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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS
U.N. to Take Over Tsunami Relief; Leaked Memo Admits Private Accounts Not Total Solution to Social Security; Congressional Dems Object to Ohio Count
Aired January 6, 2005 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Shattered homes and lives and dreams. Will promises of aid to tsunami victims be broken, too?
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States say $350 million, and we mean $350 million.
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Contrary to reports, I consider the Geneva Conventions neither obsolete nor quaint.
ANNOUNCER: The president's choice for attorney general faces a confirmation controversy over the definition of torture.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judge Gonzales is being attacked for a memo he didn't write, interpreting the law that he didn't draft.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: This is not a witch- hunt. This is about your judgment.
ANNOUNCER: The final step to seal President Bush's re-election. Why are some Democrats trying to stand in the way?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: This is my opening shot to be able to focus the light of truth on these terrible problems in the electoral system.
ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST: Thank you for joining us.
A new appeal today from the U.N. secretary-general, urging the international community to help stop what he calls a second wave of death in Southern Asia.
Kofi Annan says almost $1 billion will be needed over the next six months to provide food, water, health care and other things desperately need by tsunami victims.
The death toll still stands at more than 155,000. But officials fear they may never know exactly how many people were killed, because so many bodies were dragged out to sea by receding waters. The State Department today revised the number of Americans confirmed or presumed dead from 36 down to 35. And the number of inquiries about potentially missing Americans has been whittled down some more, from 3,100 to about 2,600.
CNN anchors and reporters are blanketing the disaster zone to give you up-to-the-minute news on recovery efforts.
In Jakarta, Indonesia today, officials gathered for an international summit on tsunami relief. Secretary of State Colin Powell was there and so was our senior White House correspondent, John King.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Secretary of State Powell declared the Jakarta conference a success and said there should be no doubt that the United States will keep its tsunami relief promises.
POWELL: The United States, when it says $350 million it means $350 million. And when we say we'll go for more if we need more, that's what we'll do. I can't speak for other nations.
KING: So urgent is the humanitarian crisis that the United States is poised to end a ban on certain military sales to the Indonesian government. That ban was imposed back in 1999 when Indonesia used U.S.-made military equipment in attacks on separatist rebel.
Secretary Powell says the imminent deal will give Indonesia spare parts for some of its U.S.-made C-130 aircraft so that those planes can be brought back into service and will now join the urgent relief airlift.
POWELL: We cannot have a fleet of 24 C-130s unable to operate because there are only seven of them can really fly. And so it seemed to me that the humanitarian need that you saw yesterday trumps right now the reservation we had.
KING: In his remarks to the Jakarta conference, Secretary Powell announced that the United States was disbanding the so-called core group to lead the tsunami effort.
Japan, India and Australia were also part of that group, formed by President Bush at a time some critics said he was not acting aggressively enough to help those affected by the tsunami.
Those critics called the group a mistake to begin with, and some at the United Nations worried about an Iraq-style debate with Washington over who would take the lead in the relief effort.
Secretary Powell says the group served its purpose, getting the aid pipeline up and running, but they can now step aside.
POWELL: Things are up and running to the point where we can work within the U.N. communities. KING: That praise of the United Nations was yet another example of the unifying impact of the tsunami. At major international gatherings over the past year or two, Secretary Powell has faced sharp criticism because of the U.S. policies in Iraq and the broader war on terrorism.
But here in Jakarta, Secretary Powell says there was not one mention of Iraq and that in his meetings, even with Iraq war critics, other leaders rushed to praise the United States for its role in the tsunami relief effort.
John King, CNN, Jakarta, Indonesia.
WOODRUFF: Thank you, John.
And stay with CNN in prime time for up-to-the-minute reports on the tsunami disaster and relief efforts. Our nightly special report, "TURNING THE TIDE," begins at 7 p.m. Eastern.
And tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour will focus on the youngest tsunami victims in a prime time special, "SAVING THE CHILDREN."
And now to the latest political sparring here in Washington. There was a lot of talk about torture today as confirmation hearings began for attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales.
Our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry, joins us from Capitol Hill.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Judy.
There was rhetorical torture all day in this hearing room behind me. In fact, it's still going on, as Democrats pounded away at judge Gonzales' record as White House counsel.
Democrats demanding answers on Judge Gonzales' role in setting policy on the handling of prisoners in the war on terror. Critic charging that the administration had such a loose policy that it opened the door to abuses.
But Judge Gonzales finally got the chance to answer his critics. He insisted that if confirmed as attorney general, he will follow the Geneva Convention.
