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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview With Michael Brown; Dodd, Kyl Debate Iraq War; Interview With Madeleine Albright

Aired September 21, 2003 - 12:00   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's noon in Washington, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 7:00 p.m. in Jerusalem and 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.
We'll get to the latest developments in Iraq and our interviews with two top U.S. senators and the former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, shortly. But first let's check in with CNN reporters covering the hour's top stories.

And we begin right here in the United States with the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, as the storm's victims face a long road to recovery. Up and down the Eastern seaboard today, officials are focusing on flooding, clearing away debris, fallen trees and downed power lines, and turning the power back on. Nearly 2 million people are still right now without electricity. As of now, at least 31 people died as a direct result of Hurricane Isabel.

CNN's Kris Osborn is in Newport News, Virginia. He's joining us now with the latest.

Kris?

KRIS OSBORN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Wolf. Well, yes, as of earlier this morning, emergency officials at the emergency operations center say at least 1 million homes in the state of Virginia are still without power. It is a situation that, particularly for many here in line to pick up ice, is increasingly frustrating.

This is a private store called Teeters, and all morning long, in fact since before the 7:00 a.m. curfew lifted, people were lining up here, seeking to get ice, hoping to preserve their food.

And reaction and feelings among those have been mixed. Some having a sense of humor, laughing, joking, singing songs, saying, "I just want to be able to watch football, because that's the essential, along with gas." Others, however, have been extremely frustrated, saying, "Why is a private store the place that we're getting ice, and not the federal government?"

Now, on that point, we spoke with Newport News Mayor Joe Frank, who called the situation frustrating as well. He told us, quote, "Emergency plans are that FEMA is to provide food and water. We just haven't seen it yet." Now, he went on to say that FEMA tells him they are working on it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE FRANK, MAYOR OF NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA: I've told them that I can't feed people while they're working on it. I've told them that we can't relieve the police officers from their traffic-management responsibilities while they're working on it. I've told them that we can't provide ice or preserve food while they're working on it.

I need time frames. I need dates when we can expect something to happen, so we can plan. And they said they appreciate that, and they're working on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OSBORN: And, Wolf, Bob Spieldanner (ph) with the emergency operations center says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as part of the FEMA team, is currently involved in bringing large amounts of water, trailer trucks of both water and ice, to a central location, at which point distribution centers will then send it out to regional areas.

Wolf?

BLITZER: A lot of frustrated people still up and down the East Coast of the United States. Kris Osborn, thanks very much.

And joining us now to talk about where recovery efforts stand right now, the director of FEMA, the U.S. government's Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown.

Director Brown, welcome to LATE EDITION.

You heard the mayor of Newport News express his frustration with FEMA. Where are you? He says he needs answers.

MICHAEL BROWN, FEMA DIRECTOR: Well, Wolf, so far we've distributed 650,000 tons of ice down to that region. We are meeting every request that we get from the state for any needs that they might have.

So if there's a mayor, if there's a pocket, if there's someplace that they're not getting what they need, what they need to do is immediately contact the local emergency manager, the state emergency manager, and we'll get those needs met.

We did such a good job of prepositioning all of these assets that I just find it difficult to believe that we're not meeting someone's need, if indeed that need has been articulated to us.

BLITZER: Do you believe Mayor Frank is making it up when he says he's asking the FEMA authorities on the ground for help and they're saying, "We understand what you're asking for; be patient"?

BROWN: No, absolutely not. I think he's telling the truth. I think that's probably getting lost in the chain of command somewhere. We have those resources there, and we're certainly willing to provide those. So we just need to make certain that those needs are being expressed to the right people so they can actually use what's already there and get it on the ground for them.

BLITZER: Have you heard other complaints coming in from other mayors, other local authorities or state authorities in the affected area?

BROWN: No, I have not. In fact, Secretary Ridge and I visited all up and down the North Carolina coast and through Virginia Beach and other areas that were strongly affected in Virginia.

Governor Warner is very satisfied the way things are going. We spoke to a local mayor down there, toured his particular community, and they were very satisfied.

Everyone is going to start getting frustrated primarily because of the lack of power. And we're doing everything we can to help the local utility companies, in terms of getting trees out of the way so they can start getting power back on.

What I'd like to explain is, there's a unique situation here, where the power companies are able to get the main lines up very quickly, but what this storm did was actually tear down power lines in neighborhoods, tearing down distribution lines not only into neighborhoods but into individual homes. That's going to take a long time.

And I would just encourage people to work very closely with the power companies and get some realistic expectations of when that power will be turned back on.

BLITZER: What are you hearing, Director Brown, about when everyone will get their power back on? We've heard everything from a few more days, perhaps another week, maybe even longer.

BROWN: That's correct. And that's why I think it's just incumbent upon everyone to get out good information about what's going on in individual communities.

Now, I know the power companies -- I saw it yesterday with Secretary Ridge will be telling President Bush about this tomorrow -- that the power companies are getting very good about getting the main distribution lines up, but when you get into the neighborhoods and into the individual homes where all the trees are down, the problem right now is getting those trees removed so we can get power into homes.

BLITZER: We know that the president has declared major disaster areas in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, as well as the District of Columbia. Estimates are about, what, $1 billion in damage, maybe $2 billion? What's the latest FEMA estimate?

BROWN: Well, we don't have estimates yet, because we have our folks in the field for the last 48 hours, doing all those damage assessments. What's interesting and what's sad about this storm is that Isabel moved so deeply into inland areas that we're having to fan out all across these states to find out in very minute detail where the damage has occurred.

But that's not going to stop us from getting supplies. We'll continue to do the damage estimates. And whatever that cost is, the president has assured me that we're going to meet those needs.

BLITZER: The federal government shut down for two days, effectively, almost completely here in Washington, D.C., Thursday and Friday. Wound up costing, according to the latest information we're getting, about $120 million.

Was it essential to shut down the government on Thursday, before the storm actually hit Washington, D.C.?

BROWN: Well, I think we've done a very good job of getting the nation prepared for any kind of disaster. And preparedness is the key, because we had such a -- I mean, it's tragic we've lost any lives whatsoever, but the fact that the numbers of lives lost in this storm has been so minimal is, I think, attributable to the fact there was preparedness.

I think we should always err on the side of being more cautious than putting workers in risk of harm. If we had left the federal government open on Thursday, and if you'd been here Thursday you saw the high winds, Metro was unable to operate. At that point, how are we going to get people back into their homes? I think it was a very prudent decision.

BLITZER: There's a fascinating article in the new issue of Time magazine, Director Brown, that's coming out today, suggesting that a number of scientists believe that there will be an increasingly larger number of hurricanes over the next eight to 10 years, if not longer, because of the El Nino effect, other wet weather patterns, something the East Coast of the United States should get prepared for.

Are your scientists at FEMA in agreement with that assessment?

BROWN: Well, we're very concerned about that assessment, primarily because, as we've already seen this year, if you go back to June and count the number of tropical storms and depressions that have formed off the Cape of Africa, moved across the Atlantic, we've dodged an awful lot of the bullets. The National Hurricane Center and Colorado State University have both estimated a very high number. It's just that most of those, when they finally got here, kind of petered out.

I think those estimates are going to continue to ring true, and so what we have to do and what the president's admonition is, is to continue to prepare the East Coast and Gulf Coast for an increasing number of hurricanes. We're going to do that.

BLITZER: We're going to quote from Dr. Stanley Goldenberg, a hurricane expert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He's quoted in Time magazine as saying, "We're not talking about a minor, little increase, but an overall doubling of major hurricane activity."

That's a pretty ominous suggestion.

BROWN: It certainly is. And I think, again, if you just look at the pattern that we've seen so far this year, that's what we have to get prepared for, more and more of these storms moving up the East Coast.

Now, the good news is Max Mayfield down at the National Hurricane Center, as she's done with Isabel, Enrique and all of the other ones that have come up, has done an excellent job of being able to predict where these are going to go. With the forecast going out five days in advance, it allows organizations like mine to go out and do an additional preparation to get people really prepared for these.

Our whole mission is to prepare the nation, whether it's hurricane or terrorist attack or anything else, and I think we've seen that, in terms of how we prepared for Hurricane Isabel.

BLITZER: Were the warnings we received about this hurricane and the actual punch that it eventually delivered what you expected, weaker or stronger than you thought it would be?

BROWN: Well, actually it was just as strong as I expected it to be. I think what we failed to see was I think people that thought there would be a lot of damage along the coast, and clearly there was damage along the coast. But we have to recall that almost 65 percent of the deaths and injuries that come in hurricanes occur in the aftermath, they occur in the inland flooding and the wind damage. And that's exactly what we're seeing now.

