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Rice Discuses Search for bin Laden; Daschle Expresses Support for Bush's Handling of War; Kyl, Levin Debate Next Steps in Eradicating Terror

Aired December 16, 2001 - 12:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington; 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles; 7:00 p.m. in Jerusalem; and 9:30 p.m. in Kabul, Afghanistan. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for this three-hour LATE EDITION.

And in our third hour, we're launching a new LATE EDITION feature, the "Final Round." Four very opinionated panelists will share their views on the big stories of the week. We'll also be responding to your phone calls and e-mails. That's LATE EDITION's new "Final Round," coming up in our third hour.

We'll also hear shortly from President Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. But first, the latest developments in America's new war.


BLITZER: And earlier today I spoke with President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, about the search for Osama bin Laden, the next targets in the war against terrorism and much more.


BLITZER: Condoleezza Rice, thanks once again for joining us.


BLITZER: Let's get right to the situation in eastern Afghanistan. Reports that it's all over effectively in the Tora Bora region, that the Eastern Alliance forces allied with the United States have won, Al Qaeda has lost. Is that right?

RICE: As far as we know, Tora Bora has, of course, been under assault for some time, and it may well be now that Al Qaeda has been defeated there.

It's an area, though, that is quite difficult. And I would just warn against any premature declarations of victory in that area. It's very mountainous around there. There's still a lot of work to do.

So we're going to keep after it until we're certain that Al Qaeda has been defeated there.

BLITZER: So there's still some work to be done.

RICE: There's work to be done in many pockets of Afghanistan. And in fact, we are determined to keep our focus on making certain that Al Qaeda is really destroyed in Afghanistan, that it cannot use Afghanistan as territory to regenerate or continue to carry out terrorist activities. So there's still a lot of work to do there.

BLITZER: All right. What about Osama bin Laden? There had been reports he was there. Does the U.S. know where Osama bin Laden is right now?

RICE: We do not know where Osama bin Laden is right now, but we do know one thing. The amount of territory in which he can operate is shrinking. We also know that he is on the run.

And part of the goal here was to break up this network, to disrupt it so that it cannot continue to plan and train and carry out terrorist activities.

We will get him. It may take a month, it may take a year, but the United States is determined to make certain that Al Qaeda, the network, not just Osama bin Laden, but the leadership and the network, are broken up so that it cannot continue to do the things that it was doing.

BLITZER: Is it possible Osama bin Laden managed to escape to neighboring Pakistan?

RICE: Well, anything is possible. But we are absolutely determined to keep after this. We have the support of regional leaders. We have the support of the neighbors. Eventually, eventually, we are going to find a way to break this network up and to make certain that its leadership is brought to justice.

BLITZER: Most Americans think it's pretty important to capture Osama bin Laden. A new "Newsweek" poll, "Would the U.S. military effort be a success if Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, are not captured or killed?" Thirty-one percent say yes, but 62 percent say no. They want Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar.

RICE: Well, of course, the American, like the president and like the rest of the administration, want this network and its leadership and the Taliban brought to justice with what they did.

But the president has said all along that we are going to be patient in this quest. We are not going to relent until we have achieved our goals, and of course the goal is to bring this leadership to account.

Sooner or later we will be able to do that, but we may have to be patient to do it. They have lived in this area for a long time. They know the area, but they should know that there is no place to hide that we not eventually find them. BLITZER: You assume he's travelling by himself or with one or two aides, Osama bin Laden, or he's got a big entourage of fighters with him?

RICE: I don't really know, and I don't think anyone really knows what he's doing to try and escape detection at this point.

I will say that anybody who hides in caves and runs this way while he's still trying to send young fighters to their death isn't a very brave person. And what we are learning about Osama bin Laden is that this isn't a leader. This is someone who's really quite cowardly in his own personal behavior.

But whatever he's doing, we have the territory more constrained in which he can operate. We have him on the run.

RICE: And sooner or later, no matter how long it takes, the United States of America is going to find him, the leadership, and bring them to justice.

BLITZER: Was that his voice that the U.S. recorded, intercepted earlier in the week on a radio communication?

RICE: I don't think we're -- anyone is quite certain about this. I don't want to get into the particulars of how we collect intelligence.

But let me just say again, this is a shadowy operation, we've always known that it was a shadowy operation that liked to hide. But there will ultimately be no place to hide.

BLITZER: The U.S. this week also put a multimillion-dollar bounty on head of Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban. Was he allowed to escape, in effect, with a wink and a nod, or did he successfully do it on his own?

RICE: We have no reason to believe that anything happened here but that he is still trying to evade the forces of the United States and of the alliance.

But, again, he is not a very popular figure in Afghanistan now for what the Taliban has done to that country. I think you're seeing, as we liberate the country, as the anti-Taliban forces liberate the country, that this was a terribly unpopular regime. And so, again, eventually he will run out of places to be and we will find him, as well.

This is not any longer hospitable territory for the Taliban or for Al Qaeda. And after only two months of this military operation, that's quite an achievement.

BLITZER: You believe he's still in the Kandahar area in southern Afghanistan?

RICE: Well, we have no reason to believe that he's left the country. The area in which he can actually operate is pretty narrow, because there are very few pockets now of Taliban strength.

But we're going to continue methodically to break up these pockets of Taliban resistance where they exist. We're going to continue methodically to work with the tribal leaders. We're going to continue methodically to work with alliance forces, all of whom have every reason to want to see Mullah Omar brought to justice for the horrible things that he did to his own country.

BLITZER: The Osama bin Laden videotape, why did the Bush administration release it this past week?

RICE: Well, it was released because in fact it was out there that there was a tape and people wanted to see it.

We do think that it shows that this is a man who has absolutely no conscience, absolutely no mercy for his innocent victims, and who, while he sits and laughs and hosts others, is sitting there watching people that he has asked to go to martyrdom go to martyrdom -- or go to their deaths. It really does show the true character of the man.

But it was a tape that was found in a house, and it seemed the right thing to do.

BLITZER: You obviously wanted to influence those doubters who may still exist in the Muslim and Arab world about the role that Osama bin Laden played. Did it achieve its purpose, the release of that tape?

RICE: I don't think there is any doubt when you watch this tape -- and let me just say, we had no doubts from the beginning that he was responsible for, he and the Al Qaeda network were responsible for, September 11. We had him, after all, under indictment for what he had done in the embassy bombings in Africa. We had every reason to believe Al Qaeda was behind the Cole incident.

So we had no doubts. But if anyone did have doubts, I think this should lay them to rest.

BLITZER: You have no doubt about the authenticity of this tape?

RICE: No, we do not.

BLITZER: How did you get it?

RICE: I'm not going to describe exactly how it was acquired, but let's just say that, in the activities and the operation when these houses and other places were abandoned, we found a lot of things.

BLITZER: You found more of these kinds of videotapes?

RICE: No, we found a lot of documents. We found a lot of documents of the activities of this organization. It's been fruitful to be able to clean out this area and to expose Al Qaeda for what it is.

BLITZER: It looks like the major purpose of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan is over. They're mopping up, going on, they're securing various locations. How long will U.S. troops have to remain in Afghanistan?

RICE: We're not going to set a deadline. We say to ourselves at every meeting that our deadline is when the mission is accomplished. And we believe that, until the Afghan territory is no longer a possible haven for terrorism, we believe that, until the Al Qaeda leadership is rounded up and this network and this paramilitary army of Al Qaeda is broken up, we will not have achieved our goals in Afghanistan.

It is also a network, of course, that is in many other places. And we shouldn't underestimate the importance of the intelligence- gathering, the law-enforcement activities, the financial piece of freezing assets that's going on worldwide.

This is one of the -- this is the most comprehensive war on terrorism that's ever been launched.

RICE: We have eyes, ears, activities in most parts of the world because we have unprecedented cooperation in trying to bring this network down. But it is out there in a lot of different places, and there is still a lot of work to do.

BLITZER: Are the Saudis fully cooperating with the U.S. in this war against terrorism?

I say it because the Saudi sheik who was with Osama bin Laden on that videotape, he seemed to be very much involved, an old pal of his, if you will, and so many of those hijackers, were Saudis.

Are the Saudis fully on board?

RICE: Al Qaeda was a foreign force. There were Saudis, there were Pakistanis, there was apparently an American. So it was a foreign force.

But the Saudi leadership has been extremely cooperative. We are totally satisfied with the cooperation that we're getting with the Saudis. One has to remember that they deprived bin Laden of his citizenship a long time ago. He is as much a threat to them, if not more, than to the rest of the world. And so they've been very cooperative.

BLITZER: Speaking of the American Taliban fighter, John Walker, is he cooperative? Is he fully cooperating in the debriefings that are under way right now?

RICE: Well, I'm not going to comment on what's going on in debriefings and action that the military is taking with him. But they are talking to him, and we will see what the disposition of him is to be when we know more about his activities.

BLITZER: You may have seen the item in "Newsweek" that's just out now, that not only was he involved with the Taliban, he was directly involved, they say, with Al Qaeda -- at least that's what he's suggesting. Was he?

RICE: I've read that too. I don't know. And I think until we have a better picture of his activities, it's probably just as well not to comment.

BLITZER: Did he commit treason?

RICE: I'm not going to comment on what will have to be a decision that will be taken under other circumstances.


BLITZER: We have to take a quick break. We'll have much more of my conversation with the U.S. national security adviser, Condoleeza Rice, when LATE EDITION continues. I'll ask her specifically about the next terrorist threats facing the United States.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We go back now to my interview with the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice.


BLITZER: The "Newsweek" poll that's out this weekend asks the American people, how likely are more terrorist attacks during this holiday season that's now before us? Very likely, 18 percent; 43 percent, somewhat likely.

In other words, 61 percent of the American public think it's either very or somewhat likely that there is going to be more terrorist attacks against the United States. Are they justifiably worried?

RICE: We're doing everything that we can to prevent any further attacks. You try and push out the border by going after terrorism where it is. That's why these cooperative efforts with people around the world, countries around the world so are important.

We're doing everything that we can to provide better security in the United States. The airport security efforts, for instance, are a part of that.

But no one can guarantee that there might not be another attack. And it's why the president has said that, while Americans need to get on with their lives, we also need to be vigilant, all of us.

Life did change on September 11, and it's key to get back to doing the things that make us American but to realize that vigilance can help not only in our personal lives but it might even help in uncovering or showing that something is about to happen because the American people have become part of the eyes and ears of the government in uncovering unsavory activities. BLITZER: The homeland director, the security director, Tom Ridge, says we should be -- the United States should be on -- continue to remain on full alert in light of these threats.

Are there still, in your estimation, sleeper cells, Al Qaeda sleeper cells, roaming around the United States at this time?

RICE: We have every reason to believe that there are still people out there who came into this country for the purpose of trying to hurt us.

And that's why the president and the attorney general and the homeland security director and the entire team are very focused on the disruption of these cells. It's why the president has been insistent that we have to have procedures and ways of dealing with this new kind of threat that will not tip the hand of investigators as they are trying to disrupt these activities.

It's extremely important that everyone stay on high alert. But again, we're all trying to get on with our lives. I was at a basketball game the other night. It was great to see the Americans there -- Americans there, getting on with their lives.

We're going to have to learn to both carry out and go and take our kids to school and go to basketball and football games and, at the same time, remain vigilant, because we are still in a state of alert.

BLITZER: There were reports that U.S. officials, perhaps military officials, were in Somalia recently, checking out whether there were some Al Qaeda operatives there, whether that would be, in effect, the next U.S. target -- Somalia, the Philippines, other locations around the world.

Is that a fair assessment?

RICE: Well, I'm not going to comment on ongoing operations, but we are obviously looking at places where we think that Al Qaeda might still have cells. And we're looking at places where we think Al Qaeda might right to regenerate, might try to find a new base.

But I would caution against assuming that one size fits all, that we're just going to take the strategy that we used in Afghanistan and apply it to seriatim to place after place after place.

We have a lot of instruments at our disposal. In some cases, we have governments that are cooperative, which the Taliban was not. And so, we're not going to just mechanistically do what we did in Afghanistan every place else. We have a lot of instruments -- the financial, intelligence, law enforcement -- that may be quite helpful in wiping out some of these cells.

BLITZER: You saw, I assume, the story in the "New York Times" today, that Mohamed Atta, who was the suspected ringleader of the September 11 attacks, may not have been in Prague, after all, meeting with Iraqi intelligence agent, that there's some doubt, perhaps, now.

Is there any doubt about that?

RICE: We've long said that we are looking at all of the possible evidence about Iraqi involvement. I think it's early to judge what that might have been.

