FTN - 11/17/02

face the nation logo, 2009

BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, Senators McCain, Dodd and Shelby on Iraq and the new terror warning.

Tomorrow the inspectors return to Iraq. Will they have full access? Does the United States need a domestic spy agency? And what are we supposed to do about these new alerts warning of spectacular attacks?

These are the questions for Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, Chris Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, and Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama.

Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have a final word on the difference between defending against terrorism and victory.

But first Senator John McCain 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 good morning again. Joining us from Los Angeles this morning, Senator McCain, in Lime, Connecticut, Senator Dodd. We begin with Senator McCain. And gentlemen, be glad you're not here, because I've got a bad cold. Maybe in those far away places, you won't get it.

Senator McCain, arms inspectors are scheduled to enter Iraq this week.

Already some in your party are saying that there may be a trap; the process may be set up in such a way that it will undermine our goal of getting rid of Saddam Hussein. What do you think about this? Do you agree with that assessment?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN, R-AZ: I think it depends on the attitude that the inspectors go in with. This isn't a game of hide-and-seek. We know that there are areas where there are weapons of mass destruction in the laboratories and others. And if the Iraqis start jerking us around, that taking them to different places, et cetera, then obviously it will not be, I believe, in keeping with the letter and the spirit of the resolution.

Finally, let me just say that, Bob, and perhaps I'm jumping the gun here, but when the Iraqis claim that they have no weapons of mass destruction, as they said when they agreed for the weapons inspectors to come back, that cannot give one optimism. We all know -- we all know they have this capability. The question may be debated on how much.

So when they do that and at the same time fire on U.S. aircraft, in violation of Security Council resolutions, one cannot be overly optimistic, to say the least.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you just said if they start jerking us around. Let's suppose they do start jerking us around. What should the U.S. response be?

McCAIN: Well, I think the U.S. has to make -- is going to make it very clear that that's not an acceptable compliance with previous resolutions and the latest resolution.

We fully expect Saddam Hussein to say, "Look, here's what I have. Come in here to this place." And we know where some of it is. We certainly don't know where all of it is. And if he continues to try to hide it, I think at a very early point, the United States is going to have to say, "Look, you are not in compliance with either the spirit or the letter of this resolution."

Whether that sets up some kind of a conflict between the United States and United Nations, I doubt it.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Well, but the U.S. and the U.N. seem to be divided about how aggressive inspectors ought to be. The president says zero tolerance and the chief inspector, Hans Blix, said only for serious violations. So isn't there some kind of a problem here?

McCAIN: Well, I hope not. Mr. Blix's charter is very clear. And we've made it very clear what we have every right to expect. This is the 17th, I believe, U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for both the inspections and the dismantlement of these weapons and their capabilities.

I think the secretary general in particular has to look at the role of the United Nations. If we allow Saddam Hussein to continue these violations, then they risk irrelevancy. And the United States argument for unilateral action and other nations' argument for unilateral action may be bolstered.

I think the best of all worlds is that they make it very clear that what -- that Saddam Hussein is not meeting the level of expectation that we have.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just go back to something you said just a minute ago, because I want to just, kind of, try to wrap that up. If they are not complying, if, in your phrase, they are "jerking us around" and we figure that out, then should Saddam Hussein expect military action? Would you propose that military action come at that point?

McCAIN: I hate to get into the specific tactics and timing, but if he's not in compliance, then the United States of America has made it very clear that we and our allies -- we will have other nations with us -- will act.

Now, whether that means going back to the U.N. Security Council again for affirmation that they are not complying, or whether it means rapid, you know, that's something I think that's a tactical issue.

But at the end of the day, they either comply or they don't comply. And the United States has made it very clear what the standards of compliance are, both in the United States and in the United Nations.

SCHIEFFER: And if they don't comply, there will be a penalty of some sort? That's what you seem to be saying.

McCAIN: There has to be. Otherwise the United Nations risks its relevancy, but, perhaps more importantly, the United States risks its relevancy, and we allow a clear and present danger to continue.

BORGER: Senator, there have been reports over the weekend that the administration is apparently considering the establishment of a domestic spy agency. Do you think that's a good idea?

