from Chicago, Illinois, and I wanted to ask, do you think it's premature to pursue the death penalty when the two men are only considered as suspects? Does it have anything to do with their race?
BLITZER: Roy Black?
BLACK: Well, I don't think it has to do with their race. I think, regardless of what their race or ethnic background was, or religion, there are going to be people seeking the death penalty in this case because of the horror that was visited on the community and the number of deaths.
But the caller makes an excellent point. We have all these politicians jumping in here demanding death. I mean, these people have not even -- they've only been formally charged in Montgomery County so far. They haven't been convicted yet. They are presumed innocent. I mean, we should allow the system to work. And at the end of a trial, if it's proven that they did these crimes, which most likely they did, then the determination or the penalty should be made.
BLITZER: Talk of the death penalty, Catherine Crier, as the caller says, there's a lot of talk of the death penalty. People are very, very angry in the greater Washington area, as you can imagine.
But as far as the difference between Maryland and Virginia juvenile, if John Malvo is in fact only 17, and there's apparently still some question about his exact age, if he's 17, he can't be executed in Maryland, but he could be executed in Virginia or Alabama, for that matter.
Should that be a significant factor in who gets jurisdiction?
CRIER: Well, not necessarily. Because if, in fact, they get a serious penalty on him through the juvenile proceedings in Maryland, it won't be corresponding to the seriousness they can get elsewhere, but you just try him then in another court.
You follow up, you've already got all of the evidence in the record, you've examined your case. If there are holes in it or problems, they have a chance in Virginia and Alabama to study that. And if they want to, in fact, try him as an adult and seek the death penalty, that's their prerogative.
BLITZER: If you were, Roy Black, representing one of these two suspects right now, what's the first thing you would say to them if you walked into that room, that little jail house room, and talked to them immediately, what would you say?
BLACK: Boy, you guys are in a lot of trouble.
Let me tell you, Wolf, this thing looks pretty dismal as we're looking at it. But the problem is, remember, all that we know about this case is what's put on the record and put out by the police and the prosecutors. We have no idea what Muhammad and Malvo say about this.
So what's really going to happen is the defense attorney wants to find out from them what they have to say. Is there any explanation of this? Is there any excuse? I mean, where do we go with this, where do we begin investigating? Because we've heard nothing from their side of this.
CRIER: And, Wolf, you've also been already receiving information about possibly this Svengali influence that Muhammad had over Malvo. You're already seeing the building of a defense, certainly, for the juvenile, that he was -- this restricted diet, he was basically hypnotized by this man.
So you're building something that may lead to an insanity defense or certainly a diminished capacity to try at least to save this person's life.
BLITZER: And quickly before we take a break, Roy, presumably these guys don't have any money. The court is going to assign them lawyers, taxpayers are going to pay for their defense.
Does that mean automatically they're going to have second-rate defense attorneys, or can they get the best criminal defense attorneys in the country?
BLACK: Oh, I'm willing to bet that the judges in this case, who no doubt will have a hand in deciding who the lawyers are, will pick the best lawyers that they can, because they want to have a fair trial. They want, if you're going to seek a heavy penalty like this, everyone to see that justice was done. And picking second-rate lawyers or not giving them the resources to work with, I think, would be a big mistake. I'm sure that the state is going to ensure that they have an adequate defense.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break, but we have a lot more to talk about, including more of your phone calls for Catherine Crier and Roy Black. Catherine Crier has a new book out; we'll talk about that as well.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're getting some legal analysis on the sniper case from Catherine Crier of Court TV and criminal defense attorney Roy Black.
Did the news media help or hurt this investigation, Roy? BLACK: Well, I certainly think the news media helped the police in this case. I mean, I watched it intently almost every day, and I thought the news media handled itself pretty well.
And I think it was important to get the information out, because most police officers will tell you that most of their information comes from the public. And I think that the press did a great job in getting the story out, in helping people see if they see something important.
BLITZER: Like me, Catherine, you're part of the news media. What kind of grades would you give us?
CRIER: Well, as ex-prosecutor and judge, I also cringe on the other side when I think too much information may be going out. Obviously, they have to be able to retain certain things to be sure they've got the right people, to appropriately conduct the back-scene investigation.
