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CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER
Interview With Hoshyar Zebari; Interview With John Harris
Aired June 5, 2005 - 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, 6 p.m. in Paris, 8 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for "LATE EDITION." We'll get to my interview with Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, in just a moment. First, though, let's get a quick check of what's in the news right now.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Fredricka. The daily dose of violence in Iraq is taking a staggering toll on that country. The Iraqi government now says 12,000 Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the 18-month insurgency. The effort to secure the country comes as Iraq begins the very difficult process of trying to write a constitution. I spoke with the Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari during his visit to Washington.
BLITZER: Foreign Minister, welcome to Washington. Good to have you back on "LATE EDITION."
HOSHYAR ZEBARI, IRAQ'S FOREIGN MINISTER: Thank you. Very pleased to be here.
BLITZER: Let's get to the insurgency because we know there is a major operation under way to deal with the insurgency, but the death toll continues -- 700 or so Iraqis killed since your government was formed. What's going on?
ZEBARI: What's going on, the insurgents, the terrorists are targeting now ordinary Iraqi civilians, ordinary Iraqi who go about their daily business, ordinary Iraqi who are recruiting in the new services for the police, for the military. And the aim is to discredit this government. That is their sole aim, to undermine this government, to show it's weak, it's unable to control. But the government responded. By launching...
BLITZER: There's this Operation Lightning that's going on.
ZEBARI: Exactly. This operation is very important, actually. The aim is to provide better security for the capital, for Baghdad, and to tighten controls over the main entry points, exit points for the city.
BLITZER: But it seems almost every day there are two, three, four car bombings, suicide bombings, these roadside bombings. It seems like these insurgents have unlimited resources, in terms of personnel, weapons and money.
ZEBARI: No, they are doing their best. But I agree with those who say really these aren't (inaudible) doesn't need heroes or courageous people, you know, to blow up, you know, cars, you know, in marketplaces and so on.
And this is an act of desperation. They are losing. I mean, the more progress we make on the political process, the more we are committed to the timetables that we have, the less support or appeal they would have.
And they know we are entering a very critical phase, that is, writing a constitution, ratifying it, and then moving to the next stage.
BLITZER: I know you met while you were here in Washington with the vice president, Dick Cheney. Listen to what he said earlier in the week about this insurgency. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He thinks the last throes of the insurgency. That sounds like a relatively optimistic assessment.
ZEBARI: Well, it's realistic, in fact, because we are making progress. We are building our capabilities. Our intelligence is improving. Our military have taken the offensive now, taking the fight to the insurgents, to the terrorists. So this operation really will ensure a better security for the capital.
And also, we need to move on the political side to make this process, especially the constitutional one, more inclusive.
BLITZER: I want to get to that constitutional issue, because it's a very important issue. But let's, first of all, talk about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
BLITZER: First of all, what do you know about his health, his whereabouts, his strength right now?
ZEBARI: Well, the intelligence, the information we have received recently, after the recent fighting in Ramadi and Haditha, all the reports confirms that he was injured in one of these clashes.
BLITZER: Do we know the extent of his injuries?
ZEBARI: Really, we don't know. But the flow of this information has been constant and all of them have been confirming that Zarqawi was among those people who are injured. And we don't know actually how serious it is. But it seems that this information are credible, because we are getting it from different sources.
Zarqawi's one of the leader of terror, of the terrorist networks in Iraq. But he's not the only one.
BLITZER: Is he the most important one?
ZEBARI: He is the most active, I would say, the most ideological, the extremist. And he has established himself. Even before the overthrow of Saddam, Zarqawi was...
BLITZER: So if he were to be arrested, or killed, or captured...
ZEBARI: I think it will demoralize, you know, his supporters, his loyalists, or those people who he's tried to recruit, the majority of whom from outside Iraq.
BLITZER: But the insurgency, though, would continue?
ZEBARI: I think there would be a certain level of violence here and there, because these people, their agenda is not to provide political alternative to what we are doing or a better vision for Iraq. In fact, the Saddamists, the Baathists want to destroy everything, because they have no chance to come back to power through the ballot boxes at all, so their only opinion is to create as much instability, havoc, as possible, for people to be dissatisfied.
The terrorists, on the other side, the fundamentalists, the extremists, also they want to establish a Taliban-style regime, let's say, in Iraq next to Saudi Arabia, next to this neighborhood, to continue the -- yes?
BLITZER: Let's continue the conversation on Abu Musab al- Zarqawi. Listen to the what the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said this past Wednesday. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The current assumption is that he's in Iraq. It would certainly -- were a neighboring country to take him in and provide medical assistance or haven for him, they obviously would be associating themselves with a major linkage in the Al Qaida network and a person who has a great deal of blood on his hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That sounds like a warning from Rumsfeld to Syria, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia, that if a neighboring country were to help Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the U.S. would regard that as a very hostile act. ZEBARI: It would be a hostile act, not only for the United States, but for us, for the Iraqi government, too, because he is one of the most wanted people. He's responsible for killing hundreds of Iraqis.
BLITZER: But do you have any indication that any of these neighbors of Iraq would help Abu Musab al-Zarqawi?
ZEBARI: Not directly. I doubt that any of them would venture, let's say, or to embrace him, let's say, in some public way. But he has his own terror network in our neighborhood. And that's why he's been able to move around or to get new recruits from outside.
But definitely for us, also, it would be a very serious matter, if any country will extend any help, or assistance, or medication, let's say, to such a notorious terrorist.
BLITZER: I interviewed the president of the Iraq, Jalal Talabani, this past week. And he said, to my surprise -- I don't know if you were surprised -- that the trial of Saddam Hussein would begin probably within the next two months. Are you that close to starting the actual trial for the former Iraqi leader?
ZEBARI: This government is very committed to put Saddam and, you know, the other members of his regime on trial. And we think -- I personally think this will impact the security situation.
BLITZER: To actually start the trial?
ZEBARI: I believe so. It's very important we start. The sooner the better. That is the view of this government. This is a widely- shared view across the country in Iraq.
BLITZER: So within two months -- you think two months the prosecution will be able to present evidence against him?
ZEBARI: We hope so. I think we have many things in place. We have the case against Saddam. Even others have presented their cases. Before I left the country, the government of Kuwait, in fact, presented its case specifically for this trial.
So I think we can do that. I mean, realistically speaking, we can do that. But the sooner the better.
BLITZER: One of his attorneys, Saddam Hussein's attorneys, told me this past week that your government was sending a team to Iran to gather evidence that could be used against Saddam Hussein, going back to the Iran-Iraq war.
ZEBARI: I think we have plenty of evidence. I mean, the mass graves in Iraq, the many violations, the many atrocities Saddam and his entourage have committed in Iraq. Every family have suffered from the rule of Saddam Hussein. So there is no lack of evidence whatsoever.
We don't need to go outside to Iran, or to Kuwait, but what he has done -- I mean, the damage, the pain...
BLITZER: So under the new Iraq and the constitution that you're drafting, he would be eligible for the death sentence? You'll have the death sentence?
ZEBARI: He would be eligible to all the benefits for a free trial. He will be eligible to have his own people, let's say, who could defend him in court. We will give him the same justice he has denied us for many years, but really we are not afraid, or we are not hesitant, that Saddam will expose certain things.
I think we have abundant of evidence received to try him, to prosecute him. And the final judgment would be for the Iraqi justice.
BLITZER: You have a big meeting coming up in Brussels with the United States, the European Union. You're inviting other governments from around the world. What's the purpose of this?
ZEBARI: This is a very important conference on Iraq. And the main aim is really to reengage the international community in the stability of Iraq, and the reconstruction...
BLITZER: You're looking for more...
ZEBARI: Exactly, providing more assistance on the security, on the training, on the sanctioning the rule of law in the country. And we think the international community can do more.
