FTN - 8/11/02

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, are we going to war with Iraq, and how serious is the West Nile Virus?

The Bush administration tells Iraqi opposition leaders the United States is determined to get rid of Saddam Hussein. So is war with Iraq inevitable?

We'll ask a senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar.

And then we'll turn to the West Nile virus on why the authorities in Louisiana reported the death of yet another person from West Nile virus, a disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. With already seven fatal cases this season and 135 human infections, health officials are calling this the worst West Nile outbreak in U.S. history.

How real is this threat? We'll talk to the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Julie Gerberding, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of allergy and infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

I'll have a final word on moving on, but first, confronting Saddam Hussein, on Face the Nation.

And good morning again. And we begin where we left off last week as we continue our series of broadcasts to explore the question, are we heading toward war with Iraq?

Yesterday Vice President Cheney talked to a group of Iraqi opposition leaders by video link-up, and he told them the United States is committed to ousting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and replacing him with a democratic government.

In Texas yesterday, the president said there is still no timetable for an attack, but he said he believes Americans understand the threat that Saddam poses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: What I do believe the American people understand is that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of leaders such as Saddam Hussein are very dangerous for ourselves, our allies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIEFFER: To explore what that entails, we turn this morning to Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, who becomes the ranking Republican on the Senate Relations Committee with the retirement of Jesse Helms and, if the Republicans become the majority party in the Senate after the fall elections, will of course become the chairman of that committee.

Senator, we have not heard much from you on this subject, but let me just begin this morning with the basic question: Do you believe at this point that the administration has made the case for going to war with Iraq?

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR, R-IN: No, the administration hasn't made the case as yet, but clearly there is a great deal of public discussion, sort of starting with the objective which the president gave very precisely yesterday. It's weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a dictator who might use them for blackmail or for worse.

And secondly, a lot of public discussion as to the ways and means of ousting the dictator. Much less discussion thus far of the means of making certain that with the government that would follow we are going to get our hands on the weapons of mass destruction. But that I suspect will follow subsequently.

The visit with Vice President Cheney with the Iraqi leaders indicated that they understand that they've got to be unified, that they're other leaders in Iraq. It's going to be a democratic government, a pro-Western government.

I'm hopeful that, furthermore they, will really discuss how we get into the laboratories, how we exterminate the major objective the president's identified.

SCHIEFFER: Well, now, Senator Biden, the Democratic chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said this week that he thinks that probably sooner or later we will go down the military road toward Iraq. Do you believe that military action is inevitable?

LUGAR: Not inevitable, but probable. Probable because even after it is clear to Saddam Hussein that we have made the case for war, made the case to the world, the American people, that as a matter of fact we have allies, we have bases, we have the military wherewithal, we understand precisely what we are after, Saddam will have the option of giving up the weapons of mass destruction.

Generally, most people believe that he will not, even if it means overthrow of his government and himself. But that will be a decision he will have to make at the time.

The last time the decision for Saddam was whether to at least give up and get the Iraqi troops out of Kuwait, but the objective was simply expelling his troops. This time it's getting the weapons of mass destruction.

And at the end of the day, Saddam will have to decide whether we are sufficiently credible or not, and that will be the cause of war.

SCHIEFFER: Is what you're saying, that is, if we continue to say we're going to do this and demonstrate that we have the capability to do it, that he may simply give up these weapons?

LUGAR: That is a possibility.

SCHIEFFER: It would seem to be an unlikely possibility to me.

LUGAR: Unlikely, simply because Saddam at least has never believed that in fact we would take this action. And his activities diplomatically have been substantial to try to forestall this.

Obviously he is listening to all of our debates, wondering what in the world and when it's going to occur; trying to work at least public opinion in Iraq through intimidation or what have you to prepare for the worst. But he may not be successful in that respect.

So this is why the preparation is important. It's even more important that the American people, through the Congress, affirm that we are behind the president, behind the armed forces, that there is no space whatever, no chance for Saddam to get off the hook.

But at the end of the day, we have to make sure that after we have won the war, the objective, which was to get the weapons of mass destruction, is fulfilled, that we find them all, exterminate that possibility for whatever government in Iraq may follow.

