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Iraq Intelligence Controversy Becoming More of a Problem for Bush, Outraging Republicans

Aired July 11, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: There's no dancing around it. The Iraq intelligence controversy is becoming more of a problem for the president. Even some Republicans think heads should roll.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Find out who was responsible for it and fire them.

ANNOUNCER: In the race for the White House. A hometown view of Howard Dean. Dick Gephardt tells us about the fruits of his labors. And what about Joe Biden?

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: That is the God's truth. I'm thinking about it seriously and there an even chance I'll do this.

ANNOUNCER: What does Jerry Springer have that the other likely candidates don't? It's a question to get riled up about.

Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. If the president hoped his latest defense of his prewar claims about Iraq would ease the political fallout, it is not playing out that way. In Africa today, Mr. Bush said his now controversial State of the Union remark about Iraq's nuclear efforts had been vetted.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My speech to the nation that was cleared by the intelligence services. And it was a speech that detailed to the American people the dangers posed by the Saddam Hussein regime. And my government took the appropriate response to those dangers. And as a result, the world is going to be more secure and more peaceful.


WOODRUFF: National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was more specific, saying, quote, "The CIA cleared the speech in its entirety." rice added, "If the director Central intelligence had said, `Take this out of the speech,' the it would have been gone." Well, those statements prompted harsh words on Capitol Hill by both Republicans and Democrats. Here's our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl. Jon, what is the fallout up there right now?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, you've seen an abrupt in how Republicans are dealing with this issue. Initially they were brushing off concerns about that one line in the president's speech ad relatively insignificant, being only one line in his case against Iraq.

Now Republicans are expressing anger at the Central Intelligence Agency for not serving the president the way they should have. Specifically, Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke to CNN exclusively just a short while ago and put the blame squarely on the director of the CIA, George Tenet.


SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R-KS), INTELLIGENCE CHMN.: If the CIA had changed its position, it was incumbent on the director of Central Intelligence to correct that record and certainly bring it to the immediate attention of the president.

It appears that he did not. The director of Central Intelligence is the principal adviser to the president on intelligence matters. He should have told the president. He failed. He failed to do so.


KARL: Now, Roberts' committee has been holding closed-door investigations into the weapons of mass destruction issue generally in Iraq. They don't talk about who comes before their committee because they are closed hearings. But CNN has learned that George Tenet is expected to appear before that committee next week.

Now, meanwhile, Democrats are not satisfied by all this. They are pouncing on the president over this. Most recently we caught -- I spoke with Howard Dean, the anti-war Democratic candidate just a few minutes ago. He's in Washington. He had this so say about the situation.


HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's beginning to sound a little like Watergate. They start throwing people over the side, but the deeper you go the more interesting it will be.

It's very clear that it may be George Tenet's responsibility. But that information also existed in the State Department. It also existed in the vice president's office. So they will not get away with simply throwing George Tenet over the side.


KARL: Democrats and some Republicans have called for a thorough public investigation in that. And Pat Roberts, that republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says that by September he expects his committee will hold public hearings on this question -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Jon, does it look like some of the members up there are trying to throw George Tenet over the side?

KARL: Well, it certainly looks like there's increasing anger specifically directed at George Tenet. Whether or not they want him to throw out, they're not willing to go that far, at least not yet.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jon Karl, thank you very much.

Well, back to Howard Dean, whom we just saw. His anti-war positions have helped to fuel perceptions that the Democratic presidential candidate is a liberal. But in Dean's home state of Vermont, voters have a fuller picture of their former governor as I found out, during a visit to Burlington yesterday.


PETER FREYNE, "SEVEN DAYS" NEWSPAPER: There was a new fellow in town, a doctor up at the hospital named Howard Dean who with a couple of friends had the notion that there should be a bike path on Lake Champlain.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): Call it Dr. Dean's first campaign. And Burlington political columnist Peter Freyne's covered them all.

FREYNE: Five years ago I started writing about Howard Dean as a potential presidential candidate. People used to laugh in my face. They'd say, Peter, what are you smoking? We're from Vermont.

WOODRUFF: Five years later, the home state crowd has changed its tune.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's nobody running for public office that's calling the shots as clearly as he is right now.

WOODRUFF: And from Ben and Jerry's to the local bar, they are tickled their former governor's made a splash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's got really good views, he makes seven, he makes good points.

WOODRUFF: But the rap on Dean is that the Burlington Birkenstock crowd, people who put Dean signs in bars called the Red Square can't take their man to the White House, that he's just too far left.