But Iraq was a problem before September 11 and it's a problem after September 11. It's a problem because that is a regime that is determined to threaten the region, our interests, not to mention its own people. And it's a regime that we know is determined to get weapons of mass destruction, so that didn't change after September 11.

And of course, we want to know about Iraqi involvement, but it's not the key issue here.

BLITZER: The Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says that Yasser Arafat, the leader of Palestinian Authority, is now irrelevant. Israel will have nothing more to do with them. Will the U.S. take the same stance?

RICE: The United States recognizes that Chairman Arafat is representative of the Palestinian people, but it is time for him, as a representative of Palestinian people, to lead them and not to follow the siren song of violence and of activities that are just really keeping peace from happening in the Middle East.

And so what we have asked him to do is to go out and to say to his own people that violence and terrorism has to be addressed. You cannot carry out a peace plan in a situation in which there is terrorism and violence.

BLITZER: How much time does he have?

RICE: Well, I don't think anybody wants to set a deadline. But certainly, time is of the essence here. You cannot continue to have terrorist activities, terrorist incidents against Israel and expect to have fruitful peace talks.

Now, the United States has been very active in having security talks with the two sides. General Zinni has been out in the region. General Zinni is going to return home for consultations. He would have in any case with the Christmas holidays coming up. And we will see where we are.

But what Chairman Arafat needs to do is to break up the terrorist organizations that are operating in his midst. We are asking no more of him than we are asking of every responsible leader in the world, and that is to make a choice here and to break up the terrorism that's in his midst.

BLITZER: He says that in recent days he started rounding up the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, closing offices. Is he doing what he says he's doing?

RICE: Well, we will see. There is a lot of work to do even if he has begun, and we have been asking him to do it for a very long time. So it's about time now to stop talking about what he is doing to deal with terrorism in his midst and try to do something about it.

BLITZER: When will General Zenni go back to the region?

RICE: We'll see. He'll come back. We will all have a discussion how to move forward.

The United States is not going to disengage from this extremely important issue. We understand that the United States has an important role to play. That's why President Bush in his United Nations General Assembly speech, made the statements that he did. He laid out a positive vision for the Middle East. Secretary Powell followed that up in Louisville with a positive vision for the Middle East. We now have an envoy who is devoted to trying to advance that positive vision.

There should be a Middle East in which you have a Palestinian state, in which you have an Israeli state, and in which you have the possibility of security for everyone and prosperity for everyone. But we can't get there until we get passed this stage in which terrorism is being used to keep peace from taking place.

BLITZER: President Bush announced this week the United States was unilaterally abrogating the ABM, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. Generated negative reaction from the Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying we regard this decision as mistaken. The Chinese are also very upset.

At this delicate moment, why antagonize potential allies in the war on terrorism by taking this kind of controversial decision?

RICE: Well, Wolf, I just disagree with the characterization of what President Putin said. He said he was, of course, he thought it was a mistake. He's told us all along that he wanted the ABM Treaty to stay in force.

But he also said that he believed that U.S.-Russian relations ought to continue at the same level. And "the same level" is pretty high. We have unprecedented cooperation with Russia on a whole host of issues.

He said that we should continue our efforts on strategic arms reductions and, in fact, gave a range that is similar to the range for strategic arms reductions that President Bush gave and said it's time now to move on that agenda.

People who said we should not move away from the ABM Treaty said that there would be two effects: One would be that there would be an arms race, and the second was that we would blow up U.S.-Russian relations.

We have never had better relations with the Russians, and they are going to continue.

Arms are coming down. The ABM Treaty never did prevent an arms race. When this started, the Russians had about 2,000 weapons. We had about 5,000 when the whole arms regime started. It went to over 10,000 during the period of time in which arms control was most in place. Now, we are coming down to numbers that will get us to about two-thirds of where we are now. These are very are important reductions. It is simply not true that this is stimulating an arms race.

BLITZER: Well, what about the Chinese, very briefly?

RICE: The Chinese have said that they have concerns about this, but they have also said that they want to have high-level dialogue about strategic stability. And the president offered that in a phone call to President Jiang.

The truth is we needed to get out of the ABM Treaty in order to be able to move forward on missile defenses. We did it in a way in which U.S.-Russian relations are intact, in which we can have discussions with the Chinese, and in which strategic arms are coming down, offensive arms are coming down.

This is a very good outcome, and we think it is one is that going to make the world more peaceful and secure.

BLITZER: All right, Condoleezza Rice.

RICE: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Thanks once again.

RICE: Good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.


BLITZER: We still have much more coming up on the war in Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, but when we come back, the struggle for peace in the Middle East. We'll get both Israeli and Palestinian reaction to Yasser Arafat's speech.

LATE EDITION will be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

We'll get back to the war in Afghanistan shortly, but first, there's been a major development in the Middle East. The Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat delivered an address earlier today concerning the issue of terrorism.

Joining us now from Tel Aviv to talk about the Israeli reaction to the chairman's speech is the Israeli cabinet minister, Ephraim Sneh.

General Sneh, thank you so much for joining us. You listened to Yasser Arafat's speech. Did he say enough to reassure you that he is now still a relevant partner in the peace process? EPHRAIM SNEH, ISRAELI CABINET MINISTER: No doubt that he said some important, very important things. Generally, there were positive points in the direction of combating the terrorism, renouncing terrorism.

I do not underestimate or belittle their importance, but Arafat will be tested by the results, by deeds and not by declarations. Declarations are important, but it's not enough.

BLITZER: But what you're saying is that what you heard -- General Sneh, what you heard today is encouraging as far as your position is concerned?

SNEH: It's encouraging, but I say it is not enough. He will be tested by the deeds. If those who mastermind and prepare the terrorist attacks will be arrested; if those suicide bombers, who are in this very moment on their way to operate in Israel, would be intercepted, that would be a real sign that he means business.

BLITZER: And so in other words, you're willing...

SNEH: If it's just declaration...

BLITZER: You're willing to give President Arafat another chance, because, as you know, the Israeli government earlier in the week deemed him irrelevant and basically said it was too late for him to do or saying that would give him another chance.

SNEH: When we said that he is irrelevant, we meant that he no more address to our demands for curbing terrorism. This declaration is not irreversible. If he prove that he really means to act very, very forcefully, sincerely, effectively, seriously against Jihad and Islamic -- and the Islamic Jihad and Hamas and from his own (inaudible) movement, that will be a positive sign. And then I believe he reacquires his position as a leader with whom we can talk.

BLITZER: General Sneh, as you know, Mr. Arafat insists that he is doing the best that he can but that the Israeli military, the Israeli government is not helping the situation.

Listen to what specifically he said your government must do in order to help him crack down on terrorists.


YASSER ARAFAT, LEADER OF THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (through translator): The Israelis do not honor it, and they don't want a cease-fire. Doesn't matter, we have to respect and honor what we committed ourselves to. We have to respect this initiative and commit ourselves to it.


BLITZER: Is there anything the Israeli government can do to help him? In other words, perhaps accept a cease-fire over the next few days to give him a chance to prove that he's not only saying the right words from your perspective, but doing the right thing as well.

SNEH: Our activities are not intended to disrupt his activities. On the contrary, what we are doing is just because he failed to act. And all our movement and all our deployment in the West Bank and Gaza is aimed to enable us to catch the terrorists.

And what we do is not a contradiction to his activities. He is able to arrest them. He knows exactly who they are, where they are. And we are just expecting him to do the right thing, to intercept those suicide bombers and those who send them to action. We do not interfere with the actions of his intelligence and security organizations.

BLITZER: The former U.S. special Middle East envoy, Dennis Ross, wrote a piece in the "Washington Post" today, suggesting steps that Arafat should take but also steps that the Israeli Prime Minister Sharon should take.

Among other things, he urged Sharon to stop all military action against the Palestinians for four days to give the Palestinians a chance to crack down on terrorists.

Do you think that's a good proposal?

SNEH: As you remember, for several times we did it. We stopped activities. We allowed -- we gave time to Arafat to do his part. And actually, it was nothing happened. The middle of this period, there were terrible terrorist attacks which took lives of many, many Israelis.

I'm sure that if there is a serious proposal, it can be considered. But there are immediate moves that Arafat can take just now, without waiting to anything. And he can do it.

If there is any specific demands, we can consider it in a positive way. But this is not the reason why he doesn't arrest the terrorists, the ringleaders and those who are the perpetrators of those terrible operations.

Now for him -- now it's a step for him: if he is serious, or if this important speech was just another cluster of declarations.

BLITZER: General Ephraim Sneh, an Israeli cabinet minister, thank you much for joining us tonight, your time, from Tel Aviv.

And now I want to go to Gaza where the Palestinian cabinet minister, Nabil Sha'ath, is standing by.

Mr. Sha'ath, once again, welcome to LATE EDITION.

You heard what Ephraim Sneh just said, that the Palestinian Authority has to follow up what he described as encouraging words from Mr. Arafat, has to follow up with deeds.

Give us the next step. What specifically is the Palestinian Authority doing to crack down on Hamas and Islamic Jihad? NABIL SHA'ATH, PALESTINIAN CABINET MINISTER: Well, I think we all need to see deeds. Words are not really of any use unless they are followed with deeds.

And I think the Palestinian leader today was very clear about the deeds he is going to accomplish, not only in the next few days but hereafter.

SHA'ATH: He laid out a very clear plan of what needs to be done to stop mortars from flying, to punish perpetrators of suicidal bombings, and to stop all action even in reprisal for what the Israelis have done.

We don't need to really reinvent the wheel. There is a Tenet plan and a Mitchell plan. They clearly indicate what Israel ought to do in the way of deeds, as well as the Palestinians.

I did not hear Mr. Sneh say anything about what Israel intends to do in stopping assassinations, in stopping the closure, in stopping the bombing of our very police which is supposed to be pursuing those actions that President Arafat is talking about. All our police facilities have been utterly, totally destroyed by the Israelis, which is a very, very warped way of telling us, go after those who hit Israeli civilians.

BLITZER: The Palestinian Authority president was very specific in condemning terrorism.

I want to play for our viewers in the United States and around the world his condemnation of these recent terrorist acts. Listen to what Mr. Arafat said.


ARAFAT (through translator): We would like to reiterate again here today that all sorts of armed activities should be stopped, and there should be no more attacks, especially the suicidal bombing attacks that we have always condemned. And we will arrest all those who plan these attacks and arrest them.


BLITZER: What not only Israelis are saying, but what senior Bush administration officials here in Washington are saying is, why has it taken so long for Mr. Arafat to undertake these steps to crack down on these terrorists?

SHA'ATH: Well, I think, really, people totally underestimate what does it mean to be under attack, invasion and occupation by another country while you are trying to do matters that really stop any counterattacks on that invading country.

That is precisely the political difficulty that President Arafat was facing all the time. Besides the logistical difficulties of being contained in 60 Bantustans in the West Bank and Gaza, the total absence of mobility of the police force, and being targeted all the time.

There is a need politically to get the Palestinian people's support for President Arafat by showing them even a faint light at the end of that tunnel that Mr. Sharon has put us in.

BLITZER: Is it your sense that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians can resume under the auspices of General Anthony Zinni, the U.S. special envoy, any time soon?

SHA'ATH: We've got to, we have really no other alternative. We've got to sustain that cease-fire and head back to the negotiations and the dialogue and the peace process. Any alternative is a disaster that will totally destabilize this part of the world.

I respect General Zinni. I think he's a reasonable and an experienced man, and he should head back here with enough authority to use the influence of the United States on the two parties, and not only on the Palestinians, to get this thing moving, now that you heard clearly the commitment of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

BLITZER: How long do you believe it will take for the Palestinian Authority to bring security, to end these kinds of suicidal bombings that we've seen in these past recent weeks against the Israelis? How long will it take to get the job done?

SHA'ATH: The job can be done in a few days if the Israelis reciprocate and end their bombings and their siege, and can take more than that if we're contained to be hemmed in with our hands tied behind our back.

I think a lot depends on what the Israelis now will do. This is the opportunity to see whether Mr. Sharon really wants peace, or just wants to defeat the Palestinian people.

BLITZER: All right. Nabil Sha'ath, thanks so much for joining us from Gaza, a Palestinian minister.

Earlier we heard from Ephraim Sneh, an Israeli cabinet minister, saying he was encouraged by what he heard from the Palestinian leader earlier today, although he wants those words backed up by deeds. We'll see what happens over the next few hours and days. We'll be monitoring that, of course, very closely.

But when we come back, we'll get back to the war in Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden. If the world's most-wanted man is captured alive, what action should the United States take against him? We'll discuss that and more with the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle.

LATE EDITION will be right back.



COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: How could there be a doubt in anyone's mind any longer about what we have said from the very, very beginning: that he was the mastermind.