Listen to this exchange with Judge Gonzales and Senator Edward Kennedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GONZALES: I never influenced or pressured the department to bless any of these techniques. I viewed it as their responsibility to make the decision as to whether or not a procedure or method of questioning of these terrorists that an agency wanted would, in fact, be lawful.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D-MA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, just as an attorney, as a human being, I would have thought that if there were recommendations that were so blatantly and flagrantly over the line in terms of torture, that you might have recognized them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Democratic senators insisted they were just trying to rake Judge Gonzales over the coals. They say they were just trying to get answers. They were letting him -- trying to give him the opportunity to set the record straight.
And Democrats like Joe Biden said they felt he was not forthcoming and he was missing a golden opportunity to give his side of the story.
Here's Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: This is not about your integrity. This is not a witch- hunt. This is about your judgment. That's all we're trying to do. And so when I get to ask my questions, I hope you'll be candid about it because, not that it's relevant, I like you. I like you. You are real -- you're the real deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now Senator Biden also said -- Senator Biden also said that some of the answers he eventually heard, he referred to them as malarkey.
Senator Patrick Leahy was saying that he felt it was almost as if Judge Gonzales had become a senator, because he was filibustering.
But at the end of the day, we're also hearing, as you heard right there from Senator Biden, that in general, there's good feelings toward Judge Gonzales. Democrats wanting to score their political points, but at the end of the day after a lot of political theater, he's very likely to be confirmed -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: So how much longer do these hearings go on, Ed?
HENRY: Well, there's another panel of witnesses after Judge Gonzales. The new chairman of this committee is Republican Arlen Specter. And after Democratic demands to get some critics of Judge Gonzales to come forward, he agreed to let them testify. They will be after him.
It could go on for most of the afternoon. There could also be a second hearing down the road, but the bulk of it is already done, Judy.
WOODRUFF: OK. Ed Henry at the capital, thanks very much.
I'll talk about the Gonzales hearing a little later on the program with a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Meantime, another Bush cabinet choice, Margaret Spellings, had an easier time of it today at a Senate hearing on her nomination to be education secretary. Spellings has won praise from members of both parties.
The Bush administration is trying to push ahead on Social Security reform. But an e-mail sent by the White House this week may be making that task more complicated.
Let's check in now with our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy.
Really, this memo, what it shows, it really gives us a much better sense of the inner thinking of the White House and how they might reform Social Security to make it solvent for future retirees.
It talks about specifically that the need for creating these investment, these private investment accounts may not be enough, but they may actually need to reduce benefits.
Inside of this private memo it says, "We simply cannot solve the Social Security problem with personal retirement accounts alone. If the goal is permanent solvency and sustainability, as we believe it should be, then personal retirement accounts for all their virtues, are insufficient to that task."
Now the memo rules out the options of increasing the age of benefits, making them eligible, or increasing taxes.
But White House spokesman Scott McClellan earlier saying that the president has not decided on any particular option, particularly that one that would require reducing benefits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That memo or that e-mail is referring to the serious nature of Social Security and the crisis situation that we're in. It talks about how right now we have an unfunded liability of more than $10 trillion under the current system. And that's why we need to act to solve this problem.
The president is open to all ideas and proposals that are consistent with his principles at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Now, McClellan was also asked, as well, about the tone of the memo, whether or not it seemed as if it was politically motivated to reform Social Security.
In this memo, it states here, "This will be one of the most important conservative undertakings of modern times. If we succeed in reforming Social Security, it will rank as one of the most significant conservative governing achievements ever. The scope and scale of this endeavor are hard to overestimate."
But Judy, McClellan also pointing out today that the president is reaching out to both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to push this forward. And as an illustration, the president earlier this afternoon meeting with a bipartisan group to talk about lawsuit reform -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Suzanne, there aren't too many leaks like this e-mail coming out of the Bush White House. What's the motivation here?
MALVEAUX: Well, this is something that first was published by the "Wall Street Journal," and it is a memo essentially by a top Bush administration aide to conservative allies.
What it is meant to do is really to try to convince those conservative allies that, look, we're going to need -- this is going to be tough medicine and we're going to need more than just looking at establishing these private accounts. We're also going to look at perhaps reducing those benefits. This is going to be a tough pill to swallow.
But the White House wants to make it very clear to Republican conservatives who may be against that proposal.
WOODRUFF: So some method to all of this, evidently.
WOODRUFF: Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much.
