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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER

Interview With Tom Ridge; Lott, Bayh Debate 9/11 Report; Interview With Joe Lieberman

Aired August 3, 2003 - 12:00   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's noon in Washington, 9 a.m. in Los Angeles, 7 p.m. in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and 8 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching, from around the world, thanks for joining us for "LATE EDITION."
We begin today with the United States war on terror. The Bush administration is warning of new threats from al Qaeda. As a result, officials are tightening rules on airline passengers traveling through the United States en route to other countries. The change follows warnings al Qaeda could attempt more suicide hijackings this summer.

How serious is the threat? Could there be another 9/11? Just a short while ago, I spoke with the man in charge of U.S. homeland security, Tom Ridge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Secretary Ridge, thanks so much for joining us. Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

And let's get to the news of the day right now -- at least, right now the news. This new audio tape, allegedly from Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the number two al Qaeda operative out there, warning against military tribunals or death penalty for any of those detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Do you take this seriously?

TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, we don't know the author; we haven't identified who actually submitted the tape. But from a terrorist threatening American interest is not really surprising. We take the threat, and have taken the threat since September 11th, seriously.

BLITZER: Is it -- but have you concluded that this is, in fact, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's number two?

RIDGE: No conclusions have been drawn. The appropriate people are listening to the tape, and they're comparing voice with the capacities they have to try to determine whether or not it's actually who he claims to be.

BLITZER: Why are they still at large -- Osama bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri -- given the fact that they were responsible for the 3,000 deaths at -- on 9/11?

RIDGE: They are among the ever-diminishing number of al Qaeda leaders who have been able to avoid apprehension to date.

And I say the diminishing number of al Qaeda leaders, because if we -- from time to time, we take a look at what we know to be their leadership. And between death and detention, at least the leaders we know, that -- the list is shrinking. And I'm confident that, as the president said, the leaders, particularly one or two, will be brought to justice.

BLITZER: Do you have any idea where they are?

RIDGE: I do not have any idea. I know that the Department of Defense, the special forces, the CIA folks working together in Afghanistan and elsewhere respond to various leads. And I'm confident, again, with the boots on the ground and the resolve we have as a country, we will bring them to justice. They will ultimately be apprehended.

BLITZER: We've heard various assessments they're along the Afghan-Pakistan border some place, but some are suggesting that they be in a city in Pakistan -- for example, Karachi -- hiding out there. Is that among the options that you've been considering?

RIDGE: Well, I would defer to other members of the administration to give you more specific information about that. But as one who has listened to the conversations between these individuals but don't have actual real-time information as to where we're looking and what we're doing, I believe the network and the net that we have -- has expanded since our initial involvement in Afghanistan. And, again, wherever they are, sooner or later, we will find them.

BLITZER: Time magazine reporting in the new issue out today that there seems to be less focus on finding al Qaeda operatives in order to help find weapons of mass destruction or Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his Ba'athist Party loyalists; having shifted 800 special operations forces, for example, from Afghanistan, they say, to Iraq, sort of, undermining the entire war on terrorism.

RIDGE: Well, I think that's an unfortunate and, I think, an inaccurate conclusion that they would draw. We have literally X number of forces deployed around the world to combat the multiple fronts of the war on global terror. We've got the resources in Afghanistan.

Clearly, from time to time you shift resources -- part of those resources, and they've done that into Iraq. But remember, we have our special forces and others working to combat and defeat international terrorism in other places around the world.

And, again, the president intuitively expressed his belief that we are at -- it is a war, and it's a global war. And our effort has to be global. And from time to time you're going to see us moving people and equipment from one area to another, but not to the exclusion -- total exclusion.

We've got a lot of -- I'll tell you what, I think the soldiers going up and down the mountains and through the caves in Afghanistan, along with their comrades in arms, would probably take umbrage to the notion that the United States has lost its focus. And they haven't lost their focus, and they're working diligently. And I think, ultimately, at the end of the day, they will apprehend them.

BLITZER: Well, Senator Bob Graham, the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who is now, of course, running for the Democratic presidential nomination, says he opposed the war precisely because of the fact that he thought it would divert resources from finding al Qaeda terrorists and it would undermine the entire war on terrorism.

RIDGE: Well, the senator obviously has a different view of the nature of the war. I think the president and the secretary of defense and all of us feel that there are many fronts to this war. And you know you have finite resources -- even though we have extensive resources, you have finite resources. There is a limit, and from time to time you shift them.

But make no mistake about it; we've maintained that focus in Afghanistan. We've renewed, and perhaps obviously enhanced our effort in Iraq, but not to the exclusion of our efforts to apprehend al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan. That's just not accurate.

BLITZER: al Qaeda still alive and kicking. Based on the travel advisory, the alert that you put out this past week, warning that, "Attack venues may include the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia or the East Coast of the United States due to the relatively high concentration of government, military and economic targets." How good is this intelligence that prompted this alert?

RIDGE: We had specific intelligence that the terrorist network, particularly al Qaeda, might try to exploit a vulnerability in our transit-without-visa system. Literally, about 1 percent of our passengers that use commercial aviation depart from a foreign location, transit through the United States to another foreign location. And based on that specific intelligence, we took very specific action for the first couple of days enhancing security, redirecting air marshals, scrutinizing to the point where we delayed -- and some people were even delayed overnight, unfortunately -- these passengers who were coming through that system. So that during the course of the week we made preparations to shut the program down, which we did effectively yesterday.

BLITZER: So, basically, if someone wants to fly -- a foreigner, not an American -- from, let's say, Brazil to London through Miami, changing planes in Miami, they would now need a visa in order to do that.

RIDGE: That's correct. That's correct.

And it was specific information. A lot of intelligence we get, Wolf, as you well know when you used to cover the Pentagon, not all of it is actionable. But this is specific information we can take action on.

It was a -- a door was opened slightly for abuse for exploitation. We thought it was in the country's best interest to close the door.

Now, unfortunately -- and I know you've got a worldwide audience -- there are probably some people listening now that were planning on traveling. And we can say to them, "We've tried to make -- we know you're law-abiding people, you're just traveling through the United States in order to get to a final destination. We've tried to make arrangements so that if you're traveling in the next couple of days the inconvenience is minimum. But in the future, and until we work out different arrangements of security with the airlines, you will need to get a visa."

BLITZER: But this doesn't completely close that loophole, if you will, that opening, because countries where you don't need a visa to come to the United States -- Western Europe, England, for example, France -- these people will still be able to transit through the United States without getting the visa.

RIDGE: Right. It's interesting you say that, because this potential of exploiting this vulnerability leads us to take a look at the visa waiver program and make a determination as to whether or not we ought to enhance security on those folks as well.

I think what we're seeing more and more is that there'll be more and more rigorous secondary screening of people generally when they come to this country.

One of our challenges, Wolf, is to make sure -- try to push our perimeter out as far as we can, so that we want to do the screening of these passengers and their baggage as far away as we possibly can, so that our airports and our seaports and land ports are the last line of defense, not the first line of defense.

So, again, additional security measures will need to take in the future based on some of the existing programs that we have. But that, again, is built upon hardened cockpit doors, arming pilots, passenger and baggage screeners and a variety of other things we've done since September 11th..

BLITZER: Because what I hear you saying is that Zacarias Moussaoui, for example, the so-called 20th hijacker, is standing -- is accused here in the United States. He was a French citizen. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber -- he's convicted, pleaded guilty -- a British citizen. This new program would have had no impact on them.

RIDGE: Correct. This is a transit-without-a-visa program, an international program.

But we are certainly aware of the potential to abuse the other program to which you referred, and are looking at enhanced security measures around those passengers, subjecting these individuals and their baggage to far more rigorous screening than ever before.

BLITZER: So let me press you on this, because I think this is significant, especially to our viewers in Western Europe and England and France, other countries. Are you suggesting that the U.S. government now may be changing its visa requirements, forcing these people to get visas before they either come to the United States or transit through the United States?

RIDGE: No. We have -- the countries that have over the years been involved in the visa waiver program have historically been allies, have been great friends and support of ours.

And, obviously, it's in our best interest to try to bring as many people into this country for a lot of different reasons. Our economy depends on it. A lot of them go to school here. We basically have helped educate leaders -- future leaders because of their availability of education and exposure in this country. We want to remain open. We want to remain welcoming.

And I don't see an end to the visa waiver program. But what I do see in the months to come is enhanced screening of these individuals. They still have to have a passport. We're going to have an entry-exit system based on a machine-readable passport, so we'll be able to verify and validate they are who they claim to be, and down the road more screening of passengers and their baggage, in addition to the -- in foreign ports, in addition to the kind of scrutiny they undergo when they get here.

BLITZER: So you're going to still waive the visa -- the formal visa? You're not going to change that, is that what you're saying?

RIDGE: Right. Right now there are no plans to eliminate the visa waiver program, but adding security around the existing program is something we'll do. Here we had a very specific piece of intelligence that talked about terrorists exploiting this particular vulnerability. It is our hope that in time we can -- remember, the suspension is indefinite, but it's our hope in time with added security we can reinstate the program.

But for the time being, based on specific information, we responded as quickly as possible.

BLITZER: If the information was that good, the intelligence, why not increase the threat alert level from yellow, which is the current level, to orange, which you have done on several occasions?