FREYNE: His entire time in Vermont politics, going back to his days in the legislature then as lieutenant governor and then as governor in the '90s, there was never a sentence in any newspaper in the state of Vermont that contained the word "liberal" and "Howard Dean."

WOODRUFF: Most Vermonters we spoke with backed that up and then some.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of us, I did, saw him as a Republican in Democrat's clothing.

WOODRUFF: But they're with him on issues like health care and the economy. Though some seem more in sync with the president on Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At first I thought he was kind of finishing his father's war, but I think now, I think he's done a good job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's made some tough choices this year, he's brought us to war, brought us kind of out of war, acted really quickly for the attack in New York which I thought was good.

WOODRUFF: But most seem onboard with Team Dean. They say the spotlight hasn't changed the man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the same issues, it's the same person.

WOODRUFF: Well, maybe almost.

FREYNE: The only way he's changed, as we see him, is that he's this great orator. He's kept that in the closet, if I may say so.


WOODRUFF: How they're seeing him in Vermont.

And meanwhile, in Vermont, I also talked with Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, about their surprisingly successful Internet pitch for money and for support. We're going to focus online campaigning on Monday on INSIDE POLITICS.

We're checking the headlines now on our Friday "Campaign News Daily." Delaware Democratic Senator Joe Biden tells me it's still not too late for him to enter the presidential race, but he now has a deadline to make up his mind.


BIDEN: I have to really decide, Judy, by early September. I wouldn't announce if I were to run until mid-October.

One of the reasons, Judy, I haven't done this up to now is because it's impossible, as is evidenced by my friends who are out there running and doing a good job, in my view, it's impossible to be a senator and a candidate at the same time.


WOODRUFF: Senator Biden says he has a checklist of items he must satisfy to himself before he commits to a White House campaign.

Democratic hopeful Al Sharpton plans to announce tomorrow that he's heading to Africa to try to end the violence in Liberia. According to his campaign, Sharpton will make the announcement tomorrow during his weekly radio broadcast in New York. He says he plans to appeal to Liberian leader Charles Taylor and opposition forces to work together, what the Sharpton campaign calls a peaceful democratic election process.

Another White House hopeful has a new endorsement under his belt. Coming up, I'll talk with Dick Gephardt about his campaign and his competition.

Plus, how is the president handling the Iraq intelligence flap? Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile are never at a loss for words or opinions.

And later...


JERRY SPRINGER, WOULD-BE DEMOCRATIC SENATOR FROM OHIO: Someone has to speak for just regular ordinary Americans who don't, perhaps, speak the king's English, who aren't rich, who aren't powerful. Let's have somebody fight for them.


WOODRUFF: Jerry Springer knows a thing or two about fighting, but would that make him a winner in politics?


WOODRUFF: Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt today picked up his sixth and largest endorsement by organized labor. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers endorsed the Missouri congressman after his speech to union delegates.

Dick Gephardt is with me now from Cincinnati to talk about his White House campaign. Thank you for talking with us. And as I say, congratulations, because I'm a reporter, I would also point out before this thing happened by acclimation, about a fourth of these machinists delegates voted for Howard Dean. Is he any threat at all to your bid for labor support?

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got good candidates. We have nine good candidates. Howard's a good candidate, he's a good person, and he's running a good campaign.

But I think the 4-1 vote in the machinists union today is an indication that labor union members, rank and file members and leaders of unions everywhere, know of my long fight for working families, for jobs in this country, and to keep and protect good jobs for our people in America. And I think we're going to see other labor unions coming out in the days ahead because we have worked together for so long on these important issues.

WOODRUFF: Well, I wanted to ask you about that. Because, of course, the machinists represent, what, 700,000 members. You picked up five other smaller unions. Maybe a total of 500,000. Another 500,000.

But the AFL-CIO, the big endorsement, still up in the air. Are you concerned at all that you might not get it? We saw Jerry McEntee of AFSCME saying recently -- the Municipal Workers Union, saying that he thought that was going to be very tough for anyone to get.

GEPHARDT: It is hard to get. It's very rarely given. It takes a super majority of the unions in order to get that endorsement.

But I think I have a chance to get that endorsement. I don't know how it will come out, but I'm talking to each union, one at a time. I'm talking to a lot of rank and file union members across the country.

People -- what excites me is that when I see labor union members out in the country and workers who aren't in labor unions, they know that I have been fighting for their jobs and fighting to improve this economy, fighting to get this economy moving again.

And it's going to take that kind of campaign in order to beat George Bush. If you're going to beat Bush, you've got to win on the industrial heartland of the country. That's where I'm from. And, again, we can get excitement and motivation, which I think I can get among labor union members and workers who aren't in labor unions.


