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CNN NEWSNIGHT AARON BROWN

Explanations of What Happened Last Night and What it Means; The Story of Harvey Pitt's Downfall

Aired November 6, 2002 - 22:00   ET

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

AARON BROWN, HOST: Good evening, again, everyone. It is amazing how overrated sleep is. It was a long night last night: eight hours and 15 minutes. Imagine how long it felt if you were a Democrat.
As the program goes along tonight, people will offer their explanations of what happened last night and what it means. We offer a couple thoughts at the top. Someone needs to explain to the Democratic Party that a political party really needs to stand for something.

That is not to say the Democrats don't. They may. It just wasn't clear to me what it was. That is not a good strategy, it seems, the stealth position strategy.

The second thought is more simple to understand. Do not underestimate how September 11 changed the country. The tragedy of that day did not simply transform the way the country views the president, it changed the way the country views itself.

Fear, anxiety, the thought it could happen again, the though of another war in Iraq. Carry those into the voting booth and salt it with the belief that the president has performed well on those issues of national security, and you have the makings of last night's blowout. Smarter people than I may make it all seem more complicated before it's over this evening, but that's how it looked to me.

Politics dominates The Whip tonight in much of the program, no surprise. And we begin with CNN's Candy Crowley, who is in New York. Candy, a headline from you, please.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, about 99.9 percent of the results are in, and most of Washington is calling this one for George W. Bush.

BROWN: Candy, thanks a lot.

On to the White House, where the results put the president in an intriguing position. Our Senior White House Correspondent John King, a long night last night and back at it this evening.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, the president is headed to bed, unlike last night, on time tonight. He likes to turn in early. He is very happy, but a shock in Washington, he said nothing today. Mr. Bush doesn't think he has to. The president believes the results speak for themselves.

BROWN: John, back to you in a moment.

A resignation last night from a member of the White House economic team. Allan Chernoff gets us up to date on that -- Allan, your headline.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Political missteps by a top administration appointee lead to an early exit from the SEC. We'll have the story of Harvey Pitt's downfall.

BROWN: Allan, thank you very much.

And on to Iraq and the diplomatic twists and turns going on there. It sounds like the U.N. Richard Roth working on that. Richard, a headline from you?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, President Bush was able to win a lot of votes for his candidates running on a get tough with Iraq platform. But he's having a hard time getting France and Russia to vote yes on a new U.S.-Iraq resolution.

BROWN: Richard, thank you. Back to you and the rest coming up shortly.

Also tonight, we'll talk with our Tucker Carlson and Peter Bonner from the "New Republic" to take a look at what went on last night and where politics in the country is headed.

Also tonight, Kyra Phillips from the Persian Gulf. A very rare look at how the United States tracks Saddam Hussein and just what he is doing, his forces are doing from the sky.

And the ghost of true crime tonight long past. We'll look at some amazing photos, pictures over the decades from the LAPD. All of that and more in the hour ahead.

We begin tonight, of course, with politicses. Democrats have had worst days, Republicans better. But not many for either. The headline today and hot line, a must read for political types, was this: W is for winner.

More on the president's role and the reaction from the White House shortly. Before that, an overview of an unforgettable and historic night from CNN's Candy Crowley.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): In Minnesota, an icon fell.

WALTER MONDALE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a sweep. We could feel the undertow here in Minnesota.

CROWLEY: In Georgia, a war hero was forced into retirement. In Missouri, a widow must find another way to carry on her husband's legacy. SEN. JEAN CARNAHAN (D), MISSOURI: Others will come to lift the fallen torch. The fire will not go out.

CROWLEY: But wait. There's more. A Democratic dynasty was shaken in Maryland.

KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND (D), LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, MARYLAND: You are dear in my heart, but we have to move forward.

CROWLEY: A Republican dynasty was stirred in Florida.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: And I want to thank our great president of the United States for coming down and lending a hand to his little brother.

CROWLEY: Holy cow, what a night for George Bush. Democrats did win governorships in some of those big industrial swing states and may hang on to that South Dakota Senate seat. But there is little else to cling to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Republicans had an edge over us yesterday, it was tactical rather than ideological.

