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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Inhofe, Nelson Debate Possible War on Iraq; Brandon, Lang Talk About Anthrax Investigation; Cox, Deutsch Discuss Enron Probe

Aired August 25, 2002 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington and here in Atlanta; 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles; 11:00 a.m. in Crawford, Texas; and 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.
Our focus this hour, Iraq. Will President Bush order U.S. military strikes against Saddam Hussein's regime. We'll talk with two key United States senators shortly, but first a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: Over the past few days, the president has been taking what many see as a decidedly more cautious tone about Iraq, at least when speaking in public. But behind the scenes, U.S. officials say contingency planning for military action is moving full speed ahead.

Joining us now to talk about Iraq are two members of the United States Senate: In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Republican Senator James Inhofe, he's a member of the Armed Services as well as the Select Intelligence Committee. And in Tallahassee, Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson, he's a member of the Armed Services Committee. He also serves on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senators, welcome back to LATE EDITION.

And, Senator Inhofe, let me begin with you. Why do you believe the United States should preemptively attack Iraq at least in the next few weeks if not perhaps even sooner?

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: Well, I think, first of all, the president of the United States is our leader, and if he has confidential information that it not out in the press that one of our cities is in danger of an attack, he has the responsibility to do that.

I think right now the media has put on an enormous pressure on our president to say -- to make demands as to when are you going to do it, why are you going to do it. And then we have all these senators and members of the House who say the president hasn't made his case yet.

Let's look at this, Wolf. If it is true, and I believe it is, that Saddam Hussein has all three of the types, classes of weapons of mass destruction and if he is very, very close to having a missile that would deliver those to an American city, the president has to do something. So that's my feeling.

Let me also quote our secretary of defense. He talks about the consequences of a wrong decision. We made a wrong decision in Somalia in 1993, and it cost 18 lives. Made a wrong decision in 1999 in Yemen, and it cost 17 lives. But as Secretary Rumsfeld says, if we make the wrong decision now, it could cost hundreds of thousands of American lives.

BLITZER: You have said, Senator Inhofe, in Oklahoma that you believe an attack against Iraq might even be imminent. Just tell our viewers what you meant by that.

INHOFE: No, I think -- there's no time frame. I was erroneously quoted by saying within 30 days. That wasn't true at all.

I just think that it's going to be when the president has to make that decision, he's going to have to make it because he knows something has happened that you don't see on TV, and you know, it's going to be classified information.

So imminent could mean -- it could mean any number of days or months.

BLITZER: All right. What about that, Senator Nelson? Where do you stand on a possible preemptive U.S. strike against Iraq?

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Is Saddam a threat? Of course he is. Would we like to take him out? Of course we would. Would that be in the interest of the United States? Yes.

But the president has to get the support of the American people. The American people are split right down the middle. The president's own administration is split right down the middle.

And so the president would be well advised to go to the country and lay out why it is that we would need to attack Iraq now. For example, what are we going to do in terms of cost of American lives? What are we going to do with getting our allies behind us? How is it going to affect our enormous interest in that part of the world with regard to Israel and trying to solve that problem? So the president would be well advised to go to the American people.

By the way, Wolf, I have been all over the country in the last three weeks in town hall meetings, and I can tell you, the country is split. And the ones that are vigorously wanting to know answers are the moms of this country. They want to know, why are their sons and daughters going to be sent into battle.

BLITZER: All right. Let's bring back Senator Inhofe.

And follow up on that specific point, Senator Inhofe. And as we do, I want to show you and our viewers a poll that CNN-USA Today Gallup did this past week, asking the question, should U.S. troops be sent to Iraq if there's no support from the Western allies? Look at this. Only 20 percent favor that dispatch of U.S. troops. 75 percent of the respondents said they would oppose it, which is a point actually made by Senator Nelson.

The president obviously has a lot more explaining if he wants to win the support of the American public.

INHOFE: Yes, I would respond, Wolf, that it doesn't make any difference what the town hall meetings say and what the polls say. Leadership is recognizing a threat and going and doing something about it.

Bill, I'm a little surprised. I thought we'd be in -- Bill and I are very good friends. I thought we'd be in total agreement. Here is a quote you made last week. You said, "If we have evidence that Saddam Hussein is about to use his weapons of mass destruction, we would have to move on him." And I disagree wholeheartedly with that.

And I think that the president will know when that time comes. And it might be that the country is not going to be with him in polls.

Wolf, you remember very well in 1986 when President Reagan had to send 29 F-111s over to Libya. And there was no support at that time. We couldn't even get fly-over permission from the French. And yet, it had to be done. He had the leadership, and he did it.

BLITZER: Senator Nelson, do you want to respond to that?

NELSON: I'd like to. There are exceptions to everything. But the general rule of constitutional law is that the president has to make the case to the people and to the Congress in order for the Congress to declare a war.

If Saddam was about to use a weapon of mass destruction, of course the president could enter into a war with Iraq. If Saddam is harboring and fostering al Qaeda, he already has the legal authority, under the war resolution that we granted to go on the war against terrorists.

So there are always exceptions. But what we have is an administration that it is beating its breast with all this rhetoric about how they're going to do this or that. The president needs the country behind him.

BLITZER: Senator...

INHOFE: No, I...

BLITZER: Senator Inhofe, go ahead.

INHOFE: I would agree with Bill, ideally. I'd much prefer to have a lot of allies out there, both in the Middle East and in Western Europe. I'd like to have the American people solidly behind the president. But again, if the president has to do it, he has to do it. And that's what leadership is all about.

Now, I would probably disagree with your interpretation, Bill. I think the president, if he sees it's necessary to defend America, has the right to go ahead and send them. It does say under the War Powers Act, you'd have to come back after a period of time, 60 days, and then make the case.

But to try to demand that the president make his case prior to taking actions -- everything that you know, Bill, and that I know and Wolf Blitzer knows and is on CNN, you can be sure that Saddam Hussein knows that, too. So we can't be talking this thing to death, as we did in the case of Osama bin Laden.

NELSON: Jim, I've been a captain in the Army. You and I both serve on the Armed Services Committee. A military action in Iraq is going to be a lot different than in Afghanistan. It's going to cause the prepositioning of personnel and materiels. There's going to have to be a major reserve force to go in if we go into Baghdad first, to back them up.

So we've got a lot of explaining to do, and we've got a lot of preparation to do if we are, in fact, going in Iraq.

BLITZER: Let me get back...

INHOFE: Well, Bill, I would respond by -- let me just respond to this thing...

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead, sir.

INHOFE: I wasn't a lofty captain, I was only an enlisted man when I was in, but have been on the committee for quite some time.

If we had not had the denigration of our military over the last 10 years that we have had, and so that we're down right now to one half the force strength that we had during the Persian Gulf War, then I would agree with you.

It's terrible to be in this situation right now where we're totally dependent upon guard and reserve. But they're great guys. They have -- and gals. They have resolve. And we're just going to have to give this president the opportunity to rebuild our end strength and our might and our modernization programs so that we're not faced with this again.

BLITZER: Senator Inhofe, I want to pick up and move this discussion to the old issue of U.N. weapons inspectors. The chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, was on NBC earlier today. And he basically suggested, yes, he wants to get back in, but there's no clear-cut evidence one way or another whether Saddam Hussein is, in fact, ready to use weapons of mass destruction.

BLITZER: Listen to what Mr. Blix had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANS BLIX, CHIEF U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: There are open questions, but proof we do not have. The intelligence agencies may have it, maybe Scott Ritter has some. Maybe Mr. Butler has evidence in the opposite direction. But I think the inspectors should be objective, and we should answer and tell the world only what we have seen. And we cannot tell the world that, yes, positively, they have weapons of mass destruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You're privy to sensitive U.S. information. Do you agree with Mr. Blix?

INHOFE: No, I agree with all the rest of the weapons inspectors -- with Richard Butler, with David Kay, and with Scott Ritter when he first came back.

Bill, I don't think you were in the Senate yet when they left Iraq, the weapons inspectors, in 1998. But we had them before our committee, the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I remember specifically asking them the question, you know, how long will it be until Saddam Hussein will have weapons of destruction, specifically biological, chemical and nuclear, and the missile means of delivering them? At that time, they said, he could do that in six months. This was 1998.

And that's the scary thing, because we can sit around here, again, talking this thing to death and wringing our hands and finding out he has something ready to go. Would he use it? You bet he would use it.

BLITZER: Senator Nelson?

NELSON: Jim, I was on the Foreign Relations Committee just recently when we had Butler in front of us. He had no proof that there are weapons of mass destruction.

And my own personal view is, I think Saddam has chemical and biological weapons, and I expect that he is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. So at some point, we might have to act precipitously.

But that still -- that does not change the fact that the president, instead of making these pronouncements about be patient and all this other stuff, he needs to go to the American people and make the case. How are we going to put it together? How are we going to have the support? How are we going to have the backup troops to be able to move in, in the case that the frontline troops have to have the reserves? And then the tactics, the specific strategy, all of that is secret. And the time, that of course is secret as well.

BLITZER: Senator Inhofe, stand by. We have to take a quick commercial break. I'm going to pick up the conversation with you when we come back.

We're also going to talk about the former secretary of state, James Baker. He was secretary of state under the first President Bush during the Persian Gulf War. He's weighing in today with an article in the New York Times.

A lot more to talk about with Senators Inhofe and Nelson. They'll also be taking your phone calls when LATE EDITION returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people know my position, and that is that regime change is in the interest of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush reiterating his stance that the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein must go.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking about the possibility of a new U.S. war with Iraq, with the Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe and the Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.

Senator Inhofe, I want to read to you what James Baker, who was secretary of state during the Persian Gulf War under the first President Bush, writes today in the New York Times on the Op-Ed page.

Among other things he writes this: "The only realistic way to effect regime change in Iraq is through the application of military force, including sufficient ground troops to occupy the country, including Baghdad, depose the current leadership and install a successor government. Anyone who thinks we can effect regime change in Iraq with anything less than this is simply not realistic. It cannot be done on the cheap."

I assume you agree with him on that. But do you also agree with him that it would be prudent, diplomatically, for the U.S. once again to go before the U.N. Security Council and put it up to an up-and-down vote, at least get the international community on record in favoring U.S. military action?

INHOFE: Yes, well, the only thing that would concern me is if they lost the vote and yet we had information that we needed to defend America. That would be my concern.

And I have a great deal of respect for James Baker. I would say Richard Perle and several others that were around at that time would not agree with him.

I just wanted to respond once, though, that everything that my good friend Bill Nelson said right before the break, that we need to have from the president in making the case with the American people, those are things that Saddam Hussein would know. You can't go to the American people without going to Saddam Hussein. And that's very, very worrisome to me.

BLITZER: All right, Senator Nelson, I assume you want to react to that?

NELSON: Well, first of all, James Baker, one of the best secretary of states, I personally think, is illustrative of the administration being split. Brent Scowcroft has taken a similar situation. Senators Dick Lugar and Chuck Hagel, two of the most respected on Foreign Affairs and Armed Services, indeed have taken the same position. So there is a huge split.

And you raise, Wolf, the very interesting question from that Jim Baker article, "What about after Saddam?" How are we going to stabilize that region? How are we going to stabilize the situation for our close ally Turkey? How are we going to protect the oil supply in the future? How are we going to protect the interest in the Middle East? These are the kinds of things that the president needs to lay out.

BLITZER: You know, Senator Inhofe, speaking about former national security advisor Scowcroft, Brent Scowcroft, who was the first President Bush's national security advisor during the Gulf War, he does make that point. There are significant differences to what Scowcroft said last week in the Wall Street Journal and what James Baker writes today in the New York Times.

But Scowcroft did write this, and I'll read it to you. "Our preeminent security priority, underscored repeatedly by the president, is the war on terrorism. An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken."

Is he right?

INHOFE: No, I don't think he's right. And let's remember, as Brent Scowcroft, back during George the first, who was supportive of getting out without finishing the job of Saddam Hussein.

I think that Bill makes a good point, because he's named four people that I have a great deal of respect for, but there are many, many, many others who disagree with that and believe that the president should have the power to go in and defend America.

This is unprecedented. And you've got to go back and look at the consequences of making the wrong decision. I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld is exactly right. That's a serious problem.

As far as having all these people on board with us, that would be nice. Let's keep in mind, though, that Saddam Hussein has an ample supply, inventory, of Scud-B missiles that would reach every capital in the Middle East, including, of course, Israel.

And so I think they're intimidated right now. They know this guy's a loose cannon, he could use that if they were to say that they would support America.

But I can assure you this. When this thing is over, those countries are going to be dancing in the streets, and they'll be dancing in the streets in Baghdad, too. Because this is not a fight against or a war against Iraq, this is a war to liberate Iraq. This is against a terrorist named Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER: And on that specific point of what the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is making, Senator Nelson, I want you to listen specifically to what he said about the relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq. He was speaking this past Tuesday over at a Pentagon briefing. Listen to Rumsfeld.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There are al Qaeda in Iraq, there are. They have left Afghanistan, they have left other locations, and they've landed in a variety of countries, one of which is Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Seems to be making the case that that's another reason for the U.S., presumably, to preemptively go against Saddam Hussein's regime.

