FTN - 9/16/01, Part 3

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SCHIEFFER: All right, we're going to turn now to some people who have some other perspectives on all of this. In Philadelphia this morning, Senator Joe Biden.

Senator Biden, of course, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in our studio here in Washington, Senator Richard Shelby. Senator Shelby is the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, and Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is one of the key Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee.

Chairman Biden, let's begin with you. You heard Colin Powell this morning who said, "We're going to find these terrorists. We're going to root them out." Both he and the vice president have said this morning, I believe that it was the vice president's words, "Osama bin Laden is the target of the moment."

But the secretary of State made clear this morning that the government now looks on this as something much more than just the work of one terrorist. They're looking at a whole network. Can they take out a network like this? How would they go about doing it, and what's your evaluation?

SEN JOE BIDEN, D-DE: Absolutely they can. The way to go about doing it is what they're doing. They're building a coalition. Remember, you and I, Bob, talked two days ago, after I met with the intelligence head of the Pakistani intelligence service, and the question was, would they cooperate?

They're going to cooperate. Not only are they going to cooperate, the Russians are going to cooperate. Everyone's going to cooperate for one reason, Bob: They've all figured out that national sovereignty is in jeopardy as a consequence of allowing these networks to expand, and they can only expand if they breathe the oxygen in the air that comes from the ability to hide or be involved with certain countries and so, it can be done.

And the second point is - from my perspective is - we should not elevate this SOB to a level that exceeds what the American people are prepared to deal with. We have as many Americans prepared to give their lives as they have to give lives to do damage to us, number one.

Number two, the idea that we are so vulnerable in the future that we can't handle it as Americans, I think, is bizarre. We were prepared and we have thought about and we prepared for the possibility of an all-out war with a major nuclear power before. The American people can handle this. The administration's going about it the right way.

It's going to take some time and people are going to have to choose sides, just like the Pakistanis had to.

BORGER: Senator Hagel, do you worry about destabilizing Pakistan, destabilizing moderate Arab nations and creating more terrorists?

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, R-NE: Gloria, that is a very legitimate consideration. We are not at war with the Muslim world. Islam is not about this outrageous terrorism. We need to seek their support. We are getting their support, but this has to be handled carefully because w could unintentionally destabilize much of the Muslim world in the Middle East.

I think we'll work our way long through this, but we have to be cautious, direct, clear and understand something that Secretary Powell said this morning: This is an effort that's going to require all of the dynamics of our strength - economic, intelligence, military, everything - and an international coalition, as Senator Biden said. And bringing those forces together, harnessing those forces, we can do this. And we will win. There will be no mistake about that. We will win this.

But your question, Gloria, is one of those dynamics that must be fed into the equation as to the delicateness of what we're doing here.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Shelby, you and I talked Friday night about whether this was an intelligence failure, whether the hands of the intelligence community have been tied, because of the restrictions we now have on recruiting agents.

People have compared it to, they say, "Well the FBI can go in and buy informants in the Mafia, but the Central Intelligence Agency can't do that." What's going to happen here? What are we going to do?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, R-AL: I believe that's just one aspect of what we need to do in the intelligence community, and that is, take the wraps off of the intelligence agents that are working around the world to try to get information to prevent these kind of terrorist attacks.

Starting, I believe, in 1995, the CIA starting wrapping the hands and tying the hands, by directives, of what their agents could do and who they could deal with. We have to be honest with ourselves, we have to get down to where the people are. Are they unsavory, are they down in the real dirt with people? Absolutely. Are they people you wouldn't want invite to your home? Absolutely. But we have to deal with these people to get at the bottom of a lot of information we want like terrorist cells.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think that the head of Central Intelligence, Mr. Tenet, has done a good job? I asked you about this on Friday night and you said, "Well that's up to the president." I ask you, do you think he ought to resign? Do you think he ought to resign?

SHELBY: Well, that's up to him and the president.

But I can tell you, this was a massive intelligence failure. It happened on his watch. There have been a number of successes. A lot of them have been in the public domain. But there have been a lot of failures that in the public domain, and I believe this was the biggest.

If we didn't have a clue, Bob, that this was going to go on, something's wrong. If we had a clue and overlooked it some way, than something's worse. I believe myself that we need someone head of the intelligence agencies, director of CIA - that's one agency - that has the stature of Donald Rumsfeld and the stature of Colin Powell because intelligence is at the front line. Without it, we're just waiting around fr the next attack.

BORGER: Senator Biden, when Congress talks about appropriating money on military matters it always talks about defining the mission. We need to know what the mission is. How do you see this mission and when will you consider the mission accomplished?

