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CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer
Interview With Alberto Gonzales; Interview With Lebanese Member of Parliament Saad Hariri
Aired July 24, 2005 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9 a.m. in Los Angeles, 5 p.m. in London and 8 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for "LATE EDITION."
We'll get to my interview with the attorney general of the United States, Alberto Gonzales, in just a few minutes.
First, though, let's get a quick check of what's in the news right now.
BLITZER: More carnage in Iraq today. A car bomb attack killed at least 25 people and left dozens of others injured.
CNN's Aneesh Raman is in Baghdad. He's joining us now with late details.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good afternoon.
It is the deadliest attack in Iraq in over a week. Among that death toll, of at least 25 and upwards of 30 people wounded, the majority we're told are Iraqi civilians. It was a suicide car bomb this time detonating at a police station in Southeastern Baghdad.
The aftermath you're looking at now, a disastrous scene: a huge crater where the bomb exploded; firefighters rushing to the scene; charred bodies on the ground.
To give you a sense, Wolf, of how big this explosion was, some 25 vehicles were essentially destroyed along with eight shops in the ensuing blast.
It once again shows the brutal resolve of Iraq's insurgency.
But, Wolf, once again this raises the numbingly persistent question of how this can be stopped, whether anything can be done to prevent these civilian casualties. We know that elusive answer is enormously complex.
Once a suicide bomber is out on the streets in a car with an explosive vest, there is essentially nothing that can be done to prevent scenes like this.
But what can be done is borders need to be secured, we're told by military officials. Better intelligence needs to be gathered. All of that is wholly dependent upon the Iraqi security forces really rising to the task, something they're still in training to do, Wolf.
BLITZER: Aneesh, there's also in recent days been the killing of some Sunni members, Iraqi Sunnis who are involved in drafting this proposed constitution. And now there seems to be a major setback in any Sunni participation in the drafting of the constitution.
What's the latest on that? How much of a setback has there been?
RAMAN: We're not sure yet, Wolf. We're still waiting to see. This is crunch time though. We are weeks away from that August 15 deadline by which the constitution has to be drafted. We are just days away from the deadline by which the body has to decide whether they want to extend that deadline.
An enormously complex debate on federalism and religion now further complicated, as you say, by Tuesday's assassination of Mijbil Issa, a Sunni member on Iraq's constitutional committee.
Two days later the other members of that contingent suspended their involvement. They want better security. They want an investigation.
There is will from all sides, Wolf, to bring the Sunnis back into the dialogue, back into the process.
But as we say, we're just weeks away from a deadline. It has to be done quickly.
BLITZER: All right, Aneesh Raman in Baghdad. He'll be watching this for us. Thank you very much.
The latest attacks in Iraq, Britain and Egypt are raising new concerns that terrorists may be plotting another strike right here in the United States.
Just a short while ago I spoke with the U.S. attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, about the war on terror, President Bush's new Supreme Court nominee, the leak of a covert CIA officer and much more.
BLITZER: Judge Gonzales, thanks very much for joining us on "LATE EDITION."
Let's get to the London terror attacks, the ones on 7/7, 7/21. Does the U.S. government see a connection between these attacks?
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We're working on that, Wolf. Obviously, we're in communication with the London authorities and trying to understand what the facts are. We're also, of course, providing whatever resources that we can. The FBI in particular is providing personnel and resources to assist in the investigation. It's a very serious situation, obviously, in London. We're very concerned about it. And we're going to do everything we can to find out what happened so we can prevent this from happening again.
BLITZER: Have the London authorities, the British authorities asked the U.S. government, specifically the Justice Department, which you head, for help?
GONZALES: We, of course, have provided assistance to the authorities. They have requested assistance. And we're providing, as I said, personnel and resources to help in the investigation.
BLITZER: What specific questions are they asking you, if you could share that with us?
GONZALES: What specific questions are they asking me?
GONZALES: I can't get into specific questions that are being asked because that may provide details or insight into the way the investigation is proceeding. But we're working as hard as we can to provide the resources and information that we can.
BLITZER: Have you definitively concluded this is the work of al Qaeda?
GONZALES: I don't think there's been any definitive conclusion yet, Wolf. Appearances seem to indicate that it is al Qaeda, but we're still looking at that issue.
BLITZER: What about the terror attack that occurred this weekend in Sharm El Sheik in Egypt? Does that have the appearances of al Qaeda, as well?
GONZALES: Well, it has the appearance of al Qaeda. But again, that is clearly too early to tell. And we are working with the Egyptian authorities and sharing information and resources with them, as well.
BLITZER: London, Sharm El Sheik, what about the United States? How concerned are you that similar terror attacks could now begin here in the United States?
GONZALES: Well, obviously we're looking carefully at the current intelligence. We're going back and looking at old intelligence to see whether or not there's anything there. That may be a connection to what happened in Egypt and what happened in London. We have no specific threats against the United States or against our mass transit system.
But obviously we're concerned about it. We know we have an enemy that's very patient and very diabolical. We know that even though there hasn't been an attack since 9/11 here in this country that we have an enemy that's still intent on doing harm to the United States and its interests. And we're doing everything we can do to protect America from another attack.
BLITZER: As the nation's top law enforcement officer, what else, if anything, do you need Congress to do to give you the authority to take steps to make sure this country is secure?
GONZALES: Well, we're engaged in a very important debate currently about the reauthorization of 16 provisions of The Patriot Act. We believe that The Patriot Act has been an effective tool, and is one reason that there has not been another domestic attack here in the United States.
One of the strongest benefits of The Patriot Act has been the provisions that encourage the sharing of information between the law enforcement community and the intelligence community. And because we're able to share information more effectively, we're able to connect the dots and to detect and defer additional terrorists attacks so this is a very important debate that's going on within the Congress.
We appreciate the work of the House in passing the reauthorization. Obviously the debate continues in the Senate. And we look forward to the reauthorization of The Patriot Act in a manner that will make it as much as possible to protect this country against additional attacks.
BLITZER: When I interviewed you at the Justice Department a few months ago, you were open to some revisions, some changes in The Patriot Act. Would the president accept any revisions in the reauthorization of those 16 aspects of The Patriot Act? Is the president open to some changes, as you apparently are?
GONZALES: I think that there are going to be some changes to some of the provisions. For example, the section 215, which is a business record provision known as the so-called library provision. We have indicated through my testimony that certain changes should be made and would be accepted by the Department of Justice. There are other amendments that clarify certain ambiguities in the Act that would be accepted.
But I've been very consistent in saying that we would not accept changes that would in any way weaken The Patriot Act, that would in any way make it more difficult to protect America against additional terrorist attacks. This has been a very good and healthy debate. Again, I'm optimistic that at the end of the day, the 16 provisions will be reauthorized.
There may be some amendments, some clarifications, but hopefully, none that will weaken the Patriot Act.
BLITZER: Are you going to demand that the access to library records remain as it currently is, because, as you know, there are conservatives and liberals who are worried that access to public library information could undermine the privacy of American citizens? GONZALES: Well, I am as concerned about the privacy of American citizens as anyone. That's very, very important to me. But we cannot allow libraries and computers at libraries to become safe haven for terrorists. We already know the examples where terrorists have gone to computers at libraries, thinking that in fact that their communications from those facilities would be protected. I would consider certain amendments to Section 215, which is the library provision. I am already on record in saying that. But to take it away as a tool from the law enforcement community I think would be counterproductive and would make America less safe.
BLITZER: Well, what change would you like to see go forward?
GONZALES: Well, with respect to Section 215, there's been a question as to whether or not what is the appropriate standard in seeking a business order under 215, and we believe it is a relevant standard, that the information sought should be relevant to an ongoing terrorism investigation. That was not clear in Section 215, and we're willing -- we believe it is appropriate to make it clear that it is a relevant standard.