The good thing that is a positive change in the attitudes of many of the countries, even of the United Nations, so we want to build on this positive change to ensure more support and more assistance, let's say, to the Iraqi government.
BLITZER: Foreign Minister, well, good luck on that meeting. I think it's, what, June 22nd in Brussels?
ZEBARI: That's correct.
BLITZER: We'll be covering that, as well. Appreciate your joining us here on LATE EDITION.
ZEBARI: Very pleased to be here. Thank you.
BLITZER: And just ahead -- the military strategy in Iraq. We'll get perspective from two top U.S. senators about Operation Lightning. Is the plan stopping the deadly insurgency?
Plus, former President Bill Clinton is the survivor. We'll get perspective on his tenure in the White House and what lies ahead.
And later, the decades old mystery who is Deep Throat, has finally been solved. Our panel provides firsthand accounts of their experiences during this troubled time in American history.
"LATE EDITION" will be right back.
BLITZER: Our web question of the week asks this, "Are U.S. and Iraqi troops gaining ground against the Iraqi insurgency? You can cast your vote. Simply go to cnn.com/lateedition.
We'll have the results later in our program.
Straight ahead, though, U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Chris Dodd discuss the war in Iraq, declining job numbers in the United States, at least over the past month, and more.
You're watching "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the Iraq government will be up to the task of defeating the insurgents. I think they dealt the insurgents -- I think the Iraqi people dealt the insurgents a serious blow when they -- when we had the elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: President Bush speaking on Tuesday. Welcome back to "LATE EDITION."
Joining us now here in Washington to talk about the insurgency in Iraq and more, U.S. Senator Mitchell McConnell of Kentucky. He's the Senate's third ranking Republican; actually I believe he's the second ranking Republican. We'll fix that.
And in his home state of Connecticut, U.S. Senator Chris Dodd -- he is the key Democrat -- a key Democrat, let's say -- on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senators, thanks to both of you for joining us.
Second or third?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY WHIP: Second.
BLITZER: That's what I thought. Just want to make sure I'm not gypping you with your title.
Let's talk a little bit about what's going on in Iraq. And Senator McConnell, you just came back from the region.
In April and May, 278 car bomb attacks, more than 750 Iraqis killed or wounded and another 131 American troops killed.
The vice president says this is the last throes of the insurgency. A lot of people, though, are skeptical.
MCCONNELL: Well, certainly there is persistent violence in the Sunni Triangle. There's no denying that.
The broader issue, though, is whether they're making progress. They clearly are. We have an elected government now. They're going to finish the constitution by August 15th. That will be voted on in October, and if that's approved we'll have the permanent government in place in December.
There is -- it's indisputable that progress is being made in getting both the Iraqi military and police up and running. I had a chance to meet with General Petraeus, who is in charge of that difficult job, and General Casey, of course, while I was there.
Most of the country is quiet and normal and in much better shape than it was under Saddam Hussein.
So, sure, there are problems but also great progress is being made.
BLITZER: All right, what about that, indisputable? What do you think Senator Dodd?
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, first of all, on this Memorial Day recess we're all on here, you have to begin any conversation by expressing our gratitude to the men and women in uniform who are over there putting themselves in harm's way.
And no matter what one concludes about how things are going in Iraq, we all owe a great deal of gratitude to these people. So let me begin there.
I haven't been there as recently as Mitch has, so I can't speak firsthand, but Senator Biden and Curt Weldon and others -- a bipartisan group were there -- and there seems to be a disconnect between sort of the rose garden optimism and the Baghdad pessimism as one article cited in recent days.
And obviously when you have the numbers: the 12,000 Iraqis who have lost their lives to these insurgents; the numbers you cite of American troops, and the notion that it's going to take at least another couple of years -- I think the was the military conclusion that Senator Biden and Curt Weldon came back with - at least another couple of years before the Iraqis will have the kind of military and policing forces in place to be able to deal with this insurgency.
What worries me is we have these porous borders in Syria and Iran, and it seems to be there's no letting up; the number of people who are pouring in, willing to become suicide bombers.
I would have thought by now the numbers would be dissipating, and we'd see a shrinking of these instances, but it seems to be growing in numbers rather than becoming less and less, and that worries me about the future. BLITZER: What did they say to you, Senator McConnell, when you were there? You had these high-level briefings from U.S. military personnel, Iraqis. Why are the numbers going up in terms of the casualties among Iraqis and American troops?
MCCONNELL: Well, the biggest problem is dissident Iraqis rather than foreigners. There are foreigners in there, but the biggest part of the insurgency are the people you would expect to be unhappy. They're never going to be in power again.
BLITZER: The Saddam loyalists you're talking about?
MCCONNELL: Yes, the Saddam loyalists...
BLITZER: Mostly Sunnis?
MCCONNELL: ... in the Sunni Triangle.
That is not to say that all Sunnis are not participating. And many of them now are involved in the drafting of the constitution, involved in the government.
BLITZER: Did they tell you -- these generals -- what they apparently told Senator Biden and Republican Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, that it would take at least another two years to get the Iraqi police and military up to speed?
MCCONNELL: No, I didn't hear that from any of the generals...
BLITZER: What was the assessment they gave you?
MCCONNELL: Well, the assessment was we're not there but we're working on it. There was no particular timetable.
Look, we're going to be there until we finish the job, and finishing the job is one of two things: either the government asks us to leave or it's clear that the insurgency is gone.
We can't stop in the middle, and just because things are going tough from time to time we can't get faint-hearted here.
BLITZER: Well, let's ask Senator Dodd. What do you want? Do you want the U.S. simply to pull out, Senator Dodd?
DODD: No, no, no, not at all. Listen, I think -- first of all, I should have maybe said this as well at the outset, it's in our common interest here that this work. It's important to us. It ought to be important to the Europeans that it work, that this come out in the end where you have a good constitution, a stable government with security and opportunity for the Iraqi people.
We've made a tremendous investment here at great cost in human lives and our treasury, as well. So we want it to work.
I think the concern is here is that we're not getting the straight picture all the time. And I think the American public deserve that; they're writing a tremendous about of resources -- committing resources to this effort.
And instead of just always saying, "look, things are going great all the time," a good, honest assessment -- things are tough; a lot tougher than we imagined. It's going to require a lot more in the end, and we hope it works as ultimately it's going to be the Iraqi people that make this work, not the United States.
We can do everything to give help this some guidance and an opportunity for the future, but if the Iraqi people themselves don't want to make this work, all the resources of the United States are not going to solve this problem.
BLITZER: Senator McConnell, Amnesty International had a blistering report that came out attacking the Bush administration's policies dealing with terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba; specifically suggesting this has become, in their words, "the gulag of our times."
The president reacted angrily to that report this week. Listen to what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I'm aware of the Amnesty International report and it's absurd. It's an absurd allegation. The United States is a country that promotes freedom around the world. When there's accusations made about certain actions by our people, they're fully investigated in a transparent way. It's just an absurd allegation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, basically said the same thing the president said, to which William Schulz, Amnesty International USA's director, responded with this statement. He said, "Donald Rumsfeld personally approved the December 2002 memorandum that permitted such unlawful interrogation techniques, as stress positions, prolonged isolation, stripping, and the use of dogs at Guantanamo Bay. And he should be held accountable, as should all those responsible for torture, no matter how senior."
This is a respected international group, Amnesty International, which won the Nobel Peace Prize back in the '70s.
MCCONNELL: Look, the gulag comment is utterly outrageous. There is no country in the world that has stood for human rights more than the United States. We've been an example to the rest of the world.
Having said that, does that mean that a given soldier in a given situation may have made mistakes? I think some were made at Abu Ghraib, maybe some were made in Guantanamo. Our people are not perfect. But to equate Guantanamo with a gulag is completely outrageous. And I think the president and the secretary of defense had it right in so labeling it.