President Bush's victory over John Kerry was about to become official today when some Democrats said they object. Up next, the motive behind the latest and perhaps the last clash between Bush and Kerry supporters.
Also ahead, Arnold Schwarzenegger's new plans for California. Bold or outrageous?
And later, do other crises pale compared with the tsunami disaster? We'll consider how need and the news can encourage giving or disaster fatigue.
WOODRUFF: The normally routine counting of electoral votes for president came to a halt this afternoon in Congress when two Democratic lawmakers formally objected to the counting of Ohio's electoral votes.
CNN congressional correspondent Joe Johns has more on the objection and what happened next.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a ritual every four years. The electoral votes arrive in a wooden box to be counted before a joint session of Congress.
But for one of the few times in history, with the vice president in attendance and the role call of the states under way, an objection from a member of the House and the Senate. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Democrat of Ohio, challenging the votes of her state on the basis of alleged irregularities there November 2.
REP. STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D), OHIO: In order to prevent our voices from being kept silent, it is imperative that we object to the counting of Ohio's electoral vote.
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The clerk will report the objection.
JOHNS: Tubbs Jones, a former judge, said she was challenging the votes, not to overturn the election, but to draw attention to the long lines last election day in Ohio, the lack of voting machines in some places and the handling of provisional ballots there.
Federal law says the House and Senate must debate such an objection but only if a member of the Senate signs on. That Senator was Democrat Barbara Boxer of California.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: The centerpiece of this country is democracy, and the centerpiece of democracy is ensuring the right to vote.
JOHNS: Republicans were flabbergasted by the move, the senior senator from Ohio leading the way.
SEN. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: I find it almost impossible to believe that we're actually standing on the floor of the United States Senate today, engaged in a debate over whether or not George Bush won Ohio.
JOHNS: The White House also weighed in.
MCCLELLAN: I think the American people spoke very clearly on election day. And the election is behind us. The American people now expect their leaders in Washington to focus on the big priorities facing this country and to act on those priorities. It is time to move forward and not engage in conspiracy theories or partisan politics of this nature.
JOHNS: Both chambers are required not only to debate the issue, but also to vote on whether to pass the objection. The Senate has already voted. That vote was 74 nay, one yea. The lone yea, of course, was Barbara Boxer of California -- Judy. WOODRUFF: So, Joe, is this over now?
JOHNS: It is not over yet. As I look at the screen here, the House of Representatives continues its debate on that side. They, too, have to vote. At that time, both of the chambers get together again to continue the vote counting of the electoral votes.
WOODRUFF: So this will go on a little bit longer, a few more hours?
JOHNS: Not necessarily that long because, according to the law, each side only gets two hours to debate this matter, five minutes for each member who wants to speak. Right now Tom DeLay of Texas on the floor of the House of Representatives.
WOODRUFF: All right. Joe Johns watching it for us. And as he will continue to do. Joe, thank you very much.
Well, for his part, John Kerry issued an e-mail this week noting that he would not take part in any protest of the Ohio results. And while the votes are discussed and debated here in Washington, Senator Kerry is traveling in Iraq.
He arrived there yesterday for a two-day visit. Kerry met with U.S. and Iraqi officials, as well as soldiers from his home state of Massachusetts. He was scheduled to make stops today in Falluja and Mosul.
Meanwhile, the Senator's brother, Cam Kerry, wrote a column in today's "Boston Globe" calling for election reforms. In his words, quote, "It is time to make vote suppression a violation of civil rights laws and to adopt national standards that ensure that all voters have equal access to voting machines and ballots without the kinds of technical obstacles that call to mind the Jim Crow laws," end quote.
With me now, former Gore campaign manager, Donna Brazile, and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.
Donna, to you first, this is not going to change the outcome of the election. Is it smart for these Democrats to be objecting as they are to the Ohio count?
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGY: I think so, Judy. Look, the purpose was not to change the results. The purpose, however, was to highlight the fact that there were many flaws in our electoral process on election day.
Tens of thousands of people had their ballots disputed or thrown out in Ohio. Some students stood in line up to 10 hours at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. We owe it to those individuals to find out what happened and why.
And what Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Barbara Boxer did today -- did was to call attention to some of the problems that existed in Ohio. BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: But Donna, it's not going to accomplish the goal. This is just to get them some publicity. They're always complaining and whining there are some problems with people not being able to vote.
If there was any type of legitimate complaints against the officials in Ohio, why not file a lawsuit, present your case and see if we can really get to the bottom of this?