McCAIN: On its face, I do not. Nothing like that should be set up without complete, full congressional hearings, the details of the proposal.

There may be requirements for increased surveillance if there are suspected Al Qaida cells within the United States of America. I think all of us would understand that. But look, a lot of things have been done in the name of national security, particularly in the 20th century, that we regretted retrospectively. So, I would be very, very careful about it. It would have to be something that would have to be sold to the majority of Congress before the first steps were taken.

SCHIEFFER: What did you think of Senator Daschle's assessment that we don't seem to be doing very well on the war against the terrorists?

McCAIN: Well, I think we've done well. I think we've done well in Afghanistan. I think we've done well in other parts of the world. I understand the symbolic importance of Osama bin Laden still being alive.

But I think most of us said this is going to be a long struggle, not one year, not two years. Many years. And I think we've made significant progress.

Do we have a long way to go? Yes, we do, and I think that he's correct in that aspect. But I think we can be proud a lot of the accomplishments, but also recognize that there's a lot of things that need to be fixed.

SCHIEFFER: Senator McCain, thank you very much.

McCAIN: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Let's go now to Senator Dodd. Senator Dodd, of course, is one of the senior Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator Dodd, do you feel safer today than you did a year ago?

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, D-CT: Well, marginally so. But I'm still concerned that we're not effectively dealing with this yet on a number of different fronts.

We're going to be voting on homeland security legislation here in the next few days. We still haven't provided any real assistance to the first responders, to local police, fire, emergency medical services. There seems to be confusion over what we're going to do with this homeland security bill.

We're not even talking about the CIA and FBI, and yet according to a Washington Post story you just referred to in your conversation with John McCain, we're maybe on the track to form a domestic surveillance agency, which I think is, as John has said -- Senator McCain has said, without thorough Congressional hearings and exploration I can't imagine the administration going off in that direction while simultaneously not including the FBI and CIA in your homeland security reform efforts here.

So there seems to be a lot of confusion, and so I'd like to tell you I feel profoundly more secure, but I don't. When you hear reports out the other day of these alerts, spectacular, I think was the word that was used to describe the kind of terrorist attacks we could face, and then we're told afterwards, "Well, that's sort of an accumulation of evidence dating back months," I'm wondering who's in control here, who's in charge here that should be making statements like that.

I think one source this morning called them, sort of, Chicken Little alerts. And it makes me concerned that we may not be as secure as I'd like to think we are.

BORGER: Well, Senator Dodd, do you think there should be a different system then of alerts because the American public doesn't quite know how to react to these?

DODD: I do. I think you have to be more specific about it. These ideas of announcing one day that hospitals across the country could be the subject of attack, the next day spectacular attacks may occur.

Clearly, it looks to me as though people are trying to cover themselves here in case something happens, they can then say, "Well, we warned you about all of this."

Frankly, I'm concerned.

BORGER: So what would you do?

DODD: Well, I think you ought to pick out -- if there are times of very specific concerns, clearly you've got to let the people know about it.

If it's just sort of generic and general information like this, there may be specific people who should know about it, but I don't think having statements go out across the airwaves here like that are very helpful. In fact, I think they're more harmful than helpful.

SCHIEFFER: What about the whole business of the inspectors going in now into Iraq? You just heard John McCain say that, in his phrase, if they start "jerking us around" they better be prepared for some sort of penalty.

What if they start jerking us around? What do you do then?

DODD: Well, I think John has it right. I think he described it pretty well here.

Look, let's be -- I'd like to be more optimistic about this. I think the administration did the right thing. I think the vote that we took in Congress, those of us who supported the resolution, the final draft of it, did the right thing. I think that strengthened the administration's hand by doing so. I think the United Nations took a strong position. And Colin Powell and others, the President, obviously, deserve a great deal of credit for putting that together.

The key dates now are December 8th, when Saddam Hussein will have to report what he has; then it's December 23rd, when the inspectors actually begin their work; and then it's February 21st, when they'll issue a report to the Security Council.

