CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Aired November 17, 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: This is a special LATE EDITION, the last word in Sunday talk: "Showdown Iraq."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: 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)
BLITZER: On alert: The FBI issues a bulletin warning of spectacular attacks. How credible is the threat? And what is the U.S. government doing to protect the American public?
We'll ask White House Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not tolerate an deception, denial or deceit, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Iraq accepts the U.N. Security Council resolution, but will Saddam Hussein come clean with U.N. weapons inspectors?
We'll ask two key members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Chairman Bob Graham and Vice Chairman Richard Shelby.
Tomorrow, those inspectors arrive in Baghdad. What does the world expect them to find? We'll ask the British ambassador to the United States, Sir Christopher Meyer.
ANNOUNCER: Live, from Washington, this is a special "LATE EDITION: Showdown Iraq," with Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: It's noon in Washington, 9 a.m. in Los Angeles, 7 p.m. in Jerusalem, and 8 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching, from around the world, thanks for joining us for this special "LATE EDITION: Showdown Iraq."
We'll get to my interview with the U.S. homeland security director, Tom Ridge, in just a few minutes, but first, a news alert.
(NEWSBREAK) BLITZER: The United States is facing a possible war with Iraq, amid new warnings that the U.S. also could be in for another round of terrorist attacks by al Qaeda and other terror groups.
A short while ago, I spoke with U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge about that possibility and the government's efforts to keep the country secure.
BLITZER: Governor Ridge, welcome back to "LATE EDITION." Thanks very much for joining us.
We'll get to the substance in a minute, but a lot of press reports out there that the president has decided that you will be the first secretary for homeland security. You ready for that job?
TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: Well, I'm prepared to serve the president however he feels that I can serve him best. Why don't we just leave it at that?
BLITZER: And if he says to you, "I'd like you to be the secretary," I assume you're ready for that.
RIDGE: Well, if we have that conversation, I'll give my answer to him. And then maybe you and I can have a subsequent conversation.
BLITZER: I guess it would be appropriate to tell him first before you tell all of us. I guess that's what you're trying to say.
Let's talk about some of these late developments over the past week. A lot of alarm out there. You saw that bulletin released by the FBI warning of a spectacular potential terrorist attack. Let me read to you from that FBI National Infrastructure Protection Center bulletin. It says this:
"In selecting 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."
That sounds so ominous. What's going on, Governor?
RIDGE: Well, I think what the FBI was trying to do is they used the information to summarize, basically, some of the threat information we received over the past six to eight weeks, to remind the law enforcement community, the task forces and ultimately it gets into the public domain, that their first priority is the United States and that they could revisit and bring us harm and death and destruction like they did over a year ago, they would certainly try to do so.
But I think it was nothing more than a reminder that they also have a range of capabilities, as we've seen them operate around the world, from the spectacular attack in Indonesia to the limited attack in Kuwait to the assault on the French tanker off the shores of Yemen. The bottom line is that they've demonstrated an ability to attack countries and people in various forms, and we have to be alert and aware and be as well-prepared to interdict and prevent all of those potential forms of attack.
BLITZER: Well, given that warning from the FBI, some of the other warnings coming out from individuals related to al Qaeda, why not change the alert status? Right now, it's still, as you well know, on that yellow, mid-range, elevated level. Why not go to the next higher level, the orange level?
RIDGE: Well, as you know, Wolf, we review the national threat level on a daily basis. Right now, both within government and in the private sector, there's a range of protective measures you can take within the yellow level. We are at the upper end of that range.
And again, depending on the information we have available, we could, down the road, raise it to orange. But when you do that, you have to worry about sustainability. There's enormous costs associated with it. And then there are consequences of it in financial, consequences dealing with going from inconvenience to considerable delays at borders and airports and a variety of other complications that arise when you feel there's a need to take it to orange.
So, again, we review it every day. We're at the upper end of the protective measures that are available to us, both within government and in the private sector. And, again, if there's a need and appropriate threat information that dictates we take it to orange, we will.
BLITZER: And so you're basically -- we shouldn't be surprised, in other words, if it is changed, even within the next few days?
RIDGE: Well, no, I think, again, on a day-to-day basis, we review it. But because of the additional information we've received -- there have been several public statements from the al Qaeda leadership, people have been talking about more intelligence information, or more chatter, I guess is the word they're using -- but again, we remember that we're getting more information because we have nearly 2700 al Qaeda operatives detained around the world. So we're getting more information, both about the threat and about operational capability.
But we have been reaching out to the private sector, personally. The departments and agencies of the administration have been focused in on those communities that they deal with on a day-to-day basis. We've made technical enhancements within the federal government.
So we're at the upper range of the kind of protection we need to take in the level of risk we associate with the color-coded system of yellow, and if there is a need, if there is information that dictates we take it to orange, we will.
BLITZER: "The New York Times" today, in an editorial, hammered you -- not necessarily you personally, but the entire Bush administration homeland security apparatus, writing, among other things, this: "The American people deserve a more effective warning system about possible new assaults than the Chicken Little alerts the Bush administration is providing. The only thing warnings this vague are good for is providing political cover in case of disaster."
RIDGE: Wolf, as we know, as you know and have reported, and I see it on the scroll, we are at a national level of alert which is yellow, and enhanced measures have been taken. But, on a day-to-day basis, when we get information we need to share with the law enforcement community or with the private sector, we're going to have to give that out. Sometimes, it's with an abundance of caution. Sometimes it's not corroborated, and we want to go back and see if we can find it verified more completely.
But again, we continue to maintain a national level, but when we get some of this information, we feel obliged to share it.
And if we have the specificity associated with time, place, venue, method and means of attack, certainly we will be in a position to go out and apprehend and take action.
BLITZER: The chief investigative reporter for the Arabic language Al Jazeera satellite channel says he's received a multi-page letter from al Qaeda with more specific threats against U.S. targets. Among other things, it says this. It says: "Stop your support for Israel against the Palestinians, for Russians against the Chechens, and leave us alone, or expect us in Washington and New York."
How serious is this latest threat from al Qaeda?
RIDGE: Well, we know that this reporter has pretty good connections with the al Qaeda leadership, at least he seems to be a conduit to the rest of the world -- received that memo. The threats are threats we've heard before. The conditions to avoid future terrorist acts are conditions we've heard before. And we know that New York and Washington continue to be potential targets for another attack.
But again, there's really nothing new in this statement that's been attributed to al Qaeda leadership, whatever that is. But the fact of the matter remains that, while this is a global terrorist organization, and while we are developing global partnerships to deal with it, the primary target is on the United States. So, in that sense, they reveal nothing new to us in this latest document.
BLITZER: What about the statement from Osama bin Laden, the audio tape that was released earlier in the week? Among other things, he says this: "Why is it acceptable for us to live with fear, murder, destruction, displacement, the orphaning of children, and the widowing of women, but peace, security and happiness should be for you? This is not fair. Now is the time to become equals. Just like you kill us, we will kill you."
First of all, have you definitely confirmed that that was the voice of Osama bin Laden on that audio tape? RIDGE: Our intelligence community believes it's likely, but whether or not they confirm it 100 percent or not, again, that venom, that hate that we see from him and from others around him is something that we've seen firsthand personified in the death and destruction of September 11th of 2001. So whenever he speaks and reiterates his conditions and his threats and his age-old complaints, we understand it is from an evil heart, a hateful heart and an evil mind and an evil man, and we just have to deal with it.
BLITZER: He specifically makes references, direct threats to the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state. Do you take those threats seriously?
RIDGE: Well, we know that, in their training camps around the world, that they have taught some of their operatives the techniques of assassination, and we have reason to believe that they have been involved in the past -- all terrorist organizations from time to time look to assassination as a means of bringing terror and destruction to a country or to a community. So, yes, we do take them very, very seriously.
BLITZER: What about the arrest of this other high-ranking al Qaeda operative that's been so widely reported over the past 48 hours? What can you tell us about this individual?
RIDGE: He is a highly placed operative within the al Qaeda organization, and hopefully through his detention we can secure more information about the nature of the threat and operational activity as it relates to the United States and to their conduct around the rest of the world.
BLITZER: Can you tell us his name or...
RIDGE: Can't tell you anything more than that. Can't tell you, no, sir, I can't.
BLITZER: All right, and you can't tell us where he's being held?
RIDGE: No, sir.
BLITZER: Or whether he's already talked...
RIDGE: I can't with you any -- can't share with that -- you're pretty resourceful. I found detected over the past year serving the president as an assistant for homeland security that journalists are pretty resourceful, but you're not going to get that information from me.
BLITZER: All right. Now, I'm not going press you, obviously, on that point.
One thing, though, that the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, did come out this week, he was very, very critical of the administration for its failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.
I want you to listen to what Tom Daschle said only in the past few days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: We haven't found bin Laden. We haven't made any real progress in many of the other areas involving the key elements of al Qaeda. They continue to be as great a threat today as they were a year and a half ago. So, by what measure can we say this has been successful so far?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you say to Senator Daschle?
RIDGE: Well, I guess the senator and I have different means of measuring success.
And, by the way, Senator, we will get bin Laden, we're committed to that. That is a priority of this war on terrorism.
But if you're looking at a measure of success, take a look at the success the military's enjoyed in Afghanistan: There are no longer any training camps, we basically liberated a country.
We're working with our allies, we've frozen over $100 million worth of their assets. Working with our allies we now have nearly 2,700 people under detention, we get more information about their threats and operational capability.
We have made enormous progress in combining domestic and foreign intelligence gathering capacity in this country. CIA and the FBI are working closer together than ever before.
The states and local communities have begun to work with us to develop the means to respond to an attack if one occurs. Our ability to reduce our vulnerabilities has been significantly enhanced. The private sector owns 85 percent of our critical infrastructure in telecommunications and energy and transportation. They've certainly improved their protective measures.
The coalition continues to grow.
So, I would just say to the senator that his measure of success is, frankly, I think different than most Americans, as well.
BLITZER: But Senator Daschle's not alone. Senator Bob Graham, the chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee, the Democrat from Florida, I interviewed him earlier in the week. He was specifically very, very concerned about the FBI, saying they haven't met the challenge over these past 14 months. Let's listen to what Senator Graham said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We haven't made the kind of progress that we need, in terms of taking down these international terrorist cells inside the United States, and their headquarters abroad, that we need for the basic protection of the people of the United States of America.
I think there's a lack of urgency, there's a lack of focus on the critical nature of this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is he right that the FBI has let the American public down?
RIDGE: The FBI is much stronger in working the domestic terrorist threat more aggressively than ever before.
The FBI director personally briefs the president on a daily basis with regard to domestic terrorist threats. He's reorganized the FBI, he's doubled the number of analysts they have within the FBI.
Some of the success could noted if you take a look at what they've been able to do up in Buffalo and the apprehension of those individuals.
But we do have to remind the senator that while we have enhanced surveillance, enhanced information sharing, much better cooperation, there's still a rule of law under which we operate.
And we will continue to be as vigilant as possible. The FBI's been given that task by the president. And every day Bob Mueller, working with the FBI to take it from a traditional law enforcement agency, shifting its focus to domestic intelligence gathering, gets stronger and it gets better.
BLITZER: I know you recently spent some time with some British MI5 authorities, trying to maybe learn from the British example. Should that domestic intelligence gathering operation be taken away from the FBI and a new MI5-type of organization be established here in the U.S.?
RIDGE: Well, the president has directed the FBI to change its focus, and the Congress has given Bob Mueller the resources, and he's working on very aggressively reorganizing the FBI so they can bring maximum resources to bear, both human resources and technology resources, to dramatically improve our domestic intelligence capability.
I do not believe the MI5 and the powers vested in that agency are necessarily consistent with what we would even accept under our Constitution in this country. The visit to MI5 was very revealing, because they do have and could show enhanced collaboration and cooperation among their agencies, something that we're doing now.
But remember, MI5 is a result of 30-plus years of experience dealing with the IRA and the terrorist threat in Northern Ireland. They still have the same challenges that we do, dealing with the disseminating information publicly. They actually had a little spin- up (ph) while I was over there.
They're very aggressive as they reach out, as this administration is, to include the private sector in reducing vulnerability and protecting their country.
So there are lessons to be learned from how MI5 operates, but I don't think you're going to see a similar organization be developed in this country. That's not to say that not on a regular basis we don't sit down and see how we can improve our intelligence-gathering capacity domestically and how we share it.
But that's not how we're going to operate in this country. The president has directed FBI director Bob Mueller to reconfigure his organization, and that's exactly what he's doing.
BLITZER: All right. We're all out of time, Governor.
But I just want to ask you a quick comment from you on that headline in the New York Times today. If U.S. goes to war against Iraq, there will be new measures, counterterrorism measures here inside the United States dealing with Iraqi-Americans, U.S. citizens, potentially, in case there are new Iraqi-related terror threats against U.S. interests. What can you tell us about that?
RIDGE: Well, certainly if the president makes the decision to engage Iraq with the military, additional security precautions will have to be taken in this country, and clearly any of these additional measures would have to be undertaken with an eye toward the limits, very appropriate limits, imposed on us by the Constitution of the United States.
Obviously, military action in Iraq would require additional action to be taken domestically. We're not going to comment on intelligence gathering within our country.
