FTN – 7/27/03

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face The Nation, hunting Saddam. How close are we to finding him? The attacks on Americans continue even after the deaths of Saddam Hussein's two sons last week. Are U.S. forces getting closer to the Iraqi leader? Would his capture stop the attacks? Those are the questions for Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the administration's Iraq policy.

Then we'll talk about last week's report on 9/11 and the situation in Iraq with Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, and head of the Intelligence Committee, and Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, who is on both Intelligence and the Armed Services committees. Doyle McManus of The Los Angeles Times will join in the questions.

I'll have a final word on the reward money for catching Saddam. But, first, hunting Saddam 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.

SHIEFFER: And we begin with the deputy secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, who is here in the studio with us this morning. Thank you, sir, for coming. Joining in the questioning, our friend Doyle McManus of The Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Wolfowitz, let me begin with this: Is there any indication that Saddam Hussein's sons were coordinating any of the attacks on the Americans?

DR. PAUL WOLFOWITZ, Deputy Secretary of Defense: I think the question is if they were coordinating, would we know it? There's a lot of -- I mean, we're dealing with a secret conspiratorial criminal gang on a large scale, and given the way the pattern is emerging, I think there's every reason to assume that they were probably part of this network that is, frankly, doing contract killing for hire on a large scale.

You go to a town like Nasiriyah in the south -- I have just come back from Iraq after four and a half days. Local people will tell you they're offering $200 to attack a power line, $500 to attack an American. So we are dealing with the remnants, not small remnants, of a criminal gang that abused that country for 35 years. And I think you have to assume they are operating like any gang does.

SHIEFFER: Well, I ask that question because up until the last couple of weeks, people in the administration were describing these attacks as sort of isolated and sporadic, but what you seem to be saying this morning after coming back from Iraq that, indeed, there was coordination, and there is some sort of a central plan here.

WOLFOWITZ: Well, I think a lot of the statements I saw in intelligence reports would say there's no evidence it's coordinated. But you have to be careful. As my boss said when he did the ballistic missile threat commission, 'absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.' And when you're dealing -- I go back to the analogy -- and a lot of people have said the way to understand Saddam Hussein is a sort of cross between the Godfather and Josef Stalin. It's a criminal gang on a large scale by a man who personally admired Josef Stalin. And they don't reveal their secrets easily. And we shouldn't conclude too quickly that we know exactly what they're doing.

But what is really striking, Bob, is how the great majority of what we're dealing with does seem to be connected to the former Ba'ath Party, which has now declared itself the party of the return.

Whatever we say about how they are organized, or what their tactics are, their goal is unmistakable. It's the belief that if you kill Americans, we will leave, and the old regime will come back, and, you know, people in Iraq have had enough horrible experience with that regime that it takes a lot of convincing before they will believe that the regime isn't coming back. And killing those two miserable creatures on Monday is certainly a step forward in persuading the Iraqi people that the old regime is done.

SHIEFFER: Doyle.

DOYLE McMANUS, The Los Angeles Times: Merely looking at the numbers in a snapshot, it looks as if the pace of attacks against Americans and the pace of American casualties has actually stepped up. Is the security situation getting better or getting worse? And, in your view, if American forces capture or kill Saddam Hussein, does that basically solve the problem?

WOLFOWITZ: Many things are increasing. The volume of intelligence that we're getting is increasing enormously. That's how we got to the two sons. The same day we got the two sons, we got one of -- number five on the so-called black list who is one -- a key killer himself; the head of the Special Republican Guards.

And just so your listeners understand, that's part of the weird system of checks and balances in Iraq. The Special Republican Guards were the spies who spied on the Republican Guards. And the Republican Guards are the people who kept the regular army in check. And there was a special security organization that kept the Special Republican Guards in check. We got one of the key members of that terror organization.

