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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview With Colin Powell; Interviews With Carl Levin, Richard Lugar

Aired October 26, 2003 - 12:00   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 11:00 a.m. here in Chicago, 7:00 p.m. in Jerusalem and 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for LATE EDITION.
We'll get to our interview with the secretary of state, Colin Powell, in just a few minutes, but first, let's go to Andrea Koppel at the CNN Center in Atlanta for a quick check of the hour's top stories.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: We begin in Iraq and that deadly rocket attack this morning at the al-Rashid Hotel. One U.S. soldier, as you reported, has been killed; 15 other people have been wounded.

The U.S. deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, was at the hotel at the time of the blast. He was not hurt.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is following all these late-breaking developments. He's joining us now live from Baghdad.

Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we're getting more details on this attack. We were at a press conference by 1st Armored Division Commander General Martin Dempsey, who told us that the attack took place at 6:08 a.m., that anywhere between eight and 10 68- millimeter rockets were fired into the western side of that hotel, a hotel that all of us are very familiar with, having spent quite some time there.

Now, according to the general, this was no off-the-cuff, spur-of- the-moment operation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY, COMMANDER, 1ST ARMORED DIVISION: It probably took some period of time to weld this apparatus together. And probably it required a rehearsal to pull it into position in the time that they believe they had to position it. So there's no question that it required some degree of preparation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEDEMAN: Now, despite this attack, the general urged reporters to take a long view of the security situation, saying that things had, in his words, absolutely improved, and that the coalition is getting ahead of what he called the security challenge.

Now, he did, for instance, mention a few examples, saying that in recent weeks, the coalition had captured three makers of these IEDs, these improvised explosive devices, that have really been causing serious casualties and fatalities among coalition forces.

He said that, however, the key thing here in Iraq is to improve the infrastructure, improve the way of life of ordinary Iraqis, he said. When that is done, the coalition receives better and improved intelligence, which allows them to crack down harder on those that are attacking their forces.

He said that they do have a good idea of who is behind those attacks. Interestingly, he said that here in Baghdad, his forces have not seen an infusion of foreign fighters into this area, which goes somewhat contrary to what we've been hearing out of the Bush administration in Washington.

Now, in describing the level of organization of those who are attacking coalition forces, he said it is essentially, as far as their intelligence tells them, fairly local, that it is not broad organizations.

So overall, Wolf, he seems to be downplaying the level of the threat against coalition forces, and saying that they are making progress against this resistance or insurgency.

Wolf?

BLITZER: CNN's Ben Wedeman on the scene for us in Baghdad, as he always is.

Thanks, Ben, very much.

The Bush administration says the $33 billion pledged this past week at the Iraq donors' conference in Madrid, Spain, surpassed U.S. expectations, even though that figure did fall short of the projected costs for rebuilding Iraq over the next five years. The fundraising effort came as President Bush wrapped up a tour of Asia.

The secretary of state, Colin Powell, who travelled with the president, also attended the donors' conference. Just a little while ago, I spoke with him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Thanks very much for joining us.

And let's get to this story today, a big story, this attack at the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad, where the Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and his party were staying.

This looks like a very brazen, well-organized attack. What does it say to you about the level of resistance to the U.S. military-led occupation?

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it was a brazen attack. First, let me say I regret the loss of an American life, and I hope those who were injured, to include a State Department employee, are able to recover rapidly.

It says that the situation is still dangerous. But at the same time, there are very, very positive sides in Baghdad and in Iraq throughout. Paul Wolfowitz, our deputy secretary, and I'm glad is safe, was received with joy in a number of the places he visited over the last couple of days.

People are glad Saddam Hussein is gone. They're glad the country is starting to rise up again and on a path to a better future. But it is still dangerous, as we saw this morning and as we saw in recent days.

So we can't minimize the danger, but, at the same time, let's take account of the progress that we are making, as well.

BLITZER: There's certainly a mixed report card right now, I think everybody will agree on that.

But I want you to listen to some very disturbing comments that Republican Senator John McCain gave in an interview with Newsweek, the new issue that's coming out.

He says this: "This is the first time that I have seen a parallel to Vietnam, in terms of information that the administration is putting out versus the actual situation on the ground. I'm not saying the situation in Iraq now is as bad as Vietnam, but we have a problem in the Sunni triangle, and we should face up to it and tell the American people about it."

As you know, Senator McCain was a POW in Vietnam. You served in Vietnam. Is his point fair?

POWELL: I don't like making comparisons to Vietnam, because this isn't Vietnam and this isn't 30 or 40 years ago. This is Iraq.

And we do have a problem in the Sunni triangle. I don't know of any administration official who has said we do not have a problem. I say it all the time. The president says it. Secretary Rumsfeld does, and certainly General Bremer and General Abizaid. And that's why we are focusing our attention on that triangle and why our units in that triangle are conducting raids and trying to generate the intelligence necessary to deal with this threat.

And so we're not minimizing anything. We just want to make sure that a balanced picture is going out.

At the same time, we see incidents of the kind you discussed, Wolf. When I was in the northern part of Iraq last month, I was greeted warmly. Paul Wolfowitz was greeted warmly yesterday.

We have increased the number of hours people can stay out in Baghdad because we do believe it is safer. And people want to stay out. Economy is starting to thrive in Baghdad. We opened the bridge that goes across the river so people can go back and forth.

So things are happening that are positive at the same time we have these negative events, such as the attack on the al-Rashid Hotel.

BLITZER: What is the exit strategy for getting out of Iraq, and specifically, a time line that you might have in mind, the administration, that is, right now?

POWELL: I think there are two key pieces to this: one, bringing up Iraqi security forces -- police, an army, border patrol, militias, everything that is needed to put Iraqis in charge of their own security. Iraqis don't want to go back to the days of Saddam Hussein; only a few of them do.

And I think as we create these units, they will be better positioned than U.S. units, perhaps, to deal with these kinds of threats. They'll have better insight into the communities. They'll have better ability to obtain the necessary sort of intelligence. So part one is dealing with Iraqi security forces, getting them created, getting them trained, getting them out on the field and on the streets.

Secondly is to get the political track moving along. Have the constitution written, have elections, put in place a government that is responsible and can deal with the authority of running a new Iraq, and then turning it over them.

The third piece of this, I might add, is the reconstruction of the country. And that's why it was so important for the Congress to pass the president's supplemental request, and why it was so important that we had a good result at the Madrid conference on Friday, where some $33 billion in grants and loans were pledged to assist in the reconstruction effort. $33 billion that will be added to by Iraq's own revenues beginning in 2005, when the oil revenue starts to increase to a level that they can apply part of it to their own reconstruction at the rate of $5 billion additional a year on top of the $33 billion that's been pledged by the international community.

BLITZER: Thirty-three billion, $20 billion of which will come from the United States. As you know, the Senate wants half of that $20 billion to be in the form of loans, half in grants. The House says all of it should be in the form of outright grants.

The president is threatening to veto the entire $87 billion unless all of that $20 billion is a grant. Is that a hard-and-fast position, as the House and Senate conferees resolve this issue?

POWELL: Yes, it is. The president feels very strongly that it should be a grant.

We need to get this country up and running quickly. And I was quite taken, at the Madrid conference I attended, where the U.N. representative, Mark Malloch Brown, from the U.N. Development Program, said it should be a grant. We need this infusion of dollars as we structure, over a longer period of time, the influx of grants and loans on a long-term basis.

BLITZER: We see the new cover of Newsweek magazine: "Bush's $87 billion mess." It's a special investigation. "Waste, chaos and cronyism: the real cost of rebuilding Iraq."