But we need to remind ourselves from time to time as Americans, we do operate under a rule of law. We are guided by a Constitution, and we're not going to -- as difficult as this war on terrorism would be, as difficult as it would be for this country if we would engage Iraq militarily, those measures that we take internally still have to be consistent with the Constitution of the United States. We know that and we expect it as Americans.
BLITZER: Governor Ridge, you have perhaps the most difficult or certainly one of the most difficult jobs in the U.S. government; an enormous amount of responsibility. Thanks for taking a little bit of time and explaining to our viewers in the United States and around the world exactly what's going on. Appreciate it very much.
RIDGE: Wolf, good to join you again. Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Just ahead: The clock has started to tick toward a possible war with Iraq. Is there any indication that Saddam Hussein will follow through this time and comply with U.N. weapons inspectors?
We'll ask the chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrat Bob Graham of Florida; and the panel's vice chairman, Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama, when LATE EDITION continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: It's his choice to make and should he choose not to disarm, we will disarm him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush making the U.S. position in the showdown with Iraq abundantly clear. Welcome back to "LATE EDITION: Showdown Iraq."
Joining us now are two leading members of the United States Senate. In Miami, the chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee, Democrat Bob Graham of Florida. Here in Washington, the committee's top Republican, the vice chairman, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama.
Senators, welcome back to "LATE EDITION." Always good to have you on the program.
Senator Graham, I'll begin with you. You just heard Governor Ridge make the case that the administration is doing everything possible to get the job done to make the homeland secure. Were you convinced by what you heard?
GRAHAM: Not yet. I spoke with a CIA agent in the last few days, and I asked a series of questions, and the summary was that, "we have a long way to go," quote, unquote, in terms of securing the homeland.
Here's some of the things I'm going to be looking for: Are we getting answers to questions like, how many of these terrorists are located in the United States? What groups are they affiliated with? What skills did they acquire back in those training camps that we should be on the guard against? Have we been able to penetrate these cells in order to find out their intentions?
To date, we have not gotten quantifiable answers to any of those questions, which leaves me unsure that we have the answers to those questions.
We also need to be working abroad. We need, against al Qaeda, to wrap up this war in Afghanistan as rapidly as possible and begin to move to other countries which have significant al Qaeda cells.
And against those international terrorists such as Hezbollah and Hamas, we need to be launching attacks on their headquarters and their training camps so that they will not be in a position to provide support for their terrorists that are embedded in the United States or be developing the next generation of terrorists.
BLITZER: All right, I'm going to get to all those points, Senator Graham, but I want to just follow up on one point. You did meet late in the week with the FBI director, Robert Mueller. Earlier in the week you were quite critical saying that over these 14 months there's been a lack of focus on the part of the FBI. Did he reassure you?
GRAHAM: Well, let's go back. It's not just the last 14 months. It was in 1998 that the director of the CIA declared war on al Qaeda. Now, that is supposed to mean something when the head of your intelligence agency says that is the nature of our relationship. And we learned on September the 11th that it was literally a war that we were fighting with al Qaeda.
The FBI was slow to get engaged in that war. They were directed a year later to develop a comprehensive strategic plan of where domestic terrorists were in the United States. As of November of 2002, that plan has not yet been completed.
I agree with that assessment. We've got a long way to go.
BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in Senator Shelby.
Do you agree with your colleague from Florida?
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: I agree with him on the basics. We're challenged. The FBI is challenged. The culture of the FBI has not been in the area of where we need to be. It's been investigative. They've been federal police, and they've been very good.
Now their challenged to do domestic intelligence, to stop things before they happen, to stop terrorist attacks before they happen. The FBI's got a long way to go. A long way.
BLITZER: In part, the FBI, Senator Shelby, has to change its culture in dealing with domestic intelligence and some are saying a new MI5 type of organization must be established here in the U.S. along the lines of what they do in Britain to deal with this threat.
SHELBY: Well, that's been talked about. We've had hearings on it. Senator Graham and I have talked about it.
Now today, as we talk, the intelligence, domestic intelligence, is left up basically to the FBI. Are they doing the job yet? I say no. Can they do the job? I'm not sure.
But if they don't, we're going to have to look somewhere else. We're either going to have to create a domestic intelligence service, by standing alone or we're going to have to put it into Homeland Security if the FBI doesn't measure up.
I think we ought to give them a chance to measure up. They've had an opportunity. I agree with Senator Graham. They're a long way from getting there.
BLITZER: Well, what about that, Senator Graham? Do you think they will measure up, or it's time to start thinking of a new way of doing domestic intelligence, especially when it comes to the terror threat?
GRAHAM: Well, I agree with Senator Shelby. We have a practical problem right now, and that is that we could be at war with Iraq within the next 60 days. We don't have the time to be reorganizing our domestic intelligence service as the bullets are about to start to fly. So I think we have no choice for the foreseeable future than to do everything we can to make the FBI be as functional as possible.
But once we get past this period of immediate threat, whenever that may be, I think we ought to look seriously at an alternative, which is to do as the British and many other nations have done, and that is to put their domestic intelligence in a non-law enforcement agency, for the kind of cultural reasons that Senator Shelby has described.
There are also -- to pick up on something that Governor Ridge was appropriately concerned about, and that is civil liberties and privacy. One of the reasons that that split has been made is that the feeling generally is that civil liberties are more likely to be respected if they are in a separate agency that does not have a concurrent law enforcement responsibility, than they are if they are combined, where the person who's looking over your shoulder or taking a picture of you or listening on your telephone is also the person that can put you in jail.
BLITZER: All right.
SHELBY: Senator Graham makes a good point here. MI5, that the British have, and works well for them, it is not a police unit. They do not have the authority to do the stuff that the FBI does here. It's an intelligence -- domestic intelligence gathering apparatus. So that's a good point that he brings up.
BLITZER: Another point, Senator Graham, I want you to spell out precisely what you mean by this. When you say the U.S. must go out and attack Hezbollah or Hamas bases in various parts of the world, just as the U.S. went out after 9/11 and attacked al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, those Hezbollah bases are whether -- in Iran, or Syria or Syrian-controlled parts of Lebanon. What specifically do you want the U.S. military to do?
GRAHAM: Well, what I want us to do is to avoid the mistake that consistently our intelligence agencies have said we made in the 1990s, and that is, we knew that al Qaeda was training hundreds, thousands of people in the skills of terrorism in those camps in Afghanistan. We had the capability to take those camps out. We chose not to do so. That was a major mistake. We don't want to repeat that same mistake now.
I think what we ought to do is to go to the president of Syria, who controls most of these organizations, and say, "We have conclusive evidence that these training camps are in existence, they're operating in territory under your control, they are in violation of international law, they represent a threat to the world. We expect you to take care of this problem, but if you don't, we're going to take care of this problem."
To my knowledge, that message has not been delivered.
I met with the president of Syria in July, and I know Senator Shelby has also met with him, and he was still in a state of denial that there even were these terrorist training camps in his country and in the Syrian-controlled areas of Lebanon.
BLITZER: Senator Shelby?
SHELBY: I think Senator Graham's thesis is absolutely right. President Bush told us, and he's continued to tell us -- and he's absolutely right here -- that we've got to go after the terrorists and the terrorist camps, and the people who can do us harm wherever they are.
Hezbollah and some others are probably the A team, not the B team or the C team, as far as potential terrorist threats to this country.
BLITZER: And so, basically, what you're saying is that, as the U.S. goes on in its war against al Qaeda in Afghanistan or Yemen or any place else around the world, as it prepares for a possible war against Iraq, Senator Shelby, what you're also saying is the U.S. must militarily start planning to take out Hezbollah or other terrorist camps in Syria or elsewhere?
SHELBY: Before they take us out.
Absolutely, we're going to have to do something. Now, what's the priority? What's the sequence? We're not sure yet. But to sit back and wait till these camps and these groups train thousands and thousands more terrorists -- we're going to be in this war for 30 years or more.
BLITZER: Senator Graham, we're going to take a break, but, before we do, can the U.S. military undertake all of those missions virtually at the same time?
GRAHAM: Well, I think we ought to do them in sequence, and the sequence should be set by what is in the greatest security interest of the people of the United States, particularly here at home.
Saddam Hussein, according to our intelligence community, is going to be the most dangerous when he is cornered, when he realizes he's about to lose power, then he strikes out vengefully, and one of the ways will be through forming partnerships with these international terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, using their agents inside the United States, maybe using his weapons of mass destruction.
In my judgment, it is a dereliction of duty to the American people not to disable those organizations to the maximum extent possible before we get into that position where we are the bull's eye of Saddam Hussein's attack, and we have the capability of such disablement.
BLITZER: All right, Senator Graham, Senator Shelby, please stand by. We're going to take a quick break. Much more to talk about with both of these senators. We're also looking for your phone calls. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD H. RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: He could also decide to let them go in and say, "Yes, you're right. I had these, but now I'm going to turn over a new leaf and that's all there is."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledging the possibility of Saddam Hussein's fully complying with the U.N. Security Council resolution.
It's a scenario the Bush administration, to put it bluntly, is skeptical will actually play out.
Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We're continuing our conversation with the Florida Democratic Senator Bob Graham -- he's the chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee -- and the Alabama Republican, Senator Richard Shelby -- he's the vice chairman of the same committee.
Senator Shelby, there's a poll -- CNN/Time magazine poll, that just came out on these inspectors. "Will Saddam Hussein allow access to weapons sites?" The American public is very skeptical, to put it bluntly. Look at this: 8 percent say yes, 88 percent say no.
Do you have any confidence at all that these inspectors are going to be able to get the job done?
SHELBY: I don't have the confidence that I should because I know Saddam Hussein. I know his background. I know his history. I doubt it. I agree with the American people polled.
BLITZER: And Senator Graham, another poll in the same CNN/Time magazine survey asks: "Is war with Iraq inevitable?" Look at this: 63 percent of the American public says yes, 30 percent say no.
Do you believe war with Iraq is inevitable?
GRAHAM: I've said that there was a 70 percent chance of war with Iraq this winter from January to March, and nothing that has happened in the last few days has changed that calculation, which just puts greater emphasis on the fact that we only have a few weeks left before we could be putting Saddam Hussein in that position where he will strike out against us.
Those are -- that's the clock that's running on our capacity to disable the terrorists who are within the United States and attack their headquarters and training camps abroad.
BLITZER: Senator Shelby, I know that you believe that there will be a war.
SHELBY: I believe there will be. I always hoped something would happen. You know, I'd like to see the people of Iraq rise up and get rid of a despot there.
Will it happen? Probably not. There will be probably be a war.
BLITZER: Do you believe that the Iraqis' firing at U.S. and British warplanes, Senator Shelby, patrolling the no-fly zones in the northern and the southern parts of Iraq, represent a material breach of the U.N. Security Council resolution that was recently enacted?
SHELBY: I do because it shows such defiance, not just oral defiance or passive defiance, but really military aggression trying to shoot down our planes. I think we have to look at it.
I think that Iraq led by Saddam Hussein's attitude has not changed. They're in defiance.
BLITZER: And you know, Senator Graham, the secretary of state, Colin Powell, seemed to make that same point on Thursday, the day before the Iraqis for the first time since they accepted the U.N. Security Council resolution fired on those U.S. and British planes.
Listen to what Secretary Powell said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN L. POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: If they were to take hostile acts against the United States or the United Kingdom aircraft patrolling in the northern and (sic) no-fly zones, then I think we would have to look at that with great seriousness if they continued to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: They've done it now a couple of times. What does that say to you, Senator Graham?
GRAHAM: Well, it's why I think there's a seven-out-of-10 chance that Saddam Hussein will not comply at a satisfactory level with the U.N. resolution and, therefore, force will be used against him.
Yes, I think he's in material breach in the area of the firing against the aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone, which was part of earlier U.N. resolutions, as well as a long list of other failures to fulfill his promises.
BLITZER: Do you have a sense, Senator Graham, that the Iraqis, if, in fact, there is a war, will be able to bring together these various disparate terror organizations to target U.S. interests on their behalf?
GRAHAM: Yes. The Iraqis have some capability inside the United States unilaterally, and that's the subject of the question that you asked earlier of Governor Ridge. They also -- they have traditionally not had a relationship with these major international terrorist groups, from al Qaeda to Hezbollah, because they represent different wings of the Muslim religion with Iraq being more secular and those organizations more religious.
But in a period of extremis, where he feels as if all is lost, that's when they would find a common purpose and ground. He's got the weapons of mass destruction. They've got the people inside the United States. That's a pretty lethal partnership.
BLITZER: Senator Shelby, I'll give you the last word. You saw that New York Times story, I assume, today on the front page saying the administration, in the event of a war, is going to clamp down on Iraqis in the United States, Iraqi-Americans, in order to try to prevent any kind of terrorism.
SHELBY: They will, and we should. We should do everything we can to disrupt and destroy any cells, any activity that would do us harm in this country.
BLITZER: I am going to have to, unfortunately, leave it right there. Senator Shelby, Senator Graham, thanks to both of you for joining us, probably the last time you'll be on this program as the chairman and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committees, but always good to have you and I'm sure you'll be back on many additional occasions.
GRAHAM: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you for your invitations.
SHELBY: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
Just ahead: The U.N. Security Council supported the United States in demanding that Iraq rid its weapons of mass destructions, but will the world stay united in determining whether Iraq has complied? We'll get some insight from Britain's ambassador to the U.S., Sir Christopher Meyer when "LATE EDITION" continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
Is there a new terror threat facing Britain? There are reports al Qaeda has been planning a spectacular subway attack in London, and arrests have been made.