RIDGE: First of all, it is, the traveling public, those who use -- well, all Americans now know that commercial aviation has been and continues to be a target. The traveling public, those who use airplanes every day, are reminded when they go through the airport because of the enhanced security measures.

And from time to time, we get information that is actionable, and we took that action, understanding full well that the American traveling public is aware, they're far more vigilant than ever before.

But here's something we could, here's a program we could do something about. It was actionable information. We gave it to the security people to get things done, and that's what they did. BLITZER: And how good was the intelligence suggesting that some terrorists might try to get a weapon on a plane with a radio or a boom box, or to get through the initial line of defense at the screener level and bring some sort of weapons to hijack a plane? How good was that intelligence?

RIDGE: I believe, regardless of whether or not we had that specific bit of information and intelligence, we need to be alert to the notion that those who would do us harm will be unconventional in their approach to get weapons on board, or to bring their terror to commercial aviation or anywhere else.

So we have to think outside the box like they do. So the notion that they might want to use -- we shouldn't be surprised they'd be interested in using cameras or things like that, because they put -- Richard Reid had explosives in his shoes.

So we've got to -- we need to understand that it's our job to try to be a step or two ahead of the terrorists. I think when we get specific information, clearly we can respond to it quickly.

But they use unconventional means, and we have to think in an unconventional way to combat them, and that's why the alert went out to the screeners.

BLITZER: And they often go back to targets that they've tried to go at in the past, and they also use the same kinds of methods that have worked in the past.

Do you still believe that they were going after the U.S. Capitol, that plane that went down in Pennsylvania on 9/11? Was the U.S. Capitol the ultimate target?

RIDGE: There was some dispute as to whether it was the White House or U.S. Capitol. And I don't think we'll ever know.

The bottom line is they were going after a national icon, and if you struck one or the other, the horror, the death and destruction, coupled with the notion of vulnerability to either the executive or legislative branch, would have accomplished their means of adding another level of anxiety or fear in this country.

BLITZER: Let's go through a few items that were in the news this week and get your quick response.

You still have confidence in the air marshal program? Because there were reports you wanted to cut that dramatically. It was not necessary to have all those air marshals aboard flights.

RIDGE: First of all, the air marshal program has grown from a couple hundred to several thousand. They add enormous value to the security that we provide for commercial aviation.

Their initial purpose was to prevent the breach of the cockpit. But you know now we're beginning to arm pilots, we've hardened those cockpit doors, along with other measures of protection that we take. And so we're confident that the air marshal program, which is here to stay in its robust form, along with the added measures of protection, add the kind of security that builds confidence to the flying public.

That order, by the way, was rescinded shortly after it was issued.

BLITZER: And so the air marshal program will be fully funded, as far as you're concerned?

RIDGE: The air marshal program -- every air marshal -- available air marshal is deployed. And, in fact, we have the capacity to bring additional resources to support that...

BLITZER: But are they really all that necessary, now that pilots are going to be armed? At least on a lot of flights, you've gone ahead with the arming of pilots.

RIDGE: Well, we still have a long way to go to arm the number of pilots who seek to be given that responsibility and will need the requisite training in order to get there. We have hardened the cockpit door.

But I think, for the time being, since al Qaeda has clearly stated their continuing interest in targeting commercial aircraft, it is a program that's here to stay.

Again, initially, it was the only level of protection on airplanes. But we've built several layers of security for the passengers on aircraft, and, frankly, in the future there'll be even more.

BLITZER: The 9/11 report, the bipartisan commission, the House- Senate commission that came out the other day, included this point in their conclusions:

"The important point is that the intelligence community, for a variety of reasons, did not bring together and fully appreciate a range of information that could have greatly enhanced this chance of uncovering and preventing Osama bin Laden's plan to attack the United States on September 11th, 2001."

Are you convinced that right now, nearly two years after 9/11, you've created an intelligence community, a law enforcement community, where the right hand of the U.S. government is talking to the left hand of the U.S. government, and you can connect the dots?

RIDGE: The president directed that we create -- the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the CIA, everybody that has intelligence-gathering capability be responsible for the creation of this Terrorist Threat Integration Center.

So to that end, long before this report is issued, the president directed that a single venue with a group of analysts have access to all the intelligence information out there be created. And that is an entity that is up and running now and getting more and more analysts. And, frankly, we've seen the benefit in the very short period of time it's up and running, because they are able to give us even more information about some of the threats that relate to domestic security concerns. So it adds value to our operation, and we think, in time, we add value to it as well.

BLITZER: Because I was reading The Washington Post this week. You probably saw the article; I'll put it up on the screen. It was alarming to read this, and you tell me if it's true.

"The intelligence unit of the four-month-old Department of Homeland Security is understaffed, unorganized and weak-willed. The vast majority of the department's intelligence analysts lack computers that are able to receive data classified top secret and above. The department has only three experts on biological terrorism."

Is that true?

RIDGE: Well, first of all, let's put it all in perspective. The Information Analysis Infrastructure Protection is a brand-new unit within the new department. It's been up and running for four or five months.

We have great leadership in that department. Every single day, we add more analysts. Every single day, we tie these analysts into more and better technology.

And the highest priority that I have set within the new department is the development of the capacity to take advantage of these minds, take advantage of these analysts, take advantage of our relationship with the Threat Integration Center.

So it is not as robust and as complete and as full as we want it to be, but we have an integrated system and we're just building on that system. So I take it with a grain of salt.

It's not where the secretary wants it, it's not where the president wants it, but every day we're building it up to full...

BLITZER: When will you...

RIDGE: ... to full capacity.

BLITZER: ... be happy?

RIDGE: Well, I'll probably never be happy. I mean, I think our job is to make sure that every single day, whether it's the information analysis piece or the science of technology piece or the border piece, that we're pushing ourselves to the limit and we find ways to improve what we're doing.

But the bottom line is is I think we need to understand, that you just don't pick analysts off the street. There's no graduate school of intelligence analysts.

So we're bringing in -- the CIA's helping us. We're training some people. We're bringing in some retired people. We've got a lot of military people with an intelligence background. So to cast a very wide net, pulling more people in day after day.

BLITZER: So the bottom line -- and unfortunately we're going to have to end it with this -- the bottom line: Could there be another 9/11?

RIDGE: The possibility that the terrorists could exploit the open and welcoming nature of this country always exists. But in terms of our ability as a country to fuse together information from all intelligence-gathering agencies and bring an analytical capability to date, we have a far superior capability to do that today with the Threat Integration Center, with the refocus of the FBI from law enforcement to counter-terrorism.

Sure, we worry about a repeat or at least another terrorism incident. But information and knowledge is power to prevent and reduce vulnerability. And every single day not only does the network get bigger, but our capacity to analyze it and act on that information gets significantly better as well.

BLITZER: You may have the hardest job in Washington right now, Mr. Secretary. Good luck to you.

RIDGE: Thank you very much, Wolf. Good to be with you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Still ahead, on the hunt for Saddam Hussein: Are U.S. forces closing in on the former Iraqi dictator? I'll ask U.S. Senate Intelligence members Trent Lott and Evan Bayh.

Then, the search for Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. The former U.S. acting ambassador to Iraq, Joe Wilson, will join me.

And later, Kobe Bryant's day in court. We'll get special insight into both the prosecution and the defense game plans.

Plus, your letters on the Kobe Bryant case. All of that, much more, when "LATE EDITION" returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're standing by to hear from two key members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. We'll get to that shortly.

First, though, let's get to some of your letters to "LATE EDITION." Many of you have opinions about the Kobe Bryant case. Bobby from Florida writes this: "I believe Kobe Bryant can get a fair trial, but not in Eagle County, Colorado. The police and district attorney there have already tainted public opinion by referring to Kobe's accuser as a victim."

Dee, from Palm Harbor, Florida, writes this: "The real question is not whether Kobe Bryant can receive a fair trial, but whether the rape victim can. Kobe will be able to afford the best lawyers in the country. What about the victim? O.J. Simpson has already showed us the power of wealth and celebrity."

Dan from Louisville, Kentucky, writes: "I believe it is a serious perversion of the legal system if sealed court documents in the Kobe Bryant case are released to the public. As far as I'm concerned, no cameras should be allowed in the courtroom, either. We all remember the O.J. Simpson trial, and we don't need another media circus."

We always welcome your comments. Our e-mail address, lateedition@cnn.com. And if you'd like to receive our weekly e-mail previewing this program, go to cnn.com/lateedition. That's where you can sign up.

Still to come, we'll have a preview of the Kobe Bryant hearing that's coming up on Wednesday. We'll hear from two top attorneys. But up next, a check of the hour's top stories.

Then, special insight into the search for Saddam Hussein, and on the war on terror. We'll talk to two leading members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "LATE EDITION" will continue right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since I'm in charge of fighting the war on terror, is that I won't reveal sources and methods that will compromise our efforts to succeed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: President Bush explaining his decision not to make public a section of the congressional report on the 9/11 attacks. That classified information is fueling allegations the government of Saudi Arabia had links to at least two of the 9/11 hijackers.

Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

Joining us now are two key members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Republican Trent Lott of Mississippi and Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana.

