FTN - 5/5/02

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, Senator John McCain on the Middle East and Iraq, and a debate on cloning.

The Bush administration wants Israel to deal with Arafat, but Israel says he is too connected to terrorism. So what should the administration approach be as, first, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and, later, Jordan's King Abdullah visit Washington this week? We'll ask Senator McCain, member of the Armed Services Committee and a Republican of Arizona.

Then we'll have a debate: Should human cloning be banned? We'll get two views from Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have a final word on Ground Zero. But first, Senator McCain on Face the Nation.

And good morning again. Joining us from Collingwood, Arizona, Senator John McCain.

Senator McCain, thanks for joining us.

Israeli Prime Minister Sharon is arriving this afternoon. Jordan's king comes later in the week. There is every indication now that the administration is going to press Mr. Sharon to deal with Yasser Arafat. Is that a good idea?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Arizona: I think it's a good idea, but I think that we should be preparing for other contingencies. Mr. Arafat has certainly proved time after time that he is not committed to a peaceful resolution of the situation there between the Palestinian Authority and the state of Israel.

Back in 1991, we believed -- at least that administration believed, that the only person that could be dealt with would be Saddam Hussein. I think we recognize now that that was not a proper course to take. And so I think that it's good to pursue it, but the burden of proof now lies with Mr. Arafat.

SCHIEFFER: Well, who would one deal with and how would you go about it, just as a matter of curiosity, if you decided not to deal with Yasser Arafat?

MCCAIN: I don't know who the individual or individuals would be. But there's never a vacuum of power anywhere in the world, much less in that part of the world.

If Mr. Arafat were removed in one way or another, either exile or other ways, then I think you would have others surface. Now, whether they would be better or worse than Mr. Arafat, I don't know. It would be hard to be worse in many respects, but the fact is that Mr. Arafat has got to take some very strong steps to prove that he's interested in a peaceful resolution.

The evidence of his dealings with Iran, as far as arms shipments are concerned, payments to families of martyrs, et cetera, is becoming overwhelming that he has been an integral part of the suicide attacks which have really caused this latest destabilization.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: So are we being hypocritical, Senator, in dealing with him than ourselves?

MCCAIN: Well, it reminds me of the old joke about the guy in the small town that asked his friend where he was going on Saturday night. And he said, "I'm going to the poker game." And he said, "Why are you going to that game? You know that it's crooked." And he said, "Yes, but it's the only game in town."

I think that is understandable, that Mr. Arafat is the only game in town. But we have relied on him being the only game for so long and without tangible results, in fact a worsening situation, that perhaps we ought to be exploring other contingencies as well.

BORGER: Can I just switch to Iraq for a moment. Time Magazine is reporting this week that weapons monitors are absolutely convinced that Saddam Hussein is now struggling to build nuclear weapons; that he has biological and chemical weapons already. Is this an indication that we should be acting sooner rather than later on Iraq?

MCCAIN: I think we should be acting sooner, but I believe that we should have a long time ago. Both the Clinton and Bush administration made very strenuous efforts to support the opposition groups both within and without Iraq, either the Shiites in the South, the Kurds in the North and others.

We haven't done really anything tangible to support those organizations. No, they're not Boy Scouts, nor should we expect them to be, but they're certainly far better than what's residing in Baghdad today. And I would give a full, 100 percent emphasis to those opposition groups to see if they can't make some progress.

Nobody knows how weak Saddam Hussein is, but we all agree that he's a lot weaker than he was in 1991.

BORGER: Well, the State Department cut off funds for those groups. So that you're saying that was a mistake?

MCCAIN: I'm saying that it's been a mistake since 1997 when Congress passed the act that funded and supported these groups to overthrow the government. No, they're not perfect. I'm sure there are bad people in them.

But for all this infighting that's been going on between CIA, State Department, DOD, et cetera, has not allowed us to even give these organizations an opportunity to show some effect. And I believe they can show some effect. Whether they can overthrow Saddam Hussein, I don't know. But why not give maximum effort in that direction before we send young Americans into harm's way?