Our senior international correspondent, Walter Rodgers, is standing by in London. He's joining me now live with the latest.
Walter, tell us what's going on.
WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Wolf. Almost with every passing day, the British are feeling increasingly vulnerable to a threat of mass terrorism. Across Western Europe, there's an imminent sense that al Qaeda sleeper cells may soon carry out large-scale atrocities.
The British announced they have arrested three Muslims from North Africa and have charged them under the terrorism statute, specifically that they were in possession of articles that could be used for preparation, instigation and commission of terrorist acts.
Sunday papers here were quoting government sources, and they are saying there could be a poison gas attack, and that that might be planned for the London tube, the subway, which carries upwards of 3 million commuters daily. Such an attack could be catastrophic: tens of thousands of passengers trapped in subterranean tunnels, gassed to death.
MI5, the British equivalent of the American FBI, believes London was the target, though MI5 is much more cautious than the newspapers about the modus operandi and final target selection. Still, the three men, believed to be from Tunisia and Morocco, are thought to belong to a shadowy group called the North African Front, which allegedly has links to al Qaeda, and it is well documented that al Qaeda experimented with cyanide gas in Afghanistan.
Last week, Britain's prime minister Tony Blair said there were almost daily raw intelligence reports, warnings of possible terror attacks on Britain, and an audio tape attributed to Osama bin Laden has reportedly put the U.K. at the top of the Islamist terrorist hit list, because Prime Minister Blair is standing shoulder to shoulder with the Bush administration -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Walter Rodgers, with that disturbing information from London. Walter, thanks very much for that report.
We're going to get some reaction from Britain's ambassador to the United States, Sir Christopher Meyer. That, and much more, when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: You're looking at live pictures of President Bush. He's on the south lawn of the White House, just back from Camp David. He's meeting with some friends, meeting with tourists. If he stops and speaks to reporters, we'll bring you his comments live.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Joining me now is the British ambassador here in Washington, the British ambassador to the United States, Sir Christopher Meyer.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks so much for joining us. You heard Walter Rodgers report from London a cyanide al Qaeda attack against passengers in the subways of London. That sounds very ominous. How credible is that threat? SIR CHRISTOPHER MEYER, GREAT BRITAIN'S AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Well, it is very ominous and we've known for months that we were going to be under threat and under attack from international terrorism.
All I can say to you officially today is that the police have arrested these three men. I don't think that they have formally confirmed that they were plotting a cyanide attack, but it's all over the newspapers this morning and we'll see when court proceedings begin.
BLITZER: Well, how big of a concern is this? We know there's a huge concern here in the United States, but do people in Britain now feel they have been targeted by al Qaeda and related terrorist groups, as well, because of British support for the U.S. position?
MEYER: Well, it's not only British support for the U.S. position which, of course, we give willingly, but because we believe that this is a threat that we have to deal with in any case.
And I think there is a very high level of consciousness in the U.K. that we are a priority target for attacks by international terrorism.
Now, we've been this way before when we had to deal with the Irish Republican Army. This is not something that we welcome having to deal with again, but we do have some experience in how to handle this.
BLITZER: But in my reading of the British press, and correct me if I'm wrong, and correct the British press if they're wrong, there seems to be a widespread notion out there that the British law enforcement authorities are not as well-prepared for this threat as they should be?
MEYER: Well, you know, you're going to read this in the media all the time, and a lot of the preparations that we make to deal with international terrorism we're not going to publicize. Otherwise we simply reveal our defenses to those who want to penetrate them.
I think that the British government is doing everything conceivably possible to deal with a threat that could come in almost any guise. We are being extremely vigilant. Indeed, the price of freedom, the price of security, is eternal vigilance, and I'm extremely pleased to see that MI5 and our police have managed to arrest these three suspects in the last few days.
BLITZER: In that latest Osama bin Laden audio tape there were threats made against Britain, as well. How credible are all of those threats that are now coming forward from Osama bin Laden, others in al Qaeda, that, you know, there seems to be a whole surge of them in recent days?
MEYER: Yes, I think there is a whole surge of them in recent days. And Prime Minister Blair addressed this in a speech he gave a few days ago in which he said every day there's a mass of this stuff coming in, all kinds of intelligence information. And the job of government is to try to separate what is credible from what is likely to be not credible.
But we have to, I think, to take every possible threat very, very seriously, indeed. And there is a huge dilemma for government in deciding when do you warn the public that something may be imminent, and when do you keep quiet for fear of being too alarmist. A very difficult decision, and it's something that we have to decide on a day-by-bay basis.
BLITZER: It's a difficult decision, as we heard from Governor Ridge earlier on this program here in the United States, as well.
Let's talk a little bit about Iraq and those inspectors. They're scheduled to return to Baghdad, after four years, tomorrow. There seems to be a widespread assumption in official circles in Washington that this is a waste of time, that war is almost certainly inevitable.
MEYER: Well, I've got to say, I mean, war may come. This is distinctly possible. But I haven't had the feeling that the widespread assumption, or at least the point of gravity in Washington, is that this is a waste of time. After all, the president of the United States has been saying all this year, "Get the inspectors back in." Now we are getting the inspectors back in.
But because of this great outcome of the Security Council a couple of weeks ago, 15-to-0 vote, we have a very tough mandate for the inspectors, and the issue is going to be is Saddam Hussein going to cooperate or isn't he? Because if he doesn't, he will be forcibly disarmed. So it's a moment of truth for him: disarm or be disarmed.
BLITZER: The latest CNN/Time poll just out today, "Will U.N. inspections eliminate the threat from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction?" Seventy-six percent of the American public say no, 19 percent say yes. Widespread skepticism from the public.
MEYER: Well, let me put it another way, if I may, Wolf. What we are going to find out through these inspections is not whether inspections in and of themselves can discover all of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, but whether he is going to cooperate with the international community or not.
And we have full confidence in Blix and his inspectors to establish that one way or another.
BLITZER: Sir Christopher Meyer, thanks for joining us. I know you're getting ready to head back.
MEYER: No, not for awhile.
BLITZER: For a while.
MEYER: Give me a reprieve. Three months away.
BLITZER: Three months. Well, we'll have you back before you leave. Thanks so much for joining us.
MEYER: The pleasure's mine. BLITZER: Thank you.
Coming up in the next hour of "LATE EDITION," we'll get the Arab perspective on where the showdown with Iraq is headed. Plus, the elusive Osama bin Laden: What is he planning next? We'll explore the possibilities with a panel of experts. All that, much more when "LATE EDITION" continues.
BLITZER: This is "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.
U.S. troops are moving to the Persian Gulf. Will Arab nations help them in a war against Iraq? We'll ask Saudi Foreign Policy Adviser Adel al-Jubeir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANS BLIX, U.N. CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR: We do not judge whether something constitutes a material breach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: If a defiant Iraqi leader deceives inspectors, what should the U.S. do? We'll ask Former National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Now, is the time to become (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Just like you kill us, we will kill you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A new al Qaeda tape surfaces. Is Osama bin Laden alive? We'll get an analysis from our panel of experts: former Senator Gary Hart, former Ambassador Paul Bremer and terrorism analysts Brian Jenkins and Peter Bergen.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll talk about how the showdown with Iraq is being viewed in the Arab world, but first here's CNN's Carol Lin in Atlanta with a news alert.
BLITZER: Although it was a key U.S. ally during the Persian Gulf War, Saudi Arabia has expressed some serious reservations about a new war against Iraq. Still, the 22-nation Arab League, of which Saudi Arabia, of course, is a founding member, voted unanimously to urge Iraq to accept the Security Council's resolution.
Joining us now is the foreign policy advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Adel al-Jubeir.
Mr. al-Jubeir, welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER TO SAUDI CROWN PRINCE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks for joining us.
The confusion about Saudi policy, I think you'll acknowledge, stems in part from some interviews that the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faysal, gave.
For example, in September he told CNN's Jonathan Mann the Saudi bases would be available to the United States acting in support of some sort of U.N. resolution.
More recently the same foreign minister spoke to our Christian Amanpour, as you well know, and saying that even if there is a new U.N. Security Council resolution, Saudi Arabia is not going to cooperate militarily with the U.S.
Explain to our viewers in the United States and around the world the Saudi position on military cooperation with the United States in the event of a war with Iraq.
AL-JUBEIR: I think, Wolf, our position has been very clear and it's been consistent. I think where the confusion stems from is that people have read too much into it.
Our position has always been that this is a matter for the United Nations to decide. Our position has always been that the decisions, in terms of war, have not been made yet. Our view has been when the president took the this matter to the United Nations that that was the correct step. And our view was and remains that we, as a member of the United Nations, are obliged to abide by the decisions of the Security Council, in particular those taken under Chapter 7 of the council.
That was interpreted to mean we will allow use of our bases. How we express our support to the United Nations is a matter that Saudi Arabia has yet to decide, once we have weighed all the options and looked at the alternatives.
And when that was expressed, that in turn was interpreted to mean no.
Our position is very simple. We are a member of the United Nations. We believe this is a U.N. matter that involves arms control in bringing Iraq into compliance with the U.N. resolutions. If the United Nations makes a decision, we are obliged to support that decision.
How we support that decision and in what way do we support that decision is a matter that we have yet to decide, based on all the options that we have to review.
BLITZER: Let me press you on some specifics just so that there's no confusion. If there is the U.S. -- Hans Blix and everyone else determines that the Iraqis are not cooperating -- they go back, have this meeting at the U.N. Security Council, but there's no additional resolution. Instead the United States puts together a coalition with Britain and others to go ahead and strike out against Iraq, will Saudi Arabia cooperate with the U.S. under those circumstances?
AL-JUBEIR: Our interpretation of the U.N. resolution is that, if Iraq -- the U.N. resolutions provides Iraq with a road map, so to speak, of how it can get into compliance with the resolutions, how it can give up its weapons of mass destruction program. It also provides a means for the inspectors to come back to the U.N. and report to the U.N., I believe in February, about Iraq's compliance, and its seriousness in complying.
At that point, the United Nations Security Council will have to make a decision. If the Iraqis are complying, as they said they would, or they intend to, that would be one matter. If the Iraqis are not complying, the U.N. Security Council will have to decide what additional steps need to be taken.
So, our reading of the resolution is that the matter is not finished yet, in terms of the diplomacy. So we plan to wait, and see how it unfolds.
BLITZER: So, the bottom line for Saudi Arabia's position right now is that you're not ruling out cooperation militarily, but you're certainly not offering it at this point?
AL-JUBEIR: I don't believe, Wolf, that any country is offering it, other than Great Britain, at this time.
BLITZER: Well, Kuwait is cooperating militarily with the United States right now.
AL-JUBEIR: The Kuwaitis have indicated that they will go along with the U.N. resolutions, but I think, again, I would not read too much into where what countries are now.
BLITZER: Here's what the confusion is.
BLITZER: You take a country like Kuwait. There are U.S. troops all over the place, the whole northern part of Kuwait right now is basically a secure area where they're staging, areas getting ready. Qatar, the Central Command is having exercises there -- the U.S. Central Command of General Tommy Franks -- getting ready for the possibility of having a headquarters established there at a huge air base, as opposed to the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, as was the case the last time around.
Why are these Arab countries willing to go that far right now in militarily cooperating with the United States, but Saudi Arabia is unwilling to do so?
AL-JUBEIR: Well, it's not -- again, I wouldn't put it in those terms. There are exercises that take place between countries in the region and the United States on a continuing basis, and a lot of what you see is not -- the movement of the CENTCOM headquarters to Qatar is an exercise that U.S. CENTCOM does on an annual basis, so we shouldn't read too much into it. BLITZER: But this is the first time they have done it like this.
AL-JUBEIR: In Saudi Arabia right now, we are cooperating on the enforcement of the no-fly zone, we are cooperating in terms of trying to get the Iraqis to comply with the U.N. resolutions, because, after all, Wolf, it is in our interests to do so. We want Iraq to disarm, because we are the country, along with Kuwait, that is most threatened by them.
BLITZER: There's a widespread sense, as you well know, in the American public, certainly even within the U.S. government, that the Saudis are not cooperating with the United States, A, as far as Iraq is concerned, but, B, as far as the broader war against terrorism is concerned, as robustly as it should.
AL-JUBEIR: Oh, I think that that's pure fiction. I doubt that there's a country anywhere in the world that is cooperating with the U.S. on the war of terrorism more than Saudi Arabia. We have...
BLITZER: Well, let me give you a quote in the new issue of Time magazine that's just out. A senior U.S. official saying, "'The Saudis have offered piecemeal cooperation that has led to some successes,' a frustrated senior U.S. official says, "now it's time for an approach that produces greater results.'"
AL-JUBEIR: I find it puzzling, Wolf, that every time somebody criticizes Saudi Arabia, it's an anonymous official, and I have no idea who these officials are.
What I can tell you is that, in terms of the war on terrorism, our two countries are cooperating closer than any other two countries in the world. We have worked together to unravel the accounts of people who support terrorism. We have frozen accounts. We have extensive intelligence cooperation. We have worked with other countries to get them to extradite suspected members of al Qaeda. We have broken up a number of cells in -- not only in Saudi Arabia, the one cell in Saudi Arabia that we know of, but in a number of other countries. We have worked very extensively in this effort. We have worked with the Pakistanis. We have worked in the Muslim world. We have worked, in terms of controlling the funds that go from Saudi charities.
