CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
America's New War: McCain Praises Bush; Shays, Weiner Debate Economic Stimulus; Dealing With Conflicting Emotions After September 11
Aired December 22, 2001 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My wish for Christmas, the holiday season, is for our country to be at peace, to be protected.
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JONATHAN KARL, HOST: How safe do you feel this holiday season? And is Washington slipping back to partisan business as usual when it comes to boosting the economy, airline safety and homeland defense?
Senator John McCain holds forth on the president, Congress and war.
We'll go live to Afghanistan, and our reporters and experts will discuss the military mop-up and the search for Osama bin Laden.
Plus, how to balance fear and grief during a time of holiday celebration.
All just ahead in CNN's special coverage of AMERICA'S NEW WAR.
Welcome. I'm Jonathan Karl in Washington. We'll spend the next two hours bringing you our reporters, guests and experts to analyze what America's new war has accomplished and where we're headed next.
We'll have best-selling author Peter Bergen back with his special insights into Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden.
And also, the editor of a new National Geographic book called "The World of Islam," which shows stunning images of Islamic culture.
And we want to hear from you. We'll be taking your phone calls and e-mails about the war on the Afghan front and on the homefront. Our address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
But first, here are the latest developments in America's new war.
KARL: And just ahead, Senator John McCain gives us some straight talk about what he calls "war profiteering" and a quote, "obscene rip- off" of the American taxpayer.
KARL: Welcome back to our special coverage of AMERICA'S NEW WAR.
I caught up with Senator John McCain shortly before he left Washington for the holidays.
The Arizona Republican is sharply critical of what Congress did in its last-minute work before the holiday recess. But he's full of praise for the man he battled hard in the run for the White House, President George W. Bush. In fact, McCain calls Mr. Bush freedom's commander in chief.
I started the interview by asking him if President Bush would get his vote for man of the year.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Oh, I think so. I think he has risen to the occasion in a time of national crisis and has rallied the American people, and very effectively, with a great team around him, has prosecuted the conflict very successfully. So I -- yes, absolutely.
KARL: Has he exceeded your expectations? I mean, obviously, you know, you had some tough times with him during the campaign. Has he done better than you thought he would?
MCCAIN: No, I don't know, but I think that -- let me start over. I think he has done a fine job. He hasn't surprised me, but he certainly has done a superb job of conducting himself in a time of national crisis. Some leaders fail under these kinds of crises. He has not, obviously.
KARL: Now, one of the things that will be high on your priority list when Congress returns after the holiday break will be this question of a commission to look into what went wrong, especially the intelligence failures surrounding September 11.
What do you hope to accomplish with this commission?
MCCAIN: Well, every major crisis in American history -- World War II, the assassination of John F. Kennedy -- have called for the appointment of a commission to examine what happened, because unless we know exactly what went wrong, we cannot feel total confidence that we fixed everything that needs to be repaired.
So I think there has to be a thorough examination of the intelligence failures and -- as well as diplomatic or other failures, if they occurred, so that we can map a strategy to win this war and never let it happen again.
KARL: Well, what's top on your list of what you want to look into? I mean, what... MCCAIN: Top on the list probably would be why the intelligence failed, why -- I heard the director of the FBI say they didn't have an inkling that terrorists were receiving pilot training in the United States.
You know, I think that there were -- in the words of many experts, it was a, quote, "massive intelligence failure." But I think there are other aspects of this too that we have to look at.
KARL: OK. Well, switching gears to the domestic front here, you've talked about pork-barrel spending, wasteful government spending for as long as you've been in Congress. But I talked to you recently about this deal for Boeing, a $20 billion to $30 billion deal that you told me was the biggest rip-off of tax money that you've ever seen.
What's the deal, what's the deal with this?
MCCAIN: Well, the deal is, very frankly -- very quickly, that the Air Force is going to lease 767s from Boeing. Everybody knows that it's a bailout for Boeing. Their lobbyists are incredibly active, and the senators that have been working for this.
We're going to lease them for 10 years, paying 90 percent of the cost. Pay $1.2 billion to build hangars; pay $30 million to engineer tankers. Then when we're finished after 10 years, another $30 million to de-engineer them. And then it goes back to Boeing.
These aircraft have a 30- to 40-year life, so we're paying 90 percent of the cost plus other associated costs for the airplane and giving it back to Boeing after approximately a third to a quarter of the life of the airplane. It's astonishing.
KARL: And Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who pushed this, said, "Hey, this is important for our national security to have a healthy aviation industry." What do you say to that?
MCCAIN: If it's necessary, then let's just write them a check. I mean, we wrote a check to the airlines, as you know, when they were in danger of going under, because we thought this was a national security issue. I think we're going to do something for the insurance companies and others. But to rip off the American taxpayers in this fashion is incredibly obscene.
And look, it also has something to do with campaign contributions. One of the major contributors to both parties is -- guess what? -- the Boeing corporation.
KARL: Now, you've also used the word "war profiteerings" -- the phrase "war profiteerings." Is that what we're seeing with this and with other similar measures we've seen in the last minute here?
MCCAIN: Oh, sure. Before September, this proposal about leasing these airplanes was floated; it was rejected both by the administration and the Armed Services Committee.
And by the way, these things are done without a hearing, without any debate. They're just stuck into these appropriations bills. I mean, there are hundreds of millions -- actually, billions of dollars that have been put into -- tucked into these appropriations bills, which have nothing to do with fighting the war on terrorism, but everything to do with members' home-town pork-barrel projects.
It is the worst I've ever seen it. The system cries out for reform. And a lot of it has to do with massive campaign contributions.
KARL: Well, I would have thought that with the war going on and with national security being at the forefront that we would have actually seen less of this. You're saying this is worse than ever.
MCCAIN: It's the worst that any of us have ever seen. And it's directly related to the increase in overall expenditures, so therefore, they can sneak in these pork-barrel projects.
Look, they took money out of highway funds that were allocated to states by a bill that we passed through the Senate and redistributed it to their own states. I mean, it's just unbelievable.
KARL: Now, switching gears again -- aviation security. There was, largely, your bill in the Senate. One of the provisions was to require the airlines to screen all checked baggage within 60 days. The airlines are now saying they can't meet that deadline.
Was that an arbitrary deadline set by Congress? I mean, are the airlines being reasonable about this?
MCCAIN: Actually, no. The Department of Transportation was present when we were putting this bill together. They had no comment about it whatsoever. Obviously, I think the airlines are worried that this might impede their ability to move passengers. But they should have told us that at the time we were passing the bill, not now.
KARL: But that's a legitimate concern. I mean, this would be a massive undertaking, all of a sudden checking all -- you know, screening all checked baggage.
MCCAIN: Well, we can look at alternate ways. We can look at better technology. There's a lot of things we can do. But they haven't made their case to us, to Congress; they've just made it publicly. And I have seen the airlines, particularly the major airlines, cry wolf on a number of occasions.
KARL: I also want to ask you, Senator Daschle now in control of the Senate; Democrats in control for most of this year, for about half of the year. Do you think that the country is better or worse off because of that shift from Jim Jeffords turning the power over to the Democrats?
MCCAIN: Well, obviously, I prefer a Republican majority, but I think that the president has been able to get major legislation through -- his tax cuts, recently the education bill was passed, which were his two priority items. I think we've worked together on a number of issues, including the assistance for New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
So I think on national security and foreign policy issues, there's been great deal of cooperation. On a number of domestic issues, including the stimulus package, I can't remember when I've quite seen such a high degree of partisanship.
KARL: And you're -- you know, obviously, Republicans are also complaining, not only about no stimulus package, a lot of the other measures that have died in the Senate, also the nominations. I mean, even Otto Reich, who would be the State Department's point man for all of Latin America, that nomination has gone nowhere.
Just in the time we have left, what do you think about the -- kind of the way the nominations have moved? The president's been very concerned about this.
MCCAIN: Well, I'd be a lot more indignant if I didn't tell you we did a lot of those things to the Democrats when President Clinton was in the White House.
But what we need to do is stop it on both sides and move forward, and at least give people the up-or-down vote. Look, if you don't want somebody to be there, then vote no, but at least give them a vote.
We blocked Clinton nominees, and they're blocking ours. Let's stop this practice and move forward with it. At least give them an honest vote, rather than just blocking their nominations. Mr. Reich happens to be a good man.
KARL: My thanks to Senator John McCain.
Senate Democrats late Thursday sent the nomination of Otto Reich back to the president. White House oficials say the president is considering a recess appointment to act on his own, without Senate confirmation, to put Reich temporarily in place as the State Department's top official for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Up next, we'll talk with best-selling author Peter Bergen and our CNN military expert General Don Shepperd about the hunt for bin Laden and how the U.S. military remains on guard.
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GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: We're prepared, we're dug in. We're well-defended, we're safe, we're good. We're ready to fight whatever comes our way.
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DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: A good many of the caves and the tunnels have been closed, bombed, damaged, blown up; a good many have not been. There are an enormous number of caves and tunnels.
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KARL: That was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, warning Afghanistan is a dangerous place, still a dangerous place after all of this.
Joining us from Tucson, Arizona, CNN military analyst Major General Donald Shepperd. And here in Washington, CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen. He's also author of the book, "Holy War, Inc.: Inside the secret world of Osama bin Laden."
