FTN - 5/25/03

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face The Nation, now that Saddam Hussein has been toppled in Iraq, are we headed to a showdown with Iran? Today's Washington Post reports that some in the administration are now ready to take the first steps to destabilize the government of Iran because al Qaeda terrorists have been operating from there. Is that the president's view?

And how is the war on terrorism going? Will more troops be needed to keep the peace in Iraq? These are questions for the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar; the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Porter Goss; and that committee's ranking Democrat, Jane Harman. Robin Wright of the Los Angeles Times joins in the questioning. And I'll have a final word on Annika's dream. But first terrorism, Iraq and Iran on Face The Nation.

ANNOUNCER: Face The Nationwith CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer. And now from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss is here in the studio with us in Washington. From Aspen, Colorado, the ranking Democrat on the committee, Jane Harman.

Mr. Chairman, I want to get right to this latest news. The Washington Post says, and I quote, "The administration has cut contacts with Iran and appears ready now to embrace an aggressive policy of trying to destabilize the Iranian government." Here's another direct quote from the story. It says that "Pentagon officials are pressing hard for public and private actions that they believe could lead to the toppling of the government through a popular uprising." What do you know about this?

REP. PORTER GOSS, R-FL, Chairman, Select Intelligence Committee: Well, I know probably more about what has been going on behind the scenes in the last decade in Iran than I should tell you this morning, because I think it's still a work in progress. But I think there's no question that there are good guys and bad guys in Iran. And if you're going to deal with the war on terror and close all of the chapters, you have to deal with Iran the same way you had to deal with Iraq and a number of other places. The president is very clear that we are going to deal with the terrorists wherever they are.

There are clearly terrorists in Iran. There have been. The trick in Iran is this: the good guys are trying to bring some reform. The bad guys control the levers of power. And sorting the two apart, and then isolating the bad guys and taking the levers of power away from them is what's got to happen. And it's got to happen in a way that does not shut down the reformists or cause repercussions to the reformists. This is hard.

SCHIEFFER: Well, this sounds like we're about to take the first steps in some sort of military action like we took in Iraq. Is that how you read this?

GOSS: I never make policy decisions on the basis of a newspaper article. I can tell you that there is a good deal of discussion going on about how to go forward with the war on terrorism and how to use our allies in the most profitable way, and how to isolate those who are not with us. That's happening.

SCHIEFFER: Congresswoman Harman, what's your first read of this? Do you think this first of all, is a good idea or a bad idea?

REP. JANE HARMAN, D-CA, Ranking Member, Select Intelligence Committee: Well, many of us felt, Bob, that Iran was more of a clear and present danger than Iraq last year, and in the recent years. Iran, after all, is arming Hezbollah terrorists along the Lebanese border with Israel. Iran's tried to send 50 tons of arms to the Palestinian Authority. Iran has been building weapons of mass destruction -- is closer to building nuclear weapons than Iraq was. And so I think it's important that this administration is focusing on Iran. I would certainly hope that we would be focusing on a diplomatic, nonmilitary solution here but I think it is important that pressure now be put on Iran and on Syria if we are serious about finally eliminating terrorism from the Middle East.

SCHIEFFER: I want to bring Robin Wright of the Los Angeles Times into this. She is our guest questioner this morning. And, Robin, I might add, has been talking to Iranians, and broke part of this story earlier in the week for her newspaper, the Los Angeles Times.

Robin?

ROBIN WRIGHT, The Los Angeles Times: Congressman Goss, let me ask you, the Iranians claim that they have in fact engaged in a recent sweep of many al Qaeda operatives in Iran. They claim that these people are all under interrogation, that they're having their own problems in trying to identify exactly who they are. Can you -- do you have any information about whether the Iranians actually have in custody the man believed to be the new operations chief, Sayyef al-Adel, for al Qaeda, or bin Laden's son, Said bin Laden.

GOSS: I cannot confirm or deny any of those kinds of things, obviously. What I can say about this is there has been some cooperation, but the question is: Can there be more cooperation? And the answer is certainly yes. Think of the Saudi situation. We didn't have a whole lot of cooperation with the Saudis. You remember the Khobar Tower explosion a number of years ago; we lost some Americans, tragically. We didn't get the cooperation from the Saudis or the Iranians that we needed to have in that matter, but we've had a little cooperation. So can you say there's been cooperation? Yes. But has it been fully meaningful? The answer is no.

WRIGHT: Congresswoman Harman, can you talk a little bit about the vision within the administration? There has been such conspicuous splits between the State Department and the Pentagon on Iraq, on Syria, and it's my understanding that that's also, to a certain degree, happening now on Iran policy. The State Department wants to nudge the Iranians, to cut off the diplomatic dialogue in order to see if there is any kind of response, whereas others think that that's a fool's game.

