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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Ashcroft's Defense; Israeli Attacks Heighten Violence; Repulican Victories Are Hard-Fought and Narrow; Ambrose Draws Parallels Between Pearl Harbor and September 11; New York City Recovers, But Battle Not Over; Outrages of the Week

Aired December 08, 2001 - 19:00   ET


MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak, and Kate O'Beirne. Our guest is the Senate Majority Whip, Democratic Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.

It's great to have you back, Harry.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: Thank you very much.

SHIELDS: Taliban forces fled from Kandahar, their last major stronghold, while the search continued for Osama bin Laden in his mountain redoubt. On the home front, Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, there to be questioned about military tribunals.


JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve.



SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: The need for congressional oversight and vigilance is not, as some mistakenly describe it, to protect terrorists. It is to protect ourselves as Americans, and protect our American freedoms that you and I and everyone in this room cherish so much.


SHIELDS: Earlier, the director of homeland security issued his third alert.


TOM RIDGE, DIRECTOR OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have seen an increased volume and level of activity involving threats of terrorist attacks. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SHIELDS: Government officials warned of al Qaeda developing a highly radioactive nuclear bomb.

Al Hunt, is there popular support now for Attorney General Ashcroft's tough measures?

AL HUNT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Yes there is Mark. And this attorney general has no compunctions about abusing that support. Now, a young senator once went to the legendary Russell Long and said, Senator, I'm going to be with you whenever you're right. Long looked at him and said, hell, I don't need you when I'm right.

But we don't have to worry about an attorney general when civil liberties are popular. And I also think it has to be said in a time of war, there are going to be some limits. That is absolutely unavoidable.

But what John Ashcroft and George Bush propose is to trample all over fundamental principles. Military tribunals in selected cases, I think, probably are unavoidable. But not without any ground rules or procedures. Some people may have to be detained for a long period of time without being charged. But not in secrecy, as John Ashcroft has done.

And for Mr. Ashcroft to charge that his critics, who range on these measures -- who range from Pat Leahy to Robert Novak -- are somehow un-American, are giving aid and comfort to the enemy is a smear worthy of Joe McCarthy.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, in an earlier generation, Democrats and liberals were accused of being soft on Communism. But I listen to John Ashcroft defiantly and deliberately equate dissent with disloyalty, it sounds like a soft-on-terrorism charge.

ROBERT NOVAK, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Well, I feel very uncomfortable being on the same side as Pat Leahy against John Ashcroft, who I like, and admired through his whole career. I'm uncomfortable being on the same side as Al Hunt, for that matter.

But I will tell you, that was one of the most disreputable statements I have heard from an attorney general. To say that people who would criticize his position on this, as I do, are aiding the terrorists. That is just -- it makes me mad, and it's outrageous. I have always been suspicious of the Justice Department and of attorney generals.

SHIELDS: Yes, you have.

NOVAK: Bobby Kennedy, Janet Reno, Ruby Ridge, the persecution of Jimmy Hoffa. I think government has tremendous power, and I believe true conservatives should be very suspicious of the things that John Ashcroft is doing. Not because of the terrorists; but as Pat Leahy said, because of the rest of us.

SHIELDS: Harry Reid, do you find yourself in the comfortable, or uncomfortable position, of agreeing with Bob Novak?

REID: I think we have to step back and get past the personalities and kind of the verbiage here and understand, while it's hard for us to recognize, even though September 11 is still fairly close in most of our minds, we're really in a war. And I do think, if you look back at history from the time of Washington clear up to the second World War, you have to have different types of tribunals. And that's what he's developing.

And I think it's good that Pat Leahy and the Judiciary Committee is questioning how it's set up. We're going to have them. And I think it's good we're having a public discussion about them now. And so I think we're in the preliminary stages, and people should just cool their jets and let this open process work.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne?

KATE O'BEIRNE, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I thoroughly agree. There are going to be rules and regulations that outline how these military tribunals will operate. And they're not going to be operating the way the feverish imaginations of some on the left and some on the right anticipate. I mean, I think the administration deserves the benefit of the doubt until we see exactly what they're going to look like.

I would -- there's a legitimate role for Congress, obviously. And we are ought to watch closely. But this week and last really smacked of a show trial by the Senate Judiciary Committee under Patrick Leahy; and I'll tell you why. It was oversight of the Justice Department, yet two separate hearings in the name of oversight failed to invite a witness from the Justice Department because, in fact, the Democrats didn't want somebody fully explaining. In one case Mike Chertoff had to ask, could I please come. And the second time they had (UNINTELLIGIBLE) legal policy.

