CNN INSIDE POLITICS
Abortion Divides House Republicans Debate Over Bankruptcy; FBI Issues Ominous Advisory on Potential al Qaeda Attacks
Aired November 15, 2002 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I am Judy Woodruff in Washington. Abortion divides House Republicans in a debate over bankruptcy. A bill dies, and is later revived all in a matter of hours.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jeanne Meserve. The FBI issues an ominous new advisory on potential al Qaeda attacks. I will have the latest on the warning, and details on the government response.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm Bill Schneider. Elections are all about sending a message. Consider one message received, and call it the political play of the week.
WOODRUFF: Also ahead, Arnold Schwarzenegger says it was in the 1970s, and he did inhale. Why the actor and political activist is coming clean about his years as a body builder.
ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.
WOODRUFF: Thank you for joining us. The FBI has released a new terror advisory, and this one includes some ominous new language. Among the scenarios mentioned, the potential for a "spectacular strike against U.S. targets."
Our Jeanne Meserve is with me now for more on this warning, and the security precautions that are already under way. Jeanne, this language is disturbing.
MESERVE: It is. The warning issued to law enforcement in a regular weekly communication is striking in its language, referring to the possibility, as you said, of spectacular attacks. But National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says it is not based on any specific new intelligence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The warnings that have gone out recently really are a summary of intelligence, not a new warning. This is a summary of intelligence as we know it. It is important that Americans know when this is -- this sort of thing comes to the attention of the administration. We would ask Americans to do what the president has asked them a number of times to do, which is remain vigilant. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: Rice says new protective measures are being taken. The warning reads, in part, "In selecting the its next target, sources suggest al Qaeda may favor spectacular attacks that meet several criteria: high symbolic value, mass casualties, severe damage to the U.S. economy, and maximum psychological trauma.
The highest priority targets remain within the aviation, petroleum, and nuclear sectors as well as significant national landmarks."
Administration officials say the drafting of this language began several weeks ago, before the release of an audiotape reportedly from Osama bin Laden. But that the tape, and an uptick in credible intelligence has further increased concerns about the possibility of an attack. In the words of one official the threat situation is serious.
Officially, the nation remains on threat level yellow, or elevated, but an administration official acknowledges that law enforcement and some federal agencies are very close to being on the next level, orange. There have been increases, for example, in customs and immigration inspections at the border.
This official says there is a reluctance to move the entire nation to orange because of the disruptive effect it could have on citizens and on commerce, but he says, if specific intelligence is received that indicates when, where, or by what means an attack will take place, there will be no hesitation to upgrade the threat level -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Jeanne. Thanks very much.
Well, at the White House, officials say they approved the strong language in this new terror warning.
CNN's Frank Buckley is standing by with the latest from there. Frank, as Jeanne just said, however, the threat level remains at yellow. Is the White House concerned about missed messages here?
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the White House believes that it has struck the proper balance here by getting the information out to Americans, about some of the intelligence that's out there.
The summary of intelligence, as Condoleezza Rice has described it, while at the same time not alarming people by raising the expectation of an imminent terrorist attack.
They say it's important for Americans to know this information. Also, because Americans can help in being vigilant and can report information. They say in some cases, things have been thwarted because people have been able to call in tips. They feel like they've struck the right balance. It is still in the yellow, which is a significant risk of a terrorist attack. Orange would have been a high risk, and they feel they have struck the proper balance -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Frank, Congress, we know, is moving ahead with the homeland security bill to create a new department. What are you hearing there about who would be in charge of that?
BUCKLEY: Well, right now Tom Ridge is the homeland security adviser, and administration sources tell senior White House correspondent John King that Tom Ridge remains the president's top choice to head this new cabinet agency that would employ some 170,000 people, fold several agencies together.
The compromised bill is expected to pass through the Senate at some point next week. There is some discussion that there could be a bill signing next week, and that the president might make the announcement as to who would head the agency next week.
Now we're being told that it's more likely that that announcement and the bill signing would come after the president returns from the NATO summit meeting in Prague.
WOODRUFF: All right. Frank Buckley at the White House. Thank you.
Well, meantime, a senior al Qaeda leader is now in U.S. custody. That's what government sources tell CNN.
Authorities refused today to give us the name of the al Qaeda leader, but they did say that the capture came in recent weeks, and that the man is one of the top 20 al Qaeda terrorists that have been sought by the U.S.
Former presidential candidate Al Gore calls his loss to President Bush two years ago -- quote -- "a crushing disappointment."