HARMAN: Well, I think the administration needs more vision, frankly, Robin. What I see is a policy on Iraq, now a policy on Iran, a different policy on North Korea. Maybe we'll have something on Syria. We did have Colin Powell's visit there. And then there is this competition between the State Department and the Defense Department. I think this is confusing, and I think if we really want to project our power in a sensible, rational way for the future, which is, by my mind, absolutely crucial, we need more vision and we need more of a unified policy which I just haven't seen yet.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you, Congresswoman, would you favor some sort of covert operations in Iran, knowing what you know, to destabilize the government? Would you think that's a good strategy?

HARMAN: Well, I know things that would lead me not to comment on that question, Bob. But I certainly favor exhausting all possibilities short of military action in order to get regimes like Iran to dismantle their weapons of mass destruction and to stop destabilizing the fragile emergence of negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. By the way, I think it's terrific news today that the Knesset has approved the Cabinet has in Israel has approved narrowly the road map.

This is a step toward progress. I just hope that this continues.

SCHIEFFER: We'll talk about that in just a minute, but let me get the chairman's comment. Do you think covert operations at this point in Iran would be something the United States might need to do?

GOSS: I'm going to have to give the same answer that Jane did. But I would advocate very much all the tools available, and we have an extraordinary stable of assets and opportunities.

The thing about Iran is that there are democratic elements and we need to deal with them. The thing about Iran is there are also weapons of mass destruction problems and there has been trafficking and development there with other nations. We have other opportunities to bring pressure to bear on Iran in a different way than we had in Iraq. And I think all of that has to happen. Whether it will be visible, whether it will have our fingerprints on all of it, which is how you do it, I don't know.

SCHIEFFER: Let me turn to intelligence reports. Both of you, along with the chairman and the ranking Democrat over on the Senate side of Intelligence Committees, have sent a letter asking for a review and an evaluation of our intelligence prior to us going into Iraq. And I guess it comes down to: Do you now have doubts about the administration's claims in the beginning that there were weapons of mass destruction there?

GOSS: I have no doubts whatsoever that the administration worked on the basis of the intelligence that was given to them. What I don't know is how good that intelligence was, and it is our job to find out was it good; could they have done better. There are some incorrect reports that say our committee took action on this as a result of an article in The New York Times. That's simply not factually correct.

The committee decided well before The New York Times addressed the issue, as part of our routine business, to go back and take a look at all of the prewar guidance that came out of the intelligence community to our decision-makers, because we know we have more chapters to go on the war on terrorism. We want to understand how good our sources and methods are, how accurate the information is, where reliability can be relied upon and where not. Those kinds of questions are our responsibility to sort out.

We have taken the routine step of saying now is about the right time because we are able to peel back the onion a lot more in Baghdad and see what has been going on. There will be more sources, more methods telling us more and more; more interrogations, more documentation -- we'll find out what was good analysis and what wasn't.

SCHIEFFER: Well, just hearing you talk...

HARMAN: Yeah.

SCHIEFFER: ...Congresswoman, it sounds as if you don't think the information was very good. Do you think this...

HARMAN: Well...

SCHIEFFER: ...was some kind of a hoax here?

HARMAN: I know I've been quoted as saying that. I -- possibly, but let me add to that, Bob. We know there were weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein admitted that after the '91 war. We know there were gaps between what he reported in 1998 and what we believed to be there.

The question is, what happened after 1998? And there is the possibility that the strong intelligence that Porter and I saw, and many others, and that Colin Powell revealed at the United Nations on February 5 -- he said, remember, that there were 25,000 liters of anthrax and between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons and the means to deliver them. Maybe, just maybe, some of that intelligence picture had changed. We have to find out precisely how, and that's what we're going to do.

Meanwhile, I think it's critical that we keep looking for those weapons of mass destruction. If they're buried underground, if Saddam Hussein is alive and he may have some of the biological weapons, which, after all, are very small, that's enormously dangerous to the world. We don't want them getting into the hands of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas or any of the other dangerous groups, or Iran, for that matter.

SCHIEFFER: But you're saying that it may well be that all of this intelligence that we used as justification for going to Iraq may simply have been wrong?

HARMAN: I don't think all of the intelligence was wrong. I certainly believed it. It was the moral basis for the war. I think the world is owed an accounting, but we haven't found much at all. We've only found two mobile vans capable of making biological weapons. And that raises some questions. And Chairman Goss and I wrote a letter that's been in the works for a while, asking for an accounting of that intelligence, also asking for an accounting of whether there was a strong al Qaeda link to Iraq, which some have questioned. And frankly, I'd like to know other things about what did we know about the Iraqi will to fight, which seemed stronger than predicted? What did we know about the possibility of riots and looting which emerged? What did we know about the intentions of the leadership in Iraq? A lot of those questions should be answered by comparing what we were told and what we found out on the ground. I hope our intelligence turns out to be excellent. That's a possibility.

