FTN – 9/22/02

face the nation logo, 2009
BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Good morning.

And joining us now from Wilmington, Delaware, Senator Joe Biden; here in the studio, Senator Richard Shelby.

Gentlemen, let's get the obvious questions out of the way first.

Senator Biden, are we going to war with Iraq?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN, D-DE: Well, the president hasn't made that clear yet. I think we are making it clear, the president is, that if the U.N. doesn't act, he reserves the right to act and enforce the U.N. resolutions.

And my guess is he'll intend to do that, and that wouldn't be probably til sometime after the first of the year, but that's the course we're on, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: You're saying that you think that we're going to do this, in other words?

BIDEN: Well, let me put it this way. I think it depends a great deal on what happens at the U.N., not in terms of our sovereignty and us deciding to go it alone. We should reserve the right to move alone regardless of what the U.N. does. But I think it will matter to the president when and how and if he uses force, depending on what kind of support he has around the world.

For example, if the Turks don't sign on, this is a very difficult military undertaking not able to use Turkey or fly other Turkey. If the Saudis don't sign on -- it's a very -- it's not impossible, but it makes it very, very different.

And so I think the president will be working, regardless of what happens in the U.N. resolution, the president will be working feverishly and hopefully effectively during the months of November, October, November and December gathering international support for whatever effort he decides is most needed to deal with the situation in Iraq.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Shelby, if you had to make a prediction right now, do you think we'll be going into Iraq?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, R-AL: I believe we will, unless he does a total 180-degree turn. It's going to be a few months, but first, Bob, I believe that the Bush resolution's going to pass the Senate and the House by overwhelming numbers.


SHELBY: Big-time. And there are going to be a lot of Democrats support it. They might be tinkering around the edges with a resolution, but the substance of the Bush resolution, as I would call it, the resolution to deal with Iraq, is going to pass, I predict.

And what will happen in the U.N. I don't know. This could drive the U.N. But we're going to find out who are friends are in the world in the next few months.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Senator Biden, speaking of this war, there are reports today that unlike the Gulf War, Israel is now saying that it will retaliate if attacked. What can we do, or can we do anything to say to them, "No, don't"? Or is this...

BIDEN: You know, Gloria, this is the reason why how we do this and our justification for using force, if we use it, is so important. We're going to lay down a precedent here.

Dr. Kissinger, former secretary of state, is talking about how dangerous it is to annunciate the rationale for going into Iraq as a doctrine of preemption or for regime change. If we make that the premise for our action, then in fact what denies -- what pressure can we put on Israel not to do something that could make this a overall Middle East war? What pressure can we put on India not to attack Pakistan?

So the details matter here a great deal. And that's why I think that the president started this off the right way. He went to the U.N. He's made the case by the U.N. standards as to why the U.N. should act.

Now what the president should be doing, in my view, is going to the American public, making a statement to the United States public. Go on air and say, "This is why I believe we will have to act, if we do, and the rationale for it and what we're in for." Because I think we're ready to support the president, but there can be no foreign policy that succeeds without the informed consent of the American people.

The American people have no idea what the president knows, and that is he's going to have to stay in Iraq with thousands and thousands of troops -- as many as estimated, of course, as many as 75,000 troops for up to four or five years. Whether that's true or not, it's clear there's thousands of troops, billions of dollars.

And I think that the president, now having made the case at the U.N., has to begin to make the case to the American people about not only the doability of this, but the commitment we're going to be making as a nation.

And I think it's important that it be done in terms of weapons of mass destruction. That should be our international rationale for moving, if we move, not this new doctrine of preemption and this doctrine of regime change, because then what do you tell the Israelis?

SCHIEFFER: I think you bring up a very interesting point, and in fact I want to get back to that. But I want to go back to this business about Israel. Let me just ask you the other side, and I want to get both of your views on this.

Senator Shelby, the president is talking about building a coalition to go against Iraq. What's the down side of Israel going in militarily if we go into Iraq or if they're attacked?

SHELBY: Well, I think we all recognize there is a down side, that the Israelis going in it could just be a widespread war in the Middle East. And also we'd be perceived, we'd be fighting side-by-side with the Israelis against all the Arab interests, and the war could spread. I think that's some of the concerns.

But having said that, any nation has a right to defend its own interests, and Israel would be no different.

