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Deep Throat's Motives Questioned; Interview with Ken Mehlman; Rehash of Election 2000; The Clinton Presidency; Fighting Alarming Trends in Foreign Affairs

Aired June 1, 2005 - 15:30   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST "INSIDE POLITICS": Thank you for joining us.

One day after former FBI official Mark Felt confirmed to the world that he was the Watergate source known as Deep Throat, the question surrounding Mark Felt and his motives are far from over. Supporters praise Felt's actions as noble, even heroic, but detractors say he seriously compromised his high-ranking position in the FBI. Today, at White House, President Bush was asked his opinion about Mark Felt's action.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. U.S.: It's hard for me to judge. Learning more about the situation, all I can tell you is that it's -- it was a revelation that caught me by surprise, and I thought it was very interesting, and I'm looking forward to reading about it.


WOODRUFF: President Bush's commenting, the discussion of Mark Felt and his role in Watergate is just beginning. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider has more on the debate.


NICK JONES, MARK FELT'S GRANDSON: But as he recently told my mother, I guess people used to think Deep Throat was a criminal, but now they think he's a hero.

BILL SCHNEIDER:, SR POLITICAL ANALYST: Apparently one person who changed his mind about Deep Throat was Deep Throat.

TIM NOAH, SLATE.COM: I asked him, I said, well, would it be such a terrible thing to be Deep Throat? And he said yes, it would be. It's a terrible thing to do to the FBI, to leak details of a criminal investigation.

SCHNEIDER: If you want to impugn Mark Felt's character, it's not hard to do.

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": Well, he lied about his role, begin Deep Throat. He later was indicted for other Watergate- related activities.

SCHNEIDER: Felt's motives may not have been so pure.

DAVID GERGEN, FMR. PRES. ADVISER: This was a fellow who was also trying to get even with Richard Nixon for not appointing him as director of the FBI, that there was a revenge factor here.

SCHNEIDER: Felt's critics say, if he saw wrongdoing in the White House, he had other options.

CHUCK COLSON, FMR. NIXON W.H. COUNSEL: He could have walked into Pat Gray's office, the director of the FBI, and said, here are things that are going in the White House that need to be exposed. The president needs to know about this.

SCHNEIDER: Oh, come on, says this author who has written a history of the FBI.

RONALD KESSLER, AUTHOR "THE BUREAU": The fact is that Nixon was trying to cover up this whole investigation. He was trying to suppress it. That is certainly why Mark Felt cooperated with Woodward.

SCHNEIDER: It's easy to say, well, both sides committed wrongs, no heroes, no villains.

NOAH: You kind of have a law-breaker, breaking the whistle -- I'm sorry, blowing the whistle on a law-breaker, so no one's really a hero here.

SCHNEIDER: CNN got lots of messages from viewers who took a larger perspective. This one wrote, "In all the talk about motives and honor, no one has ever said that anything he said wasn't true."

This viewer urged a sense of proportion: "Saying he was somehow dishonorable is like a bank robber attempting to get his case thrown out by claiming the arresting officer had to jaywalk to cuff him."

At least one figure from the Nixon White House believes most Americans will see the larger picture.

LEONARD GARMENT, FMR NIXON W.H. ATTORNEY: Every secret deserves a decent burial, and I think that this particular secret will probably receive a state funeral.


SCHNEIDER: Could it be that two wrongs do make a right? Well, you might say that when people feel the wrongdoing by one side endangers the republic.

WOODRUFF: You know, it's interesting, Bill. At a time when the country is so divided politically, you have two very different takes on what Mark Felt did and what his motives were.

SCHNEIDER: That's right, and a lot of people would, of course, questioned the motives of many of his critics, some of whom were involved in the Watergate scandal, some of whom were convicted of wrongdoing and crimes in the Watergate scandal, and they feel, well, you know, their motives aren't so pure either.

WOODRUFF: OK, Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

Well, Mark Felt spent three decades at the FBI and he was intensely loyal to the bureau that he served for so long. Bruce Morton has more on the FBI as it existed in the early 1970s and the ways in which its authority was sometimes abused by those holding political power.


BRUCE MORTON, CORRESPONDENT: Did Mark Felt turn into Deep Throat because he thought Richard Nixon was threatening the FBI? Maybe. The FBI had done dirty tricks for other presidents, of course.