Senators, welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

And, Senator Lott, I'll start with you. We'll get to that Saudi Arabia element in just a moment, but how much of a threat right now, nearly two years after 9/11, is al Qaeda to the United States?

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: It's still a threat. There are reports, threats that are coming in. We do get briefings on that weekly actually.

You never know how much of it is credible but when you get a lot of, as they say, chatter, you've got to start responding to it, being prepared, taking extra steps to make sure that we're as secure as we can be.

I think it's still a serious threat.

BLITZER: Are you worried that the administration is not devoting enough attention to that threat, because they're devoting so much attention to Iraq?

LOTT: I believe their devoting, you know, serious attention to this threat. The Justice Department is, the FBI. I think they're taking extra precautions with various things in this country. And I hesitate to even name exactly what they are because that would tend to maybe give somebody an idea on where to go. But at our briefings, you know, I believe they are taking extra precautions right now. Because some of these threats have indicated there might be something happen in late summer. I believe that's been in the public arena.

BLITZER: How -- first of all, do you agree with Senator Lott? Are you convinced that everything that should be done is being done?

SEN. EVAN BAYH (D), INDIANA: Wolf, I am. Of course, there are finite resources and perhaps some other things have been lowered a little bit on the priority list. But when it comes to combating al Qaeda, I think that is receiving the full attention of the United States authorities.

BLITZER: When the American public hears of these kinds of threats and our international viewers coming at the end of the summer potentially, within the next few weeks -- another hijacking attempt, for example -- how alarmed should they be? Should they just stay home and not fly?

BAYH: No, I wouldn't recommend that, Wolf. Unfortunately, apprehensions like this are going to have to just be something we factor in to our daily lives.

Look, we've denied al Qaeda their safe haven in Afghanistan. It's more difficult for them to transport money, to communicate with one another. But they're still out there and the threat of global terrorism unfortunately may be with us for several more years, even as we're trying to degrade their capabilities.

So people need to follow the press, see what's out there, but get on with your daily lives.

LOTT: You know, we don't know how terrorists actually think, but my guess is the thing that might be obvious is not what they would do and that's why we keep having to do things like stop these flights where you don't have to have a visa, where land and go on to some other destination, just passing through the country. There was a little sliver of opportunity for terrorists to cause some problems. Now we've closed that.

BLITZER: But...

LOTT: And there probably will be something else.

BLITZER: ... it's not completely closed. If you heard Secretary Ridge himself on this program, just a few minutes ago, he acknowledged that people who don't require visas from Western Europe, from Britain, from France, from countries where the U.S. waives the visa, they can still get in transit and that hole is still there.

LOTT: You cannot close every hole. If you've got people that are willing to take their own lives and do these dastardly things, you never can plug every hole. You just have to do the best you can, and they'll keep working at that and other areas too.

BLITZER: You support these initiatives to -- for example, to even people in transit, foreigners, that they have to come through and get a visa in order to make a transit in Miami or New York or Los Angeles?

BAYH: Wolf, I absolutely do. I mean, it's regrettable that we have to take these steps. Certainly, it will inconvenience some people. But that's the world we're living in today. And better some inconvenience for some travelers, than God forbid, allowing somebody to slip through who might kill people.

BLITZER: Is Saudi Arabia, Senator Lott, part of the problem or part of the solution in the war no terror?

LOTT: Well, in some respects, I guess the answer is maybe both. I think that their experience back in May with terrorism maybe they did get, sort of, a wake-up call. And they've gotten much more aggressive. They've arrested over 100, I think, suspected terrorists. And I think they are now a lot more aggressive than they were.

I think that probably inadvertently, indirectly, somehow or other, some Saudi money had been getting to various sources that could have been involved in 9/11. So it's...

BLITZER: But is there any indication that there was -- the Saudi agents were directly -- Saudi government agents were directly working with any of the hijackers?

LOTT: You know, I'm always hesitant -- now that we've gotten on the Intelligence Committee, you always have to be extra cautious about what you say.

But I think I can say that I don't know of anything of that nature, whether it was a direct, intentional government participation.

BLITZER: It is one thing, inadvertently, through charities, whatever, supporting these terrorists, the hijackers, if you will. It is another thing if there were deliberate agents who were working -- who were supporting these hijackers.

BAYH: That's correct, Wolf. And it is a deeper societal problem in Saudi Arabia that goes back 30, 40, 50 years, where they essentially reached a bargain with some of the radical elements, that the radicals could control the mosques and the schools and really embedded themselves in the fabric of that country.

So it shouldn't be surprising that even some prominent Saudis, who, in the process of funding charities and other groups, have inadvertently helped some of these radical elements, even some that have attacked us.

But they have gotten better since, as Trent mentioned, they were attacked themselves. But I think there is a real struggle for the soul of Saudi Arabia going on right now. Did they fundamentally revisit that bargain they struck and part ways with the radicals, or did they continue this deal with the Devil?

BLITZER: On those classified pages in the bipartisan report, the investigation of 9/11, there's a couple dozen pages, if not more, involving, supposedly, Saudi Arabia. The president says he's not going to declassify those pages and release them. Listen to what he says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: It makes no sense to declassify when we've got an ongoing investigation that could jeopardize that investigation. And it made no sense to declassify if -- during the war on terror, because it would help the enemy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We heard the Saudi foreign minister was at the White House this week, Saud al-Faisal, saying, "Please, we got nothing to hide. Go ahead, release those pages."

You want those pages released too, don't you, Senator Bayh?

BAYH: I do, Wolf, and I've signed a letter to that effect. I think 90 percent of it could be declassified without jeopardizing the investigation or methods or sources.

Frankly, I've been disappointed. If you go back when this first resurfaced many, many months ago, our authorities have not been nearly as zealous in pursuing this investigation and taking it wherever it would lead as they should have been.

BLITZER: Even Senator Shelby, your colleague from Alabama, Republican, the co-chairman of this panel, says 95 percent of that stuff should be released.

LOTT: Well, I didn't sign the letter calling it for it all to be declassified. I think, like everybody else has said, some of it -- there's no -- I don't think there would be any problem with declassifying, and it might actually help, in some respects...

BLITZER: So, why is the president so reluctant to release that information?

LOTT: Well, it is not just about these alleged situations with the Saudis. There are some names in there, and there's some ongoing investigations and, you know, methods and how they act could be identified in there.

I don't know whether the number is 90 percent or 95 percent. I have a real problem with Congress deciding what will be declassified. But if some way could be worked out where more of it could be declassified and made public, I think that would be good.

But I wouldn't vote right now to declassify all 28 pages, because I think that would be risky, and I think some Democrats have said, too, probably, Evan, and I know Senator Feinstein had indicated some concern about that.

BLITZER: Let's move on and talk about Iraq. This past week, once again, supposedly, we heard from Saddam Hussein after his sons Uday and Qusay were killed.

I want you to listen to what the former Iraqi leader supposedly says on this audio tape that was released.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): We are confident that the occupying forces will collapse and surrender to the truth and the will of God and of the people. This will happen when the occupying forces are faced with the painful mujahedeen for the perseverance of our people.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

BLITZER: Senator Bayh, how close is the U.S. to capturing or killing Saddam Hussein?

BAYH: The circle is tightening, Wolf. It started with the deaths of his two sons. Many more people are coming forward. We've apprehended some other of his security agents. I think it is just a question not of whether we get him but of when.

My reaction to this statement was that this is the mother of all self-deceptions. His days are over.

BLITZER: So is it a matter of days, weeks, months? What do you think?

BAYH: I can't put an exact time line on it. I'm surprised we haven't gotten him by now. But I think it is inevitable.

LOTT: I think the daughters are being given asylum in Jordan is even a further indication that they are closing in on him.

There have been some hints over the last week, you know, from different people within the administration that we've talked with that made it seem like they felt like they were getting closer.

You know, I don't really have direct inside information, it's more of a feel or just a suspicion that they are getting closer.

BLITZER: We did see the two daughters show up in Amman, Jordan, the guests of King Abdullah of Jordan. But why do you think, Senator Lott, that this suggests that Saddam Hussein might be on the verge of collapse?

LOTT: Well, the whole family, you know, is going to different places. The daughters are in Jordan. Of course, their husbands were both killed by Saddam Hussein's people. His sons were both killed. They nabbed one of his top security people. I mean, everybody around him -- family, security -- are being dealt with one way or another.

BAYH: If he truly thinks he's going to be returning to power, Wolf, you probably don't send your closest family members out of the country.

BLITZER: And you think he's still in control of some element of the resistance, as it's called?

BAYH: Very little, very little. He doesn't have the ability to communicate very well. He's apparently been moving around, but I suspect that that will be restricted even further. So he is becoming less and less relevant to daily events in Iraq.

BLITZER: What was your take, Senator Lott, on these photographs that the Department of Defense released showing what he might look like if he wasn't dying his hair? We'll put some of these pictures up on the screen; you can see them.

Is this serious stuff, that Saddam Hussein might, in fact, be trying to conceal his identity by walking around looking like this?

LOTT: Well, he tried to conceal everything else, the truth, the weapons of mass destruction, and done a pretty good job of that, at least recently. And he's had doubles, or at least there have been indications there've been doubles in the past. It just makes sense that he would probably try to disguise himself. If he's moving around from place to place, he wouldn't want to be just identified on the street.

