FTN - 5/6/01

face the nation logo, 2009
BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and a debate over judges.

Does the United States need a national missile defense? Is one even feasible? And will we ever get our surveillance plane back from China? All of those are questions for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

Then we'll have a debate on how federal judges are chosen with the Republican head of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, and his Democratic counterpart, Pat Leahy of Vermont.

Gloria Borger is here, and I'll have a final word on teaching.

But first, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld on Face the Nation.

And joining us now, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in his first appearance as the Secretary of Defense.

Of course you've been on this broadcast many times over the years as Secretary of Defense in the past and also as White House Chief of Staff under President Ford.

Mr. Secretary, let me ask you first about the American plane that is still in China. We understand it's been inspected. We understand you'd like to see them fly it out of there. What happens next? Are we going to get the plane back?

DONALD RUMSFELD, Secretary of Defense: Well, I'm sure we'll get the plane back. The inspection crew has completed their preliminary inspection. They've returned to Hawaii. They're now being debriefed and talking with the manufacturer of the aircraft and discussing what kinds of repairs would be needed and how long it would take and whether or not it would be flyable after it was repaired. And I've seen the preliminary report, but I think the definitive report will probably come in sometime later this week.

SCHIEFFER: Well, have the Chinese told us that we can have the plane back yet?

RUMSFELD: Well, we haven't - indicated we could have it back?


RUMSFELD: Oh, I'm sure we'll get the plane back.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this as a follow-up question. Does it matter? I mean they've looked at it; they've examined it. It's been over there for weeks now. Does it really make any difference whether we get that aircraft back or not?

RUMSFELD: Well, certainly. It's an $80 million aircraft, and it's ours. One would think you'd want it back, and we do. And I would suspect we'll get it back. They wouldn't have allowed an inspection team to go in there if they didn't plan to return the airplane.

SCHIEFFER: But from the standpoint of secrets they may have discovered, processes they may have discovered, does that really make any difference now?

RUMSFELD: Well, the assessment team that went in was not addressing those kinds of questions. The assessment team that went in was there to look at the aircraft, to see whether or not it could be repaired sufficiently so it could be flown out.

That issue is something that I suppose once we get the aircraft we'll know precisely. Bt the crew did as good a job as you could do in taking care of security matters during a very difficult situation.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Mr. Secretary, there seems to be a lot of confusion, some mixed signals lately from this administration on foreign policy, first with the president and our policy towards Taiwan.

Last week from your own Pentagon, where there were some very mixed signals given about our relationship with the Chinese military, whether we should cut off our relationship with them or not. And you issued one directive saying we should cut it off, and then you pulled it back saying we should look at it on a case-by-case basis.

Do you believe that this relationship with the Chinese military is good for us? Do you like it?

RUMSFELD: Let me address your question in pieces. First, the president was very clear in what he said. I would hardly call that confusion. He said what he said; he meant what he said.

And the signal was taken that the United States, in fact, according to the law, intends to see that Taiwan receives the kind of weapons and supplies that are necessary so that it is not vulnerable to an attack.

Second, with respect to the confusion that you characterized it as in the Pentagon, there's no question that I made a mistake. A mistake was made. Two people met, Chris Williams and I did. He is a world-class person. He's an enormously talented person. I feel very badly for him because, to the extent there's any fault that is to be assigned, it is certainly as much mine as anyone else's, and I'm in charge.

What happened was this: We have been looking at U.S.-Chinese relationships, military to military, since I arrived. I was concerned to see whether or not they were truly reciprocal, and my impression was they were not. So, I was reviewing each one.

Then the EP-3 incident occurred, and I immediately stopped aircraft and ship from visiting China, just stopped them because it wasn't an appropriate time when they were detaining our people to send additional people in. Secretary Powell and I both limited social contacts, properly so, in my view.

This past week, Chris put out a memo suspending all interaction between the Defense Department and China. Our meeting - and he believed sincerely that was what was intended. I intended it to be on a case-by-case basis. We're now surfacing those things up, and we're looking at it.

And certainly, given the plane incident, it's not business as usual. We are reviewing all of the things we're doing.

BORGER: But do you think we get any benefit out of this military exchange program?

RUMSFELD: Well, there's no question but that there are aspects of it where we have. And those tend to be the ones that have been multinational, where a number of the countries in the region and the United States and the PRC have visited.

With respect to the bilateral pieces, I think it's been much less benficial to the United States on a net basis.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, let's turn to missile defenses, as the administration made it pretty clear this week that it believes we should have a missile defense.

