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CNN CROSSFIRE

Intelligence Fight

Aired July 9, 2004 - 16:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE: Remember all those reasons the CIA gave us for invading Iraq?

SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: Well, today, we know these assessments were wrong.

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: We would not have authorized that war with 75 votes if we knew what we know now.

ANNOUNCER: Where does U.S. intelligence go from here? And will the intelligence fight spill over on to the campaign trail?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They haven't found the stockpiles, but we do know he could make them.

ANNOUNCER: Today on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, James Carville and Robert Novak.

(APPLAUSE)

JAMES CARVILLE, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee told us the decision to go to war in Iraq was based on flawed, unreasonable and largely insupportable intelligence. In plain English, the Bush administration got it all wrong.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST: No, no, it was the CIA that got it wrong. Everybody else believed them. Are the Democrats really interested in fixing what's wrong with U.S. intelligence or just scoring political points? You know the answer to that.

We'll debate it right after the best political briefing in television, our CROSSFIRE "Political Alert."

Just completed today on National Public Radio, a debate between leftist Howard Dean and leftist Ralph Nader. Was that a matter of trouble in the leper colony? Dean was belaboring Nader for daring to run for president and for accepting contributions from Republicans. The little doctor repeated his talking points when he couldn't think of anything else to say.

Nader accused Dean of a desperate attempt to smear our campaign and said Dean has switched from being an insurgent to being a detergent to clean Democratic dirty linen. I would say Ralph cleaned Howard's clock. Aren't the Democrats lucky that they didn't follow their hearts and nominate Governor Dean for president?

CARVILLE: Just -- no. As a point, I grew up in Carville, Louisiana, which has a treatment for Hanson's disease, which you refer to as leprosy. And the good folks there really -- it's not a nice word. But I know you didn't mean it. And I know that they...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: That was an old line by Gene McCarthy.

CARVILLE: I understand.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Can I just answer it, since you brought it up?

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Gene McCarthy said it. Gene McCarthy once talked about two liberals going after each other. He said, trouble in the leper colony. I didn't mean to be...

(CROSSTALK)

(BELL RINGING)

NOVAK: ... politically incorrect with you, James.

CARVILLE: I have a lot of friends there. I don't think you meant anything by it. I don't want to make a big deal about it.

NOVAK: Well, I'm so glad you brought it up.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: But I just -- I have a lot of friends there, OK?

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: When you run an administration, you're busy and you still have to choose your priorities. For example, President Bush's priority in his first year in office was to take more vacation than any other president in history. Dick Cheney's priority was to meet with Ken Lay, rather than his terrorism task force.

Today, we learned something that isn't President Bush's priority. For the fourth time, President Bush has decided not to speak to America's oldest and largest civil rights group, the NAACP. This will make the first sitting president since Warren G. Harding not to address the NAACP. And the reason Warren G. Harding didn't address the NAACP is because he died before his term ended.

And just so Hispanic voters don't feel left out by his insensitivity, President Bush also decided not to speak to the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic organization, either. President Bush says he's reaching out to minorities. He is. He's reaching out and brushing them off.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: You know, James, the NAACP is not what it used to be.

It used to be a very middle-road organization. It's a leftist organization now, with leftist leadership. And they ran that terrible campaign ad accusing Governor Bush in the 2000 campaign of the murder of a black man in Texas.

CARVILLE: They never accused him of that.

NOVAK: There's no -- there is no...

CARVILLE: They never accused him of that. They accused of him of not going to the funeral.

(CROSSTALK)

(BELL RINGING)

NOVAK: No, they made an accusation. There's no reason the president of the United States has to go be hissed and booed and despised.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: They're the same organization your friend Ronald Reagan had the courage to go do. He just doesn't have the courage to go there. That's all.

NOVAK: Hollywood's left-wing glitterati gathered in New York last night and raised $7.5 million for the Kerry-Edwards ticket and raised a little hell, too.