And there's a Newsweek poll. Asked the American public, the money spent in Iraq -- too much? Fifty-eight percent say too much; too little, 3 percent; about right, 31 percent.

Why should the U.S. taxpayers be burdened with all this aid to Iraq as a grant when the rest of the international community, at least most of it, is refusing to provide grant, and some, like France, Germany and Russia, are refusing to provide any aid to Iraq reconstruction at all?

POWELL: We have to remember that this was a conflict that we felt was important. We felt it was in our national interest and in the international interest of the world, as well. And we have a particular obligation here.

And with respect to corruption, cronyism -- I'm not sure how these charges can be levied when the money hasn't even been appropriated yet.

And so I'm quite confident the money will be spent by Ambassador Bremer and others responsible for spending the money in a way that will be solid, that there will be transparency, everybody will be able to see how the money is being spent. And it will be spent on the basis of competitive bids that come in.

And so I would hold judgment until we actually get the money and start spending the money. And I'm quite sure people will be quite comfortable that we are spending it in a responsible way for the purposes intended by the Congress.

BLITZER: The other Newsweek question in the poll that they just released: "Does the U.S. have a good plan to establish security in Iraq?" Thirty-nine percent said yes. Forty-nine percent said no.

You still have some explaining to do to the American public.

POWELL: Yes, we do. And of course, you know, a poll of that nature, when people see that it is still a dangerous place, they would tend to say, well, we don't have security under control yet.

The fact of the matter is, security is good in the northern part of the country, in the southern part of the country. We're having trouble in the Sunni triangle. But even within the Sunni triangle, we have seen areas of improvement -- Baghdad itself. Commerce is coming back. People are staying out longer. They want to stay out longer. The curfew has been extended.

And so there are positive signs, along with trouble. And we will work hard to solve these troublesome issues and to deal with these remnants of this old despotic regime that don't want to see a new Iraq. Saddam Hussein is not coming back, and these remnants will ultimately be dealt with.

BLITZER: A lot of us were surprised to read that memo. I don't know if you were surprised, but when I read that memo that was reported earlier in the week in USA Today from the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, he had been one of those saying that things were really going well, and the media were responsible for placing this filter, for not reporting all the positive developments happening in Iraq.

Then he writes, among other things, in this memo, he writes this: "It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog." Slog, S-L- O-G.

He seemed to be shifting his emphasis. Did you read it that way?

POWELL: The president has said from the very beginning that this would be a long, hard task that we have set ourselves upon. He said it right after 9/11, when he made it clear to the American people, it wasn't just a matter of dealing with al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, but that this was a global war that would be fought on many fronts in many ways, using all of the tools at our disposal: military, law enforcement, diplomacy, financial controls -- you name it. And he told the American people to get ready for a long, hard road ahead.

And we have had successes along that road. Saddam Hussein is gone. The Taliban is gone. We have a new government in Kabul in Afghanistan. We will be putting a new government in place in Baghdad that will be a government the people can be proud of.

But the task ahead is a difficult task. But we're up to it, and I'm quite confident we will be successful.

Secretary Rumsfeld's memo is the way Secretary Rumsfeld likes to prod his staff and ask them rhetorical questions to get them thinking and keep them thinking.

BLITZER: The other part of the memo that raised some eyebrows, including my own, was this part. And I ask you this question as I read this quote from the memo as someone not only who's the current secretary of state, but a former national security adviser to the president and also a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He writes this: "It is not possible to change DOD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror. An alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution either within DOD or elsewhere, one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem."

Is the defense secretary right that it may be time to create a new bureaucracy, if you will, a new agency to fight terror?

POWELL: I really don't know quite what Secretary Rumsfeld was referring to, whether he meant a new Cabinet department or something new within DOD. I don't think he was trying to be specific. I think he was musing. He was just challenging his staff to think about things.

I know quite a bit about DOD, and DOD is capable of transforming itself and changing things when it has a clear mission of what it is the leadership decides. And I'm sure that what Secretary Rumsfeld was trying to do was to prod his leaders. Is there something we should be doing that we're not doing now? And, if so, what is it?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We'll return with more of my interview with the secretary of state, Colin Powell.

Then, nearly six months after major combat was declared over, U.S. soldiers are still finding themselves under fire in Iraq. Is the peace being lost? We'll get insight from two leading United States senators, Republican Richard Lugar and Democrat Carl Levin.

And later, is a barrier the Israelis are building along the West Bank security against terrorism or a roadblock to Israeli-Palestinian peace? We'll get perspective from both sides on the crisis in the Middle East.

Plus, the Terri Schiavo saga, it's heart-wrenching. Who should choose whether she lives or dies? We'll talk with lawyers representing both sides of this very emotional and complex case.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We return now to my interview with the secretary of state, Colin Powell.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: A lot of people are frustrated that the U.S. and its coalition partners have still have not found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq six months after the war, in effect, the major combat.

Here's the Newsweek question on this. Bush administration, did it misinterpret the WMD, the weapons-of-mass-destruction intelligence? Fifty percent of the American public said yes. Thirty-nine percent said no.

Let's go back to Senator McCain, someone I know you admire. A lot of people look to him for guidance on these kinds of matters. Listen to what he told our own Al Hunt on the Capital Gang this weekend. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There needs to be an indepth review of the intelligence that led to statements made by highly respected people, the president, Colin Powell at the U.N. and others.

There will be a credibility problem unless the American people are assured that those kinds of mistakes are not made again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I want to give you a chance to respond to that. Looking back now, and obviously all of us are much smarter with hindsight, are you still convinced that Iraq, on the eve of the war, posed a significant danger to the United States and its friends in that part of the world and that there were, in fact, significant quantities of chemical and biological weapons ready to be used against U.S. forces?

POWELL: I never made a statement that said they were ready to be used. What we said and what I said on the 5th of February was that they had an intention of developing these weapons, they had an intention of keeping these weapons, and that the evidence suggested that they had biological and chemical weapons and they were interested in producing nuclear weapons.

With respect to Senator McCain, for whom I have great respect as you well know, he's absolutely right. There will be investigations conducted by the Senate, by the House. George Tenet is conducting an in-house review of his efforts, and there will be others who will be looking into this. And we will, in due course, know how close we were to the truth of the matter as Dr. Kay finishes his work.

But I think it's premature to start making judgments about what was mistaken or not mistaken. I know that I sat with the intelligence community for five nights, four or five nights before my presentation in February, with George Tenet sitting on my right and John McLaughlin, the deputy director of CIA, sitting on my left, in a room full of their best analysts.

And what we put forward and what I put forward on behalf of the administration on the 5th of February was the best judgment of the intelligence community, making as good an assessment as they could of the information they had.

And guess what? It was an assessment that essentially validated what the previous administration felt, what a number of foreign intelligence communities believed, and what the United Nations believed over a period of 12 years as they kept issuing resolutions demanding that Iraq account for its actions.

And the truth will come out, and if adjustments are needed in the way we analyze intelligence, gather intelligence, we should make those adjustments, but let's not rush to judgment yet.

BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, I want to wrap this up, but a couple quick questions if you only have a few more minutes to go. This past week there was the 20th anniversary of the Beirut bombing, the Marine barracks in Beirut, some 241 Americans, mostly Marines, were killed, as you well remember, living through that era.

The defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, writes in today's Washington Post. He writes this: "Within six months of the first attack, most of the American troops had pulled out of Lebanon. And from that experience, terrorists learned important lessons: that terrorism is relatively low-cost and deniable and can yield substantial results at low risk and often without penalty."

