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Blame Game Over Iraq Intelligence Intensifies

Aired October 24, 2003 - 16:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: The blame game over Iraq intelligence intensifies. A Senate panel prepares a scathing report about information used to justify war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was an underground war going on within the administration.

ANNOUNCER: The Asian experience. In his traveling abroad, did President Bush help himself at home?

GOV.-ELECT ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I want to bring everyone together.

ANNOUNCER: Can Arnold Schwarzenegger cross the cultural divide between bargain hunters at Wal-Mart and latte lovers at Starbucks?

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


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. Get ready for another round in the political battle over Iraq. Sources say that a Senate panel is preparing a scathing report on U.S. intelligence before the war and finger pointing is almost sure to follow.

Here now, our Congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl. Jonathan, what are you hearing this report is going to say and what it's not going to say?

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, the report is still aways from coming out. But the committee has been investigating the Iraq prewar intelligence since April. They've gone through thousands of pages of information, they have interviewed 100 subjects including the CIA director, as you know, George Tenet, who has been before the committee on multiple occasions.

Sources say that their report when they get to doing it, that their investigation has revealed incident specific cases of sloppy intelligence based on questionable single sources in some cases and also circumstantial evidence.

One source says some of these examples are eye-opening examples of sloppy intelligence that made it into the national intelligence estimate that came out last December and was used to make the case for war.

But Democrats who I've spoken to agree with that assessment of what they've found say that's only half the story. They also want to know how the White House used the intelligence. They think the committee still needs to look into whether or not President Bush, the White House, misused the intelligence that was gathered. So far, the committee has only looked a intelligence gathering not the use of intelligence.

Now, one top Democrat, the top Democrat on the committee, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, says he thinks the Republican chairman is simply trying to protect the White House on this.


SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D-WV), INTELLIGENCE CMTE.: What he wants to do is lay all of this off on the intelligence community and never get to any other branches of government. In particular, the White House and associated high and visible government agencies.


KARL: But all sides say there's more work to be done before the report is actually completed. There are more hearings to do. They're not done with that phase. Even the gathering of information to write the report.

They say before the report is finalized, CIA Director George Tenet will be invited back up to Capitol Hill to appear before the committee to respond to what the committee's investigation has found -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jon Karl, watching this developing story up on the hill. Thank you very much.

Just a short while ago, I spoke with a top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, Carl Levin of Michigan. And started by asking him, based on the panel's findings, if CIA Director George Tenet should lose his job?


SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), INTELLIGENCE CMTE.: I'd like to see the report first. None of the members of the committee, as far as I know, have even seen the report which was leaked apparently by staff. So I'd have to see that report first.

But there's all kinds of evidence that the intelligence, which was provided to the Congress, to the administration, was clearly exaggerated and hyped and shaped.

But that's just half the picture. The other half is what was done with the intelligence, how was it used by the policymakers and that's the real issue's going to around here. The picture of the Intelligence Committee is not going to be a pretty one. But what's missing is the willingness on the part of the chairman of the intelligence committee to take a look at the use of intelligence by the administration. So far, he's absolutely refused to go there.

WOODRUFF: You're referring to Senator Pat Roberts...

LEVIN: Correct.

WOODRUFF: ... who is the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Do you think there's any give on his part? Are you and other Democrats going to continue to insist that the administration role in this be looked at?

LEVIN: Sure. The ranking Democrat on the committee, Senator Rockefeller, has raised this issue on a number of times with Senator Roberts. So far, there's been no give.

But there's no use painting half a picture. That half of a picture may not be a pretty one and won't be relative to the role of the Intelligence Committee.

But to leave the other half blank, which what the administration did with the intelligence, whatever it was, when they got it is a totally incomplete picture.

WOODRUFF: There are those, Senator, who say that may not be the committee's jurisdiction, to look at the role of the administration. That it's your committee's jurisdiction to look at the intelligence community alone.