SCHIEFFER: Last week on this broadcast, Brent Scowcroft, who was the first President Bush's national security advisor during the Persian Gulf War, said he thought an attack on Iraq at this time would actually be counterproductive to the war on terrorism. He said it could just inflame the whole region if we attack Saddam. In other words, that he might fire chemical weapons or biological weapons into Israel; that it might -- that in the process, you might see the toppling of the regime, the pro-American regime in Jordan.

What is your view on that?

LUGAR: Well, the important qualifying words are "at this time," and Brent Scowcroft does describe potential disintegration of Iraq, likewise an impact upon the Israeli-Palestinian question and other Middle East situations.

We're in a war against terrorism in many countries, and most throughout the Middle East. We're chasing Al Qaida still in Afghanistan or wherever else they may show up. So we have to consider all of those things in our preparation.

I think President Bush is doing so, and he keeps being pressed at Crawford, Texas, as to when the war is going to come. He says it's not imminent. He's suggesting, as a matter of fact, he doesn't have a plan, he's not made a decision, and it might not even occur this year.

My guess, in the president's mind's eye, he sees the need for this inventory of things to be done, so the preparation is, in fact, complete, the case is made, the war is won, the objective is won because the cost of this, likewise, has to be calculated into our economy or into the economy of our allies, who we have relied upon for $48 billion of the $61 billion in the Desert Storm War.

SCHIEFFER: That's right, because they did in fact pay most of the cost of that by the time it was finally over.

LUGAR: That's correct.

SCHIEFFER: My information now is that that probably wouldn't happen this time around, at least right now, because it does not seem to be a point, an international coalition ready to do this. It's almost as if right now only the United States seems in favor of doing this, if it becomes necessary. Am I right on that?

LUGAR: That's correct. But once again, Bob, your words "right now" are the qualifying words. This means that the preparation that is proceeding is extremely important in terms of gaining the adherence of as many allies as possible who find what we're doing to be right and credible, our strength to be a part at least of their planning.

SCHIEFFER: You said at the beginning, in answer to the first question that I asked when I said, has the administration yet made the case for going to war. What, in your view, should the president do to make that case, should it become necessary?

LUGAR: The president has to describe why Saddam has a preemptive war possibility. He can describe this very well with the illustration of those terrorists who flew into the World Trade Center, into the Pentagon. That was preemptive, without warning, fortunately without weapons of mass destruction.

Now, the case against Iraq is that Saddam does have some materials and perhaps weapons of mass destruction that would create havoc in this country or in the surrounding countries of Iraq; that he might use those preemptively. And that the point that we have to make is that we do not wait for the development of a nuclear authority in Iraq or for further developments in which Saddam has that opportunity.

Now, that is a tough case to make, but not a completely difficult one, given circumstances in our country during the last year. But it hasn't been made in a form that the public understands the objective is the end of a combination of a dictatorship that is aggressive, having weapons of mass destruction that could create enormous harm for our country and for the world.

SCHIEFFER: Well, there's been considerable reserve expressed by some on the Republican side, especially in the Congress, about embarking on this. We just saw the number-two Republican in the House, the very conservative Dick Armey, say last week that he was not so sure we ought to do this. Chuck Hagel on the Foreign Relations Committee, Republican from out in the Midwest, also says he has some reservations about it. You're saying at this point the administration really hasn't made the case.

What, in your view, would be the final straw? Would it be that we discovered that Saddam Hussein has developed a nuclear weapon; that he is planning to use these weapons? And I guess the question that kind of underlies all this is, how can we be sure? How much do we know? How good is our intelligence right now about Iraq?

LUGAR: Well, the Foreign Relations Committee hearings that were conducted by Senator Biden and members of the committee found that military experts do not have certainty with regard to the nuclear situation.

I think Mr. Armey's comments are important because he talked about the fact that we don't go into preemptive strikes, into war without provocation. That's the point I was trying to make a moment ago. The president has to make the case that, in this particular instance, to wait for the attack, to wait for the provocation is to invite a very, very large disaster.

And we do know enough about the chemical and biological possibilities, as well as evidence of those who have come out of those laboratories and testified in the West, that there is a case to be made for separating a dictator who would use them, and has manifested that political will before, from those weapons before they are used.

It's a tougher case to make than finding the smoking gun. But my guess is that, at the end of the day, that is the case on which the war effort will rest.