We've also indicated that we believe that, if a business receives an order to produce business records, that that business owner should be able to consult with his or her attorney, and that business owner should be able to challenge that order before the FISA court. So these are the kinds of changes that we believe are appropriate and that we would support to Section 215.
BLITZER: Well, I was talking about the library. What about the changes in terms of access to library information? Are you open to a change there?
GONZALES: Again, I'd have to look at the specific changes, Wolf, but we can't have a situation where we provide a blanket safe haven to terrorists, that they can go to a library computer and communicate with their colleagues. It's absolutely essential that we have the ability to go after records that are related to a terrorism investigation. We have no interest in perusing the library habits of ordinary Americans. We do, however, feel an obligation and a need to be able to go after information that may be related to ongoing terrorism activities.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about the 500 plus detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. As you know, there's still not been one military tribunal or commission that has been formed yet that has dealt with any of these detainees. The Washington Post in an editorial today writes: "The system for detaining and interrogating detainees before trial remains in a legal limbo that has led to serious abuses and caused enormous damage to America's global prestige. The administration's policy for foreign prisoners requires an across-the-board rethinking and close congressional collaboration."
Are you rethinking the whole process, what to do with those detainees at Gitmo?
GONZALES: We're always thinking, Wolf, about the best way to deal with this enemy, with this new kind of threat. I take issue with the characterization about serious abuses at Guantanamo. There have been abuses that have occurred. Those engaged in those abuses have been held accountable. We do investigate any allegation of abuse, and members of Congress and others have -- members of the media have gone to Guantanamo, and I think can see for themselves that we have a well- run, professional operation ongoing at Guantanamo.
With respect to the military commissions, we were enjoined from going forward with military commissions by a district court order. Just a week ago, the D.C. Circuit issued a very strong opinion affirming the authority of the president to hold these prisoners at Guantanamo, and affirming the authority of the president to hold military commissions. And so, the secretary of defense I think, I believe announced last week -- or this week that he would be moving forward and putting in place the last remaining processes to ensure that these military commissions will commence as promptly as possible.
BLITZER: The president this week nominated John Roberts to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. As far as the Washington Post-ABC News poll is concerned, should Roberts publicly state his position on abortion before the Senate acts? Sixty-four percent of the American people said he should; 34 percent said he should not.
Do you believe he should make clear where he stands on Roe versus Wade when he testifies during his confirmation hearings?
GONZALES: I don't know, Wolf, what that question really means. Are you asking whether or not should John Roberts indicate his own moral views about abortion? Are you asking whether or not John Roberts believes Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided as an initial matter? Are you asking would John -- if so, would John Roberts vote to overturn Roe v. Wade? So these are all different kinds of questions that are subsumed within the question I think that were asked of the American public in connection with that poll.
This is obviously a very sensitive issue. The president has said that there is no litmus test in connection with this issue or any other issue.
We expect John Roberts to come to the bench, put aside his own moral views about this issue and other issues, look at the words of the Constitution, apply the statutes faithfully, and render his decision impartially, in an unbiased fashion.
BLITZER: But are those questions fair questions for senators to ask -- the moral questions as well as the practical legal questions, where he stands, was Roe v. Wade the appropriate decision that the Supreme Court made?
GONZALES: Well, obviously, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee can ask any question that he or she wants to ask.
I don't know whether it's really relevant to ask a person's moral views about a particular issue, given the fact that what we look for are judges that are disciplined enough to come to the bench, and when -- they do not have a personal agenda, and they put aside their own moral views and simply do their jobs as judges. And for that reason, I question whether or not it is appropriate to ask a person's moral views about a particular issue.
BLITZER: But legal views would be open, whether he thought the right legal decision was made, that would be appropriate?
GONZALES: Well, if you're asking whether that would be appropriate to render an opinion as to previous decision, I think that it would be appropriate to give some general views about that previous opinion.
But for example, what you're asking a nominee to do is step into the shoes of a justice at that particular time, and you're asking for an opinion of someone who does not have perfect knowledge when that decision was rendered. They would not have -- I presume will not have read the briefs, would not have heard the arguments, would not have had the opportunity to talk with his colleagues on the court at that particular time, and therefore, you're going to be asking for an opinion or a judgment based upon imperfect information. I think that's kind of tough to do.
I think it is appropriate to ask generally some views about particular issues, but it's tough sometimes to go back and say, well, I would have decided this case this way, I would have decided that case that way, because the truth of the matter is, you're going to be offering that opinion with imperfect knowledge.
BLITZER: Were you disappointed about that campaign that was launched against you by some religious conservatives, to try to prevent you from getting that nomination?
GONZALES: I understand that this is a very, very important decision the president made in nominating John Roberts. People had waited over 11 years for a vacancy. A lot of time and energy and money had been invested in anticipation of a vacancy.
There's a lot at stake here, and in this country, people are free to offer up their own views and opinions about a wide variety of things.
When you're in government, you make decisions, you say things, and some people like it and some people don't. Sometimes you're criticized, sometimes you're not. It's all part of being in the government, and I accept that.
BLITZER: We're almost out of time, but a quick question on the CIA leak, the leak involving CIA operative Valerie Plame that was reported by our colleague Bob Novak in The Chicago Sun-Times, a CNN contributor.
Listen to what the president said this past week about this whole sensitive subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would like this to end as quickly as possible, so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: If someone is indicted but hasn't yet been convicted, if the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, indicts a member of the administration, he's innocent obviously until proven guilty -- he or she -- but would that person be asked to leave the administration as the process goes forward?
GONZALES: That's really a question that has to be asked of the White House, Wolf.
Obviously, the decision ultimately will probably be made by the president, but at the end of the day, that's the decision for the White House and not for the Department of Justice.
BLITZER: You were called to testify before the grand jury because you were the White House counsel, the legal counsel at that time. What did you -- what personal knowledge, if any, did you have about that leak?
GONZALES: Well, I would rather not get into discussions about my testimony before the grand jury, obviously, because I was in the counsel's office and was involved to some degree in the way that information was gathered up in connection with the investigation by Mr. Fitzgerald.
There was an interest in certain information that I had, and that's why I was asked to appear before the grand jury.
As you know, I am recused from the investigation because of my role in the White House, and it would be best if I didn't say anything more than that.
BLITZER: All right, so we'll leave it at that. The attorney general of the United States, Alberto Gonzales. We appreciate very much your joining us on "LATE EDITION."
GONZALES: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: And just ahead, the United States on alert. We'll assess where the war on terror stands with two key members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts and Dianne Feinstein.
Then, as Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar bin Sultan prepares to step down as his country's long time ambassador to the United States, we'll talk exclusively with his successor, Prince Turki al-Faisal about U.S.-Saudi relations.
And later, Saad Hariri, the son of Lebanon's slain prime minister talks with us about the political changes in his country and their potential impact on the Middle East. "LATE EDITION" continues right after this.
BLITZER: Our "Web Question of the Week" asks this: "Are the London attacks an indication that the war on terror is being lost?" You can cast your vote. Go to cnn.com/lateedition. We'll have the results later this hour.
But straight ahead, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Senator Dianne Feinstein on what we're learning about the latest terror attacks and the implications for the war on terror.
You are watching "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're still at war. And it's important for all of us who love freedom to understand that this is a war being fought against ideologues that use terror to advance an agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush talking about what and who is being fought in the war on terror. Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." Joining us here in Washington, two guests: the chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas; and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, also a key member of that committee.
Senators, welcome back to "LATE EDITION." Good to have you both on the program. Let's talk about these London terror attacks on 7/7, 7/21.
Senator Roberts, based on what you know, is there a connection?
SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: Yes, I think there's a connection. I think if you look at the knapsacks, if you look at the bombs, if you look at the explosives, there is a connection there. There is a connection with al Qaeda in regards to the way that those bombs are constructed.
