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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview With Arlen Specter; Interview With Reza Pahlavi; Berman, Kolbe Discuss Road Map to Peace

Aired June 22, 2003 - 12:00   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 7:00 p.m. at the Dead Sea in Jordan, and 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.
And we'll get some special insight on the Middle East and Iraq from two top U.S. lawmakers attending the World Economic Forum in Jordan. That'll be coming up.

First, let's check the latest developments happening right now.

We begin in Iraq where a U.S. Army convoy came under attack earlier today just south of Baghdad killing one U.S. soldier, wounding another. This just hours after a key oil pipeline between Iraq's northern and southern oil fields exploded.

Let's get the latest. Our Baghdad bureau chief Jane Arraf is standing by now live -- Jane.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it appears to be the ninth U.S. soldier killed just this month, and it is the kind of attack that we've seen several times before, a grenade being thrown at a passing U.S. convoy.

Now, this according to a military statement happened at Khan Azad today when a grenade was thrown at this convoy, one U.S. soldier killed. It is reported that he arrived at the hospital and was declared dead. Another wounded. We're not clear how seriously he was wounded. But again, the same sort of attack that has happened at other points around Baghdad, grenades thrown at passing U.S. convoys.

Now, in what may or may not have been sabotage, a pipeline near the town of Heet, out of Baghdad, was hit and is still in flames apparently. Again, not clear whether that's sabotage or whether the gas pipeline that, because of the disrepair it's in after twelve years of sanctions, has had something go wrong and is in flames. It happened last week as well and it still was not clear at that point whether that incident was sabotage either. Extremely difficult to tell, but this could affect the electricity supply. It does appear to be a gas pipeline going from the northern oil fields of Kirkuk to several power stations. Electricity is already a major problem and this could make it worse.

But in a bit of good news, oil exports started flowing today from the Turkish port of Jihan on the Mediterranean. Iraqi oil officials and their U.S. advisers flew to Jahad for that ceremony, saying prayers and pushing a button that loaded that oil onto a ship to go to refineries.

Now, that is stored oil but clears the way for oil to start flowing through the pipeline again and for Iraq to start producing and selling that new production on world markets for the first time since before the war -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jane Arraf in Baghdad for us. Jane, thanks very much.

The United States already has the authority to prosecute terror suspects involved in the killing of Americans abroad.

The Pennsylvania Republican, Senator Arlen Specter, now has been talking with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about doing something about that.

I spoke with Senator Specter just a few minutes ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Senator Specter, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.

Let's get right to this initiative that you're trying to achieve to try to bring at least two convicted Palestinian terrorists, who are being held in Israel by the Israeli authorities, here to the United States. What's behind this?

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Wolf, United States citizens are being murdered by Palestinian terrorists when our citizens are in Israel. And we have authority under the Terrorist Prosecution Act of 1986, extra- territorial jurisdiction, to prosecute those terrorists in United States courts for murder in the first degree and get the death penalty.

And I have been talking to Israeli Attorney General Rubinstein and also to United States Attorney General John Ashcroft to try to set this in motion. And both of those attorneys general are interested.

And I think it would be very salutary, really be very emphatic, and the United States would be helping Israel in Israel's war on terrorism. And we would be vindicating a very important United States interest when our citizens are being murdered abroad by Palestinian terrorists.

BLITZER: In the letter you wrote to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, you say this, among other things. You say, "It would be a significant step forward if the United States tried, convicted and imposed the death penalty in a U.S. court on a Palestinian terrorist who has murdered Americans in Israel."

Is it your concern that in Israel, they don't have the death penalty, with the exception of genocide? Is that why you want to bring them to the United States for trial? SPECTER: Well, that's true. One of these terrorists is in Israel at the present time serving a sentence, but they do not have the death penalty. And Israeli Attorney General Rubinstein raised a question with me about their willingness to extradite, but there is an exception under Israeli law if Israeli national security is involved. And you talk about terrorism, the terrorists are trying to destroy Israel. I think it is a national security matter.

And that's why I'm taking the matter directly to Prime Minister Sharon to try to get the backing of the Israeli government.

BLITZER: Do you have any indication that the prime minister is ready to extradite these two Palestinians to the United States?

SPECTER: Well, I talked to Prime Minister Sharon about this when I was in Israel a few months ago. I've talked to other Israeli officials about it, and they are interest in it.

There is sort of an attitude, Wolf, that they've got a lot of other problems, and also an attitude that they'd like to take care of their own problems with the terrorists. But when I point out that we have the death venality, and they don't, they have to concede that the death penalty is obviously a lot more effective.

And then I press the point that we have a separate U.S. interest. We want to help the Israelis fight terrorism, but these are U.S. citizens being murdered. And we have an interest in bringing those murderers to justice.

BLITZER: I'll get to the specific cases in a moment, Senator Specter, but let's just recap. Did the attorney general, John Ashcroft, give you a hard and fast yes when you asked him, if the Israelis extradite these to convicted terrorists, would the U.S. Justice Department prosecute them? What was his response?

SPECTER: His response was that he would like to see it done, and he then ordered his subordinates to meet with me, which I have done, with the people who are really on the nuts-and-bolts level.

As you know, Wolf, I used to be district attorney of Philadelphia, so that when I go over a case and review the evidence, I've had the professional background to make an evaluation of the cases.

And Attorney General Ashcroft told me that he was interested in doing this, and that we ought to pursue it and take up the specifics. And I told him that I would be working with the Israeli authorities to try to get the people here.

By the way, Wolf, one of these individuals is in Chicago. He had been arrested in Israel for providing funds to Hamas back in 1993. Was convicted in Israel and then served a sentence and came to Chicago. And he's now under investigation in Chicago.

And the United States attorney in Chicago, Fitzgerald, and I have talked. He has some concerns about whether the individual is closely enough connected to the murders. But I believe, and I think this is a message that ought to go out loud and clear, that anyone who contribute to Hamas or any other terrorist organization which is engaged in murdering Americans, those individuals are liable as aiders and abetters for murder in the first degree.

So, this is a matter which has a fair number of legal complexities, but I believe we can move through all of them and convict these people in the United States and impose the death penalty.

BLITZER: One of those Palestinians you want extradited to the United States is a man named Hassam Salameh (ph). He was involved in the bus bombing in Jerusalem on February 25, 1996. Among those killed, three United States citizens: Sarah Drucker, Stuart Eisenfeld and Ira Weinstein.

What else can you tell us about this individual?

SPECTER: Well, I can tell you that he appeared on television, and he and bragged about the killings, proud of it.

His television statement is a confession, so that it makes it relatively direct to show that he is the perpetrator and behind the murderers and involved. You don't have any question as to whether he was subjected to any unusual questioning or any inappropriate interrogation tactics.

And he killed three American citizens. And he is in custody in Israel. I don't see any reason in the world why that man ought not to be brought back to the United States and tried in a U.S. court where he can get the death penalty.

BLITZER: Earlier today, the Israelis had another what they call "targeted killings," an assassination of a Hamas leader on the West Bank. And that resulted in a rebuke from the secretary of state, Colin Powell, who is attending this conference in Jordan.

Do you have a problem with Israel's policy of targeted killings?

SPECTER: I do not, Wolf, when they are carrying out those policies as a preventative measure.

What you really have here is evidence, as the Israelis represented -- and I think they are representing it accurately -- that these Hamas individuals are planning to murder Israeli citizens and, perhaps, Americans and others in the process.

And I believe that that's what I classify -- and I've spoken on the Senate floor about this -- as a nonjudicial determination of guilt, and it's a preventative action. Look here, we're not in the old days. We are now facing terrorists who strike secretly, without warning, killing massive numbers of people. And in this context, I believe preventative action is entirely appropriate. And targeted killings are going after people where there is reason to believe they're going to be trying to murder Israelis and others.

BLITZER: Senator Specter, we have to leave it right there. Thanks for joining us.

SPECTER: Always a pleasure, Wolf. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: While the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state and the dismantling of illegal outposts on the West Bank, the Israelis are also moving aggressively and unilaterally to try to strengthen their own security.

I saw a dramatic example of that earlier this week during my visit to the region.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER (voice-over): The Israeli argument is simple. As the poet Robert Frost said, "Good fences make good neighbors."

And so the Israelis have started building a fence that eventually will continue for more than 200 miles, roughly coinciding with Israel's 1967 border with the West Bank

But there are several major detours to ensure that Ariel, Emanuel and other major Jewish settlement communities on the West Bank are on the Israeli side of the fence.

As you can see from the air, it's a massive project. Its eventual cost: an estimated $220 million.

The Israelis say they need this fence to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers and other terrorists from crossing it to populated Israeli centers. Most of the infiltrators, they say, have come from the West Bank.

Israel already has a fence encircling Gaza. Officials say there have been virtually no infiltrations from there.

Right now we're outside of Jerusalem, very close to Bethlehem. This is where they're building a fence, the Israelis are building a fence. They obviously want this fence to provide them security.

Now, take a look at this ditch. This is going to be the ditch where this fence is going to go. On this side, where I'm standing, is going to be the Israeli-controlled area. On the other side of this ditch, once this fence goes up -- and it's going to be high, it's almost going to be like a wall -- that's going to be the Palestinian side.

And it's going to literally go all along here, all along down there, and it's going to go for miles and miles and miles. And the goal, of course, is to prevent infiltrators from getting into Israeli- controlled areas. They think it might help. We'll see.

Most Palestinians say they hate the fence, in part because it will make it more difficult for them to get desperately needed jobs in Israel. It will also, at various locations, divide Palestinian farms and villages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Even the wall of Berlin, the big wall, the people there were jumping over it to the other side to look for work. And this fence, compared with the Berlin Wall, is nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The fence will not help. Everyone who wants to cross can do it.

BLITZER: Israelis we spoke to acknowledge it won't provide 100 percent protection, but they insist it will help in the short term. The only long-term solution, they say, is peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you have to get to agreement with the other side. And I hope that this is what they will do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you need is a real peace agreement and not a fence. It's not the solution, I think.

BLITZER: But Israeli government officials say 7-year-old Naomi Liebowitz would be alive today if that fence had been completed. Her father was driving her and her 3-year-old sister in central Israel this week, not far from the West Bank town of Kalkilya (ph). They say a Palestinian gunman crossed into Israel and shot them. Her father and sister survived.

A fence, the Israelis say, could have prevented the incident.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: U.S. congressmen currently on a trip to the Dead Sea area of Jordan. They are working in the name of peace. We'll have a discussion with two of them.

Then, a region in turmoil. Can Israelis and Palestinians stay on the road map toward peace? I'll have an exclusive interview with the Israeli president, Moshe Katzav.

Plus, new warnings of possible attacks on U.S. interests in Africa. We'll get analysis on whether al Qaeda is expanding its terror threat.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I appreciate those courageous souls who speak out for freedom in Iran. They need to know America stands squarely by their side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush expressing support for anti-government protesters in Iran. The Iranian government has been cracking down on demonstrators and is accusing the United States of promoting the unrest.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now from Paris to talk about the increasingly volatile situation inside Iran is Reza Pahlavi. He's the son of the late Shah of Iran and the heir to the Iranian monarchy.