We were talking to passer-byers in Washington yesterday, and a common concern we're hearing from people on the street is what spells victory in Afghanistan.
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QUESTION: The main objective of the way in Afghanistan was to kill or capture Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leaders. This hasn't happened. Why not?
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KARL: General Shepperd, that question to you. And the second part of the question, I believe, was, would this be -- can we declare victory in this if Osama bin Laden is not confirmed to be either captured or killed?
MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN ANALYST: Well, remember, Jonathan, the objectives of the military campaign were very carefully laid out by Secretary Rumsfeld and the president at the beginning of this war.
Of course they've evolved, and of course public perception will be, if we don't get bin Laden or we don't get Omar, even though the Taliban have been defeated and are out of power in the country and even though the Al Qaeda may be gone from the country to other countries and there may some guerrillas remaining, there will be a public perception that this was less than totally successful if we either don't get them or don't know for sure if we've got them. So you just have to deal with that from a public-relations standpoint, Jonathan.
KARL: Well, how big a blow, not only in terms of public relations but in terms of the substance of this war, is it that apparently virtually the entire senior leadership of the Taliban has escaped and, you know, we don't seem to have bin Laden or, at least publicly we don't know, many of his top lieutenants?
SHEPPERD: Well, remember, this is early in the game. They have been routed from the Tora Bora area, they've been routed from their redoubts in many areas around the country. The country has been taken over by the opposition forces. So a great deal has been done. But we're going to follow these people to the end of the earth into other countries. And probably a lot going on in other countries as we speak that we are not being told about.
So it's going to take some time. As we've been told from the beginning, this is going to be a long, deep and wide campaign in many places.
But it will be perceived that Americans want quick victories and quick information, and, of course, we do. It's just not available yet. We don't have him. We're still after him. We may get him in Afghanistan, but if not, we'll get him somewhere else, is my prediction.
KARL: Now, Peter, if bin Laden has escaped, fled Afghanistan, where likely would he go? You heard today President Musharraf of Pakistan saying, he's not in Pakistan, as far as he knows.
Where would he go? Where would his hideouts go?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think it's very unlikely that he would leave because he knows the place so well. You know, going into Pakistan -- Pakistan has had quite a good history of extraditing people. Ramzi Yousef, the bomber of the World Trade Center in '93; he was extradited in '95. The guy who shot up the CIA also in '95 was extradited.
So, I mean, bin Laden is keenly aware, I think, the Pakistani government is not on his side. In fact, he issued, sometime about a month ago, he issued a statement sort of calling the Pakistani government infidels and that kind of thing.
So I think it's very unlikely that he will leave Afghanistan. Other elements of Al Qaeda may disperse to other countries, but I think bin Laden will stay in Afghanistan.
KARL: But if we were to go, if he were to try to get out of there, where -- I mean, would he go to Chechnya? Would he go to -- I mean, is it possible he could find his way to Somalia, or -- I mean, he's a tough guy to hide.
BERGEN: Well, he's very recognizable, and there's a $25 million reward. But I think that it's unlikely that he would go. Other elements of Al Qaeda further down the chain of command might go to places like Chechnya or Somalia, perhaps, or Yemen.
And, by the way, there are elements of Al Qaeda that exist in these countries anyway, that weren't in Afghanistan necessarily. We saw the Yemeni government this week go after members of Al Qaeda. We heard reports of U.S. government people going into Somalia, or at least looking around to see if there were camps still in Somalia. And certainly the Russian government is keenly aware that proteges of bin Laden are in Chechnya.
KARL: And we know so much about those camps, those training camps in Afghanistan. You've been to those camps. What do we know -- if they've been destroyed, effectively destroyed, the Al Qaeda leadership has been dispersed, what facilities, what resources do they have in other countries, what other terrorist camps? Is there anything remotely like what they have in Afghanistan?
BERGEN: Well, actually, I've never been to one of the terror training camps itself. That would have been a life-threatening experience, I think.
But I think that it's orders of magnitude lower. You know, Afghanistan was a very unusual -- it's a big country, failed state, basically the government's on your side. That was a very unusual situation. And in places like Chechnya or Somalia or Yemen, it's very, very much -- orders of magnitude lower in terms of the scale of Al Qaeda.
KARL: General Shepperd, obviously the news now is this dispute over the convoy that was destroyed near Tora Bora by U.S. bombs. Now, the Pentagon is saying that this convoy -- and here we see pictures of the aftermath -- this convoy was a convoy of Al Qaeda or Taliban leaders. But local officials on the ground are saying it was nothing of the sort, it was simply tribal leaders that were headed up to Kabul for the swearing in of Karzai.
What do you make of a situation like this? The Pentagon obviously reluctant to give out too many details, saying they don't want to jeopardize sources and methods. But what do you make of something like this?
SHEPPERD: Right, Jonathan, well, still, again, early in the game of information on this, but let's make one thing clear: This was not a mistake.
SHEPPERD: This convoy was attacked on purpose and it was hit, and you did to this convoy what you wanted to do -- you kill the people in it and you destroyed the vehicles. That's very clear.
Now, the information on who was in this convoy could come from several sources. Obviously, operatives on the ground, CIA, special forces, special operations people, forward air controllers, as well as sensors such as the Predator and other sensors that we've got airborne there such as JSTARS, RIVET JOINT, et cetera.
So a lot of information went there. And then it went through a target nomination and a target approval process, the chain of which leads up to Central Command, CENTCOM, and ultimately General Franks.
So CENTCOM is responsible for having struck this target. How far down that was delegated, the decision, depends upon the rules of engagement.
But clearly, we're going to have to ask a lot more questions and find out. The Pentagon says, nope, this was Al Qaeda leadership. And we hear reports that others are saying, no, it was just people in route to Kabul for the ceremonies. We're going to have to see and ask a lot more questions. KARL: But you don't think a mistake is possible? I mean, after all, in Kosovo, we actually bombed the Chinese embassy by mistake. Isn't it possible this was also a mistake?
SHEPPERD: Absolutely, but it wasn't a mistake that we hit the target. We hit the target we were after, in this case. That's very clear. But it's also possible to get duped and be used one tribal warlord against another. We're well aware of those things, and General Franks has been very cautious in his targeting process.
Remember early on, there were reports that Mullah Omar was in the sights of an orbiting platform, an orbiting armed platform, and the targeting approval process was not fast enough to allow them to strike, and even criticism of him for that.
If this was an error, it's the type of thing that you desperately try to avoid. But again, the Pentagon is standing by its reports -- not an error.
KARL: OK. General Shepperd, Peter Bergen, please stay with us.
We're going to be back in a moment with your phone calls and e- mails about Osama bin Laden and the country he hijacked.
KARL: An important source of information about the news of the day, the progress of the war and the terrorism investigation can be found online at cnn.com or AOL keyword CNN.
Public opinion is prepared for the long haul. The latest CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup Poll finds only 30 percent of Americans say military action should end if the U.S. captures or kills Osama bin Laden. Two- thirds, 67 percent, say keep going.
So, Peter Bergen, the question to you, if we keep going, where do you see the likely next step? Where's the next place to hit?
BERGEN: I think it moves from a war situation into, really, an intelligence-gathering situation. I mean, you're not going to be going to war in places like Yemen or places like Chechnya. I mean, for a start, any kind of battlefield engagements will be conducted by the surrogate, the local troops on the ground, whether the Yemini government, soldiers or by the Russians.
So I think it will be a very different situation, which is not to say that it won't go on for a long time. But you're talking about intelligence gathering more than a military action.
KARL: OK. If bin Laden is killed and the camps are destroyed, the Al Qaeda leadership that was in Afghanistan is disbursed, has the organization effectively been decapitated to the point where it is no longer effective? Or are there enough, is there enough out there, in terms of cells and other leaders?
BERGEN: I think in the long term that would be very good news, in terms of continued spectacular acts of terrorism against American targets. If you eliminate the leadership in the training camps, the organizations are out of business.
In the short term, however, several thousand people probably cycled through those camps. A lot of them got kind of the -- the kind of training -- you know, running the cell in a way it doesn't get penetrated or learning how to use high explosives -- that they could do some damage.
And they may have -- we don't -- presumably, there's been operations around the world to arrest a lot of these people. But there are a lot of people arrested after the U.S. embassy attacks in 1998 in countries around the world, and obviously not all of Al Qaeda was picked up.
So my prognosis, in the long term, I think it's good news. In the short term, however, I think you'd have to be a wildly optimistic to presume that there isn't going to be some other attacks in the pipeline.
KARL: So, General Shepperd, if this next phase of the war will be primarily an intelligence-gathering phase -- we're going through these caves now. The Marines will be going in cave by cave, trying to see what is there, obviously, look to see if there are any signs of bin Laden or Al Qaeda leaders, but also to gather intelligence.
You did some of this work or witnessed some of this work happening during the Vietnam war, in terms of going cave to cave, going into possible hideouts.
What did we learn from Vietnam, in terms of what kind of intelligence material you can find once the enemy has fled?
SHEPPERD: Well, one thing you've -- I learned in Vietnam is you sure don't want to do this kind of work, from talking to the people that did it. In Vietnam, we did it with red-lens flashlights and 45- caliber pistols, and you had to be small to get down in these caves. And I had a friend that told me, you can't believe how big the head of a cobra looks under a red-lens flashlight or how loud a 45 is when you shoot it off in the cave.
