The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
TRANSCRIPTS
Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Rockefeller, Roberts Discuss Situation in Liberia; Dreier, Rangel Debate Homeland Security; Interview With Gray Davis

Aired July 6, 2003 - 12:00   ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: It is noon in Washington, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 4:00 p.m. in Monrovia, Liberia, and 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.
I'm Judy Woodruff. Wolf is away.

In a few minutes we're going to talk with the two leading members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee about the crisis in Liberia, as well as the situation in Iraq. But first, let's check in with CNN reporters covering the hour's top stories around the world.

And we do begin in Iraq, where another U.S. soldier was shot and critically wounded today. CNN's Nic Robertson is in Baghdad, following all the developments there -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the soldier was standing guard like so many other U.S. soldiers around Baghdad, standing guard outside a government facility. He was outside a university, and a group of people were talking to him. A gunman apparently approached him from behind, fired one shot into the soldier's head. The soldier is now in critical condition.

This isn't the first time that this type of incident has happened. The soldier was shot in the head about a week ago. And just yesterday a young British journalist working by himself on the streets of Baghdad was shot in the head, as well. He in that particular incident was killed.

We also out on the streets today in Baghdad saw a Baghdad citizen dead at the side of the road. He too had been shot in the head. It appears to be a situation here now where gunmen are feeling bold enough to come close, enough to the people they want to kill to literally walk right up to them and shoot them in the head.

We've heard also today from coalition forces about Operation Sidewinder that's been going on all week here. They've netted 282 Iraqis. All those Iraqis detained for questioning about attacks on the U.S.-led coalition here. Some of those people detained, members of the Baath Party, some of them believed to be Fedayeen fighters. A number of weapons also seized in that particular week-long operation.

Now, the situation between the U.S. government and the Turkish government at the moment appears perhaps to be poised to resolve itself. This, of course, started late Friday, when a team of U.S. troops swooped on a building in Salamanera (ph), in northeastern Iraq. That building occupied by not only U.S. -- not only Turkish Special Forces but a delegation of Turkish workers there; 34 people were arrested in that raid. Eleven of them Turkish Special Forces. They were brought to Baghdad. A number have been released. Dick Cheney, the vice president, talked today with the Turkish prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan.

In that discussion, a talk about resolving this issue. We don't know the details of that discussion, but the Turkish prime minister, when leaving a party conference, talked with some journalists and indicated he expected the Turkish Special Forces soldiers to be freed this evening.

WOODRUFF: Nic, very quickly, is there any sense there, any greater sense that these attacks on U.S. forces are orchestrated in some way?

ROBERTSON: That's the belief of many of the field officers and commanders we are talking to. They point to similarities between attacks, the same type of explosives, the same type of remote control detonations used. One particular commander talked about the number of attacks on his base, west of Baghdad. They've had five different mortar attacks in the previous few days. An attack on U.S. soldiers a couple of days ago involved as many as 50 Iraqis. The view of officers here is that the attacks are getting bolder, they are becoming more frequent, and on occasion they are becoming quite successful -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Nic Robertson, reporting from a very familiar post for him in Baghdad. Thank you, Nic.

And now we want to go to Liberia, where there is word that Nigeria is expected to offer Liberian President Charles Taylor temporary asylum. CNN's Brent Sadler is in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, with details. Brent, hello.

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy. Yes, and flesh very much being put on the bones of that suggestion seemingly from Nigeria about political asylum for Liberia's President Charles Taylor.

What you have here now live on the ground at this airport in Monrovia, the main international airport, such as it is in this war- ravaged country, is the aircraft of the Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who arrived here within the past hour.

And what you see on the tarmac behind me there are the remnants of a rather noisy welcoming committee, Charles Taylor supporters there, many of them carrying slogans, when the Nigerian leader disembarked his aircraft, basically saying that Liberians are all together in wanting the United Nations and the United States to help, along with West African states, bring about stability to this war- wrecked nation, which effectively lies in ruins and is really paused between war and peace in the sense there's a fragile cease-fire in place between rebels and government forces right now.

But at the same time, this crowd also alluding to the central core of the issue as to why the Nigerian president is now just about 50 yards away from me behind a closed door session with his Liberian counterpart working out the components of possible political asylum in Nigeria.

Central to that is a war crimes indictment, which those slogans, some of the people are carrying behind me, show to the Nigerian president as he came in to a very warm welcome here, as I say, about an hour ago, a war crimes indictment that Mr. Taylor effectively wants dropped.

Now, that war crimes indictment was made public last month on June the 4th from neighboring Sierra Leone, where Mr. Taylor is accused of helping ferment a civil war in that country, exchanging conflict diamonds from Sierra Leone in exchange for weapons and mercenaries from a pool of fighters here in Liberia.

Those talks going on right now. It's too early to say how this is going to pan out, but certainly crucial to what's going to happen to Liberia's future, now hanging in the balance, and, of course, the central issue as to whether or not President Bush is going to order U.S. troops as part of a stabilization force here in Liberia -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Brent Sadler, and of course, we'll be coming back to Brent throughout the day for updates on the meeting there and developments in Liberia.

Well, as you just heard, a U.S. advance team is arriving in Liberia today to assess the situation there, as President Bush does prepare to head to Africa tomorrow. CNN's White House correspondent Dana Bash joins us -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Well, the president, as you mentioned, has not yet made a final decision on whether or not to send U.S. troops to Liberia, but the events on the ground in Monrovia are crucial to a going into what exactly the president will decide to do.

First of all, that meeting between the Nigerian president and Charles Taylor is really important as far as the White House is concerned, because top U.S. diplomats, led by Secretary of State Colin Powell have been working with the U.N. and other officials to try to get Charles Taylor to leave immediately, and in a perfect world, the White House would like him to be gone and the president has made that very clear before any troops were to go on the ground.

And, second, there is an assessment team that is heading to Monrovia, a team of about 10 to 15 civilian and military officials. They are going, according to European command, to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground in Liberia and to get a sense of what exactly would be needed from the U.S. in terms of any troop deployment there that would in the U.S. hopes would be supplementing a larger multinational force.

Now, as we've said, the president hasn't made a decision. However, a senior Republican senator, the armed services chairman, John Warner, talked earlier today about the fact that he spent some time over the weekend going to the Pentagon looking at the intelligence about what's going on on the ground in Liberia and said he is very concerned about the potential danger for U.S. troops there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: After I left the Pentagon yesterday, I was even more concerned about the danger to military forces going into that situation, whether they're wearing the badge of peacekeepers or just there to try and facilitate the distribution of food and medicine, which is desperately needed. The human suffering there is just extraordinary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, the senator said there should be a vote in the Senate before any U.S. troops were to go over to Liberia.

Now, as for the president, he spent the morning, his 57th birthday is today, he spent the morning at church with the first lady. They attended services not too far from the White House, and he does leave tomorrow for Africa, where he will visit Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria, where among other things the president will -- he hopes he will bring some light to Americans about the incredibly dangerous AIDS epidemic going on there -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Dana Bash, reporting from the White House, where as she said it is President Bush's 57th birthday today. Dana, thanks very much.

Well, joining us now to talk about the unfolding situation in Liberia, as well as Iraq, two members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. They are Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas. He is the panel's chairman. And Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. He is the committee's ranking Democrat.

Senators, welcome to LATE EDITION.

SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: Thank you, Judy. It's good to be here.

WOODRUFF: It's great to have both of you.

Just in the last few days, an audiotape has been circulating, generated by Al-Jazeera, the Arab television network, with what is purported to be the voice of Saddam Hussein. I want to ask you just to listen to a portion of that.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): There is not a day that passes by, in the last few weeks, that their blood is not spilled on our great lands, done by our mujahedeen. In the next days, it will be more difficult on the invaders and even more honorable to the believers.

(END AUDIO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Senator Roberts, if this does turn out to be Saddam Hussein and he is alive and in Iraq, how much of a setback for U.S. efforts is it?

ROBERTS: I don't know a setback, it's a real challenge, because, as both Senator Rockefeller and I found out when we were there in Iraq for three days, that the fear on the part of the average Iraqi citizen is absolutely palpable. You can see it.

If whoever this is on the tape talks about blood, Ambassador Bremer, as of today, said that he has resorted to simply killing his own people again. We were at a massive grave site where 11,000 people were killed. He killed 1.3 million people. Not only is he aiming at Americans, but now he's aiming at Iraqis, who will cooperate.

So it is a big-ticket item for us if we're going to eliminate the fear and be successful over the next 100 days with all the attacks against Americans. We have to kill or capture Saddam and his two sons.

WOODRUFF: So, Senator Rockefeller, can there be success in Iraq if Saddam Hussein isn't found one way or another?

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: I think that was the most important lesson I learned from those three days in various parts of Iraq, is the looming presence of Saddam Hussein.

I assume until, you know, clearly given proof otherwise that he is alive, that his sons are alive. Whether he's organizing any of this destruction that's going on in terms of our soldiers and his own people is not clear. But the generals indicated that they felt that there was regional, if not national, there was the beginnings of regional coordination.

I think his...

WOODRUFF: Behind these attacks?

ROCKEFELLER: Yes. And I think his being alive is a terrible, terrible obstacle to what we're trying to do there.

WOODRUFF: What did you hear while you were there? I mean, even here in Washington, I was hearing just this weekend someone very close to the administration saying not only do they think he's alive and in Iraq, they think he's hiding in Tikrit somewhere. What are you hearing?

ROBERTS: Well, I think it's about 70/30, according to the intelligence sources we have.

WOODRUFF: That he's...

ROBERTS: That he is alive. I think we pretty well changed our mind from a 50/50 or whether he was or not.

But the key is that the Iraqi people are hearing that he's alive from the Fedayeen, from the criminals that were let loose. There's 100,000 -- the criminals that were let loose from jails. There is the Sunni extremists. There is the Baath Party loyalists. You add all that up, and that's a very disconcerting (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to say the least.

The next hundred days are very, very critical. Our troops are not sitting ducks. We are taking the fight to the enemy with Operation Sidewinder, Operation Scorpion. As you indicated on the television before, we are successful. We are taking the fight to the enemy.

But, again, that palpable fear that you see in Iraq, plus remnants, I think, of real Iraqi nationalism on the positive side, if we can prove that Saddam Hussein is killed or captured, plus his two sons, we're miles ahead in this. If not, it's going to be a long, hot summer.

WOODRUFF: Senator Rockefeller, your colleague is saying our troops, U.S. troops, are not sitting ducks. But since President Bush stood on that aircraft carrier on May 1st and declared an end to major hostilities, 70 U.S. troops have died, some of them as a result of hostile actions, some of them accidents. But that's half as many as died throughout the time of the war.

How many more Americans are going to have to die before U.S. business is finished in Iraq?

ROCKEFELLER: First of all, there were six who actually were killed while Pat Roberts and I were there. I think there's a certain perspective, which is hard to explain, on this. And that is that, if you look at the totality of our troops and the totality of the scope of their mission, that every single death and casualty is a tragedy, but that the percentage, in relation to past wars and even just a military consideration, is not that great yet. But one has the feeling that the pace is picking up on getting American troops, and that it's more organized.

WOODRUFF: And how does that make you, as senators who are responsible in a big way back here in Washington, feel about this whole operation?

ROBERTS: Well, let me say about the president's comment, he said that the major conflict was over, and that's true. But that doesn't mean the anti-guerrilla ceases, because these very desperate groups are starting to work together, there's some organization to it.

And I said we're not sitting ducks. We're not sitting back, waiting for these attacks. We are taking the attack to the enemy. One loss is a 100-percent loss to that family.

And it's all tied in together, Judy. If you don't add the economic progress and the social progress, you won't have security. If you don't have security, you can't have the other. When there's sabotage in Baghdad aimed at the electrical system, you know, that's a real downer. Now, on the other side, there's a story that hasn't been told. There's 1,500 civil affairs projects that are having great success. In the south it is more quiet. In the north it's much more friendly. It's the area around Baghdad and the Sunni extremists that we're having the problem.

WOODRUFF: But you're right, many of those stories are not getting told.

Let me ask you both now to listen briefly to something President Bush said this week in an interview with -- I think he said it in the middle of the week, on Wednesday, about -- when he was asked about these attacks on U.S. troops. Here's what the president had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Senator Rockefeller, is the president taunting these people to come after Americans, or what?

ROCKEFELLER: You take a phrase, a certain phrase, and you can make it into a taunt. I will tell you that I was not at all pleased by that statement. I thought it was unnecessary.

But I think to try to link that phrase, you know, tens of thousands of miles away from action, is pushing it.

This attacking of American soldiers, and along with Iraqis, is on the increase, in any event. I thought his comment was not useful, but I don't think there is a cause-and-effect relationship.

WOODRUFF: Senator Roberts, was the comment helpful?

ROBERTS: Well, I probably would have said it another way, and I think the president would have too if he had a little more time to think about it. But I think it was aimed at our troops.

And God bless our men and women in uniform. They are acting under very extreme conditions. And their focus and their morale is good, despite these attacks.