BLITZER: What do you think, Senator Dodd?
DODD: Well, don't get in a word game here.
What worries me about all of this -- we're going to commemorate in a few weeks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Nuremberg trials. There were many people in this country and in Europe who thought we just should have summarily executed the defendants at Nuremberg rather than have a trial for them -- where they allowed them to present evidence and have lawyers and make their case. In fact, some of them were acquitted at Nuremberg.
What worries me here is that we're getting away from that example, which was an example to the world of what we stood for as a nation of laws and not men -- that all individuals had rights in here.
And we've got 500 prisoners down here. And there are accusations that are very troubling about how they're being treated but also whether or not people are actually going to be able to have an opportunity to be heard, have their cases heard, determine whether or not they're guilty or innocent.
I don't go so far as saying go to shut down Guantanamo. But at Guantanamo, it's important for us, it's important for our legacy, it's important for people to think about us, that we follow the rule of law. We're not doing that at Guantanamo.
BLITZER: You want, Senator Dodd, you want hearings on this? Senator Specter, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is suggesting he might have some hearings.
DODD: Well, I think it's a good idea. I mean, this is again -- it's slow, it's cumbersome, some people may be acquitted. But in the long run, we send a better message to the world about who we are and what we care about if we do that, if we approach it in that direction.
BLITZER: Hearings, Senator McConnell?
MCCONNELL: Look, it's very difficult to run a perfect prison. But we have an open country. We have hearings on a whole lot of different subjects. We might well have hearings on this.
It's very difficult to run a perfect prison anywhere, but the United States does that better than any other country in the world.
BLITZER: We'll take a quick break. We'll continue this conversation. Much more coming up with our senators: McConnell and Dodd.
Also, we'll have a quick check of what's in the news right now, including the latest on the search for an Alabama high school girl who disappeared in Aruba six days ago. Stay with "LATE EDITION."
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We're continuing our conversation with Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, he's the senate's majority whip, and Democratic Senator Chris Dodd, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator McConnell, there's indications now from a senior defense official that the U.S., the Bush administration, soon will go to the U.N. Security Council to seek sanctions against North Korea because of its nuclear weapons program. Is that a good idea?
MCCONNELL: Well, we certainly don't want to leave North Korea, unattended given the fact that we believe they have nuclear weapons and quite possibly the means of delivering it.
I think the administration's call to go to the U.N. is something that I would leave up to them. The six-party talks have not produced the result that we desire yet but we've got to keep the heat on the North Koreans.
BLITZER: Senator Dodd, is it time to go to the U.N. Security Council and seek sanctions against North Korea?
DODD: Well, I don't disagree with that. I'd be doing whatever I could. The key really is going to be China here. We've got to do a far better job of getting the Chinese to put the kind of pressure -- they're the ones that are the suppliers to North Korea.
Without China's support, North Korea couldn't survive more than several months, and I think if we can get the Chinese -- and there are several points on which we can urge them, it seems to me, to become more directly involved here -- then I think the situation will deteriorate.
So we have now put some 15 stealth fighters in South Korea. We're ratcheting things up militarily. I don't like the direction that's going in. It seems to me again, the effort needs to be placed on China. The U.N. Security Council effort here may actually help in that regard.
BLITZER: Senator Dodd, your colleague, Senator Biden of the Foreign Relations Committee, suggested earlier this morning that President Bush probably will have enough votes in the senate to get John Bolton confirmed as the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N. You've done some head counting, I'm sure. Is he right?
DODD: I suspect that may be the case. What's holding this up is not a desire on my part or Senator Biden's part or Senator Reid's part. It's a desire to get some additional information here that we'd like to have regarding intercepts and some background on Syria.
Once that's, once -- and I've tried all week, by the way. I've had conversations with John Negroponte back and forth, trying to work out something here that would allow us to vote on Bolton, John Bolton this coming week. I have no desire to have this go on any longer, but the Senate as an institution, where there is a legitimate request for information, ought not to retreat from that in my view, so I'm hopeful this week we can work out some compromise, vote on John Bolton.
My read is, based on the cloture vote we had before we left, is that John Bolton would probably have the votes for confirmation if we can get beyond this request for additional information. BLITZER: What's your read? Because, as you know, your Republican colleague from Ohio, Senator Voinovich, is adamantly opposed to confirmation of John Bolton.
MCCONNELL: Well, the issue here is whether we'll get to 60. And Senator Voinovich did vote with us to get cloture so we could get an up-or-down vote on Mr. Bolton. And I think Chris's assessment is correct. It'll be up to the Democrats as to whether or not he's given a chance to have an up-or-down vote. And if he gets one, he'll be confirmed.
BLITZER: On that point, Senator Dodd, let me just clarify. You'll continue to put a hold on it, so you'll need 60 votes to break that hold, or are you going to allow that up-and-down vote, a majority for confirmation?
DODD: As Mitch recalls back when, I recall a time when he was interested in getting some information out of the Clinton administration, held up some nominees, ambassadorial nominations, I'm not desirous of holding it up. But the Senate, in my view, has a right to some information, more than we've been getting on this nomination.
I'd hoped that could be resolved in the next few days, and then you wouldn't need a cloture vote, just have an up-or-down vote on John Bolton. I'm not interested in delaying this. The information being sought is legitimate information that we ought to have before we cast that vote.
BLITZER: What about that, Senator McConnell?
MCCONNELL: Well, I certainly was guilty of holding up some nominations for a brief period of time back in the '90s because we were getting no information at all. I mean, here's a situation where you've got 800 pages of documents that have been turned over, eight hours of testimony, there's been plenty of information turned over.
BLITZER: So, all right. Let's move on and talk about another confirmation process that's likely to go forward this week: Janice Rogers Brown for the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Senator Dodd, it looks like that's going to go through, as well. Is that your assessment?
DODD: That's my assessment. I think that was part of the arrangement worked out by the 14 senators who were part of that so- called deal that there would be a vote on her and a vote on Judge Pryor. And the concern we have is the notice that came out or news that came out in the past few days that we may see a flood of district court nominations.
The word I think that's operative here -- and neither Mitch nor I were a part of the 14 but obviously we watched it closely -- I think the word "reasonableness" here is what ought to be applied. That is, there will be reasonable nominees put forward and the Democrats would act reasonably and not engage in filibusters on these nominations. My hope is that's the path we'll follow here. If we do then I think we can avoid this crisis on a weekly basis of threatening to eliminate the filibuster or extend the debate rule. So, a lot will depend upon the nominations set forth by the administration.
And Democrats should respond with reasonableness.
BLITZER: Senator McConnell, did those 14 Democrats and Republicans, seven of each party, do the right thing in reaching that compromise?
MCCONNELL: Well, certainly we appreciate the opportunity to get an up-or-down vote on three judges, one of whom we approved 10 days ago, had been denied an opportunity for a vote for four years. It's good news that Priscilla Owen got confirmed. It's good news that Janice Rogers Brown is going to get confirmed. It's good news that Bill Pryor's going to get confirmed.
Frankly, every judge prior to the last Congress got an up-or-down vote when they got to the floor, and I hope that's...
BLITZER: But oftentimes you didn't even let some of those nominees get to the floor.
MCCONNELL: We offered to fix that problem. We offered to fix that problem, so everybody could be treated the same, everybody would get an up-or-down vote, both in committee and on the floor. They rejected that.
We'll see how this works out. I think the proof will be in the pudding. If they go back to filibustering, the constitutional option's still on the table, and the trigger will be pulled.
BLITZER: Is Howard Dean, Senator Dodd, an asset or a liability as chairman of the Democratic Party?
DODD: I think he's an asset. He energized a tremendous part of the population of the country who did not feel connected to the political process, was a very successful candidate for the presidency, though he did not win the nomination, has a tremendous amount of energy. He's bright, a former governor.
I think he's doing a good job as our national chairman.