We're much more sophisticated than that now. But it's the most dangerous of the dangerous missions out there, putting people with night-vision goggles, concussion devices, thrown into the caves; and then going into the caves to search and see who's in there in the midst of perhaps booby traps, mines and that type of thing.
You're looking for anybody or anything that's in there in the way of documents -- just like you would in any of the cities -- videotapes, ammunition, all of that type of thing; and then, of course, bringing them or it out, dead or alive.
It's very, very dangerous, but we have people trained to do this, Jonathan.
KARL: And we have a new weapon, or at least a new weapon we're talking about using in Afghanistan, this idea of a vacuum bomb. Can you explain -- and that's, obviously, the layman's term, but can you explain what that is?
SHEPPERD: Well, yes. I tell you, there's a lot of misinformation about these bombs. It's a bomb that, basically, is a 2,000-pound bomb with a thermobaric, if you will, effect.
What it does is, it's a new fuse that goes in, and it has fuel -- it's not fuel air, but it is -- it's not fuel, as we think of it. It's particles that go out. And then the bomb is ignited over a period of time, so it allows this material to spread in a bigger area and then produce gigantic heat and concussion effects.
It can spread through these tunnel complexes and, in many cases, without actually destroying them. So it'll kill the people that are in there, but it won't collapse the cave. Then you can go in and find out what's in there, is the idea behind these, if it works perfectly.
Very new weapon, been developed during the war. As we do during all wars, we rush to race things over there. As we've done the Global Hawk, as a matter of fact, and now this weapon. Reportedly only 10 of them available, so we'll be selective about where and when we use it.
KARL: Now, Peter, you've talked a lot about -- and you alluded to it in your last answer about sleeper cells -- sleeper cells of Al Qaeda terrorists that may be ready to pounce. They may already be in position in the United States or in other countries.
How long do we have to worry about such cells? I mean, how much patience do they have? How long can a cell be in place before attacking?
BERGEN: Well, in the case of the U.S. embassy bombing attacks in Africa, they spent five years planning that. In the case of the USS Cole, which was blown up last year, they spent two years planning that. In the case of September 11, the investigation is ongoing but clearly it wasn't planned overnight. It was clearly something that was in the works for some time.
So that's a long way of saying they have a lot of patience, and the timeline is a matter of years, not months or days.
KARL: So, again, getting back to question about if we actually destroy Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, kill bin Laden, you're saying five years from now there could be, potentially, Al Qaeda terrorists ready to pounce?
BERGEN: Within a -- I mean, I guess -- it's an interesting question. I think within, certainly from their past history we can say somewhere between two years and five years is the length of how long they take on certain operations.
And I think you've got to presume that there is, perhaps, another operation in the pipeline. I mean, one doesn't like to say that, but the history of this group is hardly comforting.
KARL: OK. We have a phone call now from California.
California, what is your question?
CALLER: ... contribute to our military failures down the road?
SHEPPERD: I could only hear the last -- part of the last sentence there. Could you repeat that for me, Jonathan?
KARL: Yes, he was asking -- he's concerned that we're releasing too much information to the media, that the Pentagon is giving too much information out there that could be used by terrorists.
SHEPPERD: Well, I tell you what, I'll tell you what, if Secretary Rumsfeld is releasing too much information, the press sure doesn't believe it.
You know, we try to balance all of that. We try to give information so the American public understands the war and what their young people are doing so that they can develop support for the war effort, which is very, very important.
And we try to explain that without releasing operational details. And I think, overall, it's been a pretty good job of maintaining security, letting the public know what's going on, but not endangering our people.
KARL: OK, well, General Shepperd, thank you very much for joining us from Arizona.
SHEPPERD: Thank you.
KARL: Peter Bergen, thanks again for coming in on a Saturday to the set. Appreciate it.
KARL: Take care.
All right, the scars of the attacks -- of the terrorist attacks against the United States and how to cope with the emotional scares in the midst of holiday celebrations is our next topic.
Stay with us.
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BUSH: One of the things I like to remind our -- the enemy, is you thought you were going to change America when you hit us. You thought by your actions and by your attacks that somehow this nation was so soft that we didn't know how to respond. And they're paying a terrible price for their miscalculation.
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KARL: President Bush talking about American resolve and national spirit.
But what about the individual spirit? One-hundred-plus days and counting after the terrorist attacks, fear of what lies ahead, grief for what so many have lost, all at a time of celebrating for the holidays.
Helping us sort through the conflicting emotional demands is Dr. Norine Johnson, president of the American Psychological Association, joining us from Boston; and here in Washington, Dottie Ward-Wimmer of the William Wendt Center for Loss and Healing here in Washington.
Dr. Johnson, first to you. We heard this week the news that Pat Flounders, a woman from Pennsylvania, committed suicide. Her husband was one of those that was killed in the World Trade Center.
Is she the latest victim, this suicide, the latest victim of the September 11 attacks?
NORINE JOHNSON, AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION: Good afternoon.
This is just the beginning. Three months after a traumatic event such as we had on September 11 that has affected so many people throughout this country, we're beginning to see the first signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. And the unfortunate death of one of the surviving widows is just but one example of what we're going to be seeing.
KARL: Now, Pat Flounders' friends were saying that they felt that she had recovered, that she was doing much better. She had not been grieving as much. And then, all of a sudden, all of a sudden from their perspective, she commits suicide.
Dottie, is that something that is typical, that people appear to have recovered, appear to have dealt with their grief, and then it turns out they really haven't?
DOTTIE WARD-WIMMER, WILLIAM WENDT CENTER FOR LOSS AND HEALING: Yes, it is common, because the fact is that grief is a process. It takes a long time. You don't recover from grief in three months. You don't get over it.
And as Dr. Johnson was saying, we're also dealing with a traumatic event here. So first, people have to deal with all the trauma, and then they begin to grieve. We're only really seeing the grief starting now.
KARL: Why is it that we think, Dr. Johnson, that post-traumatic stress syndrome is something that kicks in after three or six months? Why that delay?
JOHNSON: The research has shown us that that's true. And part of what happens is, immediately after a trauma, there's a lot of people gathering around, there is a lot of attention. But after the trauma is over, things become quiet. But a numbness can set in, and people can start re-experiencing the trauma without the support that was available there in beginning.
KARL: And what did we learn from the Oklahoma City example? I mean, we know that six people directly tied to the Oklahoma City bombing ended up committing suicide. They included a couple of police officers, somebody that was on the prosecution team investigating McVeigh, somebody that was in Denver, nowhere near Oklahoma City, one of the survivors.
What have we learned? Have we learned any lessons about that? That was another great national tragedy.
JOHNSON: I just had a chance to review the research on the Oklahoma bombings, and there's quite a lot that's coming out that really suggests to us how traumatic this is for a whole community. And with what happened to our country on September 11, this has been a trauma for our whole country.
We know in Oklahoma that, in addition to the suicides that talked about, eight out of nine children experienced traumatic responses three months afterwards. Many of these children were not present at the bomb site. They experienced trauma by watching it on television. And we have the same numbers for adults. So we have a trauma that has affected this country and will continue to affect this country.
I have been talking to people all over the country as I have traveled as president of the American Psychological Association. And over and over again, I hear people saying, "Things are different. I've changed." They're not the same.
KARL: So this is really a -- this is a national tragedy.
KARL: This is not -- we're not just talking about people directly hit by the losses.
WARD-WIMMER: Absolutely, absolutely.
KARL: I mean, we're talking about kids who watched those images over and over again.
WARD-WIMMER: Every child who watched it over and over and over again on television, every child who listened to their parents talk about it, who listened to their parents cry, who saw their world around them changing, is impacted by this loss.
And it is not an event and something that just didn't happen in September; it's something that's happening now. And it's being retriggered by the holidays, and it will happen over and over as we heal very slowly through this.
WARD-WIMMER: It was interesting, at the Wendt Center, what we did initially was we had to set up groups just for all the people in the community who were impacted, not affected. And now, the people who are affected directly are being able to start to do some of the grief work.
KARL: OK. We have another question from our time on the streets of Washington yesterday, this one about who pays.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: I know there's been demonstrated need for mental health professionals to respond to the terrorist attacks. What kinds of public funds are being made available for these efforts?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Dr. Johnson?
JOHNSON: We're beginning -- yes, we're beginning to see some cities, some communities respond. You know, New York City has offered and, in fact, made mandatory counseling for all of their police men and women.
But we need more assistance. I think it's ironic that, this time, mental health parity didn't pass the Congress, when we know so well how much people are in need.
KARL: And yet, you hear from a lot of the victims' groups representing the families that were hit by September 11, saying that they don't want to see this money going to various groups to help with counseling; they want to see it go directly to the families.
Are you finding people are reluctant to get involved?
JOHNSON: Well, you know, we still have a stigma about mental illness in this country. And one of the ways that people -- I would encourage people to look at this, that having these kind of reactions is very normal. It does not mean that you have a mental illness. It means that you survived a trauma and that you're going to experience mental effects from it.
Therefore, it's a time, really, to draw upon strengths, to learn resiliency and to think of psychological help and counseling as a way to develop skills, not as a way of thinking of yourself as having a deficit in something.
KARL: OK. Norine Johnson and Dottie Ward-Wimmer, we will be back with you.
