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U.S. Remains Wary of Iraq Despite Continued U.N. Weapons Hunt

Aired December 4, 2002 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: At odds over inspections. Iraq says they prove its no weapons claim. President Bush says, Not so fast.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've been doing this for five days after 11 years of deception and deceit.

ANNOUNCER: Crossing the line in the abortion battle. How should demonstrators be punished when protests turn violent?

What a bonus. The Bush White House says it's only fair to give extra cash to political appointees.

Another slap at the Saudis and their American connections. A mother shares her anger with Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the Saudis and their Americans thinks we're sadistic and cold-blooded, what about our own state department?

ANNOUNCER: Live, from Washington, this is INSIDE POLITICS with Judy Woodruff.

WOODRUFF: Thanks for joining us.

Well, the White House says that if there's war with Iraq the trigger will be pulled by Saddam Hussein and only Saddam Hussein. In this news cycle, those United Nations monitors searched more sites in Iraq and Iraqi official says the inspections prove Baghdad's claim that it does not have weapons of mass destruction. But the Bush administration says that is a lie.


BUSH: The process is just beginning. And the world will determine soon whether or not Saddam Hussein is going to do what we've asked, which is, in the name of peace, fully disarm. This is not a game any more of, well, I'll say one thing and do another. We expect him to disarm. And now it's up to him to do so.


WOODRUFF: Iraq says it plans to formally deny has weapons of mass destruction in its written declaration to the United Nations, which now is expected to arrive in New York late Sunday.

Well, CNN's Nic Robertson is in Baghdad now with more on the weapons inspections -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, weapons inspectors go to two sites today. The seventh day. Al- Muthanna, the site furthest from Baghdad, about 75 miles to the northwest, spending five hours on that site. Now when the weapons inspectors left, they said they had good cooperation. We got access to that site and what we could see was a very large site. We're told 25 square kilometers of site.

A lot of the buildings destroyed, we were told, during the Gulf War bombing in 1991. But what the weapons inspectors had gone to see there, was some mustard gas munitions that they wanted to make sure were still safe and secure on that site. They said those munitions were. They were also inspecting some tagged equipment.

Now, the weapons inspectors who visited that site in the 1990s had essentially decommissioned all the chemical and biological warfare components that were at that site. That's what we saw. A lot of rusting, apparently fermentos (ph) and other equipment associated with making weapons of mass destruction, appearing very much as it had been left -- were it had been laid to rest some years ago.

However, Judy, the weapons inspectors here beginning to feel the political pressure from Washington with the political pressure from Baghdad.


DMITRI PERRICOS, UNMOVIC TEAM LEADER: The Iraqi side which are very light, the U.S. side as from what I hear from you, extremely, you know, severe. I think what we are doing is -- is the proper -- the proper way. We are still doing a good job. We are still getting the results. But as you realize, it was only the first week, just a few days after the resolution, and I still say that we have done a very good arrangement and a good accomplishment, that in such a short time were able to start up the inspection scheme again that has stopped for four years.


ROBERTSON: Now, that comes after an Iraqi official associated with the weapons inspection program accused the U.N. Inspectors of bowing to political pressure from the United States to do a weapons inspection at a presidential palace yesterday, saying that that palace could no way have been associated with weapons of mass destruction. And we're just hearing in the last hour or so here in Baghdad, Taha Yassin Ramadan (ph), Iraq's vice president, says -- said to journalists that he believes that the weapons inspectors were, in fact, saying for the United States and Israel, preparing, he said, for the coming aggression Iraq. Some of the toughest talk, Judy, we've been -- we've heard lately.

WOODRUFF: Nic, what is he basing this charge that he thinks they're spying? What's he basing that on?

ROBERTSON: Judy, obviously allegations that some of these former UNSCOM, that's the U.N. weapons inspection team near the 1990s -- that some members there were working for their governments and not directly for the United Nations. Of course, Hans Blix has said categorically, something he will not tolerate. To quote him he said if he catches anyone reporting to a government not the United Nations first, then it would be bye-bye, and they were off the team. So possibly, the vice president referring to that.

