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Interview With Michael Moore

Aired June 25, 2004 - 10:00   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We'll get started here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta. I'm Daryn Kagan. As always, we begin with the headlines.
Two U.S. Marines have been killed and a third wounded in an attack in eastern Afghanistan. The U.S. military is releasing few details about last night's attack. U.S. forces have stepped up operations in the region where Taliban-led insurgents are hiding.

Sources tell CNN that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has emerged as the front runner to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Porter Goss is a Florida Republican and served as an agent in the CIA's Clandestine Service from 1960 to 1971. Embattled CIA director George Tenet announced his resignation earlier this month.

There is little progress apparent, as the latest round of talks on North Korea's nuclear program nears an end. Yesterday, U.S. officials said that North Korea raised the possibility that a nuclear bomb could be tested, if agreement is not reached soon. The U.S. has offered the North benefits in exchange for disarmament.

And as many as 90 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in a crash in southeastern Iran. A fuel truck slammed into six buses stopped at a police inspection station and exploded. Many of those killed in the buses were women and children.

Live this hour on Capitol Hill, the Senate Armed Services Committee focuses on next week's transition of power in Iraq. The hearing follows yesterday's wave of insurgent attacks that killed almost 100 Iraqis, and wounded more than 300 others. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz's, who you see -- well, who you saw just there for a second ago, and General Richard Myers are expected to testify.

President Bush is on his way to Ireland for a weekend summit with European Union leaders. He then travels to Turkey for a NATO summit. But the two seemingly diverse meetings have one common thread, the war in Iraq, and the need for more international support.

Our White House correspondent Dana Bash looks ahead to both of those summits.

Good morning.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Daryn. And the president is going to be gone for five days. That the pair of summits that he will be attending, the goal will be to try to continue what he started earlier this month in Sea Island, Georgia. By talking to international leaders, trying to get them to go beyond differences in Iraq, to work towards promoting democracy there.

And on the eve of his trip, actually, Mr. Bush did an interview with an Irish television reporter, that illustrates perhaps the challenge that he has in getting some of those European countries to help in Iraq, because he still is having to defend the fact that the war he says was just.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: He was dangerous. And no one can argue that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein -- if Saddam Hussein were in power.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, the world is a more dangerous place today. I don't know whether you can see that or not...

BUSH: Why do you say that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are terrorists' bombings every single day. It's now a daily event. It wasn't like that two years ago.

BUSH: What was it like September the 11, 2001? It was a relative calm?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But if your response to Iraq that's considered...

BUSH: Let me finish. Let me finish, please. Please. You asked a question, and I'll answer them, if you don't mind.


BASH: Now, the president will be carrying with him a letter from Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. And that is a request to NATO countries to help out in his country, at least at the minimum by training some security forces there. Only about half of NATO countries are currently on the ground in Iraq helping in any way. And the White House communications director says that they hope that the president will certainly succeed there.


DAN BARTLETT, DIR., WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS: Actually, I think that debate and it was a very vigorous debate, has been put behind us. We fully recognize that not everybody, in particular France and Germany, did not support the action taken in Iraq.

But when the international community, including the European community, came together and passed the U.N. Security Council resolution, endorsing the new Iraqi government and a multi-national force, we believe, and the European leaders the president has met with believe, we put that chapter behind us. And now it's time to focus on the future. And the president's confident that the international community will come to the aid of the Iraqi people.


BASH: But it could be a tough sell for the president. He is going to meet with European leaders who are facing their own publics, who are quite wary of him and his policies. That will be on display. We expect protests in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe upon Mr. Bush's arrival. And it's not just protests, Daryn; there also are security concerns. Remember, of course, yesterday there were bombings in Turkey. That is going to be the president's last stop. And so there certainly are concerns the White House says that they understand that people are going to perhaps try to disrupt the NATO summit there -- Daryn.

KAGAN: And Dana, we'll be talking more about that in our next hour. Dana Bash at the White House.

Let's check out some new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll numbers. Showing a surge in American regret over the war, 54 percent now say it was a mistake to send troops to Iraq. That is up from 41 percent earlier this month. It's the first time since the war that a majority has been negative. And 55 percent of Americans say that the war with Iraq was not -- has not made the U.S. safer from terrorism. That is a significant shift from last December, just after the capture of Saddam Hussein.

