The Web     
Powered by
Return to Transcripts main page


Interview With Bernard Kerik; Bryant Charged With Sexual Assault; North Korea Moves Ahead With Nuclear Program

Aired July 20, 2003 - 12:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, 5:00 p.m. in London and 8:00 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks for joining us for LATE EDITION.
In just a few minutes, we'll go live to Baghdad to talk about where things stand right now in Iraq. I'll speak with the U.S. senior policy adviser, the former New York City police commissioner, Bernard Kerik.

And here in the United States, a huge story we've been covering. We'll speak live with a former prosecutor, Wendy Murphy, and a top criminal defense attorney, Roy Black, to assess the sexual assault charge against basketball star Kobe Bryant.

First, though, let's check in with CNN reporters covering the hour's top stories around the world.

We begin in Iraq, where the death toll for U.S. troops continues to grow. Two soldiers from the 101st Airborne were killed today and a third was injured near the city of Mosul when Iraqi gunmen attacked a U.S. convoy with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. A fourth American soldier was killed in a separate vehicle accident.

Since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1st, a total of 92 U.S. troops have now been killed, 35 in what are described as hostile incidents, 57 in non-hostile incidents.

President Bush is monitoring the situation in Iraq very closely from his ranch in Crawford, Texas. This weekend, our White House correspondent, Chris Burns, is there. He joins us now live -- Chris.

CHRIS BURNS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Wolf. The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is going to be coming over this afternoon. A member of the coalition of the willing, he gets a special, rare invitation to come to the Bush ranch here.

They will be talking about Iraq. He was a member of the coalition of the willing. He did contribute quite a few Italian national police to the operation. But President Bush will probably be sounding Berlusconi out on what further European contribution there could be. Berlusconi is head of the rotating presidency of the European Union.

But as far as spin control on Sunday -- it's a typical thing in the news talk shows on Sunday in Washington -- the point man was Paul Bremer. He is the head of the U.S.-led authority in Iraq. He was trying to put a better picture on the situation there, despite the rising casualties in Iraq among U.S. military there.

He was saying, and he went and said flat out, that Saddam Hussein is alive. He is in Iraq. We've got to find him, he says, dead or alive. That there are bitter-enders who are followers of Saddam who are waging these attacks. He says they are -- he characterizes them as small groups, and that he needs more time, more patience and patience for more casualties to help put the country back together.


AMBASSADOR PAUL BREMER, CIVIL ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: You'll get a constitutional process started here in the next couple of months. Once a constitution is written and we have elections, we'll get a sovereign Iraqi government. If all goes well, it could be as early as next year.


BURNS: But now, there are countries that the U.S. is sounding out to send more troops, international troops, to Iraq, India especially. 17,000 troops could be sent there. But India wants a U.N. resolution, a new U.N. mandate, that would allow that.

And that is something the Democrats are pushing very hard on, especially Joe Biden. Senator Joe Biden was speaking on one of the talk shows today. He made a very strong case.


SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: We are going to go out, and we are going to get the international community more involved, in both the donor side, the money side, as well as the troops. We're going to get this done, because it's in the interest of the world that we do it, because, failure to do it, we'll be less secure.


BURNS: And now the Bush administration is sounding out the U.N. and other countries on what might be a new U.N. resolution. But they do, the U.S. does want to maintain control of the situation in Iraq, and Paul Bremer was making a case for that today on the talk shows -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris Burns in Crawford, Texas. Chris, thanks very much.

Fresh efforts meanwhile today to try to move the Middle East road map forward. The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, have been meeting in Jerusalem. CNN's Matthew Chance is there, and he's joining us now live with details.

Matthew, what, if anything, was accomplished today? MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, thank you.

And that meeting between the two prime ministers ending with that major agreement. Among the issues discussed, that of Palestinian prisoners. There are more than 7,500 inside Israeli jails, and Palestinian officials, beset by protests on the Palestinian streets, want them released.

Israel has said that it will let go between 200 and 300 of them, but there was no further breakthrough at this meeting between the two leaders, although it has been announced that a joint committee will be set up to decide exactly who will be released later on in the coming week. The issue of Israeli military withdrawal from Palestinian towns was also discussed, Israel saying it's prepared in principle to stage further withdrawals to meet this part of its obligations under the U.S.-backed road map.

Palestinians, though, looking for assurances that Israeli checkpoints on the outskirts of those towns would also be dismantled, to ensure Palestinian freedom of movement.

All of this, of course, coming as momentum builds, of course, as these leaders prepare separately to make their visits to the United States, to Washington, later on this month, where of course they'll be meeting President Bush, the main sponsor of the road map peace plan.

Officials from both the Palestinian and the Israeli side are at this stage refusing to rule out the possibility of a three-way summit, but we're also told that no such meeting has yet been planned. But certainly there is a great deal of diplomatic activity expected over the coming days and coming weeks, to try and get this U.S.-backed road map peace plan moving forward, Wolf.

BLITZER: Matthew Chance in Jerusalem, with the latest from there. Matthew, thanks very much.

Back to Iraq now. The Bush administration is adamant that life is slowly but surely improving for the people of Iraq. But two and a half months after President Bush declared an end to major combat operations the death toll of U.S. troops continues to rise. And Iraqis, many of them, are expressing their frustration over lawlessness and the pace of restoring basic services.

Joining us now live from Baghdad to talk about how things are going on the ground, the U.S. senior policy adviser, the former New York City police commissioner, Bernard Kerik.

Commissioner, thanks very much. Welcome to LATE EDITION.

Two more American soldiers killed today. From your perspective, is it going from bad to worse?

BERNARD KERIK, SR. U.S. POLICY ADVISER: No, I don't think so, Wolf. I think, you know, freedom comes at a cost, and unfortunately we're going to have these events for some time to come. We have to continue to fight the resistance. We have to do everything we can to stand up the police and transition the military out of Iraq and bring the police force up, the local security services up.

And in the meantime, we have to build the infrastructure of this country. There was a lot of damage done by the war, some damage done by the looters, but there was an enormous amount of damage done to this infrastructure by Saddam. We have to start the infrastructure rebuilding from scratch and assist the country of Iraq.

BLITZER: And what do you need right now? What are the most important tools, Commissioner, you need to get this job done, to bring some sort of stability to Iraq?

KERIK: Well, I think the most important thing right now is to bring as many police officers back as we can. We brought back about 25,000 to 30,000 at this point throughout the country. We have to stand up a force here of 65,000 to 75,000.

We have to bring on the civil defense people, the facility- protection service, get as much security in the country as possible to combat the resistance, combat the fighting out there, and just stand them up as quickly as possible, to get things secure.

BLITZER: Commissioner, I think it's fair to say that you and your boss, Paul Bremer, the chief civilian administrator, came into this post-war situation in Iraq relatively late in the game. Was the administration not prepared adequately to get the job done?

KERIK: No, I don't think that's the case, Wolf. I think people have to realize there was absolutely no infrastructure here. If you take the city of Baghdad, for example, the power structures haven't been touched since 1985. If you go down to Basra, it's probably 1975. You have a sewage system under this city that hasn't been touched in years. You have five different components, they are not integrated with each other. Those have to be built so we can get electricity up, so we can get sewage, so we can get water.

Not to mention the security issues, and right now there's a lot of resistance out there. You have people out there that have lost their power, lost their positions. They're fighting back. And the sooner we find Saddam and take him out and take his sons out -- he has to be arrested or killed. The resistance will be arrested or killed. This fight will continue. We have to have patience.

I know Bremer has said it. The president has said it. I am here and I ride through this city every day. We have to have patience, because if we do not, we will lose this battle.

And the terrorists in countries like Iraq, they have a lot of patience. We learned that from 1993, the first attack on the World Trade Center, right up to September 2001, the last. They had enormous patience. We have to have the same, or we will lose the war against terrorism.

BLITZER: Do you believe you have enough troops, enough forces on the ground to get the job done?

KERIK: Well, I think what's there now is being augmented by the police. I think we have to collect intelligence. I think we're going to have international contributions, as some of the people on your show has talked about. That's what the ambassador is talking about now. We're putting together a plan for international contributions and a transition in of an international police task force.

I think it's all molding together, melting together. And that's what's going to secure Iraq in the end.

BLITZER: Some experts have said to me they feel it was a mistake to basically fire those 400,000 regular Iraqi army soldiers, let them go basically with their weapons because many of them are attacking U.S. troops. Was that a mistake?

KERIK: Well, I don't think -- really, Wolf, I mean, you have to think of the components out there. You have to think of the Baath Party, the Saddam loyalists, the people that are out there. A lot of the military, a substantial piece of the military was Fedayeen, was the Saddam loyalists, was the Baath Party. I think we have to break it down from scratch, and we have to rebuild, and that's what they're doing.

BLITZER: I want you to listen to what General John Abizaid, the new commander of the U.S. military's Central Command, said in Washington this past week. Listen to this.


GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, CENTCOM: ... I would describe as a classical guerrilla-type campaign against us. It's low-intensity conflict in our doctrinal terms, but it's war, however you describe it.


BLITZER: Those are strong words. And he obviously came out slightly different, maybe not even slightly, maybe significantly different, from what the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has been saying over these weeks.

War, is that what you're facing right now on the streets of Baghdad?

KERIK: Well, here's the thing, Wolf. I mean, you can, you know, look at definitions all day long. We are very much in a combat zone. There is resistance out there. We have to combat that resistance. You could call it war. You can call it guerrilla war. You can call it combat. You can call it whatever you want. There's resistance out there we have to deal with. I'm not going to bicker over words.

There is a job to do. The police will do that job. The coalition is doing a phenomenal job. They should be given an enormous amount of credit, and they're really responsible for standing up this country to this point.

And there's an enormous change in the country today than there was eight weeks ago when I got here, nine weeks ago. The markets are open. The shops are open. The electricity is on more. The gas lines are lower. There's people all over this city working and doing things today they weren't doing eight or nine weeks ago, and I think people have to realize that.

BLITZER: Commissioner, there's also the issue, and it's gotten a lot of attention this past week, morale of U.S. troops, especially some of those troops who have been told they were coming home but aren't necessarily coming home all that quickly.

I'll play a little soundbite, a couple excerpts from what we've heard from some U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, in my personal opinion, we got the shaft, we got screwed. Because we came, we fought, and now we're read to go home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've seen a lot of soldiers losing confidence. And it's just, it's hard, it's hard to believe, you know, a lot of what we're told now, so it's just a wait-and-see. Once we get on the plane and fly home, then that's when we'll believe that we're going home.


BLITZER: Commissioner, you speak to these men and women every day, the U.S. forces in Iraq. Is that an accurate reflection, that morale seems to be going down?

KERIK: Well, I don't think that's for the most part, and everybody has their own opinion.

But here's what I think people have to look at in the United States and across the rest of the country, the rest of the world. On September 20th, the president stood before Congress, and he said, "This is going to be a long war. This is going to be a war against the people that threaten our country."

This is a part of that war. He said it would be long. We can't come into a country like Iraq, remove a dictator and an oppressor like Saddam, take him out of the picture, and then pack up and leave, because in three weeks from now, he'll be back. We can't do that.

We have to finish what we started, and the only way to do that is with the coalition, fighting the resistance, standing up the police, standing up security, putting it all together and making sure that, when we leave, the regime is gone.

BLITZER: There was a pretty critical report that came out from the CSIS, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think- tank here in Washington, this week, commissioner. Among other things, it came out with this conclusion. It said, "The CPA, the coalition provisional authority, lacks the personnel, money and flexibility needed to be fully effective. It is isolated and cut off from the Iraqis." It went on to say, "The CPA does not know even close to what it needs to know about the Iraqi people."

Those are pretty strong words.

KERIK: Well, I didn't see the report, so I'm not going to comment on it. But I'd say, based on everything you just said or I just heard, I'd have to disagree with it.

I've been here for just about eight or nine weeks now. I've seen tremendous difference. Ambassador Bremer is doing an unbelievable job, and I think the people that wrote that report, they have to go back and take a look at this city. And they have to realize and tell the world the truth.

This country was devastated, not by war, not by the looting, but by Saddam. Somebody has to fix it. The CPA is doing that. The coalition is doing that. And I think it's going to be -- it's just going to take some time to get there. We only got into Baghdad about 100 -- just over 100 days ago. You don't rebuild a country in 100 days.

BLITZER: Commissioner, I want you to respond, if you will, to what Senator Joe Biden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who recently was in Iraq, said earlier today here in the United States on Meet the Press. Listen to this.


BIDEN: That young kid that, two weeks ago, or two days ago, was killed guarding a bank, that's the job of a cop. That's the job of a cop. Every report, including my committee, pointed out that we need 5,000 more cops now on the ground.

And you're telling me we're not going to let the French or the Germans or the Europeans or anyone help us in there when we did it? What kind of childishness is that? That is foolish.


BLITZER: Commissioner, of course, you're a cop, and a proud cop. Is Senator Biden right?

KERIK: Well, I think he's right in the sense that -- when he said that that's the job of a cop. He's absolutely right. That is the job of a cop.

But the things about not letting the international community come in, I'm not exactly sure where he got that, because the plan is to bring in the international community, bring in police officers from other nations and set up an international police task force. So I'm not really sure what he's talking about.

BLITZER: One final question, Commissioner, before I let you go. Saddam Hussein, why is it so hard to find this guy and arrest him?

KERIK: Well, Wolf, Iraq is a country about the size of Texas, I would imagine, probably a little bigger. There's 24 million people here. I'm sure he's built some hideouts in his time. It's only a matter of time. There's a $25 million reward for him. There's $15 million on each of his kids. They'll find him eventually, and he'll be brought to justice or he'll be dead when he comes in. It's just going to take some time, but they'll find him.

BLITZER: Commissioner Kerik, thanks for spending some time with us here on LATE EDITION.