Gore also says the 5-4 Supreme Court decision that put Mr. Bush in the White House was inconsistent with the court's conservative philosophy.
Gore and his wife Tipper are promoting a new book that they co- wrote on the American family, and they're also granting their first in-depth interview since his election defeat.
Gore spoke about the election with the "Washington Post" magazine. Among his comments, -- quote -- "I believe that if everyone in Florida who tried to vote had had his or her vote counted properly, that I would have won."
Gore does not say if he will try for a rematch against President Bush. A new CNN "Time" magazine poll asked Americans if they think there is any Democrat who can defeat President Bush in 2004. Thirty- six percent said yes, 49 percent said no.
On Wednesday night, Gore told an audience in New York that he has changed his position on the health care issue. In a clear break with his more moderate stance in the 2000 campaign, he said he now favors what he calls a single payer national health insurance plan. We'll discuss these and many other issues with Al Gore in a couple of weeks when he joins me here on INSIDE POLITICS. That is coming up on Monday, December 2.
Well, Democratic Senate leaders said today that they will not take up a Republican-backed bankruptcy bill which the House passed in the wee hours this morning.
The measure was first voted down when pro-life Republicans defied House leaders and joined with Democrats to kill the bill. Pro-life groups had objected to a provision which targeted anti-abortion protesters. Well, that language was later removed and the bill passed in what some are calling a sign of post-election strength by conservative Republicans.
With me now to sort through all the competing interest on this issue, Jim VandeHei of the "Washington Post."
Jim, what happened here? You had the bill, on the one hand, defeated, and then a couple of hours later without that provision, it passed. What happened?
JIM VANDEHEI, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, this is all about politics and power politics. The social conservatives really came through and they defeated the economic conservatives in the party by pulling out and forcing Republican leaders to pull out this abortion provision. I mean, this really shows the strength of the grass roots social, religious conservatives in the Republican Party.
WOODRUFF: But you also had the clout at work here -- I mean, the fact that the bill was called up in the first place had everything in the world to do with the business interests in the Republican Party, not just the banking community. Other interests that it had been working for years to get this bankruptcy legislation passed, which, in effect, would make it harder for individuals to declare bankruptcy. What about their clout?
VANDEHEI: Right. I mean, it was great political theater. The business interests thought they definitely had this thing won. It was six years in the making. The vote came up. Republican leaders didn't even bother counting votes because they thought they had this thing locked up. Social conservative came in in the end and they defeated it.
Most likely, next year, this thing will come back and the business interests probably will prevail. They give a lot of money to the Republican Party, they have been pushing for this for a long time, and they want results.
WOODRUFF: But without that language?
VANDEHEI: But without that language.
WOODRUFF: The abortion language.
WOODRUFF: What is this -- is there a message in all this for the Republican leadership in the House?
VANDEHEI: I think it is interesting what we learned from these elections is that grass roots politics, as much as money, matters, and religious conservatives are the guys -- the men and women who go out there, knock on doors, and deliver votes for the Republican Party, and you saw them rising up here, and you saw social conservative groups coming out lobbying, and winning over votes. And it shows that money doesn't always win in politics.
WOODRUFF: So we're really looking at, what, a miscalculation by the leadership on this one?
VANDEHEI: I think a big miscalculation by the leadership on this.
WOODRUFF: All right. Jim VandeHei from the "Washington Post," thank you very much.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle today blamed Republicans for the ultimate failure of the bankruptcy bill. Daschle said the two parties had an agreement, but that outside interests caused it to unravel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: You had Republicans and Democrats who recognized the fragile nature of this compromise, and yet the Republicans defeated it.
So I'm very disappointed that we aren't going to see bankruptcy completed this year, and it's another indication of how the far right controls the House Republican caucus. There has never been a clearer demonstration of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: With me now to talk more about the issue is Kenneth Connor. He is president of the Family Research Council. We just heard Senator Daschle calling you and others in the House the far right, but in this instance, it was the House leadership that called this bill up. Did they let you down, in effect?
KENNETH CONNOR, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Well indeed, it was profoundly disappointing the House leadership would put profit ahead of principle and, in effect, give a sharp stick in the eye to the pro-life voters who helped them enhance their margin in the House and win the Senate.
Ultimately, really, what triumphed here though, Judy, was principle over politics because grassroots citizens got engaged in the process, made their voices heard and their influence fell.