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: There had been, of course, that happened (ph), and then spying on Martin Luther King, and (INAUDIBLE) Kennedy presidency, then Robert Kennedy was the attorney general. There had been (INAUDIBLE) under Lyndon Johnson, as (INAUDIBLE).

MORTON: But that was dirty tricks under the agency's founder and prime defender, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover also fed presidents little goodies, bits of sexual dirt about legislators, possible rivals.

DALLEK: It is a matter of power and manipulation, and Hoover knew how to press those letters (ph), he knew how to threaten people and all sorts of people in power, (INAUDIBLE).

MORTON: But, in the Nixon administration, that changed. Hoover died, replaced by political appointee Patrick Gray. Dallek, who is writing a book about Nixon and Henry Kissinger, thinks the agency may have felt it was being so politicized, it was losing its identity.

DALLEK: The (INAUDIBLE) began to fear that the Nixon administration was pressing so hard for them to do so many untoward things that crossed the line, that broke the law, that they were frightened that it was going to destroy the credibility and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and how wise of them to resist.


MORTON: Felt himself did some dirty tricks for the Nixon administration, though not in connection with the Watergate affair. He was convicted of arranging illegal break-ins and pardoned by President Ronald Reagan. But, when it came to Watergate, those in the FBI, like the CIA, said no, and the walls of the Nixon White House, Judy, came tumbling down.

WOODRUFF: And Bruce, we want to apologize to our viewers, because that audio there from Robert Dallek, the historian, was distorted and we're going to figure out what happened. But, for our viewers, what's the gist what Bob Dallek is saying? MORTON: Well, the gist is that, of course the FBI had always been political in a sense. In the Kennedy administration, they wiretapped Martin Luther King. Robert Kennedy was the attorney general back then. They did all sorts of dirty tricks for Lyndon Johnson who had a taste for that kind of thing.

But it was always Mr. Hoover's -- J. Edgar Hoover's -- agency. He was in charge. If he wanted to do it, he did, and he kept it afloat also by dishing out all sorts of gossip, sexual innuendo, what have you, about various legislators, various (INAUDIBLE). Presidents enjoyed that. A lot of people in Washington were scared of him, and the big change came when he died. Then, of course, a political appointee was named head of the agency and career agents like Felt began thinking maybe this is going too far.

WOODRUFF: The FBI, very different from the FBI of today in so many ways. And Bruce, it's really impossible to look at what Mark Felt did unless you look at context, the agency and how it existed at that time.

MORTON: The agency was such -- was so autonomous. I mean, Hoover did favors for presidents, but that's what it was, I'm doing you a favor, Mr. President. You know, he -- there's an old Chicago word called hammer, and old Chicago word called clout, and this man had plenty of it.

WOODRUFF: OK, Bruce Morton, thank you very much.

And again, our apologies to Robert Dallek, but we -- thanks to Bruce, we understand the point he was trying to make.

One member of Congress says the lack of legal protection would prevent a Deep Throat from exposing corruption today. Indiana Republican Mike Pence says that is why it is necessary to enact his federal media shield law. Pence noted that under current law, federal prosecutors are going after reporters to try to get them to reveal their sources. His legislation would protect journalists from having to disclose such information.

He was the man who steered George Bush's re-election campaign. Now, he's steering the president's party. Next up, my one-on-one conversation with Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman.

And later, a new look behind the scenes at Clinton White House. I'll speak with John Harris about his new book.


WOODRUFF: Just five months into his second term, President Bush has already faced a rocky road on Capitol Hill.

I sat down yesterday with Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman to talk about the president's agenda and some of the problems Mr. Bush is facing. I started by asking Mehlman about the fact that some people are beginning to say the president already is a lame duck. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEN MEHLMAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: I would respectfully disagree. I think we've heard some of the same things, some of the same kind of whistling past the graveyard in 2001 and 2003, before the president passed his tax relief, before he provided prescription drug coverage and Medicaid -- Medicare, excuse me -- before he accomplished a number of other things.

The fact is that the president is taking on very significant challenges. It would have been easy to come in as a second term president and say, you know what, we're just going to try to coast. He said we got to deal with problems. We can't wait until those problems confront us.

And so when a president wants to save Social Security and modernize the system, that requires a lot of hard work. When a president's committed to making sure that good men and women like Priscilla Owen get confirmed and therefore, after four years of their being delayed, he puts them forward again, now Judge Owen is going to be confirmed.