I think when some of the leaks came out, Chief Moose was genuinely upset. But I also think he played to the cameras a bit because the sniper had said, "Don't reveal this," and he had to come forward and seem probably a bit more aggravated than he was.
But they know there's a real balancing process, and ultimately the media is necessary in cases like this to get information and capture a suspect.
BLITZER: Roy, did we go overboard with all those profilers that we brought on the air over these past three and a half weeks, making all sorts of speculations? Some of them totally wrong, although some of them pretty close to the mark. For example, a lot of those profilers said two people working in tandem, military background, that's the way they kill.
BLACK: Well, Wolf, you know, it's a little hard for me to evaluate that because I was really very interested in it, to be honest with you. I think they had some very interesting people who had some unique psychological insights into criminals and the sociology of it, and I found that pretty interesting. I don't think that that hurt the investigation in any way.
And remember, you know, the police complain about that, but where are the leaks coming from? They're coming from the police getting it out on television. So, I mean, I don't see how they can complain about the news media when they're the ones leaking the information.
BLITZER: And I'm told, Catherine, that the police investigation or at least a lot of them, they were working under the assumption based on their profiling, that the sniper was a white guy, very smart, acting on his own.
CRIER: Yes, absolutely. Well, that's the traditional profile. When you talk about profiling, it's simply putting case after case after case together and trying to glean some sort of pattern or threads. Some are legitimate, some aren't. But it still comes down to an educated guess.
And when you look at the history of snipers or serial killers, they tend to be dominated by white males in their 20s to early 30s. And they go through the speculations.
But I will say, once you looked at the strategy, the time it took, the escape venues that these individuals checked out, my feeling was, and talked about this on air, that this was a military person. And I was surprised -- or ex-military. I was surprised more of the profilers seemed to deny that. Certainly the FBI agents didn't like the notion that this person could have been ex-law enforcement or ex- military.
BLITZER: Catherine, you've written a new book with a very provocative title, "The Case Against Lawyers." You happen to be one of those lawyers. Give us a very brief assessment, what's the case against lawyers?
CRIER: Well, thumbnail is, we escaped King George to create the rule of law so that we would be treated equally and with justice. And the rule of law, manipulated by legislators, lobbyists and lawyers, has now become as tyrannical as King George, that basically everything we do from the moment we roll out of bed until we go to sleep is manipulated now by law.
And additionally, everything coming out of Congress, I'd say a lot of the laws coming out of Congress are simply political favors, giveaways, instead of taking care of the American people, or used as we discussed, as grand-standing in many cases. And that's not the use of law. And we're becoming overwhelmed.
BLITZER: Are we becoming overwhelmed, Roy Black?
BLACK: Yes, I think there ought to be a law against that, Wolf.
CRIER: You can write it for us, Roy.
BLITZER: I bet she sounds like she's slamming you a little bit, Roy.
BLACK: Well, you know what, the problem is modern society has millions of laws and regulations that we all have to follow, and ordinances, I mean, from the top of the federal government all the way down to your municipalities. So there are times that it seems bewildering, and you need lawyers to be able to exist in today's modern life.
But that just happens to be, you know, the way of living in today's technological, modern society.
CRIER: I refuse to accept that, though, Roy. That is what we are accepting coming down from above. But, in fact, so many of those laws and rules and regulations do not accomplish what they say they're supposed to accomplish. We're pouring money and energy and time into utilizing these. No longer is human judgment trusted because there's a rule and regulation to tell everyone what to do at every moment.
One note, President Bush is begging to get out from under rules and regulations with the Homeland Security Agency, because he says, "I can't possibly run this agency appropriately if I have to obey the workplace employment laws." Well, there have been a lot of businesspeople screaming about that for years.
BLACK: Yes, but, Catherine, since 9/11, he's created more rules and regulations than any other president. So, I mean, you can't get away from it.
CRIER: And during troubled times, that's exactly what we do. We succumb to more rules and regulations, thinking words on a page are going to make us more secure. But on 9/11, all the FAA regulations, all of the controls on the CIA and FBI, you look across -- the INS, all these rules and regulations did what? Nothing.