There is some evidence that you have networks within networks, albeit they were local, but I don't have any question in my mind that this is all connected.
BLITZER: Is there an explanation, Senator Roberts, why the second series of four attacks, three in the underground subway, one on a double-decker bus, why they failed?
ROBERTS: Yeah, we're damn lucky.
BLITZER: Was it simply like that? Because usually al Qaeda, if it was in fact al Qaeda, they're pretty good in terms of their technical expertise.
ROBERTS: Yes, I know that, and they are good at bombs and explosives. Everybody talks about all sorts of other possible attacks, and we worry about that. Dianne and I have hearing after hearing after hearing, and we hear about the experts talk about what's the top threat, and we worry about the WMD.
But they are very good at bombs and explosives. But the fact that this did not go off, when you take a look at the equipment, when you take a look at the bombs, when you take a look at the procedures, or the modus operandi -- that's a fancy word -- they are the same.
BLITZER: I'll get to Senator Feinstein in a second. I can understand one or even two of those bombs not going off but all four of them, that raise as lot of suspicions.
ROBERTS: Well, I'm very glad they didn't go off. But in terms of the planning and in terms of what happened before, and in terms of what happens in Egypt or for that matter Madrid, it's the same plan. It's the same kind of bomb. It's the same kind of plan of attack. Now, the fact that they didn't go off I think is good news. I wouldn't read too much into that.
BLITZER: All right. Senator Feinstein, how do you read that situation?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I read it that something went wrong either with the detonation or the explosive. Certain explosives have certain shelf life. Certain explode under certain weather conditions. I don't know the specific nature of it, but it well could be something like that.
I think there's no question but that it was a serious threat and attack and I think we were very lucky.
There's one other thing I'd like to say about this. And I've thought a lot about it. I think until the mosques in the Muslim world and the imams in the Muslim world in a major way issue fatwa after fatwa denouncing jihad and denouncing terror that we're not going make any progress.
BLITZER: Do you see progress on that front in getting Muslim leadership to respond the way you would like them to respond?
FEINSTEIN: I don't see many, if any, major imams throughout all of the Muslim countries coming together and saying: Enough of this. Stop. This is not Islam. You know, we object to it.
Until there is something like an excommunication that would take place in the Catholic Church where if you are going to engage in this thing, do not frequent our mosques, you don't see this. What you see in many places is that the mosque becomes an enabler one way or another and the madrassas...
BLITZER: Let me pick up on that thought. Let me talk about that, Senator Roberts. You've been studying this for some time. In the next hour of "LATE EDITION" we're going to be speaking with the new Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, who has been the British, who's been the Saudi ambassador to Britain over the past couple of years.
A lot of these madrassas, these Muslim religious schools, are funded with Saudi money. Do you see improvement in the Saudi attitude in dealing with this terror threat?
ROBERTS: Well, there better be improvement because it's their self-preservation that's at stake. Bin Laden and the basic networks within the networks would like to dislodge or replace or terminate that government.
BLITZER: I guess the question is: Are the Saudis doing enough?
ROBERTS: Well, they are doing more, as opposed to what they used to do. Whether they are doing enough, that still remains an open question. I would like to thank Dianne for her suggestion that the Intelligence Committee take a hard look to see whether anyone has issued a statement saying: Whoa, stop, wrong; we should not be doing this.
And to our knowledge as of right now, and we're still looking, that has not happened. And so she is exactly right.
Until that happens, we're going to be facing this for a long time. Although, I think we're going to face it for a long time anyway.
BLITZER: A fatwa is a religious order.
Senator Feinstein do you see a connection between what happened in London and what happened this weekend in at Sharm el-Sheikh, another terrorist attack, more than 80 people, mostly Egyptians, killed?
FEINSTEIN: Well, there's always what kind of connection. We know Al Qaeda has mutated. We know it links. We know other groups are joining. It's kind of a loose network, maybe not with a lot of centralized command presence but none together -- nonetheless, linked together in terrorism.
So, I think you have to assume what's one is all in this area. And from my point of view the distinction between groups really isn't important.
What is important is that it's happening. What is important is that the bombs are bigger. What is important is that it's killing more and more people now. And it's really branched out all over the world.
It's a very, very serious phenomenon, and until the Muslim population itself deals with it, I think it's going to continue.
And one other point, I hear a lot of people make excuses, poverty, values. These may be -- that's just what they are. They're excuses. I don't think they're reasons.
I think the reason lies in the basic education in the mosque and in the madrassas.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about one of the -- I guess someone might call this an excuse. Others might say it's realistic.
A Pew poll that recently came out asked about the war in Iraq and its impact on the chances of terror attacks in the United States. Among those Americans questioned, 45 percent said the war's impact has increased the chances of a terror attack in the United States. Twenty two percent say the war in Iraq has lessened the chances of an attack in the United States.
Senator Roberts what do you say?
ROBERTS: Well, that's speculation. I'm sure that the insurgency we see in Iraq and the war in Iraq has not been helpful in regards to the possibility, in regards to an attack on the United States.
And let me say this: I think attacks in London, if this didn't do it I don't know what will.
Both Dianne and I hear hearing after hearing after hearing from the best we have in the intelligence community on a consensus threat.
I don't think there's any question but what -- an attack on the United States is not only possible but probable. This is a very cold, hard fact that we have to face. And you can really step up to it in many different ways. But we're trying to do it to detect and deter and then in the worse case scenario, consequence management.
We are making some progress. I'm not going to go into the laundry list of that. Unless you ask me, of course...
BLITZER: Well, let's -- we're going to get to that...
ROBERTS: ... Not in Iraq so much, as it is in terms of what we're doing in this country. But I think Americans have to come to grips with this, that an attack on America is probable and that there are cells and that what happened in London could very well happen here. And we have to face that fact.
BLITZER: And we can't forget that before the war in Iraq there was 9/11, and there were plenty of other Al Qaeda attacks against the United States long before the United States moved into Iraq.
ROBERTS: One other point, we tend to look at the latest event and say, oh, well, now we really have to take some steps or be more aggressive or pass the Patriot Act, which is what we're going to do.
This all started clear back with Khobar Towers. It all started with Beirut. It all started with the USS Cole. That was the first real evidence we had that it was global.
And those attacks happened -- also the Bali attack. Those happened before the war in Iraq.
And so I don't think you can lay it all on the Iraqi war. I think we would have been attacked or this event in history would take place regardless of that.
BLITZER: You're right, but there's no doubt, and Senator Feinstein, I want to you weigh in on this. There's no doubt that the war in Iraq may have fueled that kind of attitude, that hatred of the United States.
FEINSTEIN: Oh, I think it fueled it, but I think it began big time with Osama bin Laden's declaration in 1998 to really go to war against the west. And I think that got so much notoriety, and he got so much notoriety that it put the terrorists in a much more concentrated effort, and we're seeing the results of it today.
There's another thing, too. I met last week, and Pat, you might be interested in this, with a group of Iraqi women, one of whom was involved in the drafting of the constitution, another of whom was minister for women's affairs. And one of the things that they pointed out was the ease with which bomb materials are brought in over that border from other countries, whether it's Syria...
ROBERTS: Especially from Syria, yes.
FEINSTEIN: Yes, mainly Syria, but other countries, as well. This is a real problem. And there's so much ammunition ordinance detailed around Iraq that this material is easy to get so it's a natural fear for this to happen.
The fact that it has spread indicates that they're having a great deal of success in being able to use legal means in other countries to pick up the equipment they need to build these bombs.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to pick up that. We have a lot more to talk about. I want both of to you stand by. We have to take a quick commercial break.
