CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Interview With Tariq Aziz; Brzezinski, Lugar Debate War With Iraq; Interview With Jesse Ventura
Aired September 1, 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, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 5:00 p.m. in London, 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.
We'll get to my exclusive interview with Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, in just a moment, but first, a news alert.
BLITZER: While the Bush administration says it is considering a number of options to force a regime change in Iraq, Baghdad says it fully expects a U.S.-led military attack.
Within the past hour, I talked exclusively with Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, about the possibility of a new war.
BLITZER: Minister Aziz, thanks so much for joining us from Johannesburg on your visit to South Africa.
Many American officials say that Iraq could easily end this crisis with the United States if it were simply to allow United Nations weapons-inspection teams to resume those inspections, to come in and get the job done. Why won't you allow those inspectors back in?
TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQ'S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, we are hearing conflicting statements from the American officials. Some of them are saying what you mentioned; some of them are saying it makes no difference whether there are inspections or not. Our plan to regime change will not change.
So we would like to know in exact terms what the United States government is seeking.
The other aspect of the matter is that when they speak about weapons of mass destruction, is it a genuine concern or is it a pretext to be used to justify the unjustifiable attack on Iraq? If it is a genuine concern of the United States, well, that could be dealt with in a civilized, diplomatic, practical manner.
You remember that our National Assembly invited American Congress to send a team to Iraq, a fact-finding mission to Iraq to investigate those allegations. Our proposal, our invitation, was not accepted. I don't know why. If they are really concerned about this matter, why didn't they respond positively to our request.
BLITZER: Minister Aziz, what the U.S. Congress members respond by saying that there is a United Nations Security Council-approved vehicle for those inspections, led by Hans Blix, that he has a team ready to move in and begin what they call these unfettered inspections, a resolution approved by the U.N. Security Council.
Why not let Hans Blix simply come in and resume those inspections?
AZIZ: Well, Wolf, there is a vital and very important difference between the two ways. Mr. Blix could come to Iraq, might come to Iraq, and stay without saying the truth, without telling the truth.
We have a very bad experience in this matter during the whole '90s, you see. They remained in Iraq, the inspectors remained in Iraq for 7 1/2 years, and they did not report to the Security Council that their job was finished. In the end, they were the tool used in order to attack Iraq, as you remember, in December 1998. So we don't want to repeat this episode, which was everlasting and which did not bring any result.
So when we invited the American Congress, we were having in mind that this will bring about concrete results. Either there are weapons of mass destruction, and then the American government could act, or there are no weapons of mass destruction. Then the whole picture will be changed. Then we could sit together with the Security Council, with the American government if they wish, and settle all the matters. But...
BLITZER: But as you know, Minister Aziz, as you well know, the members of Congress and their staff don't have the equipment, the tools, the experience, the expertise to do those inspections, yet the United Nations, under Hans Blix's operation, does.
The Russians, the Chinese, the French, almost all of Arab countries, the Saudis, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, they are all urging you to let those U.N. inspectors back in to end, or at least remove, the possibility of an imminent U.S. preemptive strike.
Let me rephrase the question. Why not let them in?
AZIZ: Well, let me explain to you, and I would like you to return to our invitation. We asked the American Congress to send the fact-finding mission, equipped with whatever equipment they can get from the American government. The American government can provide them with all the equipment they need. And they can bring with them experts in all the areas of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. So it could be done. Technically speaking, it could be done.
My question is, and the question which is being said and mentioned in our region is, is the return of inspection going to stop the American attack on Iraq? There are doubts about that. The American government is vague in that. It is saying -- I have here the number of statements by high-ranking American officials telling that with or without the inspections, our plans against Iraq will continue to exist. So this matter has to be clarified first.
The first step should be taken by the American government, whether it is going to act unilaterally according to its own judgment, which is a bad judgment, or it will respect international law. We respected international law, implemented all the provisions and Security Council Resolution 687 for 7 1/2 years. And in the end, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Blair bombed Iraq. For what? For what? They said that there was failure of cooperation.
What kind of a failure of cooperation? 400...
BLITZER: Minister Aziz, yes, that's good. You put your earpiece back in your ear.
The vice president of the United States, Dick Cheney, says that there is no doubt that your government, the government of President Saddam Hussein is moving to develop weapons of mass destruction, indeed, already has.
I want you to listen specifically to what Dick Cheney said earlier this week here in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are not weapons for the purpose of defending Iraq. These are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale, developed so that Saddam can hold the threat over the head of anyone he chooses, in his own region or beyond.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The question to you, Minister, is how close is Iraq right now to having a nuclear capability?
AZIZ: We are not working on this. And what Mr. Cheney is saying is baseless. He hasn't provided any solid evidence to support his allegations -- his allegations and the allegations of Mr. Rumsfeld.
I tell you, Mr. Blitzer, look at the position of the people in the region, the officials in the region. None of those governments in the region, has complained to the United States or to the international community about Iraq being a threat to them. Mr. Cheney is sitting in Washington and he is speaking on behalf of our neighbors.
Our neighbors have made clear statements that they are against any attack on Iraq. Our neighbors have made it clear that they would like this issue to be solved by diplomatic and political means.
So nobody is taking the allegations of Mr. Cheney seriously, and they are regarding it as a pretext, false pretext to attack Iraq unjustifiably. BLITZER: As you and I well remember, in 1991, just before the U.S. launched the air strike, your government apparently miscalculated, not convinced then that the U.S. would move in to liberate Kuwait. Are you concerned right now that there might be another miscalculation, that the United States very soon might launch a preemptive strike against Iraq?
AZIZ: Well, if you call that assault as a preemptive, that's wrong. America could commit aggression against Iraq, yes. And we are taking those American threats very seriously, Wolf, very seriously. There is no miscalculation in this.
But when you say a preemptive strike, preemptive of what? They are telling wrongly the American public opinion and the world that Iraq is reproducing weapons of mass destruction. That's not true. We are ready to prove it. We are ready to prove it by technical, viable means. But not in the way that was done in the '90s, when the inspectors remained in Iraq 7 1/2 years, and then they were working for the Americans and the British in order to give pretext for their attack, for their aggression on Iraq, which was unjustifiable.
Let us not neglect the history of the matter. There is a history in this matter. Mr. Echios (ph), who was the previous chief inspector, in 1995, 1994, he said, "90 percent of our job has been finished." Lately he made a statement in Stockholm that governments were using the inspections, manipulating the inspections for their political objectives.
We don't want the decisions of the United Nations, of the Security Council, to be tools to be manipulated by the Americans and the British. We are ready...
BLITZER: All right, so your bottom line right now -- Mr. Minister, your bottom line right now is you don't trust Hans Blix?
AZIZ: Yes. We have our own reasons. We have our reasons, and they are solid reasons. Mr. Blix was the head of the IAEA for several years. Until he left his job, he did not report to the Security Council that the nuclear file was closed. He did not do that, when everybody, all experts in the IAEA, the honest ones, the people who were impartial, they were telling everybody that everything has been finished, that this file is closed.
BLITZER: All right. So just to be precise, right now, Minister Aziz, the whole notion of U.N. weapons inspectors under the authority of Hans Blix, as far as your government is concerned, is a non- starter?
AZIZ: It's a non-starter because it's not going to bring about a conclusion, Wolf. It's not going to bring about a conclusion. In every investigation, there should be a conclusion. We do not trust that Mr. Blix and his group are going to bring a conclusion within a reasonable time so that the United States and everybody in the world should know that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
But if they just come and stay and spy on Iraq and drag their feet for years and years without bringing about a conclusion, with the sanctions, the harsh sanctions in place, do you think that this is a reasonable, acceptable situation? It is not. Simply, it is not.
There should be a conclusion, because according to the U.N. resolutions, when a conclusion is reached, there will be lifting of sanctions. You cannot keep the inspectors forever and sanctions forever, and at the same time, the spectrum (ph) of American military attack is still present. This has to be calculated honestly and objectively.
BLITZER: We have much more to talk about with Tariq Aziz. When we come back, we'll ask the Iraqi deputy prime minister about Iraq's ties with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We return now to my exclusive interview with the deputy prime minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz.
BLITZER: As you probably know, the defense secretary of the United States, Donald Rumsfeld, said in recent days that he believes there are al Qaeda operatives in Iraq right now and that your government is aware of that, if not protecting al Qaeda.
What exactly is your relationship with al Qaeda?
AZIZ: We don't have any relationship al Qaeda. Mr. Blitzer, a number of extremist Islamists came to the government of Sulaymaniyah in the north of Iraq. This government is not under the control of the Iraqi government. It is under the control of Mr. Jalal Talabani.
Jalal Talabani was in Washington few weeks ago, and he met with Mr. Rumsfeld. Why didn't Mr. Rumsfeld ask Jalal Talabani about those people?
And for your information, for the information of the whole world, when those people, those extremist Islamists attacked Jalal Talabani, he asked us to help him, and we gave him weapons and ammunition. What do you conclude out of this position?
There are not in a part of Iraq which is under our control. We don't have any relationship with al Qaeda. I made it clear tens of times, hundreds of times that our political system, our political ideology is against the ideology and the practices of the Taliban and al Qaeda group.
BLITZER: As you know, Minister Aziz...
AZIZ: This has been made...
BLITZER: ... the Czech government in Prague has suggested there was a meeting before the September 11th terror attacks between the alleged ring leader, Mohammed Atta, and a high-ranking Iraqi intelligence official, a man by the name of Ahmed Halil Ibrahim Samir Al-Ani (ph).
Was there such a meeting? What was this Iraqi intelligence official doing meeting with Mohammed Atta?
AZIZ: This alleged meeting did not take place, and then it was not substantiated that this meeting took place even by Czech sources.
BLITZER: Was there such a meeting? Let me hear it definitely from you. I'm sure you checked into this.
AZIZ: No. No, no, it did not. It did not take place. There wasn't such a meeting. It's an allegation, and this allegation was not substantiated by the Czech officials.
BLITZER: So you can say definitively right now that there is no relationship, there has not been a relationship between Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization and Iraq. Is that what you're saying?
AZIZ: Yes, not at all, not at all. I absolutely say that there wasn't any kind of relations between the Iraqi government and those people.
BLITZER: If the United States attacks Iraq any time soon, will Iraq once again launch Scud missiles or attack Israel, as it did in 1991?
AZIZ: We don't have Scud missiles because all the Scud missiles were destroyed. You can check with Mr. Echios (ph), you can check with Mr. Scott Ritter, whether they tell you -- they say that Iraq still have such missiles.
We don't have them. They were all destroyed. And they were all accounted for by the international -- by the U.N. inspectors.
BLITZER: As you probably know, the U.S. government believes that you still may have some Scud missiles, some mobile Scud missiles available to Iraq, and potentially you could use chemical or biological warheads on those missiles. You reject that?
AZIZ: I reject that, because allegations made by the American government have no credibility. Nobody is saying the same as the American government. The American government, and especially a number of hawks, a number of war-mongers in this government, in the American government, are using those allegations to justify the unjustifiable.
The other countries who are in this world and who have good information about the area, they are not supporting the American allegations. They are asking the Americans to resort to diplomatic means, to political means, not to war.
The countries of the region, all the countries of the region are not complaining of what the Americans are saying about Iraq. On the contrary, they have good relations with Iraq. They reject the American plans to attack Iraq.
Isn't that enough, you see, for honest and impartial people to make a judgment about the situation? Everybody in this region is saying that American plans to attack Iraq on just to solve the Israeli purposes, to weaken the Arab world around Israel and leave Israel the strongest entity in the region.
BLITZER: Minister Aziz, the first American pilot to be lost during the Gulf War 11 years ago was named Scott Speicher. The Pentagon is now suggesting that he may be a prisoner of war, may be missing in Iraq, may not necessarily have been killed during that attack.
What can you tell us about the fate of Captain Scott Speicher?
AZIZ: Well, an American team in mid-'90s came with the help of the Iraqi authorities and with the presence of the Red Cross. They checked the site where his plane crashed, and they concluded that he was killed in that crash. And technically it was proved that he couldn't -- the instrument of ejection did not work in his plane. When the plane crashed, logically speaking, that the pilot died with that crash.
This was proven by the American team, by the Iraqi minders (ph) who were with them, and by the Red Cross. So they are false allegations made by Mr. Rumsfeld's officers in order to justify the unjustifiable.
BLITZER: So Scott Speicher, as far as your government is concerned, is dead. Is that what you're saying?
AZIZ: Yes, naturally he died because his plane crashed and the instrument which helps the pilot to jump from the plane was not working. If he were a prisoner of war, we expatriated the prisoners of war immediately after the end of the war on April 19, 1991.
BLITZER: We only have a minute left..
AZIZ: And his name was not mentioned among...
BLITZER: We only have a minute left, Minister Aziz, before our satellite goes down. The bottom line, as far as you're saying, if you're not going to let the U.N. weapons inspectors back in, how can you ease this crisis, this potential war with the United States? What is the Iraqi proposal to end the crisis?