BLITZER: All right. Unfortunately, we're going to have to leave it right there, but for those of our viewers who want to read more about it, they can read Catherine Crier's new book, "The Case Against Lawyers," and maybe they'll find some thoughts, some provocative comments in there as well. I'm sure they will.
CRIER: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Roy Black, we'll have you back.
BLACK: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Catherine Crier, we always want you on our show as well. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Up next, LATE EDITION's "Final Round." Our panel is ready to debate all the big stories of the week. "The Final Round," right after a news alert.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
Time now for our "Final Round." Joining me, Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist, Terry Neal of washingtonpost.com, Ramesh Ponnuru of "The National Review," and Christopher Caldwell of the "Weekly Standard."
It's as if the Washington, D.C., area had been held hostage for the past three weeks plus, but the region is trying to get back to normal now that two men, John Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, have been arrested in the sniper attacks that killed 10 people and wounded three others.
Earlier here on LATE EDITION, the man who was the face of the investigation, Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Chief Charles Moose, shared his thoughts about the ordeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOOSE: I'll always wish that we could have found these people sooner so we could have had fewer victims, impacted fewer families. But it really, it's not about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Christopher, what are your thoughts as you see how this entire hostage sniper situation basically unfolded?
CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL, WEEKLY STANDARD: Pretty much the same as Charles Moose's. We have just been through an act of terrorism, which is what this is, and we were unprepared for it. We got out of it through a series of lucky breaks, specifically Malvo's leaving a print on a gun magazine in Montgomery, Alabama.
And we found out a few things about the country that we didn't know before. We thought we were more prepared to tough it out against terrorism. We're not. We thought we were divided about the death penalty. We're not. We like it. And for revenge reasons, not for justice reasons. And we're more ambivalent about profiling now than we were before.
BLITZER: Not exactly an exact science, Terry?
TERRY NEAL, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: Yes, well, what I was going to say is the thing that struck me, and I don't know the answer to this, is would they have found these guys sooner had they not been focused on finding two white guys, or one white guy in a white van?
Moose himself put it best when he said we're looking for -- I think he said, "We were looking for two white guys in a white van, and it was really two black guys in a blue Chevy Caprice." It raises questions about profiling.
But on the other hand there've only been, there's only been one serial killer of notoriety in the United States who's African- American, that was Wayne Williams in the Atlanta child murders.
So I don't know the answer to that question, but that's the thing that kind of strikes me.
BLITZER: Donna, what's strikes you?
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I'm glad it's over, the drama is over at least, and many of us can return to the suburbs to go shopping without being sniped at.
BLITZER: Spoken as a true resident of the District of Columbia.
BRAZILE: Absolutely, I went shopping yesterday to express my satisfaction that... BLITZER: You went into Northern Virginia to ...
BRAZILE: No, I went into suburban Maryland. You know, there's a close race so I have to go where I'm needed.
But also, we're relieved, but I do believe that there's time now to have a national debate on whether or not we need to, you know, begin to have a national ballistic fingerprint database. Look, the NRA has gotten its way across the board with both Republicans and Democrats, but I think in order to stop these cold-blooded killers in the future we really need a national database.
BLITZER: But you know that's not an exact science either, that fingerprinting, that ballistic fingerprinting. It can easily be changed, it's not like real fingerprints.
BRAZILE: Well, it's not, but it's a new technology, the president expressed a willingness to look at it, the FBI support it, the ATF support it. And I believe it's time that now the political leaders support it and give it a try.
BLITZER: They're willing to look at it.
What do you think, is this the time to have a big debate about gun control?
RAMESH PONNURU, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, the thing that's really struck me, Wolf, is how unsuccessful the attempts by some to make this a gun-control issue have been. I mean, I think even in Maryland, that has not been particularly successful for Kathleen Townsend running for governor there. And if it's not going to play in Maryland, and particularly under these circumstances, I don't see how that plays anywhere.
BRAZILE: Well, it is playing...
NEAL: Well, yes, I was going to say, I don't know that -- I don't know necessarily that it's not playing. I mean, she's still got problems. I think that the gun issue may be one of the only reasons why she's still in this race. The race is a dead heat on issues that...
PONNURU: But is Bob Erlich in a worse position than he was a month ago? I don't think...