The rhetoric, if you will, from the Iraqi administration stepped up today, specifically on the issue of the presidential palaces saying was this a return to the bad -- effectively, the bad days of the bad relationship with the former weapons inspection teams, which did end with short allied bombing campaign in December 1998 -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Nic Robertson reporting. The atmosphere getting more tense there in Baghdad. Nic reporting from Baghdad, where it is late at night this Wednesday.

Well, back here in the United States, many people are wondering how well the weapons inspections really are going and how much of a factor they will be in determining whether the U.S. goes to war. Well, the answer may depend on which official you listen to.


KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: And obviously, the cooperation seems to be good, but this is not a one-week wonder. They have to sustain the cooperation and the effort and perform. And we will have to wait for their report, the report of their inspectors.



DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If the responsibility is on Iraq to demonstrate that it does not have weapons of mass destruction, under the U.N. resolution it is not for some country to go in and give them a clean bill of health.


WOODRUFF: Question: are U.S. Officials on the same page with those within the U.N. or with one another?

Let's bring in Jay Carney of "Time" Magazine. Jay, to what extent are the U.S. officials on the same page any more with the U.N.?

JAY CARNEY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, Judy, they never really have been. Remember this whole process was something that the United States was reluctant to get into, to go down the road of initiating new U.N. inspections in Iraq. And once they do pursue this course, they've been pressing the United Nations in developing its resolution for the strictest and most expansive kinds of inspections possible.

This administration, at least most members of this administration, including the president, made clear that they doubt Saddam Hussein will change his stripes. They doubt he'll disarm and that these inspections will lead to a peaceful resolution of this conflict.

And what I think we've seen this week, coming from the president and from Donald Rumsfeld, is almost a preemptive judgment that these inspections will fail, because they don't want to lose the public relations battle here. They don't want the American public or Western European public or our allied government to think that, Oh, whew, now that there are inspectors in Iraq, this problem's over with.

WOODRUFF: Well, if that's what's going on what between the administration and the U.N., what about within the administration? You just described what the president and Secretary Rumsfeld are saying, but yesterday you've got, Colin Powell, the secretary of state, saying these inspections are off to a good start.

CARNEY: Well, Colin Powell is probably smarting over this because once again, he appears to be the odd man out. And in this case, was out of the country and clearly out of the loop to some degree in terms of what the message of the day would be on Iraq.

He said the inspections were going pretty well, at least starting off pretty well. The president and Secretary Rumsfeld saying something quite different. Now this is not entirely surprising, because Colin Powell has, for the entire year, been pressing multilateral action, pressing cooperation with the U.N., whereas the president, the vice president and Secretary Rumsfeld have been much more outspoken in terms of their desire to disarm Saddam and do it unilaterally if necessary, or certainly by force.

WOODRUFF: So you're saying this isn't just a matter of being out of the loop. This is a real difference of approach that still exists inside the administration.

CARNEY: I think it still exists within the administration. I think that it was not a deliberate contrast in viewpoints put forward by U.S. officials. It's the kind of conflict they like to keep under wraps, but they haven't been able to successfully, in the past six or eight months, and I think this was another occasion when we've seen that conflict in public view.

WOODRUFF: How does -- is the administration worried at all, Jay, about this notion of on the one hand -- and you referred to this a minute ago. On the one hand they're saying, the inspections -- OK, these inspections will go forward. But on the other hand. They keep referring to the future, keep referring to an assumption they're not going to work and whether Saddam is going to disarm.

CARNEY: Well, they're sort of caught between their tactics and their overall strategy. Their tactic right now -- to garner as much international support for an eventual military action is go along with this U.N. process, to show that they were work multilaterally with the United Nations.