Twenty years later, after that Marine attack, has anyone been held accountable for the deaths of those U.S. Marines and other military forces?

POWELL: If you mean in terms of those who actually conducted the attack, no, I'm not aware of it. The Marine commanders themselves took the precautions they thought were appropriate to the situation. Those precautions were not enough.

BLITZER: But you're still, I assume, hunting for Imad Mugniyeh and others who are suspected of having been involved, Hezbollah, presumably backed or financed by at least Iran, perhaps even Syria.

POWELL: Yes, but I must say, Wolf, I haven't exactly been following the audit trail on the charges and who was responsible and who has been held accountable over the past 20 years.

BLITZER: One final question, Mr. Secretary. On the Israeli security barrier, what exactly is the position of the U.S. government as Israel moves ahead with some of this fence, as it's called, deep inside the West Bank?

POWELL: We are in consultations with the Israelis. We're concerned about it. It's one thing to put up a security fence, a barrier that is clearly on your property, the dividing line, so to speak, in order to protect yourself. And that would be understood.

But as the fence goes deeply into Palestinian areas and starts to put more and more Palestinians outside of their normal traffic patterns and being able to get to their fields and farms and workplaces, and as it seems to prejudge what a future Palestinian state might look like, then that's troublesome to us.

And we have to get into deeper consultations with the Israelis about their intent and the purpose of this fence.

BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, you're generous with your time. Thanks very much for joining us.

POWELL: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And just ahead, we'll go to CNN's Andrea Koppel in Atlanta for a quick check of the hour's top stories.

Then, the rebuilding of Iraq, who should shoulder the cost? The Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, and the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, they'll weigh in on this debate. And we want your thoughts on our Web question of the week, which is this: Should Terri Schiavo's feeding tube have been reinserted? Go to cnn.com/lateedition to cast your vote. We'll have the results later in this program.

LATE EDITION will continue right after a quick check of the headlines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOFI ANNAN, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS: The people of Iraq have a hard road ahead of them, filled with both risk and opportunity. Let us not leave them to travel that road alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan urging nations around the world this week to contribute money to the rebuilding of Iraq.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting today from Chicago.

Despite a pledge from other countries totaling about $13 billion, the bulk of the financial assistance, namely $20 billion, is falling on the United States. That's the source of a very heated debate in the U.S. Congress under way right now.

Joining us now, two key members of the U.S. Senate: In Washington, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana. And in New York, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, also a member of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.

Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

And, Senator Lugar, let me begin with you and ask you about this bombing, this attack today at the al-Rashid Hotel. The deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, was inside. He and his entourage were not hurt, but one U.S. soldier was killed. Others were wounded.

Is the situation on the ground in Baghdad and around Baghdad seemingly getting better or worse, from the U.S. security standpoint?

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: Well, I think it's getting much better, but very clearly the attack today shows that it is still an extremely dangerous situation.

And it's led to many, I'm among them, to believe we really need to beef up counterinsurgency efforts, that we need to have the right kind of people at the right point, and we need to improve substantially our intelligence.

I think the report this week of the Fort Lauderdale lessons learned situation on army intelligence indicates a good number of our people may not have had adequate intelligence background and training and equipment.

So this is of the essence, and this attack, once again, in which an American's been killed, 15 injured, as I understand, is extremely serious.

BLITZER: What about that, Senator Levin? Do you agree with Senator Lugar -- a mixed report card right now, but the situation, bottom line, getting better?

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: No, not around Baghdad or in Baghdad. As a matter of fact, the number of attacks on us have been increasing, and the number of soldiers killed and wounded remain at the same rate.

And there are some things that we ought to be doing differently. But most importantly, we ought to acknowledge that there's a real problem there and not try to just paint the rosy scenario, which too many members of this administration have painted.

The rhetoric of the administration , it seems to me, has been wrong when President Bush said "Bring 'em on," referring to the terrorists. I thought that was exactly the wrong message.

It's a serious situation in and around Baghdad, in the Sunni triangle, and we should try some things differently.

First and foremost, I would say, is that we should consider, at least, reconstituting units of the Iraqi army. We probably made a mistake when we said we would not reconstitute any units of the army. Obviously, we would want to screen the high officers to make sure that there are not top Baathist leaders there.

But when the head of the Governing Council, a man named Alawi, who's the current president of that council, urges us to consider reconstituting many of the units in the Iraqi army, I think we at least ought to consider that and not be as bullheaded as the administration is about not even considering reconstituting units of the Iraqi army.

BLITZER: Senator Lugar, Senator Levin seems to make a fair point. What do you say?

LUGAR: Well, I think that he's on the right track. I would be in favor of reconstituting some of those troops.

The screening is obviously important. I would, I suppose, go even further and suggest that in the civil service, in the operation of the country, a number of people who had a nominal affiliation with the Baathist Party, simply because they had to have that in order to be schoolteachers or bureaucrats, probably ought to be screened likewise.

We have to put more of an Iraqi face on both defense as well as civil administration, if we are to move stoutly toward an Iraqi government that works there.

BLITZER: All right. Let me put some numbers up on the screen, and I'll ask you the next question, Senator Levin.

Casualties since the start of the war in March: 139 U.S. killed, whether in hostile or nonhostile action, before May 1st. Another 209 killed in hostile and nonhostile action since May 1st. That's when the president declared an end of major combat operations. 348 Americans have died since the war started.

Senator Levin, do you have confidence that this Bush administration knows what it's doing in Iraq?

LEVIN: I don't think that the -- what they're doing now is on target, is right and is going to succeed unless we, as Senator Lugar just said, put an Iraqi face on security and change the dynamic there.

We are much too much of a target. We have made ourselves, in terms of rhetoric and all the unilateralist approach that we have taken, both before the war and after the war, set ourselves up too much as being the lightning rod, and it is not what will succeed.

We've got to internationalize this effort. We've got to allow other countries to participate in the decision-making relative to civilian reconstruction, and not be seeking to dominate this reconstruction process.

Share the power with others and with the Iraqi Governing Council, so we're not so much of a target. That's the change that this administration is just resisting.

BLITZER: Senator Lugar, there's a poll, a new Newsweek poll, that asks this question of the American public, whether they believe the Bush administration misled public opinion about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Yes, 42 percent. No, 49 percent.

Earlier today, Senator Jay Rockefeller was on Meet the Press. He's the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a colleague of yours. You know him quite well.

And what he said was pretty chilling. Listen to precisely what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: If I had known then what I know today about the intelligence, or maybe the lack of proper intelligence, if I suspected that there might have been a predetermination notion to go to war regardless of the United Nations Security Council, I probably would have voted differently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He was referring to the resolution passed by the Senate late last year giving the president the authority to go to war, in effect. You're hearing these kinds of comments from many Democrats and even some Republicans like Senator Chuck Hagel, and even yourself have raised some serious questions.

How big of a problem does the administration have now on Capitol Hill?

LUGAR: Well, I think the administration has a lot of support on Capitol Hill, and I think the 87-12 vote, or whatever it was on the money for Iraq indicates that. But clearly the argument that Senator Rockefeller was bringing about is going to continue.

Now, I would just say simply, I was a member of the Intelligence Committee during both the pre-Iraq and post-Iraq, when the war started. I heard all the same reports. I discounted most of them, simply because they were not very well sourced. I'm disappointed that the administration used some of the arguments, what I think was sort of augmenting what was there in the intelligence, in some of the rhetoric.

But the fact is that my vote to support the president on Iraq did not come on the basis of the intelligence.