AZIZ: The Iraqi proposal is to have an honest, objective investigation in the American allegations. And we would like to reach a conclusion so that the Security Council, according to its law, would lift the sanctions on Iraq. That's the Iraqi position, honest, objective investigation that helps reaching a conclusion and then leading to the lifting of sanctions.
BLITZER: Minister Aziz, I know you've been incredibly busy. Thanks for spending some time here on CNN and LATE EDITION. Thanks for joining us from Johannesburg. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: And just ahead, the Bush administration presses its case for ousting Saddam Hussein. Is it winning over converts? We'll talk with a key member of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, and the former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, when LATE EDITION continues.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
This past week, it was Vice President Dick Cheney who took the lead in outlining the Bush administration's case for a possible preemptive strike against Iraq. He warned that the dangers of inaction are greater than the dangers of action.
Joining us now to talk about where things stand with Iraq, the Republican senator from Indiana, the member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar; and the former United States national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski. He served in the Jimmy Carter administration.
Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
And, Senator Lugar, I'll begin with you right where we left off with the deputy prime minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz. He basically says forget about those U.N. weapons inspectors, the Hans Blix mission is a non-starter.
SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R), INDIANA: Well, we've got to start back with the U.N., with the sanctions, with the inspections that we were allowed by the Security Council after the last war, and insist upon that. We've been lax as a Security Council, would be as a nation, pushing the U.N. really to do its job. And I say that because it's gives us an opportunity to talk with our friends at the U.N. again in a constructive way.
On top of that, we need to pursue intelligence much more vigorously.
BLITZER: Let me pick up the point on the U.N. Security Council. So are you suggesting that the U.N. Security Council should now come up with a new team led by someone else that perhaps would be more acceptable to the Iraqi government? Because Hans Blix, he says, is not acceptable.
LUGAR: I don't know whether we need a team if they're unwilling accept it. All I'm saying is that there are sanctions on Iraq that are already there, imposed by the U.N. Likewise, no-fly zones that need to be rigorously enforced. All sorts of commercial activities have been permitted, and we need to clamp down on those.
In other words, we need to show that we're serious with the international community, all of us. And that gives us an opportunity really to get back into this in a way that brings the U.N., brings the building of an alliance, allies are important.
Now, the president's going to speak to the U.N. September 12th. He may have his own message as to how he enlists these people, but we need to be effective in doing that.
BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski, Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister, he had a chance to say, yes, this crisis could be eased significantly by letting those U.N. inspectors back in, but he said they're not coming back in.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: You're absolutely right. In a way, he's making it easy for us. In a way, he is foreclosing our national debate. Because if our national debate is about whether we should attack or whether we should go to the U.N., but if we go to the U.N., we might get stuck, what he's saying to us makes it relatively easy.
Because if we go into the U.N. under those circumstances, I think there's little doubt that the U.N. will take the position he has to permit inspections. And if he doesn't permit inspections, there's a variety of things we can do. Perhaps a total embargo of Iraq, like with Cuba in 1963, a total embargo supported by the international community, enforced by the international community. And failing that, military action.
BLITZER: Because even in recent days, as you've heard, the closest U.S. allies, the Germans, the French, the British and others -- forget about the Russians, the Chinese and many in the Arab world -- they've been saying the key to ending this crisis is to get those U.N. inspectors back in, and Tariq Aziz says they're not going back in.
BRZEZINSKI: That's exactly right, but they're also saying that because they are afraid that we're going to take peremptory military action on our own in a setting which is, to some extent, unnecessarily inflamed by panic mongering, by demagogy, by extreme and vague assertions, all of which creates in the international community a real sense of uneasiness about the steadiness of our leadership.
Tariq Aziz, in effect, is giving us the real option, which I think Colin Powell this morning emphasized in his interview with the BBC, which is to go to the U.N., to make the record clear, to rely on the historical record where obligations and commitments were made, mobilize international community, impose either an embargo on Iraq or, failing that, take internationally legislated, sanctified military action.
BLITZER: And in that BBC interview with David Frost, Senator Lugar, the secretary of state says, and I'll put it up on the screen, he says, "The president has been clear that be believes weapons inspectors should return. Iraq has been in violation of these many U.N. resolutions for most of the last 11 or so years. So as a first step, let's see what the inspectors find, send them back in."
Now, that contrasts significantly with what the Vice President Dick Cheney said about those U.N. weapons inspectors, suggesting they may simply be a waste of time and could be counterproductive. Listen to what the vice president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With Saddam's record of thwarting inspections, one has to be concerned that he would continue to plot, using the available time to husband his resources, to invest in his ongoing chemical and biological weapons programs and to gain the possession of nuclear weapons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So it seems, correct me if I'm wrong, what we heard from Tariq Aziz is playing right into Cheney's hands.
LUGAR: No, I think it undercuts Dick Cheney in this respect, that essentially, I think the vice president's right, the inspectors may not have gotten anywhere. But Tariq Aziz, by saying they're not even going to start, gives us the opportunities that Dr. Brzezinski was just talking about, to go back to the U.N., re-energize our partners, to indicate how unreasonable the Iraqis are, to get resolutions that if we cannot get in, and apparently we're going to have dificulty doing that, then we have a military force option.
BLITZER: You agree with that assessment?
BRZEZINSKI: Yes, I was just saying that. Dick and I have very similar perspective on this.
BLITZER: So in other words, you're say right now, go back to the U.N. Security Council, even though it's unlikely that that's probably going to achieve much result?
BRZEZINSKI: That's right. Unless the administration, unless the administration has real evidence, not just slogans, but real evidence that an attack on us with weapons of mass destruction is imminent.
BLITZER: Or allies in the region?
BRZEZINSKI: Or allies, in which case we can pick and choose, depending on what obligations we have.
BLITZER: Is there, as far as you know Senator Lugar, some smoking-gun intelligence piece of information that would back that up?
LUGAR: We've heard no testimony. But it's a situation in which I would agree, again, the president needs to make a judgment. He needs to have certainty in his own mind with that.
He comes to the Congress and gets the resolutions of support that he needs for what is, at least historically, if not a preemptive strike, an unusual foreign policy gesture. He really has to give us the assurance. He has to make the decisions.
BLITZER: And just for the record, I think I know what your answer's going to be, but this proposal from the Iraqis to send a congressional delegation over and look for alleged weapons of mass destruction, what do you make about this proposal?
LUGAR: Probably flattering to the Congress, but a non-starter on our part, largely for the reasons that you suggested in the interview, that we're not equipped. I've spent the better part of 10 years in searches around Russia for weapons of mass destruction. It is a tough job to do, and impossible without official cooperation. And that would be clearly the case in Iraq.
BLITZER: Are you surprised that they want a congressional delegation to inspect but not a U.N. delegation to inspect?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, maybe he has a good sense of humor.
I can't explain it rationally.
But on the key issue, are they ready to attack us, I think we have to bear in mind what Brent Scowcroft said. Brent, after all, is the chairman of the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. And I got the clear impression from his article that he doesn't feel there's an imminent threat with weapons of mass destruction poised to attack us almost any day.
And unless we have that, then we have to go the route that Dick and I are talking about. Otherwise, of course, if there is an imminent attack, we're entitled to react.
BLITZER: Are you a member of that group as well, PFIAB?
BRZEZINSKI: Not currently. I was before, but I'm not now.
BLITZER: OK, it's called PFIAB, that's the...
BRZEZINSKI: PFIAB, that's right.
BLITZER: ... Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.
All right, gentlemen, stand by. We have a lot more to talk about.
We'll ask the national security adviser to the former President Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Senator Richard Lugar to answer more questions and take your phone calls. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This great country didn't go in as conquerors, we went in to liberate. And we liberated a country from the clutches of a barbaric regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush touting the U.S. war -- the U.S. role, that is, in the war against terrorism.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with Indiana Republican Senator and Foreign Relations Committee member Richard Lugar and former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Senator Lugar, I wanted you to take a listen to a couple of recommendations from one current colleague of yours and a former colleague of yours, Senator John McCain, writing in the new issue of Time magazine that's coming out this week.
He says "He," referring to the president, "should seek congressional support soon before staging large numbers of troops in advance of hostilities. Although the legal necessity of doing so is arguable, the political imperative is not."
And the former senator, Bob Dole, who was the Republican presidential nominee, writes in today's Washington Post, "Consultations with Congress are essential but not adequate when armed conflict is the issue. Every member needs to ascertain the facts and then be prepared to vote yea or nay."
Must President Bush come before Congress, the Senate for example, and ask for a yea or nay vote on war with Iraq?
LUGAR: Yes, he should do so, both for the reasons that my colleagues have mentioned, and that is the potential loss of lives and treasure, but likewise, because this is an unusual foreign policy predicament. The formula under which we are going to war on this case needs to be confirmed by a congressional action and a Senate vote in particular.
BLITZER: Do you believe legally he must do so, or is that just a political necessity?
BRZEZINSKI: You know, I'm not a constitutional lawyer, so I would hesitate to make a judgment. But I do recall that President Roosevelt went before Congress even after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I think that it's just politically sound, historically desirable.
BLITZER: And you think he will do that at some point?
BRZEZINSKI: I think he has good enough sense, political sense, to do it.
BLITZER: Our sources at the White House are saying that eventually he will do that.
The poll numbers are not necessarily all that encouraging to the vice president, the defense secretary, others who are the so-called hawks in the administration. The new CNN-Time magazine poll that's just out asks, "Should U.S. ground troops be sent to Iraq?" In December, 73 percent said yes. Look at these numbers. Now that's down to 51 percent.
And it suggests that the American public is getting a bit nervous about getting into a ground war with Iraq.
LUGAR: Well, this is why the president has to speak. It will not work for lots of people to keep speaking, suggesting all sorts of scenarios. The president is going to speak, we know, to the United Nations, and I hope that that will lead once again to alliance building.
He's got to discuss the costs of this. Now, if we have allies, the cost is less, presumably, but the cost of the war plus the years following.
And then he has got to give us some confidence that we will find the weapons of mass destruction, that the regime that comes in in Iraq, that is totally unknown, will not say, "Surprise, we'd like to keep the bomb." That would be very, very ironic.
And if our role really is to get the weapons of mass destruction, once again I'd emphasize intelligence, vigorous intelligence now so that we find out where it is, how do you we get to it, and have a very good plan for eliminating the weapons of mass destruction.
BLITZER: Dr. Brzenzinski, regime change in Baghdad, can that be done on the so-called cheap, a la the Afghan model -- intelligence, good intelligence, going in with Special Operations forces, working with the Iraqi opposition, and no need for a massive U.S. military invasion, a ground invasion?
BRZEZINSKI: I sort of doubt it, but I could certainly try, and have forces as a back up that would go in if it doesn't work. So perhaps that might be the way to begin the military activity, but one has to be ready for a more significant war.
But if I could just add a point on the president's speech. With all due respect to the president, and he has been very eloquent and I think he has provided leadership to the country on this issue, he has tended so far to operate in generalities, in abstractions, in highly moralistic language, in some degree of sloganeering.
This is a terribly important, sensitive, potentially very dangerous issue. The president has to lay out the case with genuine evidence. It has to be a seriously, logically argued case. He has to spell out why he thinks deterrence will not work.
BLITZER: And he has to go beyond what the vice president said, is that what you're saying?
BRZEZINSKI: Oh, the vice president's speech was essentially to stir people up, the vice president's speech.
Look, we lived with Stalin who murdered millions of people and who acquired atomic weapons. We didn't go to war. Kruschev placed nuclear weapons in Cuba, threatening us directly, directly; we didn't go to war.
BLITZER: Almost went to war, though. BRZEZINSKI: We almost went to war, but we imposed an embargo as a way of trying to force out. So we played it brilliantly. Mao Zedong talked casually about 300 million people dying in a nuclear war and went for the nuclear weapon. We didn't go to war.
The president has to prove why deterrence doesn't work here. The administration often says, well he has used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. That's demagogy. The point is, his people were defenseless. He didn't use them against Israelis. He didn't use them against us.
BLITZER: He used them against the Iranians.
BRZEZINSKI: But they were also defenseless. They had no weapons of mass destruction to use against him.
The point is, deterrence has worked with him in '91. If the president has a case to make why it won't work, he should make it. But the point is, he needs to make that case not just for our domestic public opinion, but for the world and for history. Because for the United States to go to war, unless provoked, is a very serious, very serious step.
BLITZER: All right, and we're going to continue this, we're going to ask some more questions.
We have a lot more to talk about with the former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Senator Richard Lugar. They'll also be taking phone calls, so stay by. LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking with Indiana Republican Senator and Foreign Relations Committee member Richard Lugar and former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
We have a caller from Vermont. Vermont, go ahead with your question.
CALLER: Well, hey, Wolf, how are you today?
BLITZER: Good, go ahead.
CALLER: Quick question here. Iraq refused to comply with U.N. Resolution 678 and 687 before. Our public law 102-1 entitles us to resume military activity in the event that they violate this cease- fire, as well as the terms of surrender. They've violated it before. We already have the right to move forward.