This storm really isn't over with yet. All of the rains that have occurred up in the mountains are now going to start heading downstream, and I think we'll continue to see rivers crest, we'll continue to see flooding, and that's why our response isn't over yet. We'll continue to respond to Isabel until those waters recede.

BLITZER: Michael Brown, the director of FEMA, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck to you and all the men and women who work with you.

BROWN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, a mounting death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq sharpens criticism in the U.S. Congress of President Bush's case for a war. Was the Bush administration wrong? We'll ask two key members of the United States Senate, Republican John Kyl and Democrat Christopher Dodd.

And later, New York City's former top cop finishes a tour of duty in Baghdad. We'll talk with Bernard Kerik about the challenges of policing a violent Iraq.

And America's first female secretary of state is recounting her experiences in a new book. We'll have a special conversation with Madeleine Albright.

And our LATE EDITION Web question of the week is this: Should the federal government have closed for two days because of Hurricane Isabel? You can cast your vote right now on our Web site, cnn.com/lateedition. We'll tell you the results later in this program.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

As the death toll and financial costs continue to climb in Iraq, polls are indicating a growing unease among Americans about the Bush administration's handling of the situation. The White House is also facing new questions and criticism about its decision to go to war.

Joining us now, two influential members of the United States Senate: in Hartford, Connecticut, Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd; here in Washington, Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Let me begin with you, Senator Dodd, and as you probably know by now, three more U.S. soldiers killed overnight in Iraq. Let me put the numbers up on the screen. So far, 304 U.S. troops have died in various hostile, non-hostile actions in Iraq since the start of the war, more since May 1st when the president declared major combat operations over.

Was this whole war, in your opinion, Senator Dodd, a mistake?

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: No, I don't think it was a mistake. I was one who supported giving the president the authority to use force if necessary in Iraq.

I didn't think it was the most serious problem we faced at the time. I thought North Korea and al Qaeda, terrorism, were far more important issues.

But I certainly thought that Iraq posed some serious threats to the United States, and therefore believed the president should have the authority to use force if necessary.

Like many people, I don't think he did this as well as could have been done. I think we should have had more people involved. I think this should have been more of an international effort, much as George Bush's father conducted during the Gulf War back in the early 1990s. That made a lot more sense to me. But I don't think it was a mistake to go in.

But certainly how we've handled this since then has been a disaster. And the sooner we get other people involved in this, the sooner we get an Iraqi government to take over, and the sooner we can bring our men and women back home, we're all going to be better off here.

This present situation seems to lack a strategic plan, any real focus, hard to get information about where the money's being spent and how it's being used. So a lot of questions are being raised by Democrats and Republicans, I might point out.

BLITZER: Let me bring Senator Kyl in.

A disaster, Senator Dodd says, the way it's been handled since the war. You're smiling.

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: It's not a disaster. First of all, we achieved great success militarily. And since then, just as the president said, we found that it's not going to be easy, it's going to take time, and it's not going to be cheap, all of which the president said right after the effort began.

And I think if all we saw on American television night after night were the murders committed in our big cities, were the tragedies, is the bad news, Americans would be portrayed around the world as losers, this country as a disaster, and people wouldn't have very much confidence in our ability to move forward.

That's the kind of news we get out of Iraq, but it's not what's really happening there.

BLITZER: But I think you have to acknowledge, as most people have, that while the planning for the actual military operation was superb -- the U.S. military did an incredibly quick job, very efficiently, relatively modest casualties -- the post-war planning leaves a lot to be desired.

KYL: No, I would not concede that at all. There are three parts to the post-war planning: the security, the political part of it and the economic part. And in all three areas, there was a plan. That plan is being executed.

And while it is true that there are people ambushing both our troops and blowing up the pipeline and some parts of the electric grid, most of the country has been pacified, most of the people are glad to see us there, most of the cities and towns are now controlled by Iraqis, their own town councils. The Iraqis are beginning the process of pulling together their political group of 25 to write a constitution, and they're moving forward with this.

BLITZER: All right.

What about that? That's a pretty upbeat assessment, Senator Dodd. I assume you disagree with that assessment.

DODD: Well, I do. With all due respect, I mean, look, we've lost 100 people just in the last two (ph) weeks from car bombings. You have one of your prime members of your interim council almost assassinated over the weekend. By anyone's estimation here, this is not going well.

Now, look, there are ways to get it right, and we can spend all time talking about what's not good -- it doesn't help in my view to have the administration and others sort of paint this rosy picture that no one seems to believe, other than themselves.

Right now we've got an opportunity, still have an opportunity, to get this right, and that's what we've ought to focus our attention.

The offer has been made over the weekend again by our allies in Europe to join in the effort, the reconstruction effort. That's going to take the administration giving up some of the control, not on the military side -- we ought not to concede that at all, we need to run the military operation -- but certainly on the political- economic reconstruction phase, we need to get the United Nations and the international community in.

And there seems to be a great reluctance, on the part of the administration, to share the burden of Iraq. And unless we do that, this is going to continue to go downhill.

Now, the opportunity exists. My hope would be the administration would take advantage of that opportunity and begin to get this right...

BLITZER: All right.

DODD: ... get this Iraqi government in place, and then get our troops home.

BLITZER: Senator Kyl, Senator Dodd was referring to the attempted assassination of a prominent woman, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, Akil Al-Hashemi (ph). She's in serious condition, critical condition right now. But it does underscore what he's saying, that the situation has by no means been resolved and potentially could deteriorate.

KYL: It is not resolved. There are serious security problems. We're working very hard to try to restore order in the country. We have more murders in this country, I suspect, each week than are occurring in Iraq.

So, I'm not trying to paint a rosy picture here, but I am trying to set the record straight. It is not all disaster. Progress is being made.

And it's very unclear what bringing the French, for example, into the picture would do to help the situation.

BLITZER: Senator Kyl, listen to what Senator Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, said this week on CNN's Inside Politics. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is a failed, flawed, bankrupt policy. The American people want answers. They want to know what the peace policy is, what is really going to secure the peace in Iraq, what the cost is going to be to the American taxpayers, and when will we be able to bring home our troops with honor?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: A lot of polls are suggesting that there's been a steady decrease in support for the president's policies as a result of the deterioration, the continued unease, the violence in Iraq.

KYL: There has been some decline in the polls. The president always said this would be difficult, and I think you're seeing some of the politics at play here.

President Kennedy is known for his...

BLITZER: Senator Kennedy.

KYL: Senator Kennedy -- for his bombastic and sometimes over- the-top rhetoric. But I think President Bush has it right here, and that is that this is a very important part of our war on terror. Americans supporting getting rid of Saddam Hussein -- and nobody disagrees that that was a good thing. It's not going to be easy to consolidate the gain we made there, but we have no choice.

And as I said, it's very hard to see what countries like the French could contribute to this that would make it go any easier.

BLITZER: All right. I'm going to get to that in a moment, but, Senator Dodd, the $87-billion price tag that the president came out with a couple of weeks ago, a lot of people were surprised the number that high, in addition to the $70 billion already spent in Iraq.

Some of your colleagues, like Senator Biden and others, are suggesting, maybe for a year, eliminate implementing some of the tax cuts that are already the law of the land, for the wealthiest of Americans.

Now, the vice president, Dick Cheney, this week suggested not only is that a bad idea, but he said, make those tax cuts permanent, which would be an additional expenditure. Listen to what the vice president said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we passed tax relief, Americans did not expect to see higher taxes sneak in through the back door. If Congress is really interested in job creation, they'll join with us, and they'll make every one of these tax cuts permanent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is that a good idea, to make these tax cuts permanent at a time when the budget is already running these record deficits?

DODD: No, I don't think so at all, and there's no correlation at all between these tax cuts and economic growth at all. That was the argument many of us made when these tax cuts were being proposed.

We're now seeing the single largest deficits in the history of the United States, and no end in sight of deficits at the federal level.

Certainly we need to have an American president such as Harry Truman, who said, if we're going to be in Iraq, and it's going to cost us this much, then we ought to pay for it, instead of asking future generations to do so.

I represent a lot of very affluent constituents in the state of Connecticut. I can guarantee you, almost without exception, every one of them would rather forgo that tax cut in order to pay for this. It's their act of patriotism, in a sense. Asking the most affluent citizens in our country, those with seven-digit incomes, to forego some of the tax cuts for a while, in order to pay for this, is a patriotic thing to do.

BLITZER: All right.