I can't think of any area where our cooperation has not been first rate. It's not a surprise, and it shouldn't be a surprise, that the president, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, every senior American official on the record has stated this.
Now, when you have quotes by anonymous officials, it's very difficult to respond to them, because who are they? I'd like to see them, and I'd like to see what they base these charges on, because it's certainly not based on fact.
BLITZER: Certainly there have been plenty of on-the-record statements from members of Congress, as you well know, who have expressed concern about the nature of the Saudi stance. AL-JUBEIR: Yes, but, with all due respect, members of Congress have a lot of more leeway to say things that may or may not be correct, because they don't bind their government.
BLITZER: The bottom line, is there going to be a war with Iraq?
AL-JUBEIR: It really is entirely up to the Iraqi leadership. If they come into compliance with the U.N. resolutions, then there will be no consequences. We -- and that's a matter that we have to see going forward.
The Iraqi government has expressed the desire to work with the U.N. and to allow the inspectors back. Let's see where that leads.
I hope for our sake, for the region's sake, for America's sake, that there will be no war because we, these wars have disastrous consequences economically, politically, as well as in terms of human losses.
BLITZER: Adel Al-Jubeir, as usual, thank you very much.
AL-JUBEIR: Thank you. Always a pleasure.
BLITZER: Good luck to you.
AL-JUBEIR: Thank you.
BLITZER: When we return, the weapons hunt: Are U.N. inspectors certain to find violations and will they be enough to constitute and create a war?
We'll get some insight from two former U.S. national security advisers, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski. They'll join me when "LATE EDITION" continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: The worst nightmare that we would face is the combination of extremism with a hostile regime armed with weapons of mass destruction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, discussing the threat from al Qaeda as well as from Iraq.
Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
Joining us now to talk about the challenges presented if the U.N. weapons inspectors find violations in Iraq are two special guests. Brent Scowcroft served as the national security adviser to President Ford and the first President Bush. Zbigniew Brzezinski was the national security adviser for President Jimmy Carter.
Gentlemen, welcome back to "LATE EDITION." Thanks so much for joining us.
Let me go into a little history, recent history, General Scowcroft -- read that famous line from that op-ed piece you did in the Wall Street Journal in August raising concerns about a possible war with Iraq.
"Our preeminent security priority, underscored repeatedly by the president, is the war on terrorism. An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken."
Do you still believe that?
BRENT SCOWCROFT, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I think that the steps that the administration has taken since the time of that article have not completely eliminated but substantially defused my concerns.
BLITZER: Why? What steps?
SCOWCROFT: I think they have conducted brilliant diplomacy. They have gone to the Congress, they have gotten an authorization from the Congress to use force. They've gone to the United Nations, they've explained the case, they have gotten at 15-to-nothing resolution.
I think it's been brilliant diplomacy.
BLITZER: But on the issue of terrorism, the fear that a war with Iraq could undermine the war against, let's say, al Qaeda?
SCOWCROFT: Well, it's still, a war on Iraq could still stimulate radicals in the region, but it's much less likely to be extreme if we have the United Nations firmly behind us.
That takes a lot of the steam out of it.
BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski, do you agree with that assessment?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Yes, I basically do. I think Brent rendered a real service by raising that issue. I think we have to recognize that the war on terrorism is not some sort of unlimited, undefined global war, but it's a war and a phenomenon that originates very much from the Middle East. Most of the terrorists are Middle Eastern nationals.
And it's a complex of political, diplomatic and military issues that confronts us in the Middle East, and if we want to prevail in the war on terrorism and deal with Iraq, we have to have a comprehensive policy that's political, military and diplomatic.
BLITZER: And do you think the Bush administration has achieved that right now?
BRZEZINSKI: I think since September 12th it's moved in that direction.
BLITZER: That's when the president addressed the U.N. General Assembly.
BRZEZINSKI: Exactly. But there is a group of people in the administration, high up, who really believe in a one-dimensional response, which is military, focused on Iraq, and then in, kind of, very vague theologizing about terrorism, without identifying who the terrorists are and why we are facing that problem.
And I do believe that the course of action they advocate would produce a mess in the Middle East, would not help to win the war on terrorism and, in fact, would probably produce more blows directed at the United States itself.
BLITZER: So what I hear you saying is you support the views of the secretary of state, Colin Powell, in effect, but you're concerned about some of the so-called more hard-liners like the vice president, the secretary of defense. Is that what you have in mind?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, I think if you read the president's speech of September 12th, and the vice president's speech of August 27th, you see two entirely different conceptions.
And regarding that issue, I am with the president, but not with the views which I think are quite extreme, that the vice president expressed.
BLITZER: You're no stranger to differences in an administration between strong-minded individuals, General Scowcroft.
SCOWCROFT: Neither is Zbig.
BLITZER: All of you lived through those periods yourself. How serious is this infighting that may be going on within the Bush administration?
SCOWCROFT: Well, I think there is a substantial difference of opinion within the administration. And I think it is being fought out within the structure and sometimes spills over into the press.
But what we have to remember is that the decision -- there's only one decision-maker fundamentally...
BLITZER: That's the president.
SCOWCROFT: ... and that's the president. And I think the president has sorted his way through this, starting from last spring up until now, in a very satisfactory manner.
BLITZER: Let me read to you, General Scowcroft, from Saddam Hussein's letter to the Iraqi parliament this weekend, as far as these U.N. weapons inspections which are supposed to get off the ground as quickly as tomorrow.
"We hope that the way we have chosen will achieve, for those who have no foul agenda in the Security Council, their declared goal which is to see the truth as it really is about Iraq being completely free of weapons of mass destruction."
That's the Iraqi position: They don't have any weapons of mass destruction, and all of this is simply a waste of time.
SCOWCROFT: I don't think it's a waste of time. Do I know for a fact? No. But I'm confident that they still have some weapons of mass destruction.
BLITZER: They have to make a declaration by December 8th what they have, what they don't have. If they say what they say now, what Saddam Hussein said in this letter, what they told the U.N., there are no weapons of mass destruction programs in Iraq, what happens then?
SCOWCROFT: Well, but look, this is Saddam Hussein. A couple of weeks ago he said, "No, we will not accept a new resolution, we'll operate under the old one." The new one comes out and he accepts it. He is very skilled at fish-tailing back and forth and playing on the differences, which he will do, the differences in the coalition.
BLITZER: Is that what we can expect, to see more of that as far as Saddam Hussein is concerned?
BRZEZINSKI: Sure. And we have to be prepared for it. But it's quite possible that, first of all, in the last several years since the inspections stopped...
BLITZER: Four years.
BRZEZINSKI: Yes. He may have actually developed more weapons. It's also quite conceivable that he may be in the process of destroying them right now.
BLITZER: You really believe he would do that on his own?
BRZEZINSKI: Unless he wants to have a war with us, he cannot be caught having a significant number of weapons of mass destruction. Since he has gone, so far at least, down the route of inspections, he has to be careful what happens next.
Now, he will presumably report to us something that we dispute. Inspectors will already be on the ground by the time he reports. He will then say, "If you don't believe me, come and see whatever I have. I'm giving you unlimited access."
I think it will be difficult for us, at that moment, to simply say, "We don't believe you. We have evidence that is different, and we will not inspect any more. We are starting a war."
So I think we will be going down the route of inspections. Whether in the end there is a war or not is too hard to tell. It depends on how he behaves. But I doubt very much that it's possible to gin up enough international support for a unilateral, solitary war in the next few weeks. BLITZER: You accept that notion that possibly he's destroying some weapons of mass destruction? Because a lot of people, General Scowcroft, think it's more likely that he's finding clever ways to hide those weapons of mass destruction. SCOWCROFT: I suspect he's doing both.
SCOWCROFT: And what he will probably try to do is hide enough so that if there's some found, that he hasn't declared, he'd say, "Oh gee. I forgot about that."
But, I think one of his most dangerous strategies could be to try to drive a wedge between us and the French and the Russians, for example, by having these little things -- well, for example, like firing on our planes.
BLITZER: Is that a material breach of the U.N. Security Council resolution?
SCOWCROFT: See, we're arguing about that. And if he can get these little violations in a way that the French and the Russians, for example, are on one side and we're on another, that's heaven for him.
BLITZER: And I just want to pinpoint you, Dr. Brzezinski, on this point: the no-fly zones in the north and south. The U.S. and the British patrol those no-fly zones. For years the Iraqis have been firing at those planes. They've never succeeded in shooting any of those planes down.
But since they accepted the U.N. Security Council resolution of a week ago, the -- it says in there, you can't interfere with those kinds of patrols. Is this a violation of that U.N. Security Council resolution?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, does the resolution actually say that you cannot interfere with these patrols specifically?
BLITZER: That's what it says. Yes.
BRZEZINSKI: Well, if it says that, it's obviously a violation.
BLITZER: The question, is that a material breach?
BRZEZINSKI: My sense is that the no-fly zones are based on the U.N. Resolution...
BLITZER: Well, they're not really, but that...
BRZEZINSKI: Well, that's with us and the British interpreting the resolution that way, which means it's not really part of the resolution.
BLITZER: That's some of the vagueness in all of this and some of the -- I'm sure that if they're seeking to drive a wedge on this issue they might be able to come up with some sort of wedge.
We're going to take some phone calls. We've got a lot more to talk about, but we're going to take a quick break. More of my discussion with two former U.S. national security advisers, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, when we return.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We're talking about the search for weapons in Iraq, and what that might uncover with the former Bush and Ford National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and the former Carter National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Gentlemen, we have a caller from Wisconsin.
Go ahead, Wisconsin, with your question.
CALLER: My question is: What will the U.S. do to ensure that Iraq after the war does not become a fundamentalist regime?
BLITZER: A good question. What about that, Dr. Brzezinski?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, if we have a war, presumably we'll have a lot to do with the nature of the next regime. We'll be present. Presumably we'll be an occupying power for a while. Presumably there'll be some international effort to recover Iraq, restore it and to democratize it. And hopefully all of that will stand in the way of a fundamentalist regime emerging.
Pretty much what we're doing in Afghanistan.
BLITZER: General Scowcroft, do you think this administration has done enough to think about the day after Saddam Hussein; that they really have a plan in mind?
SCOWCROFT: I don't think it's possible to think enough about what might come after, because there's so many unknowns.
If you take Afghanistan, for example, there are all kinds of problems arising in Afghanistan, and that's what, 2, 3 million people. Here you've got over 20 million people, and it -- how you guide this country and the disparate parts of this country, which is really an artificial construction after World War I, is going to task everyone's capabilities.
BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski, I want you to listen to what the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said earlier this week about Saddam Hussein, what he's willing to sacrifice in order to develop his weapons of mass destruction. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUMSFELD: This is a man who has shown that he'll give up billions and billions of dollars every year so that he can be free to develop those weapons, and to have those weapons, and to use those weapons to terrorize other countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Does that -- if Don Rumsfeld is right, the secretary of defense, does that sound like Saddam Hussein's going to make these kinds of concessions and cooperate with the inspectors?
BRZEZINKSI: No, it doesn't, but we'll see if he does.
The point is, he very well might have concluded, and he should have concluded, that if he doesn't comply, he's a goner, he's going to be done, he's going to be done in, including himself personally. And I think he's smart enough to know that.
BLITZER: You know, you were the national security adviser the first time around. You remember all of those months of Operation Desert Shield, and then the secretary of state, James Baker, went off to Geneva only a few days before. You gave Saddam Hussein every conceivable chance to avoid a war and he said no.
SCOWCROFT: That's right. That's right.
BLITZER: And he might do that again this time.
SCOWCROFT: He might do that again this time. But one of the things we have to remember is Saddam Hussein is not a suicide bomber. He's a survivor, and he has shown great skill in surviving both internally and externally.
What he may do, though, is miscalculate, like he did in the Gulf War. He thought we didn't have guts enough to do what we did. And, even when we started doing it, starting the war, he thought a few body bags, and we'll leave.
I think miscalculation now, thinking he can get away with something, is the most danger. If he thinks he can't get away with it, I think he'll comply.
BLITZER: Well, you know, that strategy of cheat and retreat, if you will, is something that he became very famous for.
General Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander, spoke on CNN here earlier this week. I want you to listen, Dr. Brzezinski, to his explanation of what Saddam Hussein might be up to right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: This is a slice- and-dice, rope-a-dope trick. He's going to just hang on here. He's going to try to comply. He's going to see how far he can stretch this out. Maybe he's trying to build something we don't know about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You think that General Clark might be on to something, try to build something -- sort of a delaying tactic, because the only thing I can assume is, he's trying to develop a nuclear bomb?
BRZEZINSKI: Yes -- but no, look, nuclear bombs are very sensitive things. They're almost like little babies. They need tender love and care. You have to develop it, you have to test them. We have tested ours hundreds of times, more than a thousand times, to be sure they really work.
Then you have to have a delivery system. You have to test the delivery system.
If you just develop one nuclear bomb somewhere in a shack, hiding from the inspectors, you don't have any weapons to speak of. You're not even sure that it will work.