SCHIEFFER: And I take it you would support that. Do you think the president can get a congressional approval to support that?

LUGAR: Yes. If the planning continues as it is going on -- now, some have suggested it's very noisy, and having either leaks or deliberate reports from the Pentagon, sort of day by day, that 200,000 troops would be involved, or 70,000 to 80,000, or to this or that would happen, may or may not be helpful. I don't know why all these reports keep coming out. Perhaps they are to rattle Saddam or to sort of keep some type of buzz going.

But sober people are going to work out carefully the tactics, the alliances, the bases, the money, the political will, the vote in the Congress. All of these things are going to flow. I'm confident that's the case.

And I support the president, as does Senator Biden. We've gone down to visit with him, to indicate at least some of our views as to what kind of planning is required. Because, at the end of the day, we really have to separate those weapons of mass destruction from Saddam.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator Lugar, always good to talk to you.

Thank you very much.

LUGAR: Thank you, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: When we come back, we'll talk about some trouble here at home, and that is the threat of the West Nile virus.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Well, as if we didn't have enough to worry about with terrorists and the threat of war with Iraq, in the last few weeks we've gotten a scare back home from the lowly mosquitoes who are carriers of something we've come to know as West Nile virus.

And it is spreading west across the United States. Thirty-six states, plus the District of Columbia, now report signs of West Nile virus. There are 135 cases now of human infection and seven deaths. All of the fatalities so far in Louisiana.

Here to talk about all this are Dr. Julie Gerberding, who is the director of the Centers for Disease Control, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Gerberding, are we making too much of this? Is this one of those summertime scares that's getting a lot of attention because it's August and it's not a lot going on otherwise around the neighborhoods of this country, or is it something that has to be taken seriously?

DR. JULIE GERBERDING, Director, Centers for Disease Control: We do have to take this seriously. It's a relatively new problem, just been a problem in the United States since 1999. It's spreading. The infected mosquitoes and birds are now in most of the states east of the Mississippi. And it's a problem that is having an unusually high human toll this year. So it is serious, and we have to continue our public health action to combat it.

SCHIEFFER: Well, is it an epidemic?

GERBERDING: I think it is an epidemic.

SCHIEFFER: You do?

GERBERDING: It's a fine line between outbreak or epidemic. But when you see something that's involving so many people in so many states, I think it's probably helpful to think of it as an expanding, emerging infectious disease epidemic.

SCHIEFFER: Do we expect this to go all over the country now? It's in, what, 36 states. Would you expect it to be in all of the states on the mainland here?

GERBERDING: You know, one of the things about this particular virus is that it's transmitted so efficiently among birds. The population of birds that are infected is much broader than we see with most of the viral infectious diseases that cause similar encephalitis. So wherever the birds are going, the mosquitoes are following, and that really does set the stage for transmission across the country.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Dr. Fauci, what are the symptoms? What should people be worried about? Should they fear death?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health: Well, the majority of people who get infected have no symptoms. About one in five of people who get infected will have what we call flu-like syndrome, the kind of thing you expect when get a flu. For example, you get muscle aches, you get fever, you can get some headaches, some malaise, some lethargy. That's the majority of the symptomotology.

About one out of every 150 people will develop severe complications of encephalitis, (inaudible) encephalitis, which is the complication that leads to the deaths that you've just mentioned just a few moments ago.

It can be very serious when you do progress to the encephalitic stage. That is seen much, more frequently in older individuals, so the high-risk factor for someone getting seriously ill is an older individual. If you look at the median age of individuals now with West Nile this year, it's about 55 years old. And the older you get, the greater the probability that you would not only have serious complications but you would actually die.

The death rate, if you do get serious complications ranges somewhere between 3 and 15 percent thus far. And in other outbreaks that we've seen in our countries, about that.

SCHIEFFER: Is there any kind of vaccine or is there any medicine you can take? How do you treat it?

FAUCI: Well, you treat it with what we call supportive therapy. There are some experimental approaches, but there really is no established treatment.

For example, we have a patient up at the NIH who has West Nile, the District of Columbia patient, and we're supporting him. We're supporting him with supporting respirations, because when you get severe neurological abnormalities, your body is unable to perform many of the rather automatic functions that you do -- breathing and things like that. You got to make sure the fluids are well balanced in an individual; hoping that after a period of time, they will spontaneously recover.