BLITZER: Secretary of State Colin Powell reacting to the release of the tape of Osama bin Laden. On that tape, of course, bin Laden indicates his knowledge and planning of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now, the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

Senator, of course, good to have you back on the program.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Thanks, Wolf. Good to be here.

BLITZER: Let me get right to the war in Afghanistan. Is there any aspect of the way the president is waging this war that you oppose?

DASCHLE: Not at all. In fact, if anything, we are more supportive now than when he started. I think he's doing it all right. There's very little to oppose.

We're doing the kinds of things we said we would do with the coalition. We're doing all that we can to find Osama bin Laden. We're doing it in a way that minimizes exposure to innocent people. So I think he's doing it right and he ought to be applauded.

BLITZER: Some of your colleagues, though, have complained about the military tribunals that have been proposed for suspected terrorists to try them, in effect, in secret before military commissions.

DASCHLE: Well, Wolf, I think there may be a role for military tribunals. I don't know that anybody can say for sure just how we're going to proceed. We need to see just kind of what environment would produce the need for a tribunal in the future.

But clearly, we're willing to look at them. I don't think you ought to be critical until you know exactly how they're going to be used, what the regulations and rules will be, and with whom they're going to be used.

BLITZER: Condoleezza Rice, on this program just a short while ago, said that she's convinced there are still sleeper Al Qaeda cells out there in the United States right now; they're working aggressively to try to round them up, to find them, to disrupt them.

How concerned should the American public be right now?

DASCHLE: Well, I think Condoleezza Rice had it right. You have to be concerned. We have to be on alert, but we try to -- we have to try live our lives normally as well. I think there is that balance. But clearly, all the intelligence reports would indicate that there is still a real possibility that some other activity may be ongoing. To the extent we can find it, to the extent we can cope with it, prepare for it and respond to it, I think we've got to do that.

BLITZER: But when you walk a delicate line -- on the one hand, you want everyone to be on high alert; on the other hand, you want everyone to go to malls, to go traveling, to spend money to get the economy back on course -- how do you finesse that?

DASCHLE: Well, it's a tough thing to finesse. Obviously, the situation is vastly different now than it was year ago or even four, five months ago. That balance is something that we have to get used to. That finesse is something that all Americans are still adjusting to.

But I think we're making progress. I feel better today about the way we have adapted than I did even a month ago.

BLITZER: All of us remember, of course, that you received that letter -- your office received that anthrax-laced letter, that was so potent, so powerful that the Hart Senate Office Building, where you have an office and other senators have offices, remains closed.

What's the latest? When that will office building be open?

DASCHLE: Well, that's a good question, Wolf. We've been told that it should be open now, right after the first of the year.

This is a whole new experience. We've not experienced anything quite like this before, either in terms of magnitude or as well as sophistication in the way we have applied the remediation. So I think it's taking a while.

But we have to do it right. We can't go back in until we know it's safe. And I think whenever that is -- and, hopefully, it will be right after the first of the year -- we can do it with the confidence that we've done everything we know how to do to make it as safe an environment to work as it should be.

BLITZER: And now we're hearing that perhaps the 60-day dosage of Cipro, the antibiotic that some of your staffers have been taking, others have been taking, postal workers have been taking, may not be enough. There may be a recommendation for a vaccine, the anthrax vaccine, to give to some of those individuals to remove any doubt, or maybe even another 30 days for a total of 90 days.

Some of your staffers been alerted to that?

DASCHLE: Well, you put it right. We are trying to eliminate any doubt.

We think we've already accomplished the regimen necessary. But just in case, the additional vaccine, the additional Cipro puts us on an even stronger position, a more confident position. And I think it's exactly the right thing to do. The vaccine, if it's applied, will be done on a voluntary basis. And it will be available to postal workers and to all of those who have been exposed. But we're trying to be as safe as we can with all the uncertainty, all the lack of real, concrete information that we have to have.

BLITZER: All right, Senator Daschle, stand by. Just to repeat, you yourself were never on Cipro. You didn't have to take any of that antibiotic.

DASCHLE: Actually, I was on Cipro for about 10 days...

BLITZER: Oh, you were?

DASCHLE: ... but after that, I didn't have to keep doing it and taking it, so I'm one of the lucky ones.

BLITZER: OK, so you're in good shape. Thanks.

Stand by. We're going to continue this conversation.

When we come back, much more of our interview with Senator Daschle. I'll ask him why he's become the target of criticism for so many Republicans. Also, all the latest developments in the war on terrorism.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We'll get back to the war in Afghanistan in a few moments, but right now we are continuing our conversation with the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle.

As you well know, you've been receiving a lot of criticism on domestic economic issues and other domestic issues in recent days and weeks. A new cartoon in the Weekly Standard, the conservative publication here in Washington, we'll put it up on the screen. Take a look at that. It shows you and the president, you're having a little fun, supposedly, behind his back.

Fred Barnes in a column in "The Weekly Standard" writes, "Daschle's aim is to limit Bush's achievements strictly to matters of war. Credit for success on other issues will be denied Bush," obviously an implication for political reasons.

Is that right?

DASCHLE: Well, Wolf, we are not trying to deny anything. What we are trying to do is to take this debate where it belongs, and that is on fairness and on the deficit.

We really don't believe that we want to exacerbate the deficit, take Social Security, Medicare funds for more tax cuts. We really think the emphasis ought to be on providing unemployment compensation, health care for the unemployed. We've got a million new unemployed people since last January. That's worth fighting for.

That's all we are saying. Let's see if we can find that balance. Let's not, for whatever short-term good, exacerbate the situation for long-term harm. That, to me, is the debate.

BLITZER: But, as you know, the Republicans say the best way to get those people jobs is to help some of the big companies so they can go out and hire those people to get jobs. It's job creation by tax cuts, providing incentives -- incentives, in effect, for these companies to be able to hire people.

They say what the Democrats want to do is simply spend more money that may or may not work. Usually, in their opinion, it doesn't work.

DASCHLE: Well, I think it has to be a combination of trying to spend money where it can really help, helping these unemployed workers so they can go out and buy groceries and pay their rent, and do the kinds of things that families have to do in America, is very stimulative, and it's fair. It's what we ought to be doing.

But to provide billions of dollars in give backs to corporations that made profits eight, 10 years ago, with the AMT, is something that the -- the alternative minimum tax -- is not my idea of business. I haven't found a businessman yet, Wolf, who says that that is the kind of stimulative approach we ought to take to public policy.

So, again -- and we don't want to exacerbate the debt. We don't want to buy down further Social Security and Medicare costs as a result of what we are doing here.

So, it really seems to me that's the question. Can we find the right balance? Can we be fair? Can we address the needs of the unemployed workers, at the same time providing stimulus to business?

BLITZER: Your Republican counterpart, the Senate minority leader, Trent Lott, was on this program last week. And there was some implicit criticism of your leadership. Listen to what he said.

All right, well, we don't have that soundbite, but I'll read to you what he said.


He said, "Unfortunately, the Senate is becoming a black hole of inactivity when you look at what's not being done."

Here is the question: Will there be an economic stimulus package passed by Senate this week, before you go out for Christmas recess, that the president can sign?

DASCHLE: I will say we will do everything we possibly can to pass a good one, but we're not going to pass a bad one. We can't tolerate bad policy. We don't want to run up more debt. We don't want to tap into Social Security and Medicare in ways that we shouldn't be.

We are going to find a way, if it's at all possible, but I think it has to be a compromise that both Republicans and Democrats can feel good about.

BLITZER: The House majority leader, Dick Armey, is leaving at the end of next year, says that Republicans have made all concessions so far. It's time for you, the Democrats, to accept some concessions, accept some of their proposals in order to achieve a deal.

DASCHLE: Well, Wolf, they want you to believe that, but I have yet to see where the evidence is. We haven't seen any movement on the Republican part on any of the benefit proposals that we have had on the table. We have given more on bonus depreciation. We have given on expensing. We have given on rate reduction. We've given on just about every one of the issues, but there has been no give back.

So, again, this is really a question. Do we provide benefits? Do we show some way that we have got an understanding of the pain that a million new unemployed workers are experiencing?

We've got to be able to show that. And that's really what this debate's about.

BLITZER: You know you have a tough struggle when you're going up against a president whose job approval rating is in the high 80s right now, 85, 86, used to be 90 percent. That's not easy to challenge a president who is that popular.

DASCHLE: It isn't easy. But we think we've got the facts and we've got the merit on our side.

You ask the American people, how should you provide economic stimulus? Should you give it away in billions of dollars in handouts to the largest corporations? Or should you help small business? Should you help the workers? Should you try to find the balance and not exacerbate the debt? They are with the Democrats every time, overwhelmingly.

BLITZER: Sounds like there's not going to be a deal this week.

DASCHLE: Well, again, as I say, we want a deal. In fact, we'll work this weekend to get a deal. But it's got to be a fair deal, or there is no deal.

BLITZER: OK. We'll be speaking to Mitch Daniels, the White House budget director, and ask him what he thinks coming up.

Thanks very much.

DASCHLE: My pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: The Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle. And when we return, a check of all the latest developments in the war on terrorism. Then, Mitch Daniels, the White House budget director. We'll ask him about the chances of an economic stimulus package getting through the Senate this week.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back. We'll speak with the White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels in just a few moments, but first here's CNN's Martin Savidge in Atlanta with a quick check of all the latest developments.


BLITZER: President Bush is urging Congress to approve his economic stimulus package before lawmakers recess for the year. Senate Democrats are balking at some of his key provisions.

Joining us now to discuss all of this, the White House budget director, Mitch Daniels.

Mr. Daniels, thank you very much for joining us.

You just heard the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, say he wants a deal, he wants a deal with the Republicans, with the White House this week, but you have to give him -- show him some flexibility on all these big tax cuts you're proposing for the huge corporations.

MITCH DANIELS, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: The president's been the only one showing flexibility right along, Wolf, and has been calling, of course, for stimulus for a couple months now. The time really is here to act.

Senator Daschle's got a tough job. In order to maintain his leadership position, he's got to retain the support of some tax and spend extremists in the Democratic Senate caucus, people for whom taxes can't be high enough and we can never spend too much government money. So, he's in a delicate position.

But now's the time to prove that he's a leader. There is a majority support, first of all in the country -- the Wall Street Journal poll has a two-to-one margin for the kind of balanced package the president has proposed -- and there's a majority support in the Senate for that kind of package if it will be allowed to come to vote.

BLITZER: Tax and spend extremists in the Democratic Party. Give us some names, who are you talking about?

DANIELS: Well, it's not necessary to talk about names, but there is a mentality that would even have us raise taxes in the middle of a recession. And that's not a good idea, that's a way to kill jobs, not grow jobs.

And, as I say, there is certainly a centrist proposal, clearly conceivable, that could pass the House in a flash and could command a majority in the Senate. And I hope we get there.

BLITZER: You think that there will be a deal this week, or do you think it's going to be -- everybody's going to go on their recess without this economic stimulus package ready for the president to sign?

DANIELS: I've been an optimist on this for months, and I still am. I admit my faith has been shaken because I thought we'd have one by now.

But the outlines that the president laid down in October are still, I think, the basis of a consensus deal. Something for taxpayers at the low end to stimulate demand; incentives for business to invest in job creation; obviously help for workers, who are unemployed and need help with their health insurance.

And there's a deal in there somewhere, and I think only politics has prevented it from happening already.

BLITZER: Are you ready to give up on what the House passed, elimination of the alternative minimum tax for big corporations?

DANIELS: That was never part of the president's proposal. It's something that appeared in the House bill, and my guess is, it's not realistic to expect it to be there at the end.

But there's been all kinds of signals of flexibility from the president and from our House allies. And so far, they're only ones who have shown a willingness to compromise.

BLITZER: You know you're not going to make some Republicans in the House of Representatives happy with your statement just now.

DANIELS: I'm just talking about practicalities. And I think in order to get to a final deal that -- there's been absolutely no indication from the Democrats that they could accept anything like it. And in the interest of getting people back to work in this country, it may just have to be jettisoned.

BLITZER: Sounds like that's an opening for a possible deal, that you're making right now.

DANIELS: Well, let's be clear. I think you were asking me about the retroactive...


DANIELS: ... alternative minimum tax. The AMT has a lot of problems and ought to be repealed, but I think the idea of repealing it retroactively has not generated too much traction yet. And, you know, it's important to move on.

BLITZER: Okay, let's move on and talk a little bit about this budget of the United States going from surpluses as far as the eye can see to deficits now as far as the eye can see. Is that simply because of September 11? DANIELS: That's a very major factor. It's principally because of economic down turn, and that was certainly exacerbated by September 11.

DANIELS: There is good evidence that the recession, which started gathering steam last year and officially set in early this year, we might have been getting out of it if not for September 11.