Now, the intelligence thing is a convenient place where people who voted for going to war now find that they were misled, but I don't think we were misled. I think we understood on the Intelligence Committee the deficiencies.

And furthermore, I pointed out during those deliberations it appeared to me the Defense Department was starting up its own intelligence operation. And I asked Director Tenet about that, why we had two divergencies. Now, maybe it was to augment the view, so that there was more to support in the rhetoric, but at the same time it was obvious to me what was occurring, and I presume that was true to other senators.

BLITZER: All right, let me get back to Senator Levin now.

You're a member of the Intelligence Committee. You voted, I believe, against the authorization for the president to go to war. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's my recollection, Senator Levin.

You saw the intelligence going in. You've seen the intelligence going out. What's your bottom-line assessment, as far as the professionals at the CIA, George Tenet? Did they do a good, bad, or sort of average kind of job about the intelligence that the U.S. knew going in and out of the war?

LEVIN: I think there was a massive intelligence failure here. It's very obvious already, very disturbing evidence that intelligence was exaggerated, was hyped inside the intelligence community, as we go through this.

But the investigation going on now by the Intelligence Committee in the Senate and in the House is only half the picture, because what the Republican leadership of these committees have decided is, we will not look at the use of the intelligence by the president, vice president, and the policymakers, we're only going to look at the CIA and the defense intelligence agencies, at the production of intelligence, to see whether it was exaggerated.

Now, that's useful, but that's only half the picture. The other half, which is being denied in terms of an investigation or inquiry, is, well, wait a minute, was there also exaggeration and hyping by the policymakers, in terms of the use of whatever intelligence was given to them. And we're not going to be able to get at that, at least so far, and the chairmen of these two committees have said that they will not allow these inquiries to look at the administration's use of intelligence.

BLITZER: All right.

LEVIN: And I think that's a real mistake, and why we need an outside inquiry.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to pick up on that point, Senators, but we have to take a quick break.

We have a lot more ground to cover with Senators Lugar and Levin. We'll continue our conversation with them.

And later, a life-or-death battle that's under way in Florida right now. We'll talk with the lawyers from both sides of the heart- wrenching Terri Schiavo case.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: You're looking at a live picture of the annual U.S. Marine Corps Marathon under way right now in the nation's capital, in Washington, D.C. Thousands of people, Marines as well as non-Marines, participating in a grueling, 26-mile course, including, by the way, several members of our own CNN family. Thankfully temperatures in the Washington, D.C. area are mild today. We wish all the participants well.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation now with Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.

On that last point, Senator Lugar that Senator Levin made, the Democrats want to not only go after the investigation of what happened in the intelligence community, the professionals there, George Tenet, the CIA and elsewhere, but also the top political leadership, the president, the vice president, the national security adviser, the defense secretary, to see if they were using undue pressure on the intelligence community to try to come up with conclusions they wanted to hear.

Should both parts of this be investigated?

LUGAR: Well, certainly, we should investigate whether undue pressure was being placed to get the results they wanted, but I've already indicated it appeared to me when the Defense Department started setting up its own intelligence apparatus that they were looking for answers beyond those that we were seeing in the Intelligence Committee from CIA.

I think ultimately you can only get into a mind reading of what President Bush's thoughts and motivations, quite apart from Vice President Cheney and the rest. Essentially, they've testified pretty clearly on how they felt about Iraq, and it was essentially, Iraq was a dangerous country. We were already spending a lot of money on overflight, trying to enforce U.S. sanctions.

We went to the United Nations. Iraq deliberately defied the United Nations. We could have marched down the hill again. We decided, in fact, we had better stay our course and eliminate a situation in the war against terror that was very bad.

Now, having said all of that, all of the intelligence that surrounds that is very interesting, and I don't for a moment want to frustrate the intelligence committees in their work, but I would just say essentially you need to get the direct testimony from President Bush as to why we went to war in Iraq, why he believes still that was the right course, and I agree with him.

BLITZER: All right, let's take a caller. I think we have a caller from Georgia.

Go ahead, Georgia, with your question.

CALLER: Thank you very much, Wolf.

Senator Lugar, can we afford to be the world's policeman?

LUGAR: Well, we don't really have much choice. The fact is, the United States is the only country that has lift capacity that can get people to wherever there may be trouble.

And we learned in 9/11 that we are not immune. The Pacific and Atlantic oceans don't protect us anymore. And if we are not going to suffer difficulty in our cities, on our heartland, we're going to have to project abroad.

Now, that may not be police work, but it does mean trying to build coalitions, trying to make NATO work or our Pacific alliances, so that we suppress terrorism and those that would do us in.

BLITZER: Senator Levin, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld wrote a memo. It was leaked to USA Today earlier in the week. It caused quite a stir. Among other things, he wrote this:

"We are having mixed results," he wrote, "with al Qaeda. The U.S. government has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis. The U.S. government has made somewhat slower progress in tracking down the Taliban. With respect to Ansar al- Islam, we are just getting started." It seemed to be quite a different tone he was taking from some of the very positive public statements he had made over the past several months, that the U.S. was dramatically winning this war against terror. You read this memo. What was your take?

LEVIN: Well, I was dismayed by the difference between what he says publicly and what he said in that memo to his staff. It's obviously a significant difference. Publicly, it's much more certain about outcomes, much more certain that everything -- we're making huge progress and so forth. That memo shows great uncertainty.

But frankly, I'm glad at least privately he has doubts and questions, and I'm glad he's asking those questions. I hope that he'll add to the list of questions whether or not we shouldn't ask that Iraq be involved in its own reconstruction by contributing some of its future oil production to that reconstruction.

We cannot win this war on our own. This is a war, this is a global war. We need allies in this war against terrorism. And we need the Iraqi government and people to be invested in their own reconstruction. That's why it's important that some of this money be loans against future oil production and not just grants from the United States.

By the way, the few other countries that are finally joining us in contributing to the reconstruction are making most of their pledges in the form of loans, not grants. So that there's a lot that has to be done to be changed.

But I go back to that first question. I was delighted that Senator Lugar said what he said, that we must consider at least the suggestion coming from the Governing Council in Iraq that the army, the lower levels of the army, lower officer corps be now reconstituted. I think that's important change, and I frankly hope that the secretary of defense will really consider that proposal.

BLITZER: Well, Senator Levin, I want to move back to Senator Lugar in a second, but are you among those Democrats who want Secretary Rumsfeld to resign?

LEVIN: No, I haven't called for his resignation because I think these policies are set at the highest level.

And that's why it's so important, by the way, that the use of the intelligence by the policymakers be looked at, not just whether or not it was exaggerated from the CIA or the DIA -- and Senator Lugar's right, we have to look at the DIA -- but whether it was exaggerated by the policymakers.

That is a critically important thing to look at, and that's what's missing in the investigation.

BLITZER: Senator Lugar, on North Korea, the North Korean government just issued a statement this weekend, saying it was positive, the latest comments from the president, that he's ready to put in writing some security assurances to North Korea. What needs to be done right now to ease this situation with North Korea? The bottom-line question being, can you trust Kim Jong Il in North Korea to make a deal to step back from the nuclear precipice?

LUGAR: Well, it won't be a question of trust. Ultimately, it's an encouraging development, as Secretary Powell has said, that the North Koreans have not categorically rejected everything, as they usually do.

But the fact is, a new conference has got to be constituted. And there will have to be at least some evidence that the North Koreans are prepared to disassemble their nuclear programs in, apparently, two locations -- one of which we know a lot about, the other we don't.