And we'll be taking phone calls and e-mails, as well, in just a minute.
KARL: How do we maintain an emotional balance as the U.S. moves forward with America's new war?
We're talking to Dr. Norine Johnson, president of the American Psychological Association in Boston, and Dottie Ward-Wimmer of the William Wendt Center for Loss and Healing.
And we've got a call on the line I want to go to right away from California.
Caller, what is your question?
CALLER: Yes, this is Bob in Sacramento. I have a 12-year-old kid, Chris, who is experiencing some nightmares, and he had vaginal fluid on the brain. Can you comment on that?
JOHNSON: He had what fluid on the brain?
KARL: I don't know. I didn't catch the part of that question.
But he's talking about stress...
JOHNSON: Let's talk about the night...
KARL: ... for children, yes. Dr. Johnson?
JOHNSON: Let's talk about the nightmares...
JOHNSON: Let's talk about the nightmares, because that is one of the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
It would be interesting and important to know what kind of nightmares the child is having because trauma can express itself in many ways. But it's very good that this father is noticing that his child is having distress, so -- and the nightmares are a sign that he's really worried about something that he's not able yet to talk about.
WARD-WIMMER: You know, one of the things that Dad can do is to find out if, in his area, there are some people who understand trauma and play therapy available.
As Dr. Johnson said, children don't talk about it. They aren't able to verbalize it clearly. And so, through the use of play and metaphor, those feelings can emerge, they can be addressed, and this young man can be helped.
KARL: And we saw so much in terms of the artwork that little kids were producing.
WARD-WIMMER: Oh, yes.
KARL: And I've got a five-year-old daughter who actually drew a picture of a tall building with smoke coming out of it and an American flag on the top, which seem to be kind of -- those are the images that were coming out at her in those first few days.
What -- you know, any kind of warning signs, or is this something parents should be concerned about, if they see, you know... WARD-WIMMER: If the children are drawing it, if they're taking it from inside themselves and putting it onto paper, putting it into their play, that's good. That's what you want. You want the feelings that are trapped inside, you want the fears, the questions, the thoughts to come out.
What children are doing when they do that is they're trying to get their arms around it. They're looking for a sense of mastery.
It's fascinating, every single child that had come into the Wendt Center that we'd been seeing for a long time before September 11, every single one of them did some sort of digging -- and we have sandboxes in each of the playrooms -- because that's exactly what they were seeing. They were seeing...
KARL: They were seeing the digging.
WARD-WIMMER: ... the digging, they were seeing...
KARL: They were watching it over and over again...
WARD-WIMMER: They were saying, can you find me? They would play hide and seek. Every single kid, no matter what the issue, they had to process that...
JOHNSON: One of...
WARD-WIMMER: So the fact your daughter's doing it is good.
I'm sorry, Doctor.
KARL: Dr. Johnson?
JOHNSON: One of the things that we can take out of this trauma and this terror that is happening is four clues to better psychological help. And you've just talked about many of them.
One is connection. It's so important, and the holidays time are a wonderful time to do this. Get together with family, get together with friends, play with your children, give them time.
And two, empathic listening really gives space to people. It's not just that people need to talk about the trauma, they need to be listened to. They need to be heard, and their feelings need to be respected.
And three, do an emotional check on yourself. Think of it like you would checking your blood pressure: How is my emotional state? Am I irritable? Am I anxious? Am I kind of avoiding all this?
And four, look for meaning. I had a woman of a young baby say recently, "I'm looking forward to the new year because I just hope it will be better."
KARL: Well, Dottie, you spent a lot of time working one on one with victims, with survivors. What's your sense -- we're talking a lot about counseling, grief counseling, but what about the role of religion? How do people reach out, especially during the holidays, reach out to churches, to synagogues, to deal with this?
WARD-WIMMER: Spirituality is an essential part of healing, and everybody is grappling for it. And it doesn't have to be in the form of a particular religion.
What folks are trying to do is find some kind of meaning. They're trying to look for some kind of solid base. And so, spirituality is a very important part that we need to include, as we listen to people, as we help them cope.
It goes back to Dr. Johnson's comment on meaning -- what does it mean? What's it all about? Why did it happen?
KARL: OK. Well, thank you very much for joining us. Thank you, Norine Johnson, Dottie Ward-Wimmer. We appreciate you joining us. Our best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday.
Coming up next, a check on the headlines, plus two members of Congress debate the big issues of the war, the economy, airline safety and homeland defense. We'll look at the images from the new National Geographic book, "The World of Islam," plus our reporters' roundtable, as CNN's special coverage of AMERICA'S NEW WAR continues.
KARL: Welcome back to our second hour of AMERICA'S NEW WAR. I'm Jonathan Karl in Washington.
We want your questions about what Congress has done to win the terrorism war at home and abroad. And we'll be giving you a sneak preview of a remarkable new National Geographic photo essay on the world of Islam. We look forward to your questions on that, as well.
But first, here are the headlines with CNN's Catherine Callaway in Atlanta.
KARL: Congress adjourned this week after passing a $20 billion anti-terrorism package but without agreeing on a way to boost the slumping economy.
Joining us from Stamford, Connecticut, is Republican Christopher Shays, and in New York, Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner.
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: Good afternoon.
KARL: Gentlemen, thank you for joining us on a Saturday.
Congressman Weiner, I wanted to get right to you. Now that Congress has not passed this economic stimulus package, the blame game has started.
And if you take a look at this poll, this CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup Poll, it looks like your party is losing the blame game. Asked, "Who should we blame for the recession," 75 percent said Congress, 62 percent went back to President Clinton, only 44 percent blamed President Bush.
So as the blame game starts and Democrats talk about a Bush recession, is this really a Democratic recession?
WEINER: Well, that would be hard to believe, given that in just one year of the Bush administration, we've eliminated surpluses and turned them into deficits; we've endangered Social Security.
Frankly, you know, this is not the economy we had in the '40s and '50s. I think, even if Congress, on its best day, even in the Fed on its best day, can't turn on a dime an economy that's slumping, so I'm not sure it's really fair to lay the blame entirely anywhere.
I can tell you one thing: The stimulus package that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle wanted to pass last week would have done worse than nothing. It would have driven us deeper in deficits. It wouldn't have provided any help for the unemployed. And frankly, it would have eliminated the alternative minimum tax for businesses, something that I don't see any of my constituents clamoring for.
KARL: Well, why is -- I mean, whenever you've got a situation when the economy is down, usually what happens is the party in power gets the blame. And yet, President Bush, Republicans in power, don't seem to be getting the blame.
WEINER: Well, I think President Bush is riding, frankly, a well- earned high right now. I think his prosecution of the war overseas, his strong support of Israel has him very high in the polls. And frankly, both Chris Shays and I are gratified to see that even Congress is doing well in the polls right now.
I think that as the war goes on further and as people start to focus more on domestic issues, I think the Bush presidency isn't going to look as good, and I don't think that my friends on the Republican side of the aisle in the House of Representatives are going to have proven to have done the nearly the types of things that we need to turn the economy around.
KARL: Chris Shays?
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: Well, let me just say, I agree with Anthony's second point. I'm not sure blame is all that constructive or is going to be all that enlightening. The bottom line is, the economy started to tip into a recession. And I spent a lot of time, along with Anthony and others, to try to get our country's financial house in order.
You know, we're going to have to spend more, and I think we have to have some tax cuts to generate some economic activity. And I think it's going to be a difference as to whether it's more spending or it's more tax cuts. But you're going to have -- you're going to chop away at that surplus and may, in fact, start to use some Social Security reserves to get our economy moving again.
KARL: OK. Well, again, we were out yesterday talking to people in Washington about what questions they had, including questions for both of you. Here's an example.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: I'm planning a trip in February -- business trip in February. I never liked to fly before, and I certainly do not like to fly now. How safe will I be once I board that plane?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: All right, Congressman Weiner, that question to you. You know, in light of the fact that the airlines are now saying that they're going to have trouble meeting that 60-day deadline for which they were supposed to have checked -- screened all checked baggage, what do you say to that woman's question?
WEINER: I get this question a lot. I'd have to say this is probably the safest time in American history to fly. There is such extraordinary security at the airports.
Everyone who flies or has flown since September 11 has seen it. Extraordinary measures have already been taken by the airlines in terms of cockpit doors. It's not uncommon to be told by our pilots, once we take off, you're not going to be able to even more around the cabin anymore. So I think it's extraordinarily safe.
All of that being said, things that we did in Congress to federalize airport security workers, to make sure that all checked baggage is run through a magnetometer to make sure that it's safe, that's going to make it even more safe.
We got an awakening on September 11 that was probably a long time coming that we needed to improve airport security. And believe me, we've done it.
KARL: Well, Congressman Shays, what do you say to the airlines, though, who say they may not meet this deadline? I mean, 60 days, they're saying an arbitrary date set by Congress, that it's very difficult to actually go through that process of checking -- screening every piece of checked baggage.
SHAYS: Well, they're going to have to screen every checked baggage eventually. Whether they can do 60 days for explosives, probably not.
I mean, the big thing Anthony and I learned after September 11 is 19 people are willing to go down with the plane. And that means this concept that, if you have to ride the plane, you're not going to blow it up went out the window.