DODD: And I hope we do it.

BLITZER: What about that, Senator Kyl?

KYL: To suggest, as my good friend Chris Dodd has just suggested, that the tax cuts have not helped the economy and the American consumer and the American taxpayer, I think, is fundamentally wrong.

Almost everybody agrees that if you can let people keep more of their own money in a time of recession, it will help to create the investment and the job opportunities which then stimulate economic growth and get you out of that depression or recession. And that, in turn, is what provides revenues to the federal treasury, which enable you then to pay for things like this Iraq.

BLITZER: So you're not in favor of delaying implementing any of these tax cuts, even briefly a suspension for the wealthiest of Americans?

KYL: Absolutely not. And, as a matter of fact, the making permanent is for many years down the road. Those tax cuts exist today and in the next several years. So anybody talking about repealing them would be talking about taking something away from people that they already have.

BLITZER: All right. We have a caller in Arizona who has a question.

Go ahead, Arizona.

CALLER: Hi, yes. Hi Senator Kyl, Senator Dodd, Wolf.

Senator Kyl, this question is for you. Considering that "Team Pox" has found no evidence of smallpox, David Kay's report has been shelved indefinitely, and President Bush has now said there's no link between 9/11 and Saddam, how can you continue to justify the false pretenses given for this war?

KYL: Well, first of all, the president did not say that there was no connection. He said we don't have any evidence of a connection. There was evidence of connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, but that was never the basis for the action in Iraq. And I think most Americans support what we did in Iraq.

The question is what we're doing now and whether or not we can quickly be able to remove our own troops from the situation.

And with regard to the smallpox and other threats, I don't think there's anybody that says we shouldn't be prepared to deal with a biological threat from terrorists or a chemical threat from terrorists. The fact that those particular agents weren't found in Iraq is not evidence the United States is safe and secure from the use of those weapons by others.

BLITZER: And Senator Kyl is absolutely precise, the president did say this week, responding to a question from our own John King over at the White House, "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th attacks."

Still, Senator Dodd, The Washington Post, in a poll that came out around the same time, asked the American public how likely was it that Saddam Hussein personally was involved in the 9/11 attacks? Sixty nine percent of the American people think it was likely he was involved; 28 percent, not likely.

The perception out there, despite what the president said, is that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in 9/11.

DODD: Well, that's true, because there's been such a blurring. Up until just the other day, that was the first real sort of categorical admission there was no direct connection, or no evidence of a direct connection here.

And I think it's unfortunate, because the battle of terrorism is the most serious problem we face. And with Osama bin Laden still on the loose, evidence mounting that they're reconfiguring their force structure again and posing real threats globally is something we've got to take far more seriously both at home and abroad.

Our soldiers are doing a wonderful job in Iraq, but we need to do a far better job against this war on terrorism. We're not doing that.

BLITZER: Senator Dodd, I know you've endorsed your fellow Connecticut senator, Senator Lieberman, for the Democratic nomination. But General Wesley Clark causing a lot of buzz this week, announcing he's number 10, the tenth Democrat to seek the nomination.

He's on the cover of Newsweek magazine, the new issue coming out today: "Who is this G.I.? Soldier, scholar, maverick. What makes General Wesley Clark think he can beat Bush?" And the new Newsweek poll among likely voters shows Clark, General Clark, at 14 percent, Howard Dean at 12, like Lieberman, John Kerry at 10, the rest in single digits.

You've endorsed Lieberman, but what do you make of this decision by General Clark, the former NATO supreme allied commander, to seek the presidency?

DODD: Well, I don't know what to make of this. I don't really know -- I've only met him once or twice when he was NATO commander. I met him in Europe. But I have no personal knowledge of him.

In a way, he sounds a lot like what Joe Lieberman has been saying on many issues that I've listened to him on. And so, we welcome him to the race. I think having more people in could be healthy.

I think Joe Lieberman is the best candidate. I know him well. He'd be a wonderful president, be a great nominee. So I remain firm in my commitment to Joe.

And let's see what happens when you start having some actual votes. Until that happens, it's going to be hard for anyone to really emerge as the top front-runner.

BLITZER: All right, that's a fair enough assessment.

Senator Kyl, I'll give you the last word on General Clark. What do you think, is he a potential challenger to President Bush, the man you want to see reelected?

KYL: Oh, perhaps. I think, you know, I'm tempted to say it shows the weakness of the rest of the Democratic field, but I really think it's simply the newness, the hype of somebody new, like General Clark, getting in. I think fairly quickly he will recede, just as they have, particularly because it does not appear that he's got well- developed opinions on very much of anything.

BLITZER: Would you be more nervous if Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton threw her hat in the ring?

KYL: George Bush is going to be reelected as president of the United States, and thankfully so.

BLITZER: We're going to leave it right there.

Senator Kyl, thanks very much.

Senator Dodd, always good to have you back on LATE EDITION. Appreciate it very much.

DODD: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We have to take a quick break. Just ahead, we'll have a quick check of the hour's top stories.

Then, a special conversation with the former United States secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, about her new memoirs, "Life as America's First Female Top Diplomat."

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

In 1997, Madeleine Albright made history by becoming the first woman to serve as the United States secretary of state. She has a new book out about her experiences. It's called "Madam Secretary: A Memoir." Madeleine Albright is joining us now live here in Washington.

Madam Secretary, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Thanks very much for joining us.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Great to be with you.

BLITZER: I want to get to the book in a few moments, but in an interview in Time magazine last week, you said this about the situation in Iraq: "If there was a President Gore, we wouldn't be in this particular mess. But we are, and we cannot fail."

What do you mean, if there was a President Gore? You don't think he would have tried to get rid of Saddam Hussein?

ALBRIGHT: I think we would have -- he would have gone about it in a different way. First of all, I think he would have kept his eye on the ball in Afghanistan, where the chief threats of terrorism were coming from, and where, in fact, the job hasn't really been done. We don't have a peacekeeping force throughout the country. Mr. Karzai has to be kind of stuck in Kabul. And I think that should have been done in much more completeness.

And I think we would have read the intelligence differently in terms of Iraq. I think we all believed that Saddam Hussein was indeed a threat, and we talked about that a lot. But we believed also that we had him in a strategic box, bombing heavily in the no-fly zones and the sanctions regime. And to make this link that was made originally between what happened with al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, I think has brought on a war at a time that was not appropriate, with no help.

BLITZER: So is the world worse off now or better off, as a result of Saddam Hussein gone?

ALBRIGHT: I think it's better that Saddam Hussein is gone. But if the war had been carried out differently, if, in fact, there had been more U.N. help, or if the inspectors had been able to stay there longer, and if there had been a better planning for the post-war part, I think that is where I see the problems, and where there is a chaotic situation, and in some ways a self-fulfilling prophecy, Wolf, because terrorists now are gathering in Iraq, and all those who hate us are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there.

BLITZER: Those who disagree with you, who support President Bush, would argue that if all those conditions were met, that would take forever and Saddam Hussein would die of old age before he were removed.

ALBRIGHT: Well, that might not have been bad either. But I think that it's -- I'm certainly glad that Saddam Hussein is gone. But there was a lack of pre-planning and a chaotic situation that exists. I have said I agree with the why of the war, but not why now and what next.

BLITZER: In your book you write this: "Although I expressed many doubts about the Bush administration's diplomatic timing, tactics, rationales and post-war plans in the months before and after the 2003 war, I did not question of goal of ousting Saddam Hussein."

ALBRIGHT: That is correct.

BLITZER: There's another quote from the book, and I want to put it up on our screen and read it to you: "I was not surprised that we were attacked or even shocked that an airplane hijacking was involved," referring to 9/11. "I was startled, however, by the level of coordination and by the fact that the hijackers had spent so much time training in the United States."

That's a pretty remarkable statement. You weren't surprised by the attack, the airplane hijacking, that these hijackers went into the World Trade Center?

ALBRIGHT: Well, not specifically the World Trade Center. But clearly, throughout the time that we were in office, we were looking at all kinds of scenarios. We did, in fact, foil all kinds of terrible events, the dogs that didn't bark. And so, you know, we speculated on a variety of things.

But I do think that what troubled me was how the CIA and the FBI had not coordinated, how somehow they seemed to know everything the day after but not enough the day before.

BLITZER: The critics of the Clinton administration -- and you served for all eight years, the first four at the United Nations, then as secretary of state during the second four -- the critics say that you had eight years to get rid of Osama bin Laden. You did some sort of, you know, minor action against him, but you let him thrive in Afghanistan, even after he committed all these attacks.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that's unjustified criticism. We spent a great deal of time focused on terrorism. President Clinton put out executive orders to use lethal force. We really enlarged the budget of both the FBI and the CIA. There was a special Osama bin Laden part of the CIA.

