Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Crossfire

Could Anything Have Been Done to Save Daniel Pearl?; Do New Yorkers Have Right to Know Where Mayor Is?

Aired February 22, 2002 - 19:30   ET


TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Tonight, a day after we learn of Daniel Pearl's death, is there anything that could have been done to save him? Should the United States have negotiated with his captors? And missing Mike. Do New Yorkers have a right to know where their mayor is?

ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, CROSSFIRE. On the left, Bill Press. On the right, Tucker Carlson. In the crossfire, Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/Push coalition and Ken Adelman, host of and a member of the defense policy board. And later, "Village Boy" senior editor Wayne Barrett and radio talk show host Mike Gallagher.

BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: It's CROSSFIRE. Thanks for joining us. The civilized world continues to react with outrage at the barbaric murder of "Wall Street" reporter Danny Pearl. In Pakistan, the interior minister says they know the names of the persons responsible and will soon bring them to justice. In this country, his family, friends, and former colleagues lead a nation in shock and mourning.

Ironically, word of Pearl's death came one day after the Bush administration unveiled a new policy for dealing with Americans held hostage, which includes the possibility of paying ransom to kidnappers. If that policy had already been in place, would the U.S. government have negotiated with Pearl's captors and might he still be alive today -- Tucker.

CARLSON: Jesse Jackson, you were last on this show February 1, three weeks ago today. And on that show, you charged the U.S. government was not doing all it could to free Daniel Pearl. Now we know that you are wrong, that the federal government had, in fact, agents from the FBI on the ground, that was doing all it could to rescue Daniel Pearl and it's likely reports say he may have been killed even before you made that charge. What more could the U.S. government have done?

JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Well, the question raised at that time, should we negotiate. The answer is we should negotiate, even if it is two back door challenge. And in fact, our government was doing. This is a very tricky situation.

We're all profoundly sad by what happened. I mean, one extreme, Tucker is, do you shoot down a plane full of American passengers to keep them going into a White House? It's a very big decision. It's a tough decision. Do you pull up ransom for an American held hostage, which puts a bounty on the heads of others? So there's a very sensitive situation. Our government was in fact trying. We could never give up trying to get those out who are held captive.

CARLSON: But you haven't answered my question. Now his captors, of course, never demanded a ransom. They demanded things we couldn't possibly have given them, like the release of the al Qaeda prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. But again, you made those charges publicly, that the U.S. government was somehow neglecting it's duty to help rescue Pearl. That wasn't the case. What should we have done?

JACKSON: The issue in that case was should we negotiator or not. The answer is we should negotiate and not abdicate our obligation to the American who's held captive. Of course, how do you do it? The fact they were using back door channel, or third party channels, to me that was the right thing to do. It was perfectly a legitimate thing to do.

So I'm not attacking the government for trying, but the very idea that we should do nothing because of fear that to do something raises a bounty on the person's head, I think, is to leave Americans behind.

PRESS: Ken Adelman, I want to ask you about this policy of -- which has been official policy. It may change, and we'll get to that in just a second, of not negotiating with terrorists. If we had talked, maybe not negotiated, but at least talked to Danny Pearl's kidnappers, he might be alive today. We didn't. He's dead. Now why am I supposed to be happy about this policy?

KEN ADELMAN, DEFENSECENTRAL.COM: No, you're not. You're supposed to be very unhappy about having him dead. I mean, it is a...

PRESS: Of course, but I mean, I'm talking about the policy. Why a policy might have lead to his death am I supposed to say is a good policy?

ADELMAN: Because the fact is if you start negotiating with terrorists, then you are going to legitimize their claims, legitimize them, and get them in an idea that somehow they have claims on us. When Jesse Jackson says he is for negotiating and not abdicating, you are abdicating whatever you negotiate. You're abdicating their stigma and their boycott of having them just isolated from civilization. They do not belong to civilization.

JACKSON: That policy will not work. If Americans are held captive in Syria, Lieutenant Robert Vitman (ph) was Iran and Yugoslavia, we must do all that we can do in this delicate situation to use our strength, our diplomatic strength, our religious strength. We cannot give up on and leave Americans behind because their backs are against the wall. That to me is morally irresponsible.