BLITZER: What do you think? Because he's really made some statements that have been going after the Republicans, and most recently that Republicans basically -- or at least he was suggesting to me on Friday that the Republican leadership never really worked that much, so they didn't know the problems of having to wait in long lines to vote in Ohio.
MCCONNELL: Yes. I would say to my good friend Chris, I can't think of anybody we like better to have heading your party than Howard Dean. I hope he serves a long time. We like him right where he is.
DODD: Well, thank you, Mitch. I'm sure Howard appreciates that very much this morning, I tell you. You're doing a good job.
BLITZER: Praise, praise from Senator McConnell for Howard Dean.
BLITZER: Senator Dodd, thanks very much.
Senator McConnell, thanks to you as well.
DODD: Thank you.
BLITZER: Appreciate both of you joining us here on "LATE EDITION."
Just ahead, could Hillary Rodham Clinton become the next United States president? We'll get perspective on the political power couple from Washington Post reporter and author John Harris. He has a new book called "The Survivor." We'll talk about that when "LATE EDITION" continues.
BLITZER: Covering Bill Clinton was an exciting and exhausting job for the reporters on the White House beat. I can personally attest to that. The relationship between the president and the press was adversarial from the start. In his first address to the Washington press corps at its annual dinner, he joked about trying to circumvent the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know why I can stiff you on the press conferences? Because Larry King liberated me from you by giving me to the American people directly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Clinton's turbulent years in office generated lots of ink.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HARRIS, AUTHOR, "THE SURVIVOR": Sir, George Stephanopoulos has written a book that contains some tough and fairly personal criticism of you. Earlier, Dick Morris had written a somewhat similar book. How much pain does these judgments by former aides cause you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, the man who asked that question has written his own book on Bill Clinton, entitled "The Survivor". In the book, former White House reporter John Harris of The Washington Post reveals how the comeback kid battled back from what might have been fatal blows to anyone else's presidency. And joining us now, The Washington Post reporter and author, John Harris.
John, congratulations on this new book.
HARRIS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Let's talk about what you learned. You covered him for six years. I covered him for more than seven years. You covered him for six years. In preparing this book, what's the single most intriguing little nugget that you learned about this man?
HARRIS: Well, I hope that people find there is a little nuggets on almost every page. I try to take people behind the scenes of decisions -- things that weren't available to us when you and I were covering him and traveling the world with him.
My larger aim setting out was -- you know I called the book "The Survivor." It was to try to explain whether somebody is on the right or on the left regardless of what they think about Bill Clinton, why it was that he survived.
BLITZER: So give us one thing that pops to your mind right away that really, you know, sort of startled you in doing the research for this book about this man.
HARRIS: I just -- most people are intrigued by the relationship between Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. And that was one of the things I really spent a lot of time trying to figure it out.
You know, there's a scene in the book where they're having a campaign strategy meeting in the 2000 Senate campaign. It's at the White House. Bill Clinton's behind the scenes trying to help his wife become senator. He's looking at the polling data and he says, "Women want to know why you stayed with me."
And the room got kind of awkward. And this is not the kind of thing that ordinarily comes up at a meeting. But Hillary Clinton wasn't embarrassed. She smiled and she said, "Yes, I've been wondering about that myself." And Bill Clinton says, "Because you're a sticker. You stick at the things that are important to you."
I thought that said something about the nature of the relationship. It also said something about him and why he managed to survive.
BLITZER: You wrote this about the relationship between the then first couple. They had been happiest together when they had separate endeavors and unhappiest as on overseas trips when ceremony or public expectations forced her to play a secondary role to him. What does that say about the junior senator from New York?
HARRIS: Well, look. I think it's a genuine relationship that's motivated by real mutual respect and even love. But there's no question they both like their own space and that is one of the things in the book that you point out. She was often kind of crabby and irritable overseas when she had to travel with him. They jostle each other a little bit. I think that she likes having her own role on the public stage now. She likes being the principal. So we're seeing this fascinating role reversal.
BLITZER: Do you think she's going to run for president in 2008?
HARRIS: I sure do. Everybody I know around both Clintons is operating under that assumption. I guess I'd be stunned if she didn't.
BLITZER: Here is another quote from the book, "The Survivor." "The stereotype of Clinton as a supremely guileful and deceptive politician was essentially wrong. On important matters, his real sentiments always surfaced no matter how staff tried to keep him on message." Now, that goes against the conventional wisdom that everything was political to this guy.
HARRIS: Right. But I think you can appreciate, Wolf, from the years when we covered it, the time to really listen to Bill Clinton was after the work day was done at these evening fund-raisers where he would inevitably say what was on his mind even if it was off message.
You remember that time where he said he admitted he told an audience of wealthy donors, "I'm sorry I raised your taxes too much." Constantly, he'd be -- during the health care episode, the official line was we want 100 percent coverage, no compromise. And he just went off, threw the notes away. And one day said,just be happy with 95 percent coverage led to a big disagreement between the first lady and Bill Clinton.
But you could almost always read Clinton. I don't think he's somebody who is deceptive or hard to read.
BLITZER: How did he survive the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Because at the beginning, when word came out that this was going down -- a lot of us who were covering him at the time were stunned that he would have an affair with a former White House intern effectively in the Oval Office -- and yet he survived. How did he survive?
HARRIS: I think there's two things. I'd put my finger on both the personal and political.
First off, on the political, look, he made some difficult decisions early in the administration, '93-'94 that did, in my view, help put the economy on a good course. And the country said, "Look, we'll look at the personal, some of the personal mistakes. But on balance things are going well."
BLITZER: So the country was ready to forgive him for that indiscretion because the economy was good.
HARRIS: I think that's right. And then on the personal, there's the sense of Bill Clinton of this incredible hunger. He will never -- and I think it's admirable -- he will never give up. He'll never be beaten. On the other hand, that hunger and sometimes that penchant for excess is what gets him into trouble. It both gets him into trouble and takes him out.
BLITZER: Here's another quote about Osama bin Laden from the book. Let me put this up on the screen. "Now, his presidency nearing its close, contingency and improvisation were again his guidepost as he pondered the problem of Osama bin Laden. Clinton wanted the man dead or in American custody if the right opportunity arose.
"But as he contemplated the risk this pursuit demanded, there were always reasons to wait for a better day." This is before 9/11 but at a time when everybody knew Osama bin Laden was responsible for other terror attacks against the United States. But he was always cautious, you suggest, in not taking the steps when they could have taken the steps to kill this guy.
HARRIS: Bill Clinton is highly attuned to risks, and he can almost always see the trade-offs for decisions. At times you can say that's an asset. He sees decisions in all their complexity. At times, it can be paralyzing, and is one of the things that inhibits him from taking big risks.
You know, I think it is more likely that George W. Bush -- and it is an interesting contrast between the two of them -- will either go down in history as a terrible president or a great president, either one. Bill Clinton, because he was forever making decisions that would keep him alive another day, is more likely to wind up in that middle zone of good but perhaps not at the top tier of great.
BLITZER: Did Bill Clinton cooperate with you in preparing this book?
HARRIS: He did not give me an interview. His attorney, Bob Barnett, put the kibosh on that, felt that it was at odds with his own obligations to his memoir, but he didn't put a roadblock on anybody else. And when people would call up him, and say, look, Harris wants to talk to me, Clinton would always say, just use your own judgment, I've got no objection. So I did appreciate that.
BLITZER: I'm surprised, though, he wouldn't talk to you. He talks to everybody else. And you're John Harris of The Washington Post. Why wouldn't he sit down and at least give you a nice, in-depth interview?
HARRIS: Well, I'd had numerous interviews with him over the years, including while I was working on the book for Washington Post stories. I'd had numerous interviews with Hillary Clinton over the years.
Again, I think they felt that his memoir -- he got $10 million or more to write it -- they had a clause in there, no other interviews.
