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Radio Hosts Discuss Iraq

Aired October 4, 2002 - 12:31   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: With chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix in Washington today meeting with U.S. officials, our Sound Off segment focuses in on weapons inspectors going to Iraq, perhaps.
Today's guests are the syndicated radio talk show host Nancy Skinner -- she's joining us from Boston -- and WABC talk show host Steve Malzberg. He's joining us from our New York bureau.

Steve, let me begin with you.

Is all of this talk of inspection simply a waste of time?

STEVE MALZBERG, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think it's a proper procedure that needs to be followed. However, I'm glad to hear that the chief of the arms inspections team has kind of capitulated and agreed, under pressure from the U.S. no doubt, that these inspections need to be fully unfettered, fully free and they need to have total access; otherwise, they are totally worthless. And without access to the presidential palaces, without access to aerial shots, without access to schools and hospitals, that would be a waste of time. If they could do it absolutely right, absolutely unfettered, then it's a different story. I don't think that's ever going to happen, though.

BLITZER: Nancy, you have hope that it might happen?

NANCY SKINNER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It has to happen for this to go forward, I think, for this to go forward. The Bush administration at first said it's a waste of time, it's a trick, and you know, where are we now with world opinion, U.S. opinion? Ninety- three percent of Americans in a Gallup Poll say they want those inspections to go forward, they want to exhaust all nonmilitary means first, and then if they put up stumbling blocks, then we have the right to take military action.

The key is, Wolf, we can't booby-trap these inspections. We can't set this resolution up and these inspections up in such a way that we know immediately we're going to run into problems and then attack.

MALZBERG: Well, look, look, Saddam Hussein, they've already told the UN team that you will not go to the presidential palaces. So right off the bat, boom, did we booby-trap that? Look, they're at our will. We went to war with them, we stopped kicking their butts under conditions. They violated those conditions, they violate them every day, and we take unilateral action along with Great Britain, when they lock on to our planes in the no-fly zone. We don't go running to the UN all of the time. They have to do what we say. We don't have to ask them.

SKINNER: What conditions do we go to war over? That's my concern. This House resolution that was passed supports military force to enact all relevant resolutions. Does that mean we have to go to war if Iraq does not pay Kuwait reparations? Does mean that we can attack them, or if they are sneaking oil outside of the restrictions, does that mean that's good enough, because they've broken that, to go to war? I don't think so.

MALZBERG: It means we can under that resolution. It doesn't necessarily mean we will. But the fact is he's never going to give us the unfettered access, so that's going to be a moot point.

BLITZER: Let me interrupt. I've got some e-mails. Our viewers are sending us tons of e-mails.

Nancy, this for you: "Saddam is talking through the side of his mouth. He first said inspections could be unfettered. Now he says no inspections of palaces. He is using stalling tactics. The only language he knows is force, so we should use it."

That's a view out there, Nancy.

SKINNER: Yes, but I think the larger prevailing view is prove it, prove that he's going to do this. I don't think that he's going to be cooperative, but we must walk through the steps because we've been there before. And then, by doing that, you can remove any doubt that there is a political element to this, there may be oil involved, vengeance involved -- look at the high political season we're in. Why would we rush to war?

BLITZER: Let me pick up on exactly that point.

Steve, let me read you this e-mail we just got from Lee in Arizona: "Bush is manipulating the public and media with regard to Iraq, and the media are eating it up. Exploiting the Iraqi issue increases ratings and sells newspapers. There's no real reason to go to war."

MALZBERG: Look, this so ridiculous. From the same people on the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party and the Senate, they're the ones waving the newspaper headlines and saying what did Bush know, when did he know it? In fact, Hillary Clinton said just yesterday she still wants to know that, she still wants that answered. We know a lot about Iraq, so ignore Iraq and wait until we suffer the consequences would be criminal. And President Bush will not allow the security of this nation to be compromised because some on the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party saying Saddam isn't so bad, be easy on Saddam. Don't create problems for Saddam. It's wrong.

SKINNER: No, no, no, Steve. Nobody is saying that. And it's unfair to characterize it as this. We're not advocating full NATO membership for Iraq; we're saying the how and when we go about this are very important for our own national security. The consequences could be disastrous if we don't do this correctly.

BLITZER: Steve, go ahead. You'll have the last word.

MALZBERG: You made a great point with your last guest. Cuban Missile Crisis: John Kennedy said we will talk to anybody, we'll make our case to anybody, any international organization, but we reserve the right to defend ourselves and act alone. That's what President Bush is doing right here.

BLITZER: Steve Malzberg, we have got to leave it right there. Nancy Skinner, thanks to you, as well. You guys are listened by millions of listeners on radio talk shows everyday. You know what the mood is on the country, at least according to the feedback you're getting.


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