BLITZER: What about a crude nuclear device, a radiological so- called dirty bomb?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, that's much more messy, absolutely. And if he had the means to explode one in the United States, or in Western Europe, a number of people, thousands of people will be killed. But it would not be a decisive outcome, and he would commit suicide.
And I think Brent is quite right: He is not a suicide bomber. It doesn't give him much satisfaction to do that and to die.
This is why I think he will maneuver. He will try to create difficulties in the alliance and in the U.N. But basically, I think if we are steady, insistent, categorical and determined, there is at least a reasonable chance that he will comply, we'll disarm him, and we'll not have a war. It's not inevitable.
BLITZER: You may have heard Senators Graham and Shelby, earlier on this program, both express alarm that Saddam Hussein could forge some sort of loose alliances with terror groups, not necessarily just al Qaeda but Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, to attack U.S. targets.
SCOWCROFT: I think that's possible but, you know, I don't think the U.S. is a prime target of Saddam. He is after domination of the region or domination of OPEC oil supplies. We're in his way. And to attack us in a way that might provoke a response, I don't think is in his interest.
BLITZER: Do you think the Democrats in the opposition right now in Congress are going to go along with the president if, in fact, he goes to war, even without a formal U.N. Security Council resolution?
BRZEZINSKI: My guess is that if he goes alone unilaterally, in a solitary fashion and with a great deal of international disapproval from the international community including the U.N., the Democrats will be much, much more critical than they were back in September. Because I think that's the lesson they're drawing from the elections.
It may not be the right lesson but I think there's going to be less bipartisanship in foreign policy as a consequence of the elections and as a consequence of the changes in the Democratic leadership.
BLITZER: I'll give you the last word. Go ahead, General Scowcroft. Do you agree?
SCOWCROFT: I don't think there will be that much division. Because when the president says, "We've got to go to war," the American people, and I think both parties, will rally behind. There will be a lot of dissension going up to it and a lot afterwards. But my sense is if the president says, "We have no choice now, we have to do it, even if we do it alone now," he will have support.
BLITZER: That's certainly what happened in 1991, the first time around. A lot of dissension going up to it...
SCOWCROFT: A lot of dissension right up to it, yes.
BLITZER: ... but once the decision was made there was strong support.
General Scowcroft, thanks very much.
Dr. Brzezinski, always a pleasure to have you on this program.
I always learn from both of you. Thank you very much.
BRZEZINSKI: Thank you very much.
SCOWCROFT: Thank you.
BRZEZINSKI: Great program.
BLITZER: Just ahead, new ominous messages from Osama bin Laden. Is he masterminding another attack? We'll get some insight from a panel of experts when "LATE EDITION" continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUMSFELD: I don't know if he's alive or dead. I suspect if he were alive and healthy he would be doing videotapes, which seems to be his preference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, commenting about the speculation involving Osama bin Laden.
Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
A new audio tape surfaced during the past week that officials believe does contain the voice of Osama bin Laden. The tape's message praised the recent terror attacks in Bali and Moscow, and they promised more attacks against the United States and its allies.
Joining us now to explore all of the implications of these late developments are four guests: in Denver, the former U.S. Democratic senator, the co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, Gary Hart; in Los Angeles, Brian Jenkins. He's a terrorism analysts with the RAND Corporation. Here in Washington, Paul Bremer, he's a former U.S. ambassador for counterterrorism. He's now the president of Marsh Crisis Consulting. And CNN's own terrorism analyst, Peter Bergen. He's the author of the important book "Holy War Incorporated: Inside The Secret World Of Osama Bin Laden."
Thanks to all of you for joining us.
And, Peter, let me begin with you because you wrote a provocative piece in the New York Times op-ed page this past week. Osama bin Laden does not make these threats idly, does he?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: His statements have been a very reliable guide to his actions. You know, when he declared war on the United States in '96 it wasn't a rhetorical flourish. When he said that he made no distinctions between American military targets and civilian targets in '98, shortly thereafter U.S. embassies were attacked. His words have been always been a pretty reliable guide to his actions.
So when he threatens by name not only the United States but Canada, Australia, Germany, Britain and France, I take him completely at face value.
BLITZER: So, what does that mean, Senator Hart, when you hear these threats, very specific threats in the audio tape railing against top U.S. officials, the president and the vice president, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense? What does the United States do in a situation like this to protect the nation's homeland security?
GARY HART, U.S. COMMISSION ON NATIONAL SECURITY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: Well, first of all, the only two surprises to me are that we haven't been attacked for a second time already, and the second is that our allies, particularly the British, have not been attacked.
But having given that, we have not made much progress, as the task force that Senator Rudman and I chaired indicated for the Council on Foreign Relations, in the past year at securing our sea ports, preparing our medical workers, integrating vertically our law enforcement agents from federal to local in terms of database and watch lists, and a variety of other steps of that kind.
So, I think we need to restore the sense of urgency to homeland security.
BLITZER: Do you agree, Ambassador Bremer, that not much progress has been made in this war on terrorism?
PAUL BREMER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM: I think not enough has been made, but I think we've made quite a lot, as Mr. Ridge said earlier on your show. We've got some 2,700 terrorists under arrest in various countries, we've locked up a lot of their money, we've had some important arrests both here in the United States and even yesterday in the United Kingdom.
So, we shouldn't yet declare victory. We're a long way from victory. This is going to be, as the president said a year ago to Congress, a very long battle that's going to take a lot of patience, and we will not win all the fights. We're going to lose some.
BLITZER: Brian Jenkins, you saw that FBI bulletin going out to thousands of local, state, federal law enforcement authorities around the United States warning of a spectacular potential threat that's out there against high-visibility, economic targets, infrastructure targets.
Yet at the same time there's no elevation in the threat level: still that basic yellow elevated status. No moving up to orange. Is that smart?
BRIAN JENKINS, RAND CORPORATION TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, the FBI warning was, in so far as we know, in fact we've been told, not based on any specific new piece of intelligence. It rather is a reiteration of what we've known for months already.
The language is a bit more melodramatic than one expects from normal government communications on this particular issue. I mean, use of words of "spectacular," of "mass casualties," of "psychological trauma," but it is a reminder that the threat is real and this is going to be the situation that is going to exist for some time.
Last week was a week of threats, of warnings, of arrests and thwarted attacks.
BLITZER: What about, Peter, this latest threat that came in the form of this letter to Al Jazeera, to their reporter -- their chief investigative reporter, Yosri Fouda, who says that there are some specific threats in there as well? Does that sound like a credible al Qaeda threat?
BERGEN: This Yosri Fouda, who's the chief investigative correspondent for Al Jazeera, has had very good contacts with al Qaeda; in fact, met with the military commander of the group as recently as June. So, if he says the letter seems legitimate, and he's receiving it from somebody who presents himself as al Qaeda, I believe it is from al Qaeda.
BLITZER: Let's get a caller into this conversation from New York.
Go ahead with your question, New York.
CALLER: Hi. I would like to know, with all these alerts and increased chatter, when do you expect an attack to occur, and what kind of attack?
BLITZER: Well, I don't think anyone can predict that, but let me ask Senator Hart to try to respond, at least somewhat, with a little degree of knowledge. He studied this subject obviously very, very closely.
HART: Your other guests much better experts on terrorism and the operations of terrorism than I. But I've always personally felt that the biological threat was probably the most predominant. I would have said a couple of years ago chemical. I would now elevate nuclear probably up -- some form of nuclear.
And we've always got the fourth threat which we don't discuss very much, and that's the cyber threat which can shut down whole systems and do great economic damage.
So, any of those, I would say.
BLITZER: You want to try to weigh in on that, Brian?
JENKINS: Well, al Qaeda's violence has always been entrepreneurial. That is, this is not all masterminded from some cave in Afghanistan or a village in Pakistan; that there are al Qaeda operatives around the world. There is a constant exhortation from the center to these operatives to look for opportunities to attack.
Now, from what we know of the thwarted attacks and the attacks that have occurred in the past, they do look for targets with high symbolic value, they have gone after diplomatic targets, they do look for concentrations of military forces, or militarily symbolic targets. They do have a pretty well established playbook. That doesn't mean that they have to always stick within that playbook.
If you look at the instruction manuals in the training camps that were uncovered, as I say, it's more exhortation to be creative and think of a broad range of activities. And, of course, we just saw in the last couple of days the arrest of people in London who were planning to carry out an attack involving cyanide on London's subway system.
BLITZER: Ambassador Bremer, we're going take a quick break, but I want your quick thought on this. There are so many so-called soft targets out there -- this is a very open country -- how do you protect against those kinds of targets that are obviously very vulnerable?
BREMER: It's an important question. And the answer is: You really can't protect against all our vulnerabilities. So what you've got to do is, you've got to go out and get the terrorists before they come and get us. And that comes down to having better intelligence. That's really what this is all about.
BLITZER: All right, let's take a quick break. Much more to come up, including more of your phone calls for our panel. We'll ask about Osama bin Laden, the war on terrorism, much more. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're continuing our conversation with the former U.S. senator and the current co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on National Security, Gary Hart; the terrorism analyst, Brian Jenkins; the former U.S. ambassador for counterterrorism, Paul Bremer; and the CNN terrorism analyst, Peter Bergen.
We have a caller from Utah.
Go ahead, Utah. Go ahead.
CALLER: Yes. I was wondering, does your panel have any thoughts on whether we should be going after other terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah?
BLITZER: Well, let me ask Senator Hart that question.
You heard -- you may have heard on this program, Senator Graham, Senator Shelby say absolutely the U.S. should learn the lessons of al Qaeda; go after the bases of these terrorist groups whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere. And Hezbollah, in particular; they both said it's time to go after those bases militarily. What do you think about that?
HART: Well, to the degree they threaten us, I think the answer is yes. Up to this point, to my knowledge, they have not.
It raises a very interesting question of preemption, I guess. Are we undertaking to be the policeman of the world and to eliminate terrorism everywhere or should we leave groups like that to the nations that they are threatening, namely Israel and other neighbors in that region?
Again, I think people like Mr. Jenkins who have studied this issue can comment better than I. But I think we better be a bit careful if we start going after everybody in the world that we don't like or taking on ourselves the role of avenging angel against everybody who commits a crime.
BLITZER: All right.
Brian Jenkins, pick up that thought.
JENKINS: Well, Senator Hart has raised an important point here on that particular issue. We have identified more than 30 foreign terrorist organizations, and the question is, while we are opposed to all terrorism and will cooperate with nations around the world to combat terrorism, are we as a nation ourselves going to try to go after all of these terrorist organizations, beginning with al Qaeda, going on through Hezbollah and others, as part of a general process of cleaning up the world.
That's a policy decision. Will our attitude toward these other groups in the future be determined by the degree to which they threaten us or take direct actions against us? In which case, we may derive some deterrent value from our current campaign against al Qaeda. Or have we simply made the decision that one after another we're going to take these groups out?
BLITZER: It's a policy decision, Ambassador Bremer, a significant policy decision. Where do you think the administration -- the U.S. government should come down on that decision?
BREMER: Well first, let's get some facts straight. Until September 11th last year, Hezbollah had killed more Americans than all other terrorist groups in the world combined. So it is not... BLITZER: Because of the Marine barracks in Beirut.
BREMER: The Marine barracks, the bombing of our embassy there, the taking of hostages. It's not as if we're dealing with some third- level group that, you know, every now and then kills Filipinos. We're talking about a group which has killed more Americans than all others combined until September 11th last year.
So Hezbollah is a group which has a global capacity. They have attacked in Europe. They have attacked in this hemisphere and they have attacked in the Middle East. It is a dangerous group. It is supported by the world's leading state supporter of terrorism, which is Iran.
Now, having said all that, it seems to me we have to pick our fights carefully here. We've got a major fight on our hands with extremist Islam of the Sunni variety, which is al Qaeda. We've got a problem with Iraq we're going to have to deal with. So, let's take these things in their order, but let's be under no illusions that Hezbollah is indeed a very dangerous, extremely anti-American group.
BLITZER: We heard the national security adviser, Peter, to the president, Condoleezza Rice, suggest this week that all of these groups, including the Iraqis, were, sort of, traveling around in this loosely coordinated pack and representing a huge threat to the United States. Is she right?
BERGEN: Well, Condoleezza Rice obviously has much more access to any information I have. But I think Strobe Talbott said a rather good thing about al Qaeda -- or interesting thing. He called it the ultimate NGO, the ultimate non-governmental organization.
And that's really the truth about al Qaeda. al Qaeda wasn't sponsored by Iran or Iraq or Syria or Libya. It managed to do what it did without government support except from the Taliban. And I think there is a tendency to make a lot of apples into oranges sometimes. And al Qaeda is sui generis, and remains a big threat. We should focus on the big threat. After all, it was al Qaeda who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11, not Hezbollah, the Iraqis, Saddam Hussein or anybody else.
BLITZER: Is it time, Senator Hart, for an MI5 type of domestic intelligence spying organization, if you will, to be established in the United States and to remove those powers from the FBI?
HART: It's getting very puzzling because people are promoting new intelligence organizations right and left. There was one this last week that's supposed to be some super vacuum headed by Admiral Poindexter. I'm not quite sure what that is.
Director Mueller announced, one week before the president threw his support behind a Department of Homeland Security, that he was reorganizing the FBI and creating something that sounded very much like MI5. We haven't heard much about that since then. And so to answer that question, I guess we'd have to know what he had in mind when he announced that reorganization. HART: Finally, I'd just say, if it looks like the current FBI, as a criminal investigation organization, I don't see that it serves much purpose.