Up ahead, we'll ask Senators Roberts and Feinstein also about the president's choice for the next Supreme Court justice slot. Up next, then, we'll have a quick check of what's in the news right now including the investigation into this week's terrorist attack in Egypt.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We're continuing our conversation with Republican Senator and Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, also a member of the committee. How big of a deal in your assessment is the fact that the CIA asked the Justice Department to investigate the leak of that covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame? Is this a big deal in your opinion, releasing the identity of an undercover CIA officer? ROBERTS: Why yes, it is a big deal. And in the Intelligence Committee, we're going to go into quite a series of hearings in regards to cover. You cannot be in the business of outing somebody, if that's the proper word.
BLITZER: I ask the question because some are suggesting she really wasn't undercover any more. She had been working at the CIA in nonproliferation. She really wasn't a technical...
ROBERTS: There's a five-year period, OK? And whether or not that five-year period had been reached or not is still questionable. And I must say from a common sense standpoint, driving back and forth to work to the CIA headquarters, I don't know if that really qualifies as being, you know, covert.
But generically speaking, it is a very serious matter although it obviously dovetails now into the issue of the day in regards to Karl Rove and the First Amendment, and all of that.
BLITZER: The fact that the CIA asked for this criminal investigation, this probe into who leaked her name to Bob Novak, what does that say to you, Senator Feinstein?
FEINSTEIN: Well, it says to me that the CIA values this as extraordinarily important. If they can't protect their agents, they can't survive as an agency. And I've been distressed to even see in the newspapers, I believe this morning, about what some of the undercover placements were, listing them rather generically.
BLITZER: Have you been briefed, has the committee been briefed by the CIA about the potential damage that has been done, if any lives have been endangered, her contacts, undercover spies, if you will, as a result of her name being made public?
FEINSTEIN: I have not been briefed.
BLITZER: Have you been briefed on that?
ROBERTS: We are going to have those hearings, or those briefings, pardon.
BLITZER: But have you received a preliminary assessment of damage? Because usually when someone has been exposed like this, they do a damage assessment.
ROBERTS: I'll tell you what we have done in the 511 page document that we've released from the WMD report: We went into considerable detail in regards to the veracity of Admiral Wilson's testimony.
BLITZER: Ambassador Wilson.
ROBERTS: Pardon me. Admiral. All of a sudden, I've got him in a different, you know category. But the ambassador. And I'm just going to be very blunt about it. I don't think the White House had any need to discredit him. He discredited himself. He was all over the lot.
Now, I'm not going to say anymore about that because that's one issue.
I want to know basically who assigned him and what role she played. And then obviously we want to find out exactly what happened in regards to her covert status.
Now, we're going to have to wait on that in regards to the special prosecutor. But overall, Dianne is exactly right. If we're in the business now where somehow, through some means, a covert officer working in the CIA, if that becomes public, that just can not happen. And so that is why the committee is going to be so aggressive in really taking a look at it.
BLITZER: Should the president's top political adviser, the deputy White House chief of staff, Karl Rove, who has now apparently, according to sources close to him, acknowledged speaking to reporters about Valerie Plame Wilson, should his security clearances, based on what you know, Senator Feinstein, be revoked?
FEINSTEIN: Well, based on what I know, I think yes for the time being. I think you have to look at this: Who had opportunity, who had means, and who had motive? And if you look at those three things, you see the White House somewhere, some way figures into it.
Now, the details and the precise statements are being analyzed by the prosecutor, very well-regarded Mr. Fitzgerald. It's going to be very interesting to see what he comes up with. But in the meantime, I mean, you have somebody that quite possibly either corroborated or volunteered information that shouldn't be in the public sector.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the new Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts.
ROBERTS: I had another comment by the way, but...
FEINSTEIN: I figured you would.
BLITZER: Well, go ahead. Briefly comment and then we'll move on to John Roberts.
ROBERTS: Well, I think you're presumed innocent until proven guilty. And I think we ought to wait on the special prosecutor. If you go down a laundry list of leaks in this town as to who was involved and who wasn't, you'd probably have 10 or 12 people, and some of them are in the CIA. And there's been leaks from the CIA.
You know, in this town, when there is a leak, nobody gets wet until there is a leak. And right now we're about up to here on this particular issue. So let's wait on the facts.
BLITZER: On this John Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court, some Democrats are now asking for some confidential documents when he was deputy solicitor general at the Justice Department. Should those kinds of internal documents be made available to your Senate colleagues on the Judiciary Committee?
ROBERTS: Well, I hope they can work it out in some kind of an accommodating way. But if you have documents that are private, that are on behalf of a client while they are privileged. But I hope this just doesn't, you know, develop into, "We want these documents," "No, you can't have these documents." And then that's used as an excuse to hold up serious consideration of a nominee who I think is very well qualified.
BLITZER: All right. Very briefly...
FEINSTEIN: If I could speak as a member of the Judiciary Committee, it all depends on what people are looking for. In the case of Mr. Bolton, it was a different thing because the documents were thought to be a smoking gun for irregular behavior.
BLITZER: He's the nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N.
FEINSTEIN: That's correct. So that was a different thing...
ROBERTS: Yes. Which they were not, by the way.
FEINSTEIN: There you had a solid Democratic constituency holding out, saying the committee, on a classified basis, should be able to look at those documents.
Here it's very different. I mean, here we have a man, I think, of sterling legal reputation, really a very impressive figure. What has to happen on the committee -- and all of us are committed to do this -- is have a full, fair, and dignified hearing. Ask the questions, probe the philosophy, not ask how he's going to rule on a case.
I mean, we didn't come with the morning snow. We understand that he's not going to answer that. But talk about his general philosophy, with respect to executive power, with respect to congressional use of the Commerce Clause for certain key social legislation, the right to privacy, to the extent it's provided by the Constitution, issues that are really important to the American people.
My sense is...
BLITZER: It sounds like you're inclined to support him, and I'm sure both of you are inclined.
BLITZER: We're all out of time, though, we can't move.
ROBERTS: Well, Wolf, I mean, after all, he's got a great last name.
(LAUGHTER) BLITZER: Roberts. No relation.
All right. Thanks very much, Senator Feinstein, Senator Roberts.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: No relation to the Supreme Court nominee.
Appreciate both of you joining us.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Up next, in case you missed it, highlights from some of the other Sunday morning talk shows. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
In case you missed it, let's check some of the highlights from the other Sunday morning talk shows here in the United States. The hot topic was Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. On ABC's "This Week," Senators John McCain and Patrick Leahy differed on whether documents written by Roberts when he was a Justice Department attorney in the first Bush administration should be released.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It is obvious that the president was Judge Roberts' client, and if we're going to set a precedent that those communications between someone who works for the president of the United States are someday going to be made public, I think it could have a real chilling effect on the kind of candor and communication...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: There is no client, lawyer- client privilege. Those working in the solicitor general's office are not working for the president. They are working for you and me and all of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: On "Fox News Sunday," Senate Judiciary Committee members, Charles Schumer and John Cornyn, talked about what they need to hear from Judge Roberts before voting for his confirmation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: I hope we don't cross the line into asking nominees to make promises to politicians about how they are likely to judge the hot-button issues of the day when they come before the United States Supreme Court. Clearly those kind of questions, while Senators can ask them, would be inappropriate for the nominee to answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I gave Judge Roberts a list of 60 or 70 questions. I gave them in advance. Because I don't want to surprise him or get him to slip up or try to nail him and push him in a specific direction. All I need to vote for you is to be convinced in my heart that you will be a mainstream justice. Somebody who interprets law, doesn't try to make law by imposing your views upon us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: On NBC's "Meet the Press," President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, the adviser, actor and former Senator Fred Thompson said there's no indication that Judge Roberts will be an activist on the bench.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER SENATOR FRED THOMPSON (R), TENNESSEE: He'll take these cases not as opportunities to come up with some broad social policy, but as opportunities to decide the litigation before him based on the facts in the law that is before him. And he'll do that whether the issue is abortion or whether it's a rear-end collision case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER; Highlights from some of the other Sunday talk shows here on "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk. And don't forget our Web question of the week: "Are the London attacks an indication that the war on terror is being lost?" You can cast your vote right now. Go to cnn.com/lateedition. We'll have the results coming up in the next hour.