NELSON: The question is, is Saddam harboring al Qaeda? Is he assisting them, or are they just clandestinely there? There's a big difference between the two.

As a matter of fact, when you talked earlier about what's going to happen down the road, the president would do well when he explains to the American people what is in the arsenal of Saddam Hussein that we've got to go and go now.

The problem that the president is having is that three-quarters of the American people are not with him. He would have overwhelming support if he'll make that case, that the interests of the United States need to be acted on and acted on right now.

BLITZER: The point is, Senator Inhofe, that the president, at some point, needs to go, perhaps on television from the Oval Office, and make the case to the American public. Is he going to have that luxury, though?

INHOFE: Well, I hope he has that luxury.

But as far as the relationship with al Qaeda, you know, we do have satellite pictures of al Qaeda training camps in Saudi Arabia. You can agree or disagree with Mohammed Atta, whether or not he in Prague met with the officials.

But let's just say that there is no presence, there's no relationship with al Qaeda. Still, he's every bit as much a terrorist as Osama bin Laden. And so whether we are attacked in this country by one terrorist or the other, we need to have this war on all the terrorists. Certainly, Saddam Hussein is one of them.

BLITZER: All right. We just have a minute left. Before we go, Senator Inhofe, I want to get your reaction on an unrelated matter, I guess it's somewhat related, the investigation into who leaked information from the National Security Agency to the news media about what they knew before 9/11.

As you know, now the FBI seeking the phone records, palm pilot records, communications of about 19 senators, members of the Intelligence Committee. I assume you're one of them. What to you think about all of this? INHOFE: Well, I guess I'm the only senator who has been supporting that. I think if we're going to have the FBI check all the staffers on the intelligence committees, I don't think that they should leave out the members, too. Because there was a leak and it's very serious. And I subjected myself to a polygraph test and suggested that we all do the same thing.

BLITZER: What about that, Senator Nelson? I know that you're not one of those senators that the FBI wants to question. But as you know, there's a lot of people concerned about the split, the division between the executive and the legislative branch. Is it appropriate for the FBI, which is from the executive branch, to be questioning U.S. senators?

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Senator Nelson, go ahead.

NELSON: Thanks. It's not appropriate to leak information, they ought to be strung up by their thumbs.

I'm not sure we've got to do polygraph tests, but I think it underscores the need that when you have a major event like 9/11, you ought to have a national commission get to the bottom of it, and don't leave it up just to the intelligence committees of the House and the Senate. That's the fundamental flaw here.

BLITZER: All right. We have to leave it unfortunately right there. Senator Nelson, Senator Inhofe, always good to have both of you on LATE EDITION. Thanks so much for joining us.

Just ahead, the 1991 Gulf War was a relatively easy victory for the United States, but what are the possible consequences of a new conflict with Iraq some 11 years early? We'll get unique perspective from the former Bush secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger, the former Reagan defense secretary Casper Weinberger, and the former supreme allied commander of NATO retired General George Joulwan.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush talking about a possible preemptive strategy toward Iraq during his speech at the West Point graduation ceremony earlier this summer.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're joined now by three special guests. They have unique perspective on the U.S. approach toward Iraq. In Charlottesville, Virginia, Lawrence Eagleburger. He was the United States secretary of state under the first President Bush. In Washington, the former Reagan defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger. And also in Washington, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, retired General George Joulwan.

Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Thanks so much for joining us.

And, Secretary Eagleburger, I'll begin with you, and I'll play for you a soundbite from what the House majority whip, Tom DeLay, said earlier this week in making the case for a quick and decisive preemptive strike against Iraq. Listen to what Congressman DeLay said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY WHIP: Every generation will be tested. Every generation will be called to defend our freedom. And every generation must summon the courage to disregard the timid counsel of those who would mortgage our security to the false promises of wishful thinking and appeasement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He of course did not mention you by name, but he did mention his critics in general who are urging caution, using some strong words with historic references, "wishful thinking and appeasement."

What do you say about that?

LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, first of all, Wolf, it is, I guess, a pleasure for me after 30 years of being accused of being a hawk most of the time now to be accused of being a wimp.

(LAUGHTER)

So that's where I guess I start.

I think it's very unfair, in this sense, that to make a charge like that, without supporting evidence, I guess, is the best way to put it, is casting this issue of Iraq in an either/or context that I think is very dangerous.

I'm prepared to concede, from the beginning, that if the evidence is clear that Saddam Hussein has these weapons of mass destruction at his fingertips and is ready to use them, then we have no choice, we must go.

I don't think that evidence is there. I think that there has been a great deal of debate about whether we must or must not go, but without any discussion whatsoever that I think must come now about what this will cost in terms of going without our allies, and what we must do if we throw him out of office in terms of staying in Iraq. How long do we stay? How much does it cost? What does it do to our conditions within that part of the world? What kind of a regime do we put in his place? How long does it last if it seems that we are the ones that put him in his place?

I think there are any number of complex questions that simply haven't been examined. And if it's wimpish to say that until I know for sure, until we know at least with some confidence that we must act now, then I say we need to be very careful about going forward, until we understand how complex this whole issue is.

And Tom DeLay will be one of the first, at some point down the line, screaming about how much this costs and how we've gotten ourselves into kind of a semi-Vietnam situation because we didn't think through all of the problems.

So I'm simply saying I think this is much more complex than he and his chest-thumpers think it is. And I'm not ready to say that we must go ahead right now. I think it deserves much more thought. And I really resent being accused of being a wimp because I want to think it through.

BLITZER: All right, that's fair enough.

Secretary Weinberger, I heard your testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate late last month. And you seemed to suggest, if I heard it correctly, that the time for U.S. military action against Saddam Hussein is now, now before its too late. Make your case.

CASPAR WEINBERGER, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Yes, I think it is now. I disassociate myself from any suggestion that Larry Eagleburger is not a strong man. He did a fine job when he was secretary of state, and he also is one of those few people there who supported a strong defense budget. So I think he is correct to say we should think it through.

My worry is we'll spend too much time thinking and that Saddam Hussein either has, or will very shortly get -- and we don't know, that's one of the troubles we're having, all of the U.N. inspectors thrown out four years ago -- he will have weapons of mass destruction. Don Rumsfeld's bipartisan commission concluded he'd have them a lot sooner than any of us thought he would have. And I think you can wait too long in one of these situations and think too much. I think you have occasions when you have to act and act promptly as the president suggested in his West Point speech.

If we had had information that the -- before Pearl Harbor that Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked, I don't think anybody would have waited until the attack came. They would have tried to stop it, not by deterrence and not by U.N. resolutions, but by taking direct military action. And that's what I think we have to do this time with Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER: What about that, General Joulwan? You have unique perspective. You've led military men directly in battle. Who is right, Larry Eagleburger or Caspar Weinberger?

GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, let me put it in my perspective. I was responsible in my European Command hat for northern Iraq, and watched Saddam and Iraq very closely from 1993 to 1997. He does have weapons of mass destruction. He has used them during the Iran-Iraq war 20 years ago. So he does have them.

The issue, in many respects, is, what is the process that we need to go through? I think the president said all options are on the table. I think we need to have a clear understanding of what those options are, particularly from a military perspective.

We had been having an air cap over northern Iraq, called Northern Watch, and over southern Iraq, called Southern Watch, for over 10 years. We have certain decided advantages. I think we need to continue in that planning but make the case, particularly with our allies, particularly with Turkey. We have time to do that, and it can be done in very short order.

I just think we need to get our allies on board if we can. If not, and he has weapons of mass destruction and intends to use them, I think we need to be able to be responsive to that, and to act and act quickly.

WEINBERGER: I agree with that completely.

BLITZER: All right. Let me bring Secretary Eagleburger back in and ask him the basic question, though, about the point that President Bush laid out in his West Point commencement address.

If the United States believes that there's a potential threat out there, should it preempt, which is a relatively different strategy from earlier U.S. presidents?

EAGLEBURGER: Well, again, it depends on the threat. And I -- by the way, General Joulwan is correct. He does have weapons of mass destruction, if what you're saying is gas, for example, chemical warfare, he's done that for some time. And he may have some biological weapons. We're not sure of that, but he may have.

Neither one of these, do I think, fall into the category that I would describe as threatening enough to be what I would describe as a casus belli. I think, if he has nuclear weapons, that would be a different matter.

I'm -- again, preemption, yes, if he is in a condition to use those weapons now, or will be very soon, and I don't believe the evidence shows that.

And I must come back to saying, for the U.S. to preempt by itself, without any other allies with us, paying for this war by ourselves when it will cost $60 billion to $80 billion, where we use U.S. troops and U.S. troops alone, without any of our allies, it seems to me that the only excuse for doing that would be when the cause is so compelling that we have no choice. And I come back, therefore, to saying, we need to do what we can, first of all, to persuade our allies that there's a case. And that means we're going to have to go to them with the evidence we have that demonstrates that there is a case.

BLITZER: All right...

EAGLEBURGER: And let me just say that, in this sense, Jim Baker's proposal to go to the Security Council and try to begin to work with the U.N. makes sense. I'm not at all sure that it will succeed, but at least we're trying to convince others that we have a case to be made.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody stand by, because we have a lot more ground to cover.

We're just beginning this conversation. We're also going to be coming back and taking your phone calls for our three distinguished guests. LATE EDITION's discussion of a possible U.S. war with Iraq will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking about the diplomatic and military challenges of a possible new U.S. war against Iraq with the former Bush secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger, the former Reagan defense secretary Caspar Weinberger, and the former supreme allied commander of NATO, retired General George Joulwan.

Secretary Weinberger, the most recent CNN-USA Today Gallup Poll asks this question: Would you support U.S. troops going to Iraq if combat situations there were to last a year? Forty-one percent said they would favor sending those troops; 51 percent say they would oppose sending those troops.

There's no guarantee it will last a year. Maybe a month, maybe three weeks, maybe longer, who knows? But it seems that the American public would be concerned if a new war against Iraq would drag on.

WEINBERGER: Well, I think it depends on which poll you're reading. I read a poll just a couple days ago that showed 69 percent of the American people, when asked, said they favored something that would overthrow Saddam Hussein.

I don't think anybody knows how long it would take, and I don't think anybody should go on the impression that it's going to be easy or a cakewalk or whatever those phrases are that people use. Any military operation is difficult.

The problem is, and the question before us, is what are the benefits of it? And the benefits of a world without Saddam Hussein and nuclear weapons, I think, ought to be self-evident.

BLITZER: All right, General Joulwan, you're a military expert, I'll put you on the spot, and in doing so, I'll read to you what a top Iraqi official said earlier this week. He said, "We fear neither America, nor Britain, nor anyone else. Even if America comes with all of its force, Iraq will confront the enemy and turn the region into a new Vietnam."

Is that all bluster, or should the U.S. be concerned about that kind of contingency?

JOULWAN: Well, much of it is rhetoric, Wolf, but I have always believed you never underestimate your enemy. And I think you need to prepare several difference options. There are some who see a quickie option here, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I would think we need to prepare. Now, the president said all options are on the table.

I don't see, if we do it right, that the Iraqis will carry out this threat that you just read. I think we can do it in a fashion that is quick and decisive. But we have to have everything on the table, and that includes heavy forces, as well as light forces. Failure cannot be an option here.

Whether it's preemptive or not, we need to get our military leadership giving clear military advice to our senior leadership in a way that puts all options on the table. And what does that mean? And what is the risk elsewhere? How do you link it to Afghanistan and where else we have troops committed? All of that needs to be done. And it's not a wishy-washy approach, it's a professional approach.

WEINBERGER: No one could argue with that. The main thing is that you have to have the intention to win. We went into Vietnam without any intention to win, and that's the trouble.

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead, Secretary Eagleburger.

EAGLEBURGER: Wolf, if I may, it would seem to me, that an awful lot of what the Iraqis say is bluster. If we take a leaf from the last time, and that means we go at this with massive force, I think this is a case of being able to win it militarily fairly easily -- not easily, but fairly quickly, as we did last time. I don't think that the Iraqis are a major military force when they are confronted by all of the things that we have to throw at them, assuming we do it massively as we did the last time.

I think the question then becomes not so much how do we win it -- I think we win it reasonably quickly and without terrible loss of life. I think the question very much becomes, what do we do after we've won it? And I think that becomes a terribly complex problem.

BLITZER: All right, let's let Secretary...

EAGLEBURGER: But as far as winning it's concerned, I don't think it's tough.

BLITZER: Let me let Secretary Weinberger respond.

Relatively easy military victory, but what happens after that? Is the U.S. sucked into years and years of trying to keep the peace, if you will, in Iraq? WEINBERGER: Well, I don't think necessarily so. I think we certainly would expect to be part of, and should be part of, some kind of army of occupation that I hope would be made up of moderate Arab nations as well as other countries, Britain and others, willing to participate. Because you have to have a regime in Iraq that ultimately can lead to a democratic sort of government that can live in peace with its neighbors.

On a much smaller scale, it's what we did in Grenada. Vastly smaller scale, but that was what we did. We went in quickly, we got out quickly, and they have a democratic regime there now. That's what we have to strive for. I don't think that's impossible or difficult.

We had, after World War II, no slight suggestion that we should work our way into Paris and then go home. We had to change regimes, and regimes were changed all over Europe and Asia, and very much for the better. And that's what I think we have to do this time.

