FTN - 3/2/03

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, we continue our look at the Democratic presidential field.
Today, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

Then, the first Sunday interview with the newly retired NATO commander, General Joseph Ralston.

With 225,000 troops within striking distance of Iraq, a war seems closer than ever. But opposition is growing, as well. Why does former Governor Howard Dean believe more inspections would work? How would he contain Saddam Hussein? We'll ask him.

Then we'll talk about what a war in Iraq would be like with a former NATO commander, Joseph Ralston.

Dana Priest of "The Washington Post," author of "The Mission," a new book about the American military, will join in the questioning. And I'll have a final word on tax cuts in a time of war.

But first, Howard Dean on Face the Nation.

ANNOUNCER: Face the Nation, with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent, Bob Schieffer.

And now, from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Today we get serious about the coming presidential campaign. We intend to have everybody seeking the Democratic nomination on for a serious discussion of the issues. We begin with Howard Dean.

Joining in the questioning is Dana Priest of "The Washington Post."
And Governor Dean, I want to get right to it. The liberal Democrats have by and large been very suspicious of our intelligence agencies, of the CIA. They've been reluctant to fund those programs.

But today we seem to have a major intelligence coup, and that is the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is said to be perhaps the single most important member of Osama bin Laden's group. Osama bin Laden, of course, is the leader, but this man seems to be the brains behind all of these attacks, including 9/11.

What do you think about that?

HOWARD DEAN, Democratic Presidential Candidate: I think it's terrific.

And actually, I think you're partly right about what you say about the CIA.

I think one of the reasons for the intelligence failure before September 11th is that the FBI has, I think, had a leadership problem for some time.

The CIA's problem is they were under-funded by Congress for a long time, and that's one of the reasons that I think they were unable to do the things that they needed to be able to do to head off September 11th and other catastrophes.

I think this is a real coup. I think our intelligence agencies ought to be very, very proud of themselves, and this is a very big deal.

SCHIEFFER: So, I would take it that if you were president, you would increase funding for the CIA?

DEAN: I would.

SCHIEFFER: You think we need to do more rather than less with our intelligence agencies?

DEAN: Yes, I think we really do. I think one of the criticisms that I had of the president regarding the Iraq war is that we're not paying enough attention to al Qaeda and North Korea, which both are imminent threats to the United States, and we're paying too much attention to Iraq, which is not an imminent threat to the United States.

And I think that we need to increase our funding for things like the CIA, for things like homeland security, police, first-response people, and probably spend a little less attention on tax cuts and on this war in Iraq.

DANA PRIEST, "The Washington Post": In the case of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is the number-one operational control of Al Qaeda, do you think it is acceptable to use what we might call unorthodox methods to question him, given the fact that he knows about current operations?

DEAN: If you mean driving hot slivers under his fingernails, yes, that's unacceptable. I do think we need to get the most information out of him as we possibly can. There are lots of techniques we can do that without crossing over the line to torture.

PRIEST: OK.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think about, should the CIA have the right -- because as I understand it, Dana, correct me if I'm wrong, the CIA has now been given authority to assassinate certain people. What do you think about that?

DEAN: I think as long as they're not heads of state, that's within--we're in a war here. We are in a war against people who murdered 3,000 Americans in the World Trade Center. And we have to fight that war everywhere we can.

And I think the CIA absolutely ought to have the right to assassinate leaders of terrorist organizations and people who are, in fact, terrorists trying to attack the United States. This is combat, the rules of combat apply, not the rules of peacetime.

I think assassinating state leaders is a different matter, and I do not want to go back to the days where we were complicit in some way in the assassination of a democratically elected leader, for example, in Chile. I think that would be a very bad step.

PRIEST: You mentioned the FBI. There's been still a lot of criticism that they haven't made a successful transformation into an investigatory agency here at home.

Do you think that we need to at least consider the creation of a new homeland domestic security apparatus like the MI-5 in Great Britain?

DEAN: No, I think we ought to get the FBI run properly. It hasn't been run properly for some time. I think Director Freeh was really a disappointment. I'm not a big fan of Director Mueller. I simply think that the culture in the FBI is a problem.