WOODRUFF: What was your reaction when you found out the House leadership was going to call this legislation up with the -- and we should explain. The provision that was concerning to you would have, in effect, targeted anti-abortion protesters who, when they were given penalties for what they were doing, financial penalties, they could get out of it by declaring bankruptcy?
CONNOR: That's right. It singled out a particular form of protest deemed to be politically incorrect by many and would have really imposed the financial death penalty on those protesters when it didn't apply to others. So it was profoundly unfair.
We were profoundly disappointed by the House leadership for trying to ram this through and very proud of the Republicans who stood their ground and who put principle ahead of profit.
WOODRUFF: Did you try to talk the leadership in the House out of this? Speaker Hastert? Mr. Delay? Mr. Armey?
CONNOR: We did. We had lobbied the leadership, we had written the leadership, we had lobbied the House. Family Research Council indicated its intention to score both the vote on the rule to recommit, the procedural vote that ultimately wound up being in our favor as well as the vote on the substantive bill itself.
And I think that made a significant difference in the outcome.
WOODRUFF: Now they would point out that because Henry Hyde, among others, who was a well-known Republican in the House, and well- known as someone who's against anti-abortion -- anti-abortion for many years, pro-life -- because he was part of this compromise, that that should have made it all right?
CONNOR: Well, I think, hopefully, that this shows that what matters is principle more than personality.
In Mr. Hyde's case, I think what we saw was just how strong the leverage is for leadership, given Mr. Hyde's willingness to sign off on the bill. I suspect that privately he's pleased with the outcome. He gave his word that he would support the so-called compromise, but he urged people to vote their conscience.
WOODRUFF: I want to ask you the same question I just asked Jim VandeHei with "The Washington Post." Has the House leadership maybe learned a lesson? What will be different, do you think..
CONNOR: I hope they've learned a lesson. It was a terrible stumble for the House leadership, coming just a week after the Republicans helped them increase their margin and claim the Senate.
And I hope the lesson will be the age-old lesson in politics, to dance with the ones that run you to the party.
WOODRUFF: All right. Ken Connor, with the Family Research Council, we thank you very much for talking with us.
CONNOR: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
Well, on a related note of conservatives and political power, Attorney General John Ashcroft spoke last night to the Federalist Society. That's a conservative legal organization. Ashcroft noted that Democrats are losing control of the Senate and that the president's judicial nominees can expect a much friendlier reception at their confirmation hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I suspect this view specifically espoused by certain highly visible members of the society that's generated so much animos against the society and installed several extraordinarily qualified judicial nominees in this last Congress.
There are some preliminary indications, however, that this may change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, former Independent Counsel Ken Starr and one-time high court nominee Robert Bork are among the other speakers at the Federalist Society conference.
A fictional look at the CIA, later on INSIDE POLITICS.
Up next, message sent, and message received. Bill Schneider unveils the winner of the "Political Play of the Week."
Also, the political debate over Iraq place in the overall war on terror. One of the topics up for debate when I'm joined by the spokeswomen for the two political parties.
And later: two winners of Senate cliffhangers. My conversations with Senator Tim Johnson and soon-to-be Senator Norm Coleman.
WOODRUFF: Now we know who's getting the most face time on Sundays.
Well, the homeland security bill appears finally headed for passage early next week. A big victory for the president and the bill's Capitol Hill backers.
Bill Schneider is with me now with more on how this legislation figures into his "Political Play of the Week" -- Bill.
SCHNEIDER: Well Judy, the next time you hear somebody say, Elections don't make much difference. Just think: Ray Charles. Because Congress had Georgia on its mind this week, and so did we when we awarded it "The Political Play of the Week."
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): One of the big shocks on Election night came when Georgia voters ousted incumbent Senator Max Cleland, a disabled Vietnam War veteran on the issue of national security, no less, which his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, stressed relentlessly.
REP. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA), SENATOR-ELECT: That's why we so desperately need the creation of the new department of homeland security that the president has asked for and I have supported, that I helped write, that we have passed in the House. Senator Cleland and the obstructionist Democrats in the Senate are blocking.
SCHNEIDER: Democrats claimed they were trying to protect the rights of government workers. President Bush wanted the power to fire and promote workers as a matter of national security.
Some members of Congress believe the president's real purpose was to trap the Democrats and use the issue against them. And the Democrats fell for it. The president did use the issue against them. Again and again.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no question in my mind if Saxby Chambliss were in the Senate I would not have to worry about his leadership or vote on this important matter.
SCHNEIDER: In Georgia, Chambliss ran an attack ad linking Cleland to America's enemies.