In the last week alone, we have seized 660 surface-to-air missiles. It's disturbing that there are that many in the country but we're making inroads against the big threats against us. These people haven't given up the fight yet; it's true. Maybe they'll give up when Saddam Hussein is gone. But in any case, and this is, I think, the important point, they are -- even in the thousands -- they are a small fraction of the Iraqi population. And everywhere we went, not just among Shia, not just among Kurds, not just among Turks, but among Sunni Arabs, we heard repeated expressions of gratitude to President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, to the coalition for liberating them from that tyranny.

McMANUS: In view of all that, why is the rate of casualties appearing to increase now to roughly two a day?

WOLFOWITZ: Well, in fact, I think Secretary Rumsfeld said there might well be a spike after the deaths of the sons. You know, people asked a kind of similar question when the bombing took place in Riyadh -- isn't this a sign that al Qaeda is surging back? And actually with a month's hindsight, it looks much more as though al Qaeda was making a desperate move to demonstrate that they were still on the battlefield. This is not something that you can measure on a day-to-day basis.

But let me say something -- and first of all, we haven't had a chance to say this yet -- our men and women out there serving in 120-degree heat -- it's unbelievable -- in combat conditions with their lives in danger all the time, and doing some magnificent work with the people of Iraq are just heroes. They are heroes, and they're fighting to make our country safer in the future and the Iraqi people better off. What they need most of is help from other countries, which we're getting, and most of all from Iraqis.

One of the casualties we took yesterday, the three soldiers who were killed when someone threw a hand grenade out of the top floor of a hospital, Iraqis can guard hospitals, and it doesn't take a year's worth of training to get them to that level. We advertised for Iraqis to join the new civilian defense force there a couple of weeks ago or 10 days ago. I believe in the first 24 hours alone, 7,000 volunteered. So we can get American troops into the tasks that they have to do and get Iraqis out fighting for their country.

SHIEFFER: Or...

WOLFOWITZ: They're ready to do it.

SHIEFFER: Or do you think we're any closer to getting Saddam Hussein than we were?

WOLFOWITZ: Well, you know, we probably are closer because we're getting more intelligence. His sons are gone so they may have been some source of support. But, you know, you never know whether you're closer until you're actually right there, and it...

SHIEFFER: Are you still confident we'll find him?

WOLFOWITZ: I -- if -- you know, there are many ifs in this. We can't even be 100 percent sure he's in the country. I think most indications suggest he is, but he might have taken refuge in another country. I think it is very important to find him or find out what happened to him.

SHIEFFER: You said before the war, or the administration said before the war, that there were connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Have you found any evidence, any new evidence, since he was toppled that there are connections?

WOLFOWITZ: Well, we talked about evidence before, including Secretary Powell in his presentation to the United Nations. One of the things...

SHIEFFER: But after?

WOLFOWITZ: One of the things that -- if I could give two impressions from Baghdad that are really to me very compelling in understanding how hard it is to break this veil of secrecy that the regime surrounded everything with.

First of all, the sheer size of the place. You fly over Baghdad, and I don't know my geography perfectly -- I'm told it's the size of Los Angeles. It is just huge. You look at house after house after house, and when you say every one of those houses is big enough to have a huge lethal quantity of anthrax in the basement, you're not going to find it by house-to-house searches. You're only going to find it when people talk.

An illustration of that: We visited the police academy because some terrific training is going on there to build a new police force. The leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was there a couple of weeks ago and they admired the training of the police force, as did I. What they didn't know but was discovered a couple days before I got there was they had subsequently discovered that behind the police academy was a torture chamber where this woman, who was reported in the press last week as having been tied to a tree and they did unspeakable things to her, right behind Uday's compound. That was sitting there behind the police academy and the police and the police academy didn't know about it until this woman came and told what happened.

SHIEFFER: Well, could I...

WOLFOWITZ: We're going to be unveiling secrets in Iraq day after day after day.

SHIEFFER: But have you found, at this point, any new connections to al Qaeda that you didn't know about?