But they still do not -- they do not want to create an impression that inspections are an end in themselves and don't want to drop their rhetoric about the fact that they don't believe Saddam Hussein will ever cooperate, land disarm on his own. So what they're most worried about, I think, is that the inspection process will drag on forever, that Saddam will be able to win the public relations battle by saying, Look, we've got nothing and the United States will be in a situation where it will have to say, We know you have something, even though the inspectors haven't found anything and we're going in because of it.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jay Carney. "Time" magazine. Thanks very much.

CARNEY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Well, on another war front today, President Bush for the first time publicly made the connection between the terror attacks in Kenya and al Qaeda. CNN's Frank Buckley is at the White House.

Frank, what did the president say?

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, this is something that terrorism experts have suspected all along, that al Qaeda was behind the attacks in Kenya recently. Ten Kenyans were killed. Three Israelis were killed in the attacks on the hotel there. There was also a missile attack on an Israeli chartered jet, 271 people were aboard that aircraft. That failed. Today for the first time the president confirmed that he believes the attacks were the work of al Qaeda.


BUSH: I believe that al Qaeda was involved in the African bombings. In Kenya. I believe al Qaeda hates freedom. I believe al Qaeda will strike anywhere they can in order to disrupt a civil society. And that's why we're on the hunt. And we're making progress. Slowly but surely, we're dismantling the al Qaeda network.


BUCKLEY: Now, later, Ari Fleischer clarified the president's comments, making sure that reporters understood that the president wasn't saying that there was a definite connection between al Qaeda and the attacks in Kenya, simply saying that this was the belief of the president, based on the information that he's had an opportunity to review -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Frank, thanks very much.

Well, since the September 11 attacks, many Americans have been more aware than ever of just how hated the U.S. is in parts of the world. Our Bill Schneider has a just-released survey gauging international opinion of the United States.

Bill, what is the news out of this Pew survey?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Judy, it's growing anti-Americanism. In most countries around the world, the U.S. favorable opinion has dropped over the past few years, even in Britain. Most worrisome for the U.S., a big drop in friendly feelings towards the U.S. in two Muslim countries that are supposed to be key allies in the war on terrorism, Turkey and Pakistan. Now, one country has been conspicuous in bucking the trend, and that's Russia, where there's been a sharp increase in pro-American sentiment since 2000.

WOODRUFF: But you're not saying the survey shows most of the world dislikes the U.S.?

SCHNEIDER: No. More people view the U.S. favorably than unfavorably. But the poll numbers flipped since 2000. The Muslim world is the striking exception. As the poll reports, "true dislike, if not hatred of America, is concentrated in the Muslim nations of the Middle East and Central Asia, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Lebanon, even Turkey. One exception is Uzbekistan, which used to be part of the Soviet Union, and is now an important ally in the war on terrorism.

WOODRUFF: So does the survey indicate, Bill, whether it's the war on terror, or the whole anti-terrorism movement now under way that's at the bottom of these negative feelings?

SCHNEIDER: In the Middle East, yes, but not in the rest of the world. People in almost every non-Muslim country support U.S. efforts to fight terrorism. Now, the exception is the Muslim world which apparently sees the war on terrorism as a war on Islam. Majorities of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, even Indonesia, say they oppose U.S.- led efforts to fight terrorism.

If most of the world is with the U.S. in the war on terrorism, what's the source of growing anti-americanism? One word, unilateralism. A majority of people in each of those countries say that the United States does not take into account the interests of other countries when it makes international policy decisions. Most Americans say, yes, we do. Now, here's a good example of that divergence.

Most Americans say the U.S. may take military action against Iraq because Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace, not because the U.S. wants to control Iraq's oil. But most of the French and the Germans say the U.S. wants to control Iraq's oil. And the British, America's closest ally against Iraq, what do they say? They're split: 45 percent say the U.S. is doing it for peace; 44 percent say the U.S. is doing it for oil.

WOODRUFF: Hmm. All right. A lot to look at in this survey. What was it, a couple hundred pages long?


WOODRUFF: All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much.