NARRATOR: Since July, Max Cleland has voted against the president's vital homeland security efforts 11 times.
SCHNEIDER: It worked. Cleland went down. Georgia voters sent Congress a message: Pass this bill.
REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), SEN. ELECT: I think the mandate is that the president's agenda is popular and the Senate was seen as a place that was stopping something that was needed for the country.
SCHNEIDER: Last week, President Bush reinforced the message.
BUSH: The most important thing to get done -- I want to emphasize -- is to get a department of homeland security finished.
SCHNEIDER: This week, Congress came back for a lame duck session and quickly fell into line.
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MO), MINORITY LEADER: We said, Yes, Mr. President, you're right. And we're going to get it done.
SCHNEIDER: The bill passed the House Wednesday by better than two to one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bill is passed.
SCHNEIDER: The Senate seemed certain to pass the bill next week and give the president a big victory: he most massive reorganization of government in 50 years.
Georgia spoke. Washington listened. A southern accented "Play of the Week."
SCHNEIDER (on camera): President Bush was seen as defending national security. Democrats as defending unions. Is that a tough call? As they say in Georgia -- not hardly -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Is that what they say in Georgia?
SCHNEIDER: Well, you live there.
WOODRUFF: I did. All right. Bill Schneider, thanks very much. Have a good weekend.
SCHNEIDER: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Arnold Schwarzenegger is coming clean about a part of his past that was caught on camera. Coming up, the tale of the tape, concerning parts of this movie that were terminated.
First let's turn to Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange for a market update. Hello, Susan.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy. A late session rally helped the market erase most of its losses and helped the blue chips to their sixth straight winning week. Investors got some mixed economic news at the open that contributed to the early selling. Manufacturing output suffered its sharpest drop in more than year adding to fears about the health of the battering manufactured sector.
But later in the day, investors focused on the bright side: the nation's consumers. The consumer sentiment index rose in early November and that's good news going into the crucial holiday shopping season.
Running through the numbers now, the Dow Industrials ended 36 points higher for the day, closing the week up nearly half a percent. The Nasdaq Composite finished flat for the day but added nearly 4 percent on the week. General Electric, a drag on the market today. It was the most active stock on the NYSE ending down 2 1/2 percent after J.P. Morgan downgraded the stock. And chipmaker Intel was also hit with a downgrade. Its shares dropped 2 3/4 percent.
That's the latest from Wall Street. More INSIDE POLITICS after this break, including Bill Schneider's inside look at a popular TV series that mimics reality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DASCHLE: Osama bin Laden is the sniper. He is terrorizing the country as the sniper terrorized Washington. And we finally found the sniper. And I would hope that we could find bin Laden, and I would hope that whatever resources have not been applied, whatever resources organizationally have not been utilized, that they be utilized, and the sooner the better. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: And with us now in San Diego, Mindy Tucker, communications director for the Republican National Committee. Here in Washington, Jennifer Palmieri, press secretary for the Democratic National Committee.
Mindy, to you first. It's not just Tom Daschle who's looking at the administration and saying not enough is being done about the war on terror. Yesterday Bob Graham Democratic senator from Florida said, quote, speaking of the administration, "They are so focused on Iraq that they aren't paying adequate attention to the war on terror." Do they have a point?
MINDY TUCKER, RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIR.: It's clear the Democrats' talking points went out this week, and it was attack the administration on the war on terrorism. There are a couple of fundamental things I'm a little disturbed that these Democrats don't understand.
One is, just because we find Osama bin Laden doesn't mean the war against terrorism is over. This is a network of terror that we've got to root this out at every level and it's not just one person.
Secondly, they should also very clearly understand that Saddam Hussein is part of a terror network, he is a terrorist, he is part of -- changing regimes there is part of the war against terrorism. That is a crucial thing for them to understand.
I'm very concerned that they've chosen this tactic and that they've decided that the elections are over, they have nothing else to criticize on now criticize the war on terrorism. And they're really showing their own ineptitude on these issues by criticizing on these particular topics.
WOODRUFF: So, Jennifer, this is just a tactic?
JENNIFER PALMIERI, DNC PRESS SECRETARY: No, no, absolutely not. I mean, it's not the Democrats who have been using national security as a political issue, as an issue on the campaign stump as the president and Republicans did.
But God forbid that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham, and God forbid the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle raise some questions about some pretty serious national security concerns which is, these guys are addressing the elephant in the middle of the room when it comes to national security. Where is Osama bin Laden?
