Can Congress Uncover Reasons for Inadequate Intelligence?; Is Church Policy on Abusive Priests Strict Enough?; Is Racial Profiling Fair?
Aired June 4, 2002 - 19:00 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.
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE: on the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.
In the CROSSFIRE tonight, who knew what before September 11?
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SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, (R), ALABAMA: There were massive intelligence failures.
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ANNOUNCER: Congress closes the doors and opens its ears.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that's the appropriate form as far as I'm concerned for these investigations.
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ANNOUNCER: In the CROSSFIRE, and fresh from the Intelligence Committee hearing: Senator Fred Thompson.
They're working on a new commandment for Catholic priests.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not written in stone.
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ANNOUNCER: Is not quite zero tolerance not quite satisfactory?
They were kicked off planes, now they're taking on the airlines.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My basic right to travel free from discrimination has been grossly violated.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CROSSFIRE.
From the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson.
TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Good evening and welcome to CROSSFIRE. Tonight, the Catholic bishops consider saying thou shall not get a second chance, with some exceptions. Also, airline security thought they looked like terrorists, apparently nobody thought they looked like potential lawsuits.
But first, closed doors and secret hearings, in the attic of the Capitol Building, not far from the dome, down a corridor and out of camera range, members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are hearing about the turf wars, missed clues and unconnected dots that led to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Someone knows what was going on behind closed doors today. He's with us tonight. Please welcome Senator Fred Thompson, Republican of Tennessee and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: Senator, I know you can't tell us what happens in closed doors in a classified session. But while you were meeting, our president was at Fort Meade at the NSA, the National Security Agency, super-secret spy agency that eavesdrops on overseas communications.
At that session with reporters there, he talked to them briefly, and he said, while he supports your congressional inquiry in the Intelligence Committees, he is worried about tying up valuable assets and time and possibly jeopardizing sources of intelligence.
This from the head of an administration that has assigned 20 FBI agents to investigate a brothel in New Orleans. Is it plausible for him to be forestalling an independent inquiry because he's worried about assets being misallocated given what -- where they've been?
SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R-TN), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well in the first place, I don't think the president was talking about our committee's work. I think he's encouraged that and suggested that we have a bicameral, bipartisan investigation, which we've now started.
I think what he was talking about is the independent commission. And I can understand his concerns about that. I personally think that we ought to wait a little longer before we pass final judgment on whether or not we need an independent commission when our committee finishes its work. It is true that it's a difficult thing do and pursue when you're in war.
The problem is we're going to be at war, or in this struggle, for a long time to come. So it's very important, not only that we find out who knew what when, and all of that, but to reform the institutions that ought to be protecting us, because we're going to have to rely on them for many years to come. So I'm going to keep an open mind about whether or not we need to do the commission in addition to what we're doing.
BEGALA: My concern is the reason the president wants to keep it in your committee, is because your committee, I don't believe, has the purview to look at the large presidential policy decisions that President Bush made.
For example, he threatened to veto the defense budget last year when Democrats wanted to increase anti-terror funding. Or John Ashcroft, our attorney general, who on September 10, was still fighting against more funding for terrorism. Or President Bush's decision to tell the strike force that we had in the Indian Ocean that President Clinton had to attack al Qaeda to stand down.
He made a variety of policy decisions that, in retrospect, I think looked very bad. And he doesn't want, I think, you all to look at that.
Are you going to look at those kinds of decisions as well?
THOMPSON: Well, I think that the scope of the committee's work will be a little -- probably broader than you think. We discussed that today. It's going to be released today, probably already has been. We're going to be able to look at some of the institutional problems and some of the things that caused us to be in the position that we're in. So I'm hoping that some of that will be dealt with.
But you're right to the extent that all of the these past problems will not be gone into in a whole lot of detail. But you ought to be careful about the partisan slant on this, Paul, because there's an awful lot happened before President Bush got here.
THOMPSON: An awful lot of terrorist attacks. So I -- we're trying to stay away from that. I think that there's some blame to go around, including the Congress of the United States, which has about 16 different committees claiming jurisdiction over this issue. And including not only policies, but laws that have been passed, giving more and more responsibility to the FBI to investigate everything that happened, things that used to be the purview of state government now has become federalized because, you know, it appeals to certain voters to be tough on crime.
All those things have to be examined. And we need to look back. And if necessary, wherever, point some fingers. You know, finger pointing has gotten a bad name. But, you know, the other side that is accountability. And I think there has about to be accountability. But you can't stop at the point where this president took office. He inherited a difficult -- a very difficult situation.
CARLSON: And Senator Thompson, I'm all for finger pointing, and good for you for coming out in favor of it. But how can Congress point fingers at itself? I mean, is it plausible that the work you're doing on the committee, even if you were to conclude in the end that Congress was partly culpable for the intelligence failures, and a lot of people including Senator Kyl suggested that maybe Congress is partly responsible, will people believe your report in the end? I mean it is, after all, by nature, a political report.