We are now just five days away from the official handover in Iraq, and coalition and Iraqi forces are bracing for more insurgent strikes. Clouds of smoke, small explosions and small arms fire in Fallujah, where U.S. forces are now in a second day of a battle with rebels. At least seven Iraqis are reported killed and a dozen others wounded.

The "Denver Post" is reporting that two intelligence soldiers from Fort Carson will be charged in the suffocation death of an Iraqi general. The newspaper also reports that several members of Congress are demanding the investigation climb the chain of command. They question why the official news release blamed his death on natural causes.

The U.S. military hearing continues today for specialist Sabrina Harman. She is one of the seven U.S. soldiers implicated in the prisoner abuse scandal. The proceedings will determine whether Harman should face court-martial.

And later today, we conclude our weeklong series with taking the "AMERICAN PULSE." Jonathan Mann will host a live town hall meeting. It begins at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 10:00 a.m. Pacific. You'll see that right here on CNN.

The president and future status of U.S. troops in Iraq is under discussion on Capitol Hill this morning. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us to talk about that hearing.

Barbara, good morning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you Daryn. Well, as you say, just a handful of days now until the turnover of sovereignty to the Iraqis. And still, top administration officials are on Capitol Hill at this hour, trying to explain to the Senate Armed Services Committee: what that turnover plan will mean, how U.S. forces will operate in Iraq once that sovereignty is turned back to a new Iraqi interim government, how all of it is going to work out.

Now, committee members at Senate Armed Services Committee this morning are remaining very skeptical. The ranking Democrat, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, expressing a great deal of concern about how all of this will work.


SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), ARMED SERVICE CMTE.: We have a problem. There are still more questions than answers concerning Abu Ghraib, and the larger issue concerning the methods of interrogation, and the treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Every day there are more revelations that appear to involve senior U.S. government officials, in decisions to disregard tenets of the Geneva Conventions.


STARR: Now, Senator Levin there focusing on the prison abuse scandal, but also going on to raise concerns, along with other senators, about how U.S. forces will operate in Iraq after the turnover. How will they work with Iraqi security forces, who will order who into action, if you will, if there are problems?

All of this coming, as this new round of violence has many members of Congress very deeply concerned. And the U.S. Central Command now engaging in what they call "contingency planning." If the violence gets worse, if there was to be a need for more troops, there is a look at how all of that could rapidly take place in an emergency. Sources telling CNN that contingency planning is under way. And centers around the prospect of perhaps as many as three additional brigades, about 15,000 troops, that would be sent to Iraq if there is a serious degradation, further degradation in the security situation there.

There this hearing remains ongoing. A lot of questions for top administration officials about what is coming in the days ahead -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, thank you.

Well, maybe a picture is worth a thousand words, but one curse word has pretty much overshadowed yesterday's group photo of the U.S. Senate. According to witnesses on the Senate floor, Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator Patrick Leahy got into a pretty heated exchange over the Democrat's accusations of war profiteering by Halliburton, the oil company that Cheney once ran. The exchange culminated with the vice president blasting Leahy with, we're told, the F-word. Neither the senator nor the vice president are saying much about that exchange today.

Straight ahead, Bush-backers call it un-"Fahrenheit 9/11." It also won the top award in Cannes. Michael Moore is taking some serious heat over his politically charged new movie. He will be joining us live to answer his critics. There he is, live from New York City.

Also, Walter Cronkite lends his voice to a cartoon aimed at teaching kids American history. The legendary newsman is my guest. He'll join me live.

Also ahead, does "The Notebook" get a passing grade from Mr. Moviefone? I'll ask him a little bit later on CNN LIVE TODAY.



MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER (voice-over): I couldn't believe that virtually no member of Congress had read the Patriot Act before voting on it. So I decided the only patriotic thing to do was for me to read it to them.

(on camera): Members of Congress, this is Michael Moore. I would like to read to you the USA Patriot Act, Section 1, Section 210...