WOLFOWITZ: Bob, this is in the hands, very capable hands of the CIA, led out there by David Kay and assisted by Keith Dayton and major general...

SHIEFFER: But you'd know if we had, would you not?

WOLFOWITZ: You know, first of all, I wouldn't necessarily. I mean, we've encouraged them to dig in, to get their facts straight, to cross-check things, not to send the first rumor up the chain and flying into Washington and people get breathlessly excited about it. These things need to be checked carefully.

SHIEFFER: But you know, obviously, the reason I'm asking this is because this is one of the justifications and, as you well know, the line your critics are taking is that you went after Saddam because you couldn't find Osama bin Laden. How do you respond to that?

WOLFOWITZ: Well, look, as -- if you go back to October, George Tenet's classified testimony to the Intelligence Committee details what we thought we knew and what we didn't know about the links to terrorism. His public letter, which was published in The New York Times, talks about a number of known links to al Qaeda. Is this a murky picture? Yes, it's murky. Information about terrorism in inevitably murky because terrorists hide and because you get an awful lot of information that's simply not true.

But stop and think about what the 9/11 report is saying. It's saying we should have connected these murky dots ahead of time. Well, you can't have it both ways. If you wait until you have absolute certainty about terrorism, you're really saying we'll wait until after the fact and deal with it, and I thought the lesson of September 11th is that approach doesn't work any more. We can't deal with terrorism after the fact.

SHIEFFER: I wish we had more time. Unfortunately we don't. Thank you very much.

WOLFOWITZ: Good to be here. Thank you.

SHIEFFER: Thank you.

Back with Senators Pat Roberts and Carl Levin in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIEFFER: And we're back now with Senator Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee, and Senator Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee. We want to talk about this report that came out, but first, Senator Levin, I want to ask you -- you heard what Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz just said about connections between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. He seemed to suggest that they had not found any connections since Saddam was toppled.

SEN. CARL LEVIN, D-MI, Ranking member Armed Services Committee: Well, the words that struck me the most is when he said these are murky issues. Boy, it sure didn't sound murky before the war. There were clear connections, we were told, between al Qaeda and Iraq.

There was no murkiness, no nuance, no uncertainty about it at all. It was very clear, very certain. That's the way it was presented to the American people. So now, when we're told that it is a murky picture when you're dealing with this kind of an issue. It's a very different tone, very different statement, and that's really the issue here, as to whether or not the evidence of the al-Qaeda-Iraq connection or weapons of mass destruction or of the uranium, whether that was exaggerated, whether it was stated to be more certain than, in fact, it really was.

SHIEFFER: One does have the feeling that, had new information, new evidence surfaced -- that we probably...

LEVIN: I think so.

SHIEFFER: ...would have known about this. Senator Roberts...

LEVIN: I don't think it would have taken too long.

SHIEFFER: ...let's talk about the report. A lot of the comment about the report is not about what's in it. We did find out that there was a lack of coordination between the CIA and the FBI.

SEN. PAT ROBERTS, R-KS, Chairman, Select Intelligence Committee: Certainly.

SHIEFFER: We knew a lot about that. It may have been worse now, the report suggests, than maybe we knew before. But so much of the comment now is about what's not in the report.

Many people are saying that, in effect, there was almost the administration or the CIA or somebody, by refusing to declassify some of the information about what was obviously Saudi Arabia -- it's referred to in the report as a foreign country -- was almost a cover-up.

Do you think more of that report should have been put out and made public?

ROBERTS: Well, I think so. I was unhappy with the amount of material that was redacted. That's the fancy word for saying, 'We're not going to release it.' But as Porter Goss, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee over in the House, has indicated, he said down the road that will be released. As a matter of fact, I think if more of it had been redacted, it would have put the intelligence community in a better light.