Now, that's the long stretch down the trail. There's no matter of trust here, but it's a question of whether the North Koreans, in return for assurance that we're not going to attack them, are prepared to eliminate their nuclear potential and to give us sufficient assurances, inspection and so forth, to make sure they do.

BLITZER: Do you have confidence, Senator Levin, in the way this administration has handled this crisis with North Korea?

LEVIN: I think they started off on the wrong foot, much too unilateral, saying that we wouldn't talk to North Korea and that they would have to dismantle their program before we would be willing to talk to them.

But this recent development is a positive development. I agree with Senator Lugar that now, at least, we've got the administration willing to do things simultaneously. If they will agree to give up their nuclear program, we will give them security assurances. That is doing things together, which is a change in the administration policy.

But I'm glad that North Korea has now changed, apparently, also and is willing to talk to all of the nations involved in the area, as well as us, and not insisting on just unilateral talks with us.

But whatever they come up with has, obviously, got to be verifiable. Senator Lugar's clearly right on that. We can't trust the North Koreans. We've got to verify whatever we agree to.

BLITZER: Senator Levin, Senator Lugar, two thoughtful members of the U.S. Senate. Thanks very much for joining us here on LATE EDITION.

LUGAR: Thank you, Wolf.

LEVIN: Good being with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And don't forget to weigh in on our LATE EDITION Web question of the week. It's this: Should Terry Schiavo's feeding tube have been reinserted? You can cast your vote at our Web address, cnn.com/lateedition. We'll have the results in our next hour.

LATE EDITION will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: There's still much more ahead on this LATE EDITION, including the crisis in the Middle East. What will it take to get hostile neighbors on the road toward peace? We'll hear from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And did a college student's plot test America's airport security system or aid potential terrorists? We'll debate the state of air- travel safety.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

With the crisis in the Middle East showing no signs of abating, we'll hear from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian debate in just a moment or so.

But first, let's go to CNN's Andrea Koppel. She's at CNN Center in Atlanta with a quick check of the hour's top stories.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: U.S. military officials in Iraq say the deputy defense secretary of the United States, Paul Wolfowitz, was not -- repeat, not -- a target of this morning's rocket attack at the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad. One U.S. soldier was killed; 15 other people were injured.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Baghdad. He's got the latest on this attack and other developments.

Ben?

WEDEMAN: Yes, Wolf, well, one of the reasons they believe it was not targeted at Mr. Wolfowitz was, in the words of a senior coalition commander, that this was an operation that required reconnaissance, rehearsal and preparation.

Now, at eight minutes after 6:00 this morning, anywhere between eight and 10 68-millimeter rockets slammed into the western side of the al-Rashid Hotel. That's a hotel many of us here have stayed in for quite a long period.

Now, this was the second attack on this hotel within the last month. Now, Mr. Wolfowitz, who appeared to be somewhat shaken after the attack, said at a press conference that the coalition would not be intimidated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLFOWITZ: The criminals who are trying to destabilize this country abused and tortured Iraq for 35 years, and we have ended that mass oppression. There are a few who refuse to accept the reality of a new and free Iraq. We will be unrelenting in our pursuit of them. As the president has said, we're taking this fight to the enemy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEDEMAN: Now, Mr. Wolfowitz also said that he would not be changing his itinerary while here. The only slight modification was that he went to the Ibn Sina Hospital, which is just up the street from the Rashid, to visit those 15 people who were wounded in the attack.

Now, this evening Iraqis are marking the beginning of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. And we have seen over the last few days that, despite these attacks on coalition forces, for Iraqis life seems to be getting back to normal, creating an odd situation here in Baghdad, Wolf, where we see the coalition increasingly under attack, drawing back behind cement barriers, while Iraqis seem to be getting accustomed to life as normal. Very strange indeed.

Wolf?

BLITZER: Ben Wedeman with the latest in Baghdad.

Ben, thanks very much. We'll be checking back with you throughout the day here on CNN.

Let's turn now to the troubling situation elsewhere in the Middle East, where Israeli-Palestinian violence continues to take a deadly toll. Despite reservations being expressed by the Bush administration, Israel is defending its decision to build a security barrier along the West Bank, citing the continued infiltration by Palestinian terrorists.

Joining us now from New York, Israel's vice prime minister, the former mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert.

Mr. Minister, thanks very much for joining us.

EHUD OLMERT, ISRAEL'S VICE PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon.

BLITZER: I want you to listen precisely to what Secretary of State Powell said to me only within the past hour or so about the security barrier, the fence that your government is building. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: But as the fence goes deeply into Palestinian areas and starts to put more and more Palestinians outside of their normal traffic patterns and being able to get to their fields and farms and workplaces, and as it sees to prejudge what a future Palestinian state might look like, then that's troublesome to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Clearly the Bush administration not happy with a deep penetration into parts of the West Bank.

Are you going to go ahead and finish this fence despite U.S. concerns?

OLMERT: Well, I must say, Wolf, I fully understand the concerns of Secretary Powell, and the last thing that we want to do is to disturb the normal pace of life of any Palestinian in any part of the territories.

However, at the same time, we have to defend the lives of innocent people in our side. And to this day, there hasn't been any better idea how to do it but to create a defense fence, a defensive fence that will help protect the lives of people.

So I understand, and I can easily share the concerns of Secretary Powell that it can disturb the normal pace of life of people. But sometimes disturbing the normal pace of life is better than exposing others to the brutality of terrorists, and...

BLITZER: But...

OLMERT: ... this is the dilemma that we have to face on these days.

BLITZER: What I understand President Bush and Secretary Powell, other U.S. officials saying is that they don't mind if Israel went ahead and built this security barrier, this fence, as long as it went roughly along the old pre-'67 so-called "Green Line." Once it goes deep into the West Bank, you're, in effect, creating new barriers and making life more miserable for the Palestinians.

So they say, go ahead and build your fence, but just don't go deep into the West Bank.

OLMERT: Now, I don't remember the president saying these -- in these terms. It's true that we heard it from State Department people.

But the fence is not a political statement. It is a defensive fence. And therefore, when someone suggests that Israel will build a fence along the '67 lines, what he really suggests is that Israel will practically withdraw without negotiations into the last line, which is entirely inconceivable.

This is to give a prize to terrorists and to expose 250,000 Israelis that live outside this line to the east to the mercy of terrorists without negotiations and without any effective control of these terrorists.

So, this is entirely impossible. And as much as we understand the desire of some in the State Department to do it, we follow the precedent that America itself shows, and this is that when you have to fight terrorists, you have to be sometimes aggressive...

BLITZER: All right.

OLMERT: ... and forthright, and you can't compromise on the life of innocent people.

BLITZER: You have a similar fence, a security barrier that completely encircles Gaza right now, where about 1.2 million Palestinians live. But inside Gaza you have about 7,000 Israelis who live there, as well.

A lot of people, including many Israelis, saying, get those 7,000 Israelis out of Gaza because they're dangerous there and in the process you're endangering those Israeli soldiers who have to go and protect them.

What do you say about that?

OLMERT: It is true that there are divisions within Israel, and there are those who believe that the government is making mistakes and that it should change its policy. We take pride in the fact that we are a democracy and we have sometimes debates.

But I think the overwhelming majority of people believe that at this stage, if Israel will pull out unilaterally from certain territories, including in that area, which is a very, very sensitive area, indeed, it can be interpreted in an entirely wrong way by the Palestinians. And from their point of view, it will mean that they have succeeded in pushing Israel without negotiations, just by the force of terror.

