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CNN Wolf Blitzer Reports
Should John Walker Lindh Be Free on Bail?; Congress Orders Ex- CEO of Enron to Capitol Hill
Aired February 05, 2002 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Now on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS: He will go on trial for plotting to kill Americans and aiding terrorist groups. But should Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh go free in the meantime?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need better testing, better vaccines and better drugs if America is going to be as safe as it can possibly be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush seeks billions to prepare for bioterror attacks.
Command performance: lawmakers order former Enron chairman, Kenneth Lay, to appear on Capitol Hill. But...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CONRAD BURNS (R), MONTANA: If you think he's going to tell us anything in this room, I'd probably eat my hat in front on the Senate steps. And it's kind of dry chewing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Church and state: if Catholic judges believe the death penalty is contrary to religious teachings, should they resign? We'll have a debate.
Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Within the past hour, Attorney General John Ashcroft made it official, announcing a formal indictment of Taliban-American John Walker Lindh. And that tops our news alert.
The 10-count indictment against Walker Lindh charges the Taliban- American with conspiring to kill fellow Americans. It also says he was trained by al Qaeda. Earlier, Walker Lindh's lawyers asked a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia to release him, pending his trial.
Two Congressional committees issued subpoenas today to former Enron chief, Ken Lay. Both the House financial services committee and the Senate commerce committee are ordering Lay to testify next week on the Enron scandal. Lay abruptly canceled an appearance on Capitol Hill yesterday, saying he believes lawmakers have already decided on his guilt.
President Bush on the road, pressing his budget plans to spend billions on defense against bioterrorism. His stage today, a deadly disease early warning network at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He compared the system to the old DEW line, the Cold War radar stations designed to give advance warning of missile attacks.
Make it short! That's the response from Colin Powell on Iraq's latest request for talks with the United Nations. Appearing before a Senate committee today, the secretary of state said it is up to the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to prove to the world that he's not building weapons of mass destruction.
More now on our latest legal maneuverings in the case of John Walker Lindh. Within the past hour, U.S. government officials announced an indictment against the American who fought with the Taliban. Hours before, his lawyers were arguing for his release. CNN national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, has been tracking all of it. She joins us now live with the latest -- Susan.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Wolf. After predicting more charges could be filed, the U.S. government followed through, adding six more counts for a total of 10. John Walker Lindh, indicted by a federal grand jury in suburban Washington. As CNN obtains this new photograph of the so-called American-Taliban, taken when he was booked into a U.S. jail last month. If we have that photograph available -- here it is now.
It was released after CNN asked for it through the Freedom of Information Act. The new charges include using and carrying firearms and destructive devices, hand grenades, during crimes of violence. He's also indicted for conspiracy to kill Americans overseas and providing support and services to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
If convicted, the new charges carry not only a maximum life term, but another 30 years on top of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It is extraordinary for the United States to have to charge one of its own citizens with aiding and conspiring with international terrorist groups whose agenda is to kill Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: In a separate action, the defense began to lay out it its strategy with a motion to free Walker Lindh before trial. They charge he has no criminal record, has no history of violence, and would not run. They also lay out a chilling description of his conditions after capture -- allegedly blindfolded, duct-taped and shackled naked to a stretcher. In fact, the lawyers addressed why Walker Lindh gave a statement to two FBI agents without a lawyer present. And in their court documents, they say in part, when Mr. Lindh asked for a lawyer, he was told that there were no lawyers there. Mr. Lindh believed that the only way to escape the torture of his current circumstance was to do whatever the agent wanted. It was at this point that Mr. Lindh allegedly voluntarily waived of his right to remain silent and his right to counsel, and answered questions by the FBI interrogator.
Now, the attorneys for Walker Lindh argue therefore that any statements he made are -- quote -- "highly unreliable and inadmissible." And finally, Wolf, remember there is a detention hearing tomorrow, at which case the lawyers will try to argue this point. And then Walker Lindh will be arraigned on February 11th -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Susan Candiotti, thank you very much for that report. So the question is, should John Walker Lindh be released on bond? Is there any possibility of that? Joining us now for some perspective, the former Justice Department official, Victoria Toensing. Thanks very much for joining us.
The timing of all of this, the lawyers for John Walker Lindh file papers asking that he be released on bail. Within hours, the attorney general announces a formal indictment. Explain what is going on.
VICTORIA TOENSING, FMR. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That's not a coincidence. There was a court hearing scheduled for tomorrow, and two issues were supposed to be discussed -- a preliminary exam to find the basis for the charges, and the bail hearing. The Justice Department wanted to preempt, not have, that preliminary exam at all.
And if they indict before that scheduled hearing, they don't have to have the hearing and therefore, they don't give Walker Lindh's lawyers a chance for discovery in bringing in prosecution witnesses. So the grand jury just moots everything, as far as a preliminary exam. So now the only thing left for tomorrow will be the bond hearing.