They wanted a show trial because left wing critics of the Justice Department beat up on them.

NOVAK: I thought John Ashcroft worked for...

O'BEIRNE: Finally, a third -- finally, that was after two other hearings where a Justice Department witness was never even invited.

HUNT: For three weeks he refused to come.


O'BEIRNE: Well, John Ashcroft finally comes. Now, John Ashcroft is not going to promulgate regulations on military tribunals. That's going to be the secretary of defense, Don Rumsfeld. If they genuinely wanted to know exactly what's going to be happening and how they're going to be presided over, why don't they call up the Cabinet official responsible for military tribunals? That's Don Rumsfeld.

And I'll tell you why they don't call him up: because he's an American hero at the moment. He's the pinup of this war, and they don't want to be seen to be beating up Don Rumsfeld. They'd rather beat up John Ashcroft.

SHIELDS: Let me just say, when John Ashcroft says that the American Civil Liberties Union and the Cato institute -- one of the left and one on the right -- and the press of this country, the free press of this country, which have been critical and raised legitimate questions -- by doing so, they give ammunition to America's enemies. That has more than the whiff of the scent of treason about it. That is meant to chill


NOVAK: Didn't that make you uncomfortable?

O'BEIRNE: Yes, because John Ashcroft makes his case on the merits. And I think we -- even though, as I said, military tribunal are not his responsibility, and if the Democrats were serious, they'd call up Don Rumsfeld. He -- because he has the merits on his side, he should not have engaged in the aiding of the terrorists stuff.

REID: Mark, but the problem we have here is that that's the way most political debate in America is. It's the far right and the far left, and the middle is never heard from. And I think that's what we have on going on here.

HUNT: I don't think, Harry, this is a case of middle or left or right here. I do -- I won't associate myself with most of what Bob said.

Kate, I disagree with you on Ashcroft. I think that Ashcroft, you know, stiffed this committee for several weeks. but you're right about Don Rumsfeld. And I must tell you, that gives me some solace. I think that Don Rumsfeld will probably come up with very, very fair procedures and rules. I hear that some of those Justice Department -- or some of those lawyers over at the Pentagon are first rate.


HUNT: And military trials have a history of being fair. I don't -- that's not what worries me. What worries me is what Bush and Ashcroft put out about military tribunals which have no procedures at all. They had the option of coming and saying we're going...


O'BEIRNE: In an executive order, they're not going to lay out details.

HUNT: Roosevelt did.

O'BEIRNE: And Roosevelt also tried citizens -- had American citizens subject to them, which of course this administration has made clear they will not do. They're only for non-citizens, and only war crimes.

NOVAK: The worst thing about Attorney General Ashcroft is his defense of a -- you know, it really -- I was not that negative until he started that stuff, that was -- that's just unacceptable.

SHIELDS: Last word, Robert D. Novak.

Harry Reid and the GANG will be back with the latest Israeli- Palestinian conflict.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

Following last Saturday night's terrorist bombing in downtown Jerusalem, Israel launched air raids against the Palestinian Authority to pressure Yasser Arafat.


ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Arafat is responsible for everything that is happening here. Arafat made his strategic choice: choosing a strategy of terrorism, choosing to achieve political goals through murder, by slaughtering innocent citizens.



YASSER ARAFAT, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT: He don't want me to succeed. And for this, he's escalating his military activities against our people, against our towns, against our cities, against our establishments. He don't want the peace process to start.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's now time for Mr. Arafat to prove whether or not he is for peace. And the way he can do that is to aggressively root out those who would derail the peace process by murdering innocent Israelis.


SHIELDS: Bob Novak, what impact does the attack on Arafat heighten or lower the cycle of violence?

NOVAK: Obviously it heightens the cycle of violence. And Yasser Arafat, who very often doesn't tell the truth, was telling the truth this time. Prime Minister Sharon doesn't want him to succeed. He wants him to fail. He wants the voice of the Palestinians to be extremist, because Sharon does not want to negotiate a settlement, and he doesn't want a Palestinian state. And his supporters in this country, which is about a huge majority of the Congress, and the United States have the same position.