I think that that statement was aimed more to the troops than it was the enemy, saying, "You're doing a good job. Keep up the good work. There is no peer to the American forces," et cetera et cetera.

Now, I guess the image of that or the interpretation by the press, obviously, it could have been said a different way.

WOODRUFF: I want to turn you both, quickly, still in Iraq, but to weapons of mass destruction. Just today in "The New York Times" is an op-ed article by former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, laying out in great detail how information that he shared with the administration about possible weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in his own words, was twisted and exaggerated, at least, by this administration.

Are you disturbed, concerned about this Senator Rockefeller?

ROCKEFELLER: Both Senator Roberts and I are disturbed by that. And that gets back to the purported Iraq importing enriched uranium from Niger. And we've called for investigations both from the CIA and from the State Department. I've called for a separate one from the FBI.

I think that appeared in the president's State of the Union speech. That's the kind of thing, when it was so patently wrong -- you didn't need Ambassador Wilson this morning to tell us that. The IAEA had told us that.

So that's that whole question of, is there an abuse in intelligence, or was the intelligence wrong? In either case, it's not a happy outcome, and has to be fixed.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to come back to you for a comment on all this, Senator Roberts, in just a minute.

We'll be back with both of you. We do have to take a break. We are going to continue our conversation in a moment after the break.

You can also weigh in on LATE EDITION's Web question of the week, and that is, should the United States send peacekeeping troops to Liberia? You can cast your vote by logging on to cnn.com/lateedition. I'll have the results a little later on the program.

LATE EDITION continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We are talking with the chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, and the panel's top Democrat, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.

Senator Roberts, we were talking just before the break about the article today in "The New York Times" by retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

He is also quoted today in "The Washington Post," and I want to quickly read this to you. He says, "It really comes down to the administration misrepresenting the facts on an issue that was a fundamental justification for going to war." He said, "It begs the question, what else are they lying about?"

ROBERTS: Well, I think he's referring to the Niger document that Senator Rockefeller has already been talking about. And, as the senator has indicated, we have asked for an Inspector General report from the CIA, from the FBI. He requested that from the FBI. So I think we'll get to the bottom of it.

How that made its way into the president's comment when these were forgeries, that's what we're going to determine in terms of our review.

But in terms of the ambassador, he's been saying that for some time. It's the first time it's become public.

I have found no evidence to date in the rather voluminous material, floor to ceiling, that we have 10 staffers going over, that there was any manipulation on the part of the administration. Now...

WOODRUFF: At the highest level?

ROBERTS: At the highest level. We will have hearings on that. Those hearings have yet to be held. And we'll let the chips certainly fall where they may.

Now, having said that, we have issued a plea to any analyst, anybody that had an analytical product, both the senator and myself have said, if you feel like that that product was skewed or you were coerced or you were intimidated, please come forward. We have yet to hear from anybody.

WOODRUFF: Senator Rockefeller, you must be -- both of you, as you said, are uncomfortable with all this.

ROCKEFELLER: I think the bottom line, really, is -- and this is to put it pretty baldly -- was there a predetermined decision to go into Iraq? Did intelligence countermand that?

I mean, I have a white paper put out by the CIA, unclassified, last October. And it says Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of U.N. restrictions.

Well, if that's what they said, is the intelligence correct? How did they know that? And if the intelligence is correct, how did they let that then not affect policymakers and, particularly, this question of getting into the president's speech, which is his first State of the Union, which, in effect, was the way to get Americans behind him.

WOODRUFF: Well, isn't what we're getting at here is whether the whole justification for going to war was trumped up in the first place? Exaggerated.

ROCKEFELLER: I think there is some of that, but there is also an enormous danger in coming to that conclusion short of really careful facts. And I think Senator Roberts and I both believe there's only one thing that counts in the field of intelligence, and that is facts, and that's what we're following.

WOODRUFF: And you're working on an investigation.

Let me quickly turn you both to Liberia. The president, the administration sending an analysis team to Liberia today. But the larger question is, should U.S. troops be going into this West African country, sending peacekeeping troops there?

Senator Roberts, would that be the right thing to do right now?

ROBERTS: Well, he wants to send the Marines. And you're talking to an old Marine. You know, there are no ex-Marines, only former Marines. I know they can do the job. But it seems to me that if you're going to send in the Marines in a peacekeeping role, if there's no peace to be kept, well, they become targets.

I'd be very cautious about this. We have three wars to fight. One is the war against terrorism, internationally. We still have a situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we obviously have the reconstitution going on in Iraq, where we're now fighting an anti- guerrilla, I'll say, effort.

I know the president wants to focus on Africa. I know that there are a great many terrorists who fled from Afghanistan to that part of the world.

I'd be very cautious about this. We have yet to have an intelligence briefing on this. I'm going to reserve judgment until we get that. I don't think he's made a final decision.

But I'm -- well, I'll say cautious. But if you're going to err, I don't want to send our troops into an area where they're going to become targets under the banner of peacekeeping.

WOODRUFF: Well, as I ask you the same question, Senator Rockefeller, I want to show our audience and you, right now major U.S. troop deployments overseas, we've got 146,000 troops in Iraq, we've got 9,000 in Afghanistan. You look at Japan, South Korea, I mean, there are U.S. troops all over the world.

ROBERTS: It's 171,000 in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for correcting me.

Is a place like Liberia, with historic ties to the U.S., a proper use of American force?

ROCKEFELLER: I don't think we can tell that entirely. I'm not going to shut it out in my own mind. We have a very special relationship, obviously, that was founded by ex-slaves from the United States. It's very special. The people there like us very much. They look up to us.

Charles Taylor has agreed to go. He may be in Nigeria before the end of the day.

So, you know, traditionally, peacekeeping efforts, Bosnia, Haiti, other places, have not always turned out to be short trips. So I agree with Senator Roberts that we ought to be very cautious in doing this.

But I also think that we ought to know the president sent out 10 to 15 people to go look at the situation, military people. I think we ought to hear what they have to say, and an abundance of caution before we make this next step in a world where our troops are already stretched very thin.

WOODRUFF: And just quickly to both of you, Senator Roberts, this whole question of Charles Taylor receiving asylum in Nigeria or some other country, where he would not be subject to charges that he was involved in, tried for war crimes, in Sierra Leone and perhaps other places?

ROBERTS: He should be tried.

WOODRUFF: So no political asylum for him?

ROBERTS: Well, I would think that that would be the best answer for the world community. Whether it is the practical answer, in regards to those two countries, I can't tell you. But that's the history of some of these states in Africa.

WOODRUFF: In essence, he'd be forgiven, wouldn't he be, Senator Rockefeller?

ROBERTS: He would be unavailable, not forgiven.

ROCKEFELLER: Apparently.

I think the larger question here is that Africa is an enormous part of our future, and this is going to be a very hard thing for the American people to come to terms with.

Just as Pat and I have discussed, staying the course, resolve, doing what's necessary to make Iraq get back to where it ought to be is going to have to happen. The American people, we are not famous for long patience. In this one we're going to have to persevere, in Iraq. And in terms of Africa, that is a whole continent full of problems waiting for us.

WOODRUFF: You're right, we're not famous for patience.

ROBERTS: Let me just say one thing. In Iraq, you had the first symphony in 30 years. They found the old Baghdad Symphony, and gave them new suits, and they found their instruments, and they had their first symphony, packed house. Played the Iraqi national anthem. First time it's been played for 30 years, prior to Saddam Hussein. Everybody stood, applauded and cried.

There is Iraqi nationalism. There is hope for Iraq.

WOODRUFF: A good note to end on.

Senator Pat Roberts, Senator Jay Rockefeller, it's so good to see both of you. Thank you for joining us on LATE EDITION.

ROCKEFELLER: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

Just ahead, we will have a check of the hour's top stories, and then more unrest in Iraq. U.S. service members there facing mounting attacks, as the Bush administration plans for a possible military intervention in war-torn Liberia.

And calls on that country's president to leave. Are U.S. forces being spread too thin? We'll get assessments from former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen, former Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ken Adelman, and the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, Leslie Gelb, when LATE EDITION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: In order for there to be peace and stability in Liberia, Charles Taylor needs to leave now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: President Bush weighing in on the crisis in Liberia.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

For some perspective on what the U.S. military faces in both Liberia and Iraq, we turn to three guests. Here in Washington, former Clinton defense secretary, William Cohen. He's now the chief executive officer of the Cohen Group. Ken Adelman was the deputy U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as well as U.S. arms control director during the Reagan administration. And in New York, Leslie Gelb, senior fellow and just-stepped-down president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Gentleman, thank you all for being with is on LATE EDITION.

Former Secretary Bill Cohen, let me turn to you first. Peacekeeping troops, the United States, should they be sent to the country of Liberia, this country that has been ripped apart for years now by civil strife?

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I have some real question on whether we should be taking the lead in going into Liberia. We have many other countries who also have an interest in seeing that humanitarian assistance is delivered to the Liberian people.

We have many European countries who failed to support the effort in Iraq, who would have the ability to form part of a coalition to go into Liberia. We have the capacity to be in a supporting role, certainly, as we were in East Timor when a request was made for us to take the lead role.

But I think that we have to be very cautious not simply looking at Liberia as an individual country, but looking at the entire sub- Sahara Africa region. We have to look at the Congo. We have to look also at what has taken place in Rwanda, and not simply go into one place thinking we can pull our toe back out three or six months from now. So I have some real questions about whether we can stretch our forces any thinner than they're currently stretched today.

WOODRUFF: Les Gelb, do you have those same questions?

LES GELB, FORMER PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Everybody looking at sending our troops to Liberia is going to be concerned about it, no question. But I think, given the state of play there now, there won't be any help for the Liberian people unless we do take the lead. And I think we ought to go ahead and do it.

But more importantly to me, I think we've got to get ourselves out of the position of being called on by the world to lead peacekeeping operations any time there is internal trouble anywhere in the world.

We've got to begin to put together some kind of international peacekeeping force under a U.N. umbrella, with individual states having the right to say no to sending their troops in particular situations.

If we don't do this, every time there's trouble anywhere in the world, the world will demand that we go in there and lead the way militarily. That's an impossible situation for us.

WOODRUFF: But, Ken Adelman, the United States is the world's superpower, hyper-power, if you will. When a country is in dire straits like Liberia, a country historically with close ties to the United States, why doesn't this make sense?

KEN ADELMAN, FORMER U.S. ARMS CONTROL DIRECTOR: Well, I think overall it does make sense for a temporary time to stop the killing over there. I'm partisan because I lived in Africa for two-and-a-half years, in the former Belgian Congo, now back to being called the Congo, and visited Liberia several times there. It was not any great shakes when I was there in the early '70s, but I would be very wary of the Nigerians coming in for a peacekeeping operation.

I've seen nothing but bad come from that, to tell you the truth. And I know there's a lot of hoopla on the news recently about the Nigerian president going there and what Nigeria could do. They don't do much except rip off a lot of the country.

I would have a lot more confidence in a South African peacekeeping force coming in after we quell things and stop things from taming down.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you all to listen just quickly to something that president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, had to say just two days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES TAYLOR, PRESIDENT OF LIBERIA: I don't want to get into speculating about asylum or no asylum. The important thing here is for international peacekeepers to come to Liberia as quickly as possible, take charge of the situation if I'm going to step down from office...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Bill Cohen, should Charles Taylor be granted asylum in a country, whether it's Nigeria or somewhere else, and essentially, everything that he's ever done, in the way of war crimes and Sierra Leone, it would all be forgotten?

COHEN: Well, a difficult call. Obviously, the longer he stays there, the more killing and slaughter is going to continue to take place.

So the question you have to weigh is one of moral balance here, in terms of holding him accountable for the war crimes that he's alleged to have committed, as opposed to getting him out, so that there can be at least some measure of a peace to be kept.

Right now there is no peacekeeping because they're not at peace. You have the rebel camps surrounding the cities as such, and so he has got to leave if there's going to be any calm and any peace to be kept.

So, it is a question of balancing, and I think he is a bad individual, one who ought to be held accountable. Whether you want to weigh that in balance in saying more people should die so he could be prosecuted, I think is a call others will have to make.

WOODRUFF: Ken Adelman, Les Gelb, either one of you disagree?

ADELMAN: Yes, I like the idea, Judy, of an international tribunal of these guys who are mass murderers and crooks and just terrible leaders for their people. I think it sets a good example in the future.

And I'm not sure that we have to wait till he steps down to send in American troops. If you send American troops, they don't have any troops to protect him, and you just put him on a plane and you send him off to Europe and try him.

And I like the idea that these kind of tyrants -- we've lived in a world where these guys are terrible, the Pol Pots, the Idi Amins, the Saddam Husseins...

COHEN: But you're assuming he has no supporters.

ADELMAN: Not many.

COHEN: He may, in fact, have many supporters that you're going to be putting our Marines right in the line of fire. So I have some real problems in terms of sending a peacekeeping force into an area that has not yet been stabilized.

WOODRUFF: I want to turn you all -- go ahead, Les.