Mr. Pahlavi, welcome to LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us.

REZA PAHLAVI, HEIR TO IRANIAN MONARCHY: Hello, thanks for having me on.

BLITZER: It's been some eight straight days of demonstrations. What's your sense, what's happening right now in Iran? Is there a regime change of sorts under way?

PAHLAVI: Well, first of all, Wolf, what I can tell you is that Iran has today reached a boiling point, and it is no longer a question of pro-reform movements but regime change in the sense of liberalization as a movement.

The Iranian people are fed up. They can't stand it any longer. They want their liberties, they want their self-determination.

And today, as you witness in Iran, there is a persistent, ongoing movement that is committed to that end, and a valiant fight, determination that all of us Iranians who are fighting for freedom have in these difficult times.

BLITZER: So what is your bottom line? Is the regime of the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Khatami, is that regime in trouble right now of sustaining these kind of demonstrations?

PAHLAVI: Clearly, the regime is panicking. Clearly, the regime is stepping back. Understandably, the more internal pressure is paralleled by external pressures, international support, the more the regime will find that its days are more and more numbered.

It's beyond that today. The regime has no leg to stand on, it's just a matter of time for this regime to fall.

BLITZER: Well, are you concerned, though, that in the process there could be a lot of bloodshed?

PAHLAVI: Well, obviously, every effort is being made to minimize any kind of violence or bloodshed. My campaign is about civil disobedience and non-violence aimed at paralyzing the regime to the point of collapse, and ultimately finding a situation where we can create an environment for free and fair elections, a national referendum, if you will, under international observation by NGOs and media and others, so that Iranian people get to finally choose what kind of a democratic system they want for themselves in the future.

BLITZER: As you know, Iran, like Iraq and North Korea, were listed by President Bush as the axis-of-evil countries. An enormous amount of concern about the Iranian nuclear program being expressed here in Washington.

I want you to listen to what President Khatami said earlier this week, denying there was any nuclear weapons program.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT MOHAMMED KHATAMI, IRAN (through translator): Not only do we not want to obtain nuclear weapons, but also we are among the ones who took the initiative in saying we want a region without nuclear weapons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is there any hard evidence, hard evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb?

PAHLAVI: I think we're going to hear much more on this subject.

But, Wolf, here's the big picture. Can anybody in the world today, based on the regime's, the clerical regime's almost quarter- century-old track record, ever trust such a regime with its finger on the trigger?

I think the best guarantee for the whole world, as well as Iran itself, is an investment in democracy which will bring an element of stability, steering our country away from every aspect of extremism or violence or pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, as opposed to a regime that, from the get-go, has, in fact, planted the seed of radicalism and extremism.

BLITZER: President Bush spoke out on this issue earlier this week very forcefully. Listen to what the president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The international community must come together to make it very clear to Iran that we will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon. Iran will be dangerous if they have a nuclear weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What should the U.S. government be doing to try to promote some sort of peaceful change, some sort of democratic reform inside Iran?

PAHLAVI: Wolf, any time a member of the world community, be it the government or any other group, stands in support of a nation that demands its own liberties and freedoms, it goes a long way in heartening the people of such countries.

Clearly, the message emanating today from Washington and other capitals in support of the Iranian freedom movement, and in defiance of a clerical regime that is, particularly these days, using so much brutality against people who want nothing but self- determination and freedom, is a very important element in expediting this process, in fact, making the transition much smoother than if otherwise Iranians had to depend only on themselves, which they do, by the way.

But it will go a long way for the international community to show that in this cause the Iranian people are not alone and that the world community stands with them and not against them in this process of change.

BLITZER: There's been suspicion that the Iranian regime is trying to work within Iraq, its neighbor, to support some Shiites there, the majority, of course, inside Iraq, against the U.S. mounting some sort of guerilla or military operations.

Do you have any reason to believe that Iran is meddling inside Iraq right now?

PAHLAVI: I don't think it's a matter of believing. The facts are clear on the subject, and we will find even more on that as time goes by.

What I wanted to say here is that let's not forget what the mandate of the clerical regime has been since an inception. This is a regime with a written constitution that is committed to the exportation of a radical revolution with a politicization of our religion.

What we are talking about is going back to the situation where Iranians have a secondary system of government, a democratic system that is committed to stability, to peace and good neighborliness with our neighbors and committed to bring back stability.

Here's the big difference. The opportunity in Iran exists today through the people of Iran themselves. And I believe that all that is required is to, today, shift focus from an idea of finding some moderation from within the regime to its time to invest on the cause of liberty and on the Iranian people themselves. Nothing beyond the Iranian people would be best able to bring back that change.

BLITZER: Is it your goal, Mr. Pahlavi, to restore the monarch in Iran and for you to return as the Shah?

PAHLAVI: That has never been my issue, Wolf, and I want to be very clear on that. I've stated time and again, not only to my own compatriots but to the international community, that the only mission I see for myself is to lead this process to the day where my compatriots can go to the polls and decide what they want for themselves.

That day will be the end of my political mission in life. I've always said that I stand ready to serve my country in whatever capacity that compatriots choose.

But right now, the only focus is on bringing back democracy, self-determination, and hopefully that through a national referendum. That is my goal. That is my mission. That is my commitment.

BLITZER: You're not ruling out the possibility that you could emerge as the Shah of Iran. PAHLAVI: Wolf, again, I'm telling you this is about a choice that the Iranian people will have to make. The only thing that concerns me today is how can we get to that day when Iranians can finally cast their free vote in a national referendum. That is the only thing that preoccupies me. And I am not concerned about any scenarios that will be anyway, today, premature to discuss.

BLITZER: Reza Pahlavi, thanks so much for joining us from Paris.

Still ahead, mounting tensions and deaths in Iraq. Was the war declared over too early? And the lingering question, whatever happened to Saddam Hussein? We'll get special insight from two generals.

And you can weigh in on our LATE EDITION question of the week: Do you think Saddam Hussein is alive? You can vote right now at our website, cnn.com/lateedition. We'll tell you the results later in this program.

LATE EDITION continues right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The regime of Saddam Hussein is no more. America is more secure. The world is more peaceful. And the long-suffering people of Iraq are now free.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush speaking to a gathering in Minnesota this past week.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

While the military victory in Iraq was swift, the post-war situation continues taking a deadly toll on U.S. soldiers and Marines. The unknown fate of Saddam Hussein is also raising questions about whether he's orchestrating attacks on U.S. forces.

For some perspective, we turn to two military veterans. In Philadelphia, the former supreme commander of NATO, Retired U.S. Army General George Joulwan. And in Madison, Wisconsin, the retired U.S. Army Brigadier General David Grange, a CNN military analyst.

Generals, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

General Joulwan, let me begin with you by putting up some numbers, disturbing numbers, up on the screen, casualties, U.S. casualties since May 1st. That's when President Bush was aboard the carrier Abraham Lincoln, declared major combat over. Since then, 56 Americans have been killed -- 19 in hostile fire, 37 in what's called non-hostile incidents. It's almost like one a day. How concerned are you about what seems to be developing inside Iraq?

GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN (RET.), FORMER SUPREME COMMANDER OF NATO: Clearly, Wolf, we need to be very concerned about what is happening. And this sort of one or two a day is very, very disturbing to the troops on the ground.

What we need to be able to do is not only transition from peace to war but from war to peace. And that's going to take time. And we clearly have elements, enemy elements, inside of Iraq that are capable of attacking, injuring and killing American soldiers.

BLITZER: Well, how much time does it take to try to deal with this issue? You have a lot of experience with what's called peacekeeping.

JOULWAN: Well, let me be very clear. What we did in Bosnia was not peacekeeping -- it was peace enforcement. Very clear, robust rules of engagement, et cetera, et cetera, and we trained very hard for that.

And I think what you need to do here is understand just because you took Baghdad doesn't mean that you've got complete victory in Iraq. That's going to take time.

And it's going to take, Wolf, cooperation between not only the military, but the civilians that need to come in and really have not just an absence of war but true peace. That's going to take time.

And we have to understand that as much preparation, as much transformation needs to go into that -- and we don't have to be timid about it, but we need to get on with having this civil military action take place to really bring stability to Iraq.

BLITZER: General Grange, there seems to be a lot of unrest, a lot of attacks against U.S. forces in the Fallujah area, which is west of Baghdad, these rocket-propelled grenades and other incidents.

How organized does it seem to be to you, this -- what some are now calling guerrilla warfare?

GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, a lot of people are saying in country that there's not an organized resistance. I believe there's some type of organized resistance, though it may be loose. There's some cellular structures throughout Iraq in different places, and this is one of them.

And so what you have is attack on Americans in these areas -- two types. One is an emotional attack. In other words, a family lost a child or a spouse during the war, blames the Americans and wants revenge. It's very similar to that that you have in the Balkans against different factions.

And the other type is, you have an irregular force, remnants of the Fedayeen and others, with maybe some outside influence or internal influence, that organize these loose organizational attacks against American forces. And these hit-and-run tactics are the only way that they can fight the U.S.

BLITZER: General Joulwan, the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said this this week in response to this notion that there's a major organized military campaign against the U.S. forces in Iraq. Listen to what Rumsfeld said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I don't know anyone who is persuaded and has real strong conviction that there is anything approximating a national or a regional organization that is energizing and motivating these attacks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What's your assessment, General Joulwan, about the sense of the organization of these guerrilla attacks? Paul Wolfowitz, the number two at the Pentagon, has called them guerrilla attacks.

JOULWAN: Well, clearly Secretary Rumsfeld has access to intelligence that I don't have, but I can tell you to the soldier on the ground, to the Marine on the ground, these are clear threats. And there are ambushes taking place, sniper attacks taking place.

And it is something that we have to do something about, both at the national strategic level and at the operational and tactical level in the field. They are of great concern to the commanders on the ground.

BLITZER: General Grange, I want to put up on the screen a quote from one U.S. soldier with the 4th Infantry Division. He was quoted in The Washington Post as saying this this week: "What are we getting into here? The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?"

This is something that General Joulwan suggested earlier, this sense of morale of being affected by this almost daily loss of life on the U.S. military's part.

GRANGE: Well, it does have an effect on the soldier's morale. And in fact, the enemy can play this up quite well if they want to, and I think they will. We're going to have an American life a day until you leave. And there has to be some kind of an information campaign to prevent that from happening.

In reference to the soldiers, I mean, soldiers talk. And in their part of the operation, though it may be small at their checkpoint or wherever they're operating, it is a concern. These soldiers need to be constantly motivated by the chain of command, their sergeants and their officers, to understand that part of war is a transition to stability. And that's just part of your mission, just like consolidating on your objective. You have to be able to do that. And the key thing to support them is to talk to them and resource them for success, which may be possibly some more robustness or more civil military support in order to accomplish this mission.