KERIK: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, did the Bush administration create a false impression about the threat from Saddam Hussein's weapons? We'll ask the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller, and one of the panel's leading Republicans, Chuck Hagel.

Plus, basketball superstar Kobe Bryant charged with sexual assault. We'll sort through the case with two prominent attorneys. And our guests will also be taking your questions and phone calls. Start calling us right now.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence, and the speeches I have given were backed by good intelligence.


BLITZER: President Bush expressing confidence in the pre-war intelligence he received on Iraq.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're joined now by two key members of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee. Here in Washington, the panel's vice chairman, Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. And in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Republican senator, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. He also serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senators, welcome to LATE EDITION.

Senator Rockefeller, let me begin with you and put up on the screen two polls just out today, CNN-Time magazine polls.

First, this question: The State of the Union statement about Iraq and nuclear material, was it justified in the president's State of the Union address? The American public is very evenly split. Look at these numbers, 47 percent say justified, 45 percent say not justified.

On the question, should there be an investigation into this State of the Union statement, 43 percent support that idea, 52 percent oppose it. The country, once again, pretty evenly split.

Question to you: Should there be a formal, bipartisan, independent investigation that looks into the whole issue of pre-war intelligence, and should it be public?

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D), WEST VIRGINIA: The answer to the first question is yes, and it's ongoing.

Right after the State of the Union message, and right after the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy, people came out with their debunking of Iraq, I called up Bob Mueller at the FBI and asked for an investigation, and then, since then, Pat Roberts and I together have asked for from the CIA and the State Department investigations. And we're doing it in the Senate, and the House is doing it in their Intelligence Committee.

So there are plenty of investigations, and the question is, what's the point of them? The point of them is to find out if we were being misled, if somebody inserted that in, because, clearly, George Tenet had not wanted to see the Niger thing in the...

BLITZER: I want to get more on that, the Niger business, in a second.

But, Senator Hagel, do you support this notion of having open public hearings so the American public can see what exactly was the state of U.S. intelligence going into the war?

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: I do, Wolf, eventually, but I think the way we are proceeding currently is the responsible way to go. Chairman Roberts, Vice Chairman Rockefeller are handling this exactly right. They're coming at it from a bipartisan way. They're letting the staff do some interviews. We're bringing those people up. We'll continue to do this over the next few weeks.

And then, ultimately, the public needs to be reassured that, in fact, the intelligence the president was given, the intelligence that was used, and how he framed the debate and the decision to go into Iraq was intelligence that they can have confidence in, the process they can have confidence in. And that's, by the way, important for the world to have that same confidence in our word.

BLITZER: Especially going into potentially other crises with North Korea, Iran, other countries around the world. If the president is going to use intelligence, Senator Hagel, you want to make sure the American public and the world has confidence in his words.

HAGEL: Well, I think that is the essence of the exercise here. Yes, we need to know all the other pieces, and sometimes they, I suspect, appear a little silly to outsiders, but this is the larger view, the wider lens here of our creditability.

And if there is something wrong with our intelligence, our intelligence process, the way we move it forward and then the policy and decisions we make based on that intelligence, we need to fix it. We need to know what it is. And America needs to know that and understand it and have confidence.

And just to your point, again, North Korea, I think, and many of us did, the most important, dangerous threat to the world. I thought it long before we went into Iraq it was far more dangerous, North Korea, than Iraq. Today, all the papers, we know what's going on, or we think we know at least enough that's going on, to present a very difficult, complicated situation.

When we now, the United States, speak to our allies and the world about what we think we know, and what we will eventually know more about, then they have to have confidence in that, because something will have to be done here to deal with this North Korean problem.

BLITZER: All right, we're going to get more on North Korea in just a few moments, Senator Hagel. Stand by. I want to bring back Senator Rockefeller.

You raised the issue of the Niger documents, which were clearly a forgery. You say that Bob Mueller, Robert Mueller, the FBI director, you want him to investigate. The FBI is investigating.

The question is this: Those documents, the forged documents, who do you suspect forged those documents? Because the impression is, the implication is somebody deliberately forged those documents to try to get the United States to go to war against Iraq.

ROCKEFELLER: I don't agree with that. I think it's possible, and I hope I'm wrong, but I think it's possible that that 16 -- so- called famous 16-word sentence was inserted into the State of the Union to help shape American -- the viewpoint. Because, after all, it's the biggest part of the weapons of mass destruction.

But I do not agree that, you know, that we have to -- that we knew beforehand.

BLITZER: I'm not suggesting that anyone knew deliberately, but what I'm asking, the documents alleging that Niger was providing uranium or thinking of providing uranium to Iraq, that was a forged document, right?

ROCKEFELLER: It was a forged document, yes. And it was...

BLITZER: Who forged that document?

ROCKEFELLER: Well, we don't know. That's what I am trying to tell you.

BLITZER: Who do you suspect?

ROCKEFELLER: I don't know. I don't know.

BLITZER: Someone must have a motive in trying to get these documents in Italy out there.

ROCKEFELLER: Not necessarily. It have been done sometime before. I mean, look, Niger has a relationship with the United States and with France. We're their closest allies. They're looked at very carefully by the International Atomic Energy Agency folks. They can't just sort of do something all by themselves, and they didn't, I don't think. I think it was trumped up, but I can't tell you who forged it.

BLITZER: I don't want to beat this too much over the head, but that could be a significant question which the Senate Intelligence Committee should be asking: Where did these documents come from? Who created these documents?

ROCKEFELLER: And we may get to that.

But can I make a point that really backs up what Senator Hagel said? And I just agree with every word that he said.

The reason that we're focused so much on this, let's say the Niger incident, it's not because it's only 16 words. It's not because it's like this is because this is politics. It's because if we're going to be in this complicated world that we are and we're looking at Iran, we are looking at North Korea -- North Korea, I agree, is far more dangerous, always was than Iraq to us and our imminent security, soldiers in South Korea, for example -- people have to really trust all of that intelligence. They have to believe in it. So it's very important.

This isn't just parsing. This isn't trying to gain political advantage. Chuck Hagel and I don't care about that. Our committee doesn't care about that. It's that intelligence has to be right when you're talking about the doctrine of preemption. And therefore, you have to look at it very, very carefully.

BLITZER: All right, Senator Hagel, as you know, several of your colleagues in the House and the Senate say now heads should roll, someone should take responsibility for getting those 16 words in the president's statement.

Listen to two of your colleagues, what they said during the course of this past week.


SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: I think it's time for George Tenet to walk the plank.

REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: George Tenet must resign for the credibility of the intelligence community.


BLITZER: Senator Shelby and Congressman Markey, they say George Tenet should just simply resign as a result of this fundamental flaw. Others saying that Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, had a responsibility to go ahead and make sure that every word the president uttered could be backed up.

What do you say, Senator Hagel? HAGEL: Well, I don't agree that Senator Shelby and Congressman Markey's assertion that George Tenet should walk the plank. This intelligence business is bigger, wider, deeper than just about one person. As I have said, George Tenet was not a one-man show here. Certainly Dr. Rice, Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary Powell, Vice President Cheney all were involved in the process. And to try to very quickly dispatch Mr. Tenet as the bad guy here, as the purveyor of bad intelligence, I think is a bit irresponsible.

The fact is, we need to get more facts and understand the issues, what happened, what didn't happen. Then we may make some recommendations to the president as to what we think he should do or not do.

But to just throw George Tenet's body from the train and say that takes care of the problem, I don't think is the way to do this.

BLITZER: Senator Rockefeller?

ROCKEFELLER: And I agree with Chuck Hagel absolutely, and for also an additional reason. If the president were to fire George Tenet, or if he were to resign -- and I have said this to him directly, George Tenet -- the message would be to the intelligence community, not just the CIA, but all 14 of them in the United States, that when you're doing your collection, when you're doing your analysis, when you produce your intelligence product, you're going to have on your mind what it is that the president may want you to come out with. And there is meant to be a gap between the analysis of intelligence and the making of policymaking.

And what Chuck Hagel and I are finding now as we go into this investigation, is that we are dealing more and more with the use of intelligence by policymakers. They're interconnected.

BLITZER: All right, let's take a quick call from California.

Go ahead with your question.

CALLER: It seems that British intelligence is just as questionable as yours, so why in the world would the president use British intelligence?

BLITZER: That's a fair question, and I want both of the senators to respond to it, but also to respond to these words that the president uttered last September, once again quoting British intelligence. Listen to this.


BUSH: According to the British government, Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order were given.


BLITZER: Senator Hagel, that seems to be also pretty much discredited right now, that the Iraqis were ready to launch a biological or chemical attack within 45 minutes.

Why is the president citing British intelligence for information that the U.S. intelligence community says is simply wrong?

HAGEL: Well, I think that question should be better put to the White House or Dr. Rice, versus me. They'll have to explain that.

But it is a serious issue. Obviously, it is another example of a very serious inconsistency from what our intelligence shows.

BLITZER: Senator Rockefeller, it's one thing to quote British intelligence if you really believe they're right. It's another thing to quote British intelligence if your own experts are saying, "You know, they're wrong."

ROCKEFELLER: And I think you hit it on the head. In other words, if you quote them, you're factually correct. You have quoted what they have said. And they got it from maybe one or two other countries, and maybe they were locked into that agreement.

But to say, therefore, that it is true is very different than saying that it's a fact that British intelligence said so.

So, it's tricky, and it was potentially misleading to the American people.

BLITZER: Well, I want your quick reaction, if you have any reaction. This 45-minute assertion, that the Iraqis could get chemical and biological weapons ready to use against the U.S. troops within 45 minutes, that also seems to be at the heart of what this David Kelly, the late British scientist, was saying was simply wrong and should not have been included in British intelligence assessments. And he was found, apparently suicide, over the last few days.

Senator Rockefeller, is this a subject that the Senate Intelligence Committee should be investigating, in addition to the separate investigation that's under way in Britain right now, why this British scientist decided, apparently, to commit suicide?

ROCKEFELLER: I think that's a secondary matter for us to look at, if indeed we need to. I think the primary thing we need to look at is that there's now -- there's sort of been a morphing on the part of the administration. This is not political, this is policy.

You know, Wolf, it is possible to disagree on things without it being political. I mean, it really is. Everything now is if you're for the president, it's political or not political. I mean, that's silly.

The point is that we have now programs of weapons of mass destruction. That is, we find little...

BLITZER: As opposed to actual stockpiles.

ROCKEFELLER: As opposed to the stockpiles weaponized, ready to deliver. And the innuendo, the fact, no nuancing whatsoever in the State of the Union was that they were weapons of mass destruction. That is a very big difference between programs that lead to weapons.

BLITZER: Very quickly, Senator Hagel, I'll give you the last word on this very sensitive subject. How frustrated are you personally right now?

HAGEL: Well, I'm not frustrated, Wolf. These are complicated issues. We have a structure in place. That's why we have select intelligence committees in the House and the Senate, to work these things through.

But I think what is most important here, and we need to keep this in the wider frame of reference, the importance of what we are doing here. Because we are doing something not just for the short term. Iraq is part of a bigger picture here. This is long-term interest for this country and for the world's stability, security. And I think that's what we always have to keep in mind as we work our way along here.

I'm not frustrated. It is part of the job, and we'll do it right. Listen, these young men and women in Iraq and around the world, the strength that they bring to Rockefeller and me and all of us just by watching them day by day, the inspiration they give us, is something really to behold, and I know all of America is proud of them. And we are, and we'll do our job.

BLITZER: I know Senator Rockefeller agrees with you on that point as well. Senator Hagel, thanks very much.

Senator Rockefeller, thank you as well.

Coming up, we'll shift gears. Basketball's brightest star facing sexual assault charges. We'll get legal analysis on the case against the Los Angeles Lakers guard, Kobe Bryant. And later, a special conversation with the former director of the U.S. government's National Security Agency, the retired Lieutenant General William Odom, about the intelligence laws, the lingering threat from Saddam Hussein and much more.

We're also, of course, taking more of your phone calls, your questions. Call us right now.

LATE EDITION will continue right after a quick check of the hour's headlines.



MARK HURLBERT, EAGLE COUNTY, COLORADO DISTRICT ATTORNEY: It is alleged that he -- a sexual penetration or intrusion, and he caused submission of the victim through actual physical force. And that is contained in the complaint.

KOBE BRYANT, L.A. LAKERS: I'm innocent. You know, I didn't force her to do anything against her will. I'm innocent.


BLITZER: He says versus she says. Eagle County, Colorado, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, and the Los Angeles Lakers star, Kobe Bryant, both speaking about the filing of criminal charges against him on Friday.

Welcome back to LATE EDITION. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Basketball fans around the world were shocked Friday by the announcement that Kobe Bryant is being charged with felony sexual assault involving a 19-year-old Colorado woman.

Joining us now with some insight are two courtroom veterans: in Boston, the former prosecutor Wendy Murphy, and in Miami, the criminal defense attorney Roy Black.

Thanks to both of you for joining us.

Roy, if it comes down to he says versus she says, it will depend on the actual evidence to buttress both sides of this story, the physical evidence in particular. What should we be looking for?

ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think a couple of important points is, why did she go up to his hotel room at or around midnight? Obviously, how long was she there, and what happened?

Secondly, how soon after that did she make a complaint? Did she go running down the hallway, yelling "Rape" with her clothes in tatters? Or how many hours did she wait to report it to the police?

Then, is there any kind of bruising, any kind of damage to clothing? Things like that.

That's what the lawyers are now focusing on.

BLITZER: What about that, Wendy?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, it's an interesting question, because we don't know all the facts, but it has been reported that she did immediately report it, that there was noise of a ruckus-like noise in the room, that she left the room disheveled and crying. And frankly, Wolf, you don't see that in most rape cases. So I think this case comes to the table looking like a case where, if there is to be corroboration, it will support the victim's side of things.

