FTN - 6/8/03

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face The Nation, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, and presidential contender Dick Gephardt.

U.S. soldiers continue to come under attack in Iraq as questions regarding the existence of weapons of mass destruction dog the Bush administration. Where are those weapons? And can Palestinian terrorists -- another attack killed four Israelis last night -- derail peace efforts in the Middle East? We'll ask the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. Then we'll have another of our series of talks with the 2004 presidential contenders. This week, Dick Gephardt of Missouri. Robin Wright of "The Los Angeles Times" will join in the questioning. And I'll have a final word on enjoying the pain of others.

But, first, the national security adviser, 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 we begin with the national security adviser Condoleezza Rice who is with us in the studio. Joining in the questioning this morning, Robin Wright, who is the chief diplomatic correspondent of "The Los Angeles Times." Welcome to you both.

Dr. Rice, as you well know, trouble overnight. Palestinians dressed as Israeli soldiers sneaked into an Israeli Army post and killed four Israeli soldiers. Israel is saying this morning that the Prime Minister, Mr. Abbas, must immediately begin a crackdown, he must arrest militants. He, of course, has been saying he can't use force with these people because it would risk a civil war. Is the United States going to tell him that he has to take some strong action here?

Dr. CONDOLEEZZA RICE, White House National Security Adviser: Clearly, Prime Minister Abbas, made it clear to the president that he understood his responsibilities to deal with terrorism in the Middle East and that he believed that a Palestinian state could not be founded on the basis of terrorism. That was very clear from his statement; it was very clear from the interaction with the president and with Prime Minister Sharon. The Palestinian Authority does need to restructure its security forces, it does need to make them more accountable and more transparent, and, indeed, there are things that the Palestinians can do, even now, to make clear their commitment to fighting terrorism, arrest of people, cooperation with the Israeli authorities. There are a lot of things that they can do.

But it is also very important that everybody who is committed to peace and says that they are committed to peace react properly to this situation. The Arab states at Sharm el Sheik signed on to a program that said that they were not going to tolerate, not going to consider any justification or motivation for terrorism as a good justification and motivation. They said that they were going to cut off funding to terrorist organizations. They made clear that they supported what Prime Minister Abbas was trying to do in his statement, that it was time for the Palestinian people to end the armed Intifadah and to move toward a peaceful resolution of this situation so that there can be two states.

So there are a lot of responsibilities to go around here. The Israelis also are going to have responsibilities out of Aqaba, so there's a lot to do. There are a lot of people who have responsibilities. We're going to talk to all of them, not just Prime Minister Abbas, all of them.

ROBIN WRIGHT, "The Los Angeles Times": Dr. Rice, Mahmoud Abbas has less than two percent of the support among Palestinians, according to a recent poll. All the other leaders -- Yasir Arafat, and the Islamic leaders -- all have stronger support. Do -- and the reaction and their -- and the attack was fascinating -- because you had two religious groups and one secular group joining together in an attack on Israel undermining what Mahmoud Abbas signed last week in Sharm el Sheik and Aqaba. Do you have confidence that the Palestinian leader, whom United States, and the rest of the world, supports, actually has enough support from his own people to pull this off?

RICE: Prime Minister Abbas is going to have the support of his own people because he's going to be able to deliver of them in ways that the former Palestinian leaders or even leaders who are still there have not been able to deliver.

Let's be very clear. The Palestinian people probably have their best chance now at statehood, their best chance at a peaceful resolution of this conflict, their best chance at living in peace, and prosperity side by side with Israel than they've had in a very, very long time. And it is time for everybody to rally around the vision that the Palestinian leadership put on the table at Aqaba. That means Arab states; that means the Palestinian people.

I don't know how to read these particular polls. Clearly, life has been very difficult for the Palestinian people since the Intifadah began again. Clearly the Israelis need to do things to deal with the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people. Clearly Prime Minister Sharon needs to live up to his pledges at Aqaba to demonstrate to the Palestinians that he understands the need for territorial continuous and viable Palestinian state. We cannot be set off course by the fact that there are some rejectionists who do not want to see peace, whose only purpose in life is conflict, and they recognize now that there is a new opportunity for peace and it is completely predictable that they would try and scuttle that opportunity for peace.