THOMPSON: Well, really, that's not of the scope that we'll have. It needs to be done. We need to do that separately. But looking at ourselves in this committee is not something really that we're primarily engaged in.
But you hit on something important, that I've been thinking about how to word it. To me, it's not that people think there shouldn't be accountability or finger pointing, if you will, it's that the people pointing the fingers have lost their credibility.
The Congress of the United States over the last several years has gotten to the point where all committee investigations have been essentially viewed as partisan investigations.
CARLSON: Well that's -- then why not?
THOMPSON: Whether they're investigating a Democrat president or a Republican president, the Democrats line up on one side, and the Republicans line up on the other. So it makes it -- we just need to change this.
THOMPSON: We don't need to throw up our hands and say we can never look at anything. We just need to change...
CARLSON: Well, I know the president has come out against any sort of blue ribbon commission, an independent commission. What is the rationale for not having such a commission, which would not be political. Nobody would call it partisan -- fewer people would, anyway. Why not have one?
THOMPSON: Well, I'm not prepared to make that case. I think that there's probably a good case to have one. People who support it, from what I've heard, have said that it would be more likely, perhaps, classified information to get out, that it would be a duplication, that it would divert attention and resources, and all those things.
I think they're very good answers too, because what we essentially need to do is when we get past the who shot John, you know, who did what, when, and who knew what and all of that, we need to get to the important question, and that is the institutional deficiencies that we have had and that we have all known. Presidents have known of these institutional deficiencies. Congress has known of these institutional deficiencies.
And the fact that we don't have the right kind of people in key positions, the fact that we don't have the right kind of technology, the fact that we have elevated political correctness to the point of danger, the fact that we have got a culture inside both the FBI and the CIA, and these other agencies that don't allow us to do things. They're bureaucracies.
They're bureaucracies like any other bureaucracy, and they need a shake-up every once in a while. At the end the day, after we get through with these factual questions that are necessary, we need to get to the broader, more important questions of reforming these institutions.
BEGALA: Let me ask about the leader of those bureaucracies, and name names. Louis Freeh was appointed by a Democrat president, who I worked for, Bill Clinton. He was supported by a Republican Congress. He got a 283 percent increase in his funding for counter-terrorism from the Congress and the president. He got a 250 percent increase for his manpower on counter-terrorism, and yet he failed. Will you call Louis Freeh and subpoena him to testify...
THOMPSON: I'm not going to get into who we'll call. It won't be ultimately my decision alone. But again, it's very dangerous to start singling out individuals in a short program. We need to do that over a period -- over a long period of time. We increased the FBI's budget a little bit more than inflation, but not that much.
BEGALA: The counter-terrorism is almost 300 percent.
THOMPSON: You're getting to the key point...
THOMPSON: ... I think it's how the -- how the money was used. The FBI still is woefully deficient in terms of their computer capability, their e-mail capability even is still...
CARLSON: Are you saying that nobody -- here it is, lo these many months later and nobody has been fired for these intelligence failures. Are you suggesting that we still don't have enough evidence to point the finger and say, the head of FBI, the head of the CIA should leave his job as a result?
THOMPSON: I think that we need to wait until the committee does it work. There'll be plenty of time there, but then everything ought to be on the table. I don't think we should be reticent about that. All those things that I mentioned were things that various presidents over a period of years has known about. We had other priorities. Congress has known about, you couldn't stack up the reports that Congress has received about the terrorist threat.
Osama bin laden, al Qaeda, the various possibilities, the various things that they might use, weapons of mass destruction, various non- WMD types of threats and all that. It's all been out there on the table. So it's not just a matter of punishing somebody. We're all culpable. The American people, the press, we've had hearings up there concerning these threats for the last few years.
CARLSON: The press?
THOMPSON: If you get one or two guys covering it, you're lucky, and they leave after 30 minutes and maybe a little squib in the paper the next day and then nobody...
CARLSON: That is...
BEGALA: All of the senators, former Senators Hart and Rudman did their report (UNINTELLIGIBLE) wrote it in large measure, and that's part of the responsibility of the press.
Senator Fred Thompson, who does make laws and takes time to join us, thank you very much for joining us.
Coming up, CROSSFIRE "News Alert": the Bush's version of guess who's coming to dinner?
Also, some airline passengers who didn't get a ride and want more than a refund.
Up next in the CROSSFIRE, priests who become predators, are the Catholic bishops going far enough to stop it? Stay with us.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Still to come, trucking through Florida with Janet Reno, if you can even imagine that. And Queen Elizabeth rides in a carriage that won't turn into a pumpkin.
Right now, though, we're stepping into the pulpit. Today we got our first look at the U.S. Catholic bishop's response to the scandal of priests who molest children. Despite calls for a zero tolerance policy or a one-strike-and-you're-out policy, an ad hoc committee is recommending something different.
In the future men who abuse one or more children will be removed from the priesthood and reported to authorities. That also goes for priests who abused more than one child in the past. The priests who have been caught molesting only one child might be allowed to stay. They have to have a clean record since the incident, have not been diagnosed as a pedophile, and be approved by a review board.