ADELMAN: I am all for using our religious strength, but I am not for legitimizing their claims. And as you say, Jesse Jackson, having more hostages taken because their price goes up. Listen, the model that you paint is a model of sitting around a table negotiating. These people want to just blow up the table. They want to blow up everybody at the table.

JACKSON: Well, I tell you what, you are so safe with your friends, that's going downhill. But with your enemies, who have your allies held captive, you must in fact act, even at some risk. And I tell you that the risk for saving life is better than the non risk of just letting the events play themselves out.

PRESS: Let me jump in with a question.

ADELMAN: You're risking more lives.

PRESS: Let me move this forward with another question, if I can.

ADELMAN: You're telling terrorists take more lives, they're valuable.

PRESS: Well, I hear that all the time.


PRESS: But I also see what happens in the real world. We do negotiate and we do pay ransom. And maybe it's a company that does it, not the U.S. government. I read about a case in Ecuador. In October 2000, these kidnappers grabbed four employees from an oil company. The company negotiated. The company paid the ransom. The government puts tracers on the money. The guys got free. And then the government nailed the kidnappers.

Now why isn't that a smart move? In other words, get the guy free. Do whatever you can to get him free, even if it means paying ransom. And then nail the kidnappers.

ADELMAN: OK, Bill, I am saying that does happen. I'm saying it shouldn't happen. What I am saying is...

PRESS: What's wrong with it?

ADELMAN: I'll tell you what's wrong with it. You are legitimizing the enterprise. You are encouraging, not just those kidnappers, but any kidnappers to get it, because they can get some demands. And you are legitimizing their demands. These are people who have absolutely no respect for civilization. You should isolate them.

JACKSON: We negotiate with and visit China. Our rationale is there may be terrorist activity, maybe some oppression, suppression. But better that we talk, talk, talk than fight, fight, fight. We're never asking China, if you don't mind, help us talk to North Korea. So we are talking. So we must find no offense in trying to use a diplomatic approach to resolving conflict.

ADELMAN: China is a government. And yes, we have a lot of interest with China. They're not a terrorist group.

CARLSON: And Jesse Jackson, now let's be honest here for a moment about what really happened. You heard Bill Press say it. When an oil executive gets kidnapped in Latin America, a ransom is paid. So the rich go free. When a poor missionary from New Tribes Mission gets kidnapped, no ransom is paid. So the poor linger in cells. So really, the policy that you are advocating favors people who can afford to be sprung, to have their ransoms paid, doesn't it? You're favoring the rich in this?

JACKSON: We worked real hard to get Father Jenko (ph), who was in Lebanon for several years, to get Anderson out, whose an AP reporter in there for seven years. It was my lot to get Americans out of Syria and Yugoslavia. So I'm sensitive to high government -- and that thin line between not legitimizing, on the one hand, a terrorist, on the other hand. We must never be uncaring towards Americans held captive.

ADELMAN: But wait, I think we should be caring towards that. I'm just saying that the procedure that's taken helps the hostage takers, because it rewards what they're doing. Encourage other hostage takers, and helps those who run in to be the negotiator themselves.

If you want to be a show boat on this issue, then you can, you know, get all kinds of publicity for doing that. If you want to discourage terrorism around the world, and discourage hostage taking, then you keep the showboats away from this kind of enterprise and you tell them this is uncivilized behavior.

JACKSON: I don't know if you were implying about showboating, but bringing Goodman home from Syria and 600 women out of Iraq before those bombs fell, and bringing three soldiers from Yugoslavia, it was a responsible and direct and effective thing to do.

CARLSON: But Ken Adelman is saying, Mr. Jackson, as far as I understand that you're doing that, getting publicity, in so doing it, encourages other kidnappings. You are partly responsible for kidnappings that happen subsequently. Is that true?

JACKSON: Well, that is so foolish. I had nothing to do with Goodman being downed over Syria or three American soldiers held captive in Yugoslavia. When Americans are against a war, what do you do? Do you do nothing? Do you say that I have -- my principles are beyond negotiation.

You can't say that and then say leave no American behind. You're not going to leave them behind, you must do all you can to do set the Americans free. Yes, I would go in, trying to set Americans free if I could. If I could find some diplomatic channel, or some religious access, or somebody that we knew, of course, I'd put my own life at risk to save another American. I think it's the right thing to do.