So I don't know if these are very good likenesses of what he might look like. Somebody suggested he probably looks a little more hollow-eyed and gaunt, because he's probably lost some weight, but it's worth the effort.

BAYH: It looks like the portrait of Dorian Gray, you know, all of his sins and misdeeds are coming back, and his gauntness, his grayness. You know, he'll decide to hide himself a little, but I don't think he'll succeed.

BLITZER: He doesn't seem to be having a whole lot of time to touch up his hair or whatever.

(LAUGHTER)

On a very serious note though, casualties continue, Senator Lott, in Iraq. The U.S. -- the accusation was it was well prepared for the war, but not necessarily all that well prepared for the postwar environment. Let me show you the statistics that are up there. We'll put it up on the screen. Since the war started 250 U.S. troops have been killed; 133 since the fall of Baghdad on April 9th; 138 before May 1st, that's when the president declared major combat operations over, 112 in both hostile and non-hostile action killed since May 1st.

Should the American public realistically anticipate this going on for a long time to come?

LOTT: First, I think you have to express your sympathies and your heart-felt concern for the families of these military men and women, and for the sacrifice they're still making.

A lot of people said, and I felt at the time, that the war might be the easy part, and trying with all the different sectors and tribes and religions within the Muslim community, or I guess tribal religions, actually, was going to be very difficult.

I think it has been difficult even more than some of us thought, but to lose the lives that we've been losing.

I do think they're making progress. I do think Bremer's doing a good job, I do think David Kay out there, looking for the weapons of mass destruction, is a positive sign, and it should get better.

And I'm very happy now that we've got the Dutch coming in, the Poles, the Japanese are sending a thousand. So we are getting more of an international force in there.

BLITZER: All right. Unfortunately, Senators, we're going to have to leave it right there because we're all out of time.

But Senator Lott, always good to have you on the program.

Thanks very much, Senator Bayh, to you as well.

Just ahead, does the United States have a smoking gun in Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction program? We'll get some analysis from the man who disputed the Bush administration's claims about Iraq's nuclear program, the former U.S. ambassador, Joe Wilson. And later, our interview with Senator and presidential candidate Joe Lieberman about Iraq, the search for Saddam Hussein, why he thinks he's the Democrat to beat President Bush and why he believes Howard Dean isn't.

"LATE EDITION" will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: President Bush speaking those now famous or infamous 16 words about Iraq's alleged nuclear program in his State of the Union Address in January.

Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

We're joined now by the man who went to Africa to personally investigate whether Iraq attempted to purchase uranium, the former U.S. acting ambassador to Iraq, Joseph Wilson.

Mr. Ambassador, welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

I want to get to that whole issue in just a moment, but listen to what David Kay, who is now working for the CIA, the former U.N. weapons inspector, says about the search for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. DAVID KAY, FORMER U.N. WEAPONS INSPECTOR: There is solid evidence being produced. We do not intend to expose this evidence until we have full confidence that it is solid proof of what we're proposed to take -- to talk about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I think he's being very cautious now, given some of the missteps in the past. But do you have confidence in David Kay, that they know what they're doing?

JOSEPH WILSON, FORMER U.S. ACTING AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Oh, absolutely, and I've had confidence in -- that we would find weapons of mass destruction, weapons of mass destruction programs from the very beginning of the run-up to the war in Iraq.

687, the initial U.N. resolution dealing with weapons of mass destruction, demanded compliance, and it had as its objective disarmament. We had not yet achieved disarmament, so it was perfectly appropriate to continue to try and gather together the international consensus to disarm Saddam and his programs.

I think we'll find chemical weapons. I think we'll find biological precursors that may or may not have been weaponized. And I think we will find a continuing interest of -- on nuclear weapons. The question really is whether it met the threshold test of imminent threat to our own national security or even the test of grave and gathering danger.

BLITZER: And you believe, going into the war, that that threshold had not been met?

WILSON: No, not at all. I believe that we had to be aggressive in disarming and that the posture we had to take had to include the credible threat of force. And in order for that threat of force to be credible, we had to be prepared to use it.

What I disagreed with was the other agendas that were in play that led us to invade, conquer and now occupy Iraq.

BLITZER: But did they exaggerate the threat?

WILSON: Well, in my particular piece of this, the Niger piece, I think it's very clear that this rumor kept popping back up...

BLITZER: That they were seeking uranium -- enriched uranium from Africa.

WILSON: Right...

BLITZER: Which they have sought in the past. Which they have sought in the past.

WILSON: Which they had sought in the '80s, and all that was well documented. And there was, in fact, a delegation that went from Baghdad to Niamey in 1999. That visit was well documented in U.S. reporting as well.

BLITZER: I know you were sent to go on this mission long before the State of the Union Address. When Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, was on this program a few weeks ago, on July 13th, I asked her about your mission. Listen to this exchange I had with her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I didn't know Joe Wilson was going to Niger. And if you look in Director Tenet's statement, it says that counter-proliferation experts, on their own initiative, sent Joe Wilson. So, I don't know...

BLITZER: Who sent him?

RICE: Well, it was certainly not at a level that had anything to do with the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is that true?

WILSON: Well, look, it's absolutely true that neither the vice president nor Dr. Rice nor even George Tenet knew that I was traveling to Niger.

What they did, what the office of the vice president did, and, in fact, I believe now from Mr. Libby's statement, it was probably the vice president himself...

BLITZER: Scooter Libby is the chief of staff for the vice president.

WILSON: Scooter Libby.

They asked essentially that we follow up on this report -- that the agency follow up on the report. So it was a question that went to the CIA briefer from the Office of the Vice President. The CIA, at the operational level, made a determination that the best way to answer this serious question was to send somebody out there who knew something about both the uranium business and those Niger officials that were in office at the time these reported documents were executed.

BLITZER: I want you to elaborate on what you said, I believe, in Time magazine, that this was a smear job against you, this entire post-mortem that's been coming up since then, including your wife, who works at the CIA exposing her, for example. What did you mean by that?

WILSON: Well, first of all, with respect to my wife, I don't answer any questions. And anything that I say with respect to that, the allegations about her are all hypothetical. I would not confirm or deny her place of employment. To do so would be, if she were, a breach of national security; and if she were not, at a minimum, what they have done is they have forced her to answer a lot of uncomfortable questions from neighbors and friends and whatnot.

But what I said to Time magazine and to others is that these attacks on me, which were really very minor -- Cliff May saying that I told the truth because I was a Democrat. I went out to Iraq because I was an American patriot and my government asked me to go out.

But the idea seemed to me, in going after me and then later making these allegations about my wife, was clearly designed to keep others from stepping forward.

If you recall, there were any number of analysts who were quoted anonymously as saying that the vice president had seemed to pressure them in his many trips out to the CIA. I don't know if that's true or not, but you can be sure that a GS-14 or 15 with a couple of kids in college, when he sees the allegations that came from senior administration officials about my family are in the public domain, you can be sure that he's going to be worried about what might happen if he were to step forward.

BLITZER: And you still want an investigation to find out if laws were broken in releasing this information, for example, about your wife?

WILSON: Well, yes, and hypothetically speaking, about my wife. If in fact she is as Mr. Novak alleged in his...

BLITZER: Bob Novak.

WILSON: ... Bob Novak, the journalist, alleged in his article, then the two senior administration officials, who leaked that information are libel or vulnerable to investigation under a 1982 law dealing with the identification of American agents.

BLITZER: How close in your estimate -- and you're an expert on this -- is the U.S. to finding Saddam Hussein? WILSON: It's a hit and miss thing. If Saddam is actually out in Mosul with the western tribes, as was asserted this morning, then he might be more exposed. If he's in a neighborhood in Baghdad, I think it's a little bit more difficult to find him, because the neighborhoods he's going to frequent are full of fervent Baathist supporters, and it's hard for U.S. troops to get in there unnoticed; it's hard to spring a surprise.

BLITZER: If they found Saddam Hussein, captured him or killed him, would be it over then? Would everything, sort of, fall into place and Ambassador Bremer could have, sort of, easy ride to get democracy, elections, a new Iraqi regime in place?

WILSON: Well, I actually think having found Qusay and Uday was better in driving the wooden stake through the heart of the idea that there would be a Hussein dynasty that would reemerge.

I think as the two senators said earlier, that Saddam is largely a spent force. Killing him will kill the tyrant, and that will be a good thing.

That said, I think that what we face here is we face the fact that we defeated the Sunni tribe, and the Sunni tribe would like to come back and reassert itself in power or at a minimum will want to defend itself against both U.S. occupation forces and what they fear is going to be a Shia attempt to assert their power over the country.

So I don't think over the medium and long term this is over by a long shot.

BLITZER: We want to have you back and talk about Liberia. You're an expert on Africa too. But we don't have time, unfortunately for that today.

Ambassador Joe Wilson, thanks for joining us.

WILSON: Good to be with you, Wolf. Thanks.

BLITZER: There is much more ahead on "LATE EDITION." Up next, we'll get a quick check of the hour's top stories.

Then three years ago, he barely lost the vice presidency. Now Joe Lieberman has his sight set on the top job at the White House. We'll have an interview with the Democratic senator and presidential candidate.