I believe Senator Biden was talking about staying in Iraq, you know, and all this. I don't believe that we will have to stay there that long. I don't believe that we're going to need that many troops. I'll leave that up to the military planners. But at the same time, we heard all those horror stories in '90 and '91. None of it came about.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me go back to Senator Biden, because I want to ask you why you believe that.

But, Senator Biden, what is the down side of Israel joining in the fight here?

BIDEN: Well, the down side is what Richard just said, which is that it becomes a Arab-Israeli war. And you would find probably every embassy in the Middle East burned to the ground before it went too far.

It would not be perceived as what it should stay on focus. What makes Saddam Hussein different is he invaded a country, he lost a war, the terms of surrender were specific requirements made and commitments made to the United Nations that he has violated. And that's what it's about now. That's what it should stay about.

And the moment that Israel, for example, strikes, and they will not do it lightly if they do it, strikes back at Iraq, what happens then to the ability of any Muslim nation to continue to support even sub rosa our efforts?

And so, again, it's a chance we may have to take. I'm not suggesting we rule that out.

And by the way, where I got those figures were from military planners who testified before my committee, a colonel whose whole job is to plan in the aftermath of a war.

And you know what's going on in Afghanistan right now, Bob. We are now changing positions. The Defense Department is saying we should expand the International Security Force because we're worried we may lose the fight.

The American people are grown-up. You tell them what we need to do, tell them the threat, and they will back the president. But we haven't told them all of the story yet.

BORGER: Senator Shelby, I know you want to talk about this for one second, so go ahead.

SHELBY: I was just going to say, in regard to what Senator Biden just said, I believe the American people are a lot smarter than some people give them credit for.

BIDEN: I agree.

SHELBY: They're a lot better informed than a lot of people give them credit for. You can see the polls in the last week. You can see the dynamic change in America toward the war since President Bush went before the United Nations. They understand what's going on. They see these hearings that we've been having in the joint committee. They're concerned about safety.

BORGER: Well, let's back up for a moment and talk about inspections before we talk about war. And last week Iraq said, "Yes, we're going to allow the weapons inspectors in." Over the weekend they said, "Well, wait a minute, we want to do it under the old resolutions. We don't want to tie it to the use of force."

What does that mean? What can we do? We want one vote, and we want to tie it to the use of force.

SHELBY: Well, I think we need to back the Bush resolution, as it's come up, the substance of it, and go on.

Saddam Hussein is going to put all kind of restrictions on any kind of inspections. He's played that game a long time. He knows how to play it. The clock is ticking. Time's on his side. He has no real intentions of ever having meaningful inspections. That is just a trick.

BORGER: Senator Biden, is the president, though, locked into some kind of inspections now, do you think?

BIDEN: No, I don't think he's locked into that. I met with Foreign Minister Ivanov with Senator Lugar and myself for an hour or so, I think it was Thursday. Ivanov and others are, the Russians are prepared to have a new resolution relating to the nature of the regime -- I mean, excuse me, the inspection regime. And so it has to be a different inspection regime than under the old resolution for it to have any, any possibility of determining what he is doing and how much he's done.

And if, in fact, the U.N. rejects that, then I think the president has every right -- and we would support his right -- to use force to enforce a genuine inspection regime that could tell us something about what he is doing.

But the details matter, Gloria. The draft resolution sent up by the president was just a draft for discussion. It sets out all the U.N. resolutions and says, "I want authority to go to war if in fact he does not live up to them."

I don't think there's a single American that's ready to go to war over whether or not Bahraini prisoners are returned. I do think Americans may be ready to go to war to dislodge weapons of mass destruction from Saddam Hussein.

So there is -- this detail matters for historical purposes, and it matters for the rationale we offer the world as to why we're moving, and we can offer a compelling rationale, in my view. And that's what we should be about doing now.

SCHIEFFER: All right, let me switch just quickly. Senator Shelby, you've been on the committee that's been investigating who knew what before 9/11.

It seems to me the most important question at this point is, could 9/11 happen again?

SHELBY: Oh, absolutely. 9/11 or something like 9/11 could happen again in this country or in -- against our interests overseas.

Brent Scowcroft said the other day, the former national security adviser to President Bush 41, he said the safest place for a terrorist anywhere in the world was in the United States of America.

SCHIEFFER: So, you're saying we have not yet put in the reforms that could prevent another 9/11. We could still be blindsided, you're saying?

SHELBY: Absolutely. To think otherwise would be folly. We've made some adjustments, but the cultures have not changed between all the intelligence agencies making up the community. I don't believe they're sharing information. There's no fusion, central place yet to do it.