Why reinvent the wheel, doing again that which they've already shown a refusal to perform?
BLITZER: Fair question. Senator Lugar, why is there a need for another resolution if there is such a resolution already on the books? LUGAR: Well, we have an opportunity to enforce the previous resolution, that we ought to do. It may very well be that if Iraq does not submit really to that, there's a need then for another resolution to make sure that we all understand what we're getting into, not only...
BLITZER: It's mostly a political need as opposed to a legal need.
LUGAR: A military thing, plus this time, if you have a regime change, a new government. Who is going to prop this thing up? Who's going to provide for territorial integrity, political stability in the area? That goes well beyond what was envisioned 10 years ago.
BLITZER: Dr. Bzezinski, the U.S. allies, most of them are not necessarily on board with the United States, and The Wall Street Journal in an editorial Friday responded to that, writing this: "There's no doubt that Europeans are wearier than Americans are of deposing Saddam. But they also know that America is the ultimate guarantor of their security, much as it has been for 100 years. If the U.S. decides that deposing Saddam is essential to its security, we doubt Europe will stand in the way."
BRZEZINSKI: Well, I'm quite sure Europe will not stand in the way, if that is to be taken literally. Europe is not going to get in the way and support Iraq. But Europe, I think, will not support us politically. I think there will be costs in the American-European relationship. And I don't think it's in our interest that European unity develop in an anti-American direction, because the price of that 10 years down the road is going to be extraordinarily high.
BLITZER: Another U.S. ally, Senator Lugar, not on board with the Bush administration, Saudi Arabia. I want you to listen to what Adel Al-Jubeir, a national security adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah, said here on CNN earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADEL AL-JUBEIR, POLICY ADVISER TO SAUDI CROWN PRINCE ABDULLAH: There is no country in the world that I know of that supports military action against Iraq at this time. Why is that such a surprise to people? The reason that's the case is because people believe that every option should be exhausted before the military option is used.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: If the U.S. goes to war, will Saudi Arabia be part of that coalition as it was, obviously, the last time around?
LUGAR: Well, the Saudis have gone out of their way to indicate they will not. But at the end of the day, they must. We really have to insist upon that.
And that will be true of a number of situations. When I'm talking about getting allies, some of this may happen very voluntarily, some may require very heavy lifting. But this is what Secretary Powell needs to do now and the president, make sure that we have at least the bases we need, the overflight that we need. In war, we're talking about the security of American forces and American lives, and that's very serious. And the Saudis need to understand that.
BLITZER: On the Saudis -- as you know, the president spoke by phone with Crown Prince Abdullah this past week, received the Saudi ambassador here in Washington, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, at the ranch in Crawford, Texas -- very symbolically and substantially significant developments.
A lot of question marks about where the Saudis stand. Do you, Dr. Brzezinski, see the Saudis right now as a friend of the United States or a potential foe of the U.S. in this overall war against terrorism?
BRZEZINSKI: Certainly not as a potential foe. But the friendship can be qualified. And I think some of these meetings recently were also precipitated by the fact that there was an embarrassing incident a couple weeks ago when the Defense Policy Board invited a so-called expert who, it is alleged, has had contacts with the (inaudible) group and who came and told them in the DOD that we should treat Saudi Arabia as an enemy. That was a shocker to everybody. And I think the administration was embarrassed by that.
But ultimately, Saudi Arabia knows that it needs us. We also need Saudi Arabia, and we can work this out. We're clearly the stronger party, and if push comes to shove, they'll be with us, but we have to create international context for it. And this is what the senator, this is what I am talking about, creating the international context.
BLITZER: The vice president makes the point, Senator Lugar, that a U.S. preemptive strike against Iraq would potentially have a beneficial impact on the war on terror, regional stability, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because everyone would see the U.S. is serious. Do you accept that strategic vision?
LUGAR: Well, it's an interesting theory. But the risks of this are very, very substantial. Simply put, there are those in the administration who feel we need to show strength, and the rest will fall in line, having seen how resolute we are with regard to Iraq.
But, in fact, others predict that Middle East regimes might fall, we may not be prepared to have democracy in each of these situations, with American taxpayers going it alone, trying to prop up every situation there. You know, the ramifications of breaking eggs in that situation really have to be discussed.
BLITZER: Well, you know, those who argue this point, Dr. Brzezinski -- I don't know if you agree with him or disagree with him, we'll find out in a second -- make the analogy, they say that after the Persian Gulf War ended successfully for the U.S. in '91, there was, a few months later, the failed coup in the Soviet Union, the collapse of the Soviet Union, subsequent to that the Madrid Conference which brought Arafat, Rabin together at the White House in '93, that a current war against Iraq would shake things up so dramatically some positive developments like that would ensue.
BRZEZINSKI: Well, it might shake up the world very negatively also. I think that's a very risky theory.
In any case, if we have to go to war, we should go to war if there is an imminent threat to the United States. If there isn't, the other route we're talking about is much to be preferred.
BLITZER: We're going to leave it there. Dr. Brzezinski, Senator Lugar, good to have both of you on LATE EDITION. Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Coming up in the next hour of LATE EDITION, nearly a year after the September 11th attacks, is the U.S. intelligence community up to speed? We'll talk with three U.S. national security experts about intelligence and intelligence breakdowns. Our guests will also be taking your phone calls.
Then, a conversation with Minnesota's outgoing Governor Jesse Ventura about the war with Iraq -- potential war with Iraq, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) third-party politics, his future, much more.
And on this Labor Day weekend, the House Republican leader, Dick Armey, and the AFL-CIO president, John Sweeney, debate the status of U.S. workers.
All that, much more, coming up in the next hour of LATE EDITION.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
We'll get to our conversation about U.S. national security and the intelligence community in just a moment. But first, here is CNN's Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta with a news alert.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Nearly a year after the September 11th attacks, the U.S. intelligence capabilities are still under scrutiny.
Joining us now with some special insight into the U.S. intelligence network are three special guests: Bill Gertz is a reporter for the "Washington Times." He's also the author of a new book, already a best seller, "Breakdown," which outlines how intelligence failures resulted in the September 11th attacks. James Bamford is the author of the highly acclaimed book, "Body of Secrets," which details the evolution of the U.S. National Security Agency. Also joining us, CNN's national security correspondent, David Ensor, himself an expert on this subject.
Gentlemen, thanks to all three of you for joining us. And I'll begin with you, Bill Gertz. The whole U.S. intelligence community right now. How confident are you that U.S. intelligence experts really know what's going on in the terror network?
BILL GERTZ, WASHINGTON TIMES: I don't think they know very much at all. I think that the system is broken. They've made great strides in trying to fix the problem since September 11th, but they still have a long way to go.
BLITZER: Do you agree with that assessment?
JAMES BAMFORD, AUTHOR, "BODY OF SECRETS": Yes, I think they're working on it, but it takes a long time, it takes more than a year. It takes that long just to give people their security clearances, let alone train them to be intelligence analysts. So I think they're working on it, but it's got a ways to go.
BLITZER: But, David, as bad as it may be right now, and I'm sure it's not as bad as a lot of people would suggest, it certainly has improved from the mid-'90s. In all of your analysis, haven't you discovered that?
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, clearly there was a problem in the mid-'90s where the CIA and other agencies were pulling back. There were instructions because of some various alleged misdeeds not to go after the kind of bad actors as agents, as sources, that you need to break this kind of thing. Now, clearly, the intelligence agencies are getting much more aggressive.
BLITZER: The poll, the latest CNN-Time magazine poll that's just out, Bill, asked the American public if they feel that the U.S. intelligence agencies failed last September 11th. And take a look at these numbers. Right afterwards, September 2001, 55 percent thought that there was a failure. Now 65 percent. It's up 10 points or so, thought that there was a failure.
You obviously feel there was a huge failure. That's the subtitle of your book, "How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11th."
GERTZ: Right. You know, the going-in assumption in the war on terrorism for intelligence people was that it was just too hard to penetrate these groups.
I show in this book that they were able to do that. Other foreign intelligence services were able to do that. I think we've got to find a way to do that. That's really the key. Human intelligence. Not so much technical, not so much reliance on foreign liaison.
BLITZER: But it's a combination. You've written about the NSA, the super-secret National Security Agency, which deals with the technical intelligence, the intercepts of the communications, the photographs. You need both really in order to do a strong job.
GERTZ: Oh, sure, you need both. Eighty percent of the intelligence that the United States gets comes from technical intelligence, not from human intelligence.
And human intelligence has a lot of problems, including whether you trust the people that you're getting the information from. A perfect example of that was the attack on Sudan that was a mistake.
BLITZER: Which attack? Are you talking about after the embassy bombings? In East Africa?
GERTZ: That's right. Exactly when they attacked the pharmaceutical plant.
BLITZER: You don't believe it was a pharmaceutical plant?
GERTZ: Well, I do believe it was a pharmaceutical plant, but I think it was human intelligence that gave the wrong information in the first place. They thought it was chemical-biological warfare plant.
BLITZER: Do you agree with that assessment?
BAMFORD: Well, they claimed at the time that they had some kind of samples which indicated a precursor chemical that is relative to chemical weapons, but it's clear that in the aftermath of that attack that they really didn't have the goods.
BLITZER: Aren't they doing a better job now, David, in all of your investigations in terms of penetrating these terror cells?
ENSOR: You know, that's obviously something that is very hard for us outside of the intelligence community to know with any authority. Yes, intelligence officials, senior officials, say they now do have sources inside al Qaeda. They do believe that they are penetrating these groups. But they stress how difficult it is.
And, you know, they have stopped terrorist attacks before. The millennium attacks were clearly stopped. There've been lots of other occasions...
BLITZER: In the Pacific Northwest.
ENSOR: ... but they do warn repeatedly, they're not going to bat 1,000.
BLITZER: They also say they really have to rely on other foreign intelligence services to cooperate with the United States. They may have better sources as far as penetrating these groups that the United States has.
GERTZ: Yes, but this is a weakness of intelligence. Again, we need, we are a superpower, we have superpower responsibilities, but we don't have the superpower capability to have our own HUMINT penetrations of terrorist groups.
There's an over-reliance on foreign liaison, and a lot of times those foreign intelligence services have national interests in certain areas that don't correspond with ours, thus they don't share freely what they know. BLITZER: And there's also a legal issue here. A lot of the, you correct me if I am wrong -- in the older days, I don't know about now, there was a concern that if the U.S. got into bed through intelligence operations with some pretty unsavory thugs that are out there, and you presumably need to work with those types to penetrate these kinds of terrorist cells, there could be legal ramifications for the U.S. officials whose authorized it.
GERTZ: Well, right. But there was a misconception that intelligence officials were forbidden from contacting these people. Instead what it was was bucked up the lines so that they would have to get permission from the director or the director of operations.
So, I don't think that ever caused anybody not to hire somebody. But I agree, I think that some of these people do have to be hired now and then. The FBI had to hire people in the Mafia in order to get John Gotti.
BLITZER: But, you know, David, I've spoken to U.S. intelligence officials who feel uncomfortable putting on the U.S. government payroll some of the murderers, killers out there, who the United States may need to penetrate these groups, but they could just imagine the headlines, "Mr. X," for example, "is getting thousands of dollars from the United States, but he's a known killer."
ENSOR: Well, there've been those headlines from Guatemala years ago, and there will be again.
One of the things intelligence officials say is, "Look, we're going to get more aggressive, we're going to be very aggressive now. And there're going to be failures. There's going to be embarrassments. That's part of the intelligence work. Get ready for it."
BLITZER: And there may be a new mentality out there.
Where is the biggest need right now to see improvement?
BAMFORD: Well, boy, I think there's a lot of areas, not the least of which is management and leadership. There is still a problem...
BLITZER: When you say that, you're no great fan of George Tenet, the CIA director?
BAMFORD: Well, you know, that's an individual. I'm really looking at the system. It's not just one person, it's all the senior management levels. They have serious problems, at least that was what I uncovered.
I think that they really, there's risk aversion is a big problem. There's a reluctance to take risks. That's kind of a reflection of the Pentagon sentiment on low casualties. I think there's a corollary in the intelligence community.
That's got to change in the war on terrorism. We're dealing with people that are willing to commit suicide in a terrorist attack. It's going require much greater efforts and much more dangerous intelligence work.
BLITZER: I've heard that criticism from Bill Gertz and others before. But in my conversations with current U.S. intelligence officials, they insist that's in the old days, it's dramatically changed since then, and right now the U.S. has its finger on the pulse. Are they right?
BAMFORD: Well, I think the main problem is lack of proper analysis. We got a tremendous amount of technical capability in space and other places, ground stations, that can eavesdrop and pick up conversations. But we have very few people that can actually understand the language. I think language is the largest problem.
BLITZER: The linguists, the ones who can translate some gobbledygook that you hear, that you pick up a conversation that may or may not mean anything unless you have a real expert in that language who understands the nuance.