CROWLEY: Which is strategic talk for Democrats who once said George Bush had nothing to do with the elections now say he had everything to do with it. They may be too soon to see it, but there is a pony in here for Democrats. The balance of power tilted to Republicans mostly in races with the smallest of margins.

The country remains evenly divided. George Bush is the breeze that blew Republicans over the line. And being the majority party is not as neat as it seems.

TRENT LOTT (R-MS), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The majority leader is not a ruler. The Senate is a place where it's very hard to get movement and bring together leaders and members of the both parties.

CROWLEY: True enough, just not good enough. This has to be the no excuses administration. The president got what he said he needed to do the job. Who do you think gets the blame if it goes bad? For George Bush, this election was not a mandate, so much as a chance.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: George Bush has never been so politically powerful, nor in some ways has he ever been so vulnerable -- Aaron.

BROWN: Candy, a couple of things. Perhaps as much as any of us on the staff, you were out in the country writing political stories for the last several months. When did you get a sense that this thing had started to tilt, if you will, towards Republicans?

CROWLEY: You know, I wish I could tell you, gee, I knew this three months ago. But you know the fact of the matter is that you could tell on the phones sometimes talking to people with the big picture and people at the various committees who were monitoring all of the races. And from week to week it honestly did shift.

And so at one point the Democrats would be so bullish on what was going to happen, and at another point the Republicans would, over the past weekend, it was very evident that Democrats were very skittish and that Republicans were feeling better and better. But in terms of seeing it a long way back, I didn't, and I don't think they did either.

BROWN: I'm not sure it existed a long way back. I was looking at our polling this morning. I think it was this morning. I'm a little lost in time here. But our weekend poll, the last poll we did, showed a fairly considerable move for the Republicans and it may be late voters, voters making up their minds late in the day, were all pulling the Republican lever.

CROWLEY: Sure. And also, when you look at it, it didn't take much to swing it the Republican way. The nation is still pretty much divided as we said in that piece. And so it doesn't take but a little breeze to put them over the top, nor would it have taken more than a little breeze to move the Democrats. But this all fell George Bush's way during this midterm.

BROWN: Just from your view, as a veteran political reporter, is this a mandate?

CROWLEY: You know, I think it's a chance. I think it's hard to look at the votes and where George Bush won the Senate, which really was the big one. He won it in Minnesota and he won it in Missouri, and look at how close those races are.

Now, he had great wins in Georgia. You can't take that away. But the fact of the matter is, in the middle of the country there are still deeply divided states. And you're talking about not that many votes.

So it doesn't look like a mandate to me. It looks like a chance. He went out there and said, look, I can't do anything, because the Democrats are always in my way in the Senate. I get it through the House, but the Senate doesn't do it. It looks like a chance to me, not a mandate.

BROWN: Candy, thank you very much for your efforts today and last night as well. Candy Crowley in New York.

Quite a prediction today from the White House. More here on how the White House views this and a Republican supporter of the president. That George Bush did win a mandate yesterday, the mandate that he didn't get two years ago in that squeaker election that Florida decided ultimately. If that is so, and it's for others to say, not us for sure, what does the administration do with that mandate?

Once again, our Senior White House Correspondent, John King.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING (voice-over): More calls to winners the morning after making history. And a stern message to top aides: no gloating.

KEN MEHLMAN, WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Obviously, the election results made history. I don't know if it's a transforming event or not.

KING: The White House strategy is to skip the bragging, but, nonetheless, treat the midterm results as a new mandate for the president's agenda.

KEN DUBERSTEIN, FMR. REAGAN CHIEF OF STAFF: What the Bush administration -- what the president understands is the mandate is to work together. No finger pointing, but find out what you can do together and go get it.

KING: Congress returns for a brief lame duck session later this month, and the White House will push two priorities: legislation creating a new department of homeland security and a compromise on terrorism insurance. And when the new Repbulican-controlled Congress convenes in January, the president's list is much longer.

Action on stalled judicial nominees, an HMO patients' bill of rights, Democrats say is too modest, an energy bill that allows drilling in the arctic national wildlife refuge, and an economic package that includes permanent the 10-year Bus tax cut passed last year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president won across the board last night. Now he has to work ways to deliver. There is no safety net anymore. There's no Democrats to blame.

KING: There is no disputing the president's unprecedented campaign push was a major factor in the historic Republican gains, helping tip close races, like Missouri's Senate contest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously this president can help in terms of making sure that the base is energized.