Now, in our state, we have a very good relationship between the local and the state and the federal folks. But that's not true in a lot of other states.

I know something about what went on in the Washington sniper case. I thought the FBI was very difficult in terms of their dealings with local law enforcement people. That's not a good thing. That's a cultural problem. We need leadership in the FBI who will change that culture, and I haven't seen that in a long, long time.

SCHIEFFER: Let me go back to your position on the war. You have been against war with Iraq from the very beginning and, in some ways, really set yourself apart from some of the other Democratic candidates by saying you simply oppose it.

DEAN: Well, that's not exactly so. I do oppose it, because I don't believe there's any cause for unilateral and preemptive intervention in Iraq. Iraq is not of immediate threat to the United States. Al Qaeda and North Korea -- North Korea is about to become, about to be -- I can't believe under a conservative Republican president, that he's going to be the one that, quote, unquote, from the old days "loses North Korea" and allows it to become a nuclear power because we simply refuse to talk to them, which is incredibly foolish. That is a really dangerous situation.

The reason I don't believe we ought to go into Iraq unilaterally is they're not an imminent threat, and we set the tone for global military intervention in this world. If we go in, sooner or later somebody else, perhaps the Chinese will say, "Taiwan is a threat, so let's go in. And the United States has done it, so why don't we have the right to do it?" That's the real case to be made against unilateral and preemptive action.

SCHIEFFER: Well, number one -- and I want to get back to the original question I posed -- number one, it's not unilateral. There will be other nations that will go along with us.

DEAN: Well, except that we're about to pay $26 billion to the Turks if they'll vote our way. And when you start paying money to people to agree with your foreign policy -- I mean, here we're going to pay $26 billion to the Turks and we don't have $5 billion to spend on homeland security, helping states and local governments fight terrorism. There's something the matter with this president's priorities, I think.

PRIEST: But is the use of the term "unilateral" a little overblown? We didn't pay the Spanish anything. We aren't paying the Bulgarians anything. There are dozens of countries who agree with the U.S. position on this.

DEAN: But, Dana, here's the way I look at this. This is the United Nations' job. Saddam is not an imminent threat to us, but he is an imminent threat to nations in that region. He is a bully. He is a tyrant. So the United Nations job as a peace-keeping institution is to make sure that he is disarmed, and he should be disarmed.

The United Nations is making progress. The inspectors are making progress. Hopefully as we sit here talking, they're starting to destroy the missiles that were deemed to be out of compliance.

So why not let this process continue to work instead of waging a war preemptively outside the purview of the United Nations?

SCHIEFFER: Well, are you saying, Governor, that under no circumstances should we ever take unilateral action? I mean...

DEAN: No.

SCHIEFFER: ... do we leave the defense of this country to the United Nations?

DEAN: No, absolutely not. I've never said that, and I don't say that now.

SCHIEFFER: So under what circumstances?

DEAN: If a country is an imminent threat to the United States, I believe we have the right to defend ourselves. Had we known five days ahead of time before al Qaeda blew the World Trade Centers up with planes, we of course would have defended ourselves and done everything we could to stop it.

If Saddam possesses nuclear weapons, if he has a credible nuclear program, if he's giving weapons of mass destruction to the terrorists, then we have a right, I think, to intervene unilaterally. But there's been no good case made for those things.

As it is, he's a threat, a regional threat, which the United Nations ought to deal with, but he is not a threat to the United States. And there are two threats to the United States, al Qaeda and North Korea, which we are not effectively dealing with.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me go back now to the original question that I was leading to. You have been against going to war with Iraq, basically. But if war does come, then will you support that action, or will you continue to oppose it?

DEAN: I think a lot of it depends on the circumstances. Certainly, you always support the troops in the field. I went down to Paris Island about three weeks ago just so could I look at their operations and look at the kids and have lunch with the kids who are Marines. I mean, they don't consider themselves kids, but they're 18-24 years old, 17-24 years old. Those are the kids we're going to be sending over there, ultimately.