But make no mistake about it, it doesn't matter why she went up to his room. I don't care if she went up there buck naked. It doesn't matter, because no one, no matter what their lot in life, no matter what they're doing, deserves to be sexually assaulted against their will.

And sometimes what you have to do is be careful in selecting the jurors, so that, when they're looking at these two people -- and they do have to decide which one of them is more credible than the other -- you want them to be fair, and you don't want them bringing any kind of sexist bias or, in this case, race bias to the table.

BLITZER: Roy, go ahead, and respond to that.

BLACK: Wolf, if Wendy is looking for jurors who don't think it's important that the woman goes buck naked up to a man's hotel room at midnight, then I'll tell you, I don't know where you're going to find those kind of jurors, because that's a ridiculous assertion.

MURPHY: You know, Roy, would you take the position that, if someone goes naked to somebody else's room, they deserve what they get? Is that what you're saying? I want to be clear about this.

BLACK: No, I'm saying that, if I had to imagine, I would think she was interested in sex, not that she was interested in getting raped.

MURPHY: You know -- and at some point, does she give up the right to say no? Under what law are you discussing this case? Does anybody ever give up the right to say no?

BLACK: Wendy, no, she didn't. Who knows if she said no? You're assuming that she said no. I would think if you go naked to a man's...

MURPHY: Of course I am. He's been charged with...

BLACK: ... hotel room in the middle of the night, you're not saying no, you're saying yes.

MURPHY: You know, Roy, it's unfortunate that you would judge any person based on how they look, what they did, because nobody ever loses the right to say no. And if it were your daughter, and she called you and said...

BLACK: Wendy, being naked is not how they look.

MURPHY: Roy...

BLACK: How can you make that? It has nothing to do with skin color or clothing. If you walk into a man's room naked at midnight in a hotel room, most people will think you're looking for sex and not looking to be on Miss Nude America.

MURPHY: And that -- look, the fact that those types of people would make those types of judgments is exactly what I mean about the importance of jury selection. Those kinds of people should not sit on this case, because those people think that women who behave in a certain way deserve what they get. And that's not what the law allows, that's not what the law says.

BLACK: But, Wendy, you're totally wrong. The question is...

MURPHY: I'm not wrong.

BLACK: ... did she consent to sex or not? Being naked tends to show that you consented to have sex. It may not... MURPHY: That's preposterous.

BLACK: She could have said no...

MURPHY: That is ridiculous.

BLACK: ... but more likely than not, if you take your clothes off in a man's hotel room, at midnight, more likely than not, you're consenting to have sex.

MURPHY: That is totally false. You're completely misstating the law.

And moreover, Roy, that's sexist.

BLACK: It's nothing to do with law.

MURPHY: Nobody ever gives up the right to say no...

BLACK: It has to do with common sense.

MURPHY: ... naked or not, and you know better than to say that.

BLACK: It's nothing to do with law. This is common sense.

BLITZER: But in the real -- let me interrupt. In the real world, Wendy, if you go in before a jury, and the woman had gone to the man's room, let's say, voluntarily and stayed there and began the process of beginning some sort of sexual relationship, the jury is going to be sympathetic to the man in this case, thinking the woman wanted precisely what she got.

MURPHY: You know, Wolf, I understand what you're saying, that people are going to be thinking lots of things about why she was there and what she actually wanted.

But, remember, rape law is designed to protect core principles of personal autonomy and bodily integrity. And that means, at any point in this case or in any rape case, at any point in the context of a sexual relationship, everyone, male and female, has a right to stay stop.

We understand this principle very well when it comes to our property and our stuff and our houses. Because if I invite somebody into my house for an hour, and a half-hour later I change my mind and ask them to go, they got to go because it's my house, just like it's my body. And I always get to decide who touches me, when and when they have to stop. And that's not a gender-specific issue. It is a constitutional principle of autonomy.

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead, Roy.

BLACK: Well, what Wendy wants is the right to say no after you have sex. They want to have her the right to say no...

MURPHY: That is not what I said. BLACK: ... after she leaves the room. She goes home, and 12 hours later decides, well maybe I was raped, and I didn't really consent, so I'm going to call the police. That's the right that she wants.

MURPHY: You're making up stories. I didn't say that, Roy. And that's not what this case looks like.

BLACK: Well, that's exactly what you mean.

MURPHY: That is not what this case looks like, either.

BLITZER: All right. Roy, I want you to listen to what Kobe Bryant said at his news conference Friday night. Listen to this.


BRYANT: I sit here in front of you guys furious at myself, disgusted at myself for making a mistake of adultery.


BLITZER: If you were representing, Roy, Kobe Bryant, was this smart to put him before the cameras Friday night?

BLACK: I don't really agree with it, Wolf, and I'll tell you why. I thought it was very dramatic, and in terms of battling press conferences, if you will, he certainly came out ahead.

But the problem is, the jurors are going to see these clips about 100 times before they sit on the trial. And if he says the same thing at the trial, it's going to sound like it's a rehearsal or it's just repeating the same thing.

If -- when he testified and gave that same emotion and those same statements, it would be very powerful. But by seeing it repeated over and over again on television first, it takes away a lot of the impact of it.

BLITZER: What about that, Wendy?

MURPHY: Well, you know, it is a tough call. But in a case like this, where Kobe Bryant comes to the table a beloved athlete, a hero, somebody that we liked very much and admired, it's really the most important thing he has going for him in this case, his reputation.

Which may not be the real Kobe Bryant, and we have to keep that in mind. But I think he actually came across well. I think he came across sympathetic. Some people thought his tears were crocodile tears.

I don't know what to make of this strategically, yet. I just think that if the goal was to make people look at him and feel that he is a human being who can cry and have emotion, then they certainly, you know, created that sense. And that's inconsistent with what we think rapists are like. But I want to be very clear about one other point. Most rapists know their victims. Eighty percent of rapes happen between people who know each other. They tend not to involve the kind of extra violence that might lead to bruising and severe bodily harm, as Roy was suggesting. They, most of the time, turn on the question of consent. And people like Kobe Bryant are actually quite capable of rape.

Over 3,000 women are raped every day in this country, and the people who commit those kinds of crimes are more like Kobe Bryant than unlike Kobe Bryant. It's not a stranger in a dark alley with a trenchcoat. That's just a myth. And it is a myth rooted in sexism. And it's something that this country really hasn't done a very good job getting over.

BLITZER: Roy, I'm going to let you have the last word. I'm going to ask both of you, though, if you have time to stick around and come back later on LATE EDITION and join us, because we have a lot more questions, including possibility of changing the venue, the location of this trial, among other questions.

But, Roy, go ahead and end up this segment.

BLACK: Well, you know, the problem here is, Wolf, we don't really know what the evidence is. We don't know what he has said, and we don't really know what she said. We're going to find that out at the trial.

And the question is, did she consent to have sex when she was in that hotel room? Did she change her mind afterwards? Why did she wait 12 hours? And, you know, details like that. And we're going to have to size up their credibility. But I think we're going to have to wait till court to find that out.

BLITZER: All right. And we're going to watching this case, obviously, very, very closely. Wendy and Roy, I hope you both will be able to stay with us, because I have a lot more questions. I'm sure our viewers do as well, and the phone lines have been really burning up. They want to ask you questions on this very, very sensitive subject.

Thanks to both of you for joining us for now.

MURPHY: Thank you.

BLACK: Thank you.

BLITZER: Still ahead, a conversation with a former chief of the United States National Security Agency, the supersecret spy agency, here in the United States, Lieutenant General William Odom, retired, on what U.S. intelligence really revealed about Iraq.

Also, with North Korea and the United States eyeball to eyeball over nuclear weapons, are the two countries drifting toward war? We'll get an assessment from two top security and weapons experts.

All that, much more, on CNN's LATE EDITION. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Our LATE EDITION Web question of the week is this: Should the United States seek a U.N. resolution asking for help in Iraq? You can cast your vote, yes or no, by simply going to our Web site, We'll have the results later in this program.

We'll be right back.

In fact, we'll have a complete check of the hour's top headlines. And later, is Saudi Arabia a reliable ally in the war on terrorism? Two guests square off over whether it's time to rethink U.S.-Saudi ties.

LATE EDITION will continue right at the top of the hour.


BLITZER: Welcome back. We'll talk with General Odom in just a few minutes. We'll also have more on the Kobe Bryant sexual assault charge. All that coming up.

First, let's go Iraq, where thousands of Iraqi Shiites are staging protests in the holy city of Najaf. CNN's Nic Robertson is standing by live in Baghdad -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, those protests were precipitated by one leading anti-U.S. Shia cleric, Mubtaikh al-Sadr (ph). Now, on his Friday prayers, he called on people to set up a new government, not the government, not the governing council, set up a new army, as well.

On Saturday, he told his followers that U.S. troops had surrounded his house in Najaf. And on Sunday his followers gathered, listened to fiery rhetoric in one of the city's main mosques. Najaf, of course, the most holy site for Shias all around the world.

Those protesters then moved from the mosque toward where the some Marines were standing, began to throw rocks at them. What happened then? The Marines backed off, they kept their guns pointed down.

Some of the Shia clerics got in the way of the stone throwers, tried to calm the crowds down, told them not to do anything without checking with their religious leaders first.

But the whole situation precipitated because, according to this particular anti-U.S. Shia cleric, his house had been surrounded by U.S. troops the previous day. According to the U.S. troops, according to the Marines, rather, in the town, that was absolutely not the case. They accuse Sadr (ph) of lying. They said that their role in the town of Najaf on Saturday had been purely to provide security for Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who was in the town at the time.

Earlier in this day, a report two more U.S. soldiers killed from the 101st Airborne, about 70 kilometers west of Mosul, in the north of Iraq, quite close to the border with Syria. The first time in some time, Wolf, we've heard of deaths of soldiers in this particular area -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, with the tension in the south, now this incident in Mosul in the north, the suggestion perhaps that U.S. troops, coalition forces, were only seriously facing resistance in that so- called Sunni triangle -- Baghdad, Tikrit in the north, Fallujah out in the west -- that might not necessarily be true?

ROBERTSON: Well, certainly Najaf has been a potential tinder box. The Marines based there have kept their profile very low because of the religious sensitivities of that town. Those sensitivities, of course, raised by the speech on Friday by Mubtaikh al-Sadr (ph). What we've seen there, and in protests in Baghdad, is an emergence of opposition to the new governing council.

It's not clear what precipitated the attacks in the north, but very definitely extending way beyond the Sunni triangle. There has been speculation that there are tribes northwest of Mosul where that attack took place that are perhaps loyal to Saddam Hussein, that could perhaps whisk him out of Iraq and into Syria.

That's not clear, but certainly these two incidents way outside the bounds of the central Sunni triangle, Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic Robertson in Baghdad. He's going to be standing by and updating us, obviously, throughout the day here on CNN.

Thanks, Nic, very much.

Let's go to London now, where there are new revelations regarding a scientist who was found dead on Friday, and more questions about his role in an investigation into the British government's pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

CNN's Jim Boulden is following the story closely for us. He's joining us now live from London.

What's the latest today, Jim?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's two things today. One is that the BBC has come out and said that Dr. Kelly was indeed their main source. We'll get to that in a moment.

But also, Tony Blair has just said that he will not resign from the government. Now, he is in Southeast Asia on a tour, and there's been a lot of speculation that this is something that could bring down the Blair government.

He's become quite unpopular over the whole claims about weapons of mass destruction. And the death, or the suicide, of Dr. Kelly on Friday has certainly not helped his popularity.

But Blair has said he will not resign. And this is what he had to say this morning about the death of Dr. Kelly.


TONY BLAIR, PRIME MINISTER OF THE U.K.: I do think this is a time for respect and restraint, not for recrimination of any sort.

And in addition, I would say that, of course, there are things that I will talk about to the inquiry, as will others. But I think the right and proper process is that I speak to the judge who is head of the inquiry in the way that other people will.


BOULDEN: Now, Wolf, the question is here, who was hyping what? Was the government hyping weapons of mass destruction? Was the BBC hyping what Dr. Kelly told them, because he says he could not have told them about any exaggerations? Or, indeed, was Dr. Kelly himself exaggerating what he knew? And this inquiry that Blair was talking about will be looking at all these aspects -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim, I know there's a formal informal inquiry now under way, an investigation, Parliament and law enforcement. But is everybody concluding flatly this was, in fact, 100 percent, a suicide? Or is there some suspicion still lingering out there of foul play?

BOULDEN: There's not really any suspicion of that, because Dr. Kelly was extremely upset after his parliamentary appearance on Tuesday. He was grilled about his information. And obviously, now, we know that the BBC thought of him as their main source, and he was very upset about that because he did not see himself as their main source.

And he said quite publicly there's no way what he told the BBC in private could possibly have ended up on the air, saying that the government had sexed up its allegations about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

So, he was distraught by this, and one of his quotes was to "The New York Times" just before he died. He sent an e-mail and said that there are dark actors playing games. And indeed, that's his last word on this issue, Wolf.

BLITZER: What a tragedy, knowing as well that he was anticipating his daughter's wedding coming up in the fall. What a human tragedy.

Jim Boulden, thanks very much for that.

As each day passes with no discovery of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, more questions are being asked about the primary case for going to war against Iraq.

For some perspective, we turn to the former director of the U.S. government's National Security Agency, retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Odom. He is also the author of the important book, "Fixing Intelligence for a More Secure America."

General Odom, welcome to LATE EDITION. Thanks very much for joining us.

As someone who was intimately involved in dealing with the most sensitive national security secrets out there, how big of a flap is this?

LT. GEN. WILLIAM ODOM (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, it's a flap on several levels. It's a flap in how the interaction between intelligence producers, intelligence users, took place.

I think it's a flap with the president's credibility in the United States with the public.

And I think it's much more seriously an international flap about the credibility of the United States when it speaks about doing things internationally based on what its judgment of intelligence source is is.