KAGAN: Summer may be the blockbuster season of the movie. But in this election year, a documentary film has people talking. "Fahrenheit 9/11" opens today in more than 800 theaters nationwide. And its director Michael Moore joins me from New York this morning.

Michael, good morning. Thanks for being here with us.

MOORE: Thank you, Daryn. Thanks for having me on.

KAGAN: I think I have to tell you off the top, I have not seen the movie. I have a conspiracy for you to check into. The one screening that was offered here in Atlanta, offered while I'm on the air.

MOORE: Oh, I am so sorry they did that. And we'll find out who is responsible.

KAGAN: You get the cameras rolling on that one.


KAGAN: Let's get to the discussion of the movie. It seems to me you're clearly critical of how the U.S., especially the Bush administration, has responded to 9/11. But do you think you're as clear about how the U.S. should have responded? What they should have done?

MOORE: That's a very good question. I think -- and I think most Americans agree with this, that we should have seriously gone after anyone who was responsible for the murder of 3,000 people. I think we all support that. But as Richard Clarke so eloquently has pointed out, on September 12, the Bush administration wasn't interested in going after the people who did this. They wanted to bomb Iraq. And he told them, well, Iraq didn't do this. He said, well, we don't care. There's no good targets to bomb in Afghanistan. We want to bomb Iraq.

KAGAN: Well, let's go to some of the points you make in the movie about who we should have gone after. And some people think might be some contradictory statements. The film, you definitely talk about that you believe that the U.S. should not have focused on Iraq, should have focused on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. And yet back in 2002, you were at the Telluride Film Festival in a debate with Christopher Hitchens, where you almost defended Osama bin Laden, saying that he's innocent until proven guilty. So, did you change...

MOORE: Oh, that's not defending him. That's being an American.

KAGAN: Did you change your mind on Osama bin Laden?

MOORE: No. No. No. Wait a minute. Whoa! Whoa! That is not defending him. That is being a proud American. What is a basic, basic belief that you and I have as Americans? What is it?

KAGAN: What? You're going to say that he was innocent until proven guilty into a court of law.

MOORE: Not he. That all -- wait a minute. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

KAGAN: So, then how can you be critical of the...

MOORE: But don't you believe that?

KAGAN: I'll give you that point. But if you're doing that, how can you be critical then of the Bush administration not going after Osama bin Laden? Do -- are you -- which one is it?

MOORE: Because if you have a suspect and the suspect gets away, the police, or our military, have a right to go after and get that suspect. In fact, they should go get the suspect. And Richard Clarke's point, and my point is, is that they make a half-hearted effort. They kept our Special Forces from going in the part of Afghanistan where bin Laden was. They kept the Special Forces out of there for two months. They only sent 11,000 troops. As Richard Clarke said, there's more police here in Manhattan than the number of soldiers we sent in to get Osama bin Laden.

So for all their talk about wanting to get bin Laden, they made a half-hearted attempt to do it, because they didn't want to divert resources from what their main goal was, which was to go in and invade Iraq. And that's what they've been about since Day 1. KAGAN: All right. Let's talk about Richard Clarke and bin Laden. You also talk in the movie about the bin Laden family being allowed -- relatives of Osama bin Laden to fly out of the country, when many people, most people were not even allowed to fly at all. Richard Clarke...

MOORE: No, the movie doesn't say that. No. I'm sorry, Daryn, you haven't seen it. The movie doesn't say that. The movie says that the bin Laden family, Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, called the White House 24 hours after the attack here, and asked for special help from the White House so that Saudi royals and bin Ladens could get out of the country.

KAGAN: Right. And you hold up Richard Clarke as an example of someone who had it right. But wasn't it not Richard Clarke who came forward later and said he was the one that gave the OK for that to take place?

MOORE: What Richard Clarke -- yes. What Richard Clarke said is that he was going on what the FBI said. The FBI said it was OK to let them go. But we've now learned that the FBI was in total disarray. They didn't know who was who, and what was what. I mean for instance, they allowed these 19 hijackers into the country, and they were -- many of them were here illegally. And they didn't have a proper watch list to find out where these guys were. And so I think we all know now, and I think Richard Clarke knows this too, that the FBI really wasn't doing is job. And certainly under John Ashcroft -- I mean I show in this movie this letter from Ashcroft on September 10...