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Singer John Mellencamp called President Bush just another cheap thug. But Whoopi Goldberg set the tone while waving around a bottle of wine. She delivered a speech filled with vulgarities, including sexual word plays on the president's name.

She said, -- quote -- "I xeroxed my behind and I folded it up in an envelope and I sent it back with a big kiss mark." John Kerry and John Edwards arrived at the place to praise this event, with Senator Edwards calling their campaign -- quote -- "a celebration of real values."

Whose values, Johnny, Whoopi Goldberg's?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: You know what Whoopi Goldberg needs to do? Let me tell you, Whoopi Goldberg needs to go to Dick Cheney's school of proper language.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Because, my God, that's one thing these Republicans can't stand is a little off-color language here.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: How did I know?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: What a whiny...

NOVAK: How did I know you were going to bring Dick Cheney up? He uses one word

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Did she use the big bazooka?

(BELL RINGING)

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: The right wing talks a lot about personal responsibility. Of course, when someone talks about personal responsibility, but doesn't practice it themselves, that's called hypocrisy.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: America has now discovered the two biggest hypocrites of all of Fox News is Fox News chairman Rupert Murdoch and his lackey running "The New York Post," Col Allan. "The New York Times" reported that none other than Rupert Murdoch was the source of "The New York Post"'s embarrassingly stupid, incorrect headline that Kerry had picked Dick Gephardt as his running mate.

When it turned out to be wrong, the editors warned that anyone who spoke of where that story came from would be fired. But now Col Allan, Murdoch's lackey, is the only one denying the story came from Murdoch. Even Murdoch pointed the finger elsewhere, saying -- quote -- "Everybody made a mistake, and they're all embarrassed." Firing people who tell the truth, denying you made a mistake, as far as I'm concerned, these two people and the media organizations they run have lost the right to lecture anyone on responsibility. Bob, what are we going to tell the children?

(APPLAUSE) NOVAK: You know, James, -- you know, James, thankfully, you don't determine who has freedom of the press in this country. That's the First Amendment.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: And let me say, I have been in the -- my column has been

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: I understand.

NOVAK: Can I talk while you're interrupting?

(BELL RINGING)

CARVILLE: Sure.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: My column has been printed in "The New York Post" for about 40 years. I'm proud to be in "The New York Post." And I think Rupert Murdoch is a great owner of a newspaper.

CARVILLE: Well, why doesn't he own up to the fact and take responsibility?

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: And what are we going to tell the children, Bob?

NOVAK: Senators have released a bipartisan report condemning intelligence gathering leading up to the war in Iraq. Now the Democrats are trying to blame President Bush for the bum intelligence the CIA gave him.

Later, first, it was team hair. Now the Democrats are all huggy huggy. Late-night comics are having a field day. Stay tuned for some laughs, believe it or not.

ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to CROSSFIRE at the George Washington University, call 202-994-8CNN or visit our Web site. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: The 500-page report put out today by the Senate Intelligence Committee paints a dismal picture of U.S. intelligence failures before the Iraq war. But committee Chairman Pat Roberts also told reporters something very important. He said, there is no evidence that political pressure led to the intelligence community's mistakes. In the CROSSFIRE today, President Bill Clinton's National Security Council spokesman P.J. Crowley. He's now a senior fellow at the Center For American Progress, a Democratic think tank. And also here is former Republican National Committee communications director Cliff May. He's president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: Cliff, one prominent member of this administration, but admittedly maybe not the smartest member of the administration, but weighed in heavily on what he thought of the intelligence and the intelligence that we received prior to the war. Let me show you a clip of this prominent administration member and what he thought of the CIA's intelligence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Let me first say that, you know, I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: I'm sorry.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: I mean, I -- do you think anybody else in America agrees with this man, that the intelligence he gets is darn good intelligence?

CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Obviously, he's being politically correct, because he doesn't want to offend the people who are in the intelligence community who are trying very hard.