BAMFORD: That's right. And during the Cold War, to get a Russian linguist, they may have had to know 500 words to be a good linguist, to analyze the Russian air force. But if you're going to analyze terrorist communications, you've got to know nuances and the culture and a lot more information.
One of the suggestions I made was to create a national linguistic reserve corps, and that's actually now part of the intelligence authorization.
So they've got to really increase the number of people that speak these languages of the places we're going into these days.
BLITZER: David, you're one of the few reporters that has actually gotten into the National Security Agency with a camera crew, spoken to some of these linguists. I've seen your excellent reports on this, but there's still a dramatic shortage of translators.
ENSOR: I couldn't underscore that more. Jim's absolutely right. It's a very serious problem. This is not a country that's got a terrific reputation for teaching foreign languages. People do not learn foreign languages well in the American schools, and that needs to change.
Another thing that needs to change, and I guess is changing, although this is all classified and we don't really know, is the level of clearance that people who are born speaking Farsi from an Iranian family say, or an Arabic speaking family, what level of clearance do they have to have before they can work for the NSA and listen to tapes? You need more of those people, mother-tongue speakers, in there listening to those tapes.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about, including your phone calls for our panel of experts on the U.S. intelligence community. Get ready, give us a call. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Success, victory will take time, will take patience, and as you already know, it will take courage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld addressing U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton in California.
Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're talking about potential cracks in U.S. national security with Bill Gertz of the Washington Times, CNN national security correspondent David Ensor, and author James Bamford.
On Iraq, Bill Gertz, the vice president, Dick Cheney, spoke about Iraq's potential nuclear capability, but he was vague. I want you to listen precisely to what he said on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: Many of us are convinced that Saddam Hussein will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon. Just how soon we cannot really gauge. Intelligence is an uncertain business, even in the best of circumstances.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: On a critical issue like this, Iraq and nuclear weapons, the U.S. doesn't have better information than that uncertainty?
GERTZ: It's a major factor. You know, our intelligence capability in Iraq is very limited. One CIA officer I talked to for the book said that for a long period of time in the late '90s there were no, zero, CIA assets in Iraq.
Our ability to learn from them is very technical. They have numerous underground sites, hundreds of underground sites where their weapons of mass destruction facilities are located.
I agree with the vice president, it's very uncertain in trying to figure out what they have and at what stage of development it's at.
BLITZER: That's pretty shocking, isn't it, Jim?
BAMFORD: Well, in terms of listening to them, they use a lot of encryption, which makes it very difficult for NSA.
On the issue of nuclear weapons, the critical question is, are they able to deliver them? They can't send them by Federal Express, even if they do make a nuclear weapon. And if they do build a system to deliver it, a large missile, that can easily be seen from space. So we would have years to probably predict when an intercontinental ballistic missile is going to be built, by using our intelligence methods.
BLITZER: The Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee, who knows a lot about this subject, he was on Meet the Press earlier today, and he said the U.S. intelligence community has been pretty surprised in the past about things that they've subsequently learned. I want you to listen to what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R), TENNESSEE: We have underestimated in times past his capability. Our intelligence usually underestimates things such as missile capability of rogue nations and, in this case, the nuclear capability of Saddam. When we went in there in the early '90s, we thought that he was much further behind than he actually was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And these things have generated serious post mortems in the intelligence community, these failures, these miscalculations of earlier days.
BAMFORD: That's right, so they do not say definitively that they think he has nuclear weapons. They do say they are confident he has a chemical and biological program of some scope, because in the past, when the UNSCOM inspectors were ready to just about declare they'd pretty much done their work, you know, defectors came out and told them they were wrong.
He clearly has ambitions in all three areas, however.
BLITZER: In the whole area, and you wrote a piece this past week, which was provocative to put it mildly, suggesting that in the balance of civil liberties and national security, the intelligence community may be going way to far in cooperating, for example, with the FBI, raising some serious rights about the constitutional rights of the American public.
GERTZ: Well, I think it is going too far in a lot of directions. And it's interesting that it's not the Congress who seem to be raising objections, but it's the courts itself that are saying it's going too far.
The most amazing example was the recent report by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, extremely secret court, in only its second opinion every came out and said, "Woah, you better start taking a look at where you're going here, because we're getting a little too close between the intelligence collectors and the law enforcement community." There's supposed to be a firewall, to some degree, and they're breaking down that firewall.
BLITZER: Well, you're speaking about people being gun shy -- if the courts, in this particular case, the very, very classified, the secret surveillance or intelligence court makes these kinds of rulings, that's going to make the U.S. intelligence community operatives considerably more nervous.
BAMFORD: Absolutely. I think that this is a huge problem. You obviously have to balance civil liberties with the need to gather intelligence.
I think the fact that 3,000 people get killed in a surprise terrorist attack is a sign that we need to re-look at that. We really need to go after intelligence in the United States. It doesn't have to be against Americans. It has to be against foreign terrorists, but we have to do it. And right now, the FBI is really not doing it, at least before September 11th, and their ability to do it after is being called into question by this court.
BLITZER: David, you talk to these guys on a virtually a daily basis. How nervous are they about trying to penetrate bad guys' terrorist cells, but at the same time worrying about what the courts might say?
ENSOR: Well, it's a delicate balance, and you know, some of the ideas that are raised that would increase our security would reduce our freedom. National ID cards? How many Americans want to see that? It would greatly improve security. Some kind of an MI-5, a separate domestic intelligence gathering agency that works just in the United States.
It would probably improve the intelligence gathering in the United States, but what about the freedom and privacy of Americans?
So we have very difficult choices to make in this area, and they really need to involve the Congress and the people.
BLITZER: And this debate is just getting under way. David Ensor, as usual, thanks very much. James Bamford, always a pleasure having you on the program. Bill Gertz, congratulations, good luck with the new book.
GERTZ: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thanks to all three of you for joining us.
And coming up next, a man who's not shy about saying exactly what's on his mind. Minnesota's outgoing governor, Jesse Ventura, speaks about Iraq, his new book and the state of U.S. politics.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Four years ago here in the United States, the Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura, sent shockwaves through the political world by winning election as an independent. But his status as a state chief executive didn't change the no-holds-barred style that made him a very popular professional wrestler long before he entered politics. Earlier this year, Governor Ventura announced he would not seek a second term. I spoke with him about his political future, Saddam Hussein and more.
BLITZER: Governor, thanks for joining us. We'll get to your new book in just a few moments, but I want to go through some of the hot issues of the day right now.
First of all, Vice President Cheney's making the case for a preemptive U.S. strike against Saddam Hussein. What do you think?
GOV. JESSE VENTURA, MINNESOTA: Well, you know, I think that the country needs to be on board, if we're going to war, that we should be united as a country. And we have a representative style of government, Wolf, and I think that they should take it before Congress and get a vote of approval of the Congress so that we're all on the same page, that we're all focused and that the majority of the people or the representatives are, you know, thinking the same thing and we're all in unison. Because if we're divided, then it's going to end up -- the likelihood of a failure becomes more intense.
BLITZER: How much of a threat, as far as you know, is Saddam Hussein to the United States?
VENTURA: Well, I think Saddam Hussein is always a threat. He's a dictator who, you know, rules with an iron fist. He lusts for power. But how much actual threat to the U.S. -- I'm sure he's probably a threat. And bear in mind, I don't have intelligence information to back this up, I'm only speculating. But I'm sure that he holds a grudge against us. We embarrassed him in the Gulf War. We sent him packing before. So naturally revenge would be on his mind any way he can get it, but he'll get it through terrorism. And I would think that it's the terrorist-type war that makes him the biggest threat to us.
BLITZER: How is the United States doing in its own war against terrorism, hunting for al Qaeda terrorists, for example? You know, Osama bin Laden, he may be dead, then again he may be alive. U.S. intelligence still doesn't know for sure.
VENTURA: Well, again, the president warned us that this would be a war like no other war. This war could last 10 years; it could last 20 years. It's the type of war where you're going to have to hunt these people down, and when you've got the whole globe to hide, it can be difficult to find them. But eventually I think we'll have success and we're going to find a lot of the al Qaeda.
Clearly we've had an impact on them, because they haven't done anything offensively very much ever since the attack on the Twin Trade Towers in New York. So, you know, obviously they're ducking and running and they're on the defensive right now. But certainly they could go on the offensive at any moment, and we have to be prepared for it.
BLITZER: How has the country changed over the past year since 9/11?
VENTURA: Well, I think the country has changed in that we are now aware that we're vulnerable, that we can be hit, that we're no longer this standing on top of the mountain and that we have no fear in this war. We do have to fear this war, because they hit us right in the belly, and they hit us with a good shot.
And I think people are starting to become, and I'm a little disappointed, but they're starting to become a little lackadaisical. They're starting to get that euphoric feeling again that somehow this war is over and somehow there could be no tragedy on the United States. And I think they're wrong. I think the al Qaeda is going to hit us again. It's just a matter of where, when and how.
BLITZER: In Minnesota, there are potential targets that terrorists would love to hit as well. How do you think the government, the federal government, Governor Ridge and others, are doing in helping you prepare for a potential terrorist attack?
VENTURA: Well, I think Governor Ridge has done a pretty good job. He's stayed in constant contact with us governors. We get about, once a month or even more often, a conference call with Homeland Security with Governor Ridge in charge. And he updates us on what's going on, the intelligence that they're getting.
He's put us on high alert a few times, and thankfully it hasn't come through. But better to be safe than sorry. I'd rather be on a high-alert status than I would, you know, proverbially to get caught not prepared.
And I think that Governor Ridge is doing a good job. You know, maybe he's a little over-paranoid, but again, I'd rather see him over- paranoid than under-paranoid.
BLITZER: What kind of grades would you give President Bush over this past year in dealing with homeland security?
VENTURA: I think that, you know, it's a -- we're a big country. Can we protect everything? Certainly not. We're not fooling ourselves, that, you know, a great deal of this war is going to have to be fought by citizens and citizen awareness. So it's up to the public of the United States to help in this matter. They can't just rely on government.
Now, getting back to your question, I think that the president has done a fairly good job, and Governor Ridge a fairly good job, in doing the best of their ability to make sure homeland security is in place.
But we got caught napping. We got caught where we didn't think that we were ever going to be vulnerable, and we found out we are. And it was a rude, tough wake-up call, but we better respond to it.
BLITZER: And so, what's the basic solution, as far as you can tell? VENTURA: The basic solution, again, is citizen involvement, people involved in paying attention. Pay attention in your own neighborhoods. Pay attention to what goes on around you. Because every citizen in this country could be a potential victim.
Terrorists don't fight the military. Terrorists fight individual civilian citizens. That's why I view them as cowards. Because, you know, they won't stand up and take on a military. They will use defenseless citizens as their targets. And, you know, that's why I have no respect for terrorism.
BLITZER: Over the past year, Governor, the country got caught napping on the issue of corporate responsibility. A lot of phony bookkeeping numbers, fraud out there, major corporations, WorldCom, Enron, companies going broke. A lot of small people, stockholders, 401(k) investors, losing their life savings.
What happened here, and what needs to be done to make sure it's solved?
VENTURA: It's perfect what needs to happen, very simple: These people need to be put in jail. My father used to always say to me in our court of justice system, and he's a World War II vet, 8th-grade education, but a pretty street-smart guy. He used to always say, they'll give a guy 10 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family, but for blue-collar crime, they don't do anything to them, and it affects hundreds and thousands more.
Wolf, they should be shown no mercy. If it's proven that these people altered the books, cooked the books and did what they've alleged to have done, they should be put behind bars and their money should be taken away from them, these big umbrellas, and should be disbursed to the stockholders and the employees of these companies. And nobody should walk away from this mess, becoming wealthy at other people's expense.
BLITZER: More of my interview with the Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura when we come back. I'll ask him, among other things, what's next on his own personal agenda?
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We return now to my interview with the outgoing Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura.
BLITZER: "Jesse Ventura Tells It Like It Is," that's the name of your new book, the subtitle, "America's Most Outspoken Governor Speaks Out About Government." Let's talk about some of the specific proposals you make in your book, a book whose target audience is young people, get them interested in government. One of your proposals, create a one-body state legislature. In most states, it's bicameral. There's a House and the Senate usually, or an Assembly and a Senate. What's wrong with having two houses?
VENTURA: Because it leads to plausible denial. It takes away from accountability, Wolf. The system you have right now, if you can be in one house and you can tell someone you support this, knowing full well your buddy in the other house is going to kill it in committee.
It also gives committee chairs far, far too much power. In the bicameral system, one committee chair, if they disagree with the bill, can simply shelve it. It doesn't get a hearing. It doesn't get a vote. In the unicameral system, everything would come up for a vote in a committee hearing. It brings great accountability to government.
And let's look at it from a practical point of view. You don't have two city councils. You don't have two sets of county commissioners. There's no reason they have two bodies of legislature at a state level.