BLITZER: What about that, Ambassador Bremer? You think that it is time to create such a new organization in the United States, because why? The culture of the FBI isn't conducive to it?
BREMER: Look, the threat we face has three new dimensions. We've got terrorists who want to kill us in our tens of thousands. Secondly, they want to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, which would allow them to do it, and thirdly, they're living among us, as we saw. We've had arrests in Lackawanna, in Detroit, and in Portland, Oregon, in the last six weeks.
Regretfully, that means we're going to have to look at getting better intelligence within the United States. The Gilmore commission, chaired by Jim Gilmore, on which I served, recommended this to staff on Thursday, and it basically is not a question of the competence of the FBI, it's not a question of them having too few resources, it's a cultural issue. People who are trained as law enforcement agents cannot become effective intelligence agents, in my view. No matter how hard the director of the FBI tries, he's not going to change the culture.
And indeed, I would argue it's better to have the intelligence separate from law enforcement, as is the case in Britain, because that gives you better security of civil liberties.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, we're going to leave it right there.
Ambassador Bremer, thanks as usual.
Peter Bergen, Brian Jenkins, Senator Hart, good to have all of you on our program. Thanks very much for joining us.
HART: Thank you.
BLITZER: It's time now to say good-bye to our international viewers. Thanks very much for watching.
Coming up for our North American audience, the next hour of "LATE EDITION": sizing up the new political landscape; what will Republican control of the government mean for the country? And can the Democrats rebound in 2004? We'll talk to a reporter, two political insiders, plus your phone calls and our Final Round. It's all coming up in the next hour of "LATE EDITION."
BLITZER: This is "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We have a big job to do. We're ready for it. And we're getting ready for victory. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Can the Democrats win in 2004? And who is there leader? We'll get inside from Time magazine's Karen Tumulty, and debate the political future with former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart and former Bush campaign adviser Vin Weber.
And Bruce Morton asks the age old political question: What's in a name?
Then fast-paced talk Sunday style: LATE EDITION's "Final Round." You've got questions; they've got answers.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION. The midterm elections are barely over and already both parties are turning toward 2004. We'll talk about the political landscape over the next two years, but first, here's CNN's Carol Lin with a news alert.
The Congress reconvened this past week for the first time since the midterm elections. Republicans are savoring their control of the White House and both houses of Congress, while Democrats are reassessing the direction of the party and looking for a new leader.
Time magazine's national political correspondent Karen Tumulty recently spent some time with the former vice president, Al Gore, has some insight on whether or not he might be running for president once again.
Karen, thanks for joining us.
Well, what's the answer, is he running or not?
KAREN TUMULTY, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, I think, Wolf, he doesn't know at this point. He says he is going to be making up his mind sometime over the next six weeks. He'll be announcing a decision after the holidays. And again, when he says he doesn't know, he's pretty believable.
BLITZER: Let me -- you would speak a little bit from, read to our viewers some of the things he said to you in the interview in the new issue of "Time" magazine, looking back on what happened. He says this, "I sometimes made the mistake of putting too much emphasis on tactics. As I look back on the campaign, I remember too many times when I was in a car or an airplane on the way to a series of events that were symbolic and crafted with a technical objective in mind. I should have been spending much more of that time communicating clearly and directly about the major issues."
So he's blaming himself, in effect, for his defeat.
TUMULTY: That's right. At another point in the interview he says, One thing I've learned is that I'm not a good campaign manager, and I'm especially not a good one when I'm the candidate. So while he has not made up his mind what he's going to do in 2004, he has given a lot of thought about how he wants to campaign if he campaigns.
BLITZER: He's beginning, though, to sound like someone who's interested, obviously very interested, in trying to run again for the presidency. In another part of the interview with you he says this, "Our country is headed for very deep trouble. I wish it were not so, but I believe it with all my heart. I think that our economic plan has zero chance of working. I think that it is wrong at its core. I think that our foreign policy, based on an openly proclaimed intention to dominate the world, is a recipe for getting our country in some of the worst trouble it's ever been in."
That sounds like a candidate to me.
TUMULTY: Well, he certainly makes the point in the interview that he believes that the country is headed to, you know, a very bad place under George Bush, and that he believes that the lesson of this midterm election is that somebody has to stand up and stop him, that the Democratic Party really has to be a lot clearer about its differences with George Bush.
BLITZER: The U.S. -- "Time" magazine had some very good photos in the new issue, and I want to put some of them up on the screen. Talk to us what we're seeing, some photographers had some pretty good access. Here Gore on 68th Street in New York. He looks totally alone. There's another picture here of him. They're just buying a soda at a cash register in Iowa. It's clear in this picture, the cashier doesn't seem to have much of an notion who this guy really is.
Talk a little bit about those two pictures.
TUMULTY: Well, what you get a sense of in these pictures, which were taken by an extraordinary talented photographer named Callie Schell (ph), who was in fact Gore's official photographer for eight years, is that this is a man who is taking some very tentative steps back into the public arena. But at the same time, he's also a man who genuinely seems to have, at least to some degree, moved on, to -- he's experimenting with, you know, what life is like outside the bubble as well.
BLITZER: He's -- here's another picture of him just coming out, I guess, it says here, sleeping the night in the Al Capone's bedroom on the campaign trial, sort of carrying his own little hanging bag over there. What -- tell us about this picture.
TUMULTY: Well, again, this is just a -- you get a sense of -- this is Al Gore having to find out, you know, how the rest of the world has been living. Callie (ph) -- the photographer, Callie Schell (ph), told me at one point she actually overheard him getting on the phone and checking out the -- his own airline schedules. I mean, Al Gore certainly still lives a very privileged life. He's making serious money for the first time in his life.
But again, he's getting a taste of what life is like outside. BLITZER: And finally, a picture on election night, Democrats not doing so well, as you know. He did campaign somewhat for some of these candidates. What about this picture?
TUMULTY: Oh, I love this picture. In fact, I used this scene for the lead of my story. Al Gore and Tipper Gore had campaigned to raise money for more than 50 Democratic candidates, for people running from everything from governor to county executive. He had been very upbeat about the prospects in the election. And as they sat down in their study of their new home in Nashville and watched the results, they essentially saw carnage spreading across the map.
So what you see are the former vice president and his wife getting up to begin a round of condolence calls to all these candidates. And in their daughters' face is -- the horror on their daughters' faces, you really see what -- a sense of what they were seeing on that television screen that night.
BLITZER: And we're going to see a lot more of Al Gore and Tipper Gore in the coming days and weeks. I know that they're going to be on "Larry King Live" here on CNN this week. We'll be watching that.
Karen Tumulty, thanks for the good reporting. Thanks for joining us today on "LATE EDITION."
TUMULTY: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Joining us now to talk about what's at stake for both parties this year and into the next presidential campaign are two political heavyweights, the former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, and the Republican strategist, the former U.S. congressman and Bush campaign adviser Vin Weber.
Good to have both of you on the show, thanks for joining us.
Let me ask Joe Lockhart, he's a man who knows a lot about Democrats. Is Al Gore running?
JOE LOCKHART, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think right now Al Gore's trying to sell his book, and that's a good thing. I think he's -- my guess is, and my guess is probably not even as good as Karen's, because she spent some time with him recently, is, he is trying to figure this out. I think right now he is trying to generate some excitement around this book that he wrote with Tipper, and, you know, I think very much wants people to read. But...
BLITZER: So the whole visibility, you think, is simply because of the book?
LOCKHART: Yes, I think so. And I think, I think he will make up his mind in the next couple months whether he wants to do it. And I think it's a good thing that he's taking this time. I don't think any Democrat wants Al Gore to go out and run for president again to get even with George Bush. We want to nominate someone who's going to beat George Bush. So he should take the time, and I think by the beginning of the year, we'll know. BLITZER: A lot of people think it's all a choreographed campaign, in effect, under way, the book followed by more interviews, followed by an announcement that he's going to run.
VIN WEBER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, if it's not choreographed, it ought to be laid out as the way you would choreograph it, because it looks perfect, and I served with the former vice president in Congress. I like and respect him, although I don't agree with him.
Looks to me like he's running. What I know of him, it would be hard for him at this stage of his life to say, I'm sort of going to hang it up and not get back into the political arena.
So I expect that he's going to run, and it looks to me like he is setting the stage for himself to run.
BLITZER: A lot of Democrats, Joe Lockhart, if you listen to this poll that's published in today's Los Angeles Times, don't want him to run. Regardless of whether you support Al Gore, do you think he should run for the presidency in 2004? That's the question. Among Democrats, the answer, No, 48 percent, yes, 35 percent, 17 percent say they don't know.
Seems a lot of Democrats don't think he's the -- their answer.
LOCKHART: Well, I think that's something that the vice president's got to take into account. He's got to work about, you know, a rationale as far as policy and direction of the country. But also about support that he'll receive from the party. You know, I think if he gets into the presidential race, he'll immediately have a base of support that's unparalleled.
But this isn't going to be his nomination for the taking. He's going to have to earn it. There are a lot of other good candidates who are thinking about it, who are emerging. And it's going to be a tough fight, because I think the vice president knows that campaigns are about the future, not about the past. And that's the way it should be.
BLITZER: You know, and the -- I'm not sure this number that we're going to put up on the screen has a whole lot of meaning right now, because it's still two years away from the next elections, but in the CNN-"Time" magazine poll that is just out today, we asked registered voters their choice for president if it were, once again, Bush and Gore. Look at this, Bush gets 56 percent, Gore 41 percent. Remember last time it was, what, 50-50, almost exactly.
That doesn't sound as lopsided in favor of Bush as I would have thought.
WEBER: I think it's a pretty good number, when you consider that the part of the country party-wise is divided about 50-50 right now, and that we've just come out of the ultimate polling, which is an election, which showed pretty well for the president and pretty well for the president's party. But that's not the main source of my optimism. The main source of my optimism about this president is that this president has essentially redefined the center of the political agenda around the Republican agenda. And it looks to me as if the former vice president and the Democratic Party choosing Nancy Pelosi, deciding they're going to hold their convention in Boston, have decided that they're going to move to the left.
I don't think that's the way that you beat this president is by allowing him to redefine the center of American politics and then seeing your own party lurch to the left.
BLITZER: Is the Democratic Party self-destructing?
LOCKHART: The Democratic Party is not self-destructing. I say a couple things on this. The -- it's time for Democrats to take the garbage pail off their head, because things didn't go as badly as we're now pretending they did.
BLITZER: You're alluding to...
BLITZER: ... what James Carville (inaudible)...
LOCKHART: ... I'm alluding to James. It's, you know, as my mother used to say to me, Snap out of it. We lost three Senate seats. We lost two incumbents. It was close, it was disappointing. But it was not an ideological rejection of where the Democratic Party is. The Democratic Party -- I disagree with Vin, I think it represents the center in this country.
And we're going to move on. And we're going to be very vigorous in debating the issues with the president over the next two years. And I think run a candidate, whoever that may be...
LOCKHART: ... who, who, who will beat them.
But I think that you -- there's a lot of talk among the Republicans about how the Democrats are moving to the left, and I think it's a smokescreen, because I think the real issue to watch here is how the Republicans are going to move to the right now that they have the Senate and the House.
LOCKHART: And we've got some examples in the last week or so. They've only been back for a week. They -- the homeland security bill, a Democratic idea that took the president nine months to get to, is now being loaded up with special interest provisions, offshore tax havens, little things for companies.
The bankruptcy bill, which is -- people on both sides in good faith have been working on for years, now in the House...
BLITZER: (inaudible) Vin Weber to respond to that... LOCKHART: Yes.
BLITZER: ... point, though. If -- is the Republican Party going to move to the right? And would that be a self-destructive move on its part?
WEBER: I don't think the party's going to move to the right, and I don't agree with Joe in terms of what the last week's skirmishings in the Congress represent.
Look, this president has talked about what the agenda's going to be for the next couple of years. It's going to be establishing a prescription drug benefit under Medicare that both parties have talked about for a long time, more affordable in the way we would do it than in the way the Democrats would do it, but much the same objective.
He's going to continue to emphasize education, as he have, has. I hope he's going to talk seriously about reforming Social Security. That's sure to get Joe all excited. But I think it's a good issue, and I think it's the center of the political agenda issue, something that Daniel Patrick Moynihan talked about when he was in the Senate.
And, of course, the issue of security is always at the center of the political agenda for most of the American people. And that's an issue that the Republican president is dominating right now.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about, our conversation will continue with Vin Weber and Joe Lockhart. They'll be taking your phone calls, so call us right now.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: Where we can find our common ground on the economy and on other domestic issues, we shall seek it. We have that responsibility to the American people. Where we cannot find that common ground, we must stand our ground. The American people need us to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi of California, making history, speaking this week after fellow Democrats elected her the House minority leader. She's the first woman ever to lead a major political party in the U.S. Congress.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We're continuing our discussion with the former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart and the Republican strategist and former congressman, Vin Weber.
Thanks once again.
Zell Miller, Democratic senator from Georgia, wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal this week. Let me read a little bit of it for you, Joe.