So, I'm going to work on the assumption that Saddam Hussein is crazy like a fox, that he's not a fundamentalist religious fanatic, that he's going to want to stay around. And I think he must begin to understand -- I think he does, in light of what he's said in the last few days -- that this is serious business; that the idea that you could jerk us around, to use John McCain's words, and get away with it is just beyond -- I think beyond any sense at all.

I think, if he does do that, if there's a sense here he's doing that, then there will be strong action, including, I think, military action, hopefully by a coalition of forces, not the United States acting alone.

SCHIEFFER: Well, can you see military action? You mentioned that last date in late February, as, kind of, the final deadline.

DODD: Right.

SCHIEFFER: Could you see a scenario where we might launch military action against him before that last deadline?

DODD: No, I think that would be wrong. I think, at this point here, we need to stay within the framework of the U.N. resolutions here. And we fought hard to get this unanimous vote. That's what the U.N. resolution calls for. It seems to me here we ought to stick with it.

It's going to be critically important that, if Saddam Hussein does -- again, using John's word -- jerk us around here, we're going to want that same coalition that we built at the U.N. to be with us if military action is necessary. And it seems to me that you're going to have to complete these dates and get these reports back before you're going to want to make that decision.

BORGER: Senator, if I could switch the subject for a moment to domestic politics, the Democrats have just had some real troubles in the recent midterm election, as you well know. You're now in the minority in the Senate. What do you think is the answer for the Democratic Party right now?

DODD: Well, I think you had part of it the other day. I think the election of Nancy Pelosi as a new leader in the House is going to, I think, be tremendously helpful. I think we need to probably spend more time and working on getting our message out. We need to be more dramatic, more direct, I think, in terms of what we're saying, the kind of message we want to deliver to the American public.

It's always difficult for congressional leaders to, sort of, trump the president, if you will, in getting your message through. And this president worked very, very hard at being on the road and campaigning for candidates this fall.

So, I believe you'll see, in the coming weeks, that coming together of the Democratic leadership, some of the new governors, the new leadership in the House, working with Tom Daschle in the Senate, to respond.

The Republicans now are in a difficult position, in some ways. They've got the House, the Senate, and the presidency. That's the first time they've had that in decades. So, we're going to be cooperative where we can be, but really they'll have no excuses in the future for what actions they take.

We're maybe getting a certain indication of the direction they're going in.

This homeland security bill, the bill the president supported was 35 pages long. The bill that I've been asked to vote on on Monday or Tuesday is 484 pages long, filled with special interest legislation, loaded up by the House Republicans in the last few days. If that's an indication of where the Republicans are going, they should expect a very strong response from Democrats.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator Dodd, we have to leave it there. Thank you so much for joining us.

Back in a minute with the vice chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, Richard Shelby.


SCHIEFFER: With us now, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee; will become Chairman of the Banking Committee in the next session of Congress, I believe.

Senator Shelby, you heard Senator McCain, you heard Senator Dodd. They seem to think that forming some sort of new agency to collect domestic intelligence is not such a great idea. What's your view of that?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, R-AL: Well, I think it's -- they're right in the sense that we should be very careful if we ever form such an agency. The British have what they called the MI5, which is a domestic intelligence agency. They are not police, but they do do the domestic intelligence.

Now, today as we sit here, the FBI's basically charged with that function.

The question is, to us, is the FBI doing well in that regard? Are they competent to do it in the future? Will they change their culture from police work to intelligence agents to do it domestically? Will that be part of a homeland security arrangement down the road? Or will it be a separate agency?

The function will go on. It's a question of will we create a new agency, or will it be part of an agency such as the FBI or others?

SCHIEFFER: Well, you just said that the FBI is now doing it. Do you think they're doing a good job?

SHELBY: Oh, I think that's -- I think they're trying. I think this is a culture problem, among others, and training.

The FBI, make no mistake about it, is a good agency. They're competent, they're federal police. They probably have no peers as far as forensic work and investigations. But now they're charged with preventing terrorist attacks, for example, before they happen, not investigating a scene afterwards. Two different functions.

SCHIEFFER: Well, that sounds like a polite way of saying you don't think they're doing a good job.

SHELBY: I think they can do better. I believe they're under attack. I believe the director of the FBI understands that. I believe he's trying to change it. The question is, can they change it? Will they have enough time and resources to change it?