You can't leave a man like Saddam Hussein in control any longer and expect to have any peace in the region.

BLITZER: And, General Joulwan, I want to just bring you back in before we take another commercial break. The notion of doing this on the cheap, if you will, with Special Operations forces, working with the Iraqi opposition, sort of the Afghan model to overthrow the Taliban regime there, is that unrealistic?

JOULWAN: Well, I think it's option A, but you'd better have option B, C, and D ready to go here. I mean, each situation is different. Iraq is different than Afghanistan, and I think we need to understand that. I think our military leaders understand that.

And they have to give this clear advice to our political leader -- what we need. And we're doing it, we are doing some posturing now of headquarters, forces, prepositioned (UNINTELLIGIBLE), because the president said all options are on table.

I doubt that we can just have one option, which is a quickie Afghan option. Remember now, we still haven't eliminated al Qaeda, and we have 6,000 to 8,000 now troops still in Afghanistan. I think we need to understand that as we look at Iraq. That's going to be a different case, but we need to have all options to include ground forces if necessary.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to take another quick break. We have a lot more to talk about, including this question: If the U.S. goes to war against Iraq, will Saddam Hussein use weapons of mass destruction? Will he lash out at the Israelis?

Your phone calls, as well, for Lawrence Eagleburger, Casper Weinberger and General George Joulwan. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation about Iraq with former Bush secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger, former Reagan defense secretary Caspar Weinberger, and former NATO supreme allied commander General George Joulwan.

Secretary Eagleburger, for those of us who covered the Persian Gulf War 11 years ago, I remember very, very vividly your major responsibility during that war, going over to Israel, with the then top Pentagon official Paul Wolfowitz, and making sure the Israelis did not retaliate for those 39 Scud attacks against Tel Aviv and other populated centers by the Iraqis.

If the Iraqis were to lash out this time against the Israelis, they almost certainly would respond. What would that do?

EAGLEBURGER: Well, first of all, there's no question in my mind, the Iraqis would lash out against the Israelis. I have very little doubt that, no matter what we might do to try to persuade the Israelis not to react, I think they would react.

Now, how would they react? Probably air attacks. They might well try to put troops on the ground in Iraq. Remember, however, that they do not have a border contiguous with Iraq, so they would have to cross somebody else's territory. But I have no doubt that the Israelis would react. And it could be anything from air attacks, to an attempt to put some troops on the ground, to try to strike against the SCUD targets, because that's clearly, I think, how the Iraqis would move against Israel.

But there would certainly be attacks against Israel, and I'm relatively convinced the Israelis would respond.

BLITZER: And, Secretary Weinberger, there's been speculation, as you well know, that, if those Iraqi Scuds were tipped with chemical or biological agents, the Israelis would respond not necessarily just with air attacks or ground attacks, but with their own potential nuclear retaliatory strike. Is that something that is out of the question?

WEINBERGER: Well, it's not so much out of the question, it's a question of whether you wait and let it happen. If we go in preemptively to Iraq as soon as we're ready to do so and destroy his capability of launching attacks against any other country, then we would have solved that little problem. And I think that, if you sit around and wait to see if you're absolutely certain he has some of these terrible weapons, and if you wait until he uses them, and then you find out that, yes, he does have them, that's a little bit too late.

And that's where, I think, rather than wondering whether or not he would attack Israel and whether Israel would respond, the quickest, best thing to do is render him incapable of attacking anybody by replacing him. And that's why I think we have to move, and move as quickly as we can militarily, recognizing it will be difficult, recognizing it will be costly, and recognizing also that it would be an infinitely better world without Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER: General Joulwan, when you were the supreme allied commander of the U.S. forces in Europe, one of your areas of responsibility, of course, included Israel. You know that Israeli military situation about as well as anyone. What do you believe the Israelis would do?

JOULWAN: Well, in I believe it was '96 or '97, when we fired some Tomahawk missiles against Iraq in my European Command hat, we deployed early-warning radar to Israel to assist them in the case Saddam Hussein would use weapons of mass destruction or Scud missiles with chemical or biological warheads on them.

So we do have plans to assist and to help. I think they're further along now than they were five or six years ago. I truly think we have to anticipate that Saddam would use weapons of mass destruction or Scud missiles against Israel and provide the sort of early warning and protection and capability to prevent that.

BLITZER: This situation could easily get out of hand.

EAGLEBURGER: Wolf...

BLITZER: Go ahead, secretary.

EAGLEBURGER: Well, I was only going to say that, you know, transferring back to the time when we went through this the last time, even if you have preemption on our part, if there's any experience that counts, we tried to get to the Scud missiles that were hitting Israel at the time when we were at war with the Iraqis. The point is, we couldn't always find them. And the point therefore is that the SCUDs kept hitting Israel, even though we were trying to prevent their firing.

So I think you can expect that the Israelis are going to get hit, even while we are trying to conduct the war against Iraq. And until we win it, I think the Israelis are going to get hit.

BLITZER: One quick question to you, General Joulwan.

JOULWAN: Yes.

BLITZER: The Israelis have developed this new Arrow anti-missile system, sort of an improvement or a different kind of system than the Patriot, which we all watched during the Persian Gulf War, which apparently wasn't as effective in dealing with those Scuds as the initial press releases seemed to suggest.

Is this new Arrow system the Israelis have developed together with the United States all it's cracked up to be?

JOULWAN: It's a very good system, Wolf. It still needs to be further tested. But it's a step in the right direction.

One of the things we want to do, though, is to be able to strike before launch. And that means good intelligence. As I said before, we've been flying over northern and southern Iraq for a decade. We have excellent intelligence we didn't have back in 1990. Still, Scuds are hard to find, but we're much better than we were 10 years ago. The Arrow is an excellent system. The new improvement in the Patriot is also a good system. And our early warning is much better. So I think we have a high probability of successful interception that we didn't have 10 years ago.

WEINBERGER: Bear in mind, if I may, Wolf, that the only situation in which Scuds are going to be launched is if Saddam Hussein remains in power. And if he's taken out of power, then that particular worry diminishes very rapidly.

BLITZER: All right. Unfortunately, we have to leave it right there, but thanks for a good, excellent discussion, Secretary Weinberger, Secretary Eagleburger, General Joulwan. We'll have you back on LATE EDITION sooner rather than later. Thanks to all three of you for joining us.

And coming up in the next hour of LATE EDITION, we'll explore two aspects of the war against terrorism. First, Steven Hatfill, the former U.S. Army scientist, who continues to be under FBI scrutiny in the anthrax investigation, is scheduled to speak with reporters at the top of the hour. We'll bring you that news conference live as soon as it happens. We'll also get some insight from two guests.

And later, terror on tape. CNN's exclusive look at the al Qaeda network. We'll get analysis on what clues these graphic images may provide in the war on terror.

More of LATE EDITION is just ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're awaiting a news conference with the former U.S. Army scientist Steven Hatfill, whom the Attorney General John Ashcroft has described as a person of interest in the anthrax investigation. We'll go to that news conference as soon as it happens. We're expecting it to begin momentarily.

First though, here is CNN's Fredricka Whitfield with a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: We're waiting for the start of a news conference in Alexandria, Virginia -- that's just outside of Washington, D.C. -- with the former U.S. Army scientist Steven Hatfill regarding his role in the anthrax investigation.

Joining us now from Washington, two special guests: Pat Lang, he's a former Middle East analyst with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency; and Skip Brandon, a former assistant director of the FBI for national security and counterterrorism.

Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION. Good to have you on the program. And as we await the start of this news conference, very briefly, Skip Brandon, tell our viewers in the United States and around the world why Steven Hatfill is viewed by the Attorney General John Ashcroft as a so-called person of interest in this anthrax letter investigation.

SKIP BRANDON, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF FBI FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM: Well, in the first place, I guess Dr. Hatfill has basically made himself a person of interest through his various public pronouncements. We'll have another one today.

But it does appear that the FBI thinks and the Department of Justice thinks that he had knowledge of how to produce anthrax. He may have had access to what goes into making anthrax.

They are conducting an investigation. I would say that he's certainly not the only one they're looking at.

BLITZER: Well, he is only one, Skip Brandon, whose name has really become public, whose investigations are publicized, search warrants being released, being issued to go into this apartment. Why aren't other names out there?

BRANDON: I guess none of us, at this point, know that answer. For whatever reason, right or wrong, the searches conducted of his premises did get publicity. That's a very serious question, the Department of Justice will have to answer how that happened. That's not normal procedure at all. But I do think, like I say, there are certainly other people they're looking at.

BLITZER: After the news conference, Pat Lang, we're going to have a lot of time to assess, to analyze what we've learned. But going into the news conference, what's your take on this investigation of the anthrax letters?

PAT LANG, FORMER MIDDLE EAST ANALYST, U.S. DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: Well, I can well understand how Dr. Hatfill is in the universe of people of interest to the Department of Justice and the FBI. But as you say, it's curious that we don't know more about other people who are equally a matter of concern.

And in particular, the continuous stories we keep hearing, about the fact that they keep looking for someone who is a source of domestic terrorism as the originator of these letters, all tends to play to the opinion on the part of the people of the United States there is something wrong with this investigation, and that it's dragging on too long, and that people just have taken positions that they may not be able to defend.

BLITZER: All right. Let's go to that news conference. Pat Clawson is a spokesman for Stephen Hatfill and a good friend. He's beginning to speak. Let's listen in.

PAT CLAWSON, FRIEND OF HATFILL: ... Hatfill, who is the Justice Department's so-called person of interest, whatever that is, in the anthrax investigation. Dr. Hatfill will be making a brief statement about what life has been like for him under this FBI investigation. He has quite a compelling message to tell the American people. I think you will all find it very interesting.

Taking questions immediately thereafter will be Victor Glasberg, his attorney, and we'll try to answer any and all questions that you have.

Over the last several weeks, Dr. Hatfill has been living a life of utter hell. It is important for the American people to realize that Dr. Hatfill has not been accused of any crime. He has not been named as a suspect by the Department of Justice. Instead, he is a so- called person of interest, whatever that means. He is going to tell you what that means from a firsthand viewpoint.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to introduce to you a great American patriot and my dear friend, Dr. Steve Hatfill.

Steve?

STEVEN HATFILL, FORMER ARMY SCIENTIST: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

Two weeks ago, I reluctantly appeared before the TV cameras to defend myself against the bizarre allegations that were appearing about me in the news media dealing with last year's anthrax attacks. These allegations were fueled by ongoing leaks from the Justice Department, and those leaks continue to this day.

Several days ago, the Justice Department representatives confirmed to the Associated Press that there was no evidence linking me to the anthrax attacks. Despite this lack of evidence, I am still hounded by the FBI, victimized in a never-ending torrent of leaks and general innuendo from the United States Attorney General John Ashcroft and unnamed others, all of which is then amplified and embellished by the media.

This assassination of my character appears to be part of a government-run effort to show the American people that it is proceeding vigorously and successfully with the anthrax investigation.

Today, I again appear before the TV cameras. I want to look my fellow Americans directly in the eye and declare to them, I am not the anthrax killer. I know nothing about the anthrax attacks. I had absolutely nothing to do with this terrible crime.

My life is being destroyed by arrogant government bureaucrats who are peddling groundless innuendo and half information about me to gullible reporters who, in turn, repeat this to the press under the guise of news.

I want to give you, the American people, an idea of what it is like to be named a person of interest by the attorney general of the United States. John Ashcroft has now twice publicly told the American people that I am a person of interest in last year's anthrax attacks. Most recently, several days ago at a news conference in Newark, New Jersey, the FBI says I am not a suspect, and then it does not use the term, "person of interest."

Mr. Ashcroft, however, continues to do this publicly, and I am here to complain about this and its consequences. My attorneys have filed an ethics complaint on Mr. Ashcroft's conduct, as well as that of others involved in this matter. And I will be very interested to learn how well the Justice Department will police itself.

Mr. Ashcroft has repeatedly testified to his strong Christian values, and I highly respect him for this. Unlike many others, I was delighted when he was selected for his appointment to this high public office.

In practice, however, by openly, repeatedly naming me as a person of interest, Mr. Ashcroft has not only violated Justice Department regulations and guidelines, which bind him as the nation's top law enforcement official, but in my view, he has broken the 9th commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness.

I have never met Mr. Ashcroft. I don't know him. I've never spoken with him. And I do not understand his personalized focus on me. My lawyers can find no legal definition for a person of interest.

I, however, have a working definition. A person of interest is someone who comes into being when the government is under intense political pressure to solve a crime but can't do so, either because of the crime is too difficult to solve or because the authorities are proceeding in what can mildly be called a wrong-headed manner.

It then becomes unnecessary for the FBI and other authorities to produce a warm body, but since there's no suspect and the authorities have nothing on which to base a prosecution, they pick a serviceable target. This should preferably be a person about whom mysterious questions can be raised, someone with an interesting or colorful background. Then they give him a prejudicial label, "person of interest." And they leak appropriate rumor and innuendo to the press.

Then they sit back and an watch uncharged and presumptively innocent person be picked apart by journalists looking for hot stories. It soon becomes inconsequential that the stories have no bearing on the crime at issue. What is useful is that the FBI can be seen to be on the job. The press is hot on the trail and the public is satisfied, as Mr. Ashcroft continues to say without any explanation that progress in anthrax letter attacks is being made.