But you don't have it. You don't have the evidence. This is just a way to go out there for another two hours and complain about the lack of democracy in America.
BRAZILE: No, Bay, we have the evidence. John Conyers has 101 pages which detail some of the allegations.
WOODRUFF: John Conyers from Michigan.
BRAZILE: John Conyers from Michigan. Detail just numerous problems with machines malfunctioning, with long lines. Some people tried to vote repeatedly, three, four times that day and were told to go to different precincts. All of this is documented, very thorough analysis of all 88 counties. More evidence will be presented.
Again, not to change the election outcome, but to help guide Congress in hopefully another exercise of election reform this year.
BUCHANAN: This is a problem, though, it's for the states. This is -- states are the ones that take charge of the voting in their states. And the county people are responsible for each county.
So why not take it to where something can be done? There shouldn't be -- the federal government does not need to solve every one of these problems. And as you pointed out, many of these are just accidental. Machines breaking down. There's no conspiracy to defraud people of the right to vote.
BRAZILE: So people, right, that is a problem, that it is a state issue and not a federal issue.
BUCHANAN: And if that's the case...
BRAZILE: Look, 40 years ago we passed the voting rights -- voting rights bill to ensure that no American will be denied access to the ballot. It is time that Congress, you know, have national standards on how we not only count the vote but the procedures in the machinery and everything else that goes along with our democracy.
It's time that we clean up our electoral system. That's what these members were calling attention to.
WOODRUFF: Let's change the subject. Bay, today, confirmation hearings for Alberto Gonzales, the president's pick to be his next attorney general.
The White House has so far refused to turn over these memos that Gonzales wrote on the treatment of terror suspects. Given that, is Gonzales, is he answering adequately, addressing the concerns that have been raised about him?
BUCHANAN: I think he absolutely is. First, this is a legitimate line of questioning from Congress, from the Senate. These memos that he was -- had his name on. So they should ask him the questions.
But it's clear from the way they're asking the questions that there's an agenda here. You know, you don't say to somebody, are you in favor of torture? I mean, what do you expect him to say? You all know what he's going to say. It's no. Yes, I'm in favor of torture? Twice a day is a good thing? I mean, of course we know he's not.
It should show the nominee some respect. He was trying to protect the president of the United States, which is his job as counsel to the president, and that's what those memos are about. And he should defend those, as in the question should be put.
BRAZILE: By the way, that question came from a Republican, Arlen Specter, to put it out on the table that he's against torture and he gave a great answer.
The truth is that they're doing a constitutional duty to ask these questions. He has memos. He has a paper trail from Texas, also, as a member of the president's inner circle. And he should answer these questions.
I don't believe this will in any way hamper his ability to serve as the next attorney general of this country.
WOODRUFF: So you see him sailing through?
BUCHANAN: And he's going to sail through for a good reason. This is just another attempt of the Democrats to raise these issues and talk and pound their chest about the terrible things of the Bush administration.
But they want him as attorney general because he's far more moderate than the fellow that's in there now, John Ashcroft. And this is somebody they are thrilled about. And they know if he goes down, and he's not, but if he were, that the president very likely would put somebody up there far more to the right than Gonzales. So they like this fellow. They want him.
But they're taking care of their left who have some complaints about him. And so they're out there asking the questions. They cover their flank.
BRAZILE: Civil liberties is not left or right. I think people are trying to get to the bottom of the memos, trying to get to the bottom some of his legal reasoning and thinking behind the Geneva Convention.
And look, I also have to applaud Senator Specter for allowing some of the Democratic dissenters, some of the groups and organizations to also come in to testify this week. WOODRUFF: Speak before the committee.
All right. We are going to leave it there. Donna, Bay, thank you both. Always good to have you on.
BRAZILE: Good to be with you, Judy.
WOODRUFF: More changes in the race for DNC chairman. We'll update who's in and who's out.
Also, California's governor assesses the state of his state and takes a combative stance against a favorite foe (ph).
Those stories and "Political Bytes" when we return.
WOODRUFF: The shifting roster of candidates for DNC chair leads off our Thursday "Political Bytes."
Centrist party activist Simon Rosenberg made his candidacy official today, staking his campaign on a call to rebuild party support in traditionally Republican areas.
Also today, former Ohio state party chairman and director of Project Vote, David Leland announced that he is also entering the race for party leader.
Those two join former congressman Martin Frost, former Denver mayor Wellington Webb and party strategist Donny Fowler, who are already in the running for the job.