WRIGHT: Congressman Goss, can you talk to us a little bit about the alert orange we're in at the moment, and the kind of threat that we're facing, in terms of specifics? Newsweek reports that intelligence indicates we may face an attack within the United States in some time between 30 to 90 days from now. How real is it?

GOSS: If you believe the patterns and the trends that led to 9/11, then you have to take this very seriously, because we are seeing the same patterns and trends. The problem with this kind of analysis is we only have so many sources and methods. I wish we had more. We under-invested in intelligence in the decade of the '90s, and it's costing us. But what we do have and what we're getting better at every day is getting into the shadows and trying to get the form of the clouds and so forth.

We have no specific information, but we have a lot of suggestive information that says that -- target: United States homeland in the near future. Yes, be extra prudent.

SCHIEFFER: Congresswoman Harman -- and we just have a couple of seconds here. There was a report this week that one of Saddam Hussein's sons might well be alive and was trying to negotiate some kind of a surrender. There've been all kind of comment on that. Do you have any information as to whether that's true, false or maybe true?

HARMAN: I don't have information on that, Bob, but I would just say about being in orange: We're in pale orange or we're having orange fatigue. We don't have enough money to fund our homeland security effort, and we don't have a strong strategy behind it. And I'm worried that our hometowns are not getting the protection that they need. And unfortunately, we've just passed this massive tax cut, which is going to put money other than where it needs to be, which I think is with our first responders.

SCHIEFFER: OK. Well, our clock says it's in pale orange, too. That means our time's about up. I want to thank both of you for a very informative discussion.

GOSS: Thank you, Bob, very much.

SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in a minute...

HARMAN: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: ...to talk to Senator Richard Lugar, in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL

SCHIEFFER: And back now with the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana.

Mr. Chairman, thank you so much. We have to start right where we started with the two people on the Intelligence Committee. What do you make of this story in The Washington Post this morning?

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR, R-IA, Chairman, Foreign Relations Committee: Well, I make of it that there's discussion in our government. It's reminiscent of, say, August or before that of last year, prior to the president's coming back from the ranch, and he clarified the situation. We have at least in our government, presently, people who are often very vocal; have strong feelings. We have just one president, and he finally says `This is what we're going to do.' What he said in September was we were going to the United Nations and we were going get a resolution of the Congress to give him authority to deal with Iraq.

We're not at either stage yet. But both are important to remember, and that is this is not just discussion among unnamed officials at State and Defense. If you're serious about Iran, you've got to engage the Congress and the American people. This is not a unilateral gesture, and we haven't had that debate. We haven't had the preliminary discussion. Now I think we'll have to now. I think it's highlighted.

SCHIEFFER: Well, how would you evaluate it at this point? Do you think the United States ought to be considering steps, either covertly or overtly, to try to destabilize the government of Iran in the hopes that there will be a public uprising there?

LUGAR: Well, I presume that that's one theory, and there may be even some planning. But I would think the preponderance of thought would be first of all we ought to get serious with Russia about winding up the Iranian nuclear program. They really have not been serious about that and that is serious business.

And furthermore, with the rest of the United Nations, with regards to the inspections that can go on now in Iran, so there's some illumination. We try once again the UN international route to see whether our allies are there, whether our NATO friends, who now apparently are going to play more of a role in Iraq using the Polish entry to that situation; in other words, there are a number of things that are more promising, it seems to me, than covert activity in Iran at this point.

SCHIEFFER: But...

WRIGHT: Senator Lugar, the United States has a very ambitious foreign policy agenda. We're still in Iraq, and will be there for a long time. We have Afghanistan that lurks...

LUGAR: Yes.

WRIGHT: ...not too far behind. We have the Middle East peace plan that we're likely to get involved in. How realistic, I mean, is it for the United States to think about taking on Iran, Syria, even North Korea at this juncture?

LUGAR: There always must be a perception on the part of each of these countries that we have the military authority to achieve whatever we want to do. I think that has to be out there. Our diplomacy really is based largely on a correct perception that government could be overturned. Now likewise, our perception had better be on the costs of doing so, of human beings, American personnel as well as those -- and victims of the country and the costs; our resources are not limitless but they are enormous.

What the world hasn't gotten used to is the arms race is over. We won it. The superiority that way is demonstrable.