BLITZER: Well, she's using that as a -- she's using a lot of her commercials, a lot of her ads focus in on her opposition to guns and his support, in effect, for guns.
BRAZILE: That's correct, that's correct. And he's moderating his views on guns as we speak.
CALDWELL: It's a sort of a reversal of the old Republican- Democrat relationship where you have what Marshall Whitman of the Hudson Institute calls ACLU Republicans...
... who are endangering Americans through their excessive...
BLITZER: I want to move on to another subject. But once around, very quickly, what's Chief Moose next going to do? He's become, in effect, a superstar out of this.
NEAL: Well, I don't know what he's going to do next. He's going to probably stay. And as you said, he is a superstar. I was just driving down 495 the other day and someone was holding a huge sign over the overpass that said, "Thank you, Moose." So he is a big star. I think he'll stay here and be successful.
BLITZER: What do you think?
CALDWELL: I think he hopes his life will get a lot quieter at this point.
BLITZER: He deserves a little peace and quiet right now. Although, if he has political ambitions, he certainly could try to capitalize on them.
BRAZILE: Well, he's a good law enforcement officer. And I bet he will just work to make sure that these individuals are put behind bars.
PONNURU: I thought Doug Gansler was the superstar of the moment. He's the one I keep on seeing on TV.
BLITZER: Well, Doug Gansler, I'm sure, has some political ambitions as well. He's the state's attorney in Montgomery County for Maryland. He wants to prosecute these two suspects.
Let's move on to the other big story of the week, the sad death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone. The Democrat was in the midst of a tight campaign for reelection when he was killed in a plane crash on Friday. Wellstone's wife, daughter, five other people were also killed.
Earlier today, Wellstone's Republican opponent, the former St. Paul, Minnesota, Mayor Norm Coleman, spoke of the loss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORM COLEMAN, FORMER MAYOR OF ST. PAUL, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: Families have to have time to have their grieving process. I understand there will be a private service of Senator Wellstone within the next day or so and a public memorial service on Tuesday. And then I presume the Democrats will have a candidate, and then we will have an election. But it's still pretty raw.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Meanwhile, we've learned that the former Vice President Walter Mondale is certainly the favorite among Democrats to replace Wellstone on the ballot.
Terry, is recycling Walter Mondale at his age, 74, 75, a good idea for the Democrats?
NEAL: It's as good of an idea as they have right now. I was one of the unfortunate people who had to start making calls Friday afternoon, as people in Minnesota were grieving, to ask them who was going to replace Wellstone on the ballot.
Initially there was some talk of Alan Page, who is a former Minnesota Vikings football great, hall-of-famer, who is now on the supreme court there.
BLITZER: Of the state?
NEAL: Of Minnesota. But I think the party activists realized pretty quickly that with less than two weeks to go before the election, they needed somebody who had immediate name recognition, number one, and whose politics you knew, you know, who didn't have to go out there and build name recognition and get his platform out there. And that person, there's no one better for that, given the time constraints, than Walter Mondale.
BLITZER: If he accepts, and the indications are he probably will, it looks like Norm Coleman is going to have a huge, huge struggle.
CALDWELL: He will lose, because -- Coleman will lose, because Mondale is perfect because of his age. He is at an age where he's achieved a lot. He's about the only person in Minnesota who is absolutely proof against any accusation that he's serving his own ambition through this.
CALDWELL: And all he can do is pay tribute to Paul Wellstone, as he should, and there is not much campaigning that Coleman can do against him.
BLITZER: Only a few days. What's your assessment?
BRAZILE: Well, my assessment is that the Minnesota party will choose Walter Mondale on Wednesday night, and Walter Mondale will become the next senator from the state of Minnesota.
Let me just say that Paul Wellstone was a great and passionate grassroot organizer and a champion of the little guy. And he's going to be missed, especially, not only by his colleagues, but the people who worked in the cafeterias, the janitors. He was somebody who hugged and embraced every American, and we're going to miss him.
BLITZER: What do you think? Is this a slam dunk for Walter Mondale, assuming he accepts?
PONNURU: I don't buy the conventional wisdom that Mondale has this sewn up. This is a man who last won a state election in Minnesota in 1972, who barely won Minnesota when he ran for president in 1984.