So I think my big concern still remains explosives on airplanes, even if the terrorists themselves happen to be on the plane.
KARL: OK, another question from the streets of Washington yesterday, a question that shows concern about homeland security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What exactly is being done to make sure our public health system is ready for the next possible bioterrorist attack?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Congressman Weiner?
WEINER: Well, actually Chris Shays is one of the foremost experts in the House of Representatives on that subject.
We have to realize that a lot of the challenges we hadn't even contemplated fully after September 11, things like smallpox and other types of biological outbreaks, have to be confronted.
You know, the fact of the matter is, we're going to be asking our federal government, whether it be the CDC or our health services, to do a lot more. And we might need to invest more federal dollars in those things.
But really, Chris Shays is the expert on that stuff.
KARL: OK, the expert?
SHAYS: Well, Anthony is kind. I think we're all learning to be experts on this issue.
I mean, the bottom line is, we're in a race with the terrorists to shut them down before they get a better delivery system for chemical and biological agents, before they get nuclear waste material to put in a conventional bomb, and before, heaven forbid, they get nuclear weapons. And that's the race.
With bioterrorism, I mean, we're doing a lot more to check our hospitals every day to see if there is an outbreak. If we see an outbreak, we're going to isolate that outbreak and jump in with all fours to try to eliminate it.
KARL: Well, something that hits very close to home for all of us who work on Capital Hill, now we're talking about anthrax vaccinations for those that were close to Senator Daschle's office at the time of that anthrax letter going there. Now, some 48 people are supposed to be taking the anthrax vaccination.
Congressman Shays, what do you think of that move? Do we really understand the nature of this disease? And is this the appropriate way of dealing with it?
SHAYS: Well, we're learning to understand it, but if I were a staffer that had possibly contracted anthrax, I would still take the antibiotics. I would not take the vaccine the government is giving them because it isn't yet approved. The plant, the BioPort plant, isn't approved, and the vaccine isn't yet approved, not approved for safety or for effectiveness. I would recommend that we ask the Brits to let us use their vaccine. It's already approved. It would be an IND -- in other words, investigative drug. But we know it's approved in Great Britain. Let's use it here until we get our facility approved and our vaccines approved.
KARL: OK. Well, I would like to get back to politics now. We hear a lot -- the war -- this fall has been about the war on terrorism. The White House, all signs indicated, ready to go on a major political move when Congress returns, in terms of looking at domestic politics.
Congressman Weiner, one person moving up the chain of command, it looks like, on the Republican side of the aisle is Tom DeLay, the majority whip called "The Hammer." Democrats seem ready to really turn DeLay into that kind of Newt Gingrich-type figure that they can -- you all can really demonize as a symbol of the Republican Party.
Are you looking forward to Tom DeLay as your opponent?
WEINER: Well, as a political matter, yes. As someone who is an American citizen who is concerned about the direction of our government, no. I don't think any one is going to be very comfortable with Tom DeLay.
You know, he has taken kind of a strategic step in the past to kind of stay in the background. I would argue, on some level, he runs the House of Representatives now from his position as Republican whip.
He is someone who has never been very friendly to those of us in New York City, as someone who has never been very tolerant of alternative views, and someone that has never allowed much dissent within his own party, let alone outside.
So I think Tom DeLay, if -- unless people like Chris Shays, who represent the moderates in his party, steer him inward some, I think he's going to drive the Republican Party into the ground.
KARL: Well, we need to take a break, but quickly Congressman Shays, in response to that, is Tom DeLay -- are you concerned, as a moderate, about Tom DeLay moving up the chain?
SHAYS: No, I'm not. I'd love to have a longer response, but I'm not concerned.
KARL: OK. Congressmen Weiner and Shays, stay with us. We will talk about Congress' plans for reviving the economy after the collapse of President Bush's stimulus package.
Plus, your phone calls and e-mails, when AMERICA'S NEW WAR continues.
And also, Hamid Karzai, exclusive interview tomorrow with Wolf Blitzer on LATE EDITION, 12:00 noon Eastern time.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KARL: Americans are split over the state of the country's economic health. A new CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup Poll finds 50 percent say the economy is good, while 49 percent say economic conditions are poor.
After failing to reach an agreement on how to tweak the sluggish economy, the matter has been tabled for the Congress until next year. We're talking with Republican Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York.
This was a long, drawn-out battle -- I was there for virtually every day of it -- over this economic stimulus package. What, realistically, are the chances of something getting done after Congress returns, which after all, won't be until three weeks into the new year? Congressman Weiner?
WEINER: Well, Jonathan, first of all, I want to extend our apologies for someone like you having to be there at 3 o'clock in the morning the other night.
It was drama, but it certainly wasn't something I would wish on my worst enemy.
Look, the fact of the matter is that unless it includes help for those who are unemployed, unless it includes extension of health benefits for those who recently lost their jobs, and the tax benefits go to the lower and middle class in this country, Democrats are going to fight it.
I don't think anyone believes that what the Republicans proposed last week, which is 3 percent of the tax cuts to go into effect this year, meaning there would be virtually zero economic stimulus, that that was going to do much of anything. I think that the Republicans saw this as an opportunity to repay campaign contributors more than anything else.
So there are certain basic elements that I think we need to have in order to ensure that it gets Democratic support.
KARL: Is that what you were doing there, Christopher Shays, Congressman Shays?
SHAYS: No, I...
KARL: Repaying campaign contributors?
SHAYS: I kind of have a strong disagreement with Anthony on the characterization.
This is a -- we had passed two stimulus packages in the House. The Senate passed none. The first one clearly was more partisan.
The second was almost the agreement that we had with the Senate. It extended unemployment compensation for 13 months. It provided health care extensions for two years, not just to those who are employed system but those who were self-employed as well, those who could then buy 60 percent of their health care would have been paid for by the government for the next two years. It included some spending increases and some tax cuts, which is really the -- what I think is ultimately is going to be the result.
My suspicion is, we will have a stimulus package in March, and that's what Senator Daschle wants. He wants to kick in in August or shortly after the election, the full impact. And I think we would like it to kick in, obviously, before for the good of the country.
KARL: And I wonder whether it will kick in before the economy actually starts to recover.
We have an e-mail question now that comes to us from Elaine about another subject that Congress managed to accomplish. She asks, "Is it taboo to discuss the recent legislation passed by both houses, giving members a hefty salary increase? Do they deserve it?"
Well, perhaps you could take issue with the "hefty" portion of that, but Congress did manage to pass a salary increase. Christopher Shays, Congressman Shays?
SHAYS: I'll take that first. It's a 3.5 percent increase. It's basically the cost of living, minus a slight percentage point from what federal employees will get. And we made a determination to not have large increases but to do the cost of living when federal employees got the same.
Some would disagree with that. I'm comfortable with it, and, you know, I supported it.
KARL: But, Congressman Weiner, is it hard to vote for a pay raise?
And I think, frankly, you guys get a bad rap on this every time it comes up. You know, every time you get a cost-of-living increase, you actually have to go through the process of voting for it and taking the predictable heat for, "Oh, another pay raise for Congress."
But was this a hard vote to do in a time of recession?
WEINER: Well, I'll let someone else speak to whether I deserve it, but I can tell you that Chris Shays and others in Congress, who worked very had this year, who made some tough decisions, who are working hard to respond to things that, frankly, we've never had to respond to in our nation's history.
To say that we got a cost-of-living increase that's actually less than other federal employees, if people think that's egregious, they have an opportunity to decide that every two years. But I certainly don't think it was an outrageous increase.
KARL: OK, we have a phone call now from Washington state.
Caller, what's your question? CALLER: My question is, this guy Walker that fought with the Taliban over there in Afghanistan, he was sent over there. He had to apply for a passport, U.S. passport to get over there.
Well, he signed this document. And there's a statement in everyone's passport -- and I've held a diplomatic and a personal passport. This statement says that he will lose his citizenship if he joins their forces.
And I want to know what the problem with all of the media on what should happen to him? He should...
KARL: Well, that's a good question. Obviously, the White House is now talking about what charges to bring John Walker up on. But the question -- and I'll through this out to both of you -- I mean, should he also lose his citizenship? Should that be part of the punishment here?
SHAYS: I'll jump in. I think ultimately he is going to be treated either as a traitor or someone who basically abetted our enemies. He will be faced with a very serious long sentence, if not the death penalty.
But that will be ultimately determined either in a civil court or a tribunal. I think it could be in a civil court, because the only reason why we would want it in tribunal court is if we had to introduce evidence that could endanger our troops and our mission. And I don't think that that would be the case.
KARL: Congressman Weiner, go ahead.
WEINER: As far as I'm concerned, there isn't a book big enough to throw at this guy. And I think that federal prosecutors are going to have a myriad of different charges that they're going to be able to level at him.
Frankly, the one of treason is one that's actually in the Constitution and has a very clear meaning. And I believe that anything possible they're going to try to prosecute him on.
And I agree with Chris Shays. I think this is a case that you do do in a U.S. civil court, because we want, frankly, this case to leave no questions in anyone's mind about whether he was some kind of an innocent stooge or whether he was an enemy of the state.
SHAYS: Jonathan, I'd love to just jump in, as well, and say, though, that I hope he doesn't become a distraction. There's a tendency with the media and maybe with us politicians to focus on something we can address, rather than the bigger picture.