God help us all if the FBI's pursuit of Mr. Ashcroft's person of interest -- me -- represents that progress.

I would like to tell you about how Mr. Ashcroft's progress has played out in my life and that of my loved ones. When you become a person of interest to the Justice Department, they will make small but carefully orchestrated leaks to the press designed to drive news reporters into a frenzy, in an effort to uncover every minuscule, tiny detail of your life. The press will do the majority of work for the FBI, uncovering every item of personal information, no matter how scandalous, ridiculous or insignificant to the crime at issue.

When the New York Times reported that I had access to a secret cabin in the woods, the FBI brought me in and questioned me about it. Then they interrogated my friend, a very prominent Washington, D.C., lawyer, who invites me to dinner occasionally at his modern three- bedroom home -- not a cabin -- in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Then they demand to search his house.

A photo of the house then becomes featured prominently on the pages of a Northern Virginia daily, under a headline that says, "Linked to Anthrax." Friends and neighbors of the lawyer then stop coming to visit him because they were afraid of catching anthrax or some other disease or simply did not want to be associated with the incident.

I helped bring into being a useful bio-defense training program for first responders, police and fire departments. Because of this label as a person of interest, reporters have -- some reporters have placed a malicious and absurd interpretation on this, and suggested it's not a blueprint for this, but it's a blueprint for the anthrax attacks.

Rising to the occasion, the FBI grilled me about this. Almost a quarter century ago, I lived in a city that had a suburb named Greendale. The FBI and some in media willingly linked this with a nonexistent Greendale school that appeared in the return address on four anthrax letters. ABC News even reported as a fact that I lived next door to that nonexistent school for four years, citing unidentified government gumshoes.

My entire life history has been laid out on the Internet by reporters and conspiracy nuts. My daughter, a policewoman in Detroit, with a child, even found her name and home address published, a reckless and dangerous act that invites retaliation from criminals, as every police officer will tell you.

Every misstatement, every minuscule wrong step, every wrinkle I've ever made in my life has become public, and I'm pillared for it. It is one thing to have your alleged faults and misdeeds publicly aired because you are seeking, as a candidate for a high office, but I am a private citizen, and one who has not sought the limelight.

Remember your own travail, Mr. Ashcroft, when elements of your past were dug up by persons opposed to your selection as attorney general? I could dwell on this at length, but my principles bar me from doing so here. In any event, Mr. Ashcroft, you asked for that. I did not. And I wonder how you would cope, being on the end of a media frenzy that I have been enduring this entire summer.

When you are labeled by the attorney general as a person of interest, presumptively responsible persons seem to lose all inhibitions in referring to you. When I first addressed the press, I pointed out my problems with Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a woman I do not know, I've never met, I've never spoken to her.

Another person I've never met or spoken to and don't know is Nicholas Kristoff of the New York Times. After transparently implicating me as Mr. Z, over a period of months he berated the FBI for not investigating me aggressively enough to suit him. He has never called me, checked his facts, asked for comment, contacted any of my representatives, anything, before he published.

Following my first press appearance, Mr. Kristoff once again wrote about me. Once again, his column was inaccurate. He said, for example, that I had failed three successive polygraph examinations since January. This is a total lie. I have not taken, let alone failed, three polygraphs on anthrax since January.

I had one polygraph session, which the FBI did administer to me in January, and I was told I passed and the examiner was satisfied that I had told the truth.

In any event, Mr. Kristoff never called me about this allegation, nor did he call my attorney, nor my friend Pat Clawson, who's been helping me with this news media hurricane.

Mr. Kristoff, why do you write such things? Why did you not at least check your facts or ask comment from me or my representatives? What have I done to injure you in this manner?

I have another question, too. Why do you permit yourself to be used as a vehicle to leak irreparably damaging information about me to the public? Such as, for example, your statement that I was under constant surveillance by the FBI. It's bad enough that that statement is true, and I lived with the consequences. But must it be gratuitously broadcast so that others might keep away from me from fear of contamination? Why is it necessary, right or fair, Mr. Kristoff, for you to write these things?

The answer, of course, is that I am a person of interest, as well as to Nicholas Kristoff and the attorney general, John Ashcroft.

We are today distributing copies of my lawyer's communications with the Times and Mr. Kristoff about these matters, and will agree to publish an op-ed reply from me to what they have published about me for months. So far they have not agreed to do this, but keeping silent.

When you are a person of interest, your home is subject to search based on statements in sealed affidavits which your lawyers are not permitted to see. The result is a search-and-seizure of your property, even as you stand with a hand of continuing cooperation extended to the FBI.

Armed with a secretly obtained government search warrant, FBI agents can enter your home with impunity and take virtually anything they want, including your car registration, your tax records, your car keys, the deeds to your house, if you have one, your apartment, rental agreements, cell phone, pagers, unused bank checks, checks made out to you but not yet cashed, clothing. They can keep these items for as long as they want, unless you go out and retain and pay a lawyer and you can convince a judge that you should get your property back.

It is definitely not good to be the girlfriend of a person of interest. My girlfriend was locked inside an FBI car and hauled off to FBI headquarters and interrogated for hours, without once being told she has the right to leave any time she wished. Her requests for a lawyer were delayed and made difficult. Her purse, although not on the search warrant, was taken from her and its contents examined after the interrogation process while she was being driven back to her residence.

She was screamed at by FBI agents and told that the FBI had firm evidence that I had killed five innocent people. This was told to her by FBI agent Jennifer Grant and FBI agent Pamela Lane. Can you imagine that?

The FBI trumpets that I am not a suspect, and the woman I love is told the FBI -- told by the FBI that I am a murderer.

This is the life of a person of interest, Mr. Ashcroft. But that's not all. My girlfriend was told that she better take a polygraph examination and cooperate, or else. Her home checkbooks, computers, private papers and car were seized. As for her home, it was completely trashed, as is appropriate for the home of a girlfriend of a person of interest.

Some of her delicate pottery was smashed. The glass on a $3,000 painting was broken. This painting was wrapped in bubble wrap, by the way. Neatly stacked boxes awaiting shipment to her new home were ripped open, instead of opened with due regard to their contents.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have pictures of how FBI left this apartment, her apartment, which, at the time of the raid, was neatly prepared for a move to Louisiana, with all her belongings packed in nicely stacked boxes. This is one of the pictures.

I refuse to allow my girlfriend -- to this treatment, as the girlfriend of a person of interest. She is not here today. I love you. I will not state her name here. And I ask the news media, please, for common decency, if you know it, please leave her alone. She will not make a statement.

Let me return to my life as a person of interest. I am openly followed by the FBI agents and in cars and on foot, 24 hours a day. Going down to store for a pack of gum yields a parade of FBI cars sometimes following me closely as two to four feet from my rear bumper. And the FBI leaks for use by cooperative journalists the fact I'm being tailed 24 hours seven days a week.

My closest, most personal friend was told by the FBI that they have firm evidence that I mailed the anthrax letters. He was asked by the FBI to confront me and have me confess this act to him in private. He tearfully asked me if the FBI's allegations were true. In complete violation of normal investigative procedures, the FBI have circulated only my photograph at a crime scene -- a photographic one-man lineup -- in an attempt to find someone to testify that they remember seeing me in the area almost a year ago.

As a person of interest, you cannot win. The fact that you love and work for your country will be turned against you by means of the ridiculous suggestion that your patriotism prompted you to murder five innocent persons so that a statement can be made regarding our lack of preparedness against a biological attack.

All this reminds me of Kafka's novel, "The Trial." Perhaps that story is the source of Mr. Kristoff's Mr. Z.

All the above is what it's like living as a person of interest designated by John Ashcroft, the attorney general, and I cannot do anything about it.

I haven't been charged with any crime. Again, the Justice Department has told the press that there is no evidence that I've committed a crime. I have to contend with a moving target of rumor, innuendo, fantasy, half-truths, and now the super-duper bionic bloodhounds that the FBI recently pulled out of a hat.

The Justice Department has repeatedly claimed it's making significant progress in the anthrax investigation. I sure hope so, because I want the anthrax mailer or mailers found and punished to the maximum extent our society will allow.

But what does any of this have to do with me? We know that four anthrax letters were mailed September 17, 18, and October 8 and 9, 2001. On these days, as indeed for many weeks after September 11, I and my colleagues at SAIC were working overtime in our McLean, Virginia, office on national defense issues. My time sheets from the company, which are being distributed here, show that on these days I worked respectively 14 hours, 13 1/2 hours, 13 hours, and 11 1/4 hours at the office.

Yes, I know, it's possible that time cards could have been altered. Well, I'll tell you SAIC goes to extreme lengths to ensure this process can't happen. In addition, the FBI long ago interviewed all of my colleagues at SAIC, and each confirmed that I was, like them, continuously hard at work in the office during this entire period.

All right then, I could have driven or surreptitiously somehow transported myself to Trenton or Princeton or wherever from the D.C. area, mailed the letters and returned unnoticed. With any luck, I would not have been caught speeding on the highway, and maybe I could have made the eight-hour round trip in enough time to return to work unnoticed and exhausted and continued with another 13-hour day.

I have little to say about the nonsense of this sort. If it pleases you to advance and research this theory, then please the more power to you. As for me, I was living and working in the D.C. area the entire time when the anthrax letters were mailed. Mr. Ashcroft knows this -- or he should know this, notwithstanding my status as a person of interest. He should know, in fact, that while the anthrax letters are mailed from New Jersey and the first anthrax incidents occurred in Florida, I did not set foot in either of these states in September or October of 2001. We know, by the way, that some of the 9/11 terrorists did.

The FBI's focus on me seems to have eclipsed the need for appropriate inquiry into elementary, scientific aspects of the anthrax investigation. It took the FBI seven months after the letter attacks before they turned to assistance to Bill Patrick, the top dry-powder biological warfare expert in our country. How sensible is that?

What inquiries have been made into who received the Ames strain of anthrax at any time prior to the fall of 2001? Until the mid '90s, regulation of the traffic in dangerous bacteriological pathogens was very poorly controlled and poorly documented -- in some cases, non- existently documented. Saddam Hussein received his weaponizable strains of anthrax from the United States, from the American-type culture collection formerly in Rockville, Maryland.

In the mid '90s, one Larry Wayne Harris, a self-proclaimed member of the Aryan Nation, made up a phony letterhead on which he requested some bubonic plague bacteria from the American-type culture collection. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the organism that causes the black death. As I recall, he received some of it by mail.

Largely as a result of this incident, policies and procedures governing the availability of forms of transmission of dangerous germs were strengthened. It is generally known that anthrax bacteria can live for decades in the soil or other hospitable environments. I don't think previous samples can be accounted for.

Again, we still have to learn if the powder in question in the anthrax letters was prepared by sophisticated methods known only to select scientists or by more crude methods using information readily available on the Internet.

Speaking of the Internet, the American people should know that the complete top-secret recipe for making smallpox into a sophisticated dry-powder biological weapon was recently posted by the U.S. government on the Internet by mistake for several weeks when a mistake at the U.S. Patent Office resulted in this material becoming open source. Thank God the document in question has finally been removed from the Internet, but not before anyone with an interest, foreign or domestic, would have had time to view it and download it.

To my way of thinking, the lack of proper scientific input into this investigation is best illustrated by the fact that I am the one who had to suggest to the FBI the blood tests that they could perform on me to help rule me out as a suspect in this terrible crime.

The test measures antibody levels, which would mark either my exposure to anthrax recently or a recent anthrax vaccination, not one that I've had two years ago.

At long last, the government has agreed to my proposal, and I'll shortly be providing blood samples as I originally suggested. I hereby openly request the FBI make public the full results of these forthcoming tests, their conclusions based on these tests, and the scientific basis for the tests and the conclusions.

I also proposed to give handwriting samples to the FBI so that they may draw conclusions regarding the likelihood that I wrote the anthrax letters.

Here, too, I openly request the results of this examination, including all work sheets and analyses, be made public when completed. I ask the media to please monitor these tests, and the press, for their release if the government is not forthcoming.

The one certain progress that the FBI has made in this investigation is its inability to find any evidence connecting me with the anthrax letter attacks. This is after an eight-month inquiry, and Lord knows how much taxpayer money has been poured into this effort to uncover my presumed guilt.

I believe that sensible persons involved in the anthrax investigation have concluded that I have nothing to do with the anthrax letter attacks. But they are in a rough place. If the FBI does not have me as a person of interest, then what does it have?

What it has is a stalled investigation, characterized by a lack of proper scientific investigation and expertise, its single-minded dedication to the use of so-called profilers. Remember, these are the folks that described the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, as a well-dressed manual laborer.

It has a lack of the most basic understanding of the relevant biology by many frontline and senior FBI investigators. It has an investigation that is characterized by the apparent avoidance any of any major avenue of inquiry, except the one decided upon by the attorney general.

Most importantly, it is driven by a compelling and overwhelming desire that the FBI look good at any cost, regardless of the price in individual freedom, due process, common decency and civil liberties.

I believe that I may actually get arrested when all this is said and done, and if it occurs, it will have nothing to do with anthrax. It will have everything to do with my being named the national person of interest.