BLITZER: And the arguments that they make, the lawyers for John Walker Lindh, in addition to the arguments that we heard Susan Candiotti make from the lawyers representing John Walker Lindh, another point they make is this. "Mr. Lindh has no criminal record of any kind and absolutely no history of violent or dangerous conduct. The affidavit presented by the government in support of the complaint does not even allege that Mr. Lindh has ever intended or attempted to harm any civilian, nor is there any evidence that Mr. Lindh is a flight risk." Is that likely to get him out on bail?
TOENSING: Well, the lawyers have done a great job. I read the brief here and they did a great job of taking the factors that the court is going to consider -- whether there's any condition that would make him presume that he would show up for trial. They took these factors and they mixed them all up so that the really important ones aren't even discussed. And the most important one the court's going to look at is how serious is the crime? And the crime has a life sentence, and the courts look at that as a very serious matter. And there is, usually, when you get into that kind of charging, there's a presumption that there is not going to be bond.
BLITZER: And so the point that they were making, the lawyers for John Walker Lindh, assuming they recognize that it was unlikely he was going to get freed on bail, as part of this discovery process, to get information that might help their case. Explain to our viewers what that means.
TOENSING: Well, they're not going to get it. I mean, they're not going to get that hearing in order to get information. What they're now trying to do in this document is set there, as Susan Candiotti pointed out so well, this is their political strategy. In this brief they're arguing things that have nothing to do with bond, like the conditions that he was in before he gave this statement.
That has nothing to do with bond. But this is their attempt to politicize the situation so they can argue later that the statements Walker Lindh made should not be admitted into the trial.
BLITZER: And the new ten-count indictment that was formally announced today, is that the end of it or can they still add charges if they want to?
TOENSING: The government can what's called superseding indictment, they can add charges whenever they want to.
BLITZER: So this process may be just beginning?
TOENSING: Certainly. Certainly it's not ended.
BLITZER: OK, Victoria Toensing, thanks for that analysis. Appreciate it.
And what do you think? Should the Taliban-American fighter John Walker Lindh be released on bond? So far, you won't be surprised to hear, the vast majority say "no." You can cast your vote at cnn.com, AOL keyword, CNN. Remember, of course, this vote is not scientific.
Turning now to homeland security. President Bush is on the road today. He was in Pittsburgh pushing his budget plans to spend billions on defense against bioterrorism attacks. Our Jeanne Meserve joins us with more on the president's plan -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Bush barnstormed into Pittsburgh to argue that more money must be spent to prepare against the threat of bioterrorism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's money that we've got to spend. It's money that will have good impact on the country. It's money that will enable me to say that we're doing everything we can to protect America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: The president is talking about a lot of money, $5.9 billion in his proposed 2003 budget. That's up more than 300 percent from 2002. He proposes that 1.6 billion be spent to prepare state and local health systems to detect and respond to any bioterror event. He wants to spend 650 million to expand the national pharmaceutical stockpile to include, for example, the next generation anthrax vaccine. And the president is requesting 2.4 billion to jump-start research and development into bioagent countermeasures.
By and large, members of Congress seem willing to foot the bill for homeland defense. But Senator Robert Toricelli, Democrat of New Jersey, says we ought to make sure we know what needs fixing, and warns the solution is not just about money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROBERT TORICELLI (D), NEW JERSEY: It's also good leadership, it's good people. It's making sure these agencies work together and have the right priorities. We need to find that out, before we give the same people and the same departments, the same agencies, just more money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: The president went to the University of Pittsburgh today, because it is on the cutting edge of using technology to do real-time disease surveillance. It gathers clinical information from hospitals and sifts it and sorts it, with the aim of giving early warning of illness, or possibly bioterror. The president likened it to the Cold War system intended to alert the U.S. to Soviet military attack.
But Dr. Tom Englesby, of the Johns Hopkins Center for Biodefense Studies, says that while systems of this sort are worthy of research, they are not a magic bullet at this point. As Englesby put it, "they are not ready for prime time."
Ari Fleischer, the president's spokesman, says, however, that the administration sees the University of Pittsburgh program as a model the administration would like to see duplicated -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jeanne Meserve here in Washington, thank you very much. And joining us now to talk a little more about the president's plan to fight bioterrorism, and how he proposes to pay for it all, is the bioterrorism expert Professor Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota. He's the director of the Center for Infectious Disease, Research and Policy, at the university.
Professor, thanks for joining us. Throwing money at this problem, is that going to resolve it?
PROFESSOR MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: Well, first of all I wouldn't characterize this it as throwing money at the problem. Actually, the administration and Congress together are really following a plan that was laid out by the public health community itself, to say these are the issues that we must address if we're going to be better prepared for bioterrorism. And actually, we're quite pleased to see that they actually are following that blueprint. There's no politics involved with this.
