FTN - 5/18/03

face the nation logo, 2009 CBS

BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face The Nation: , presidential candidate John Kerry and Senator Pat Roberts, head of the Intelligence Committee. Terrorist attacks from Riyadh to Jerusalem including one this morning that has caused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to postpone his trip to Washington have left many dead and hundreds wounded including Americans. Has al Qaeda been reconstituted and what should the United States do now? We'll ask presidential candidate John Kerry of Massachusetts and Republican Senator Pat Roberts.

Then I'll have a final word on Annika Sorenstam, the best woman golfer in the world, who's ready to take on the boys and boy are they grumpy about it.

But, first, Senators Kerry and Roberts 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 with us now from Boston, Senator John Kerry. Joining in the questioning this morning Karen Tumulty of Time magazine, part of our continuing series of interviews today with the various people seeking the Democratic nomination. A little later in the broadcast, we'll be talking to Republican Pat Roberts.

But, Senator, I want to start by asking you about this series of attacks. This morning now, another one in Israel. Prime Minister Sharon has canceled or postponed his visit to Washington because of that. Earlier last week, we saw these attacks in Saudi Arabia, also in Morocco. It appears that al Qaeda is back in business. I wonder if you have some comments on that.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-MA; Democratic Presidential Candidate: Al Qaeda never went out of business, Bob. And I think that the triumphalism of this administration, the president's comments and others about al Qaeda on the run has really exceeded reality.

What's happened is we broke the beehive but we didn't kill the bees and we certainly haven't killed the queen bee. I think it underscores the enormous strategic error that I pointed to many months ago at Tora Bora and Anaconda where we failed to capture and kill 1,000 al Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, and there is evidence that one of those people who escaped from Tora Bora was one of those who planned the Riyadh attack.

We need to be stronger and smarter and tougher, and particularly, we've got to have a more effective outreach in our foreign policy to build the cooperation necessary to truly wage a war on terror.

SCHIEFFER: Now, Senator, last week on this very broadcast, Bob Graham, the senator from Florida...

KERRY: Yeah, I do know.

SCHIEFFER: ...who's also running for the Democratic nomination, said that he believed that the war to not -- take out Saddam Hussein had turned into a diversion and, in fact, had made the United States less safe than it was before.

Now you voted to give the president the authority to take military action in Iraq. Do you think Senator Graham is right when he says that?

KERRY: I think that it is good that Saddam Hussein is gone. I think it was right to want to disarm him. I supported that, and I think the key, however, what I said all along from day one --and the reason as some people sort of said, `Well, what's Kerry saying about this?' is I said, `You have to build a strong coalition in order to win the peace.'

Winning the war was never in doubt for a nation that built a military to defeat the Soviet Union and another war in the Far East at the same time. Winning the peace is more complicated. And we've seen that this administration has been in complete disarray. They did not have a plan ready. They haven't built the kind of coalition to deal with the three parts of winning the peace: part one, security; part two, the humanitarian assistance; part three, the governance and infrastructure.

I believe that those other two parts, governance and the humanitarian, need the rest of the world to be involved in order to reduce America's carrying all the risks and all the costs, in order to reduce the targeting of American soldiers and in order to maximize our ability to wage a war on terror in that region and elsewhere. And I think the administration got overly focused on Iraq to the exclusion of building the kind of relationships in other parts of the world that do increase your ability to fight a war on terror. We can do this tougher, we can do it smarter, we can do it more effectively, and we can be on the offensive which is what we ought to be.

SCHIEFFER: Karen.

KAREN TUMULTY Time Magazine: Well, Senator, last October when you cast that vote for the war in Iraq, you said that your primary reason for casting that vote was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Specifically, you said, `We know through intelligence that he not only has kept them but he continues to grow them.'

We've been looking for those weapons now for over a month. This morning's Washington Post points out that when we went into the site that was number 26 on their list what we found were vacuum cleaners. Does it matter that we haven't found those weapons, and what is the fact that we haven't found them suggest about the intelligence that you were relying on and that Colin Powell took to the UN?

KERRY: Well, it raises a lot of questions about it. What we did know, obviously, Karen, is that for the eight years we had inspectors there, what have we found? We found that the Iraqis were further along in the development of nuclear weapons and that they had more chemical and biological than we had ever seen before, number one.

Number two, they've been uninspected for four years, and we did know that they had precursor chemicals and other efforts going on, according to our intelligence. We also had evidence through the intelligence community that they were engaged in activities with other terrorist organizations and so forth.

I mean, I think it does raise questions about the intelligence we've got.