And don't forget to vote on our "LATE EDITION" web question of the week: Do you think another al Qaeda airplane attack against the United States is likely? You can cast your answer. Go to our web site, cnn.com/lateedition.

And more "LATE EDITION" coming up right at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This is "LATE EDITION", the last word in Sunday talk. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Bush administration threatens to give a bad name to a just war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Democrats question the Bush administration's evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Have opponents found an opening to criticize a popular president?

We'll ask presidential hopeful, Senator Joseph Lieberman, about his race for the White House.

Tightening the noose.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COLIN L. POWELL, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Saddam Hussein is no longer bad news, he's a piece of trash waiting to be collected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The U.S. finds Saddam Hussein's sons and daughters. Is the Iraqi dictator closer to capture? We'll ask former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen about Iraq and other world hotspots.

Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, off the court and in the courtroom. We'll get the latest in the high-profile case from criminal defense attorney Roy Black and Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom.

Plus, Bruce Morton's Last Word on fighting for freedoms in a world at war.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN in Washington, this is "LATE EDITION" with Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Welcome back.

According to national polls, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman is still a leading presidential choice among Democrats, but other candidates seeking the party's nomination seem to be generating a whole lot more buzz, especially in crucial states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Earlier today, I spoke with Senator Lieberman about his White House run, the situation in Iraq and much more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Senator Lieberman, welcome back to "LATE EDITION." Good to have you on the program.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Wolf, good to be back.

BLITZER: Let's get to the issues right now. First of all, you supported the war, a strong supporter of the war.

LIEBERMAN: I did.

BLITZER: So far, no weapons of mass destruction have been found. Limited programs of weapons of mass destruction.

Was it a mistake?

LIEBERMAN: It was certainly not a mistake. We know that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. After all, he used them against the Iranians and the Kurds. He used chemical weapons.

BLITZER: But that was in the '80s, before the first Gulf War.

LIEBERMAN: That's correct. After the first Gulf War, the Iraqis declared to the United Nations, they admitted that they had chemical and biological weapons, tough stuff, in large quantities, sarin, botulin toxin, anthrax, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

They never owned up to what they did with those weapons. In fact, right through last fall and into this year, when the U.N. passed its resolution asking Saddam Hussein to come clean, "Tell us, have you kept the promises you made at the end of the Gulf War to do away with your weapons of mass destruction?" he never did.

Hans Blix agreed with that. He just wanted more time to have inspections.

BLITZER: Some of your Democratic colleagues say, "That's all true. The U.N. inspectors, the weapons inspectors, they could have gotten the job done. The war was not necessary, the lives lost."

LIEBERMAN: Well, I'm afraid it was necessary, and this is where I go back to the rest of the argument, beyond the weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. We know that better today than we did before the war, because we found more than 60 mass graves of people his troops and forces murdered. We know his people were suppressed. We know that he had a plan, he wanted to dominate the Arab world. He wanted the capital of the Arab world to be in Baghdad. That would have been terrible for the Arab world, and terrible for the rest of the world. We know he was supporting terrorists.

BLITZER: But there are a lot of brutal dictators out there who have awful human rights records. Should the U.S. go out and engage in regime change of all of these brutal dictators out there?

LIEBERMAN: There are different responses to every situation. It seemed to me that after 12 years in which we gave Saddam Hussein, after the Gulf War, the opportunity to keep the promises he made to end the Gulf War, particularly to come clean on his weapons of mass destruction program, we gave him a last chance last fall. He didn't take it, and we had to act. And remember, we were acting at the beginning of a new era, post- September 11th. A lot of us looked back after September 11th and said, "Wasn't there something more we could have done to stop al Qaeda, to have broken this plot before it occurred?"

The answer was yes. And I believe it was through that new filter that we began to look at Saddam. We didn't want to look back after he attacked us and say, "Why didn't we stop him before then?"

BLITZER: So what I hear you saying is you support the president's use of preemptive strikes to deal with potential threats.

LIEBERMAN: Well, I never viewed this as a preemptive war against Saddam. I viewed this as the last battle of the Gulf War, because it was all about Saddam's refusal to keep the promises he made to attain the peace he attained at the end of the Gulf War.

No, I don't support the Bush administration's preemptive military policy. Obviously, any nation always reserves the right to take military action in self-defense, to stop an attack against itself before it occurs.

But all of -- that policy was totally unnecessary. To declare it unsettled our allies and made our enemies very anxious, including Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang.

BLITZER: Do you believe the president exaggerated the threat from Iraq going into the war?

LIEBERMAN: In some ways, I'm afraid, as I look back, that he did, and he did it unnecessarily.

So, I supported the war. I believe it was the right thing to do. I think with Saddam Hussein gone, the world is safer. America is safer.

But some of the behavior that the Bush administration followed in the lead-up to the war, that we now know was at least exaggeration, maybe untrue, this is the 16 words, plus their total lack of preparedness to deal with Iraq after Saddam Hussein was gone, has threatened, as I've said, to give a bad name to what I believe was a just war.

BLITZER: Listen to what the president said this week, taking responsibility for some of what he said and did going into the war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I take personal responsibility for everything I say, of course. Absolutely. I also take responsibility for making decisions on war and peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: When it comes to war and peace, do you have confidence in this president? LIEBERMAN: Well, look, let's take it one by one.

I agreed with him -- this is with regard to war -- that we had to go to war in Iraq, and we had to go before that to war in Afghanistan.

When it comes to peace, this president has not had a very good record in Afghanistan, in Iraq, with regard to North Korea and a host of other places, and figuring out how not just to use America's military might but to use our moral might and our diplomatic strength.

Finally, the president accepted responsibility. He had several other occasions in which people asked him -- people in the media asked him about the 16 words, and he always deflected it. But now that he's accepted responsibility, because the buck does stop with the president, he has to do something about it.

We still -- if I were president today, and somebody put into a speech I was making to the nation and the Congress, State of the Union, 16 words that at best were an exaggeration, at worst were not true, I would want to find out who did it. And I'd dismiss that person. And so far, the president has been unwilling to do that. George Tenet steps forward and says, "It's my fault." The president says, "I have total confidence in George Tenet."

Condi Rice comes forward, says, "My staff had something to do with it." The president says, "I have total confidence in Condi Rice."

BLITZER: So, should he fire Condi Rice?

LIEBERMAN: That's up to him. He ought to hold somebody accountable.

BLITZER: Should he fire George Tenet?

LIEBERMAN: Well, if I concluded, as I said earlier, that George Tenet and the CIA were responsible for those 16 words, then I would dismiss him.

But you know, on the record, it seems to me that the responsibility goes a bit higher, because the record now begins to show that the CIA really objected to the 16 words being there.

It was somebody in the White House who pushed those words in, notwithstanding the advice of the CIA that they were not founded -- well founded in fact, and that can't go on.

BLITZER: It sounds like you're losing confidence in Condi Rice.

LIEBERMAN: I'm losing confidence in this president to figure out who put him in a position to say something to the American people and the world that was not right.

And I tell you, as a supporter of the war, it particularly upsets me, makes me angry, because it was not necessary. There was enough of a case on the facts against Saddam Hussein not to have to exaggerate. And now give those who opposed the war and those who were ambivalent about the war something to argue about.

You know, as I said last week, Wolf, I felt people in my own party too, some of those who opposed the war, who are jumping on these 16 words as if it proves that they were right in opposing the war. Wrong. Those who -- some of those who supported the war, Democrats, now seeming to be so critical that they act as if they've forgotten why they supported the war.

The war was right. The president just oversold the case in a way that he didn't have to do.

BLITZER: On this issue of the war, a lot of the Democrats who are running against you for the presidential nomination strongly disagree, including Senator Bob Graham, your Democratic colleague from Florida, the former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who has argued he opposed the war because it would take away valuable resources from what he saw as a much greater threat to the United States: namely, al Qaeda, the whole war on terrorism.

LIEBERMAN: We're strong enough to do both. I mean -- look, because you've got one threat down the street from you doesn't mean that you're not going to use your forces to stop another.

BLITZER: But apparently, the U.S. is diverting resources from Afghanistan to fight in Iraq, so maybe the U.S. doesn't have the military wherewithal to deal with both as strongly as it should.

LIEBERMAN: Well, that's a separate question, and the commander in chief and Congress ought to consider whether the American military needs more forces to deal with the multiple challenges we are facing or more support. But look...

BLITZER: You believe they do need more resources?

LIEBERMAN: I think it's a serious question that the Congress and the president ought to consider. Right now, our forces are stretched. Our military in Iraq have been there quite -- some of them have been there quite a while. They're tired, and we need to begin to...

BLITZER: Because as you know, the Defense Department budget is now bigger than it's ever been before, including the height of the Cold War, and you're saying increase funding?

LIEBERMAN: We may need to, or we may need to cut out some stuff and take that money and invest in other areas.

The fact is that this administration's priorities are off. They've not invested enough in homeland security and in a multiplicity of ways.

So look, the world is safer with Saddam Hussein gone. The use of our military power to get rid of him has made the whole -- has changed the diplomatic security picture in the Middle East and beyond.

I mean, we now have Iran, for instance. On both sides they have Afghanistan, which is a more friendly regime to us, and now Iraq, which will be, if the Bush administration gets its act together.

