FTN - 11/4/01 - Part 1

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BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, the anthrax scare. Are more people at risk? And what about the war in Afghanistan? We'll cover it all in another expanded edition.

Public health officials are vaccinating workers, should there be an outbreak of smallpox now. We'll get the latest on that from Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, who's pushing new bioterrorism legislation.

Will American troops have to invade Afghanistan in force to find Osama bin Laden?

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, and one of the committee's ranking Republicans, Chuck Hagel, will talk about that.

We'll get the view from the Arab world from the Egyptian ambassador, Nabil Fahmy.

We'll round out the broadcast with terrorism expert Brian Jenkins, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, former national security adviser Sandy Berger, and Los Angeles Times Washington bureau chief Doyle McManus.

Gloria Borger is here, and I'll have a final word on winning in Afghanistan.

But we begin with the latest on anthrax on Face the Nation.

ANNOUNCER: Face the Nation, with Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.

And now, from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: Good morning again.

And we begin this morning with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is here in the studio with us, and Senator Ted Kennedy, who's back home in Massachusetts.

Dr. Fauci is the head of the Infectious Diseases Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Fauci, another report this morning of anthrax being found, this time at the veterans' hospital here in Washington. We're told it was found in the mailroom. Five mail workers are being given antibiotics.

Is it likely that any of the patients--and there are 200-and-some-odd patients there--likely that any of them could be exposed or infected?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, Dir., National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: Extremely unlikely. You still need to make sure the staff is aware to look for any unusual situations with regard to lesions that might crop up with regard to cutaneous anthrax. But it would be very, very unusual for that to happen.

The VA facility, as many people are aware of, is a facility in Washington that receives mail from the Brentwood facility, which we're considering the primary facility from which contamination has occurred, because the original letters that went to Senator Daschle passed through the Brentwood facility.

So finding contamination to whatever degree, very minor or what have you, in the VA system is not totally surprising. That's the reason why the officials were heads up about looking for that. Now that they've identified it, they have a few of the mailroom people on antibiotics.

But the broad hospital, the patients themselves, extraordinarily unlikely that there's any contaminatin there in the sense of their being exposed, but you still have a high state of vigilance for that.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about this woman in New Jersey who has shown up with anthrax, and then of course we have the woman in New York who died of anthrax.

FAUCI: Right.

SCHIEFFER: It appears that they had nothing to do with the post office...

FAUCI: Right.

SCHIEFFER: ... which raises a question, is there cross-contamination? In other words, could they have received a letter that was in one of the facilities where some of these anthrax letters were and somehow it got from one letter to another, and that's what caused this?

FAUCI: Yes. That certainly is conceivable. I think the New Jersey case of cutaneous anthrax and the woman at the Manhattan hospital that was inhalation anthrax are two entirely different, likely entirely different.

One, we'd have no idea really what's going on.

The woman in New Jersey, her company received mail from the--receives mail from the Hamilton facility that had also some contamination. The fact that she got cutaneous anthrax and that there was anthrax spores identified in the mail slot from which she received mail makes it likely, not definitive, but likely that there was just what you're referring to, that there was some degree of spores which got on a letter to which she had personal contact. The idea of cutaneous anthrax is one that is perfectly compatible with that.

The woman in the Manhattan hospital has inhalation anthrax with really no way of tracking where that came from, so she still is an outlier case. And the question is, is it an outlier of an already existing pattern, namely, some exposure to mail that hasn't been identified, or is she the sentinel case in a new and evolving pattern?

If the latter were true, you would expect to see other similar cases without explanation. Thank goodness we've not seen that right now. The mystery still remains, but we haven't seen something that would suggest that she was exposed by a way that had nothing to do with mail, that may be in another environmental situation.

SCHIEFFER: Well, saying that, would we expect other cases to crop up soon?

FAUCI: Exactly. If, in fact, the thing you worry about--trace her steps, was she in a subway? I mean, one of the things we're concerned about is the release of anthrax in a situation where the aerosolized components could have a wider impact.

So you look where she had been, with whom she had come into contact, and see if there's any indication that there are other cases cropping up. As of now, none. That's the good news. The bad news is that we still have a mystery of how this happened.

SCHIEFFER: And let me go back to the woman in New Jersey. If in fact she got it off a letter that just happened to be in the post office where another anthrax letter was, then what does that tell us about how many people ave been exposed or could possibly be exposed?