I will tell you this; our intelligence has clearly improved since then. It is one thing -- I will give credit for, the intelligence community. They knew that some of these attacks were going to happen in the last days. But it's insufficient for this administration to say we notified them but they didn't do anything. It's the obligation of this administration to make sure that they are doing something, and you don't do it by passing on a communication and then sitting there. You have to be engaged. And many people are wondering whether we have been tough enough in our relationship with Saudi Arabia and whether or not we are beginning to face this great question. Is it the extremists who are going to be isolated or is it the United States? I believe this is a war of ideas and we need to be more engaged in that war with a more robust and aggressive foreign policy.

TUMULTY: And -- and...

KERRY: So it's intelligence and it's foreign policy.

TUMULTY: Bringing up the Saudis, do you, in fact, think that we've been tough enough on them? Because we've known for a long time that many of the roads to al Qaeda lead through our ally, Saudi Arabia. And yet there have been reports as recently as this week that they are either, A, uncooperative; or, B, incompetent.

KERRY: I think that we have not had the kind of engagement, not just from the Saudis, but from other countries in the region. Our own foreign policy, our own State Department, our own administration has not been sufficiently focused and energized in terms of building those relationships.

Osama bin Laden is probably in the north of Pakistan. What is the relationship with Pakistan and the legitimacy of their efforts to ferret him out? What are we doing with respect to our overall effort to market the ideas and values of the United States beyond the military excursions we engage in?

And the war on terror, Karen, is not just a war that we'll be engaged in by the military. In fact, it will be less engaged in by the military. It is much more an intelligence operation and a law enforcement operation. And to win that war you have to have the most robust, aggressive, forceful foreign policy. This administration has been disengaged in the Middle East, lackadaisical about the relationship with Saudi Arabia. And I think we can be tougher and I think we can be smarter in how we protect Americans.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, let's just talk about `let's be tougher.'

Now the United States sent five separate people over there to warn the Saudis that there was some trouble coming, including the deputy national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, who went and called on them and said, `We need some help here.' Apparently, the Saudis did nothing in reaction to that. We have now dispatched scores of FBI agents to Saudi Arabia. But we're now told that the Saudi interior minister, and let's all remember he is the one who said on the record that he believes it is the Jews who were behind the attack on 9/11--he is now quoted as saying, "Yes, we're going to let them observe but we're not going to investigate." Let's say John Kerry was president and he was confronted with that kind of situation. What would you say to the Saudis, specifically, right now?

KERRY: Well, if John Kerry were president, I would long ago have engaged in an effort to move America towards a different energy policy so that we aren't as reliant as we are on 46 percent of the oil reserves of the world that come from Saudi Arabia. This administration has no energy policy. And moreover, there are ways to raise and ratchet up the dialogue between nations. There's a capac...

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just...

KERRY: Let me just say, Bob -- you can go public. You can go public and begin to ratchet up the cooperative level. The Saudis in the end also need the United States of America. I mean, remember, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, it was Saudi Arabia, to a certain degree that was at risk in the long run in terms of the oil fields. It wasn't just about the liberation of Kuwait. It was also the protection of the Saudi fields and the Saudi and Kuwaiti and other interests in the region.

We need to remind people of that linkage and we need to be more forceful and aggressive in that effort. That's what good diplomacy is about.

You know, this administration walked away from the Middle East for about 14 months. And the Afghanistan job is not finished. Almost any observer will tell you that we're not rebuilding Afghanistan.

The great test of this is Iraq. We have to win this effort now of the peace in Iraq. The entire direction and course of the war on terror, the entire direction in the Middle East will depend on our success in Iraq. We can win it, but it's going to take a longer, more sustained, more expensive effort than this administration ever acknowledged to the American people. And we now need other people involved in this.

SCHIEFFER: OK.

KERRY: We have to open it up.

SCHIEFFER: But let me go back to my original question, because if you do become president, the same energy policy that's in effect now will be in effect when you get to be president. You're still going to have to deal with the Saudis. What specifically would you do? How can you bring pressure on the Saudis to help in this?

KERRY: Two months ago, Bob, or around there, I gave a speech in which I laid out an alternative foreign policy vision. And in that speech, I suggested we need a greater Middle East initiative that begins to engage in that region, not just in Saudi Arabia, but Egypt and other countries, to help take nations where you have 65 or 70 percent of the population under the age of 30, 50 percent of the population under the age of 18 -- they are unemployed and they are unemployable. And as long as they are educated in schools which teach them to hate, to hate Israel, to hate us, and to give them the capacity to become terrorists, we need to change that relationship.