But the fact of the matter is, we have not had good intelligence for many years. About 25 years ago, we began to cripple our intelligence services. We have done so under Republican and Democratic presidents, starting with Jimmy Carter, who fired about 25 percent of the CIA agents, particularly the kind we need right now. That culture was totally decimated. We have a problem here. You know it. I know it. The president shows it. He doesn't want to

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Well, what did he say? Did he -- I just showed you a clip of him saying it was a darn good intelligence.

(LAUGHTER)

P.J. CROWLEY, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Usually, you go back only 10 years to blame for the intelligence failures of the Bush administration. Now you're going back 25 years.

MAY: I'm saying -- I'm telling -- I'm letting the truth, and you know it to be the truth.

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: Let me just explain. I'm saying both Republican and Democratic presidents have had a hand this. And the Congress has. And when Jimmy Carter came into office, he believed, under Stansfield Turner, that they -- they fired 25 percent of the agents. You know that.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: We had very good intelligence in Iraq until 1998, when the UNSCOM inspectors were pushed out.

MAY: No.

CROWLEY: We had the opportunity when the U.N. inspectors went back in to reestablish and reverify the intelligence.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: The president was in a hell of a hurry.

MAY: We did not.

NOVAK: P.J., let me ask you this. The thing that -- the urban legend that's been propagated by the Democrats is that the CIA was bludgeoned into these false -- this bad intelligence by the administration so they could go to war.

But I want you to see what Senator Roberts said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: The committee found no evidence that the intelligence community's mischaracterization or exaggeration of intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities was the result of politics or pressure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Now, this was not one Republican chairman. This was the committee, the bipartisan, unanimous committee. So can we put that issue aside, then?

CROWLEY: There were definitely intelligence failures. Our intelligence was stale. It was incomplete. And, of course, it was also false.

Now, what's not in the report today is what the Bush administration did with the intelligence that was available. And what's not in the report today was Ahmad Chalabi and his role in bringing us false information that we paid him for the led

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: You're not answering...

(APPLAUSE)

MAY: You're confusing -- hold on.

CROWLEY: Whoa, whoa, whoa.

MAY: You are purposely -- I hope you're not purposely confusing the issue.

CROWLEY: It is a valid issue, though.

MAY: The CIA

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: ... did not have to do with Ahmad Chalabi. That was the Pentagon. They were separate sources of information for the CIA. George Tenet did not

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: You know that George Tenet did not rely on Ahmad Chalabi. You know that.

CROWLEY: We're talking about an intelligence community failure. And most of the intelligence community resides in the Pentagon, not the CIA.

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: Let me point this out, that we didn't -- and this is very important that people understand and you understand. We did not have human intelligence in al Qaeda. We did not have human intelligence in the Taliban. We did not have the human intelligence in Iraq.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Chalabi.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: They had -- Judy Miller had him. Paul Wolfowitz had it. We had Chalabi everywhere. We had all the human intelligence

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Your naive counterparts

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: It takes smart people to go through that. You were had.

MAY: It's so amazing that people like...

(APPLAUSE)

MAY: James, people like you have been against the CIA for years. And now you're saying, oh, the CIA wasn't strong enough.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: ... said that in my life.

NOVAK: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

CROWLEY: Even with the intelligence failures, as George Tenet said clearly, the CIA never said that Saddam had nuclear weapons. And the CIA never said that this was an imminent threat. That was George Bush.

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: No, no, no, I've got to say this.

(APPLAUSE)

MAY: George Tenet -- it's in Bob Woodward's Bush. George Tenet was asked by President Bush, does Iraq have weapons of mass destruction? His answer was said, it's a slam dunk. It's a slam dunk.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Let me just go back to my

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: According to Bush.

MAY: According to Bob Woodward. According to Bob Woodward.

CARVILLE: There's a dispute.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Let me go back to my question...