FAUCI: Sure. Obviously most of the letters, many of the letters that have gotten into that facility have been intercepted and have now gone to Ohio for decontamination and then back.

But still you have to be concerned that there might be some that came out, like it is possible that we've seen with this New Jersey person.

The approach to that is if you look at the number of pieces of mail that have been distributed since this, it's measured in the billions. And we have one case of this woman who possibly, maybe likely, had contamination through a secondary contamination of a letter. That means that the odds of that happening are very, very low.

From what we've been through over the past few weeks, even though it's very low, you have to stay real heads up. And that's the reason why the word is out, people who might have had mail through those facilities should look for any unusual lesions on their hand.

Whether they should be treated with antibiotics, highly unlikely that we should do that because of the relatively low risk.

SCHIEFFER: Now, let me ask you about this other thing, and that is this report this morning that we now have public health officials being vaccinated against smallpox in case there's an outbreak of smallpox.

FAUCI: Right.

SCHIEFFER: How worried should we be, what is the likelihood of a smallpox outbreak?

FAUCI: Well, I, you know, you can't put a quantitation on how worried you should be.

But what you can say, if I might, in response to your question, we must be prepared for this. We must be prepared for the use of smallpox as a bioterrorism weapon.

The CDC, what they're doing is classic, appropriate public health approach: You vaccinate what we call the first responders, the people that are going to have to go out into the field, do the examination, do the isolation, do the quarantine. You've got to get them vaccinated. So the CDC is appropriately doing that now just in case there is a smallpox attack.

At the same time, is that we're building up very rapidly our stores of vaccine so that go it if it comes to the point we will have to widely vaccinate, we will be prepared to do that.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Dr. Fauci, thank you so much.

FAUCI: You're welcome.

SCHIEFFER: And now to Hyannisport, Massachusetts, and Senator Edward Kennedy.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Senator Kennedy, let's talk some more about these smallpox vaccines that Dr. Fauci has been talking about. The health care workers are getting vaccinated. What about the rest of us? Are we moving too slowly in producing smallpox vaccines?

KENNEDY: Well, first of all, all Americans understand that we have a strategic petroleum reserve and the reason we have that in case we are going to have a national emergency. The prices of oil were going up through the rof where we are being denied petroleum.

I think we need a strategic pharmaceutical reserve. We ought to set precise times, dates, resources to make sure that we're going to be able to deal not only with the smallpox and anthrax, but for all the other likely bioterrorist threats.

This is the kind of effort and energy that we've had at other times in our history. At the start of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt said we can produce 50,000 planes in one year. Everybody said we couldn't do it. We did it.

We need that kind of determination to make sure that every single American, every single American is going to be given the kind of protection that we can give.

We have the best researchers in the world, and we ought to put them to the task to make sure that every American is going to be protected against every likely possible threat from bioterrorism.

BORGER: Well, Senator, how do you get that done? Should the federal government get in the business actually of producing these vaccines, or should it go to private pharmaceutical companies?

KENNEDY: This has to be a partnership. The fact is that most of the pharmaceutical companies don't make these kinds of vaccines or do a great deal of research in this area because it isn't really a matter of national urgency, but it is at a time of bioterrorist potential attack. And therefore, it has to be a partnership.

That can be worked out. We can take various steps to help the industry to move ahead.

But the point is, we want to protect every American. The concern that--and we ought to do it in an appropriate public health way. That means that we have to follow where the science and where the research leads us.

That's one of the reasons I'd be very hopeful that Dr. Satcher would stay on. He is the leading public health doctor in our country as the surgeon general.

He is going to leave, evidently, in January. I would hope that President Bush would invite him to stay, and I would hope that he'd would be willing to stay on.

We need the best in public health, the best in terms of research. But most of all, we need to set precise times. We have to have the resources available. And we ought to do the research, not only in anthrax, smallpox and the plague, but in the other possible areas of bioterrorist threat.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator, do you have anything or know anything to suggest that perhaps Dr. Satcher, who is the surgeon general, we should point out, is being pushed out?

KENNEDY: No. His time is up after January, and there's every indication that he would go to retire. I don't think we need on-the-job learning at this particular time. He knows the public health challenge.

And this is a public health challenge, the danger of bioterrorism, because one of the keys, as Dr. Fauci has pointed out, is early detection. And that is the public health system.