SCHIEFFER: Let's shift to Iraq. Normally on Sunday mornings, we come on opposite "Meet the Press." It came on early this morning because of the French Open, so I had an opportunity, as I'm sure many of our viewers did, to hear you talk about some of these same things earlier.

One of the things I heard you say this morning is that when the president and the vice president told us before the war with Iraq that Saddam Hussein posed this imminent threat at the United States, because he did have these weapons of mass destruction, you said at that point, though, that we were not certain where the weapons were. How could we have been certain that he had the weapons and they were still threatening if we didn't know where they were?

RICE: There was a preponderance of evidence and information gathered together in a disciplined process by the director of the Central Intelligence -- called a national intelligence estimate that talked about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. The judgment of the intelligence community was that he had weapons of mass destruction, that his programs were active and being reconstituted, that he was going to great lengths to conceal these programs from the international community. There were, of course, from weapons inspectors themselves, including from Hans Blix in his reports, discussions of the large quantities of missing agent, whether it was VX or sarin gas or mustard gas or anthrax -- large quantities of missing agent.

It is a bit revisionist history now, because you have to go back not just to the 2002 report, but all the way back to 1996, when the director of Central Intelligence, John Deutch, talked about the weapons of mass destruction programs that Iraq had; in 1998, when President Clinton went to use military force against Iraq because of their weapons of mass destruction programs.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just...

RICE: There clearly was a very strong basis for this. That is separable from the issue of what we have found to now and what we will find in the future.

SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think the intelligence, then, was wrong? I mean...

RICE: No, I do not think the intelligence was wrong.

SCHIEFFER: ...you keep talking about it goes back to these intelligence reports.

RICE: I do not think the intelligence was wrong. I think that the intelligence agencies had a plethora of data -- many multiple sources. Other intelligence agencies had it. We had the last UNSCOM report in 1999 that talked about these large quantities of missing agent.

No, there was a lot of evidence. You know, in this town it became very de rigueur after September 11th to talk about connecting dots. Well, there were hundreds and hundreds of dots about the Iraqi program. And just before the war, there were also reports about Saddam Hussein preparing to use weapons of mass destruction, and we found chemical suits, we found atropine injectors. No, this was a very clear picture. Now there was a policy judgment that the president had to make that this was a serious enough threat that it was time to finally do something about this serial abuser of UN resolutions. And it's quite clear to me that he was right to do what he did.

WRIGHT: Let me ask you, there is a difference between the agents, the ingredients, for weapons of mass destruction and the weaponized warheads that can be used immediately.

In justifying the war, the administration said the United States faced 'a threat,' and implied an imminent threat. Are you still confident that the administration is going to find those weaponized warheads rather than just the ingredients, which can be used for other things, from fertilizer to the ink for pens?

RICE: Well, given that in 1991 this regime had chemical weapons and, we believe, biological weapons weaponized, we know that they had the capability to do it. And, indeed, some chemical shells were found during the inspections. We know that there was information going in that they were preparing to disperse these weapons to troops in the field.

We will find out the full extent of the Iraqi program. We will find out how he managed to deceive and conceal for 12 years. We've always known that the best information was going to come from discussions and interviews with scientists who were involved in the program. That's why we pushed so hard to have these scientists taken out of the country during the weapons inspection period.

We have thousands and thousands and thousands of documents that we've not yet gone through. We have many, many people. We've interviewed just a fraction of them. There are sites to visit. We will put together this whole picture, but the preponderance of evidence is that this was a regime that had the capability, that had unaccounted-for stockpiles and unaccounted-for weapons, and if you don't believe that was a threat to the United States, given his preponderance to -- his preference for using them in the past and the nature of this regime, then you're not connecting the dots in a way that protected American security.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much, Doctor.