All of these things are hard work because they're big issues and they're big challenges and that's why the American people re-elected this president.

WOODRUFF: But in the latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll, 40 percent of Americans say they think the president agrees with them on the issues that are important. 57 percent say they don't think he agrees with them. What does that say about his leadership or how he reads the American...

MEHLMAN: I think you need to look at the issues. I think the American people and the president both agree about the problem of high gas prices. That's why four years ago this president said we need to have a comprehensive energy plan. The American people and the president agree, we need to protect jobs in this country. That's why the progress we made in reducing frivolous lawsuits, in reforming our bankruptcy laws to encourage personal responsibility, are so important.

The American people overwhelmingly now tell the pollsters that they agree with this president. We've got to deal with the problem of saving and modernizing Social Security. He hasn't said, I'm going to put my finger into the wind or see what the polls say. He has said, here's what I believe, here are my principles and explained them to the American people. And as a result, our nation is safer and stronger and our economy is more prosperous.

WOODRUFF: You mention the economy. Again, in the latest poll that we did, 40 percent, just 40 percent, say they -- the president is doing what they think he should do on the economy. There's another poll all together, done by NBC and "The Wall Street Journal." More than 60 percent say the president hasn't paid attention to high gasoline prices, to job problems and healthcare. MEHLMAN: Well, those are three of his top priorities. The fact is that when you mention gasoline prices, again, for four years -- I remember in 2001, I was working at the White House and the president said we need to have a comprehensive energy strategy or we're going to have too high gas prices. For four years, Democrats in Congress blocked that legislation. Hopefully they'll now come to the table. I think we saw progress this past week.

You mention jobs. The fact is, our economy has been growing jobs because of this president's tax cuts. Do we need to do more? Yes. And that's why this president agenda is not a status quo agenda, but a reform agenda.

WOODRUFF: All right, let's talk about Social Security.


WOODRUFF: Chuck Grassley, Senate Finance Committee, very influential member of the Senate, a Republican, is now saying private accounts do not have to be part of an overall reform plan. You've got influential Republicans in the House saying something similar. The message we're hearing from Republicans and the Congress is that the president's insistence on private accounts may not happen.

MEHLMAN: Well, I think it's very important that we do have private accounts, and it's important from a lot of perspectives. First of all, the American people have seen over the years, one of the reasons Social Security isn't secure is because Congress is again and again taking your Social Security money and mine and spend it on other things. If you have a personal retirement account, your name's on it, you own it and the Congress can't touch it.

Secondly, it's very important because it will also earn a higher rate of return. So every American will have, if they choose, a more secure retirement when they retire.

WOODRUFF: Bill Frist. Let's move to the Senate leader.

MEHLMAN: Excellent leader.

WOODRUFF: Tough week in the Congress last week. An expert on the Congress, Tom Mann with the Brookings Institution, is saying, essentially, the White House hung Bill Frist out to dry because the president insisted on his judicial nominees without consultation, without accommodation, with the Congress. He goes onto say the Bush White House insistence on information control has poisoned the relationship with Congress.

MEHLMAN: I would respectfully disagree. I think Bill Frist is a great leader and he's doing a great job. For a long time, we saw Democrats obstructing and filibustering judges based on their judicial philosophy. Now that Judge Owen has been confirmed, we now have the Owen standard, which says that won't happen going forward.

Why'd that happen? It happened because Bill Frist helped lead that issue, helped bring that issue forward and helped make sure that we continued to focus on the goal of every judge getting an up-or-down vote. So when I look at this past week -- maybe I'm not into the Washington parlor game scene so much -- I see significant progress for our country and that's how I think all of our senators are going to be judged.

WOODRUFF: Tom DeLay, ethics allegations. "The National Journal" did a congressional insider's poll last week that showed a majority of Republicans would not want Tom DeLay to campaign for them in re- election. Is the party hurt by these allegations?

MEHLMAN: I don't know who these insiders are. Maybe they're the same insiders with those anonymous quotes. But the fact is Tom DeLay does a great job leading for our country. If Tom DeLay had his way, gas prices would be lower, because he was the proponent of an energy bill four years ago, too. If Tom DeLay had his way, Social Security would be saved.