And, you know, of course there are some circumstances under which we should do that. But I think we have to do this much more carefully and be much more thoughtful about what the real dangers are. And Iraq is third on my list, not first or second.

SCHIEFFER: All right. The Iraqis have begun to destroy these missiles that earlier this week Saddam Hussein said, number one, we don't have any missiles like that. Then he said no, under no circumstances, he told Dan Rather, would we destroy them. Now they have begun to destroy them.

Is that progress, or is it, as the president said, just the tip of the iceberg of a problem here?

DEAN: Bob, I think it's big progress. Look, Saddam is not a nice man. He is a liar. He's all the things that the president says he is. But if we can win this war of disarmament without actually sending our kids over there to die, then I think we're far ahead of the game.

It does take some patience. And I wish we had a little more patience in Iraq and a little less patience and a little willingness to negotiate in North Korea. We are in the middle of a full-blown crisis in North Korea, and the president refuses to even admit so.

SCHIEFFER: Well, are you suggesting we take military action against North Korea?

DEAN: No, I'm suggesting we start to talk to them.

PRIEST: What happens if that doesn't work, and they go ahead with their nuclear processing? Can you imagine a unilateral preemptive strike on North Korea?

DEAN: We could be forced into that. If they develop a missile that could reach the West Coast of the United States, which they are in the process of doing -- such a missile has been tested on the ground but never fired -- we would have a very serious, much more serious problem than we have with Iraq, because then they would become an imminent threat to the United States of America and to our people.

PRIEST: Would you say the same for Iran, whose nuclear capability is very sophisticated, much more sophisticated than Iraq?

DEAN: Yes, we have to be very, very careful of Iran. One of my criticisms with this president is that because we have no oil policy of any kind here, other than drilling the national parks, he is beholden to the Saudis and the Iranians.

The Saudis and the Iranians and the Syrians are funding most of the terror in the Middle East, and this president has not been willing to confront that, partly because we have no oil policy.

Absolutely, Iran is a very serious danger.

PRIEST: So, again, you could consider preemptive strikes against the Iranian nuclear program?

DEAN: Look, you never rule in or out anything. But when America is threatened imminently with a -- by a foreign power, then we have a right to defend ourselves.

I do not believe that is the case in Iraq. And I do believe that al Qaeda and North Korea are imminent threats and we have to deal with that.

PRIEST: You have said Iraq does not pose an imminent threat, but isn't, by the nature of the threat -- small vials that can kill thousands of people -- isn't it going to be particularly difficult to figure out when the threat is imminent? In fact, it might be too late by that time?

DEAN: You know, that's always the judgment call you have to make, and it's a very tough judgment call.

But Saddam has had these weapons for 10 to 12 years. I said before, one of the criteria for Saddam being judged as an imminent threat is if we find that he is giving weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. We have not -- I've not seen the secretary or president make a convincing case for that. If there were a convincing case for that, yes, then Saddam would be an imminent threat.

SCHIEFFER: Final question, and here's the part that concerns me about what I hear you saying today. You are talking about this is not a threat, but how can you trust Saddam Hussein? He is now saying he doesn't have any of these weapons. His word is not worth a nickel, as we found out this week.

DEAN: That's absolutely right. No one is going to trust Saddam Hussein. Anybody would be an idiot to trust Saddam Hussein.

We need to continue to put pressure on him, have inspectors. I actually that thought the Germans made a suggestion to increase the number of inspectors by 300 percent. I thought that was a very good suggestion.

We are making progress with Saddam. He is a liar. He is a terrible person. But if we don't have to preemptively attack him, we are much better off.

SCHIEFFER: All right. We have to end it there. We'll invite you to come back another time...

DEAN: Thanks very much.

SCHIEFFER: ... to talk about domestic issues. But I thought it was important to get your thoughts...

DEAN: Thank you. I appreciate it.

SCHIEFFER: ... on the news of the day. Thank you very much.