Now, at the federal level, yes, of course you have to have two, because it's a check and balance there. If you didn't, California would run the nation by sheer population. But it doesn't work that way at a state level. And I'm a great believer -- and what I'm really saying is that the people ought to be given a right to vote at a state level on what government they prefer. Here in Minnesota, our arrogant legislature won't even allow the people the opportunity to vote on it.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about another proposal you have in your book. It's to spend one year, each four years, discarding unhelpful laws. There are probably a lot of unhelpful laws out there.
VENTURA: Well, a lot of laws are outdated. Laws were passed, and, you know, I walk over to the secretary of state's office, and on her wall are volumes of books that cover an entire wall. These are all the laws just to the state of Minnesota alone.
Now, they always tell you ignorance of the law is no excuse. Well, how, Wolf, can we depend as the society when, to know all of these laws, you would have to read and study them every day for probably five years just to be acquainted with all of them?
It's time to simplify government. It's time to get rid of archaic laws that don't apply today anymore, and government should be doing that on a regular basis.
BLITZER: Speaking about laws, another proposal you have in your book, attack crime by enforcing laws. Are you saying that some laws are not being enforced?
VENTURA: What I'm saying is that, you know -- and this goes to my feeling on the death penalty -- I oppose the death penalty, but I believe life in prison should be life. Life in prison isn't life. They call it life, but then you're eligible for parole after a certain number of years. Until you start -- we don't need any more laws, let's just enforce the ones we have on the books right now. We've got multiple laws that cover every crime in multiple stages, and yet we continue to pass more and more and more laws. Let's just enforce the ones we have.
BLITZER: Governor, you say you're not going to seek reelection. What are you going to do?
VENTURA: I'm going back to the private sector. And I'm a strong believer in term limits. I believe that our country was formed upon people coming and serving, and when you're done serving, go back to what you used to do.
Do you know how to get term limits, Wolf? I believe no elected official should receive a retirement. None. If you're an elected official, you get no retirement. That will put term limits into place, because nobody's going to serve 30 years and not have a fat retirement waiting for them at the end and have to rely totally on Social Security. It just won't happen.
I believe you set by example. I did one term, I served it to the best of my ability, and it's time for me to move on. And I believe that's what our country was founded upon.
BLITZER: Are you ruling out coming back into politics at some point down the road?
VENTURA: You never say never. I'm 51 years old now, and I'd be a fool to sit and say I can predict the future. But I have no intention of coming back into politics at this time. But before, I served one term as mayor and I went back to the private sector, and if you'd asked me then, I had no intention of getting back into politics.
So you never say never, but at this point in time, no, I do not have any intention of getting back in politics.
BLITZER: A lot of us were concerned when we heard you went to the hospital recently. A, tell us how you're feeling. What was the problem?
VENTURA: Wolf, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
It was a blood clot. And for me the problem was it's the third time I've had them, so clearly I'm susceptible from them. I believe I get them from flying too much. Certain people, when they fly, get susceptible to blood clots.
I'm feeling great. Back playing golf, working out again, feeling terrific. For me it's just I have to be on blood thinners now for the rest of my life. And, you know, that's a pill a day, every day, and, you know, certainly I'm used to taking vitamin pills, so I just throw this one right in with it and it's no problem.
BLITZER: That blood clot, though, was in your lung, right? That's pretty serious. VENTURA: Yes, it's serious when it happens. It's extremely serious. But once they get it under control and once they've diagnosed it and they've, you know, got your blood thinned out, then the seriousness drops dramatically.
But the seriousness for me, Wolf, is it's the third time it's happened to me. So obviously I'm very susceptible to it. And who knows, someday it might kill me. I don't know, but I've got to be aware of it.
BLITZER: I hope it doesn't, Governor. I hope you spend many, many more years talking to us and talking to all your fans out there. Appreciate it very much.
The name of the book, "Jesse Ventura Tells It Like It Is: America's Most Outspoken Governor Speaks Out About Government."
VENTURA: Wolf, can I add something, too? I make no money off this book. All the proceeds go to charity.
BLITZER: Which charity?
VENTURA: Ventura for Minnesota. And then we find needy charities and we send it out from there.
BLITZER: Good work. Governor, hopefully you'll be around for a long time, we'll be speaking many times. Good luck to you down the road.
BLITZER: And just ahead, as Americans wind up summer vacations and observe Labor Day 2002, how is the average U.S. worker really faring? We'll get an assessment from the House Republican leader, Dick Armey of Texas, and the AFL-CIO president, John Sweeney.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Tomorrow is Labor Day here in the United States, a holiday in honor of the American worker. Joining us now are two special guests. They have very different views on many issues. They disagree, sometimes agree, on the challenges facing workers as well as organized labor here in the United States.
In Dallas, the U.S. House majority leader, Congressman Dick Armey of Texas. He's retiring from the Congress at the end of the year. And here in Washington, John Sweeney. He's the president of the AFL-CIO.
Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Congressman Armey, I'll begin with you, and we'll get to some of these domestic economic issues in a moment. I just want you to clarify precisely where you stand right now as far, as a potential U.S. war with Iraq is concerned. Do you disagree with the vice president, Dick Cheney, that the United States has a potential moral case for a preemptive strike?
REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I want to hear it, because the morality of this country is centermost in my mind. We are not an aggressor nation, I don't want us to ever be.
Also, I set a very high standard before I will approve committing our young men and women to any field of danger, and I'll have to be convinced. Dick Cheney knows that, he worked with me on Desert Storm.
The good news for me is the president has continued his commitment to hold a consensus between the White House and the Congress and the rest of the government before he takes action in this war against terrorism. He's been very good on that. We have been quite comfortable with our working relationship, and I don't expect that to change.
BLITZER: Congressman Armey, you heard Tariq Aziz, the deputy prime minister of Iraq say on this program earlier that he doesn't want those U.N. weapons inspectors coming back to Iraq. He doesn't trust them, he doesn't trust Hans Blix, the man named by the U.N. Security Council to lead those inspections. He says Congress can send a delegation, but the U.N. isn't coming in.
What do you make of that?
ARMEY: Well, it sounds to me a little suspicious. Apparently, he would rather have amateurs than professionals. Weapons inspection is a serious business, and while I love and respect all of my colleagues in Congress, we are not trained for that purpose. We need to have trained inspectors in there.
I think it would be prudent on the part of Iraq to allow, invite, welcome and cooperate with professional inspectors from the U.N. I think for them not to do that is a silliness on their part that their people can hardly afford them to take.
BLITZER: John Sweeney, there's a new poll, a CNN-Time Magazine poll just out, asked this question, is it if to occur if the United States sends troops to Iraq? Look at this, 88 percent of the American public, if you look at the numbers on the screen, believe there will be higher oil prices. Seventy-seven percent believe there will be more terrorism in the United States. Seventy-four percent believe there will be greater instability in the Middle East. Fifty-five percent believe there will be an economic recession if the U.S. sends troops to Iraq.
Where do you stand, as far as Iraq is concerned?
JOHN SWEENEY, PRESIDENT, AFL-CIO: Well, I think that that's a big if. And while the president and the vice president have been trying to make the case, I think they have to make the case the American people, I think they have to bring it to the Congress, and I think we have to convince our allies if that's the direction that we're going.
But those polling numbers show that the American people are very concerned, and a better job has to be done at making the case to the American people.
BLITZER: You're not convinced yet that Saddam Hussein and Iraq represent a clear and present danger to the United States?
SWEENEY: There's no question that they represent a clear and serious danger to the United States, but I believe that we have to, as Congressman Armey said, we have to build a consensus among the American people, and we can't take on something like this without having that debate.
BLITZER: Congressman Armey, if you take a look at this other poll question that we asked in our CNN-Time Magazine poll, we asked about economic conditions in the United States. Do people believe they will get better, get worse, stay the same? Look at how the situation has deteriorated. Get better -- well, actually, in March, 33 percent thought the situation would get better. Now it's 52 percent, they will get better. Get worse, 14 percent as opposed to 20 percent in March.
So I guess the American public is getting a little bit more optimistic right now that the economic situation is improving even as we speak.
ARMEY: Well, I think you have to always look at the foundations of the American economy are still strong. But we knew we had economic difficulties, that's why the president presented a plan to expand trade, to solve our energy dependence on the rest of the world, and receive more reliable, less expensive energy from within our own resources, and of course to spur the economy through tax reduction.
We're moving, the House Republicans, moving with the president, are moving. Unfortunately, we run into a bottleneck in the Senate where everything seems to be stymied by the Senate inaction.
BLITZER: You have a very different assessment, don't you, Mr. Sweeney?
SWEENEY: We sure do. The congressman and I disagree very much on the economic issues. And going back to the discussion on the war, we've been through wars before, and yet we've been able to balance our domestic economy and our human needs and concerns. And tax reductions and free trade aren't going to accomplish that.
The number of unemployed workers is growing, 10 million; 40 million without health insurance. Retirement security is threatened with all that's been happening.
I think that we have to pay attention to different fundamentals than the congressman is.
BLITZER: So, Mr. Sweeney, are you saying that Congress should remove those tax cuts that were enacted earlier last year?
SWEENEY: If that's what's needed in terms of balancing the programs of health and retirement security and all of the other needs of workers creating more jobs -- I'm talking about good jobs, like jobs in the manufacturing industry -- then we've wiped out a surplus with this irresponsible tax cuts.
And we've had enough tax cuts. No more tax cuts.
BLITZER: But, Mr. Sweeney, those tax cuts have helped the U.S. go through this current recession, these current economic difficulties. If there wouldn't have been those tax cut, wouldn't the American worker today be in worse shape than he and she are in?
SWEENEY: A few hundred dollars to the American worker doesn't make up for the lack of health care or paid prescription drugs for the elderly. It's about time that we were more responsible in terms of addressing these needs and concerns that the American people have.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to pick up that conversation, get to that point precisely, when we come back from this commercial break.
I'll ask Congressman Armey about those tax cuts, where they will be heading. They'll also be taking your phone calls. LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. We're continuing our conversation with the House Republican leader, Dick Armey, and the AFL-CIO president, John Sweeney.
Congressman Armey, about tax cuts, the Los Angles Times in an editorial on Thursday wrote this: "With the economy stumbling as it tries to emerge from recession, the last thing the president or the Congress should be doing is generating greater doubt with dubious benefits. Big deficits lead to higher interest rates, gobbling up money that businesses could otherwise reinvest. Congress should reduce last year's tax cut, not consider new cuts."
Why do you believe the L.A. Times is wrong?
ARMEY: Well, first of all, we now know the L.A. Times knows less about economics than what I know about journalism. But the fact of the matter is, you spur the economy, as President Kennedy showed us in '62 and every economist and every financier has agreed on since and the facts support, by putting more money in the hands -- leaving more money in the hands of those who earn it and can spend it best.
The basic question is, do we spur this economy better by private spending by real American people or by public spending by government? And clearly, government spending doesn't work.
Now, as far as the deficits are concerned, the deficits are borne out of the downturn in the economy, which we could correct if the Senate would pick up the energy policy, act on trade. We give ourselves a chance there, and in fact follow up on the further tax reductions we propose. We would solve that part of the economy's ability to raise the revenue for the government, but we've got to hold the line on spending. And the Senate Democrats are still asking for 15 percent more -- or $15 billion more in spending than the president's budget and the House budget, when they, themselves, haven't been able to produce a budget. We've got to have a Senate that can get responsible in making public policy.
BLITZER: John Sweeney, isn't it true that the deficit, that is now the surpluses have gone away, there are deficit spending going on here in Washington, that only a very small percentage of what the projected, $145 billion or so, in deficit comes from that tax cut that was enacted this past year?
SWEENEY: Well, enough comes from it, but the bottom line of it all is that the tax cuts have wiped out the surplus, and the money's not there.
BLITZER: But it's only a small part so far in terms of a tax cut. There are a lot of other reasons why there's these budget deficits now. Spending, as Congressman Armey says, one of the big reasons, but the war on terrorism and the preparedness of the United States in undertaking increasing defense spending, another huge factor.
SWEENEY: And we are a strong nation and a very wealthy nation, and there's no reason that we can't do both if that's what's necessary. When we advocate tax reductions for the wealthiest people and for the corporations in our country, 1 percent of the country are those who benefited most from the tax reductions.
BLITZER: Congressman Armey, I know you're...
ARMEY: The factual inaccuracy of Mr. Sweeney just blows my mind away. The fact of the matter is, that tax cut was given more proportionately to the lower-income taxpayers, even to people who do not pay taxes, than it was to the highest tax bracket. And it has worked to sustain the economy.
In the absence of investment spending in the last six or seven months, what has held us up from an even worse recession has been an active consumer side that was made more active by consumers with more money in their pockets.
We've got to do more on the investment side: remove uncertainty over energy, get trade promotion moving for all Americans to get better jobs, and get some stimulus to the investment sector. We can do these things.
SWEENEY: Congressman Armey, what about the corporations who didn't -- who got more back than they paid in taxes?