SCHIEFFER: We continue speaking of just what you are talking about, that one part of that is, we continue to hear reports that there is all of this infighting going on within the administration and within the policy, the foreign policy part of the administration. And it comes down to one thing, that others are trying to undercut the secretary of state.

Now, you have very good sources at the Pentagon. You have very good sources at the State Department. What do you make of those reports?

MCCAIN: I think they're exaggerated because I think there's very good personal relations there. I think there are natural, age-old, bureaucratic infighting that goes on. I think it's exaggerated, but I don't think that there's any doubt that there are some stark differences as to what our policy should be, both as regards to Iraq and as far as the Middle East is concerned. I think the president has gotten it largely under control, but it needs further resolution.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, I mean, one of the stories, I'm sure you heard it, is when Colin Powell went off to the Middle East on his most recent trip, people said that sound you hear in the background is other members of the administration sawing on the limb that they put Colin Powell on...

(LAUGHTER)

... that some people actually wanted him to fail, people within the administration. Do you put any stock in that sort of talk?

MCCAIN: No, I don't. Maybe at lower levels, but I think that the top players are keenly aware that a failure on the part of one is a failure on the part of all. And also Colin Powell remains the most popular man in America.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: And so, but there has to be, no doubt, that there has to be a more cohesive policy toward the Middle East. There has to be a more cohesive policy toward Iraq. And I think the administration is working very hard to find that now.

Clearly, there's been a sea change. The administration, to a significant degree, had a hands-off policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian situation for the first year or so of its administration. Now it's going to be heavily involved. And I think the policy is still evolving, to some degree. And I think that it is not yet one that everybody has signed on to.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what about this whole idea of convening some sort of Middle East peace conference later this summer? Do you think that's a good idea? And should it be at the foreign-minister level or should it be at the head-of-state level?

MCCAIN: I think that it should happen. Either way is OK. Probably the foreign-minister level, given the disparate views that exist both in the Arab world and in the United States now.

But, look, let's understand the reality. The success or failure of any of these meetings or gatherings will be directly dictated by events on the ground in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. If there is a cessation of the so-called suicide bombers and the Israelis feel that they can preserve their security and withdraw from the places where they now occupy or may tend to, in the event of future bombings, then the atmosphere will be conducive to progress toward an agreement. If the suicide bombings and the acts of terror continue, then no meeting of any kind of any group of leaders from anywhere in the world is going to succeed.

BORGER: Senator, are you concerned that our involvement in the Middle East is diverting attention or delaying action in Iraq?

MCCAIN: I think so. I think it's diverting the attention of the top policymakers, there's no doubt about that. But I think that whether we have or have not the support of some of the, quote, "Arab states" would not hinder or prevent us from carrying out a military operation.

The Turks are very key to this whole scenario. And the other moderate states, we need their assistance, we need their help. But as we have found in the past, nothing succeeds like success on the Arab street.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, on an entirely different subject, there was a lot of talk last week about former President Clinton's new job plans. Reports that perhaps he might be going to host some sort of a talk show.
Do you think he'd be a good talk show host?

MCCAIN: Well, I think he'd be a great talk show host. I hope that a lot of the late-night listeners might enjoy it since he does a lot of his best talking late at night, I understand.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: But I think that this is kind of a speculative thing. I think the president is still, he's still a young man; he's still trying to find ways to make an impact on America and its policy. And there's no doubt that talk shows have an enormous affect. But I think we're a long way from tuning in every afternoon or evening and listening to the Bill Clinton Show.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator McCain, I think we'll leave her there.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: When we come back, we'll turn our attention to the controversy over human cloning.

Thank you, Senator McCain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: We're back now to discuss one of the more interesting topics to come up in the United States Senate. And to talk about it: Senator Mary Landrieu, who's in New York City this morning. She is a Democrat from Louisiana of course. With us from Philadelphia, Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican.

The question is, what kind of cloning should be banned? Almost everybody seems to agree that we shouldn't be cloning younger twins. But the disagreement these days is over what do you do about certain cloning which could produce things that could help cure diseases like diabetes and Parkinson's disease.