"LATE EDITION" will be right back.
BLITZER: This is "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The government of Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the role of its people in determining their future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: From the war on terror to the push for Mideast democracy, are U.S.-Saudi relations on solid ground? An exclusive interview with Saudi Arabia's ambassador designate to the United States, Prince Turki Al-Faisal. And Lebanese parliament member Saad Hariri, the son of the slain prime minister, weighs in on the political changes in his country, and tensions with neighboring Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Like our country, the citizens of that country will not be intimidated by thugs and assassins.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A second terror strike in Great Britain. Is the United States next? We'll assess the terror threat with former Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin, and former Homeland Security Inspector Clark Kent Ervin.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN in Washington, this is "LATE EDITION" with Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We'll speak with Lebanese parliament member Saad Hariri in just a few minutes.
First, though, let's get a quick check of what's making news right now.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Lisa Sylvester at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Here's a check of the headlines.
We're following a developing story. A tsunami warning is in place for the Indian Ocean. The warning comes just after an earthquake struck about an hour ago in India's Nicobar Islands. Officials here in the U.S. say the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 and was centered nearly 700 miles southwest of Bangkok, Thailand.
British police are focusing on a whitewater rafting center in Wales, as they search for clues in the July 7th and 21st terrorist incidents in London. British media report that two of the July 7th bombers took a trip to the center last month, and reports say the center may provide a link between the two incidents.
Also today, the families of victims of the July 7th bombings were allowed to visit the attack sites.
In Egypt, the search for clues in yesterday's deadly bombings at Sharm el-Sheik continues. Egyptian security forces are sweeping the Sinai Peninsula as part of their investigation. The attacks killed at least 84 people.
Those are the headlines. Now back to "LATE EDITION."
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lisa.
This week Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unscheduled visit to Lebanon. While there, she met with Saad Hariri, a member of Lebanon's parliament and the son of the country's slain prime minister, Rafik Hariri.
Joining us now from Beirut is Saad Hariri.
Welcome to "LATE EDITION," Mr. Hariri, and our condolences to you on the loss of your father, who was slain earlier this year.
At this point, Mr. Hariri, do you know who killed your father?
SAAD HARIRI, MEMBER OF LEBANESE PARLIAMENT: No, I don't know yet who killed my father. There is an investigation going on, and I believe that the investigation is going the right way.
BLITZER: Are you suspicious that Syrian fingerprints were over that assassination? In other words, was the government in Damascus, behind the scenes, responsible?
HARIRI: I think I don't want to point fingers to anyone, Wolf. I think, during this investigation, there will be a lot of clues and a lot of investigation going on. And I have the full confidence that this committee that the U.N. has made available for Lebanon for this slaying, atrocious act of my father, I think they will come out with the right results, and then we will see the results.
BLITZER: There's a story in the Sunday Telegraph in London today saying that the U.N. investigators are now focusing in on the security chief of the Lebanese prime minister, Emile Lahoud, a man by the name of Mustafa Hamdan, that he may played a role in the assassination of your father. What, if anything, do you know about that?
HARIRI: I've heard the story, and I've heard that he is one of the suspects. I think Mr. Detleve Meles made a statement in Le Figaro, a newspaper, and it's been news in Lebanon.
I'm trying to find out more information on that. I think, like I said before, pointing out a finger on somebody could be damaging. And, like you have in courts in the United States, you're innocent until proven guilty.
BLITZER: I interviewed the president of Lebanon, Emile Lahoud, on June 26th, and he flatly denied any involvement, and he also insists that Syria was not involved. Listen to what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMILE LAHOUD, PRESIDENT, LEBANON: Well, I can tell you that the ones that did this assassination, abominable assassination, done against late Prime Minister Hariri are the enemies of Lebanon, and they want to do harm to Lebanon. And who could be the enemies who benefited from that? For sure it's not Lebanon nor Syria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Do you trust President Emile Lahoud?
HARIRI: I think all the circumstances, Wolf, now are different. You know, after the Cedar Revolution we had in Lebanon, after all the circumstances that happened, after the assassination of my father, you had the revolution, you had demonstrations, we had the free elections in Lebanon -- I think everyone is different now.
I don't want to talk about if I trust him or I don't trust him. I believe that now, if there is -- now as you see, there is a new government. I think we will be judging people on the way they confront this government and they work with it.
I think Lebanon has a new chance, and everybody has a new chance. But I believe -- I hope that the president works with this government in a way that is good for Lebanon.
BLITZER: He told me, when he was on this program a few weeks ago, he insisted that your late father voted for him when he was running for president of Lebanon. What did your father think of Emile Lahoud?
HARIRI: The circumstances were different, Wolf, and Lebanon was not as free as it is today, and the decisions that were taken in the past had their own circumstances. And to say that my father voted for him is something that is a bit, under the circumstances, then -- and if the circumstances now are -- and if my father were alive today, I think the vote would be different.
BLITZER: He wouldn't have voted for him right now if your father were still alive, that's what you're saying?
HARIRI: I think with the circumstances today, Wolf, and my father is alive now, I think the whole country would have voted differently.
BLITZER: Why do you believe your father was killed?
HARIRI: I believe that the elections that we have won today, that we have won a majority, us and other parties that believe in democracy and freedom and liberty. I think my father knew that. I think he knew that he was going to win the elections. And I believe that the forces that killed him, and the people, the enemies of my father killed him because they knew that the country was seeking a new path, a path of democracy and freedom. And this is what they didn't want. They wanted to stay the same. They wanted Lebanon to still be militarized and not democratized.
BLITZER: What has happened since the assassination of your father, these elections, not only the elections, but the withdrawal of Syrian military forces from Lebanon; they had been there for decades. Are all of Syrian forces out of your country right now?
HARIRI: Yes, they are. I think Syria's troops have been gone for a while now. The Lebanese people are living a new life. I think -- I hope that the Syrian intelligence is out also. I believe they are.
We still hear from here and there there is a little bit of interference, but I believe that Syria has taken the right decision and followed the Taif agreement and withdrew its troops from Lebanon and 1559 also.
BLITZER: At the same time, though, in recent days there's been a blockade, if you will, of exports of Lebanese agricultural products being stopped at the border with Syria where they could be sent onto other countries in the region. What's going on because I know this was a serious subject of discussion involving the U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice?
HARIRI: Wolf, this a good question because we believe that we should have good relationship with Syria, and we've been saying that we have to have good relationship with your neighbors. And we have said all along that we and Syria should have a relationship where each country respects its -- the other, and each respects the sovereignty of the other and the political process of the other.
And unfortunately with this blockade that is happening, it's hurting Lebanese people. It's hurting Lebanese farmers, and it's giving the wrong message to the Lebanese people. So it is quite understandable why such an action has been taken by Syria, and we really hope that Syria changes its mind about this blockade.
BLITZER: One of the other issues on the agenda when Dr. Rice was in Beirut, and she met with you and other Lebanese politicians and leaders was Hezbollah, which the state department regards as a terrorist organization, which the U.N. Security Council said should be disarmed, Hezbollah militia.
What's your position? Should the Hezbollah militia, A, be disarmed, and, B, should they be allowed to participate in the political process in Lebanon?
HARIRI: Wolf, you have to look at this -- as you know, Lebanon has been living for 30 years of life of civil war and then occupations after occupations. And now it's the first time Lebanon gets its freedom and its sovereignty.
We're a very fragile country and we need to resolve our problems within ourselves.
If we start talking about everything and resolving everything at the same time, we will not be able to sustain our stability.
So, therefore, we have called and asked for the international community to look at Lebanon and give it time to have a national dialogue in Lebanon to resolve all of these issues.