BLITZER: All right.
HARRIS: I didn't feel I was hurt by it, though.
BLITZER: No, it's an excellent book, and we learned a lot, even those of us who covered him for all that time, and I appreciate it very much.
The name of the book is "The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House." John F. Harris is the writer. Congratulations.
HARRIS: Thanks, Wolf. I appreciate it.
BLITZER: And don't forget our Web question of the week: Are U.S. and Iraqi troops gaining ground against the Iraqi insurgency? You can cast your vote. Go to cnn.com\lateedition. We'll have the results later in our program.
"LATE EDITION" will continue right after this.
BLITZER: This is "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, Europe faces important questions about its future course.
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BLITZER: French and Dutch voters reject a European constitution. What does it mean for Europe, its relations with the United States, and the effort to stabilize Iraq? Insight from former secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig, and former National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is a man during Watergate and during the years since Watergate was in turmoil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Did the man revealed as Deep Throat help or hurt his country? We'll debate the legacy and lessons of Watergate with three of the political scandals key figures, former Nixon White House lawyers John Dean and Charles Colson, and former Watergate prosecutor, Richard Ben-Veniste.
Welcome back. We'll talk to our panel of statesmen about the war in Iraq, nuclear North Korea and more in just a moment.
First, though, let's get a quick check of what's making news right now.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Fredericka.
And for the very latest on the search for that Alabama teenager still missing in the Caribbean, let's turn to CNN's Karl Penhaul. He's joining us on the phone from Aruba. What do you have, Karl?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm on the eastern edge of the island in a remote wind-swept location known as Zwart Mangal (ph). In English that means black mangrove. It's an area of white, sandy beaches; there are one or two wooden (inaudible) beach huts, and there's a lot of mangrove growth here.
What we can see now in front of me is a detachment of Dutch marines. They are beating with sticks through the mangroves as we speak.
Aruban police are also on the ground. They are standing outside a green and red wooden and tin hut. There's also a police helicopter on the ground there. An intense search is under way.
Police sources have told me in the last few minutes that a mattress -- bloodstained mattress, police sources say -- has been found in the area. They have stopped short of saying whether it is connected to the case of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Although one police source did tell me that he was surprised to have found that kind of item in this area.
Now, the area where the search is under way is just east of the town of San Nicolas. San Nicolas is the town, Wolf, where two arrests were made this morning, a 28 and 30-year-old security guard. Both of those security guards, we are told, worked near the Holiday Inn, which is the hotel on the western edge of the island where Natalee Holloway had been staying, Wolf.
BLITZER: And basically we're waiting for this news conference that's scheduled to start a little bit less than two hours from now, Karl.
Are we expecting this to be a routine update, or do the police, based on the information you have, have some new information they're going to be providing?
PENHAUL: What we expect so far, Wolf, is that that press conference scheduled for a couple hours' time will deal with the arrest of the two men earlier in the day in San Nicholas.
We expect the chief police commissioner to give us a little more background about those men, and also to let us know whether these men will have been charged under the Dutch legal system (inaudible) the U.S. system investigators have an initial six hours to question these men before deciding whether they will hold them for another 48 hours or even another week. By 3:00 p.m., that six-hour window will have expired. So we should have more on the status of the two men, Wolf.
BLITZER: And we'll have coverage of that news conference coming up a little bit less than two hours from now, 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Karl Penhaul on the scene for us in Aruba. We'll check back with you as it warrants. Thanks very much, Karl, for that report.
Joining us now with some perspective on a number of key international issues, including the war in Iraq and a nuclear North Korea, are two distinguished guests.
Alexander Haig served as secretary of state under former President Ronald Reagan. Zbigniew Brzezinski served as national security adviser during the Jimmy Carter administration.
We had hoped that former secretary of state Henry Kissinger would be joining us as well. We're still trying to work some technical problems out. If we can, he will join this discussion.
In the meantime, gentlemen, thanks to both of you for joining us.
Let's talk a little bit about Iraq right now. And I want to play for both of you an assessment that the vice president, Dick Cheney, gave our Larry King earlier this week on the state of the insurgency in Iraq. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: I think we may well have some kind of a presence there over a period of time, but I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski, do you agree with the vice president, this is -- these are the last throes of the insurgency?
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No, I sort of doubt it. I'm afraid the contrary is the case, and, if we're going to stay there a long time, I'm afraid that's going to perpetuate the insurgency.
Whatever we may think of the Iraqis' present leaders, past leaders, future leaders, they are nationalistic, and, by and large, every public opinion poll in Iraq shows they do not like the occupation. And hence that is one of the problems keeping the insurgency alive.
BLITZER: Secretary Haig, what's your assessment?
ALEXANDER HAIG, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I'm not quite as grim as my friend Zbig tends to be. I think we are making progress, but the real issue has been all along, could we close the border here? Obviously, we're now in the Euphrates valley, and that's the line of entry from Syria of many of these people. I think they've closed off the Jordanian route. There may be some other entries from Iran and elsewhere. And this is always a problem of not enough resources on the ground to deal with it.
BLITZER: Some have suggested, Secretary Haig, that the route in from Syria, specifically -- and they keep making this analogy to Vietnam, a subject you're very familiar with, that that's almost like the Ho Chi Minh Trail, coming into Iraq right now. Is that an apt analogy? HAIG: Well, no. I don't think it's comparable to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was really after we closed off Kampon Song (ph) in the South, became the only entry other than across the 38th, which was pretty well neutralized.
So, no, this is not the main artery, but it's a very troublesome and, clearly, a very virile one, and it may involve everything from volunteers from Iran, from Syria, from other Arab and non-Arab fundamentalist countries.
BLITZER: All right.
Dr. Brzezinski, I guess the broader question -- and you've looked into this -- is Iraq emerging as another Vietnam for the United States?
BRZEZINSKI: I don't think it's a Vietnam, because in Vietnam we were facing, in effect, an organized army supported by two very major powers, the Soviet Union and China. And, in the end, the American people decided they wouldn't pay the price, which is very high.
Now, at some point the American people may decide they don't want to pay the price, which is much lower, in Iraq. But in Iraq we're dealing primarily with the Iraqi opposition, resistance, insurgency, and we're deceiving ourselves very badly if we think that it is sustained by outside forces. Yes, on the margins, there may be some help coming in.
But it is really quite striking to me that, after all of the encounters, all of the prisoners taken, all of the enemies killed, we have not produced hardly any Syrians or Iranians or Saudis that we have either killed or captured in combat. And that tells you something.
The problem is, we're dealing with a lot of Iraqis who, by and large, don't want to be occupied by a foreign power.
BLITZER: Well, Secretary Haig, these are Saddam loyalists, by and large, mostly Iraqi Sunnis who don't like the fact that Iraqi Shia and Iraqi Kurd are dominating this new government.
HAIG: Well, this is a very important aspect of the current problem. And obviously, there are some civil war overtones to the current dilemma.
But there is another longer strategic problem that enabled us not to just walk and close off our presence there, but to bring this thing to a successful conclusion, and that is the potential threat, ultimately, from non-Arab fundamentalist countries, and these are the countries that border Iraq today: Turkey, which is a fundamentally critical question which I hope you get into when you talk about Europe; Also, Iran, which has just finished a visit by their prime minister, received by the Shiite government, the Shiite majority government and received very favorably.
And we have to be... BLITZER: That was the foreign minister of Iran visiting Baghdad. And he was well received, as you correctly point out. What's the point? Are you concerned, Secretary Haig, that the new Iraqi government is going to forge some sort of alliance with Iran?
HAIG: Well, I think we have to be very, very careful that we do not force non-Arab countries who are concerned about American lack of resolve and manlihood to draw the conclusion we've failed in Iraq and we are also going to fail if challenged by them. And this is very important.