We have to develop early detection, so then we have the skillepersonnel that will be able to detect the nature of the bioterrorism, they'll be trained. And then we'll have the vaccines to be able to treat it.

So it's a combination of having the best, in terms of public health. He is the public health doctor, and he is an outstanding one. I would hope that he would be asked to stay.

BORGER: Senator, one prominent scientist was quoted last week as saying that we should protect every single building's ventilation system with an armed guard. Are we really that vulnerable?

KENNEDY: Well, there's--that has to be evaluated by the nature of the particular kind of bioterrorist incident. There are a series of different challenges that we're facing in terms of bioterrorism, and some spread through the airs, others spread through food, others spread in different other ways, in terms of communication. And we have to be able to develop the best kind of public health recommendations on the range of different kinds of likely threats.

BORGER: Well, how worried...

KENNEDY: So, we'll have to look at these in different kinds of ways, but we have to be reasonable in how we're going to be able to do this.

But we have the best individual researchers and health personnel, and we can provide enormous protections for the American citizens and we ought to be about doing it. That means investing in our public health system, it means working with the medical schools and the American Medical Society.

Senator Frist and I are working closely together on follow-on legislation, and hopefully we'll be able to get that passed in the Senate before we recess.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, let me follow up quickly on something you just said. You mentioned the food supply. Are you worried about the food supply becoming contaminated?

KENNEDY: Well, first of all, we are only inspecting about 1 percent of the food that enters the United States. The amount of food that's entering the United States has escalated dramatically over the period of recent years.

Historically, we were concerned about the pesticides, herbicides and insecticides that were being used on the food prior to coming into the United States, and that presented some public health challenges.

But now we know that there's a potential by bioterrorists, if they want to contaminate the food; that may be a way for them to do it. And that is why it is extremely important that we are going to have the adequate kinds of inspection and the work being done, in order to protect the food supply.

Secondly, there's--as the Journal of American Medical Society has pointed out, we know that if the cattle and poultry also take antibiotics, then we can build up a--in order to help them grow and develop, that there's now increasing evidence that that can pass on in the antibiotics into human beings. And therefore the new antibiotics which they use, if they have anthrax, might not be as effective. And so, this preents some public health questions as well.

We need to have the hearings, but we need to have policy. But the warning signals have been raised, and this should have our full focus and attention, as well. Secretary Thompson has identified this and spoken about it and has made some important recommendations.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator Kennedy, thank you so much.

We're going to be back in a minute with two key senators on the Foreign Relations Committee to talk about how the war is going in Afghanistan, in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: We turn now to the war overseas, and joining us from Wilmington, Delaware, is Senator Joe Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; here in the studio, one of the ranking Republicans on that committee, Chuck Hagel.

Let me put it to you, gentlemen, because I think this is the question that's going to be talked about and debated over the next coming weeks.

Is the United States, Senator Hagel, going to have to put a large force of ground troops into Afghanistan to track down these people and bring them to justice?

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, R-NE: Well, I think all the options must be on the table here, Bob. We certainly learned that over the last few years, most recent experience in the Balkans.

What we always must remember is that the tools that the president has to conduct war must never be sacrificed, any early options in or out. All the options should be there. And if we, early on, take any of those options off the table, then we hurt our cause.

SCHIEFFER: Would you support that if it became necessary?

HAGEL: Well, it depends on what we're talking about here. I don't think there is in any question in the minds of most of us that we are going to use ground forces.

We're going to have to use ground forces if we're serious about accomplishing the objectives that the president has laid out. I think they're going to have to be targeted and focused and probably special-operations types of ground forces activities.

I don't see where you're going to put a half a million men on the ground like we did in Vietnam or any of the large-scale efforts.

But I think we have to be careful of one thing here, that we should allow the president and those charged with the responsibility of conducting this war to let these options play out, consult with the Congress, as they do, as they are doing, and then let this play out a little bit. I think we run a risk here if we criticize and are too critical too early in the strategies and tactics that the president is using.

SCHIEFFER: All right, Senator Biden, what about it? Would you support it if a large force of American ground troops had to be put in there?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN, D-DE: I support whatever the Pentagon says we need to win this war. The only thing I know for certain is we cannot lose.