ARMEY: There were no corporate tax reductions in the tax package signed into law. There were none. I remember working with the chairman. He refused to put any reduction in corporate taxes in that bill even against my pleading.
So, don't tell me there were corporate tax reductions in that bill. I helped write it. I was in the conference. There were none there. You're just flat wrong.
SWEENEY: That's not the information we have.
ARMEY: Well, that's because you don't look at the facts. You just look at the -- what the, blow hard sheets that come out of the Democrat National Committee. You got to look at the facts, John.
SWEENEY: Maybe I don't look at your facts.
ARMEY: Well, read the bill. Would you read the bill? I wrote it, I know what's in it.
BLITZER: Let me ask you, Congressman Armey, who's going to pay the bigger price for the sluggish U.S. economy in November? I know you're retiring from Congress, you don't have to worry about getting reelected, but will the Democrats or the Republicans pay a bigger price for some of the economic problems here in the United States right now?
ARMEY: No, the Democrats will, because people can very see clearly, what has happened is we've piled so much good legislation, even the 70,000 union jobs in the energy bill that Mr. Sweeney forgets to mention, stopped in the Senate by the actions of Senator Daschle, almost exclusively on his own. This is the most unpopular guy in America, because America knows he's stopping us from getting things done.
BLITZER: Let's let John Sweeney respond.
SWEENEY: I really think that the average worker is really concerned about their issues and about what they see happening with the economy, what they see happening in their industries. And they're going to hold politicians accountable, whether they're Democrats or Republicans, in the elections in November.
BLITZER: All right, unfortunately, we're going to have to leave it right there. I want to thank both of our guests, John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO, and always, Dick Armey, you'll be always welcome on this program, Congressman Armey, long after you retire from Congress.
I also want to just correct one of the graphics, one of the poll numbers that we put up earlier. We had those numbers backwards. The American public is becoming increasingly more pessimistic as opposed to optimistic. We had the wrong numbers earlier. Look at this, "Will economic conditions get better?" Only 33 percent of the American public now believes that is the case; 52 percent, more than half, in March.
Just wanted to correct those numbers, apologize for screwing up the numbers earlier. Probably wasn't the first time, won't be the last time we made a mistake on LATE EDITION.
Thanks to both of our guests for joining us.
It's time now 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. As the nation prepares to commemorate the one-year mark of the September 11th attacks, we'll talk with three mayors about their cities' plans amid security concerns.
Then our Final Round, our panel will weigh in on the big political stories of the day and the week.
LATE EDITION will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We'll talk with three big-city mayors about next week's September 11 observances in just a moment. But first, let's go to CNN's Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta with a news alert.
BLITZER: Next Tuesday marks one year since the September 11 attacks that killed 3,000 people. Solemn commemorations are planned across the country, with security very much a huge concern.
Joining us now are the mayors of three major cities in the United States: In San Francisco, Mayor Willie Brown; in Miami, Mayor Manny Diaz; and here in Washington, Mayor Anthony Williams.
Gentlemen, welcome back to LATE EDITION.
Mayor Brown, I'll begin with you. September 11th going to be a huge day for a lot of Americans. How concerned are you about security on that day?
MAYOR WILLIE BROWN, SAN FRANCISCO: We are very concerned about security on that day, as we are on almost every other day of our lives since September 11th of last year. We will prepare for it, however. In the meantime, it will not interfere with the city's efforts to say to our friends in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and New York, "We are with you, we love, we're praying for you, and we're doing what we can on your behalf."
BLITZER: Are you very concerned in Miami, Mayor Diaz?
MAYOR MANNY DIAZ, MIAMI: Well, certainly, and I have to echo Mayor Brown's sentiments. We are concerned about security all the time. And in fact, through our efforts right now, a recent survey has indicated that Miami International Airport is the safest airport in the country. We're doing a lot with the ports.
And so we've been taking steps all throughout this process, and certainly it's been heightened since after September 11th.
BLITZER: We know, Mayor Williams, your city, Washington, D.C., has been a target before, presumably might be a target again. Are you going to be doing something incredibly different on September 11th than you do on a normal day-to-day basis?
MAYOR ANTHONY WILLIAMS, WASHINGTON, D.C.: Nothing incredibly different, but certainly a higher state of alert -- maybe not the right word is "alert," but certainly a higher state of vigilance.
Every day like September 11, we talked about July 4th earlier, every major event here is cause for concern, no question about it. But I think we can have a safe city and an open city, as I've always said.
BLITZER: Mayor Brown, have you been alerted by Washington, by federal authorities, of any potential new threats out there that could affect San Francisco? We know in the past you've raised some alarm bells involving those bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay bridges, that of course affect your community.
BROWN: No, there has been no new information supplied to us by the federal authorities. However, there's ongoing information that flows from the state and its operation of the emergency service from all of the various sources of the federal government, as well as our own local people.
And we're fully conscious of the icon nature of San Francisco: the Golden Gate Bridge, the TransAmerica Tower, the Bank of America building, PacBell Park, we know all of those places, in addition, to our international airport could very well be targets. And we are prepared for each of those.
BLITZER: Mayor Brown, as far as you know, the federal government's alert status, that same alert status, remains in effect. Do you anticipate any change between now and 9/11?
BROWN: I do not. I do not anticipate any change whatsoever. And I must tell you, we have our own homeland security operations, as does almost every other major American city.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors has concentrated on the business of safety and security for the cities. Jimmy Hahn out of Los Angeles is the chair of that particular committee. And we interact on our ongoing basis with the federal government. And each of the mayors that are on this program are in league with every aspect of what the U.S. Conference of Mayors have recommended.
BLITZER: Mayor Diaz in Miami, a city which relies to a great extent or at least a lot on tourism, how do you balance the need to encourage people to come to Miami on the one hand, but at the same time, make sure that security is as tight as possible?
DIAZ: Well, obviously that's a dilemma that we've all had to deal with, but I think fundamentally people are happy to see the additional security. There are some who are bothered by it, but I think overall, people are appreciative of the security measures that we're taking in all of our major cities throughout the country. And I really don't think that that aspect of it has had a negative effect on tourism in this community.
BLITZER: And special precautions, Mayor Diaz, you're going to be taking for September 11th?
DIAZ: Well, no more than -- well, I think Mayor Brown said that -- or Mayor Williams said that, obviously, there's a little higher visibility during September 11th, but we're essentially doing the kind of work that we do on a daily basis in this community.
BLITZER: Mayor Williams, I want to show our viewers a new "Newsweek" poll that's just out today. It asks if attacks are likely on U.S. cities, buildings or landmarks by the end of this year. The American public responded this way: very likely, 18 percent; somewhat likely, 48 percent; not too likely, 24 percent; not at all likely, only 8 percent; don't know, 2 percent.
But more than half think either very likely or somewhat likely that there will be attacks against U.S. cities or landmarks before the end of this year, which suggests there's still a lot of nervous people out there.
WILLIAMS: It suggests that there are certainly a few -- a number of nervous people out there, but I think it also, I think, underscores the resilience of the American people. We know there's a risk, but we're not going to go and hide in the desert in some dungeon. We're going to go about our normal lives, recognize that there is a risk there, but we're going to manage it the same way we managed driving on freeways, the same way we manage fires, any other kind of risk in our lives.
BLITZER: And you're confident, though, that you're getting the information, as the mayor of Washington, D.C., from the federal government, that you need to protect your community?
WILLIAMS: I like to believe that across the country this a work in progress. We're getting much better information than we got on September 11th, and everyone agrees, including the federal authorities, there's more we can do, but we're working on that.
BLITZER: Mayor Brown, some people think that they're getting confusing or conflicting information from Washington, as far as security threats are concerned, with all these vague threats out there, coming out.
How do you deal on a day-to-day basis with the federal government, knowing what kind of threats may exist that could affect San Francisco?
BROWN: Interestingly enough, we work very closely with the federal government. They have on base out here in San Francisco Mr. Gomez who does airport security. They have an FBI office here in San Francisco. They have a Coast Guard unit here in San Francisco.
All of these agencies, coupled with our own airport security people, as well as our local police force, works well together. And there's a sharing of information. And seldom, if ever, that which goes out in the press that may be confusing, it is not confusing to the professionals that have the responsibility to protect our safety.
BLITZER: Do you agree with that, Mayor Diaz?
DIAZ: Oh, absolutely, and we have Customs, we have DEA, we have a seaport, as I mentioned. We have all the federal agencies here, and we're working very, very closely with them, as well as the state. The state has formed a special intelligence community that is working together. We have seven task forces around the state, and we're all sharing information on a regular basis. So the information that we get internally is very accurate.
BLITZER: I saw that survey about the security at various airports, Mayor Diaz, from around the country, and Miami airport I believe was number one, as you correctly point out.
What makes you so good at having security at Miami airport, as opposed to some of the others? I think Los Angeles, for example, was not very secure, according to that investigation.
DIAZ: Well, as I indicated previously, it's been a priority for us. Airline traffic safety has been a priority for us for many, many years. And that's why, even post-9/11, there was significant efforts made in that regard.
We have, as you mentioned yourself, a very large international travel destination here in Miami, and we've had to take these kinds of precautions for many, many years, and we're seeing the result of it now.
BLITZER: How did San Francisco rate, Mayor Brown, in that survey? I don't remember.
BROWN: Well, we rated I think in the top 5. But we are an airport that the federal government has already designated to be somewhat different than other airports. For an example, we do not have to have federal screeners when they are required to be in place by the end of this month. And it's all because of the nature of what we have as an airport.
We just built a new international terminal. I think that San Francisco will be the first place where the new machinery and the new technology goes in place.
You understand, airport security is in fact, as the mayor of Washington says, a work in progress, and it will continuously be a work in progress. And I hope every, every airport in America becomes equal to Miami in terms of the perception of security.
BLITZER: Reagan National Airport here in Washington, Mayor Williams, probably is the most secure, given the fact that it's so close to the Pentagon, the White House, the U.S. Capitol.
WILLIAMS: Well, there's special safety requirements in terms of 30 minutes in and out of the airport and the radius around Washington, absolutely.
But I think Mayor Brown is right, none of us will be satisfied until all of our airports are up at that top tier. BLITZER: All right, and I'm sure the federal government's working on that as well.
We're going to take a quick break. A lot more to talk about. We're also standing by, President Bush returning to the White House momentarily. We'll go there live, as well, as he comes back to Washington.
The mayors of San Francisco, Miami and Washington, D.C., will be taking your phone calls. Call us with your questions.
LATE EDITION will be right back.
BLITZER: You're looking at live picture of Marine One, the president's helicopter, now about to touch down on the South Lawn of the White House, literally in the shadow of the Washington Monument, the president returning from his vacation in Crawford, Texas. We'll be going back to the South Lawn of the White House once the president emerges from Marine One.
Meanwhile, we're continuing our discussion with three big-city mayors: the San Francisco mayor, Willie Brown, the Miami mayor, Manny Diaz, and the Washington, D.C., mayor, Anthony Williams.
Mayor Diaz, there's been a lot of speculation, a lot of talk out there about supposed bioterrorism threats facing Americans, facing U.S. cities. Is your community prepared, God forbid, for that worst- case kind of scenario?
DIAZ: We've been working very closely with all the agencies to prevent that terrible tragedy. Particularly with our hospital, our public health community, we have a plan in place. We have designated hospitals. Law enforcement is coordinating with the medical community.
So I think, obviously, as Mayor Brown said earlier, this is all work in progress, but at this point, I would say that we have a very good plan to deal with that kind of a threat.
BLITZER: Is that true in San Francisco as well, Mayor Brown?
BROWN: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, on the anthrax scare, we actually had to execute the program that we had in place to test it, because in my own city hall there were several envelopes that came in with debris on them that allegedly could have been, in fact, something to do with anthrax.
We went to work on that. Our man who heads our public health department, Mitchell Katz, executed the process, and it moved very smoothly. Our hazardous people checked in, the federal government's agency came in, the state came in, and it was frankly a very good drill. And I think a similar kind of thing is probably in place in every American city. I also think that there are being stockpiled the appropriate kind of antibiotics and the appropriate kind of treatment facilities that should be in place and the material that should be in place. And again, the federal and the state government will be key to making sure we have those supplies.
BLITZER: And we're looking at a picture of the president now, just walking off of Marine One, coming back to Washington from some time off in Texas. He made several visits outside of Crawford, Texas, of course over the past month as well.
Mayor Williams, as we watch President Bush come back into the White House -- and if he stops and speaks with reporters, we'll of course bring you his comments live -- you did have a real anthrax scare here in the United States. You had actual attacks at the post office and Capitol Hill. Have you learned from that? Are you ready to deal with that threat?
WILLIAMS: I think we've learned a lot from it. We've issued over 10,000 treatments of Cipro for anthrax. We're decontaminating the postal facility, the largest decontamination of its kind in the country's history.
So clearly, we've got some real-life experience of what a bioterrorism attack means and what the consequences are. And I think we're better off for it, notwithstanding the horrible tragedy of it.