Howard Dean, former Congressman Tim Roemer, former Michigan Governor Jim Blanchard and former Texas party chairwoman Molly Beth Malcolm are still all considering the race.
Earlier this week, party strategist Harold Ickes and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk pulled out.
There is also word that several Democratic senators met yesterday with outgoing party chairman Terry McAuliffe to see if he would consider staying on the job. For now at least, it appears that McAuliffe's answer is no.
Out west, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used his State of the State address yesterday to blast what he calls the special interests that he says have a grip on state government.
Schwarzenegger announced plans for a special legislative session to tackle such issues as spending limits, merit pay for teachers, redistricting and an overhaul of the state pension system.
The American spirit of giving has extended beyond the holiday season this year, in response to the tsunami disaster. But will that generosity fade before the need is satisfied?
Plus, the Democrats delay President Bush's official election victory. And Republicans fire back.
More INSIDE POLITICS ahead.
WOODRUFF: It is just before 4 p.m. on the East Coast. And as the markets get set to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim in New York with "The Dobbs Report."
KITTY PILGRIM, "THE DOBBS REPORT": Hi, Judy. Thanks.
Well, blue chips are logging their first gains of the year, but the gains are fairly modest. And the final trades are being counted, so let's take a look. The Dow Industrials are up about 23 points right now. That's ending a six-session losing streak. That's the longest since July 2002. Nasdaq today basically flat. A sudden drop in temperatures in the Northeast, that has oil traders worried once again about heating oil supplies. So heating oil and crude prices are sharply higher today. A barrel of crude rose more than $2. That puts it back above $45 a barrel.
The Christmas numbers are and retailers say 2004 holiday season good, but not great. Now, according to a tally by UBS of 50 retailers, sales rose a little bit more than three percent, which was the low end of forecast. Wal-Mart right on track, that average about three percent up on Wal-Mart.
Winter travel is off to a good start, at least for passengers. Delta's move to slash ticket prices is pressuring the entire airline industry. American Airlines, Northwest, U.S. Airways, they've all followed Delta's lead, agreeing to match its fares on similar flights. But an industry-wide fare war could cost the airlines billions of dollars in lost revenues and that could add to their financial problems.
Meanwhile, a bankruptcy judge for U.S. Airways says there are quote still "grave questions" about whether that airline can emerge from bankruptcy protection. Continental Airlines warned today if it can't reduce wages by $500 million by the end of February, it could run out of cash. Now, Continental is the last of the six major carriers to ask employees for pay and benefit reductions.
And it is a major battle against computer viruses. Microsoft offering free programs to wipe out viruses and spyware for Windows users. Consumers can sign up for the security programs and the monthly updates on Microsoft's Web site and the software giant also says it will begin selling a stand-alone anti-virus program later this year.
Coming up on CNN at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," exporting America. A new study shows the wage gap between men and women is shrinking, but not because women's wages are increasing. Instead men's wages are falling. And we'll tell you the reason why. Also tonight, President Bush is still looking for the next homeland security secretary. And our guest tonight, former inspector general of Homeland Security department, Clark Kent Ervin, offers his take on who should fill this important position.
Plus, Democratic freshman Senator Ken Salazar won an impressive victory in Colorado, a predominantly Republican state that voted for President Bush. And how did he pull that off? Well, Senator Salazar is our guest tonight. Also, we'll have the very latest on the South Asian tsunami disaster. That and much more tonight, 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
Now back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Kitty, thank you very much. And INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.
ANNOUNCER: Still searching for loved ones, still struggling to rebuild. As international leaders pledge more help is on the way.
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: People understand that we have got a major humanitarian challenge and reconstruction challenge here.
ANNOUNCER: The grilling gets under way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The committee will want to know Judge Gonzalez' plans and views on a wide range of matters.
ANNOUNCER: Democrats get their first crack at a controversial nominee. Will the hearings set the stage for future battles?
And at the White House, Barney's new sister comes home. Miss Beazley sets up housekeeping at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Now, live from Washington, Judy Woodruff's INSIDE POLITICS.
WOODRUFF: Welcome back. Even as the Bush administration is promising to make good on its $350 million pledge of tsunami relief money, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is calling the aid a long- term investment. Frist is in the disaster zone visiting a Sri Lankan refugee camp today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BILL FRIST (R), MAJORITY LEADER: We will be looking at ways that we can participate in the longer term to help the people of Sri Lanka, who have been hurt, who have -- will have long-term psychological scars, and in terms of that long-term reconstruction, we will be looking at things of economic development, returning to jobs and the like.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WOODRUFF: Also in Southern Asia, an unprecedented team of CNN anchors and correspondents bringing you up to-the-minute reports on the disaster.