BLITZER: Is there a hole there, a gap? Some area that you think should be funded that he is not funding?
OSTERHOLM: I have to tell you, first of all -- and I think a rather unusual display of bipartisanship, science-based approach -- remember that the first money that just came out to all the state and local health agencies and to the federal agencies, came as a result of a Senate-House compromise on what was the first Kennedy bill, the Tauzin-Dingell bill in the House. Two Senate individuals, one Democrat, one Republican, the House, one Democrat, one Republican.
And it was a very thoughtful, well-scripted piece of legislation that addressed head-on the issues that we said were most important. The administration's blueprint is a follow-up to that original legislation, and I think actually is going to do a lot to help improve the public health response in this country, such that, not only are we prepared to deal with bioterrorism, but we're going to be able to deal with the everyday problems of West Nile Virus, antibiotic resistance, exotic new diseases coming into the country. And that's what the country is going to really win out of this effort.
BLITZER: This enormous increase -- and we're showing our viewers some of the details in a graphic that they were seeing just a few seconds ago -- this enormous increase in spending to deal with bioterrorism, the result, of course, of September 11th, the result of the anthrax attacks, of course, here in the United States. What does it say about what was going on in this country before September 11th, that it took what happened then to generate this kind of funding?
OSTERHOLM: Well, I think you hit it on the head. I think it says we weren't prepared. We had a skeleton system, something that you heard many of us say to you multiple times on your programs. And I think that now we can feel very pleased with the fact that we're getting it right. We are now developing a system in this country that will help protect its citizens from infectious diseases across the board, both in terms of new research and development, in term of vaccines, antibiotics, test methods.
We're talking about new surveillance systems that will allow us to quickly pick up these diseases and have a much more comprehensive response. And most of all, we're talking about then having that system in place that could have surge capacity, Meaning that if something did happen requiring hundreds of thousands, to millions of people needing to be vaccinated, we can do it. We can now look in the eye of the American citizen and say we can be prepared.
Remember on this very show some eight, 10 weeks ago, I told you point blank we couldn't say that. Now I'm very confident we can.
BLITZER: And the smallpox vaccinations, that's in the works. Do you think that that's going to be necessary?
OSTERHOLM: Well, the smallpox vaccination issue is one of having the vaccine. Again, we're not prepared to have everybody go get the vaccine. It's not a perfectly safe vaccine at all. There will be some serious side effects. But in the face of an outbreak of smallpox, where 30 percent of people will die, if I am infected with it, I could transmit it to anybody around me, unlike the anthrax. It's very important to have that vaccine.
And again, I think this is what -- of all the bad things that happened this fall, we went from having no smallpox vaccine program as such, to having a very major Manhattan-like Project effort that I think does show the government can work when we ask it to, when we demand that it does. And I'm actually very proud of the effort that they put forward.
BLITZER: All right, Dr. Michael Osterholm. He was one of the first to raise these concerns a long time ago. His book, "Living Terrors: What America Needs to Know to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe," was well-received. And as I say, it set the alarms in motion long before September 11th. Thank you so much, Dr. Osterholm, for joining us.
OSTERHOLM: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was on Capitol Hill today, defending the president's plans for the biggest military spending increase in 20 years. For the most part, he was received with open arms. Our military affairs correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, is over at the Pentagon. He's been covering the testimony. He joins us now live with details -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers went up to the Hill to lay out all the details of the budget. They had said even though this is, as you said, a record increase in defense spending, a plus up of $48 billion if you count that billion- dollar contingency fund, they said it still doesn't have money for all the things they needed. Specifically, they said they were not going to be able to replace aging aircraft as fast as they should, they weren't going to be able to build enough new ships for the Navy as quickly as they should.
As you said, for the most part, most members of Congress were understanding about the big bill for defense. But there was some question about why, at this stage in the war on terrorism, the United States still has no idea of the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, and a lesser idea of the whereabouts of Mullah Omar. And you could hear from the comments of some of the senators, that that was something they were very frustrated about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM BUNNING (R), KENTUCKY: You can't tell me today whether they're alive or dead, or where they're at? And if we're going to spend a billion-plus dollars a day, we ought to be able to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: Well, the U.S. says -- Pentagon says simply that it is using all means it has at its disposal to try and determine the whereabouts of bin Laden and Omar. Frankly, Pentagon officials admit at this point, bin Laden has eluded them. They don't really know where he is, in Afghanistan or outside of Afghanistan. They're pretty sure that Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, is in Afghanistan, but they don't have enough specific information to go after him at this point. But they do think he is in Afghanistan.
And Rumsfeld simply said that he never said that this was going to be easy, or that the war against terrorism would be quick -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jamie, what about the proposal to create a commander- in-chief for homeland defense here in the United States? Where does that stand?