RICE: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in a moment to talk about presidential politics with the Democratic candidate Richard Gephardt in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL)

SCHIEFFER: And joining us now in our continuing series of interviews with the people who are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

Mr. Gephardt, welcome to you. You were one of the first Democrats to support President Bush's use of military force in Iraq. Now we cannot seem to find the weapons of mass destruction. You heard the national security adviser just now. Do you feel in any way that you were had? Were you duped?

REP. DICK GEPHARDT, D-MO, Presidential Candidate: Well, Bob, there is a long line of evidence going back to the early '90s that Saddam Hussein had lots of weapons of mass destruction and that he used them against his own people. The UN believed that. Hans Blix believed that; President Chirac, President Schroeder, certainly Bill Clinton and his administration and now this administration. If they were all duped or if they all didn't have the right information, then this is the most colossal hype that ever was. I think...

SCHIEFFER: But you, in a sense, think you were -- there was some hype there?

GEPHARDT: I don't know. We'll have an investigation in the Congress. We should. You should after any war review what happened, what the intelligence was and whether things were done right. But there is long, consistent, clear evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and I'm still convinced that we're going to find them.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think that your decision to support President Bush early on has hurt you with potential Democratic voters?

GEPHARDT: I don't know, Bob, but I felt from the beginning that our highest responsibility is to keep the people of this country safe. I told President Bush on October the 12th after the horror of September the 11th, I said, "You've got to trust us, and we've got to trust you." And that's what I've tried to do, and I think that's what we need to do when you're trying to keep people's lives safe. You can't bring politics into this. And I've felt that from the beginning and I continue to feel that. This is about life and death. It's about keeping this country safe.

We cannot have weapons of mass destruction used in this society, and we've all got to work together to the best of our ability to achieve that. Now if it has political ramifications, it has political ramifications, I don't care.

SCHIEFFER: Let's...

GEPHARDT: I'm going to do what I think is right.

SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about politics because we are going to have an election. You are running for the nomination. Hillary Clinton's book, as everyone who has not been under a rock for the last 20 years knows, is coming out this week. She's doing a big series of interviews. It'll be a big push. They've printed a million copies. Some people say any time you rehash any of what went on during the Clinton administration, it hurts Democratic candidates in general. How do you feel about it?

GEPHARDT: I think Senator Clinton is doing a great as senator. I think she is a leader in our party. We need her voice out there and she's doing a wonderful job at that. I think Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are important voices in this party and in this country. And I welcome their contribution. I think they make us stronger. I think they are -- they did a--he did a great job with her as president. They did many important things, produced the best economy we've had in 50 years in this country and had, I think, a very sound foreign policy that accomplished some very important things. So I think they should be out there and I hope they will be out there as strong voices. We need strong voices from the Democratic Party at this very important time.

SCHIEFFER: So I take it you're going to ask them both to campaign with you?

GEPHARDT: I'd love to have them campaign with me, and when I'm the nominee, I'll ask for their help in a lot of different places.

SCHIEFFER: You say -- do I take it that you believe that Bill Clinton is an asset to the Democratic Party?

GEPHARDT: Absolutely. Bill Clinton did a good job as president of this country, economically, domestically and in foreign policy. He was very, very adept at both and took big risk. We did that budget in 1993. We didn't get a Republican vote in the House or the Senate. We probably lost the Congress over partly that vote because it was a tough vote to take. He had courage. He led. He did the right things. It allowed the American people to produce the best economy we've had in this country in 50 years.

SCHIEFFER: Well, some would say that perhaps he did not set the best example, however.

GEPHARDT: I never said that he did everything right. I was very clear at the time all this business is going around impeachment, that he had not performed in the right way, and he knew that and he admitted that. But that doesn't take away from the job that he did as president of this country and he did a good job on many, many important issues that -- right now you're seeing what happens when you get a different kind of leadership leading you in the wrong direction rather than the right directions.

SCHIEFFER: You have proposed, and you were the first Democrat to propose, a substantial plan for health care. Some of the other Democratic candidates immediately attacked it as being so expensive that it would never come to be.