Well, there's much more ahead on INSIDE POLITICS.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is Bob Franken. Once again, the abortion issue was before the Supreme Court. But abortion was really only the backdrop. BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Bruce Morten in Washington. Don't South Democrats like Louisiana? I'll look at their conspicuous absence in the Senate runoff that has drawn so many big-name Republicans.

WOODRUFF: Also ahead, the Bush administration brings back bonuses for political appointees, and career federal workers are crying foul.

Is an attack on free speech or a legitimate law intended to keep the political parties in line? Ahead, the latest fight in the battle over campaign finance reform.

Plus -- no southern comfort. A major winter storm that is making a mess in Dixie moves north. Our forecast is coming up.


WOODRUFF: The Supreme Court today heard arguments over the use of federal laws targeting organized crime as tool to punish anti- abortion protesters. The case does not address the issue of abortion itself, but the arguments have stirred passions on both sides of the issue.

Here now, CNN's Bob Franken.


FRANKEN (voice-over): This time abortion is just the backdrop. This case is really about whether federal racketeering and extortion laws can be used to limit how far protests can go.

RANDALL TERRY, OPERATION RESCUE FOUNDER: The question is this -- do we want a judicial guillotine to silence all civil disobedience protests?

FRANKEN: Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion groups told the Supreme Court that using laws meant for organized crime to punish obstructive behavior at family planning clinics was legal overkill by groups like the National Organization for Women.

KIN GANDY, NOW PRESIDENT: We support every right of free and peaceful public protest. We use it ourselves.

FRANKEN: The anti-abortion groups argue that if organized crime laws had been used the same way in the 1960s, civil rights groups might have been charged with racketeering or extortion over restaurant and bus station sit-ins.

Solicitor General Ted Olson, representing the Bush administration, sided in this case with the abortion rights groups.

Justice Antonin Scalia asked him whether the same tactics could have been used against the civil rights movement. In some instances, they could have, said Olson.

But much of the Justices' discussion involved, as so often happens, a dance on the head of a pin, about how you define extortion.

Justice Stephen Breyer, the protests were a classic example of coercion, not extortion, a much more severe crime with more severe penalties.

And what about free speech? The Supreme Court had ruled in 1995 this was not a free speech issue. But Justice Scalia insisted that this matter sails close to the wind with respect to the First Amendment and that the anti-abortion groups used illegal tactics.

FAY CLAYTON, NOW ATTORNEY: When you use wrongful means like force or violence to take control over someone's property and the right to do business as property, the right to spend your money where you want as property, lawful contracts are property. When you do that against property, it is extortion.

JOSEPH SCHEIDLER, PRO-LIFE ACTION NETWORK: What's the threat of violence? Anybody can be a threat of violence. That's smoke and mirrors, and that's mostly what this case is about. It's an invented -- an invention, a phantom case.

FRANKEN (on camera): Phantom or not, this specific matter has been in the federal court system since 1986. And it's already been decided against the protesters by the Supreme Court in 1995. Further proof that there is no limit to the forms that the battle over abortion will take, and no apparent end to the fight over abortion.

Bob Franken, CNN, the Supreme Court.


WOODRUFF: And one more note on the abortion debate, a holiday greeting card being sold by Planned Parenthood has angered a number of national Christian groups. The outside of the cards, offered on Planned Parenthood's Web site, feature the phrase, "Choice on Earth."

Several groups, including Focus on the Family, and Concerned Women for America, say the card is offensive because it paraphrases the Bible to promote abortion rights.

Planned Parenthood says it has sold this card for almost a decade and that the card represents a -- quote -- "inclusive seasonal message."

The Bush administration has reversed a Clinton White House policy that prohibited the awarding of cash bonuses to political appointees. The decision is met with a mixed reaction. But the White House defends it as fair for all federal employees.


ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This policy is a restoration of a long standing, bipartisan policy that has been pursued by multiple American administrations because its the views of these previous administrations and this one that federal workers deserve to be rewarded for good work. And there should not be a distinction between those who do good work because they're civil and those whop do good work because they're appointed. Good work is good work, and good work by the federal government's employees, all of whom are paid by the taxpayers, should be rewarded.


WOODRUFF: With me now is Jacque Simon of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Ms. Simon, you hear the man who's the spokesman for the president saying if you're going to award civil servants -- civil employees, why not employ -- you know,career employees? Why not give bonuses to political appointees?

JACQUE SIMON, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES: Well, the day after Thanksgiving, the Bush administration announced that federal employees, rank and file federal employees, would have to give up a quarter of the pay increase that Congress had approved in order to support the pay -- the war effort. And three days later, we learn that elite political appointees won't have to be making any kind of sacrifice. It just doesn't -- that doesn't seem fair.

WOODRUFF: But are you saying there's a connection between the two? The president on the one hand saying, You know, we've got a war effort. We need to save money. On the one hand, give government employees less of an increase, on the other hand, people who have done good work -- for example, some of this first -- this early money has gone to employees at the Department of Justice who have been working on the investigations after 9/11.

SIMON: Well, it's important to remember who these political appointees are. This is a slice of the federal workforce who gets their jobs based on who they know and what their political affiliation is, what political party they belong to. The rest of the federal work force, the 1.8 million rank and file civil servants who got their job on the basis of a competition, on merit, on the basis of what they're able to do for the American people, who come to work day in, day out, they're the ones being asked to make a financial sacrifice for the war effort, while political appointees, who make $140,000 already are being lavished with $25,000 bonuses.

WOODRUFF: But Ari Fleischer is saying that career employees are eligible for these bonuses, too, if they do good work.

SIMON: Well, unfortunately, that's not going to be the case in the Bush administration. As I said, they announced the day after Thanksgiving rank and file federal employees would have to sacrifice a portion...

WOODRUFF: So you're saying there won't be any bonuses for career employees?

SIMON: There's a finite pot of money, and the Bush administration has announced now that they're going to use that money for their political appointees. The other thing that's important to remember is that what was reported today in the "New York Times" and "The Washington Post" was that this was going to be a reward for carrying out the president's political agenda. We question whether taxpayer dollars should be used to pay off these political appointees for pursuing a highly partisan political agenda.

WOODRUFF: Are you saying that -- well, let me ask you. How are government employees going to react to this? I mean, you speak for a large union of these workers.

SIMON: Yes. We're fortunate to represent 600,000 rank and file federal employees. The way we see it is this is just one more assault against the rank and file federal workforce by the Bush administration.

A couple of weeks ago it was announced that they intended to privatize 850,000 federal employee jobs. Not to save money, not to improve efficiency, just because they have a preference from moving money out of the public sector and into the private sector to reward their political friends who've made contributions to their campaigns. That's a highly political move that will deprive hundreds of thousands of working Americans of their careers and their jobs, their livelihoods.

WOODRUFF: Well, Jacque Simon with the American Federation of Government Employees. We thank you very much for being with us.

SIMON: Thank you for having me.

WOODRUFF: Thank you. We appreciate it.

And we should say that we did ask for a spokesperson from the White House, from the Bush administration to join us. And they were not able to provide anyone. They declined.

What's going on in the state of Louisiana? Just days away from a crucial Senate election and hardly any big name Democrats are to be found. We'll investigate.

Plus, a powerful and dangerous winter storm plows through the Southeast. Where will it head next? Our forecast is coming up.




WOODRUFF: Well, it has stars and plenty of confrontations. No, it's not a blockbuster movie. It's the Louisiana Senate runoff.

Up next, our Bruce Morton gives his review of the political action.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Democratic disarray in the Sunshine State? The details are coming up in our "Campaign News Daily"; plus, a presidential signature that helps make it safer for kids to surf the Web and cruise the highways.

INSIDE POLITICS is back in two minutes.