We can't lose the fact that we are in a long-term war. We're ultimately going to have to look at Somalia and Iraq and Libya. We're going to have to look at those countries that finance terrorists, those countries that provide weapons of mass destruction for terrorists, and those countries that allow a place for terrorists to sleep, eat and train. And those are the bigger issues than this one individual. He is, frankly -- shouldn't take too much of our time.
KARL: Well, Congressman, we are...
WEINER: If I can just add something. You know, one of the things that's important is that we demonstrate a couple of things in this country: One, is that we're going to be relentless. We're going to go after the bin Ladens, but we're also -- any terrorists, regardless of how big or small, we're going to pursue.
And we're also going to show that we're capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. We could very easily be in Somalia on the front of the newspaper and, on Page Two of the newspaper, be prosecuting either in a tribunal or in a civil court terrorists that we have caught.
I agree with Chris that we often lose sight of the bigger picture. But in this case, I really do believe we have to make it clear that we're going to really give no one any safe harbor in this fight.
SHAYS: I agree with that, Anthony.
KARL: All right. Well, on that note, Congressman Shays, Congressman Weiner, thanks for being with us.
SHAYS: Thank you.
WEINER: Thank you, Jonathan.
KARL: Appreciate it.
America's new war on terrorism has focused fresh attention on the subject of a new National Geographic book that chronicles the world of Islam. We'll talk with the couple that helped to launch that project and find out what they discovered, when AMERICA'S NEW WAR continues.
KARL: Next month, a new National Geographic book, "The World of Islam," hits bookshelves. It showcases the culture and religion of the Islamic world as we all grapple with the complex role of Islam in the war against terrorism.
Joining us now is Don Belt, National Geographic magazine's senior editor. He has also edited and wrote the introduction to "The World of Islam." And Annie Griffiths Belt is a photographer for National Geographic magazine, who has traveled extensively throughout the Islamic world.
Don, first question to you, the title, "The World of Islam." This is a world that comprises 1.3 billion people, countries all over the world. Is there really one world of Islam?
DON BELT, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: Well, it's a huge and multifaceted world, as you suggest, Jon.
Our correspondents have been going throughout the Muslim world for over a century, and they've come back from places as far flung as Indonesia, the west of Africa, Nigeria, the Middle East, with stories and interesting accounts and photographs that help get across how rich and varied and enormous the Muslim world really is.
KARL: And let's take a look at the cover photograph, which is a really stunning photograph. If we can show it on the screen.
This, Annie, obviously, a picture of women wearing the burka. Again, getting that question of the diversity of the Islamic world. I mean, this is a world where, in some countries, women wear burkas; in others, they're the top leaders. I mean, the Islamic -- some Islamic countries have done better than the United States in terms of putting a woman in charge, like in Indonesia. So...
ANNIE GRIFFITHS BELT, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTOGRAPHER: Absolutely. In fact, that picture was taken in Indonesia.
And I have found that the greatest joy in my photographic life has been spending time with Muslim women. I've been privileged to be with them in a number of countries. And you're right, I mean, it's an extraordinary multiple culture, you know, a faith that cuts across continents. And in fact, in our country, has an enormous population.
KARL: But how can one nation that both, you know -- where, in some sense, people believe women need to be covered up, or essentially prisoners in their own homes, also be a place where a woman can become the leader?
GRIFFITHS BELT: Oh, I think very easily. I mean, I think that you're talking about extremes within many cultures. And, you know, I think that outward symbols of people's faith appear in any religion that you encounter, certainly in the Islamic world, but also in the Christian world and the Jewish world and in all worlds.
KARL: Well, let's look at another photograph, Don. I'd like you to talk about this one. This one was taken back in 1978. In fact, this photo essay includes photos that were taken over many decades. What are we seeing here?
BELT: These are pilgrims making the annual hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca. This is the holiest site in Islam, inside the grand mosque here that we're seeing in the picture. Inside the mosque is a building called the Kaaba, which is the holiest place in Islam. And these are some of the 2.5 million pilgrims who visit Mecca during the hajj season every year.
KARL: And that picture could have been taken this year.
BELT: Absolutely, yes. And part of the reason that Mecca and that pilgrims continue to make that hajj to Mecca is because this is the spiritual center of their world.
The story that we excerpted in our book that accompanies this picture was by a Muslim who went with his family on their first pilgrimage to Mecca. And he writes incredibly movingly about the experience of going there for the first time.
GRIFFITHS BELT: And another one of our reporters, Tom Abercrombie, who began as a photographer and then wrote many pieces for the magazine, converted to Islam. He's an American Midwestern kid, but during the course of his many years of reporting, converted to Islam, is fluent in Arabic and, you know, spent much of his life in the Arab world.
BELT: Right, and in fact two of the chapters in this book are from Abercrombie, who knows the Arab world, the Muslim world, inside and out.
KARL: Let's take a look at the next picture. Annie, can you tell us what we're seeing here? And this picture, by the way, goes back to 1983.
GRIFFITHS BELT: Right. This was from a story on Jerusalem. Jodie Cobb (ph) is the photographer. And she was sent there to do a story about Jerusalem, and during her time there, the intifada began. And this is a very dramatic example of the sort of general population beginning to rebel.
KARL: I mean, look at the anger in that. Do we know how old that woman is? Do we know anything about her? Do we know her story?
GRIFFITHS BELT: I don't personally know her story, but, you know, what happened was women, children, the general population began this first intifada, which, you know, has had a resurgence this year.
KARL: And now, Don, another photograph, this one Kentucky Fried Chicken. Can you tell us about this?
BELT: Well, you know...
KARL: First of all, where is it?
BELT: This is in Abu Dhabi, downtown Abu Dhabi.
KARL: Taken in 1975?
BELT: Right. Taken in 1975 from a story that's actually excerpted in this book called "The Arab World Incorporated." And it goes to the degree to which our culture has invaded the Muslim world in certain ways. I mean, this is part of what we're hearing today in the expressions of dismay that are coming out of the Muslim world about the invasion of their culture and their traditions by the West.
KARL: OK. And obviously all these photographs are National Geographic.
This next one, a familiar site, although the photograph taken back in, am I right, 1933, Annie?
GRIFFITHS BELT: I'm not sure of the year of this photograph. But, of course, the thing that saddens you is that this amazing statue in the background which now no longer exists.
KARL: Because of course the great Buddhist statues were destroyed by the Taliban.
Here we have another photograph. What are we seeing here, Don?
BELT: This is taken in Iran in 1906, foreshadowing events that occurred far later in the century of course. But these are Muslim clerics who are lobbying the shah of Iran to create a parliament so that they could have a voice in the government of Iran.
Of course, we all know what happened in 1979 when the shah of Iran was overthrown. There's been an Islamic republic in place since 1979. We went back in 1999 to report on Iran 20 years after the revolution, and there's a chapter in our book on this subject. What we find today in Iran, of course, is a younger generation that's ready for a little breathing room.
GRIFFITHS BELT: It's really interesting, too, when you take a look at these different stories written over different decades, some of them really forecast what happened this year. It's a little bit chilling, in fact.
KARL: And now we have -- we do have this movement in Iran right now which is absolutely remarkable, where you've had -- you know, started as virtual riots after soccer games, but there really seems to be among the youth in Iran now a kind of a -- I don't know if pro- Western is the way to say it, but certainly not what we saw in these earlier photographs.
BELT: Right. And that's a trend, I think, that we can watch develop over the coming years. You know, Khatami was elected with a landslide vote.
KARL: A reformer, somebody that is...
BELT: A moderate, reformist-mind president. The degree to which he can control Iran, of course, is an open question. But that reflects how deeply the people in his society want there to be some changes made, and that's a very interesting development, one that we'll continue to keep our eye on.
KARL: OK. Don and Annie, if you could please stay with us for a minute.
We're going to be looking at your e-mails and phone calls on "The World of Islam" when special coverage of AMERICA'S NEW WAR returns.
KARL: All right, we're back talking with National Geographic, two people that have helped launch the project, "The World of Islam."
There's a photograph of, again, that Kentucky Fried Chicken in Abu Dhabi. And I want to look now at another photograph we saw, which was of the Buddhist statues. This photograph taken way back in 1993 of the Buddhist statues that were destroyed by the Taliban.
And the reason why I think the juxtaposition of those two photographs is interesting is you talked on about how the West has invaded -- Western culture has invaded the Islamic world. And we some times think of the Taliban as kind reacting to that invasion.
But the Taliban destroyed the Buddhist statues. That's certainly not a Western figure there. I mean, this is -- they are more than merely anti-Western.
BELT: Right. I think the Taliban will lash out at all sorts of influences. Their interpretation of Islam does not allow for any kind of images like that to be seen in their country.
I think that it's -- their movement is very, very narrow. It's a radical fringe, obviously, that has been rejected, I think, by most of the Muslim world. You know, there is this vast majority in the Muslim world that is far more moderate than the views reflected by the Taliban or Al Qaeda or any of these organizations that are dedicated to political overthrows.
KARL: OK. We have call now from Nova Scotia, I believe.
Caller, your question?
CALLER: Yes. I just was wondering if either one the people -- the guests there, if they might know if there's any chance that the women, like, the roles of the women, will change since what happened in...
KARL: I take it you meant specifically in Afghanistan?