MCINTYRE: Well, the president still hasn't signed off on that, but the Pentagon has pretty much finalized the proposal. We heard more about it today from the Joint Chiefs chairman, including a new acronym, NORTHCOM, for the Northern command. This command would be called Northern Command, as opposed to Southern Command, which takes care of areas south of the continental United States. It would include not just the United States, but also Canada and Mexico.
And it would essentially take away the responsibility the NORAD mission, or the air patrols over the United States, give that to the new commander, along with the responsibility for providing military support to civilian authorities,a and response for chemical, biological, nuclear incidents, all under one commander, a four-star responsible for the Northern Command -- Wolf.
BLITZER: NORTHCOM. Jamie McIntyre, they love acronyms over at the Pentagon, as you and I well know. Thank you so much for that update.
And joining me now to talk about the huge military budget and other related issues in the war against terrorism, is CNN military analyst, retired Air Force Major General Don Shepperd.
General Shepperd, thanks for joining us. You heard Senator Bunning complain. How is it possible with the vast military intelligence resources of the U.S., they apparently don't have a clue where Osama bin Laden is?
MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET), U.S. AIR FORCE: Or even whether he is dead or alive. That's the harsh fact of it. The facts are that we're spending over a billion bucks a day on the military, but the military is only part of the intelligence. There's also law enforcement, the CIA, and it's a big world out there, and easy for one or two people to hide, especially when they're intent on hiding, and they have a lot of money themselves. It's just real difficult.
BLITZER: And to underscore that point, I want to put up a map showing Afghanistan, showing all the countries in the region, if you take a look at the map -- and maybe we'll get it up on the screen -- there it is. This is Afghanistan, and you see all of these countries surrounding it. The other day, the Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld said this, "there isn't any doubt in my mind that the poorest border between Iran and Afghanistan has been used for al Qaeda and Taliban to move into Iran and find refuge."
Presumably they could be going anywhere, but what about Iran in particular?
SHEPPERD: Yes, Iran in particular, they do not like the Taliban, for sure. And so this is kind of a breaking news, if you will, on the al Qaeda and Iran and their relationship, and allowing al Qaeda. But in this part of the area, all those boarders are porous and money really talks in that area. Now today there was another breaking item out there, in that Iran says tell us where they are and we'll go after them. So, lots to be decided here on this issue.
BLITZER: Earlier today I spent some time with the visiting secretary of state of Kazakhstan, who was here, and he told me that he is now ready, his government, to go ahead and allow the United States to have some basing privileges in Kazakhstan, which is a strategically important country in Central Asia. Listen to this exchange I had with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASSYMZHOMART TOKAEV, KAZAKHSTAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I would like to say that the new stage of the cooperation in the military sphere will be providing airports in Kazakhstan -- or one of the airports in Kazakhstan.
BLITZER: An air base for the United States to use in fighting the war on terror?
TOKAEV: Yes. Mainly for this purpose. And the talks are going on between the appropriate agencies of those countries on this particular issue.
BLITZER: When do you think the United States will have that access to an actual base in Kazakhstan?
TOKAEV: It depends on the decision of the United States, which airport could be appropriate for this purpose. But politically it is the most important thing. Politically, both sides, both governments are very positive to the cooperation and this sphere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Secretary Tokaev, making it clear that Kazakhstan -- let's show a map again to show how strategically located it is -- right over here near Afghanistan, near Iran, Iraq. If the U.S. has a base there, that would be pretty significant.
SHEPPERD: This is really important news. First of all, it's the northernmost of the Stans, all of them being former Soviet republics -- them giving us access. We had access to the air space, but giving us a base is very important. And it's a very important message. Remember ,the axis that the president talked about was Iran and Iraq. And this gives you a lot of options in addition to naval air power. Land-based air power is the key to long-term warfare out there. So it gives us a lot of options if this happens. It's really important, Wolf.
BLITZER: OK, General Shepperd, thanks for joining us.
And Ken Lay's Capitol Hill no-show forces Congress to take action. We're live on the Hill at the half-hour.
But next, a 7-year-old girl disappears in the middle of the night. We're also live from San Diego with the search for Danielle Van Dam.
And Catholic judges are told to choose between the pope and their profession. Pat Buchanan and Frances Kissling debate the death penalty.
And is trouble brewing in the Pacific? The El Nino watch, later this hour. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back. How can a 7-year-old disappear from her bed overnight? That's what the parents and neighbors of Danielle Van Dam are desperately trying to figure out, as San Diego police launch a massive search. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez is there. She joins us now live with the latest details -- Thelma.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is indeed a massive search. In fact, a command center has been set up a few feet away from where we're standing right now. It is also a very sad day here in this neighborhood, as family and friends try to hold out hope that Danielle will be found alive and well. Right here on the corner, right beside me, there is a table with books and pictures and messages and prayers. It was placed here near the family's home. People have been coming here all day long signing that table that you see there.