BLITZER: But, you know, some of your Democratic challengers, like Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, totally disagree with you. I interviewed him, and he suggested that the U.S. might not be better off now in the aftermath of the war with Iraq. He totally disagrees with you...

LIEBERMAN: He does...

BLITZER: ... and he's resonating, as you well know, with a lot of Democrats out there.

LIEBERMAN: He totally disagrees with me. I totally disagree with him.

The fact is that this is the important debate, discussion going on within the Democratic Party for the heart and soul of our party. When you look back to Kennedy, to Clinton, obviously to Roosevelt and Truman, you find the great tradition of the Democratic Party being strong on security.

We're not going to meet the challenges that America faces today with someone who wonders whether the world is better off or not with Saddam Hussein gone.

And I understand the -- you know, I'm not -- I'm in this to win, but...

BLITZER: To win the presidency, not just the nomination.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, but I'm also in this to make the case for what I think America needs in leadership today, and it's leadership that is strong on security, that knows that importance of using diplomacy when that is...

BLITZER: What I hear you saying is that Howard Dean may be able to do well with Democrats, but he's not winnable, he can't win the presidency.

LIEBERMAN: Well, let me put it this way first: He's not the leader based on the record -- weak on defense, raising taxes on the middle class -- not the leader that America needs to meet the dual challenges to our security and our prosperity today, and he could well be a ticket to nowhere. He could take the Democratic Party out into the political wilderness for a long time because his positions, in my opinion, do not even reflect the majority of Democrats, let alone the majority of the American people.

And I'm going to do battle on this, because I feel very strongly about this after 30 years in public service. The Democratic Party stands for strength on security, and it stands for an economy that protects the middle class and grows it, doesn't raise taxes on it.

BLITZER: So you're suggesting he's weak on security.

LIEBERMAN: Yes. I mean, based on his record. BLITZER: Let me show you the covers of new Time magazine and Newsweek this week, and I'll put it up on the screen -- "The Dean Factor." "A feisty ex-governor from Vermont is setting the pace in the race against Bush. Does Howard Dean's renegade campaign stand a chance?"

"Newsweek's" cover: "Howard Dean: Destiny or Disaster?" You're suggesting disaster.

LIEBERMAN: Well, not destiny. That's for sure.

In other words, Howard Dean and some of the other Democratic candidates would take us back on the issues, on the positions of the party to where Democrats were for, the most part, between 1972 and 1992, where Democrats were seen as soft on defense, big taxing, big spending, fiscally irresponsible, soft on crime and a, kind of, anything-goes party...

BLITZER: So he could turn out to be -- are you suggesting...

LIEBERMAN: And Bill Clinton turned that around.

BLITZER: But, sir, Howard Dean, George McGovern: Is that the comparison you're making?

LIEBERMAN: Let's put it this way: I worry about it. And the point I'm trying to make is that Bill Clinton and a lot of us who were so-called new Democrats came into the '92 campaign with a whole new approach. There's an important role for government, but the era of big government is over. We're going to be fiscally responsible. We're going to be strong on security and we're going to be socially progressive.

That reconnected with the majority of the American people and led to eight extraordinarily productive years of security and prosperity.

Howard Dean and a lot of the other Democrats, in one way or another, would take the Democratic Party back to where we were before Bill Clinton and Al Gore won in 1992. That's not the leadership that America needs or wants today and, as I said before, it could well take the Democratic Party into the political wilderness for a long time.

BLITZER: Some people are surprised that your campaign is not resonating as robustly as many had thought. Let me put up on the screen some money, the cash on hand, in the second quarter.

John Kerry, almost $11 million. John Edwards, $8 million. Howard Dean, $6.4 million. Gephardt, $6.2 million. You have about $4 million according to these numbers.

President Bush, by the way, has $32.5 million on hand. And he's not even facing any Republican challengers.

What has happened to the Joe Lieberman campaign?

LIEBERMAN: This is a strong campaign. We're standing for something, as I've said. I'm an independent-minded Democrat. I'm running because I want to return prosperity to America and bring back fairness and integrity to the White House.

Now, on the money side, I got in late, because I made a promise, and I kept it. It was the right promise. I wasn't going to run for president, if Al Gore, who gave me the opportunity of a lifetime in 2000, decided to run.

Some of the candidates, including those that said they were out there getting ready for a year or two. So we started a little late. We started a lot late. But my money raised in the second quarter was the second highest increase of anybody but the quite remarkable surge of Howard Dean on the Internet. And the other candidates actually went down in their second...

BLITZER: So you're in it for the long haul.

LIEBERMAN: There's no question. We're accelerating. We have broader political support, as most of the public opinion surveys and my own experience shows around the country, in more places around the country.

And we're standing for something. I'm speaking from the strongest traditions of the Democratic Party, and I believe very strongly that I'm the Democrat who can win in November of '04. And ultimately I think that's what most Democrats want to see happen. They want to deny George Bush a second term, because he hasn't earned it.

BLITZER: We're almost out of time, but let's go through this scenario. Al Gore, the man you ran with, the man who got half a million more votes on your ticket together in 2000, as opposed to George W. Bush, but lost the election, obviously. There is some speculation that he might reconsider his decision not to run, because of the Howard Dean factor. He might not be electable, and because none of the other Democratic candidates are necessarily resonating out there right now. Do you see that as possible?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I'd be real surprised.

You know, I keep in touch with Al. Hadassah and I keep in touch with Al and Tipper. They're dear friends, they're great people, and they seem to be very happy in this new chapter of their life.

I think what these stories suggest is what is real. We're only a couple of rounds into this battle for the Democratic nomination for president. If you look at the most recent polls, I'm ahead on points. But most people have clearly not made up their mind. And that's why this battle for the heart and soul of the party is so critically important. We're six months from the beginning when the voters actually have...

BLITZER: I know you think it's remote and probably won't happen, but if he were, Al Gore, to throw his hat into the ring, would you take your hat out of the ring?

LIEBERMAN: Oh, I'm not going to answer that hypothetical, because I really don't believe that Al's coming in. He made a decision, which was a tough decision for him. He announced it toward the end of December. I don't see any indication at all that he's thinking about altering that.

But it makes for an interesting story. And again, I think the most important thing it says is that this Democratic nomination, notwithstanding even the polls in which I'm ahead, is wide open right now. And the discussion going on is really important, because it ultimately will determine whether we Democrats have a chance to defeat George Bush and whether, therefore, the American people can look forward to both security and prosperity, which they will not have if George Bush is reelected.

BLITZER: Senator Lieberman, thanks for joining us.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Just ahead, searching for Saddam Hussein: How critical is it that he will be found? We'll get perspective from the former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger and the former secretary of defense, William Cohen.

Then, how strong is the case against Kobe Bryant? We'll analyze the challenges facing the prosecution and the defense with our expert legal panel.

Much more of "LATE EDITION" when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Time now for our "LATE EDITION" picture of the week: the many faces of Saddam Hussein. U.S. Central Command released five computer-generated images of the Iraqi leader with altered appearances to help people identify a disguised Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

American forces in Iraq are intensifying their search for Saddam Hussein. With the death of his sons Uday and Qusay, and the surfacing of his two daughters in Jordan this past week, U.S. officials are expressing confidence the Iraqi dictator will be captured.

For some insight we turn to two former presidential advisers: in Connecticut, the former Nixon and Ford secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. He's the author of the new book "Crisis: The Anatomy Of Two Major Foreign Policy Crises." Dr. Henry Kissinger will be joining us.

And here in Washington, the former Clinton defense secretary, William Cohen.

Gentlemen, welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

Dr. Kissinger, we'll get to your book shortly, because I'm fascinated by it, and I'm sure a lot of our viewers in the United States and around the world will be anxious to read it, but this issue of Saddam Hussein, in your opinion -- and it is an opinion -- how close is the U.S. to capturing the Iraqi leader?

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it seems to me that every time they capture one of his surroundings, or one of his aides, his options for hiding are declining. So almost mathematically, it seems to me, that the chances of his being captured improve with every successful raid that we are undertaking. And every time we get one of these deck-of-cards characters, that limits Saddam's options.

BLITZER: Secretary Cohen, would it be better for the U.S. to find him alive or dead?

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, I think many in the administration would prefer that he be captured -- I mean, killed in action, so to speak.

But I think from Saddam's point of view, it's very difficult for him to talk about being taken alive at this point, having said his two sons were martyrs. That would make him out to be something quite less than a martyr if he were to be taken alive.

But you might think about how calculating he is. If he were to try to draw a breach between the United States and the U.N. it would be to offer to surrender to the U.N., to stand trial at an internationally sponsored trial, in order to say -- force the United States to say, "No, if you're going to stand trial, it will be before the Iraqi people," and then draw a wedge between the two.

But, as I say, that's purely academic. I think that he right now is going to go down fighting, if at all.

BLITZER: And it might be a lot easier for the U.S. in the long term, Dr. Kissinger, if he were killed rather than captured alive.

KISSINGER: That might be true. But it's difficult, it's not in the American character to order the killing of somebody that can be taken alive.

I think the odds are that he will resist. But basically it probably is our policy to capture him alive, if that's feasible.