The thing that distress me is that this egregious, terrible attack by the -- by these extremists, these terrorists last Saturday night gives Sharon the excuse to launch an attack on the Palestinian Authority. And the President Bush comes out and echoes the Palestinian line, when the United States should be taking


NOVAK: I mean -- I'm sorry, the Israeli line, when the president should be taking an even-handed position.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne?

O'BEIRNE: It's awfully difficult for the president to take what Bob Novak calls an even-handed position when the Israelis are suffering the same kind of attack we suffered on September 11. Our response is in self-defense, because Americans civilians have been killed by terrorists. It was becoming, I think, unsustainable for the White House, this administration, to continue telling the Israelis to exercise restraint and not respond the way we, of course, are in our own self-defense.

So it's about time that the administration supported, ratified Israeli's right to self-defense. It appears to me, there is a deal here for those Palestinians who want to live in peace. But unfortunately Arafat and the radicals are not going to permit that to happen. Sharon's predecessor did offer a Palestinian state. Did offer 90 percent of what the Palestinians want. Arafat won't take it. Either he won't control -- which is my opinion -- or can't control the radicals in the Palestinian camp, in which case I don't know why we're wasting time talking with Yasser Arafat.

SHIELDS: Harry Reid, some of the most hawkish voices in this country were urging an immediate invasion of Iraq. Basically, argue that our interests are identical to Sharon's interests. The United States' and Israel's interests are the same here. Do you think they are?

REID: Mark, I don't know whether there's equality. But I think that the president did a good thing when he refused to meet with Arafat. I think the situation is such that Arafat should learn that there's a word called "yes" in any language. And he had a deal a year ago last August. They gave him -- and this has already been described here -- everything he wanted, but he couldn't take "yes" for an answer. And that was the beginning of this latest uprising.

He can't control his word. Let him control his borders. Now I would disagree with Bob -- if Israel wanted to get Arafat, he'd be a dead man a long time ago. They are very careful that he's anyway from any time -- any place they attack. I think Israel's being backed into a corner here.

And I also have some blame to give to the nations that surround Israel. Remember, Israel is a democracy. You might not like their leaders, but they are elected by people, just like our elections take place. They are surrounded by tyrannies and despots. Now, I think they should be become real and try to help the situation.

I'm not sure they want to help. I'm not sure they want a Palestinian state. I think maybe it's better for them that they don't have one, because it takes away from the prongs they have in their own states, like how they treat women...

SHIELDS: Wouldn't it be in our interests and Israel's interests to have a Palestinian state, to rob them of that issue?

REID: Israel gave it to them; they wouldn't take it.


HUNT: Mark, you know, we are forever saying that the Middle East is on the precipice of something cataclysmic. This time it may be true.

I agree with Kate in the sense that I think Israel had no choice but to retaliate. I also think that Arafat blew it last year; he should have taken that deal. But I think when you look at the situation today, Arafat is, I believe, weaker than he was a year ago or two or three years ago. I think there are limits on how much he can control, as a matter of fact. And I think the alternative -- I -- actually I don't think Arafat is with the so-called radicals there, Kate. I think the alternatives are far more radical, far more violent.

And I think what we have to ask is, are we better off with Arafat or something else? There are people who argue it's so bad, you'd be better off with somebody else. That's a huge risk.

NOVAK: That's the point that's taken by Sharon and his supporters, saying, oh, Arafat is just the worst thing possible when, in fact, he is the person who does want a Palestinian state.

Now, Harry, you're right: There are people who are killing children in Israel. there are extremists who don't want a Palestinian state. They want to drive the Israelis into the sea. But the idea of the President Bush and Kate O'Beirne and Senator Reid all playing into the Israeli game of attacking Arafat for -- I'm sure you don't think he was behind this attack.

O'BEIRNE: Bob, plead sympathy with them. Every time there's a suicide bombing, Arafat, to us, gives soothing words about the peace process...


O'BEIRNE: ... and immediately hands a congratulatory note to the suicide bomber's family, talking about what a great martyr for the cause he's been.

REID: People aren't dancing in the streets -- in the Palestinian streets about September 11 just because they decided to do that. This is something that's...


NOVAK: ... and that a difficult position that Arafat is in. SHIELDS: Let me ask one question: Do you think it helps the cause of peace in the Middle East for Al-Jazeera and every television to show American-supplied F-16s, American-supplied gunships going in and absolutely decimating Palestinian villages and blowing up schools?