GELB: I think even if Taylor agrees to leave and go to Nigeria, we're going to have problems there, because you're going to have the rebel groups fighting in any event. His supporters, other rebel groups -- there has to be a peacekeeping force that moves in and stabilizes the situation militarily and some kind of deal cut, whether or not Taylor goes to Nigeria.

And as far as giving him freedom from future prosecution, that's a very bad idea. We've got to build up that international criminal court to the point where, one day, it'll be worth taking the risk of even Americans being tried by it. Right now, I wouldn't take that risk. I wouldn't take that risk.

COHEN: I disagree with that last statement.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: You disagree.

COHEN: I do.

WOODRUFF: Let me quickly -- I want to turn all three of you to Iraq. And I want to read you a quote from "The Washington Post" this past week, a story by Anthony Shadid (ph). He's in Baghdad. He is quoting a 43-year-old U.S. Army reservist, Staff Sergeant Charles Pollard, a man on duty at a little police station in a suburb of Baghdad. And here's what Sergeant Pollard had to say.

He said, "U.S. officials need to get our [expletive] out of here. We have no business being here. We will not change the culture they have in Iraq. Baghdad is so corrupted. All we are here is potential people to be killed and sitting ducks."

Bill Cohen, you know, you have got not only the Iraqi people -- many of them don't want Americans there -- you've got Americans who are saying what are we doing here? Is this a recipe for disaster?

COHEN: Well, I'm not sure that this particular individual speaks for the entire military. But certainly, there's some level of discontent with the soldiers and all who are serving there today. It's hot. They've been there a long time. They need relief. They need to be rotated out, so we can have replacement forces.

But also understand this is a long commitment that President Bush has undertaken. There are three things, at least, that have to be done. You have to have movement on the security side, the political side and the economic side.

What those groups who have been supporting Saddam Hussein are trying to do, number one, is to destabilize the infrastructure, blow up the wells, the electric power plants.

Secondly, they also have targeted the stabilizing forces of the police that we're trying to train. And the third thing they'll try and do is to intimidate the politicians, so to speak, those that we are trying to put together to serve as an interim authority.

So we have to be prepared to protect all three elements -- stabilizing, putting security around the critical infrastructure, also making sure that we protect the police that we are building and then the political individuals who will be the next targets.

WOODRUFF: And, Les Gelb, is the U.S. prepared to do all these things that Bill Cohen describes? And if so, how long is that going to take?

GELB: Well, I think we're prepared subliminally, that President Bush really needs to go to the American people and make a major foreign policy address about his strategy in Iraq.

He says at off-handed questions and answers we're going to stay the course, or let them come and get us. But that isn't a policy, that isn't a strategy.

He's got to get up and explain to the American people what our intentions are, how much it's going to cost, what the risks are. And that way, convince both the Iraqis who want to drive us out and the Americans who get worried anytime American lives are lost and want to pull the U.S. troops out, that we will stay the course.

He's got to show that he's got a sensible, workable plan to turn Iraq into a better and safer place. Then he'll have support.

WOODRUFF: Ken Adelman, does this president need to explain what the plan is?

ADELMAN: I think he's explained just was Les said about a thousand times.

WOODRUFF: You think he's already done it?

GELB: I don't think he's explained it once.

ADELMAN: All right, he's done it constantly, what are we doing in Iraq? He wants to start a democratic process. He wants the Iraqis to take over.

GELB: That's not a plan.

ADELMAN: He wants us to be -- well, I don't know what you mean by a plan. This is a clear intention to go from the...

GELB: It's a hope.

ADELMAN: OK. It is, I think, more of a plan than a hope, and it's both -- but more from a U.S.-run operation to an increasingly Iraqi-run operation.

We have to get the kind of security that Bill Cohen talked about to do something like that. But you have to start seeing Iraqi faces there in charge of some of these ministries, in charge of some of these, you know, services that we have to get back on.

And I think it's taken us longer than we should. I don't think the operation has been quite smooth, to tell you the truth, and we need Iraqis in positions of authority.

WOODRUFF: And in the meantime, Bill Cohen, you have an American either getting killed or wounded almost every day since the war has ended.

COHEN: What we have to do is to internationalize that force as quickly as we can. I know that we need to defer the judgment to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, secretary of defense and the commander of the Central Command in terms of the numbers of troops that we need.

But I would far prefer to see us put a larger force in now, sooner, rather than waiting over a period of time.

WOODRUFF: How large?

COHEN: As large as we really need to really send the message that we are going to crush the opposition. But if you simply wait...

WOODRUFF: Because we've got 170,000 troops in there already.

COHEN: That's right, it may not be enough, it may not be enough. Time will tell on that.

But would not want to see a situation where it goes on through a sort of war of attrition, one or two are killed a day, five or six a week, and then at some point another major attack is launched against the United States and say, "Well, now we need a bigger force." That could create serious political repercussions. So I think...

ADELMAN: I'm not sure the problem is the lack of force. I think what it is is, I would put more resources in there, Bill, but I would put more resources in the intelligence realm, put more people on the payroll, Iraqis on the payroll, to find out exactly where this opposition is coming from and try to preclude it. Because, as I understand it, it's kind of onesies and twosies out there, that another 10,000 guys are not going to help.

COHEN: Yes, but it may be onesies and twosies now, but they had, I think, some 40 or 50 people who were organized recently with mortars firing into our compounds.

ADELMAN: OK, then put more people on the payroll.

GELB: I think Bill Cohen is exactly right on this. You need more troops and more international presence, as well, more policemen. We've got to be dominant there so we're not going to get picked off day by day in a kind of increasing crescendo that will do nothing but embolden the Iraqis and convince Americans that we're into some quagmire.

We've got to be decisive about it, and the president has got to explain it in a plan. If he's got to keep even 175,000 troops there indefinitely, he's got to give the American people a sense of how he's going to make this work and what the costs and risks are.

WOODRUFF: But I want to go back to what this Sergeant Pollard had to say. This man, when he's not over in Iraq, working with the police...

ADELMAN: He should be former Sergeant Pollard, to tell you the truth. People in uniform should not be talking that way.

WOODRUFF: He works at a community college back here in the United States. He is not trained to do this. Many of these reservists, I'm not saying they aren't trained, they are trained, but I mean in the sense of trained to do the kind of very serious police work.

ADELMAN: He shouldn't be mouthing off like that.

COHEN: This is one of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton administration, saying that our armed forces should not be used for peacekeeping in terms of police work or nation-building. It is a misuse, ultimately, of using our combat warriors in this kind of a scenario.

What we need are, as Les Gelb just said, more trained policeman, as Ken would say, more Iraqi faces on the street representing the Iraqi people, as opposed to white Americans, black Americans, coming in and showing the face of America as being a, quote, "occupying force," as opposed to a liberating force. That's the problem we have right now.

GELB: Exactly right.

WOODRUFF: But do the three of you actually see President Bush going to the American people and asking for more troops and getting them for Iraq right now?

COHEN: If the commander on the ground says, "I need more in order to suppress these growing elements, in order to crush them now rather than over a long period of time," I would say he would go to the American people, say, "This is what we need, this is why we need it and this is what we have to do."

WOODRUFF: Les Gelb, do you see the American people going along with that?

GELB: Absolutely. If the president goes and makes the case, they'll go along with it much more quickly and wholeheartedly now than they will after six months of a descending quagmire.

WOODRUFF: Ken Adelman, last word. Do you see...

ADELMAN: Last word, this guy should be a former sergeant.

WOODRUFF: Well...

ADELMAN: I mean, I don't think people in uniform...

WOODRUFF: ... he's not the only one who was quoted...

ADELMAN: People in uniform should not be talking like that.

GELB: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) saying it privately.

ADELMAN: I am not -- all right, people in uniform shouldn't be talking like that.

Point number two is, I am not sure there is a shortage of troops. I think the more troops you put in, the more targets you put in. I think there is a shortage of intelligence information that we can act on to preclude these attacks in the first place.

WOODRUFF: Some real disagreement here.

(LAUGHTER)

Ken Adelman, Bill Cohen, Les Gelb, it's great to see all three of you. Thank you very much for being with us on LATE EDITION.

Coming up, Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton on the campaign trail. We'll talk with him about his bid to win the Democratic Party's 2004 nomination, about the crisis in Liberia, and why he thinks a popular President Bush is vulnerable.

And later, U.S. homeland security, is the Bush administration doing enough? Two outspoken members of Congress, Republican David Dreier and Democrat Charlie Rangel, debate that and more.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(INTERRUPTED FOR COVERAGE OF LIVE EVENT)

WOODRUFF: We've been listening to a news conference, a live news conference coming to us from Liberia, the capital city of Monrovia, where Charles Taylor, who has been the president of Liberia, a war- torn country over the last few years, meeting with the visiting president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

And as you heard, the Nigerians are offering Taylor asylum, allowing him to go to their country. This is the condition upon which U.S. President Bush had told Liberians that the U.S. would be willing to send in peacekeeping troops, if Charles Taylor left the country.

And he was the gentleman on the right, you saw there. He is saying he will leave the country. The only thing he says, he wants to make sure is that there is no disruption, no violence, and that it is done in an orderly way.

Obviously, many more questions to be answered in terms of what are the terms of this move, whether he will be given political asylum, whether he will still have to stand trial in any way for war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone. All those questions that going to be out there, and very much we'll be seeking answers to them.

Right now, we want to turn to the guest that we have had scheduled on LATE EDITION, the Reverend Al Sharpton, one of the candidates for the Democratic nomination for president. He joins us right now from Los Angeles.

Reverend Sharpton, thank you for being with us.

And I want to ask you first about what we have just heard from Liberia. Does this sound like, with Charles Taylor's departure, that the United States now -- that it makes sense for the U.S. now to send in peacekeeping troops?

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It will make sense if we do it in cooperation with the United Nations and with other nations, as well as respecting and working along with other African heads of state.

The president leaves tomorrow for Africa. He'll be meeting with heads of states in Africa, including the president of Nigeria, who was there with President Taylor of Liberia, offering him temporary asylum.

What I would be unequivocally opposed to is unilateral action by the United States. I thought it was wrong in Iraq, it would be wrong in Liberia, though I think both Hussein and Taylor are certainly not people that I would want to see in power. I do not think, however, that we can continue unilateral approaches around the world.

And clearly, there are other parts of the world that we ought to also cooperate in stabilizing, particularly in Africa. I've been to Sudan, I've been to Rwanda, I've been to many places that this president and other presidents have ignored.

And I think that we need to cooperate with people and not just come in when we have a particular business interest in mind.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me specifically, though, ask you about Charles Taylor. It sounds as if, as we heard, he is being granted asylum by the president of Nigeria.

Should Charles Taylor now not have to stand trial or be held accountable for these alleged war crimes in Sierra Leone and perhaps other neighboring countries?

SHARPTON: Well, I think that, clearly, the first line of duty is to stabilize Liberia.

I think, also, that Mr. Taylor, as well as others that have done human rights abuses, must be held accountable.

And I don't think that we should in any way, shape or form say that we do not want to see that happen.

But I think that in this particular case, where we have a delicate negotiation, I do not know what the president of Nigeria, or for that matter other members of the African Union, are trying to work out in regard to those charges.

I think that the immediate goal is to try to stop the bloodshed and to stabilize Liberia, and I think that's a worthy goal that we should cooperate. I think cooperate, though, not try to move get ahead of and not try to maneuver or manipulate or put in anyone that we may think, as Americans, should be there. That decision should come there in Liberia.

WOODRUFF: And very quickly, on the question of Liberia and the entire continent of Africa, as you point out, President Bush traveling there tomorrow, he'll be visiting five countries, including Nigeria.

Is this a president with a commitment to the people of the continent of Africa, Reverend Sharpton?

SHARPTON: That remains to be seen. The president is going. He should not just discuss the $15 billion in AIDS help and for research, which is a good step, but he should talk real, new-day kind of policy to Africa: forgiving some African debt that strangles many African nations; dealing with African exports. We have African farmers that need to sell their products here.

And he needs to really deal with the fact that he himself doesn't meet with African-American leaders here. He is doing in Africa what he doesn't do at home.

So it remains to be seen if this is a trip whether he's going to be a conqueror in a Tarzan-like sweep through Africa, or whether he's going to come in a new spirit of cooperation that will help develop and build Africa.

WOODRUFF: All right, Reverend Sharpton, I want to turn you now to some questions about this presidential campaign, the contest for the Democratic nomination.

We know that the fundraising reports for the first half of the year, these reports to the Federal Election Commission, are coming in. Howard Dean appears to be at least on top in the second quarter. $7.5 million he raised. And we're told that in one day alone, at the end of the quarter, he raised $800,000, one day alone.

Reverend Sharpton, in the entire quarter, so far it's been reported that you raised $80,000, about a tenth of that what he raised in one day. My question to you is, are you even serious about raising money in this campaign?

SHARPTON: Well, first of all, we've not made a report. So I don't know where you got that report from. We make our report on the 15th, when it is due.