This title will first have caused painstaking inquiry into my past, the peccadillos and all. Second, it will have given the authorities enormous incentive to justify their massive financial expenditure and the thousands of man-hours of effort arising out of their pursuit of me, and their heedless exposure to me and defamation as a murderer.

For these reasons, even as I stand before you proclaiming my innocence of this terrible crime, I believe I shall yet pay a price for having been named a person of interest. If Steve Hatfill isn't the anthrax killer, well, he spit on a government sidewalk or littered in front of a government building somewhere, something he shouldn't have done.

I should imagine that a great many Americans, including a host of our nation's political, social and intellectual leaders will be at serious risk of some sort of prosecution under these circumstances.

This is the fate of a person of interest. In the end, I will be put at risk for things that inherently lack interest, but because I have been falsely smeared as a person of interest. Remember, please, that you heard this from me first.

I fear what time will do, with the FBI's new powers under the 2001 Patriot Act. What will this country be like 10 or 20 years from now? Will it be like the America I love and would unhesitatingly risk my life to defend, or will it evolve into a suspicious society where uncharged persons of interest live in fear of damaging police and media intrusion?

I never thought I would live to recite the slogan of the American Civil Liberties Union, but I must tell you, after what I have been through, I wholeheartedly embrace its motto: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

My story is not all sad and negative. I have been buoyed beyond words by the support of my family, friends, past and current colleagues, and even strangers, who, since my first news conference, have warmly greeted me on the streets or in letters.

I thank my employer, Louisiana State University, for its incredible sensitivity in balancing its obvious institutional needs in light of my status as a person of interest with my own personal needs and circumstances. Thank you.

As poorly as my own government and much of the press have treated me, those persons who mean the most to me have stood by me unflinchingly. For that, ladies and gentlemen, I am eternally grateful.

Thank you.

BLITZER: So there we hear from Steven Hatfill directly. He's, as he repeatedly said, the FBI's so-called person of interest.

The attorney representing Steven Hatfill is now about to speak, Victor Glasberg. Let's listen to what he has to say.

VICTOR GLASBERG, HATFILL'S ATTORNEY: ... received a number of complaints that have been filed. I've lodged them with all the known entities and individuals who are supposed to take care of government overreaching of the sort that we feel has been going on. You have them before you, and you can ask questions about them.

I can characterize the complaints as coming down into three main categories.

The first is, if you will, the utilization of very prejudicial terminology which has led to exactly the result that Steve Hatfill has been discussing. He's a person of interest.

Let me suggest to you, ladies and gentlemen, he is a person of no interest. Look on your right and on your left. There's a person there. What do you care about that person? Well, if that person were a person of interest, you might care. I might care about that transcript that you submitted in school 20 years ago. And how about that nasty divorce you were in? And that dog that you kicked over there, I know about that. That juvenile offense? Watch out!

We don't care about that, because so long as people do the jobs they're supposed to do, more power to them, and we leave them alone.

But if you become named a person of interest, then everything is on the table. And everything has been put on the table for this gentleman. That has happened because of the terminology used. The terminology has no sanction in law, it has no meaning, except it is a basis to open up someone's entire life to the grossest type of invasion that is imaginable, and you've heard Steve Hatfill describe some of the consequences here.

The concerns that he is addressing are not new and are not unknown to the law. Let me take a moment of your time to give you a little bit of legal history.

One of the most important documents in the history of American law is a famous essay written by two lawyers in 1890, Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis. It's called "The Right of Privacy," and I want to read a little portion of it to you. You have to deal with the 19th century prose, but it'll resonate.

"Recent inventions and business methods call attention to the next step which must be taken for the protection of the person and for securing to the individual what Judge Cooley calls `the right to be let alone.' Instantaneous photographs and newspaper enterprise have invaded the sacred precinct of private and domestic life, and numerous mechanical devices threaten to make good the prediction that what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the housetops.

"The press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds of propriety and of decency. Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and the vicious, but has become a trade, which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery."

The article is thought of generally as being the first major articulation of the notion of a right of privacy in the United States, which right is recognized in most states in this country.

That is the right that has been denied Steve Hatfill because he has been officially designated by the chief law enforcement officer of the United States as "person of interest." That's the first complaint. The second complaint has to do with the leaks. The leaks are set forth in the complaints themselves. I won't review them with you here. I think you're aware of them. For all I know, they were made to you. They are intolerable, and they should not be permitted, and appropriate action should be taken.

With regard to the leaks, let me give you a little sidebar here. I was interested to read in yesterday's Post the expression of grave chagrin by Van Harp, the head of the FBI office here, who is currently in charge of the anthrax investigation.

As you can read in this article, Mr. Harp was soundly criticized in a report for -- by the report of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, claiming that he had engaged in substantial misconduct relative to the Ruby Ridge matter.

Well, it turns out that this report ended up getting leaked, and here is Mr. Harp. In a written statement, Harp said that leaks about his role in the Ruby Ridge inquiries violate all sense of propriety.

Well, I don't know if that's true. It may. But I'll tell you this: The investigation that Mr. Harp is conducting of Steve Hatfill has as many leaks as the Titanic going down. So he should take his own instruction...

BLITZER: Victor Glasberg, an attorney representing Steven Hatfill, saying he's going to file formal complaints with the U.S. Justice Department in connection with the investigation of his client Steven Hatfill, a former U.S. Army scientist. He's been described by the attorney general of the United States as a so-called person of interest in the investigation.

We just heard a lengthy, more-than-30-minute defense of Steven Hatfill by Steven Hatfill himself. The second time in two weeks he's now come forward and defended himself. He said, "I want to look the American people in the eye. I am not the anthrax killer." A strong condemnation of the tactics used by the FBI in this anthrax letter investigation, which resulted in the murder of five Americans.

We are going to continue to follow this news conference. We are also going to get analysis from two experts, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HATFILL: I want to look my fellow Americans directly in the eye and declare to them, I am not the anthrax killer. I know nothing about the anthrax attacks. I had absolutely nothing to do with this terrible crime.

My life is being destroyed by arrogant government bureaucrats who are peddling groundless innuendo and half information.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Former Army scientist Steven Hatfill speaking just moments ago in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C. He is denying any involvement in the anthrax letter attacks that killed five people.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our discussion now with the former U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Pat Lang and the former FBI deputy director for national security and counterterrorism Skip Brandon.

Mr. Brandon, very damning words about the FBI, the way its conducting this investigation, by Steven Hatfill. I want to give you a chance to defend the FBI agency you worked for for many years.

BRANDON: Well, he makes a lot of allegations, and they apparently filed complaints with the Department of Justice, and that's entirely appropriate if they feel like they have been wronged. Those will be looked at.

I come back to one thing that kind of bothers me. I can't see that it makes any sense at all for the FBI or the Department of Justice, as matter of policy or procedure, to leak information about an ongoing investigation. It doesn't make any sense for them to, as the doctor I think would have us believe, that someone just arbitrarily pick somebody and make him a fall guy, when in fact that is bound to fail if that's correct.

This goes back to like a Richard Jewell situation in Atlanta. It doesn't help anybody. It sure doesn't make the FBI or the Department of Justice look good. Makes no sense.

BLITZER: Well, somebody must have leaked the information to news media when they went in for that search of his apartment, the search warrant. The helicopter cameras were there. There was a hoard of news media technicians and journalists watching what was going on. It was entire spectacle. Obviously someone leaked that information.

BRANDON: Absolutely, somebody did. And it's absolutely wrong,a dn they need to find out who did that. Whether it came from the FBI, whether it came from a prosecutor, or whether it came from a local who was involved in it, we don't know. I might say you might have better idea about that than I do, as he's also thoroughly indicted the media.

They have to get to the bottom of this, because there have been certain serious procedural problems with this investigation, it appears.

BLITZER: Before I bring in Pat Lang, Mr. Brandon, what about this accusation that he is being made a scapegoat by the FBI, by the Justice Department, the attorney general, John Ashcroft, to convince the American public that there is progress in this anthrax investigation, and it's coming at his expense?

BRANDON: Well, I think that's exactly my point. I don't think that that makes any sense, because that's that is going blow up on you if you do something like that. It just doesn't make any sense at all. I might say that while he says he wants his privacy and anonymity, he keeps calling press conferences, maybe stretching his 15 minutes of fame into certainly into a good half-hour today.

BLITZER: Pat Lang, you know a lot about foreign governments, about the potential for bioterrorism, what's going on, what the capabilities are. You heard Steven Hatfill make the strong suggestion that 9/11 terrorists were in New Jersey and Florida before those letters were mailed -- during the time those letters were mailed. You also heard him suggest that a foreign government like Iraq obtained this kind of anthrax strain directly from the United States in the '80s when there was good relations -- relatively good relations between U.S. and Iraq.

What's your take on this investigation?

LANG: One of the things that has puzzled me about this whole matter, concerning Hatfill and the whole investigation, is the insistence by people, which apparently keeps getting leaked, that they think that this is a matter of domestic terrorism.

And that doesn't make lot of sense to me, and then I think it doesn't make any sense to anybody who really thinks about it. Because this strain of bacterium was widely dispersed, and there is no reason to think somebody, either in this country, acting for a foreign power or agency, or somebody overseas, could not have been instrumental in this. So I think the idea that it has to be somebody like Dr. Hatfill is ridiculous.

But I'd like to say something else about this whole matter, is that what we see unfolding before us here in case of Dr. Hatfill, I think a very bad thing, because it is, in fact, further damaging the reputation of the FBI and the Department of Justice in the eyes of the American people. And the trust of the American people is really necessary for the FBI, in order to do its work. And we need the FBI to be an effective agency.

And if this goes on much longer, I think the government should really come out in the open and deal with this forthrightly, because they are hurting the interests of the United States by not doing so.

BLITZER: Mr. Brandon, why is there such an apparent conviction on the part of the FBI that this was a domestic American terrorist behind the anthrax letter attacks, as opposed to a foreign source?

BRANDON: I don't know the answer to that. None of us know -- hopefully none of us know exactly what the FBI has in their investigation.

I tend to agree with what's just been stated, and I certainly hope the FBI hasn't closed the door to a foreign source. It strikes me that the logic and the reason for doing it could certainly come from a foreign source. I have confidence that they have not closed that door. I hope they haven't.

BLITZER: The letter itself, and I want to read the letter that was written to Senator Daschle, and we'll put it up on the screen, Pat Lang: "You cannot stop us. We have this anthrax. You die now. Are you afraid? Death to America. Death to Israel. Allah is great."

It does sound, at least maybe it's a domestic American terrorist, but it does sound like something coming from a foreign source, someone associated perhaps with the 9/11 attacks as opposed to a domestic American terrorist.

LANG: Well, that's right. You know, as somebody has said long ago, sometimes a cigar is really a cigar. And when you have a note that sounds and looks like it is the product of somebody who would be allied with our adversaries in this whole business of the Islamist terrorist campaign against United States, I don't see why it should be dismissed altogether, the idea that maybe that's really what it us.

And the idea that a profiler somewhere should look at this and look at a few words here and there and decide that it has to be an American, I think is patently absurd. I don't understand why they would take a position like that.

BLITZER: How important are these profilers, Skip Brandon? We've seen a lot of them on TV over these past few years, but you were in the inside of these investigations, enormously important investigations. Did you rely on what a profiler told you?

BRANDON: Well, you don't rely upon it, you use it to think about where your investigation may go. And at times, they have very, very valid observations. This is a fairly longstanding technique, not only in law enforcement but in the intelligence community.

But there is a critical difference, is that you don't simply rely upon somebody to tell you where you should go. You consider it as one of the things, one of the parts of your investigative track. BLITZER: The allegations that Mr. Hatfill made, Skip Brandon, about the way his girlfriend was treated by the FBI, they said he was murderer, that he killed five people, they trashed her apartment, they scared her, obviously, and some of his other friends. He released these pictures showing what the apartment looked like after the FBI went through with their search warrant.

Does this sound credible, as someone who used to be involved in these kind of FBI investigations?

BRANDON: Well, no, it does not sound credible. That's not how the FBI that I know behaves or acts, at all. I think we're going to have to wait and see what comes out of this investigation. It better not be credible, I'll put it that way.

BLITZER: Well, tell our viewers -- a lot of viewers, obviously, at least based on the e-mail that I'm receiving, believe Steve Hatfill, don't believe the FBI. They think the FBI to a certain degree has run amok in this investigation. And if Steven Hatfill is proven to have nothing to do with anthrax, there will be an enormous price the FBI's going to have to pay.

BRANDON: Yes, that's very unfortunate, and that's why I go back to my original premise. I don't think it makes any sense for the FBI or the Department of Justice to have leaked any part of this investigation. If so, they simply set themselves up.

The other thing I think's important to remember, although it's very difficult for them to do so, we are hearing one side of this whole thing right now. That's all we're hearing.

BLITZER: Let me bring back Pat Lang. One of the points that Stephen Hatfill also made -- and you're an authority on this, you know something about polygraphs given your former line of work in the Defense Intelligence Agency. He says he was asked to take one polygraph, he passed that polygraph. And should that be an open-and- shut case as a result of that?