BLITZER: And that, General Joulwan, raises this question. Do the U.S. forces -- does the United States have enough military personnel in Iraq right now? About 150,000 or so, down slightly from the top number, about 160,000, during the actual major combat fighting.

JOULWAN: I believe we -- I believe we do have enough. But it is the organization on the ground. Wolf, this is not just this administration, this has been going on for 20 years, that we do not know how to do the civil-military integration well.

We have also asked, as you know, for international support. And the Poles and others are going to join us.

But until we get some sort of civil-military integrated staff working together on the ground, when the military understands that they can get out of there sooner, rather than later, by good cooperation with the civilians on the ground, we are going to be there for a long time and the numbers are going to increase.

BLITZER: General Grange, how much of a problem is it for the U.S. military that there is no definitive word about the fate of Saddam Hussein?

GRANGE: Well, that's obviously a morale factor. Even though the regime was taken down without proving that he's been killed -- and I don't believe he's dead; I think he's still alive -- that is true.

But he is kind of an icon. And psychologically, just like bin Laden, psychologically, you have to remove him, prove that he's dead or captured in order to convince many others that he is not going to reemerge, that he doesn't have influence on current operations, for instance, some of these irregular forces, if in fact he is involved. That's key.

I'd like to go back, Wolf, for just half a second on what General Joulwan said about the 160,000.

BLITZER: Well, we don't really have that much time. And I did want to ask General Joulwan one unrelated question while I have him just for a second here. So let's hold that thought on the 160,000.

General Joulwan, Senator John Warner, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee told me the other day he'd like to see NATO troops moved into the West Bank and Gaza to separate the Israelis and the Palestinians. Very briefly, is that a good idea?

JOULWAN: I think it needs to be explored. I think an interposition force is something we need to consider. And I believe NATO is a good vehicle for doing that.

As you know, there is a NATO force, German and Dutch, in Kabul, Afghanistan right now. And I think with good cooperation with NATO, that at least should be looked at and prepared for. Not executed yet, but prepared for.

BLITZER: The former supreme commander of NATO, General George Joulwan, General David Grange. Unfortunately, we have to leave it right there. Thanks to both of you for joining us on LATE EDITION.

Coming up, assessing al Qaeda's strengths. What's going on? How wide is the terror group's reach? We'll talk with a panel of political and security experts.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

In addition to the secretary of state, Colin Powell, many other business and political leaders from around the world, as well as several key members of the United States Congress, are attending the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

Joining us from there right now are two members of the U.S. delegation, Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe of Arizona, Democratic Congressman Howard Berman of California.

Congressmen, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Congressman Berman, let me begin with you. You heard the rebuke by Secretary Powell of the Israeli government for this latest killing of a Hamas leader on the West Bank.

What's the general assessment where you are now, with these world leaders, about the road map? Is it doomed?

REP. HOWARD BERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: No, I don't think so at all. I think Prime Minister Sharon has continued to maintain his commitment to pursuing the road map.

There is actually some level of optimism that in the very near future, there could very well be a change in the policing, in the Gaza area, that would turn the Palestinian Authority into the enforcement mechanism there. And they're working out the details of that.

I don't hear any sense of doom about the road map at this particular point at this conference.

BLITZER: Well, let me bring Congressman Kolbe in.

The Hamas leader in Gaza was almost assassinated by the Israelis a week or two ago, Abdel Aziz Rantissi. He's making it clear that he has no confidence whatsoever in Secretary Powell and this entire road map.

Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ABDEL AZIZ RANTISSI, HAMAS SPOKESMAN: Colin Powell give a testimony today that he is totally with the Israeli terror against the Palestinian rights. He is an enemy to Palestinians and Palestinian rights and Palestinian hopes of freedom, independence.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BLITZER: Congressman Kolbe, by almost all independent accounts, Hamas is a lot more popular with the rank-and-file Palestinians in Gaza than the Palestinian Authority, than Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is, right now.

How could anyone really be upbeat given that apparent fact?

REP. JIM KOLBE (R), ARIZONA: Well, Wolf, there is no doubt that Hamas wants this process to fail, just as there are some on the other side in Israel who want it to fail. The objective has got to be to coalesce around a center, around those who really want peace to succeed.

And I think it is true that here at this conference, granted this is not run or walk of the people off the street. These are people who are truly committed to seeing it happen, to making it work. But I come away from this conference more optimistic, certainly, than I would have been otherwise. It's a much more optimistic feeling here than you get back in Washington or from the media. There are people here who are really committed on both sides to making peace happen.

And I think what we have to do is isolate Hamas. We have to isolate those kinds of extremists and make sure that the peace process just keeps moving forward.

BLITZER: Congressman Berman, Senator Warner thinks give NATO perhaps a change to do something in the West Bank and Gaza. You just heard General Joulwan, the former supreme commander of NATO, say this is an idea worth considering. Is it?

BERMAN: I don't think so. I think it's a non-starter. It's not contemplated in the road map. And I can't imagine the Israeli government committing to that for the obvious reasons. A suicide bombing is contemplated, it's planned, the Israelis (ph) know about it. The quote, "peacekeepers" are unable to stop it, and what is Israel to do? Give up its right to stop it on its own, or to retaliate for it?

I don't think -- I have great respect for Senator Warner, but I don't think this is the way out. I think the Palestinian commitment to build up its own security forces under the prime minister, to break up the infrastructure of the terrorist organizations and to work with the United States and the Israelis to make this happen is -- as contemplated by the road map -- is the way to move forward.

BLITZER: Congressman Kolbe, do you agree with Congressman Berman? You don't want to see NATO or U.S. troops anywhere close to the West Bank and Gaza? KOLBE: Well, I would agree specifically with the first point that he made. It's not part of the road map, it's not contemplated. And let's not try to take the road map, throw it out, come up with a new road map.

We've got a road map. Everybody has agreed on this road map. Everybody said, "This is it; it's got to work."

So I think just overlaying it with another line of defense or something else to it, political, military isn't going to be the answer to it. So that really isn't the answer.

We've got to make this road map work, and everybody has got to stick to it. Let's not get diverted by other things.

BLITZER: Do you want, Congressman Kolbe, the Israelis to stop the so-called targeted killings or the assassination of Hamas leaders?

Oh, unfortunately, we just lost our satellite connection with Jordan. We'll try to fix that.

But we were joined by Howard Berman and Jim Kolbe, two United States congressmen, getting their assessment of what's going on in the Middle East.

We have much more stories, much more news coming up, including other late-breaking developments. We're also going to check in with three experts on the situation in the Middle East, as well as Iraq. We'll get their view.

I'll also speak exclusively with Israel's president, Moshe Katsav.

Much more LATE EDITION, that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll get to all of that, including my interview with the Israeli president, in just a few moments.

But in addition to death and destruction, Palestine suicide bombings have left Israelis feeling a mixture of anger, pain and sadness, as I witnessed this past week while I was in the region.

The Israeli government is making a point of letting the loved ones of terror victims know they are not forgotten.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER (voice-over): The Israeli air force Blackhawk helicopter was waiting for us at the helipad near the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

President Moshe Katsav, Israel's largely ceremonial head of state, was doing what he's done hundreds of times since taking office nearly three years ago: paying condolence calls to families of Israeli civilians and soldiers killed in Palestinian attacks.

PRES. MOSHE KATSAV, ISRAEL: It's very difficult. It is our life over the last thousand days.

BLITZER: We fly over Jerusalem, where the holy sites to the three great religions quickly stand out.

And then, within minutes, we're over the Dead Sea, along the border with Jordan. The stark and barren terrain seems to continue forever until we spot Masada, the ancient mountaintop fortress where Jewish zealots committed mass suicide 2,000 years ago rather than surrender to Roman troops.

After a 40-minute flight, we reach our first stop: a small farming community called Faram (ph), the home of 19-year-old Tamara ben Eliahu (ph), an Israeli soldier, one of 17 Israelis killed in the suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem June 11th. Her parents ask cameras stay outside when President Katsav came to pay his respects.

Two days earlier, Tamara's sister had an angry exchange with Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, who also had made a condolence call. She accused the defense minister of doing nothing to prevent terrorism, charging the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territories had contributed to Palestinian despair, including the creation of suicide bombers and, ultimately, her sister's death.

On this day, President Katsav hears more of the same. And later, aboard the Blackhawk, that shows on his face.

We head north over the Negev Desert toward Israel's Mediterranean coastal plain. The beaches of Tel Aviv and the bustling commercial district of Israel's major center of commerce stand out in sharp contrast to the desert.

We continue north along the coast toward Haifa. We land at a Adleet (ph), an Israeli naval base, and drive to our second destination, the home of another Israeli soldier, 21-year-old Moritz Haida (ph), who was killed on June 13th in the Palestinian town of Jenin on the West Bank. Though he was driving on patrol in an armored vehicle, a sniper's bullet managed to pierce through and hit him in the neck.

When we arrive, his extended family is clearly in deep pain. Here, no complaints about Israeli policy. The family is religious and observes the traditional Jewish rituals of grief and mourning.

Later, a second Blackhawk comes to Adleet (ph) to take us back to Jerusalem. A 30-minute flight across central Israel. At several points, we can easily spot a massive building project under way, the initial construction of a more-than-200-kilometer wall that eventually will separate Israel from the West Bank.

We arrive back at the Knesset helipad five hours after we began. After a day of pain, I ask President Katsav if he has any hope for peace. KATSAV: Yes, indeed. I am not pessimistic. I am not pessimistic at all, and I believe that, around the table, we can find a formula of peace is existing. And I believe that the formula for peace and reconciliation is -- we can achieve it.

BLITZER: His optimism not something heard often among Israelis or Palestinians.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And later, I had a chance to sit down with President Katsav to talk about the Middle East peace road map, the war on terror and more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: President Katsav, thanks so much for joining us.

You believe there can be peace even in the midst of all this turmoil and terrorism. Why?

KATSAV: Because after all, in spite of all, the Palestinians, the Israelis, we have mutual interests. We need this peace, and I believe that the reality for the Palestinians forces the Palestinians to reach the conclusion there is no other way.

The continuity of (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the terrorism, up to now brought disaster upon the Palestinian people. So the best way, only one way, peace talks around the table.

BLITZER: The Palestinians say that the Israelis should get out of the territories, the West Bank and Gaza, and lift the restrictions. Do you see that happening anytime soon?

KATSAV: The Palestinians and us, we decided together in Oslo agreement to discuss about this matter of the settlement at the last stage of the peace talks. Not because of the settlement, the Palestinians started with the terrorism and the intifada.

So the best way is to stop the terrorism, back to the table, renew the peace talks, and then we can raise the issues of the settlements.

BLITZER: If there were a willingness on the Palestinian side to stop the terrorism, to make full peace, would Israel respond by removing the settlements, or at least many of the settlements? There are 200,000 settlers who live on the West Bank.

KATSAV: We have discussed about it. It's a very important issue and should be on the agenda at the peace talks between Palestinians and us. There is not now any possibility to say, to give direct answer to your question.