So it had a double effect: First, it kicked the economy back downstairs a couple steps. Second, it required a lot of new spending. And those are the two reasons for the sudden turn down toward deficit.

BLITZER: I think the Federal Reserve this year has cut interest rates 11 times in order to try to stimulate the economy. That's normally the best way to do it, cut interest rates. It simply hasn't done the job.

DANIELS: More proof that the president's been right all along. We need a tax-rate reduction in addition to interest-rate reduction. We need a stimulus package like the one we've been discussing.

BLITZER: When you do think this recession that the United States is now suffering from is going to end?

DANIELS: Depends a lot on whether the government acts, I think.

There are some positive signs, and all the forecasters are talking about the second quarter maybe of next year. But those same forecasters didn't see this recession coming, and I think that's the reason the president would rather not leave things to chance.

If we can do more to increase the chances of a shallow recession and an early end, let's do it.

BLITZER: Is there a possibility that the U.S. can suffer from what the Japanese economy has been suffering from, what's called deflation, as opposed to inflation, of course, the opposite of inflation?

DANIELS: There are some signs of this, and it's not a U.S., or even just a Japanese issue, it could be worldwide in its effect. And...

BLITZER: How worried should Americans be about that possibility?

DANIELS: I don't think it should be the principal worry. At least, flat prices or the absence of inflation is a darn good thing for consumers.

And let's face it, one of the best breaks consumers have had and the economy has had recently is a decline in energy prices, people paying a lot less at gas pump and for winter heating and so forth.

So, up to a point, this is not the biggest issue we face. It's getting people back to work that ought to concern us most. BLITZER: Do you have an estimate of how much the war on terrorism, the actual war in Afghanistan, as well as the domestic steps that have been taken, costing the federal government so far, how much the U.S. is likely to have to spend?

DANIELS: I know about what it's costing now. It's costing tens of billions, not hundreds of billions, but tens of billions of dollars.

BLITZER: How many -- 20, 30, 40?

DANIELS: Well, the president asked, of course, for $40 billion for the initial stages, and that includes the reconstruction from the damage, the one-time costs of that. It's quite possible that sometime next year it will be necessary to ask for more, to finish the year we're in.

And I would estimate that in the budget we're putting together for 10 months from now, you will see substantial enhancements, certainly in homeland security, as well as the continued rebuilding of our defenses.

BLITZER: As you well know, during the Gulf War 11 years ago now, almost 11 years ago, the U.S. asked for, and received, for contributions from the allies, to help pay the bill for the war against Iraq.

Should the U.S. be doing the same thing, going to the allies, some of the wealthier nations out there, to help foot the bill for the war in Afghanistan?

DANIELS: Yes, quite possibly. And I think there's been a great degree of support, of course. The coalition that the president has assembled is cooperating pretty well now, and I think there's been a lot of in-kind contribution already occurring.

But I think that's a conversation, depending on what course things take, that's a conversation that might well be appropriate at some point.

BLITZER: I'm sure they're probably not happy to be listening and hearing to that suggestion from you right now.

DANIELS: Maybe not happy, but probably not surprised.

BLITZER: All right. Mitch Daniels, thanks for joining us.

DANIELS: Thank you.

BLITZER; And when we return, with U.S. troops and alliance forces closing in on Al Qaeda fighters, what's next in the war against terrorism? We'll ask two leading members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Arizona Republican John Kyl and Michigan Democrat Carl Levin.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For those of us who lived through these events, the only marker we will ever need is the tick of a clock at the 46th minute of the 8 hour of the 11th day. We will remember where we were and how we felt. We will remember the dead and what we owe them. We will remember what we lost and what we found.


BLITZER: President Bush speaking this past week, a week that marked three months to day of the September 11 attacks.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We are joined now by two leading members of United States Senate: In Detroit, the Democratic Senator Carl Levin. He's the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He also serves on the Select Intelligence Committee. And in Phoenix, the Republican Senator Jon Kyl. He, too, is a member of the Intelligence Committee.

Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

And, Senator Levin, let me begin with you. It looks like the military campaign in Afghanistan may be over. It's all but a mopping- up operation, even though the U.S. troops have still not found Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar, the leader of Taliban.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Well, I think it's premature to even reach that conclusion. There are literally hundreds of miles of caves and tunnels in those mountains. And they can be sealed so that we can't even get to parts of them. And there are escape routes.

And the things I have worried about the most are those escape routes out on the Pakistan side. We talked to, when I was there with Senator Warner, we talked to President Musharraf of Pakistan about those routes. There are about 150 trails going up the mountains from Pakistan, where those caves can be supplied from the Pakistan side, and there are possible escape options there as well.

So, I think we should realize this is going very, very well. The opposition forces are doing an extremely good job with our people on the ground. We've got a lot of heroes and heroines over there.

But I think it is still a ways to go before we can say that we have actually done the job finally in Afghanistan. And then, after that, there is a lot of work to do against terrorism around the world, not just Al Qaeda.

BLITZER: So, Senator Levin, just to clean up that one point you are making, are you concerned that Osama bin Laden and his top Al Qaeda fighters may already have escaped to neighboring Pakistan? LEVIN: I think that is a possibility, a real possibility. And until we have verification that, in fact, he is either killed or captured, I think we have to assume that that is a real possibility.

So, yes, that is concern, and it's something we talked to President Musharraf about. And I noticed that there is a response there, that the Pakistan army now is on the Pakistan side of that border. But it is a long border. It's a very difficult border. There is a lot of exit routes, a lot of trails, foot trails, goat trails.

And so we've got our work still cut out for us, but it is going very, very well.

BLITZER: Senator Kyl, what about that? How concerned are you that the U.S. may have let Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar slip through somehow and escape?

SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: First, I agree with Senator Levin, but I don't think the United States let anybody slip out. Remember, most of the fighting going on there is with the alliance forces. There is some speculation that the cease-fire that they agreed to might have been the opportunity for bin Laden to have escaped. That is possible.

BLITZER: That would be in the Eastern Alliance in the Tora Bora region, in the white mountains of eastern Afghanistan. Is that what you are suggesting?

KYL: That's correct. So, it would not be correct to say that the United States let him slip through our hands. We have been providing a lot of the intelligence work. We have, of course, been conducting the bombing operation that's made it possible for those fighters to successfully take those mountains from Al Qaeda.

But there are other threats. First of all we've got to get bin Laden in the end, and his chief aide, al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor who really may well be the brains behind Al Qaeda outfit, because if we don't get them, then there is a possibility they could once again re-establish their lines of communication with the network of agents throughout the world, and once again begin issuing execution orders which would result in terrorist attacks. So that's critical.

And the second thing is the Russians found out, after they conquered Afghanistan, that guerrilla fighters, mujahedeen, remained hidden in the hills and came back to haunt them and eventually drive them out of the country. And I suspect that next spring we will find that there are a lot of these Taliban who escaped to try to fight another day. So the operation is probably going to be an ongoing one.

BLITZER: Chairman Levin, you are chairman of Armed Services Committee; you're also a key member of the Intelligence Committee.

What do you think Osama bin Laden must have been thinking when he allowed that videotape to occur of him and that visiting Saudi sheikh with his number two, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, sitting alongside the videotape that all of us saw? What was the purpose of that from Osama bin Laden's perspective?

LEVIN: I wouldn't even begin to be able to speculate on that. The despicable arrogance, the hatred, the cockiness just oozes right out of that tape. Talking about killing thousands of people, planning it, more than he expected, smiling. I have no idea what goes through his mind.

And all I know is what's going through the minds of every decent person in the world, and that is that he and the Al Qaeda network and other terrorism must be stamped out, must be stopped if our kids are going to live free of fear.

BLITZER: Some experts, Senator Kyl, have suggested that maybe Osama bin Laden wanted to use this videotape, or let his visiting Saudi friend use it, for recruitment purposes; to go out there and show potential Al Qaeda members that this is what you are going to be doing, down the road. Is that anything you have heard about?

KYL: It's a possibility.

I think, first of all, it is important to note that that tape appears to be genuine. It was obviously done with his knowledge. And it may well have been used as recruitment tape because of circumstances that we are aware of.

But we really don't know why it was done and why he permitted it to be done.

BLITZER: Do you believe, Senator Kyl, the next stop in this war against terrorism are Al Qaeda positions, let's say in Somalia or Sudan or Yemen, or the U.S. is next going to go after Iraq?

KYL: I don't know what we are going to do, and if I did, I obviously wouldn't be discussing it.

I think, though, that we've got to make sure that we continue to disrupt the lines of communication within the Al Qaeda network all over the globe. And that starts with chopping off the heads, so to speak, of getting the top two people, al-Zawahiri and bin Laden. Once we do that it is going to be much more difficult for a new leader to take hold and begin issuing orders to these people.

The other thing we don't know is whether or not there may be plans already in place, ready to be executed, self-executed without some kind of order from on top. If so, we could expect another attack.

BLITZER: Well, on that specific point, Senator Levin, Condoleezza Rice on this program earlier today, suggested that, yes, there are no doubt other Al Qaeda sleeper cells still at large in the United States. The U.S. has to remain very vigilant in worrying about that threat.

LEVIN: No, it is very clear that those sleeper cells exist in various places around the world, probably here in the United States. We have to be on our guard. We have to be common-sensical about it, but we have to be on our guard.

But it seems to me the whole dynamic now is changing relative to terrorism. There have been too many countries that have looked the other way while terrorists have been in their country. There are too many countries that have used terrorism as a tactic. There are too many countries, including allies, who have dealt with countries that use terrorism in a normal way.

LEVIN: That, I hope now, is going to change, and that there is a new dynamic, a new momentum against terrorism wherever it exists in the world. And if so, there would be some good that would come out of this horror.

BLITZER: And very briefly, Senator Kyl, your colleague, Joe Lieberman, minced no words earlier today on one of the Sunday morning programs when he specifically said that the next target indeed has to be Saddam Hussein. Listen to what he had to say.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: The fact is that the war against terrorism cannot end before Saddam Hussein is out of power in Iraq, because he is the world's most powerful terrorist.


BLITZER: Do you agree with Senator Lieberman, Senator Kyl?

KYL: Yes. Whether he's the next target or not, we can't finish this war without having dealt with him, that's correct.

BLITZER: What about that, Senator Levin?

LEVIN: I agree, but exactly the way Senator Kyl put it. The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as he is in power. But that does not mean he is the next target.

And the commitment to do that, it seems to me, could be disruptive of our alliance that still has work to do in Afghanistan. And a lot will depend on what the facts are in various places as to what terrorist groups are doing, and as to whether or not we have facts as to whether or not the Iraqis have been involved in the terrorist attack of September 11, or whether or not Saddam is getting a weapon of mass destruction and is close to it. So facts will determine what our next targets are.

BLITZER: All right. Senators stand by, we have to take a quick break.

We have a lot more to talk about with Senators Kyl and Levin, including the fate of John Walker, the American Taliban fighter.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're continuing our conversation now with the Democratic senator from Michigan, Carl Levin, and the Republican senator from Arizona, Jon Kyl.

We have a caller, who has a question from Michigan.

Go ahead with your question, please.

CALLER: Thank you. The Pentagon says they have an endgame, relative to bin Laden, captured or killed. What, Senator Levin, would be done with the remains of a martyr like this? Where would you bury the remains? Thank you.

BLITZER: Senator Levin?

LEVIN: I wouldn't. If I had my choice, I would like them to disappear, because I think, otherwise, it could, for some fanatics, become a shrine. So if I had my druthers, I would hope that we would confirm that he's gone, but that there not be a place where people, for whatever reasons, might go to visit that burial place.

It's unimaginable that people would ever go to such a place, but I'm afraid that there are some. So I'd like to see the body disappear after its confirmed that he's gone.

BLITZER: Well, Senator Kyl, based on what you know, John Walker, the American Taliban fighter is now aboard a U.S. ship in the Arabian Sea. What should be done with this guy? Is he cooperating in the debriefings with the U.S. government?

KYL: According to public reports, he is, at least to some degree, cooperating. And I think what should be done with him is to bring him back for trial and his fate should rest, in large part, on the degree of his cooperation.

I think there is no doubt that he joined a fighting force against the United States and, in that regard, should be considered a traitor to the United States. And what punishment should be meted out, again, would depend upon the facts and the degree of his cooperation.

BLITZER: What do you think, Senator Levin?

LEVIN: I think that is the right approach. He ought to be given a trial. It ought to be the kind of trial that Americans are used to, which would be an open trial. They look into all the facts, what the motivations are and also look at his cooperation.

It obviously looks like treason on the surface, but we ought to wait until we get all the facts before we reach any kind of final judgment.