We've all agreed, we've passed the Congressional resolution authoring action against Iraq, we've all agreed that's a priority. But we've seen in the past few days a number of warnings. Condoleezza Rice had a pretty alarming briefing this afternoon about some new national security threats related to terrorism.
And their question is, OK, so how is this -- preparing to go for war in Iraq, how will this affect the war in al Qaeda? I agree with Mindy. I know Senator Graham and Senator Daschle agreed that the war on terrorism isn't going to be done until we root out terrorism at all levels. And that's sort of the point they're making which is let's not forget while we pursue Iraq, let's not forget the war on terrorism.
WOODRUFF: Let me quickly turn you both to something domestic. And that is the story that the administration yesterday announcing that it is going to move quickly in the coming months to allow federal agencies to open up hundreds of thousands of federal jobs, these are civil service jobs, to the private sector.
Mindy, is this the signal that the administration wants to send that these jobs are better performed, whether it's making maps or, you know, working in the national parks. These are jobs better done by private employees?
TUCKER: Well, actually, if a government entity is able to show that they are the best, efficient way to get it done, they'll be chosen to get it done. So it's not a choice between one or the other now. It's simply saying, Let's open it up to competition. Let's find the best and most efficient ways to do the jobs.
We've hit rough economic times, families have to make choice about their budget and they have to find more effective and more efficient ways to do things.
The government doesn't always do that. Rather than choosing to raise taxes or something like that, I think it's very responsible for this administration to say, we can tighten our own belt, we can take measures to make sure that we are doing things more efficiently. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) punish the American people.
PALMIERI: If that were really the case, that might be a worthwhile argument (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I'm afraid that this is just a shell game that the administration is playing. It's some interesting politics we're seeing here. As my former boss, the Bill Clinton's say, Privatizing half the workforce is a big deal. It's a big deal and it's something that I think the unions are really taken by surprise, because when the president talked about compassionate conservatism, he tried to woo the labor unions for the first two years of his administration, tried it on the campaign trail. And after only one week of one party rule, their talking about privatizing half of the workforce.
WOODRUFF: All right. We've only got few seconds left. I want Jennifer to finish her point.
PALMIERI: OK, thank you. But what -- what we're concerned about is that these civil service employees will lose their protection where they're protected from being used politically, et cetera. And I wouldn't be surprised if we see the administration cut 800,000 jobs and then have them go to the private sector and claim, Look how great we are. We just created 800,000 new jobs in the private sector. So we're a little worried about it being a political shell game.
WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. Jennifer Palmieri, Mindy Tucker, good to see you both. Thank you.
Homeland defense, it's not just front and center in Washington, it's also in the spotlight in Hollywood. Our Bill Schneider encountered some would-be terrorists on the set. He'll go behind the cameras, coming up on INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: (voice-over): Welcome to "Capitol Cribs," the lame duck edition. But our lawmaker is here to stay. He just beat his opponent by getting 83 percent of the vote.
A barber chair 100 years old, gifted to our lawmaker from his brother, it brings back memories of their German immigrant great grandfather's morning routine in the small town of Rushville. Our lawmaker served in Vietnam with another brother, Tom. In 1968, their armored personnel carrier was hit by a mine. Our subject, his clothes on fire, pulled his brother from the wreck.
They served with a group of Navajo Indians, this statue a reminder of the heroism of Native American soldiers. Whose crib is this?
More clues in a moment.
WOODRUFF: More INSIDE POLITICS in a moment, including a look at "The Agency," a TV show torn straight from the daily headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: I'm Bill Schneider in Los Angeles, where the new Department of Homeland Security isn't news. It's a plug for a TV series.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: Some Israeli settlers en route to a prayer service were gunned down today by a group of Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank. Authorities now say that at least 11 people were killed.
CNN's Matthew Chance joins us from Jerusalem -- hello, Matthew.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Judy.
And those are the latest casualty figures coming to us from the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli army saying that at least 11 people were killed in that attack by Palestinian gunmen just on the outskirts to the south, on the southern outskirts of the West Bank city of Hebron.
They also say about a dozen or so people have sustained injuries. They've been evacuated now to medical facilities elsewhere. The exact circumstances of what happened are becoming slightly clearer. It appears that a bunch of devout Jews were leaving the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a holy shrine in the middle of Hebron sacred to both Muslims and Jews, that, walking back to their Jewish settlements on the outskirts of Hebron -- Kiryat Arba, the settlement's name is -- when they came under sustained fire and grenade attack from what the Israeli Defense Forces are calling a coordinated attack by Palestinian gunmen.