KAGAN: Speaking of the movie -- I want to get another -- I want to get a clip...

MOORE: Wait a minute. Let me finish here. Let me finish.

KAGAN: Let me just get a clip in. Let me get a clip in. OK? Because that one will show a piece of it...

MOORE: So we don't want to advertise the movie. Let's have this discussion.

KAGAN: I want to see a clip of the movie. I want to see this clip because I want to talk about the military. I want to see you on the streets of Washington, D.C. So let's look at this and I want to ask you about that.

MOORE: All right. OK.


MOORE (on camera): Congressman, I'm Michael Moore.

REP. JOHN TANNER (D), TENNESSEE: Hey Michael. How are you doing?

MOORE: Good. Good. Good.

TANNER: I'm good. John Tanner.

MOORE: Nice to meet you. Very nice to meet you. Do you have kids?


MOORE: Is there any way we can get them to enlist and go over there and help out with the effort, Congressman?

MOORE: Congressman, Michael Moore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing? .

MOORE: Good. Good. Trying to get members of Congress to get their kids to enlist in the Army and go to Iraq. Congressman? Congressman?


KAGAN: So your point, tell me if I'm putting words in your mouth. But your point is about who is in the military and who is making decisions about who goes over and fights?

MOORE: Yes. My point is that when I shot that, out of the 535 members of Congress, only one had an enlisted son in Iraq. So I went to Capitol Hill to see if I could find any congressman to send their child to Iraq. Would you be willing to send your child first? If you believe in the war so much, why is it that we send the children of the poor and working class off to fight these wars?

KAGAN: Are you suggesting we should have the draft? We should reinstitute the draft then?

MOORE: No. I'm suggesting that we draft -- whenever they want to go to war, they draft the children of our politicians, and the wealthiest 10 percent. I would favor a draft for the children of those people, because I'll tell you what, if their kids had to go and die in this war, we'd have -- we wouldn't have any wars. Unless it was in the true self-defense of this country. And that's not what this war is about. And we all know it now.

KAGAN: We only have a minute left. And I have an hour of questions I can ask you. I do need to ask you about something you've said since the movie has been completed. And that is about information that you say you had about the prisoner abuse situation in Abu Ghraib that you did not come out with publicly. Can you tell us what that was and do you regret that decision?

MOORE: Sure. I had a footage that I first saw back in April that showed Iraqi detainees being abused and humiliated by soldiers in the field. Not in the prison, but out in the field. It looks like a very everyday, common occurrence. And you know, it was a few weeks before it came out in the -- with Sy Hirsch and with "60 Minutes." And I just -- I struggled with, should I give this to the media. And then I thought, what media would I give it to? The media that was embedded with the Bush administration on this war? The media that didn't do their job before the war started? Didn't ask the hard questions? Didn't demand the evidence?

KAGAN: Do you regret the decision? Do you regret the decision?

MOORE: No, I don't regret it. Because I put it in my movie. And the story came out. And now everyone can see what this was about.

KAGAN: And as fair warning to people out there, what's your next target, Michael, after this movie?

MOORE: The HMOs and the pharmaceutical companies. If you're watching, see you later.

KAGAN: Coming to an office building near you.


KAGAN: You've been warned here on CNN. Michael Moore, as I said, I could talk all day. But our satellite window is short.

MOORE: Oh, thank you, Daryn. I really appreciate it. I'll be happy to come back on.

KAGAN: Come back on. And I will be seeing the movie. And we'll get to that screening conspiracy another time.

MOORE: I'm so sorry about that.

KAGAN: Yes. Thank you so much, Michael Moore. The movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" in over 800 theaters beginning today. Thanks for your time.

MOORE: Thank you.

KAGAN: Well, he was a fixture in television news for more than 65 years. Walter Cronkite brings something new to the next generation. He'll join me to talk about his work with "Liberty's Kids," and also on other topics in the news.

And you asked and she answers. Financial correspondent Gerri Willis is along to give you some personal attention.

Hi, Gerri.

GERRI WILLIS, CNNFN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Hey, Daryn. Good to see you. We're talking taxes. We're talking real estate. Answering all your questions up next on CNN LIVE TODAY.