And I think that this will be a mistake, so it is painful sometimes. It is terribly difficult. It is terribly sensitive. But we don't think, just as you don't think, that we should give a prize for terrorists.

BLITZER: You caused a stir a few weeks ago when you suggested that one option before your government was simply to kill Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority president.

I want you to clarify precisely what your position is, the position of the Israeli government, as far as the possibility of just going out and assassinating him.

OLMERT: No, there is no question about assassinating. You know, you don't -- when you use this term, "assassination," you talk about an innocent person that becomes a victim of assassination.

What I said basically is that if indeed Yasser Arafat -- it's not just Israel but most of the Western world including, I believe, the United States government, is held responsible for the continued terror, if, indeed, Yasser Arafat is almost single-handedly responsible for the failure of a more moderate Palestinian government that could advance toward an agreement with the state of Israel, if as a result of this he is direct responsible for the continued brutal homicide attacks against innocent Israelis, why should he enjoy immunity? Why should he be protected, when he causes the death of so many innocent people?

That's basically what I said and what many Israelis question. And I believe many people across the world ask, why is it that there is one person who is responsible for all of this, and he should be immune?

BLITZER: Let me read precisely what you said in that interview on September 14th with Israel Radio, the translation being, "We are trying to assassinate all the terrorist leaders, and Arafat is one of those."

So the question once again is, is that a possibility, that your government is going to go ahead and assassinate Yasser Arafat?

OLMERT: Wolf, I am not certain that this is an accurate quote from an interview that I gave. What I said was, when asked whether the elimination of Yasser Arafat is an option, I said yes.

And we didn't try to assassinate Yasser Arafat. Had we tried to do it, we could easily do it. But what we said is that no one, no terrorist leader -- and Arafat is a terrorist leader -- will be immune if he will continue to be engaged in terror, and this is our position.

BLITZER: Ehud Olmert, the vice prime minister of Israel, visiting New York.

Thanks very much, Mr. Minister, for joining us.

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll get the Palestinian perspective. The Palestinian Authority foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, he'll join us.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: And still to come here on LATE EDITION, a medical case that's raising a host of moral and political issues in the United States. Who should choose whether Terry Schiavo will live or die? We'll talk with lawyers representing both sides of the case.

And two years after the 9/11 attacks, how safe are America's airports? We'll have a debate. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration spokesman, Mark Hatfield, and the House Homeland Security Committee member, Ed Markey, they strongly disagree.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're standing by to speak with Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian Authority foreign minister. We hope to get to him shortly. He's in Gaza. We're told he's in a meeting. We'll get to him as soon as he becomes available to pick up our conversation on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

In the meantime, let's move on to a huge story here in the United States, one resonating around the world. In 1990, Terry Schiavo suffered heart failure and lapsed into a coma. Since then, the Florida woman has been in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state, kept alive only by a feeding tube.

Earlier this month, a Florida court ordered the feeding tube removed, at the request of Terry's husband, Michael, who said he was acting on his wife's wishes.

But last week, acting on a bill approved by the Florida legislature, the state's governor, Jeb Bush, ordered Terry Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted.

This battle is now headed back to court, where Michael Schiavo plans to challenge Governor Bush's order.

Joining us now from Florida is Michael Schiavo's attorney, Scott Swope.

Mr. Swope, welcome to LATE EDITION. And tell our viewers precisely where the legal battle stands right now.

SCOTT SWOPE, MICHAEL SCHIAVO'S ATTORNEY: Well, last week we filed a legal action against the governor seeking a declaratory judgment that the statute passed, or the law passed, by the Florida legislature and the governor who signed the bill into law and the executive order issued by the governor is unconstitutional.

BLITZER: And so you're going to be going back to court. Presumably, if you win in the courts, what, they're going to then once again go and take the feeding tube out of her?

SWOPE: Well, if the judge determines that the law is unconstitutional, then the executive order issued pursuant to that law is not a lawful order.

But we do fully anticipate that if the judge rules that the law is unconstitutional, that the attorney general's office will appeal that to the Second District Court of Appeal or the Florida Supreme Court.

BLITZER: So this could go not only way in Florida in the court system, but eventually wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court. Is that what you're suggesting, as well?

SWOPE: Well, I think there's definitely the possibility that it will go to the Florida Supreme Court. Whether or not it would go to the U.S. Supreme Court, I don't know, but it's certainly a possibility.

BLITZER: This is how the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, explained what happened and why he signed this legislation into law. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: This was the right thing to do, and the courts will make the determination. It's on appeal, as I understand it, and they'll make the determination of the constitutionality. But we did what was right, and I'm proud of the legislature for responding.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All of us have seen that dramatic video of Terry Schiavo where she's blinking. She seems to be smiling, in fact. She seems to be responding. Why are you so convinced she's in a vegetative state right now?

SWOPE: Well, as the appellate court stated in one of the appeals in this case, the medical evidence that was presented to the trial judge in this case was probably the most extensive medical evidence that has been presented ever in a case of this nature.

And the judge had an opportunity, as an independent determiner of facts, to determine whether or not she is in a persistent vegetative state.

And the two physicians who were hired by Michael Schiavo, as well as the court-appointed physician, a board certified neurologist, determined that the court -- determined that she was in a persistent vegetative state.

BLITZER: Her brother and her parents strongly disagree with that. Listen to what her brother said earlier in the week. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOBBY SCHINDLER: Every time that we go in and see Terri, and we greet her, Terri becomes very alert, very responsive. And she tries her hardest to communicate with us, she tries to vocalize...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: They really want to take over her legal guardianship. They want to be able to get some therapists to work with her -- the parents, the brother, the sister.

Why not simply let them do that, and let the husband, Michael Schiavo, if he wants out of it, let him just walk away from this?

SWOPE: Well, when Michael married Terri, he made a wedding vow to her to honor her wishes. And he has stuck with her for 13 years. And he intends to see it through and to honor those wishes and the vows that he made to her.

And as far as the therapy is concerned, the statements that have been made that she's not received any therapy are simply not true. There was a period of time that Michael hired a full-time nurse practitioner to work with Terri on a full-time basis for a period of about a year. And so, it's simply not true to state she's not received any therapy whatsoever.

They've done swallowing tests and have determined that she's not able to swallow.

And all of this has been litigated over and over and upheld on appeal in the state courts.

BLITZER: Clarify the issue of money, where that stands in this case. Some suggesting that he wants to see her, in effect, die because there's money involved, insurance money. Tell our viewers what precisely you know about that aspect of this case.

SWOPE: What I know is that there's no life insurance that Michael will inherit. And as far as I understand the financial aspect of the guardianship and Terri's estate, it is likely that there will be more creditors -- more creditor claims than there are assets to go around. So as I understand it, Michael stands to inherit nothing if Terri were to pass away today.

BLITZER: All right, Scott Swope, thanks very much for your side of the story.

Let's get the other side of this very painful ordeal. Joining us from Florida is Patricia Anderson. She's the attorney for Terri Schiavo's parents.

Ms. Anderson, welcome to LATE EDITION.

You heard Scott Swope say that there were wedding vows. She told him, even though there was no living will, she would not want to live in this state. Why do you want to reject what he says her wishes were?

PATRICIA ANDERSON, ATTORNEY FOR TERRI SCHIAVO'S PARENTS: I'll tell you why. He hasn't exactly stuck by her all this time. He has conceived two children out of wedlock with his girlfriend that he's been living with since 1995.