"The Democratic Party, the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, the party that gave us Social Security, the GI Bill, and Medicare, has become a party that stands for nothing and does nothing. Our party is stagnant, and if we don't do something new in a better and bolder way, the Democratic Party could follow that other inflexible party of groups, the Whigs, into the dustbin of history."
Can you believe a Democratic senator is writing that kind of stuff?
LOCKHART: Oh, I can believe that from Senator Miller. He's got a colorful way of expressing himself. I agree with the "better and bolder" part. I don't think the Democratic Party is ideologically dead, we -- or, you know, out of the mainstream. I think we're very much in the center.
But we do have to be better and bolder. We have to challenge this president on tax cuts, we've got to say that we're for better tax cuts that we can afford. And...
BLITZER: But the Democratic Party was divided on those tax cuts in the voting when it came to the final vote.
LOCKHART: Sure, and -- sure, and look at what happened to most of the Democrats who voted with the president, they're now former senators.
So we do have to be better and bolder. We have to begin to challenge this president on national security. There's not one idea that says, This party has better ideas on national security. Unfortunately, this has become very political because many in the Republican Party chose to take political advantage of national security issues.
But we've got -- we can't be off the field on that. We have to challenge the president, work with him where we -- where he has the right idea, challenge him where he has the wrong ideas.
BLITZER: Karl Rove, the political adviser to the president, said this in "The New York Times" on Thursday, and I'll read it to you, Vin. "Things are... " Oh, actually it's a sound bite, let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE, BUSH POLITICAL ADVISER: Nothing stays a gridlock or deadlock in American politics. Things move one direction or the other. And to some degree, we have evidence that they're beginning to move in one direction.
And I think something else more fundamental's happening there, and we'll only know it retrospectively, we'll only know it in two years or four years or six years to look back and say, Well, you know, the dam began to break in 2002.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Well, basically what he's saying is that the Republican -- that the country may be moving toward the Republicans in a major, major fashion. But with the control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, and if the economy isn't what it should be in two years, a lot of people are going to only be able to blame one party, not the Democrats, they're going to only be able to blame the Republicans.
WEBER: Sure, there's always a couple of overriding phenomena that are going to determine the fate of the party that holds the White House, and that's war and peace and the economy. There's no question about that. And anything else we can talk about here's going to get swamped by what happens on the war on terrorism in Iraq and the economy.
But if those two very, very large primary considerations go well for us, I think that the rest of the agenda that this president has laid out and that this party's embracing look pretty good to most of the American people.
And even though I think that the -- Joe's party has a lot of good centrist folks who could challenge the president from a politically palatable position, doesn't look to me like that's where they're going. It looks to me like they're going with their left-wing base and that that's going to define the opposition to this president and the Republican Party, and I don't think that works.
BLITZER: The McGovern wing of the Democratic Party.
LOCKHART: Yes, listen, I think the best thing I've seen since election day is Karl Rove standing there talking about how the country's moving his way in a fundamental way. Because I think we have a very conservative president who, for political purposes, goes out and projects himself as a moderate. And I think the more Republicans believe that the sort of ideological agenda on the right is where America is, the better it will be for Democrats.
BLITZER: There's a new CNN-"Time" magazine poll asks this question, Can any Democrat beat Bush in 2004? Yes, 36 percent, no, 49 percent, not sure, 15 percent. It's an uphill struggle.
Let's talk a little bit...
LOCKHART: I think it's the 49 percent are Republicans, the 36 percent are Democrats, and I've got about 15 percent of my brethren to work on.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk a little bit about some of the Democratic potential presidential candidates. John Kerry, is he the most formidable challenger, potentially, to Al Gore for the nomination?
LOCKHART: Oh, I think, you know, to try to handicap it at this point -- the process is what determines who the leader's going to be, how you get through the process. All of them have a good story to tell. John Kerry obviously, you know, is a -- someone who is a war hero, someone who has built a very strong reputation on a number of issues. He has a lot to say, he as well as, you know, half a dozen others.
BLITZER: You know, Vin in a recent years when a Democrat has become president, Jimmy Carter from the South, bill Clinton from the South, John Edwards from North Carolina, is he a formidable opponent potentially to President Bush?
WEBER: I'd underline the word "potentially." I think he's an attractive guy, and I think you're right, the Democrats, when they've been successful, have gone to more Republican or conservative states with more centrist Democrats. But he has really not really defined himself at all nationally yet, and there's a question as to not whether somebody in a centrist mode can appeal to the Democratic Party the way that it's developing right now.
So we just don't know, but I certainly think he's an attractive guy, Republicans are looking at him and wondering how he might pan out as a candidate.
BLITZER: We only have a second left. But if Gore runs, Lieberman is not going to run? Or will Gore let him waive that previous commitment?
LOCKHART: Oh, I think Joe Lieberman will keep his commitment to Al Gore.
BLITZER: He will...
BLITZER: ... if Gore runs.
BLITZER: Joe Lieberman -- not Joe Lieberman, Joe Lockhart...
LOCKHART: I got a promotion here.
BLITZER: I'll say you did. You look like -- no, you don't.
BLITZER: Joe Lockhart, Vin Weber, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
WEBER: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Bruce Morton now shares some thoughts on taking political labels at face value.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republicans wasted no time attacking the Democrats' new House leader, Nancy Pelosi as a -- gasp, shudder -- liberal, from liberal San Francisco, in liberal California.
She is from there, of course, but it's worth remembering that she grew up in Baltimore, where her father was a mayor who ran an old- fashioned political machine. Pelosi, at a very early age, could count, and that probably had more to do with her election to the leadership than her politics. She raised a lot of money for her fellow House Democrats.
And what is a liberal these days, anyway? Howard Dean, the Democratic governor of Vermont and a presidential candidate, likes to say that he, not the Republicans, is a fiscal conservative, because he's had to balance his state's budget, and no Republican president has balanced a federal budget in more than 30 years, which in fact is true.
In 1981, when Republican Ronald Reagan took office, the national debt was just under $1 trillion. By 1993, when Democrat Bill Clinton became president, it was well over $4 trillion. Clinton actually ran surpluses for part of his time in office, but George W. Bush's big tax cut plus the war on terrorism brought deficit spending back again.
Mr. Bush insists tax cuts actually increase government revenue. The deficit would have been bigger without the tax relief package, he said last week. But he may be the only person who still believes that. His father once denounced this supply-side theory as "voodoo economics," and most economists would agree.
Republicans always defend the Reagan-Bush deficits, blaming them on the Democratic Congress's spendthrift habits, but Republican presidents could have vetoed the spending and didn't. The GOP denounce tax-and-spend Democrats, the Democrats denounce borrow-and- spend Republicans, and the national debt keeps getting bigger.
The evidence is that congresses, of any party, are very good at spending and very bad at saying, Let's not buy that this year, let's pay down the national debt.
(on camera): Fiscally, it's hard to tell liberals from conservatives these days, they both spend our money. Maybe Governor Dean has a point. His quest for the presidency is certainly a long shot, but if enough people -- liberal, conservative, whatever -- were to say, Hey, here's a guy who's really serious about paying down the national debt, he might have a chance.
Or maybe not. Voters like all that pork barrel stuff too, whichever party is handing it out.
If you and I spend endlessly, the bank will eventually foreclose on the mortgage. Maybe countries are different? I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Welcome back. Time now for our "Final Round." Joining me, Julianne Malveaux, the syndicated columnist, Ryan Lizza of "The New Republic," Stephen Hayes of the "Weekly Standard," and Robert George of "The New York Post."
We begin with new warnings of terror attacks by al Qaeda. The FBI is saying the attacks could be spectacular. Despite that the government for now isn't raising the national threat level. Some are questioning the administration's handling of the terror threats. Earlier today on this program, the homeland security director, Tom Ridge, defended the government's efforts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: When we get some of this information, we feel obliged to share it, and if we have the specificity associated with time, place, venue, method and means of attack, certainly we'll be in a position to go out and apprehend and take action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Robert, is the government handling these threat levels in the appropriate way?
ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: I don't think so. If you think about this, we've been at a yellow status, basically, since 9/11, 9/11 a year ago. When you have that kind of -- this kind of general kind of cloud going over, I think people just don't really pay attention to it. I think the only time they should really go public with some of these scary warnings of theirs are if it's so -- if it's so intense and they feel that there's a lot of immediacy to it that they want to also raise the color level of the -- of the terror code.
BLITZER: But it's a no-win situation, Ryan. If they don't tell us about the threats and something, God forbid, happens, then they get hammered. If they tell us and it's just a vague threat, then they say we're needlessly being alarmed.
RYAN LIZZA, NEW REPUBLIC: Yeah, that's absolutely right. And the biggest problem is that what this administration is usually great at, which is speaking with one voice, is not happening when it comes to these terror alerts. You have the FBI saying one thing and then you have the White House telling reporters that no, don't listen to the FBI, they're exaggerating the threats.
Recently we had the CIA go before Congress and say that the threat was at the highest it's been since 9/11, yet the threat -- the color didn't change. And the whole thing just breeds a little bit of confusion. BLITZER: And not only confusion, Julianne, but I don't know about you, but the more you hear about these threats and these warnings, it almost makes us numb, we sort of just -- it's sort of background music, we don't really pay much attention to it, at least that's the impression I'm getting from a lot of our viewers out there.
JULIANNE MALVEAUX, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, that's exactly it. I mean, what is amazing here is that Bush pretty much has a preliminary authorization for this Department of Homeland Security. If this is how they're going to run the department, it's already going to be a confusing and a colossal disaster. First of all, the orange- yellow thing, it's comedy. Orange level, it's red level, it's blue level, that's just hilarious at some level, and it really doesn't get people to think serious about that. It's a serious situation, but they're not taking it seriously.
STEPHEN HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yeah, I wish I could laugh about it. I don't think it's so funny, but it's a joke in the way that you mean it. I mean, they've got to get rid of this anxiety barometer. I mean, these things -- you can't hear on the one hand that we're going to be the victims of spectacular attacks and then not change this silly color code. It just doesn't calculate.
GEORGE: And the country -- I don't think Americans like to be considered yellow for an extended period of time. Seriously, I mean, we shouldn't be cowards.
BLITZER: All of you make a very excellent point, and it comes just as we've received an audiotape recording of what is widely believed, of course, to be the voice of Osama bin Laden. It surfaced this week. And on the tape, he praises recent attacks in Bali and Moscow. Experts say it is an indicator that, of course, he is very much alive. This week, the Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle said he's concerned that the U.S. has yet to find bin Laden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: In a sense, 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The administration says yes, it's important to find bin Laden. But there are other more important things to do.
MALVEAUX: You know, the president does not believe that the American people know the difference between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. I mean, he's sitting here using this war anxiety to transfer it over to Iraq. Yet I think we're all rudely brought back to the real world when we get this tape from bin Laden praising these other attacks. I think that, you know, when someone says we're going to hunt you down and we're going to get rid of you, and then you say, oh, well, another threat, it does not again inspire people to take this seriously, and we really do need to take Osama bin Laden seriously. BLITZER: But Steve, everybody knows we have to take Osama bin Laden seriously. When we he makes these threats, he really means it, but it's not easy to find him.
HAYES: No, it's not easy to find him, but it goes back to this kind of cumulative credibility that the administration is trying to build, and it back to this anxiety barometer. They've got to say, look, clearly we want to get Osama bin Laden, there's no point in downplaying the fact that we want to get this guy who is responsible for killing 3,000 people. So, yes, say it, be clear, be upfront about it.
BLITZER: Tom Ridge said to me today on this program, they're going to get him eventually. The question a lot of Americans are asking, of course, is when.
LIZZA: Yeah, I think it's right that the focus should be on bin Laden to a certain extent, and obviously the administration is slightly embarrassed by the fact that we can't get him. But I have to say, when I hear Tom Daschle speaking about this, to me it sounds a lot more like a sort of cheap partisan shot than a substantive critique about the Bush national security policy, and that's what Democrats should be looking towards. They should be looking towards a substantive critique, having their own agenda on this issue, not just scoring political points.
BLITZER: It's not the first time Daschle has gone after the administration on this issue of Osama bin Laden.
GEORGE: No, I think that's right. And I think, you know, bringing in the sniper just makes it even more flippant and less credible.
BLITZER: It almost trivializes it.
MALVEAUX: ... cheap shot, I think.
GEORGE: Yeah, it's absolutely ridiculous. Now, I do think, basically kind of agreeing with everybody else here, I mean, bin Laden is the psychological bogeyman in the U.S. consciousness, and I think the administration should really speak to that, because there's this fear that if he is still out there, he is the one who's -- he's the one who's managed to kill thousands of Americans, more so than Saddam Hussein.
MALVEAUX: Ryan, you know, I disagree with you that it's a partisan cheap shot. I mean, the Democrats haven't said enough about what this administration has failed to do...
LIZZA: So tell us what you're going to do, don't just say you can't find bin Laden.
MALVEAUX: It was not a cheap shot, it's real. I mean, we got this tape and the administration has tried to play it down, they didn't say, OK, guilty as charged. This isn't that important. You know, the sniper thing I think was way out of line, because you have two guys who killed, what, 12 or 13 people as opposed to al Qaeda and 3,000, so the parallel is weak, but this partisanship isn't (ph) important here. The president is wrong.
HAYES: The reason it's a cheap shot isn't because he said sniper attack, it's because Tom Daschle yet again has yet to lay out any possible alternative plan or route. I mean, what's Tom Daschle going to do about getting Osama bin Laden? What is he recommending? He said nothing about it.