But secondly, we have not even had a fundraiser in this quarter. I've been out people-raising. I think that we've reduced American politics too much to fundraising. Yes, I think money is important. But I think that you judge races based on who can bring people to the poll.

In your own CNN poll, I'm ahead of Dean and others that you have that have raised far more money. I remind you, John Connelly raised a lot of money and ended up with one delegate at that convention.

I think that when we start acting as if money alone determines democracy, that we're undermining the principles of a people's democracy.

WOODRUFF: I understand what you're saying about it shouldn't be based on money alone. But, Reverend Sharpton, at this early stage, money is clearly one serious indicator, measure of where these candidates stand.

And, you know, how can you be taken seriously when, as you, by your own acknowledgement, are not even trying to raise money? President Bush is bringing in...

SHARPTON: Well, I didn't say that. I said that we didn't have a fundraiser in that period. What I said -- clearly we're raising money. People can go to my Web page right now, al2004.org, and donate.

What I've said, though, is that the basis of being taken seriously in a democracy ought to be the response of the people. I'm not a poll believer, but your own poll is the exact opposite of the fundraising. I remember last quarter John Edwards was ahead, and it was all the hoopla about that. Now it's something else.

I think that it is dangerous to have a flavor or season based on fundraising...

WOODRUFF: I hear you.

SHARPTON: ... when the people's response doesn't indicate that at all.

During the same period that you raised about Governor Dean, who's done a good job raising money, raising money during that same period, your polls say he's underneath me in the polls. I think that, clearly, people's response ought to be the thing that determines first-tier candidates, unless we're now saying that money determines politics alone. And that's dangerous to me.

WOODRUFF: No, I understand what you're saying. I'm not sure which poll you're referring to, but I know that at this point...

SHARPTON: Your CNN-USA Today poll by Gallup that you released last week.

WOODRUFF: All right. And I'm aware that a lot of that is national name recognition, and you are certainly well known, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: But again, but, Judy, I'm not going to let you just slide past that. I'm known because I stood up for the issues and fought for situations. I wasn't born in the family of a well-known person. I didn't inherit a name, I earned one. So I think that that speaks to something. I wasn't born a Kennedy or Rockefeller.

WOODFUFF: Let me quickly cite to you something, and, granted, this is from a conservative source, but I want to cite to you something that columnist Ramish Panuro (ph) has written in the current issue of the "National Review." He said, "The excitement of the Dean campaign" -- Howard Dean -- "has eclipsed Sharpton." He said, "There is another reason Sharpton's impact will be limited. Whatever the appeal Sharpton has among black voters, and that's debatable, he has close to zero appeal among whites." And he goes onto say, "There aren't many black voters in Iowa or New Hampshire."

What do you say to that line of thinking?

SHARPTON: Well, as you said, it's a conservative magazine and a conservative -- I say very little of anything. Again, according to all data, including your own, we are leading overwhelmingly in the black community around the country, but we have support in other communities.

Secondly, I would say to that in Iowa and New Hampshire, we will do well. And then you've got to go into states that are not familiar with other candidates. The question is how they will do after Iowa and New Hampshire.

I think that this whole question of trying to marginalize and separate parts of the party is dangerous. And I think that when you look at the fact that unless we can bring out all voters of all quarters, that we're not going to be able to beat George Bush, we should not let those that are on the other side try to play divide and conquer.

We ought to have a unified strategy from New Hampshire all the way to the end, in large cities, small cities, rural and urban. And I think that that's the goal, of having a united party after you go through a process of primaries.

So in some states, some will do well, and in others, others will do well. The question will be who comes up with enough votes at the end.

WOODRUFF: Let me wrap up, Reverend Sharpton, with a picture of you in "Esquire" magazine. "Esquire" magazine having pictures of all nine Democratic candidates.

They asked each candidate to pick a place that you would consider your natural habitat. Now tell us where you are. This is with your wife Kathy (ph). Where is this?

SHARPTON: Well, I'm not looking at the picture. I don't know.

WOODRUFF: OK, sorry. I'm told it's a restaurant, a soul food restaurant in Harlem.

SHARPTON: OK, well, possibly, I'm not aware of what you're talking about, but clearly I do eat soul food. And I do...

(LAUGHTER)

... base my headquarters in Harlem.

WOODRUFF: And we assume that's the reason why that was your choice for the photo.

We appreciate you joining us, Reverend Al Sharpton. It's always good to have you on CNN, and we thank you for joining us today on LATE EDITION.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much. And we'll keep looking at those polls.

Just ahead, some grim news on the U.S. economic front with unemployment at a nine-year high. Who is to blame, and what's the prescription? Two veteran congressman, Republican David Dreier of California and Democrat Charles Rangel of New York, square off.

And later, an exclusive interview with the man at the center of California's financial and political crisis, Governor Gray Davis.

LATE EDITION continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I will continue to work on our economy until everybody who wants to work and is not working today can find a job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: President Bush promising to move the economy forward this past week.

Unfortunately, new U.S. government figures are not painting a rosy economic picture. Unemployment is now at 6.4 percent. That is the highest percentage in nine years.

Word of the rise in joblessness came just days after an independent commission concluded that the United States remains unprepared for another terrorist attack.

Joining us to discuss all this and more, two leading members of Congress: In Kansas City, Missouri, is California Republican Congressman David Dreier. He's a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and chairman of the Rules Committee. And in New York, Congressman Charles Rangel. He is the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Congressmen, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

REP. DAVID DREIER (R), CALIFORNIA: Great to be with you both.

WOODRUFF: Let's start, first of all, with these unemployment numbers, the highest numbers in nine years.

Congressman Dreier, is the Bush administration doing as much as it can be doing to address joblessness in this country? DREIER: Absolutely. The president made it very clear in his statement on Monday that he's dedicated, as we all are -- Charlie and I join in a bipartisan way to assure that every single American who wants a job has an opportunity to get a job.

And what we're doing now is, we're recognizing that the president has just signed in place a jobs and economic growth package, which, I believe, is going to lay the groundwork for an opportunity for us to really get the economy moving. And it's clear that we have seen some positive signs. You, Judy, in your remarks, have focused on the negative signs. Since passage of this measure, we have seen the market come back to around 9,000. And we also have seen some other encouraging news out there.

And so it's very unfortunate, and obviously -- I mean, I recall back, and Charlie and I can remember this, under Humphrey-Hawkins (ph), 6 percent was considered full employment. But we do want to get back to 4 percent or 5 percent unemployment, which obviously would be considered full growth today.

WOODRUFF: So, Congressman Rangel, the glass is really half-full, and things are really getting better?

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: I really think that, sooner or later, the mistakes that have been made by President Bush is going to catch up with him, whether it's the war, whether it's the tax cuts, whether it's increasing the tax burden on the working people in our country, whether it's the...

DREIER: We haven't done that.

RANGEL: ... indifference to the social programs.

But I tell you, quite frankly, everybody in this country now knows someone that's without work. There are 2 million people that have just given up on finding jobs. We're not even talking about the millions of people that are underemployed. And of course, we have -- we've gone over the 9 million mark.

The president had this devastating tax cut of over $1.3 trillion when he first came into office. And this was supposed to be for economic growth. Well, it didn't work then, and it doesn't appear it's going to work now.

Because even though the president's -- the basis of his economic growth program is cutting tax for the wealthy, what he, in fact, is doing is passing on this responsibility to local and state governments...

DREIER: Charlie, we...

RANGEL: ... and they're increasing taxes.

DREIER: Charlie, we know that the economic downturn that began in the last two quarters of 2000, before President Bush took office, has been the shallowest recession since the Great Depression. And that has been shallow because of the tax plan that was put into -- first put into place.

And I believe that we will not only mitigate the downturn, but we're going to be encouraging greater job creation...

RANGEL: Well, one thing is clear...

DREIER: And you've got to -- and one thing, Charlie, I just want to say this. You said that we have increased the tax burden on working Americans?

RANGEL: Yes, you have.

DREIER: This -- no, Charlie. This measure...

RANGEL: You passed it on to local and state governments. And every -- almost every state has a budget problem as a result of this tax cut.

DREIER: Charlie, it's not as a result of this tax cut. What we need to do is we need to get the economy growing so that we have the kind of revenue that's necessary for state and local government to meet homeland-security priorities and education and transportation. And other priorities. It all has to do with economic growth.

RANGEL: When President Bush took office, you had a projected $5 trillion surplus. Now we have a $2 trillion projected surplus (sic). You figure out how we got -- no, it's actually closer to $4 trillion.

So it's a $9 trillion swing from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration.

DREIER: Charlie, you know exactly...

WOODRUFF: Congressman Dreier...

DREIER: You know exactly how we got there, Charlie. We got there because of...

RANGEL: Sure, we know how we got there. We got there with George Bush.

WOODRUFF: Congressmen...

DREIER: We got there because we faced September 11th. We got there because of the war in Iraq.

RANGEL: Now, don't you blame September. That's the -- you don't blame the condition we find ourselves in on September 11th.

DREIER: I'm not blaming. You asked how -- Charlie, you asked how we got there. We got there because of terrorism, because of the war, the challenges, we've just been focusing on Liberia, other challenges that we have around the world.

And I know you want to support the president and his efforts there. And we also got there because of...

RANGEL: Well, I don't want to support the president. I want to support the international community. I don't care whether it's Liberia, whether it's Kosovo or Bosnia.

RANGEL: Wherever we got to send our young people to fight and to die for this country, it should be not just the president saying, "Bring them on." It should be...

DREIER: There has been no unilateral action.

RANGEL: It should be an international action that should be taken.

DREIER: Charlie, you and Al Sharpton...

WOODRUFF: Congressmen...

DREIER: ... have both just used the word "unilateral" to describe this president's action. He's providing leadership which has brought a broad international coalition together in every single one of these areas that you mentioned. Nothing's unilateral.

RANGEL: His preemptive strike in Iraq was based on what appears to be...

DREIER: His preemptive strike? I don't know what you're talking about.

RANGEL: ... what appears to be based on shaky information, was not condoned by the United Nations. And even now, we have no idea what's going on, how long it's going to take before we get out of there.

DREIER: Well, we know that...

RANGEL: So let's face it, you know, if you've got to blame the economy on this, God knows how long it's going to take for the economy to improve if you've got to base it on ending the war in Iraq.

DREIER: Charlie...

WOODRUFF: Congressman Dreier, I want to jump in here. Congressman Dreier, I do want jump in here.

DREIER: Oh, you're still here, Judy. I'm glad you're still here.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: You all are perfectly capable of doing this on your own. And I'm listening to every word you're saying.

But, Congressman Dreier, getting back to the unemployment rate, the president's tax cut proposals, the USA Today-Gallup-CNN poll that came out just a few days ago, people were asked, "Will this new tax cut help your financial situation?" 34 percent yes, 56 percent said no.

Now, what does that say to you, Congressman Dreier?

DREIER: Well, what it says to me is that people have yet to understand exactly the ramifications of this measure.

Let me tell you what it's going to do. With the child tax credit that's put into place, we're going to see an average family of four with an income of $40,000 see their tax liability drop from $1,078 to $43.

This is going to be benefiting working men and women in this country, as well as putting into place, with the reduction on the top rate on capital gains and the reduction on the tax on dividend income down to 15 percent, it's going to be encouraging economic growth.

It hasn't taken place yet. And so that's why people are uncertain in this polling as to exactly what the impact will be.

WOODRUFF: Congressman, we're...

RANGEL: Well, I have to agree with David, that the people really don't understand the Bush administration is true, that when we got struck we needed someone like a John Wayne-type to give some confidence that our country would be safe.

But I think this "Come, bring them on" and landing on aircraft carriers and having tax cuts that are just targeted for the very rich, that sooner or later the people will truly understand.

DREIER: I mean, that is baloney. His tax cut, Charlie, you know that his tax cuts, Charlie, were modeled after John F. Kennedy's tax cuts in the early-1960s. You know that that is the basis.

RANGEL: No, probably, probably Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson. Why don't you cut it out? It was modeled after Ronald Reagan, and you know it.

DREIER: Reagan and Kennedy.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to move on to homeland security. There is going to be a second report out this week, the second report in two weeks, questioning whether the United States is prepared for another terror attack.

This new report coming out will question whether, specifically, the U.S. could handle a bio-terror attack. Just last week, the Council on Foreign Relations issued a report, and here's in part how former U.S. Senator Warren Rudman summed it up, if you'd listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN RUDMAN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: There isn't a place in America today that if we had a nuclear, a biological or a chemical attack, that the fire and the police departments could respond to it and survive the response. Now, that is disgraceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: And, Congressman Dreier, what the Council on Foreign Relations' report and Senator Rudman are calling on the president to do, the Congress, is spend about another $100 million over the next five years to help the cities and states around the country prepare for this sort of an attack.

DREIER: Well, clearly, I have yet to read this report from the Council on Foreign Relations. But I will tell you that I believe, Judy, that we have taken very bold steps in putting into place a budget, you know, an appropriations measure which will provide for homeland security. We can always spend more. We can always spend more.