We did, in fact, after the embassies had been attacked in August '98, launched 79 cruise missiles against Osama bin Laden's camp and came real close to getting him.

But what I think is evident now, with 8,000 American forces on the ground in Afghanistan, a lot of bombing, a friendly government, and we still can't find him, I think it shows the difficulty of really getting him.

BLITZER: But when you look back on the eight years that you were in government, do you ever say to yourself, I wish we would have just done this or that and 9/11 could have been avoided? ALBRIGHT: I have done that kind of soul searching, believe me. And I think that we did everything we could with the intelligence that we had, actionable intelligence, and what was possible at the time.

And so, obviously, all of us wish there had been some way to prevent it. But I feel very comfortable that we did everything that we could with the intelligence that we had.

BLITZER: The situation in the Middle East, in your book you write this: "People ask about my greatest disappointment as secretary. This was it. Certainly the Israelis could be faulted for the extremism of some, and more generally for their policy on settlements. But the core failure was the Palestinians's obsessive focus not on how much could be gained, but on the relatively little they would be required to give up."

You appear to be blaming Yasser Arafat for the collapse of the Camp David negotiations at the end of the Clinton administration.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I spend a lot of time talking about the ins and outs of the Camp David negotiations and the personalities and, you know, whether Barak and Arafat ever talked to each other.

But I think that Prime Minister Barak came forward with the most bold and courageous proposals, and Arafat just could not get his head around making those kinds of decisions. He didn't want to come to Camp David, and I write about that. But I think that he really just could not summon the energy or courage or vision to accept what Barak was offering.

BLITZER: Some of the criticism of the Clinton administration at the end was that you didn't do enough work with the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, others, the Europeans, the Russians, to get them on board, so that when Barak made his generous offer, that the pressure would be on Yasser Arafat to accept.

ALBRIGHT: Well, and I talk about that as a problem, but that was not a problem we caused. Prime Minister Barak is a very good conceiver of ideas, but he did not want -- he never really gave us his bottom line until we got in there, as I write. And I think we did not have enough time to get the moderate Arabs to help.

When President Clinton and I started calling around, they really did not know enough about what we were talking about. And I myself, Wolf, think that Arafat is certainly in a position to make decisions about the size of a Palestinian state. But I could understand the difficulty he had in making decisions about the holy places, which are basically under the protection of the Saudis and the Moroccans.

BLITZER: One final question before we take a quick break in this segment. Arafat, the Israelis are threatening to exile him or arrest him or kill him, if you will, the deputy prime minister, or the vice prime minister of Israel, saying that's one of the options, at least in principle.

What would happen if they did that? ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think it is a totally counterproductive move. I do know Arafat better than I ever thought I would, and I can assure you what he likes is to be a victim.

And I know a couple of days ago you were showing pictures of him blowing kisses and waving to much larger crowds of supporters. And what has happened is he has now been made a super-victim.

And I think if that were to happen, he would become a martyr, and it would be even harder to get peace.

BLITZER: Madam Secretary, stand by. We're going to take a quick break.

A lot more to talk about with Madeleine Albright when we come back. We'll also take some of your phone calls for the former secretary.

And later, he was in charge of policing post-war Iraq. Now, Bernard Kerik is back from Baghdad. We'll talk with the former New York City police commissioner about law and order after the fall of Saddam.

And you can weigh in on our LATE EDITION Web question of the week: Should the federal government have closed for two days because of hurricane Isabel? Go to our Web site, cnn.com/lateedition. We'll have the results later in this program.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with the former United States secretary of state, Madeleine Albright.

Madame Secretary, what do you think about Wesley Clark as president of the United States?

ALBRIGHT: Well, he's a very good friend. I've known Wes from the very beginning. He was actually the military liaison that I had at the U.N. with the Joint Chiefs, and he was terrific during the Dayton negotiations and then a great partner during Kosovo. So I think very highly of him, and I'm glad he's entered the race.

BLITZER: So are you endorsing him?

ALBRIGHT: No, I'm not endorsing anybody. I mean, the -- I know everybody says this, but they are all good friends. And I'm just very glad that he's in there, because he has some very important things to say.

BLITZER: Your colleague in the Clinton administration, the defense secretary, William Cohen, basically fired him.

ALBRIGHT: Well, it's a more complicated story than that. And I think that Wes did a great job. And it was thanks to him that we really won the Kosovo War, one of the things that I'm proudest of that we did.

BLITZER: One of the things about this new book, Madam Secretary, your memoir that's just out, is how candid you are about some of the most personal issues in your life -- for example, your divorce. And I want to read to you, because it's pretty remarkable for a former official to write as candidly as you did.

"Did my career cause my divorce? I have always resented the question. I consider it insulting to women who want a career. And I reject the implication that I was selfish.

"I also resent the question because I don't know the answer. There are many contradictions in the way I feel. When I became secretary of state, I realized that, though others might, I would never have climbed that high had I still been married.

"Yet I am deeply saddened to have been divorced. I know that at the time I would have given up any thought of a career if it would have made Joe change his mind" -- Joe, your former husband, who basically left you.

That's pretty candid for you to discuss that intimate, personal nature of how you wound up where you are right now.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I decided that there was no point in writing a memoir if I were not really candid, and I know a lot of women wonder how you balance things. When people said, how did you balance things, I said I didn't always manage to.

And I think it's important to really point out how difficult it was, and yet that I put myself back together and ended up pretty well. But I figured, if I weren't honest about that, then it was not a book that described a woman's path to the best job in the world.

BLITZER: And you are very, very frank on another issue that came up when you became secretary of state, the Jewish roots that you never knew you had. Among other things, you write this:

"It is crushing to know that three of my grandparents died in concentration camps and that my parents lived with that sorrow. I am proud now to know my full background. I always thought it was quite a story, but I feel further enriched by the knowledge that I am part of a valiant people that has survived and flourished despite centuries of persecution."

A lot of people still to this day say, how could Madeleine Albright not have known that her parents were Jewish and that her grandparents, three of them, died in concentration camps?

ALBRIGHT: Well, again, Wolf, I tried to explain my whole story, and explain that I had a complete story of my life, my parents had. There were no gaps, and if you have nothing to ask about, then you don't ask. I know some people didn't believe me. They still probably won't. But I decided I had to write it the way I knew it, and that's what I've done.

BLITZER: One of the more controversial moments in the Clinton administration, Monica Lewinsky -- I remember, I was there, the day when you walked out of the West Wing, and you came to the president's defense early on.

And you write this in the book: "I still wanted to believe that the whole business had been cooked up to destroy the president, and that this would become clear when the full truth came out."

When the full truth came out, you were very disappointed in Bill Clinton.

ALBRIGHT: Well, I was very sad, and I thought that it was a stupid thing to do, and I have said that.

But I am very proud to have served President Clinton, because I think he was a brilliant president. And in what I was doing, as secretary of state, it did not affect my work and it did not affect our relationship with other countries. In fact, many of the foreigners thought that we were crazy to put so much emphasis on it.

So, I think it has to be divided into two -- those two parts.

BLITZER: In your new life, after the government, you're a member of the board of the New York Stock Exchange right now. Dick Grasso, Richard Grasso, resigning this week. As we learned, he was getting a compensation package of $140 million. Did you know about that?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I come from a little bit different circles, and it was a very complicated thing. I'd just come on the board. These packages had been worked out before. And I'd just come from a different world. Public service doesn't quite pay that.

BLITZER: Well, obviously, you were making a lot less than that when you were the secretary of state.

But this is pretty shocking, that someone who's the head of the New York Stock Exchange, was making that much money. What are you going to do now? You're on the board. What are you going to do to fix this image problem that you have?

ALBRIGHT: Well, I, especially when I was secretary of state, I knew about the importance of global capital markets and the centrality of the New York Stock Exchange. And when I was elected to the board, I specifically asked to go on the governance committee, on which I am now, and we are doing all kinds of -- having hearings and studying.

And a little while ago, it was announced that John Reid has been named the interim chairman. And we are going to proceed to try to work on what are clearly very complicated governance issues. And I'm glad to be able to participate.

BLITZER: Is that an interim chairmanship...

ALBRIGHT: Yes.

BLITZER: ... or is he going to stay on?

ALBRIGHT: It's been announced as an interim chairmanship.