A number of border police who were guarding the settlers were also coming under attack. Fire was returned. Israeli Defense Force reinforcements came to the location. And what followed was quite a sustained heavy machine gun exchange between the Palestinian gunmen and the Israeli security forces.
According to the Palestinian sources who we've spoken to also inside Hebron, in response to that shooting, a number of tanks fired -- or a tank fired a number of shells into the city of Hebron itself. It's not clear exactly what damage that may have caused throughout the course of that firefight. Ambulances worked to evacuate the dead and that injured under fire.
So, Islamic Jihad, one of the most prominent Palestinian militant groups, has said it carried out the attack, that attack in the outskirts of Hebron -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: All right, Matthew Chance reporting for us from Jerusalem -- thanks, Matthew.
In this country, the FBI is putting out the most dramatic warning yet about possible terror attacks. In its regular weekly bulletin to law enforcement, the agency says al Qaeda may be planning spectacular attacks in the United States that will cause -- quote -- "mass casualties and severe economic damage." Officials say the warning is based on a summary of intelligence, but not any specific new information.
Prime-time television viewers who have seen a certain CIA drama may catch themselves wondering if they're watching fact or fiction. "The Agency" explores the issues confronting those on the front lines of American national security.
Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, toured the show's set.
SCHNEIDER: People here are trying to figure out how the CIA is supposed to get along with the new Department of Homeland Security. But this isn't Washington. This is Hollywood, on the set of the TV series "The Agency."
(voice-over): The top spy on that set is Beau Bridges, who plays CIA Director Tom Gage, a role that required some homework for the veteran actor.
BEAU BRIDGES, ACTOR: I started reading all these books. And, as I read them, I would take -- any time I read anything that was said by a former director or said about them, I would jot it down. And I presented that to my producer. And he then took it and kind of created, out of his own head, who this guy is.
SCHNEIDER: The show prides itself on authenticity, right down to the sets, according to executive producer Shaun Cassidy.
SHAUN CASSIDY, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: That's the Wall of Honor over there, which commemorates officers who died in the line of duty. They obviously can't use their names, so the stars represent them.
This is Bill Donovan, one of the founders of the organization, "Wild Bill." And this is a Christmas tree to show the CIA has heart.
SCHNEIDER: "The Agency" premiered in September 20, '01. And that created special problems.
BRIDGES: There were two episodes were shot before 9/11 hit. The first episode, which was to be their pilot episode, the opening episode, was about bin Laden blowing up Harrods in London. And then the second show was about...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE AGENCY")
RONNY COX, ACTOR: Anthrax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: The Agency"'s technical adviser, Bazzel Baz, is a former CIA agent.
BAZZEL BAZ, TECHNICAL ADVISER: We, of course, never give a story to the writers that would have anything to do with an ongoing operation that I may know about.
SCHNEIDER: Here's another way the show may anticipate reality. One of the central characters, played by Daniel Benzali, is the homeland security liaison, who has a complicated rivalry with the CIA director.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE AGENCY")
BRIDGES: Our timing couldn't be worse. Speaking of bad timing...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHNEIDER: In "James Bond" movies, like the one opening next week, everyone is a good guy or a bad guy. That's true for President Bush, too.
BUSH: We fight against evil people.
SCHNEIDER: But "The Agency" depicts a world of ambiguity and complexity. That may be closer to reality.
CASSIDY: I don't know who's following who sometimes, because I'll read the paper, and I'll say: "Oh, they did that. Did they see our show last week or did we learn that from them?" -- art imitating life imitating art.
SCHNEIDER (on camera): Remember the old TV series "The Untouchables" about Eliot Ness and the FBI? The producers here say that show was about a world where everything was black and white. In the world of "The Agency," they say, there's a lot more gray.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Los Angeles.
WOODRUFF: I'll have to remember that.
Well, it is no secret that actor and ex-body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger is considering a career in politics. But some news we found on the Web site, CannabisNews.com, may indicate that he wants to come clean about a part of his past, before someone else make it is a campaign issue.
Apparently, there was a scene in the 1977 documentary "Pumping Iron" in which Schwarzenegger was seen smoking marijuana. Well, it wound up on the cutting-room floor, but the actor says he wants the movie to be re-released unedited. Schwarzenegger said -- quote -- "I did smoke a joint and I did inhale. The bottom line is that that's what it was in the '70s. That's what I did. I have never touched it since."
Question: Does this sound familiar? The election has been over for more than a week, and there's still no winner in a key race, this time in Alabama.