LEVIN: Well the whole resolution creating this Intelligence Committee talks about it looking at the use of intelligence. The very jurisdictional grant to the intelligence committee provides that it review the use of intelligence by the administration. Not just in this case, but in any case. If this committee doesn't look at it, who is looking at isn't it.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you also about what CIA Director Tenet himself was quoted as saying. Among other things, he's complained not enough people were interviewed at the CIA and elsewhere. A spokesman for the CIA said that this work, this estimate, this national intelligence estimate, this important document was based on ten years of work. In other words, disputing the notion that it was sloppy work that went into preparing it.

LEVIN: Until we see the report, it's kind of hard to comment on it. But there's all kinds of evidence, however, that the intelligence community shaped and stretched and exaggerated the intelligence. No doubt, to please the policy makers.

But for whatever reason, that it was done. There's very disturbing evidence of that and has been for a long time. But again, that takes you up to the water's edge.

The question is what was done by the policy makers with the intelligence once they got it?

WOODRUFF: What are you going to do, Senator, if Chairman Roberts is not prepared to expand the report and the findings to include what you're talking about here?

LEVIN: Well, someone, somewhere, has got to have an assessment of the policymaker's use or misuse of intelligence.

Now we've proposed and voted for -- we being Democrats and outside bipartisan or non-partisan, independent commission -- to look at both the production of intelligence and its use prior to the attack on Iraq.

That has been rejected by the majority of the Republicans here. So that avenue has been closed, to have an outside, independent group look at the improve intelligence. That means it's going to be up to someone in the Congress to look at it.

Now I've got a staff review going on at the Armed Services Committee. And we're going to look at the use of intelligence as well as its production. But that does not take the place of a full committee taking a look at the use of intelligence by policymakers.

If the intelligence committees won't do this in the Senate and the House, I'm not sure who will. That means it will be undone and that's a real gap in terms of the oversight of this administration's use of intelligence.


WOODRUFF: Senator Carl Levin on the Intelligence Committee.

To the Democratic presidential race now. Dennis Kucinich is demanding that New Hampshire television stations stop airing ads from rival Howard Dean. Dean's spots criticize his Democratic opponents' records on the war in Iraq and on prescription drug benefits. Kucinich says the ads distort his position against the war and distort Dean's anti-war stand as well. One local station says it has no right to edit or decline ads from federal candidates.

Checking the headlines now in our Friday edition of "Campaign News Daily," Vice President Dick Cheney brought in more cash for the Bush/Cheney reelection campaign earlier today. Cheney spoke to about 350 people at a nighttime event in New York. The luncheon was expected to raise about $700,000.

The nine Democratic hopefuls head to Detroit for their next debate this weekend. Sunday night's event is cosponsored by the DNC and Congressional Black Caucus. Key topics expected to include unemployment and health care.

President Bush's campaign manager is headed out west. The president has met himself with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, Ken Melman, the man running the Bush campaign is going to the Golden State next week to build on the momentum created by the Schwarzenegger victory. It's a two-way street between the California capital and the nation's capital. Governor-Elect Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to Washington, as we just said, next week. He's scheduled to meet with lawmakers on the Hill on Wednesday, perhaps including his uncle-in- law, Senator Ted Kennedy.

Out west, you could say Schwarzenegger's political victory tells the tale of two Californias. One a bastion of Wal-Marts, the other a Starbucks kind of place. Here's what we found between the lines of the recall election exit poll.


WOODRUFF (voice-over): A discount store is probably the last place you'd expect to find Arnold Schwarzenegger. But it turns out the governor-elect is a hit with the Wal-Mart crowd. Californians who live near a Wal-Mart voted overwhelmingly for the recall and for Schwarzenegger.

By contrast, the more upscale, more educated and more liberal voters who live near a Starbucks were evenly split on the recall and voted for Schwarzenegger in smaller numbers.

KETTING HOLLAND, CNN POLLING DIRECTOR: There is sort of a class warfare to some extent going on in California between very elite suburbs and very downscale suburbs.

WOODRUFF: Take white collar versus blue collar neighborhoods. Collar Schwarzenegger communities blue by a wide margin, while white collar neighborhoods voted against the recall.

A movie star like Schwarzenegger would likely feel right at home in places like Pebble Beach, Carmel or Malibu. But voters there apparently were not that comfortable with him.