Danielle's parents are in seclusion right now. Danielle is seven years old. She's in the second grade. Police say she was last seen on Friday night, when her father put her to bed around 10:00. Her mother had apparently gone out with friends at 8:30 at night. When she returned at 2:00 in the morning, she apparently ordered pizza. They noticed the burglar alarm lights blinking, and they noticed that a side door was open.
They went to bed around 3:00. Police say the family did not realize Danielle was missing until 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Dogs have searched the area all day long. Search and rescue teams are combing the canyons out here. One of the neighbors who apparently knows the Van Dams was taken in for questioning today.
Police say the man, whose name has not been released, has not been arrested, and he is cooperating. He is apparently a man who was questioned yesterday. Police returned today because of additional information that they learned. They would not say what that additional information is.
Investigators removed items from his home, and they impounded his vehicle. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DAVE COHEN, SAND DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: At this point everybody is a suspect until we arrest somebody for the case, you know, in connection with the case. Certainly it is probably one of the stronger leads, but we can't guarantee where that's going to lead us.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ: Danielle Van Dam is one of three children. Neighbors out here describe her as a very loving, very obedient child -- not a child who would run away on her own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her mom called me to see if she was at my house and she wasn't. So, you know, the minute we heard she was missing. You know, it's gut-wrenching. Nobody can prepare for that. Nobody can handle that at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ: All through this neighborhood you see pink and purple ribbons tied around the trees in front of the homes here. The family says that pink and purple are Danielle's favorite colors. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Thelma, I'm sure this question must be asked. Just strange to me, as a parent. You come home, 2:00 in the morning, you see a blinking light meaning the security system went off, a back door open. You don't check the kids to make sure everything is OK? You only discover a kid is missing at 9:00 in the morning?
GUTIERREZ: It is indeed a very strange question. In fact, it is one that many people here have been asking all day long. Danielle's bedroom is on the second floor of the home, and people have wondered if you came home and you see the light blinking, the door open, you would assume that you'd go upstairs and check. Apparently, that did not happen until 9:00 in he morning the next day. Strange question indeed, Wolf.
BLITZER: OK. Thelma Gutierrez, thanks for that good report. Let's hope and pray for the best, as far as little Danielle is concerned.
And let's check these other stories on today's "Newswire": Michael Jordan and his wife, Juanita, are giving their marriage another try. She has withdrawn the divorce petition she filed last month. And the couple are asking for privacy as they attempt a reconciliation.
Jury selection began today in the bribery and corruption trial of Congressman James Traficant. The Ohio Democrat says he is innocent. And even though he's not a lawyer, Traficant is representing himself. Arizona Senator John McCain undergoes more surgery in just a couple of hours. It's to cover the scar on his nose, where doctors yesterday removed a lesion of melanoma. Doctors say the cancer was in its earliest form and confined to that area.
A check of this hour's top stories just ahead: Congress changes its tone. We will go live to the Hill to see what's in store for former Enron chief Ken Lay.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's top stories: The attorney general, John Ashcroft, says a grand jury indicted John Walker Lindh on 10 counts. All are related to his actions as an American accused of fighting with the Taliban. A bond hearing is set for tomorrow in Alexandria, Virginia.
President Bush was in Pennsylvania today drumming up support for his new budget. In it, funding for bioterror defense gets a $6 billion boost. And almost a third of that will go for bioterror research at the National Institutes of Health.
Daniel Pearl's wife made an impassioned plea for his release today. During a television interview, Marianne Pearl said she would gladly take her husband's place in captivity. The "Wall Street Journal" writer disappeared January 23 in Karachi, Pakistan.
We will look at that interview with Marianne Pearl tonight. And I'll be speaking with another journalist, Frank Smyth, about the time he was held hostage in Iraq. Make sure to join me for that here in the CNN "War Room" in about 90 minutes at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Meanwhile, the Enron mess was front and center once again today on Capitol Hill. Several hearings were held on the energy giant's collapse. And members of Congress took steps to secure a meeting with the company's former CEO.
CNN congressional correspondent Kate Snow joins us now live from Capitol Hill. She has been covering all of these developments -- what happened today, Kate?
KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one of the big pieces of news today: Committees on both sides of the Capitol, the House and the Senate, are going after, as you said, Kenneth Lay and making sure he will appear up here.
We're told the House committee has already issued a subpoena. The lawyers have responded. And Ken Lay will be here next week, probably on Thursday. Meantime, on the Senate side, they are going to be meeting about 15 minutes from now to decide when they are going to ask Mr. Lay to appear. They have received assurances, again, from his lawyer that he will come. But no one is sure that he will actually testify. He may very well plead the Fifth.
They are certainly, after this week's testimony and this week's hearings, going to have a lot of questions for Ken Lay.
(voice-over): As congressional committees move to compel Enron's former CEO, Kenneth Lay, to testify, the CEO of Enron's accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, was being grilled by House members. Joseph Berardino offered fewer answers than the congressman would have liked.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you let this happen, captain? Your ship is going to down and you are going to be lashed to the mast unless you start talking to us about what happened. Maybe you can explain it.