BLITZER: How comfortable are you personally with Israel's policy of what's called targeted killings, the assassinations of suspected Palestinian terrorists, at a time when -- and we've seen in the last several days -- innocent women and children were killed in the process in Gaza?

KATSAV: Look, we must separate the political issues and the bloodshed and terrorism. I can understand if someone among the free world who has the intention to give backing to the Palestinians' political needs and desires. But with regard to continuity of bloodshed and terrorism, no one has a right to tolerate it. No one has a right to condemn us just because we try to defend our citizens.

If our intelligence have information that there is a preparation for a terrorist attack, we must, it's our obligation to defend our citizens. It's our obligation to send our troops to try to prevent this terrorist activity.

But from time to time, after all, we are very sorry there are some accidents. The Palestinian civilians are not our targets. The Palestinian terrorists are our targets. And we try to minimize the possibility for any damage to the Palestinian civilian people.

If it is an accident, I can just express my sorrow and apologize. But if the Palestinian terrorists stand behind Palestinian women, Palestinian children, and they are located in the residential zone, so we must try to stop to prevent this terrorist activity. And unfortunately, accidents happen.

But on the other sides, you know, for the Palestinian terrorist organizations, the Israeli civilians are the targets. And that is the difference between us and them.

BLITZER: As you know, following the assassination attempt of Abdul Aziz Rantisi of Hamas, President Bush unusually made some rather stark criticism of Israel, saying he was very troubled by the timing, the actual act.

Has there been a shift in Israeli policy, as far as you know, since then to scale back these targeted killings in the aftermath of the president's criticism?

KATSAV: Abdul Aziz Rantisi, he encouraged, during the last two years, he encouraged the bloodshed, the terrorism. He stand behind the terrorism. His hands are not clean.

But the question that you raised here became here in Israel a public issue. Support or oppose in me as a president, by your permission, I prefer to remain as a voice of the politicians and I don't want to comment on that.

BLITZER: Another issue that's very sensitive here in Israel is the whole issue of this fence that Israel, the military, is building and more or less going along the old, what they call the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank.

Is this a good idea? Because a lot of suggest it will create the de facto border for a new Palestinian state.

KATSAV: Ladies and gentlemen, someone should say to us what we should do. We must defend ourselves. If the Palestinian terrorists sheds our blood during the last thousand days at the bus station, at the discotheque, at the restaurant, everywhere in Israel, how we can protect, how we can defend ourselves? So we build this wall to prevent them to try to attack us here in Israel.

But it's not a permanent border. It is not political border. It is just military means for defending the Israeli citizens. That's it.

And after the peace talks between the Palestinians and us will decide where will be permanently the border between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Now we needs to build it just for defending our citizens.

BLITZER: So you believe this wall or this fence will provide added security for the Israeli population?

KATSAV: Much more, much more, comparing to the past. I believe that this wall could reduce dramatically the possibility from the Palestinian terrorist organization to attacks us.

BLITZER: We spoke yesterday with a Palestinian father, a dress shop owner in Ramallah, who -- middle-class, peace-loving. He said that is 6-year-old son had eyewitnessed an exchange, an angry exchange with some soldiers. The son is shaken by this. The next day, he saw his little 6-year-old son with his cousin playing, and he was stunned because they were playing suicide bomber. And he said the kind of despair that the Palestinians feel has created this horrible issue, this horrible instrument of suicide bombers.

What do you say to a father like this?

KATSAV: He has no -- any reason -- there is not any justification for this feeling. After all, I believe that during the last 10 years, the Palestinian people have made dramatic changes. They achieved historical achievements. First time in their whole history that 97 percent of the Palestinian people under jurisdiction of Palestinian Authority. It's the first time in the whole history. It is the first time that they reached to historical achievement in many fields -- economic, social, international, national, political.

The seven years between Oslo agreement and the starting of the intifada, between September 1993 and September 2000, you can ask any Palestinian citizen if this seven years was the best period in their whole history. And it was not the end of their achievement. But they decided to start with this terrible, brutal bloodshed.

But even now, we have not (ph) any intention to accelerate (ph) our relation with the Palestinian people. I don't look upon the Palestinian people as our enemies. We must stop this bloodshed. We must stop the terrorism. Then we can renew the peace talks. And then Palestinian people could reach even to highest -- higher achievement in their whole history if they will back to the table.

BLITZER: As you know though, it's hard to be a Palestinian living under the Israeli military rule, with the military checkpoints. It's hard to go from village to village, from Ramallah to Jerusalem. A lot of people were complaining about that. What can you do in the short term to ease some of those restrictions, to give them some confidence that there can be light at the end of the tunnel?

KATSAV: I can understand that it's very difficult to live under such a circumstances. But it's much more difficult to live when the Palestinian terrorists continue to shed our bloods. But in spite of that, we are ready to ease our steps toward the Palestinian people.

After all, because of the summit in Aqaba, we started to withdraw from some regions. We release more than 100 Palestinian prisoners. We give permission to several thousand Palestinian workers to come to work here and it is not the end.

If they will stop the terrorism, I believe that their life will be much easier. Their economic situation will be improved. Their poverty will be stopped and will be improved.

So after all, the name of the game is a continuity of terrorism. If they will stop it, it will be dramatic changes. If they will not stop it, unfortunately will be escalation in our relation with them.

BLITZER: Do you have confidence in the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas?

KATSAV: I trust him. I have not a confidence. I trust him when he announced that they should stop the terrorism and bloodshed. I trust him when he announce that the continuity of the bloodshed is a terrible, is a disaster for the Palestinian people and they must stop it.

I have no confidence because I have not information how much Mr. Abu Mazen, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, has determination to implement his announcement. How much he strong to do as much as possible to stop the continuity of bloodshed.

If he will express his responsibility, his leadership, his determination to fight against the terrorism, then I can say that we can move on. Otherwise, it could be very difficult.

BLITZER: But you haven't seen that determination yet?

KATSAV: He has not done anything up to now. He has not done anything up to now, even small move to stop the violence. OK, I can understand that he need time, but he should start with it, and he has not done it yet.

BLITZER: And if Israel withdraws from certain areas, like northern Gaza, do you believe he will be able, with his security apparatus, to take responsibility and prevent military action?

KATSAV: He has the ability. The Palestinian Authority, they have more than 40,000 soldiers, policemen. It's very strong instrument for stopping the terrorism.

If they have the determination, they can do it. They can do it in Gaza Strip, and later they can do it at the West Bank. The name of the game is determination. If they have it or not.

BLITZER: As you know, there have been some who have suggested that a third party, peacekeeping force, should come in, whether NATO, U.S., U.N., and provide a buffer between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The Palestinians say, bring them in, it's a good idea. Israel says, it's a bad idea. Why is it such a bad idea?

KATSAV: Because we have very bad experience with such a system. At the north (ph), in Hebron. And I don't think that such a unit could stop from the Palestinian terrorist organization to attack the Israelis.

So we must stop the terrorism. We must separate between terrorism and political issues. And I don't think that such a unit from international forces would stop from the Palestinian terrorist organization to attack the Israelis.

Now we need really strong and effective tools to stop the terrorism, and this is not such a group.

BLITZER: And you don't think NATO, with U.S. troops, could get the job done?

KATSAV: I don't think that they will have the ability. I believe that the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian leadership, they are more powerful and they are much more effective comparing to the NATO or American groups.

BLITZER: So you basically say no to third-party troops?

KATSAV: It's still under discussion. You ask my personal views, and it's my approach.

BLITZER: When you look down the road right now, when do you see an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

KATSAV: I believe that the end of this conflict could be very soon.

BLITZER: You think the road map that calls for a Palestinian state in 2005 will be achieved?

KATSAV: It depends. We have pure intention and serious intention to implement the elements of the road map.

But, after all, the general atmosphere, the continuity of the terrorism could give us the answer to your question. If they will stop the terrorism, the implementation of the road map will be very soon. If they will not stop the terrorism, then unfortunately there will be escalation and the road map will not be effective.

BLITZER: President Katsav, thanks for spending some time with us.

KATSAV: Thank you very much.

(END VIDETOAPE)

BLITZER: Up next, life under Israel's military occupation. We'll get perspective on life for Palestinians in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

For Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, so much of their life, of course, is shaped by the Israeli military occupation of those territories. This past week, while I was in the region, I learned firsthand of their hopes and fears.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER (voice-over): Qusay Abul Khumos (ph), a middle-class dress-shop owner in Ramallah, says he yearns only for a normal life for his family. But after one especially unpleasant recent confrontation with Israeli soldiers, he saw a shocking change in his 6-year-old son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw in his eyes that he is suffering, you know. Some -- I don't know what kind of looking it was.

Next day, next day, I saw my son playing in his room with his cousin, you know. And what did they play? They played the game of suicide bombers, you know. Even though we are not a -- we are not extremists, I mean, my family. I try to raise him as a peaceful man. But look what they do to him.

BLITZER: Other Palestinians tell similar accounts of despair. They blame the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank that goes back to the 1967 war.

There are Israeli military checkpoints around Ramallah, as is the case, indeed, throughout the West Bank. The Israelis cite security concerns, noting that Palestinian suicide bombers usually have crossed into Jerusalem and other Israeli cities from the West Bank.

But Palestinians, including Dr. George Umcia (ph), a pediatrician, don't accept that explanation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no security points and checkpoints here. These points are humiliation and insulting for the Palestinian population.

BLITZER: He lives in Ramallah but works at a hospital in Jerusalem. That commute usually winds up taking 90 minutes or longer each way. Under normal circumstances, that drive would take only about 15 or 20 minutes.

Kais Bakri (ph), a Palestinian businessman, sees a much more sinister Israeli motive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole aim of creating a checkpoint is to make you want to leave this country.

BLITZER: This is the Kalandia (ph) checkpoint just outside of Ramallah. It is normally a very busy place; a lot of people want to go back and forward between Ramallah and Jerusalem. If you want to get into Ramallah, you want to leave Ramallah, you have got to, by and large, go through this Kalandia (ph) checkpoint.

It is open today. People are going through. They're checked. The security is rather tight, but by and large, people are moving.

Almost at a moment's notice, they can close off this checkpoint. They seal off the West Bank from Jerusalem -- people won't get in, people won't get out -- if there is a security problem. That's a fact of life here in the Middle East.

Once inside Ramallah, you see a bustling and diverse Palestinian community. The traditional mixing with the modern, both Muslims and Christians.

Sonja Jettan (ph) is a lawyer in Ramallah who says she has become physically and emotionally drained by the Israeli military occupation, though she insists it's also, in some inexplicable way, making the Palestinians stronger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel tired of the suffering, but I feel -- I know that in the end this will have to end up in something good for us. I believe that we can't suffer all this and we won't gain anything out of it.

BLITZER: The question for Palestinians and Israelis alike: Just when does that happen?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And still to come, we'll talk with three experts on the region. We'll also reveal the results of our LATE EDITION Web question of the week: Do you think Saddam Hussein is alive? There is still time to cast your vote. Go to our Web address at cnn.com/lateedition.