CARLSON: OK, well, unfortunately, we're going to have to leave it there. Jesse Jackson in Los Angeles. Ken Adelman here in Washington. Thank you both very much for joining us.

And next, Mike, oh, Mike, where art thou? That was the refrain in New York City last week when Mayor Mike Bloomberg took a vacation, but forgot to notify the tabloids. Outrage or private life? We'll debate it.



MIKE BLOOMBERG, MAYOR, NEW YORK: I think it's a fair statement to say that if I won't discuss my personal life, I also won't discuss the coverage of the fact that I won't discuss my personal life.


CARLSON: That was New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, refusing to comment on his unauthorized vacation. Unauthorized by members of the New York media, who for three whole days last week had no idea where he was. Bloomberg says it doesn't matter where he was, Bermuda probably, where he is, he's always available electronically.

His critics say that's not enough. They want to see him in person, preferably in New York. Who's being unreasonable? And after eight years of Rudy, do the phrases "private life" and New York mayor even belong in the same sentence?

Joining us, Wayne Barrett of "The Village Voice," who says Bloomberg ought to fess up to his whereabouts. Here in Washington, Mike Gallagher of the Salem radio network, who describes the New York press corps as "a pack of rabid dogs."

Speaking of, Bill Press?

PRESS: Wait a minute. You're one of those rabid dogs, because you're part of the New York media.

MIKE GALLAGHER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No. I'm no journalist. I'm a radio talk show host. I'm a real guy.

PRESS: I'm glad you made the distinction, by the way.

GALLAGHER: Absolutely.

PRESS: Now look, here's the problem. The rest of the country is having a hard time dealing with this transition from Rudy Giuliani, who was -- could never get enough camera time, to Mike Bloomberg, who tries -- he wants to play hide and go seek. But I think the basic question is president of the United States, we know where he is on the weekend. He's at Camp David. He's down at the ranch. The mayor of Chicago, the mayor of Miami, the mayor of L.A., the mayor of Washington, D.C., we know where they are on the weekend. Why should Mike Bloomberg be any different?

GALLAGHER: Well, Bill, the mayor isn't playing hide and go seek. He's doing what you do or what I do. He's going away for the weekend. You know, the mayor of New York now, Bloomberg is a very peculiar bird, just like Rudy Giuliani was.

Rudy Giuliani was a workaholic and he didn't mind showing up at every fire, every police chase, everything. Bloomberg is a billionaire, who's got a beautiful home in Bermuda. He's got a great spread in Aspen. And the guy has a right to go away. And only in New York, as Cindy Adams would say, the gossip columnist, would this even be a controversy.

PRESS: I give him his right to go away. He can go to Bermuda. You know, what? I don't give a damn where Mike Bloomberg spends his weekend.


PRESS: But I think that the city, the people of the press, have a right to know where he is. If he didn't want them -- let me quote something that Gene Russianoff, New York Public Interest Research Group, up there said today. "As mayor, you are owned by the whole city. You are like the Brooklyn Bridge. I feel bad for him, but you know what? Then he shouldn't have run for mayor."

Isn't that the point? He can't have it both ways.

GALLAGHER: Gene is a professional whiner, whose always trying to find a flaw with these guys. The bottom line is the New York press corps, the tabloids, are a bunch of rabid arrogant dogs. And they can't stand the fact that there's a mayor who says, "I'm not going to give a rat's rear end to tell you where I'm going. I'm in touch with my administration. I'm going to go Bermuda for the weekend."

PRESS: Sounds like war.

CARLSON: And too an arrogant, rabid dog, tabloid man we go, Wayne Barrett, thanks for joining us.

WAYNE BARRETT, THE VILLAGE VOICE: Bark, bark, bark, bark.

CARLSON: You do that well. Years of practice, I can see. Bloomberg says look, you may not know where I am, but I'm available to those who need me. You know it's the 21st century. You can call me. You can page me. You can fax me. You can e-mail me. If there's a problem, I'll respond. This isn't a fair response?

BARRETT: Well Tucker, you know, he's the first single billionaire that we've had as a mayor. And you know, he's got all these homes everywhere. And I guess he doesn't want us to know or vet every date that he has. And you know, I can understand that a bit.