Tom Daschle, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, said wait a minute here, we may be buying a lemon. We haven't built one of these things yet that seems to work.

How could you be for a program that you would deploy something before you know if it works or not? And I guess that's the key question, it seems to me.

RUMSFELD: Sure, yes. Well, the first thing we should say is that I don't think anyone's indicated they plan to deploy something that doesn't work. And that's kind of a red herring to say, why would we deploy something that doesn't work?

The second thing we should say is, anyone who expects that a research and development program is going to have a perfect test program and never have a failure doesn't understand what research and development and testing is.

The Corona program, which was an overhead satellite program, had 11 or 12 or 13 failures before it had a success. And President Eisenhower continued with it, and it saved us billions and billions of dollars.

SCHIEFFER: But it's also fair to say, is it not, that they've never had a success in this program yet? Because I remember when I came to Washington, they had just gotten through a debate. Secretary of Defense McNamara was talking about building a missile defense system. They decided not to do it, and then we just keep going administration after administration. This is not something that people just started testing last week.

RUMSFELD: Well, I can say...

SCHIEFFER: Or thinking about it.

RUMSFELD: Yes, when I arrived a couple of months ago at the Pentagon, I took a look at what had been examined and what had been tried. And in fact, none of the things that would have been outside of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, had been looked at carefully. And the reason was because they would have been outside of the treaty.

All of those things need to be looked at. We need to look at the use of sea (ph), we need to look at the use of an airborne system and a space sensor, for example. And we're going to do that.

And we have no intention of deploying something that doesn't work, but what the definition of work is terribly important. And if anyone thinks that you're going to deploy something full blown that works perfectly - I mean, if that were the case, the Wright brothers failed dozens and dozens of time before they flew the airplane. If they'd quit after the first failure, we wouldn't have airplanes.

BORGER: Mr. Secretary, our allies have been notably less than enthusiastic about this missile defense program. Would you be willing to go it alone?

RUMSFELD: Well, look that isn't going to be the case. Our allies indeed - I've just been looking at some of the eaction around the world to President Bush's speech, and I've been very pleased. I noticed what the Indians have said, the Australians have said, the British have said. And even President Putin of Russia has been very, very quiet and measured in his response.

BORGER: But the Chinese say this will start another arms race.

RUMSFELD: Well, you look at what the Chinese have said since the president's speech, and I didn't see that, indeed.

Let me say what the president said. The president gave a terrific speech and approach to this problem. He said, look, the Cold War is over. We don't worry - Russia's not an enemy. That agreement was for two adversaries. It's time to move into the 21st century. It's time to look at the numbers of nuclear weapons and reduce them.

I think it - change is not easy, and it's a big concept, and it's going to take a lot of consultation with Russia, with our allies and with China and others. But it's worth doing because it's the right thing to do. Vulnerability is not a strategy.

SCHIEFFER: But vulnerability worked during the Cold War when the Soviet Union knew that if they launched a weapon against us, we would wipe them off the face of the earth. We would eliminate their civilization. Why is that argument no longer a good argument, Mr. Secretary?

RUMSFELD: It's still fine between the United States and Russia. If you want to say that each side can destroy each other many times over in 30 minutes, fine, and it created a stable situation.

That doesn't work with Saddam Hussein or with the North Koreans or rogue countries or an accidental launch. This system that's being designed isn't going to affect Russia at all. There's no way in the world it would deal with the thousands of weapons that they have. That isn't what it's designed for. It's designed to deal with small numbers.

Because of the end of the Cold War, we've seen this proliferation of technologies. And other countries are getting weapons of mass destruction, and we can't remain vulnerable to that.

SCHIEFFER: All right, Mr. Secretary, we'll leave it there. I have a feeling we may continue this argument.


SCHIEFFER: And when we come back, we'll turn to the fight in the Senate over the president's judicial nominations in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: With us now, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy.

I want to welcome both of you to the broadcast. I would also say candidly both of you have been at each other's throats this week because of this big squabble that's developed over federal judges.

(UNKNOWN): I read about that.

SCHIEFFER: You read about that. The president is about to nominate some federal judges.

In the past, Senator Hatch, when it comes to confirming federal judges, the views of ome state senators have always been given great attention, generally speaking. If a senator from the state of Texas didn't want somebody nominated for a judgeship in the state of Texas, it just didn't happen. But now the Democrats say, the Democrats say you're changing the rules. What's happened here?