The fact is that Tom DeLay is working to solve problems for the American people. And that's how people are going to be judged and that's how members of Congress are going to be judged. It was interesting. Earlier this past year, I saw Tom Delay's leadership pac, ARMPAC, giving out a considerable amount of money to members of Congress. I don't know of any checks that were returned.

So I think that the fact is, he's an effective leader, he's an important leader and he's doing the people's business. And that's why he was elected in the first place.

WOODRUFF: Last question. Yesterday Lynne Cheney, with -- in an interview with the vice president with Larry King said maybe Laura Bush should be a candidate for president in '08. What do you think?

MEHLMAN: I think that we may have another Bush/Cheney ticket. Laura Bush, Lynne Cheney. And, you know, I think that would be a pretty powerful ticket.


WOODRUFF: Ken Mehlman said it first. By the way, I interviewed Ken Mehlman before yesterday's news broke that Mark Felt is Deep Throat. Mehlman's office put out a statement afterwards, saying, quote, "Like most Americans, I've always wondered about the identity of Deep Throat and I hope yesterday's news brings closure to this 30 year mystery." Ken Mehlman.

WOODRUFF: A night in November of 2000 turned into a wild ride for a pair of candidates and left all of us you in the news media trying to determine which one would wind up as president. The story of the endless election when INSIDE POLITICS returns.


WOODRUFF: As CNN celebrates its 25th anniversary today, a look now at one of the most incredible political stories of the last 25 years, the 2000 presidential election, Vice President Al Gore against Texas Governor George W. Bush. It turned out to be closer than anyone could have imagined.


WOODRUFF: It had been, throughout 2000, a crazy election. I mean, very intensely fought by the Bush campaign, by the Gore campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Election day, the day to choose a new president.

WOODRUFF: We went into that -- to that night, I would say open- minded with a little bit of a tilt in the Bush direction, but with nobody -- nobody sure what was going to happen. We were not prepared for what came.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, from the election desk, here are Judy Woodruff, Bernard Shaw.

WOODRUFF: We went on the air at 6:00 on the night of November 7th, 2000, thinking well, maybe 11, 12:00. Some people were saying, you know, maybe 1:00, even 2:00 in the morning.

George W. Bush and Al Gore are indeed locked in a presidential race that may be too close to call for hours.

It started out normally, but I would say about 9:00, we knew something was going wrong. We had called Florida for Al Gore just before 8:00 when there were still polls open in the state of Florida.

A big call to make, CNN announces that we call Florida in the Al Gore column.

We were getting more and more information from our political director Tom Hanna who was talking in Bernie's and my ears throughout the night, that there was information coming in from Florida that wasn't quite right. They were having to take another look at it, and finally at 9:54 p.m., we had to pull back the Florida call for Gore.

BERNARD SHAW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Stand by, stand by. CNN, right now, is moving our earlier declaration of Florida back to the too close to call column.

But I've covered elections since 1976 for a national news network, and you know, there's always suspense. It's always exciting. Your blood is running. The adrenaline's flowing, but I'd never been there on a night when there was genuine suspense all night long.

We won't know -- at this morning juncture -- it's now 4:35 -- at 5:30 a.m.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now closing on our 13th hour.

WOODRUFF: I had never seen anything like it. I mean, it -- you usually -- you cover an election and it wraps up, it ends, on election night, and you've built up all this juice, this energy, looking to the end, and there's usually a big let down after the election, because you now know who the winner is and who the loser is.

And Bill Clinton has it, 275 to 96.

We all had to dig deep into our inner souls, if you will, and pull out whatever last ounce of energy that we had to keep it going, because the story couldn't have been more important.

It was five weeks ago tonight, literally, at this hour when CNN and every other network decided to move Al Gore from the winner in Florida into too-close-to-call. Little did we know, then, that five weeks later we'd still be wondering.

Honestly, a lot of us were tired. I mean, we had been covering this election without a break for months and months and months, and here we were in November and heading towards Christmas and the end of the year.


WOODRUFF: Finally, the court made the call, and it was really that the point up to Al Gore to acknowledge the reality.

Al Gore, Jr., prepares to leave public office.

I think we all, at that point, breathed a collective sigh of, oh, it's finally over. But we all realized we had been living through something that was a part of history. It was like nothing any of us had ever seen before.

AL GORE, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, 2000: I offer my concession.

WOODRUFF: Our long national election nightmare finally is over.