BLITZER: I want you to listen, Dr. Kissinger, to what Secretary of State Colin Powell said this week, rather undiplomatically, about the former Iraqi leader. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POWELL: Saddam Hussein is no longer bad news. He's a piece of trash waiting to be collected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is that kind of talk appropriate? KISSINGER: I think it's a correct statement of the situation, and I think it reflects the realities.

BLITZER: A piece of trash waiting to be collected, obviously strong words from the secretary of state.

But Secretary Cohen, let's talk about the deaths of Uday and Qusay, his two sons. Some have suggested that it was probably more significant to get these two guys than maybe even their father.

COHEN: Well, it certainly eliminates the question of any succession to Saddam Hussein himself, and so in that sense sending a signal to all of those who are so fearful of the Hussein family that would indicate they need not fear the long-term consequences of Saddam being abroad right now, or somewhere in the area.

So I think that it is more important that you take out -- that we take out the sons, as such, from any future participation.

But I agree with Secretary Kissinger, I think it is a policy of the United States not to try to kill leaders of another country, however evil they may be, but to capture them and then put them on trial. But I think from -- it's purely academic; I don't think that will take place.

BLITZER: You have some experience, Secretary Cohen, in war crimes tribunals, given the Balkans, in Bosnia and Kosovo. If Saddam Hussein were captured alive, would you want him to be tried by an international tribunal, by the U.S. or by Iraqis?

COHEN: By the Iraqi people. I think that he should stand trial before them for all of the atrocities he's committed over the decades. And so that would be preferential.

But again, thinking from Hussein's point of view, if he were to offer to Kofi Annan to surrender and stand trial before a U.N.- sponsored international war crimes tribunal, that would certainly put him at odds with us and thereby cause a greater division than currently exists between the two.

BLITZER: What do you say about who should try Saddam Hussein if he were to be captured alive?

KISSINGER: The logical place to try him is in Iraq and to have the -- this governmental council or the government that would emerge over the next year establish the tribunal.

The U.N. has established tribunals. It takes a Security Council vote to establish them, and it's a possible way of doing it, but surely Saddam would do it in order to divide us from the U.N. Although, it would put some of our critics in the U.N. into a very difficult position, because they would have to vote for such a tribunal, having condemned his human rights violations.

So I think either place, but my strong preference would be the Iraqi tribunal. BLITZER: That seems to be a strong opinion of the Bush administration, as well, if he's captured alive.

Secretary Cohen, were you surprised that King Abdullah of Jordan decided to take in the two daughters and give them refuge in Amman?

COHEN: Well, King Abdullah has been one of the strongest supporters of the United States in this war effort. For him to have taken in the daughters, obviously, was a political judgment on his part to deal with, perhaps, his own domestic situation.

So, I was surprised that they ended up in Jordan but not surprised that King Abdullah would want to do whatever he could to defuse the situation in his own country.

So, I assume that that's the basis for it, and we should not try to second-guess him, because he's been on the forefront of supporting the United States in this effort.

BLITZER: I can only imagine, Dr. Kissinger, that King Abdullah would do this after he got the green light from Washington. Could you imagine his making this kind of decision without getting some, sort of, authorization or approval from the Bush administration?

KISSINGER: Yes, I think -- I'm sure that Abdullah considered this a humane gesture, because in general, in the Arab world, the daughters are not treated as political personalities. And I think he considered this a humanitarian gesture of which he undoubtedly informed us, but probably would not put himself in the position of being vetoed by us.

BLITZER: Do you think, Dr. Kissinger, that the two daughters have any information that would be of use to U.S. intelligence in the hunt for Saddam Hussein?

KISSINGER: Well, if they have, it is conceivable to me that Abdullah will obtain it from them, since he is extremely friendly to the United States.

But Saddam is paranoid. He's been moving around, even when he was in office. I understand that he sometimes has been sleeping in cars, even when he was president. So it's highly likely that he did not tell his daughters what his exact movement would be, especially if they were leaving the country.

BLITZER: Secretary Cohen, we heard from Paul Bremer, Ambassador Bremer, the chief U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, with a rather upbeat assessment of the prospect of elections in Iraq. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL BREMER, ADMINISTRATOR, COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY: The question is how long will it take them to write a constitution and have it approved by the Iraqi people? But it is certainly not unrealistic to think that we could have elections by mid-year 2004. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER; All right, so he thinks mid-year 2004, next year, just before the U.S. presidential elections, there could be elections in Iraq. Is that realistic?

COHEN: I think it is realistic, but much depends upon the other elements of that triangle that he's been dealing with. Namely, he has got to continue to promote security in the area. The infrastructure has to be protected -- building a police force, building a domestic army, so to speak, to guard those facilities. So, security will be tied directly to economic opportunity, which also is tied directly to political viability.

So, that election could take place next year, but much will depend upon what takes place on the ground in terms of security and also the police force and protecting those facilities.

BLITZER: Dr. Kissinger, Ambassador Bremer, your former aide many years ago when he was a Foreign Service officer -- is that an overly optimistic assessment, elections in Iraq by mid-year next year?

KISSINGER: Well, I don't think the prognosis is overly optimistic. What we have to keep in mind is that the viability of anything that emerges out of these elections depends on how long the United States is willing to stay.

If the belief is that the United States is pulling out altogether, and we are no longer there to guarantee the security situation on the frontiers, and to some extent internally, then you could get many groups that are now lying low reemerging.

So, I think the election is feasible, but it has to be clear that the United States retains a major interest in a positive outcome of the Iraqi evolution.

BLITZER: I want to get your opinion on a different subject, Secretary Cohen, Liberia. Dispatching U.S. troops, Marines, getting involved directly in what is obviously a very dangerous situation. If you were the secretary of defense right now, would you want to go ahead and do that?

COHEN: My own view is that we should play a supporting role and not the lead role in bringing about humanitarian relief to the Liberia people, who are in desperate need of it. But to call upon the Nigerians and the other forces in the region, with the support coming from us, logistics communication, humanitarian type of support, but not the lead role, in imposing or guaranteeing that piece.

BLITZER: We only have a few seconds left, Dr. Kissinger, but I'm anxious to get a preview of your new book that's coming out. One of the subjects that you're going to deal with in depth -- the book entitled "Crisis"; we're showing it to our viewers right now -- the 1973 Israeli-Arab War. When you authorized, together with President Nixon at that time, that emergency airlift to resupply Israel's military, which some say could have been on the verge of collapse, how close was Israel to collapse early on in that war against Egypt and Syria?

KISSINGER: A few days before the airlift, Israel sent us an emergency request. They had lost 300 tanks in one day. And I wouldn't say they were close to collapse, but they were in great difficulties. And I think the airlift was an important element in tipping the scales.

BLITZER: When you say an important element, was it the decisive element that allowed Israel to regain the offensive and win?

KISSINGER: It certainly changed the psychological situation in Israel. And I would say it probably made it possible for Israel to go over to the offensive that otherwise there would have been stalemate that would have kept the crisis going. And that would have been very dangerous for a country that only has a population of 4 million and in which each human life is extremely precious.

BLITZER: Thirty years ago, we were all a lot younger. I was just a young reporter covering that war. But I'll be anxious to read your insight, Dr. Kissinger, on those tumultuous days.

Secretary Cohen, thanks very much for joining us as well.

COHEN: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Up next, we'll get a quick check of the hour's top stories, including an update on a still violent situation in Liberia and efforts to halt the fighting there.

Then we'll go inside the courtroom for legal insight into the Kobe Bryant case. What will it take for the basketball superstar to beat these rape charges?

"LATE EDITION" will continue right after the headlines.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant is scheduled to appear in a Colorado courtroom, where he will formally face a felony sexual assault charge. The basketball superstar is accused of raping a 19-year-old woman, a charge he's vehemently denying.

Joining us now from Los Angeles to help sort through the case, the criminal defense attorney Roy Black; and in New York, the attorney Lisa Bloom of Court TV.

Welcome back to both of you to "LATE EDITION."

And, Roy, let me begin with you. What -- if you were his defense attorney going into this hearing on Wednesday, what advice would you give him?

ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Wolf, there's one issue in this case, and one issue only: Did this woman consent to have sex, and was she forcibly imposed upon to have sex with Kobe Bryant?

This issue is one of investigation. What I would be doing now is uncovering every detail, every fact I can about this case and about this young lady, because that's what's the sole issue in this case, and the only people I want to convince are those 12 people who are going to be on the jury.

BLITZER: Lisa, last night we saw Kobe Bryant and his wife at an awards ceremony, a Teen Choice awards; obviously very visible. Is this a good idea, going into this hearing on Wednesday, for him to make this kind of public appearance?

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: Well, certainly is a good PR move, and it's clear that Kobe and his attorneys have decided from the beginning his wife, Vanessa, is going to be by his side. Let's not forget the $4 million ring that he recently bought her.

But, you know, I disagree with Roy about putting this young lady on trial. This is not about her life, her character. This is a trial about what happened on one night in a hotel room. And the question is, is there physical evidence to substantiate what she said, and whose testimony is going to be more believable? This is not about the prior 19 years of the victim's life.

BLITZER: What about that, Roy?

BLACK: OK, well, that's a worn-out cliche that many people use about putting the victim on trial. The only person on trial is Kobe Bryant...

BLOOM: That's right.

BLACK: ... because he's the only person that can go to jail.