REID: We all here believe in freedom of the press. How can we stop that?

SHIELDS: You think that...

O'BEIRNE: Israel is defending itself.

SHIELDS: OK. Next on CAPITAL GANG: A couple of Republican wins in Congress.


SHIELDS: Welcome back.

The House approved the trade negotiating authority President Bush wants by a one-vote margin. The Republican manager praised Democratic defectors.


REP. BILL THOMAS (R-CA), WAYS & MEANS CHAIRMAN: I want to thank all my colleagues who supplied the votes to make this happen. But most of all, I was to thank Cal Dooley, Bill Jefferson and John Tanner -- I apologize.


SHIELDS: The House majority whip was asked how he pressured North and South Carolina Republicans to support free trade.


REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY WHIP: I'm always gentle, and I'm always encouraging.


SHIELDS: Senate Democrats failed to add $15 billion in anti- terrorism money that President Bush had threatened to veto.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MAJORITY LEADER: We didn't back down, we got beat. And we're disappointed we got beat, but you have to move on.



SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: We should have been acting on the defense appropriation weeks ago. And we certainly shouldn't have had the additional funds added to it that did not relate to defense.


SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne, are these recent Republican victories a tribute to President Bush's new, improved clout on Capitol Hill?

O'BEIRNE: No, they've been very narrow, hard-fought victories, Mark. Because, I think, we're seeing the battle plan laid out by some of the Democrats most prominent strategist -- James Carville and Bob Shrum. On a memo they wrote -- became public a couple weeks ago, what they are advising fellow Democrats is, look, President Bush is incredibly popular. The public enthusiastically supports him on the war and foreign policy front. But you can draw distinctions and argue with them, fight with him, score your own points on the domestic front. And that's what you're going to have to do, given the president's popularity otherwise. And that's what we're seeing across even policy area.

On the trade vote, fewer Democrats voted for this trade bill than ever before. As a result of needed more Republicans, so they had to cut some of these deals on the side for local protections lobbies in some of those Southern states. The stimulus package -- of course, the Democrats would just as soon have a weak economy next year. They want more spending to drive up the deficit and then, in turn, blame the Republicans for it.

So I think we're seeing a domestic battle plan laid out by Democrat strategist.

SHIELDS: Is that the Democratic strategy that Kate O'Beirne just laid out, Harry Reid?

REID: First of all, Mark and the GANG, I don't see what's such a big victory. I mean, the Republicans control the House, they carried it by one vote. I don't know what's such a big deal about that. I know how to count votes, and there doesn't seem to be much vote counting when you lose party people.

I would also say that if you look at what took place, I would disagree with my good friend Tom Daschle. I don't think we lost anything, I think the American people lost something. I think it's too bad that the Republicans turned down what I think is so important, that we're going to have post offices that may not have the security they need for anthrax. We're going to have nuclear power plants that don't have the security they need. We're not going to be able to protect against -- we don't have enough money for smallpox and all these other things. So I think the American people lost.

But I have to say this: We worked late last night, and we rearranged things. So we didn't get all we wanted, but we got a lot of what we wanted.

And I would respond, of course, about the comments about the stimulus package. We want a stimulus package. I worked very, very hard. I think we're coming to a point where it's too bad we're not going to have things that are really stimulative, but we will have some things. And I still think there's possibilities to do a deal.

As you know, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, we were supposed to have a meeting yesterday, and he was out in California doing some fund-raising. It's too bad; he should be here. We're going to be out of session next week sometime. We need to spend every minute we can trying to work out a stimulus package. We want one.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, two things struck me on the fast-track bill. First of all, Cass Ballenger, Republican from North Carolina, issued a press release saying he's going to vote against it, and then had his arm twisted. You end up by one vote, and Denny Hastert, the speaker of the House, took the floor and said either support our president, who is fighting a courageous war on terrorism, or we'll undercut the president at the worst possible time.

Hey, they'll wrap themselves in Old Glory to eke out a one-vote victory.

NOVAK: It was a tremendous victory, as you well know. All the anti-globalists had the champagne chilled to -- in the labor states -- to toast this great victory, and it didn't come off.

This was -- I've been watching trade bills since 1957 -- and this was the most partisan alignment I have ever seen. And therefore, you had projectionist Democrats voting for the -- voting against -- I'm sorry, projectionist Republicans voting for the bill, and free trade Democrats like Bob Matsui voting against the bill. First time he ever voted against a free trade bill.