U.N. officials believe the heart-wrenching pictures from Southern Asia are largely responsible for the outpouring of international relief. But what happens when time passes and the cameras focus on another story? Here now, our senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Remember Bam? A terrible earthquake hit that city in southeast Iran on December 26, 2003, exactly one year before the Indian Ocean tsunami. Around 26,000 people perished.
ADAM ERELI, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: The United States was -- responded quickly and meaningfully in response to the humanitarian crisis precipitated by the Bam earthquake about this time last year.
SCHNEIDER: The problem has been sustaining the commitment.
JAN EGELAND, U.N. UNDER-SECRETARY GENERAL: We have not forgotten the pledges that were made to Bam.
SCHNEIDER: World leaders have now committed themselves to a much bigger relief effort after the much bigger tsunami disaster.
KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: We've got over $2 billion, but it is quite likely that at the end of the day, we will not receive all of it. I think you heard the example of the Bam earthquake in Iran. We got lots of pledges, but we did not receive all the money.
SCHNEIDER: The threat is one of disaster fatigue. Leaders are already warning about it.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: We're talking not a couple weeks, we're talking years of us being more deeply involved in that region of the world.
SCHNEIDER: To cope with disaster fatigue, you have to keep problems in the spotlight. President Bush tried to do that in September when he drew attention to the shocking situation in the Sudan, where more than 70,000 people have died and nearly two million have been driven from their homes.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: At this hour, the world is witnessing terrible suffering and horrible crimes in the Darfur region of Sudan. Crimes my government has concluded are genocide.
SCHNEIDER: Nelson Mandela tried to do that today by personalizing the AIDS crisis that is claiming the lives of more than two million Africans a year.
NELSON MANDELA, FMR. SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: Doctors are on their way in which we can make people understand that AIDS and HIV is not an ordinary illness. That's why we have come here today. To announce that my son has died of AIDS.
SCHNEIDER: Compelling personal stories remain the best way to fight disaster fatigue, which is becoming a bigger problem now that news cycles have gotten faster and attention spans shorter.
WOODRUFF: One of the downsides of technology.
WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider. Thank you very much.
In response to the disaster in Asia, the United States is moving on several fronts towards a global tsunami warning system. Senator Joe Lieberman is proposing legislation to establish a system of up to fifty water buoy-based sensors throughout the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans and the Caribbean Sea. And the State Department will present a design for protecting huge populations in coastal areas at a U.N.-sponsored conference in Japan later this month.
Remember to stay tuned to CNN throughout the day and evening for the latest on the tsunami disaster and relief efforts. Our nightly special report, "Turning the Tide," begins at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. And tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, a primetime special, "Saving the Children." Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour will focus on the youngest tsunami victims.
Turning now to CNN "Security Watch," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge today is unveiling a new plan to give local authorities primary responsibility for managing emergencies. It sets national emergency response standards for states and for local governments in hopes of avoiding the confusion and the turf battles that followed the September 11th attacks. The 426-page plan says federal authorities will become involved in an emergency, only after it gets too big for local responders.
Stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.
Attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales got an earful today from Democrats at his confirmation hearing. Up next, a Republican on the Senate judiciary committee fires back in defense of Gonzales.
Also ahead, the dispute on the Hill that delayed the certification of the presidential vote. We'll hear from lawmakers on opposite sides of the aisle.
And later, a second first dog in the Bush family. It means Barney finally has a playmate.
WOODRUFF: Among the senators taking part in today's confirmation hearing for Alberto Gonzales is Republican Jeff Sessions of Alabama. He's a member of the judiciary committee and joins me now from Capitol Hill. Senator Sessions, thank you very much for joining us. Any doubt in your mind that Mr. Gonzales will be confirmed?
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I don't think so. It looks real good. He's doing a fine job. He's being patient with the questions, some of which are not fair. He's explained them well. I think the senators are pleased with his -- just his demeanor. Senator Biden indicated that while they have a lot of tough questions, he expected his confirmation to go forward. I think that probably is the mind set of the Senate now, that people will get to ask their questions about some issues that concern them, many of which Judge Gonzales really was not the key player in.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about one thing. I understand that Mr. Gonzales said today that he's going to abide by international treaties on prisoner rights but back in 2002 he authored a memo which described parts of the Geneva Convention as quaint and obsolete. Does that mean his position has changed?