Will the new rules satisfy the faithful, and who's willing to bet their child that a priest with one strike won't do it again?
Joining us to answer those questions from New York City is Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.
BILL DONOHUE, THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE: How are you doing?
BEGALA: Bill, thank you for joining us very much, sir. Let me read to you from what our bishops released today. This is the new standard for past acts of child sexual abuse. And according to the bishop's document, regarding acts of sexual abuse of a minor committed prior to this date. If the cleric is a pedophile or if he has committed more than one act of sexual abuse on a minor, there will be a request from the cleric (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- that is he'll be removed from the priesthood even without his consent, if necessary.
Bill, not to put too fine a point on it, but how in the name of Jesus Christ can the holy mother church condone the rape of even one child?
DONOHUE: Well, as a matter of fact, they're not. A pedophile is somebody who rapes somebody.
DONOHUE: No, no, that's not what they're saying. What they're saying is this. If, in fact, from now on out, if you're involved in sexual assault, you're gone. If you've had multiple cases in the past, you're gone. If you were involved...
DONOHUE: ... wait a minute -- if you were involved with a child and you've not been diagnosed as a pedophile, then it will be up to a lay review board. In other words, what they're saying is this, fellows. Let's tease it out. If you've got a priest today who's a senior citizen and who a generation ago was guilty of fondling, bad as that is, you may go out if you were -- if you're diagnosed as a pedophile you're automatically out. It is, in fact, zero tolerance for pedophiles past, present and future.
CARLSON: Well wait a second Bill. Let me -- if I'm in a drunk driving accident, I don't need a diagnosis of drunk driving to be a drunk driver, do I? So I guess if I rape a child, I don't need a shrink to tell me I'm a pedophile. I am, by definition, correct?
DONOHUE: But of course. That's what -- that's what they're saying. If you've been diagnosed as a pedophile...
CARLSON: ... unless you've been diagnosed...
CARLSON: ... is you're not really a pedophile.
DONOHUE: There's a bit of a sting going on in the media on this. Look, I've been highly critical of the way the church has handled this in the past. But the fact of the matter is what they're saying is this: If you were guilty of one infraction in the past, like rape, you're gone because you're obviously a pedophile. What they're saying is that if you've not been diagnosed as a pedophile, but you have been involved in some kind of untoward condition, such as fondling or groping, then it'll go up to the lay review board, and you may still be out. That's a giant leap forward.
BEGALA: Bill, I got four young kids and I am raising them in the Catholic Church. Tell me, why should I turn them over to a priest that ever once fondled or groped a child?
DONOHUE: Well, let me tell you something, if the person hasn't been diagnosed as a pedophile and, in fact, there are no outstanding crimes against them, either in the civil courts or in the criminal courts, and in fact if they're going to make public disclosure, it's a hell of a lot better than what you'd get at Harvard University, where next year if a girl is raped, she has to have an eyewitness.
BEGALA: But don't you think that the holy mother church, which I love and you love, should have a higher standard than a secular college?
DONOHUE: No, look, what they're saying is there's going to be some diocesan autonomy in the draft. Now, they may change it. They may come -- they may raise the bar again, but what you haven't addressed is they're going to break the institutional code of secrecy, namely no more of these confidentiality agreements between lawyers, no more of this business of a guy like Shanley being shipped off to New York City or San Bernardino, and we don't know what his record is. This guy's record, his personnel records will travel with them wherever he goes. In other words, they're going to be looking in the window at these guys, finally.
CARLSON: Well I -- you know I -- all of this, and everyone, of course, is glad the church is taking steps to make it better, but the church doesn't appear to be taking steps to understand how it happened in the first place. There have been no church-authorized studies into what about the culture of Catholic clergy has given rise to so many incidents of child abuse.
Don't you think the church ought to get on that, and maybe figure out why?
DONOHUE: Yes, I think they will. And they have an office of child abuse that's going to be set up and institutionalized. But remember, we've had 220 priests since the beginning of this year who've had to step down because of some charges. That's less than one-half of 1 percent. I think one case is too many. But take a look at the general population, 8 percent. Take a look at elementary...
CARLSON: Wait a second...
DONOHUE: ... and secondary school children: 15 percent claim that they have been sexually aroused -- or abused by their teachers.
CARLSON: ... wait a second -- no, no. But Mr. Donohue, I mean there are estimates, you've seen them that anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of all Catholic priests are homosexual. I don't know if those are true or not. But clearly the incidence of homosexuality is far higher in the Catholic Church. Don't you think it's at least worth asking the question why? DONOHUE: Well let me tell you something. This may surprise somebody because I'm a conservative. I don't believe that because you're gay you're going to necessarily act out. Now maybe you do.
CARLSON: I don't, but I think it's...
CARLSON: ... interesting -- it's an interesting incidence.