O'BEIRNE: Right.

NOVAK: That is because this myth of bipartisanship after September 11 is gone. Republican senators, Harry, feel that you and Tom Daschle are running the most partisan show they have ever seen in the Senate. And you scoff, Al, but as a matter of fact, there is a black hole -- nominations don't get out, they won't bring the energy bill to a vote. And I think it is just remarkable that, against the iron Democratic leadership, they were able to hold back this spending orgy.


HUNT: Geez, I read those Republican talking points yesterday too, Mark, and Bob...


NOVAK: Wait. No, no, that is...


HUNT: ... that Tom Daschle...

NOVAK: Wait a minute, that's unacceptable.

HUNT: No, I'm going to finish -- that Tom Daschle and Harry Reid are partisan and that Tom DeLay and Dick Armey are not. They're both partisan.

I mean, you know, you have battles. That's what this was. I think the House Republicans deserve great credit. It was a tough victory. I think it was a good bill. I think they deserve tremendous credit for winning.

When it comes to the stimulus package, though, Harry Reid is right. Bill Thomas really is embarrassing Republicans by leaving town for the weekend. And I haven't read the Cardinal Shrum memo, but if that's what they say, they're right. Because I think on the economics and the stimulus package there's no question the Democrats have the upper hand.

NOVAK: Al, you can disagree with me all you want, but don't you dare say I'm reading Republican talking points. If you have listened to me tonight, if that's the Republican line, you're more demented than I thought.


REID: I want to interrupt -- I know Kate hasn't had a chance to talk in this segment -- but I do want to talk to you about nominations. That's where Pat Leahy has gotten such a bad rep. We've had the war, we've had hearings on terrorism, bioterrorism, all these kinds of things. We've been in control of the Senate for six months. We've had more hearings; we're going to have over 33 judges approved. We're taking care of all the ambassadors, with rare exception. We're moving...

NOVAK: Why don't you bring up some of those that...

SHIELDS: Just a second, now. let's get -- I want to get one point of personal privilege on Bob Matsui. Bob Matsui's objections to this bill -- they were valid and they were consistent, and they were publicly stated, and they were intellectually responsible. And Bob Matsui has never been cowed by any interest or any influence...

NOVAK: I think he's wrong in this case.


O'BEIRNE: They did lose a lot of typically free-trade Democrats this time.

SHIELDS: And I would say to you Kate: I would look at Bill Thomas and say, is that a man who builds collegiality and reaches out? And I think the answer is no. He did not consult anybody...

O'BEIRNE: If they're free trade, they should have supported the bill -- Democrats.

SHIELDS: Blindly. O'BEIRNE: No...


SHIELDS: That's a great untruth of leadership.


SHIELDS: Listen, talk to Bob Matsui.

NOVAK: I did talk to him.

SHIELDS: When? 1994?

NOVAK: Yesterday.


SHIELDS: Thanks for being with us, Harry Reid.

We'll be back with the second half of CAPITAL GANG. Historian Stephen Ambrose is our "Newsmaker of the Week," marking the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. "Beyond the Beltway" looks at New York City's future with author David Halberstam. And our "Outrages of the Week," if you haven't heard them already.

After the latest news, following these urgent messages.


SHIELDS: Welcome back to the second half of CAPITAL GANG. I'm Mark Shields, with Al Hunt, Robert Novak and Kate O'Beirne. Our "Newsmaker of the Week" is Stephen Ambrose.

Stephen Ambrose. Age: 65. Residence: Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and Helena, Montana. Religion: Congregationalist. Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, biographer of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon, historian of World War II. Most recent book: "The Wild Blue Yonder: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany." President of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans.

Al Hunt interviewed Stephen Ambrose from the National D-Day Museum.


HUNT: You're celebrating D-Day invasions in the Pacific, including the 60th anniversary yesterday of Pearl Harbor.


HUNT: That and September 11 were the two times the American homeland was attacked. What are the parallels?

AMBROSE: There are many. The country was badly divided on December 6, 1941 over the most momentous question of the 20th century: Should we or shouldn't we get into this war? The minute the attack began at Pearl Harbor, we came together. We became unified.