MALVEAUX: ... commander-in-chief or the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) State Department. I think his hands are fairly much tied. He's not the one who's directing this effort.
LIZZA: He hasn't learned the lesson of the election yet, which is you can't just attack, you have to have a positive agenda as well.
BLITZER: Let's move on. From the war on terrorism to a possible war, of course, with Iraq. U.N. weapons inspectors arrive in Baghdad tomorrow. Today, the Republican Senator John McCain said if weapons violations are found, the U.N. must respond forcefully.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think the secretary general in particular has to look at the role of the United Nations. If we allow Saddam Hussein to continue these violations, then they risk irrelevancy, and the United States' argument for unilateral action and other nations' argument for unilateral action may be bolstered.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Steve, though, who should make the determination whether there's a violation? The United Nations Security Council after the recommendations from Hans Blix and his team, or the Bush administration?
HAYES: The Bush administration. I mean, it's clear. And the other thing that's become clear over the past week since the resolution was passed unanimously is that these are not serious inspections. I mean, you've already got Mohammed El-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Association saying basically, look, we need to see this pattern of deception, we aren't going to take serious individual acts of deception seriously. And you know, basically making the case that the U.N. and his -- his group is not going to obviously follow through.
BLITZER: I know, Julianne, you totally disagree. MALVEAUX: I totally disagree. I think the U.N. ought to be the bottom line. I think obviously there's a scale. You don't treat a parking ticket like it's a felony. And so, I mean, I think the inspectors are there to inspect, they say that they will be reporting back to the United Nations, and then the United Nations makes the decision.
The Bush administration has been pushing for unilateralism all along. They should not have it. I don't know enough about weapons to say, you know, what's a little weapon, what's a big one, what the effect is, but I certainly think if you find a little bit of material, you don't say, let's go, send 20,000 troops in.
GEORGE: The thing is, Julianne, we're not talking about car violations, you know, we're talking about, you know, chemical weapons, possibly nuclear weapons and things like that. But this is the thing, you know, you can always count on Saddam Hussein to be Saddam Hussein. As Bush said about a week or so ago, he's violated 16 resolutions before over the last dozen years, and he's going to be doing this one, and no sooner has the ink been signed on the resolution than he's violating it already.
BLITZER: You know, Ryan, if the administration wanted to, they could say that the couple incidents over the past couple of days, shooting at these U.S. and British planes patrolling the no-fly zones in the southern part of Iraq, that could be a material breach of the U.N. Security Council resolution, and that could justify the U.S. going to war.
LIZZA: Absolutely. I think if you read the resolution, that's pretty clear that attacks on the coalition airplanes in the no-fly zones do -- can amount to material breach. The question is, at what point does the Bush administration say enough is enough and go to the U.N. and say, we have enough accumulated evidence that Saddam has no intention of complying with this resolution, and therefore we'd like to do something about it.
BLITZER: Hold on one second. Steve, on that particular point, the administration has to at least go to the U.N. Security Council and have a meeting before it takes action, doesn't have to wait for a resolution if there's going to be a resolution, but it has to at least go back to the U.N. Security Council.
HAYES: No, you're exactly right, and I think we're going to see another behind-the-scenes intra-administration battle because Colin Powell has signaled that he already is eager to have a second resolution, or at least look at a second resolution. I think there are other people in the administration, including the president, who are not interested in doing that.
GEORGE: That would be this time we really, really, really mean it.
HAYES: Yeah. (CROSSTALK)
MALVEAUX: ... if we have a second resolution. I mean, I'm not saying that there is not a reason why we need to go there. I'm saying that I want to make sure that the world is a part of this, and we don't go in there unilaterally.
BLITZER: We're going to take a quick break. Just ahead, can the Democrats make themselves over in order to win 2004? We'll debate that, much more. Our "Final Round" returns in a moment.
BLITZER: Starting over with a new leader, the very liberal Nancy Pelosi of California. Today she outlined her game plan for making the party victorious with voters in 2004.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Never again will you see a situation where the Democratic Party will go forth into an election with the Republicans characterizing who we are, but without a Democratic message to inoculate against that mischaracterization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Ryan, explain to us what exactly she is saying in that segment.
LIZZA: Look, you know, I think after any party loses an election, the first thing they say is it wasn't anything wrong with our message, it's just that we weren't able to get our message out. And the truth is, in this last election, it was pretty much true. It was impossible to sort of counteract the White House megaphone.
But the problem going forward now is that the Democrats sort of need to figure out what their message is on the most important issues of the day, which is national security and terrorism, and the truth is they had a pretty good message; they just didn't talk about. The homeland security bill was the Democrats' idea, was Joe Lieberman's idea, right? The approach to Afghanistan, or the post-Afghanistan period, the Democrats had a lot to say about that, about nation- building and keeping our forces over there, and they also had some good things to say about what to do about Iraq.
I mean, the Democratic position on Iraq is essentially what Bush did in the end. He went to the U.N., he asked for a multilateral force. They could have talked about all that and they can talk about it now, but they obviously didn't.
GEORGE: Well, The thing is, Stan Greenberg, the Democratic pollster, Clinton's and then Gore's pollster, he did a survey following the election and it showed by 59 to 19 the public trust Republicans over Democrats on the issue of -- on the issue of keeping America -- America safe. I mean, that is a -- that is a -- that's a huge gulf.
BLITZER: And part of the problem, Julianne, part of that problem is that there are Democrats who speak out of all different wings of the party. There are conservative Democrats, someone like Zell Miller, and there are liberal Democrats, like Nancy Pelosi, and as a result, there's a confused message that is sent out there.
MALVEAUX: Well, I think that was much of the problem. I think the Democrats were not coherent. I agree with Ryan that the Democrats have not presented their national security message, but the other part they didn't talk about -- Democrats are supposed to stand for the least and the left out. People who are on the minimum wage haven't gotten a raise in since 1996. These are some of the things they should have talked about, instead of the sophomoric humor that the DNC had on its Web page of Bush throwing an old lady down the cliff. You really needed to be talking about some of these substantive issues. Absent that, people don't like the sophomoric humor, and they rejected the party.
BLITZER: What about it?
HAYES: Yeah, my favorite thing is that Nancy Pelosi at this point makes Julianne look like a right winger with where she's talking the party. In the earlier part of that interview, she said that the economy remains the number one issue for the Democrats and for her caucus. I mean, talk about somebody who hasn't learned a thing from the most recent election. I hope she keeps talking it to death.
MALVEAUX: Oh, please. You know what, if the economy continues as it is, we -- Nancy Pelosi is going to be right on time. And for the record, Nancy Pelosi and I worked together when I did California politics. I think she's wonderful.
BLITZER: There's no doubt...
BLITZER: If the economy is bad over the next two years, Nancy Pelosi could be the speaker of the House.
HAYES: She may in fact be after 2004. I'll place my bets right now that people care more about being safe than about their checkbooks.
LIZZA: The truth is, people aren't going to be paying attention to Nancy Pelosi over the next two years. She's not going to be the leader of the Democratic Party. The presidential candidates, it's the widest field they've had in a long time, and those are the guys who are going to be...
GEORGE: The big problem that Democrats face is that the war on terror has, in a sense, reconstituted the Cold War broader -- broader theme. And in -- and in 10 elections between 1952 and 1992, Republicans won seven out of 10 of those because the Americans felt the Republicans were better on national security issues. BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break, but we have got much more to come up. Our "Lightning Round" is just ahead. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back. The syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington plans to launch a TV ad campaign urging SUV owners to ditch their vehicles. She argues the amount of gas America consumes from the Middle East and Persian Gulf is related to the war on terrorism. Julianne, giving up SUVs, is that patriotic?
MALVEAUX: I think so. You know, after the 1973 embargo and we had people lined up, you know, for blocks for gas, we had some progress in reducing the -- or increasing the number of miles per gallon. But the SUVs represent a step in the wrong direction. You get 10 miles a gallon on this stuff.
BLITZER: But people love those big, fat cars.
HAYES: Yeah, they do. You can get people out of your way if you drive fast in an SUV, everybody moves.
MALVEAUX: They're like tanks on the highway.
HAYES: My favorite thing about this latest ad campaign, though, is that these same people who by implication are so selfish that they're willing to put themselves and their comfort in front of their country for patriotic purposes are now going to see a television ad and change their mind and get rid of a car.
BLITZER: You think anybody can be influenced by Arianna Huffington?
LIZZA: I hope now, but I think the problem is people voluntarily aren't going to give up their SUVs, but there's an important issue here and that is how much fuel we consume. And look, Republicans want to open up ANWR for drilling, Democrats want to increase fuel efficiency standards on cars. You have the makings of a great compromise to sort of get at this problem, you know, open up a small portion of ANWR, increase fuel efficiency for cars, and it will be a win-win.
BLITZER: In the end, the price of a gallon of gasoline will have an impact on whether will want to buy a car that goes 10 miles per gallon or 35 or 40 miles a gallon.
GEORGE: Well, that's true. And back in the day when Arianna Huffington was a conservative Republican, I actually worked for her, and her issues have changed since then.
But I would say, though, that what you're -- I think what you're going to start seeing is people are going to make their own decisions on what they want to drive. It could very well be the SUVs were very popular in terms of the go-go '90s and people may feel that different kinds of transportation is better represented now. BLITZER: Let's move on. The new issue of "TIME" magazine today is reporting that the retired NATO commander, the Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark is considering seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. Of course, he's a CNN military analyst as well. Is that at all credible, you think?
HAYES: It could be. I mean, he flirted, I think, with the senatorial bid in Arkansas. But the big question that needs to be asked to him, is why would you ever take a step back and be president once you've had the title supreme allied commander? There's no better possible title you can have.
BLITZER: I believe General Eisenhower once made that career move, so he did it once. You think General Clark is what the Democratic Party is looking for?
MALVEAUX: Well, it would certainly refute any notion that the Democrats are weak on national security issues. I think it's intriguing. I don't know what kind of roots he has. He's not raised any money. I don't think he has any relationship with any of the state parties, but hey...
GEORGE: Tell that to Max Cleland in Georgia about being in the military and also losing on national security.
I think he would be a very interesting candidate. The question is, whenever you have candidates like that, though, such as like Bob Kerry in the past and so forth, can they make it through a Democrat primary, and I'm skeptical.
BLITZER: He's a very smart guy.
LIZZA: He's a very smart guy. He's a Rhodes scholar, obviously he's a Vietnam vet. The interesting thing is what I've seen him say on Iraq is not the hawkish position, he's not taking the hard-line position, he's actually worried that what we're doing in Iraq might harm the war on terrorism.
BLITZER: He's been dovish. He's been much along the lines of Colin Powell on this whole issue.
LIZZA: But could be a great vice presidential candidate for a Democratic nominee who doesn't have national security bona fides.
BLITZER: He spent a little time in the last few weeks in New Hampshire. I know that because I've had him on my shows and we've interviewed him from New Hampshire.
MALVEAUX: We've got a president who has not served, and you can't contest a president who has not served with someone who...
BLITZER: Bush was in the guard.
MALVEAUX: That doesn't count.
BLITZER: What do you mean? MALVEAUX: Well, he went AWOL.
BLITZER: Let's move on, let's move on. A Florida jury says a gun distributor is minimally liable for the shooting death of a teacher two years ago. They've ordered the company to pay $1.2 million to the victim's widow. The jury says the distributor is partly to blame because it didn't sell the gun with a safety feature. The company is appealing the verdict. This, Ryan, is potentially a landmark kind of case.
LIZZA: Yeah. I don't think, actually, the juries should be deciding this kind of thing, I mean, legislatures should. If we want guns -- to mandate that all guns have safety devices, then, you know, Congress or state legislatures should do it.
And the other thing is, if this was a gun that was sold legally, then I don't see how the company is actually liable for this death.
GEORGE: Going back to -- we were talking about SUVs. If somebody is in an SUV and rams somebody on the street, should the SUV automaker also be liable? I mean, that's the same kind of -- if somebody's misusing something, the maker of that...
BLITZER: So you think this jury was wrong?
GEORGE: I think the jury was wrong.
MALVEAUX: Well, they only found them 5 percent liable in the case. I think that the jury was correct. I think that these guns are obviously legal, but are they moral? More importantly, this kind of verdict gets shareholders in the company, everybody else involved, in really dealing with the morality of the proliferation of these weapons on our streets.
BLITZER: You have the last word.
HAYES: But even you just said, they're legal. It's a moral question. I mean, if it's a legal question, it seems to be silly to hold them liable.
GEORGE: We're not supposed to be deciding moral questions...
MALVEAUX: Why not?
GEORGE: ... in a court. It's supposed to be legal.
MALVEAUX: Well, you've heard of jury nullification, you've heard of juries sending signals to legislatures. That's what they're doing, and in addition, they're sending signals to shareholders.
BLITZER: We're going to leave it right there. Thanks to our "Final Round" panel. Thank you.
That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, November 17. Please be sure to join me next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. These programming notes: Please join me tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern for "CNN PRESENTS, Showdown: Iraq, Five Questions." Very important documentary. You'll want to watch it.
I'll also be here, of course, Monday through Friday, noon Eastern for our daily version of "SHOWDOWN: IRAQ." Later in the day, 5:00 p.m. Eastern Monday through Friday 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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