And I believe that Tom Ridge is doing a terrific job. But we cannot protect ourselves from any kind of threat. We know that there is, that the threat continues to exist, and the possibility of terrorism building in other parts of the world poses a threat to our security. We can't have 100-percent protection. But I believe that we've gone a long way toward doing that.

And we'll obviously look very carefully at this report from Senator Rudman and his commission. And if there are recommendations that we can put into place in Congress, we'll support them.

WOODRUFF: Let's give Congressman Rangel a chance here.

RANGEL: Senator Rudman, in his report, asked for almost four times the amount of money that's been allocated with this problem of homeland security. And certainly the last time we spent $100 billion, we did not earmark any of it for the cities, but left it to the governors, many of whom have held back on the money, claiming they're holding it for a rainy day.

DREIER: That's not true, Charlie.

RANGEL: It seems to me that we have no idea as to what the intelligence is as to just how dangerous it is that our cities and our states be exposed to terrorist attack.

But one thing is abundantly clear, we have serious problems of health, asthma, diabetes. The hospitals are in serious need now. It would seem to me that, with the federal cuts and the additional burdens put on cities and states, that we ought to think about revenue sharing now.

DREIER: Charlie, it is true...

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to have to leave it there, because we're going to continue this conversation in just a moment.

Don't go away. We're going to ask Congressmen Dreier and Rangel to stand by.

And a reminder to you viewers, you can weigh in on our LATE EDITION web question of the week. It is, "Should the U.S. send peacekeeping troops to Liberia?" We just saw the news from there, Charles Taylor saying he will leave. You can vote now. Log on to the LATE EDITION Web address, cnn.com/lateedition.

LATE EDITION continues after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. We're continuing our conversation with Republican Congressman David Dreier of California and Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel of New York -- I should say "spirited conversation" with the two of you.

I want to turn you now to Medicare. As both of you know, Congress has been wrestling -- both houses of the Congress -- with legislation that would add a prescription drug benefit for seniors to Medicare, and in a way that presumably would allow these plans to move more into the private sector.

There was a poll done just in the last few days. It was released on Monday by CNN-USA Today-Gallup. Senior citizens were asked, "How will congressional changes to Medicare affect you?" For the better, 20 percent; for the worse, 51 percent; no change, 18 percent.

Congressman Dreier, what's the signal coming from this sort of response to the Congress?

DREIER: Well, Judy, you know, in 1965, when Medicare was put into place, "The Sound of Music" won the best motion picture of the year. And since that period of time, we've seen music change, we've seen movies change, we've seen medicine change, but Medicare hasn't changed.

And I believe that if you look at the fact that Medicare today will pay for a heart transplant, but it won't pay for the prescription drugs necessary to prevent heart disease, we really do need to bring it into the 21st century.

Now, it's true that there are many seniors who today rely on Medicare, understandably are concerned about changes. There will not be any changes. Traditional Medicare, as it exists today, will still be available for retirees.

But we recognize if nothing is done, if nothing is done in the future, the system will be bankrupt.

And we know that, back in 1965, the prescription drug made available was basically an aspirin. And today, so many wonderful things have taken place in the area of research and development on prescription drugs. We want, and the president is committed to ensuring that we have, that component. And I believe that we're going to do that. And at the end of the day we should enjoy strong bipartisan support from Charlie Rangel and other Democrats for this initiative to ensure that seniors have access to affordable prescription drugs.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Rangel, you're almost laughing.

RANGEL: I thought that Dave Dreier was going to say, "Those old folks just don't understand how much the Republicans love them. They don't understand the program." But you said...

DREIER: You know I love you, Charlie.

RANGEL: You said the magic word, Judy, when you said that this program intends to move them toward the private sector.

What it really intends to do is to end entitlements. Whether you talk about Social Security or Medicaid, which provides health care for the poor, or Medicare that provides it for the elderly, the Republicans truly believe that that should be a local and state requirement, and not that of the federal government.

So they're setting up something, and the old folks understand it. And I'm one of them, so I know -- is that they're going to put all of the money in nonexisting pharmaceutical corporations that have yet to be set up, that have yet to say what price the drugs are going to cost, and they're going to compete against the Medicare federal program. And so they'll be subsidized.

And while this is happening, the actuary for Medicare said that we can expect a forced 25-percent to 30-percent increase in the Medicare costs. So if you want drugs, you will be forced to go to the private sector.

Then after you've eliminated Medicare, then you're on your own, and the free marketplace works as well, and the Republicans are happy, because they've gotten rid of another entitlement.

DREIER: I will tell you, Charlie, I agree with you that we, as Republicans, believe in the marketplace. That, frankly, is what has made the United States of America as great as it is.

What we want to do is, is we want to say again that senior citizens today -- and you point to the fact that you're one of them -- should not be frightened. There are many people out there who are trying to scare the living daylights out of senior citizens, claiming that somehow we are going to jeopardize their ability to have access to the medical treatment that is needed.

We're not doing that. What we're doing is is we are responsibly recognizing that if no action is taken today, future generations will be jeopardized.

And so that's why I believe providing some choice out there, and at the same time dealing with the need to get prescription drugs made available, is a very, very important priority.

RANGEL: Old folks understand it.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Rangel, a quick last word here on this. RANGEL: Old folks understand it. There are big gaps in your program. And what we Democrats have tried to convince you to do was to fund Medicare as we know it, make certain that everyone would get complete coverage and have a co-payment, and people know what they get.

What you're offering them, what the Republicans are offering them...

DREIER: We're offering them a lot of what you just said, Charlie...

WOODRUFF: Congressmen...

DREIER: We're offering them a lot of what you just said.

WOODRUFF: All right, Congressman Dreier, I want to ask both of you now about an effort in your home state of California to recall your sitting Democratic governor, Gray Davis.

WOODRUFF: There's an effort being raised now to raise all the signatures that are necessary to get it on the ballot, either this fall or next spring.

Where do you stand, Congressman Dreier?

DREIER: Well, Judy, we have a $38.2 billion deficit in our state, and I think that Gray Davis, who's going to be on your program, I guess, in just a few minutes, has, unfortunately, been responsible for that.

Much of it did not come forward in the last campaign. And so I think that the momentum has made it inevitable. And if it's on the ballot, I would vote to recall Gray Davis, and it appears that it's going to be.

WOODRUFF: Congressman Rangel, as a good Democrat, which I assume you are, what do you think ought to happen to Governor Davis?

RANGEL: I can't get involved in the politics of California, but I can say this, that every state has a deficit as a result of the Bush fiscal policies.

DREIER: Oh, come on, Charlie.

RANGEL: And sooner or later, sooner or later, they have to make a decision, raise taxes, which the Republican California legislature won't do, cut services, or to do a combination of both.

DREIER: Charlie, you know what is needed...

RANGEL: We had our problem in New York state with Governor Pataki.

DREIER: Charlie, you know what is needed, what is needed... RANGEL: Hold it, David. He refused to increase taxes, and the state legislature, Republican Senate, had to overrule the governor. And even now, as a result of these federal cutbacks, we're closing fire houses, we're closing hospitals. And the mayor of the city of New York is increasing property taxes, increasing across-the-board consumer taxes.

And so what is happening to California?

DREIER: Charlie...

RANGEL: Republican and Democratic governors all over the country should see this train coming down...

DREIER: I'm glad you're such a great authority on California, Charlie.

WOODRUFF: All right, we're going to...

DREIER: Let me just say, Judy, before we go, and that is the fact that thousands and thousands of Democrats have lined up to do this, and that's why Charlie is right in not taking a position on it.

I believe that it is inevitable that it will be on the ballot at the rate that we're going. And I think Arnold Schwarzenegger would make a fascinating governor for our state.

WOODRUFF: All right.

RANGEL: It's all show business with you guys.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave it there. It's always great to see the two of you. Congressman David Dreier, Congressman Charlie Rangel. Wonderful to see you both, representing both coasts of this great country.

Coming up, a revealing new book about the war in Iraq, in dramatic words and photographs. We'll get the inside story on "21 Days to Baghdad."

And the results are in on LATE EDITION's Web question of the week: Should the U.S. send peacekeeping troops to Liberia? Find out how you, the viewers, voted when LATE EDITION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Well, during the war with Iraq, we got firsthand accounts of what was happening on the front lines from reporters embedded with coalition forces. And now through vivid accounts and photographs, a new book by "Time" magazine chronicles the war that ended Saddam Hussein's regime. The book is titled "Twenty-One Days to Baghdad: The Inside Story of How America Won the War Against Iraq."

Joining us from New York is "Time" magazine picture editor, Mary Anne Golon.

Thank you for being with us.

MARY ANNE GOLON, "TIME" MAGAZINE PICTURE EDITOR: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: And photographer Benjamin Lowy, whose work is featured in the book.

Welcome to you both.

Ben Lowy, to you first. Your first war coverage, I understand, and if that's right, what was it like?

BENJAMIN LOWY, "TIME" MAGAZINE PHOTOGRAPHER: Well, it was an exciting and illuminating experience just to be doing this for the first time. And obviously I've never experienced anything like that before, so it was really kind of a life-changing experience.

WOODRUFF: I'm sure. I'm sure that it was. And I think we can only capture a small glimpse of what you were able to see.

I want to show our viewers some of these pictures. The first one we're going to show is at Camp Pennsylvania. This was the U.S. forces camp in Kuwait, where an American soldier attacked other Americans.

Ben, you were the only still photographer taking pictures. Tell us about what you were seeing here.

LOWY: Well, this was a situation where we were awakened in the middle of the night by some loud explosions. And everyone thought this was a terrorist attack by outside forces. You had soldiers running around trying to guard every available post. And the only thing I personally could do was take my camera and start documenting the situation, especially when they started evacuating all of the wounded soldiers by helicopter, at a time when they all thought that this was a very large outside terrorist attack and not from one of the soldiers. It was a very hectic and tense environment.

WOODRUFF: And when did you realize that it was a U.S. soldier who was behind this?

LOWY: About an hour or two after the initial explosions and evacuation of soldiers, they found Acbar (ph). And I saw him being arrested in this area right in front of the command post. And at that point, I think most of us all realized that this was someone from the inside who had attacked us.

WOODRUFF: Mary Anne Golon, as the picture editor for "Time" magazine, I want to ask you about this next photo we're going to show. This a man carrying a coffin clearly stained with blood. What was he doing?

GOLON: Well, this is an incredible image taken by one of our contract photographers, Uri Kosorev (ph), who spent six months in Iraq. And this particular cemetery he had been to several times before the war began. He saw this man carrying the coffin and realized that they were reusing them. They didn't have enough coffins made for all of the people being killed during the conflict.

So as the man is carrying it in the picture that you see, it's got bloodstains in it from an woman they had just buried an hour before.

WOODRUFF: Oh, it's...

GOLON: Incredible.

WOODRUFF: ... a very, very difficult picture to look at.

Ben Lowy, I want to come back to you now. We have a photograph, watching soldiers riffle through an Iraqi military station or military offices. Look at this picture, and remind us, what were they doing?

LOWY: Well, this was at a military installation new Najaf in southern Iraq. And as the soldiers were pushing north toward Baghdad, they attacked obviously every military installation, looking for evidence.

These two sniper teams -- these two members of a sniper team, as they went forward of all of the infantry soldiers -- so it was basically us three in hostile territory looking for any evidence of weapons -- or if people or colonels or high ranking officials. And in this case, it was a colonel that they found. Evidence that this -- had gotten rid of their uniform and rank and insignia and left them in their quarters. And so this is what they were looking for, specifically, because as a sniper team, that's the only way they'd be able to identify targets.

WOODRUFF: Mary Anne, another picture I want to ask you about. This is a picture, I understand, of American soldiers dragging the body of a dead Iraqi -- once we're able to look at this, I want to...

GOLON: It's very hard -- it's a very hard image to look at it. It was taken by Christopher Morris. It's a -- soldiers were clearing a road in the northern section of Baghdad. There had been a lot of bombing there previously.

And Chris said at the beginning they were having a really hard time doing this work, obviously, because it wasn't -- there were -- it was pretty gruesome.

And when he shot this photograph, there was -- there are several other frames similar to it -- he said he just realized how horrible war was. It's just -- it's really hard to look at, but it's part of what went on.

WOODRUFF: Do you think that the picture would have been used if this were an American casualty?

GOLON: I think so. I think so. At the magazine, we have a lot of editorial discussions about about whether or not we should use the pictures. And we're very, very aware of how people might think we're portraying things.

And I think, especially in the case of this picture, it was something that we actually asked ourselves, "OK, if this was an American being dragged by enemy soldiers, would we still use the picture?" And we decided that, yes, we would.

WOODRUFF: Ben Lowy, so much of this war, of course, came to us here in the United States on television. There were video pictures coming to us from embedded camerapeople, as well as the still photographers like you.

What is the difference, do you think, in a situation like this between the images we get, the video image like this of that statue of Saddam coming down in Baghdad, versus a still picture like the one that's in this book?

LOWY: Well, I think the big difference between video and still, just on a fundamental level, is that when you look at a still image, you don't have the before and you don't have the after. It freezes a moment in time. And that leaves people, an audience, to look at it and ponder and think about it and absorb the entire situation.