KING: Yet the Republican margins in the House and Senate are quite modest. So Mr. Bush is inviting House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt and Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle to a White House breakfast next week and promising a bipartisan approach.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: But for all the polite talk around here, make no mistake about it, behind the scenes, top Bush aides view the results as both a personal and political triumph for this president. They believe, Aaron, his clout now with the Congress is as strong as it has ever been, perhaps even equal to the days just after the September 11 attacks.

BROWN: John, a couple of quick things with you, too. The word today from Gephardt staffers is that he will step down as minority leader in the House. How, if at all, does that change the relationship between the White House and Democrats in the House? KING: Well, in the short term, the president will have to deal with Dick Gephardt for the lame duck session. The question is, who succeeds Dick Gephardt? He will announce that tomorrow morning he will not seek another term as a democratic leader.

There will be a contest between Nancy Pelosi of California, a liberal and a fiery liberal, and Martin Frost of Texas, more of a centrist Democrat. If Nancy Pelosi wins, and trust me, here at the White House they hope she does, the president will have a sharp contrast between what he says is a compassionate conservative who wants to reach out to Democrats in the middle with a Democratic leader he views as far too liberal and his staff views as far too liberal to lead the Democrats out of the wilderness, if you will.

BROWN: And just going back to your list of initiatives the president will press, some of them seem easier than others, it would seem to me. Judicial nominees perhaps a whole lot easier than drilling in Alaska.

KING: You're certainly right. And remember, even though the Republicans now control the Senate, you saw Trent Lott in Candy's piece. He knows the math. Yes, the Republicans will have 51 or 52 in the Senate. We still have that Louisiana race to settle. But you need 60 votes to get most major pieces of legislation through.

That's why the president this morning told his aides, yes, we have made history, yes, we can celebrate inside the walls of the White House. No gloating, no bragging. To govern, we need to get some Democrats. And if we don't, it won't be the Democrats who get blamed when the next election is held in 2004, it is us.

BROWN: John, thank you. Senior White House Correspondent John King on the lawn tonight.

We have more politics coming up a little bit later in the program. We'll move on to other news of the day today.

It seems that after weeks of haggling, the administration is ready to go before the United Nation's Security Council with its version of a resolution on Iraq. Which is to say that a piece of paper now stands between the United States and at least the possibility of a war. And that piece of paper is somewhere inside the famous glass building that sits on the East River in New York.

Here's our U.N. Correspondent, Richard Roth.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROTH (voice-over): The U.S. ambassador presented a revamped resolution on Iraq, one that gives Baghdad a final opportunity to comply with disarmament obligations. But the new compromises couldn't win immediate approval from France and Russia, opposed to a military assault on Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've reiterated that our position has never changed. We don't believe we can agree with... ROTH: Russia and France, both with veto power, still fear the U.S. will use the language in the resolution as political cover to trigger an attack if Iraq obstructs inspectors.

JOHN NEGROPONTE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: President Bush has said on repeated occasions that, as far as he is concerned, the use of force, war would be a last resort.

ROTH: To win support from reluctant allies in the U.N., the U.S. agreed to return to the Security Council for consultations if the chief U.N. weapons inspector or perhaps another country reports Iraqi violations.

JEAN DAVID LEVITTE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: For France, the key issue was to preserve the role of the Security Council. That's what we call the two-stage approach. And in that respect, I can say today that very important progress has been achieved.

ROTH: But diplomats say a second meeting of the Council doesn't mean the U.S. will wait for more debate before deciding whether to strike Iraq. And the resolution still warns Baghdad of serious consequences as a result of violations. After eight weeks of debate, patience is running thin.

JEREMY GREENSTOCK, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We are now ready to move to closure on this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROTH: So the United States is urging very strongly a vote some time on Friday. However, France and Russia, whose leaders spoke by telephone, still insist there are ambiguities in this resolution. The U.N. weapons inspectors have not been inside Iraq since December of 1998. It appears there'll be a few more days of diplomacy before there's any signal for them to return -- Aaron.

BROWN: Richard, I want to go back to something that you said in the piece, just to make sure I understand this. It seems to me this centers around the word consultation now and what that means. The United States is not saying, tell me if I'm wrong here, that it will seek permission of the Security Council to attack Iraq, it will merely inform the Security Council what it intends to do, that's the meaning of consultation?