CALLER: Yes, but in all the Islamic countries.
KARL: OK. I don't know if could you hear the call, but she was asking is now, in the wake of what's happened in Afghanistan, will we see the role of women change, specifically in Afghanistan but also throughout the Islamic world?
GRIFFITHS BELT: Oh, it changed. It changed today. I mean, there are two women who have been named to part of the leadership of the new government of Afghanistan.
And, I mean, to me, one of the most beautiful pictures to come out of Afghanistan was on the cover of the "New York Times," where it was just two women who had thrown back their burkas and you could see their faces. It was almost as though they were breathing for the first time in a long time.
So, absolutely. I mean, I think that...
KARL: And yet we see places in Afghanistan where nothing has changed. I mean, we look to -- the "New York Times" had a piece today about one of -- in the hometown of the Karzai family, where women are still in the burkas. GRIFFITHS BELT: Well, you can imagine the fear, if you've been, you know, if you've been living in fear for quite a long time, that if you make a mistake, if you reveal a wrist, that you might be beaten. It's going to take a long time for the majority of women to feel safe, coming out from behind that repression.
BELT: And I would like to point out, Jon, that this is not necessarily a dictate of Islam that these women are covered in this way. These are cultural manifestations that we see, primarily, as our reporter, Mary Ann Alaraisa (ph), makes clear in our chapter of this book from 1997. She lived inside Saudi Arabia. She went behind the veil and raised her family. She married a Saudi.
That's a culture that's not going to change anytime soon. Many of these cultures where we're talking about thousands of years of tradition and the role of women in these societies has not changed all that time.
I think there's a huge diversity within the Muslim world, an interpretation of Islam that spans everything from Benazir Bhutto, as the president of Pakistan, to a woman behind the veil in Saudi Arabia.
KARL: OK, let's look at another photograph. This one taken back in 1954. If we can get that photo up.
What are we seeing here?
BELT: This is the leader of Muslims in western China in 1954. He is leading his tribe out of the mountains of western China, when the communists started to move in and make demands on his tribe that they would have to become good communists and give up their religion. And he and his band of followers or his tribe of a couple of thousand people up and left, went over the mountains and wound up in Kashmir.
This is a little-known fact, that there are 40 million Muslims in western China. And, you know, you see in the Uighur uprising in western China and the communist reaction to it from Beijing, this is an ongoing problem. This is something that's in the headlines today.
KARL: And in terms of religious freedom, I mean, China does not have a great record on religious freedom. What kind of situation do they face, these Muslims in western China?
BELT: Well, that's good question. I mean, we're going to keep our eye on that, because, you know, our war on terrorism may be interpreted by some as a blank check for China to crack down on separatist groups that use violence to promote their aims. You know, it's an ongoing story that we will continue to watch.
KARL: Now, we hear the term "Islamic fundamentalism" thrown around, describing these terrorist groups, describing the movement that supports them. And yet, we also hear that Al Qaeda and their sympathizers are distorting what Islam is all about.
So why "Islamic fundamentalism"? Is that term a loaded term, a term that doesn't really make sense? I mean, fundamentalism means you're getting at the fundamental principles of a religion.
KARL: I mean, these people are...
GRIFFITHS BELT: Yes, but there is difference between fundamentalism and extremism. And I think that, you know, just as there are in other faiths, there are fundamental believers who maybe are, you know, devote their entire lives to what they believe is taught in their scriptures.
But extremism can take and bend those fundamentals to suit anything that they're trying to achieve. And that's usually more associated, I think, with political aims.
BELT: Right. And what we're seeing, I think, is the politicization of Islam by groups that want to overthrow, for the most part, repressive or neglectful regimes throughout the Muslim world. These are poor, dispossessed people, primarily. The map of the Muslim world is also pretty much the map of the Third World, and you're dealing with lot of popular discontent in these societies.
GRIFFITHS BELT: And religion's always been a very powerful political tool.
KARL: OK. And we have one last picture I'd like to show, which, actually, Annie, you took. And, Don, we see you in the photograph.
Quickly, before we head out, what are we seeing here?
GRIFFITHS BELT: Well, this is actually taken in Petra in Jordan. And the editor of National Geographic magazine is in the background; our wonderful guide, Hamudi (ph), is in the middle; and Don is in foreground.
Don and I worked on five different stories in the Middle East over period of about four years. And this was one beautiful morning where we had climbed up to Ehrun's (ph) tomb, and they were talking up there.
KARL: And a last picture of the book, the cover of the book, "The World of Islam," National Geographic. It'll be out next month.
Thank you both very much. Don Belt and Annie Griffiths Belt, we appreciate you for joining us.
GRIFFITHS BELT: Thank you.
BELT: Thanks, Jon.
KARL: Take care.
Our reporters' roundtable weighs in on President Bush as the war's commander in chief and his battle with congressional Democrats over the economy, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We're making great progress in the first theater of this war to rout terror where it may exist. I'm really proud of our military, proud of the job they're doing. I'm proud of the fact that we've set a clear goal with certain objectives, and those objectives are being met.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: There's President Bush spelling out his view of the war and the military and his own role as commander in chief.
Joining me now: Jill Zuckman of the Washington bureau of the "Chicago Tribune"; Ron Brownstein of the Washington bureau of the "Los Angeles Times"; and Mike Allen with "The Washington Post."
Mike, right to you. Partisanship broke out in a major way. The war has kept the two sides relatively civil, but it looks like that's not going to be the case. Are those breakfast meetings that the president has with the congressional leaders, are they going to continue in the new year? You know, every Wednesday, of course, they all get together at the White House.
MIKE ALLEN, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, Jon, I'm not sure the breakfast meetings help. Apparently President Bush told his administration to start going after the Democratic majority leader, Senator Daschle, after they had an ugly exchange at one of these breakfasts.
And all through the year, the president has talked about these meetings as a sign of how he can bring people together. But the administration, for weeks now, has been attacking Senator Daschle at every turn. The Republican National Committee made ads with grainy photos of Senator Daschle and the House Democratic leader, Dick Gephardt. And usually, you save the grainy photos for after Labor Day.
RON BROWNSTEIN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Yes, and...
JILL ZUCKMAN, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": The idea that they are going to make Tom Daschle look like Newt Gingrich, some evil, horrible figure, who is trying to, you know, do in the country, I think it's a bit of a stretch. And I'm not sure that it's going to work.
KARL: He is kind of a short, gentile mid-Westerner.
KARL: But the Democrats aren't getting much traction in terms of talking about the Bush recession.
BROWNSTEIN: No, they really are having trouble getting attention of the country to anything but the progress of the war.
You have two forces that are moving in totally opposite directions here. To the extent the country and the Congress is focused on the war, Bush is a unifying figure. He really has brought the country together. Has a lot of people who didn't vote for him that now see him as a stable, steady leader on the war. The more we get back to the domestic issues, the more we get back to where we were on September 10, which was a country and a Congress that was very polarized about his agenda and his leadership.
So, you know, you've got both of these things operating at once. And one of the interesting questions of 2002 is which one really proves more powerful in setting the agenda and the way the public perceives what's going on in Washington.
KARL: Well, Mike, you mentioned the grainy photographs. I want to play a little bit of an ad that's being put out by the U.S. Travel Association. Let's take a look at this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Americans are asking what is expected of us?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is expected of us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is expected of us?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES: We ask you to live your lives.
BUSH: Do you business.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do your business around the country.
BUSH: Fly and enjoy...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And enjoy America's great destinations...
BUSH: Take your families and enjoy life...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enjoy life...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way we want it to be enjoyed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: Now that looks a little bit like a campaign ad, except it's far better produced than most campaign ads. It's run over 1,000 times. We understand there is a new one in the works.
What's going on with this? I understand that actually, Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, had a meeting with the folks that made this.
ALLEN: What a surprise, Karl Rove was involved, he did something.
This is part of a very sophisticated propaganda effort that the White House has had going throughout the war. Karl Rove, his political strategist, Karen Hughes, his counselor and sort of his image manager -- when people found out they didn't sit in on national security meetings, they thought, "Oh, are they out of the loop?" No, a big part of the war has been fought at home with things like this ad.
And the president, when we asked about the ad at the time, Karen Hughes told us, said, "Well, the travel industry came to us and asked if we object, and we didn't object." In fact, a very large Republican donor, Bill Marriott, is behind this. And it has run $12 million worth of attention for the president.
KARL: Looks a little bit like a free campaign ad.
ALLEN: It does. And the president was in literally free ads around Thanksgiving time promoting giving charity. He's going to be doing some more of that at Christmas.
And so at the same time he's fighting a war, he's able to get out a sort of -- updating his image as a compassionate conservative.
ZUCKMAN: You know, I think this is part of -- you know, since the Vietnam War, America has always been really squeamish about using military. So the Bush administration isn't taking any chances. They are trying to sort of cement the nation's resolve. And part of it is cementing their resolve behind the president.
KARL: And they have been extremely successful. I mean, the poll numbers are absolutely incredible for this president.
ZUCKMAN: Through the roof.
KARL: Really, and they've been sustained since September 11.
BROWNSTEIN: The highest approval rating at this point in his presidency and of any president in the history of modern Gallup polling, going back to Dwight Eisenhower.