On September 10 of 2001, we were a pretty badly divided country. We had voted 50-50 for the next president. We were arguing over taxes, we were arguing over what to do about the Social Security surplus. And as soon as those planes hit those towers, we were brought together.

Winston Churchill's speaking to the American Congress shortly after Pearl Harbor asked, "what kind of a people do they think we are?" Well, bin Laden forgot to ask that question in the same way that Yamamoto forgot to ask that question.

HUNT: After Pearl Harbor, there was much talk and action about sacrifice. Young men rushing to enlist, including the Navajo Indians you've written about, housewives going to work in factories, rationing, tax increases. Today, President Bush is calling for sweeping tax cuts, and telling everyone to go out and shop and spend. Isn't that different?

AMBROSE: Of course, it's different, it's a different time, it's a different war. But it's going to require sacrifice.

HUNT: Both December 7 and 9/11 involve intelligence failures. Three months after the Japanese surprise attack, there were major investigations, and military officials deemed responsible were demoted. You've even argued that Douglas MacArthur should have been held responsible for his intelligence failures in the Philippines. Do you think we're making a mistake by not holding anyone accountable for the intelligence failures on September 11?

AMBROSE: Yes, I think it is a mistake to not do an investigation. On the Pearl Harbor occasion in 1941, the Congress did its investigations, and its key question was, "how could they have lost the Japanese fleet?" In this same way we want to know today, how on earth did all those hijackers get on the four different planes at the same time and bring them into their targets, three of them -- where in the hell was the security?

HUNT: A couple of questions on some of the World War II triumphs you're celebrating this week. How important were the Doolittle raids on Tokyo?

AMBROSE: The amount of damage they did was negligible, but as a morale booster for the American people, as a sense of we're hitting them back, it was as important an event as happened in the Second World War.

HUNT: Only six months after much of our Pacific fleet was wiped out in Hawaii, we defeated the Japanese in the fabled Battle of Midway. Did that assure the ultimate American victory?

AMBROSE: No, of course it didn't. The Battle of Midway, that stopped the Japanese advance.

HUNT: Harry Truman's decision to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is still controversial. Do you believe with better diplomacy that could have been avoided, or was it necessary to avoid an invasion of the Japanese mainland and the loss perhaps of hundreds of thousands of Americans?

AMBROSE: Nothing but the atomic bomb would have induced the Japanese to submit to unconditional surrender. Nothing. They were preparing their defenses for the home islands that would've made the invasion of Japan the biggest invasion ever, bigger even than Normandy. And the battle that would've taken place, the battle of Tokyo would've been the most ferocious, life-consuming battle of the entire Second World War. And all of that was avoided because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Truman made absolutely the right decision.


SHIELDS: Al Hunt, is Stephen Ambrose suggesting that the attacks of September 11 narrowed the divide in America as much as Pearl Harbor narrowed the divide in 1941?

HUNT: Well, yes, Mark, in that major differences were sublimated. How long it lasts this time is going to depend on how this yet-to-be-defined war evolves.

One quick personal note, though: My dad was in the Pacific for three years. He would have been part of that invasion force, and I think that Stephen Ambrose is so right, that if it weren't for Harry Truman's courageous decision, who knows how many Americans would have lost their lives.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: Yes, I agree, and I also agree with Stephen Ambrose that we ought to have an investigation of these intelligence failures. A lot of people in the FBI and the Justice Department who do not want this investigation, but I would say one other thing, and that is that I'm a little older than Steve Ambrose, about six years older, and I remember World War II, where you knew -- everybody knew somebody who got killed in combat in that war. We had shortages of all kinds of food and things. This is not the same deal.

SHIELDS: It's not the same deal, and I'll tell you why: 1,155,316 enlisted personnel in the United States military, and I'd be willing to bet not a single United States senator or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) knows the name of any one of them. Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: That's unfortunately very true, because my own father was in Europe in World War II. One parallel I see is how the Japanese miscalculated the American response. Yamamoto of course told his fellow countrymen, "I fear we've awaken a giant and had given him a terrible resolve," and bin Laden has done the same thing, only to the fecklessness of the Clinton administration. He I think made the same serious miscalculation.

SHIELDS: Had to get the fecklessness of the Clinton administration.

(CROSSTALK) O'BEIRNE: ... talking history here.

SHIELDS: ... has managed to fight pretty damn well...


O'BEIRNE: Talking history here, Mark.