BLITZER: In this new CNN-Time Magazine poll, Mayor Diaz, and I want to put some numbers up, even as we watch the president greet some friends who have gathered outside the White House on the South Lawn of the White House for his return to Washington -- we asked in this CNN- Time Magazine, if attack is likely to occur against U.S. cities in the next 12 months.
Look at this, 77 percent thought it was likely that there could be bomb in a car or a truck. Fifty-five percent thought there could be a biological or chemical weapon attack. Twenty-six percent thought there could be another hijacked airplane. Twenty-five percent, look at this, believe there could be a nuclear attack, terrorist attack, against the United States.
Whether or not these numbers are reflective of reality is one matter, but as you can see, your constituents are very, very nervous a year after 9/11, Mayor Diaz.
DIAZ: Well, there's no question that life has changed and that people in all of our communities are certainly more aware of the potential for a terrorist attack.
But I think the point was made earlier, and I think it's an excellent point, that notwithstanding that, the people of this country are continuing to work, continuing to play and live their daily lives. And as was indicated by the president very early on in this process, that is the greatest way to fight terrorism, is to continue with our American way of life and not let these threats change the way we live.
BLITZER: Is tourism coming back to Miami in numbers comparable in years past, or are you still suffering a bit?
DIAZ: It has. We took a little dip, but tourism numbers are up. And quite frankly, the tourist drops that we're seeing now are really mostly as a result of the economic conditions in Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela.
BLITZER: What about here in Washington, D.C., Mayor Williams? How's tourism? I know this is a huge issue for the D.C. economy.
WILLIAMS: I would agree with my friend, the mayor of Miami. What we're seeing is a robust return of tourism to our nation's capital from September 11th, but there is this hangover from the slow recovery that's affecting all of our cities.
But our Cherry Blossom Festival, this year over last year, 20 percent increase in attendance, so people are coming back.
BLITZER: And in San Francisco, Mayor Brown?
BROWN: We're still suffering somewhat. You'll recall that we had a -- what you'd call the perfect storm, when it comes to that. We had the 9/11 incidents, or the September 11th incidents. We also had the decline in the world of technology. We had the crash, almost, of Nasdaq. We have the dot-com world going upside down. We have things happening in Asia, similar to what occurred in South America; the Asian economy has gone really in the tank.
All of those things has a direct effect on the city and county of San Francisco, and it has had on this entire region a devastating effect.
It's slowly recovering, but it's not anyplace near where it should be. My airport traffic, for an example, is down by about 30 percent, and those are really tough numbers.
BLITZER: And as we see the president shaking hands with friends and visitors on the South Lawn of the White House, he's just back from Texas, from Crawford, Texas, getting ready for a busy week, probably getting ready for -- busy getting ready for a very, very busy fall, let's take a caller from New Jersey.
Go ahead with your question for our mayors. New Jersey, are you there?
I guess New Jersey is not there.
Let me move on and ask Mayor Diaz, if there is, God forbid, an emergency in Miami, is the community prepared to deal with it, in terms of emergency evacuations?
DIAZ: Well, we have evacuation plans in place. Obviously we have a lot of outlying areas. We have Key Biscayne, we have the whole Key West area. There are a lot of areas that present real challenges for us, because we not only have people living in the mainland but in barrier islands around our city. So it's a real challenge, but that's something that we're used to, because, as you know, we've had our share of hurricanes in this community, and we've been working on evacuation plans for many, many years.
BLITZER: It was good news for San Francisco this week, Mayor Brown. As you well know, San Francisco and New York selected as potential candidates to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
The mayor of Washington, D.C., Anthony Williams, is groaning because the nation's capital did not get tapped for that potential honor.
But that could be sort of a mixed blessing for San Francisco. If you win it, you potentially could make a lot of money for the community, but there could be enormous nightmares as well. Speak to the mayor of Atlanta, he'll tell you about that.
BROWN: Well, we don't think that there will be nightmares. We're very optimistic about the prospect for the Games, the Summer Games of 2012. It's a regional approach, it's a regional program. We go from about Sacramento down to Monterey, California, and that's an area of about 200 miles.
We have most of the venues already in place. The opening ceremony will be at Stanford. The village will be down at Moffett (ph) Field. And a base (UNINTELLIGIBLE) know that this area can be made as secure as any area in the world for the Games.
We also know that it can be incredibly financially beneficial. So we are not looking at it other than from a very optimistic standpoint. We think we can repeat what Mr. Yuboroff (ph) in Los Angeles in 1984, when, in fact, after the Games was over, more than $500 million was left to be distributeed for various programs in the community. And I'm telling you, we can do the same in San Francisco with the 2012 Games.
BLITZER: All right, the president posing with tourists and friends on the South Lawn of the White House.
Mayor Williams, you must be incredibly disappointed that the nation's capital didn't get that nod. Did you ever really think you might get it?
WILLIAMS: I actually thought we might get it. I thought we did everything right. Like Mayor Brown, I think we had good package infrastructure-wise, financial-wise. But I think we got caught up in international politics over which we have no control.
BLITZER: What do you mean by that?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think that there is an identity of our city with U.S. policy around the world, and that may have worked to our disadvantage. And there's nothing we can do about that. I mean, you know, different parts of the world may, right now, aren't happy with American policy. I may think that policy is right, but other parts of world may not. That may have worked to our disadvantage.
But I certainly wish my friend Mayor Brown the best. I certainly do.
BLITZER: I'm sure you also wish your friend, the mayor of New York City, the best, as well.
WILLIAMS: I certainly do.
BLITZER: New York...
WILLIAMS: I don't begrudge...
BROWN: Now, Wolf, stay out of this, Wolf stay out of this, let him make his own statement.
BLITZER: Well, I noticed, Mayor Diaz, Miami didn't even throw it's hat into the ring. What happened?
DIAZ: Well, we didn't apply for that, not yet. We may do that down the road. Right now, we're working hard to try to get the Democratic or Republican convention down here. And we're also hoping to lure the X Games down to Miami for the next two years.
BLITZER: All right. Mayor Diaz, good to have you on program.
DIAZ: Thank you.
BLITZER: Mayor Brown, always good to have you, as well.
BROWN: Nice to see you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Mayor Williams, mayor of Washington, D.C. We'll continue to monitor the president, he's on the South Lawn of the White House shaking hands, posing for pictures. If he says something to reporters, we'll bring that to you as well.
In the meantime, here's Bruce Morton's essay on the rules of declaring war.
BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Constitution seems clear. The president is the commander in chief, Article II, Section 2. But the Congress, Article I, Section 8, shall have the power to declare war.
This past week, though, the White House said no, the president wouldn't need Congress' permission, he could do that on his own.
One argument went, it would be legal because Congress, a different Congress, gave his father permission to liberate Kuwait. Different president, different century.
Could this president invade Japan because Congress declared war after Pearl Harbor?
It reminds me of the debate over Vietnam. An independent senator from Oregon named Wayne Morris said:
SEN. WAYNE MORRIS (I), OREGON: And no war has been declared in Southeast Asia. And until a war is declared, it is my position that it is unconstitutional to send American boys to their death in South Vietnam, or anywhere else in Southeast Asia.
MORTON: Then President Lyndon Johnson eventually got Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, accept it as the equivalent of a declaration of war. Morris was one of only two senators who voted against it.
This time around, it's the same debate. Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Republican and a Vietnam veteran, noted:
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: I think it would be irresponsible to take this nation to war, invade another nation unilaterally with no allies, no help, no support. And if the president decides that's where he wants to go, I assume he will come to the Congress, the American people and make that case.
MORTON: And the lawyers' opinions, Hagel again:
HAGEL: Well, the last thing we need is a bunch of lawyers in this deal. This is not a lawyers' war. If they all want to be part of this, they can suit up and sling an M-16 over the back of their shoulder.
This is about having the American public and the Congress with the president...
MORTON: It's an old argument. Of course, presidents have the authority to respond to a surprise attack, a Pearl Harbor, a September 11th. But to launch a war, that's different.
And whatever the legalities, having congressional and public support does matter. Lyndon Johnson got his declaration in Vietnam, but that war cost so many lives and turned so many Americans against it, that it drove Johnson from office and is the thing most remembered about a presidency which otherwise was rich in accomplishment in civil rights, in education, in many things, none of which looms as large now as that long, awful war.
I'm Bruce Morton.
BLITZER: Time now for our LATE EDITION Final Round. Joining me, Donna Brazile, the Democratic political strategist; Ryan Lizza of the New Republic; back from his Alaskan sojourn, Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online; and Robert George of the New York Post.
Welcome to all of you.
The talk of the war with Iraq shows no signs of abating, as the Vice President Dick Cheney this past week twice tried to make the case for a possible preemptive strike. Earlier today, in an exclusive interview on this program, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz insisted the Bush administration's allegations are groundless.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AZIZ: Our neighbors have made it clear that they would like this issue to be solved by diplomatic and political means. So, nobody is taking the allegations of Mr. Cheney seriously, and they are regarding it as a pretext -- false pretext to attack Iraq, and justifiably.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Tariq Aziz also, Jonah, insisted that he doesn't want the U.N. weapons inspectors to come back, and he doesn't trust Hans Blix, the head of those inspectors. So what does that mean? Is diplomacy at an end?
JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: I would hope so. I mean, we've had -- let's keep in mind, we've had diplomacy just not recently, but for 11 years now we've been trying to have diplomacy solve this problem. There is this debate in America which says that somehow we need some new justification for a war with Iraq, and yet what we have had is that Iraq has violated every cease-fire -- every rule of the cease-fire we have had since 1991, every concession that the U.N. has made. You know, he tried to assassinate -- Saddam Hussein tried to assassinate the former President Bush.
There is a plethora of excuses or justifications to go to war, and, in many ways, we have actually been at war for the last 11 years, because we have been bombing and dropping -- using planes over there. The idea that somehow all of a sudden we need to come up with some new rationale rather than what we've had for the last 11 years seems sort of silly to me.
BLITZER: Dick Armey, the House Republican leader, the majority leader, he is not backing away from his concern. He is very cautious. He's worried about it. You heard him on this program.
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely. And he should. I mean, the administration and its GOP allies still have -- are exhibiting a split personality when it comes to the war, and I think that diplomacy or consultation with our allies would give the country a stronger voice, perhaps, in waging this war against Saddam. And who knows, we may even have a stronger hand in defeating Saddam this time.
BLITZER: What is -- what is the statements coming from Tariq Aziz do, if anything, to this debate that is unfolding in the United States about U.N. inspectors, give them a chance, don't give them a chance -- what do you make of that?
ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: Well, I think the real role for diplomacy is, as actually, as Donna said, it is actually to bring our allies into it, to make them see what we are seeing. And also, on top of that, actually, is also to bring, ironically enough, the former President Bush's own advisers onto our board, onto the same side as well. But, I mean, I think, I think at end of the day, I mean, the administration has already decided what it's going to do. But now, it is really making the case, both to Europe and to the American people.
BLITZER: So the full court press, the explanation, it's just beginning, it's that what you are hearing as well?
RYAN LIZZA, NEW REPUBLIC: Yeah, absolutely, to go back to what Robert just said -- diplomacy with our allies, yes, diplomacy with Iraq, no. The administration's policy's regime change. I don't know how diplomatically you go to Iraq and negotiate over changing their regime, and that is why this whole debate about going to the U.N. right now could be a trap for the administration. The U.N.'s policy is sanctions and inspections; the Bush administration policy is regime change. So unless you can figure out a way to go to the U.N. and accomplish the original mission, which is regime change, why go.
GOLDBERG: Robert touched also on another point, which I think is right and people are not talking about very much. Lawrence Eagleburger, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft -- these guys were advisers to Bush 41. They are deeply married to this notion that the first Persian Gulf War was handled perfectly. Now, I think it was handled very well, but I think in historical retrospect, you can say that we should have gone all the way, and all these sorts of things.
And so, the Bush administration right now is caught in this position of not being able to make a full argument for why we should go into Iraq, because they don't want to sort of concede the territory that, in fact, the first Bush was wrong not to go all the way at the beginning.
BLITZER: Let's move on and talk about this. Amid reports that he's at odds over Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's remarks over Iraq this week, Time magazine is reporting this, that the Secretary of State Colin Powell plans to resign at the end of President Bush's current term.
Ryan, how detrimental would that be, losing Colin Powell over at the State Department if, in fact, Bush is reelected?
LIZZA: It would be a disaster for the Bush administration. Colin Powell is the most popular person in the administration, maybe the most popular person in America. It would not be good for the administration if he were to resign. Of course, this report is that he is going to resign at the end of the term right now, but what these leaks might be is Colin Powell's way of gaining some leverage in the administration, by making threats like that through his aides.
BLITZER: The latest CNN-Time magazine poll did show that he has incredibly high job approval ratings, along the lines of Rudy Giuliani. Colin Powell much higher than president -- than most of the other members of the Bush team.
GEORGE: That's right, but it's not -- it's not a disaster if Powell leaves at the end of the first term.
BLITZER: He will have served four years.