SEN ORRIN HATCH, R-UT: Well, home state senators will always be given great deference for their opinions. I adopted the Biden rule for most of the time I was chairman, and the Biden rule basically said that home state senators' viewpoints and negative blue slips would be given great substantial weight. On the other hand, they would not be dispositive.

And we operated under that principle until we found there was no consultation from the Clinton White House. And I have to say there was a conflict between two Republican senators, and the only way I could break it was to say that we have to have both blue slips back in a dispositive way.

Now, I've offered the Democrats exactly the same offer. That we will follow the Biden rule. And if there is no consultation, now that we've established what consultation is, then there will not be any movement on those judges and there won't be a hearing. And we will do exactly for them what we did the last year-and-a-half of the Clinton administration. That's without consultation.

Keep in mind we passed 377 Clinton judges through, five less than the all-time champion Ronald Reagan. There's no reason to gripe. I treated them well, and I took a lot of abuse from both sides in the process.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just explain what a blue slip is first. And that is just you send a slip to the senators and say, "Do you have a problem with this? What is it?" Unless both home state senators...

SEN PATRICK LEAHY, D-VT: According to Senator Hatch, a blue slip is no further proceedings on this nominee will be scheduled until both blue slips have been returned.

HATCH: And that involved consultation. If there was no consultation, then that applied.


HATCH: No, no. But that's the way I applied it, and you know that.

LEAHY: I don't know that at all.

HATCH: Of course you do.

SCHIEFFER: Let's get Senator Leahy's version. What's the problem?

LEAHY: First off, when I hear Senator Hatch quoting, "I want to do it the way the Democrats did" - I always worry when I hear key Republicans saying, "My biggest hero is John Kennedy or Harry Truman or Franklin Roosevelt. I want to do it their way."

HATCH: But I didn't say that.

LEAHY: Because you know that something is wrong.

In fact, of course, they returned 167 judicial nominations at the end of President Clinton's term because they had delayed so much at one time, even delayed hearings for nearly six months because of one district judge that was not going through at a Republican's request.

So let's not pretend that his it was sweetness and light with the Republicans, and now why are the Democrats wanting to do the same thing?

But understand what this is. This is not some arcane procedure. We've always had the blue slips so there can be a balancing.

The Constitution doesn't say that the president will nominate and the Senate will rubber stamp. It says it will be advise and consent.

It is done this way so that there will be a balance, so that you will not have a president go to the far left or go to the far right, that you will have a balance in the federal judiciary.

Now, when the White House comes in and says, arbitrarily, we're going to stop doing what very president since Eisenhower did, that is, have the ABA, "We're going to send up a lot of names and plan to do it with no consultation, we're going to change the blue-slip rule," it raises red flags in the minds of most Democrats that there's suddenly going to be, as the president said during his campaign, a sudden shift, a large ideological shift in the federal judiciary.

The bottom line is this: The federal courts are there for everybody, not just those of the right, not just those of the left. The federal judges are there for a lifetime. They're going to be there long after the president, long after Senator Hatch and I are gone. And it better be balanced.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you this: Does this mean that the Senate is going to come to a gridlock and that no federal judges are going to be confirmed?


LEAHY: We don't even have a federal judge pending before us. We have a couple nominees for the Justice Department. I mean, the 17 days I was chairman, we moved the attorney general through in 17 days.

In this case, though, we have an entirely different situation. We fully expected, and had understood from the chairman, that we would have this whole matter disposed of prior to votes on the deputy attorney general and the solicitor general.

Now, you take the deputy attorney general, the number-two person in the Justice Department, I'm going to vote for him. I suspect all 100 senators will.

HATCH: Well, then, why didn't you vote for him this last week when you had an opportunity?

LEAHY: Because you didn't fulfill your commitment.

HATCH: What they did is, they got up and walked right out of the meeting. He had told me that we could have that markup and that we would vote by the end of that markup.

LEAHY: That's not what I told you, Orrin, and you know it.

HATCH: Yes, it is.

LEAHY: And you've been misstating that every single thing you've gone on.


HATCH: Let me make these points.
The Constitution says the president shall be commander in chief. Let me make these. He shall nominate and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint judges.

Here's Senator's Daschle's words: "We will insist that both enators, in the case of two Democrats, or one senator in the case of a single Democrat, representing that state have the ability to sign off on that nominee, or it won't go anywhere." They want a right to have a single senator veto a presidential nominee.

Now, let me give you what Senator Leahy said: "It is our responsibility under the Constitution not to allow one senator to determine for all 100 senators whether a person will be confirmed to a federal judicial position."