Now, of course, Turkey is not in that case. But if we mishandle Turkey, if we don't pressure our European friends to be more hospitable to their participation in Europe, then these are all outcomes that could be really the future for us. And this would be a not happy future.
BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski, as you know, Turkey has been a loyal ally of NATO for all these years. Do you understand the point that Secretary Haig is making, that the United States somehow can influence Europe to be more receptive to Turkey?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, I can understand his concern. And I share it. I think it's important in the longer run that Europe does not push Turkey into becoming another Middle Eastern problem.
So some avenue of approach, some encouragement of their aspiration to be part of Europe I think is, in fact, in our interest and it is in Europe's interest.
But on the larger point, I think we have to face the fact that Iraq is going to be living next to Iran forever, next to Syria forever, next to Turkey forever. And you will find its internal balance only when the outsider who has precipitated the ongoing crisis is gone.
The Shiites and Kurds together account for about 75 percent of the people of Iraq. Without us, I'm quite convinced they will establish some degree of stability. It won't be democracy. But it will be stability.
If we stay, we're going to have this insurgency going on and on and on, with blood and cost increasingly high.
BLITZER: Dr. Brzezinski, the president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, told me this week here on CNN that the trial of Saddam Hussein is going to probably start within two months. Will that make a difference, the security, the stability situation in Iraq, to see Saddam Hussein actually on trial?
BRZEZINSKI: I think exposing his crimes and punishing for it, I think, probably will help somewhat. But the real problem is no longer that.
You mention the Iraqi leadership. Just think, where is it located? It's located in the green zone. A closed American fortress. The leaders that we say are democratically elected walk around with American bodyguards. We are not yet dealing with an authentic Iraqi leadership, and will not deal with it as long as we're there as an occupying power.
BLITZER: Do you agree with that assessment, Secretary Haig?
HAIG: Well, yes and no. I think you've got to be careful of what you're emphasizing. The problem here is that we're not ready to withdraw from Iraq. And yet, I think that's the message I'm getting from Zig. I hope that's not the message.
BLITZER: Is that the message you're giving him, that you think the U.S. should start pulling out?
BRZEZINSKI: I would like us, actually, to encourage the Iraqi authorities to say to us publicly that they feel confident enough that we should leave. Because if we leave, some internal balance between the Shiites and the Kurds will settle affairs in Iraq.
HAIG: Nobody disagrees with that. I am in favor of it. I think that's the administration's position.
But they have to reach a point where the government, such as it is and it's still in the formulative stage and we hope we will have some additional Sunni participation and the Sunnis have to decide they're going to perish or participate. And in the long run, they will perish if they don't participate.
So all of these things are working in favor of an outcome if we can keep our patience, keep our resolve and stay behind the policies, being sure that we don't delude ourselves about where these threats are coming from. They are coming from outside as well as inside.
BLITZER: All right, gentlemen, stand by, because we're going to take a quick break. We have more to talk about with our guests.
And we'll also ask Alexander Haig about the revelation this week who exactly was Deep Throat. We'll get his assessment of that as well.
Later, how did the scandal change Washington? We're talking about Watergate.
We'll debate the legacy and lessons with a special panel, including President Nixon's former legal counsel and the head of the Watergate task force. "LATE EDITION" will continue right after this.
BLITZER: A beautiful day here in the nation's capital. Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We're continuing our discussion with former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
The vice president, Dick Cheney, spoke on Larry King live earlier this week about the North Korean leader. Listen to what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: Kim Jong Il, who's the leader of North Korea, is I would describe as one of the world's more irresponsible leaders. He runs a police state. He's got one of those heavily militarized societies in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Secretary Haig, what can the U.S. realistically do now? There are indications that the Bush administration in the coming weeks wants to go formally go back to the U.N. Security Council to seek sanctions against North Korea. Is that advisable?
HAIG: Well, I would like to hear a little more about the discussions with our Chinese friends and a little less about our public diplomacy against our Chinese friends. It seems to me these are counterproductive courses of action.
It's very important that we get China's cooperation in the six. And very important also that we consider putting some teeth in a continual refusal.
So I think we should handle it with a little less public diplomacy and a little more private direct talks with those who share our interest. And China shares our interest in not having a nuclear neighbor on their border.
BLITZER: All right. What about that, Dr. Brzezinski?
BRZEZINSKI: I basically agree with Al. If the six-power talks are to succeed, we have to have agreement with China. If we don't have agreement with China, going to the U.N. Security Council makes little sense because China can veto. That's not going to support us. So we don't accomplish anything by going to...
BLITZER: Well, Dr. Brzezinski, the defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was pretty tough on the Chinese the other day when he spoke out about their expenditures for weapons. Listen to what Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said.
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DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: China's also improving its ability to project power and developing advanced systems of military technology. Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder why this growing investment.
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BLITZER: How is China going to react to that?
BRZEZINSKI: I like Don. He's a good guy. But just think of that statement. It comes from the secretary of defense of the United States, which just this year became the first time in history a country that's spending more on its own defense than the rest of the world combined. Just think of what that means. And he's saying, "China has no enemies and therefore doesn't need any security." What about us? I mean this is just ridiculous.
BLITZER: You're laughing, Secretary Haig.
HAIG: Well, I think this is a foreign policy issue, a national security issue of profound significance. And I'm inclined to think we ought to cool of some of the anti-Chinese rhetoric coming out of the Pentagon.
BLITZER: So you agree with Dr. Brzezinski on that?
HAIG: Don't ask me to cross that line. Zbig wouldn't understand it.
BRZEZINSKI: Oh, Al, I can try to understand it. I'll even welcome you in my camp without Henry coming along, since we don't have him here.
BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts, since you were the White House chief of staff, Secretary Haig, during the Nixon administration, the final days of the Nixon administration, about the revelation that Mark Felt was after all Deep Throat. You had been accused of being Deep Throat numerous times over these decades. What do you think of this?
HAIG: Well, I think one of your next guests is going to be the culprit that created the "Al Haig is Deep Throat" even though he knew I wasn't. He just wanted to sell books, which says something about how intense...
BLITZER: Which culprit, which person was that?
HAIG: I'm talking about the former counselor to the president.
BLITZER: You're talking about John Dean?
HAIG: Of course.
BLITZER: All right. Go ahead.
HAIG: He's the one that wrote it first. Then it was picked up by Kullogney (ph) and Company, which who were being funded by political enemies, as well. You know, you guys shouldn't over- dramatize what is a dead story, and that's Watergate and certainly Deep Throat.
You know, from my perspective, while these things were important, keeping the issue alive in America, the true death knell for Mr. Nixon, and I supported him at the time, was the tapes. And the American people were offended by those tapes and resulted in the departure of the bollweevils (ph), the 30-some votes in the South and the governor of Alabama's support for President Nixon. And that happened in July. And the president looked at me. When he learned it, he said, "Al, I've lost the presidency." And it was a political issue in the final analysis. BLITZER: Did you think Mark Felt over the years was Deep Throat, the number two official at that time at the FBI?
HAIG: Yes, I did. And my friends, to whom I spoke privately have all called me and said, "How did you know?" And I said it wasn't difficult because the really accurate part of the first Woodward and Bernstein book was following the money. That was an FBI chore and Mark Felt was the key guy in the FBI to talk to the press, sometimes authorized and sometimes not. And it was well known in Washington.
BLITZER: Hero or villain -- Mark Felt -- Secretary Haig?
HAIG: I'm not going to render a judgment. It wouldn't have been my style. I've resigned from two presidencies and, perhaps, even a third because I disagreed and felt that I couldn't go along with policies.
That was his option, and he should have gone upstairs or at least gone to see the president, and said that this is no longer tolerable.
But he didn't.
BLITZER: We'll leave it right there. Let me thank Secretary Haig, Dr. Brzezinski, as usual. Since you didn't serve during the Nixon administration you don't have to comment on Deep Throat and Watergate.