That's all coming up just ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I know there's a lot of revisionist history now going on. But one thing is certain: He is no longer a threat to the free world, and the people of Iraq are free.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: President Bush defending his decision to wage war against Iraq. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now to talk about the terror threat, security concerns in Iraq, the overall situation in the Middle East and, indeed, around the region are three special guests. Here in Washington, the former U.S. defense secretary, William Cohen. He's now the CEO of the Cohen group. Fouad Makhzoumi, he's one of Lebanon's leading businessmen and philanthropists. And in Chicago, Osama El-Baz, he's the national security adviser and presidential adviser for Egypt.

Gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION.

Osama El-Baz, let me begin with you. Your representatives, Egyptian officials, tried in Gaza in recent days to broker some sort of cease-fire with Hamas but failed. What was the problem?

OSAMA EL-BAZ, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: No, it did not fail. They asked for certain guarantees that if they deliver, if they comply, Israel will have to refrain from certain acts.

And Abu Mazen is doing that, and I talked to him the day before yesterday. He sounded very confident that he'll be able to deliver that, what is needed. So most likely they will reach agreement on that.

BLITZER: So when do you -- Abu Mazen being Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority's prime minister. When do you believe, Osama El-Baz, that there will be a cease-fire, a truce involving Hamas?

EL-BAZ: I believe that this can begin between a week and 10 days.

BLITZER: A week to 10 days from now. Let me get the assessment of Fouad Makhzoumi.

Does that sound realistic given the attitude of Hamas, which is, of course, to oppose any Israel within any borders?

FOUAD MAKHZOUMI, LEBANESE BUSINESSMAN: I think the attempt of President Bush to try to put the whole context into a regional context, I think this will work. And I think with this vision I think, yes, we can bring them to the table.

BLITZER: So you're upbeat that there can be a cease-fire, as well.

Secretary Cohen, I was just there. I have to tell you, optimism is not very evident among the Palestinians or the Israelis. Do you think there can some sort of agreement brokered right now?

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think agreement can be brokered, but there have to be some conditions. I am a little more skeptical that between now and the next 10 days that we won't see more violence in response to the killing of the Hamas leader. I'm sure that there'll be some kind of a military reaction on the part of Hamas, which will then, in turn, produce more crackdown by the Israelis.

But I think several things have to take place. Number one, we have to insist that the Hamas attacks stop. But number two, we ought to insist that the Israelis also commit to not building more settlements. And according to the AP wire today, Ariel Sharon has indicated privately that Israel should continue to expand some of those settlements. That will not be helpful to the process.

So I think it can be done, but we have to have a commitment on both sides.

BLITZER: Based on what you know, Osama El-Baz, what kind of assurances are the Israelis offering in order to achieve some sort of truce?

EL-BAZ: The Israelis are not offering much, but they say that they are willing to comply with the requirements of the road map. However, when they are pinned down on details, they seem to be evasive.

But there are certain conditions they should meet, as well, as Senator, as former Secretary Cohen has said eloquently. I believe that they should stop the incursions, the closures, they should lift the roadblocks from one place to the other, between cities and villages and between everyone within the same -- and then they should stop the targeted killings, so-called extrajudicial killings or murders, and this kind of thing, because the Palestinians cannot abandon all kinds of resistance while the Israelis are doing that.

BLITZER: All right. Fouad Makhzoumi, I want to play for you what Secretary of State Powell said in Jerusalem right after his talks with Prime Minister Sharon on Friday. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The enemy of peace has been Hamas, especially over the last two weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is it your sense that Hamas is more popular among Palestinians in Gaza, and perhaps even the West Bank, than the Palestinian Authority of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is?

MAKHZOUMI: Desperation definitely push people like Hamas, you know, to really become popular among the Palestinians. And if the question is they're trying to identify who is the enemy of peace, I think there is much is much more than Hamas. You know, there are bigger groups that are against the peace.

Because if we will take you back to the August 2000, when there was an attempt to try to really broker peace, there was no real endorsement by the Arab community for, at that time, Yasser Arafat in order to sign peace.

So in a way, if we're trying to look for the enemies, there are so many. But I think we need to move on and try to really expand the base of the people that would like to come to an agreement, rather than to start identifying who would like to undermine the peace process.

BLITZER: Secretary Cohen, Secretary Powell was there this past week. In the coming days, Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, is heading out to meet with the Israelis and the Palestinians.

I have to tell you, when I met with Israelis and Palestinians, they were suggesting to me they were much more interested in Condoleezza Rice's visit than in Secretary Powell's visit. Their assumption was that she speaks more for the president than Secretary Powell does. At least that's their impression.

COHEN: Well, I hope it's not the right impression, because the secretary of state is the principal spokesman on behalf of the president of the United States for our foreign policy.

To the extent that other countries do not recognize that, that simply serves to undercut Secretary Powell's efforts, which I think have been quite enormous in many, many respects.

So, I would hope that we would keep the focus on Secretary Powell. Condoleezza Rice obviously has a very important role to play. But as the secretary of state, he should be the spokesman on behalf of the president.

BLITZER: Osama El-Baz, I want you to listen to what King Abdullah of Jordan said earlier today about his assessment, what's going on in this peace process, the road map. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING ABDULLAH II OF JORDAN: I'm still very optimistic. And I think I alluded to in Aqaba that we had to expect the extremism to do this. And as we get closer to implementing the road map, as we get closer to solving the problems between Israelis and Palestinians, so will extremists try to raise the body count on both sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Here's the question a lot of U.S. officials, members of Congress, are asking, Osama El-Baz. As far as Jordan and Egypt are concerned, both countries which have formal diplomatic relations, peace treaties with Israel, what unique things can you do, can your government of Egypt do, to help this peace process, in addition to simply saying the right things, uttering the right words?

EL-BAZ: Sure, what we do is the following: We are talking to all the Palestinian factions. We're helping them -- we're helping the Palestinian Authority and the new prime minister. Convince them -- we're giving them -- we're trying to allay their fears. And we're trying -- we're talking to the Israelis, as well.

And then we are willing to help the Palestinian Authority train some new recruits for the security apparatus, because most of it has been destroyed in the past few months.

And we're willing to help in every possible manner. And I believe that the Jordanians are willing to do the same things, because both countries get affected by the state of instability, chaos, spread of violence and so on, because it has a spillover impact on all of us.

BLITZER: Osama El-Baz, would you be willing to send Egyptian soldiers into the area to separate the Israelis and the Palestinians?

EL-BAZ: That depends on the context. If there is a certain group or if there is a certain Israeli commitment to accept force that will be composed of several countries and so on, there is no reason why we shouldn't consider that.

But to send Egyptian soldiers alone, police officers alone, and then the Israelis might target them, and they say that the Egyptians are siding with the Palestinians, and so on.

We know that the U.S. has dispatched Mr. John Wolf over there, but he himself told the new prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, that his role is confined to monitoring the situation without passing any judgment, without giving his own assessment of who started what and how this can be stopped.

And I believe that here, it needs some adjustment for that role, and you need a group of people, experts composed of different countries, some Arab countries, some European countries, the U.S. -- not a big force, but a force that will carry the weight of a variety of countries that are interested to share in and to bear in the responsibility.

BLITZER: All right. Hold that thought, Osama El-Baz.

Fouad Makhzoumi, you're a Lebanese, a businessman, very prominent in Lebanon. What, if anything, can Lebanon, and Syria for that matter, do? Because it doesn't look like the Syrian government of President Al-Asad is really committed, ready, right now, to enter into direct peace negotiations with Israel, like the Palestinians are.

MAKHZOUMI: I think we need to be a little careful how we word that. Generally when all the Arabs went to Madrid, there was a genuine commitment to go to, you know, to really reach an equitable peace in the region.

The latest position before the war against Iraq and the Syrian position and the Lebanese position as taken by the governments, I think that has been really pushing them both out of the road map at the time being.

I believe what President Bush did in Sharm el-Sheikh, whereby he went and tried to get an endorsement by the Arab leaders, and in particular the Islamic countries, to endorse his move to try to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict within a regional context, I think if we can expand that and bring the Syrians and Lebanese into that, my feeling, yes, they are committed to do that. And this way, we can diffuse any possible tension that might come up at the Lebanese border, Lebanese-Syrian border, the Lebanese- Israeli border, which hasn't been the case since the year 2000.

But my belief, no, there will be a commitment by both, but we have to bring them in. And this is where I think, I hope, that will be the position of the administration.

BLITZER: Let me wrap up with you, Secretary Cohen, and give you the last word on this important subject, especially for U.S. viewers. The introduction of U.S. troops into the West Bank and Gaza, perhaps NATO forces involving U.S. personnel, a lot of talk about that.

Is it premature? Is it a good idea, bad idea?

COHEN: I think it would be a serious mistake at this point, until such time as you have a real, genuine cease-fire, until you see evidence that both sides are willing to commit to this road map, then it would be a mistake to put either NATO troops or American lives on the line in that region.

Once there is a cease-fire, then I think you can talk about what kind of composition would be acceptable to maintain peace and stability. But they can't be peacekeepers, unless the peace is actually made.

BLITZER: As evidenced by the fact there are still several hundred U.S. soldiers in Sinai, even though that border between Israel and Egypt has been quiet over these years.

COHEN: Right. I would strongly advocate that we not think about that at this point.

BLITZER: All right, Secretary Cohen, thanks very much.

Fouad Makhzoumi, thank you. Welcome to Washington.

Thank you very much, Osama el-Baz. Always good to speak with you, as well...

EL-BAZ: Thank you.

BLITZER: ... joining us from Chicago.

Coming up, you can cast your vote on our LATE EDITION Web question of the day. Do you think Saddam Hussein is alive? Go to our website, cnn.com/lateedition. We'll tell you the results later this hour.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Our LATE EDITION Web question of the week: Do you think Saddam Hussein is alive? Here's how you're weighing in. Look at this. Ninety percent of you believe he is alive. Ten percent say he is not alive. Remember, this is not a scientific poll.

You can continue to vote if you want. Go to our webpage, cnn.com/lateedition. While you're there, let me hear from you. I'd love to get your comments. We'll read some of them on the air each week.

Up next, we'll go to CNN headquarters in Atlanta for a quick check of the hour's top stories. Then, a woman that says she was the victim of affirmative action awaits a Supreme Court ruling, an historic ruling that could come as early as tomorrow morning.

We'll debate the University of Michigan case with the Democratic presidential candidate, Al Sharpton, and the conservative activist, Ward Connerly.

Plus, Bruce Morton on the commander in chief ready to run for a second term.

That, much more. LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: It's time to say goodbye to our international viewers. Thanks very much for watching.

Coming up for our North American audience, face-off on affirmative action. The Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton and the conservative activist Ward Connerly debate over the Supreme Court. It's getting ready to hand down a potentially historic decision.