He is a major advocate of President Bush's position on Social Security, which is something that I think, once it becomes more public, is going to alienate some Wellstone Democrats.
Also there's a question of where he stands on Iraq, which is going to be a problem for Mondale when...
BLITZER: When you say he's an advocate of President Bush's Social Security -- on the privatization...
PONNURU: He's in favor of private accounts for Social Security and raising the retirement age.
BLITZER: Is that going to be an issue?
BRAZILE: I don't think so. I think people will look at who will continue Paul Wellstone's legacy on issues of fairness and justice and equality, and Walter Mondale can fit those shoes. And I don't think those issues will divide the electorate.
BLITZER: We'll be watching that very, very short race, that's going to be about a week, and we'll see what happens. Walter Mondale, assuming he gets it -- we don't know if he will -- but I do think that they'll have to promise him some chairmanship of a committee, if he's going to come in.
BRAZILE: Well, he will have enormous seniority.
BLITZER: So, do you think he'd be the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee?
BRAZILE: Or Finance Committee, we don't know.
BLITZER: All right, we'll see, we'll find out.
We're going to take a quick break. When we return, 10 days and counting until the critical midterm elections. Which party is poised to win? We'll tackle that and much more when our Final Round returns.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our "Final Round."
The sniper attacks had all but pushed the midterm elections out of the spotlight, but Republicans and Democrats are hoping to make a final big push before voters head to the polls next Tuesday. At stake, party control of both the House as well as the Senate.
Earlier today the former House speaker, Republican Newt Gingrich, and the Democratic political strategist and CNN Crossfire co-host, James Carville, debated party strategy for winning over voters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: What the Democrats need to say is, first, we need a new economic team in here. Harvey Pitt has got to go. This president's economic team is not up to the job.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Having failed to pass welfare reform, having failed to pass pension reform, they're not in a position -- Democrats are not in a position to say we can deliver it.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BLITZER: All right, Donna, I know you're not objective...
... but step back a little bit and give us your bottom-line assessment, the House and the Senate.
BRAZILE: Well, two weeks ago I would have called it a different way. I would have said the Republicans would have retained control of the House and the Democrats would still retain the Senate.
Today, I would say, after being out there for the last week, that Democrats will retain the Senate, and I do believe that they're within three or four seats of taking back the House.
Look, Republicans peaked about a week ago and what happens on the ground the last 10 to 12 days of the campaign, that's when Democrats get turned on and they can turn their people on. We've got more people...
BLITZER: But you need huge voter turnout if the Democrats are going to win.
BRAZILE: Absolutely. And that's the charge the Democrats have over the last...
BLITZER: But people aren't really focusing that much attention. How are you going to get big voter turnout when everybody seems to think these elections are a big yawn?
BRAZILE: That's because at the state and local level, at the grassroot level where you can really go knock on doors and get the people out there, you can hear it, you can feel it, the rumblings are coming. And I think Democrats will do quite well next week.
BLITZER: Is she right, Romesh?
PONNURU: I think her initial prediction was close to the mark.
BLITZER: You think the Democrats will retain the Senate?
PONNURU: I think, if you had to bet, I think the most likely scenario is Democrats keep the Senate and Republicans keep the House. And it may very well be that the Democrats come within three or four seats of taking the House, but that's not the same thing as actually taking the House.
You know, it is an environment where, even though we're going to war, even though the economy's in trouble, nothing really seems to be rousing the voters much.
BLITZER: Terry, is that your assessment?
NEAL: My assessment is I think that the Republicans keep the House. I think that the Senate is a complete toss-up.
If you would have asked me a couple weeks ago after the Iraq resolution vote, I would have said that the Democrats were going to come out of that thing very strong and poised to put themselves in position to take -- to not only keep the Senate but take back the House. But I don't see that they've really taken the opportunity to make the economy an issue and really taken the bull by the horns.
Gephardt came out that same week with a five-point economic plan, but I don't think anybody in America knows what it is.
BLITZER: You know, there's only 10 days to go, as you know, Christopher, and a lot of people don't even start to pay attention until these final few days, so this is a critical moment.