Whereas video, you're just looking at it, it goes by, and you don't have a lot of time to rethink about a specific scene, because it's all fluid, it's all motion.

But you can stand, just like you can stand in a museum and look at a work of art, and take in every aspect of it, let your eye move around. And it really tells a story in a way that video doesn't. Video just doesn't let you assume anything.

WOODRUFF: Ben Lowy is a photographer who took some remarkable pictures, along with other photographers, that appear in this book, "Twenty-One Days to Baghdad: The Inside Story of How America Won the War Against Iraq." Joining him, Mary Anne Golon, who is the photo editor for "Time" magazine.

Thank you, both, for being with us on LATE EDITION.

GOLON: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

LOWY: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Our LATE EDITION Web question of the week, we've been telling you, is, "Should the U.S. send peacekeeping troops to Liberia?

Here now we can show you how you voted. Forty-five percent of you said yes; 55 percent said no. Please remember that this is not a scientific poll.

LATE EDITION always wants to hear from you. You can share your comments online at the Web address, cnn.com/lateedition.

LATE EDITION continues after a check of the hour's top stories.

(NEWSBREAK) WOODRUFF: And it is now time to say goodbye to our international viewers. We want to thank you very much for watching.

Coming up for our North American audience, California Governor Gray Davis. His state is in the midst of a financial crisis as he faces a movement to recall him from office. I'll talk with Gray Davis about his plans for overcoming all these hurdles when LATE EDITION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: We'll get to our interview with California Governor Gray Davis in just a moment, but first let's check in with CNN reporters covering the hour's top stories.

Liberia's embattled leader, Charles Taylor, met today with the president of Nigeria, where he accepted Nigeria's offer of asylum. CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash has reaction at the White House. Dana, they must have been watching that news conference we carried here on CNN.

BASH: Unclear how closely they were watching, but we do know that they understand that Nigerian president -- that Nigerian president has offered asylum to the Liberian leader, Charles Taylor, and it is obviously what President Bush has been asking for, and that is for Charles Taylor to leave the country.

But what wasn't clear in that press conference, in their statements, is exactly when that will happen. And the White House has made it very clear that they want it to happen very soon. And their reaction, according to a spokesman, Jimmy Oar (ph), is that the president has said Mr. Taylor needs to leave, leave now, leave quickly, and that's where it stands. He needs to leave so that peace can be established.

So they are certainly not unhappy about the fact that now Charles Taylor appears to have a place to go in order to get out of Liberia very quickly. But they want it to happen, and they want it to happen very soon so they can start discussing and deciding when, how many, and really if any U.S. peacekeeping troops will be going to that country.

WOODRUFF: Dana, that was the one prime condition the president put on the potential for U.S. troops going in there, that Mr. Taylor would have to leave the country.

BASH: That's correct. But they have heard Mr. Taylor say that he would leave the country many times before. Obviously, the difference here now is that he appears to have some place to go. He is of course -- he is somebody who has been indicted for war crimes, and that has been another issue. Senior officials have been suggesting and hinting recently that the number one issue is for him just to get out of the country, and that perhaps having -- standing trial for those war crimes might have to be put on the back burner. But again, it is something that Mr. Taylor has said he would do many times before, and so what they are looking for right now is for it actually to happen -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Dana Bash, reporting for us live from the White House, where as you just heard, President Bush leaving for a tour of the African continent tomorrow.

Quickly now to cycling's most prestigious event. The Tour de France, it's under way. American Lance Armstrong trying to win his fifth straight title. CNN's Jim Bittermann is following the race, and he joins us on the phone live. Jim, are you there?

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am indeed, Judy. In fact, kind of a dramatic start to this race. The very first stage of the race, which was -- took the racers from the origins of the Tour de France, this is the 100th anniversary of the tour, where the tour started 100 years ago, which was about 20 kilometers, about 16 miles outside of Paris, taking the racers from there up to the northeast part of France, to a town called Maux (ph).

But just before the finish line, about 700 meters, 700 yards before the finish line, there was a big pileup as 198 racers tangled in a big crash, caused by one guy who went down, and the field was so tightly packed that a number of others went down with him. And probably about a quarter of the other racers went down with him, including Lance Armstrong, who fell off his bike.

He was apparently unhurt. He has a bruise, I think, on his thigh, but he said he was unhurt in the crash. However, others were more severely injured. One of the riders broke a collarbone. So it is a very dramatic start to this race. And we'll see how it goes from here -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So Jim, does that mean they start the whole thing over again?

BITTERMANN: No. In fact, one of the things that does happen, it actually works to Lance Armstrong's advantage. He was coming in about 25th today, but because of this crash -- if there's a crash, the rules are that if there's a crash within a kilometer, about 1,000 yards, of the finish line, then everybody that is involved in the crash gets the same time as the first place finisher. So in fact, Lance Armstrong, who wasn't near first place today, is going to get the same time cumulatively in the overall race, which takes of course three weeks of racing, that the first-place finisher got, and he is now in eighth place as far as the overall standings are concerned.

WOODRUFF: So he's still very much in the running. And we just learned something about bicycle racing.

BITTERMANN: It's a complicated sport, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jim Bittermann. Thank you, Jim for joining us on the telephone.

Well, from cycling to politics and to the Golden State of California, where some things aren't so golden these days. California is facing a financial crisis with a $38 billion deficit. That's led to a movement to recall Governor Gray Davis, a move that, according to some polls, a majority of Californians now support.

Joining us from Los Angeles is Governor Davis.

And, Governor, we want to welcome you to LATE EDITION.

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Judy. Good to be with you.

WOODRUFF: And you.

Governor, first off, about that poll that the "Los Angeles Times" published just a day or so ago, more than a majority of Californians telling the "L.A. Times" that they would support your recall, removing you from office. This must be monumentally discouraging, to say the least.

DAVIS: Well, it's not the best news. But the poll did have some good news. The gulf was only nine points.

And I'm convinced when people know that this is not a free ride, this special election that the proponents want will cost taxpayers $30 million -- this money is not budgeted, and so if there is a special election this fall it will have to come out of the same general fund that pays for police officers, education and health care.

And I think when people find that out, they'll be hopping mad, and be mad at the proponents of this recall who are forcing them to spend $30 million for a special election.

WOODRUFF: Well, underlying all this, Governor, the same poll showed, when you asked people whether they approve of the job you're doing as governor, a remarkable more than two-thirds, 69 percent, of all the respondents said they don't approve, they disapprove of your handling of the office of governor. A record low 22 percent say they approve.

I mean, can you even keep your head up and keep going to work every day under these circumstances?

DAVIS: Well, again, it's not my favorite news. But if you look around the country, governors and even mayors are taking a lot of hits. There's almost no governor that has a 50-percent approval rating. Mayor Bloomberg in New York is in the 20s. Governor McGreevey and Governor Roland are not doing as great as they'd like to on the East Coast.

So we're all struggling with a national economy that has hemorrhaged 2.6 million jobs over the last three years and greatly reduced the revenues that are coming into the budget.

Nonetheless, we're working hard to balance our books out here. We have made progress by cutting $11 billion. And my hope is that within the next two weeks or so, at least one house of the legislature will pass a budget and the other house will shortly follow.

WOODRUFF: Well, Governor, I hear what you're saying about the cost of this recall election. But at the same time, the people behind it now say they are getting very close to having the number of signatures required, 900,000-some-odd signature. In fact, they say they're going to have 1.5 million signatures very soon.

You must be worried.

DAVIS: Listen, politics is not for the faint-hearted. You live with a lot of uncertainty.

We actually have more signatures than they've gathered, the anti- recall signatures, and we started about a month and a half after they started.

If there is an election, we'll deal with it. I don't fear the electorate. They've been very generous to me. I've been elected five times, twice to comptroller, once to lieutenant governor, and twice governor.

And we will make a compelling case. We'll make the same case we're making about our budget, that we are balancing our books, but we are not going to sacrifice the gains we've made in public education.

There is a vote today in Sacramento that will kick 110 kids out of kindergarten if the Republican budget is adopted, and reduce by $600 million beyond what we've reduced support for public education, which the president of the University of California says will reduce by 50 percent the number of kids admitted to the University of California. So I am not going to shortchange the gains we've made in education, and I'm fighting every day for a better future for the people that I'm privileged to represent.

WOODRUFF: Well, Governor, I hear what you're saying the legislature's doing and how you're involved in that. But again, back to this poll, 74 percent of Californians say they don't approve of your handling of the state budget.

There was an analysis in "USA Today" of all the states and their fiscal situations. California came in dead last. They looked at spending, they looked at taxes, the overall fiscal situation. And they said, at this point, California is putting out, spending more money, I think it's a billion dollars a month more than it's taking in, and they're putting the responsibility right at the doorstep of the governor.

What do you say to this?

DAVIS: Well, first of all, our so-called $38-billion shortfall is really two years lumped into one. So everyone else's budget you have to double, to put that in perspective.

Secondly, we have, in California, a uniquely difficult bar. We need a two-thirds vote to pass the legislature. I've done my job. I put a budget in on May 15th. It is balanced, but it protects our core values: public education, vital programs for seniors, children's health insurance and public safety.

Now, I'm trying to help the legislature do their job by returning the budget to me.

WOODRUFF: Well, Governor, at the same time, their argument is that you've been in office, you obviously were reelected last November, you were the one who was stewarding the state's fiscal situation when it got to the point that it is.

How much responsibility do you bear for this deficit?

DAVIS: Listen, all of us in Sacramento will accept the responsibility for any mistakes we've made.

But believe me, if this was just a problem of my malfeasance or my mistakes, no other governor in America would be dealing with budget shortfalls. And, in fact, 46 are.

And it's because of a national economy that has plummeted. Stock market has been down the previous three years in a row. The after- effects of 9/11. All those have had a tremendous downward impact on revenues coming into every state. And so all governors are dealing with very difficult situations.

And one thing I learned a long time ago, in good times we get more credit than we deserve. And in bad times, the reverse is probably true.

WOODRUFF: Governor, just, quickly, back on this recall effort, right now, the supporters of the recall are asking the secretary of state, who happens to be a Democrat named Kevin Shelley (ph), to order the counties to count these signatures when they come in, rather than waiting.

And I want to quickly quote something that Sal Russo (ph), who's the head of the Recall Gray Davis Committee, said. He said, "What they're doing is clearly illegal. Mr. Shelley (ph) is telling county officials, `Sit on your,' quote, `butts, and don't verify what's come in over the last 30 days. Sit on a million signatures, and let me know in August.'" Are you putting, you know, pressure, if you will, in any way on Democrats to slow down this recall effort?

DAVIS: No. The secretary of state is doing his job. He's independently elected.

And you know, Sal Russo (ph) ran the campaign of my opponent in the last election. A lot of this is just sour grapes. There's nothing for campaign managers to do in odd-numbered years, so he's trying to gin this thing up.

(LAUGHTER)

The secretary of state has followed the same rules that have been adopted in the past, and they count the raw signatures and report them, and then the next month they go back and verify the raw signatures.

So there's nothing inappropriate at all. And what pleases me is that we actually, in half the time, have collected more signatures of people who were against the recall.

So the point I want to make again is, the recall proponents are fooling the voters into thinking a recall election is a free ride. It is not a free ride. It will cost the state $30 million and come out of the same pot of money that we would be better spending it on, public education or health care or public safety.

But when that fact comes out, I think people will take a different view of this matter.

WOODRUFF: Just quickly, Governor, I would ask you to listen to something Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican whose name, of course, is out there as a possible candidate for governor, something he said, visiting in Iraq two days ago. If you would listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR, POSSIBLE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: I have to tell you one thing. This is really wild (ph), driving around here. It's like -- I mean, the poverty. And you see there's no money. Disastrous financially. And there's a leadership vacuum. Pretty much like in California right now.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: A leadership vacuum as in California, Governor?

DAVIS: Well, the Terminator might be back, he might not be back. We'll just have to wait and see on that.

But I was elected by eight million people -- or eight million people went to the polls last November and asked me to finish the job. That's what I'm focused on. If a recall qualifies, we'll deal with that then.

WOODRUFF: Governor, one other question. Darrell Issa, who's the Republican who is funding a large part of this recall effort, of course, he's a congressman from California, he was quoted in the "San Jose Mercury News" this week as saying -- he said, "There is a truism when you run against Gray Davis, directly or indirectly. He will call you a right-winger, no matter how moderate you are. And if you're a businessman, he will call you a ruthless crook, no matter how reasonable you are."

What do you say to Darrell Issa?

DAVIS: Well, Darrell Issa is a right-winger. He's against gun control. He won't support a moratorium on offshore drilling. And he's not for a woman's right to choose. He is a right-winger. And he knows that his agenda would never get him elected governor of California if he ran like most people do, when you're supposed to, in 2002 or 2006. So he's trying to sneak in the back door.

But it's not going to work. People are going to realize that all the money he's spending is just to give him a chance to run this fall. And that means that they have to spend $30 million of their hard- earned tax money that they'd rather see spent on public education, health care or the schools.