ROTH: There's going to be a meeting or a consultation, but U.S. diplomats insist they're not going to wait for more debate or another vote or another resolution if they feel the need to stage any type of military strike. Obviously, a lot of diplomats from around the world are hoping if there is a violation, that it's very clear-cut and there will be a big mandate behind the United States.

But right now, this vote, though, is crucial, because it opens the door for a lot of other allies to jump on board with the United States because of the U.N. sanction. First, this resolution opens the door for that whole process to start with the return of the inspectors. BROWN: And perhaps it will happen Friday or perhaps a little bit later, Richard. Thank you. Richard Roth, who covers the U.N., is with us from New York.

Ahead on NEWSNIGHT, more on the election fallout. But when we come back, yet another shooting link to the D.C.-area sniper, and a new terror warning as well. This is NEWSNIGHT from Atlanta.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: A jurisdictional tug of war over the sniper suspects pulled the two of them south today to Falls Church, Virginia. What authorities are after is the most certain way to punish with death. The two men alleged to have dealt death out a dozen times in over four states and the District of Columbia. More on the story tonight from CNN's Patty Davis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESEPONDENT (voice-over): The latest charges from Fairfax County prosecutors include two counts of capital murder. John Muhammad and John Lee Malvo are charged with gunning down 47- year-old FBI analyst, Linda Franklin, outside a Home Depot in Falls Church, Virginia, October 14.

ROBERT HORAN, FAIRFAX COUNTY COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY: Both of them have been charged now with two counts, each of which potentially carry the death penalty under Virginia law.

DAVIS: To get a death penalty conviction in Virginia, prosecutors have to prove who pulled the trigger in Franklin's murder. But Muhammad and 17-year-old Malveaux could also get the death penalty if convicted of violating Virginia's new anti-terrorism law, passed after the September 11 terror attacks.

Sources tell CNN Attorney General John Ashcroft could decide by the end of the week which jurisdiction will try the case first.

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I expect there to be a consensus among the jurisdictions involved to move forward first in the jurisdiction which provides the best law and the best facts to bring individuals to swift and sure justice.

DAVIS (on camera): Sources say Fairfax County is a leading contender, along with Prince William County. Both have experienced prosecutors. And Virginia allows for the execution of minors.

That's not the case in Maryland, where six people were killed. Sources say Maryland is out of the running.

(voice-over): Meanwhile, law enforcement sources tell CNN a laptop computer stolen from a man shot six times outside his restaurant in Clinton, Maryland in early September is the same laptop found in Muhammad's car. If that shooting, less than a mile from the home of Muhammad's ex-wife is officially connected, it would mean the Washington-area shootings started a full month before police believe it began.

Patty Davis, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: There came a warning from the State Department today. The potential exists, the warning says, for retaliatory acts against the United States and other foreign interests in response to next week's scheduled execution of a Pakistani national who went on a shooting rampage outside the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia back in 1993. Two CIA agency employees were killed in that attack, three others were wounded. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the man convicted of the shooting, is scheduled to be put to death in Virginia on the 14 of November.

There are other developments in the war today on terrorism, which would make for quite a screen play or a James Bond movie if only they were fiction, instead of at least allegations of fact. Jet setting bad guys arrested in Hong Kong and in Costa Rica on charges they were going to swap the proceeds from tons of smuggled hashish and kilos of cocaine for shoulder-fired stinger missiles intended for al Qaeda.

How much uglier could it get than this? Here is CNN's Justice Department Correspondent Kelli Arena.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three men in police custody in Hong Kong are facing charges in the United States for allegedly trying to trade drugs for weapons for use by the al Qaeda terrorist network.

ASHCROFT: An indictment was unsealed this morning in San Diego, charging two Pakistani nationals and one United States citizen with conspiring to provide stinger anti-aircraft missiles to anti-U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

ARENA: Stingers are shoulder-fired U.S.-made missiles often used to attack low flying aircraft. This is the first known arrest in Hong Kong of anyone with alleged ties to al Qaeda.