DEAN: Thank you, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: When we come back, we'll talk to General Joe Ralston, who retired Friday as NATO commander in Europe, in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with General Joe Ralston. He retired Friday as NATO commander and as the supreme allied commander in Europe.
General, you're leaving one pretty good outfit and joining another, CBS News, as a consultant. So first we want to say welcome aboard to you.

GEN. JOSEPH RALSTON, (ret.), CBS News Consultant: Thank you very much, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: We want to ask you first about Turkey. The news out of Turkey now is that the Turks are not going to allow U.S. troops to stage from there. Is this going to complicate things? How badly does this hurt the U.S. war plan?

RALSTON: I think it hurts the Turks worse than it hurts the United States.

SCHIEFFER: Really? Why is that?

RALSTON: If President Bush decides to have a military operation in Iraq, we can do that with or without the so-called Northern Option. But instability in the north is something that is very bad for Turkey, and I believe the best way to keep the instability from occurring is to have U.S. forces on the ground in northern Iraq. Now, that's the real problem.

SCHIEFFER: Well, now, you've dealt with the Turks about as much as any ranking official in the United States government, military or civilian, I would guess. What do you think happened there? And is there a chance that that will turn itself around?

RALSTON: Well, first of all, Turkey has been a very good friend to the United States and a very good NATO ally. But we've got a very inexperienced government in Turkey right now.

SCHIEFFER: What do you mean?

RALSTON: Elected on the 3rd of November, 90 percent of the parliamentarians this is their first time in parliament. And so I think what you saw in this vote was a little bit of inexperience.

More people voted for it than voted against it, but they had 19 abstentions, and because of a miscalculation there, it didn't meet their standards. So I think this is something that we still have to continue to work with Turkey on.

SCHIEFFER: You think there's still a chance that this might change?

RALSTON: Well, I don't know. That's a decision ultimately for Turkey. But I do believe that we've got to make sure that Turkey understands that this is more in their interest than it is the U.S.

SCHIEFFER: Dana?

PRIEST: Well, my understanding is the significance of the northern front was to have U.S. troops be able to seize the oil fields quickly, to quell the Iraqi factions that might be fighting, to help in the resupply, and to divert on two fronts Saddam Hussein's attention.

Now, how are we going to do those things now that we don't have the northern front?

RALSTON: Well, all those are true. But General Franks is not someone sitting there with a single plan. He has options, and so we will have to look at other ways to do that.

PRIEST: Do you think we will not be able to get to the oil fields as quickly and with enough force to be able to stop some of the predicted devastation?

RALSTON: I think that we will be able to carry out our objectives that we've outlined. Now, it will be harder without the northern option.

SCHIEFFER: General, a lot of people and the secretary of defense said this week, or last week, there's no way to know how much this would cost if we get into a war.

How much is it costing us now? And now that you've retired, are you able to give us an estimate of what the cost of this is going to be?

RALSTON: Well, I think Secretary Rumsfeld said that there are so many variables that go into the costing -- is this a six-day war or six-week war or a six-month war? And until you determine that, you cannot come up with a credible estimate.

There are a couple of factors that we need to talk about. We are spending a little over a billion dollars a year just on the no-fly zones for the last 12 years.

SCHIEFFER: A billion dollars a year?

RALSTON: Over a billion dollars a year, just enforcing the no-fly zones for 12 years. It took us, for the 20,000 troops in Bosnia, about $3 billion a year to do that.

Now, you've got munitions replenishment that has to go into it. But the real issue is how long and how many people, and that's what is going to determine the cost.

SCHIEFFER: Well, maybe one way we can get at an estimate, what is the war on terrorism costing us now, say, a month?

RALSTON: My understanding is that the Department of Defense is spending about $1.6 billion a month...

SCHIEFFER: A month?

RALSTON: ... a month, on the war on terrorism, because this is all of the flights that you have to have to protect the skies, all of the deployments that we've got, trying to track down the various terrorists. So it is expensive.

SCHIEFFER: When you said we don't know if it is going to be a six-day war or a six-month war, is there any way to, what would you envision? Do you think we can do this in six days?

RALSTON: I'm not going to make an estimate of what it is. I don't have a crystal ball. We've got to be prepared for whatever option develops.