LANG: Well, polygraphs are just another investigative tool, you know. It depends very much on the skill of the polygraph examiner and the way in which he puts together his questions, the amount of time he spends with the subject. You have to understand the subject of the polygraph examination well before you can really interpret his answers. And since I don't know anything about that examination, I can't really comment on it.

But I would say that about the general behavior of the Bureau in this matter, the FBI that is, it is -- I've never served in the FBI, but it is characteristic of large, bureaucratic organizations, some of which I did serve in, that under pressure they begin to behave in ways that they would not normally behave. And certainly the FBI is under a lot of pressure in this matter.

BLITZER: All right, Pat Lang, unfortunately we have to leave it there. Skip Brandon, thanks to you for joining as well.

This anthrax investigation and our coverage, of course, is only just beginning.

Thanks to both of you very much.

It's time to say goodbye to our international viewers. Thanks very much for watching.

Coming up for our North American audience, the next hour of LATE EDITION. We're continue this conversation. We'll also talk about terror on tape. And then we'll make a shift. We'll talk about corporate corruption in the United States. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're waiting for an FBI news conference in Oregon City, Oregon, on the case of those two missing girls. We'll go to that news conference live once it begins.

We'll also talk about CNN's exclusive look at the al Qaeda terrorist organization in just a few moments, but first let's go to CNN's Fredricka Whitfield for a news alert.

(NEWSBREAK) BLITZER: All week long, CNN has been giving our viewers in the United States and around the world an exclusive look inside the al Qaeda terrorist network. CNN obtained 64 videotapes from a source in Afghanistan.

For special insight into what these tapes tell us about al Qaeda, we turn to three guests: Here in at Atlanta, my colleague Nic Robertson, CNN senior international correspondent. He's the man who obtained these important tapes. In Washington, Robin Wright of the Los Angeles Times, and she's also the author, by the way, of the very important book "Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam." Also in Washington, the CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, he's the author of the best seller "Holy War Incorporated: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden".

Thanks to all of you for joining us. Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Robin, let me begin with you. You've had a chance to take a look at these videotapes, to learn from them, as all of us had. Give us your overall impression, what you learned from seeing them this week.

ROBIN WRIGHT, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, I found them both horrifying and riveting. I think we saw, even for those of us who've spent a lot of time either in Afghanistan or studying Afghanistan, a lot of very important detail, particularly when it comes to weapons of mass destruction and how Osama bin Laden had been working, testing various chemical and biological weapons.

And I think also, I was riveted by the fact that he taped his interviews that others were doing with him. This is a man whose ego echoes throughout the tapes and, in many ways, gives us a hint at his status today, whether he's alive or dead.

BLITZER: Peter, as far as that notion of whether he's alive or dead, talk to me, tell our viewers, if in fact he's still alive, if he's hiding in some sort of cave somewhere along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, can he still organize significant terror attacks against U.S. interests?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think to some degree the tapes demonstrate that the horse is out of the barn. I mean, a lot of people have got those training, a lot of people have looked at the tapes. So they can go and do operations themselves without bin Laden needing them to tell them how to do things.

However, I do think the fall of the Taliban and the fact that Afghanistan is now, you know, under the Karzai government, there are no longer training camps, al Qaeda's sort of a nonreplenishable resource, in the sense that the training camps turn people with a generalized dislike of the West and the United States into effective terrorists in some cases. The fact that those...

BLITZER: All right. Peter and company, please stand by for a few moments. There's a news conference in Oregon City, Oregon, on those two missing girls. I want to go to the FBI spokeswoman who's now talking.

BETH ANNE STEELE, FBI SPOKESPERSON: ... located at 2507 South Beaver Creek Road. The investigators started at about 8:30 this morning. There are 40 or so folks on the property today, working the scene -- Oregon City police department's investigators, the FBI's evidence response team, the Oregon state police crime lab personnel, and Clackamas County authorities, including the crime reconstruction and forensic team.

Those folks are using the program called Total Station that reconstructs the crime scene. They are crime-scene-reconstruction experts, so they are very helpful to us.

In addition, the FBI has flown in an expert who will be using cutting-edge technology to image the property. This property-imaging process will help us to look for anything that may be buried below ground.

The search will continue throughout the day. I don't know if it will conclude today or not. If it is not finished, they will again search tomorrow.

I can take a few questions.

QUESTION: Do you have a search warrant?

QUESTION: Has Ward Weaver ever confessed to the crime?

STEELE: Mr. Weaver has not made any such statements to the investigators.

As far as a search warrant, we do have -- we simultaneously obtained a court-authorized search warrant and a signed consent from Mr. Weaver.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) right now that the remains that are found are definitely those of the missing Oregon City girls, what's the response?

STEELE: I can tell you that the autopsy on the said remains that was recovered yesterday began at 8:00 a.m. this morning, and we're awaiting word. Obviously, there is important information out there that is crucial to the families and also to the investigators, and we hope to have it as soon as possible, but we don't know when that will be.

QUESTION: Are you saying that the news reports surfacing are erroneous that Ward Weaver confessed?

STEELE: I can tell you he's made no such statements to investigators.

QUESTION: So why did you take so long to start this search, ma'am?

STEELE: I can tell you that it's not a matter of taking a long time. It was a matter of the investigators, day to day, making progress on the investigation. They use every legal means at their disposal, each and every day, every legal investigative technique, every legal method that they could use. And that is what has brought us to this point.

QUESTION: Will Ward Weaver be charged with anything, as of yet?

STEELE: At this point, no one has been charged. It is likely that the process of investigating the scene will conclude before that charging takes place. You know, certainly if someone is charged, we'll let you know.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) have expressed criticism of the FBI taking so long in this case. Are you saying it would have been impossible to get a search warrant for this property, (OFF-MIKE)?

STEELE: I am telling you that the investigators used every legal means at their disposal, and that they were on the property as soon as they could be.

QUESTION: Has Ward Weaver said that he wanted to bring closure into the Gaddis and Pond families?

STEELE: Mr. Weaver has made no such statements to investigators.

QUESTION: Have you found any remains underneath the concrete slab yet?

STEELE: Certainly it's no secret that we are looking under the concrete slab. The investigators are sifting through what debris is there. They have removed the concrete, and they're looking through the material that is beneath that. As far as the rest of the property, they are going over it inch by inch to make sure that they get any and all evidence that may be there.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) gone over this area and not detected the remains of the body in the shed that was at the back of the property?

STEELE: The search dogs were allowed some months ago. And, you know, I don't have an exact answer for you. That's something that we're looking at. But it was certainly months ago, and there's no evidence necessarily that the body was here at that point.

QUESTION: Has the slab been removed?

STEELE: Yes, it has been.

QUESTION: Other searchers were (OFF-MIKE) to the cement area. Why wasn't that acted on earlier?

STEELE: The investigators were using every legal means to get on the property that they had at their disposal, and they got on as soon as they could.

QUESTION: Apparently there are two reports right now between the Portland Tribune and the Oregonian, and they're conflicting in the reports that they give. How do you speak to that, to those conflicting reports about what was found, who was found?

STEELE: I can tell you that the conflicting reports are conflicting. And at this point, I can't confirm or deny parts of them, but I can tell you that hopefully we'll have some answers in the near future.

One more question.

QUESTION: How long has the body been in the shed?

STEELE: That's something that the medical examiner will try to determine, if that's possible, and then we'll go from there.

Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Beth Anne Steele, Beth Anne Steele a spokeswoman for the FBI, telling reporters in Oregon City, Oregon, that the autopsy in connection with this body that was found has not yet been determined who, in fact, is the body.

As you know, two young girls, 13-year-old girls, Ashley Pond, Miranda Gaddis, have been missing. There is some suspicion now that perhaps one of those bodies that -- a body that has been found at this home of Ward Weaver in Oregon City, Oregon, may in fact be that one of those girls, but there's no evidence.

There's a concrete slab that's been put up in the backyard there as well. They've got a search warrant. They're looking at that as well.

CNN's James Hattori has been covering this sad investigation. He's joining us now live for some perspective. This is a complicated case, James, but give us -- give your sense what's going on right now?

JAMES HATTORI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, can you hear me, Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, James, go ahead, give us your sense what's going on.

HATTORI: Well, as you probably just heard, the FBI saying that they are continuing the search today, they are looking at that concrete slab that is located in the back half of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) slab, and at this point have not found anymore than the one set of remains that was discovered yesterday.

Autopsy has been done on that this morning, and they obviously are rushing to confirm the identity of it. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) some information to the families of the two missing girls here. There are some 30 agents here. They're using some special sounding equipment, high-tech sounding equipment to see if, in fact, there is anything buried underneath the property. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) beyond just that concrete slab that we've been talking about so much.

The FBI spokesperson here deflecting criticism from some people in the community that this is taking so long, saying that they have used every legal means to get onto this property, and it's only now that they have been able to search it.

BLITZER: James Hattori. He's on the scene for us in Oregon City, Oregon. He is going to be standing by and continuing to monitor, to cover this story. When additional information, of course, becomes available, especially the result of that autopsy on those remains that were discovered at this home, we will, of course, bring that to you, to our viewers, right away.

But now I want to get back to the discussion we're having on Terror on Tape, the videotapes that were found by CNN's Nic Robertson in Afghanistan. Nic Robertson is joining us now.

When you take a look, Nic, at the global reach of al Qaeda -- these videotapes didn't just show Muslims from the Middle East, but from Africa, from Asia, Malaysia, the Philippines -- it shows an enormous capability that still is very much out there.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And a lot from Africa -- Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Chad, Libya, Algeria. And again, in Asia as well, in Burma. Also to the north of Afghanistan -- Uzbekistan, Tajikistan.

It absolutely shows that, although al Qaeda was one organization and it had made its base Afghanistan, perhaps these other organizations that al Qaeda was associated with represent an even greater threat. Perhaps al Qaeda has spread their knowledge out to these organizations.

But these organizations are indigenous to their own countries, and that's important for guerrilla outfits, because there will likely in their countries be some sympathy. And for that reason, they can stay better hidden.

BLITZER: OK. And, Robin Wright, before I let you go, this whole notion of the next terror attack against the United States could be small, could be medium, it anyone's guess. And the U.S. intelligence community is still stymied. They can't say for sure what's going to happen.

WRIGHT: Obviously I don't think anyone has any prediction. The real question is, has this group of people trained in Afghanistan, found on these tapes, been able to regenerate and mutate and create their own cells and get out there?

So it's not just the threat from the people who are involved in 9/11, but it's also the people they may be able to bring on board to attack the United States down the road.

BLITZER: Robin Wright of the Los Angeles Times, Peter Bergen, our CNN terrorism expert, and Nic Robertson, thanks to all three of you joining us. Unfortunately we had an abbreviated discussion because of all breaking news the last hour and this hour.

We'll continue this discussion, though, tonight, a CNN special report, "Terror On Tape." I'll host that program, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Nic Robertson will be joining us, Peter Bergen will be joining us, among others, Mike Boettcher. A whole panel of experts will be assessing what we learned this past week from the "Terror on Tape" series that we've had here on CNN.

When we come back, we'll shift gears. We'll talk about corporate corruption, Enron, Martha Stewart, what's going on. Two members of Congress who are investigating will join us, Peter Deutsch, Chris Cox. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

The first former Enron executive to face criminal charges pled guilty this past week to money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Michael Kopper has also agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department and pay $12 million restitution.

Joining us now are two key members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the Enron collapse. In Springfield, Massachusetts, the Democratic Congressman Peter Deutsch of Florida, and in Los Angeles, the Republican Congressman Christopher Cox of California.

Welcome, Congressmen, to LATE EDITION.

And, Congressman Cox, let me begin with you, talk about this Michael Kopper decision to plead guilty.

Larry Thompson, the deputy attorney general, said this is an important break in this case. Listen to what the deputy attorney general said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY THOMPSON, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: This plea marks a significant milestone in the Enron investigation. We have secured the cooperation of an important witness. At the same time, today's plea allows us to collect an additional $12 million which will go toward the relief of defrauded investors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Congressman Cox, how important is this plea?

REP. CHRISTOPHER COX (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, as part of the plea, Mr. Kopper has admitted to paying kickbacks to the CFO of Enron, and of course this leads us further down that trail. Kopper himself ran Enron global finance, and he's is a very big fish indeed.

BLITZER: And, Congressman Deutsch, I want you to listen to what Kopper's attorney said after this plea agreement was announced, after it was reached. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael has also agreed to pay millions of dollars to a restitution fund for victims of Enron. And he has promised to cooperate with the Department of Justice and the SEC in their continuing investigations. Michael hopes that these actions demonstrate his deep regret for his own conduct.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Peter Deutsch, it also suggests that the Justice Department is going after bigger executives at Enron, including the former chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow, and the chairman himself, Ken Lay, doesn't it?

REP. PETER DEUTSCH (D), FLORIDA: Absolutely, Wolf, and I think that the Justice Department is doing their job, but unfortunately, I think right now Congress is not doing our job.

Enron happened several months ago, and I, as well as others, proposed legislation to prevent the disaster and the tragedy that happened to so many Enron employers where literally all of their 401(k)s were wiped out through really some probably illegal but clearly immoral and totally unethical behavior: the changing of the administrator so that you couldn't even sell the Enron stock if you wanted to as a Enron employee while the management was selling literally a billion dollars in stock during that period of time.