WOODRUFF: In Louisiana today, Georgia's Republican Party chairman, Ralph Reed, is campaigning with Suzanne Terrell with three days to go before her Senate runoff.

Our Bruce Morton has been keeping tabs on all the big names that have been stumping in the Bayou and those who have stayed away.


BUSH: For the good of Louisiana and for the good of America, Suzie Terrell needs to be the next United States senator.

MORTON (voice-over): Republican president endorses Republican senator candidate. And he raised $1.25 million for her. That will go a long way, even in casino-rich Louisiana.

And it isn't just the president. The vice president has campaigned for her, the president's father, a former president, senator-elect Elizabeth Dole, Trent Lott, the once and future Senate majority leader. Not much doubt Suzanne Haik Terrell is the darling of her party this week.

SUZANNE TERRELL (R), LOUISIANA SENATE CANDIDATE: Louisiana does need a senator. It needs one good senator who's in the majority who can work with President Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the hospital people are voting for you.

MORTON: The incumbent, Mary Landrieu, narrowly elected six years ago, campaigns with the state's other Democratic senator, John Breaux, a popular moderate. She's resisted visits from national Democrats like Tom Daschle or Hillary Clinton, because she'd be tagged as just another of those Northern liberals. She says she puts the state first.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: And that's why I want to go back to Washington: to serve the people of this state, to put this state first.

MORTON: It's had mean moments. Terrell questioned Landrieu's commitment to her Catholic faith because of some of her votes on abortion, for instance.

STUART ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There is some personal bitterness. And, look, with the focus, the entire nation's focus on this one Senate race, all the national attention, all the national money, it's not surprising that the candidates are a little hot under the collar.

MORTON: Polls say it's close, but polls don't measure turnout. And that may be key. If a lot of white social conservative vote, that's good news for Terrell. If black voters turn out in droves, that's good news for Landrieu.

ROTHENBERG: The people who are more likely to vote are probably supporters of George W. Bush and upscale Republicans. And that's a problem for Mary Landrieu.

MORTON: A problem black voters could solve. We'll know on Saturday.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: And with us now: Louisiana political analyst from Baton Rouge, John Maginnis.

All right, John, is all the momentum on Suzanne Terrell's side, with all these big-name Republicans coming in here?


It's been trending towards Terrell for the last couple of weeks. And Bush's visit yesterday I think just accelerates that. And the polls have showed it kind of close, but it shows that Landrieu has not added anything to her primary support and Terrell has almost doubled her numbers, or added 20 points or so. And looks like it's close right now, but the momentum is going towards Suzie Terrell.

WOODRUFF: So the Landrieu argument that the national Republicans have almost taken over this Louisiana-Terrell campaign, that is not getting very far?

MAGINNIS: Well, right. There's a lot of people who would welcome that.

Bush is very, very popular here in the state. And they've had a whole cavalcade of Republican all-stars coming in to campaign. And, also, Terrell made the point: "Look, we already have one good Democratic senator, John Breaux. We need someone in the majority."

WOODRUFF: So, is Breaux making much difference for Landrieu?

MAGINNIS: Well, he'll probably be on the air, supposedly, with a commercial before this is over. He's helped her so far in Acadiana. But, in Acadiana, the southwest part of the state, Landrieu didn't do that well in the primary, mainly because of the abortion -- her position on abortion.

And besides the Republican campaign, you've had Catholic groups running abortion ads against Landrieu and business groups doing the same thing. So, it's been a full-court press by Republican and business groups.

WOODRUFF: Fair to say Landrieu doesn't really have much going for her at this point?

MAGINNIS: Well, you know, she is going to have to do something these last few days to kind of turn around this momentum. And it is going to take a good, a better turnout from the African-American voters than was in the primary.

WOODRUFF: All right, last question: What about that turnout? Everybody says turnout is key, if Landrieu turns out African- Americans, if Terrell turns out white conservatives. Is that really what we're talking about here?