With regard to a vaccine, we're working very hard on a vaccine right now, but there is no established vaccine against West Nile. There's a not-so-effective vaccine against West Nile in horses, an equine vaccine, but not anything that we can use in humans right now.

SCHIEFFER: What, Dr. Gerberding, do you do to prevent it? For example, why are there so many cases? The fatalities all showing up in Louisiana? Is there some reason for that?

GERBERDING: Well, again, wherever the birds and the mosquitoes have a chance to spiral upward in population, there's going to be a risk. As it's gone south, you know, the winters are milder and the mosquitoes have a longer chance to move from bird to people, so it's not surprising that the Gulf states would be harder hit than some of the northeastern states.

But what we have to do are a couple of things. One is, really deal with control of mosquitoes. One of the aspects of that is source control, which means getting rid of the standing water where the larvae breed, so not only large volumes of standing water, but also flower pots, tires, cans, things that you might have in your backyard. They all need to be emptied out to avoid the breeding there.

Another really important component is the personal protections that people can take. For example, if you're going out in an area where there are a lot of mosquitoes, you should be wearing insect repellent, one that contains DEET, so that really does help stop the bite. In Louisiana, they have a whole campaign called "fight the bite." And I think that -- get rid of the mosquitoes and prevent them from biting are the fundamental principles here.

SCHIEFFER: Well, how well are we doing in fighting this? Is the prevention going well? Should there be more attention focused on that in the other states? Or what do you think about the state of things right now?

GERBERDING: Well, right now CDC has a couple dozen people in Louisiana and the southern states. And I had a chance to go down there and visit on Thursday to sort of get a sense of what really was going on.

I was impressed by what an excellent job the state is really doing. They've got excellent surveillance, so they're monitoring the virus in the birds and the mosquito population. The hospitals and the doctors and clinicians are cooperating, in terms of detecting cases and reporting them. And the whole public health community, along with the governor's office and the National Guard, is working on controlling the mosquito population per se.

So they're doing a lot. And I think the investments that we've made over the past several years in this kind of public health response have really paid off.

SCHIEFFER: Dr. Fauci, before you go, let me just ask you quickly about something else. And that is, the government is going to start giving out smallpox vaccines...

FAUCI: Right.

SCHIEFFER: ... start vaccinating people like firemen and policemen against it.

Do you think everybody in the country ought to be vaccinated for smallpox to prevent terrorist attacks?

FAUCI: I don't want to get out ahead of what the policy's going to be. And I think, as I had mentioned some time ago, that this is something that deserves open and transparent discussion, which we've had a considerable amount of that right now.

If I came out and told you my opinion, I think that would taint the discussion of the ultimate decision that will be made. Dr. Gerberding and I and others are advising Secretary Thompson, who will then make his recommendation to the president, and then, within a reasonable period of time, that decision will be made. But I'm reluctant to give my personal opinion publicly, since we're a team of people that are actually feeding in to the secretary.

SCHIEFFER: All right, fair enough, but we'll come back to you.

FAUCI: I'd be happy to do that.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Thanks to both of you. We'll be back in a moment with a final word.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, I am at the stage of life where I spend most of my time trying to keep the list of things I can do longer than the list of things I can't. And let me tell you, it requires a lot more maintenance than it used to -- walking on a treadmill, taking my various pills and reading all those nutrition facts printed in that tiny type on packaged food.

Which got me to wondering, is there anything positive about becoming more mature, as it were? And in fact, I've decided there is.

Growing older reduces the number of things we need to worry about. For example, which brand of motorcycle is most likely to be stolen? I heard on the radio there's a new study about that, but I no longer need to know the answer. Nor do I need to know how old Britney Spears really is or whether she's had some work done.

I no longer need to worry about whether tattoos are safe, or the best place to get body parts pierced, or to find low-rider blue jeans, or whatever happened to Monica Lewinsky, or whether Bill Clinton wore boxers, briefs or jammies with feet on them. Actually, I never wondered about that, but I no longer need to worry about those who did.

No, moving toward the sunset of life brings a certain clarity, a winnowing out of what's important and what isn't. Probably the most important thing is finally realizing we no longer have to worry about being cool. Of course we do have to worry about our kids having us frozen.

That's it for us. See you next week on Face the Nation.


  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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