But to make Chuck's point, I think it's mch too premature to make the judgment of whether or not the initial strategy and tactics used by the administration are a failure. That's what you're reading a lot about and hearing a lot about these days. I know, I don't know.

I believe the administration would like two things to happen: one, to not use a significant amount of ground forces, and to win this earlier rather than later. But it may very well be that as things move on, they have to insert, or at least contemplate, a larger infusion of ground forces.

But again, I really think, Bob it's much too early. I think back to the Kosovo War and the bombing, and the second day of the bombing everyone declared it a failure. And we persisted and it worked.

Now, again, Chuck is much more experienced as a war hero and as a participant in the ground war to know whether or not that need exists. I just don't know. But so far, I think it's premature to make a judgment.

BORGER: Senator Hagel, do you have any problem with the way the government has handled these terrorist alerts?

We've had two of them so far. Some of them sending contradictory messages, as we saw this week when Governor Gray Davis of California said that there was a problem with the bridges there and the government said that wasn't a credible threat.

How do you think they're handling this?

HAGEL: I think overall they're handling it just about right. These are tough calls. These are lion calls; these are subjective calls. I think we're probably better off to, to allow the judgment of our attorney general and FBI director in these kinds of situations where, if they feel that, in fact, the best interest of our country is served by alerting the American public to a general threat, OK.

But again, they recognize as we all do, if you lay that out too many times, if you roll that out too many times and nothing happens, then of course, you know the old wolf story.

But right now I think the government is handling something that is unprecedented in the history of this country in a way that's just right.

Last thing I would point out here, we're making this up as we go, Gloria. There's no roadmap, no blueprint here as to how to handle something like this.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Senator Biden, speaking of kind of making it up as we go along--and I think everybody kind of agrees with that, because we haven't faced anything quite like this.

But one of the things, an underlying worry in all of this in Pakistan itself where people are worried about nuclear weapons . How worried should we be about the Taliban or somebody else getting ahold of the weapons that Pakistan has right now?

BIDEN: I am not too worried about that for two reasons. Musharraf seems to have control. He knows he has our availability to help if in fact he needs to maintain control.

The ability to get the kind of weapons that they have available to them--that is, the Pakistani government--and use hem is very difficult.

But should we be aware of it? Yes, we should be aware of it and we should be prepared to help the Pakistanis.

But in my discussions with the intelligence community and with the State Department, there is a high degree of confidence that Musharraf is in full control and able to maintain control of the nuclear arsenal possessed by Pakistan.

BORGER: Senator Hagel, are you worried about our intelligence on the ground in Afghanistan? Say we do send an infusion of ground troops, do you worry we'd be sending them into traps?

HAGEL: Well, that's always a risk that you face any time you are applying ground troops in war.

Now, with that said, I don't think you ever have enough intelligence. One of the criticisms, and I think it's been valid over the last few years, especially in the last couple of months, is that our human intelligence network has essentially eroded and, maybe in some cases, evaporated over the years, and that's a debate probably for another day as to why.

But the fact is, we don't have enough good human intelligence on the ground in Afghanistan. Intelligence in this kind of war is critical, like any war. But this kind of war when they're all over the place, you need good intelligence.

SCHIEFFER: Gentlemen, thank you very much.

When we come back, I'll round out this half hour with our weekly commentary.


SCHIEFFER: When people asked last week, are we winning this war, I thought back to Vietnam when people asked that a lot. What it took us a while to understand back then was that when we have to ask, we are not winning. Winning is apparent.

We'll know we're winning when Osama bin Laden is dead or behind bars and those people in the caves come out with their hands up, and when we can open a letter without wondering if it's going to kill us.

No, we're not winning, not yet anyway. Nor is this some adult version of "Are we there yet?" And the government shouldn't try to treat it that way by pacifying us with soothing syrup. We don't need to keep hearing that everybody in the government has done everything right.

What we need to know is that people are doing the best they can and those who weren't have been moved out. And that whatever the cost, we'll hang in there until things go our way.

And they will. This country is just too big, too strong, too resourceful and has always shown too much resolve for it to come out otherwise.

They say the president's pondering what to tell the country this week. How about a little of that, and then a realistic assessment of just how hard this is going to be.

Remind us, too, that this isn't Vietnam or about trying to help someone else. It is about an attack on us that left thousands of our people dead. If we keep that one fact foremost in mind, we'll eventually find a way to get this done.

Back in a moment.


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