The FBI agent that testified behind a screen the other day, I thought it was rather poignant. He said somebody's going to die. And what was he talking about? He wanted to go after a would-be terrorist, who was found out to be a terrorist, and there was no cooperation.

SCHIEFFER: I know that you favor going beyond this investigation, broadening it into a national commission to not only look into the intelligence communities, but all the other federal agencies concerned.

SHELBY: Absolutely.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Biden, what's your view on that? Do you think we need this national commission, and will you be for that?

BIDEN: I am, and I do, and I am. I think that Richard Shelby and his intelligence committee has done a great job, and jointly with the House, in laying the groundwork for this. Now I think it's time to expand. I think even the president agrees with that now.

But one of the things that I hope we keep in focus here, Al Qaida and terrorist organizations are a serious threat to the United States of America, but let's keep them in focus. We're not talking about 12,000 nuclear weapons aimed our way. We're not talking about 42 divisions coming through the Fulda Gap in Germany. We're talking about a serious problem that we can get our arms around. We're making some progress on it. We'll make more progress on it. And I think the culture is changing.

SCHIEFFER: Should the White House release the documents that tell us what the president knew and what he didn't know in the days and weeks before 9/11? Because so far, they haven't.

BIDEN: I am more concerned those documents are released to the appropriate committees for their look at it. I've listened to Richard talk about how he was unhappy with the cooperation from the White House in their investigation. I think that is the most appropriate for first to do that.

And I do think, though, eventually, meaning in a matter of months or a year, that we have a full report to the American people as to what happened.

But I think this is something that it matters how we do it, methodically and thoroughly. And I think the process is the committees with jurisdiction, with subpoena power continuing their efforts, and then also setting up a national commission that can go beyond this, so there's a patina of a different kind of credibility for whatever they require.

BORGER: Senator Shelby, is the White House going to cooperate the way you've asked?

SHELBY: Well, we hope so, but what we have asked for thus far, the committees, the committees of jurisdiction -- that is, the House and Senate intelligence committees have asked for information. We know a lot of that's very sensitive and highly classified, and we're not talking about sharing that with anybody at the moment. But they ought it share it with us, because if we're going to do a credible, thorough, definitive investigation, we've got to get into everything. And I think we will.

I do want to say something about a commission. I think the commission should not be limited. It should be broad. Some people were talking the other day and said it shouldn't be about intelligence. It's going to be about FAA, immigration, intelligence, everything.

They can take what we're doing now, build upon that, because we've got a great staff director in Eleanor Hill. We've got a good staff. But time is not on our side, and we don't know what we don't know.

SCHIEFFER: OK, I think we should leave it there. What we do know is we're out of time.

I want to thank both of you for being here this morning.

We'll be back here in a minute to talk to Dan Balz of The Washington Post, in a second.


SCHIEFFER: We're back now with Dan Balz of The Washington Post, our friend, one of the best political reporters in the country. And with us also, of course, another reporter who has been out on the hustings, Gloria Borger.

So we want to ask both of them, but, Dan, let me ask you first. You heard Senator Shelby saying he thinks the American people are going to be behind the president. You've been out -- where've you been? Iowa and a couple of other places. Do you think they're ready for war?

DAN BALZ, The Washington Post: I don't think they're as ready as Washington seems to think at this point. In talking to voters over the past few days, my sense is that there are a lot of reservations about this.

I think the president has fairly strong overall support; the polls would show that. But in talking to people, the things that come up are, why do we have to do this now, shouldn't we exhaust every peaceful way to try to resolve this, what's the long-term impact going to be, how long are we going to be over there.

There're just a lot of questions that people have about this that the president hasn't fully answered.

SCHIEFFER: I too totally agree with you, in the sense that I think the president still has to make the case. I think people are generally behind him. But I think this is one, this is such a major step, I think this "You got to trust us on this one" is not going to be enough. I think he still has some work to do on this front.

In fact, I think he may be able to do it. I, in fact, think it's probably going to be necessary, but I think there's still a case to be made here, Gloria. You've been out, where? In South Dakota.

BORGER: Yes. Well, and I think the big reservation that people have is they don't want to go it alone. Even though a majority of the voters in the polls show that they kind of support an action against Saddam Hussein, when you ask them if we need a multinational force or we can go unilaterally -- for example, only 13 percent of Democrats say we should go it alone.