WOODRUFF: But, Governor, are you saying there's absolutely no basis to what's going on? I mean, when you have, what, almost a million people or maybe more than a million Californians who say they'd like to see you recalled, the polls are showing these numbers, I mean, clearly there's real, serious unhappiness with...

DAVIS: Look, in difficult times, Judy, people hold their elected officials accountable. I know that, and I'm not complaining about it.

I've taken more hits than any elected official over the last three years, starting with the energy crisis, which now people see was a total hoax. We were being ripped off and manipulated by the Enrons of the world, and even the federal government has finally acknowledged that.

But I don't mind that, because I've asked to serve the public. I'm going to continue to fight for their future every day. People can say what they want.

But at the end of the day, if I have to face the electorate again, I don't fear that. I will make my case, and I believe the results will be the same as they were last November.

WOODRUFF: So, when you go to work every morning, what expression is on your face?

DAVIS: Well, I'm blessed to have a wonderful wife, who I think you know. She brought me back to God. We are people of faith. And I believe to my core that God never gives you more than you can handle.

So, it's one of gratefulness and wanting to spend every day I can to make this state as good as I can.

WOODRUFF: So, are you trying to say that it's Gray Davis who's the real Terminator here instead of that other guy, the actor?

DAVIS: Well, I wouldn't be so bold as to say that, Judy. But I've been counted out many times, as you well know, and we've won more statewide elections than anyone else in this state. So, if the people want me to come before the electorate one more time to make my case, it will be my honor to do that.

WOODRUFF: Let me just ask you one final question, Governor. If all the people who are on the fence right now about whether to vote -- and I know your point about the money, the cost of this recall election, if it were to take place, I know that's a point that you've made.

But what would you say right now if you knew that everyone was listening who is on the fence, trying to decide whether you deserve to stay in office, what would you say to them?

DAVIS: That we have made great gains in this state in the face of a difficult national economy; that when I took office we were 43rd in per-capita spending on education, now we're 27th. Test scores have gone up four years in a row. We do have a long ways to go, but we're making great progress. The environment has gotten better. We've protected the coastline.

And we are doing the best we can to enhance public safety and enhance the opportunity of every Californian, even in the face of a very difficult national economy.

WOODRUFF: And do you think you're getting a fair hearing out there? The stories we're seeing here on the East Coast are pretty negative.

DAVIS: Well, you know, some days I get a little discouraged when I read the paper. But listen, I asked for this job. I worked hard for it. I'm grateful people gave me the opportunity to hopefully finish the four-year term.

And we have made progress. And I believe when the economy turns, people will feel better about their lives, and will be able to look and see what we've done to improve the environment, provide health care for 1 million more children, and improve test scores four years in a row for our kids.

So I'm pleased with my record, and if the voters want me to put it before them again, it will be my honor to do that.

WOODRUFF: Governor Gray Davis of California, looking and sounding very positive in the face of this recall effort.

Governor Davis, we appreciate you talking with us today on LATE EDITION.

DAVIS: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much.

When we return, we will reveal what is on the cover of this week's news magazines, plus Bruce Morton's essay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: America does best, I think, when it moves forward, trying to bring everyone along.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: The United States of America, at 227 years and counting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. And now a look at what is on the cover of this week's news magazines.

"Time" magazine says, "Peace is Hell: A look at the U.S. occupation of Iraq three months after the fall of Baghdad."

And on the cover of "Newsweek," "Cholesterol and Beyond: How drugs that have cut heart disease are now showing promise against Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis."

Well, it's time now for your letters to LATE EDITION, and Iraq continues to be a hot topic.

Steven (ph), from North Hampton, Massachusetts, writes, "If preemption is to be our new defense policy, it is crucial that we understand if our preemptive policy toward Iraq was based upon the correct intelligence."

Regarding a recent CNN exclusive report about nuclear parts unearthed in Iraq, Tom from Los Angeles says, "The recent weapons discoveries in Iraq are conclusive proof that inspections and containment were working. The weapons parts had remained buried in the ground for the past 12 years because Saddam knew that he could not unearth them and put them to use without detection."

And Kevin from Williams Lake, British Columbia, writes, "The United States must get the Iraqi people water, electricity, jobs and a feeling of usefulness. This is the only way real peace will come to that nation," end quote.

And your comments are always welcome. The e-mail address, again, lateedition@cnn.com.

And if you'd like to receive the weekly e-mail reviewing the program, go to cnn.com/lateedition and sign up.

Well, as Americans celebrate the country's birthday this weekend, Bruce Morton reflects on freedoms here at home and abroad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): You've probably seen the pictures every Fourth of July at Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello; every Flag Day at George Washington's Mount Vernon; immigrants taking and oath, becoming Americans.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident," the old declaration reads, "that all men are created equal."

Not quite true, of course, but America at its best keeps moving toward that goal. We don't mean men, anymore. Women count, too. We don't mean only one religion, though some Americans insist it should be a Christian nation only. We don't mean only heterosexuals, the Supreme Court reminded us last month.

Not all Americans agree with this. Some would punish homosexuals. Some would still discriminate by race. Lester Maddox, the ex-Georgia governor who died last week, was a convinced segregationist who, as far as I know, never changed his views. But there were more, like Strom Thurmond, who ran for president as a segregationist in 1948, who did change.

We won't be all be created equal, I suppose, until we all get a fairly even start in life, a good high school education, say. We're not there yet either, which is why the Supreme Court also reminded us that affirmative action isn't obsolete yet.

Some Americans resist the move toward created equal, and would go back to banning gays or Catholics or minorities or whomever. But America does best, I think, when it moves forward, trying to bring everyone along.

That's been hard. A civil war is part of the price we've paid for the progress we've made.

And now, Americans are committed to trying to bring some sort of freedom -- free speech, elections and so on -- to countries which have much less experience of it than the men did who signed our declaration all those years ago.

Can this odd, pluralistic idea take root in an Iraq, an Afghanistan, a Liberia?

Peacekeeping, a United Nations expert once told me, works when neither side wants to fight. Israel and Syria, for instance, argue over the Golan Heights, but that's all. Peace-enforcing, when one side wants to fight, is much harder, takes many more troops, much more time.

And teaching democracy, pluralism, toleration of views you don't share, is almost certainly harder still. It will be interesting to see how we Americans do at this new role of nation-building.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Bruce.

And coming up, the Final Round. Did President Bush's tough talk about attacks in Iraq do more harm than good? Our panel is ready to debate that and the other big stories of the week.

LATE EDITION's "Final Round," right after a check of the hour's headlines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: Now it's going to get lively. Welcome to the Final Round. Joining me, Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist; Peter Beinart of the "New Republic"; Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online; and Stephen Hayes of the "Weekly Standard."

We're going to begin with Liberia, in dire straits after years of civil war. Today that country's embattled president, Charles Taylor, said that he would accept asylum in Nigeria. Taylor's departure could open the way for the deployment of U.S. troops or Marines as peacekeepers.

Peter, should the U.S. intervene?

PETER BEINART, NEW REPUBLIC: Yes, I think so, and for two reasons.

First of all, Liberia is not just a threat to itself. Charles Taylor has destabilized West Africa in much the same way that Slobodan Milosevic destabilized the Balkans. Unless Liberia is settled, the whole -- there are four or five countries that will be in chaos.

Second of all, the U.S. is implicated there. We supported a dictatorship in Liberia for a long time, helped to destroy the civil society, and now we're seeing the results. We have a responsibility to help set things right.

WOODRUFF: Jonah Goldberg?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Shockingly, I'm actually pretty much on the same page.

My only qualifications would be purely practical ones. One, whether or not we would be effective. I don't think any of these things are worth doing unless you do them right.

And the real big enchilada is still Iraq, and if it detracts from that, then it's maybe not worth doing.

But otherwise, I think morally and strategically, it makes sense to do.

WOODRUFF: Stephen Hayes?

STEPHEN HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, I agree with both of these guys.

WOODRUFF: Oh, my goodness...

HAYES: I know this is a rare occurrence here.

WOODRUFF: ... we've got nothing but agreement.

HAYES: No, I think Peter actually laid this out in a compelling editorial a couple weeks back about our obligations to Liberia and really about how, you know, solving the problems in Liberia would be sort of a setup for solving the problems in other parts of West Africa.

WOODRUFF: So, Donna, are we going to get complete agreement here?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely. And I'll also echo what Condoleezza Rice said a couple of weeks ago. And she said, essentially, that we cannot allow Liberia and other African countries to fall in the wrong hands.

Charles Taylor had ties to al Qaeda. It's important that we go in. The Congressional Black Caucus support the intervention. And I think it's the right thing to do, and it's timely.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, we know that Liberia is not on President Bush's itinerary as he does begin a historic five-nation tour of the continent of Africa tomorrow. He'll be traveling to Senegal, to South Africa, to Botswana, to Uganda and Nigeria.

So, Donna, back to you. What is the message of this trip?

BRAZILE: Well, I think it's a humanitarian mission, on one hand. On the other hand, I think the president understands how important Africa is strategically to our global interests, as well as our political interests.

Look, he's up for reelection next year, and he understands, in trying to win some of those battleground states, he needs swing voters, he also needs some black voters. Black voters may take a second look at this president. And I hope the Democratic Party is on notice today that the president is going to go there and take these pictures and bring them back home.

WOODRUFF: So, Stephen, what does that mean?

HAYES: Well, I think just to build on something that Donna laid out for us, I think for people who are constantly looking for a manifestation of the president's compassionate conservatism, and they're looking for it in domestic policy in the faith-based initiative, things like that, this is it.

And that will resonate, not only because the president is going to Africa, not only will that resonate with African-American voters, but also because this is another manifestation of what he's been talking about, about what his ideology is.

WOODRUFF: So, Peter, does that mean that the Democrats have something to worry about, the president increasingly moving on to their territory?

BEINART: Yes. But I think if you look at what America's policy really is toward Africa in this new post-9/11 era, it's actually a lot less compassionate conservative than it seems like.

What America's really doing in Africa is engaging with a lot of militaries to try to fight terrorism. The problem is, most of the governments we're engaging with, forming closer ties to, giving more aid to, are dictatorships.

We may be slipping back into a kind of policy that we pursued during the Cold War, where, on security grounds, what we actually did was, we supported a lot of bad guys in Africa, and we actually undermined African democracy. That's what worries me.

WOODRUFF: Jonah?

GOLDBERG: Of course, the $15 billion AIDS initiative mitigates some of -- runs against some of that storyline.

BEINART: Yes. But we'll see how much of that is spent. So far, it's looking like very little of it is actually going to be spent.

GOLDBERG: That may be true, but, I mean, he's asking for it, and he's pushing for it in political ways.

BEINART: He hasn't asked for all of it to be authorized for this year.

GOLDBERG: Well, he's certainly doing more than any Republican or any Democrat in recent memory has done on those sorts of issues.

But I think one of the salient points here is if we're going to say that Africa is strategically vital, then we're basically saying every place in the world is strategically vital. Because if Africa is vital, surely Asia is vital, and surely Europe is vital, and pretty much we've covered the entire globe.

And that may be a sign of rising globalization and all of these sorts of things. But to make the argument that sub-Saharan Africa is vital to our security interests basically means that every place in the world is vital to our security interests.

WOODRUFF: While we're talking about security interests, let's turn to Iraq, where the attacks on U.S. servicemen keep coming. Tragically, the latest one today, when a soldier was shot and critically wounded while guarding Baghdad University.

President Bush took a bit of heat after he made this comment about the attacks on U.S. troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Stephen, did the president put the troops in any jeopardy by his remarks?

HAYES: Well, I don't think so. I mean, it's not the way I would have said it. It's probably not the way his speechwriters would have written it. But, you know, for John Kerry and Howard Dean to sort of pile on and suggest that this puts at risk, to me, is absurd. I mean, they're trying to score political points. They've tried to score political points on similar issues in the past. And it's just kind of the same old Washington, you know, gotcha game.

WOODRUFF: Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, I do believe that the president sounded a lot more like P. Diddy than the president of the United States.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: We know who P.Diddy is.

BRAZILE: Well, he's a famous rapper and a songwriter. Perhaps that's where he's getting some of his tough-talking lines from.

But I believe the president put his foreign policy in risk. At a time when we're still trying to assemble and keep intact a global coalition on terrorism, this hurts. This hurts us around the globe. And I think that's what the White House should be concerned about.

WOODRUFF: Peter?

BEINART: The statement itself doesn't bother me that much, but I think what isn't fair to these troops is that we clearly didn't prepare for this enough. We haven't gotten enough foreign troops to help us. And we haven't trained these guys for peacekeeping, which is what they're now going to be doing for maybe years and years and years. It seems to me that's where the president has let down the troops.

GOLDBERG: I think Donna's comments are far more reflective of where the Democratic Party is than Peter's.

I think, you know, what we've seen in this, to me it's the verbal equivalent of that flight-suit flack that we saw, where Bush says something, it annoys Democrats. It works great for them out in middle America. It's not like he was doing a Baghdad Bob, saying we're going to be boil their stomachs or anything like that.