CALDWELL: Yes, Terry's right about the economics, though. What has killed the Democrats, and this is something Carville and I think probably Donna has said, is that they have not gone up against the centerpiece of Bush's economic plan, which is the tax cut. Until they do that, they look weasely and opportunistic.
But I think Republicans will keep the House, maybe pick up couple of seats. I think Democrats are looking stronger than they were in the Senate.
BLITZER: All right, let's move on and talk about President Bush. He spent the weekend, as our viewers know, in Mexico at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the annual meeting of Asian and Pacific leaders.
While economics, of course, and trade were on the agenda, the president spent a lot of time trying to lobby support for a new U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq. The Security Council hasn't hammered out a new resolution yet.
Romesh, the momentum, though, seems to be -- correct me if I'm wrong -- seems, at least on the Security Council, to be moving away from that of the Bush administration.
PONNURU: I don't know if I agree with that. You have some signs that China may be coming on board with the Bush resolution.
And I think what you saw -- what you've seen in the last few days, with President Bush and Colin Powell really suggesting that, you know, "Look, if the U.N. goes against us, we're just going to reevaluate our options, it doesn't mean we're not going to move," in fact, President Bush says we will move, I think that's a way of calling people's bluff and saying, "Look, we're not going to have an endless debate on this."
And while it may be that France's initial, first preference would be to have an endless debate that made everybody think, "Oh, where's France going to come out," I think their second preference is going to be to be with the United States and the rest of the world.
BLITZER: I think a lot of people probably agree with Romesh. What do you think?
BRAZILE: Well, to a point, I do. But I also differ, because I do believe that France and Russia now have the momentum with them. Our efforts have stalled in the U.N.
I think the administration needs to fish and cut bait, get behind France and Russia and hopefully bring more people to the table with them. Right now we only have Great Britain and Bulgaria who's willing to stand with us. We haven't built an international coalition. It doesn't appear that we're going to have China's support. They're listening, but they haven't committed.
BLITZER: Even Mexico and Vicente Fox is not with the United States right now. It seems what the Bush administration could do is, take what they could get, go as far as they could go with the Russians and the French, call it a victory and move on.
CALDWELL: I disagree. I think that everything has changed since the seizure of that theater in Moscow, in the last couple of days. The Chechen rebels went on Al-Jazeera with an Arabic broadcast about this seizure. It was a September 11th-style act of terrorism. It's changed a lot of minds...
BLITZER: Do you think the Russians are going to come around?
CALDWELL: I think Russia is still going to demand something from us in return, but I think their vote -- for example, like supporting them if they go into borderland Georgia. But I think their vote is there to be had, as is China's, according to what the foreign minister said at APEC. And if they're with us, France is not going to be isolated. I think things look better than they did 48 hours ago.
NEAL: I think they'll come around, because they just...
BLITZER: The Russians?
NEAL: ... have to. The Russians and the French. Diplomatically, they just have to.
I think that there is a realization in the Bush White House, despite the tough rhetoric, that they can't go it alone, because -- I hate to get back to the polls, but look, every single poll shows that people would be with the president if there is an international coalition, but that support drops dramatically if there is no international coalition. And so they've got to have it.
And I think that, you know, despite all the bluster of the president, I think that they're really going to begin working diplomatically, because they have to have Russia and France if they will make it happen.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break. A lot more to come up, including our Lightning Round, as well as some thoughts from Bruce Morton. Just ahead, stay with us.
BLITZER: Time now for our Lightning Round.
The ghouls and the goblins will be out this week for Halloween.
Terry, who in Washington scares you the most?
NEAL: Ann Colter is a ghoul, I think. I hate to say that, but she has a really bad combination of personality traits. She's the most insulting person I think, just about, in the public discourse, and she's very thin-skinned. And I've been waiting a long time to say that.
BLITZER: All right, you've said it.
Go ahead, who scares you?
CALDWELL: You know, no one really scares me. A couple of years ago, I would have said Hillary Clinton or someone with a really anti- libertarian politics. But in the age of terrorism, I like everyone in Washington.
BLITZER: Really? That's so nice of you to say that.
What about you then?
BRAZILE: Well, it's not who, it's what. What scares me is Republican control of the House and the Senate, and of course the White House and Supreme Court, because of what it would mean to our country. That scares me most.