And so everybody in the Democratic Party is very aware of this, and that's why there's so much pressure on the president and on Democrats in Congress to say, look, let's make sure that the Russians are on board in this. Let's try to get the French on board and anything in the Security Council.

SCHIEFFER: You know, it's very interesting that the presidential candidates, all the would-be Democratic presidential candidates, do seem to be falling into step behind the president. And you can just kind of go down the list.

Now, Al Gore, I understand, is going to make a speech tomorrow. Where do you think he's going to come down on this?

BALZ: Well, he gave a speech in February at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, and in that speech he said any war on terrorism has to include, a quote, unquote, "final reckoning with Saddam Hussein."

He voted for the resolution to go to war in 1991, one of the few Democrats who did at the time. He's always been pretty hawkish about this, and my guess is that he will continue to be.

I think the interesting thing will be how much he has to say about working with the international community, whether we should be prepared to go it alone if necessary.

It's been interesting to see Democrats move very quickly over the last three weeks, particularly the presidential candidates.

SCHIEFFER: Why do you think that is? Is it because they remember that vote on the Gulf War, when so many of them voted against it, and they looked pretty bad after the war went as well as it did and there were so few casualties?

BORGER: 45 Democrats. 45 Democrats voted against it. The ones who survived are still apologizing for voting against it, and they're not going to let that happen again.

But on the other hand, it's very interesting, because the base of the Democratic Party is still sort of an anti-war base. And so you have these national Democrats, who want to win these close, closely contested Senate races and House races. On the other hand, you have a Vermont Governor Howard Dean, who's running for president, he's the liberal Democrat out there, and he's going to run as an anti-war Democrat.

BALZ: I think the interesting thing is that, first of all, I think the anti-war wing of the party is smaller than it used to be. But I think the calculation that people make is, it might help you in the early stages of some of the primaries, but you can never get elected president if you take the view that you're going to oppose this resolution. So I think that's part of it.

SCHIEFFER: What impact will this have on the midterms, the congressional elections in this November?

BALZ: Bob, it's a very good question, and it's one I think is very hard to understand at this point.

Here's the calculation the Democrats have made. They originally wanted to delay this vote until after the election, because they didn't want it to influence the election. I think now they've concluded, the sooner we get this vote out of the way, the more we can switch back to the domestic agenda.

I'm not sure that's going to be an easy move back. I think that, because Iraq is so dominant in the news, that it will be competing with the Democrats for attention on domestic issues. So it's going to be a factor in these elections.

SCHIEFFER: Well, isn't it, Gloria, there was so much attention just focused on Iraq, it's hard to get people to concentrate on politics?

BORGER: And on the issues the Democrats want to talk about. Just this week, the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, came out and gave a big statement about the state of the economy and what's happening, prescription drug benefits, and all the issues the Democrats want to talk about. It was played way inside the newspapers, didn't get the play he wanted, because talk about war was out on the front pages.

SCHIEFFER: As we used to say, back there with the girdle ads.


BORGER: Right.

SCHIEFFER: I think it is a problem for them.

Both of you, thanks so much.

I'll be back with a final word in just a minute.


SCHIEFFER: Finally today, I'm shifting subjects. Reading about Dennis Kozlowski, the former CEO of Tyco, and all the loot he charged to stockholders -- $15,000 umbrella stand, $6,000 shower curtains -- made me long for the quaint old days when the Pentagon was buying $600 toilet seats.

But it made me wonder, also, why no one ever saw this stuff coming. Well, apparently one man did: William W. George, who used to run a company called Medtronics. I never heard of him, but he's my new hero.

Writing in the Rocky Mountain News the other day, he told how he once approached Kozlowski about buying one of Tyco's companies. He said part of Kozlowski's sales pitch was bragging that his companies didn't pay U.S. taxes because they were headquartered in Bermuda, and that his standard procedure when he bought a company was to fire 25 percent of the work force, and he said that helped him to pay those steep acquisition prices.

Well, George wasn't impressed. To the contrary, he severed all communications with Kozlowski because he just didn't trust him. Tyco's stock prices soared in the days after that, but to George, the lesson of the current crisis is obvious. If CEOs are picked only for their ability to drive up short-term stock prices instead of for their character, and are then given rewards for doing just that, driving up stock prices, why should we be surprised when they lack integrity?

Tyco's stock eventually sank as fast as it had soared, so George was proven right. You know, I hope someone gave him a bonus. He deserved one.

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