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In the Crossfire

Antiwar actor: 'I don't have to be a policy expert'

Janeane Garofalo
Janeane Garofalo: "[A war] is going to destroy our economy even further. It's going to be a threefold humanitarian disaster."

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Millions of people around the world have taken to the streets to protest a potential war against Iraq. But when celebrities take up the picket signs, the cameras are never far behind.

A group called "Artists United to Win Without War" announced Wednesday a "virtual march on Washington" in which people opposed to President Bush's hard-line stance in Iraq will fax, e-mail and telephone elected officials in the nation's capital next week.

Why are actors such as Martin Sheen, Mike Farrell and Sean Penn criticized for their antiwar stance? Actress Janeane Garofalo joined hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson to discuss Hollywood's antiwar movement.

CARLSON: Now Janeane, you often hear opponents of a war against Iraq, particularly opponents who live in Los Angeles, say something along the lines of, "What has Iraq done to us?"

And I guess, just a very quick, off the top of the head list is: attempted to assassinate an American president, allowed terrorists harbored in Iraq to kill an American diplomat just late last year in Jordan, apparently signed an agreement with al Qaeda, trained al Qaeda members in the use of chemical and perhaps biological weapons.

I mean, what other evidence do we need?

GAROFALO: Well, first of all, being that I'm a New Yorker, I can't speak for Los Angeles. And, B, I don't know why all actors have to be apologists for other actors. But I don't know who you're referring to exactly who said, "What has Iraq done to us?"

Well, there's no credible link between Iraq and al Qaeda. There's no credible link between Iraq and 9/11. So, if you want those links, then we should be going to Saudi Arabia. Or if you want weapons of mass destruction and a dictator that starves his own people, we should be in North Korea.

Nobody is an apologist for Saddam. Everybody thinks that Saddam should go. Everybody thinks the Iraqi people deserve to be liberated [but] nobody can agree on what the best method of achieving those goals is. And I don't think a war starting as soon as March 3 does any favors for anyone. A possible, global conflagration, catastrophe is almost certainly going to be the outcome of this war. ...

BEGALA: Here's a few of other celebrities who share your views. Gen. Anthony Zinni, Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Gen. Wesley Clark, Gen. Joseph Hoar and Gen. Merrill McPeak.

Generally good company. They all have the same first name, interestingly enough. But it turns out that you're in the company of a whole lot of big-time Pentagon brats who've also questioned Bush's war.

GAROFALO: Yes, you know, this antiwar movement is vast and huge and you know, 8 million people were out on Saturday. I'm sure that almost none of them were actors.

There are hundreds of thousands of credible voices you could be talking to right now that are far more qualified than I. I am as qualified as anyone who has access to the Internet, satellite dish, international and domestic news, a library, a bookstore and newspapers.

So, you know, when the patronizing teaser for the show [says,] "What does Hollywood know about foreign policy?" Well I don't know what the city of Hollywood knows about foreign policy, but do I know that a lot of people do learn and educate themselves about policy and I don't have to be a policy expert to know that this will be a disaster.

The Pentagon has ordered 75,000 body bags this week.

CARLSON: Wait a second, Janeane.

GAROFALO: What does that mean?

CARLSON: Janeane, you were asking why am I patronizing? You said a minute ago that there is no evidence that Iraq has any links to al Qaeda. Yet you claim to read the paper.

Those claims are uncontested.

GAROFALO: No, they aren't, Tucker.

CARLSON: Well, then perhaps you can answer this question. Then why has the head of the CIA, the secretary of state, the national security adviser and the prime minister of Great Britain all said we have seen the evidence that there are members of al Qaeda living in Baghdad [and that] there was an agreement between al Qaeda and Saddam. Are they all making it up?

GAROFALO: I know they're not making it up. The al Qaeda operatives are not secular, socialist, apostate people as they accuse Saddam of. Just because you have a common enemy doesn't mean you're linked. ... I'm going to agree with Thomas Friedman today, when he says that every time he hears Colin Powell saying there's a link and the Osama tapes prove it, he thinks of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. ...

You know, propaganda, I guess, is supposed to work. Did Colin Powell make the case for war? If you want war, he did. If you don't want war, he didn't.

So if you want to see links, OK. If you don't, he doesn't. But I think we better think long and hard about this before we go to a war that is going to destroy so many people and so many lives. It's going destabilize the Mideast. It's going to destroy our economy even further. It's going to be a threefold humanitarian disaster. I don't see the wisdom in it or the upside.

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