And I want to say something about my murky friend over here, in regards to intelligence. We were told that Mr. Zwori had a sale in Baghdad. We had over 100 al Qaeda up in the northwest part. We had a toxin center that was in operation. Some of that ended up in Europe. Now the extent of that from the National Intelligence Estimate, we're going to go into that right away at the first part of September. We're going to have Mr. Dayton and we're also going to have Dr. Kay up this week in our continuing inquiry, our...

SHIEFFER: These are the people trying to find the weapons in Iraq?

ROBERTS: Yes, exactly. And so that should be a good indication. But I think -- and I'm not trying to defend Secretary Wolfowitz, but I think what he was referring to was the total intelligence, well, an effort-- that does get rather murky. Very -- you know, and if you have ten dots to connect, very seldom do you get all eight or nine of them. So we did have information of terrorist activity. You didn't want Iraq to be a sanctuary, you know, for terrorists; that was part of the reason of the war. But we will get into that in September.

SHIEFFER: But, OK, let me just -- to kind of clear this up, let me go back to talking about the report. What we're talking about are 'you hear all of these reports about how people in Saudi Arabia, maybe some high up in the royal family, were aiding and abetting the terrorists.' That was redacted, or information about that was excised. Do you think that was done to protect the Saudi royal family?

ROBERTS: I'm not sure that if it was done to protect them. There was obvious Saudi involvement. I would go so far to say that after the attack on Riyadh, there was a wake-up call. That was their 9/11 call. And they have a choice to make. They have a choice whether they are going to participate and become full partners in the war against terrorism or where they're going to allow extremist groups to bankroll terrorism with their full knowledge.

SHIEFFER: OK.

ROBERTS: And so with the attack on Riyadh and with a better understanding with the Saudis, I think there's sort of a new start, if you will, but, yes, part of that was redacted to protect the Saudis.

SHIEFFER: And do you agree with Senator Shelby, who said today this ought to be made public?

ROBERTS: Oh, I think at some future date it will be made public. I was upset with the process, and I was upset with the amount of material that was redacted.

SHIEFFER: OK.

ROBERTS: But having said that, I thought overall it was a good report and it proved what everybody said. We have great collection data, but we didn't analyze it very well. We didn't share it very well. We didn't really collaborate. We are making progress along those lines. And obviously the FBI was a law enforcement agency. Now they're changed -- changing very rapidly to a counter-terrorism agency.

SHIEFFER: OK.

ROBERTS: So there's some good news in that report as well.

SHIEFFER: OK. Let's get to Doyle here.

ROBERTS: OK.

McMANUS: Senator, I want to ask about George Tenet, the director of the CIA. The 9/11 report said there was a failure of coordination from both the CIA and the FBI. On the matter of the uranium intelligence, George Tenet said he had done all he should have done to scrub that speech. And then you were quite critical of the CIA when you saw what appeared to be leaks coming from there and at the White House. Has George Tenet been held accountable enough for these apparent lapses?

ROBERTS: Well, he's held himself accountable. Basically, what he has done, he's been very candid in the press, very forthright, and said, 'It is my responsibility.'

Having said that, it was obvious that there was mixed reporting in regards to this issue. How that would be described by some of my colleagues -- some of my colleagues have called it a breakdown. I'm not happy with it. I don't know at the end of the day, if you took all the CIA information, how a policy-maker would really figure out where to go with this because it is mixed reporting.

But in terms of George, he also does some very good things that are not publicized. He has the ear and the support of the president of the United States. And he has been very contrite, saying he accepted full responsibility.

SHIEFFER: Senator Levin, what's your comment on that?

LEVIN: I think there's huge failures at the CIA and the FBI. Three times people who were known to be terrorists who ended up being the attackers of the Trade Center and the Pentagon were not put on a watch list. Three times that happened. Twice the FBI was not notified of these people. And in a key meeting in New York in July before 9/11, the CIA and the FBI were sitting around the table, and the FBI said, 'Why are you tracking these two guys?' By the way, these are the two terrorists they'd been tracking for a year and a half and who turned out to be hijackers. And the FBI pointblank asks the CIA, 'Why are you tracking these two guys?' and the CIA says, 'We're not authorized to tell you that.'