But aside from that, the first time anybody heard about Terri's wishes was in the trial in January of 2000. Back in 1992, when he was asking a medical malpractice jury for money, he never told them -- he never told that jury that Terri did not wish to live. What he told them was that he intended to honor his wedding vows and to take care of Terri the rest of his life.

Just this last week, the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons issued a statement calling Terri Schiavo's death nothing less than state-sponsored euthanasia.

The fact is there is a huge debate, a huge debate, about Terri's condition. Anyone can go to the Web site, terrisfight.org, look at those video clips and ask yourself if this woman is unconscious. There are at least 17 people who have either examined her or issued medical opinions that this woman is not in a persistent vegetative state.

BLITZER: But, as you know, Patricia, the courts rejected your arguments. They sided with the husband in this particular case. And if it goes back to court, as it will now, presumably they'll come up with the same conclusion. Will you accept this court decision?

ANDERSON: Well, you know, it's as though the court found that Terri has two heads or three arms. The fact is Terri is responsive to her family. Anybody can see how responsive she is to her mother. She lights up every time she sees her mother. She tracks balloons. She laughs at music that she particularly likes.

The entire disability-rights community is up in arms because they look at Terri and they know they're next. Parents of disabled children look at this case and are horrified because they know that their children are at risk once they pass on.

BLITZER: Here's a statement. Let me read you a statement that Michael Shiavo, the husband, issued in recent days.

"Some people do not agree with the decision the court made to remove Terri's feeding tube. I struggle to accept it myself, but I know in my heart that it is right and that it is what Terri wants. There is no longer any realistic hope for Terri's recovery."

A lot of doctors came before the court, not only doctors that the attorneys for Michael Schiavo had secured but also independent court- appointed doctors, who said that there really is no hope for her.

Isn't it sort of cruel, some are arguing, to put the tube in, to take the tube out, to keep her alive this way?

ANDERSON: You know, there's only one court-appointed doctor. The two doctors who were hired by Mr. Schiavo, one of them spent 20 minutes with her, and the other one spent 40 minutes with her. The PVS diagnosis, the persistent-vegetative-state diagnosis is in error 43 percent of the time, according to the only published study on this subject.

You can look at Terri. Many physicians have looked at Terri and said, "What in the world is going on here? This woman is simply brain-damaged. She is not in a persistent vegetative state."

So what are the chances that the court will rule against Terri's life? I think it is anybody's guess.

BLITZER: As you know, the law in Florida has a certain pecking order for legal guardians right now when there is no living will, when a person has not spelled out precisely how he or she wants to maintain a living condition, whether to die under certain circumstances.

And I'll put up on the screen what the law in Florida is right now. First it's the spouse, then adult children of that person and then parents.

Are you suggesting that the law in Florida should be changed?

ANDERSON: I think what you're looking at probably -- I can't see it -- is the law on proxies. Proxies are different than guardians, and both of those are different than health-care surrogates.

So, the Advance Directives Law does need to be changed in some circumstances. I think probably the legislature needs to rethink the issue of allowing oral statements -- in this case, oral statements made allegedly, according to her husband and two of his relatives, when she was 22 or 23 years old -- I think probably the legislature needs to tighten that up.

BLITZER: You've heard his lawyer make the case that money is not a factor, in fact, they're going to lose money if she continues to stay alive, given all the problems that this will endure.

Why wouldn't he just, in your opinion, hand over a legal guardianship to her parents, to her siblings, if in fact he simply wants to walk away from this problem?

ANDERSON: You know, Wolf, every reporter, every national reporter, every out-of-town reporter who has worked on this case has eventually come to me and asked me that question. I don't know.

I suspect that Terri's life story has some monetary value, and perhaps, if she dies while still married to him, he can cash in on that. I don't know if he has an annuity on her life. He says now he doesn't have an insurance policy.

I really don't know what is motivating him. But he needs to concentrate on his two new babies that he has. Just move on down the road and let Terri go home with her family, the people who love her just the way she is.

BLITZER: All right. Patricia Anderson, thanks very much for joining us.

Obviously a very complicated, heart-wrenching issue that's resonating with a lot of people, not only in the United States, but around the world. We'll continue to follow this story.

This important programming note for our viewers: The Terri Schiavo case will be the subject tomorrow night, that's Monday night, on CNN's Larry King Live. Larry will have an exclusive interview with Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo. You'll be able to see that 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Pacific here in the United States.

Up next, we'll go to CNN's Andrea Koppel. She's at the CNN Center in Atlanta. She'll have a quick check of the hour's top stories.

Then, a college student's test reveals cracks in America's airport security system. Is jail time an appropriate response? We'll talk with two guests, the Transportation Security Administration official Mark Hatfield and congressional Homeland Security Committee member Ed Markey. They strongly disagree.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We have this news coming in from Baghdad. U.S. military officials telling CNN that there have been two more explosions in central Baghdad near the al-Rashid Hotel. That was the site of the rocket attack earlier this morning, at the al-Rashid Hotel, a hotel where many U.S. officials are based as well as other international officials operating in Baghdad.

We don't have details yet of these latest two explosions, just word just coming in to CNN right now. We'll continue to follow this important story on the streets of Baghdad, get some more information.

The earlier rocket attack, as we've been reporting, killed one American soldier, wounded 15 other people. But once again, two more explosions near the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad.

We had hoped to be speaking with the Palestinian Authority foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, this hour. Unfortunately, he's in a meeting in Gaza, not available.

But we do have on the phone Saeb Erakat, a Palestinian widely -- with a lot of experience in dealing with so many of these issues.

Mr. Erakat, thanks very much for joining us.

Is Yasser Arafat the only Palestinian leader right now that can effectively deal with the Israelis? Because, as you know, the Bush administration, the Israeli government, really doesn't want to deal with him anymore.

SAEB ERAKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: Well, President Arafat is the elected Palestinian leader, and I believe everyone who respects democratic choice of the Palestinian people.

And I don't think, at the end of the day, the problem does not stem who rules Israel and who rules the Palestinians. The problem, we don't need to reinvent the wheel, Wolf. We have a good document called a road map.

What we need to see to it, an American leadership, in order to put mechanisms (UNINTELLIGIBLE), timelines and monitors on the ground until Palestinians and Israelis begin lamenting your obligations emanating from the road map. The obligations are very clear cut. They don't need to renegotiated. They need to be implemented.

What we seek now is to see a new way of how to implement the road map in parallel without any conditions by either side because the quartet should be the judge, and the quartet is the side that decides who did and who did not.

And I hope that...

BLITZER: Mr. Erakat, let me interrupt. The U.S. government, the Bush administration, the Israelis, say the first item on the agenda must be fighting terrorism before anything else happens.

Listen, for example, to what President Bush said in Indonesia only this past Wednesday. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In order to achieve a Palestinian state living side by side in peace, there needs to be leadership willing to fight off the terror that is trying to prevent the state from emerging.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The argument is that Chairman Arafat, the Palestinian Authority president, is not doing enough, not doing anything, they really say, to fight Hamas, Islamic Jihad and stop the suicide terrorist attacks against the Israelis.

ERAKAT: I urge people who are involved in the saving lives of Palestinians and Israelis, in getting back to road of peace and the negotiating table, to read page one of the road map. Wolf, it specifies that the Palestinian side must stop violence against Israelis anywhere. The Israeli side must stop violence -- against Israelis anywhere, and the Israeli side must stop violence against Palestinians anywhere. I believe this is the key.

If we can get both leaderships to declare a full cessation of violence against the other at one hour, one day, sponsored and guaranteed by the Americans and other members of the quartet, I believe this is the key to restart and to reignite the peace process.