BLITZER: Senator Kyl, as you know, the Justice Department indicted Zacarias Moussaoui this week, the so-called 20th hijacker. He was picked up in August on unrelated charges; suspicion he was directly connected to the September 11 attacks. But he's going to be tried in federal court, not before one of these military war crimes commissions or tribunals. Senator Lieberman earlier in the week said, if there was ever a case for a military trial, a military tribunal, it was this particular case.

Are you disappointed that John Ashcroft, the attorney general, and the president decided not to go for a military tribunal in this case?

KYL: They know more of the facts than I do. My own judgment would have been a military tribunal would have been more appropriate. He's not a United States citizen. He clearly violated the laws of war. He conducted -- or was involved in the conduct of an attack upon the United States and our citizens. And so, a military commission would have been entirely appropriate.

Now, what they hope that they can gain from a trial in the United States as opposed to military commission, I'm not sure. But it's going to bring a lot of headaches: In the first place, the burden of proof will be different and higher. The security concerns will be significant -- protecting the judge, the jury and all of the other court personnel from other terrorists who might try to disrupt those proceedings or somehow gain revenge.

KYL: There may be some issues with respect to the disclosure of sources and methods of intelligence if the trial is public that could also compromise the intelligence against him.

And because of the nature of these kinds of operations, it may just not be possible to prove the kinds of things that would be necessary at an Article III kind of trial here in the United States but would be perfectly appropriate in a military commission as a person that violated the laws of war or committed war crimes.

So I think I probably would have done it the other way, but I certainly respect the judgment of the president and the attorney general.

BLITZER: Senator Levin, you held a hearing -- you chaired a hearing this week on this very nature, this very question of military tribunals.

Are you satisfied with the decision of the administration, of the president, to not have a military trial for Moussaoui?

And secondly, are you satisfied with the explanation that John Ashcroft and Paul Wolfowitz and other administration witnesses gave you for the need for these military tribunals?

LEVIN: Well, I think, first of all, there is a place for military tribunals, providing they are done carefully. We have to make sure the fundamental due protections are given in order for us to, number one, to be true to ourself, but number two, we want to get our hands on others through extradition. And other countries are not going to extradite to us, including allies, unless they feel that our hearings are going to be fair. And also, we want to have standing to object when American citizens are tried in military tribunals abroad.

And so, we've got to do the military tribunals very carefully. But there is, again, a role for them.

I would think that basically they can be used appropriately where someone who has allegedly committed a war crime is captured abroad. But where somebody is in the United States, I think the Justice Department has reached the conclusion that they should be tried in a federal court.

We've had real success against terrorists in federal courts using the regular rules. We did that against those who committed the terrorist acts against our embassies in Africa. So the federal courts are a place where we know we can convict.

BLITZER: All right. Before I let you go, we have one more caller from Texas.

Go ahead quickly, please, with your question.

QUESTION: Yes. I just want to ask the senators why we haven't heard any new debates with regard to our foreign policy on Israel.

BLITZER: All right, go ahead. Senator Levin, why don't you handle that first.

LEVIN: Well, I think that there is always debates here. But what's becoming very, very clear -- it's been clear a long time to some of us, but has become clear right now to the public is that Arafat simply has got to not only condemn the targeting of civilians, but he's got to act on that condemnation. He's got to stamp out terrorism that emanates from the Palestinian territories. Otherwise, there is just no hope of getting back to negotiations.

He has used terrorism as a tactic, or he's condoned it, he's looked the other way. He has not condemned the targeting of civilians as a general matter, because that is the definition of terrorism. And until he does that, until he means it, until he goes after those that are terrorists on his territory, it seems to me the hope of negotiations getting back on track are pretty slim.

BLITZER: Senator Kyl?

KYL: Well, my own view is that we are having a different kind of debate now. It's a more clear-eyed assessment of the realities of the situation there.

When Israel responds to terrorist attacks -- that is, the killing of innocent civilians, it is not engaging in a cycle of violence any more than when the United States takes action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It is time for the world to recognize Israel's right to self defense, just as the United States' right to self defense has been recognized in this war on terrorism.

And because Arafat has been unwilling or unable to stop that kind of terror, I think the action of the Israeli government in ceasing, in effect, to deal with him as a responsible party is the correct one.

It's too bad, particularly at this season, that we have that kind of situation. But until there is a change of heart and mind on the part of those who believe that Israel should not exist as a nation state, that situation is not going to get a lot better.

BLITZER: All right. Senator Kyl, Senator Levin, thanks so much for joining us today, and we'll have you back.

LEVIN: Good being with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

And when we return, from U.S. airports to the mail you get, unprecedented steps have been taken to increase security since September 11. But are Americans really safer three months after the attacks?

We'll talk with two prominent security and counterterrorism experts when LATE EDITION continues.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now to talk about how effective the security measures taken since September 11 really are, are two guests: in Dallas, Buck Revell. He's a former FBI counterterrorism chief. And in Los Angeles, Brian Jenkins, a former adviser to the National Commission on Terrorism and also senior adviser to the Rand Corporation.

Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

And let me begin with you, Brian Jenkins. These so-called sleeper cells that Condoleezza Rice told me earlier in this program, the Al Qaeda sleeper cells that still may be at large around the United States, indeed around the world right now, how concerned should viewers be who are watching this program right now?

BRIAN JENKINS, SECURITY CONSULTANT: Well, I think the threat remains extremely high. It would be very, very dangerous to let the good news from Afghanistan propel us into a kind of dangerous complacency.

Not all of these cells that have been discovered around the world are actually sleeper cells; that is, they were not there doing nothing, they were actively preparing terrorist operations. We were asleep. They weren't.

At the same time, we do have to be aware that there are other terrorist cells, and there may even be, as the senator has mentioned a while ago, operations that were in place before September 11 that we will see unfold weeks, months, potentially years from now. We shouldn't draw any conclusions from 90 days here.

BLITZER: Buck Revell, but there's no doubt that the communications have been disrupted from the Al Qaeda leadership to some of these cells in the United States, around the world. Is that enough to -- the disruption of the communications -- to put to rest some of the concerns?

BUCK REVELL, FORMER FBI COUNTER-TERRORISM CHIEF: I don't think you can put them to a rest, but I think we can feel that we have improved our security circumstance. It would be much more difficult to carry out the kind of attacks that occurred on September 11 today than it was then.

But we still have many, many vulnerabilities, and there are many terrorist organizations that are a part of the Al Qaeda network. Those organizations also have infrastructures in the United States and in Canada, where they can come down into the United States, and in Western Europe.

So, we are certainly not in a situation where we are safe. But I think we have taken very prudent steps to enhance our security to date. It just has to continue.

BLITZER: Brian Jenkins, General Tommy Franks, the Central Command commander, was on TV earlier today, and he had an ominous suggestion that there may be another kind of terrorist threat out there as well.

I want you to listen to what General Franks had to say on ABC.


GENERAL TOMMY FRANKS, COMMANDER, CENTRAL COMMAND: Some of the information that we have gained would allude to, perhaps -- I don't want to call them science projects, but would make reference to things like poisons, the building of explosives, some of these cookbooks that we have talked about before that talk about terrorist approaches to problems and how buildings can be destroyed.


BLITZER: It looks like some of these cells may have had some other ambitious projects out there. Is that your sense?

JENKINS: Well, terrorist organizations, when they're not actually carrying out terrorist operations, are busy planning and thinking about new terrorist operations. So we shouldn't be surprised by these findings.

And, in that exploration, certainly we have evidence from Afghanistan, we've had earlier evidence, that Al Qaeda and some of these other organizations have an interest in acquiring unconventional weapons -- chemical weapons, biological weapons, potentially even radiological or nuclear weapons.

I don't believe that they have them right now, but certainly we cannot take the risk. We know that, if they were to acquire these weapons, they certainly would use them and that we would be the likely target. BLITZER: And on that specific point, Buck Revell, Senator Bob Graham, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was on Larry King earlier this week, and he said this, and want you to listen to precisely what he said.


SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: It probably won't be a hijacking of airplanes. It might be putting a weapon of mass destruction in a container that has come across the oceans and is about to be unloaded in a major American city. We don't know the form that it will take. But these people have been engaged in major terrorist acts, in about 12- to 24-month intervals since the late 1990s.


BLITZER: That sounds very worrying, at least to me. What about to you?

REVELL: Well, the senator is correct, except his timeframe is wrong. We've actually been the target of an ongoing campaign since 1993. And we have seen that campaign be both in the United States and against U.S. interests overseas.

And certainly the ability to conceal and import significant weapons, both weapons of mass destruction and other types of conventional weapons, into the United States continues.

The area where I'm most concerned is other parts of our infrastructure, which could be devastating. Obviously we've taken steps on our nuclear power plants, but we have chemical plants and we have other industrial sites that could essentially give us a Bhopal or a Chernobyl-type circumstance, and they are not above this. In fact, as Brian indicated, they would certainly do it if they could.

BLITZER: All right, gentlemen, stand by. We have to take another quick break.

Buck Revell and Brian Jenkins will be with us. They'll also be taking your phone calls.

Bruce Morton, by the way, will be sharing some thoughts on the minds of the infamous.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pol Pot, the Cambodian who most estimates say killed between 1 and 2 million people in his small country, told a reporter the year before he died, "My conscience is clear."


BLITZER: What drives a person to cause death in massive numbers? We'll have that, plus more of Brian Jenkins and Buck Revell.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

We'll get back to Brian Jenkins and Buck Revell in just a moment and the war on terrorism. But first, time now for Bruce Morton on mass murderers and the common thread that unites them.


MORTON: Mass murderers, why do they do what they do? What do they say about it? We know what Osama bin Laden felt: joy.

Religion mixed with hatred for America. Timothy McVeigh, hatred for the government: "What the U.S. government did at Waco and Ruby Ridge was dirty. I gave dirty back to them at Oklahoma City."

If he'd known there was daycare center in the federal building, "It might have given me pause to switch targets. That's a large amount of collateral damage," his phrase for the 15 children who died in the center.

Pol Pot, the Cambodian who most estimates say killed between 1 and 2 million people in his small country, told a reporter the year before he died, "My conscience is clear."

William Kelly, who fired and ordered his platoon to fire at unarmed men, women, children and babies at a village in Vietnam called Me Lai (ph): "There wasn't any big deal, sir," he said at his court martial. "They were all the enemy to be destroyed."

And finally, Adolf Eichmann, Adolf Hitler's man in charge of the final solution to the Jewish problem. The solution, of course, was to kill all the Jews, and while Eichmann (ph) didn't manage that, he tried. Years later, Israeli agents kidnapped him in Argentina and put him on trial. His defense basically was, "I did as I was ordered." He was convicted and put to death.

Except for Kelly, who's court martial I covered and who always seemed to me simply a very young man who should not have commanded a platoon and who came apart under the severe stresses of that war -- except for Kelly, there is a common denominator here: fanaticism, the belief that my morality is the only true way, that my judgments are supreme.

That seems to be true whether it's bin Laden's hate-filled version of Islam, McVeigh's hatred of his country's government, Pol Pot's genocidal version of Maoism, Eichmann's (ph) allegiance to what was almost a religion, a racist doctrine which preached one country, one people, one leader with no room for outsiders like the Jews.

Hatred unites them, and arrogance -- the notion that, when it comes to right and wrong, only I can decide.

I'm Bruce Morton. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thanks, Bruce.

And coming up next, the third hour of LATE EDITION. We'll continue our conversation with Buck Revell and Brian Jenkins about new security measures, and we'll also have our military analysts. They'll be taking your phone calls and questions.

Plus, our new LATE EDITION feature, the "Final Round," a lively discussion with four panelists about the big stories of this past week. They'll also be taking your e-mail and phone calls.

It's all ahead in the next hour of LATE EDITION.


BLITZER: Welcome back to the third hour of LATE EDITION.

And we're continuing our conversation about changes in security in the United States and around the world since the terrorist attacks with the former FBI counter-terrorism chief Buck Revell, and Brian Jenkins, who's a former adviser to the National Commission on Terrorism.

Let's take a quick caller, a gentlemen from California.

Please go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Yes. Your experts and Condoleezza Rice have also pointed out that we have significant threats from within our own country. Do you think this is a bigger threat than missiles coming in? And if our threat is at home, why aren't we spending more time on homeland security?

BLITZER: What about that, Brian Jenkins?

JENKINS: Well, we are spending more time and more resources on homeland security, but that is taking some time to the get itself organized. The homeland defense has become a priority issue since September 11, but it takes time to get the people in place.

And, indeed, many of the improvements in security that have been mandated by Congress, the money that has been allocated to make these improvements, will take many months to implement. And some of them, my fear, may never be implemented at all.