And what the Democrats are doing right now is trying to do a death by a thousand cuts. And anything Bush does, they take potshots at it, hoping to bring down those poll numbers.

HAYES: Yes, Jonah is right. And the idea that, you know, Baathists in Iraq are sitting by their satellite TV waiting for George W. Bush to say something that would help them justify their attacks is simply absurd.

BEINART: Well, Bush's problem isn't the Democrats. It's the rising antagonism within the military, amongst military families about the way this thing is going. That's -- it's not what Dean and Kerry are saying. That's where the danger is. GOLDBERG: If you're afraid of that kind of antagonism, maybe we shouldn't be sending people to Sierra Leone or to Liberia.

BRAZILE: Why would other nations help us and send their troops when we're inviting, you know, those renegades in Baghdad to come on and bring it on?

GOLDBERG: I have no problem with that.

BRAZILE: He sounded like a gang leader. That's what it sounded like.

GOLDBERG: And if we send troops Liberia, maybe one of the things we should be doing is going to our allies saying, "Look, do you want us to go to Africa? Why don't you come to Iraq?"

BEINART: Absolutely.

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Temperatures rise when this subject comes up.

(LAUGHTER)

All right, we're going to take a quick break. When we return, grading the Supreme Court. Our panels weighs in on that and more when the Final Round continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Most American people don't give a great deal of thought to the Supreme Court until it hands down decisions like the two historic rulings on race and sexuality that it issued before recessing for the summer.

Today, Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Stephen Breyer gave a glimpse of just how the high court works.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: When you work in a small group of that size, you have to get along. And so you're not going to let some harsh language and some dissenting opinion affect a personal relationship.

STEPHEN BREYER, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: There are unwritten rules. One of them is, the decision that you vote in this case is not in return for something in another case.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

WOODRUFF: The justices appearing on "This Week" on ABC.

Jonah, to you, what is your sense of this court?

GOLDBERG: Well, you know, earlier this weekend, Sandra Day O'Connor was almost crushed by a beam on a stage. And while it would have been obviously a tragedy if something happened to her, it would have been doubly a tragedy, because if she had died, literally the Constitution would have been lost.

Because in the United States today, whatever Sandra Day O'Connor thinks on a given day is what the Constitution means today, by which I mean that the Constitution is no longer about text on paper, it is about what nine politicians want to do in terms of social engineering in this country.

And I think it's largely a tragedy that's never going to go away.

WOODRUFF: Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, I'm still stuck on Bush v. Gore when it comes to the Supreme Court decisions in my lifetime.

GOLDBERG: So is the rest of your party.

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

(LAUGHTER)

That accounts for 40 percent of the American people at this point.

But I do think that beware of those who like to hand-pick judges based on some, you know, right-wing ideological litmus test, because this court, I think, is a court that you can't really determine.

WOODRUFF: Stephen?

HAYES: Actually, Donna makes a great point, and I think it will hurt the Democratic Party in coming elections. One of the strategies, especially of the left wing of the Democratic Party, was to paint the president as this extremist who's sort of foisting upon the American people this extremist judicial agenda.

And there have been lots of, you know, there's lots of coverage of it, lots of protests. And I think that goes away a little bit after the decisions of the past week, when people realize, "Hey, this is not such a rabidly right-wing court."

WOODRUFF: Peter, so it's not the extreme court that the Democrats have been trying to portray it as?

BEINART: No, I think it's actually a lot like the Bush administration: It's conservative but it's very politically aware, and it doesn't like to get on the wrong side of hot-button cultural and social issues.

And, yes, it's a very political court. But, you know, as a liberal, one has to say, when on Earth -- conservatives now recognize that this Supreme Court is very political, after Bush v. Gore, which any honest person had to say was a completely ridiculous case designed to justify a partisan outcome? Now they've found out that it's a partisan court, that it's a politically minded court? I mean, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: Look, I seem to recall quite a few conservatives making these points prior to Bush v. Gore as well.

BEINART: But not about Bush v. Gore. And that was the worst of all.

GOLDBERG: Yes, look, but Peter, do you really want to have that argument again? The one case of judicial activism you haven't liked in 30 years?

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: No, there have been a lot of cases of judicial activism I haven't liked. But that one was the most inexcusable, far more inexcusable than the sodomy and the affirmative-action case, in my opinion.

HAYES: Can I revise my...

(CROSSTALK)

HAYES: They don't seem to be backing away from this argument at all. Maybe I'm just blatantly wrong and they will continue to thump on the issue.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's turn to something else that the court did, and that is, reverberations from their decision on gay sex still are being felt. There is concern among some that the ruling opened the door to legalized gay marriage.

This week President Bush weighed in on whether there should be a constitutional amendment banning gay matrimony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I don't know if it's necessary yet. Let's let the lawyers look at the full ramifications of the recent Supreme Court hearing. What I do support is the notion that marriage is between a man and a woman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: So, Peter, is the gay-marriage issue getting some traction here?

BEINART: Yes. It's become a mainstream issue amongst liberals, and, actually, public opinion shows that it's been rising. And I think it's quite possible that you will start to see it in the liberal states of the North and the East. Clearly not in the South and in the Midwest for quite a long time. This is going to be a years- if not decades-long fight. And conservatives hate to see it this way, but I will go on the record and say this is the moral successor to the struggle for black and female equality, and eventually we'll have gay marriage.

WOODRUFF: Is that what it is, Jonah?

GOLDBERG: I think the metaphor is completely inapt and is really an apples-and-oranges sort of thing. But I think the analysis is right.

What I think is interesting, though, is that gay marriage is not bubbling up that much on the left and among Democrats. The Democrats are all mumbling and frumferring (ph) and not answering the question whether they're in favor of it.

BEINART: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

GOLDBERG: Yes, right, and you said liberals, not Democrats. And what's interesting is that this is really becoming an issue for the Republicans, is that gay marriage is really, it's on rails as a legal issue, and it's forcing it as a political issue, and it's becoming a problem on the right.

And the Bushes -- the Bush administration was really hoping that this would be a problem for Dean and that crowd, and it's not.

WOODRUFF: Donna?

BRAZILE: I think this is a problem for the Republicans, because once again, they will have to decide which side they're on in terms of this issue.

I think for gays and lesbians in this country, the real issue is one of domestic partnership and having equal protection as well as domestic-partnership rights, inheritance, as well as some practical health care.

WOODRUFF: Stephen?

HAYES: Yes, I think both Jonah and Peter make good points. I mean, the fact that Democrats are not rushing to embrace this as an issue -- especially, I mean, Hillary Clinton gave an interview a couple weeks ago where she sort of tried to be on all sides of the issue. The fact that Democrats aren't rushing to embrace this as an issue, I think, means it's a problem for Democrats as well as Republicans.

WOODRUFF: All right. Well, we've got to take a quick break. The Final Round will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Some bad news about the U.S. economy this week. According to new government figures, the jobless rate jumped to 6.5 percent. That is the highest level it's been in nine years.

Why is this happening, and who is responsible? Stephen?

HAYES: Wow. You're really asking me that. I wish I had an answer.

(LAUGHTER)

The politicians wish they had an answer too.

There's an interesting argument being advanced that, because Americans are far more productive than they've ever been in the history of the country, that there's less a need to hire new workers. And I'm not smart enough to know whether the productivity argument is actually economically viable, but I've heard about it from a lot of smart people.

I think, too, you have to look at the after-effects of September 11th and the ongoing uncertainty about all economic decisions that you face in such an environment.

WOODRUFF: Peter?

BEINART: I think that most of this is out of the president's control, but I think -- and we don't know about this most recent tax cut, but I think the jury is clearly in on the first two Bush tax cuts, 2001, 2002.

And what Democrats said, which is that they were very poorly designed to stimulate the economy because they wouldn't go to the people who would spend it, I think that is unequivocally true now.

WOODRUFF: Jonah?

GOLDBERG: Love tax cuts, want more.

(LAUGHTER)

But I do think one of the more interesting things, and this is something that Paul Krugman has been talking about for a very long time, that one of the more interesting things about employment is that a lot of people weren't even being measured by unemployment rates, they were just sitting on the sidelines.

And one of the arguments that the administration is putting forward -- I don't know -- I haven't looked at the numbers to see whether it's true or not, but one of the arguments they're putting forward is that these rising unemployment rates are actually a good sign, because they're a sign that a lot of people are actually beginning to think there's work out there worth looking for. And so, that's what drives the numbers up.

BEINART: But they haven't gotten it yet.

GOLDBERG: But they haven't gotten it yet.

BRAZILE: Well, there's no question that this is now the president's economy, he owns it. And he's going to have to pay the price if jobs are not created next year.

WOODRUFF: All right. Moving on quickly, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean raised a stunning $7.5 million in the second quarter of this year, surpassing his eight rivals. More than half of that money, we should say, came from online donations.

What does Dean's race say about -- the money, Donna, say about the race and the role of the Internet?

BRAZILE: There's no question that he's tapped into a very unlikely pool of voters who are now turned on by his message. And they are giving him a substantial amount of money at this point in the race.

But the race remains wide open, but just Howard Dean right now is the flavor of the month.

WOODRUFF: Is that what he is, Stephen?

HAYES: Well, if he's the flavor of the month, it's not a good month for the Democrats. I mean, I think the more exposure Howard Dean gets, the worse off Democrats are, because he'll be pulling his party to the left, and that's the last thing they need as they look to face President Bush.

WOODRUFF: The last thing they need, Peter?

BEINART: I think there's some truth in that. I mean, the problem is Dean is peddling a message which says you should never -- any compromise with Bush is a sellout, and that just misunderstands the way Washington works. People who are senators in Washington have to compromise with Bush and this administration because that's the way our democracy works. And I think he's telling Democrats something which is really unrealistic.

GOLDBERG: The only thing I would add is it's actually a point Peter once made to me a while back, is that Dean actually could work out a way to tack back to the center as a Democratic candidate, which is always the model for all these guys in the primaries, except for the problem he's been so strident in being anti-war that it's impossible for him to go back to the center.

And he is trying now. He's claiming he's a fiscal conservative. He's talking about his...

BEINART: He is a fiscal conservative.

GOLDBERG: He's talking about his gun-control position, and all of these sorts of things, trying to seem like a moderate. But he was so anti-war, and so wrongly anti-war about it, that it's going to be impossible for him to get all the way back to the center.

WOODRUFF: Is that right, Donna?

BRAZILE: No, I think Howard Dean will find his way back to the center, if he wants to come back to the center. But right now, I think what he's doing is he's really waking up a large segment of the Democratic electorate, and they need to be woken up so he can take on Bush in 2004.

GOLDBERG: If he doesn't come back to the center, George Bush will win 40-plus states.

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: Well, if George Bush does not come back to the center, he will lose 40-plus states.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: All right, another question, final question here -- next to the last question.

On this holiday weekend, a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll asked, would the signers of the Declaration of Independence be pleased with America today, in 2003? Well, 50 percent said yes. But a surprising minority, 48 percent, said no.

What do you take from this, Jonah?

GOLDBERG: I'm actually pleased that the American people understand what the founders thought this country was supposed to be about. A lot of the founders, you know, were pro-slavery, they were anti-woman, all this sort of thing -- I mean, all these sorts of complicated issues. This country has deviated a great deal from where the founders were.

WOODRUFF: Peter?

BEINART: Yes, I really don't think it matters. I mean, what matters is this is a better, greater, freer country today than it was when they wrote the Declaration of Independence. And that's a testament to the words that they wrote.

WOODRUFF: All right, very quickly. I've got to ask you. A gift for the president?

We don't have time to do that? We don't have time, is that right?

All right, very quickly, what gift would you give the president? It's his 57th birthday.

Jonah?

GOLDBERG: Thousands of drums of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons that he finds in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: Donna?

BRAZILE: Barry White, "Greatest Hits."

(LAUGHTER) All of his greatest hits from Barry White.

WOODRUFF: Barry White, who died this week.

BRAZILE: Who died this week.

HAYES: Saddam Hussein's head on a platter.

WOODRUFF: OK, all right.

BEINART: He's going to Africa. A book by Africa's only Nobel Laureate, which is about his time in prison. It shows very eloquently the African struggle for freedom like everyone else.

WOODRUFF: Pretty serious gifts on this Sunday, July the 6th.

Thank you all for being here. It's great to see you for the Final Round.

That's LATE EDITION for Sunday, July the 6th.

We are coming up next, we're telling you, "IN THE MONEY." That's followed at 4:00 p.m. Eastern by "CNN LIVE SUNDAY." A look at the day's news from around the world. And at 5:00 Eastern, "NEXT@CNN."

Be sure to join Wolf right here next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word at Sunday talk.

And I'll be here Monday through Friday at 3:00 p.m., "LIVE FROM...", and at 4:00 p.m. for "INSIDE POLITICS."

Until then, thanks for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Judy Woodruff 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



Rangel Debate Homeland Security; Interview With Gray Davis>


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.