Then, is President Bush beatable in 2004? President Bush, up for reelection. Bruce Morton weighs in on facing a formidable -- what it's like to face a formidable incumbent.

LATE EDITION will continue right at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We'll get to the issue of affirmative action on the eve, potentially, of an historic decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. That's coming up.

First, let's check some important developments unfolding right now. The secretary of state, Colin Powell, is in Jordan today for the World Economic Forum. He is spending much of his time there talking to other leaders about the Bush administration's so-called road map for peace in the Middle East.

Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, is joining us now live from the White House with details -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Bush administration insists that it is Hamas that's the obstacle to peace, but really the frustration now is with Israel. That is because Bush administration officials believe that Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is really on the verge of winning a cease-fire agreement with Hamas, but they believe that Israel's policy of targeting and assassinating Hamas leaders is really getting in the way of this process.

It was just a little less than two weeks ago that Israel tried to assassinate Hamas' Rantissi. The White House quickly condemning that action. And then on Saturday, Israel successfully killed Hamas' Qawasmeh.

Now, Israel -- Israeli officials have defended their actions, saying they only go after what they call these "ticking bombs," those who are actively planning attacks against Israelis, and today Secretary Powell with the members of the so-called quartet not taking the time necessarily to make that distinction, really underscoring the frustration of this administration that there are road blocks to peace coming from both sides.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: I regret that once again we had an incident that could be an impediment to progress. As I have said previously in my conversations with the Israeli side, we can understand the situation of, quote, "ticking bomb" when there is an immediate threat that has to be dealt with. But anything that's sort of out of that immediate definition has to be looked at in light of the consequences it will have to our ability to move forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Again, Wolf, both sides really pushing both sides to move forward, to take a very close look at their own policies. Now the pressure on Israel and looking at that policy of targeting and assassinating some of those Hamas leaders. There is a certain sense of optimism here that, yes, they're on the verge of a possible agreement, this cease-fire agreement, but at the same time they would like Israel to pull back -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House. Thanks, Suzanne, very much.

Let's go to Iraq right now, where another U.S. soldier was killed when his convoy came under attack just south of Baghdad. Yet another soldier was also wounded. Let's get the details now. CNN's Jason Bellini joining us live from Baghdad -- Jason.

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the grenade attack happened this afternoon in broad daylight in a town of Khan Azad, 12 miles south of Baghdad. One U.S. soldier was killed when he was rushed to a military hospital, another was injured in this grenade attack on his Humvee vehicle.

Also today in Iraq there was, along a similar theme, an oil pipeline came under attack. It was an act of sabotage, according to the Iraqi Oil Industry, causing a large explosion. One person nearby described it looking like a bolt of lightning. This, according to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, was a very important oil pipeline linking north and south in Iraq.

But that did not stop today a pre-planned event. That was the first shipment of Iraqi oil being loaded onto a ship to be sold abroad. This is, again, very important step forward, according to the coalition as they're trying to help Iraq rejuvenate their economy after 12 years of sanctions. Before this war, Iraq exported two million barrels of oil a day. This shipment is one million barrels.

This oil shipment came from oil that was already in reserve in Turkey. They're still waiting to open the pipeline to Turkey so they can bring more oil up there. That oil pipeline, as well, had been sabotaged earlier this month -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jason Bellini, in Baghdad. Jason, thanks very much.

Let's go over to the Pentagon right now, where our correspondent Chris Plante is standing by. Chris, I take it the U.S. military is taking some offensive actions of its own today?

CHRIS PLANTE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. The attack that is on the top of the docket today is an attack that took place on Wednesday near the Syrian border. U.S. special operation forces with Task Force 20 went after a convoy near the border there with Hellfire missiles, killing apparently everyone in the convoy.

There had been some earlier reporting that perhaps Saddam Hussein or possibly a couple of his sons were there in that convoy, and the DNA testing was conducted on the remains.

I'm told, however, by U.S. officials that was not the case. They do not believe that any big-wigs were involved in this attack. They believe it was a successful attack, these people were associated with the former regime of Saddam Hussein. But at this point saying that it was not Saddam or his sons who were the target of this attack -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Chris, thanks very much. Chris Plante over at the Pentagon.

Let's get some analysis now, what all of this means. For that, we turn once again to Pat Lang, formerly with the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency.

Pat, thanks very much.

Is it emerging as a guerrilla -- organized, guerrilla, counterinsurgency effort against the U.S. military in Iraq?

PAT LANG, FORMER ANALYST, PENTAGON'S DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: Yes, I think you have to take a realistic view of this. You know, there are enough incidents now, and they're concentrated in enough places, and the tempo seems to be such, and the increasing sophistication of targeting like against this pipeline, that as an old special forces guy, I think I would have to believe that this is some sort of campaign.

I heard Senator Lugar, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, say today that he thought we were in a nation- building effort for five years and it would take a lot of troops. And I think that's true. People just ought accept the fact that this is going to go on for a while.

BLITZER: And that U.S. soldiers and Marines are keep on dying one a day or so?

LANG: Yes, unfortunately, that's what happens in war, you know. This is a really bad thing. And I, least of all me, I'm not happy about this in the least. But I think it's just the price of war. And if we're going to try to make something out of Iraq, we're going to have to persist in this. And there are going to be casualties.

BLITZER: Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi leader, who was the opposition leader, he keeps saying that Saddam Hussein is not only alive, but he's in charge. He's organizing these sniper attacks, these rocket- propelled grenade attacks against U.S. troops. Is he right?

LANG: Well, I think the basic motivating force for Sunni Arab resistance is the fact that they were charge for 1,300 years, not 20 years as some people say. And they feel very threatened by our efforts to democratize the country widely.

So I think while it's quite possible that Saddam and his henchmen are seeking to organize that feeling, I think the feeling is there, nevertheless, and would be there even if he was gone.

BLITZER: Your assessment that Saddam Hussein, I assume you believe, is definitely alive?

LANG: Yes, I think he's probably alive. I don't see any reason to believe at this point that he's not alive.

BLITZER: They're looking for DNA in the rubble of those two targeted killings or whatever they want to call them, the massive bomb attacks. So far no evidence he's dead.

LANG: No, I don't think -- I haven't seen any so far. And there no alternative to seeking to hunt him down, using all of the signals, intelligence and human intelligence you can, special forces raids.

And it's likely in the end, they will get him, and whether or not that will stop the resistance, is another matter.

BLITZER: You spent your career in the Defense Department studying intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency. You go back to the first Gulf War.

Did the Bush administration exaggerate the evidence it had to insist that Iraq was an imminent danger to the U.S. because of its weapons of mass destruction, specifically the capability potentially to build a nuclear weapon? LANG: Well, there is no doubt they had the potential to build a nuclear weapon at the time of the first Gulf War. And there is no doubt they had and had used chemical weapons.

I think the intelligence community delivered carefully qualified judgments about the situation last year. And that in the case of making their course for their policy, these qualification were not always included in what was said.

And as a matter of fact, I heard a senior adviser to the administration say that very thing on television a few weeks ago. Said it was their right to do that. I don't dispute that, but now it's their responsibility.

BLITZER: All right, Pat Lang. Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it very much.

LANG: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, we'll take a look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines.

First, affirmative action, is it a policy of the past? The Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton and the conservative activist Ward Connerly, they'll square off on the University of Michigan case. That's an historic case coming up. We could have a Supreme Court decision on that tomorrow morning. They'll also be taking your phone calls.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

This week the Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision in the University of Michigan Law School affirmative action case. The decision could come, indeed, as early as 10:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow morning.

The plaintiff, Jennifer Gratz, says the school's admissions policy discriminated against her because she was white.

Joining us now to debate the case are two special guests. In Chicago, where he is attending the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition Summit, is the Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton. And in New York, Ward Connerly. He's chairman of the American Civil Rights Coalition.

Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION. We had you on a few months ago to debate this issue, but there's a lot going on.

An enormous amount at stake with the Supreme Court decision tomorrow morning. By all accounts, Reverend Sharpton, it looks like a 4-4 split within the Supreme Court, with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor being the decisive swing justice on this issue. What do you think she and the 5-4 majority that we're bracing for will come up with?

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I don't think anyone knows. I hope that she will stand and say that we can still have goals and targets for diversity in higher-education institutions in this country. I think without that, we're going to see a serious drop in the inclusion of groups that have been historically excluded.

So, I hope she would stand up, what, in my judgment, is best for America, and that is to make sure we do not have legal impediments in the way of universities assuring and guaranteeing diversity on campus.

BLITZER: What is wrong with that assessment, Ward Connerly?

WARD CONNERLY, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS COALITION: Well, obviously, we don't know what she or the others are going to say. But I certainly hope the court rules that we are a nation of laws, and we're all entitled and guaranteed equal protection of the laws.

Treating people differently because of race is wrong. It's morally wrong. It's constitutionally wrong.

So I hope the court realizes that it's time to move forward. It's not keep to wallowing in the past about 40 years ago. We have made enormous progress. And I hope the court sees the clarity on how these policies are counterproductive and moves us forward with regard to race.

BLITZER: There are actually two cases, Reverend Sharpton, that are before the Supreme Court tomorrow, an undergraduate issue involving the University of Michigan as well as the law school at the University of Michigan. Let's deal with the undergraduate issue at the University of Michigan.

Right now, if you're an African-American, you automatically -- and I'll put these numbers up on the screen -- you automatically get 20 points to help you get to that 150-point system required for admission. You get 10 points if you're a Michigan resident. You get four points if you're a legacy -- in other words, if you're a child of parents or a child of stepparents who had graduated from the university. Three points if you write an outstanding essay.

Why should an African-American applicant automatically get 20 points to give that applicant an advantage over other students to get admitted?

SHARPTON: Well, Wolf, I think the first thing you must understand: Why did the university set these points up in the first place? They set them up to assure that their campus would be diversified because they didn't have diversity.

What the plaintiffs are asking is that these universities not be allowed to have goals and timetables and targets for diversification. They're saying that it would, therefore, be against the law for a campus to say that we want to consider race as we consider other things.

We have a president of the United States that got points because he was from a certain region of the country. People can say whatever they want. A university should have the right to say, given the makeup of our student body, we should have the right to set targets that we want to assure diversity.

And what the court is being asked to do is to tell universities, "You cannot even consider that." And I think that is un-American, and I think that is certainly not in the best interest of students in this country.

BLITZER: All right, let me let Ward Connerly respond. Go ahead.

CONNERLY: With all due respect to Reverend Sharpton, that's a bunch of baloney. These policies were set up 40 years ago, when America was 87 percent white and 10 percent black, and black people were clearly oppressed.

And every American university now has been trying to right that wrong, bending over backwards, providing policies, legal and illegal, to bring black people in.

And now America is no longer black and white. We're a Technicolor nation, and these policies have outlived their time. They discriminate against people. No one can defend getting somebody 20 points on the basis of their skin color. It's unconstitutional.

SHARPTON: Well, first of all, in all due respect, Mr. Connerly, that is like acting like racism is dead.