Senator Specter, the bill that's coming before the Senate would ban all cloning. Why is that a bad idea?

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, R-Pennsylvania: Well, there are two bills. The bill that I've introduced with others would ban human cloning. There is general agreement, Bob, that that is unwise.

There is another form of procedure, which has been called therapeutic cloning. It's really an inappropriate and erroneous name. What it really is is nuclear transplantation. You take DNA from a person, for example, who has Parkinson's. It goes into the egg of a woman with the DNA replaced. And the stem cells which are produced can be used to cure the Parkinson's without being rejected.

These stem cells have the potential to cure many, many maladies -- Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's. And the bill which would criminalize this so-called therapeutic cloning or nuclear transplant would really set science back tremendously.

It's passed the House of Representatives. It's very important when it comes to the Senate that, while we do enact legislation to ban human cloning, that we not tie the hands of the scientists and let them go ahead with these experiments which can solve or cure so many of these terrible diseases.

SCHIEFFER: Now, Senator, you're talking about taking that DNA and putting it into a petri dish with an embryo, you're not talking about putting it into the womb.

SPECTER: Well, that's precisely right, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Yes.

SPECTER: If it goes into the womb of a woman, then you have the procedure for human cloning.

SCHIEFFER: OK.

Well, now let's go to Senator Landrieu. Now, you seem to be for this bill.
You want to outlaw all of it, Senator. Why do you take that position?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, D - Louisiana: Well, Bob, according to Senator Specter, so does he. He wants to ban human cloning, and I agree with that.

There's only one bill that does that, and that's the Brownback-Landrieu bill, which is identical to the bill or close to the bill that came out of the House, which the president supports, which simply says it is wrong to recreate what could potentially be a human being for the purpose of its destruction or purposes of research.

And so all the bills in Congress attempt to draw a line. Ours wants to make that line very clear: that you should not clone a human being for the purposes of its destruction or research.

There are other very promising research technologies. Senator Specter has actually led the way, and I want to acknowledge the great work that he has done in that area. But there are many promising technologies that can find cures without human cloning.

And let me also say, this has nothing, Bob, to do with stem cell research. I support stem cell research on adult cells and embryonic cells. This is simply saying, "Let's draw the line, let us not be for human cloning. And let's make it clear that that really is immoral and it should be illegal."

BORGER: Senator Specter, if you outlaw therapeutic cloning, as Senator Landrieu wants, would you open up a black market, away from this country or in this country, for this kind of research? And also, would researchers move from this country to other countries where they could do therapeutic cloning without getting penalized for it?

SPECTER: Gloria, I think that there would always be a black market. Science is going to go where the scientists want to take it. And there is no doubt that there would be many renowned scientists leaving the United States to go abroad. Some already have, on the issue of stem cells.

But when you talk about whether this is necessary for medical research, 40 Nobel laureates have come forward expressing their view that it is very important to maintain science freedom to have nuclear transplants. So that there is no doubt that the scientific community wants that. And there is a big ad in today's New York Times.

This whole issue is gaining a lot of steam. Almost every American is either afflicted with one of the diseases, or someone in the family is, or someone known is. And we know that people want to see Parkinson's eliminated and Alzheimer's and heart disease. And the scientists tell us this is critical to achieve that very worthwhile end.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator Landrieu, does the bill that you support, does it include the kinds of penalties that are in the House bill?

Because these call for civil penalties up to a million dollars. It talks about tracking down people all over the world, both doctors who perform these kinds of things and the patients who accept them.

LANDRIEU: Bob, let me just a say a couple of things. First of all, we outlaw drugs and therefore create a black market because of that. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't outlaw drug use. I mean, there are certain things that are immoral, that should be wrong, and should be illegal.

Human cloning should be illegal. And there is -- and everyone sort of agrees with that, as you can hear from Senator Specter. It's just a matter of where to draw the line. Senator Specter and others want to say you can create the living organism, but then if you try to implant it in a woman, then it becomes a crime.

Senator Brownback and I simply say that is probably a line we cannot enforce. What would you do if someone took that next step? How would you police the difference between a, quote, "regular human being" and a cloned human being? How would you know?