GEPHARDT: We can win this election and move this economy in a better direction.

WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of the heartland, let me quote something that the political-- chief political writer for the Associated Press in Iowa, a man named Mike Glover writes today. He said, "Democrat Dick Gephardt, seeing his advantage in Iowa shrinking," referring to the polls, "is making a concerted effort to sharpen the differences with his opponents."

Are you concerned about your advantage? There have been some slippage of the poll in Iowa. Where do you see your stance there?

GEPHARDT: Well, Judy, I always knew that Iowa was going to be a very competitive contest. It should be. It's where it all starts. And the people out there are very good judges of the candidates. No one can assume they're going to win anything in Iowa. You've got to go out there, as I have been, county to county, town to town, house to house almost, and talk to voters one on one, in small groups, and try to gain their support both on the ideas and the issues like jobs and health care that I'm bringing to people.

And on who you are as a human being. Do they like you? Do they trust you? Do they think you should have this responsibility to be the leader of the country? And I'm doing well. I'm going to do well in the Iowa caucuses. And I'm going to do well in the other states that come thereafter.

WOODRUFF: But, again, we know it's early, and yet the numbers -- the only numbers we've seen climbing to any significant degree in Iowa and in New Hampshire, those two crucial early states, have been Howard Dean.

The money reported in the second quarter of this year. At this point, Congressman Gephardt, you are fifth, we're told, behind Howard Dean, somewhere under $5 million. Does all this add up to enough to make you concerned?

GEPHARDT: Well, this is going to be a long and very, very tough contest. It should be. I mean, we want the best candidate to take on George Bush, to defeat George Bush.

But I'm very pleased with where my campaign is at this moment. We've got great support throughout the early states. We've got great issues out there. I've got the best health care plan. It's the most comprehensive, the most universal. I'm the only candidate who really has voted against unfair trade, who voted against NAFTA, who voted against the China Free Trade Agreement, which is very important to a lot of workers who have losing their jobs right now.

And on the money front, we're on plan. We are raising the money that we set out to raise. We're going to raise $20 million this year. And with the match, we're going to have adequate funding to get through all of the early events in the first weeks of this campaign. I'm going to win this nomination. And I'm going to defeat George Bush in November of 2004.

WOODRUFF: Well, we heard it from his lips. Dick Gephardt, and congratulations again on that Machinists endorsement today.

GEPHARDT: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Thank you for talking with us. We appreciate it.

Still ahead, is a Democratic presidential candidate trying to have it both ways on Iraq? Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan will take on that question and one another.


WOODRUFF: With us now, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

All over the news today what the White House is saying about this acknowledgment that the information in the State of the Union about Iraq trying to get nuclear material from Africa was wrong. Today they're pointing the finger at the CIA. But let me just quote what some of the Democrats are saying. Howard Dean, quote, "We need to find out what the president knew and when he knew it." Bob Graham, "Mr. President, stop trying to pass the buck. You made the baseless claim, you should take responsibility." And finally, John Kerry: "The president's leader of his administration. Instead of engaging in bureaucratic finger pointing, he needs to be honest with the American people." Bay?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: I think the Democrats are really going way overboard in my personal opinion. What they're doing is duplicitous. It's inaccurate, it's irresponsible. They know that the president did not lie, and yet they're willingly suggesting he lied to the American people. It is quite clear that what happened is that this got in the speech and it shouldn't have, and the White House has admitted that. But at the same time it was not a critical aspect of his case for war. That was not a lynchpin, and, in fact, Secretary Powell didn't even mention it when he made -- and presented his case at the U.N.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You've got to applaud the Democrats. We're finally on message, Judy. They're all saying it from the same hymn book, because this is an issue of national security. It's about our troops, and whether or not our troops are receiving the very best intelligence before our leaders make a decision to go to war. So I think the Democrats are right to raise these questions and to pressure the administration to get their story straight.

I'm not saying get their lives straight, but to get their story straight and tell the American people the truth. How did that information get into the speech, who vetted the speech, and why, months after the speech, was presented to the American people and the world, the administration had to wait on the British before they went out and corrected the record.

BUCHANAN: You know, what the president said, the British are still standing by. All the president said was that the British have learned Saddam Hussein is buying -- is trying to buy uranium from an African nation. Therefore, they still say that's true.

Now, our people say no, we didn't have enough information to confirm that. We shouldn't have used it. But that's all it was. He was not lying, he was not misrepresenting what he knew. And it was obviously he was a victim to bad information getting into that speech.