SESSIONS: There are quaint portions of the Geneva Conventions, they were written after World War II when a lot of prisoners we had in the United States, the Germans for example were not expected in close hold and were not expected to run off and blow up citizens of the United States because they responded properly to being a prisoner of war.
So, I don't think, Judy, that there's a inconsistency there. We are bound -- we bind ourselves to the treaty. But most of the people who are involved in attacking us as terrorists are not covered by the Geneva Conventions. They are unlawful combatants and the provisions of the treaty do not apply. That's where we have gotten into this confusion. Some of the people don't qualify for all of the protections, but the president has said they must have -- be treated humanely in any circumstance.
WOODRUFF: Well, at the same time you have the president of the Alliance for Justice, Nan Aron, she is saying and I'm quoting her, "because of the memos Mr. Gonzales wrote, she says he paved the way for the Bush administration to sidestep the rule of law that as attorney general he will be mandated to enforce.
SESSIONS: That is not correct. Judge Gonzales asked the department of justice office of legal council, Judge Gonzales is simply the lawyer for the president who is constitutionally or statutorily authorized and required to write opinions. They wrote the opinion. Not Judge Gonzales. And the president really, through his policies, made a decision not to utilize all the powers that OLC said he had. I don't think -- and Nan Aron is part of an attack group, I hate to say this, that is not objective on these issues. She has attacked judicial nominees, she attacked John Ashcroft, it's just one more time now with this fine nominee Judge Gonzales.
WOODRUFF: One of your colleagues on the judicial committee, Senator Edward Kennedy, he said today that what Mr. Gonzales has advocated, these policies, he said, have been used by the administration, the military and CIA to justify torture and violations of the Geneva Convention by military and civilian personnel.
SESSIONS: I reject that. That's not correct. Senator Kennedy also said that we opened up prisons in Iraq at Abu Ghraib and they were just Saddam Hussein's prisons opened under new names and that was irresponsible. I don't think his announcement on this is the final word. We do not support torture. The president has prohibited any torture. That is the policy of the United States.
WOODRUFF: Let me ask you, Senator Sessions looking ahead what do you think the prospects are for President Bush's future judicial nominees? We learned today the National Association of Manufacturers putting up something like -- several million dollars to help the White House win approval for these appointees. What is your sense in how that will go?
SESSIONS: I'm hopeful that the intensity level of the debate will drop down and that we will be able to talk more easily across the aisle. The majority leader, Frist, has made clear that the Republicans in majority cannot accept systematic filibustering of judges, but maybe what should have happen is the Democrats should pull back some, they should look at the nominees more fairly, and if they really felt strongly about a nominee, you know, we can live with that, sort of work out a compromise, but I don't know where we are heading. I think the last election was clear affirmation of the president's policies with regard to judges. I'm convinced overwhelmingly Americans want judges who follow the law, not set policy.
WOODRUFF: All right. Senator Jeff Sessions, a member of the judiciary committee, we thank you so much.
SESSIONS: Thank you.
WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.
Well, it is usually a formality, but today it brought congressional business to a halt. Up next, I'll talk with two members of Congress about Ohio -- from Ohio, that is, about today's objection to their state's electoral vote.
WOODRUFF: Concerns on the part of Democrats about election day voting problems resurfaced today when Ohio's 20 electoral votes were challenged in Congress. With me now from Capitol Hill on this two members of the Ohio delegation, Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and Republican Congressman Rob Portman. Congresswoman Kaptur, are you planning to vote against the Ohio electors?
REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: I think both Rob and myself voted for the Ohio election to be certified, but the debate today concerned doing what was right for the American people and making sure that two years from now none of the election infractions that occurred in Ohio will occur again. We want to make sure every vote cast is counted.
WOODRUFF: If there were infractions, why did you vote for it then? KAPTUR: I voted to certify the election because I don't think that at the present time you can really -- there was a recount in Ohio, the real problems in Ohio had to do with votes that were unable to be cast. So the votes that were cast were counted. It's the whole process that led up to the election, the behavior of the Ohio secretary of state that diminished the vote in Ohio. We want HAVA, the Help America Vote Act to be amended, we want it to be implemented as passed by Congress. It has not been.
WOODRUFF: Congressman Portman, what do you say to those members, and those outside of Congress who are questioning the legitimacy of the Ohio vote?