SHIELDS: Next on CAPITAL GANG: "Beyond the Beltway" looks at New York City after the attacks with David Halberstam.


SHIELDS: Welcome back. "Beyond the Beltway" looks at New York City. Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg is upbeat about the city's prospects twelve weeks after the terrorist attack, contrasting with the apprehension among old political and governmental hands. Addressing the Citizens Union holiday dinner, the mayor-elect said, quote: "The best is yet to come. There is always a danger of looking at the downside, of looking at the part of the glass that is not full," end quote.

Joining us now is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author David Halberstam. His current book is "War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals." David Halberstam is a native and a current resident of New York City. Thank you for coming in, David Halberstam.

DAVID HALBERSTAM, JOURNALIST & AUTHOR: Delighted to be with you.

SHIELDS: David, is Michael Bloomberg realistic in his optimistic evaluation?

HALBERSTAM: Well, I think that's aimed at the psyche of the business community in the same way. I mean, the president of the United States is now doing ads that are very much like American Express ads, and I think the psyche of the Dow, the psyche the community, the desire not to have businesses at this fragile moment flee the city is an important part of that statement.

But I think, you know, he probably, you know, if you've gone from almost nothing to make two billion, maybe you're an optimist.

SHIELDS: Now, the other thing I wanted to ask you is Ed Koch, Democratic mayor who endorsed Michael Bloomberg wrote: "In the aftermath of September 11, we learned we New Yorkers are part of American and dependent on the entire nation." Do you think that's an accurate and valid observation?

HALBERSTAM: Well, I think America got reconnected to New York and New York reconnected to America. I mean, suddenly New York sports teams were popular, and people -- I think the grittiness of the city, of the firemen particularly and the police, the way the city responded to that crisis, the way the mayor in particular and the governor responded, the sense that this was an attack upon the whole country, but New York more than any other place took the hit. I think there was a great resilience in the city, and I think the country sensed it, and I think we liked the way the country responded to us.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak.

NOVAK: David, Washington is a very different place than it was on September 11. I don't think if it is in any way, it's a drearier place. There is so much security around, guards all over. Just today, they started a very, very controlled 25-person tours of the Capitol that has been closed. Do you have any of that oppressive sense in New York at all today?

HALBERSTAM: I suspect a good deal less. Maybe it's because we are less government-dominated. The city seems to me to be in an extraordinary moment, resilient, it's a pleasure -- New Yorkers are being nice to each other. I don't think it's going last that much longer. We like tourists coming in. We are momentarily popular.

Some of the lines on race and class have come down. There's a sense of interdependence that exists now that wasn't there in the overheated economy which had preceded it, which had a certain amount of -- a good deal of selfishness, where a certain small class of people was making too much money.

NOVAK: Is there a fear, is there a fear that, boy, the terrorists can come back any time, and so many people died? Do you sense any of that kind of fear?

HALBERSTAM: I don't have a sense of that as a dominating thing. I mean, I think we all know we are vulnerable, we know the city is a target. But I think, you know, the city took a hit, and I'm impressed by the zestfulness, the resilience of the city, the fact that -- particularly, for example, neighborhood restaurants are doing very, very well. Comparably, big restaurants that are a bit more dependent on tourism and bigger wallets and American Express cards are having a harder time.

But there's a desire -- and I think it was there almost from September 12 -- a desire to be with other people, a desire to feel the community.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: David, your mayor-elect faces the second toughest job in the country at a really tough time. Rudy Giuliani, a fellow Republican, enjoyed the support following a failed -- the failed tenure of David Dinkins of a lot of liberals who had been mugged, sometimes literally. What kind of base is there, given how few Republicans there are in New York City, for Michael Bloomberg when the times get sort of tough? Is he going to have a core base of support?

HALBERSTAM: I think the base is really pretty much the same. I think that he would -- inherited to no small degree the Giuliani constituency, the thing that had worked there. I think one of the things that worked for him was the fact that Mark Green -- for one thing, he spent $92 a voter, I think it was. Mark Green -- I think Mark Green in his previous job as a public advocate had made himself the anti-Giuliani, and he had rushed to the media every time and promoted himself.

On September 11, that undercut Green very significantly. All those exceptional qualities of Giuliani, and he has many of them, came to the fore. He really did an extraordinary job, and I think that worked very much against Mark Green. And I think the constituencies that worked for Giuliani are very much there for Bloomberg.