We believe that Hezbollah and others are willing to discuss, because -- discuss these issues, and they have said so on many occasions, and we believe that a national dialogue among Lebanese and a national reconciliation in Lebanon is very important to sustain a very good stability in Lebanon.
BLITZER: Do you feel comfortable, though, having a member of Hezbollah serve in the Lebanese cabinet?
HARIRI: Well, it's a part of the national dialogue. We have a part of Hezbollah. We have the part of other parties that we are a part of the civil war in Lebanon. And this is where you can reconcile. You don't reconcile with friends. You reconcile with people who had problems with each other, and you reconcile with people who had blood on their hands. So a national reconciliation is a part of trying to deal with everyone and trying to hold tight the country and to maintain the stability in Lebanon.
BLITZER: Let me read to you from an article that appeared in the Detroit Free Press on June 27th, an article about you.
And it said this, among other things. It said, "Lebanon's latest heart-throb is young, filthy rich, and fluent in four languages. Women swoon over his deep brown eyes. And men ask their barbers to recreate his trademark goatee. Breathless fans have taken up his favorite hobbies, from motorcycle rides to diving trips."
How does it feel to be a heart-throb?
HARIRI: Well, you're giving me a lot there, Wolf. I think my mission here -- you know, I took a very tough job. And I really want to do the right thing for Lebanon. I have my father's legacy to follow.
I think -- and this has been my thing that keeps me working -- that I want the people to understand in Lebanon that he wanted Lebanon for all the Lebanese. He had never believed in factionalism. He believed in the Lebanese people, in the people in Lebanon. He didn't want a difference between a Muslim and a Christian. He wanted all Lebanese to feel as one, to give each Lebanese man and woman their rights as Lebanese, not as a religion. And this is what my father always worked on, and this is what I will be working on in Lebanon.
And as a heart-throb, this is really a compliment.
And I'm not sure, Wolf, you're going to make my wife very happy tonight.
BLITZER: Well, I'll leave it on this sad note. One final question, Saad Hariri: Are you scared for your life?
HARIRI: I think there is a risk. And when we took the decision to continue politics, there is a risk in continuing. And my father's legacy, after all, it is his legacy that killed him. That's why I stay home most of the time, work from home. I'm afraid for the people that are around me, actually. And I believe I have a mission and that mission has a risk. And I am willing to take it. And I will take it.
BLITZER: Well, good luck to you, Saad Hariri. Good luck to all the people of Lebanon, a truly beautiful country on the Mediterranean. We wish you only the best. Thanks very much for joining us on "LATE EDITION."
HARIRI: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And coming up, my exclusive conversation with Prince Turki Al-Faisal. He's Saudi Arabia's next ambassador to the United States. Then, what will it take to secure Americans from another terrorist attack? We'll get insight from a pair of security experts. "LATE EDITION" continues right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." And just 2.5 years ago, before the start of the Iraq war, I visited the Persian Gulf region. One of my stops, Saudi Arabia.
During that visit, I had the chance to speak with the country's former chief of intelligence, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, at his sprawling ranch outside Riyadh. He was preparing to become Saudi Arabia's ambassador at that time, to Britain. Here's what he told me then about the war on terror and Osama bin Laden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL, SAUDI ARABIA: I think we have to put a closure on bin Laden as a world community. He has to be captured or eliminated in order to put an end to this almost now mystical aura he has of being invincible, unfindable and unpunishable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And joining us now from London is Prince Turki Al- Faisal. He's designated to become Saudi Arabia's next ambassador to the United States, replacing the retiring and very influential Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who's been here for more than two decades, and he's become almost a venerable Washington institution.
Prince Turki, thanks very much. Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
You'll have a tough act to follow when you come into Washington. You realize that, don't you?
AL-FAISAL: Good evening, Wolf. Of course I do, and I look forward to learning from what my predecessor, Prince Bandar, has done in Washington, and to build on what he did.
BLITZER: You told me when we met at your ranch, and we played that sound bite just now, that this war on terror really requires the killing, the elimination of Osama bin Laden. That has not yet happened. What's the problem, from your perspective?
AL-FAISAL: I think probably it's a question of assets and deployment of more resources in the search for bin Laden. We know that he is in an area that is very difficult to pursue him in and, therefore, more assets and people and equipment are required.
BLITZER: Is it a lack of desire? In other words, is the U.S. simply not anxious enough to kill him, that's why there's a lack of resources?
AL-FAISAL: I cannot believe that, because as you know, President Bush said that he is going to get bin Laden, and I think all of us would like to see that day happen. I really don't know. You'll have to ask our American friends for an answer to that question.
BLITZER: You're one of the few leaders in the world that's actually spent some time with Osama bin Laden. You met him before 9/11, is that right?
AL-FAISAL: I met him in the '80s, long before he became the monster that he did after that.
BLITZER: What made him become a monster? Just reflect a moment on that.
AL-FAISAL: Well, I'm not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, but I think during the jihad against the Soviets, he played a supporting role to the Mujahedeen and came probably to believe that he, himself, had a hand in liberating Afghanistan.
And when that war ended, I think he probably started looking for causes. And as such, he built the al Qaeda group, starting from the late '80s, probably early '90s, and went on from there. But you'll have to ask a psychiatrist for a definitive examination of bin Laden.
BLITZER: You've co-authored an article that appears today in the Sunday Telegraph in London, with Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury. Among other things, you write this: You say, "The Islamic world needs to acknowledge the cancer within its own community and to root it out. Muslim scholars must come out loudly and strongly against suicidal bombing regardless of where, when and why they have happened."
Why are Muslim scholars and other Muslim leaders, at least so far the impression we get around the world, reluctant to do so, to issue a fatwa, for example, against these killers?
AL-FAISAL: Well, I don't think it's a matter of reluctance inasmuch as making yourself heard. Every chance that a Muslim leader has, he denounces these things, but it is not being resonated enough in the world media and in the various audiences and fora that they may have. I think there should be more of that.
As far as fatwas are concerned, many fatwas have come out from Muslim scholars and religious leaders against suicide bombings and against the killings that have taken place, but they're just not getting enough resonance in the public media and the public audiences that should be where these statements are directed. And that's what I and Lord Carey are calling for, that there should be even more than what has happened already.
BLITZER: As you know, Prince Turki, there's criticism, especially here in Washington from the U.S. Congress that Saudi Arabia, your government itself, is not doing enough to stop the money flow, to stop the education, to stop the creation, if you will, of these terrorists. What do you say to that criticism?
Well, I think it's a misplaced criticism. I know if they consult with their federal government, from the president down on, they will see that Saudi Arabia is really in the forefront of the fight against terrorism, and has been for many years.
There are -- I know of three committees that are working together, one on the intelligence matters, one on the money matters, and the other one that was established after Crown Prince Abdullah's visit to Crawford a few months ago, headed by our two foreign ministers.
AL-FAISAL: So it is not for lack of doing on the part of Saudi Arabia. But perhaps more of these Congressmen should come to Saudi Arabia and see for themselves what we are doing.
BLITZER: Because the argument is that many of these madrassas, these Muslim religious schools, whether in Pakistan or elsewhere are being funded with Saudi money. And that it is in those schools where this hatred, this ideology is created. Have you stopped funding these madrassas where so much of what the critics say is the root cause of these al Qaeda operatives comes from?
AL-FAISAL: I spent some time with a senator from your Senate in February 2002, soon after 2001, in which he made this claim. And I told him, "Senator, we don't finance these madrassas. But if you have information, would you mind giving me the names of these madrassas so that we can trace who is behind them and who is funding them. And if there is any Saudi money going to it, we will stop it."
He said, "All right," and he turned to his aide and told him, "Furnish him with the names." And as we were leaving, I asked the aide if he could do that, and the aide said, "I'm sorry, it is classified."
So if we're being accused of something, we have to have the information. We need specific names, specific addresses, specific things like that to be able to trace and pursue these matters. And we're doing everything we can.