Now having said that, the fact is our diplomacy has to get a whole lot better. It has to be beefed up so we come in behind that so we pull other nations along rather than having recalcitrant people still trying to take deliberately an anti-American objective.

SCHIEFFER: You know, if I were someone sitting out there watching television this morning and I just heard Chairman Goss and Jane Harman and the answers they gave in talking about covert activity in Iran, it would occur to me that perhaps we are already involved in some kind of a covert operation there. Are we?

LUGAR: Well, the chairman and the ranking member do not want to leave the impression American intelligence is sleeping at the switch; that we are incapable, and what have you. But they also, as they should, indicated that whatever is going on, if anything is going on, is clearly classified and they're not going to tell you, nor would I. I would just say that I would hope that American intelligence was very active in a lot of countries, and especially those in which we have already indicated very grave foreign policy difficulties.

SCHIEFFER: Well, do you -- let me just follow up, though. When the administration decided to go into Iraq, they did so because they said Saddam Hussein posed a grave threat, not to the region, but to this country. Do you believe at this point that Iran poses a grave threat to the United States?

LUGAR: They might. And the development of the nuclear weapons clearly would. The fact is that we have, as you've pointed out, a lot of people in Iran who like us. That was not demonstrable in Iraq. But it is with the young people of Iran. And it's true that there has been democracy there. And Secretary Armitage has pointed that out in his diplomacy. So we have a lot more to work with in Iran. We ought to take advantage of that.

WRIGHT: Let me ask about Iraq. The United States got off to a bad start in Iraq. We are now deploying more troops. We've changed the civil administration. What is it going to take to actually, you know, transform this country? And is it going to, probably, at the end of the day, cost more and take much longer time than we originally estimated?

LUGAR: Yes, it will cost a lot and it will take a long time. Now we need to say that up front because otherwise we'll have one political skirmish after another about bringing everybody out and tired of it and so forth. This is important that Iraq be a nation state that is safe and sound for us, as well as for the region. Now beyond that, I would just simply say I think Mr. Bremer is making some good moves, announcing today that sundown today we will have a different sort of engagement as far as law enforcement in Baghdad. A good move. Improvise, some would say. But why not? On the ground, a lot of very good Americans who are 21- and 23-year-olds are, in fact, governing cities, making big decisions. That's the American way. We use our brains. We're on the ground. We are working, it seems to me, constructively.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about the other big news of the day. The Israeli Knesset has approved the administration's so-called "road map", the plan for peace in the Middle East. I take it you think this is a positive development?

LUGAR: Yes, it is. The president's own in...

SCHIEFFER: How big a deal is this?

LUGAR: Well, it's a big deal. But the president's involvement is the biggest deal. Now prior to the hostilities in Iraq, the president told me face to face he was going to lead in the road map process because he saw then, this is prior to hostilities, the military business going on, the importance of this in terms of the United States diplomacy, and in terms of world peace. He means it. The constancy of his activity is the key factor. But certainly the Knesset's thoughts today, of Mr. Sharon, the other day, Abu Mazen, the other -- all very important.

SCHIEFFER: Important for him to bring the Palestinian prime minister and Mr. Sharon together?

LUGAR: Sure. So we can actually say that he might want to have a meeting with them -- he, that is the president. That is very big news.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

WRIGHT: But how realistic is it to think that the president, even with his engagement, could pull something off? We are on the eve of an election season, the thinking in the Middle East -- I've just come back from there -- is, you know, we've got six months. Can the president really pull anything off?

LUGAR: Of course he can. The fact is that there is a lot of time out there. But even if it did not happen in 18 months or whatever the situation is, or the term, the president may well get re-elected and continue it. I would think the people might support that.

SCHIEFFER: All right. And we'll stop there. Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.

Back with a final word in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, I got so caught up in watching Annika Sorenstam play golf with the big boys that at one point I realized I had tears in my eyes. I know, I'm a sucker for underdog stories, but this was so much more, nor was this a battle of the sexes thing -- far from it.

Because what it was, I think, was that Annika became all of us, everyone who ever had a dream, every kid who stood in his back yard and dreamed he was at bat in the last game of the World Series, every one of us who finally got the job or promotion we had worked for all our lives and then wondered if we had the stuff to carry it off.

So we marveled at her grace and wondered how we would have handled the pressure. Oh, sure, some of the male golfers didn't want her there. One of them, Vijay Singh, said she didn't belong and quit the tournament, which made us just identify with Annika all the more, because all of us have had a Vijay in our lives at one time or another. So we pulled for her even harder and she showed us more than just being good enough to play with the best.

She showed us what separates the champions from the also-rans. The champions are the ones who are willing to risk failure to find out how good they really are. Annika found out and she won more than a prize, she won our hearts.

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


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  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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