And also, what is interesting to me, no one is objecting to people getting points for other things. No one is saying you shouldn't get points if you are a member of a family that went there or if you did a good essay. It seems that we want to only take away points for the consideration of race. There are 80 other points.

Are you objecting to a point system, or are you objecting us to finishing the racial gap in higher education?

CONNERLY: Yes, you're right, there is racism. When the college gives points on the basis of race, yes, sir, there is racism. That is blatant racism.

SHARPTON: Well, suppose on the -- but what about on the basis of...

CONNERLY: But let me go. Let me go on.

SHARPTON: ... family?

CONNERLY: No, I think those are wrong. I think that legacy admits are wrong. They're morally wrong, and public institutions should not be engaged in giving points on the basis of who your granddaddy is. But we have a Constitution that you fought over the years, and I give you credit for it, to give black people legal equality. Declare victory and let's move on and live by the creed that we have put into place.

SHARPTON: I think we can declare victory when we look and see that the universities and that higher-education institutions reflect the very numbers you gave. Those numbers are not reflected in higher education, which is why you need universities that have the legal right so that these campuses look like the America you say. Then we can declare victory.

BLITZER: All right. Let me interrupt and read to you, Ward Connerly, from the Bakke case, the 1978 case. That was the last time the Supreme Court dealt with this issue of affirmative action, rejecting formal quotas.

But the justices did go on to say this, "The state has a substantial interest that legitimately may be served by a properly devised admissions program involving the competitive consideration of race and ethnic origin."

Obviously, they believed, the justices at that time, that universities should do whatever they can to make sure that there is a diverse population on campus.

CONNERLY: And I think that American universities have driven a Mack truck through that little opening. It's like saying you're a little bit pregnant. If you are going to use race -- to empower universities to use race just a little bit as one of many factors, it's disingenuous. Either you use race or you don't.

And in this nation, I think that the '64 Civil Rights Act says that everybody will be treated equally without regard to race. What the University of Michigan is doing is clearly violating the '64 Civil Rights Act and, I believe, the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

SHARPTON: No, what they are doing is they are saying that we have the legal right to make sure that there is equal opportunity. And that the '64 Act not be something that is written but, in fact, enacted and actually used. And I think that is important.

CONNERLY: Oh, jeez, come on.

SHARPTON: That's why universities are defending this.

CONNERLY: The legal right to discriminate. The legal right to discriminate.

SHARPTON: That's not discrimination. That's the legal right to consider the history of discrimination. What you don't want is them to have the right to even consider it.

BLITZER: Reverend Sharpton?

CONNERLY: You're right.

BLITZER: Reverend Sharpton, I want to point out that the plaintiff in this case before the Supreme Court, Jennifer Gratz, she was denied admission into the law school, she says, because she was white, even though her law boards, her grades were higher than the African-Americans who were admitted.

I want you to listen to what she told us here at CNN in March.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER GRATZ, PLAINTIFF: I think definitely I am not a racist. I am standing up for the exact opposite of racism. I think that people should be treated equally and people shouldn't be treated differently based on skin color. And I think to call me a racist for standing up for that is kind of crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you say, Reverend Sharpton, to the white students who may have higher SATs, or LSATs, who have higher grades, write a better essay, have better experiences but don't get accepted because, let's say, less qualified, at least academically less qualified, African-Americans, other minorities get their slot?

SHARPTON: First of all, I don't call her a racist. And I don't think anyone would call someone a racist they don't know their personal make-up. I think what I would say to them -- I went just last week with my own daughter, who is looking to go to college in a year. She's looking at various schools. They said that we have 300 slots we have to fill.

A university has the right to decide how they are going to fill them. There may be some with very good averages, very good SATs that don't make the 300. That does not mean that they have the right to say, "I ought to be accepted because of my scores." They have to accept the standards of a university.

What this Supreme Court decision is based on is they are saying that a university cannot accept the consideration of diversity and the need to have the diversity. I think that undermines America.

BLITZER: Ward Connerly, I've spoken in recent weeks with admissions officers at major university law schools, medical schools, some of the best in the country. Their great fear, if the Supreme Court tomorrow or this week should rule that these affirmative action programs are unconstitutional, they will be hard pressed to find enough black candidates to meet the slots in the universities if they can't use race as a factor.

Would it be acceptable to you if all the -- or at least most of the African-American doctors or lawyers went to schools like Howard University, predominantly black universities, as opposed to Harvard?

CONNERLY: Well, I am not uncomfortable with the fact that in a meritocracy the outcome ends up being something other than what I might like. We have a nation of laws and black people have every opportunity -- and this is not just a black problem, by the way. America is faced with a problem of race and ethnicity. And we're giving these benefits to recent immigrants over American citizens.

I don't have a problem with the outcome, as long as the competition is fair. But to say that we're going to somehow give American universities the exclusive right to discriminate, Reverend Sharpton wouldn't have said to George Wallace, "I respect your right to discriminate." He wouldn't say that to Lester Maddox. So why are we now giving these American colleges the right to discriminate?

Racial discrimination is wrong. And we need to accept that fact and not apply different standards on the basis of that.

BLITZER: All right. I'll give...

SHARPTON: Are we trying to say...

BLITZER: ... Reverend Sharpton the last -- this is the last...

SHARPTON: Are we...

BLITZER: Reverend Sharpton, you have the last word.

SHARPTON: Thank you. Are we trying to say that George Wallace and Lester Maddox was trying to achieve diversity? They were trying to achieve supremacy and an exclusionary policy.

CONNERLY: They were discriminating.

SHARPTON: These universities are not saying, "We're going to have an all-black or an all-woman or an all-Latino." They are saying, we must make sure we don't have all one way. And the way to do that, we must have the right to consider...

CONNERLY: George Orwell has returned in the body of Al Sharpton.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: ... that is not what George Wallace did. That was not what Lester Maddox did.

No, who has returned is George Washington, and so we must have one nation...

CONNERLY: Oh, come on, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: ... that is under God that wants opportunity for everyone.

CONNERLY: Indivisible.

SHARPTON: And we've got to guarantee that opportunity...

CONNERLY: Indivisible. A nation indivisible.

SHARPTON: ... by having goals that people can achieve.

BLITZER: All right.

SHARPTON: And I think...

CONNERLY: Come on, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: ... that that's what I hope we do tomorrow.

CONNERLY: You're wrong, sir.

BLITZER: I think both of you will agree that the decision that the Supreme Court probably is going to come out with tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern, could be very, very historic for future race relations here.

CONNERLY: On that we agree.

SHARPTON: I hope it's not hysterics. I hope it's not hysterical.

BLITZER: I hope it's not -- well, all of us hope it's not hysterical. Let's hope it's the right decision, of course.

Thanks to both of you, Reverend Al Sharpton, Ward Connerly.

CONNERLY: OK. Take care, Reverend Al.

BLITZER: A good, solid debate previewing the issues at stake tomorrow.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, we'll tell you what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. Plus, life goes on in the Middle East amid constant conflict.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. Let's take a quick look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines.

Time magazine asks, "Should Christians convert Muslims? The growing number of evangelicals trying to spread Christianity in Muslim countries."

Newsweek magazine looks at the trend of dwindling sex between two-career married couples.

And U.S. News and World Report features, "Builders of dreams, the people and inventions that changed our world."

Many Israelis seem determined not to let suicide bombings keep them from enjoying their life. I came across a cafe in Jerusalem that personifies that issue that life goes on.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER (voice-over): This is what the Cafe Moment looked like just a little more than a year ago. It was March 9th, 2002, when a Palestinian suicide bomber walked into the packed Jerusalem night spot and detonated the explosive belt he was wearing, killing 11 people and injuring 54 others. The crowded cafe, especially popular with young Israelis, was destroyed.

I was here in June, 2002, only three months after the blast. Reconstruction then was already well on the way. And this is the Cafe Moment today. It's been rebuilt, and is clearly back in business, though, by no means, the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To rebuild doesn't mean just to rebuild the foundation. It's to rebuild foundations of humans.

BLITZER: Yoram Cohen (ph) is the owner. He was inside during the bombing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The second of the blast, I flew over the bar from the impact of the bomb, and somehow I got up.

BLITZER: He says he's been getting up every day since.

If you just arrived in Jerusalem, unaware of the history of this city, you'd never know how real the terror threat is. That's because the people who live here are determined not to let the terrorists win. They go on with their lives as normally as they can. That's a determination almost all of them seem to possess.

Rafi Fridge (ph) was at the Cafe Moment the night of the bombing, but had left only five minutes earlier. He makes a point of still coming back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to continue with your life. You cannot let the terror, let the terror win and let the terror change your normal life.

BLITZER: Indeed, strolling or driving around Jerusalem and other Israeli cities underscores that determination to live ordinary lives during extraordinary times.

Despite the numerous bus bombings, most recently on June 11th, people still climb aboard. In part, they say, because they can't afford more expensive forms of transportation.

And they still go to the Cafe Moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the first few months of the bombing, it really was a little bit scary. I think twice of going to something like this, to a place like this. But you get used to everything, and you don't let nothing get you down.

BLITZER: And they still yearn for the ordinary, even as they keep a wary eye for anything out of the ordinary.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to our LATE EDITION Final Round. Joining me: Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist, Peter Beinart of the New Republic, Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online, and Robert George of the New York Post.

We begin with growing concerns about U.S. casualties in Iraq. Fifty-six servicemen have been killed, including one more today.

This morning the chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, Senator George Allen, and the head of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, squared off over whether the U.S. is winning the peace.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN (R-VA), REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: We're in a tough situation. Nevertheless, the people of Iraq are much better off today than they were under the brutal, tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I think it's too early to tell. Obviously, there's an evolving situation in Iraq.

There are many questions that we need answered. Where are the weapons of mass destruction?

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BLITZER: Jonah, is it too early to call Iraq a quagmire?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Well, it wasn't for the New York Times, which called it a quagmire one week into the war.

I think it is too early to call it a quagmire. I think a lot of the talking points you hear from Democrats -- every time I see James Carville on this network, he says that Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam. I think it's a silly talking point.

And I think the reality is, is that everybody agreed, even the pro-war people agreed, that the aftermath was going to be harder than the war itself. And Peter has been talking eloquently about how America will need to have patience and be in it for the long haul. And this is what patience brings you.

PETER BEINART, NEW REPUBLIC: I don't know how eloquent I'll be, but I agree. And I actually think the Bush administration deserves some credit. First of all, they were going to withdraw the troops very quickly, which would have been an absolute disaster. Bremer has stopped that.

They've also got rid of the Baath Party. They've dissolved it, which is very good.

The problem is, that means they really, really want to change the society, which is right, but it's going to take a long time. And we need even more troops than we have. And the only way we're gong to get them, I think in reality, is to get other countries to help us more.

BLITZER: Donna, politically for the Democrats, this is a pretty complicated issue.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: No, it's not. I think Democrats can argue the case that while the planning of the war was well executed, the post-war planning was pretty much like OJT, on-the- job training, where we're trying to find the right people to help us govern.