This is the only thing on the ballot, virtually. I think the president's visit is going to energize the conservatives to go vote. Landrieu is investing a lot more money and effort and resources into turnout in the African-American community, as well as trying to identify white Democrats who will vote for her. She should have done that in the primary, though. And I think she may have missed and opportunity that she'll regret.

WOODRUFF: You want to make a prediction or...

MAGINNIS: No, I don't want to make predictions. But the momentum is towards Terrell. And Landrieu is going to have to do something strong in the next few days to turn that around.

WOODRUFF: All right, John Maginnis, good to see you. Thanks very much.

MAGINNIS: Good to see you, Judy. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We'll be talking to you in the next few days.

And now checking the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily": Louisiana Democrat Rodney Alexander is targeting his congressional runoff opponent, Lee Fletcher -- this is the other campaign in Louisiana -- by using the videotaped comments of former Congressman Clyde Holloway. Fletcher edged Holloway, a fellow Republican, by 1 percentage point to reach Saturday's runoff.


CLYDE HOLLOWAY (R-LA), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: I just do not believe that Lee is good for our state. He's not good for our district. He's not good for our state. He's not good for our nation. He scares me. And I'll leave it at that. I think he'll do anything to win the race.


WOODRUFF: When contacted by CNN, Clyde Holloway says he does not endorse Rodney Alexander, but he stands by his comments about Lee Fletcher. Republican Congressman Tom Davis says he has no regrets for donating GOP soft money to Republican Party committees in his own home district. Davis directed $300,000 to the committees from his post as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee as the deadline approached for the party to spend its remaining soft money.

When asked by "The Washington Post" if the money went to his Virginia district, David said -- quote -- "Well, of course. I'm the chairman. What do you expect?" Davis also said the speaker of the House got some money in his state. Quote: "I just made sure we took care of the home folks as well" -- end quote.

In Florida, the state Democratic Party chairman, Bob Poe, is reported to be on the way out. "The Orlando Sentinel" quotes sources who say Poe is close to resigning. Florida Democrats lost every executive office in the state on Election Day, the first time that's happened in more than a century.

Who says Washington can't move quickly? Up next: Campaign finance reforms took effect just a month ago and both parties are already finding loopholes.

Thoughts from our Jeff Greenfield when we return.


WOODRUFF: The new campaign finance reform law took effect just last month. And, already, the two political parties and other interest groups are working to find ways around the new rules.

Our Jeff Greenfield has some thoughts about the enduring relationship between money and politics.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, an enormously gratifying moment.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST (voice-over): These senators had reason to celebrate last March. After a battle that stretched back more than a decade, the Senate had passed a major campaign finance reform bill. McCain-Feingold. Later that month...

QUESTION: Campaign finance reform.

BUSH: Yes, I signed the bill this morning.

GREENFIELD: ... President Bush signed the bill into law, but he did it outside camera range, maybe because he vigorously opposed that law during the 2000 presidential campaign.

In a debate with Senator McCain, Bush said the McCain-Feingold law would hurt conservatives unfairly. But, now, barely a month after the law went into effect, it's under assault, even from some of those who claimed to support it. There's a challenge being heard in a federal court today that argues the new law violates the First Amendment. The challengers range from the National Rifle Association to the AFL-CIO to the American Civil Liberties Union. That challenge is headed straight to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Federal Elections Commission, the body created to enforce campaign laws, issued rules this past summer that let the political parties create spinoff committees, supposedly independent, that could keep raising so-called soft money.

And that's exactly what both major political parties have done. Indeed, according to "The New York Times," Democratic National Chair Terry McAuliffe told party fund-raisers last October -- quote -- "This campaign finance reform stuff is nothing but junk" -- unquote. And he urged his people to keep raising big money. His spokeswoman denies this, sort of.

But, in fact, both Democrats and Republicans have created such spinoff committees. The Leadership Forum is one GOP entry. The Democrats call one of theirs Empowerment for a New Century. And they were created precisely to evade the soft money ban in the McCain- Feingold law.