BLITZER: So it could be him, it could be somebody else, eventually, for the chairman?

ALBRIGHT: Well, this all just happened, so we'll have to see.

BLITZER: We'll have to wait and see. Madeleine Albright, the book, "Madam Secretary," it's really an excellent read.

ALBRIGHT: Thanks.

BLITZER: So to our viewers in the United States and around the world, thanks very much for coming in. Good luck.

ALBRIGHT: Well, thank you very much, Wolf. I appreciate it. Always good to be on the show.

BLITZER: Bye-bye.

And just ahead, we'll get a quick check of the hour's top stories.

Then, escalating violence and a mounting death toll. What will it take to secure Iraq? We'll get an assessment from former U.S. senior policy adviser and the former New York City police commissioner, Bernard Kerik. He's just back from Baghdad.

Then, is the removal of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat the key to resolving the Middle East mess? We'll talk to a panel of experts on that troubled region.

LATE EDITION will continue right at the top of the hour, after a quick check of the latest headlines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We'll talk about the task of bringing law and order to Iraq in just a few minutes. But first, let's check in with CNN reporters covering the hour's top stories.

And we begin in Iraq where three more U.S. soldiers were killed in two separate attacks this weekend near Baghdad. CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is joining us now live from Baghdad with details.

Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, one of those soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment dying shortly after his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, a roadside bomb, as he was driving near Ramadi, west of Baghdad.

Two other soldiers from the 205th Military Intelligence Unit killed, 13 wounded, when mortars were used to attack their base inside the massive Abu Ghraib prison just on the western outskirt outskirts of Baghdad.

Coalition officials tell us in recent months they have seen an increase, significant increase, in the use of mortars to attack troops. They describe it as a stand-off weapon. The reason, they say, they believe their attackers are using these type of devices and using increasingly more sophisticated ways of hiding the mortars, of remotely triggering them, is to avoid coming up in face-to-face confrontation with coalition forces. They believe their attackers are becoming increasingly wary of being killed in such attacks.

But Abu Ghraib prison, the commander of that prison told us just a few days ago, that it gets attacked four days out of seven. There are quite a large number of attacks there.

Also, coalition officials telling us the investigation into the assassination of Ms. Aquila Hashimi over the weekend, the assassination attempt, that investigation still ongoing. Many politicians here viewing it as an attack on anyone, essentially, that cooperates with the coalition. Officials here telling us that she is in critical but stable condition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was a cowardly attack on a member of the Governing Council. Mrs. Hashimi has undergone two operations. She remains in critical but stable condition at the hospital Abn Sinaa (ph) hospital under the care of top U.S. doctors. There's an intensive investigation being undertaken by the Iraqi police service.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Coalition officials also saying that Iraqi police and the coalition appealing to anyone to come forward who may have any information about this attack.

Wolf?

BLITZER: Nic, what kind of security do these Iraqi politicians, these members of the Iraqi Governing Council, several of whom are getting ready, or already left Iraq, to come to New York for the General Assembly meeting of the United Nations, what kind of security, what kind of protection do they generally have in Baghdad and elsewhere?

ROBERTSON: They generally have protection on their homes, they generally have protection when they leave their houses. The level of protection is left at the discretion of each of the members of the Governing Council.

They have been offered by the coalition to have coalition protection. Many of them, it appears, are opting not to go for that, to use the funding that the coalition is offering them to pay for their own private security.

The fear, obviously, among many politicians here is that they don't want to be viewed as too close to the coalition, if you will, by using coalition security forces, choosing to use private services, others that they may have used to provide security for them in the past.

Wolf?

BLITZER: This woman who someone tried to kill, Aquila al- Hashimi, she was a member of the Baath Party, she worked in the foreign ministry under Tariq Aziz during the Saddam Hussein regime, now she was brought in to work as part of this U.S.-led Iraqi Governing Council?

BLITZER: What's the explanation you're hearing from people why she, a member of the Baath Party, was brought in?

ROBERTSON: Well, it's very interesting. I mean, as recently as February this year, she was at the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) summit on behalf of Saddam Hussein's regime in February, speaking against the United States and against United Nations sanctions on Iraq. She is seen very much by people here, as being a link between the old and new.

Not only is she a woman, she's a career politician, she has experience in foreign affairs. She is from a prominent Shia family, and you can see from the way she dresses, she dresses in a very Western style. She doesn't wear a headdress. She is very well educated. She has a bachelor's degree in law, a doctorate in foreign languages.

She is widely regarded as perhaps epitomizing much that the coalition would like to see within the new Iraqi political makeup. She is very much a bridge between the old and the new, and very valuable for that reason. She's already been to London, New York, Paris, met with the French foreign minister there.

So she's been using her experiences in Iraq's previous foreign ministry in her new role here, as well, and that has been seen to be valuable.

Wolf?

BLITZER: And presumably, that could have been one of the reasons she may have been specifically targeted. But we'll have to wait for this investigation to continue.

Nic Robertson on the scene for us in Baghdad, as he always is.

Thanks, Nic, very much.

Let's turn now to a very, very disturbing, shocking case against a Muslim U.S. Army chaplain who counseled al Qaeda detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Captain James Yee is jailed right now, suspicion of possible espionage, possibly even treason. CNN's Chris Plante is over at the Pentagon. He's covering this story for us.

And a lot of us woke up pretty surprised to read about it in the papers this morning, Chris.

CHRIS PLANTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is fairly startling news, Wolf. A U.S. Army captain, a 1990 graduate of West Point, Captain James Yee, who left the Army in the early '90s after he converted to Islam, went to Damascus, Syria, for four years to study Islam and Arabic, returned to the United States, rejoined the Army as a chaplain.

He was assigned to Guantanamo Bay, the detention facility there, where many members of al Qaeda and the Taliban that were rounded up during the war in Afghanistan are being held. He worked there counseling the detainees and also educating U.S. forces there on the ways of Islam.

He was arrested on September 10th at the naval air station at Jacksonville in Florida and is under investigation now. No formal charges have yet been filed. That's an important thing to note. But they are looking at the possibility that he had ties to Islamic groups in the United States. He may have had some contact with radical Islamic groups or radical Islamic individuals in the United States.

Sources tell me that is what tipped them off initially and forced them to take a closer look at Captain Yee. He was found to be in possession of documents when he was arrested, including diagrams of the facility at Guantanamo and also information about the detainees and, perhaps more importantly, about some of the American interrogators there.

Wolf?

BLITZER: Chris, based on everything we know about this U.S. Army captain, after he left active duty, he went and spent, according to these reports, four years studying Islam in Damascus, Syria.

Presumably someone who spends four years in Syria, coming back to the United States, wanting to come back in the military, that would raise all sorts of alarm bells, especially for intelligence officials doing security clearances and like matters.

What are you hearing about that?

PLANTE: Well, there, as you know, there are thousands of practicing Muslims in the U.S. military right now. The numbers vary depending on what your source is, but perhaps as many as 10,000 practicing Muslims. There is a need for Islamic clerics for chaplain duty in the military, not just for the servicemen who are practicing Muslims, but also because, obviously, the U.S. military is engaged significantly in the Arab world now, in Afghanistan and Iraq and beyond.

So I would imagine that there was a normal background check. But keeping in mind also that he's a 1990 graduate of West Point, being a West Point graduate certainly goes a long way, regardless of what he might have been doing in the interim.

BLITZER: And he has not yet been charged with anything. He's just under arrest right now.

CNN's Chris Plante over at the Pentagon.

Thanks, Chris.

A shocking story. We'll continue to follow it, obviously, for our viewers.

Let's turn to the situation in the Middle East right now, where dramatic developments still unfolding after Israel's threat to, quote, remove the Palestinian Authority president, Yasser Arafat, from power.

CNN's Matthew Chance is joining us now live from Jerusalem with the latest developments.

BLITZER: Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, thanks.

A period of relative calm perhaps after the tempestuous events of recent weeks, but a great deal of political activity carrying on behind the scenes. The Palestinian prime minister-designate, Ahmed Korei, has been in Gaza, meeting with the various Palestinian factions, including militant groups like Islamic Jihad, to try and rally support for his government in the making.

Officials of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement say that they expect a new Palestinian government to be formed later this week. That, of course, following the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister earlier this month. He said his efforts to implement the U.S.-backed road-map peace plan had been undermined both by Yasser Arafat and by Israel as well. Few believe that any new Palestinian government is going to be any more successful than was his.

Meanwhile, the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has been engaged in his weekly cabinet meeting. There's a great deal on his agenda, many decisions that have to be made. Firstly, of course, regarding Yasser Arafat. There's been a lot of talk, and that continues, about how to remove him from the Palestinian territories.