HOLLAND: They may like movie stars in some of those areas, but they don't necessarily vote for them. A bare majority of Californians in old growth suburbs voted to recall Governor Davis. They did vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger, but not like the boomtowns.

WOODRUFF: In the new, fast-growing California suburbs or boomtowns, voters were big fans of Schwarzenegger and even bigger fans of removing Governor Gray Davis.


WOODRUFF: From California to New York, we'll get the big picture on the '04 election from a political veteran, Tony Coehlo.

And I'll be talking primarily to the former Congressman about a subject close to his heart, the rights of Americans with disabilities.

And later, now that he's back in the U.S., what does President Bush have to show for his trip to Asia.

This is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In Georgia, Democrats are going to have to continue their search for a high-profile Senate candidate. Michelle Nunn, who is the daughter of former Senator Sam Nunn, said today that she will not run for the seat being vacated by Democrat Zell Miller. Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and former Senator Max Cleland have also declined to enter the race.

INSIDE POLITICS back in 90 seconds.


WOODRUFF: Former Congressman Tony Coelho is a veteran of many political battles here in Washington. He is also a passionate advocate on behalf of Americans with disabilities.

Tony Coelho is with me from New York.

Tony Coelho, as somebody who has lived with epilepsy yourself, who was the author of the Americans With Disabilities Act, what are you today in a speech you made at New York Law School, asking the candidates for president to do?

TONY COELHO, FMR. CALIF. CONGRESSMAN: Well, basically, Judy, what I'm trying to do is to get the disability community to say to candidates that are running for president that we can't support you for president -- this is all 10, the nine Democrats and President Bush -- if you don't put our right to work, our desire to work, our desire to pay taxes -- if you don't put that up front and center and help us get that right.

I think that the right to work gives us our pride, our dignity, our ability to support our loved ones and so forth. Without a job, we can't do any of that. And none of these candidates -- none of these candidates are doing that today.

WOODRUFF: You're saying literally, none of them are addressing the issue of the disability community?

COELHO: Well, none of them addressing the issue of our right to work. I mean, specifically, a lot of them are doing health care plans or doing training plans or an education plan or something. But our basic right to work, you know -- addressing the issues of putting judges on the Supreme Court who are anti-ADA, and making sure that the federal government does go ahead and hire people with disabilities on the federal work force; that we go ahead and have entrepreneurs be able -- entrepreneurs with disabilities to be able to participate in the purchase of goods and so forth from the federal government -- all of these things that are at the center of our community. None of the campaigns have really concentrated on it. And that's the reason I've spoken out. And I intend to be very aggressive in trying to get these campaigns to do something about it.

WOODRUFF: I notice that... COELHO: We need to have -- by the, Judy -- we need to have the ADA Restoration Act. Basically, restore what we got in ADA 12 years ago, that the courts have taken away. These candidates have to address that issue.

WOODRUFF: You praised in your speech the first President Bush, the farther of this president. He signed the ADA.

What is your read on his son and how well has this president done on this?

COELHO: Well, you know, the first President Bush, in 1988, when he ran for the presidency, endorsed the ADA then, as well as Governor Dukakis. And it wasn't an issue. Both of them aggressively talked about it and supported it and President Bush signed it. He was our hero. He was our advocate. He believed it and he made things happen.

This president -- I don't think that he's an enemy, but he just doesn't address our issues, our concerns. These -- Judge Sutton, who the Senate supported, by the way -- but Judge Sutton is anti-ADA, advocated that we aren't capable of doing certain things. An awful appointment. And yet he was put on there.

He hasn't done anything about -- even though there's be a executive order in place that says that you have to hire 100,000 people with disabilities for the federal work force before the 15th anniversary. He has done nothing.

WOODRUFF; Tony Coelho, there are people sitting out there listening saying Hey, we know this is important. But there's a war on terror under way. We're fighting the aftermath of the war in Iraq. We're worried about the American economy. Why should the issue of people with disabilities be on anybody's radar screen in a significant? I mean, is it really going to have an effect in this election?

COELHO: I hope it does. And if our community is 54 million -- if our community would get together and make these requirements for their support, this is going to a very, very close election. We can make a difference.