BLITZER: Where was the mistake? I assume you think there were -- serious mistakes were made. What were those mistakes?

ODOM: Well, I don't think it starts with an intelligence failure. I think it starts with a policy determination. To switch from, really, what is the war on terrorism against al Qaeda to a war on Iraq, which was not at all amenable to al Qaeda. In fact, the relations between al Qaeda and Iraq were not good.

And it was a determination to go ahead with that policy. And intelligence was fitted to that, pretty clearly. I think...

BLITZER: Well, that's a very serious allegation that you're making, is that political leaders within the Bush administration distorted the intelligence, the raw intelligence, to come up with a conclusion that they liked.

ODOM: Well, all leaders do that to some degree. It's how much they push on it. And you can go back and look at the Tonkin Gulf resolution. It wasn't purely intelligence. It was operational information reported. And it was distorted. There were distortions on the arms race with the Soviet Union for arms control treaties.

The politics of intelligences cannot be entirely divorced from any policy process at any time. The issue is the degree and the consequences of doing it.

BLITZER: Well, what does that do to the...

ODOM: And I think the consequences of doing it here are the most disturbing.

BLITZER: Well, we'll get to that in a moment. But let's get to this very, very important issue of political leaders assuming the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, others within the administration, basically ignoring the intelligence they don't like and exaggerating the intelligence they do like.

ODOM: Well, that's the case. I mean, it seems to me that's pretty much of an open-and-shut case.

BLITZER: But that's a total disservice to the professionals, like you used to be, who are collecting this intelligence.

ODOM: But the intelligence professionals also have a duty that, it seems to me, may have been not fully carried out in this case.

As more comes out on this -- and I, being retired, don't have access to the inside information on this -- but I am somewhat appalled at what appears to be the paucity of intelligence on these matters inside Iraq that we developed from 1991 to 2003, 2002. That we didn't -- that we would not be able to say whether unambiguously, not just sort of a vague judgment, but there is no question that they cannot produce a nuclear weapons program soon.

BLITZER: Because suggest that there was a lack of intelligence suggesting a connection between the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. But as you well know, the Bush administration made a point of saying there was a connection. They were harboring these terrorists in Baghdad. And also suggesting that the war against Saddam Hussein's regime was part of the broader war on terror.

ODOM: That's what they did to all appearances. And I was never convinced by it, and I have always been puzzled by it. In fact, I have even said that probably among the most pleased persons that we invade Iraq will be Osama bin Laden. It makes the country now safe for al Qaeda operatives to move around in and to recruit radical Islamic supporters.

BLITZER: Did you believe there were weapons of mass destruction inside Iraq that posed a direct threat to the United States?

ODOM: I did not believe there were nuclear weapons, which I will accept...

BLITZER: Well, no one says there were actually nuclear weapons.

ODOM: All right, number two...

BLITZER: But there may have been a nuclear weapons programs.

ODOM: But the program is quite different from having the weapons.

BLITZER: Yes, but the administration wasn't suggesting there were weapons -- nuclear weapons.

ODOM: Well, it was -- you know, they were...

BLITZER: They were saying they were trying to reconstitute a program.

ODOM: ... on the cusp. And we've known for a long time, they didn't have the fissile material. You can get enough material out of the Library of Congress to know how to design a bomb. The issue is whether you've got the fissile material to put it together with.

Now, I don't accept that chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. Is an artillery round a weapon of mass destruction? I had much rather an artillery round with chemical weapons fall within 15 or 20 yards of me than a high-explosive round. I could put on my gas mask and get away from the chemical. I would not be able to act fast enough to get away from high-explosive shrapnel.

Therefore, I think we're distorting the reality to an incredible degree to call chemical weapons weapons of mass destruction.

On biological weapons, the jury is out on that. You can imagine scenarios where they're very, very critically capable of destroying large numbers of people.

BLITZER: Well, smallpox and anthrax could kill a lot of people.

ODOM: Sure, sure. But the weaponeering and distributing those weapons is still an open case.

BLITZER: On those 16 words in the president's State of the Union address, the "Wall Street Journal" wrote this this week: "One of the mysteries of the recent yellowcake uranium flap is why the White House has been so defensive about an intelligence judgment that we don't yet know is false and that the British still insist is true."

ODOM: Well, one has to admit that the jury is not fully in on what's in Iraq yet. If there were large mounds of chemical weapons, one should have found them by now, one would expect. But it still doesn't explain the weakness of the information about the extent and the location of these weapons beforehand.

So indeed, the jury's not in. We might be, three, four, five weeks from now, looking at a different matter. But even then, I don't think you'll be able to make a case that there were imminent threats to the United States, or even to regional countries in the Middle East, as a result of these so-called WMD capabilities that were imputed. BLITZER: So the argument -- the main argument the administration made, weapons of mass destruction, to go to war, you simply don't buy.

That was not enough -- if everything they'd said had been true, I still think it was a deeply flawed strategic judgment to go to war with Iraq.

BLITZER: Why is it so hard to find Saddam Hussein?

ODOM: That's a question that I think you'd have to turn to the intelligence services and to the administration to ask.

BLITZER: Because you wrote a book, "Fixing Intelligence: What Needs to be Done to Fix U.S. Intelligence", so that apparently they know more about what's going on around the world.

ODOM: I cannot, with an organizational design, fix the problem of the interaction between policymakers and intelligence producers. And that seems to me to be the crux of the issue here, more than failures of intelligence performance inside.

The one think you might fault the intelligence community for that I've just said, I don't think, from what I can tell and from what's been made public, that there's been comprehensive enough and effective enough coverage inside Iraq.

Had we had that, we might have Saddam. Had we had that, we might already have more details on whatever will eventually be found, if something will eventually be found, in Iraq.

So I would fault them there, but to me this is much more fundamentally a policy-intelligence interaction failure, where very strong preconceptions will move the intelligence in a way that just -- push us to a bad outcome.

BLITZER: General Odom, you're an expert on this subject. You spent a career in Army intelligence over at the National Security Agency. Thanks for joining us.

ODOM: Thank you.

BLITZER: Don't forget to weigh in on our Web question of the week. It's this: Should the United States seek a U.N. resolution asking for help in Iraq? You can cast your vote. Go to We'll have the results later this hour.

Plus, are the United States and North Korea on a collision course toward war? And in a post-9/11 world, is Saudi Arabia a trustworthy ally? We'll get two very different perspectives.

We're also looking for your phone calls on those subjects and more. Call us right now. You see the number on the screen.

LATE EDITION will be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back. Despite calls from the United States for North Korea to halt its nuclear weapons program, that country has signaled it's moving ahead.

Joining us now to talk about the North Korean threat and how the United States should proceed are two guests. Wendy Sherman is a former United States assistant secretary of state, a special presidential adviser on North Korea. Robert Gallucci is a former weapons inspector. He is now dean of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service here in Washington, D.C.

Welcome, to both of you, to LATE EDITION.

Today's headline -- Wendy, I'll begin with you -- in "The New York Times": North Korea Hides New Nuclear Site. Evidence suggests a second weapon site where they can produce weapons-grade plutonium, presumably.

How big of a deal is that? WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think the entire situation in North Korea is a big deal. And if, in fact, they have set up another plant to reprocess spent fuel, it would explain a lot of mysteries that we've had about where the spent fuel might have been transferred to, from Yongbyon.

But even if they don't have another plant, we are in a dangerous crisis, even though the administration is not ready to call it that yet.

BLITZER: What about that?

ROBERT GALLUCCI, FORMER WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I think that's exactly right. I think that if the North Koreans have another facility that's secret, it just makes the solution to the problem that much harder. But it also increases the urgency that we get going with some sort of a solution.

BLITZER: But, Dean Gallucci, explain that to our viewers who aren't all that familiar with the technical nuances of building a bomb. If they have one plant or two plants, what's the difference?

GALLUCCI: OK. There are two ways to build a bomb. One is to use highly enriched uranium; the other is to use plutonium. The North Koreans, for a long time, had a plutonium program. That requires a reactor and a chemical-separation or reprocessing facility to separate plutonium from spent fuel. They had a reprocessing facility; they still do. And they had fuel to extract the plutonium from.

But the mystery that Wendy was referring to was that they seemed to be moving the fuel, saying they were reprocessing, but we didn't see the activity or the indicators that that reprocessing plant was working.

So, if, indeed, this story is correct, and they do have a second plant, then they have a secret place to separate the plutonium. And that plutonium, we estimate, is about 30 kilograms, or five bombs' worth.

BLITZER: Well, when you say secret, if the U.S. government suspects there's a second plant, they presumably have indications where that plant is.

GALLUCCI: No. No. The short answer here is that...

BLITZER: All the satellite reconnaissance, photography and electronic eavesdropping...

GALLUCCI: Wolf, it's a big country. Actually, it's a small country, but when you're taking pictures, it's a big country. So, I'm not saying we won't find the site.

By the way, we don't know where the uranium enrichment program is. That is still a secret site.

The program isn't secret any longer. We know about it, and the North Koreans admitted to it. The North Koreans have claimed they're reprocessing.

So, in a sense, the activity is not secret. The technology is not secret. But the location of the facilities appear to be secret.

And, by the way, that's fairly important for those who think there's a military solution to this.

BLITZER: Well, on the military solution, Wendy, there are people out there who say you, when you were in the Clinton administration, made a major mistake in '93, '94, before, presumably, they had these one or two or three nuclear bombs that they may have right now. At that point, you should have just preempted, taken out those facilities, done what the Israelis did, for example, against the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, destroy them.

SHERMAN: Well, we certainly considered doing that. One thing that's a little bit different than other situations here, even different than Iraq, is there's a million-man army forward deployed along the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea, about 37 miles from downtown Seoul.

And so, if we had done a preemptive strike on Yongbyon, the first reactor that Bob referred to, it is quite possible that they would have retaliated and had a catastrophic effect in Seoul before we would have ultimately won such a war.

BLITZER: How close were you to launching such a strike?

SHERMAN: We were extraordinarily close, as former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry has recently said in an interview. But we proceeded to the U.N., moving toward sanctions as a prelude to that. And we were fortunate in that former President Carter went to Pyongyang and really helped get the agreed framework that Dean Gallucci negotiated done.

BLITZER: And you say "fortunate," but isn't -- didn't you just delay, almost, the inevitable of what's happening, this crisis right now? You can't trust the North Koreans to live up to the agreement that you put forward with them.

SHERMAN: Well, that agreement stood in place for 10 years and kept North Korea from developing enough plutonium for the five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 bombs that we are now in the precipice of having.

And if, in fact, I believe the Bush administration had continued the negotiations, had picked up the cards that the Clinton administration left on the table and continued negotiations, we would have a missile agreement in place by now, we would have access to their sites, and we would not be in the crisis that we're in now.

BLITZER: Wendy's blaming the Bush administration, when a lot of people are blaming Kim Jong-Il.

GALLUCCI: I'm shocked. But I'll get over it.


I think a couple of things are true here, Wolf. Everybody wants to know, I think, does it make sense to negotiate with North Korea after they cheated before?

The short answer for, I think, many of us is yes, because, as Wendy's correctly pointing out, had the negotiation not taken place, North Korea would have well over 100 nuclear weapons now. So it's a good idea we did that.

We expected, we anticipated that they might cheat, and we'd have to catch them. We caught them. The question now is, what do we do about that? And what we're doing so far is not enough. It's not stopping the program.

BLITZER: Well, when you say they might have had 100 nuclear bombs by now, had the Clinton administration in '93, '94 destroyed their nuclear capability, taken them out, they would have had no nuclear bombs by now.

GALLUCCI: That's a brilliant rejoinder, Wolf, but, had we done that, we might also have a couple hundred thousand people dead who are now living. I mean, we -- as Wendy said, we very carefully considered the idea of whether we could attack those facilities, and the answer, which, by the way, Bill Perry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to, was, yes, we could attack those facilities, but we might well have ended up, might well have ended up with a war in the Korean Peninsula, which would not have been and would not now be another Gulf War. It would be another Korean War.

BLITZER: The lesson, though, that bad guys around the world have to learn from this whole U.S. negotiation, this whole U.S. involvement with North Korea, is this: Go ahead and develop a nuclear bomb as quickly as you can, because then the United States is not going to attack you as they did Saddam Hussein.

SHERMAN: I think, unfortunately, what North Korea took from the Iraq war is, the only way they could make sure that their regime survived was to have a nuclear weapons program. But we have to test out whether in fact they will move back from it, to ensure the survival of their regime, and the only way you can find that out is to test it through negotiations.

So the Bush administration is right to seek talks. It's important for China to help us get there. And then we have to make sure we put a proposal on the table, not just consider who ought to be at that table.

BLITZER: We have a caller, I believe from Kansas.

Go ahead, Kansas.

CALLER: Yes. Hello?

BLITZER: Go ahead. CALLER: Yes. What I'm concerned about is, why this administration isn't as concerned about the Korean possibility as they were about Iraq.

BLITZER: What about that, Dean?

GALLUCCI: Well, I think they may be as concerned, but they had certain objectives in Iraq that they needed to achieve for a policy that they want to pursue in the Middle East, and it has to do with the Gulf. It has to do with the security of Israel. And ultimately it's a geostrategic approach, I believe, the administration has, and Iraq was central to that.

I think that they well understand how important North Korea is. If they didn't before, certainly after the last meeting in Beijing, where the North Koreans said they might even consider transferring the fissile material or weapons outside of Korea, which could well mean al Qaeda, they know how serious the problem is now.

The problem is, it's not an easy one for them, when they try to take negotiation off the table as being ideologically unacceptable. They don't like the military option. Nobody does.

BLITZER: They say they're not taking negotiation off the table.

And, Wendy, you can respond to this.