JOSEPH BERARDINO, CEO, ARTHUR ANDERSEN: Congressman, we are still getting facts. You want me to give you conclusions without all the facts.
SNOW: Berardino promised to get answers and said his company feels deeply for the people who have been impacted. Across the Capitol, another panel heard from some of them, one woman who said she had lost her savings for her daughter's wedding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Financial commitments were made, increasing my frustration and anxiety. As a mother, this is something I always dreamed of doing for my daughter. Today, that burden has fallen on her shoulders.
SNOW: The crux of that hearing, though, revolved around the 401(k) plans and what Enron managers of those plans did or didn't do. Senators grilled some of those managers, asking them: Why was there this two-week blackout period where Enron employees were not able to sell off their stock?
They asked: Couldn't they have delayed that two-week blackout period? Enron officials acknowledged that they considered today delaying that two-week blackout period. But they told senators they decided not to delay that even though they knew the stock was going down at that point, because, in their words, they didn't want to leave anyone out of the loop.
They didn't want to exclude some of those employees that they said worked outside of Houston and maybe wouldn't get the word by mail fast enough that they were delaying the blackout period. In fact, a couple of them, Wolf, even mentioned they were worried about the anthrax scare, that they if they sent out notices saying they were moving this blackout period that people wouldn't get the notices because of anthrax -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Kate, William Powers, as you know, wrote an internal report on the problems that Enron had. He was testifying today on the Hill as well. What was the thrust of his message?
SNOW: He was testifying today. He also testified last night. And today's testimony echoed a lot of what he told the House panel last night. He basically says there is not one person to blame for Enron's collapse, but rather a whole system of people, a lot of people to blame.
He was studying those outside partnerships that Enron made as sort of hedges to try to offset some of their potential losses. And he says that what they were doing is essentially hedging with themselves. He blames a lot of the problem for at least one of these outside partnerships on Andrew Fastow. That's the former chief financial officer of Enron. We expect to hear from him. We expect to see him, Wolf, on Thursday, although we are understanding that Mr. Fastow is going to claim his Fifth Amendment privilege -- Wolf.
BLITZER: OK, we will be covering all of that well. Kate Snow, thank you very much.
And this related development: The Houston Astros today took steps to have Enron's name removed from their ballpark, which is called Enron Field. The Astros say the negative publicity surrounding the Houston energy company is tarnishing the team's reputation. And now they're looking to the courts for release. Enron has a 30-year, $100 million contract for those naming rights.
The president says it is needed to ensure economic recovery, but apparently some in the U.S. Senate are not so sure, at least in the way it is being presented. Today the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, announced the economic stimulus bill President Bush is promoting doesn't have the needed votes.
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DASCHLE: With great regret, I will pull the bill tomorrow, with the offer that, should they choose at any time to sit down and sincerely want to find some solution, I'm ready. We're ready. And we will do that at a moment's notice.
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BLITZER: Members of the House passed the bill last fall. And President Bush has been pushing senators to do likewise, expressing his frustration just a short time ago at the latest turn of events.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was just informed that Senate will not vote out a stimulus package. I am extremely disappointed. There's a lot of workers who hurt. And they need help. Our economy, while there is some good news, needs more stimulus. I still think we need to pass a bill that will help workers and help stimulate the economy.
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BLITZER: In recent days, there have been signs the economy may be improving, leaving some economists to believe the stimulus package may no longer be needed. A Supreme Court justice's comment sparks controversy within the Catholic Church over the death penalty. Pat Buchanan and Frances Kissling, of Catholics For a Free Choice, debate when we come back.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is taking aim at the church and judges who support that opinion. He says this: "The choice for the judge who believes the death penalty to be immoral is resignation." Justice Scalia is, of course, a Catholic. He certainly is not shy about expressing his opinions.
Joining us now with more on this debate are two people also not shy: Frances Kissling -- she is president of Catholics For a Free Choice -- and Pat Buchanan, the former Reform Party presidential candidate.
Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Justice Scalia, you disagree with him. Why?
FRANCES KISSLING, CATHOLICS FOR A FREE CHOICE: Well, I disagree with him. I think that justices should stay in their jobs and follow both their consciences and the law. And I think it is possible to do that even on the death penalty.
BLITZER: You agree with Justice Scalia.
PAT BUCHANAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Justice Scalia is right. Look, Wolf, if the death penalty is constitutional and legal in the state and the people have voted for it, and a capital case comes up, and judge in conscience cannot impose it, he ought to recuse himself and step down from the case, quite obviously.
If a judge believed, for example, he didn't like incarceration, would you allow him in a courtroom where you have got thieves or rapists or robbers and he wouldn't sentence them to prison? Of course a judge should step down if he doesn't agree believe in what the law says.