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: ... P.J., that you didn't answer it. And I'm going to give you another witness on that. That's a member of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, on the floor of the Senate today. Let's listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRISTOPHER BOND (R), MISSOURI: Despite the political charges that are being made on the other side of the aisle, no one was pressured to change judgments or reach specific judgments. In fact, the committee interviewed over 200 people searching, searching and searching for those who might be pressured. (END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: So can we -- please, and try to direct yourself to this question, sir, if you could. Can we say that that is off the table now? Because there's a unanimous, bipartisan agreement that the intelligence community was not pressured by the administration?

CROWLEY: I accept the fact that the Bush administration didn't pressure any individual intelligence analyst to change a particular view.

NOVAK: Thank you.

CROWLEY: But, that said, clearly, the Bush administration was only paying attention to the information that verified the preconceived notion it brought into office by Cheney, Wolfowitz, who wanted to finish the job that they screwed up in 1991.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: And overthrow Saddam Hussein.

CARVILLE: Cliff, Cliff, everybody knows at the time we went to war that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. We kicked out 236 U.N. inspectors that had been there 90 days.

So, regardless of what we knew in October, any idiot knew that they were sitting there, that Hans Blix, the U.N. was saying, tell us where these sites were. They would go check them out and they would come back and they would tell us nothing. So the truth is, you knew and the world knew at the time we invaded Iraq that there weren't any weapons of mass destruction there.

(APPLAUSE)

MAY: Let me ask you...

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: So why in the hell did we go? Why do we kick them out and start the war?

MAY: Let me ask you, James.

CARVILLE: Yes.

MAY: Because you are a very smart guy. What do you think did happen to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction? Where do you think they are today?

CROWLEY: They were destroyed in 1998.

CARVILLE: They were destroyed in -- yes.

MAY: Wait a minute. Where? Where? How? How come nobody saw it? Did Hans Blix see it? Did the U.N. see it? Who saw it? (CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: Hans Blix said, I've got 236 people here.

MAY: Excuse me.

CARVILLE: Tell me where they are and I'll go find them.

MAY: Excuse me.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: And he went to look. And he came back and he told us they wasn't there.

MAY: No, no, no, that's not true.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: You knew they weren't there.

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: Let me just say, 1998 was when Saddam Hussein threw out the inspectors. We understand that. We agree on that. He did that because he didn't have any weapons. And, secondly, it was then that Clinton rightly passed the law, the Iraq Liberation Act, which made it the official policy of the U.S. government to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Were you against that? Was that a mistake? How were you going to get him out?

(CROSSTALK)

MAY: You're going to talk him out of office? You're going to talk him out?

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: I've got a very important question for Colonel Crowley.

Last night, the senator, John Kerry, who says he is an expert on terrorism, was on the "LARRY KING LIVE" show. And he was asked what he thought about this Intelligence Committee report, which was all we're -- and he gave a really interesting answer.

Let's listen to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LARRY KING LIVE")

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They have offered to brief me. I just haven't had time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: He just hasn't had time to be briefed? What kind of a serious candidate is that?

(APPLAUSE)

CROWLEY: Well, yes, he'll have the weekend, like all of us, to read all 500 pages.

I mean, Senator Kerry is -- he's a sitting senator. He has access to the information. He already knows what he's going to spend the next four years doing, is digging out from under the hole that the Bush administration has put him in.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: He couldn't answer because he hadn't been briefed. Will he find time to be briefed if he's elected president?

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: But his running mate, John Edwards, is a member of the intelligence community, is familiar with the report, and supports it as far as it goes. Of course, it doesn't go far enough.

NOVAK: Next, in "Rapid Fire," we'll ask whether John Kerry is having second thoughts over one of his votes in Congress.

And an international court's opinion about this barrier produced strong reaction in the Middle East. Details after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Miles O'Brien at CNN Center in Atlanta.