I learned to be humble, that -- to know that journalists can make a mistake. I think we all learned that it's -- yes, it's great to be first, but the most important thing is to get it right.


WOODRUFF: All of us learned some big lessons from the election of 2000. Nothing like it, probably never will be anything like it again.

Well, you can look back on more major events from the last quarter century tonight. "DEFINING MOMENTS: 25 STORIES THAT TOUCHED OUR LIVES." It will air during prime time right here on CNN. We'll have behind-the-scenes details about CNN's coverage of these stories, and you'll hear from the newsmakers themselves.

But, you don't have to wait until tonight for more CNN 25 coverage. "CROSSFIRE" hosts, present and past, jump in the political fray to celebrate the CNN anniversary. That is coming your way in just a little over half an hour.

But before that, a new look at the Clintons from the author of a new book which looks behind the scenes at the Clinton White House.


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: It's just after 4 o'clock on the East Coast, and as the markets close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim in New York with "The Dobbs Report."

Hi, Kitty.


Well, right now the Dow Industrials up about 80 points, a little bit more, and the NASDAQ nearly 1 percent higher.

Shares of Internet search engine Google soared to nearly $300 a share. You're not in the time warp of the frenzy. CSFB raised the price target. It said Google stock could go as high as $350 a share.

American automakers in chronic problems. Ford reported its 12th straight month of sales declines. G.M. sales were down 5 percent. Here's a sign of how bad it is -- G.M. says it will offer buyers the same discount that it gives its employees.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman William Donaldson is stepping down by the end of this month. He wants to return to the private sector and his family. Back in 2003, President Bush picked Donaldson to restore confidence -- that was after a wave of corporate scandals.

We'll have a lot more on his legacy, 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT."

And also tonight, in the late 1990s, Operation Vanguard cracked down on illegal immigrants working in the meat-packing industry. But that operation was quickly shut down, and tonight we'll take a look at why.


MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STANDARDS: Everybody went nuts. The meat-packers, the ranchers, the politicians in Nebraska, including the representatives in Washington, did everything in their power to make sure this never happened again and they succeeded.


PILGRIM: Also coming up on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," broken borders, a major human smuggling bust in Arizona. The FBI says it has broken up a ring specializing in bringing Iranians into the country illegally over the Mexican border.

Plus, Congressman Ed Markey joins us to explain what he calls a conspiracy of silence. He's taking on drug companies and the FDA for failing to conduct vital follow-up studies on key medications after they hit the market. And a New York City councilman explains why he's fighting to force the city's store owners to include English on their signs.

All that and more tonight, 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

But for now, back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy?

WOODRUFF: Thanks, Kitty. And we'll be watching.

And now back to INSIDE POLITICS.

The sometimes turbulent eight years of the Bill Clinton presidency have offered historians plenty of material for research and reflection.

Now, a new account of the Clinton White House offers a detailed look at what was happening behind the headlines of that era. The book is called, "The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House."

"Washington Post" reporter John Harris is the author, and he joins me now.

And here's the book.


WOODRUFF: John Harris, everybody -- we all think we know everything there is to know about Bill Clinton. He's been in the headlines, he's been in the news for -- what -- how many years now in this country?

But you have managed to go back and dig. You covered the White House for "The Post" and you did all the research on the book.

What are you most proud of? What do you feel good about having unearthed in this book?

HARRIS: Look, I think people are going to be debating the Clinton presidency for, literally, decades. We spent all the '90s having a big argument about Bill Clinton.

And no book historically is going to answer the question of what's his legacy or was he a great president or not.

But I do think what I could do is give a sense of the texture, the mood, the feeling inside the White House as these decisions were made.

It's an interview-driven book -- hundreds of interviews. And it is conveying a sense of life behind the scenes through the different chapters, ups and downs of the Clinton presidency -- what I was trying to do.

So I think if people read the book, they'll say, "Oh, that's what it was like," in a way that somebody won't be able to do 10 years from now. I mean, people's memories just aren't that good.

WOODRUFF: One of the most interesting things that I think comes across is you talk about -- I think you use the term "passivity," even. You know, we think of Bill Clinton as somebody always in motion, always on the move, but you describe in a really interesting way how there were crucial moments when he really didn't do anything.

Talk about what you discovered.


I mean, people I think are always a little puzzled when they read that word or that description. And what I mean by that is not Bill Clinton at the personal level. As you point out, he's sometimes as hyperactive as a kindergartener. He's got terrific energy.