We'll have the latest news from the campaign trail when INSIDE POLITICS returns.
WOODRUFF: (voice-over): More "Capitol Cribs": a cheetah wearing a college football cap. If you know the team, you know the state. A sword, a gift from West Point. Our lawmaker didn't go there. He volunteered for his tour in Vietnam. A photo with his good friend, John McCain. Who is that masked man?
Snapshots from the '80s: Here's our subject with Senator John Warner at the groundbreaking of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, and with Senator Thad Cochran.
Trim the hair, turn it gray and you've got it.
WOODRUFF (voice-over): Did you guess who's featured in today's "Capitol Cribs"? A few more clues from our lawmaker's private office filled with family memories. Here is his father, who died on Christmas Day when our lawmaker was 16. Here he is as a proud boy with a handwritten note from his mother.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: It's a picture of me as a young Cub Scout. And she says: "Dear, Chet (ph), you were destined to be a U.S. senator. God bless and guide you. My love, mom."
WOODRUFF: Recognize the voice? Here's the face, with his daughter, on the day he won the Republican senator primary in Nebraska in 1996, and with his family the day after he won the general election.
Our thanks to Senator Chuck Hagel for showing us around his crib.
WOODRUFF: That was a tough one.
Well, checking headlines now in our "Campaign News Daily": former Republican National Committee Chair Haley Barbour has been touring his home state of Mississippi, laying the groundwork for a possible run for governor next year. "The Biloxi Sun Herald" reports that Barbour started raising money after last week's elections. Barbour says he won't make a formal announcement until next year.
In Alabama, the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in the recount dispute in their race for governor. The court will take legal briefs on Monday and hear arguments next Thursday morning. Republican Challenger Bob Riley has a 3,000-vote edge over Democratic incumbent don Siegelman. Siegelman has requested a statewide recount.
I will talk with two candidates who endured close calls on Election Day next. Democrat Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Republican Norm Coleman of Minnesota talk about their Senate victories and what they plan to do in the future.
WOODRUFF: This story just in to CNN: in the Washington area of Rockville, Maryland, part of the Washington suburbs, two people are dead. Four people are reported trapped in the collapse of a building under construction.
These are live pictures coming in from Rockville, Maryland. We're told, again, two dead. Four are missing, trapped in the building. And two others -- one other has been taken to the hospital. We don't know much more than that. We know that it is a parking garage under construction. But, at this point, we don't know much more. And we don't know the exact -- we can't give you at this point the exact location.
But, again, these are live pictures coming in from Rockville, Maryland. We'll give you more information as we get it.
INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.
WOODRUFF: More than a week after Election Day, the winners of several Senate cliffhangers can finally make plans for the future. Republican Norm Coleman prevailed in a close contest over Walter Mondale in Minnesota. And Democrat Tim Johnson narrowly won reelection in South Dakota by just a little more than 500 votes.
My conversation with Norm Coleman in a moment.
But first, I asked Senator Johnson about comments by his opponent, John Thune, who said that he won't ask for a recount, but that he thinks the election may have been marred by unethical behavior.
SEN. TIM JOHNSON (D), SOUTH DAKOTA: Well, I don't know exactly what he's driving at.
The Republican attorney general for the state of South Dakota said that there's no evidence of any voter fraud relative to the ballots that were cast. The Republican secretary of state has confirmed the same. There were two individuals who were found to be mishandling absentee ballot requests. The system found that out. They were terminated. The law has taken care of those issues.
But relative to ballots actually cast, the Republican attorney general and the secretary of state are saying they don't see a problem at this point. If someone is aware of anything, I hope that they'll report it to those officials, because, at this point, there's nothing that's very apparent to me.
WOODRUFF: There's also a faculty member at the Harvard MIT Data Center who's been drawn to our attention. He's looked at the secretary of state records.
He says, in one particular county, heavily Democratic, heavily Native American, the turnout was three times what it was in the rest of the state, suggesting that something was fishy about all this and pointing out that Thune's attorneys had 50 people who were signing affidavits saying they were paid to vote.
JOHNSON: Well, all I know is that the attorney general and the secretary of state seem to be satisfied with this election. It was run well.
The particular county they're talking about is virtually the only county in the state that is almost exclusively Native American. That voter turnout was high this time. I think we ought to be proud of that.
WOODRUFF: Senator, much of your campaign message was: "Reelect Tim Johnson because South Dakota needs to maintain its clout in the Senate. We need a Democratic majority. And, with Tom Daschle in the majority, we need all the seniority we can get."