What they're saying is, this shouldn't just be the United States and North Korea. Japan, China, Russia, South Korea, they have a lot at stake, maybe a lot more than the United States has at stake in this as well, and let all of them negotiate with North Korea.

SHERMAN: I completely agree that it's in everybody's interests for North Korea to step back from its nuclear program. And when we negotiated with North Korea, we did it in very close consultation. We had a multilateral forum. Just not everybody was in the same room at the same time.

So, in this case, would it be good to have everybody in the room? Yes. But the United States will still want to preserve its security options, and make sure that that multilateral forum, that multilateral negotiation takes care of the United States' interests.

So it is important that we be in that room. We can be in the room with others, but at the end of the day we are the 800-pound gorilla, we're going to have to have those direct talks, we're going to have to help find a solution to this problem.

BLITZER: Let me put some poll numbers up there. CNN-Time magazine polls that's just out this weekend: How should the U.S. handle North Korea? Only diplomatic force, 62 percent say only diplomatic force. But 33 percent, use military force.

Does North Korea threaten the United States? Immediate threat, 21 percent say it's an immediate threat. 61 percent see it as a long- term threat. 15 percent don't see it as a threat at all. And a lot of people were pretty alarmed this week when William Perry, the former secretary of defense during the Clinton administration, wrote a piece in "The Washington Post," actually gave an interview in "The Washington Post," and among other things he said this -- I'll put it up on the screen:

"I think we are losing control. The nuclear program now under way in North Korea poses an imminent danger of nuclear weapons being detonated in American cities."

An imminent danger. Is he going too far, Dean?

GALLUCCI: No. I mean, I think anyone who listened to the North Koreans in April say they were contemplating transfer, I mean, think a minute about this.

Right now there's a missile, medium-range ballistic missile, in Pakistan, the Ghauri, which is really a knock-off of the Nodong North Korean missile. There's a missile in Iran that can reach Israel, the Shahab-3, which is a knock-off of the Nodong missile.

If North Korea has been willing to destabilize two regions with exports there, and many other exports of ballistic missiles and other weapons, why would we think that they would exercise restraint in the export of fissile material?

If they are indeed pursuing this plutonium program, together with the uranium enrichment program, they'll have plenty of material for their own nuclear weapons, which they can mate with ballistic missiles and directly threaten us, or even more dangerously, transfer to entities against whom we have no good defense or deterrent.

BLITZER: Wendy, you met with Kim Jong-Il when you worked with Secretary Albright, Madeleine Albright, at the time you went in October, 2000, to North Korea. You saw this guy.

I've heard some Republican strategic thinkers make this point, and tell me if they are totally wrong. That, if the U.S. launched a quick, decisive preemptive strike, they knew where all the nuclear facilities were, cruise missiles went in, knocked them out, Kim Jong- Il, the man you met, the leader of North Korea, their supreme leader, whatever they call him, that he would not be that crazy as to launch an invasion of the south, go ahead and use their million-man force along the border, because he would know in the end that the United States would obliterate him.

SHERMAN: Oh, I don't think this is about being crazy. I think he's quite pragmatic. I think he's quite strategic. And, in fact, what he might decide, if we took a preemptive strike, was his only way to survive was to make use of the one or two nuclear weapons that he has, to really go ahead and test, to go ahead and send some of the troops into South Korea, to take some actions as South Korea has said he's done already, which is to move some of the artillery forward, to, in fact, deploy more Nodong missiles that might hit Japan.

So I don't think anybody should count on Kim Jong-Il folding up his tent and deciding he's going to just sit still. That's not what he's done in the past.

BLITZER: If he's rational, and no one says he is rational, but if he were rational, he would use one or two nuclear bombs, let's say, he would know the U.S. could use 100 on North Korea and simply end it.

SHERMAN: I think he knows that, at the end of the day, if there is a war, he will lose it. But if you think that your regime's actual survival is at stake, you're going to take whatever steps you can to try to protect it.

It is why I think one of the hopeful signs this week is that the vice foreign minister of China actually sat down and had a meeting with Kim Jong-Il, for which there were photographs that they were willing to acknowledge.

So I think there is still a chance and an opportunity here for diplomacy, and we ought to take it.

BLITZER: I'm going to let you have the last word. But I want you to respond to what Richard Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said this week on the whole issue of negotiating with North Korea. Listen to this.


RICHARD BOUCHER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: We will make clear once again that we will not submit to blackmail, we will not offer any incentives or inducements for North Korea to stop something they never should have started to begin with.


GALLUCCI: Wolf, after a lot of years of diplomacy, I don't understand what this administration means when it says it's prepared to proceed with a diplomatic solution when it will not, in fact, engage.

It is prepared to meet the North Koreans and accept surrender. I understand that. And if they could get that, I'd be all for it.

But in the meantime, if they're not prepared, in fact, to engage the North Koreans, they're not prepared to put something on the table, I think they're making a huge mistake for which we all could pay an awful lot.

BLITZER: Robert Gallucci, thanks for joining us.

Wendy Sherman, thanks to you, as well.

SHERMAN: Good to see you, Wolf.

GALLUCCI: Thank you.

BLITZER: This is a serious subject.

SHERMAN: Absolutely. GALLUCCI: It is a serious subject.


A reminder, there's still time to vote on our LATE EDITION Web question of the week: Should the United States seek a U.N. resolution asking for help in Iraq? Go to our Web site, We'll have the results. That's coming up.

Also, new questions about whether Saudi Arabia is a trustworthy ally are revealed in the new book, "Sleeping with the Devil." We'll get two very different perspectives on the U.S.-Saudi relationship. That's coming up.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Since the September 11th attacks, suspicions have been raised about Saudi Arabia's role in the war on terrorism. And there have been calls for the United States to reassess its long-time relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Joining us now to talk about this, two guests. Here in Washington, Robert Baer. He's the author of the new book, "Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold its Soul for Saudi Crude." And in New York, with a very different perspective, Frank Anderson. He's a former CIA chief for Near East and South Asia.

Welcome to LATE EDITION to both of you. I know both of you strongly disagree.

Bob, let me begin with you. The thrust of your book is that Saudi Arabia should accept at least some of the blame for 9/11.

ROBERT BAER, AUTHOR: I think it should accept the blame, because those 15 hijackers were recruited inside Saudi Arabia. We have to know how this came about. There were clerics that did this, that filtered these people that got on those airplanes.

Also, at every turn in the network, in Germany, there was a Saudi involved, in Tatex (ph) Company. With Darkenzali (ph), another suspect in 9/11, there was a Saudi involved.

And then we find out today that one of the Saudis in San Diego had been going to the Saudi consulate and then meeting with two of the hijackers. The same hijackers he met in a restaurant, set them up in an apartment.

There are a lot of unanswered questions, and we are not getting the same cooperation out of Saudi Arabia as we are, let's say, Pakistan.

BLITZER: Frank, like Bob, you worked in the CIA for many years. You worked basically on the same issues. At one point you were Bob's boss over at the CIA. But you come out very differently. Why?

FRANK ANDERSON, FORMER CIA CHIEF FOR NEAR EAST AND SOUTH ASIA: Well, Bob's book gives us a view of the United States and of Saudi Arabia with which I profoundly disagree. He paints a picture of corruption in the United States and of dysfunction in Saudi Arabia that are based on sources that he doesn't identify, and in fact that have served him poorly.

The Washington side of his story is, in many ways, the one that I find more troubling, because it makes some very troubling allegations about the president of the United States accepting bribes, about the secretary of defense assisting Frank Carlucci (ph) and the Carlisle Group out of friendship. It says things about Saudi Arabia that would involve access that, frankly, the United States government has never had.

BLITZER: All right.

ANDERSON: And Bob's sources have served him badly, and they've given him some bad facts.

BLITZER: Let's let Bob respond to that.

Bad facts? The serious allegation against you and your book.

BAER: Well, here's the problem I had. I had to clear this book with the CIA. Every single word...

BLITZER: You were a case officer?

BAER: I was a case officer. I signed a contract. What I learned inside the CIA has to be sent to the CIA, has to be taken out, or the sources can't be identified. I have no choice over that. So I couldn't use footnotes.

A lot of the information, if Frank will look at it, about disputes inside the royal family come from after he left the CIA, which I think was 1994. I'm quite certain of those sources. I'll stand by them right until the end. They're the best I've ever seen in my entire career.

The stuff on Frank Carlucci -- and I, what I talk about in Washington is chumminess. It's...

BLITZER: But basically you make the allegation that almost everybody in a position of power is on the Saudi payroll one way or another.

BAER: No, no, I think that's unfair. That's taken out of context.

What I say is there is a deference to Saudi Arabia because Saudi Arabia has been a longtime ally. It is an enormous support for our defense industry. It has been enormous support for our oil industry.

But while we were showing deference to Saudi Arabia, these clerics were recruiting suicide bombers. And what I'm trying to do in my book is explain why and how we correct it.

BLITZER: Let me put up on the screen an excerpt from the book, "Sleeping with the Devil."

"There's hardly a former assistant secretary of state for the Near East, CIA director, White House staffer or member of Congress who hasn't ended up on the Saudi payroll in one way or another, or so it sometimes seems. With this kind of money waiting out there, of course, Washington's bureaucrats don't have the backbone to take on Saudi Arabia."

That's a big thrust of your book.

BAER: I stand by that. Why else are we not looking into the Saudi connections to September 11th? Why is it that Syria is still on the terrorism list, Iran, yet all the terrorist attacks have been inside Saudi Arabia, have involved Saudis. We still don't have answers on 9/11.

What I'm trying to do in my book is answer these questions the best I can. And I answer them in the absence of testimony from the leaders of this country.

BLITZER: Let's let Frank respond to that.

Frank, so many people on the Saudi payroll. First of all, what about you? Are you on the Saudi payroll?

ANDERSON: No, I am not. I have never received a penny from the Saudis. My business, I have a number of American businesses, and for that matter, at times the U.S. government, that pay me for information and understanding about the Middle East. And if I don't get along with the Saudis, I'm not going to be able to talk to them, and I would probably then have less of an ability to make a living. But I am certainly not on their payroll.

BLITZER: Well, what about the argument that he makes, that so many others in Washington are one way or another, directly or indirectly, on the payroll. You've been around Washington, the U.S. government, for a long time. Do you accept that?

ANDERSON: I absolutely don't. Let me give you just one example. And let's go back to the Carlucci (ph) and Don Rumsfeld thing. In order to make the case of that chumminess, Bob says that Don Rumsfeld -- pardon me for the familiarity -- that Secretary Rumsfeld had fought to keep alive the Crusader Howitzer program. And you, Wolf, as a defense expert know how clearly Rumsfeld was on the other side.

His facts on Saudi Arabia. He treats us to page after page after page of information on, you know, the inner workings of the Saudi government from sources, who when he lists the members of the family can't get sons and brothers straight. He lists...

BLITZER: Well, let me ask Bob to respond to that.

When you worked in the CIA, or since leaving the CIA, did you spend a lot of time in Saudi Arabia learning first hand what's going on there?

BAER: No, this book is a personal testimony. As the book says at the beginning, I'm not an expert on Saudi Arabia. What I do is I take three occurrences, one is our fear in the '80s of its oil industry being sabotaged by Iran at the time. And I put that together with the budget deficits in Saudi Arabia, the problems -- demographic problems, population growth and looking at divisions inside the royal family.

BLITZER: I was in Saudi Arabia in December, spent some time there, went to the Prince Sultan Air Base, Bob. And I have to tell you, when I met with U.S. military personnel there -- and they are shutting down effectively the U.S. military operation in Saudi Arabia -- but they say that since the first Gulf War, they said it to me, the Saudi role in making sure that the no-fly zone, for example, in southern Iraq was protected -- the Saudi strategic assets that were provided to the U.S., were critical in dealing with Saddam Hussein.

BAER: Oh, I think they are critical. But that's not the point. The point is there has been Saudis involved in September 11. We don't have those answers. And I think when you see the report -- the congressional report come out next week, you're going to see everything related to Saudi Arabia blacked out.

BLITZER: I want you to listen to what Senator Bob Graham, Frank, said earlier today on television, because he was hinting very strongly that in that report that comes out, there is not going to be the direct references to Saudi Arabia, for whatever reason, but clearly, that Saudi money was going at least to some of those 19 terrorists.

Listen to Senator Bob Graham of Florida.


SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will say that that foreign government went well beyond facilitating charitable giving to terrorists. There was also direct governmental involvement with some of the terrorists. And an unanswered question is, was the same assistance provided to the other 19 terrorists?


BLITZER: He didn't specifically say Saudi Arabia, although that was the clear implication. For security reasons, for classified information, he wasn't going to go that far.

But do you accept the fact, at least as he is suggesting, that the U.S. government has knowledge that some Saudi money directly went to one or more of those 19 hijackers?

ANDERSON: I don't have the detailed information on what the U.S. government knows about the funding. I do know that Saudi Arabia, since 9/11, working with the United States, has profoundly changed its banking systems, its banking regulations and the supervision of charitable activities in the country to deal with just that sort of a problem. And with that, to talk about policy prescriptions and the kinds of things that we need to do, let me jump to the thing in Bob's book that most profoundly upsets me, or concerns me, and that's his policy solutions. He comes up with three.

The first of which is that we should pressure the Saudis to become like Syria, arguing that Syria, in wiping out an entire city, solved its problems and became, I would guess, an acceptable associate of the United States.

BLITZER: Let me let Bob respond to that.

Go ahead.

BAER: Well, I didn't say "become like Syria" in the book, I said that you have to deal with fundamentalism at the very roots, that obviously bombing Hama (ph), as Hafez al Assad did in 1982, is not a solution. But you have to put these people in jail. The fact is that Saudis murdered Americans. You can't let them not be accountable.

BLITZER: Well, let me just play for you what Adel al-Jubeir -- he's a foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah -- said to me on this program in May, after the Riyadh attacks. Listen to this.


ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: We have questioned thousands of individuals. We have individuals in detention. We've referred 100 of them to trials. If our security services were infiltrated, this would not be the case.


BAER: I've got one thing to say about that. It's that the current spokesman at the embassy said that the May 12th attack on the compound in Riyadh was a wake-up call for the Saudis.

BLITZER: That's what Adel al-Jubeir says as well.

BAER: Yes. What happened after 9/11? I mean, didn't they notice there were 15 Saudis on those airplanes?

BLITZER: That's a fair point.

BAER: The Saudis are not held accountable. And that's the end of the story.

BLITZER: But what about that? Why did it take the Riyadh bombings, Frank, to get the Saudis to cooperate as robustly as apparently they are right now? Why didn't they cooperate after the Khobar attack, after 9/11, for that matter?

ANDERSON: I don't accept that they didn't cooperate after the Khobar attack. You know, the charge that the Saudis didn't cooperate was in fact -- and captures the line that Louis Freeh wouldn't go on the record about the Saudis. What Louis Freeh finally went on the record about was the political decision made by the United States not to pursue the Khobar bombing when all of the information, much of which was collected with significant Saudi cooperation, led directly to the Iranians.

BLITZER: Well, I think what a lot of the FBI guys who were over there -- and I spoke with several of them myself -- what they were upset about, Frank, was that they wanted to interview some of the suspects, they didn't have an opportunity to do so, because the Saudis simply went ahead and executed them, so nobody could question who may have been behind this attack.

ANDERSON: I have to agree with that frustration, but I also, on the other hand, would say, I don't think that a Saudi investigator would make a lot of progress in Mississippi if he wanted to interview a suspect in a murder of a Saudi citizen here in the United States.

I think that the Saudis should be more forthcoming on this. I think that we should continue to press them to be so. But I don't want to hold that up, and I think it's wrong to hold up as an indication that there's not cooperation in the war on terrorism between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

BLITZER: Bob, we started off with your book. Let's end it up with your book as well, the subtitle about the crude.

Let me put up on the screen some numbers. Where does the United States get oil right now? Canada is our largest supplier, 16 percent. Then Saudi Arabia, 14 percent. Venezuela, 13 percent. Mexico, 12 percent. Eight percent from Nigeria.

Fourteen percent from Saudi Arabia is still down considerably from where it used to be.

BAER: But it's the surplus capacity that's important. Any time there's been a problem in oil markets since 1974, Saudi Arabia has been there. And this is a positive point for Saudi Arabia, with the first Gulf War, the second Gulf War, strikes in Venezuela, the Saudis have always pumped extra oil. They are crucial to our economy.

Let's clean up that place, solve some of those problems, and get some accountability on 9/11, and this relationship can be rescued.

BLITZER: All right.

BAER: But until then...

BLITZER: That's all the time, unfortunately, that we have. I'll read the name of the book: "Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude." Robert Baer is the author of that book. Thanks to Robert Baer.

Obviously we can't resolve U.S.-Saudi relations in the brief time that we have.

BAER: Thanks.

BLITZER: Frank Anderson, thanks for joining us from New York as well.

ANDERSON: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Coming up, the results of our LATE EDITION Web question of the week: Should the United States seek a U.N. resolution asking for help in Iraq? We'll tell you how you, our viewers, voted.

Also ahead, climbing casualties in Iraq. Is the United States facing a quagmire? We'll get assessments from two key members of Congress just back from Baghdad. They'll also be taking your phone calls. Get ready to ask your questions.

Also coming up, more on the Kobe Bryant investigation.

LATE EDITION will continue right after this.


BLITZER: And now the results of our LATE EDITION Web question of the week. The question, of course, is this: Should the United States seek a U.N. resolution asking for help in Iraq?

Look at this: 89 percent of you say yes; 11 percent of you say no.

Remember, this is not -- repeat, not -- a scientific poll.

LATE EDITION always wants to hear from you. You can share your comments, your questions. Go to our Web address,, as well as you can read my daily online column at

LATE EDITION continues right after a quick check of the hour's top stories.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

We're standing by to talk with two attorneys. They've been assessing the Kobe Bryant sexual assault charge. We'll speak with Roy Black and Wendy Murphy. That's coming up.

As his administration faces growing criticism over the handling of pre-war intelligence on Iraq, as well as the situation unfolding right now, President Bush is meeting today with a key ally, the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

CNN's White House correspondent Chris Burns is at the presidential ranch in Crawford, Texas. He's joining us now live -- Chris.

BURNS: Hello, Wolf.

Prime Minister Berlusconi is due in about a couple of hours here. They will be, obviously, talking about Iraq. Italy was one of the members of the coalition of the willing, so the president is inviting Mr. Berlusconi over in a rare occasion to thank him.

Perhaps, also, asking for a bit more help because Italy, so far, has provided only a number of carabinieri, national police, to the effort in stabilizing Iraq, and, of course, the U.S. is asking other countries for thousands of troops to help stabilize that situation.

Now, at the same time, though, the main point man for the White House today was Paul Bremer. The U.S. administrator in Iraq came back to Washington to talk on all the talk shows, trying to put positive spin, talking about how they needed more time, that they will establish, they expect to establish, a government inside Iraq in the next year. Also talking about how Saddam Hussein is still alive and his supporters are still very busy, that they need to be caught and taken on.


BREMER: The fact of the matter is, we are facing a small group of bitter-enders who are basically trying to turn the tide of history. We have thrown out Saddam, and Saddam, dead or alive, is finished in Iraq. We will prevail against these professional killers. They are in a small area of the country. That's the place where the unrest is. And we'll deal with it.


BURNS: Democrats, however, were firing away today on the talk shows, demanding that the White House do more to attract international troops to Iraq, namely going back to the U.N., getting a new U.N. mandate that would satisfy a number of countries including such as India, which could provide 17,000 troops. There are other countries: France, Germany, Pakistan, maybe even Turkey with 10,000 troops.

So they are pressing the Bush administration to take a bit more of a proactive stand in trying to attract those countries to send troops to Iraq.

Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris Burns, thanks very much for that report.

In Iraq today, two more U.S. soldiers were killed. A third was wounded near Mosul -- that's in the northern part of the country -- as U.S. casualties clearly continue to mount.

In addition, Iraq's Shiite population, several of them, many of them, indeed, are expressing their frustration with the U.S. military presence.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in Baghdad. He's joining us now live with more -- Nic.

ROBERTSON: Well, the major demonstrations today, Wolf, coming in Najaf, the holy Shia city about two hours' drive south of Baghdad. A leading Shia cleric who has a very anti-U.S. view had a very strong prayer service on Friday. He said he wanted a separate government and a separate army to the new governing council provided by the coalition provisional administration.

On Saturday he said U.S. troops surrounded his house, and on Sunday his supporters came out, threw rocks at U.S. Marines. Those Marines say they didn't surround his house; they were merely providing security for Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz when he was in Najaf on Saturday.

But the situation there a tense situation, exacerbated by this leading cleric having a very anti-U.S. message, recently essentially getting a lost people out on the streets.

Those two soldiers dying in Mosul in the north of the country, an area very far north of the central Sunni triangle where we've seen most of the trouble in Iraq recently, the two soldiers killed in a rocket-propelled grenade and gun attack on their position about 70 kilometers, about 45 miles northwest of the town of Mosul in the north of Iraq -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic Robertson in Baghdad for us. Thanks, Nic, very much.

As the death toll of U.S. troops grows almost daily, polls in this country indicate a growing unease among the American public about the U.S. military mission in Iraq.

Joining us now are two key members of the House of Representatives. They've just returned from Baghdad. In Los Angeles, California Congresswoman Jane Harman, she's a top Democrat, the top Democrat, indeed, on the House Intelligence Committee, also serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security. In Reno, Nevada, Republican Congressman James Gibbons, a member of both of those committees, as well.

Welcome to both of you.

And let me begin with you, Congresswoman Harman. How bad is it based on your eyewitness account, what you saw?

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: It's mixed, Wolf. We have an excellent team on the ground now led by Jerry Bremer. The head of our armed forces is excellent. And the fellow in charge of the WMD search, David Kay, is the best I think we could field.

On the other hand, there are still security challenges. It's unbelievably hot. We have heroes down there. But they're in the crosshairs of this Iraqi insurgence, and actually, there are some foreign terrorists on the ground, too.

So it is dangerous. We have a lot to do. But I'm hopeful that if we can internationalize this now that we will do much better.

BLITZER: Take a look at these numbers, Congressman Gibbons, in the new CNN-Time magazine poll that's just out this weekend. The American public was asked about the U.S. military campaign in Iraq. In March, 52 percent said it was successful. That's down to 39 percent right now. It looks like the American public is becoming increasingly concerned, based on what they're seeing on television and reading about in the newspapers.

REP. JAMES GIBBONS (R), NEVADA: Well, there's no doubt about it, Wolf. Over the last five years, the American public has come to expect short-term, low- casualty conflicts. And those conflicts oftentimes are vastly different from the ones we're going to have today and into the future, because terrorism and the kind of conflict and dangers that we're facing in Iraq are going to be present for a long time.

You cannot go into a country that has had decades of abandonment, of misuse of their financial aid, and try to restructure and reconstruct that country in a couple of months. It just can't happen.

BLITZER: But, Congressman Gibbons, let me interrupt for a second. Excuse me for doing so. But the criticism against the administration is that they were woefully unprepared for the post-war environment.

GIBBONS: Well, I don't know if we were woefully unprepared. I think we may have overestimated our welcome and underestimated the opposition when we arrived there, from terrorists, from out-of-country insurgents that are in the country right now.

We underestimated the fact that there has been three decades of mismanagement, financial mismanagement. The infrastructure is in a lot worse shape.

Believe me or not, Wolf. We've got a lot of work ahead of us. It is a dangerous situation. But look at it this way. We're still in Bosnia. And we went there in 1995, and we were only supposed to be there a couple of months.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Harman, there's another number I want to put up on the screen, another question that was asked in the CNN-Time magazine poll.

It looks like it's going to cost about a billion dollars a week, $3.9 billion a month, to keep the U.S. military on the ground in Iraq to deal with this situation. According to the respondents, 35 percent said that's an acceptable figure, 58 percent thought it was unacceptable.

That's a lot of money.

HARMAN: It's a ton of money.

I don't quite agree with Jim Gibbons. I think we could have done a much better job of pre-war planning than we did do, and we're paying for that, literally paying for that.

We have to spend the money it takes to transform that country now. I mean, it would be immoral to have gone through all this and then leave that country in disarray. But hopefully we can internationalize this now -- we should have done it earlier -- so that we can share some of the burdens. And there are opportunities for that. The editorial boards of the "Los Angeles Times" and other papers are pressing for that. And I am very much for that.

I'm also for something we are doing, which is to train Iraqis. We're now training a 40,000-person force to take part of this function over for us.

GIBBONS: And I believe...

BLITZER: Congressman Gibbons, let me -- I'll let you respond, but let me ask you this question, and you can respond to this, as well.

Countries like India, Russia, France, Germany, they're saying we'll send police, we'll send military forces to help the United States, but first get another U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing that kind of assistance. Is that a fair trade-off?

GIBBONS: Well, first of all, I would say that the one thing we can do to improve Iraqi security is to train Iraqi forces there, Iraqi police. Right now, as Jane has said, we have 38,000 of those already trained and out on the streets. So that's not very many, when you consider we've got a community of 5 million people in Baghdad alone.

But we're also going forward and reconstituting their army. We're vetting all of those individuals.

Once we get Iraqi soldiers and police back doing the security work within their own country and within their own communities, we'll see a lot of the responsibility, a lot of the problems that we're facing today disappear. Then we can focus one more time on the rebuilding, reconstruction of Iraq.

BLITZER: Is it a good idea to go back to the U.N. and get authorization to invite those other troops to join the U.S. in this mission?

GIBBONS: I think what we really need to do is have the U.N. looking at other places, like Liberia, like the Congo and other places right now that are hotbeds of destabilization within the continent of Africa that need to have troops there to prevent mass genocide.

So I think there is a lot of opportunity for the United Nations, and I don't think we need the United Nations butting into Iraq.

BLITZER: All right. I take that as a -- that's a clear no from Congressman Gibbons.

What about that, Congresswoman Harman?

HARMAN: Not quite. The U.N. passed a resolution, 1441, last September which did internationalize, in fact it followed on 16 other U.N. resolutions, stating the goal, again, that we had to disarm Saddam Hussein.

I think that resolution is still operative. And I think that we should be working with the U.N. here and around the world.

U.N. peacekeeping has not been very successful recently. Let's remember Bosnia where it failed, and it certainly failed in Lebanon where the U.N. is doing absolutely nothing to protect Israel's security in the north. So that's not the right answer.

I think the right answer is to help change the U.N., to merge the goals of the Security Council, as Ann Marie Slaughter (ph), the dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, has suggested, with the humanitarian goals of the U.N. Change how it does business, work with the U.N., internationalize the reconstruction of Iraq and share the burden here. And hopefully, also share the victory here, not just with Iraqis, but with the people of the world who all supported regime change and disarming this country.

And then together to face the even more dangerous threats we see around the world in Iran, which is aggressively trying to acquire nuclear technology. And especially in North Korea, which you discussed earlier on the show, which is probably the most dangerous threat, not just to U.S. security, but to world security on the world stage now.

GIBBONS: But, Jane...

BLITZER: Congressman Gibbons -- go ahead, Congressman Gibbons, you can respond to that.

GIBBONS: I just want to say, we're not going to change the United Nations by getting the United Nation resolution to allow France and Germany back into Iraq. That just doesn't fly.

We know that the United Nations is not very effective in security matters. They have proven themselves to be ineffective. What we need to do is make sure that our plan, the United States plan, British plan, who are on the ground in Iraq is allowed to take hold and allowed to be effective.