What I mean is his approach to decision making is often -- was somewhat passive. He sees problems in so much complexity and so much detail, so many shades of gray, that it often was difficult for him to act.

You know, we can see this sometimes in foreign policy -- the horrible problem when he came into office in Bosnia. He spent two years, '93, '94, basically paralyzed over what to do. Ultimately, I think he did a brave thing and helped lead Bosnia to peace in '95, but there was two years of passivity first.

Quite a different matter -- the Paula Jones case -- and it really haunts his legacy. If he had just settled that case, probably we would have never heard the name Monica Lewinsky. He didn't. It was always an ethic of live by the day. And he didn't take the bold action that would have been necessary to solve the problem before it became one.

WOODRUFF: Can the same be said of his approach to the early stirrings of terrorism around the world?

HARRIS: I think it can.

And here's a tragedy -- Bill Clinton definitely understood the rising threat of terrorism, understood it better than almost anybody else. He had access to the intelligence and he knew it. But he wasn't able to give his government the same sense of urgency.

He had a -- basically a dysfunctional relationship with Louis Freeh at the FBI. That's critical in the fight against terrorism. He would have loved to fire Louis Freeh; he didn't do it because he was worried about the political implications.

The CIA felt it never got clear direction. Look, do you want us to mount a full-scale covert operation against bin Laden or not? The fact is Clinton was ambivalent about it.

WOODRUFF: You, I think, draw the conclusion among other things that there were so many disturbances, if you will, if not scandals or accused scandals going on during the Clinton presidency, that Clinton's ability to focus on leaving a legacy of any sort, an overriding legacy, is really going to be muddied for many people. It already is.

HARRIS: Well, it's definitely muddied.

And we always have to balance the personal and the policy record, and he made some big mistakes in both realms.

I do think at the end he survived because -- all these crises, because he was seen as an effective president by a majority of Americans.

WOODRUFF: A personal connection.

HARRIS: Well, a few things.

I think people felt that they did. The majority of people, by the end, did feel a personal connection with Bill Clinton.

What I want to talk about is the policy record. You know, he took a big risk in 1993 passing that budget. Some people say, "Well, that wasn't responsible for the economic success later in the decade."

But how many people would really feel so confident of that they would want to go back and try it the other way? I think he did have a responsible policy record; sometimes it was a timid record.

WOODRUFF: Quick question at the end -- Hillary Clinton. She still is very much a force in American politics. Many people expect her to run for president. How are they different?

HARRIS: Temperamentally, they are at opposite poles.

Hillary Clinton is somebody who definitely sees politics as combat and she has had to learn to temper that. And these days she makes quite an effort to be seen as doing bipartisan things, but not in the early days. She was the partisan warrior.

Bill Clinton, I think all things being equal, would like to get along with people and doesn't see politics as combat.

WOODRUFF: The book is, "The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House." The author is John Harris.

Some great stories in this book. It's a great read.

HARRIS: Thank you so much, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you very much. And we appreciate you coming on.

Thank you, John Harris.

HARRIS: Thanks a lot.

WOODRUFF: A quick reminder, Bill Clinton will be the guest tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE" starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

A new book -- another new book -- looks back at America's opportunities in shaping a better world. We're going to hear from author Richard Haass straight ahead.

Also coming up, keeping a political dynasty alive. There's more talk of Jeb Bush for president. We'll hear what the Florida governor has to say.

And is he a hero or a villain? The blogs are still buzzing over the unmasking of Deep Throat.


WOODRUFF: It's a "CROSSFIRE" today you don't want to miss, so we want to look at European politics for a moment. Voters in the Netherlands today overwhelmingly rejected the European Union constitution. The latest return show that the treaty is losing by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent. French voters turned down the constitution on Sunday. This constitution must be approved by all 25 European Union countries in order to go into effect.

Back here in the United States, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, is out with a new book. It's titled "The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course." It deals with the United States' relations with other countries and the opportunities to U.S. has to help shape a better world. Richard Haass is with me from New York, and we also want to say that he was a top figure in the State Department in the first term of the Bush administration.

Richard Haass, good to see you.


WOODRUFF: You say, "The Opportunity: A Moment to Alter History's Course." The opportunity to do what?