Congress, at this point, the House has done nothing about that. And in fact, our own committee, where there's a huge area to investigate regarding the energy, basically, scam that occurred in California, Mr. Cox's state, we have yet to hold a hearing on that issue at all.

BLITZER: What what about that, Congressman Cox?

COX: Well, there's no question that pension reform is part of this package. Another committee on which I serve, although Mr. Deutsch does not, the Financial Services Committee, has in fact proposed such legislation. We're hoping that the Senate will go along with this. The president strongly supports it.

Because I agree with my colleague, this is also a very important area for reform. And I think that the Enron and Global Crossing and other disasters, WorldCom, of late have amply illustrated the need for reform in this area. There is an opportunity for us to protect shareholders.

We just passed a big, sturdy new law addressing itself to the central problems in these cases. And as you saw, when President Bush signed it just about a month ago, it was a good day for the markets. The markets have gone up slightly since then and certainly stabilized, and the vote in Congress was nearly unanimous.

DEUTSCH: Right, and if I could add to that, though, and Chris and Wolf and, I think, all of your viewers well know this as well. I mean the president and the Republicans literally came kicking and screaming to that bill. Up until almost the day that the bill passed, the president continued to raise objections to the legislation. I think that's one of the systemic problems that we have dealing with corporate responsibility in America right now. I mean, it's amazing, if you think about it. Basically a year ago, the biggest issue facing the Congress was what to do with the surplus. Now we're talking about a multi-hundreds-of-billions-of-dollar deficit, which really had nothing or very little to do with 9/11.

And, you know, my Republican colleagues unfortunately, are literally coming kicking and screaming even on this issue as well.

BLITZER: All right, is that -- I want to let Congressman Cox respond to those serious allegations.

COX: Well, I think the facts are completely opposite, at least in the House of Representatives, which, as you know, has a majority Republican membership. We passed our corporate responsibility bill last year, and we waited for the Senate to come along.

I was a conferee with the Senate on that bill, and I'm very, very pleased that the stronger, in many cases, House provisions were included. There were some better Senate provisions, some better House provisions, and both sides agreed to that. And that's why it was a unanimous vote in the end.

DEUTSCH: Chris, you well know, and I think people can look at the facts, that the House bill had nothing in it. It was almost -- it was partisan vote because very few Democrats supported the initial bill out of the House because it really was a sham bill. I mean, eventually we passed the Senate bill, and the Senate really took great action -- Senator Sarbanes, on this bill.

And, as I said, the facts are, the president, up until the day -- almost the exact day the bill came back in front of the Senate, he was still issuing objections to the legislation.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to have to stop this for a brief moment. We have to take a quick commercial break.

But we have a lot more to talk with Congressman Cox and Congressman Deutsch about, including the lessons that they've learned from the entire Martha Stewart matter and her sale of ImClone stock.

LATE EDITION will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

The Pennsylvania Congressman Jim Greenwood, the chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee, spoke earlier this week about the investigation into Martha Stewart's sale of ImClone stock just one day before the stock nose-dived.

We're continuing that conversation now with two leading members of that House Energy and Commerce Committee, Florida Democrat Peter Deutsch and California Republican Christopher Cox. When I spoke earlier in the week with Congressman Greenwood, the chairman of that subcommittee, Congressman Cox, he was still open to the possibility of forcing Martha Stewart to come before his panel. Do you think that would be a good idea, if she's still resisting?

COX: Well, I think what Chairman Greenwood has in mind is a thorough examination of the documents that have been turned over to the subcommittee investigators, because the subcommittee investigators are trying to validate Ms. Stewart's explanation of events in those documents. If that's not possible, then I think she will be called to testify.

BLITZER: She handed over, through her attorneys, Congressman Deutsch, about a thousand documents. She met the deadline. Would it be simply grandstanding to force her to come before the panel and cite her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, or do you think that is necessary?

DEUTSCH: Well, I tell you, by evidence that has been presented, it does look like there was insider trading, and you know, her comments are in conflict with each other.

But I will tell you that the resources -- and I'm the ranking member of that subcommittee where Chairman Greenwood is the chairman -- I think it's really -- you know, we have not had a hearing on the California energy crisis at all. Our job, you know -- we're not that good at being prosecutors. We have wonderful staff, both Democrat and Republican. But you know what, that's not our job. You know, we do very good at looking at systemic problems in industries.

Now whereas I mentioned, we haven't done anything about, you know, literally tens of thousands of people whose lives were destroyed by things like Enron, by Qwest, by other things, where we haven't done anything yet. And Congress is about to adjourn in a couple weeks.

BLITZER: So basically you're complaining about Chairman Greenwood's focus on this Martha Stewart ImClone investigation at the expense of other issues.

What about that, Congressman, what about that...

DEUTSCH: What about Halliburton? What about Enron, in terms of Secretary White?

BLITZER: All right, well, let me ask Congressman Cox to make the case for Chairman Greenwood if he wants to.

COX: Well, there is one reason that this is not a single shareholder perhaps guilty of insider trading, and that is the apparent relationship, the friendship between Ms. Stewart and the CEO of the company. And thus, this implicates systemic problems at ImClone itself.

I don't think -- and I would certainly agree if anyone objected -- I don't think that an investigation of this type should come at the expense of the other responsibilities of either the Energy and Commerce Committee or the Financial Services Committee.

But remember, this is an investigative subcommittee. This is the one of several subcommittees. And we have an energy subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee in which I serve, that has had numerous and continues to hold numerous investigations and hearings into the energy crisis in California, looking into the connection between Enron and our California crisis. For example, the consequence of Governor Davis taking more money from Enron, $120,000, than any governor or congressman or representative in America.

BLITZER: All right. Congressman Deutsch, let's get back to Martha Stewart for a moment. There is huge interest in this story. Is she being singled out for this investigation because she is a celebrity?

DEUTSCH: Again, I think what's queer is we have a job to investigate, and in fact, my colleague points out very accurately that that is our role and that is our historic role in the Energy and Commerce Committee. In fact, it's the oldest committee in the United States Congress, and I think the members take it very seriously in that regard.

And we take the trails where they lead us. But the case right now, is we have 13 companies, including Enron, including Quest, that we have requested information from. And the resources of the committee are overwhelmingly right now being focused on one individual, which really, by all appearances, seems to be an insider- trading case. And if anything, maybe even a, you know, an issue of an obstruction-of-justice case because of misinformation that she testified or gave information about.

But that is not -- we can't prosecute. We can't indict. That's not our job. What we are good at is finding issues. And as I've said, there's plenty of issues in a lot of these companies, including the one that the vice president of the United States was chairman of, where he signed something which, in hindsight, seems totally incredulous that he could have signed, that they had no information about the asbestos.

BLITZER: Congressman Cox, are these cases that Congressman Deutsch is now mentioning -- the Enrons, the WorldComs, all these other big companies that have had these huge accounting scandals, if you will, if not more corporate fraud and corruption -- isolated cases, or just the tip of the iceberg, based on what you know?

COX: Well, I think, based on what I've seen in the Financial Services Committee, which in this Congress has inherited the jurisdiction from Energy and Commerce for securities matters, this is indeed a systemic problem. We've had testimony to that effect from the Securities and Exchange Commission, from the chairman of the Federal Reserve, from many others.

That is why Congress' approach to this is not simply to look to the executive branch to prosecute the individual offenses, but rather to pass sweeping new legislation which is now taking effect, that affects the entire economy of the United States. We have now had the first certifications by CEOs of public companies throughout America of the financial results. We have now had the deadline passed for restatements of earnings by all companies in the United States. These are systemic problems, and they need systemic solutions.

BLITZER: Congressman Cox and Congressman Deutsch, we have to leave it right there. Thanks to both of us for joining us. I'm sure we'll be hearing much more from both of you in the weeks to come.

I'll be back later this hour with more, but up next, LATE EDITION's Final Round. Our panel back in Washington, along with CNN's Kate Snow, they're ready to debate the big stories of the week. The Final Round, right after this short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KATE SNOW, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, I'm congressional correspondent Kate Snow up in Washington. Wolf will be back in just a bit, but first we have the Final Round.

Joining me, syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux, Peter Beinart of the New Republic, Rich Lowry of the National Review, and Robert George of the New York Post.

While he insists all options are on the table regarding Iraq, President Bush in recent days has been trying to temper the talk of war, but there's no shortage of advice for the administration. Earlier today, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrat Bob Graham, cautioned against a go-it-alone approach.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: By going to the United Nations, making the request, even if it results in Iraq stonewalling a U.N. proposal for intrusive inspections, it that would move us into the moral high ground in appealing to our allies for their collaboration and gaining the support of the world for whatever form of action we end up taking against Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Robert, what about that? Is Senator Graham right? Should the U.S., before taking some kind of unilateral action, go to the United Nations, take it there first before any military action?

ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: Yes. Actually, I think he's got it basically right, because I think one of the inconsistencies we've had in this whole debate is the administration has said that one of the reasons to go against Iraq is that he's violated U.N. mandates over the last 10 years since the Gulf War.

But at the same time, the U.N., if not as an official body, at least its member nations, none of them have been supportive of the United States actions going unilaterally.

So if we go to the U.N., make the case, make the case there, then that forces the U.N. basically to live up to its own mandates.

SNOW: But do you hold out that option, does the U.S. hold out the option of then still being able to go ahead on its own?

PETER BEINART, NEW REPUBLIC: Yes, I think that would be concern. I don't know what's going on here, but I'm actually to Robert's right on this.

(LAUGHTER)

I think -- you know, the danger is that I think you probably don't get a clear-cut solution at the U.N. where you can show that Saddam is stonewalling. What happened is, he drags you in to a long process where you do send some weapons inspectors in, they go around for a little while, he starts stonewalling, you basically lose time, you lose moral clarity. I think that's why it might be a bad idea.

JULIANNE MALVEAUX, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: But, you know, I very rarely agree with Robert George here, but I think he's absolutely right. Oh, my goodness.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, the thing is this, Peter. I think that you put a date certain on it. I think that the problem that the United States has is that it's been perceived as winging it alone and that, in the current climate, where we really didn't asked the world to rally around us after September 11th, we've got to do the same thing in this situation.

And I think that when we do the same thing, we will get more support. We won't get unilateral support, but we'll get more. And it basically shores up our position if that's what we're going to do.

RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, if having Saddam violate U.N. resolutions is what gives us the moral high ground, we already have it. He's been doing it for a decade.

Now, this is an idea that I think is reasonable and should be argued about, and James Baker floated it today in the New York Times. Certainly more reasonable than the Brent Scowcroft proposal, which is that we wait until Saddam definitely has a nuclear weapon and then go after him, which makes no sense at all.

But Peter's right, the problem is inspections themselves are not that useful a tool. And the other problem is, we'll basically be in the same spot in this debate the next time Saddam plays a cat-and- mouse game with inspectors.

The idea that France is suddenly going to be very enthusiastic about a U.S. invasion when Saddam engages in some mercy game with inspectors is other-worldly.

GEORGE: Well, you know, I think it's a good idea just in the context of the Bush administration gaining broader worldwide consensus on that. (CROSSTALK)

BEINART: I mean, I think the fundamental reality is we're basically going to have to do this largely on our own.

MALVEAUX: No, it's about a process, though, and we have to honor the U.N. process, I believe, if we want to tell other people to be world citizens.

LOWRY: Well, why doesn't...

SNOW: Hold on, I want to move on to one other problem before we have to go to commercial. Something we haven't seen very much of in this country since September 11th, demonstrations against President Bush this week. Police in riot gear called in after about a thousand protesters showed up outside a Republican fundraiser the president attended in Portland, Oregon. They were protesting his environmental and his economic policies.

Meanwhile a new CNN-USA Today Gallup Poll shows the president's job approval rating, while it's still very high, has dropped from the 70's now down to about 65 percent.

Julianne, is the post-September 11th feel-good rally around the commander in chief, is that dying away?

MALVEAUX: I don't know if that's dying away, but I know there has always been an underbelly of people who have had questions about this president's policies. You wouldn't see it here in Washington, D.C., or on the Eastern seaboard where most of the terrorism took place. You will see it the further out you go.

And certainly on the West Coast, you know, and in Portland and Eugene, Oregon, which are Berkeley West, you will see people, you know, really rising to the occasion.

And I think it's important to note there is this underbelly, and it's growing. People are very disturbed about this president.

GEORGE: Actually, geographically, it's Berkeley North, but...

(LAUGHTER)

No, the thing is Oregon was a Gore -- one of the blue states, so there's questions on Bush's policies, I think, from day one. And it's a year since 9/11 and the glow has faded.

SNOW: Well, so, Peter, though, is it more about Oregon and folks out there having different ideas than it is about some kind of a big trend nationwide?

BEINART: Well, I wouldn't read too much into these protests, but I do think that what you've seen basically is a shift from terrorism as the overwhelming issue to the economy as the overwhelming issue. And Bush is just clearly more vulnerable on that, and that's why he's no longer as dominate a political figure as he was earlier in the year. Iraq may shift that back, but for the time being he's not.

LOWRY: Well, he's definitely settled down from the post-9/11 glow, but it's at a higher plateau (UNINTELLIGIBLE) accounted for the lack of momentum on the part of the administration is a total lack of aggressiveness on the domestic front. There's been total drift.