KISSLING: Well, those decisions are made in a different way. I think judges are American citizens. They can stand up for their views. Views change. Holding a minority opinion is not a bad thing. If a judge behaves improperly in the eyes of people either who elected him, if he is an elected judge, or if he is an appointed judge, there are other opportunities. The court can remove him.
But he should stand by what he believes -- he or she should stand by what they believe in and let the process move forward. This is how we can change public opinion on some of these issues.
BUCHANAN: No. No. If the judge, in effect says, "I will not enforce a death penalty," then he is not obeying the law, if the law says it can happen, if the jurors want it. If he cannot, he ought to stand down from that case.
Now, I do agree, look, if he wants to be in tax court or something else. But, again, if you don't believe in punishing criminals the way the law applies punishment, you shouldn't be the judge.
KISSLING: I think it is a little tough to say that someone who opposes the -- a judge who opposes the death penalty doesn't believe in punishing criminals. In most of these instances, even where the death penalty is concerned, there is some judicial discretion. And there are some opportunities for judges to make up their mind.
This is pretty common, standard practice. I think the notion that people should leave their consciences at the door, whether they are judges, whether they're policemen, whether they're ordinary citizens, is just not the way we want to do this.
BUCHANAN: It is like having a general in the military who believes in pacifism. It is utterly ridiculous.
KISSLING: I don't think the president would allow such a judge to -- such a military man to exist.
BUCHANAN: And we shouldn't allow the judge.
KISSLING: But we do.
BUCHANAN: By the way, Justice Scalia is correct on this when he talks about Catholic doctrine. And you were wrong, Wolf. The Catholic Church doesn't officially condemn the death penalty. Scripture allows it. Tradition allows it. The moral theologian allows it. Augustine does. Aquinas does. The Papal States had a death penalty. Vatican City had a death penalty
KISSLING: But things do change.
BUCHANAN: The pope personally opposes the death penalty. A majority or bishops don't like it. But that is not
KISSLING: This is not just a minor thing like the pope likes white bread or rye bread. This is just a very important moral decision. And the pope's thinking has evolved in this. The church's teaching has evolved on this. And indeed we are far more closer. I do agree with you that it is not church doctrine.
BUCHANAN: Well, I will tell you what is church doctrine.
KISSLING: But we are far more closer -- what is church doctrine is to follow your conscience.
BUCHANAN: Wolf, can I respond here?
BLITZER: Go ahead.
KISSLING: But the more important thing is that the church, the dominant position in the official church right now is that the death penalty is
BUCHANAN: That is opinion. OK.
BLITZER: You are a good Catholic, I have known you for many years. How do you feel disagreeing with the pope...
BUCHANAN: Well, the pope and I...
BLITZER: ... on the issue of the death penalty?
BUCHANAN: Well, look, mine is more consistent with faith and morals, what every pope and what the church has taught down through history and what the doctors of the church teach. Father Avery Dulles just did a long piece on it. But Frances' problem is, she supports a procedure, abortion, which results in automatic excommunication from the church, automatic excommunication.
KISSLING: Actually, it doesn't. I think this is one of the problems. Your understanding of Catholic theology is really very flawed. Automatic excommunication is very rare. And it does not apply to those who support the right to abortion.
BUCHANAN: If you participate in an abortion, you're out.
KISSLING: What do you think a judge should do who is -- quote -- "pro-life" in a country where the Constitution says we are indeed pro- choice and women have a right to make those decisions?
BUCHANAN: I'll tell you what he should do.
If I were a judge and I had to, say, require someone to have an abortion, I would resign from the bench.
BUCHANAN: Because I believe that is killing innocent human beings.
KISSLING: But that's not the case. That is a hypothetical that doesn't exist. I would be right with you, because I don't think we should require anybody to have an abortion. But I don't think we should prevent them from doing it.
BLITZER: You are a good Catholic, too.
KISSLING: I'm a good Catholic -- I'm a Catholic.
BLITZER: But when it comes to abortion, you disagree with the Catholic Church, too.
KISSLING: I'm a Catholic. I don't think it is for me to say I'm a good Catholic or I'm a bad Catholic. I think I am a Catholic. And I don't think it is for me to say Pat is a good Catholic or a bad Catholic either.
BUCHANAN: Anybody that advocates a procedure that has resulted in 40 million innocent unborn children slaughtered in the womb is not, to me, a good Catholic.
KISSLING: Anybody who advocates a procedure that results in the death of mentally retarded people is, you know, flawed. But we are all flawed human beings, aren't we, Pat?
BUCHANAN: Well, some of us are also wrong.
BLITZER: We are talking about Catholic judges who disagree with what is the law of the land.
KISSLING: They should follow their conscience.
BLITZER: Well, Pat Buchanan says they should resign.
KISSLING: Well, Pat Buchanan is wrong. On this one, I'm with the pope.