DONOHUE: Yes, but you talk about the culture. I don't think there's anything peculiar to the Catholic Church's culture that allows for the numbers that they have. In fact, there are about the same percentage in the denominations of other religions, and it's less than in the general population.
Now, there is a problem because I think we should hold Catholic priests to a higher standard. But let's get real in terms of this where it's coming from in the culture. Maybe you want to turn the channel and look at MTV.
BEGALA: Well Bill, I want to also go -- hold our bishops to a higher standard.
BEGALA: What should the punishment be for a bishop who aids and abets the rape of a child by shifting these predators around from parish and parish?
DONOHUE: He should be thrown out, all right, flat out...
BEGALA: Cardinal Law -- Cardinal Law...
BEGALA: ... let's name names.
DONOHUE: That is -- that is the most abusive element to the whole thing, the most unconscionable element of the whole thing, of playing musical chairs with these people.
But I think -- now that you're going to have the reporting procedures, I can't imagine -- I mean somebody's going to have to be almost drunk not to understand that the public is fed up with this.
BEGALA: But how can we look for moral authority to Cardinal Law, Cardinal Egan or any other bishop, who anywhere in America or the world sent predators, knowingly -- knowingly -- sent predators into our communities?
DONOHUE: Well I think what they're trying to do in this document is to focus on the kids and what can be done at this point. I do expect that some people who could stay on technically for another four years may not.
BEGALA: Bill Donohue from the Catholic League, one of the great defenders of the faith, thank you very much for joining us, friend. Appreciate it.
Next in our CROSSFIRE "News Alert," don't worry about India and Pakistan anymore, Al Sharpton's on the case. And our "Quote of the Day" is an attack from a right wing heavyweight that got a surprising response from the president himself.
BEGALA: Now it's time for the political news you might not find anywhere else except in our CROSSFIRE "News Alert."
Now we all know that politics makes for strange bedfellows, but it also makes for unusual dinner guests. Recently Robert Kirkpatrick of Ohio received a letter from Vice President Dick Cheney. The vice president invited Kirkpatrick to, quote, "join the president and Mrs. Bush for a private dinner in Washington, D.C. On June 19."
Well, it's actually a $2,500 a plate fund-raiser. But coming up with the cash is only part of Kirkpatrick's problem, you see he's in prison. He's doing time for drug possession and prison escape. Kirkpatrick says I'd be happy to attend, but he's going to have to pull some strings to get me there.
CARLSON: More evidence today that simmering tensions between India and Pakistan may indeed boil over into full-scale nuclear war. Al Sharpton is visiting the region. The semi-employed presidential candidate (UNINTELLIGIBLE) advocate and frequent CROSSFIRE guest has announced that he's embarking on what he calls a peace mission to south Asia.
Quote: "I see myself as a disciple in the Gandhi-King tradition of nonviolence" explains Sharpton, apparently without giggling. The trip is scheduled for some time in the next two weeks. Slogans under consideration include "Sharpton, he'll do for New Delhi what he did for Crown Heights" and, "put down your missiles or I'll chant rhymes through my megaphone." Thousands are said to be fleeing the subcontinent in anticipation.
BEGALA: The shareholders of the Halliburton Corporation filed a class action lawsuit yesterday. They allege that the firm violated federal securities laws by issuing a series of materially false and misleading statements in the market, part of the time while Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton.
Back during the campaign, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Cheney's $20 million golden handshake from Halliburton was, quote, "a reflection of how successful a businessman he's been." And Cheney's official biography begins by claiming, quote, "Cheney has had a distinguished career as a businessman."
But now with the federal lawsuit and an SEC investigation, Cheney's office refused to answer any questions about his tenure at Halliburton. Sources close to Cheney admit he probably should have been suspicious when Halliburton's accountants at Arthur Andersen said they'd be willing to recalculate his cholesterol down to 150.
CARLSON: Finally tonight, in a last-ditch effort to convince Florida voters that her candidacy for government isn't poignant, pathetic and doomed, former Attorney General Janet Reno has persuaded actor Martin Sheen to campaign with her. On Friday Sheen and Reno will begin their three-day "trucking through Florida tour," during which Reno will give long, barely comprehensible speeches, and crowds will mob the movie star standing next to her.
Though she is running on her eight-year tenure in Washington, Reno has not received much help from her former Clinton administration colleagues who, to a person, wince at the thought of her inevitable loss to Jeb Bush. Instead she's enlisted the aid of a man who pretends to work at the White House. The strategy, the less he knows about her years as attorney general, the more effective he'll be on her behalf.
Are you wincing, Paul?
BEGALA: I am not wincing.
CARLSON: Of course you're wincing. This is the saddest thing to happen to Democrats, literally, this year.
BEGALA: The difference between Martin Sheen and George W. Bush is Martin Sheen is actually convincing when he acts like he's president.
CARLSON: Let's talk about Janet -- let's talk about -- is Janet Reno going to win?
BEGALA: Janet Reno -- you watch, Jeb's going down.
CARLSON: I'll bet you 20 bucks.