KAGAN: All right. Viewers for today's "Top Five Tips," you are driving the bus. As always, we go to our personal finance editor Gerri Willis for her advice.

Good morning, Gerri.

WILLIS: Hey, good morning, Daryn. KAGAN: You get a lot of e-mails.

WILLIS: Ah! Tons of e-mail.

KAGAN: Yes. Such a popular girl. Let's go to the first question from our viewers.

This one, the question is, "I am still having trouble on deciding whether to continue to rent or buy. I live in La Jolla, California." Boy, prices there are crazy. "Currently I live on the beach paying $800 a month for a small one-bedroom. Do you rent or do you buy?" Oh, there's more to it. "I can afford to buy, but if I choose by my standard of living, it would be much different. Please give me your opinion."

WILLIS: Well, you know, Daryn, a lot of people face this similar kind of problem. Prices in this part of the country around San Diego, as you probably know, have gone up 95 percent in the last five years. That's incredible appreciation. It's keeping a lot of people out of the housing market. But if you stay out, you miss out on a couple of things. Enforced savings. People who own homes tend to put that money aside each and every month, because you have to. You're paying your mortgage. And secondly, you get a big tax deduction.

Now, for Greg, my suggestion is this. Either think about setting more money aside in savings, or think about buying a second home. Way outside of San Diego, where prices are much cheaper. You can get the mortgage deduction and be socking that money away each and every month for housing.

KAGAN: Yes, you know where that is? That's Las Vegas.


KAGAN: That's where you have to go.

Let's go and look at the next question. "My husband and I got married," congratulations; this is from Maura in Hartsfield, New York. They got married this past September. They would like to save for a house and rainy day. "Where would be the best place to put the money so that it's building interest?" Good question, Maura.

WILLIS: Yes. This is a good news/bad news scenario. You know, it's tough to make a lot of money in short-term investments. And that's where you want to put your money when you're saving up for a down payment. But the rates of interest, the rates of return, about 3 percent. My suggestion, a short-term bond fund. You can find lots of inexpensive ones at either Vanguard or Fidelity. Those big mutual fund families offer a lot of great products. Start there. You can also think about CDs and money market funds. But the biggest bang for your buck is a short-term corporate bond fund.

KAGAN: You've been doing a lot of segments on student loans. So this is going to be a good question for you. This comes from a 2000 graduate in Philadelphia. The question: "Currently, I'm about $70,000 in debt. All student loans. The majority of them private and not eligible to consolidate." You did that whole segment on consolidation, Gerri. "Frankly, I've never defaulted." So, the question is, "I'd like to pay more than the minimum per month. Do you think in due time that would save me money in the long run?"

WILLIS: You know, interesting, this person has private loans, not public loans. Most people have public loans, because you can consolidate that debt and get a lower rate of interest. You can pay it off, no problem.

Now, with some private loans, you can pay off faster. Just put a little more money aside each month as you're paying down that debt. But not all of them. Unless you've signed up for a Fixed Repayment Length, you know, you're going to have to think about whether or not to set aside that additional money. With the Fixed Repayment Length, you're going to pay that interest no matter what, Daryn.

KAGAN: OK, Gerri. Quick things -- two quick things. First of all, if people want to write in and ask questions, where do they do that?

WILLIS: You've got to send it to

KAGAN: Very good.

And Ms. Show Host, tell us about your new show on Monday.

WILLIS: Monday at noon we're going to start "OPEN HOUSE." It's all about real estate. We're going to tell people lots of stories about how to invest, how to make your house worth more. We're going to tackle lots of fun topics. Can't wait to get started.

KAGAN: Good luck on that. And of course, you're not excused from your duties here on CNN LIVE TODAY.


KAGAN: People will still see you here.

WILLIS: Love to be with you, Daryn.

KAGAN: Yes. You have a great weekend. Thank you, Gerri.

WILLIS: Thank you.

KAGAN: Coming up, President Clinton on President Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq. Wait until you hear what he told our Larry King.

And that's the way it is. Walter Cronkite's closing line. I'll have a chance to chat with the legendary newsman when CNN LIVE TODAY rolls on.



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