BUCHANAN: Well, narrow it down, Wolf. I'm talking about, if it is a capital case, and let's say McVeigh, a judge who, in his conscience, did not believe in the death penalty should stand down from that case, just as a juror who says "I morally oppose the death penalty," I would say, "Fine, that's your moral position. You are off this jury."
That's the simple point.
KISSLING: Judges have far more latitude than jurors. Judges are trained in the law. They understand that, even in a capital case, the application of the death penalty is not automatic.
BUCHANAN: It is not.
BUCHANAN: If he will never apply it, he should be off the court.
KISSLING: Well, first of all, no one knows what they will never do.
BUCHANAN: Rose Bird was impeached or recalled by the California Supreme Court because she would not enforce the law as written.
BUCHANAN: A federal judge serving for life should be honorable and honest and stand down. BLITZER: We only have a few seconds, but should the Supreme Court justice, Antonin Scalia, be making these kinds of public statements?
KISSLING: Well, I think he puts himself in some kind of jeopardy in the sense that, when you go out and you put your religion on your sleeve and you say that Catholic justices in a constitutional government, in a pluralistic society, have obligations that are different than others, it is problematic.
BLITZER: Ten seconds to wrap it up.
BUCHANAN: Complete nonsense. Justice Scalia is a man of honor. He's a good Catholic. And he is speaking the truth about both the law, the Constitution and church doctrine.
BLITZER: OK, Pat Buchanan, Frances Kissling, thanks to both of you for joining us.
We have a promotion over here -- Patrick J. Buchanan -- look at this -- "The Death of the West."
What number is that on the "New York Times" best-seller list?
BUCHANAN: It's No. 5. It will be seven this weekend. We are fighting to hold our position, Wolf.
BLITZER: OK. Congratulations on a best-seller.
Pat Buchanan, thank you very much. Frances, thanks to you as well.
KISSLING: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: And what will happen to the twins? We'll have the latest on Major League Baseball's move to cut two teams. And an unwelcomed weather trend may be making a return. We will hear what scientists have to say about that.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Now checking these stories on today's "Newswire": a stay of execution for Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos. Major League Baseball is putting off contraction until next year. The baseball Players Union filed a grievance and Minnesota's Supreme Court refused to hear baseball's appeal of an injunction forcing the Twins to honor their stadium lease.
A huge parade and cheering in the streets of Boston as fans of the New England Patriots honor the Super Bowl champs -- and, in case you missed it Sunday, the Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams on a field goal with only seconds left in the game -- I don't think anybody missed that. Let's go live to New York now and get a preview of "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE." That, of course, begins right at the top of the hour -- Lou.
LOU DOBBS, "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE": Thank you very much.
Coming up tonight: The battle over the Bush budget may kill economic stimulus. We'll have a live report for you from the White House. We will have the latest for you on the investigation into Enron's collapse. We will be talking with Congressman Billy Tauzin and John Dingell. And former Defense Secretary William Cohen will be here to talk about the president's new budget, particularly the defense spending budget. And stock prices today lower on Wall Street -- we will have all of that, a lot more at the top of the hour.
Please join us -- Wolf Blitzer, back to you.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Lou.
And stay with us. Scientists say we may see the return of a disturbing weather trend. We will have the full report right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
The weather anomaly known as El Nino knocked the world's weather off balance a few years ago. And now weather experts say a warming trend could be brining El Nino back.
CNN environment correspondent Natalie Pawelski joins us with that -- Natalie.
NATALIE PAWELSKI CNN ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, climate scientists say El Nino seems to be rehearsing for a return engagement. Data from satellites and buoys show the Central Tropical Pacific has been heating up right along the equator. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say that, if the warming continues to spread, El Nino could return within a few months.
Now, you may remember the last El Nino we had back in 1997 and '98. That was one of the strongest on record. And it was blamed for weather problems ranging from mudslides in California to drought and fires in Indonesia. Scientist say, for now, there is no telling how strong an El Nino we might get or how long it might last. So they will be keeping an eye on the situation over the next couple months.
If a strong El Nino does develop, though, it could be felt across the United States and even the world -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And when you stay it could be felt across the United States, what should we be expecting?
PAWELSKI: It's sort of this crazy quilt of effects, Wolf. Some places would get drought. Some might get torrential rains. You would look for fewer Atlantic hurricanes. You would look for dry areas in the Pacific Northwest and in the Southwest. And you might see more mudslides back in California, because they usually get a wetter winter.
BLITZER: Natalie Pawelski, thank you very much for that good and useful information.
And I'll be back here if one hour with the CNN "War Room" updating the story of the kidnapped journalist Danny Pearl. We will also hear from his wife and Frank Smyth, the journalist held by the Iraqis. That is at 7:00 Eastern, 4:00 Pacific.
Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. "LOU DOBBS MONEYLINE" begins right now.
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