I don't think partisan politics are -- factor in so much. I think what people are worried about is the economic future of the city, you know, out-migration of jobs, being overtaxed, trying to hold onto to the middle class, which is a fragile thing in this city.


HUNT: David, you describe the wonderful buoyancy, and as you put it, zestfulness now in New York City. Look ahead for about a year. There are terrible budget pressures right now. What do you think the spirit of the city might be if those are really as severe as people say, and what does your gut tell you as to the type of leader Michael Bloomberg will be in that kind of situation?

HALBERSTAM: Well, I think a year from now it could easily be harder. You know, we've had a very good decade. It happened to be under Giuliani, but part of the reason was the economy, the Dow that went up about 6,000 points, and New York got a lot of that, because it was the financial capital of the world.

I think New Yorkers are here largely because they want to be, whether they -- they come from all over the world, and I think that gives the city strength. I mean, we are all, in effect, volunteers. We would rather be in a time of economic prosperity, but if they squeeze the city it will be edgier, there will probably be more racial tension, it will be harder on the firemen and on the police, but somehow we will make it through, because we've been through this before back in the '70s, when the city had been self-indulgent.

This time, it's not about being self-indulgent. A lot of it is about taking a hit at precisely the moment when the economy is soft, and we are going to lose on two big areas here. One is Wall Street, which is going softer; and the other, tourism, which is a very big part of city. It used to be a manufacturing city. It isn't now. Tourism is very important. I mean, you have the president of the United States doing, you know, telling people to fly, and that hurts the city.

SHIELDS: David Halberstam, we could go on forever with you.

HALBERSTAM: I thought we were going to talk baseball. That was why you got me.

SHIELDS: I got to tell you, I mean, I was rooting all for New York, I was rooting for the Yankees, and then I saw George Steinbrenner, and my empathy and the sympathy with the Big Apple was exhausted.

HALBERSTAM: But what great games they were. Amazing. SHIELDS: They were great games, and Joe Torre is a great man, and I like Derek Jeter. But David Halberstam, we are always in your gratitude. Thank you so much for doing this.

HALBERSTAM: Nice to talk to you, pal.

SHIELDS: OK. The GANG will be back with the "Outrage of the Week."


SHIELDS: Now for the "Outrage of the Week." Quote, "the fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women," end quote. Those were the passionate words of first lady Laura Bush.

Now could somebody at the White House explain why U.S. policy requires this nation's highest-ranking woman fighter pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Martha McSally to wear a black head-to-toe robe when she is off base in Saudi Arabia, and she can only go off-base when accompanied by a male?

After getting no satisfaction, Colonel McSally is doing the right thing, she's suing the defense secretary, demanding the U.S. live up to its values, even if it inconveniences the Saudis we are there to defend. Robert Novak.

NOVAK: Influential senators forced reversal of the stupid Pentagon decision denying burial in Arlington Cemetery to heroic American Airlines pilot Chic Burlingame. The refusal, going by the bureaucratic book, was by Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White. No wonder! He served 23 years in the Army, ending up as a brigadier general. That's why top civilian Pentagon posts should not go to career military officers. What did White do after he left the Army? He learned bad management as an executive with the now bankrupt Enron corporation.

SHIELDS: Kate O'Beirne.

O'BEIRNE: Democrats overreacting to the potential abuse of military tribunals for war criminals should turn their attention to the kangaroo commission Mary Frances Berry is presiding over. She refuses to seat the newest member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission appointed by President Bush. She ridiculously claims that the expired term of a Clinton appointee hasn't expired. Ms. Berry isn't jeopardizing the commission's credibility -- that was completely blown by her scandalously partisan report on last year's election by her Democratic majority, which apparently she will break the law to preserve.


HUNT: The aforementioned Enron, with all its secret scams unraveling, filed for bankruptcy last week. But not before this company, most of whose workers lost much of their retirement savings, doled out $55 million in bonuses to 500 top executives. The bottom line: In the face of fiscal calamity, the company stiffed the lowest- and average-paid workers, but it took care of its fat cats. Sounds like Enron's CEO Kenneth Lay may have shared this strategy with his good friend President Bush.

SHIELDS: This is Mark Shields saying good night for the CAPITAL GANG. If you've missed any part of this program -- shame on you -- you can catch the replay at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up next on CNN, "LIVE FROM AFGHANISTAN."