BLITZER: The -- another e-mail question, Buck Revell, we got earlier. Now, let me read it to you. It's from Ella in St. Louis.

She writes: Could they -- referring to bin Laden supporters -- be getting a message to carry out a prearranged attack and catch us all by surprise again, referring to the release of the bin Laden videotape?

REVELL: They could be. They've used number of unique means of communication, very sophisticated means, down to couriers. So we certainly have not likely cut off all types of communication.

And there are elements that will act on their own, that we'll see what is happening in Afghanistan and we'll take that as the trigger to go forward with plans that, perhaps, have previously been approved but not put into actual exercise.

So we should not at all presume that because bin Laden may either be dead are or be running that there is not a continuing threat from the Al Qaeda organization and, let me re-emphasize, the other terrorist organizations that are affiliated with but independent from Al Qaeda.

BLITZER: On that specific point, Brian Jenkins, the freezing of funds, the effort to disrupt the money trail, if you will, that the Justice, Department of Treasury have undertaken, is that having much of a dent, not only against Al Qaeda, but other suspected terrorist organizations out there?

JENKINS: I think it will have, in the long run, an effect. Again, here's something that has been mandated. Here's something that people have agreed to do, but it has yet to be implemented around the world, and that's going to take some time. And certainly, we will be able to go after some of the larger flows of funds that support some of the other-than-terrorist activities of these organizations.

But keep one thing in mind. I mean, we know now from the published reports of the money transfers leading up to the attack on September 11 that we're looking at something here that costs several hundred thousand dollars, not millions of dollars, not tens of millions of dollars. And while we can potentially track down and try to block the flow of tens of millions of dollars, it's extremely difficult to cut off the flow of smaller amounts of money.

BLITZER: Buck Revell, I remember interviewing you in your office at the FBI headquarters here in Washington many years ago.

Does the FBI have everything it needs right now to deal with this threat of terrorism on U.S. soil?

REVELL: Well, that's almost an open-ended question, Wolf. It will remain to be seen.

What we have in the United States is 18,000 state and local police agencies, 140 different federal agencies. We need some cohesion. We need some direction. We need a strategy. And we certainly need a dedicated force.

I think the FBI and the associated law enforcement agencies have done an exceptional job, particularly since September the 11th. But the fact is, in a democracy, all of the cards are in the hands of the terrorists. They can determine when, where and how they attack. And it's virtually impossible to always stop them.

So what we need is intelligence overseas to be fed into a mechanism within the United States that will carefully analyze that, to collect information within the Constitution in the United States, and to ensure that all the agencies that are involved in this protection -- whether it's the Border Patrol and INS, Customs, DEA, which develops a lot of overseas information, of course the FBI and those 18,000 state and local police agencies -- are working in a coherent and a strategy that will allow us to prevent to the greatest extent possible acts that, undoubtedly, are already planned for the future.

BLITZER: Brian Jenkins, a lot of Americans, indeed a lot of people around the world, are getting ready to do some traveling in the coming weeks during this holiday season. Is it any safer to fly today, would you say, than it was before September 11?

JENKINS: Well, the problem we have here, again: The changes have been called for in legislation, but it's going to take many months to implement those changes. Meanwhile, the same security companies, the same personnel that were in charge of security on September 11 are still there with the same lapses of performance that we see in the daily headlines.

Is it safer? Certainly people are more aware. Certainly there is more pressure to make things better. But the fundamental changes that we need to improve commercial aviation have not yet been implemented.

BLITZER: Give us two or three specific things that need to be implemented, quickly, Brian.

JENKINS: I would say the need to inspect all checked baggage, to put it through the explosives detection machines. We don't have enough machines. And it's going to take us months, years, to get enough machines out there. That would be one. The need to improve the performance -- the training and performance of those in charge of the screening process. No changes have yet been made there.

BLITZER: Buck Revell, we don't know -- no one really knows who was responsible for mailing those anthrax letters. A debate under way; was it domestic, some individual or individuals in the United States? Did it have connections to international terrorist organizations? Was it connected to September 11?

Based on what you know right now, what is your sense?

REVELL: Well, I think that it's likely that it was a person who has at least been in the United States for many years; who has both -- either scientific or military knowledge of the biological warfare; and who had access to a particular strain, the Ames strain, of this anthrax. So I think that we are narrowing down the type of individual.

The problem is that anthrax was available to the scientific and academic community very -- on a large-scale basis. And it just is going to take a while to track it down.

But it's my belief that this person might not be a native-born American, but has been here in the United States and had access to the type of communities that I've talked about. BLITZER: What's your sense, Brian?

JENKINS: I think -- I think we're looking for an individual. And I suspect that we may hear from this person again.

And moreover, unless we do -- unless this person carries out more attacks that provide additional clues or decides to communicate in some way, unfortunately, it's going to be very, very difficult to identify and apprehend the individual.

BLITZER: Two of the most knowledgeable people that I know when it comes to dealing with terrorism, Buck Revell and Brian Jenkins. Thanks to both of you for joining us on LATE EDITION. We appreciate it.

And when we return, our military analysts sort out the options facing the United States in the continuing hunt for Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda fighters. LATE EDITION will be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Joining us now from Little Rock, Arkansas, CNN military analyst Wesley Clark. He's the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander. And in Chicago, CNN military analyst David Grange.

Generals, thanks to both of you for joining us.

General Clark, let me begin quickly with you. I sense from the comments that have been made by some of the Eastern Alliance fighters, who are now in control of the Tora Bora region, huge disappointment they didn't find Osama bin Laden and key lieutenants. Do you think they are gone?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it's hard to say. I mean, it's entirely possible Osama bin Laden's buried under tons of granite up in one of those mountains with as much mortar we've been putting down. But he's probably gotten away, at least from that group.

But remember that these Eastern Alliance organizations themselves don't have real tight command and control. And we don't whether they've really gone all the way through the area or not. It may take two or three days to sweep through that area with our men on the ground and really find out what's there and what isn't. There may be other pockets of resistance.

BLITZER: General Grange, you're a former special operations officer, you know what it's like. What are they doing right now in going through with the Eastern Alliance allies over there, that Tora Bora region, the U.S. special ops forces who are on the ground?

GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, just like General Clark said, you know, it's a big area when you are on the ground. When you are flying above it, it doesn't look so big. But when you are the ground searching in all these different ravines and defiles (ph) and cave areas, there are different compartmentalized terrain, it takes a while.

And remember, there are several complexes that are very close to Tora Bora, like the wolf's hole and few others. And so, there may be some connectivity between tunnels, between the two or may have just moved to another.

He could very well have escaped, but if he did, it's probably only temporary.

BLITZER: Let's take some calls.

Go ahead, please, Kentucky. Go ahead with your question.

CALLER: Yes, sir, I was just wondering, my question was about Saddam Hussein. It seems like since he is the most powerful terrorist, why shouldn't he be our next target? Why shouldn't we focus more on that after Afghanistan?

BLITZER: All right, General Clark?

CLARK: Well, I think a lot of people feel the same way that you do.

But I think there are two issues that are going to be worked with Saddam Hussein: First is the issue of who is with us in this, because it would be very desirable to have a coalition when we go after Saddam Hussein. We're going to need basing in the region, and right now our European allies and our Middle East allies have both expressed concern about targeting Saddam Hussein absent some additional evidence. And so, I think you will look for some kind of a diplomatic offensive before we go after him in that respect.

And then the second thing about Saddam Hussein is he probably has access to weapons of mass destruction. We know he has some rockets and means to deliver them. And the neighbors in the region, and especially Israel, are going to look for some reassurance before we go after Saddam Hussein. We've got to think what will happen if he strikes back. And that will have to be worked out.

So, we are a little ways away from making those decisions right now, I think.

BLITZER: General Grange, a lot of attention to the Osama bin Laden videotape that we all watched this past week.

That generated this e-mail question from Jeff in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He asked: How forcefully are we going to pursue the other people in the tape and the people referenced in the tape?

GRANGE: Well, pursuing some of the Saudis, that's to be determined by, you know, our political leaders. That will be interesting, what falls out.

But I think all these terrorists that are accomplices to bin Laden are probably on the target list in some manner. So, I think we will pursue those other characters and they support bin Laden, as our president of United States has said, those that support are guilty as well.

BLITZER: And this e-mail, General Clark, from Lori (ph) in North Carolina. She asked this question: I get this sick feeling sometimes that Saddam Hussein has been covertly using bin Laden as bait to deplete and weaken our military arsenal before we are engaged in a full-blown war with Iraq. Is this a legitimate worry?

In other words, can the U.S. military do both, or is it stretched too thin?

CLARK: No, no, we've got plenty of military capability. We've used only a small fraction of what we have in the mission in Afghanistan. I don't think you have to be concerned about that.

We aren't what the connections might be between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in other matters. However, there is this report of an Iraqi intelligence official who met in the Czech Republic with Mohamed Atta, one of the hijackers. It apparently was a brief encounter. Some people say it was about blowing up Voice of America radio transmitters, other people suggest maybe something else happened.

I think all of that information has yet to come out, and then we'll have to see what the real connection is. But remember that, by traditional Muslim standards, Saddam Hussein is not a good Muslim. He's a man who believes in a secular state and he's been an enemy of the fundamentalists. So there's that bridge for the two to cross to get together.

BLITZER: All right. Let's take another caller.

California, go ahead, please. California, go ahead.

CALLER: Am I on?

BLITZER: Yes, you are.

CALLER: My question has to do with John Walker. And, in thinking about it, I'm wondering if he could really be considered guilty of treasonous acts against the United States prior to September 11, when we were not engaged in an act of war with the Taliban at that point? So, in other words, his actions from that point on should be the only ones taken into consideration as treason.

BLITZER: All right. General Grange, handle that one.

GRANGE: Yes, I -- you know, because of my service to the nation, you know, I took an oath that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, and so I'm a little prejudiced here about people that fight for our adversaries.

But a couple -- two things I'd ask: Number one, you know, there was talk going around that he's 20 years old, you know, that's very hard on a kid. Well, look at the Marine camp in Afghanistan. I would say most of the Marines are 19, 20 years old. So, I mean, you know, that's one thing I think that he's responsible for his actions, and that needs to be considered.

Second, I'd ask him if he knew about the USS Cole bombing, whether he was still serving the Taliban after that event took place. And if so, that event and some others may lead to a charge of treason.

BLITZER: All right. Let's take another caller from Louisiana.

Go ahead, please.

CALLER: My question has to do with the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. What are they going to do if fighting breaks out between those warlords again?

BLITZER: And that's a very good question.

General Clark, as you well know, there's a history of fighting, irrespective of the Taliban, between some of the various factions inside Afghanistan.

CLARK: Well, it's really a two-pronged effort. We've got our troops there, we've got diplomats there. We have influence. I mean, we're the people that helped Hamid Karzai get in power. We've still got the real force that's on the ground. And we've got our special forces people there advising the various factions.

So we would be doing everything we could, diplomatically first, to defuse a conflict. We're going to do everything we can to encourage the factions to work together.

If it were to start, then we would have to make a decision which way we would go. We would probably take minimal actions, in other words, try to use minimum force, but do what was necessary to prevent a destructive outbreak of fighting in that area.

BLITZER: General Grange, you probably heard the news this morning that at that airport at Kandahar where the U.S. Marines are establishing their new permanent base, or at least for the time being, three Marines were injured in another land mine.

A lot of our viewers probably don't realize that this is an enormous problem for the U.S. troops, for everyone in Afghanistan, literally millions of leftover land mines from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and since. How serious of a problem is this?

GRANGE: Well, it is a serious problem. You have to tread lightly, as they say in the military. Very dangerous.

We have to rely on locals to let us know about the locations of many of these mines, because this type of tribal military organizations, these bands, they don't normally mark their mines, like Western armies are responsible for the mines they put in and remove after their use. They just put them helter-skelter everywhere around. So it's very dangerous. And I'm sure that the Marines, as well as other military forces in there, are cognizant of that fact and the danger there and take appropriate actions.

BLITZER: Florida, go ahead with your question, please.

CALLER: In the search for bin Laden, what about his family? Are they dragged from one cave to another, and how many are there?

BLITZER: That's a good question.

General Clark, do you have any idea? He's got apparently several wives and a lot of children. Are they roaming around with him?

CLARK: It's an excellent question. And, you know, the odd thing is, we've heard absolutely nothing about this.

Now, if he's kept them there, then they're being dragged around from cave to cave. But my guess is that they were extricated some time ago to some safe-haven. And it's a little disturbing that we haven't heard anything about this. Perhaps they went back to Saudi Arabia. Maybe they're with friends in Pakistan, or maybe they are still holed up somewhere in that cave.