And this is what I actually think was an encouraging sign from this week, because one of the reasons there are so many protesters there is that Bush is on the offense when it comes to forest policy, and he wants to inject a little dose of rationality into our timber policy, and that drives the left nuts.

MALVEAUX: Rationality? There is no rationality here. The fact is that you've got people who have been dissed on the economy, dissed on the environment, and they're coming outside to say something about it.

LOWRY: You have all the West burning down.

(LAUGHTER)

SNOW: We have to take a quick break, but when we come back, the Reverend Al Sharpton mulls a 2004 presidential run. Will the Democrats embrace him? The Final Round will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SNOW: Welcome back to the Final Round.

A number of Democrats are considering a run for the White House in 2004, among them the Reverend Al Sharpton. Earlier today he expressed concern about the party veering away from its roots.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REVEREND AL SHARPTON: There are a solid group of Americans that believe that there needs to be a new direction in the Democratic Party. In the last decade, basically led by the Democratic Leadership Council, the party has moved, in my judgment, too far away from the basic principles that a lot of its constituency had historically depended on it for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Peter, Al Sharpton as a power player in the Democratic Party, do you think it could work, or does he have too much baggage?

BEINART: It's possible, because there is a vacuum. There's no white national Democrat who has the connection to the African-American community that Bill Clinton did. And with the fading of Jesse Jackson, there's no dominant black national Democrat.

And that gives Al Sharpton, as much as I wish it weren't the case, an opening. Unless the Democrats elect some state-wide African- Americans this fall, like Ron Kirk and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SNOW: Julianne, though, he does have a lot of baggage, wouldn't you say?

MALVEAUX: He has baggage, but let me tell you something. Right now, 2004 looks dead in the water for Democrats. Al Sharpton energizes people.

He was at the State of the Black World Congress in December of 2001, I was there, and it was amazing how he touched people. People acknowledge his baggage, but they were very, very excited about the energy he brings to the table.

If he does nothing else, he'll force Democrats to deal with the issues, which, some would argue, Jesse Jackson did in 1984 and 1988.

LOWRY: I think to be really effective, Sharpton has to have the Democrats nationally be aware of and be afraid of what happened in the New York mayoral election last year, which is Al Sharpton and other minorities felt they got dissed and they basically blew up the Democratic candidate.

Now, I don't know whether Sharpton has enough pull to make that threat credible at the national level, but if he does he could tweak the Democratic Party to the left, which I think hurts the Democrats and helps the Republicans.

GEORGE: Yes, and it's interesting, obviously, being up in New York and being a regular Sharpton watcher, we keep an eye on this.

And what I think is interesting is that the person who I think has the biggest thing to fear from Al Sharpton is Al Gore. Because Sharpton, in private conversation, has said that he feels that Gore in a sense did not push, in a sense, the race card enough in Florida, in terms of talking about disenfranchisement of black voters.

And Sharpton is going to make that a point, and he's going to say whether Gore can really be trusted to advance black issues. And so, in that sense, I think he indeed can become a power broker.

SNOW: You might say next year's Congress is going to be a little bit more boring, perhaps, without some of its more controversial members. This past Tuesday, Republican Bob Barr, an early and constant critic of former President Clinton, of course, and Democrat Cynthia McKinney in Georgia, who suggested that President Bush might have known about the September 11 attacks in advance, they both lost their respective primaries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

REP. BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA: We've accomplished as a team more than many other members, probably most other members of Congress in the Senate.

REP. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY (D), GEORGIA: It looks like the Republicans wanted to beat me more than the Democrats wanted to keep me.

(END VIDEO CLIPS) SNOW: Julianne, is this a sign that voters are sick of confrontational politics?

MALVEAUX: No, I think in the Cynthia McKinney case, it's a sign that voters are swayed by a whole lot of outside money coming into a district. There was money, most of Denise Magette's (ph) money came from outside Atlanta. There was a lot of Jewish money in that race. They were upset about what Cynthia McKinney said about George W. Bush. But I think, at the end of the day, the voters do prevail, and this is a clear case for more voter education.

GEORGE: Do they usually check the religion of money? I'm not sure about that.

MALVEAUX: Well...

GEORGE: No, I mean, the fact is, she had made the comments about Bush, she had made a lot of other comments that I think were just completely and totally embarrassing.

Yes, did Magette (ph) get a lot of money from outside? Yes, certainly. But the fact is, if McKinney is going to make outrageous statements, she's going to become a national fire brand, which she was, and she's going to attract national money against her.

LOWRY: This is, I think, a case of good riddance all around. When it comes to Bob Barr, he was a black-helicopter civil libertarian who opposed even common-sense security measures. He was the kind of Republican, when Bill Clinton proposed an anti-terrorism bill in the wake of Oklahoma City, said, "I trust Hamas more than I do my own federal government." So I'm glad he's gone.

As far as Cynthia McKinney is concerned, she represents, I think, we should all hope, the past in black politics, this kind of a paranoid, confrontational, irrational, civil-rights model. And the future should be Ron Kirk and folks like Harold Ford.

MALVEAUX: The civil-rights model is paranoid? I think, Rich, that's a big overstatement.

LOWRY: Her model of it was paranoid.

BEINART: The lesson here, I think, and of the Alabama race is that African-American voters, like other voters, want congressmen who are going to deliver, not who are just going to scream from talk shows.

SNOW: Is it more than just African-Americans...

MALVEAUX: But she delivered to...

SNOW: I mean, is there a message here to the nation? I get back to that.

BEINART: Well, I think, in both cases, you have to remember that the districts changed, over the last few years both districts have changed. A lot of newcomers were not familiar with either Barr or McKinney and not favorable. That's part of the reason they lost.

But there is a larger trend of more competition in Democratic primaries in African-American districts. It's a good thing, better representation.

MALVEAUX: I'm not sure it's better representation, quite frankly, with Magette (ph).

GEORGE: And in particular, in Georgia, you've got the open primary, so that is, in a sense, going to force more moderate people, both in the Republican Party and in the Democratic Party, because they know in the primaries...

SNOW: Because people can cross over.

GEORGE: ... you can cross over, exactly.

SNOW: One last point.

MALVEAUX: But at the end of the day, I think that Cynthia McKinney, it's a loss for African-American people, in my opinion, a loss for African-American women.

What she said about 9/11 may have been extreme, but people are investigating what happened on September 11th.

LOWRY: It was insane.

MALVEAUX: People are investigating what happened on September 11th, because we didn't get the whole story.

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: All right, all right.

MALVEAUX: It's a loss for black women.

LOWRY: Oh, stop it, please.

SNOW: We have to take another quick break. I'm sorry.

The lightning round, as if you don't have enough here...

(LAUGHTER)

... is just ahead. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SNOW: Time now for our lightning round.

The University of South Florida wants to fire a Palestinian professor that it claims has ties to terrorist groups. But Sami al- Arian says he is being punished for his pro-Palestinian views. Now a court is being asked to decide whether firing him violates his constitutional rights. Is this a case of academic freedom coming under assault, or is this somebody who needs to go?

LOWRY: Well, there are some views that are beyond the pale, and he does have a history of spouting really crude jihadist-style rhetoric, and there are also allegations that he may have helped sort of funnel other Islamic extremists into the country.

So I think in no way should the First Amendment be construed to mandate that the university keep this guy on its payroll.

MALVEAUX: You know what? Prove it, in terms of money that's being funneled, prove it. In terms of his views, he has a right to them.

And the fact is this: This is a tenured professor. The question is, did they know about his views before they tenured him? There were many opportunities before that to cut him off. Once he's tenured, he has a right to academic freedom.

GEORGE: Well, he has a right to academic freedom, but when that extends to, you know, protests where he chants "Death to Israel" and things like that, I mean, one has to -- it's a very fine line, I admit, but I think it -- especially if he has the connections with these terrorist organizations.

LOWRY: He can run for Congress. He can replace Cynthia McKinney.

MALVEAUX: Oh, please.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: It depends on the evidence. There are allegations that he was involved in fundraising for Palestinian Islamic Jihad. If that's true, kick him out. If it's not, it's a question of academic freedom.

SNOW: Another education story this week. The National Education Association, NEA, suggesting that teachers, in some of their lesson plans relating to the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, should avoid suggesting that any group is responsible, avoid placing blame for the terrorist assault.

Is this political correctness on the NEA's part, Robert?

GEORGE: Oh, yes, of course. I mean, if you can't say that, you know, the terrorists happened to be Islamist fundamentalist extremists, I mean, you know, what is that? I mean, it seems it's doing a disservice to the children.

BEINART: Yes, I mean, you know, if the NEA didn't exist, conservatives like Rich and Robert would have to invent it, because it makes liberals like myself look so idiotic.

(LAUGHTER) We're fighting a war, for goodness sakes, on the basis of knowing who committed 9/11. To say we can't tell children is absurd.

MALVEAUX: We can tell them it was al Qaeda, we can tell them something about fundamentalists. We can't use terms like "Muslims," we can't talk about the Middle East.

I think that what the NEA is doing is very important. They're making it clear that we can't stereotype...

GEORGE: We can't talk about the Middle East?

MALVEAUX: We can't stereotype Muslim people or Middle Eastern people as the villains in this war. We can -- if we are careful to talk about a narrow subset, al Qaeda, you know, fundamentalist terrorists, that's fine. But to just say "Muslims" or something like that is not fine.

LOWRY: It's not stereotyping to say Islamic radicals were responsible for murdering 3,000 Americans.

MALVEAUX: All Islamic radicals were not, Rich. All were not.

LOWRY: It is a statement of fact. Unless you think President Bush did it.

MALVEAUX: There's a subset of -- well, you know...

(LAUGHTER)

You went there. You went there. I didn't.

LOWRY: There you go! A new candidate for the 4th district of Georgia.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: That's right, exactly. Cynthia McKinney, move over.

GEORGE: Julianne is now announcing.

(LAUGHTER)

SNOW: Former President Clinton -- this got a lot of attention this week -- may be reconsidering the idea of becoming a talk show host. His representatives are reportedly in talks with CBS about a daily afternoon TV show with a salary in the range of $30 million to $50 million.

Is this a good career move for an ex-president?

GEORGE: Well, I don't think it's a good career move for an ex- president, especially since, you know, he already had a talk show for eight years which was daily in our face.

He's going to do what he's going to want to do... MALVEAUX: Robert George. Robert George. Somebody's got to help you. I don't know who.

(LAUGHTER)

GEORGE: Please, Julianne. Go ahead.

SNOW: What kind of a talk show would he have?

MALVEAUX: Well, hopefully it'd be a policy show, but it looks like, if he's looking at the afternoon, you know, you have to go to that women's market, which means he might be doing Rosie (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

LOWRY: And he wants a band.

MALVEAUX: I happen to think that Bill Clinton is one of our nation's best talkers and thinkers, and I'd love to see him do whatever he wants to do.

SNOW: Could he be taken seriously, do you think?

LOWRY: Well, there's a lot of outrage about this among conservatives. To me, it's not that outrageous. I mean, all the damage he could do to the office of the presidency he already did when he was president.

But I would just think, people around him that have his interests at heart would say, look, you know, being -- these kind of talk shows, they fail. And being an ex-president who's a talk show host is bad enough, but being an ex-president who's a failed talk show host is even worse.

BEINART: That's right. It's also bad for the Democratic Party, because you're going to have Bill Clinton every day making all kinds of public policy statements. Could essentially become a kind of de facto opposition leader, which would make it harder for other Democrats.

GEORGE: Especially since Hillary wants to run in 2008.

BEINART: That's right, not good for Hillary.

SNOW: One last topic for you. An Ohio mother is out of jail now after several days behind bars because her three young children were severely sunburned. Define "severe."

But is this a case of law enforcement gone awry? Originally they said they had second-degree burns, now first-degree burns. But the sheriff arrested this woman at the county fair. Was he right to go there?

LOWRY: It seems total overkill to me. He just should have told her to get her children out of the sun and given her some suntan lotion. Arresting her is insane. MALVEAUX: You know, obviously they have no hardened criminals in Ohio, and the bank robbers are all walking by, while they're arresting the moms.

(LAUGHTER)

LOWRY: But they're not getting sunburns.

(LAUGHTER)

SNOW: Everybody's on the same page with this one?

GEORGE: It's a white thing, I don't understand.

(LAUGHTER)

BEINART: Yes, although, you know, I think they do deserve credit for actually -- you know, she shouldn't have been arrested, but she should have been stopped and said, look, this isn't good parenting.

(CROSSTALK)

MALVEAUX: Look, they incarcerated her for a couple of days. It really wasn't...

(CROSSTALK)

LOWRY: Talk about the nanny state.

(LAUGHTER)

SNOW: Thank you, all. Lively discussion, as always.

I'll toss it back now to Wolf Blitzer in Atlanta to take back over.

Hi, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Kate. Thank our Final Round panelists as well, a great discussion indeed. Tell them I'll be back in Washington next Sunday.

That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, August 25. Please be sure to join us next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.

And this note, tonight I'll be back with a special report, "Terror on Tape: Inside al Qaeda," 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

Please join me Monday through Fridays, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, for "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

Thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Atlanta.

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