But I think the problem really is that we knew nothing about this guy. I mean, the citizens of this city knew nothing about this guy, much less the media, when we elected him mayor. And maybe a year or two up the road, we'll give him a little space. But right now, we're trying to learn a little bit about the guy.

And he's a brand new mayor. He really popped on to the political scene and elected himself under the most controlled circumstances. Namely, that he spent billions, millions and millions of dollars on television ads. And I think, you know, the tabloids generally and the public itself wants to get to know the guy. CARLSON: No, but you're coming on the heels -- wait, hold on. You're coming on the heels of a mayor, who talked publicly at a press conference about his own impotence. Tell me, isn't it kind of refreshing? You have a mayor that says I'm not going to talk about my impotence. I'm leaving.

BARRETT: Tucker, you don't want to remember that actually in 1999, he never put it on his agenda or his schedule that he was having a rendezvous in Southampton with his mistress. But he fooled the press, actually told us he was going golfing with his son, weekend after weekend for the entire summer of 1999. When he was having a rendezvous, which "The New York Post", by the way, said cost the taxpayers $3,000 dollars a weekend to send six cops in two SUVs out to Southampton with Rudy Giuliani every weekend.

GALLAGHER: And Wayne, and that's giving him space, right? Wayne, you guys don't give anybody space. You guys are brutal. You chip away at an American hero like Rudy Giuliani, the best mayor this city has ever seen. And believe me, when you start talking about his companion and all that, America groans, Wayne. You're so out of touch and you guys don't get it. The tabloids are barking up the wrong tree with Mike Bloomberg. Leave him alone and let him get a weekend...

BARRETT: You were you only interested in Monica? Mike, you were only interested in Monica?

GALLAGHER: No. I mean it was a fascinating story to watch.

BARRETT: Come on.

GALLAGHER: You don't give these guys a break.

PRESS: Mike, slow down. It seems you're protesting too much. Look, we don't want to know who he is with, who he's sleeping with. We don't know what he's wearing. We don't want to know what he's eating. We don't want to know whether he's hitting golf balls or not.

GALLAGHER: Wayne does.

PRESS: All we're asking is, where on the planet is the mayor in case somebody needs him? Why is that an invasion of his privacy?

GALLAGHER: Bill, do you think for one minute if the mayor is needed, they're not going to know how to get him? Do you really believe that a billionaire businessman, who is so successful...

PRESS: What is wrong with knowing where he is? That's all. Just where on the planet.

GALLAGHER: The people who matter know where he is. You don't matter, I don't matter and "The Village Voice: don't matter.

PRESS: And the press doesn't care?

GALLAGHER: The press cares because they think they've been scooped. CARLSON: Now Wayne Barrett, you pointed out a moment ago, you brought up one of the darkest chapters that Giuliani administration, when you said the city wound up paying for police protection for his girlfriend. Appalling, no defending it.

BARRETT: No, no, no, that's a different issue, Tucker. I'm saying they paid...

CARLSON: Well, now...

BARRETT: They paid $3,000 a weekend to send six or seven cops...

CARLSON: Exactly.

BARRETT: And two SUVs out with him to visit his girlfriend, not for her protection.

CARLSON: No, but that's exactly right. It is an entirely different issue because in this case, Mike Bloomberg, billionaire that he is, is paying or everything himself. There's no expenses.

BARRETT: Absolutely.

CARLSON: So what is the problem exactly?

BARRETT: There's no reason for us to vet every woman he dates. I agree with that.

PRESS: Right.

BARRETT: I think there should be complete limits on this, but I do think that he's going in the opposite direction, which is a total stonewall about everything he's doing over the weekend. I think he could give us some indications. Just for example, and I know it's a little frivolous, Tucker, but he recounted in his own book that he almost killed himself twice, flying an airplane once and flying a helicopter a different time.

CARLSON: So what do you think he's doing? What do you think he's doing on the weekends?

BARRETT: I think he's...

GALLAGHER: Sky diving, come on.

BARRETT: I think we ought to know a little bit more...

GALLAGHER: Wayne, admit that you don't like the fact that as a billionaire, he's in nobody's pocket. You guys don't have his number. You hate it.

PRESS: Here's why -- excuse me, Wayne. This guy calls himself a media mogul. Here's why he doesn't know first base about the media because he's just making his problem worse, isn't it? If he would just have his office put out, mayor's out of town this weekend in Bermuda, or mayor's out of town this weekend, you know, down at the Hamptons or something. That's all people, that's all the media want.