But there should have been 20 or 30 people associated with that move.

BLITZER: I want to play a soundbite, General Grange, that Colin Powell, the secretary of state, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had earlier today when he was on Meet the Press. I want you listen precisely to what he had to say.


COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't expect that you will see U.S. combat troops there for any length of time as part of that international security force. But to get that kind of a force into a remote place like Afghanistan, the U.S. has certain capabilities that I'm sure will be called upon by the force and by the United Nations.


BLITZER: A lot of Americans are asking, especially those Americans who have sons and daughters serving right now in Afghanistan or in the region, how much longer this is going to go on. Do you have any sense whatsoever what kind of answer you can give them?

GRANGE: Well, it's funny. I, you know, having served in the Balkans for some time for General Clark, we went through the same situation several years ago. But I think that we have some commitment that we're going to have to be involved in for some time.

You know, whoever -- there's a lot of people, different warlords that own these roads, either own them or you pass through them. And that's their area; that's a warlord's area. And that has to be dealt with you're delivering humanitarian supplies and things like that.

And the question is going to be, is it a peace enforcement's role, or is it a peacekeeping role, or is it just humanitarian assistance or a combination thereof? And it's very complicated on how you commit and do that type of job in one of these situations.

I think we'll do some type of military support, though it may not be combat maneuver units on the ground. We will have something there to support this coalition effort.

BLITZER: General Clark, it's clear that the U.S. troops are not going to be home by this coming Christmas. But a year from now, you think they'll be out of Afghanistan?

CLARK: Well, I never would want to give a prediction on timelines. You may remember that when we went into the Balkans, the administration promised Congress that we'd be out of the Balkans in a year. Turned out that you can't control it because it's really a function of events on the ground and political forces that with the best of intent, you can't fix from the outside.

So, I'm not sure how many U.S. troops are going to be there. As Dave Grange said that, you know, we're going to try to stay out of a maneuver force role in all probability.

But it's very important that this peacekeeping force have a full mandate, a Chapter 7 mandate under U.N. authority so they can take action against the warlord, so they can keep the roads open, so they can keep the peace.

And it seems to me, that's what's going to give the best chance that all of these troops will be out of there soon, is to get a stable environment and solve these political issues peacefully as rapidly as possible.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to leave it right there. General Clark, General Grange, we always love having you on this program. Thanks again for joining us. Our viewers, I'm sure, are grateful as well.

GRANGE: Our pleasure.

BLITZER: And when we return, LATE EDITION's new feature, the "Final Round." We'll have a lively panel discussion.

And we'll also want to hear from you. Call us on the number on the screen; that should be coming up. You can also e-mail us at

LATE EDITION's "Final Round" is next. Stay with us.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION's "Final Round."

Joining me this week: Jonah Goldberg of the "National Review"; Robert George of the "New York Post"; Donna Brazile, a former manager of the Al Gore presidential campaign; and Peter Beinart of "The New Republic."

Good to have all of you on LATE EDITION.

Donna, let me begin with you. Colin Powell speaking earlier today, promising the search for Osama bin Laden is going to go on. Listen to this.


POWELL: He is elusive. He will try to stay hidden. He will try to avoid us. But let there be no doubt in anyone's mind that the president is determined that, however long it takes, as he says to us almost every day, one day, one week, one month, two years, we will get him. Let's be patient and just not give up.


BLITZER: Can the U.S. declare victory without Osama bin Laden having been captured or killed?

DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: No. I think the American people would like to see Mr. bin Laden brought to justice, captured. And if we have search every inch of that mountain and the caves and cover up every hole that would lead to Pakistan or out of that country to find this guy, we should do it.

BLITZER: What about that, Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I think that's basically right. And I'm pretty sure that Osama bin Laden's trying to find that island where Bruce Lee and Elvis Presley are living.


But my sense is that we probably can't have a military victory -- in the sense that we've defeated Al Qaeda, defeated the Taliban -- we can't have a true political victory or strategic victory, without having Osama bin Laden's head on a pike.

And so, we'd move from the bulldozer phase to the tweezer phase, because we're really just looking for one or two guys now. And that's going to be harder, but we're going to do it.

BLITZER: But they keep saying they don't really care if he's alive or dead, but do they?

PETER BEINART, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": No. I don't think they care where he's alive or dead. Probably they favor him being dead.

The problem is that we Americans have this tendency to always personalize these conflicts. We did with it Saddam Hussein. And the problem is we've had great success in getting rid -- in hurting Al Qaeda, probably eradicating its ability, but we may actually destroy most of Al Qaeda and not get Osama bin Laden and kick ourselves for having focused so much on this one man.

ROBERT GEORGE, "THE NEW YORK POST": And we shouldn't really think that just even when we do get Osama bin Laden that the war on terrorism is going be to be over, because I think that's the, you know, that's the wrong side. You can go too far on the other side of it, thinking that it's all Osama and it's all Mohammed or Omar and so forth, when it's not.

BLITZER: Well, you saw the videotape of Osama bin Laden with his Saudi visitor this past week. What was going through his mind, you think, when he agreed to allow himself to be videotaped saying all that stuff?

GEORGE: Well, I don't think I would ever try and get into Osama bin Laden's mind. You know, I don't think anybody wants to be caught in there.

He was obviously feeling overconfident. I think he felt that he had, you know, scored a major victory against the United States, regardless of what was going on, and he felt freedom to expound on his, quote, "vision."

BLITZER: And that was before the setback at Mazar-i-Sharif, was early November. He was feeling pretty cocky right there.

BRAZILE: Well, I mean, not only cocky, the guy was laughing and making fun of what took place on September 11. That's why the American people want him brought to justice and they want him captured or killed, by any means necessary. And I believe that should happen.

BLITZER: What was going through your mind when were you watching that tape?

GOLDBERG: Well, I mean, he's a bad guy. And it's obvious he's a bad guy. And he had the -- and he did have a victory. He did do what he wanted do.

But I actually I think the most dramatic development coming out of that tape isn't that it made Americans angry; Americans were already angry. And it isn't that it persuaded people in the Middle East. It's -- the most impressive change in public opinion, in my opinion, is that it showed -- that tape showed Americans that there are a lot of people, whole cultures in the Middle East, that are in a deep state of denial about how the world works and what America's like and about Osama bin Laden.

And I think it was a real shock to a lot Americans to discover that huge chunks of the Middle East actually buy into these deeply psychologically dysfunctional conspiracy-minded sort of theories about the world. And I think that's going to have a real effect on how we conduct foreign policy in that world. GEORGE: At the same time, I think it also gave some political cover to, you know, the heads of Pakistan, Jordan and so -- and Egypt and so forth, in terms of saying, look, we actually do have some -- it's true that the average person on the street, not all of them, are going to accept this, but they could at least say, this gives me enough proof to say that the United States is actually on the right track.

BEINART: I think we've actually too much of this question of whether the Muslim street believes that Osama bin Laden did it.

I think most of the real anger comes from the fact that most people in the Muslim world are very badly governed. They have a tremendous amount of hostility towards their leaders and they associated, in some cases, rightly, those leaders in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with the U.S.

I really think that the real public opinion question is that America to get on the right side of democracy in the Muslim world. Then people -- this whole question about conspiracy theories about September 11 won't really matter.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by. What's next? We're next in the war on terrorism. Senator Joe Lieberman, he's the Democrat of Connecticut. Today he was pointing straight toward Baghdad.


LIEBERMAN: The fact is that the war against terrorism cannot end before Saddam Hussein is out of power in Iraq because he is the world's most powerful terrorist.


BLITZER: Donna Brazile, you once managed his vice presidential campaign.

BRAZILE: Well, there's another madman that's been on the loose for many years, and I think...


BLITZER: That's not -- that's not -- that's not Joe Lieberman...

GOLDBERG: Joe Lieberman?

BEINART: You're not going to -- you're not going to get a job with him next time.


BRAZILE: No, I'm referring, I'm referring to Saddam Hussein, of course, and I think it's important that we go back to the international table and really come up with a process to deal with Iraq. And I think that's what Senator Lieberman is talking about.

But no, he's a great man, he's not a madman.


BLITZER: We were all jumping on the same...


... as soon as we heard you saying that.

Is Joe Lieberman right that this is not going to be a victory -- forget about Osama bin Laden -- until Saddam Hussein is replaced?

GOLDBERG: Well, I think in a very macro sense you can't say that the war of terrorism has been won without going after Saddam. And I think there's a shocking level of consensus on both sides of the political aisle about that, about that fact.

And -- but I do think were the real gap is is in the ability to persuade the American people that we can actually go in there, and we need a good excuse and we need some....

BRAZILE: And we also need an international coalition.

GEORGE: The president really has to make the case because it's back to what we were saying before. Right now bin Laden has been the face of terrorism. But now you have to, in a sense, make a rhetorical and strategic shift now to say destroying terrorism means taking on Iraq.

BEINART: It's a tricky shift to make because the evidence that Saddam was involved in September 11 is probably quite weak. In a sense the argument about Saddam and the war on terrorism is proactive. It's about the terrorism he could commit, not the terrorism he has committed. And America has not been traditionally been very good at these proactive steps to stop things before they got -- this is the real test, I think, going for us.

GOLDBERG: But I also think you have look back a little bit and say that this is the guy who tried to murder the first President Bush and there is, there are...

BEINART: But by that standard we go after Gadhafi. I mean, there's probably better evidence on Gadhafi in Iran.

GOLDBERG: Bring him on.

BEINART: Saddam is the one who's the most dangerous going forward, and he's the one I think we need to focus on.

GEORGE: But this speaks to your point before, though. This is really about bringing freedom to that entire region.

GOLDBERG: Absolutely.

BRAZILE: Well we need to bring our international allies and partners with us before we do anything. BEINART: I don't think they're going to come.

BLITZER: All right. Not much support for that.


Switch gears. Middle East violence, a peace process off the rails and an administration calling home its envoy.

Earlier on LATE EDITION, the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, kept up the pressure on the Palestinian Authority president, Yasser Arafat, speaking just before Arafat himself called for an end to all armed activities and suicide bombings by Palestinians.


RICE: The United States recognizes that Chairman Arafat is representative of the Palestinian people, but it is time for him as a representative of the Palestinian people to lead them and not to follow the siren song of violence and of activities that just are really, they're keeping peace from happening in the Middle East.


BLITZER: Peter, have we all heard that so many times before, or is there some substantive difference this time?

BEINART: The substantive difference is not on Arafat's part, it's on the Americans' part and it's because of September 11. Because we are now in a war on terrorism, we can no longer in good conscience ask Israel to respond to terrorism with concessions and restraint. We won't impose restraint on ourselves. We're no longer imposing it on Israel. You don't hear Ariel Sharon's name mentioned at all when the Bush people get on TV, and that's because we're in a different world now. We're on Israel's side, we're in the same war. And it's Arafat who's in trouble.


BRAZILE: Well, he's leading all of those people who will listen to him, but he has the Hamas there and Islamic Jihad, and he needs to really crack down on them and put the whip to them quick.

BLITZER: Were you encouraged by what you heard Arafat say today?

GOLDBERG: I don't get really encouraged by anything Arafat says. I mean, Arafat has one of the most demonstrable records of being a liar. And so the only language of truth he can actually speak are in terms of actions not words, and so we'll see what he does. But I don't really care what he has to say.

GEORGE: And (OFF-MIKE) exactly right. I mean he is realizing he's been taking a great public relations hit in this and the collateral, the collateral damage of all these suicide bombings has been own authority within the, within the rest of the world. If the bombings stop, then maybe people will start believing what he actually says.

BLITZER: All right, stand by, we'll be right back.

We have to take more of your phone calls. We will be taking some phone calls. We'll be taking your e-mail for our panel. Our address, write it down,

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're continuing our conversation with the panelists on the "Final Round" and taking your questions by phone and by e-mail.

Much to the chagrin of Russia and the United States' European allies, the Bush administration announced this past week that the United States is pulling out of the long-standing ABM Treaty with Russia. The national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told me earlier today the decision will not impact on U.S.-Russian relations.


RICE: We needed to get out of the ABM Treaty in order to be able to move forward on missile defenses. We did it in a way in which U.S.-Russian relations are intact, in which we can have discussions with the Chinese and in which strategic arms are coming down -- offensive arms are coming down. This is a very good outcome.


BLITZER: All right. What about that, Peter? Did the administration jump the gun?

BEINART: I think it really doesn't matter. Only one question matters; does this work? The truth is, the administration got very lucky by doing it right now because the Democrats don't want to pick a big fight with Bush while he is a war president. The Russians don't want to pick a big fight because they need our help desperately in trying to deal with the terrorist problems of radical Islam on their borders. So this dropped like a tree in the forest, nobody heard it.