BRUCE HOFFMAN, TERRORISM EXPERT: It fits into a longstanding pattern of al Qaeda operations, is that when they're pressed or when they feel hemmed in, in one particular geographical area of the world, they immediately turn to softer, what they see as more benign operational environments.

ARENA: The twin wars on drugs and terror are not confined to al Qaeda. In another alleged drugs for weapons scheme, U.S. agents arrested four people charged with plotting to deliver $25 million worth of weapons to the Colombian united self-defense forces known as the AUC.

ASA HUTCHINSON, DEA: We have learned and we have demonstrated that drug traffickers and terrorists work out of the same jungle. They plan in the same cave, and they train in the same desert. ARENA (on camera): The connection between the drug trade and terrorism is not new, but terrorism experts say that it has taken on added importance as other income streams have been cut off. And the drug trade does have one lethal advantage, constant demand.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Still ahead on NEWSNIGHT tonight, a couple cases of celebrity justice. That's coming up.

But up next, one of those stories that get lost in the blizzard of an election day. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Say what you want about Harvey Pitt, you can't say the guy doesn't have impeccable timing, or maybe it's comic timing, however you want to put it. We say that, because the chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission redesigned last night at, well, precisely the point when no one was paying any attention at all, which perhaps was the idea. Here's CNN's Allan Chernoff.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: One misstep after another led to the SEC chairman's rapid downfall.

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Actually, I thought maybe he was trying to replace Bill Maher on the new version of "Politically Incorrect."

CHERNOFF: The last straw was his failure to reveal damaging information about former FBI and CIA Director William Webster. Pitt's choice to head the new board that's supposed to crack down on accounting fraud. It turns out Webster himself led the audit committee of a company now facing fraud chases.

Webster now says he's willing to give up the position if he doesn't get support. In July, Pitt pushed for elevation of his job to cabinet level without first getting an OK from the White House.

SEN. JON CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY: I think he had real trouble dealing with sort of the political leadership that the SEC needs, because it operates in a political environment.

CHERNOFF: Among those pressuring Pitt to resign, New York Senator Schumer, who had praised him to the heavens at last year's confirmation hearing.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: His reputation deservedly so has achieved, at least in securities law, almost god-like proportions. He could well be described as the Zeus of his field.

CHERNOFF: It appeared Mr. Pitt agreed. Responding to criticism, he told "The New York Times," "There is an enormous advantage to the public to have somebody who knows about the securities business. It would be unthinkable to deprive people of my expertise."

As a lawyer, Pitt had represented the top accounting firms, and he appeared reluctant to impose new rules on them. Pitt also allowed New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer to take the lead in fighting Wall Street conflicts. But Harvey Pitt did retain his sense of humor at a hearing today on new ethics rules for corporate lawyers.

HARVEY PITT, FMR. SEC CHAIRMAN: Unlike other things we do at this agency, this may actually generate some press attention, as well as controversy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: Nobody questions that Harvey Pitt is book smart, but Washington insiders agree Pitt lacks political street smarts, which eventually cost him his job. Among the names being floated as...

Among the names being floated as possible replacements, former Nasdaq chairman, Frank Zarb, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani says he is not interested.

But President Bush may first choose an interim chair among the two remaining Republican SEC commissioners. And that would be the quickest way to put the mess behind the administration -- Aaron.

BROWN: And of Mr. Webster, Judge Webster, what will happen with him?

CHERNOFF: The betting is that he will be gone from the position overseeing that new accounting board probably within a week.

BROWN: Allan, thank you. Allan Chernoff in New York tonight.

Another story about alleged wrongdoing tonight, in our "National Roundup," a couple of them in fact.

The first is about former chief financial officer of Enron. Andrew Fastow pleaded not guilty today to 78 counts of wire fraud, 78, not to mention money laundering and conspiracy. Mr. Fastow is thought to be behind many of the deals that helped bring Enron down.

The latest on Winona Ryder, we were certain you would not be able to go to sleep tonight unless we told you this. A jury found her guilty today of trying to steal clothing, a lot of it, from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. The conviction carries a maximum sentence of three years in state prison. The prosecutor said she would not seek jail time.

Someone explain to me how a shoplifting case ended up a week-long jury trial, even in California.

And then there is O.J. He didn't show up for a court appearance on a speeding ticket. He's accused of going too fast in a boat in a manatee zone in Florida. He's due back in court in late November, unless he can prove he paid the fine.