As I told you, we have a joint committee with your government, dealing with these financial issues. And they are sitting in Saudi Arabia in place there all the time, reviewing of what goes out of Saudi Arabia and if anything goes to these madrassas or any other places. So it is unfair to make the claim, without providing the information.
BLITZER: Here is a criticism that Freedom House, a group in the United States that promotes democracy around the world, made against Saudi Arabia. Many of these books are circulated as mosques here in the United States and elsewhere.
They said that, "These publications of hate," in their words, "propaganda reflecting a totalitarian ideology of hatred that could incite to violence. And the fact that it is being mainstreamed within our borders through the efforts of a foreign government, namely Saudi Arabia, demands our urgent attention."
Have you looked through these publications to see if they promote hatred of Christians, hatred of Jews, hatred of infidels, if you will? AL-FAISAL: I have not personally. I'm picking up my post in the fall, probably. And I will look into these allegations. And if there is any such truth to them, of course we will take action on them. As you know, Islam is a religion of peace and harmony and understanding. And therefore, if there is anybody who is misusing Islam for any purpose whatsoever, we cannot accept that. And we do not accept that.
And the kingdom, as I told you, is in the forefront of the fight against terrorism, having eliminated so many people from al Qaeda that have been operating in the kingdom itself and working closely with your government and other governments to eliminate this hatred and this viciousness that characterizes the works of al Qaeda.
BLITZER: You'll have a major challenge when you arrive in Washington as the point person for your government in dealing with the Senate and the House of Representatives. Earlier this year, more than a dozen U.S. senators, Democrats and Republicans, wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Among other things, they said this, "If Saudi Arabia, a nation that professes to be an ally in this war, continues to openly support religious extremism throughout the world, Saudi Arabia's efforts to export militant Wahhabi ideology throughout the world inflame the type of anti-American sentiments that lie behind the potential of terrorist attacks that continue to be the greatest threat to our national security. Therefore, it is essential that Saudi Arabia be accountable for its support of radical Islamic ideology."
You recognize the challenge you'll have to convince them that you're doing that when you get here to Washington?
AL-FAISAL: Well, I hope to be able to meet with each and every senator and congressman who wishes to see me. And we will discuss these issues thoroughly. I'm there to represent my government and my people. And I hope to be able to answer any questions or any issues of that nature that they may bring up.
I'm open to any such discussions. And I hope when I get there, I'll be able to sit down and discuss them with these people.
BLITZER: When I interviewed the Iraqi prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, here on "LATE EDITION" on June 26th, he suggested that much more could be done in securing the borders of Iraq so that insurgents couldn't cross those borders into Iraq and suggested that it wasn't just Syria that was a problem. The Saudi border was a problem as well. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IBRAHIM AL-JAAFARI, IRAQI PRIME MINISTER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): There are bases in other countries outside our borders that are feeding these terrorist networks. They are training them. They are giving them money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you say to the Iraqi government?
AL-FAISAL: Well, we have already told our Iraqi brothers that we have a 900-kilometer border with Iraq.
It is fully manned on our side of the border, but it is not manned at all on the Iraqi side of the border. And that's one of the problems that is not faced not just on the border with Saudi Arabia, but with other borders, with Iran, with Turkey, with Syria and with Jordan.
And we have asked our Iraqi brothers to deploy frontier troops to the border.
We've had for two years a border post on our side with Iraq that has been fully manned on our side to be able to communicate with Iraq and let goods and services go through that border. And it has not opened because there are no Iraqi officials on the other side.
So if there is blame to be put, it is a blame on everybody, really, for not doing enough.
And I would ask our Iraqi brothers to deploy more troops on those borders. And the allied forces, of course, have a responsibility there. I think there should be more troops on our side -- on the Iraqi side of the Saudi border, as on other borders.
We're willing to work with our Iraqi brothers to eliminate any problems of that kind.
BLITZER: When is Saudi Arabia, Mr. Ambassador, going to send an ambassador to Baghdad?
AL-FAISAL: I think the issue of the ambassador is under full discussion. You've seen what happened to ambassadors and others who have gone to Baghdad. And it would be reckless, I think, for anybody to endanger the life of their representatives in Baghdad. But that is not for me to decide. I think it is for both sides to get together and so on.
And I hope, also, that our Iraqi brothers will find a way to put an Iraqi ambassador in Riyadh, which has not happened yet.
BLITZER: Well, we will look forward to your arrival here in Washington, Mr. Ambassador. As I said earlier, you have a tough act to follow, but you're highly qualified, and I'm sure you will represent your country well here in the United States. Thanks very much for joining me.
AL-FAISAL: Thanks very much, Wolf.
BLITZER: Appreciate your joining us.
And coming up next, as the manhunt continues for the suspects in this week's London terror attacks, we'll take a look at the terror threat to cities here in the United States. Joining us, the former deputy CIA director, John McLaughlin, and the former Homeland Security Department inspector general, Clark Kent Ervin.
Stay with us.
SYLVESTER: I'm Lisa Sylvester at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Headlines now in the news.
This just in, we are being told that there has been a third arrest in connection with the London bombings. Scotland Yard has just confirmed that information for CNN, and we will continue to monitor that story throughout the afternoon.
Meanwhile, we are closely following a developing story in the Indian Ocean. A tsunami warning was issued about a half an hour ago for the region. A major earthquake measuring 7.3 struck the Nicobar Islands off India's eastern coastline.
Japan's meteorological agency says there's a possibility of a destructive local tsunami in the Indian Ocean. The International Tsunami Information Center in Hawaii, however, said the earthquake was too weak, relatively speaking, to generate a tsunami. Thai officials are urging people along the west coast of Thailand and those living in Phuket to evacuate to higher ground.
We will keep you posted as information becomes available.
This also just in to CNN: An American citizen is among the 84 people killed Saturday in Egypt when a series of bombs exploded at a Red Sea resort. The State Department has not yet released that person's name.
Meanwhile, Egyptian security teams are sweeping the Sinai Peninsula, searching for suspects.
And the countdown is underway, and NASA says the shuttle Discovery is on target for a Tuesday liftoff. The fuel gauge problem scrubbed the July 13th launch. Discovery's mission includes delivering much-needed supplies to the International Space Station.
More headlines at the top of the hour. "LATE EDITION" continues after the break.
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SIR IAN BLAIR, LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: The investigation is proceeding very satisfactorily. The response from the public has been really encouraging.
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BLITZER: London Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair talking about the investigation into this past Thursday's terror attacks in London.
Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
Joining us now with special insight into the terror threat and the security challenges they pose, our two guests.
John McLaughlin is a former deputy CIA director. He's now CNN's security adviser. And Clark Kent Ervin is a former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He's now a CNN security adviser as well.
Gentlemen, welcome to "LATE EDITION." Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Let's talk about what the attorney general of the United States said, Alberto Gonzales on this program in the first hour of "LATE EDITION." He's working under the assumption these terror attacks are al Qaeda, both of them, and they seem to be related, the 7/7 and the 7/21 attacks. Is that your assessment?
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: That's absolutely the way it looks to me, Wolf.
If you look at the characteristics of these attacks that we've learned about over the last two weeks, they have all the earmarks: coordinated bombings; a group of locals who have been inspired to be martyrs by someone from outside, I think; a ring-leader within that group; visits to Pakistan by three of the four bombers on the July 7 bombings; and increasing evidence that there's a linkage between what happened on the 21st and on the 7th.
A number of pieces of evidence have come forward to strengthen that. So it's looking like a classic al Qaeda operation.
BLITZER: Usually al Qaeda doesn't misfire, and in the second series of attacks on the subway stations and the bus, the bombs didn't go off.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we don't understand that yet. I'm convinced the boatload of forensic evidence that the police now have will have the explanation for that.