BRZEZINSKI: Thank God. Thank God.
BLITZER: Appreciate both of you for joining us. Always good to have you on the program.
Once again our apologies to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. We had technical problems getting our truck up to Connecticut. We'll have him back many times in the weeks and months and years to come.
Up next, we'll get a quick check of what's in the news right now, including the latest on the search for an Alabama teenager missing in Aruba.
Then a defining moment: August 9th, 1974, President Nixon left the White House. We'll get special insight into the events that led up to his resignation and the revelation this week -- the identity of Deep Throat.
First, though, this word from former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
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MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I was around from CNN first got started. We kind of, in many ways, grew up together. I was very pleased, always, to be asked to be on CNN.
I was a, quote, "Soviet expert." I taught at Georgetown University and my name began with "A," which meant that when CNN needed such an expert I often got called. So, I am very grateful to CNN.
I think that generally CNN's coverage of events like the Gulf War -- I remember that as a very significant event; very detailed, good descriptions of what was going on at that time. And then every event, whether it was covering wars or in terms of explaining to people what was going on.
But it's kind of a constant reminder to the viewer about the importance of news in our lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL BERNSTEIN, WASHINGTON POST: He obviously felt an obligation to the truth. He felt an obligation, I think, to the Constitution. He realized that there was a corrupt presidency, that the Constitution was being undermined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein explaining why he thinks Mark Felt decided to share information about President Nixon's involvement in the Watergate break-in.
Joining us now, three key figures from that Watergate era: in Los Angeles, the former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean; in Naples, Florida, the former special counsel to President Nixon, Charles Colson; and here in Washington, the former chief of the Watergate task force, Richard Ben-Veniste.
Gentlemen, thanks to all three of you for joining us on this Sunday.
And, John Dean, I'll start with you, because we just heard the former secretary of state, Alexander Haig, who was the White House chief of staff during the Nixon administration, angrily blame you for suggesting he was Deep Throat. Do you owe him, Alexander Haig, an apology?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, I took him off my list a long time ago, as Al knows. I suspect that, if I'd have known what I know about Al today, I probably wouldn't have put him on the list. He really is a Nixon apologist, and obviously Mark Felt is not.
But I took him off the list because he really was not -- and he wouldn't respond to me at the time, when I put him on the list, because I tried to find out if he was available at all the times Woodward was talking to Deep Throat. And only later did I find out that he is out of the country at one of the key times.
BLITZER: Was Mark Felt, in your opinion, John Dean, a hero or a villain for sharing guidance, sharing information with Bob Woodward of The Washington Post?
DEAN: Well, I have very mixed emotions about this, given the position he's in. He's really the titular head of the FBI. He's running the investigation. If he was concerned that somebody was corrupting the FBI, he could have gone to Congress. He obviously didn't feel he could go to the White House.
So I'm surprised he did what he did, but I still think it's a noble act.
BLITZER: What do you think, Charles Colson?
CHUCK COLSON, FORMER NIXON ADVISER: I don't think it was a noble act at all. I think the only thing that we need to be discussing today is the moral lesson of Deep Throat.
I've worked for the last 30 years preaching the gospel of Christ in prisons all across America. Today there are 2.1 million people in prison, and the one single characteristic I've discovered is, every one of them has not had moral training. They're like feral children. They come up off the streets. And if they get the message that somebody can break the law in a noble purpose, and can justify it, that's a terrible thing.
BLITZER: Which law, Chuck Colson...?
COLSON: (inaudible) that the ends justify the means.
BLITZER: Chuck Colson, which law did Mark Felt supposedly break?
COLSON: Well, I think he broke the law in disclosing secret FBI information that came from FBI interviews that came from grand jury records. Many of the things that came out by Deep Throat were from grand jury records. That's a clear violation of the law.
I went to prison, voluntarily. I deserved it. I went because I gave an FBI file to a reporter. And I pled guilty to it.
Mr. Ben-Veniste in the studio knows, because the deal was negotiated with the Watergate special prosecutor.
And I did it because I wanted to set a precedent. I feel more strongly today than I did 30 years ago, when I did that, because I've seen the wreckage in our society from people who haven't been morally trained, and I watched something -- I think it was on CNN, the other night, talking to a lot of schoolkids, asking them, was Mark Felt a hero? And they all said, yes. I'm thinking, no, kids, no...
BLITZER: All right.
COLSON: ... the end doesn't justify the means, do the right thing.
BLITZER: What about that, Richard Ben-Veniste? Did he break the law, from your perspective? You were one of the Watergate prosecutors. Did Mark Felt, by sharing information with Bob Woodward, violate U.S. law?
RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, FORMER CHIEF OF WATERGATE TASK FORCE: Well, possibly he did, depending on what information was transmitted.
But basically, I think the value of Mark Felt was to provide the confidence to the editors at The Washington Post that they were on track, that their investigation was going behind what Mr. Colson and John Dean at the time hoped to limit the Watergate break-in to, which was the initial five, and then seven individuals who were arrested.
BLITZER: So are you justifying his decision to cooperate as he did with Bob Woodward?
BEN-VENISTE: Well, I think, you know, this decision on the part of Felt was nuanced. I think he had a fair amount of self-interest involved. I think he wanted to be considered for the top spot at the FBI, yet he also watched as the FBI was being corrupted, as the CIA was being corrupted, as the IRS was being corrupted, and he saw in the White House this group of people who were taking the law into their own hands, going out and bugging the opposition party, breaking into their headquarters...
BLITZER: But did he have no other alternative? Could he have gone to you, for example? You were one of the Watergate prosecutors. Could he have gone to the Congress, which was investigating, instead of going to a reporter?
BEN-VENISTE: He could have gone, not to me, because the Watergate prosecutor's office wasn't created for some time later, but he could have gone...
BLITZER: There was a predecessor that you had.
BEN-VENISTE: Sure, there was the U.S. Attorney's office, which was conducting the investigation. But his immediate supervisor, the head of the FBI, had been corrupted. He had destroyed the contents of Howard Hunt's safe on instructions...
BLITZER: L. Patrick Gray.
... from the White House.
He had -- the head of the Justice Department, Kleindienst,...
BEN-VENISTE: ... knew information. He didn't give it to anybody.
The heads of the CIA had information. They maintained silence.
So, it is sheer audacity on the part of these convicted felons and Watergate revisionists to whine about the fact that Mark Felt provided information in a way that was unauthorized, when in fact what they wanted was Felt to salute and shut his mouth.
BLITZER: Oliver Buck Revell, one of the former top officials of the FBI, is quoted in the new issue of "U.S. News & World Report" as saying, "To sneak around as a whistle-blower, when you have a duty and obligation to provide to prosecutorial authorities, to me is a total betrayal of his duties."
John Dean, do you agree with Buck Revell?
DEAN: Well, not -- again, we like to make these black and white and very simple, and they're much more nuanced than that. One of the questions I have, for example, was Felt acting alone? I don't think there is any way he could have been acting alone.
So there's indeed a number of people involved in the FBI in assisting him, for example, looking at Woodward's balcony to see if the flag was out, circling his New York Times to get a message that he wanted to speak. So there are a number of people in the FBI who know about this. And that's to me the most surprising thing.
I was involved in Watergate. I broke rank internally and then externally. And I know how easy it is to put the wrong interpretation or spin when you want to discredit somebody for trying to do the right thing.
And I think Felt, in the long run, did the right thing. He did it in his perception. He looked at it how he had to look at it, made his decision and acted accordingly. And this is the way he felt most comfortable dealing with it.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to pick that up with our guests and panel. We're going to have to take a quick break, though.