What I want to ask you about is one of the things that you proposed was to use what the administration had earmarked for tax cuts to finance this plan. Well, now by speeding up the tax cut as he has done, President Bush has already put those tax cuts into effect. So is it not the case that if your plan is to be enacted, you'll have to raise taxes to do it and won't that be hard to do?

GEPHARDT: No. I believe that if you rescind the Bush tax cuts, which I will ask for in my first week as president, there will be adequate funds to fund my health-care plan. So this is a clear, bright-line choice for the American people. If you...

SCHIEFFER: But that's raising taxes, is it not?

GEPHARDT: Well, if you like the Bush tax cuts, if you think that's really the best thing for you, then vote for George Bush, but if you want health care that can never be taken away from you, then vote for me. This problem must be solved and people -- I go all over the country. People are really worried about their health care. They're worried about losing it. They're worried about not being able to afford it. They're worried that their benefits are going to be eroded to the point where it won't mean anything. And if you don't have it in today's world, you're really in trouble. I talk about when my son was sick with cancer and we met parents of other kids who had cancer who didn't have insurance. We were terrified. They were doubly or triply terrified. We have got to solve this problem. When I'm president, we will.

SCHIEFFER: The Republican National Committee which keeps track of these things says you've now missed 85 percent of the votes in the House this year. One of the votes that you missed this past week was the one on banning late-term abortions, what some people call partial-birth abortions. Would you have voted to ban that or not? What would your position have been on that?

GEPHARDT: My position is and has been that I would vote for a ban on late-term abortions. But I would insist on an exception for the health of the woman. I think that's very important, and I would -- if I'm president -- I would not sign a ban that did not contain that exception because I think that's vital.

SCHIEFFER: Talk a little bit about abortion and your position on it because it may well be that we'll see one of these Supreme Court justices announce his or her retirement this summer. Do you think abortion choice should be a litmus test for anyone selected to sit on the Supreme Court?

GEPHARDT: I think that you should try to pick judges who are balanced and fair and will stick with the precedents of the court and not try to be going off in new directions, plowing new ground. I think some of the candidates that this president is putting up, for both the Supreme Court and other courts, are really right-wing extreme judges who have right-wing extreme views and they would like to plow new ground in that area. For instance, I think that if George Bush can put a lot of new judges on the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade is in danger. Seriously in danger. And...

SCHIEFFER: Well...

Rep. GEPHARDT: ...I don't think those are the kind of judges that we need on the court. I think we ought to have balanced, fair judges who try to maintain the precedents of the court and not use it as a way to plow new ideological ground.

SCHIEFFER: As president, would you nominate someone to sit on the Supreme Court who was not pro-choice?

GEPHARDT: I don't think I would. Because I'd put on people that would have proper respect for the precedents of the court. And the court has said that choice is the law of the land.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Leader, thank you so much for being with us.

GEPHARDT: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Hope to see you again down the trail.

GEPHARDT: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Back with a final word, just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, so Sammy Sosa got caught with an illegal bat. Or did he? Well, that depends on the meaning of what 'cork' is. Or maybe he was just the victim of a vast right-field conspiracy. Whatever it was, in a week when icons were falling all around us, Sammy's problems were the only ones that seemed to make people sad. 'Say it ain't so, Sammy,' people said, and you had the feeling they meant it.

You did not hear that much when Martha Stewart got indicted. People seemed delighted, just as any number of people seemed pleased that "The New York Times" got taken down a notch, as two of its top editors had to quit over a plagiarism scandal; about the same when virtue czar Bill Bennett got caught gambling.

Some of that is to be expected, deserved in some cases. Seeing hypocrites get their comeuppance has always been a crowd-pleaser. But watching the reactions to the falling of various mighty lately makes me wonder if we've begun to take too much pleasure in the pain of others, and not just in our reaction to the news.

Take prime-time TV. Those reality shows and talent contests that have become so popular no longer just celebrate winners; an equal part of their appeal seems to come from seeing the losers being humiliated.

That's the part that bothers me. Americans have always cheered winners, but if we have come to taking equal pleasure in kicking losers when they're down, then our values and our culture are changing. We always have been better than that. Cruelty is no more to be admired than hypocrisy.

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

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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