My theory at this point is that it was a homemade explosive, probably TATP, that had deteriorated from storage. We don't know that, but that seems to me the most likely explanation.
BLITZER: There will be a lot of clues, if they found these bags and these bombs intact, including not only the type of explosives but probability fingerprints as well.
CLARK KENT ERVIN, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY INSPECTOR: That's right, Wolf. It's very, very important, obviously, for this kind of forensic evidence to be gathered and to be collected and to be gone through very, very quickly. It's going to be a bonanza, needless to say, for the law enforcement authorities that this much material has been found. BLITZER: If you take a look at 7/7, 7/21, two weeks exactly apart, three Underground subway trains and one double-decker bus, you have to assume, I am sure London authorities assume, it's going to happen again.
ERVIN: Absolutely. There is no question but that it appears as though London is under attack in this regard. And of course, it raises implications for the homeland here in the United States.
BLITZER: Well, let's talk about that. If London is under attack, what does it say for the U.S. subways, U.S. trains, ground transportation in this country?
ERVIN: Well, this is the third wake-up call we've had since the Madrid bombings last spring that our own transportation system, mass transportation system, is under threat.
And the funding imbalance is really very, very huge. We've spent somewhere between $18 billion to $20 billion to secure aviation since 9/11 and only literally a fraction of that, about $250 million, since 9/11. We need to right that funding imbalance right away.
BLITZER: There's a hair-trigger alert, if you will, law enforcement authorities in London, here in Washington, around the world, certainly around the United States are worried, especially the copycats and things like that, but there was a tragedy that occurred in London the other day. The law enforcement went after a 26-year-old Brazilian who had nothing to do with this. He was tragically killed.
Listen to what Sir Ian Blair, the London police commissioner, said about that.
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BLAIR: Why this happened is not just a matter of police policy or police action but the context in which the police officers were operating in which people have chosen to use suicide as a weapon on London streets and under London streets, and that changes the context.
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BLITZER: I'm worried about that happening in the United States, an overzealous cop or someone else seeing someone who's behaving suspicious, perhaps wearing an oversized coat or a backpack, but this person could be a homeless person; it could be a mentally retarded person; it could be a person who doesn't understand English but just acting in a weird way, and people taking a shot at them.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, from my long time in intelligence I can tell you, as tragic as this is, it's also true that intelligence officers and police officers have to make split second decisions under great stress, and it always possible that some mistake will be made.
And the main thing you have to do when it happens it to acknowledge it, admit it's a tragedy and then try to learn something from it. And I would think that's what's going to happen in London, and I would -- given the close ties we had with them, I think we would help with that and also benefit from whatever lessons they take from it.
BLITZER: Well, what lesson did you learn from this tragedy in London that could be applied here in the United States?
ERVIN: Well, it just shows the importance of making distinctions, and it's difficult to make those distinctions because, as John says, they have to be made on the split-second basis.
But we can't take away from this the lesson that the public shouldn't be vigilant and shouldn't call the authorities attention to people who may be behaving suspiciously.
Suspicious is a judgment call to be made, but we need to encourage people to make that judgment call because the eyes and ears of the public can greatly amplify the ability of law enforcement and intelligence personnel to identify people who might indeed be threats.
BLITZER: I assume those undercover police, who were in plain clothes chasing this Brazilian 26-year-old engineer, they shot him in the head three times, fearing that he still had a bomb potentially on his vest or on his body. And as a result, they didn't want to trigger that bomb as opposed to shooting him in the legs and disabling them.
ERVIN: That's exactly right. Apparently, the London authorities have made the determination to shoot in the head for precisely the reason that you say. So this was just a confluence of very, very tragic circumstances.
From the police perspective, he was acting suspiciously. From his perspective, no doubt, he, himself was under danger. It's very, very difficult, indeed, but as I say, we can't draw the lesson from this that people shouldn't call the authorities' attention to people in their judgment who are acting suspiciously.
BLITZER: All right, gentlemen, we're going to take a quick break, but we're going to continue this conversation.
Much more to talk about with our guests. Stay with "LATE EDITION." We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." John McLaughlin, what do you make of the terror attack this weekend in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Egyptian city on the southern tip of Sinai?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we don't have enough facts yet, Wolf, to determine who did it and all of that. But there are two countries in the world that have special meaning for al Qaeda. One is Saudi Arabia because of bin Laden's history there.
BLITZER: He's a Saudi.
MCLAUGHLIN: The other is Egypt because his deputy, Zawahiri, is an Egyptian. He was head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which merged with al Qaeda.
And it's also true that Zawahiri, in his writings, has said that it's important at some point that the movement actually take over a country. And two of the countries that would be on their list would be Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to have a base of operations from which to foment revolution and spread their views throughout the world.
So while we don't know the culprits here, or the perpetrators, it has more of a feel of an al Qaeda operation at this point than some of the earlier operations in Egypt, which were not necessarily al Qaeda associated.
BLITZER: And the fact that they're going after an economic target, if you will -- the tourism industry in Egypt represents so much of the wealth, the GNP of Egypt they're going after -- they're trying to end it, if you will.
MCLAUGHLIN: That's exactly right. And of course, there's a pattern of this, Wolf. Of course, the attacks in Luxor, the Pharonic tourist attraction in Egypt in the '90s obviously was arguably the start of this. Bin Laden himself has been very clear that one of his main aims is to attack the economies of the west, and, indeed, the world at large. So this is a very, very important advance in that goal for them.
BLITZER: Has the war in Iraq helped or hurt the overall war on terror? And I ask this in connection with this Pew poll that came out. Iraq's effect on the war on terror: 47 percent of Americans now believe it's hurt the war on terror; 39 percent say it's helped on the war on terror.
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it's a tough question. I don't think Iraq is the cause of extremism but it is a cause for extremists. It is a recruiting tool that they can use. Everyone you've talked to this morning has pointed out that bin Laden obviously attacked the United States before Iraq.
The Australian prime minister the other day pointed out that Bali was attacked long before the Iraq war. So it isn't the real reason why they're doing what they're doing. But it is something that enables them to point to an issue and use it as a recruiting tool.
BLITZER: I want to show our viewers the pictures of the four suspects the British police are looking for right now, presumably second-generation British citizens of Pakistani or other ancestry. What does that say for Homeland Security officials here in the United States?
ERVIN: Well, it's very troubling, Wolf, because what it suggests in Britain is that there are home-grown terrorists who pose a threat to that country. And of course, that raises the obvious question: whether there are like-wise cells here in the United States, American- born people who are threats to our country. Of course, there's the Jose Padilla example of a Hispanic who become radicalized and a Muslim convert.
There are other examples. Indeed there are apparently some ties between the London terrorists and people here in this country.
So this needs to be explored. It is being explored by our authorities. But it poses a real danger that we ought to be concerned about in this country.
MCLAUGHLIN: I agree with what Clark said, but there is a difference. The Muslim population in Europe is one that has grown dramatically since the end of World War II. Currently there are about 10 million Muslims in Europe. Generally, that's about four percent of the population. That's doubled in the last ten years. So it's a rapidly growing population in Europe that isn't necessarily assimilated. It's bitter, isolated and cohesive.
The United States does tend to assimilate people better. Compare that to the Hispanic population in the United States, which is, you know, much better assimilated, and has grown gradually over time.
That said, Clark is absolutely right. In almost every one of these cases, we have discovered someone in the United States who is in some way connected to one of these plots. And in the case of the London bombing, there are at least a couple of individuals connected to people who are involved in the two London bombings who have been in the United States.
BLITZER: Well, we'll pursue this during the course of the week.
John McLaughlin, Clark Kent Ervin, thanks to both of you for joining us.
We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: WE have the results of our Web question of the week. Check it out. Remember, though, it's not a scientific poll.
That's your "LATE EDITION" for Sunday, July 24. Please be sure to join me next Sunday, every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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