Coming up at the top of the hour, a Senate report says the decision to go to war in Iraq was made on bad information and it blames the CIA. We'll talk with Republican Pat Roberts and Democrat Jay Rockefeller.

The U.N.'s highest court says Israel should tear down the barrier in the West Bank.

And an emotional reunion for an American man and his Japanese wife. Now the question is, can they stay together?

Those stories and much more just moments away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Now back to CROSSFIRE.

CARVILLE: It's time for "Rapid Fire," where we can ask questions even faster than the Bush administration can ignore the facts that don't suit its agenda.

Our guests are Cliff May of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and P.J. Crowley with the Center For American Progress.

NOVAK: Colonel Crowley, when he was a senator, Senator Kerry voted many times to cut CIA spending, tried to cut it even more than it was cut. Do you think he regrets that now?

CROWLEY: I think John Kerry is going to help rebuild the intelligence community, just like other members of the Senate will be -- it will be a very tough job, but he'll do it.

CARVILLE: All right, hey, Cliff, I want to show you something here, because there's a little politics in here. John Edwards, in the wisdom of the American people, the fact that he's a trial lawyer shows that he fights for the average person, 55 percent; contributed to frivolous lawsuits, 26. Aren't you really impressed with the wisdom of the American people that they see through all this cockamamie right-wing stuff?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: And see this man is a real fighter for people?

MAY: He's a charming guy. I think John Kerry's criticisms of him have been the most telling. He said during the primary that John Edwards is not ready to be president of the United States. If he's not ready to be president, is he ready to be vice president?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: P.J. Crowley, Senator Rockefeller, the Democratic vice chairman of the committee, said today he wasn't sure that Iraq was any better off without Saddam Hussein than it was with him in power. Do you agree with that?

CROWLEY: I think the Iraqi people are better off without Saddam Hussein. Unfortunately, because of what the Bush administration has done, we are not safer.

(APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: What has so -- what's so impressed you about President Bush's foreign -- wide foreign policy expertise in 2000, when he was ready to assume the office of presidency, that he had that John Edwards doesn't have after being six years a United States senator in 2004?

MAY: I think most of his foreign policy experience, you're right, has been after 9/11.

(BELL RINGING)

MAY: And he's done a good job since then.

By the way, we took out of Iraq last week the material that is used to make a dirty bomb, not a weapons of mass destruction, but a dirty bomb. Aren't you happy about that?

CARVILLE: Yes, I'm

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: Cliff May, thank you very much.

P.J. Crowley, thank you very much. Thank you very much.

It's important for running mates to stay in touch, but isn't this getting a little ridiculous? Stay tuned for some classic campaign comedy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(APPLAUSE)

NOVAK: This has been such a touchy-feely week on the campaign trail that it caught the attention of Jay Leno's "Tonight Show." Last night, Leno played the perfect theme song for the Kerry-Edwards buddy act. Even James Carville may feel like hugging somebody after he sees this.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): You are so beautiful to me.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Now, you might think Senators Kerry and Edwards would be embarrassed by all this. But no, no, listen to what Senator Kerry told a crowd this very morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And they have every hug we've had in the last few days and every pat and every arm in arm. And I just want you to know, I thought we made a great couple, ladies and gentlemen.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOVAK: Those are the huggy bears, James.

CARVILLE: I like -- you know what? I give John Kerry credit. He's a very comfortable guy. He's very comfortable in who he is. So is John Edwards.

Actually, Rush Limbaugh was playing, "I can't keep my hands off of you" or something on his radio show. (LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: You know what? This is the kind of stuff we need in politics every now and then, some of this good-natured fun.

NOVAK: You can have it.

CARVILLE: You know, there's nothing wrong with it.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: Athletes do that a lot. You ever -- after they win the game, they're all hugging each other? That's just the way

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK: Yes, but these guys haven't won anyway.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

CARVILLE: From the left, I'm James Carville. That's it for CROSSFIRE.

NOVAK: From the right, I'm Robert Novak. Join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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