ERAKAT: What we see now is, we are at our lowest point, as Palestinians and Israelis, and it seems to me that the deterioration is endless, and it's getting from worse to worse.

So the key now is not to start assigning blame or to give conditions or anything. We have to abide by the road map. The road map specifies that the key is a cessation of violence by the Palestinian side against Israelis anywhere, and a cessation of violence by Israelis against Palestinians anywhere.

I believe this is the key, this is the key to implementation, and we should see this sponsored and guaranteed by the American leadership and the other members of the quartet in order to begin a de-escalation and de-confliction process. We need to de-escalate. We need to de- conflict.

We don't have any other document other than the road map. And what I specify to you, Wolf, is coming from the first page of the road map, obligation on both sides.

BLITZER: All right. There seems to have been a new development, some are reporting this week, that Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which in the past have had their own separate operations against the Israelis, may be teaming up right now, especially in Gaza. What is your understanding of that?

ERAKAT: Wolf, what we want to see is, we want to team up for peace, we want to team up for saving lives. We cannot continue this vicious cycle of violence and counterviolence, action and reaction, retaliation here and there. This is deepening the conflict.

What we need to see now is a genuine leadership. We want to seek the road of sanity, wisdom and courage, of bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. There will never be a solution to this problem for Israelis through violence and through military solutions, or through settlements and walls and fait accompli policies, or for Palestinians through violence or other means.

The only way out is through a meaningful peace process, the parties back to the negotiating table. And we don't need to reinvent the wheel. We need to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) implement the road map.

BLITZER: Saeb Erakat, unfortunately we have to leave it right there. Thanks very much for joining us. We'll continue this conversation on other occasions.

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll talk about airline security: How safe is it right now, two years after 9/11?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: There you see the results of our Web question of the week. Remember, that was not a scientific poll.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

This past week, a 20-year-old college student was charged with breaching airport security after acknowledging to authorities that he hid box cutters, bleach and matches on two Southwest Airlines planes.

Here in the United States, the discovery raised new concerns about where airport security stands two years after 9/11.

Joining us now, two guests: from New Orleans, Mark Hatfield. He's the spokesman for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration. And in Washington, D.C., Democratic Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts. He serves on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Gentlemen, welcome to LATE EDITION.

And, Mark, let me begin with you. How could this happen two years after 9/11?

MARK HATFIELD, SPOKESMAN, TSA: Well, the individual exploited limitations in the passenger screening system, limitations which, by the way, we'd been on the record for over a year identifying, both in testimony before Congress, before the media and in other public venues.

And he took an opportunity to seize the latest reality-show, self-celebrity-making tactic and get himself out in front of the news with a demonstration that basically just validates what we've said for a year, which is passenger screening is better than it's ever been, but it's not the end-all be-all. It's not the only piece of the puzzle that we've got to keep pushing to make air travel safer than it's ever been, which, I maintain, it is today.

BLITZER: Congressman Markey, no one said it was perfect, but it has dramatically improved over the last two years, hasn't it?

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, perfection may be unachievable, but mediocrity is unacceptable.

In fact, this young man was seeking no attention at all. He e- mailed to the Transportation Security Administration the information about his successful attempts to bring these devices onto the plane. He sought no attention at all.

The only reason that it has come to public attention is that a maintenance worker unclogging a toilet, five weeks after TSA was given notice of this, found these devices. And that's why it is such a huge episode.

BLITZER: All right.

MARKEY: He wasn't trying to embarrass TSA. He wasn't trying to even get any personal attention. And he wouldn't have if TSA had answered his e-mail.

The problem that he identified was that TSA had no system for actually collating the dots to -- and he sent all the dots connected -- that there were, in fact...

BLITZER: All right.

MARKEY: ... these devices taken onto the plane.

BLITZER: Let me let Mark Hatfield respond.

Go ahead, Mark.

HATFIELD: Well, I think it's interesting because what he sought to demonstrate, by admission of the text of his own e-mail that you referenced, was to point out that these items could get through screening.

I don't think he had any idea this sort of tangential issue, which was the delay in responding to his e-mail, would actually take place.

He also wrote that e-mail five months after he placed the first set of packages on two other flights, items which we found, which we began an investigation. The FBI opened a case file. Both of those investigations were not able to connect the items to a suspect.

So five months went by. And, yes, there was a delay in responding to that e-mail, and we're the first to say that's unacceptable. We've taken steps to change that, because not even our customer-response center can be outside of the standard of immediate responsibility and flexibility and appropriate programming, so that if we get messages like this in the future, they will brought to be surface. The dots were connected. They just weren't connected fast enough, and that will change in the future.

BLITZER: Are you satisfied, Congressman Markey?

MARKEY: Not at all. I mean, in fact, this young man has provided a huge public service because TSA has now been forced to completely overhaul the way in which they deal with e-mails and other messages which come into the Transportation Security Administration.

That's shocking to me, in fact. In fact, this is a reality moment, but it's a reality moment for the Bush administration, for the Department of Homeland Security...

BLITZER: All right.

MARKEY: ... that this kind of problem could still exist in connecting the dots that existed before September 11th, that the FBI in Arizona and Minnesota and Florida. And I don't think the American public really expects or finds acceptable that...

BLITZER: Congressman Markey has recommended go ahead and prosecute this guy, but for his punishment make him go work for the Transportation Security Administration and learn from what he knows. What do you make of that?

HATFIELD: Well, I think working for the Transportation Security Administration -- and I see it in the faces of 49,000 men and women who are on the front lines screening -- it's a privilege, not a punishment.

Moreover, I think it's a slippery slope when you start justifying or, even in this case, celebrating felony criminal acts. And I'm confident that our judicial system is one -- first of all, it's the best one in the world, and it takes into account motive and intent. And so, I'm confident justice will be served in this case.

But taking the focus -- let's put the focus back where it belongs, which is on aviation security. And I want to tell you that the Bureau of Transportation Statistics just released its most recent poll of Americans, who by 90 percent say they feel safer traveling on airplanes than they did before 9/11.

And I think that that's a result of the fact that we have gotten the message out that the biggest change in aviation security today, besides all the technology, the training, the better-quality people we've added, besides the reinforced cockpit doors and thousands of air marshals, the most important thing we have changed in the entire thinking of aviation security is that that passenger checkpoint is no longer the end-all, be-all. It's just an important -- it's an important layer now, but it's just one layer in a series of layers that we've added.

And 90 percent of the American public recognized that, and they recognize that it's safer to fly than it ever has been.

BLITZER: All right. Congressman Markey, go ahead.

MARKEY: Well, the reality is that the TSA, the Bush administration still does not screen cargo which goes onto passenger planes, and that is unacceptable. That's why the Airline Pilots Association and the Flight Attendants Association both are protesting so loudly that they have to fly on planes with passengers with unscreened cargo.

The young man brought attention to a serious defect that exists in terms of the ability for TSA to connect threatening warnings.

BLITZER: All right.

MARKEY: And what have we heard yet about the punishment for the people at TSA -- the contractors, the employees that had...

BLITZER: All right, Congressman...

MARKEY: ... not done the job in putting together a proper security system to protect the public.

HATFIELD: I can tell you that...

BLITZER: Hold on one second, guys. Unfortunately, we have to leave it right there. That's all the time we have for today. We'll continue this conversation, obviously, down the road.

Thanks to both of you for joining us, Ed Markey and Mark Hatfield.

Stay with CNN. We have breaking developments on those two explosions happening in central Baghdad. We'll get all the latest right at the top of the hour.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Chicago.

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Richard Lugar>


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