And I agree, there should be some kind of thorough review as to how that happened, who is the culprit, was it done deliberately, or accidentally. And I don't have a problem with that.

BRAZILE: Well, the buck stopped with the president of the United States, and if he wants some review to take place, he should direct Andy Card to begin the review how that information got in the speech and what other information may have gotten in the speech or any other statement he's made over the last couple of months and figure it out and level with the American people and answer some of the questions about how long will we stay in Iraq, whether or not we'll have the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) support and anyone else to help us.

WOODRUFF: We don't know that he has not already (AUDIO GAP) right now at least, although they're saying it's the CIA who made the mistake.

I want to talk about John Kerry just a minute. He came out yesterday very hard on this issue. But now I want you all to take a look at a picture that the Kerry campaign is putting out there circulating. This is a photograph of John Kerry who voted for he resolution to go to war with Iraq with anti-war protester, the late John Lennon. Is he trying to have it both ways?

BRAZILE: He's trying to give peace a chance. Imagine if John Lennon was still alive, where would he be on this issue, and I guess John Lennon would be with Howard Dean.

BUCHANAN: The hypocrisy in the Kerry campaign goes so much deeper even than this, the fact that he then -- he supported the president's resolution for war, gave the president authority to go to war, and even before the president went to war, he then called it a dangerous policy. Now he seems to be going again all over the case. I think the question for Mr. Kerry, Mr. Dean and some of these Democrats is are you suggesting...

BRAZILE: Who voted for war.

BUCHANAN: Who voted for the war, and also the ones that are now saying the president lied, or suggesting he lied. The question is, do you believe that the president moved ahead irresponsibly? Was this war -- did these young people die in vain? Was this war justified? I don't believe it was. The president has continued to say it wasn't. And I think they are irresponsible if they are suggesting that's the case.

BRAZILE: The president has built his case on the fact that Iraq posed an imminent threat to our national security.

BUCHANAN: Correct.

BRAZILE: And I think it's important that this White House continue to come clean and tell us exactly what they knew.

WOODRUFF: We have to leave it there. Bay, Donna, great to see you both.

BUCHANAN: Thank you.

BRAZILE: Thank you very much.

WOODRUFF: Well, some political candidates fear scandal, but one public figure embraces it. Up next, pulling no punches in mastering the art of stealing the political spotlight.


WOODRUFF: We know that good political analysts never pull punches, but what about good candidates? Our Bill Schneider is with us.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Today on INSIDE POLITICS, hosts of sleazy TV talk shows running for senator. Could it be the "Political Play of the Week?" Watch.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Most candidates struggle to get attention and name recognition. Here's one who doesn't have to. CROWD: Jerry! Jerry!

SCHNEIDER: This week, Jerry Springer filed papers so he can raise money to run for senator from Ohio next year. He's a liberal Democrat in a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to state-wide office since 1992.

What's he thinking?

SPRINGER: Let's have at least one voice that is outside the box, that isn't part of Washington, that isn't part of the elite, that isn't part of trying to fit into the club.

SCHNEIDER: Springer claims to speak for a neglected constituency. What, people who curse and throw furniture? Well, yes.

SPRINGER: Someone has to be fighting and speaking just for ordinary hard-working Americans.


SCHNEIDER: Fighting he knows. But here are some things you night not know about Jerry Springer. In the 1970s, he served five terms on the Cincinnati City Council and got elected mayor in 1977 at age 33. He survived a personal scandal.

SPRINGER: The fact that I once wrote a check to a prostitute, which was five years before I ever became mayor of Cincinnati.

SCHNEIDER: He's been a generous Democratic campaign contributor, giving $20,000 to the New York Democratic Party's 2000 Senate campaign. Hillary owes him. He won eight Emmys as a TV news anchor and political analyst. Political analyst? How low can you go? And Springer's got a powerful campaign theme. "I don't need this."

SPRINGER: Running for office isn't going to make me famous, running for office isn't going to make me rich, running for office isn't going to do anything for my career. It's just something I might care about.

SCHNEIDER: It's just something that might get him "The Political Play of the Week."


SCHNEIDER: And you know what? Even if they both get elected next year, we will never see a race for president between Jerry Springer the Democrat and Arnold Schwarzenegger the Republican, because both of them were born overseas. Schwarzenegger in Austria, Springer in England, which makes them ineligible to be president. In the immortal words of our political editor, John Mercurio (ph), "a nation's dream vanished in an instant."

WOODRUFF: Or we can always change the Constitution.

SCHNEIDER: We can do that. WOODRUFF: Thanks, Bill Schneider.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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