We gave at the office tonight on celebrity news. Didn't we?

Later on the program, probably one of the most unusual art exhibits you'll ever see. Crime scene photographs of the ages. And up next, a recap of the election night, a look ahead to the next one. This is NEWSNIGHT tonight from Atlanta.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Coming up NEWSNIGHT, the 2000 campaign is over. Let 2004 begin. We do not wait, do we? We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Done a lot of talking over let's say the last 29 hours, more than I could have possibly imagined. So I'm glad to bring some new and different voices into the mix on the election and what it means.

We're joined tonight by Peter Beinart, the editor of "The New Republic." And Tucker Carlson has done a fair amount of chatting himself, one of the hosts of "CROSSFIRE." They both join us tonight from Washington.

It's good to see you both here.

Let me start with you. What now for the Democrats? Pretty clearly they failed last night. They failed to articulate a very clear message. Where do they go? Peter?

PETER BEINART, EDITOR, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": Oh, it's me, sorry. I think -- I mean I think that they're going to -- first of all, there's going to be a really nasty fight for the leadership of the House Democrats between Nancy Pelosi and Martin Frost. And that's really going to be a proxy for those people who said the problem was that the Democrats didn't come out against the war, which will be Pelosi's position, versus Frost's positions, which is to say the problem is that the Democrats actually need to be further toward the Bush administration on both domestic and foreign policy. That's going to be a really brutal fight within the party. And that will be a proxy for the larger question of what, in fact, the Democratic party does stand for.

BROWN: Let's work with that for a second. As you look at the makeup of the House -- and we won't you hold to this, but give me your best guess of who wins that fight, the more liberal side of the Democratic side or the more moderate side of the Democratic party.

BEINART: Well, probably Pelosi has the edge. She has shown herself to be very good at these fights, inter-party fights, in the past. And, of course, I think the Democratic party has the same problem it's had, in some ways, after its other defeats, after '94.

What happened is, when the marginal, more moderate members lose, you have a smaller caucus, which is more dominated by ideologically hard core members from swing seats, who naturally want to push the party in that direction.

There was a tendency toward that in '94. But remember, you had the Clinton White House, which was a kind of a countervailing push to the center. My real fear is that there is none in the Democratic party now. And the Democratic party really could decide that it was wrong to have gone along with this war in Iraq, start pulling back from that in the war on terrorism in general. And I really think that could be a -- the Democrats could be in a lot of trouble for a long time if they do that, I think.

BROWN: I'm inclined to agree with you on that one.

Tucker, you've been gloating now for the better part of 24 hours. I assume you believe, as John King does, that the White House wouldn't mind seeing a liberal, Nancy Pelosi leading the House Democrats. It's a good target.

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's probably right. And I think it's pretty certain that Nancy Pelosi is going to win. That's what Democrats are saying. She's a woman; she's from California; she's lined up a lot of support; she's been thinking about this for a long time.

I'm saddened by that. I mean I want the Democrats to get their act together. It's not good for America to have one of the two major parties essentially lame. You want a good, vigorous debate.

And you have to wonder, at some point, if Democrats, smart Democrats -- there are a lot of them -- aren't going to step back and say and ask themselves the question, is America crying out for a party that represents a more liberal politics? You know, is George McGovern really the way of the future? And conclude, no. And so move back slowly to Martin Frost's position, to a more centrist position.

I think all of this does make it very difficult, though, for 2004. You said this is the beginning of the campaign. I think that's literally true. I mean Al Gore is gong to decide, you know, within -- by the end of the year. It's started.

BROWN: Let me talk about 2004 in a second. Let me finish up on this one first. Was this, as you see it, Tucker, an ideological victory for the president in a sort of broad conservative-liberal way, or was it a more focused victory centering around national security, homeland defense, the events of September 11, the possibility of war with Iraq?

CARLSON: Well, it was certainly a victory for the president. I don't think it was an ideological victory. This is not an ideological White House. And it was -- that articulates any sort of ideology, actually.