Because they will be recruiting, competing with the CIA, and they will be competing with Homeland Security, make no mistake about it, in the future.

BORGER: Can you tell us, Senator, how to interpret these latest terror threats about so-called "spectacular attacks" that could be in our future? Senator Dodd you just heard said, "We need a new system here." "We need to be able to speak to the American people differently," he said. How should we interpret these things?

SHELBY: Well, that's a central question that faces Governor Ridge and the attorney general of the United States in trying to alert or to warn the American people, because the information that we have from time to time is not specific in nature. It's general.

Like, for example, more chatter, more signals traffic has always been the precursor of attacks. But we don't know where. We do not have the specifics.
Now the question is, if we continue to cry wolf, and at what level will the American people sooner or later just ignore the warnings?

SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think that al Qaeda, at this point, has the ability to cause what they are terming a spectacular attack in this country?

SHELBY: Absolutely.

SCHIEFFER: And should we expect one?

SHELBY: I hope we never have one. But to think that they're not here in this country and their affiliates, and to think that they couldn't cause a particular, you know a spectacular attack in some soft target, sure they could.

We hope that we preempt them. But that threat is there and it's real.

BORGER: Your counterpart on the Intelligence Committee, Senator Graham of Florida, says that the FBI and the administration, and let me quote him here, "are not moving with the kind of urgency the situation calls for against domestic terrorism."

Do you agree with that assessment?

SHELBY: Well, I -- you know, Senator Graham and I are friends, and we've worked together -- I agree with some of it, that they haven't done enough, but I'll have to say this. The administration, led by President Bush, they've done a lot.

What have we done? Or what have they done? They have destroyed the sanctuary for the training of terrorists in Afghanistan. They have dismantled that operation, which is number one.

Number two, they have probably killed or captured over half the top leadership of Al Qaida. But, on the other hand, a lot of it has been dispersed, all over the world. And that is our challenge today.

Have they done a lot? Yes. Have we made progress? Yes. Have they won the war? No. It's going to last a long time. But let's give them credit too.

SCHIEFFER: What about Osama bin Laden? Do you think he's alive?

SHELBY: I do. I believe he's alive. I've always said -- I think I said on this program one time that, until I see forensic evidence that he is dead, you have to believe he's alive. The tapes last week, from all the people I've talked with in the intelligence community, they believe they're real. That's not an exact science, as to how you interpret the tape. They're continuing to analyze those tapes for hidden messages and everything else.

But I believe he's alive, and I thought there were two big messages of that.

One, the message to his followers, and to the world, "That I am alive, that I'm kicking, I'm breathing, and I'm going to be around." Secondly, expect more attacks. He didn't say when. And I guess lastly, we don't know what other messages at this point were in those tapes, to his followers.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, I'm sorry, I guess we have to leave it there.

Thank you so much for this morning, very informative...

SHELBY: Thank you.

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


SCHIEFFER: And finally today, I have been reading a lot about World War II lately, so maybe that's why I thought of Winston Churchill the other day when another terrorist scare surfaced and I heard someone on TV say, "That's just how it's going to be from now on."

No, I thought, that's just how it is right now. Yes, we all know that the inconveniences and precautions of today's world are necessary: taking off our shoes to board an airplane, barricades around the Capitol. But we must never resign ourselves into believing that it has to be that way forever.

In May of 1940, when most Americans wanted no part of the war in Europe and most of Europe believed the Nazis were so powerful there was no alternative but a continent dominated by Germany, and no choice but to appease Hitler, this is what Winston Churchill said.

"You ask what is our policy? I will say, it is to wage war. You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory at all cost. Victory in spite of terror, victory however long and hard the road may be, for without victory, there is no survival."

We can erect barricades and we can set up surveillance cameras and all the rest. But until we eradicate terrorism, our way of life cannot survive.

If that means re-instituting the draft, so be it. If that means American troops posted in Iraq for as long as they were stationed in Germany, so be it. If that means spending billions to attack the root causes of terrorism, it will be money well spent.

The world we want for our children is the world we once knew, not the world of today. And we can promise them no less. Like Churchill, our aim must be victory.

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