But also perhaps more pressing at this stage, decisions on what to do with the barrier that Israel is building through the West Bank, in order to try and protect its citizens from Palestinian suicide bombers entering Israel. Washington has expressed concern at the prospect of the barrier being built to take in the big Jewish settlements like Ariel (ph), deep in the West Bank, a route that could cut many thousands of Palestinians off from their lands.

An Israeli delegation has made its way to Washington to discuss the matter. Israel looking for some kind of compromise between its own hardliners, who are of course pushing for those settlements to be included, and Washington, which has threatened to cut off some funds to Israel if it takes that more intrusive route into the West Bank, Wolf.

BLITZER: And public opinion among Israelis, Matthew, about Yasser Arafat, what are they suggesting, in terms of the various options, negotiating with him, trying to basically make him irrelevant, keeping him on the sidelines, or arresting him or exiling him, and some even wanted to assassinate him. What does the public in Israel seem to suggest, based on the polls you've seen?

CHANCE: Well, certainly the vast majority of people in Israel, people who, remember, have been subject to waves of Palestinian violence over the past three years or so, feel that they can no longer trust Yasser Arafat, they feel that there no longer is a person in Yasser Arafat that they can trust their government to negotiate with.

And so, I think the opinion of the vast majority of the Israelis is that Yasser Arafat is no longer anybody who should be considered as the legitimate leader of the Palestinians, somebody who perhaps there is a good deal of support for, Israel's cabinet decision to in principle in some way remove Yasser Arafat from the Palestinian territories, perhaps to make way for a Palestinian leadership who the Israeli public, the Israeli government could trust in negotiations.

At the same time, I think there's an acceptance amongst many Israelis that that alternative, that leadership simply does not exist amongst Palestinians at this time.

BLITZER: CNN's Matthew Chance in Jerusalem.

Thanks, Matthew, very much for that report.

Up next, an Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, what will it take for both sides to follow the peace road map? And what's next for the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat? We'll get perspective from a panel of Middle East experts.

And don't forget to weigh in on our Web question of the week: Should the federal government have closed for two days because of Hurricane Isabel? You can cast your vote at our Web site, cnn.com/lateedition. We'll have the results. That's coming up.

LATE EDITION, including a special conversation later this hour with Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, just back from Baghdad.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

This week, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Israel to rescind its threat to, quote, "remove" Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. Eleven of the council's 15 members voted in favor of the resolution. But Israel insists the Palestinian leader is the main obstacle to Middle East peace.

For some insight, we turn to three guests: Martin Indyk served as the United States ambassador of Israel and as the assistant secretary of state for Near-Eastern affairs during the Clinton administration. Daniel Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum and was appointed by President Bush to the board of the United States Institute of Peace. And Fouad Makhzoumi is a prominent businessman and philanthropist from Lebanon visiting Washington right now.

Gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION.

And, Daniel Pipes, let me begin with you. What do you think of the Israeli proposal to remove Yasser Arafat one way or another?

DANIEL PIPES, DIRECTOR, MIDDLE EAST FORUM: I actually don't have much thoughts on that, because I try and stay away from the tactical issues between the Palestinians and Israelis and instead concentrate on the strategic ones, which I think are much more fundamental.

BLITZER: But don't you think that would be a strategic decision, if the Israelis got rid of Yasser Arafat?

PIPES: No, I don't, I don't think it's going to materially affect it. I don't think that's what the issue is now.

BLITZER: Don't you think it could have dramatic ramifications in the Arab world, in the Muslim world if the Israelis...

PIPES: It might, but it's not something I want to give an opinion on. I just don't think I, as an American foreign policy analyst, want to get into that particular subject.

BLITZER: Martin Indyk, what do you make? You spend a lot of time studying this situation in the Middle East. What do you make of this proposal to remove Yasser Arafat?

MARTIN INDYK, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Well, it's clearly, from a policy point of view, an attempt by the Israelis to deal with what they see as the source of the problem. But in dealing with it, they've had the actual effect of shooting themselves in the foot rather than shooting Yasser Arafat.

In effect, he has now got 133 nations around the world supporting him in the U.N. General Assembly, a resolution the United States had to veto, a Security Council resolution. And the Palestinians are demonstrating in the street, which they haven't done for years, in support of him.

BLITZER: So you would say this is a tactical and a strategic blunder on the part of the Israelis?

INDYK: Well, it would be a strategically sensible move if it were coupled with a far-reaching, credible initiative by the Israelis, designed to give the Palestinian leadership, who was left behind once Arafat was evicted, with something that they could point to in front of their people to say, "We're not traitors, we're actually representing your interests by engaging with the Israelis on this kind of initiative."

BLITZER: Fouad, what's your assessment of this Israeli threat?

FOUAD MAKHZOUMI, BUSINESSMAN/PHILANTHROPIST: I think, you know, the United States approach since President Bush made the famous, you know, speech about the Middle East last year is the principle of engagement. And by passing through the issues like this and trying to remove Yasser Arafat, I think they're killing and shooting down the principle of engagement.

Every time, you know, we attempt, or anybody attempts, to remove Yasser Arafat, we make a hero out of him. So I think it's about time that we move on with the engagement, rather than to try to settle personal feuds among the leaders.

BLITZER: But he still is, based on everything you know, the most popular Palestinian leader out there.

MAKHZOUMI: Look, you know, at the end of the day, you know, we need to give the people the right to choose their leaders. And obviously, the Palestinians have chosen him, and accept (ph) that, you know, when we started engaging him, since 1993, things were moving in the right direction. And I think the ambassador would know that. So I think what we need to do is to bring him back into the engagement, and this way I think we might get a much better outcome out of it.

BLITZER: Daniel, do you want to weigh in on that?

PIPES: Yes, I don't think bringing Yasser Arafat in is a good idea, no better than, say, bringing Saddam Hussein back into the engagement, or Mullah Omar would be a good idea, or bin Laden himself. This is clearly someone who is a supporter of terrorism, who's been engaging in it longer than anyone else I can think of, and the last thing we want to do is bring him into the negotiations.

BLITZER: So why not get rid of him?

PIPES: Well, I think it's a good idea to keep him out. Where he is living, what the state of his health is, is something that I don't think should be the focus of our attention. The focus of our attention should be, what is the state of Israeli-Palestinian affairs, and what can we usefully do to forward that?

BLITZER: And what do you think the United States should be doing now?

PIPES: I think what we should be doing is taking a look at the last 10 years and see that it didn't work. We're worse off than we were exactly 10 years ago.

And the reason we're worse off is that we made the assumption, the Israelis as well, that the Palestinians had as a body politic, as a whole, not just the leadership, but in general, come to accept the existence of Israel, and therefore the focus had to be on working out borders and armaments and water and sanctities and the rest. I believe we should learn from the last 10 years and come to the conclusion that, in fact, we made a mistake, that that acceptance by the Palestinians of Israel's existence is not there. And we should focus on getting the Palestinians to accept Israel. We, the Arab states and so forth.

BLITZER: Well, let me let Martin -- you spent eight of the last 10 years personally involved in trying to get this peace process going. It ended obviously with failure at the end of the Clinton administration.

But is Daniel Pipes right, that the last 10 years has made the situation worse than it was before?

INDYK: Well, I think that the failure of the effort has certainly increased the mistrust. It's one thing to try to overcome all of the problems involved in the conflict and reach an agreement, and another thing entirely to try to start again with the agreement broken in every possible way. So it's become much more difficult.

INDYK: However, I don't agree with Daniel that the hear of the problem is the lack of the Palestinian people's acceptance of Israel. I think the heart of the problem was the failure of leadership on the part of Yasser Arafat.

BLITZER: Fouad, you've spent a lot of time -- you live in Lebanon, obviously. You know the Arab world. You travel around there all the time. And you know the Palestinians.

Have they come around to the recognition that Israel has a right to exist as an independent Jewish state?

MAKHZOUMI: I think it was clear from October, you know, when the United States, you know, led that conference in Madrid to bring everybody there.

The principle, I would agree with the ambassador that it was made, that the strategic decision was made, but, as we went along and there was a series of failures along the way, whatever trust that was built from '93 till about '96, '97, I think it was lost. And to try to revive it, it takes a different approach than just by making a announcement for a new road map, for a new peace process.

And I think, if we can go back and try to understand why this confidence was lost among (UNINTELLIGIBLE) start building that -- and I agree, and I would disagree with Dr. Pipes, because I still think that the engagement is important, and we should not rule out anybody from bringing him down to the table.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to continue this conversation. We have a lot more to talk about.