Hasn't that argument, rationale, pretty much collapsed, though, now with the Republican takeover?
JOHNSON: That was one of many arguments about why I should have the support of the people in South Dakota. I think we're in for an era where the control of the Senate, it's going to go back and forth, with the Republicans in control by a seat or two, Democrats in control by a seat or two.
Senator Daschle remains a very powerful figure in the U.S. Senate. I think he's going to reclaim his seat as majority leader sometime very soon. In the meantime, I hold my seat on the Appropriations Committee, my seat on the Energy Committee, Budget Committee, Indian Affairs. So I think that, all and all, I think our arguments still hold.
WOODRUFF: There are also those analysts out there who kept calling this a proxy war. It wasn't so much between you and John Thune, as it was between President Bush and Tom Daschle. Do you see this as a victory for Tim Johnson?
JOHNSON: I think this was a campaign between Tim Johnson and John Thune. I appreciate that there's a lot of out-of-state media who saw this as a fight, primarily.
South Dakotans were aware of that aspect of the race. And President Bush came to our state five times. His wife was there. The vice president was there, his wife. Giuliani was there. There's no question that that factor was involved. But I think it was very much a sideline story for most South Dakota voters. I think they saw this as a race between Tim and John, two people they knew very, very well. And they cast their ballots.
WOODRUFF: First of all, congratulations, Norm Coleman.
NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA SENATOR-ELECT: Thank you. Thank you.
WOODRUFF: The chairman of the Republican Party in your state is saying this completes the transition of Minnesota from a Democratic state to a Republican state, because of the incredible Republican turnout.
COLEMAN: I think that's a little premature. We certainly had a good night on election night on Tuesday. And I got elected. We took the governor's office and I think 81 seats in the Minnesota legislature.
But it was a good night and I think there's a lot of work to be done ahead. And we have got to deliver. We have got to deliver in the Senate. The governor has got to deliver at the state level. And, if that's the case, let's look to the next election and see whether we've been in some transition.
WOODRUFF: Your race was probably the most watched Senate contest in the entire country because of the death of Paul Wellstone in that plane crash. And, after that happened, it looked almost insurmountable for you. And then along came this memorial service that turned political. Could you have won without that, do you think?
COLEMAN: I don't know. I don't know. It happened. We did win.
And my favorite quote is David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel: "Anybody who doesn't believe in miracles is not a realist." I felt we would have beat Senate Wellstone. We felt confident about that race. And the vice president, early on, we felt good. But I don't know. I can't tell you that.
There was certainly a change in feeling and intensity and drive, both in Minnesota, I think throughout the country, after that event. And we certainly felt that. But we also worked nonstop from the next day, the next day, until the polls closed, literally nonstop the last couple of days. And so we were also out working. And I thought we had a message. And, in the end, it all came together.
WOODRUFF: The Republicans now have an unprecedented opportunity. They've taken control of the Senate. They have control of the House. They have the White House.
Is this an opportunity now for Republicans to just push, whether it's tax cuts, abortion, any one of the other issues that we have identified with the Republican agenda? Should they just go for it?
COLEMAN: Well, I think that we're going to go for growing jobs. We're going to go for making sure America is strong.
I think what we have got to be careful about is overreaching. I think we have to deliver on the agenda that the president's laid out. I think folks want a homeland defense. That's going to be passed, homeland defense. So they want terrorism insurance, so that we can get the hardhats back to work. That will be done.
They want a prescription benefit for seniors. We have got to get it done. I think we should be careful about overreaching. I'm not sensing that in the conference. Folks want to get some stuff done. but I think that's what America is looking for. I think that's why we won. Those things that we articulated about growing jobs, about taking care of people's needs and about making sure America is strong was America's agenda. And it prevailed last Tuesday.
WOODRUFF: Norm Coleman, we appreciate you talking to us. And, again, congratulations.
COLEMAN: Great. I love being here.
(LAUGHTER) COLEMAN: Thanks.
WOODRUFF: Well, something that was wanted very much by the families of the victims on 9/11 -- and that is an independent commission to look into what intelligence failures there were, what the government knew and didn't know before 9/11 -- now that commission will become reality.
Just moments ago, the United States Senate, by voice vote, passed a measure, meaning the commission. After having been passed by the House, now by the Senate, this will go to the president. He is expected to sign it: 10-member commission, which will have 18 months to do its work.
More after this.
WOODRUFF: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thank you for joining us.
I'm Judy Woodruff.
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