However, this woman's accusation is on trial. The believability of it, the credibility of it. And the only way you determine whether people are truthful or not is determined in the past. Are they honest people? Have they told the truth before? Are they mentally unstable? Have they overdosed on drugs? Have they made false reports of crimes? These are critical in every case, whether it's a rape case or a robbery case.

BLOOM: Well, I'll tell you one way that you can test the creditability of both of these parties, is look at how they behaved since that night.

Now, the victim, as far as we know, has told one story. She told it immediately. She has not spoken to the press. She has not sold her story. She has not filed a civil case.

Kobe Bryant, on the other hand, we got reports last week that he lied to the police, that he initially told the police nothing happened, and he said that repeatedly. Only after DNA tests were conducted did he come clean and say, "Well, in fact, something did happen." So, I think, if you look at the credibility of both of these parties around the time of the incident, Kobe already has a problem going into this trial.

BLITZER: Well, I was going to say, Roy, on that point -- if he initially disputed, if he initially told the police there was no sex, but later he said, "You know what? There was sex," how damaging is that to his credibility?

BLACK: Well, first of all, Lisa is now agreeing with me. It's not going into the facts of that night. She now wants to go in the facts of every day since then. I want to go into the facts of the days before that.

Of course, that's damaging to him. If he made one statement one day and made another statement the next day, that impeaches his credibility.

It is same thing with the young lady. You cannot whitewash her past or everything that's happened from the day of the event. In both parties, you have to go into all those details.

BLOOM: Well, I don't think you go back 19 years. I think you look at police reports. I don't think that's really agreeing with you, Roy Black. It is a nice Sunday afternoon, but I'm not agreeing with you on that point.

BLACK: Well, what if you made false accusations of rape in the past? What if she falsely accused somebody else...

BLOOM: Now, that, of course, that would be relevant.

BLACK: What if she lied to people?

BLOOM: Well, if she made false accusations of rape in the past, that would come into the trial, of course, because that is strictly relevant.

But we're not going to get into her sexual history, for example. There are rape shield laws in Colorado and in all 50 states that would prohibit getting into that kind of information.

I hope we don't hear about really absurd, irrelevant information like her trying out for "American Idol," what she said to her friends at parties years before this incident.

BLOOM: That kind of stuff, I think, is irrelevant.

BLACK: Yes, but things about her emotional stability are very relevant. Did she overdose? Did she try to commit suicide? Those things are important.

BLOOM: You know, millions of people in this country suffer from depression. That doesn't mean that they are liars.

This is a young woman who has had some problem, but there's a difference between her posing a danger to herself, which apparently she did after a good friend of hers dies in a car accident a few months before, and she was depressed and she was having problems. I think it's a big logical leap to go from there to say that she's a liar, that she would make up a story.

And I ask you, what is she getting from this? What benefit is there to this young woman from alleging rape against one of America's superstars? She's not getting a dime out of this, and she's sworn that she's not going to sell her story.

BLITZER: But, Lisa, potentially couldn't she file some sort of suit, civil suit, against them and collect a whole ton of money?

BLOOM: She could potentially, but she has not done that. She has one year from the incident to do that, and she has not done that, and she's sworn that she's not going to do that.

And there's not a person in this country who's gotten fame and fortune out of being a rape victim. If anything, it's nothing but trauma and heartache, and I'm sure that her life right how is very, very difficult.

BLITZER: Go ahead, respond to that, Roy.

BLACK: Well, Wolf, that happens to be, that's totally wrong. I've been studying this for 10 years. Do you know how many women after accusations like this, after the trial, come out and write books, appear on "20/20," appear on "60 Minutes," have their own specials, pose in Playboy, in Penthouse? This has happened time and time again, so to say people don't cash in on this is totally false.

BLOOM: Well, I don't think they do. You know, Kobe Bryant has $150 million economic incentive in this case to deny the charges. He's the one that clearly has a lot of money on the line, not this 19- year-old nobody from Eagle, Colorado.

BLACK: Well, I agree with you there.

BLITZER: Lisa, I want to go through a little bit of the time line, what happened during those critical days after the alleged incident which occurred on June 30th.

On July 1st, the accuser in this particular case, the 19-year-old woman, actually went to the police the next day, reported the incident. July 2nd Kobe Bryant came back to Colorado, provided the DNA test. On July 3rd he was back in the Los Angeles area, where they made -- he made some, sort of, mysterious 911 call to local police. They came, they checked out a woman, unidentified, who that woman was. On July 4th, the next day, he flew back to Colorado where he was arrested on those charges and, of course, he was allowed to go out on bail.

What do those dates, that time line suggest to you?

BLOOM: It suggests to me that July 3rd is when he told his wife Vanessa what had happened. Keep in mind, as you pointed out, it's right between the DNA testing and his arrest, an unidentified woman called 911 from his home; Vanessa is the only adult woman that lives in that home with him. So I would suspect that's the day that he broke the news to Vanessa, and I'm sure she was very upset.

Now, of course, I want to emphasize that's only a guess. We don't know it was Vanessa, but based on what you've told me that would make sense to me.

BLITZER: What do you say, Roy?

BLACK: Well, I think that's totally irrelevant, what her mental status has nothing to do with the case.

I think the most important point in that time line is that this young lady took at least 12 hours to report this alleged rape to the police. Why didn't she go running out of the room screaming rape?

BLOOM: Twelve hours? You're going to hold 12 hours against her? People take years to come forward.

BLACK: Why didn't she call 911? Why didn't she immediately go down to the police station, why did she wait for 12 hours? And it sounds to me is that she went home, thought the matter over, and only made the accusation some time later, and that raises some doubt about her believability.

BLOOM: You've got to be kidding me if you think 12 hours is a long time to report rape. You know, rape is the most under-reported of all major felonies; only 16 percent of rapes are reported, according to the U.S. Department Justice.

She went home and talked to her parents, we know that because her parents went in with her when she ultimately went in to report it. She went immediately to the hospital, as well, where a rape kit was conducted. I think this young woman has conducted herself very well in reporting it very quickly, going to the hospital very quickly.

BLITZER: All right, all right. Unfortunately, we have to leave it right there.

Roy Black, thanks as usual for joining us.

Lisa Bloom, hopefully we'll have you on again next week to take a look and see what happened during the course of this hearing that's coming up on Wednesday.

CNN, of course, will have full coverage of that this coming Wednesday.

Up next, the results are in on our web question of the week, "Do you think another al Qaeda airplane attack against the United States is likely?" We'll reveal how you, our viewers, voted when "LATE EDITION" returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Our "LATE EDITION" web question of the week: "Do you think another al Qaeda airplane attack against the United States is likely?" You've been voting. Look at the results.

Fifty-five percent of you so far say, "yes;" 45 percent say, "no."

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

Just ahead, Bruce Morton's essay.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is an American citizen, but has no rights. The government can keep him until he dies without ever having to charge him with anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Is the war on terrorism redefining America's freedoms?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: And now time for Bruce Morton with some thoughts on rights, freedom and the war on terror.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): When democracies go to war, their citizens lose some liberties; Japanese-Americans interned in camps during World War II, for example. The war on terror is no exception.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out. Get out. Get out.

MORTON: Consider Jose Padilla, 31, arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport May 8, 2002. He was held as a material witness with supposed knowledge of a plot to plant a dirty bomb in the United States.

He was allowed a public defender, a lawyer named Donna Newman (ph), who sometimes defends poor people pro bono.

JOHN ASHCROFT, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have captured a known terrorist.

MORTON: But then in June Attorney General John Ashcroft announced from Moscow the capture of a known terrorist, Padilla, now labeled an enemy combatant and confined in a military prison.

He is an American citizen but has no rights. The government can keep him until he dies without ever having to charge him with anything, without letting him see a lawyer, without giving him a fair trial, without any of the rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.

There is one other such enemy combatant, Yaser Esam Hamdi, but he was captured in Afghanistan fighting with the Taliban. Not so Padilla.

But the government says it has the right to keep him or you or me or anyone it labels "enemy combatant" locked up until we die. His lawyers are arguing. The American Bar Association thinks he should have access to a lawyer.

Padilla can't have visitors or a phone. His lawyers can write him, but The Washington Post reports the government said it couldn't guarantee he'd get the letters. The lawyers are filing appeals, of course.

And this past week, the American Civil Liberties Union challenged parts of the PATRIOT Act, which let's the government monitor the books you read and conduct secret searches. But an earlier challenge involving phone taps and monitoring e-mail lost, so freedom is shrinking in these areas too.

The late novelist Thomas Mann, who fled Hitler's Germany and came to the U.S., went back to Europe at the height of America's anti- communist witch hunts in the 1950s.

"Freedom in America," Mann said as he was leaving, "is being temporarily restricted in order to preserve it."

Restrictions increased during war time; with luck, liberty makes a comeback when the war ends.

And Jose Padilla, wherever he is, may remember an old Janis Joplin song, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Except that he has nothing left to lose, and isn't free either.

I'm Bruce Morton.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Bruce. And that's your "LATE EDITION" for Sunday, August 3rd.

For our international viewers, please stay tuned for "World News."

Be sure to join me next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. I'll be here twice a day, Monday through Friday, at both noon and 5 p.m. Eastern.

Until then, thanks very much for watching. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



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