We're going to also check the hour's top stories, and more of our conversation on the crisis in the Middle East with Martin Indyk, Daniel Pipes and Fouad Makhzoumi. They will also be taking your phone calls this hour. There's still time, by the way, to vote on our Web question of the week: Should the federal government have closed for two days because of Hurricane Isabel? Go to our Web address at cnn.com/lateedition.

We'll continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking about the crisis in the Middle East with three guests, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk; Daniel Pipes, he's the director of the Middle East Forum; and businessman and philanthropist Fouad Makhzoumi of Lebanon.

Fouad, what do you make of this proposal now in the U.S. Congress to impose sanctions against Syria because it's supposedly cooperating in letting terrorists infiltrate into Iraq, among other reasons, and undermining U.S. policy?

MAKHZOUMI: Let's wait to see if it will pass, because, as you know, this is round two that was introduced. Last year it was introduced, and it was pulled back.

Now, if any resolution that will be passed, in order to speed up reform in the region where by we can move on toward democracy, as (ph) was declared by the U.S. administration, then I think we're for it.

But to any attempt to try to declare these things in order to use force to force, you know, regime changes, I think the experience in Iraq, I think, will take us to take a step back and analyze if this is really the right route that it should be taken.

BLITZER: Is this a good idea, to isolate Syria, Bashar al-Asad, the relatively young president, the son of Hafez al-Asad, is this a good idea for the U.S. Congress now to force sanctions against Syria?

PIPES: I think it is a good idea, and it's important to note, Mr. Makhzoumi is correct, that the first time it did not go through, because of administration hostility. The second time, the administration's indicated it's neutral, and there's now a majority both in the Senate and the House that support it, so it seems very likely it will go through. I do think it is a good idea.

We may need to make clear -- we need to become consistent in our policy toward Syria, which has been ambivalent and somewhat self- contradictory over the years. With luck, the passage of this bill will create a consistent policy...

BLITZER: I thought there were some indications, Martin -- and you would know this better than I do -- that in the past year or two that the Syrian government was actually cooperating with the U.S. since 9/11 in fighting terrorism.

INDYK: Well, the Syrian government has been cooperating on al Qaeda, but what they've been doing -- and that's actually been quite useful for us -- but they've been doing that in order to relieve the pressure from us on their sponsorship of other terrorist groups, particularly the Palestinian terrorist groups and Hezbollah, operating out of Lebanon. And they've also been in bed with Saddam Hussein's regime during this period.

So they were trying to kind of buy us off with cooperation in one area while continuing policies that were deeply offensive to our interests on the other. Now we're trying to get them to clean up their act in the other areas.

BLITZER: Is this a good idea, though, to impose sanctions on them? Will they clean up their act if the U.S. Congress implements this?

INDYK: No, I doubt it. They're already under sanctions because they're a state sponsor of terror. This increases the pressure, but it's not going to make any significant difference.

The thing that will make a difference with the Syrians is if they come to understand that, on the one hand, they can have a relationship with us which is positive and includes our working with them to make peace between Israel and Syria, but they can't have it both ways. Either they stop their sponsorship of terrorism -- we have to engage with them to make it clear to them, as the administration has been trying to do, but I don't think they've been effective at it, that they do have to make this choice. They've got to give up on their sponsorship of terrorism.

BLITZER: Is there any hope that Bashar al-Asad will make that choice and come to the right decision?

MAKHZOUMI: I think he would, because the issue that we've been hearing on the news now, that there have been these Sunni extremists that are allowed through the borders, I may can understand it, prior to the -- you know, the war on Iraq and the regime change, because, I mean, they want to get rid of them anyway, OK?

But to tell me now, after the end of April, they would be doing that, they know very well -- I mean, you have the 3rd, I think, Armed Cavalry Division regiment that's there, and I don't think it is that smart to do that.

So I'm a little bit suspicious of all this situation.

BLITZER: Let's move from Syria to Saudi Arabia. This past week, the New York Democratic senator, Chuck Schumer, spoke out very strongly against the Saudis. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

U.S. SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY): If you want to know why there are so many militants in Indonesia, in Pakistan and Afghanistan that just hate us, it can be traced to Saudi funding. And the idea that they have stopped it, you know, just when Secretary Snow visited, when all the information is that they have not, is ludicrous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Senator Schumer speaking with our own Paula Zahn earlier in the week.

Now, in response -- perhaps in response, but actually a day earlier, the U.S. treasury secretary, John Snow, said this, referring to the Saudis, based on a visit he had had to Riyadh: "Their close oversight of charities to guard against money laundering and terrorist financing sets an example to all countries engaged in the war against terror."

BLITZER: Daniel Pipes, Saudi Arabia setting an example in cooperating with the U.S. in the war on terror?

PIPES: I don't think so. I'm more with Senator Schumer, that there is a deep sympathy in Saudi Arabia for the sponsorship of these radical movements. They have been doing it now really for 30 years. There's an infrastructure around the world. And what we've seen is a very minor pulling back at certain areas by the government, by the monarchy in Saudi Arabia. Not nearly enough. A very small retreat.

BLITZER: What about you, have you seen a shift in the Saudi stance?

INDYK: Yeah, I think it's a start. And we should at least give them credit for starting. But it's a very big problem.

The Wahhabi extremists are part of their governing system. They run the education, social welfare institutions within the government. So -- and there's a pact between the royal family and the Wahhabis to stay in power. So it's very -- you're talking about a really fundamental structural change that has to take place.

We're going to have to work on this. We should, on the one hand, praise them when they do something good, but make it clear there's a hell of a lot more they've got to do.

BLITZER: Fouad, last word on Saudi Arabia.

MAKHZOUMI: I think we need to differentiate between the Saudi individuals and government. There is no doubt the royal family did not mind that this funding should take place onto (ph) religious reasons, but I think after 9/11, they have been attempting, as a royal family, to take the right steps. And what we hope for is they put the right procedures so that they will stop individuals from actually sending money.

BLITZER: All right. Fouad Makhzoumi, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome to Washington.

MAKHZOUMI: Thank you.

BLITZER: Martin Indyk, you're always in Washington, never mind.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you very much for coming in.

Daniel Pipes from Philadelphia, in Washington, welcome.

PIPES: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we'll get a quick check of the hour's top stories.

Then, New York City's former top cop has just finished a tour of duty in Baghdad. We'll speak with the former U.S. senior policy adviser, Bernard Kerik, about law and order after the fall of Saddam.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

In addition to the attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqis who are perceived to be cooperating with the United States, crimes such as rape, kidnapping and robbery have become almost commonplace in certain parts of Iraq. Security there, of course, remains a top concern.

Joining us now from New York City, that city's former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik. He's just returned from Iraq where he served as the senior policy adviser for the Bush administration for the U.S. government there.

Commissioner Kerik, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Welcome back to the United States.

First of all, why did you end your tour of duty in Baghdad at this time?

BERNARD KERIK, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, Wolf, my overall job there was to stand up the Ministry of Interior. As you know, I oversaw the police, the customs, borders, immigrations, emergency management, fire services for the country.

We started out from zero, we started out with nothing. And over the four-month period that I was there, we brought back 37,000 police officers, stood up the border and customs people, and reconstituted many of the police stations, brought in the chiefs, identified them, identified the senior minister of interior, the deputies under him. And the new deputy, or the new minister of interior, Nurri Badran (ph), was appointed two days before I left.

So basically, the Interior is up and running. It's back in force. It's going to be a while before it's up to total strength and overall stand-up numbers of 65,000 or 75,000 members in the police department. But it's back up and running, and that was my job.

BLITZER: Was it always your intention to get it up and running and then come back? Or some were suggesting maybe you were leaving earlier than planned. KERIK: No, no. I said between three and six months. You know, this started out when I was first called by the White House, it was 30 days, then 60. And once I realized what the job entailed, I realized it wasn't going to take -- couldn't take 30 or 60 days, but I didn't intend to stay there forever.

And ironically, I may be back, you know? I told Secretary Rumsfeld, Ambassador Bremer, and I've pledged to the president, I'll do everything I can to help them get the project rolling and bring freedom to Iraq. And if I've got to go back to do that, or I've got to stay on as an adviser or counselor, I'll do that as well.

But for the time being, they're up and running and they're doing a good job.

BLITZER: Aquila al-Hashimi, I don't know if you know her, you know her...

KERIK: Yes, I did.