Next, use the next break to practice your royal wave, and you can wave back at the Queen during our CNN "News Alert."
Later, a bit more of a challenge, practice looking like you aren't a terrorist. Some guys who didn't make the cut are now going to court.
And our "Quote of the Day" proves it isn't easy being green. We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: Join Carville, Begala, Carlson and Novak in the CROSSFIRE. For free tickets to the live Washington audience, call 202-994-8CNN or e-mail us at email@example.com. Now you can step into the CROSSFIRE.
BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE, coming to you live from the George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C.
An about-face on global warning has some Bush backers hot under the collar. For the first time ever, the Bushies admit that the burning of fossil fuels has released heat-trapping gases. Not that they want to do anything about it, of course, but today President Bush said he had, quote, "read the report put out by the bureaucracy," dismissively, and then reaffirmed his opposition to the Kyoto Treaty.
But just the mere admission of the obvious had Rush Limbaugh's blood boiling. And Rush gets our "Quote of the Day."
This is it: "The administration blames mostly human actions for recent global warming and says the main culprit is the burning of fossil fuels that send heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. George W. Al Gore, anyone?"
Tucker, this means that Bush has now had both sides of the global warming issue twice. In the campaign he began saying, global climate change is real. Then he switched, saying, and I quote, "I hadn't gotten the briefing." Then the EPA puts out a report stating the obvious, that these fossil fuels cause these greenhouse gases. And within, what, a New York minute, Rush Limbaugh hits him, and he switches again.
What's with this guy?
CARLSON: Paul, he's actually had one consistent position, that's the same position as every single member of the United States Senate, and that's in opposition to the Kyoto Treaty. When it came down for a vote, nobody voted for it, as you know. Why? Because it's not the existence of global warning that's in dispute here, it's the solution to it. Can you do anything about it, and will attacking the First World, and keeping the Third World from, you know, any restrictions at all, will that eliminate global warming? The answer is no.
BEGALA: That's not what Bush is talking about. He...
CARLSON: That's exactly what he's talking about. That's what he talked about in the campaign. That's what he talked about now.
BEGALA: It's simply not true. In the campaign, he said I believe that global warming is real. Then he said, I didn't get the briefing.
CARLSON: I don't -- you know, that is actually not true. His position has been consistent from day one.
BEGALA: This is simply not true.
CARLSON: And this report, which is actually is worth taking a look at, because it says that some of the dire effects of global warming will be to harm the maple syrup production of northern New England and northern New York. And it might actually affect ski resorts.
So in fact, this does not in any way foreshadow some sort of massive apocalypse, some sort of Al Gore-like apocalypse at all. And it definitely doesn't call for the Kyoto Treaty.
BEGALA: I'd like nothing better than to have real scientists on here who can explain to you the real threat.
But what I'm talking about the sheer politics...
CARLSON: You didn't get the briefing either then, it sounds like.
BEGALA: ... of Bush flipping and flopping and flipping again, and Rush Limbaugh pulling his strings. Limbaugh says jump and Bush is in the air before he asked how high.
CARLSON: I think you missed the briefing, Paul.
But we'll be back.
Still to come, a "Fireback" e-mail pays tribute to an American royal family.
And next in the CROSSFIRE: Were the airlines playing it safe, or racially profiling their passengers?
BEGALA: We all know why airline security was tightened after September 11, but four of the nation's air carriers are now being sued by people who say how they carried out the security precautions violated their civil rights. The lawsuits accuse Continental, American, United and Northwest Airlines of racial profiling and discrimination. They were filed on behalf of five men of Middle Eastern or Asian origin. These men were removed or prevented from boarding flights last year, apparently because they looked like terrorists.
Now stepping into the CROSSFIRE to discuss the issue, Colorado Republican Congressman Thomas Tancredo, chairman of the congressional Immigration Reform Caucus; and James Zogby, the president of the American Arab Institute.
Thank you, gentlemen.
CARLSON: Mr. Zogby, there is now quite a lot of evidence that fears about being accused by groups such as yours of racial profiling prevented the FBI and other intelligence agencies from preventing September 11.
Case in point, "TIME" magazine this week has an essay by an anonymous FBI agent who says: "If I had received the fabled Phoenix memo that first alerted the FBI to the presence of al Qaeda members in American flight schools, I would have been afraid to find Arab men in flight schools for fear of offending Arab groups," the human and cry over racial profiling that would result. I'd be afraid of it, so I wouldn't have done it. Don't you think that fears over racial profiling are part of the reason intelligence...
JAMES ZOGBY, PRESIDENT, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: No, actually, I don't. And I spoke with the FBI today, a couple officials at the department, who both told me, no way, that that is not FBI policy, that is not what they feared, that they felt mistakes were made.
And I think that that is the issue here, mistakes were made. They had plenty of authority to go after Phoenix memo. They had plenty of authority and they had legal grounds to investigate Moussaoui. They didn't do it. There is an effort here, I think, on the part of some anonymous agents, to cover up what were mistakes that the agency made. They ought to deal with it and get beyond it.