I suggested that we need to engage in a major transitional effort in their governance practices, in their economic policies and educational policies, to bring them to a better place. That is now possible through what is happening in Iraq. But clearly, this administration didn't even understand the implications of its own victory in Iraq. I mean...

TUMULTY: Well, Senator, a couple of minutes ago you suggested that we basically kicked over an ant hill in Tora Bora. How worried are you, now that we've seen two major terrorist attacks in the last week? How worried are you about additional attacks in the United States?

KERRY: This administration has told us, `It is not a question of if, it is a question of when.' Those are their words. So if those words are true, it also raises the question of why firefighters are being laid off in America, why police programs have been cut, why front-line responders and trainers have not been trained, why they haven't been given the equipment they have. It raises the extraordinary question of why we have not fully funded communities in their efforts to have adequate homeland security and relieve the pressure on states instead of giving the wealthiest Americans yet another tax cut.

The priorities and choices of this administration are wrong, and we need to move in the right direction in this country, in homeland security and in our efforts to be prepared for the possibility of those attacks.

I just read that of the 55,000 screeners in our airports, 22,000 have not been checked for criminal records, but the very reason we federalized it was to do that.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, let me ask you just one question on straight politics. Senator Lieberman, who's also seeking the nomination, says that he would be in favor of a plan where all the Democratic candidates, starting in July, held a debate once a month. Would you be willing to do that?

KERRY: I think we have a lot of debates coming up. Look, I love debates. I...

SCHIEFFER: But, I mean, would you be for that, one a month?

KERRY: I had nine one-hour televised debates with Governor Weld in my race with him. People know I love debates. But I also need to raise money, build an organization and move around the country. I don't know what Joe's strategy is. There's going to be a lot of time...

SCHIEFFER: OK.

KERRY: ...for us to debate. We'll see where we go.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just -- I'm going to check it off here. Do I put you in the yes or the no column?

KERRY: I'm happy to have debates. We will have debates, but I'm not sure my schedule will do it once a month.

SCHIEFFER: OK. Thank you very much, Senator. We'll talk to you again as we get further down the campaign trail.

KERRY: Thank you very much.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you.

Back in a moment with the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

(COMMERCIAL)

SCHIEFFER: And we're joined now by the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Chairman Pat Roberts. Senator Roberts, very glad to have you here this morning.

SEN. PAT ROBERTS, R-KS; Chairman, Select Intelligence Committee: It's my privilege, Bob. Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Let's pick right up on the latest news and that is, apparently, U.S. intelligence says that apparently one or maybe more of the people who may be responsible for this recent series of bombings may be hiding out in Iran. Now that's number two on the list in the `axis of evil.' Should we be prepared to go into Iran to get him?

ROBERTS: I don't think any military action would be possible or even probable or even desirable. But I think through our intelligence capability, we are going to monitor that very closely, and there is considerable worry that there is a cell in Iran and the more we can do with the Iranian government to certainly make them understand that that's not permissible, why, that's exactly what we are doing.

SCHIEFFER: You know, you just heard Senator Kerry say that as far as he's concerned, al Qaeda never went out of business. We were hearing not too long ago the president saying that al Qaeda was on the run. Now we have this series of terrorist attacks, very serious across that region.

Is al Qaeda on the run or did they never go out of business, as Senator Kerry said?

ROBERTS: I think both. I think the definition of `on the run,' you no longer have a top-down sanctuary guided al Qaeda operating a training base for thousands of terrorists. There are 3,000 less than there used to be.

What you now have is third and fourth level terrorists and organized in sort of a beehive or an anthill, you know, kind of operation here, where if you take out the beehive or the anthill, then you'd have other pockets. It's like a virus. And the irony is that they have been reduced to attacking Muslims, their own people, in sacred Islamic lands. That is not exactly a robust effort like it used to be in Afghanistan.

So most of the chatter we hear from the intelligence side from the former leaders is one of lament and despair. But many of these attacks have been planned for a considerable amount of time. As one person said, the bullet already left the gun. But if they're reduced to attacking their own people, I think it will be counterproductive, I think we'll galvanize support and much better cooperation from all the nations of Islam, and I think we'll see some progress.

TUMULTY: Well...

SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator Graham said last week on this broadcast that, in fact, he thought the country was now less safe than it was before we launched the attack on Saddam Hussein. Some people are seeing...

ROBERTS: I'm--now by country, you mean the United States?

SCHIEFFER: Yes.

ROBERTS: Right.

SCHIEFFER: Now we are seeing these attacks. Do you think al Qaeda -- you say it's now the second and third-level people doing it...