HAASS: The opportunity for the United States, working with the other major powers of this era -- China, Russia, Europe, Japan, India -- to essentially work together to beat back the forces of globalization that have the potential to harm us, I mean, the spread of nuclear weapons, terrorism, diseases such as HIV-AIDS, global climate change, and these are forces that could potentially overwhelm us unless we essentially figure out ways of working together.

WOODRUFF: And, how good a job is the U.S. doing right now of confronting those challenges?

HAASS: Not terribly well, which is why I wrote the book, to be honest. I'm concerned that we're squandering this remarkable opportunity with the great powers, rather than essentially going to war against each other, could combine their forces.

And, I'm worried that the United States has alienated a good part of the world and also, in the process, we're weakening the economic foundations of the United States and of American foreign policy. So, over the last 10 of 15 years, quite honestly, we don't have a lot to show for this really unprecedented historical moment.

WOODRUFF: You -- the book is about much more than Iraq, obviously, but you were working in the Bush State Department when the decision was made to go to war in Iraq. You now say that the war was unwarranted. Is that a painful conclusion for you to have drawn?

HAASS: It was painful at the time. It's painful now. I never like to disagree with my government, particularly about something where so many people have sacrificed.

That said, also, obviously, like everyone else, I'm glad to see Saddam Hussein gone. But as is the case in any business, Judy, you've got to look at the cost and not just the benefits of the revenues here and the costs of what we have done in Iraq have been enormous -- the human cost to our soldiers, the overall cost to the U.S. military, the cost to our economy, the cost to our reputation around the world, and I simply don't think it's worth it and, again, it's one of the things I believe is working against this opportunity where we ought to be finding ways to better integrate the world, to build a world that can compete with, again, what are the real challenges of this moment.

WOODRUFF: Do you think that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell agrees with you?

HAASS: I'm not going to speak for my former colleagues. One of the principles I have is that what happened in government -- how would I put it -- like Las Vegas, ought to stay there, and if Colin Powell wants to come on your show or some other show and speak openly about his views at the time, he should have that prerogative.

I'll just speak for myself. I thought it was a close call but on balance I was against it, and I think, alas, in this case, so far at least, events have born me out.

WOODRUFF: If Iraq was not the right thing to do, how should the U.S. be dealing with a terrorist threat? And, do you think it would be as grave as it is now if it weren't for the war in Iraq?

HAASS: I think the Iraq -- Iraq has to some extent distracted us, though probably not in the case of terrorism. There, I actually think the administration deserves pretty good marks. The world today is better integrated against terrorists, or, to put it another way, if you are a terrorist, your working environment has deteriorated. There's an awful lot of intelligence and law enforcement cooperation against you. Homeland Security has come some ways. We're also dealing with potential terrorists by trying to promote Democratic reform in those societies. So, there, we've made progress.

It's the other areas where I feel we haven't made progress, in particular, the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran. Those, to me, are the most pressing problems in the world and I worry what these countries could do or even what they could do in terms of helping terrorists, and there I would fault the administration for allowing the situations to drift and to grow worse. WOODRUFF: Last question, back to Iraq -- where do you see it going?

HAASS: We're at a point where there simply aren't any good options. Probably the only thing worse than staying would be to leave, so at this point I think the United States needs to stay, needs to try to help the Iraqis put together a constitution and build up their police and military forces. But there's no -- there's no silver lining here. There's no way, if you will, that I or anyone else can come on this show and say if we do the following three things I can guarantee we're going to succeed. The answer is there's no guarantees here.

WOODRUFF: Richard Haass is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He's out with a new book, "The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course." Richard Haass, thanks very much.

HAASS: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: It's good to see you. We appreciate it.

Straight ahead, guess who came to dinner? The president and first lady leave the White House for an evening with friends. That story and more in "Political Bytes."


WOODRUFF: Checking the Wednesday "Political Bytes." Former President George Bush told CNN's Larry King last night that he would like for his son Jeb to run for president one day. Jeb Bush, of course, is in his second term as Florida governor. And he has said repeatedly he is not interested in a run for the White House. Today, he had little reaction to his father's comments and he made it clear he's heard the same questions before.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Timing is probably not the best right now, but he would like to see you in the White House.

GOV. JEB BUSH, (R) FLORIDA: I love my dad.



WOODRUFF: Jeb Bush's brother, the current president, went out for dinner last night. The president and first lady Laura Bush joined former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife Alma for dinner at the Powell's home in Virginia.