REP. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: Well, I would say that the allegations are false. It was a sad day for the Congress. It's very unfortunate we started off the new Congress with this kind of a partisan attack on the electors. Everybody who is an objective analyst, including all the newspapers in Ohio, said the 118,000 margin the president had should stand and these electors should be certified. It's too bad we started off this way. It's unusual. It hasn't happened in a few decades. Most of us did not expect the vote to occur. We couldn't believe that electors in Ohio would actually be challenged. There are other states where the votes were much closer where John Kerry won, states like Wisconsin, or Minnesota or New Hampshire, and we hoped that no Republicans would challenge those. Despite the fact that John Kerry has conceded defeat, despite the fact again that every objective observer says the election in Ohio was decided and that President Bush won, remember we had a vote and a recount, still Democrats chose to take this route. It's too bad. We have a lot of work to do and we're going to need to do it on a bipartisan basis.
WOODRUFF: So, Congresswoman, is this a sad day for Congress?
KAPTUR: I think it's a very good day for Congress because we give voice to every voter to do what's right for every voter. Congressman Portman and I agree that HAVA needs to be fixed. It needs to be amended. We have to make sure that elections in the future will not experience what we experienced in Ohio this year. We both voted to certify the results in Ohio but not all of the processes that led to Ohio's vote were actually A plus. Many of them were C minus. Those need to be fixed between now and 2006. I think we agree on that. Today was a good day for the voters of this country.
WOODRUFF: And Congressman Portman, do you agree there were, as she put it, C minus performances on the part of counting the votes in Ohio? You know others like Jesse Jackson have talked about anomalies in Ohio that were worse than what they said in parts of Florida in 2000.
PORTMAN: I don't agree. I think we had a good election. No election is perfect. Marcy is right in the sense that our new Help America Voter Act should be refined. Every day we should work on that to make sure everybody's vote is counted. We had a good election in Ohio. I've looked into some of these so-called irregularities or anomalies as you said and almost every one I looked into where it was in my district, I had knowledge about it, was false. One of the concerns I have is not just looking at the individual allegations, finding them to be false, but the fact that somebody took this objection to the floor today, which is highly unusual, and it gives voice and encouragement to those who do believe in the conspiracy theories to think somehow that this election of the president of the United States was inappropriate and improper in Ohio. It was not. Senator Kerry has acknowledged as much as every objective analyst in Ohio. I think it's too bad that we have some here in Congress who want to give credibility to these claims that are not true.
WOODRUFF: Congresswoman Kaptur, is that what is going on?
KAPTUR: If you look at what is going on in Ohio with provisional ballots, we had one party controlling the state of Ohio. One party controlled everything. All the state-wide offices, the state legislature, the secretary of state is a Republican, he was co-chair of the Bush campaign in Ohio. Even on election day, provisional ballots were in the federal courts. It wasn't until 3:00 in the afternoon that the decision was made by one of the courts on how those votes would be cast. Many voters were turned away in Ohio. This was not a perfect election.
WOODRUFF: But Congressman Portman is saying that this action today encouraging the conspiracy theories.
KAPTUR: It is not a conspiracy theory. It is saying we need to perfect this voting process in this country and Ohio is a bird's eye view of what can go wrong. We need to fix that before 2006. It's not a conspiracy theory, it's a way of refining the election process so that we do what's right for every single American.
PORTMAN: Judy, the objection raised today was to the electors from Ohio. It was an attempt to delegitimize the election. It was not about perfecting the HAVA act but saying the election was illegitimate. Ohio has a pretty good election process. Every county is bipartisan. There are two Democrats and two Republicans on the board of elections. Every one of those Democrats certified their county results as being legitimate. I would hope we would respect that and could move on and get to the work we have got to do in Congress and not talk about delegitimizing the election of the president and that's my concern about today's vote.
WOODRUFF: Well, we will leave it there. Sounds like two different views of what happened in Ohio. Thank you both for talking to us. We appreciate it.
Thanks to you both. CNN will follow the results of that electoral count and will report on that into the evening.
The White House gets a new occupant, she won't need a West Wing office. Just food, water, a cozy bed and a lot of love and attention. Coming up, Miss Beazley moves in.
WOODRUFF: A new member of the first family is now home at the White House. Miss Beazley, a 10-week old Scottish Terrier arrived this afternoon. The pup was a birthday gift from the president to his wife Laura in November. Miss Beazley will be a playmate for first dog Barney, another Scottie. The two dogs are related. Barney's half brother is Miss Beazley's father. Barney is already quite the celebrity, well-known for his "Barney Cam" videos on the White House website. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of those two.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Thanks for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.
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