BLITZER: ... while you were there, but there was an assassination attempt, as you well know. She's still alive, in critical condition right now.

This is pretty shocking that someone in the Iraqi Governing Council could be targeted like that. Presumably, everyone else is very concerned now that they could be targets.

What needs to be done to protect these people?

KERIK: Well, the Governing Council is no different than the coalition, which is no different than the police, which is no different than anyone else that wants to bring freedom to Iraq right now, that wants a different Iraq and wants the Iraq taken away from the Saddam regime.

They will, you know, the people will attack them, will try to intimidate, will try to frustrate. That's what's happened in this case.

She is an extremely strong woman. I know her. I've met her several times. Hopefully she's going to be OK, and I'm sure when she gets better, she'll be back in the office.

KERIK: But we've got to protect those people. We've got to set up security for those people. That's been an ongoing process since the Governing Council was placed in power, put in place by Ambassador Bremer. But it takes time. We had to identify people that would secure them, people who could be put on those security details. And then we have to train them. And it all takes time, just like standing up the police throughout Iraq takes time. But it's an ongoing process.

Fortunately, she lived through this attack. I understand that one of the assailants was killed, several injured. You know, we're going to take these people out one by one, but it's going to take time. And we can't believe that that's going to be the last attack. There will be more.

BLITZER: Were you surprised at how this situation has unfolded in the aftermath of the major combat, after May 1st? And I'll put some numbers up on the screen, reminding our viewers how many U.S. troops have died now in Iraq, before and after May 1st.

A lot of criticism, as you well know, commissioner, that the U.S. government did not necessarily have such good post-war planning.

KERIK: Well, Wolf, I think you have to look at history. And I think the people that criticize, they have to look at history as well. Whether it's the fall of the Soviet Union, or Bosnia, or Kosovo, 60, 90, 120 days out from the fall of those countries, what you see is you see resistance. You see the people that were in power, the dictators, they've lost their power, they've lost their strength, they've lost their money, and they start to fight back.

They sort of come out of their holes. They've been hiding for four months, three months. They come out of their holes and start to resist and make a last-ditch effort to frustrate the coalition, frustrate the U.S., push them out of the country. In that case, in this case, it's not happening.

Coalition is not going anywhere. We're there to stay. We're going to make sure Iraq remains a free country. And we're going to give Iraq back to the Iraqi people. And that's what has to be done.

I said when I got there, I anticipated additional violence. I anticipated violence to be escalated. And it has. But just as it has in this country and other countries, it will decrease as the security forces grow, as the police numbers are enhanced, as the civil defense is brought in power, as the military is brought back to full strength. They will then secure Iraq. The Iraqi people have to do it. We have to create an Iraqi intelligence service. They can find the resistance much better than we can.

Iraq will be a free country. It's just going to take time.

BLITZER: How coordinated are these attacks? Whether the suicide bombings that we saw over at the U.N. compound in Baghdad, the Jordanian embassy, whether it's this assassination attempt or these attacks against U.S. military personnel with these explosive devices and other hardware, is this all coming from the same source, generally the same source or various different enemies of the U.S. and coalition forces?

KERIK: Well, predominantly, Wolf, it's not even about enemies of the U.S. or the enemies of the coalition. It's enemies of freedom to Iraq. And primarily that's the Baathists, the Fedayeen Saddam, which are trained killers and trained assassins for Saddam Hussein. These are the people primarily responsible for these attacks.

And one by one, either through coalition efforts, through the Iraqi police, they're being taken out. But there's many of them out there, and it's going to take a while before they get a handle on it. The key to the success of this, as I said, is intelligence. You know, the U.S. coalition -- you know, I've listened to a number of the presidential candidates over the last two weeks or so, since I've been back, talk about more troops, we need more troops, we need more coalition. That is not necessarily the case.

What we need is intelligence. We need to stand up the Iraqi intelligence services. We don't want to put more coalition targets out there. We don't want to put more coalition troops, because they become targets. We have to be very careful when we think about the future of how we attack the resistance.

BLITZER: Your book that came out almost a year ago is now out in paperback, "The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice," an excellent read for our viewers, who may not have read it in hardcover, they can certainly get a copy of it now in paperback, Commissioner.

But what's next for you, now that you're back in the United States? I ask that question in light of the item that appeared in the New York Post this week, which I'm sure you saw, suggesting that you may be anxious to throw your own hat into some sort of political ring.

KERIK: Well, I think, for right now, Wolf, I'm back to work with the former mayor, Giuliani. We work as a team here in a consulting group out of New York. Politics, perhaps, down the road. I'll leave the option open.

But for the next year or so, my focus is going to be working with Giuliani and working for President Bush to make sure he gets reelected. I think what he's done -- this war shouldn't have started in 2001, it should have started in '93, when they hit the Towers the first time, and it was ignored.

And I think we have to focus on what has to be done from this point on, and I'm going to be there to help him do that.

BLITZER: When you say you're leaving politics open, maybe in a year or so, are you looking in New Jersey where you grew up, or are you looking at New York state, New York City, where you live now?

KERIK: Well, I think most people are looking for me. Right now I'll just keep the option open. I live in New York. I own a house in New Jersey. I grew up in New Jersey.

KERIK: So who knows where it's going to be, if it ever happens. But there are a number of people out there, you know, pushing. But for right now, me and Giuliani have a lot of work to do, and that's what I'm going to work at.

BLITZER: And it's fair to say, Commissioner, you are a Republican, and if you were going to run, you'd run as a Republican, presumably against some sort of Democrat. The name John Corzine, the Democratic senator from New Jersey, has been mentioned.

KERIK: Well, he is a senator in New Jersey, and I am a Republican. But for right now, I'm -- just keep pushing, Wolf. (LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: All right. I'm not going to push any more, Commissioner. But if you want to get into politics, you're going to have to anticipate those kinds of questions down the road.

KERIK: Yes, I know.

BLITZER: But I'm not going to press you any more right now.

KERIK: All right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Commissioner Kerik.

KERIK: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Welcome back from Baghdad. Thanks for all your work over there. Good luck back here in the United States.

KERIK: Thank you. It's nice to see you. Thanks. Bye-bye.

BLITZER: And coming up next, the results are in for our Web question of the week. We'll reveal how you voted just after the break.

And later, Bruce Morton's last word.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean. He's a phenomenon, this cycle's hot man so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Can presidential candidate Howard Dean keep his momentum in the race for the White House, or will the retired U.S. Army general, Wesley Clark, trip up his campaign?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Those were the results of our Web question of the week.

Time now for Bruce Morton's last word on the Democratic presidential candidate, Howard Dean, an early hit on the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm here to announce that I intend to seek the presidency of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: Well, there's a new man in the race, walking tall, used to wear those stars on his shoulders. How will he do? Too soon to know.

For the moment, the man with the buzz is still hot Howard Dean. Other candidates react to what he says. The U.S. should be neutral in the Middle East? He's the only one who talks to whites about race, did he say that? John Kerry walked away from one session with reporters, muttering about the questions, "Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean." He's a phenomenon, this cycle's hot man so far.

We've had these before, longshots suddenly getting hot, but not usually this early. In 1984, Gary Hart beat Walter Mondale in the New Hampshire primary and became hot Hart, until Mondale attacked Hart's new ideas in a debate with a slogan a hamburger chain was using against its competitor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALTER MONDALE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: "Where's the beef?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORTON: "Where's the beef?" Hart ebbed, and Mondale went on to win the nomination.

In 1988, with a swarm of candidates, like this year, Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt was the hot man for a time in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. But it didn't last. "I knew I was in trouble," Babbitt said later, "when I realized that reporters liked me." Fair enough. He failed early, and Michael Dukakis, not a press favorite, became the nominee.

So these early favorites sometimes disappear. This time, there's no way to know. Dean's opponents can certainly find issues, positions on which he's shifted, but it's difficult to figure out just what might or might not damage hot Howard Dean.

Iowa, the first test, is still four months away. He has plenty of time to cool off, just as the others, including Wesley Clark, have time to get hot.

But if Dean stays ahead, as polls there now show him, that may be the end of the road for Dick Gephardt. If Dean wins New Hampshire, and polls there also show him ahead, that would make survival difficult for John Kerry. Joe Lieberman thinks he'll win primaries the week after New Hampshire, but a double Dean win would make that much more difficult. Big mo, momentum would be on hot Howard's side.

The best hope for the other nine is probably some big Dean blunder before Iowa. There's plenty of time for one.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Bruce.

And that's your LATE EDITION for this Sunday. See you back next Sunday. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

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