BLITZER: All right, Romesh?
PONNURU: Now that the snipers are gone, I'm not really afraid of anybody in Washington.
BLITZER: All right, so nobody scares you.
Tonight, of course, is game seven of what's widely agreed to be a fun World Series between the Anaheim Angels and the San Francisco Giants, but it seems a lot of people aren't watching.
Romesh, are you watching these World Series games?
PONNURU: I'm from Kansas City. I haven't had a World Series to root in since 1985.
BLITZER: No interest to you.
Donna, you don't even know who's playing.
BRAZILE: No. During the break, I asked you guys who's playing. But now that I know, I'm rooting for San Francisco tonight.
BLITZER: And you know why?
BRAZILE: No, sir, I do not.
BLITZER: Why are you rooting for San Francisco?
BRAZILE: Because San Francisco elects good Democrats.
BLITZER: All right, that's fair. That's a good, logical answer.
CALDWELL: I'm not watching it this year. I watch them about half the time.
But I think the reason no one else is watching them is because baseball is basically an early 20th century, Northeastern U.S., urban sport, and doesn't transfer very well to these Western cities.
BLITZER: Really, very intellectual, very intellectual historic perspective.
CALDWELL: You betcha.
NEAL: Baseball is boring. I start watching in the World Series. I am pulling for the Giants because I think Barry Bonds is the greatest baseball player alive, and I'd like to see him, you know, get one championship before he goes out.
BLITZER: I'll be at the Redskins game tonight for those who are interested.
But before we go, let me thank all of our panel here. Good work.
BRAZILE: Thank you. BLITZER: We have Bruce Morton. He's about to share some thoughts for all of us about the threats from the so-called axis of evil.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush knew North Korea had nuclear weapons, but didn't make that public until after Congress had voted to give him permission to invade Iraq.
Administration officials insisted that wasn't the reason for the delay. National Security Adviser Conoleezza Rice said the president didn't make the news public because he wanted some time to get recommendations from his advisers on what to do, adding that some members of Congress had been briefed on reports the North Koreans had a nuclear weapons program.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: There is a long list of briefings that was being systematically gone through...
MORTON: But making the news public might have changed the congressional debate some. "Hey," opponents of invading Iraq might have said, "why are we going after Saddam, who is trying to get nuclear arms, instead of invading North Korea, which already has them?"
Anyway, there was a 12-day gap between when the administration knew and when the rest of us did. And during that time, Congress passed the Iraq resolution.
So where are we now? This will probably not make Democrats in Congress more willing to trust the administration, to take the president's word for things. But then this president seems to feel he ought to be able to act pretty much as he pleases anyway, nevermind those fuddy-duddies on Capitol Hill.
One more loss for civility between Congress and White House, or between the political parties, but civility has been losing here anyway lately.
On another level, North Korea is simply worse news than Iraq. It can't feed all of its people but it has a huge army, thousands of artillery pieces aimed at South Korea, at least 100 missiles that could hit Japan.
The United States, of course, led a United Nations force which fought a war with the north in the 1950s, after it invaded the south. There's never been a peace treaty, just an armistice. And the U.S. still has some 37,000 troops there to discourage another attack from the north.
Bob Graham of Florida, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CBS, if you ask whether North Korea or Iraq is the bigger threat to the United States:
SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I would answer the question North Korea.
MORTON: Mr. Bush clearly wants to invade Iraq, probably as soon as he can. How much further he'd go as world policeman, taking on a much tougher North Korea, is a question we can't answer yet.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Bruce.
And I want to leave you with this note. We're standing by, in about an hour and a half from now, 4:30 p.m. Eastern, there will be a briefing from the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board, on the crash of Senator Paul Wellstone's plane that killed him, seven others, including his wife and his daughter, three staff members, two pilots on Friday. That briefing will be at 4:30 p.m. Eastern, an hour and a half from now. CNN, of course, will have live coverage.
And once again, our deepest condolences to all of the Wellstone family, their friends, their supporters, everyone in Minnesota. Our hearts, of course, go out to them on the loss of Senator Wellstone.
And that's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, October 27. Please be sure to join us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
I'll see you, of course, weekdays twice a day, at 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. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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