Now, look, the problem here is they want to veto, they want an absolute right to veto a president's nominees. We put through 377 judges, five less than the all-time champion, Reagan, and they would have had three more than Reagan, had it not been for Democrat holds.

And let me tell you, what bothers me is, even if he was right on that, they were right on that, there was no reason to get up and walk out of the committee and not put in the deputy attorney general of the United States and the solicitor general, and give them their vote up and down. And there were two others on the list as well.

We've had four months without one confirmation other than the attorney general of the United States, and then only after a smear campaign.

LEAHY: Orrin has this wonderful switch in his back where he can turn on and make himself sound angry or polite. We saw it during his presidential race. We've seen it up on the floor of the Senate. He can either be angry or not, and I think there's a little switch that goes up and down.

The fact of the matter is...

HATCH: Now, you know better than that.

LEAHY: ... the Democrats are not asking for anything different than the Republicans insisted on during President Clinton's term.

The quote he uses, of course, is not about the blue slip. The quote is about the rolling holds, anonymous holds that would not allow a judge to come to a vote on the Senate floor after they've been through the process.

I mean, they had a lot of people they held up, Kathleen McCree Lewis, Helene White, Bonnie Campbell, because of a blue-slip thing.

The point - all we're saying is this: The same rule that applied for the Republicans should apply for the Democrats. We're not asking to appoint judges. But we are saying that the home state senators know the best about this person. They ought to have a major say in the matter.

HATCH: And they will.

LEAHY: I want to call the same rule that he insisted...

SCHIEFFER: May I intervene? I'd like to let Gloria Borger ask a question.

LEAHY: Gloria, nice to have you here.

BORGER: This has been very illuminating, but let me ask Senator Leahy, when you were chairman of the committee, did you ever let a nomination go forward that was not signed off on by both home state senators?

LEAHY: I was only there for 17 days. But in the 26 years I've been - as chairman, but the 26 years I've been on the Senate, I hav assumed the blue-slip rule would always apply unless you had both - we had a number of circuit court of appeals judges that one or both of the senators didn't return a blue slip, and they never went forward.

HATCH: No, I have not allowed where there's been two objections.

BORGER: How about one objection?

HATCH: No, one objection, we've passed 377 judges through, 60 percent had at least one Republican in the state. Had we applied their rule, less than 150 judges would have been approved.

Now, they can't point to a time...

BORGER: So wait a minute, you're saying you let these things go through with one objection? OK, well how many with one objection?

HATCH: No, what I'm saying is this is an arcane rule that really has had no real relationship to reality.

For instance, he said we left 157 judges. The fact is, when Clinton left office, they had 41 judges left on the list. When Bush left office and the Democrats controlled the committee, there were 53 left. As a matter of fact now, we have 97 vacancies, and they're balking at doing anything.

But look, even if they were right on that, and they're not - and Senator Dodd said that this morning, that there ought to be some middle ground. Even if they were right on that, why are they holding up the people's representatives in the Justice Department where everybody in this country gets represented?

I'll tell you, I really thought that was one of the most despicable acts I've seen in the whole time I've been in the U.S. Senate.

LEAHY: It's amazing, it's amazing how it's terrible if we take another week or two to do this.

HATCH: We can all point to people we didn't put through, Pat. We can all point to that.

LEAHY: But the Republicans...


SCHIEFFER: I think, let me tell you something. I think this is the place, we've let both of you have the last word here. I have to stop right here. Back in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: Finally today, watching the Senate haggle this week over how much money to set aside to improve our schools caused me to wonder, why are we so reluctant to spend money on education?

We all agree it's important. We all say our kids come first. Yet our schools are always strapped for cash.

There are probably many reasons for that, but I think I know one: We got good schools on the cheap for so long that we've forgotten, or never really understood, how much a good educational system costs.

Here's what I mean. Before women were given equal rights and equal access to jobs, there were really only two professions open to them: nursing and teaching. So the best and brightest became nurses and teachers.

The good news for the rest of us was: We got good health care and good schools, and it didn't cost much. Since they couldn't work elsewhere, nurses and teachers were willing to work for very low wages.
But when higher-salary jobs opened up for women, many women took them. And when they did, it created a crisis in nursing care and our schools got worse.

So why are we surprised?

Testing and accountability and all the things Congress and the president are debating to improve the schools are nice, but it's all small stuff, problem-solving around the edges.

Good schools are the product of good teaching. Until we pay our teachers competitive wages, our schools won't change much.

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

© MMI Viacom Internet Services Inc. All Rights Reserved