No, I mean it will become clear, over the coming weeks, what exactly made people want to vote for President Bush. But I don't think this is a mandate for conservative Republicanism, in the way that say the results of 1994 were. And keep in mind -- you know, keep in mind what happened -- I mean it should be a warning to Democrats who want to go toward the Barbara Streisand wing of the party. What happened to Republicans who followed Newt Gingrich after 1994 and were more overtly ideological in public? In the end, it wasn't an effective strategic political strategy for the party, as much as, for instance, I liked it.

BROWN: Peter, two minutes now to work with on 2004. Any Democrat today in better shape to run for the presidency than yesterday?

BEINART: Al Gore probably, only because Al Gore is not really part of the Democratic establishment that crafted this strategy, which said try to duck the war, try to duck the tax cut and think you can win with basically with no agenda. Because Gore is known to basically be disliked by most of the party establishment, I think he actually, ironically looks better, particularly because his defeat/victory in 2000 a little better when you look at the party's flat out defeat in 2002. I think he's probably the only person. Everyone else, I think, is diminished.

BROWN: Work with this argument for a second that Al Gore won the popular vote, but just barely against a George W. Bush who was not especially well known and not especially well liked. It would be a rematch with a very different George W. Bush.

BEINART: Absolutely. That's right. Bush will be the heavy favorite over Gore, as he would be the heavy favorite over any Democrat. And Gore would have tons of problems as a candidate. I mean he would fire up the Republican base, for instance, in a way that, perhaps, some other Democrats might not.

But the truth is you now really have a debacle, which touches most of the prominent Democrats in Washington who were planning on running for president. Not irrevocably, but seriously, because all of them fundamentally bought into the same strategy, which is to stay, pretend the United States is still the United States it was before September 11. Talk about prescription drugs and Social Security.

Pretend that the tax cut and the war on terrorism didn't exist. That is not going to be a viable strategy. Someone's going to have to come up with an alternative for it. And ironically, I think actually Al Gore, right now, at least, is doing a little better on that.

BROWN: Peter, Tucker, thank you. Tucker, I assume you're pretty close to talked out anyway. We appreciate your staying on with us tonight. Thank you very much.

Ahead on the program tonight, we'll go to the front lines of any potential war against Iraq, the cockpit of a navy fighter plane. That's coming up, as we continue from Atlanta.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: War and peace are still being debated in New York at the United Nations, as you heard earlier from Richard Roth at the UN, but an all together different kind of back-and-forth is going in Iraq or over it, we should say. Coalition aircraft patrolling Iraq's southern no-fly zone.

Navy jets off the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Persian Gulf today struck a number of military targets about 160 miles southeast of Baghdad. The strikes followed ground fire from Iraqi anti-aircraft batteries, and were also ordered because the U.S. Central Command had noticed that Iraqis were moving surface to air missiles into an area designated off limits by the United Nations.

About the last thing in the world we would ever want to do on the program is to glamorize war. Just ask anyone with any firsthand experience with war how glamorous it really is.

On the other hand, it is also true that there are very few things in the world more purely thrilling than flying a modern, state-of-the- art fighter jet. This is something we know to be true. And now so does CNN's Kyra Phillips. She's just become the first female journalist to take wing over the Persian Gulf.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The mission here is two- fold, supporting "Operation Southern Watch," making sure Saddam Hussein is respecting international laws, and preparing for a potential war if he doesn't.

Commander Paul Haas (ph) leads VF 31, the F-14 Tom Catters. One of nine squadrons in an air wing training around the clock for a potential war against Iraq.

(on camera): I think it's going to be good.

(voice-over): Today I'm going along to observe air combat training, an air-to-air mission with Lt. Com. Scott Snow (ph), call sign: Flake. But don't let the name fool you. He flew 25 combat missions over Afghanistan, helping to bring down the Taliban and send al Qaeda on the run.

Now Scott's making sure that he and his squadron are ready for Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: VF 31 up and running, 54K.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a good chunk right there. We're taking attention right now. OK, the motors are coming up, and they look good. And I'm giving them the hand salute. And we are just about to go. And here it comes.

PHILLIPS: Yeah!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It gets kind of addictive, doesn't it.

PHILLIPS: We're airborne over the Persian Gulf and in combat theater.

Explain to me why this tactical training is so important right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To keep your skills honed, you need to practice all the time. Much like an Indy car race driver, you can't take three months off and then hop in and drive around on the Indy 500. It's not a win or lose kind of race. It's actually more life or death.