GALLAGHER: Bill, it's none of your business. It doesn't matter. And you know what, he doesn't call himself a media mogul. You call him a media mogul. He's a successful businessman.

PRESS: I'm sorry, he calls himself that.

GALLAGHER: Well, and that's what he is.

BARRETT: Well, he does call himself a mogul.

PRESS: Thank you.


GALLAGHER: If he's not a mogul who is, Wayne?

BARRETT: I think he is. You just said he wasn't.

GALLAGHER: But that's OK. But it's the media that has created this image of this out of touch mogul. And Bill and Wayne, you guys don't want him to get away. And you want to know where he is every minute of the day.

PRESS: You keep saying that.

GALLAGHER: You don't have the right to do that.

PRESS: He can go away. I hope he stays out of town a lot. I just think his office ought to put out a statement where he is, that's all, where he is. Big deal.

GALLAGHER: Bill, you're a smart guy. Do you really think his staff can't reach him? Come on, Bill.


GALLAGHER: Yes, I mean, you're obsessed with this.

PRESS: All right, Mike Gallagher, I want to know where he's going to be this weekend. Wayne Barrett, thank you for joining us. I happen to plan to stay in the District of Columbia this weekend in case anybody wants to know. And I'm proud to tell you.

When we return, as part of our solemn pledge to clean up your nation's capital, root out corruption, and expose wrongdoers, we'll tell you who's been behaving this week and who has been misbehaving. Our CROSSFIRE police blotter, coming up.


CARLSON: Welcome back. It's time for our Friday night police blotter. When public figures intersect with law enforcement, CROSSFIRE is there. First up this evening, Carolyn Condit, the other woman in her husband's life. Yesterday, Mrs. Condit filed a $10 million lawsuit against checkout aisle media giant, "The National Enquirer." In it, she charges that an August article, "Condit's wife attacks Chandra" was "very untrue." The paper has not yet offered a defense. Sources say editors will claim they inadvertently confused Mrs. Condit with Elvis.

PRESS: And you thought classical music was boring? Well, classical music may be, but classical musicians definitely are not. 90 members of the St. Petersburg Symphony, that's Russia, not Florida, went wild on board a flight to Los Angeles. So wild, that when the plane stopped here at Dulles, they were thrown off the flight and accused of drunk and disorderly conduct. Reportedly flight attendants told them they should stop fiddling around and be sharp.

CARLSON: And the trombonists are the worst. In Livingston, Texas Rodolfo Hernandez wants a new leg. He says the state ought to pay for it. The only problem, Hernandez is on death row convicted of shooting five people. Scheduled to die next month, Hernandez wants a custom made prosthesis so he can walk his final 50 feet. Several legal experts have been unable to resist pointing out he doesn't have a leg to stand on.

PRESS: Bada-bing, bada-bing. And the other shoe finally dropped on Dick Cheney today. On behalf of Congress, the GAO officially filed its lawsuit forcing Cheney to release the names of those officials from Enron and other energy companies he met with in putting together last year's energy plan. Cheney refuses. The White House says it's ready to fight it out in court. And no matter who wins, we hope it's a long and bloody battle, so that we can talk about it many times.

CARLSON: But you know, Bill, we'll never again be able to talk about it in police blotter. We're going to have to file that story under news of the weird, absurd, pointless and distracting. That is ludicrous suit. I don't believe it'll make it to the court. The administration could stop it right now by claiming executive privilege, but they're above that. And also, executive privilege has been sullied by the previous administration. It's all true.

PRESS: Slow down. The American people will have no right to know what their government is doing. This is secrecy that was, that they attacked during the Clinton administration.

CARLSON: Actually, they know, because there's an energy policy. Wake up. Look up in the Internet. Wake up, wake up, Bill.

PRESS: What we learned tonight is where Michael Bloomberg is. He and Dick Cheney are in the same bunker every weekend.

CARLSON: Shooting pheasant, good for them.

PRESS: From the left, I'm Bill Press. Good-night for CROSSFIRE. Have a great weekend, everybody. See you Monday.

CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson. Join us again Monday for another of CROSSFIRE. See you then.