CARLSON: So you think the FBI should have gone through all American flight schools, zeroed in on the people with Arabic-sounding names...
ZOGBY: No, no, no, that's not the issue. The issue is you've got a guy, Moussaoui, right? He's in a flight school. He's -- there's enough evidence about him already to put him on watch list, one.
Two, he goes to flight school and he says, "I don't need to learn how to take off or how to land, I just want to know how to fly a plane." Duh. I mean, what are these guys doing?
The fact is, they're covering up bureaucratic ineptness on their part right now, trying to shift the blame to an area where they don't really want the blame to be. They don't want to do profiling because the kind of profiling that's being talked about would stretch an already overstretched agency beyond its capability to ingest information.
You know what the FBI needs? They need a better computer system. They can't communicate with each other by e-mail, because many of them don't have computers that are compatible. Some of them don't even have e-mail addresses.
They need to know what to do with the information they are already have, which in this case, they could have crossed some Ts and dotted some Is, and probably gotten us a lot further along in this investigation, but they didn't have the management. They didn't have the computer capability. But they had the legal grounds to do everything they needed to do. There's no reason to go any further.
BEGALA: Congressman Tancredo, let me bring you into this. Let's just start with the basics. Do you believe that its un-American to target someone because of their ethnicity or race? Not because of some conduct, but solely because of their ethnicity or race?
REP. TOM TANCREDO (R), COLORADO: Yes, absolutely.
BEGALA: That's called racial profiling.
TANCREDO: That is called -- I'm glad we're defining it. That's great.
TANCREDO: Because oftentimes, we get into this kind of a battle, we use racial profiling to describe a whole list of activities. Racial profiling, as you described it, detaining someone, you know, arresting someone simply because of their race is absolutely un- American. I don't know anybody who, in fact, wants to do that or does.
BEGALA: Right. So race or ethnicity for you can be one of many factors that leads to an investigation. Why -- by the way, do you oppose affirmative action, where race is one of many factors to get into a college?
BEGALA: You know, if it can get you into trouble with the law, why can't it get you into college?
TANCREDO: That's an interesting point, because I've always wondered why we actually have even the word "race" on the application. You know, if one should probably erase that, take it away entirely, not make it a factor at all.
ZOGBY: I don't get that. I don't follow that.
But let me just say that I'm glad we defined it correctly. The problem here is that, I think what is loosely being understood by racial profiling is exactly what is Tucker was describing, You kind of go after people because of what they looked like.
That's what the lawsuit that we filed today with the ACLU was all about.
It was about people being taken off planes for no security reason whatsoever, but simply because a pilot didn't like the guy's last name.
CARLSON: That's simply not true, as you know.
ZOGBY: No, that is true.
CARLSON: Actually, it's not. And you're saying it doesn't make it true, because in a number of those cases, fellow passengers said I believe that person is acting suspiciously. It wasn't simply because they're Middle Eastern, it was because of the way they were acting.
ZOGBY: My friend, the cases that were filed today were quite simple. A guy was taken -- wasn't even allowed on the plane, number one. His name roused suspicions from the ground crew. FBI were called in, police were called in, airport security were called in. They filed his number and did a criminal search on him, found nothing, found him completely clean.
He was investigated thoroughly. He went to get on the plane because they said you're OK. And the pilot still said, I'm not flying with him on the plane. They gave him a voucher to go get dinner and drinks, and gave him a ticket on another airline.
Pure discrimination, racism. Not profiling at all, pure discrimination. The law was broken, and the airline has to pay. That's what that was about.
BEGALA: Congressman, among your colleagues in the House of Representatives, in fact, we see a good deal of anti-Arab American prejudice. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican colleague of yours from Georgia, said that we should have local sheriffs arrest every Muslim who crosses the state line. John Cooksey, another Republican from Louisiana, said that we should interrogate anyone who wears a diaper on his head and a fan belt wrapped around that diaper.
Now that's the worst sort of bigotry. And you can imagine...
TANCREDO: It is...
BEGALA: First, have you condemned it? And second, isn't that evidence that there's a lot of prejudice?
TANCREDO: Well, is there prejudice in America? Absolutely. You know, unless we get past that baser element in our emotion, we can't really even discuss this issue of racial profiling, because they are two separate things, and should certainly be so.
The problem -- one scary thing about profiling is that it can degenerate to that. I know it. Everybody realizes that. And so that's something that we have to watch very, very carefully.
It is striking a balance. You know, that's what we face every single day with almost every aspect -- every law we pass in the Congress, trying to strike a balance between personal liberty and security. This is an age-old dilemma.
But it does mean a balance. It means you can't go too far one way or the other. And I think that it is absolutely logical and acceptable and common sense to say, that among many other indices, a person's ethnicity could be part of a profile that leads you to believe or it leads you to bring them in.
BEGALA: So for example, if your district is Columbine High School, where one of the most horrible mass murders we'd ever seen in our country existed...