We don't think we should go near that line. We say to stay closer to the beginning and not clone a human being. You can clone animals. You can clone plants. You can have stem cell research, adult, and embryonic stem cell research.

I want to just say one more thing. It is very disingenuous for the opposition to scare people to believe that we can't have research; that science will shut down, if we don't do human cloning. That is not correct. And it is not fair to the American people to tell them that.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, let me jut quote to you what Senator Orrin Hatch, who is about as pro-life as one can get, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, who says, and I'm going to quote here, "a critical part of being pro-life is to support measures that help the living." Which he says, of course, this is what therapeutic cloning would do.

How can you argue with that?

LANDRIEU: I do agree with that. I think we should support life, and that's why I agree with stem cell research and I also take a position a little bit more liberal than the president in saying that for excess embryos that are not going to be turned into living human beings, that that decision for their destruction has already been made, so let us use the benefit of that to cure other diseases. I support organ transplant.

But there is a difference, Bob. And the difference is, we're now trying to make a decision, should we create life for the purpose of destruction?

Should we create it for the purpose of research? Not for life itself, not for a chance of life, but create it for destruction? And I think that is no, and I think it's where this country shouldn't go.

And even if everyone else in the world is doing it, doesn't make it right for us to do so.

SPECTER: Bob, may I pick up on a couple of points that Senator Landrieu made?

SCHIEFFER: Yes, sure.

SPECTER: First of all, when you asked her about criminalizing nuclear transplants, she didn't respond. But the fact is that the Brownback bill and the bill passed by the House puts very stiff penalties on scientists for nuclear transplants.

And I have to take a little umbrage at the comment about dissembling. When she talks about drawing a line, there is a very big line between cloning humans and nuclear transplants to save lives.

And you have President Ford in favor of nuclear transplants, you have President Carter in favor of it, former first lady Nancy Reagan is in favor of it, 40 Nobel laureates, Senator Harkin, Senator Kennedy, Senator Feinstein, Senator Hatch, many senators. So when you talk about dissembling, I think you're off base here.

BORGER: Senator Specter, is it possible then that there could be a stalemate here, that nothing could then pass the Senate, and then the United States winds up without any stand on human cloning?

SPECTER: Well, I think that could be, Gloria. If you require 60 votes with a filibuster, it is highly likely that neither side will have 60 votes, although the way our position is gaining momentum, we may get there.

But it would be my hope that, if there is not enough votes to pass either bill in the present form, that we would at least agree on the common ground to eliminate human cloning.

LANDRIEU: Gloria, let me just say there is a groundswell of support on our side. The polls show that about 70 to 80 percent of Americans do not believe that life should be created for the express purpose of its destruction.

That is not to say that there aren't extraordinary technologies that can be continued with all the other sorts of scientific procedures that are being used now.

And so, that is a difference. It is not banning stem cell research, and it is not stopping research. It's just stopping human cloning.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator, I'm sorry. We have to stop right there. Thank you both so much.

SPECTER: Thank you, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: We'll be back with a final word in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, they are starting to talk seriously now about what to do with Ground Zero, where the World Trade Towers once stood. Should new skyscrapers be built there? Or should the subway lines that once ran beneath it and the roads that crossed over it be restored? And what kind of monument should be there for those who died?

There are questions, all of them, and they're good questions. But for a while, anyway, here is my answer: Do nothing. Because nothing we can do can adequately express or memorialize what happened there.

I went to Ground Zero several weeks ago, and as I looked out on those 16 acres of rubble, I could not help but think of Lincoln's words at Gettysburg, the words that all of us memorized as school children. That those who died there have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

I'm told that people who lose a hand or a limb can still feel it, and as I looked across that gray field where the towers once stood, I could still feel them -- the buildings, the people. But they were not there.

Only when you look across that vast expanse can you comprehend the enormity of what happened there, how big those buildings were, how much death there was, how much heroism there had to be to save so many lives.

In time, someone will think of a proper memorial, but for now, leave it alone. It is a scene we must never forget, and we should give as many Americans as possible a chance to see it just as it is.

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

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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