And in Massachusetts, the state legislature has overridden a veto of stem cell legislation by Republican governor Mitt Romney. The law permits cloning of human embryos for use in stem cell research. Romney who was a potential White House candidate in 2008 says he supports research using adult stem cells or cells taken from fertility clinic embryos.

Well, we now know who "Deep Throat" was and the revelation is still a hot topic in cyberspace. Straight ahead, we'll go inside the blogs to find out what they are saying today.


WOODRUFF: So to boil it down, is "Deep Throat" a hero or a villain? That is one of the big questions today inside the blogs. Let's check in now with CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter. Hi, Jacki.


If they weren't talking about it yesterday, they certainly are talking about it today. There's no shortage of reaction on the blogs. But we thought we would start at the "Washington Post Online," just, because we thought it was interesting.

They made their confirmation online last night at about 5:20 p.m. And they have been continuing to follow-up with more information on their Web site during the day. And then they are doing some cool interactive stuff.

They have got a Q&A session, or series of them, actually. One with Leonard Downey Jr., the executive editor of the Washington Post. They are taking questions submissions and then having people answer them online. What they are also doing they had an author, Ronald Kessler, was his name, he wrote a book about the FBI and he was fielding some questions as well.

They also have started a new blog dedicated entirely to this issue called "Deep Throat Revealed." And they are doing such things as checking out international reaction and also looking back over the past of who thought Felt was actually "Deep Throat." Who said what over time.

ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Over to the bloggers now in the commentary. Lots of people looking into the motives of the Felt family. Parts of the "Vanity Fair" article are being posted out there. One part that we're seeing posted a lot is Mr. Felt's daughter, Joan, spoke of the money. It might make to help pay tuition bills for her children.

The motive of money being discussed out there. Led to this great headline, one of my favorites of the day, "The Rising Cost of Tuition Unmasks Deep Throat." Tuition has soared so high that it can blow the cover off even the more secret source. That from

Lots of commentary from all over the country. This one I really thought was a must read. It is This is Robert, who is posting his random thoughts and political opinion from the Midlands of the country. He's saying that in some odd way he just didn't really want to know. That this has now humanized this character of "Deep Throat" who is one of the greatest secrets of the baby boomer era. He says it's like being told that Superman is really, well you know, Clark Kent.

Goes on to say if this happened in this time "Deep Throat" may have been blogged to bits. The right wing blogs might have gone after them. So much for their own "Deep Throats" that he never would have survived.

SCHECHNER: So is he a hero or a villain? That's the big question everybody is asking. Depends on who you read.

Over at the This is Steven Clemens, long time policy practitioner, entrepreneur in D.C. Says that we owe Mark Felt some thanks as a nation. That there is some bad stuff, you have got to pay attention to that. He says, "but what he did against Nixon's imperial presidency took some kind of stomach."

Now, just one person saying not such a hero is Colin Cowen, who is a satirist out of L.A.. And his blog "Enconium Moriae" named for the great satire by Erasmus, says here is a man who ratted out a president because he got passed over for a job and then subsequently lied about it for the next 30 years. Why is he a hero?

TATTON: Looking ahead now to a different topic, the 2008 presidential election. We are seeing more and more of the political bloggers focusing their attention on 2008. A good place to start -- it's a long way away, we know, it's 1251 days away. That's what we find out from

This is a great site. It looks at all the potential candidates being discussed out there and aggregates all the stories out there about them. This is from Daniel Owen. He's a graduate student of U.S. politics, actually located in the U.K. I feel like I talk about British blogs a lot, but this one focusing on U.S. politics. A whole load of information out there.

SCHECHNER: Real quickly before we wrap up we just want to show you has now the 2008 presidential wire up and running. This is a news aggregate where it's got 22 potential candidates. It goes out and it hunts for mainstream media articles and blogs, Judy. And what it does, it gives you an idea of what is out there. And what you can call in terms of information right now looking ahead to 2008.

WOODRUFF: OK. Well, Jacki, Abbi, we're going to leave it to the U.K. to do the real coverage of our election. Thank you both. And we'll see you tomorrow.

Well, that's it for this Wednesday edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Join us tomorrow and we'll have more on the "Deep Throat" story. Former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee will be among my guests.

And tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, along with Ben Bradlee will be Larry's guests.

I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.



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