But the reality is, it won't make any difference if the physics aren't there. And right now, they don't look like they are.

GOLDBERG: Yes, but, Peter, all things haven't worked until they worked. I mean, that's the nature of science.

BEINART: But, you know, but not all things always work. I mean, this seems to be -- conservatives say now, because we put a man on the moon, this will work. There is no logical connection. Some things work, some things just never do.

GOLDBERG: But there's no logical disconnection either. I mean, the idea is to...

BEINART: But the evidence is not strong.

GOLDBERG: The liberals are constantly saying, well, this wouldn't have stopped the attacks of September 11. But then again, neither would have the Marine Corps. Should we not have the Marine Corps?

BEINART: No, but we know the Marine Corps works.

GEORGE: The interesting thing about this is that -- you know, absent the war, I think the really remarkable story would be how well Bush has handled Russia. When he first went over there, everybody said, well, you know, he says he trusts Putin; how dare he do that?

I mean, it's been really remarkable that actually Putin has come that much closer to the United States on everything that Bush has put out there. And right now, he's upset about them pulling out of the ABM, but I think that he's going to go along with it.

BRAZILE: It's a terrible move. And this administration is walking away from the table on every international treaty. And it's bad politics and it's bad manner in the international arena. That's my opinion.

BLITZER: All right.


You've got to tell us how you really feel.

BEINART: That's right. What a surprise.

BLITZER: Let's move on. Each president imposes his own style on the White House. Today the "New York Times" political reporter, Richard Berke, wrote about how President Bush runs a tight ship, but maybe at a price.

Berke writes this, quote, "The Bush White House is remarkably devoid of infighting and more disciplined and loyal than any administration in decades. Now the key question, one that may not be answered until after Mr. Bush has left office, is whether the Bush White House stifles debate."

Jonah, does he have a point there?

GOLDBERG: I think the real point of that is that Rick Berke is upset that not enough people in the Bush administration are leaking to him.

Well, there actually is a case to be made for leaks. I think in many ways, some of the problems with the Clinton administration in its last few years that it ran such a tight ship on leaks that things like the pardons that came down the pike weren't floated in the papers enough for people to say, that is an awful idea, don't do it. But, you know, this is also -- this is a very professionalized presidency, far more so than the models we've had in the past. And at the same time, it's in the middle of a war on terrorism where secrecy and all of these things really matter. And so, you know, the (inaudible) thought was saying, don't leak, and they're actually listening to it. And if that makes Rick Berke's job a little more difficult, that makes me only happy.

GEORGE: There's actually attention now, where, if you were are in peacetime, it's just political gamesmanship and everybody does it. But right now there's a national security element to it, and I think that's good.

BEINART: The problem is this kind of rigidity works well in war, it's what you need. The problem is it doesn't tend to work so well in peace time.

Remember, before September 11, things were looking quite bad in terms of domestic politics for the Bush administration. It's partly because they stick to rigidly to an agenda and, unlike the Clintonites, they are not very flexible and creative. I think that might come back to hurt them when they have to deal with a recession next year.

BRAZILE: I believe there's a lot of infighting that's taken place since I've been to the White House. But we're not just getting a blow-by-blow account of it the way we would get it in some other...

BLITZER: A Clinton White House.

BRAZILE: And the previous administrations.

But I do believe that they are fighting and there have been all sorts of debates. But remember, the Republican Party is not really diverse. Unlike the Democratic Party, where we have southern conservatives and northeastern liberals where we always have debates and discussions in public.


I'm sure this have style developed the debates.

GOLDBERG: We just saw a clip from Condi Rice and Colin Powell...

BLITZER: Let's take a caller.

California, go ahead please.

CALLER: You know, in the conversations I've had with friends and family, we see Iran as being a serious threat to our country, and recently the Soviet Union gave them a nuclear reactor for a plant.

So, are we going to rely on Israel to fly in and blow that up, or are we going to take care of Iran now when taking care of everybody else?

BLITZER: All right, Jonah?

GOLDBERG: Iran is really interesting case because it had a fundamental Islamic state prior to everybody else.

The young people in Iran are actually wildly pro-American. They have these huge demonstrations at soccer games, saying USA, USA. And I think Iran, in many ways, poses the real opportunity that we were talking about earlier in terms of getting democracy flourishing. We used to make fun of, the idea of Iranian moderates. Well, it turns out that the people on the street are Iranian moderates.

BLITZER: That's a good point. There's an opportunity right now to deal with some new faces in Iran.

BEINART: That's right. And I think that probably there's a lot going on behind-the-scenes right now between the United States and Iran.

First of all, I'm sure they've given us more logistical help, being on Afghanistan's border, than we realize. And in a sense, the further we move from Saudi Arabia, which has traditionally been Iran's regional opponent, the closer we inevitably move to Iran.

I think, in a lot of ways, it will be fascinating over the coming year, we're probably looking at a U.S.-Iran alliance.

GEORGE: And Iran, obviously, would also like Iraq and Saddam Hussein to fall by the wayside as well.

GOLDBERG: And they hate the Taliban.

BLITZER: We have an e-mail question from Victor, and I want Donna to answer this question.

If Osama bin Laden ends up in Pakistan, would we go and grab him or ask the Pakistani government to hand him over?

BRAZILE: No question, we should be talking with the Pakistanis every minute of this day and the days that follow to make sure that we track him down. If he got away and he's there with his family because family got away there a couple of weeks ago, we should track him down and bring him to justice.

BLITZER: Do you think the Pakistanis are going to be cooperative in going after Osama, if, in fact, he is in Pakistan?

GOLDBERG: Well, if he is there, I certainly think that the Pakistanis have down enough for us, that we deserve to give them the benefit of the doubt in terms of their sovereignty and their help and let them try and get him, even though there may be some problems with that. But I'm not even sure he's dead.

BLITZER: All right, stand by. We're going to take a quick break. We have more to talk about.

When we come back, we'll join our panelists, we'll look ahead when the LATE EDITION "Final Round" returns. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back to the "Final Round."

Giuliani leaves office next month enormously popular because of his handling of the September 11 attacks. Will he be singing political songs in the future? Is there a future for him at the next Republican Party convention? What about that?

BRAZILE: He should keep his day job, he's no singer. And I don't know about his future with the Republican Party, but clearly he's done a remarkable job since September 11, and we're all proud of him.


GOLDBERG: Well, you know, contrary to what Donna said, the Republican Party is remarkably diverse, because he's a remarkably liberal guy. And I think he does have a good future in front of him. I'm not sure if he's conservative enough in the Republican Party to win national office, but I think he'll be around quite a bit.

BEINART: He has no future in the Republican Party for one reason. He's too secular. It's become a party that is fundamentally religious at its base. He's a very compelling politician. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has left him without a home.

GEORGE: I would tend to disagree with that. I think especially in the current environment, it wouldn't be completely out of the ordinary, for example, for him to be on the national ticket if Dick Cheney chose not to run the next time around.

BLITZER: All right, let's move on. President Bush wants the U.S. Senate to approve his economic stimulus package before they recess for the year, that's supposed to be at the end of this coming week. Will there be a deal?

Let's begin with Peter. A deal?

BEINART: No. The Democrats want Bush to own this recession. They don't want any of their fingerprints on it. They're going to let him go out in 2002, see if can he revive this economy. I don't think he can, because there won't be a stimulus bill. No more interest rate cuts. We're going to be in deep recession next year, and the Democrats are going to win big in 2002.

BLITZER: No deal this week, Jonah?

GOLDBERG: I don't think there's going to be a deal. I think the Democrats are too bought into the idea that they're going to run as the mommy party and take care of people at home.

And as a conservative, I don't like stimulus packages anyway because they basically give this false impression that the United States government mans a steering wheel that drives the economy, and it doesn't.

BRAZILE: Well, Democrats are the party of working families, and this stimulus package has a lot in it. It will help working people get back on with their lives and help people who are unemployed who need help out there right now and will perhaps protect us from the Bush recession.

So I think there's a 50-50 chance that Tom Daschle will work out a deal.

GEORGE: A Bush recession that started last year, which is kind of interesting.


GEORGE: There's not going to be a stimulus package, because basically Daschle has said that nothing on the domestic front, whether it has to do with the economic stimulus or farm bills or health care, anything is going to get out. And it's all going to be basically part of the 2002 campaign.

BLITZER: All right, let's move on. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson could decide as early as this week whether to make the anthrax vaccine available to thousands of people who may have been exposed.

Should the secretary give the green light, Jonah?

GOLDBERG: Sure. I'm fairly libertarian when it comes to people wanting to protect themselves from really dangerous terrorist diseases. So, let people take the drugs if they feel like they want to take the drugs.

BLITZER: Right now only military personnel get that vaccine.

BRAZILE: And, you know, there's a lot of risk involved, and so I'm a little skeptical about giving that vaccination to our postal workers. They've been the unsung heroes of this post-September 11 crisis we've had, and we don't need another crisis in the post office.

GEORGE: You know, if they want it, sure, they certainly should go ahead and get it. One of my colleagues at the "Post" was on Cipro, and it had some very bad side effects on it. So the vaccination may be the way to go.


BEINART: I disagree, I think this anthrax thing is over. There are no more letters that we know about, and we know that this has side effects, particularly for older people, and the postal workers tend to be older and more likely to have already preexisting conditions. Seems to me, no reason.

BLITZER: Maybe you're right, let's hope you are.

John Walker, meanwhile, the young American who fought for the Taliban, is in the custody of the U.S. Marine Corp aboard a U.S. ship off the Arabian Sea, but no decision has yet been made about his fate.

Is he a traitor? Robert.

GEORGE: Of course he's traitor. And he should be tried for treason. I doubt if he'll get the death penalty, though, given the kind of general environment we're in, but he should be tried for treason, definitely.


BRAZILE: That's a tough one. I do believe that at this point I would consider him a traitor, but I don't know enough about the case yet.

BLITZER: You are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

BRAZILE: I'm willing, but I would like to see him come home quickly and be brought to justice as well, and shave that damn beard.



GOLDBERG: I think yes, I think he fits all the good definitions of a traitor.

I'm shocked, though, by the way leaders in both parties are so gentle on this subject, and it hasn't become a major cultural issue between the Republican and Democratic Parties, as a wedge issue.

BEINART: I couldn't agree more. You know, they talk about this kid as if, you know, they'd caught him with drugs or something. You know, he's a troubled kid, where did he go wrong, we need to understand him.

We don't need to understand him. He's a traitor. He was working with people who killed thousands of Americans. No question, doesn't matter whether he's American or not.

GEORGE: They'd be harsher on him if he had been caught with drugs.


BEINART: I know. It's really extraordinary. I think Jonah's absolutely right. The Republicans should have picked this up and run with it. As a Democrat, I'm glad they didn't.


BLITZER: All right. Let's move on. The war in Afghanistan, is it all but over, is the country -- but the country of course is far from stable -- how long should U.S. troops stay there?

Peter, you know, U.S. troops are still in Germany, they're still in Japan. Been a long time since that war ended. BEINART: That's right, and look how well it's turned out. I think American troops hopefully will stay there a very, very long time. What I fear is that the Bush administration is backsliding to its earlier opposition to nation-building. They don't want to take part in this peacekeeping force. In the long run, it could be very bad for Afghanistan, very bad for us.

BLITZER: What about that?

GOLDBERG: I think that's generally right. I think there's going to be a half-life to American troops, but what I hope is a permanent thing for a long time as an American presence. We should tell the world that, if you take our side in the war against terrorism, you're going to get everything from democracy to snow-cone machines to air hockey to whatever you want, we're going to help you build a country, and going to help you get -- join the 21st century.

GEORGE: Frankly, the United States should have been in Afghanistan a decade ago, when the Soviet Union fell, when Afghanistan was partly responsible for that, for basically expelling the Soviets, and it's really -- we're 10 years two late. And we should stay there as long as it takes.

BRAZILE: I agree with Robert, stay there, help rebuild the country, secure the borders and free the Afghanistan women.

BEINART: That's unanimous.

BLITZER: All right now. We're going to leave, but what's wrong with beards?


BRAZILE: Al Gore looks quite well with it. So do you.


BRAZILE: But I think it's a cultural political signal that Mr. Walker made, and that's why I said to take it off.

BLITZER: We're going to leave it right there. The "Final Round," thanks for joining us.

And that's all time we have today on this LATE EDITION, Sunday December 16. Our thanks, of course, to Jonah Goldberg, Donna Brazile, Robert George and Peter Beinart.

Please join us again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. And by the way, if you missed any of today's program, tune in tonight, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, for LATE EDITION prime time.

During the week, I'll see you twice a day, 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.




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