And Judy, what we're talking about here is our rights as Americans to participate in society and this government that we love so well -- we want to participate. We want to pay taxes. Most Americans out there don't want to pay taxes. We want to pay taxes. but in order to pay taxes, we have to have a job.

That's what this fight is all about. We're committed. We want to participate. We to be involved. We don't want any handouts. Just the opportunity to work.

WOODRUFF: We're going to have to leave there it. And you were just telling me that you've already heard back from the campaign of Congressman Dick Gephardt, that he's going to be giving a speech on this in Iowa in the next month.

COELHO: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Tony Coelho, good to see you. Thanks very much.

COELHO: Appreciate it.

WOODRUFF: It is Friday. And that means it is time for "The Political Play of the Week." So who is capturing this week's honors? Our Bill Schneider reveals the winner when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOODRUFF: Was Senator Joe Lieberman joking this morning? The Democratic presidential candidate said that if elected, he would name Senator John McCain, a Republican, his defense secretary. Lieberman made the comment on a talk radio show. His spokesman initially insisted that it was a joke but later said his boss was somewhat serious. McCain's spokesman said the Arizona Republican heard the exchange on his car radio and got a good laugh out of it.

Well, sometimes taking a stand overseas can make a strong political statement back home. Our Bill Schneider explains.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: When president bush met with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad in Bangkok this week, he managed to turn an awkward moment into "The Political Play of the Week."

(voice-over): At an Islamic summit in Malaysia last week, Prime Minister Mahatir made some explosive remarks about Jews.

MAHATIR MOHAMAD, MAYLASIAN PRIME MINISTER: The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by a proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.

SCHNEIDER: Several world leaders immediately denounced those remarks.

JOHN HOWARD, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: Dividing the world into Jewish and non-Jewish groupings is historically indefensible and wrong.

SCHNEIDER: President Bush did not respond for four days. That gave his Democratic opponents an opening, says a reporter who covers Jewish politics.

E.J. "EVE" KESSLER, FORWARD POLITICAL REPORTER: Howard Dean, in a meeting with Jewish leaders last Friday, took the president to task for not having responded at that point. And he said, You would have had to hold me back.

SCHNEIDER: In Bangkok this week, President Bush confronted President Mahatir in a one-on-one meeting, calling his remarks good about Jews -- quote -- "wrong and divisive." But the White House made sure the president's private comments got plenty of attention.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATL. SECURITY ADVISER: Everybody thinks that the comments were hateful. They were outrageous.

SCHNEIDER: Republicans see an opening with Jews.

KESSLER: There is a big bid afoot in the Jewish community to make the case that President Bush is the best president for Israel ever.

SCHNEIDER: The GOP saw a payoff in last year's midterm elections. Nationwide, Jewish support for Republican House candidates had mostly been in the 30 percent range during the 1980s. In the '90s, GOP support among Jewish voters fell. Then suddenly, last year, the Jewish Republican vote went back up to 35 percent. Jews make up only 3 percent of voters nationwide, but they are a major source of campaign money for Democrats. Republicans are not as dependent on Jewish contributions, but they may have another motive.

KESSLER: It's about peeling off money that might go to the Democrats.

SCHNEIDER: Especially now that President Bush has spoken out against an outrageous anti-Semitic slur.

KESSLER: Whether you want to say he did it too late or he did it not loud enough or whatever, he did it.

SCHNEIDER: And it was "The Political Play of the Week."

Bill Schneider, CNN, New York.



Well, the Senate remembers a lost colleague ahead.

And we will find out which stocks took a tumble on Wall Street now that the closing bell has rung.


WOODRUFF: One year ago tomorrow, the Senate lost a beloved colleague. Democrat Paul Wellstone was killed this time last year in a plane crash in his home state of Minnesota. On the Senate floor today, the Republican and Democratic leaders remembered Wellstone as an idealist in the best sense of the word.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: He used his wit, his charm, his astonishing organizing abilities and every ounce of his hyperkinetic energy to fight for people who have few champions in places of power.


WOODRUFF: In Minnesota tomorrow, Wellstone will be remembered with a day of music.

That is it for INSIDE POLITICS. We hope you have a good weekend. I'm Judy Woodruff.


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