GEORGE: He will have served four years, and members leaving the administration at the end of four years -- I mean, that happens -- that happens all the time. I think Ryan is right, this was actually a shot across the bow. Basically, Powell gaining certain leverage, basically saying, that, you know, if he is -- if he is embarrassed by other members of the administration, he may leave early, and that could cause a political problem for the president.
BLITZER: I know Colin Powell; you know Colin Powell. He is a team player. He has his own views, but he is not going to do anything that is going to undermine the president of the United States, if the president makes a decision.
BRAZILE: Well, he has been a very loyal supporter to this president. And, look, the truth is Bush needs Powell. Powell does not need President Bush. Poll numbers notwithstanding, he is the only credible voice this administration has in talking to the world at large. So I would think that if they lose General Powell, Secretary Powell when the president (UNINTELLIGIBLE) his first term, perhaps they say, well, it doesn't make a difference, but he has been a credible voice for this administration.
BLITZER: You don't think Rumsfeld and Cheney are credible voices talking to the world?
BRAZILE: Who listens to them? They listen to Powell. They wait for Powell. The world waits for Secretary Powell, because they see him as a moderating influence and someone who understands the world at large.
GOLDBERG: There is this thing in the Constitution which says the president gets to appoint the secretary of state, so at least in one narrow aspect, Colin Powell needs George Bush if he wants to be secretary of state. And, look, on the larger issue -- who knows what this is about. Maybe Colin Powell wants to carve out some leverage in the administration. He's an old -- he's also a team player, he's an old pro at these sorts of leak games. Maybe he just ate some bad clams. We don't know. I mean, this is just one of these things where he is sending a shot across the bow to somebody, and, you know, we'll see.
GEORGE: Well, you do -- you have an interesting split within the administration, in terms of both Powell and Cheney being veterans of Bush 41. And Cheney has -- is now considered one of the hawks in the current administration, whereas Powell seems to be temperamentally closer to the Bakers and the Scowcrofts.
BLITZER: All right. Let's take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about. Much more coming up in our Final Round, including some heavy duty political primaries that are generating a lot of national interest. Our Final Round will continue right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back to our LATE EDITION Final Round.
One task that will be getting much of the president's attention the next few weeks is securing Republican control of -- continuing it in the House of Representatives and winning it in the U.S. Senate. Earlier today, the chairmen of both parties weighed in on midterm elections.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY MCAULIFFE, DNC CHAIRMAN: I think the issue is going to come down to who would do a better job on the domestic agenda, the kitchen table issues. Who's going to preserve Social Security.
MARC RACICOT, RNC CHAIRMAN: If they don't like the budget, it would seem to me that as a part of this process, that they would propose an alternative. They have done virtually nothing. So, the allegation that somehow they are making progress with the agenda of the American people amounts to nothing more than drivel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Donna, will the midterm elections focus more on domestic issues or national security measures?
BRAZILE: I think domestic issues, clearly, because the political landscape has shifted from the war on terrorism, in terms of being a major concern of voters, to more pocketbook issues, like jobs and the economy.
BLITZER: But if we're on the verge of a war with Iraq in November, early November, as Time alleges, don't you think that's going to be a huge issue?
BRAZILE: It may be a discussion, but it's not going to drive voters to the poll. What we know is in midterm elections, when turnout is normally between 37 percent and 40 percent, what drives turnout is pocketbook issues, bread and butter issues.
BLITZER: Unless, Jonah, God forbid, there is another terrorist strike, then all bets are off.
GOLDBERG: Yeah, if there is another terrorist strike, or if Bush really ratchets it up, ratchets up the program for declaring war. And let's face it, whether or not it's going to be pocketbook issues versus -- I'm tongue-tied -- versus security, it should be about war. I mean, if we are going to have a war, let's have a real debate before an election. I'm not a big fan of parliamentary democracy, but this is a chance to have a real referendum on an important issue, and if there is going to be a war, it's going to dominate in the next few years, so let's have that debate before an election rather than after it.
BLITZER: What about that, Ryan?
LIZZA: He is absolutely right, that the most pressing issue before the country right now is what to do about Iraq, but I think this is going to be one of those bizarro world elections where that is actually not what drives people to the polls. And you can't find a race in this country right now where the dominant discussion is either the war on terrorism or Iraq. I don't know if Republicans even want this election to be about Iraq. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the last month of Bush's polls and Republicans' polls, the war on Iraq may actually have been dragging down their numbers.
GEORGE: Well, what you have going on is, in midterm elections, for one thing, most of actually the debate is actually -- comes down to local issues. However, I mean, you had earlier this week, John Warner, the senator from Virginia, said that he was going to be calling Donald Rumsfeld in to discuss the administration's plans on Iraq. All -- that kind of -- that kind of noise that's going to be going on, it's still, I think, going to be harder for the Democrats actually to get their main -- their main message out, and that is going to be the question as to whether they can actually be able to get their people to the polls.
BLITZER: Let's continue talking about politics. A lot of eyes will be on two key gubernatorial Democratic primaries this coming week in Florida. The businessman Bill McBride appears to be in a close race with the former Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno for right to challenge Republican Governor Jeb Bush. Meanwhile, in New York, the former Clinton Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo is locked in a battle with that state's comptroller, Carl McCall, for a chance to take on the Republican Governor George Pataki. Robert, regardless of who wins in those primary elections, what is going to happen as far as the overall election in November's concerned?
GEORGE: Oh, in New York, Carl McCall is going to be -- he will beat Andrew Cuomo, and George Pataki is basically a lock cinch.
BLITZER: A lock cinch?
GEORGE: A lock cinch to win reelection. There is a minor candidate, a guy by the name of Tom Gallasano (ph), who is trying to run to the right.
BLITZER: He is a very rich guy.
GEORGE: He is a very rich guy. He may siphon, you know, at most, 2 percent or 3 percent away from Pataki, but Pataki, as much as it galls a member of the New York Post to say this, he's effectively moved himself to the left to inoculate him, so I think he's going to do well.
BRAZILE: Well, I think McCall is the favorite to win that primary. And I don't believe Pataki would -- should sleep at night thinking that he has a lock on the fall election. I think once the debate begins after September 10 and September 11, I think that race will closen up in New York.
In Florida, right now it appears that the undecideds are breaking for McBride. He has enormous support and appeal among voters across the spectrum, not just in the southern part but also in the panhandle, and I think his single focus on education, improving public schools in Florida has helped him generate a lot of support in the last days.
GOLDBERG: Another thing that's helped him is that a lot of people think he would be the better candidate to beat Jeb Bush, including, alas, Jeb Bush, who has tried to borrow his strategy from Gray Davis and attack McBride early, tried to bring his numbers down...
GEORGE: Which has backfired.
GOLDBERG: Which, Robert, has backfired, and has actually brought his name recognition and his numbers up.
One of the things I do think is interesting is that look at these both candidates -- a couple of months ago, we talked a lot on this show about whether or not a Clinton administration alumni would have coattail effects from Bill Clinton and so forth. That issue is off the table. I mean, some Clinton alumni are doing well -- Rahm Emanuel won his primary, Bill Richardson apparently is doing pretty well, but whether or not -- the coattail effect is just a non-issue anymore, and these guys are running their own races.
BLITZER: Robert Reich isn't too bad -- doing too badly in Massachusetts either, the former labor secretary.
LIZZA: Yeah, he's doing all right. He may have a tougher primary, though, because there are so many -- there are so many people running on the Democratic side.
But just to go back to Florida, one of the things that will make McBride a strong candidate coming out of this primary, assuming he beats Reno, and it looks like he is going to -- is that he has concentrated on the panhandle, concentrated on the north, and the way to win statewide in Florida is to win some of those conservative white voters in the north that often may go to the Republicans in the general election.
BLITZER: Just ask Bob Graham and Bill Nelson, the two Democratic senators from Florida.
BRAZILE: But also, the I-4 corridor. The central part of the state is another key voting area, and he seemed to have some strength there as well.
GEORGE: And Jeb Bush, by the way, is very -- is vulnerable on child welfare issues right now. BLITZER: All right, we are going to move on. We've got a lot more to talk about. Our Lightning Round -- our Lightning Round with our Final Round just ahead. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Time now for our Lightning Round.
Congress returns from its August recess Tuesday, but it will be a short session, because of the November elections. Ryan, is anything going to get done?
LIZZA: Not a whole lot. I mean, there is going to be a lot of political posturing. Homeland security will probably get done, and the thing to watch is the battle over appropriation, how Bush deals with this looming crisis.
BLITZER: You agree homeland security is going to get approved?
GEORGE: Homeland, for better or worse, homeland security will probably get -- will probably get done, and, as I have to agree with Ryan, it's basically a lot of arguments over spending, which is actually -- which is a very significant issue.
BLITZER: Who is going to do blink, Lieberman or Bush when it comes to homeland security and the civil service and the rights of workers and all that?
BRAZILE: I think Lieberman will hold his ground on homeland security, and he should, because we shouldn't create second class workers. I hope Congress take up election reform before they go home. BLITZER: That is a big issue for the short number of weeks, so your hope may be short-lived.
BRAZILE: We should have a chad-free election in 2004.
BLITZER: That would be good.
GOLDBERG: Look, a debate on Iraq would be nice. Homeland security would probably be a smart thing to do, but basically I just wish they wouldn't come back at all, because they govern best when they govern not at all.
BLITZER: We have heard that line before from you.
Let's move on. Tomorrow, of course, is Labor Day. We heard earlier from the AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. And as far as organized labor is concerned, Jonah, are they strong in this country right now, or is it going quickly, quickly down?
GOLDBERG: Well, I mean, they are strong largely because the Democratic Party is a megaphone for the labor movement, but in terms of their actual numbers, you know, there are only 13 percent of workers today are members of unions. Their best days are obviously behind them, because all the easy, important accomplishments have been achieved, and the Democratic Party is basically a surrogate for the labor movement, and so they will have their influence that way.
BLITZER: Union workers still have a lot of clout in the Democratic Party.
BRAZILE: Absolutely, and that is one of the reasons why George W. Bush is wining and dining the Teamsters and the Carpenters Union and other people. Look, early to bed, early to rise, they're working like hell and they're going to continue to organize, so I think the labor movement's best days are yet to come.
BLITZER: What about in New York? Is the labor movement a powerful force?
GEORGE: The labor movement is still quite powerful in New York, and in fact, we were talking about George Pataki -- he basically cut this deal with the health workers, which is just on the face of it is onerous in terms of expense and so forth, but Pataki recognizes the strength of the unions, so they can't be completely discounted.
BLITZER: But historically speaking, the unions are but a shadow of what they were, once, decades ago?
LIZZA: That's true. The numbers are not what they should be, but there is a little bit of a resurgence in how Americans see labor unions. You look at a recent spate of polls about what Americans think of unions, they're much more positive than they've ever been, and post-9/11, some of the people that were highlighted were people in unions, like firefighters and policemen.
BRAZILE: Firefighters and policemen.
BLITZER: All right. Speaking of labor, Major League Baseball was able to avert a strike and salvage its season and the World Series. Many sports fans, though, are saying, who cares? The NFL kicks off this week. Which sport, Jonah, is the real national pastime -- baseball, football, basketball, tennis?
GOLDBERG: I think the question is misphrased, because the real pastime is watching sports on TV now. It used to be watching baseball, period. Now national pastime is watching sports on TV, and people glide from one season to another straight across the year.
BLITZER: What is your national pastime?
BRAZILE: Oh, you don't want to know that.
BRAZILE: But I would say football.
BLITZER: I love football.
BRAZILE: I love football too.
BLITZER: Baseball you don't love?
BRAZILE: No, sir.
BLITZER: Because of all those billionaires crying...
BRAZILE: There was not a team in New Orleans when I grew up, so...
BLITZER: There was a Minor League team.
BRAZILE: I didn't like that team.
GOLDBERG: But being so pro-labor, you're rooting for the...
BLITZER: Ryan, what is the national pastime?
LIZZA: The national pastime is not baseball or football; it's golf. That's the sport that more people play, the fastest growing sport.
BLITZER: I don't think so.
LIZZA: As the baby boomers retire, it's only going to get bigger.
BLITZER: Do you play golf there, Robert?
BRAZILE: I'm learning.
GEORGE: I don't play golf. Baseball is my favorite sport to follow, though football, because of its incredible sense of violence, and so forth, is the national pastime.
BLITZER: All right. We are going to have to resolve this. I want to just point out, I went to the U.S. Open yesterday, loved the U.S. Open. My backhand and my forehand, it's really going to get strong having watched those guys play.
GEORGE: In that case, then Donna and I will make sure we step back so we don't catch (ph) your backhand or your forehand.
BLITZER: I've got to go. That's your LATE EDITION for Sunday, September 1. Please join me again next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk.
Don't forget, Monday through Friday, 5:00 p.m., Wolf Blitzer Reports -- that's me.
Thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Have a great and safe Labor Day. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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With Iraq; Interview With Jesse Ventura>