ROBERTS: Right.

SCHIEFFER: ...but why are they doing it? Just to demonstrate they're still around?

ROBERTS: I think they're doing it out of ideology. I think they're doing it out of desperation. I think they're doing it out of saying, `Yes, we are still here,' but nobody ever said they weren't. We have always said it would take at least a decade.

And in regards to Senator Graham, I don't know. Bob Graham has been a great governor and is a good man and is a good senator, but I think it's counterproductive for him to say that somehow that it's the commander in chief and the war against Saddam Hussein that is responsible for a bombing attack with over 300 compounds in Saudi Arabia.

What now we have are Democratic candidates saying that every bomb attack or every attack by any terrorist can be laid at the doorstep of the president and the commander in chief. I think that's counterproductive, I think it's the low road and I think it's very risky. I think it gets at the esprit de corps of the intelligence community.

We've had great success, Bob -- 41 percent less attacks than last year. We just prevented an attack in regards to our consulate in Karachi. Many other success stories I could go into. These are third- and fourth-level people killing their own people on sacred ground, not in the United States. I'm not saying that an attack couldn't be done in the United States, but I think we've made progress.

TUMULTY: Well, Mr. Chairman, along that same vein, Senator Kerry seemed to suggest a few minutes ago that if we're not getting the kind of cooperation we'd like to see out of the Saudis that it's our fault. Do you think that the Saudis have, in fact, become an impediment in the war on terrorism and what can we do about it?

ROBERTS: I don't think they've been a full partner like we would like to see, full cooperation.

Obviously, we've been concerned about money going to many terrorist groups through many charities. I think they're going now to really go over all those charities as we have requested. I think there's been a difference between reacting to terrorism that threatened the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and terrorism that actually threatened the US interests. Now they know that's inseparable.

This has been a Pearl Harbor or 9/11 for Saudi Arabia and I think you'll see much better cooperation. The key will be whether our inspection team over there, now made up of the agency folks, CIA folks and the FBI, will we have unfettered access to help conduct this investigation? I think we will. If we don't, we really have a problem.

TUMULTY: And back to the subject of -- you also say that you are not as concerned at this point that these terrorist attacks that are likely to happen in the United States?

ROBERTS: No, no, no, no. Let's don't go there.

If you really take a look at the terrorist attacks, 87 percent of them are bombs and bombs and explosives and more bombs. They're either car bombs or suicide bombers. It would be a very easy task for any terrorist group or any associated terrorist group to conduct that kind of attack in the United States.

What we're seeing, however, is again the third- and fourth-level terrorists attack their own people. Other attacks, because of what we've done in this country to shore up our defenses against a terrorist attack, that takes a lot of planning. Now there may be an attack planned for the United States, but most of the alerts that we see now, most of the threat warnings, are coming from Kenya, the Philippines, certainly in the Mideast, Indonesia, so on and so forth. So it is truly transnational but we don't expect that in the United States. I hope it doesn't occur, but yes, I am concerned about it and it could happen.

SCHIEFFER: All right. I'm sorry but we've run out of time. We have to end it there. Thank you very much, Senator, for being with us.

ROBERTS: OK. Thank you, Bob. I really appreciate it.

SCHIEFFER: We'll see you again. Back in a moment with a final word.

(COMMERCIAL)

SCHIEFFER: Finally, today, there are some smart professional athletes and a lot of nice professional athletes. But being smart or nice is not a requirement in professional sports as evidenced by the whining of some male golf pros this week because the best woman golfer, Annika Sorenstam, has been invited to play in their tournament.

Vijay Singh, who is one of the better pros, actually said that if paired with Annika, he would just sit it out because she wasn't good enough to be playing with the likes of him.

Fellas, anyone who would say that can't be too smart. So I'll try to keep this simple.

This is the kind of story that sells tickets. It's got a lot of women reading the sports pages again. It's all over the local news, and it's created so much talk the TV networks are planning extra coverage. Extra coverage means more commercials. News flash: Those commercials are where they get the money for those big prizes you play for.

So let me say this slowly. More commercials, bigger prizes. Prizes are good; big prizes are better.

Instead of whining about Annika, you should be praying that there's a woman out there good enough to pose a threat to Tiger Woods. That kind of rivalry would send the ratings and the prize money through the roof. Well, that may be a ways off.

In the meantime, I'm going to be tuning in this week just to see who Annika beats. Maybe she's not good enough to win this tournament, but she's good enough to beat some of you. Finding out which ones is enough to make me watch.

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

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

Comments

Follow Us

Face on Twitter