BLITZER: We have a caller from Colorado.

Go ahead, Colorado. Go ahead, Colorado, with your question.

Maybe we don't have Colorado. We'll try to fix that with Colorado.

Congresswoman Harman, we heard from Saddam Hussein. We didn't hear from the caller from Colorado, but we did hear from Saddam Hussein this week, audiotape. The CIA believes it's almost certainly authentic and it was recently done.

I want you to listen to this excerpt of what the former Iraqi leader had to say.


SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): We are confident that our dignified and great fighting people who rejected occupation and resisted it would reject all orders of the imperialists and consider it a natural result of what imperialists think and plan for.


BLITZER: The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts, among many others, believes that if the U.S. were to capture or kill Saddam Hussein, find his two sons, that would go a long way toward stabilizing the situation, because a lot of Iraqis simply fear he could make a comeback.

How credible is that fear?

HARMAN: Well, I agree with Pat Roberts, and that is what we heard on the ground in Baghdad from Jerry Bremer and everyone else we spoke to, that finding him, dead or live, is absolutely critical.

Jerry Bremer is also right, though, when he said on one of the talk shows this morning, I think yours, Wolf, that Saddam is finished, he won't come back to power, but the Iraqis fear that he will, and that fear is delaying their cooperation with the reconstruction effort.

Let me just make a related comment, Wolf, which is there is another guy who we've got to get off the world stage, and his name is Yasser Arafat. And the sooner we remove him from all political power in the Palestinian Authority, the sooner we're going to move along with the road map.

BLITZER: Congressman Gibbons, I'll give you the last word.

GIBBONS: Well, this is one area where Jane and I do agree. We do have to get Saddam Hussein and his two sons. We need to capture them. The fear of their return in Iraq is weighing very heavily on many Iraqi minds.

BLITZER: Welcome back to the United States to both of you from Baghdad. You happily had a safe trip and a safe return. Good to have you on our program.

Jane Harman, Jim Gibbons, appreciate it very much.

GIBBONS: Wolf, it's been a pleasure.

BLITZER: We have to take a quick break. When we come back, much more coming up on the huge, huge shake-up in sports. Kobe Bryant, as all of us know, of course, by now, charged with sexual assault. We'll have a good in-depth analysis: the stakes involved, what's going on. I'll speak with Wendy Murphy and Roy Black.

Plus, Bruce Morton's essay on Private First Class Jessica Lynch. She's coming home, fortunately.

LATE EDITION will be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Basketball fans around the world -- indeed, people who are not even basketball fans -- were shocked by the announcement that Kobe Bryant is being charged with felony sexual assault involving a 19- year-old Colorado woman.

Back with us to delve deeper into this huge investigation are two courtroom veterans. In Boston, the former prosecutor, Wendy Murphy. And in Miami, the criminal defense attorney, Roy Black.

Thanks to both of you for sticking around and getting into some more detail now, what's going on.

Let me play for you, first of all, a clip from what the district attorney said in announcing these charges only on Friday. Listen to this.


HURLBERT: This decision came only after reviewing all the evidence -- testimonial evidence and physical evidence -- after reviewing the relative statutes, after reviewing the relative case law and after conferring with prosecutors from around the state.

This case -- the standards are the same in this case as in any other case.


BLITZER: Roy Black, do you accept that, that the standards in this case are the same in any sexual assault case, despite the fact that Kobe Bryant, obviously, is a huge celebrity?

BLACK: Well, Wolf, not a word he said there is true. First of all, he said it's going to be treated like any other case, and of course we know that's not true.

He also says he did this investigation before he made up his mind. Yet the first press conference he gave before he did any investigation, he called the woman a victim and said she had been through a horrible time.

So he clearly made up his mind long before this incredible investigation that he undertook.

BLITZER: Wendy, what about that?

MURPHY: You know, this poor guy, he can't win no matter what. I mean, he explained to us that he was careful and conscientious, and we're still criticizing him.

It really didn't matter. Whatever he came out and said about the way he came to his decision, people like Roy Black and other defense attorneys would have criticized him for being too fast or too slow, for saying too much or too little.

I think he handled it perfectly well.

BLACK: No, I criticize him for being inconsistent.

MURPHY: He's not inconsistent.

BLACK: I criticize him because what he said originally was that he had already made up his mind before this investigation. And that's pretty obvious.

MURPHY: That's not true. You know, he used the word "victim," and you decided he made up his mind. Please!

You know, when a person runs screaming from a hotel room, ends up in the hospital, and we use the word "victim," that doesn't mean that Kobe Bryant has been convicted beyond a reasonable doubt.

You know, we don't -- the word "victim" is not defined exclusively by the criminal justice system.

BLACK: To be a victim, there had to be a crime.

MURPHY: No, that is wrong, Roy,.

BLACK: To be a victim, there had to be a crime.

MURPHY: There needn't be a conviction, and there needn't have been prejudgment. And that's what's unfair. Don't overstate the significance of the word "victim."

BLACK: No, no, if you call somebody a "victim," you've determined already there was a crime.

MURPHY: She's suffered, whether or not there's a conviction.

That's false.


MURPHY: Is Laci Peterson any less a victim because there's been no conviction? Please.

BLACK: No, no, there was clearly a crime, because she was killed.

The question is here, is there a rape? That is the crime. You're prejudging that by saying there was a rape.

MURPHY: And she -- and formal charges are brought, she's entitled to be called a "victim." All the victims' bill of rights laws around this country tell us that you are entitled to use the word "victim" as long as formal charges have been brought. And there's nothing, nothing inappropriate about that.

BLACK: But he used it before he filed the charges, Wendy. That's my point.

MURPHY: After he was arrested. Look...

BLACK: In his first -- no, no, in his first...

MURPHY: Look, Roy, when the sheriff arrested him, those were formal charges. I know you tried to spin it that that wasn't...

BLACK: Those were not formal charges, Wendy.

MURPHY: He posted bail. I call that formal charges. Those were formal charges. You don't post bail unless you're charged with an offense. Please!

BLACK: No, you first post bail when you're arrested and put in prison.

MURPHY: And he was, and that's a charge, Roy.

BLITZER: On this point, Wendy, this alleged victim -- let's call her an "alleged victim," since no crime yet has been confirmed, everybody is innocent until they're proven guilty -- does she have a sense, since it's a he-says-versus-she-says kind of case right now, what she is going to have to endure? Because the defense attorneys that he is hiring presumably are going to go after her and look in her background, every single detail of her background, to make her look less credible.

MURPHY: Oh, there's no question that's what the defense will do. That's what the defense does in rape cases, and they get away with it, even though it's, generally speaking, inappropriate and sexist. We're going to hear from the defense about her background, her mental health, whether she's ever had sex before. And you know what? We don't do that to robbery victims.

And, by the way, we're not hesitant to use the word "victim," we don't put the word "alleged" in front of "victim" when somebody's robbed or the victim of a car theft or anything. This is the kind of unfair prejudice we lay on victims. I call it playing the gender card, because what we do, when we pass judgment unfairly on victims by looking into their background, instead of judging their credibility with regard to the issue, the case, the facts, only attendent to this incident, it's not fair.

BLITZER: Well, Wendy, Wendy...

BLACK: Wolf, can I answer that?

BLITZER: I just want -- before you answer it, but let me just press Wendy on this point. If it turns out she made up the whole story, is she still a victim?

MURPHY: No. I mean, no one who completely lies, no one who falsely accuses another person of a crime is a victim. In fact, they should be prosecuted.

But keep in mind, the false allegation rate in rape cases is at or around 2 percent, no greater than the false allegation rate in other kinds of criminal charges. There's no reason to assume, simply because this is a rape case, that there's a high chance it might be false. The data doesn't support it at all.

BLITZER: All right.

BLACK: Wolf, I'd like to respond to that, if I could...

BLITZER: Go ahead.

BLACK: ... with a little bit of something that's true here. Ever since the William Kennedy Smith case, I've had an interest in studying rape cases, and it's been for 10 years. There are studies showing that up to 40 percent of rape allegations are false.

MURPHY: That's ridiculous!

BLACK: People like Wendy keep pushing these 2 percent numbers...

MURPHY: Give me the citation, Roy.

BLACK: ... which are totally false.

MURPHY: You're making it up. Give me the citation.

BLACK: Rape has a very high incidence of false allegations.

MURPHY: Give us the citations.

BLACK: Everybody knows that.

MURPHY: What's the citation?

BLACK: There are many scientific studies showing that in the literature, but people like Wendy want to ignore it...

MURPHY: Cite one.

BLACK: ... and come up with these kind of myths that they've been perpetrating.

MURPHY: Let me cite one that supports the 2 percent rate. Morrison Tory (ph), a law professor in California, published it in an article called "When Will We Be Believed?" It's in the U.C. Davis Law Review. That's the 2 percent data that I'm willing to cite, Roy. I haven't heard you cite a single study yet.

BLACK: Yes, and it happens to be false, Wendy, like unfortunately you keep...

MURPHY: Because you say so?

BLACK: ... perpetrating these myths.

MURPHY: Because you say so?

BLACK: And it's just not true. MURPHY: Please. You know...

BLITZER: And I want to remind our viewers -- Wendy, hold on. I remind our viewers that Roy Black represented defendant William Kennedy Smith in that rape charge in Florida, what was it, 10 years ago? Is that right, Roy?

BLACK: It's a little over 10 years ago.

BLITZER: The fact that Kobe Bryant...

MURPHY: Let me say something...

BLITZER: Hold on, hold on one second. The fact that Kobe Bryant -- and I want to get Roy to respond to this -- showed up Friday night at news conference with his wife Vanessa, holding hands. Yes, he committed adultery, he says, but he didn't go further than that, he didn't force this woman to do anything that she didn't want to do.

The fact that his wife is supporting him so openly, so movingly, what will that mean when this comes down to a trial, if in fact it comes down to a trial?

BLACK: Well, I think it's important that he have the support in the courtroom of his wife, his friends, his family, his teammates, everybody who knows him, just as it's important for the woman involved to have the support of her family and her friends. And we've seen many of her friends on the airwaves in the last several days.

So, both sides are going to, I believe, have a lot of support. And it's important to show the jury that these are people who do have families who are supporting them.

BLITZER: What about that, Wendy?

MURPHY: And I agree with him. I mean, there's no question, they both have a lot of support, and they deserve a lot of support.

And we can't prejudge either of them. That means, also assuming that the victim is not lying. I realize that that suggests we have to pick between them right now, but we don't.

MURPHY: We have to give respect to both sides.

You know, Roy did represent William Kennedy Smith, and one of the things that was fair in that case that is a doctrine of law that should also apply here is that allegations of sexual assault against William Kennedy Smith that happened before Patricia Bowman brought her allegations forward were not allowed to be used against William Kennedy Smith at trial.

And that's because we're not supposed to judge people based on the things they've done in the past -- good things, bad things, things about their mental health, things about, you know, their sexual histories. That's not fair. It's not fair to either side. BLITZER: All right. One quick question, Roy. We only have a few seconds left. If you were representing Kobe Bryant, would you seek to move the location of this trial away from Eagle, Vail, someplace else in Colorado?

BLACK: Oh, absolutely. Because, you know, in that small town either people know her or know people who know her. And one of the important things in this case is to go into her background.

And one thing Wendy hasn't mentioned is there's a big difference in rape charges than any other. In almost all criminal charges the key is, did the defendant intend to commit the act? When that is the case, you can look into his background to see what his intent may have been. In rape, the question is not whether the defendant intended to rape, but whether the woman consented.

That's why we examine the woman's background, because we have to go into her mental state to determine whether or not she's telling the truth when she said she didn't consent to sex. That's the difference between robbery and rape.

MURPHY: That is ridiculous. That is ridiculous. The question of consent is not informed, and we don't figure out the truth by looking into her past. We look only at the situation and the facts that happened in the time and during the moment of the crime.

BLACK: Of course, when you have a lot to hide, you don't want to look into the past, Wendy.

MURPHY: And when you, no, when you want to dredge up a woman's past it's because you want to distract the jurors from the truth, instead of getting them to focus on the moment at which she gave her consent or not.

BLACK: How people acted in the past determines how they act in the future, unfortunately.

MURPHY: That's ridiculous. That's not freedom, either.

BLITZER: Unfortunately, we have to leave it right there. Wendy Murphy, Roy Black. A preview of some of the arguments presumably all of us are going to be hearing in much greater detail in the weeks, months to come.

Thanks to both of you once again for joining us.

BLACK: Thank you, Wolf.

MURPHY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And coming up, we'll take a look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines. Plus, Bruce Morton's essay.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The country fell in love with a perky-looking 20- year-old with a fetching smile. None of that has changed.


BLITZER: Now that she's survived the war, what's in store for Private First Class Jessica Lynch?

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION.

Let's take a quick look at what's on the cover of this week's major news magazines.

"Newsweek" looks at "California in crisis: Will Governor Gray Davis be recalled, and will Arnold, as in Schwarzenegger, replace him?"

"Time" magazine features, "Overcoming Dyslexia: What new brain science reveals, and what parents can do."

And "U.S. News and World Report" has the story on "America's best hospitals: Exclusive rankings of top medical care."

With Jessica Lynch finally homeward bound, Bruce Morton has some advice for Army Private First Class Jessica Lynch, who has captured the nation's imagination.


MORTON (voice-over): Jessica Lynch goes home to West Virginia this coming week. Her story is full of unanswered questions, but maybe we should all just accept that.

The original version -- the product, surely, of some public affairs officer's desire to give Americans a hero, which had her blazing away at attacking Iraqis -- wasn't true, of course.

The newest Defense Department draft on the Internet this past week is a fairly straightforward account of how things can go wrong in war -- a wrong turn, a decision to turn back, another turn missed. Vehicles breaking down, all that sand, getting separated, guns jamming, all that sand again, and so on. They did, in a harsh environment, under fire, the best they could.