And largely, for the reason that that ad pushes that, which is he really has had enormous success at almost rising above partisanship and becoming a unifying figure for the country, sort of expressing the nation's resolve post-September 11, but also sort of restraining it. I mean, he's really struck, I thought, a very effective balance, where he's been forceful enough in the way they've responded that they've satisfied the hawks, but he really hasn't frightened doves either here or in Europe.
And you've got this sort of -- that's the only way you get up to 90 percent approval, when basically you strike a balance that neither side feels very uncomfortable with where he's going.
And it really has been, I think, an extraordinarily kind of deft management, not only of the operation of the war, but the politics of it back home.
Now, when we get to domestic issues, as we saw on the surplus last week -- I'm sorry, the stimulus last week, it's very different. And you have as lot of these older divisions that haven't gone away.
KARL: Well, Jill, you were there when the president actually came to Capital Hill -- an extraordinary measure even in a time of peace, let alone in a time of war -- came to Capital Hill to put push his economic stimulus plan.
ZUCKMAN: It was a little late, unfortunately. And I think that what this shows is that I think the president might have been a little ambivalent about this economic stimulus package. I mean, he's looking at deficits through 2005 like everybody else is. And it was a really expensive package. It was over $200 billion that the Republicans put together.
So he didn't really get involved until late in the process, and by then it was just too late. And everybody had decided, "You know what, we're getting ready for 2002. Here's what the Democrats are going to say, here's what the Republicans are going to say, and forget about getting a bill."
KARL: So was that trip to Capital Hill, Mike, really an effort for kind of laying the groundwork for the blame game? I mean, the deal was already lost -- although the president announced he had a deal.
ALLEN: Sure. And even though they said that they were working on a deal and they give us this list of every meeting he'd ever had, for sometime the Republicans have been making the political plans assuming that it was not going to pass.
And they think that there's a great issue for bashing Democrats. But the problem is, Democrats know that people are just going to blame the party that's in power. History...
KARL: But that's not happening. I mean, look at that poll, that amazing CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup Poll, that shows that people blame Congress and President Clinton more than they blame Bush for the economy.
ALLEN: So far. But right now, the war is what's in the news. People in White House are very corned about the fact that with the war winding down, the news becomes recession, unemployment. That's where President Bush faces a real risk.
BROWNSTEIN: The paradox, Jon, for wartime leaders has been that the more successful you are in the war, the more it recedes in public consciousness and the more other issues move forward.
So the fear is that if, in fact, the war does go well, if bin Laden is apprehended or found to be dead, that you may move back to this other agenda and people will judge him, perhaps, more, you know, harshly later on. But, you know, someone once said life is a race between fear and desire. And as far as the stimulus plan is concerned, the only thing that was keeping it going was fear, fear that you might be blamed for it not happening. It really was, I thought, very little desire on either side, at this point, as Jill said, looking at these deficits over the next few years, I mean, that either side was very enthusiastic about what was in there. They just didn't want to be blamed for it collapsing.
KARL: And both sides thought they could make political advantage out of the fact the thing failed, which also didn't really contribute very well to it passing.
Anyway, our reporters' roundtable stays with us, but we'll be back. We'll be back with you, as well. We'll be back with more questions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If there is any lesson from the tragedy of September 11, it is this: We are one American community, and the backbone of that community consists of average Americans. Today, 8 million Americans are hurting because they have lost their jobs, and it is a disgrace that Congress refuses to help provide the help they need and deserve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: That was Democratic elder, Senator Ted Kennedy, ripping into his Republican rivals, as all sides try to duck blame for the impasse over boosting the economy and helping the unemployed.
The crash of the so-called economic stimulus package is just one of the many political issues, as we say farewell to this sad and tumultuous year.
We're back with our reporters.
So on another story here, Mike Allen, you were reporting on the story of the spots that were on the president's face. The president had them removed. They were pre-cancerous.
But nobody knew about this, until after it happened. What's the inside story? What happened there?
ALLEN: Well, what we learned here is, if something happens to the president that's less obvious than like two red spots on his face, we may not find out about it. The president on Friday had these lesions removed with -- they were frozen off. And in war time, the health of the commander in chief is a big issue.
KARL: It's a major issue.
ALLEN: And in the past, White Houses have had acknowledged that this is like one area where you don't sort of mess around.
Reporters with him Saturday, reporters with him Sunday, two briefings Monday, it was never mentioned reporters -- the president went before cameras. Ari Fleischer, the president's press secretary, who also had not seen the president or heard about this in all of this time, saw red spots on his face, went to the doctor and put out a statement.
But it made reporters realize how much we do not know...
KARL: This White House is tighter with information than, I mean, any I've ever seen.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, there were questions earlier, similarly, about how accurate and quickly they released information about Dick Cheney. So, I mean, there really is -- there is a pattern here. I mean, they have a view that a different sort of assessment of what is -- you know, what we need to know versus what they want to hold than others administrations have had. And it really is an ongoing pattern here.
KARL: And even Dan Burton, of course, the Republican chairman of Government Reform Committee over in the House, the person that was enemy number one in Congress, or maybe number one, for the Clinton administration, complaining about this White House and how they release information. Actually prompted them...
ZUCKMAN: He's frustrated.
KARL: ... to exert executive privilege.
ZUCKMAN: Right. They -- you know, their view is, they're running things and we're in control and we're in charge, and we'll tell you what we want you to know. And the things that they put out are generally, you know, positive, nice things that reflect well on the president. And they're not going to get people worried, if they don't have to.
BROWNSTEIN: One of the ongoing disputes of the General Accounting Office, still, over the Cheney energy task force.
So, I mean, there is -- there are a number of issues here. Now, you know, in the context -- in the global context of fighting a war against terrorism and having to deal with the federal budget deficits as it resurfaces, I mean, it's a secondary concern. But it is a consistent pattern and one that probably both Congress and the press is going to be pushing against throughout the Bush term.
KARL: And it's amazing how little of the internal dissension in the in the White House -- because there always is internal dissension among top advisers. That stuff is usually the stuff you're writing about all the time.
ALLEN: The discipline that they showed during the campaign, people said there's no way this last in Washington, and, amazingly, it has. They had the transcript. Everybody in the West Wing had the transcript of Osama bin Laden for a week, and it didn't get out. KARL: And we heard the comments from the president about that poor fellow, John Walker, of the American Taliban.
ALLEN: The president has changed his view of that in a hurry. Yesterday, he said, "That man faces a very grave future." Technically, they have not decided what he's going to be charged with. There's a lot of concern at the Justice Department that they could not convict him of treason. And they don't -- the nightmare scenario is charging him with too much, not being able to convict him.
But the president had, I think, a compassionate instinct there. But as the facts came out, he was seen on CNN, referring to the Taliban, as "we." I think any support for him, certainly, in the White House...
BROWNSTEIN: You know, this episode is kind of interesting about why Bush has done so well and solidified so much public opinion behind him in this war, because it showed both sides of the response that he's been able to marshal. You know, he's conveyed a kind of empathy throughout. And the initial reaction -- you said the compassionate reaction, "that poor fellow," "this kid"...
KARL: And the story was so strange.
BROWNSTEIN: Right. And then, though, there's the toughness. I mean, there is, you know, there is the willingness to make tough decisions, to use force.
And he really has done both throughout. I mean, he's been kind of soft at moments and he's been very hard at moments.
And it's balance that I think -- the vast majority of the polls tell us the vast majority of the American public feels comfortable with on each end.
KARL: You know, Jill, we used to see up on the Hill, before September 11, Dick Cheney coming around. Every week he would show up, virtually every week, to have a lunch with the Republicans. He hasn't been there physically much.
Do you still get a sense he's playing an active role?
ZUCKMAN: Oh, yes, absolutely. I just -- you don't see him walking through the hallway with his entourage the way you used to every Tuesday, going to lunch with the Republicans, occasionally popping in with the Democrats.
But I think that, you know, members of Congress, they've known Dick Cheney for a long time, and they know, if they have a problem, they can call him. And you know, he's still got a phone wherever he is in this undisclosed location.
So I think he is playing a role, but it's not a visible one the way it was before.
KARL: Will it become more visible, Mike, as the beginning of this political phase, next year?
ALLEN: Well, what's interesting is the White House said Friday that the president was going to start doing more political events. And so I think we can expect to see Vice President Cheney more.
On Jill's point about people being able to call him, he, perhaps uniquely among vice presidents, is assumed to speak for the president. And so that is why people go to him and they don't have to bother the president.
KARL: You have 15 seconds for the last word.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think that, you know, the year ahead is going to be one -- as I said, it's twin forces that are at work. I mean, as long as the war is in the news and the main concern of the public, Bush will be a unifying figure.
But as we go forward on what Jill talked about before, the return of the deficit in particular, it's going to, I think, inevitably force Democrats to challenge the later stages of the Bush tax cut.
And that promises a much more polarizing spring than fall, really taking us back to the way the Bush presidency started with the two sides very divided about the role of government and what to do with the money.
KARL: And certainly the return of politics with a vengeance.
Thank you very much, three of my favorite reporters in Washington, for joining us on a Saturday. Appreciate it.
ALLEN: Merry Christmas.
KARL: Jill Zuckman, Ron Browstein, Mike Allen, Merry Christmas to you as well.
That's all for this week's program. Thanks for watching. I'm Jonathan Karl in Washington.
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