PHILLIPS: Combat efficiency comes from tactical wingmanship, pilots on each side providing protection from hostile aircraft and the surface-to-air threat.

Snow is practicing visual bombing, rolling in upside down on the enemy target and simulating dropping the ordinance perfectly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we roll over 135 degrees, pull down on top of them, roll out, until we set our whip up and pop, that would be the pickle right there.

PHILLIPS: And you've got it in your sites and then you drop the ordinance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. The big thing about keeping that finely (ph) honed (ph) edge (ph) as a combat aviator that will reduce things like civilian casualties and missed bombs, missed hits, things like that.

PHILLIPS: We're up 25,000 feet, going 725 miles per hour and pulling 6.5 Gs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six-and-a-half Gs, nice work.

PHILLIPS: Witnessing firsthand how this Tom Cat squadron is mission focused.

Why do you have to monitor Iraq and Saddam Hussein 24-7 right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think right now he's starting to get a little desperate and he's not getting any rewards, so he's pretty much willing to try anything.

PHILLIPS: The Hussein wildcard that keeps Snow sharp determined to make it home, his son, Logan Scott Snow (ph), is due in three months.

From the USS Abraham Lincoln, Kyra Phillips, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Three other stories from around the world tonight making news, beginning with a horrible story out of France. A fire on an overnight train there killed 12 people, including five Americans from the same family. It is not clear yet what started the fire. We should add the train had no smoke detectors.

On to political twists and turns, this time in Israel. There are always plenty of those there. Polls now show that within the Likud party, Ariel Sharon has a slim lead over his rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime minister. Sharon dissolved parliament on Tuesday, called for new elections, after the Labor Party left his coalition last week in a dispute over the funding of settlements, Jewish-Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

And a very different election story comes to us from Gibraltar tonight. Voters will be going to the polls there, in just a matter of hours, to decide whether the British should share sovereignty with Spain. Local government is against power sharing. This is a fight that's been going on for, oh, about 300 years.

Next on NEWSNIGHT, art or evidence, an unusual display of photographs by police photographers. This is NEWSNIGHT from Atlanta.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Finally from us tonight, is it evidence or art? We have in our minds a black and white image of Los Angeles in the '30s and '40s, crooks and cops and crime. He was the source for the novels of Raymond Chandler. It turns out he was also the source for a most unusual art exhibit, the crime scenes of Southern California from the last 50 or 60 years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's something so very chilling about this.

RICK MORTEN, CREATOR OF CRIME EXHIBIT: These were photographers going out seven days a week, 24-hours every day shooting. And what makes this collection unique to me is that this is the only police department in the United States that has so-called Hollywood in it. So there's a great feeling of Hollywood throughout these photos.

We were the first ones ever allowed into these files.

Let me pull something here. Let me see what we have here. Let's open the treasure chest and see if there's any treasures inside.

I actually have my hands on history. On the day this was taken, there was something happening; someone was killed.

LT. JOHN THOMAS, LAPD: Oh, there's the victim. Look at the lighting. You know, why did the photographer see this crime scene this way? Because, obviously, some of the angles and some of the shots have very little to do with capturing evidence.

MORTEN: That was one of my reasons, really, is showing something that had never been seen in this city and let the public have access to really see this work that's been stuck away and housed for 70 years.

I think everybody has their particular taste of what they feel is appealing to the eye. It's what someone perceives as being art. TIM WRIDE, ASSOCIATE CREATOR, LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART: I wouldn't say that every photograph in this exhibition is art, but then I wouldn't say every photograph hanging in a gallery is art either.

But, you know, one of the wonderful things about watching a photographer's eye -- and this is really what you get a chance to do here -- you get to watch the photographer think. How does he frame the shot? What does he leave in? What does he leave out? You see a lot of photographs in here where the evidence is almost secondary. It's there; it's documented, but there's something else going on.

There's, you know, vectors of shadow that pierce through the pictures. There are really funny tilts and perspective or there's this amazing cinematic quality that runs through some of these pictures. It's Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: It is Hollywood. Good to have you with us tonight. We're back home in New York tomorrow. We'll see you at 10:00 Eastern time. Until then, I'm Aaron Brown. Good night from all of us at NEWSNIGHT.

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