Lynch's injuries: "Newsweek" quotes an Iraqi surgeon as saying she seemed to have been beaten, perhaps with rifle butts. She had said she doesn't remember most of her captivity, but reportedly also said she wasn't sexually molested.

Do we need to know more than that? Probably not. The country fell in love with a perky-looking 20-year-old with a fetching smile. None of that has changed.

But it's a safe bet that when she goes home, she'll be followed by a mob of reporters and cameramen. We newsies are not good at restraint on such occasions.

And of course, she has had offers, maybe a TV movie, maybe this, maybe that.

So, from one aging reporter, a little advice. "No" is a good word in these situations. So is "no comment" or "get off my lawn."

On the other hand, if you want to do some of this, be a celebrity, be the lead character in a movie, get some good help -- an agent, somebody who knows the business. It's just possible that business ethics in New York or Hollywood are different from business ethics in Wirt County, West Virginia. So, get an expert, and make all the money you can.

The fame won't last forever. Andy Warhol was wrong. Not everybody gets 15 minutes. You've had way more than that already. And your fame will last for a while yet.

So, use it to get as rich as you can. Don't let them put words in your mouth. And watch out: Hollywood lawyers aren't as dangerous as combat, but they're not your best friends either.

So, be careful, get rich if you can. And know that one day, all of this really, truly will be over.

I'm Bruce Morton.


BLITZER: Coming up on the Final Round, voices of dissent. Our panels weighs in on troops speaking out about their extended stay in Iraq, among other stories.

LATE EDITION's Final Round, right after a quick check of the hour's headlines.


BLITZER: Welcome to our LATE EDITION Final Round.

Joining me, Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist; Ryan Lizza of the "New Republic"; Jonah Goldberg of the National Review Online and Robert George of the "New York Post."

Three more U.S. soldiers were killed today in Iraq, two in a grenade attack, the third in an accident. This as thousands of Iraqi Shiite turned out to protest American occupation.

Still, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said earlier today that the United States is winning the peace.


BREMER: I am absolutely confident that we are on track to conduct a political, economic and military strategy that is going to leave Iraq, consistent with the president and prime minister's view, with an elected, representative, democratic government in Iraq.


BLITZER: Jonah, is Paul Bremer painting too rosy a picture?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Well, it's clear he's painting a rosy picture, but I have some sympathy for him. First of all, all of the media coverage has been one-way on this, saying the place is a disaster, even though the north and south have basically been trouble-free, more or less.

But also, it's his job. He's sort of in a Greenspan-esque job to exude confidence about the future. And it has real strategic value in Iraq, because if he sounds like he's not sure, it could create real chaos out there.


RYAN LIZZA, NEW REPUBLIC: You know, I think the most important thing about his comments this morning was that he talked about the costs of this and he talked about the time it's going to take.

And the administration hasn't been up front from the beginning about how long we're going to have to be there and how much this is going to cost. And he said today, one of the first times I've heard it, that we're going to be there for years. And to the extent that there was a temptation for the administration to just sort of pull up the stakes and get out of there and declare victory, it seems like they are pretty committed to not doing that now.

ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: Yes, I mean, even though, I mean, the media has overblown some of the problems a fair bit. But at the same time, earlier this week we had a report coming out from a respected CIS individual, people who are actually rather friendly to the administration, that basically said the window for getting Iraq on the right track is closing. I mean, so there is some definite serious issues.

We're also obviously once again trying to determine whether we want to go back to the U.N. to get some other peacekeepers in there as well.

BLITZER: But, Robert, soldiers are dying on a day-to-day basis. You can't ignore that. We have to report that.

GEORGE: No, I agree. I agree. Basically what I am saying is, yes, the media has been overblowing it a certain amount. But at the same time, the administration, I think, is finally realizing they can't completely go this alone. And they realize that they have to -- there has to be some clear evidence that things are improving.


DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's a sobering picture. I think the picture we are seeing every day from the media is both realistic, and I also think that it's happening in real time.

Look, the truth of the matter is is that we haven't stabilized the country. We don't have enough troops to provide the type of security they need, and we need help from other countries who are now calling on the U.N. to pass a resolution.

BLITZER: As all of us know by now, there are several reports of low morale among U.S. troops in Iraq. Several of them this week publicly expressing frustration about their deployment being extended indefinitely. Their families back here at home are also voicing frustration and concern.

Donna, the nature of this all-volunteer military -- shouldn't the troops -- these are all professionals -- keep their concerns to themselves?

BRAZILE: Absolutely not. They are ticked off because they were promised -- especially the 3rd Division -- they were promised that they would be home after the fall of Baghdad. That was a couple of months ago. And now they've been promised again to come home, and someone said, well, maybe in the future.

So I think they have a right in 120 degrees -- I know in some cases people say tempers flare when it's hot. In their case, I think their morale is low because people have not leveled with them.

BLITZER: But when you're in the military, you're not supposed to criticize your commanders, you're not supposed to criticize the defense secretary, the commander in chief.

GOLDBERG: That's right. Actually, Donna, I don't think they have a right, literally, under the law. I think soldiers suspend some of their rights under the First Amendment.

And I do think one of the things that's changed is that we have a media today that is much more eager to listen to those gripes than they might have been in the past. I'm sure there were a lot of gripes at Normandy, but you just wouldn't have gotten a journalist getting them.

And I do think, while they have every right to be pretty miserable out there, I know I would be, that does encourage the other side to launch more attacks.

BLITZER: But they have a right to speak out. They don't have a right necessarily under the military law to speak up, but their families back here do.

GOLDBERG: Sure. No, I mean, look, obviously, they have every right to feel grievances. But airing those grievances publicly might actually encourage more attacks and make their lives harder.

BLITZER: It aids and comforts the enemy. That's what he's suggesting.

LIZZA: Maybe that's true. But I don't even -- I don't think the question is whether it's a good thing that we have rules against volunteer soldiers speaking out against the secretary of defense or the president.

The question is, is what they're saying true or not? And, you know, it's one more voice out there that's questioning this administration's credibility, and that seems to be a trend lately.

GEORGE: I think there are two things that are going on here. You also have to keep in mind that this was really the -- this was also the first time we've had embedded reporters. And I have a feeling that the fact that the reporters have been in there have made the military guys feel more receptive to actually start sharing what's on their mind.

The other point is, too, you had Rumsfeld, when he was testifying before Congress last week, basically saying, OK, well, these guys are going to be coming home in September. Then you had the military people in the field saying, well, it may be longer than that.

When the civilian superiors are saying one thing, the military superiors are saying something else, I think the frustration that's going on in the field is understandable.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to take a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about.

Our Final Round will be right back. Among the subjects on our agenda, Kobe Bryant. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

With the controversy over pre-war intelligence on Iraq still very much topic number one here in Washington, and now in London, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair this week fought back. The two leaders put on a united front in defending their use of intelligence to make the case for war.


BUSH: The truth is, he was developing a program for weapons of mass destruction.

BLAIR: The British intelligence that we had, we believe, is genuine. We stand by that intelligence.


BLITZER: Robert, is the tide turning for or against the president and the prime minister?

GEORGE: It's too soon to say for the president. It seems to be turning against the prime minister right now.

I mean, Tony Blair gave an absolutely stunning speech last week before Congress, and really articulated the entire case probably better than anyone has.

But back home, this issue on intelligence has been more of a controversy for a longer time than it has been over here. We had the scientist who was identified by the BBC as their main source for their accusation that the intelligence was hyped, he committed suicide just a couple of days ago. So the pressure on Blair is intense.

BLITZER: There are plenty of pundits in England right now saying this could be the end of Tony Blair.

BRAZILE: Well, that's true. And it's unfortunate, because I think overall, beyond this issue, he's been a good prime minister.

But, look, I think with every new revelation that we hear on this side of the Atlantic, the story continues. And I don't think that the Bush administration has put this behind them.

BLITZER: What do you think?

GOLDBERG: I think Robert put his finger on an important difference here. Bush and Blair made different arguments about going to war. Blair did not emphasize the moral aspect as a justification for going to war the same way that Bush did. And Blair talked about it being an imminent threat far more than Bush did. Bush actually said Iraq is not an imminent threat, and everyone is trying to twist it around to say that he did.

I think that the tide is definitely turning against Blair, and I think the tide might be turning against Bush.

But it's also turning against the 16-word Africa uranium story. I think that thing is done, I think it was overhyped, and I think, you know, we're going to move on from it.


LIZZA: I think Jonah's wrong on a number of counts. First of all, the 16 words is not going away, because the administration still needs to explain why they've given six different explanations for this.

GOLDBERG: They botched it. I agree with that.

LIZZA: They completely botched that. But then we have all these other stories that are about to take off this week. And one is, what happened to the fleet of UAVs that were going to attack the United States?

BLITZER: Those were the unmanned aerial vehicles.

LIZZA: I'm sorry, exactly. What happened to the links to al Qaeda? Those questions are now coming up.

And finally, front page of "The Washington Post" today, the 45- minute claim that got Blair in so much trouble in England is now going to be an issue here. It was reported that the CIA did not vet or confirm that claim.

GEORGE: And the main issue that's going on here is the fact that it appears that the president does not have his administration under control, when you've got the CIA making accusations against the White House, the White House make accusations against the CIA. Until that is clarified and ends, the issue won't go away.

BLITZER: And until now, it was such a disciplined administration. Nobody was dissenting, basically, from anything.

A new CNN-Time magazine poll out this weekend indicates President Bush may be losing some ground with voters. Fifty-three percent said they were likely to vote for the president in 2004. That's down from 57 percent in May. Forty-five percent said they were not likely to vote for President Bush.

Ryan, is the president's post-9/11 bounce gone?

LIZZA: Yes, his post-9/11 bounce is gone. His post-Iraq-war bounce is gone.

Now, the question is, Republican pollsters will tell you that the last two summers of the Bush administration, his polls have taken a nosedive. In the first year of the presidency, 9/11 happened and, obviously, that changed everything. In the second year, the Iraq war debate happened at the end of the summer, and that changed everything.

I mean, I don't think there's another war in this administration to get those polls up.

But the most worrying number in this poll that's out today is that his credibility is, for the first time, being questioned. Fifty- one percent of the Americans say that they have less trust in the president than they used to.

BLITZER: It looks, Jonah, that the country is about as evenly split right now as it was when the president was elected.

GOLDBERG: Yes. The partisan divide in this country still exists.

But I will say that if you also talk to the same Republican pollsters and the White House pollsters, they also said that they knew all along that their numbers were going to go down, and they predicted that their numbers were going to go down.

And what is encouraging for the Bush administration is that this is the time you want the numbers to go down. A lot of economists now, not just conservative or pro-Bush ones, are really beginning to believe that the economy will recover coming out of the summer and into the fall. And that's great news for Bush.


BRAZILE: Well, I think the Teflon has worn off, and now this is going to raise a whole range of issues of whether or not he's credible on the economy, he's credible on health care, credible on education and so many other issues that, up until this point, no one has been able to touch him.

BLITZER: Button this up.

GEORGE: The two things that have kept Bush's numbers high are credibility and leadership.

In the press conference, somebody asked him if he took responsibility for his words in the State of the Union. He avoided that question. That's definitely a concern.

And once again, as we're talking about the in-fighting within the administration, if he doesn't get that under control, that calls into question his leadership.

BLITZER: A story that everyone seems to be talking about right now, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, charged this past week with felony sexual assault involving a 19-year-old Colorado woman. He admits to adultery but vehemently denies committing rape.

This is a huge story that's going to capture a lot of attention around the country, obviously, and indeed around the world, Donna. What do you make?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, he said the other day that he was disgusted with himself. A lot of people are disgusted with Kobe Bryant. Kobe had the image of being, you know, a squeaky-clean type of kid who loved his wife and was honorable. And now I think he's in real trouble because, if he's proven guilty, this guy could spend a lot of time in jail.

BLITZER: It's one thing to commit adultery. It's another thing, though, to commit rape.

GOLDBERG: Yes, no, I think we can all agree on that.


And, look, I mean, let's stipulate all of the usual conservative arguments that I believe in, that we make too big a deal about celebrity culture and making role models out of athletes and all that kind of stuff.

GOLDBERG: Whether he's telling the truth or not, this is a tragedy. You know, if he's telling the truth, obviously it's a tragedy, someone was -- he's been falsely accused and his reputation is permanently tarnished. And if he's lying, well, then he raped someone, and that's a tragedy too.


LIZZA: Yes, I mean, I would probably stick to these conservative arguments that, you know, we do pay a little bit too much attention to this. And as someone that doesn't follow basketball close enough to care too much about this, from a distance it looks like another very wealthy, important person, you know, getting into some trouble where he shouldn't have. It's not a big shocker.

GEORGE: That's right. I mean, he had that great image, and that's been tarnished regardless of how this turns out. But once again, it tells us, you know, not to put our faith in these false idols, because just because a guy can score 30 points in a game, you know, doesn't make him a great person.

GOLDBERG: People should worship pundits and journalists.


BLITZER: I don't think that's ever...

GOLDBERG: That's not going to happen.

BLITZER: Not going to happen.

We, unfortunately, have to leave it right there. Thanks to our LATE EDITION Final Round.

And that's our LATE EDITION for Sunday, July 20.

Coming up next, "IN THE MONEY." That's followed at 4:00 p.m. Eastern by "CNN LIVE SUNDAY," a look at today's news from around the world. And at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, "NEXT@CNN."

Please be sure to join us next Sunday and every Sunday, at noon Eastern, for the last word in Sunday talk.

And remember, I'm here twice a day Monday through Friday at noon and 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.


Assault; North Korea Moves Ahead With Nuclear Program>

On CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNN AvantGo CNNtext Ad info Preferences
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.