Peter, this past week, the United States went after other countries to recruit more troops, and they only came up 20,000. Eighty-five countries received there request; only 20 countries responded. So we need to find more troops.

BLITZER: What about it?

ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: And to be fair, I mean, the president, whether you want to look at Iraq as a discrete situation, on May 1st when the president said that the major hostilities had been over, he also outlined the fact that we were still going to be there and we were going to stick it out until the transition to democracy had been made.

But even if you look at it in the broader war on terror, going back to the president's major speech, September 20th of 2001, he said, you know, the United States is going to be engaged in a long, protracted battle. It's going to take a long, long time, in a sense, to end the terror threat.

And so in that sense, it will indeed take a while. It's not a quagmire.

BLITZER: New U.S. intelligence indicates Saddam Hussein is still alive and in Iraq. The deposed leader's former presidential adviser, who was captured in recent days, is telling interrogators he saw Saddam Hussein alive after two attempts to kill him in U.S. bombings.

Robert, do conditions in Iraq make it all that important whether or not Saddam Hussein is alive or dead?

GEORGE: Well, it's important to find out one way or the other, definitely. Because the people who are still the loyalists there are still using the image of Saddam as a rallying point to try and still attack the United States.

Of course, from a political standpoint, while these questions about the weapons of mass destruction are still going on, I think the Bush administration feels pressure that there is no weapons, there is Osama bin Laden of course, and there is no Saddam. So I think getting one of those is very important.

BLITZER: Donna?

BRAZILE: I think the people, the majority of Iraqis, are still haunted by the fact that he may be alive. And therefore, life as perhaps they want it to be, cannot return to any normalcy until they find him.

BLITZER: You can't blame a lot of Iraqis for being nervous. This guy ruled with an iron fist for 30 years or so, and they're nervous he's going to come back and kill them or torture them if they talk.

BEINART: That's right. And only once when we know if he's really out of the picture will we be able to answer the key question, which is, are these attacks coming from Saddam loyalists, in which case we can probably put them down, or are they a sign of a larger anti-American nationalist movement, at least among Sunnis? If it's the later, we're in real trouble.

GOLDBERG: Yes, I think everybody is exactly right. I mean, we know from the Middle Ages on that having your enemy's head on a stick out in front of the village gates has a very good effect on his troops.

But I also say there is the issue of justice. This is one of the worst butchers of the last half of the 20th century. And we should catch him, and we should punish him accordingly.

BLITZER: All right. Let's move on from Iraq to presidential politics. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean appears to have made his way into the top tier of the 2004 Democratic presidential hopefuls.

Today, he talked about why he thinks he's the person who can defeat President Bush.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm the non- Washington candidate. I'm going to run very hard against all the candidates who are inside the Beltway from Washington, because I think they are going to have a hard time convincing the American people that somebody from Washington ought to beat this president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: What do you think?

BEINART: I think Dean's strength is exactly what he said. The Democratic grassroots feel like the party in Washington hasn't been tough enough on Bush. And that's why he has an institutional advantage as an outsider, as a governor.

His problem is that no Democrat is going to have a chance if they don't meet a threshold credibility on national security. And a guy who said he supposed it was a good idea that we had toppled Saddam Hussein has not met that yet.

BLITZER: Some say he's George McGovern -- another George McGovern type of Democratic presidential hopeful.

BRAZILE: Well, I think Howard Dean is Howard Dean, and he announces tomorrow, so we'll see what type of candidate he ultimately becomes.

Look, he's not the first candidate to fire up his troops by firing on people in Washington, D.C. But in order to beat Bush, he must become a statesman. And Peter's right, he must reach those thresholds.

BLITZER: I've heard some White House officials suggest that Howard Dean is the one Democratic presidential candidate who could really get under President Bush's skin.

GOLDBERG: That may be possible, but I think these guys are being awfully nice to Howard Dean. I thought his performance today on Meet the Press was terrible. He revealed himself as a great guy when it comes to throwing bombs and inciting the crowds on the extreme left of the Democratic Party. But when it comes to talking policy and being consistent, he has a lot more to be desired.

And I think Karl Rove will be popping champagne if this guy gets the Democratic nomination.

GEORGE: Yes, I'm not so sure if it's going to be quite that bad. I think, just structurally, I think this is going to be a very close race, regardless of whether it's Kerry, Lieberman or Dean.

Dean, I think, proved that he needs to do a little bit more homework before he goes back on Meet the Press.

But he does have an interesting critique, though, in terms of the fact that the Bush administration can't completely have its way on runaway spending and tax cuts. If he keeps pushing that, I think that -- who knows, maybe there are some conservatives who were horrified at Bush spending that may want to listen to him.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break. We have much more coming up, including this: Former Vice President Al Gore's next job as a media mogul? We'll debate what he's planning to do.

Our Final Round will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. The Bush administration this week banned the use of racial profiling in presidential investigations. But it is still allowing the practice for investigations relating to terrorism and national security.

Donna, is this too much of a loophole?

BRAZILE: Absolutely. But first, let me applaud the Bush administration for at least acknowledging that they made a campaign promise to ban all forms of racial profiling.

And the problem is, there is a loophole. If you drive while black and Hispanic, then a federal cop perhaps will let you go by. But if you walk in an airport with a burqa or a turban, perhaps they could pull you over for national security reasons.

I think it has to be tightened, more teeth, and perhaps the federal legislation on Capitol Hill should be supported by the president.

BLITZER: Jonah?

GOLDBERG: I see it the exact opposite way. I think maybe the loophole isn't big enough.

Look, first of all, it's simply a myth that there has been blanket stereotyping or profiling of Muslims and Arabs in this country. There have been targeted instances, which -- there may have been some excesses, but the idea that there have been rounding up or anything remotely like, say, the Japanese internment, is just simply hot air that comes from places like the ACLU.

And let's face it, you know, I don't love racial profiling, but the fact is that the terrorist threat isn't from Norway, and the idea that you can't test scrutiny for Muslims and Arabs in specific circumstances is absurd to me.

BLITZER: Peter?

BEINART: Well, the question is whether it works or not. I mean, there's no question there's a cost. The cost is, it make Arabs and Muslims feel like second-class citizens.

And, in fact, there has been a very wide net. I mean, people who come in between certain ages, men from a whole range of countries, have to get registered in a way other Americans -- or other immigrants don't.

The question is, does it work? All the empirical studies I've seen suggest it doesn't work; it's better to focus on people's behavior. If you can show me empirical evidence that it works, then that's OK. But if you don't...

GOLDBERG: No one is saying, even these new guidelines are saying that it is a factor independent of and exclusive of all other factors. But it can be used as a factor, and I think that makes sense.

BEINART: Does it actually make it work better if you use it as a factor?

BLITZER: Well, let's let Robert weigh in.

GEORGE: I think, basically, though. But, Peter, as you said, you're focusing on people, I mean, from specific countries. Many of these countries have long been on the U.S. terrorist watch list. So I think it makes sense to focus on those individuals. BLITZER: Former Vice President Al Gore is apparently fed up with what's on television. He is pursuing the creation of a cable network designed to counter what he says is a conservative bias in the news media.

Is Al Gore onto something? Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, go Al. I think he's not only a former journalist but I hope he is the catalyst behind this new move to get more progressive voices on TV that we can believe in.

BLITZER: He spent about week as a journalist, didn't he?

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: He spent a couple of years.

GOLDBERG: I don't know what Al Gore is talking about. I mean, is he talking about CNN? Is he talking about NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, BET, C-SPAN? No, I don't think he is. And no one ever is even claiming that he is.

He's talking about Fox. A network aimed solely to counter one other network is not a great business idea.

BLITZER: Peter?

BEINART: Well, no, I think -- I disagree. I mean, I think Fox is in a separate category from all those places because it is essentially a conservative network. And the question is, can a self- consciously liberal network -- which CNN and ABC and CBS are not, in my opinion -- can it work?

The question is, can you create a liberalism that's populist without being nutty? And that's the problem. Because the liberal populism of the kind of Michael Moore/Ralph Nader variety tends to get too extreme. And can you make it decent, reasonable, and still populist and entertaining? I don't know.

GEORGE: At the beginning and middle of the '90s, a bunch of conservatives tried to create this thing called National Empowerment Television. And there's a reason why you've never heard of it, because it was incredibly boring and banal.

If Gore is trying to create something like that, he is going to have the exact same problem. It's not whether something is going to be, whether something is going to be pushing the news one way or the other. It's going to be, is it interesting? And that's going to be the key.

BLITZER: That's the final word. Thanks to all of you for joining us. We'll do this again next week.

Let's get some assessment now from Bruce Morton. His essay: "I'm never underestimating the resonance of leadership."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yes, it's true that President Bush raised 432 kazillion campaign dollars last week, almost as much as one of his tax cuts. But that's not why he looks so strong these days.

He looks so strong because of something he used to say during his first campaign, often after casually dissing some issue or other.

"And," he would add...

BUSH: I know how to lead.

MORTON: Apparently, he does. Americans were not clamoring for tax cuts when he took office and, in fact, often told pollsters they would rather have, say, health care. But Bush has pushed three tax cuts, mainly aimed at the wealthiest Americans, through Congress.

Americans wanted to hit back at al Qaeda after 9/11, of course, but they were not clamoring for an invasion of Iraq. Still, the president sold that, not to European leaders, but to Congress and American voters, many of whom now believe Iraq's Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, for which there is no evidence.

How Mr. Bush does this is harder to figure. He's not a great speaker.

BUSH: Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- we can't get fooled again.

MORTON: He doesn't get applause lines the way Ronald Reagan did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: He's not commanding in style like, say, Franklin Roosevelt.

But whatever he does, or has, it works. Eighty percent of the people in an April CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll identified Mr. Bush as a strong leader.

His highest score on a series of questions about character. Majority thought he cared about people like them, was honest and so forth, but his highest mark was for that strong leadership.

And that may be particularly important because 77 percent of the people in a June CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll thought that U.S. troops would be sent into combat again as the war on terror continues. Americans think they need a war leader, and they think they have one, and that may be more important than whether they really agree with him on issues. Most don't think his Middle East peace road map will work. Fair enough, after all the bombs that went off once he introduced it.

Mr. Bush is the war leader, and that's a perception the Democrats will have trouble attacking. They can't be war leaders, they command no troops. Their issues are mostly domestic, but there's no sign yet the voters particularly blame the president for the soggy economy, and the Democrats are having trouble finding positions that hurt him.

Mr. Bush, for his part, can always revive a slogan Roosevelt used running for reelection in the middle of World War II: "Don't change horses," it went, "in the middle of the stream."

War goes on. The war leader looks hard to beat.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Bruce.

That's our LATE EDITION for Sunday, June 22.

I'll be back later today, 6:30 p.m. Eastern, for a CNN special, "Crisis in the Middle East: Living with Conflict."

And please be sure to join us every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. And Monday through Friday, twice a day at noon and 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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