In the meantime, more with John Dean, Chuck Colson and Richard Ben-Veniste -- we'll get their views on the lessons learned from Watergate, and if it could happen again. "LATE EDITION" will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "LATE EDITION." We're continuing our conversation with John Dean, former President Nixon's White House counsel; Chuck Colson, former Nixon special counsel and Richard Ben- Veniste, the former chief of the Watergate task force.
Chuck Colson, I'll start with you.
Listen to this tape of a conversation that Richard Nixon had with Bob Haldeman around the time that all of this was unfolding. Listen to what they said to each other.
(BEGIN AUDIO TAPE)
H.R. HALDEMAN, CHIEF OF STAFF: We know what's leaked, and we know who leaked it.
RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Is it somebody in the FBI?
HALDEMAN: Yes, sir.
NIXON: Somebody that could actually (inaudible) Mark Felt.
(END AUDIO TAPE)
BLITZER: I don't know if you could hear that, but we had the words up on the screen as well.
The fundamental, bottom line point -- only days into this whole scandal, Haldeman telling Nixon he thought Mark Felt was leaking information to The Washington Post.
Was that your assessment inside the White House as well?
COLSON: No. I wasn't in the Oval Office when that conversation -- I did hear Haldeman say that several times.
I completely dismissed it because I knew Felt and dealt with him often. I thought he was a consummate FBI professional, and I didn't think anyone in that position, basically the top person in the FBI, would do that.
If he had information and had called me -- I know Mr. Ben-Veniste is going to laugh now, but this is the truth, if he had called me and said I want to see the president, I would have said, of course, you can see the president because I wouldn't want the FBI to have that kind of information and not present it to him.
I think he might have stopped Watergate months earlier.
But let me just say, Wolf, if I may, one other thing -- I heard Mr. Ben-Veniste talk about Watergate felons whose are now revisionists. I don't put myself in that category because I pled guilty, and I agree what I did was wrong, I pursued what I perceived to be noble ends, and I used illegal purposes, and I went to jail for it.
And I've just got memoirs coming out this month in which I talk about how responsible I was. I didn't stand up in the president's office and say stop.
All I'm saying to you that is so important right now is don't make a hero out of somebody who did basically what I did.
BLITZER: Let me bring Mr. Ben-Veniste in. And as I do, I'll read to you what Bob Woodward wrote on his first-person account in Thursday's Washington Post on his relationship with Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat.
"Had he been exposed early on, Felt would have been no hero. Technically, it was illegal to talk about grand jury information or FBI files or it could have been made to look illegal."
BEN-VENISTE: Well, surely, people like Chuck Colson were out there as part of the conspiracy to cover up and obstruct justice. There's no question about that.
And let me remind Chuck, since he's not being a revisionist today, of his conversation with the president June 21st, 1972, on tape-recorded conversation.
Colson: "I think we could develop a theory as to the CIA, if we wanted to. We know that Hunt had all these ties with these people."
So early on they were figuring out ways to deflect attention from who was really behind the Watergate break-in.
And the issue...
BLITZER: Let me let Chuck Colson respond to that. Go ahead, Chuck.
COLSON: Absolutely so, there was a lot of evidence of the FBI -- of the CIA involvement in this.
And that conversation with the president is the very thing that I'm saying today. I have repented of that. I was wrong at that time and don't compound the wrong today.
BEN-VENISTE: OK, but let's go further. The issue of loyalty has been brought up. Was Mark Felt disloyal to the FBI?
The issue, I think, of loyalty is that each FBI agent and prosecutors, as well, swear an oath of allegiance to uphold the constitution; not oath of allegiance to the person who sits behind the desk in the Oval Office. And that's a lesson that need be learned.
BLITZER: Let me bring John Dean in.
John Dean, you suggested earlier that you felt Mark Felt was not necessarily acting alone. Are there other names, other individuals out there you suspect he was acting with? He's 91 years old, and he's an old man. I don't know if we're ever going to get his side of the story. But what do you think?
DEAN: Well, I do know, as a matter of fact, a number of reporters are developing this very thing. Since I mentioned this early, a number have called me. And there are apparently one or two, or at least there's one still alive. He's been unwilling to go on the record.
But if you just look at the facts, for example, Mark Felt leaves the FBI in June, June 14th, 1973. One of his most telling and inside bits of information he gives to Woodward is November of '73, the fact that one or more erasures are on the tapes.
Obviously, he's got some contact inside the White House, whether it is the FBI liaison officer or whether it's some other mole he's got there. I don't know. But there's just no way, for example, he could have gone out and checked a lot of this information himself.
BLITZER: Chuck Colson...
DEAN: And he also...
BLITZER: Let me give Chuck Colson the last word to respond to that, because we're almost out of time.
COLSON: Well, I think that John Dean is correct. I think -- I've always thought Deep Throat was a composite, and I think there are many other people involved. So Dean makes a very good point.
I'd hear Mr. Ben-Veniste say whether he believes the ends justify the means. And if that's the way he conducted the Watergate prosecution, I'm a little bit nervous.
BEN-VENISTE: Well, we didn't, but I wasn't a witness to these events as you were, and John Dean was, and Mark Felt was, watching the FBI being abused by those at the top of the Nixon White House. I think the lesson is...
COLSON: But does the end justify the means?
BEN-VENISTE: Here I think the lesson is that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Mark Felt didn't do it perfectly, but it was a good thing that that information came out.
BLITZER: All right, we will leave it right there because we are totally out of time.
COLSON: Don't teach that to kids.
BLITZER: Richard Ben-Veniste, thanks very much for joining us. Chuck Colson, John Dean, a good discussion, appreciate your spending some time with us.
Up next, the results of our web question of the week: Are U.S. and Iraqi troops gaining ground against the Iraqi insurgency?
Plus, "LATE EDITION's" Sunday morning talk show roundup. If you missed the other shows, we'll give you some of the highlights. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Now, in case you missed it, let's check some of the highlights from the Sunday morning talk shows.
This week, much in the news was dominated by the revelation of Deep Throat and why he leaked information to The Washington Post. Former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee weighed in on Mark Felt's motives on CBS' "Face the Nation."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN BRADLEE, FORMER EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: It's perfectly obvious, I think, one of his motives is that he wanted to be head of the FBI. That's one of the purest, noblest motives that I've run into in 30 years. What's the matter with that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman was in the hot seat for a full hour on NBC's "Meet The Press." He diplomatically addressed recent derogatory remarks about Republicans by Howard Dean and whether his Democratic counterpart is really doing a good job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN MEHLMAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: I think he'll be a strong chairman. He arouses a lot of the passion in the Democratic Party throughout their base. And he ran a good campaign in 2004 with not a lot of money, attracted a lot of support.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: On ABC's "This Week," Howard Dean's Democratic colleague, Senator Joe Biden was not necessarily as gracious about Dean's recent comments and their effect on the Democratic Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: Is Howard Dean doing the party any good?
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: Not with that kind of rhetoric. He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric. And I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: On "Fox News Sunday," the executive director of Amnesty International USA qualified his organization's recent comparisons between detention centers at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and the Soviet-era gulags.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM SCHULZ, EXEC. DIRECTOR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA: In size and duration, there are not similarities between U.S. detention facilities and the gulag. People are not being starved in those facilities. They're not being subjected to forced labor.
But there are some similarities. The United States is maintaining an archipelago of prisons around the world, many of them secret prisons into which people are being literally disappeared -- held in indefinite incommunicado detention without access to lawyers or a judicial system or their families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our "LATE EDITION" web question asked: Are U.S. and Iraqi troops gaining ground against the Iraqi insurgency?
Here's how you voted: 14 percent said yes; 86 percent of you said no. Remember, though, this is not a scientific poll.
And that's our "LATE EDITION" for Sunday, June 5th. Please be sure to join me next Sunday and every Sunday at noon Eastern for the last word in Sunday talk. I'm here Monday through Friday 5 p.m. Eastern.
Until tomorrow, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
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