And this new law, even if the courts uphold it, will do nothing to stop interest groups from airing those so-called issue ads that urge you to call Senator Smith or Governor Jones and tell him or her to stop doing all those terrible things.


GREENFIELD: OK, so what's the lesson here?

First, unsurprisingly, a whole lot of political people who say they're for campaign finance reform simply aren't, not if it would really mean less money for their campaigns. Second, because of the First Amendment, it is literally legally impossible to take big money out of politics completely. If I'm rich and I want to spend $75 million running for governor or if I want to buy a bunch of newspaper ads or send out direct mail attacking my state's senator or supporting my governor, that's my First Amendment right, the courts have said.

And if I get together with other people who think like I do on guns or abortion or anything else, well, the courts have simply been very skeptical about laws that limit that kind of political behavior. Now, states like Arizona have had some success in so-called clean campaigns, publicly funding candidates who voluntarily limit how much they spend.

But the late California political legend Jess Unruh was right when he said that money was the mother's milk of politics. And very few politicians show any signs of wanting to be weaned anytime soon -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And, as you say, Jeff, this one's going all the way to the Supreme Court.


WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

GREENFIELD: Before this term is out.

WOODRUFF: That's right.

Well, there's another reason today for Congress to question the U.S.-Saudi connection. Up next: Somewhere in Saudi Arabia, children are being kept from their American parents. Who is to blame?


WOODRUFF: We have a late-breaking development to tell you about: a new legal twist today in a court case challenging the Pledge of Allegiance.

As you may remember, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled last June that reciting the pledge in public classrooms is unconstitutional. But the court put the ruling on hold a day later. Well, today, that same panel ruled that the father who filed the lawsuit on behalf of his daughter had the right to do so, even though he does not have custody of her.

Now, this decision means that the appeals court is free to decide whether to uphold its original ruling that the term "under God" violates the constitutional separation of church and state. In other words, stay tuned.

Amid questions about Saudi Arabia's commitment to fighting terror, a congressman is accusing the Saudis of blocking efforts to return U.S.-born children taken by Saudi Arabian parents. Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton heard testimony today from American women who say their children were kidnapped by their Saudi fathers.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the Saudis and their American pimps were sadistic and cold-blooded, what about our own State Department? The State Department feels they are justified -- case closed -- in their written response to questions posed by the committee.

PAT ROUSH, MOTHER OF KIDNAPPED CHILD: Just as the money trail has led directly back to the lap of Prince Bandar's family in the 9/11 terrorism attacks, so too will it in the kidnappings of American citizens. If the Saudi Embassy has nothing to hide, why have Bandar and his P.R. machine gone into overdrive to protect known criminals like my ex-husband, a mere lowly computer programmer?

REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: There's simply one fact they can't hide. And that is, according to the State Department, the Saudi government has never returned a single kidnapped American child, not one. Until the Saudis return one of these children, all of their smooth talk is just a lot of hot air. Worse, they are actively working against the interests of some of those who were kidnapped.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Congressman Burton accuses Saudi diplomats of lying and evading subpoenas in order to keep U.S.-born children in Saudi Arabia.

Still ahead: a new move in Washington to keep children safe when they surf the Internet.


WOODRUFF: Looking ahead to what's in the works on tomorrow's INSIDE POLITICS: The longest-serving senator in American history, South Carolina's Strom Thurmond, turns 100 years old. We'll find out how Thurmond is celebrating his big day.

And, remember, for the latest political news, you can go online any time at -- back with more in a moment.


WOODRUFF: Finally: If you have young children, here's what Washington did for you today. President Bush signed bills aimed at making it safer for children to surf the Internet and to ride the nation's highways. One law requires automakers to include shoulder belts in rear center seats, where children often sit. The other law sets up a new dot-kids Web domain containing only material appropriate for children under 13.

We'll follow that up to see how well it's working.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us.



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