PRIEST: General Ralston, everyone predicts that Saddam Hussein will place human shields in targets to scare the allies, perhaps. How do you think the Air Force is going to deal with that very real problem of knowing that there are going to be civilians that they might have to hit? What's going to be their calculation of whether they do that or not?

RALSTON: Well, first of all, I think it's important to note that placing human shields is a war crime, and should be prosecuted as a war crime.

Now, every commander, and in this case, General Franks, has to evaluate the importance of the target versus the unintended casualties. And let me give you an example.

If there is a missile with a chemical warhead or a biological warhead that's about to be launched into Tel Aviv and killing thousands and thousands of peoples, versus five human shields that's placed there, those are the kinds of things that have to go into the calculation that General Franks will make.

PRIEST: Well, take another example, where you have 100 women and children at a command and control site that may or may not be active still, but it's still a command and control site. What do you think will be the decision that goes into that, and how do you think that might resolve?

RALSTON: Once again, the commander will have to decide what is the criticality of taking that target out at that moment, versus what is the unintended civilian casualties.

PRIEST: So do you think there will be instances where they decide not to drop bombs because there are human shields on the ground?

RALSTON: Again, it is so situational-dependent.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think that Saddam Hussein will use chemical weapons and biological weapons this time? I mean, obviously, we have to be prepared for that. But he didn't the last time around, perhaps because Secretary of State Baker went there before the battle began and said, "Look, everything is on the table, including nuclear weapons."

Do you think that -- what do you think the possibility is that he will go to chemical and biological weapons this time?

RALSTON: I think we certainly have to be prepared for it, and we are prepared for it. Because he has used chemical weapons against his own people, against the Kurds, he has used chemical weapons against Iran before.

And if he is up against the wall, you certainly can't rule that out. So our people have to be prepared for it.

SCHIEFFER: You wouldn't be surprised if he did.

RALSTON: I wouldn't be surprised if he did. I hope that he doesn't, because once again, that is a serious, serious crime.

PRIEST: The chief of staff of the Army last week got into some hot water by saying that several -- it would take several hundred thousand peacekeepers to work in a post-war Iraq. Now, you know General Shinseki does not go out on a limb. He must have done some planning for that. What do you think about that number?

And you've just come back from a peacekeeping mission in the Balkans. How realistic is it that you would have at least 100,000 troops having to do that job for quite sometime?

RALSTON: Well, that was a judgment that General Shenseki made in talking to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Everybody has their judgment.

But it's important to understand that General Franks is the one who make the call on that with the approval of the secretary...

PRIEST: Why was...

SCHIEFFER: I'm sorry. We're out of time. I'm sorry. We have to end it right there. The time has just run out.

Thank you very much, General. And again, welcome to CBS News. We look forward to working with you.

I'll be back with a final word in just a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, we must first have a little disclosure. When the president first talked up cutting taxes, it was just fine by me, to be absolutely selfish about it. I would benefit more than most from a tax cut.

But that was before 9/11, and when the administration's tax plan was formally introduced last week, the whole thing seemed unreal to me. Here we are about to go to war, but first we're going to cut taxes? I've never heard of a country that did that.

And when the secretary of defense told Congress later in the week that it would be impossible to estimate the cost of a war, if there is one, the idea of cutting taxes moved from unreal to the category of preposterous.

Now, I'm no economist, but I think I do know something about communicating. And the most important message the administration is trying to drive home these days is that Saddam Hussein poses a grave threat that must be eliminated. I happen to agree with that; others don't.

But the administration is hurting its case when it tells us in one breath that the threat of terrorism is so great we must all rush out and buy duct tape, then tells us later that we can go ahead and conduct business as usual and still defeat it; that getting rid of Saddam can be done so easily and cheaply that there's no need to postpone a tax cut that was designed long before Saddam was seen as such a threat.

That is not a mixed message; it's a message that simply does not add up. Nor, if we go to war, does it make much sense to leave the bill for our children.

We need to set some priorities here. First defeat terrorism, then worry about a tax cut.

That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on Face the Nation.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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