Now if this information had been known to FBI offices, including in San Diego, it's very possible the 9/11 attacks could have been avoided.

SHIEFFER: So...

LEVIN: And yet there's been no accountability. This bipartisan report points out there's been no accountability of CIA people who failed, FBI people who failed, and there are still ongoing failures in terms of connecting the dots. We do not have a clear, single, sole place where all information about foreign terrorism is now being analyzed. There is not one place; there are two places. We've asked for clarification. That has not been forthcoming.

McMANUS: So let me ask the question bluntly in a yes or no answer: Would the president be better served by having a new director of Central Intelligence?

ROBERTS: That's his call. I don't think that's our call. If he has -- if he, meaning the director, has earned the support of the president, that's the president's call.

SHIEFFER: Well, what do you think, Senator Levin?

LEVIN: I think we ought to wait for the investigation to finish, but there's a lot of people here who have some explaining to do, including Condi Rice, for instance. We find out this week that, as a matter of fact, she was informed once, her deputy informed three times, of the...

SHIEFFER: Let me...

LEVIN: ...fact that there was doubt about the British reports that has come out for the first time, after she has said that, in fact, she did not know and they did not know in her agency at the top level about the doubts about the British report.

SHIEFFER: Very -- I don't want to interrupt -- but very quickly on another issue, we had this week a disclosure that the man -- the former ambassador who was asked by the administration to go and check out this report that Iraq was buying uranium in Niger -- it's now been revealed that his wife was a CIA agent that was obviously leaked in an effort to discredit him and make it appear that the CIA or something was somehow behind this.

What about that, Senator Roberts?

ROBERTS: It's a very serious matter. You should not be in the business of outing anybody that works with the CIA who...

SHIEFFER: It's against the law, is it not?

ROBERTS: It is against the law. And in the Intelligence Committee, Senator Rockefeller and I are very upset about that.

SHIEFFER: Going to investigate?

ROBERTS: And we've asked -- oh, yes, we are investigating it, and we've asked the CIA to determine whether or not this is a criminal offense under a certain statute and whether it should be referred to the Justice Department, but that's a very serious matter.

SHIEFFER: All right, we have to end it there just because the clock ran out. Thank you both very much.

ROBERTS: You bet. Thank you.

SHIEFFER: Back with a final word in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHIEFFER: Finally today, they used to say you knew you were going to have a bad day when you opened the door and found Mike Wallace and the "60 Minutes" crew on your doorstep, which helps us to understand how Zaidan Nasari felt when he opened his door in Baghdad and found Saddam's two sons standing there.

'They asked to stay in my house and I could not refuse them,' he told a friend. 'It was a disaster for me.' Well, he had that right, but he only lost a house. Saddam's sons lost their lives when a tipster told American troops where to find them.

Were American news outlets right to show the brothers' bodies? I think so. These men were monsters and the Iraqis have been lied to so long they won't believe much unless they see it.

Washington Post writer Tom Shales likened it to how the people of Oz couldn't believe the wicked witch was really dead, and remembered that the Munchkin coroner had to reassure them that the witch was not just merely dead, but truly and sincerely dead.

Helping the Iraqi people to understand the Hussein brothers are really dead is dirty business. But the quicker they believe it, the quicker we'll find Saddam, and that can only save American lives.

Here's the important thing to know: The tipster who turned them in did it for the money, which is why we must now make sure that Saddam's old henchmen know that the reward money is for real and that there will be more for whoever fingers him. These are criminals and criminals can be bought.

I'm not suggesting we call in Ed McMahon to preside over a public ceremony, but I would let the cameras record it when we pay off the tipster who ratted on the sons, and I'd pay him in cash, even if he had to wear a mask. And he may want to.

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

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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