BEGALA: ... it was committed by upper-income white suburban kids.
TANCREDO: Yes, and we had a profile.
BEGALA: Should we profile white upper-income suburbans?
TANCREDO: You know, the FBI actually produced a document shortly after...
BEGALA: Based on conduct, not race, right?
TANCREDO: Many things, many things. And in fact, it said, upper-income, you know, I don't remember specifically race, but that level of society, coming out of that level of society. Not just, you know, it's not somebody we're talking about in the slums. No, it is -- they're looking at people who come out of a certain segment of society. And it's appropriate for us to do that.
CARLSON: When you look at terrorism, though -- Mr. Zogby, when you talk about terrorism and the threat Americans face from terrorism, you're talking about young Muslim men. But there is an effort on many groups to deny this obvious, simple fact.
There's a new movie "The Sum of All Fears," Tom Clancy book. In the book the bad guys, many of them, are radical Muslims. Thanks to pressure from American Muslims groups, they're portrayed as neo-Nazis. Isn't this part of an effort to deny what is, in fact, true? Terrorism is committed by Muslim men most of the time?
ZOGBY: The problem we have with Hollywood is separate and distinct. The fact is, is that studies that we've done over the years, I myself did some, but Jack Shaheen, an expert you may have had on the show, has done many more than that, have found that there has never been a positive portrayal of an Arab or Arab-American in any film produced by Hollywood.
As a result of that, our young kids grow up with only a negative self-image. And the kids they go to school with grow up with only a negative self-image of who Arabs are.
So our complaint with Hollywood is that if they -- look, you do an Italian Mafia guy, you go to Hollywood and you complain about it, they say yes, but look, we have all these positive characters as well.
There are no positive portrayals of Arabs in film. And until Hollywood's going to sit down and balance the picture and present a real portrayal of who we are then, in fact, we do have a gripe, and a continued gripe.
That's a very different story, Tucker, than what we're talking about here.
TANCREDO: Can I just say also, going back to your real general point as to whether or not, in fact, political correctness influences this process, I got to disagree with my friend here that -- and even the FBI. I mean, there are absolutely problems in the FBI, bureaucratic problems that we were well aware of, the same thing in the CIA, but it is also true...
BEGALA: That's a bunch of left-wing...
TANCREDO: ... that we have been beating the heck out of them for a long, long time. And you know, if you... CARLSON: Congressman Tancredo, I'm sorry. I'm going to cut you off today. We have to go to a commercial. Mr. Zogby, thank you very much, both, for joining us. We appreciate it.
ZOGBY: Thank you.
TANCREDO: Thank you.
CARLSON: Stay with us for "Round Six." No guests, just Paul and me, nothing but the issues.
And later, a fan of the British royalty fires back. We'll be right back.
CARLSON: Welcome back. It's time for "Round Six." The guests have gone home. Paul Begala and I remain.
Paul, actually, my heart goes out to anybody who's booted off an airliner because of the way he looks. I think it's unfair. And I think it's sad. And I, again, feel for those people. But I don't think it's fair to simply blame it on racism, because racism implies a completely unreasonable response. I think people have a real reason to be afraid of terrorism. And they have a reason to look, as unfair as it is, to individual cases to Middle Eastern men when they fear terrorism.
BEGALA: Before September 11, the worst act of American terrorism on American soil was committed by a white, right-wing neo-Nazi...
CARLSON: That's right.
BEGALA: ... just like the people that you say are portrayed in this new movie. And yet we don't stop everybody with a copy of a right-wing book, or listening to Rush Limbaugh, or whatever it is that you guys do...
BEGALA: ... before they get on an airplane. Nor should we.
CARLSON: That's actually -- that was -- I think the key phrase was the beginning when you said "before September 11." Timothy McVeigh was a lone nut from Oklahoma.
CARLSON: The difference is that al Qaeda is worldwide, and we know who its members are. They are, to a man -- and of course, they're all men -- radical Muslims. That doesn't mean all radical Muslims are terrorists, but it means all Muslims terrorists are radical -- or all members of al Qaeda are radical Islamic terrorists.
BEGALA: Status alone, even for a white guy, should not be enough to target you for grater scrutiny. You must have some sort of conduct...
CARLSON: You know that that makes absolutely no sense.
BEGALA: ... that goes with it. You must have some sort of conduct. Or it's bad law enforcement. We'll spend all of our time harassing the innocent Arab-Americans and letting the terrorists get through.
CARLSON: And nobody argues differently. That's a complete straw man. Everybody who is in favor of racial profiling couples conduct with appearance or ethnicity.
BEGALA: With the pilot of an airplane who says I just don't feel comfortable today?
CARLSON: The idea is not pulling random people of the street. The idea is if you're look for al Qaeda terrorists, you probably ought to look for people who are radical Muslims. It's as simple as that. And denying the fact doesn't make it untrue.
BEGALA: Yes, also look to the Constitution as we look at this topic.
Coming up though, your turn to "Fireback" at us. One viewer remembers an Al Gore campaign promise that George W. Bush should have kept.
CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. The doctors are in.
It's time for our "Fireback" segment. Every night you bombard us with e-mail. Here are some.
First up from Steve Stewart of Peoria: "Tucker, you are clueless when it comes to the security of America. When Johnny Jihad rents a private charter jet and flies it into a nuclear power plant, are you going to pay the $20 billion to clean it up and pay the victims' families? I want to be protected from a terrorist crashing a private charter jet into a nuclear power plant, why don't you?"
Good question. That was from last night's show. You know, liberals, they always have the personal injury lawyer angle. Who's going to pay the families?
BEGALA: This is from Linda McNees in Atlanta, Georgia who writes, "Am I the person in America who remembers what the candidates said in 2000? Al Gore told us there was a great need to beef up our country's defense against terrorists. He said one of the first things he'd do was to immediately increase security at our airports and commercial airlines. That was one of the many reasons we elected him."
Linda McNees, you are right. She knows how to count. CARLSON: You know, it's funny. In 1995, the Gore Commission killed a profiling system for airports over -- because of concerns that civil rights groups would complain too much.
BEGALA: Actually -- and the Gore Commission had a whole slew of legislation that the Republican Congress killed that would have made airports safer.
CARLSON: But the most important thing, he killed himself.
BEGALA: Oh, stop it.
CARLSON: And to me, sir -- that would be me: "Sir, after listening to you chortle Her Highness the Queen and the 50th anniversary celebrations, I feel I must say a few words. One million people partied all night long, and one arrest was made." This is in England last night. "Imagine the arrests if the same amount partied in the United States. I rest my case. Sincerely proud to be British, John McCann of Waterford, Ohio."
But John McCann, imagine if those 1 million people had been at a British soccer match. The tens of thousands who would have died.
BEGALA: Or, two words for British, "bad policing."
CARLSON: That's right. And...
BEGALA: They got away with it.
CARLSON: That's right.
BEGALA: "I admire Queen Elizabeth II," writes Dean Everman of West Palm Beach, Florida, "for her grace and tenacity through good times and bad. Although Great Britain no longer rules our nation, we have our own monarchy. God save King George Bush I and God bless King George Bush II."
CARLSON: Another bitter, pathetic Democrat.
BEGALA: No, no. Mrs. Windsor rules without being voted in, why can't Mr. Bush?
CARLSON: Please. Yes, sir, question?
ALI: Yes, my name is Ali (ph), I'm Arab American. After September 11 I was arrested in Paris airport on my way back to States but United Airlines security. I was put in jail for three days because of the way I look, just to make sure who I was. If it is not discrimination, then what it is?
BEGALA: Had you done anything else? Did they say there was some conduct, that you were paying in cash, or flying one way, or changing at the last minute, or carrying things that had wires sticking out of them in your shoes?
ALI: I had carry-on luggage, that's all. And I had round-trip ticket that I bought in August in Washington, D.C. And they thought my passport was, you know, funny. And they put me in jail for three days.
CARLSON: Well, I don't think -- I mean, that sounds unfortunate. As someone's who's been arrested at an airport before, I sympathize with you. But I don't think it changes the fact that the policy ought to take account of people's background. And I'm sorry that you were swept up in that.
BEGALA: If it doesn't also have some conduct, we're going to waste a lot of time incarcerating a lot of innocent people.
By the way, you arrested by a Communist government. We still have a free government in our country.
CARLSON: Nobody's ever suggested that.
Yes, a question for you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I'm not a Catholic, so I wouldn't know, but shouldn't the Catholic priests, the devout Catholic priests, shouldn't they take a stand against the memo and opt for absolute zero tolerance against any offenders, first time or not?
CARLSON: The two-children-and-you're-out policy? Yes, I'm sure a lot of decent Catholic priests -- and I think most Catholic priests actually are decent -- are upset by it because it doesn't help the church.
BEGALA: I think you're right. That's a very good point. And it is true, the 45,000 priests in America, 99-plus percent are very honorable, decent men. We ought not forget that.
ADAM SHAPIRO: Hi, this Adam Shapiro (ph) from Washington, D.C. And a question for you, Tucker. Aren't conservatives like you really afraid of Senator John Edwards of North Carolina because he is so popular with moderates, especially in the South?
CARLSON: In a word, no, Adam. This is a man who's been in politics less than four years. Before that, he was a personal injury lawyer, specializing in jacuzzi cases. Marvelous guy. Excellent manners. Very likable. That does not add up to a presidential profile.
BEGALA: As opposed to Bush, who's experience was trading Sammy Sosa when he ran the Texas Rangers, that made him qualified.
CARLSON: Governor of a huge state.
BEGALA: From the left, I'm Paul Begala. Good night for CROSSFIRE. CARLSON: And from the right, I'm Tucker Carlson.
Join us again tomorrow night for yet another edition of CROSSFIRE. See you then.
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Is Church Policy on Abusive Priests Strict Enough?; Is Racial Profiling Fair?>