BIDEN: I see this mission as dealing with first things first, the priorities first. I disagree with the thrust of what Senator Shelby - the specifics of what Senator Shelby said, but not the thrust of what he said.

We have tied the hands of the intelligence community by denying them tens of millions of dollars that they should have had over the last five, six years, actually, I think up to $200 million.

We have also not done, and this is not recrimination, this is what we're going to have to do in the future. We're going to have to make sure that we do the things we know how to do relative to what the real threats are. The real threats are these kinds of threats, bio-terror threats, chemical weapons threats, and we have to focus our money and our attention on those areas. We have to change some laws as well, Gloria.

We had a terrorism bill that we introduced four years ago that allowed, for example, roving wiretaps. It allowed for taggants in certain materials. It wouldn't have effected or stopped any of this. Bt the point is we have to think more broadly about how we can infiltrate and deal well these organizations.

And the third thing I think we have to do is we have to try to change our mindset here. Our mindset is not that we have to give up our civil liberties, our mind set is we have to focus on allocating resources in the areas that we know.

For example, senators now, our ambassador to Japan, Senator Baker and Mr. Cutler came after and gave us a very thorough report on the amount of not loose nukes but loose chemical weapons all over the Soviet Union - the former Soviet Union and Russia and they want help and they need help in corralling them. They said the price tag and that was $30 billion. That's an urgent priority. They have chemical weapons locked up in sheds with padlocks on them, with not enough guards on them that have capability to do a lot more harm than was done here. And the harm here has been devastating.

So I think this is going to refocus our attention on dealing with first things first. But the most important thing the president is doing in my view is forming this international coalition not unlike what his father did in the Gulf. It's a more complicated, it's more difficult, but it was required in order for us to be able to get at these organizations and it's going to take some time.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Shelby?

SHELBY: I agree with Senator Biden on some of this. That is, I believe we have to restructure our whole intelligence system but money alone will not do it. But money will be a factor in restructuring our intelligence agency. NSA is going deaf, that's one.

NSA is the one...

SHELBY: Electronic.

SCHIEFFER: Electronic eavesdropping.

SHELBY: Absolutely and we're talking about a lot of money. I think we need to accelerate the modernization of NSA, that's one. But we've got to recruit some of the best and brightest of people to go into the CIA to become agents.

We have a rich pool of people in this country. We are a nation of diversity. We need people with the best language skills, Arabic, Farsi, Chinese, you name it. We've got to do better than we're doing. Otherwise, we're going to have another huge intelligence failure, and we'll pay for it.

SCHIEFFER: What should we be prepared for, Senator Hagel? These airline attacks using airliners as flying bombs, certainly that was effective. Should we be prepared to expect more of that or something beyond that?

HAGEL: Bob, this is an asymmetrical threat. Terrorism strikes where we are most vulnerable where we least suspect it. There is no isolation of threat here. It could come, as Senator Biden said - and we had hearings on this just a week ago - through biological, chemical, nuclear means just as we were stunned by the Tuesday means of delivering a terrible terrorist blow.

We must be prepared for everything. That means an alert nation, an alert intelligence community, military, laws, review of everything. I understand Attorney General Ashcroft is sending a package to the Congress next week to begin to look at this review that we must get at. Immediacy of the crisis we're dealing with and we must deal with that, but it is really the long term challenge that we have as the president has stated.

BIDEN: Bob, can I say one thing? I don't think we should frighten the American people, though, into thinking that there are a number of these incredibly wide-ranging, sophisticated cells and organizational structures like bin Laden has around the world. It's not like there are five or six or seven other bin Laden's. There are a lot of isolated terrorists operations that do not have the reach or capacity that this operation did.

So the likelihood of something like this happening quickly, I believe, is very, very remote. But the likelihood of the next phase of whenever this occurs whether it's a day, a week, a month or ten years is to deal with the places where we are not prepared.

For example, we don't even - we haven't even trained our first responders. Who were the people that went to the World Trade Towers? They were not the Army, they were not the Navy, they were not the Marines. They were the local fire department.

These folks have not been trained, nor have we spent the billions of dollars necessary to equip them to be able to identify a pathogen, to equip them to be able to identify whether or not there is a smallpox that has been released, to equip them to know what to do with a chemical weapon release.

Sam Nunn and I introduced a boad terrorism bill five years ago, and it was defeated because people were worried about posse comitatus. That's the law that says the military can't be involved in arrests. What happens if there is a nuclear scare? What happens to that?

So my point is that there's a lot we can do, but the American people shouldn't be sitting there thinking that there is another large, wide-ranging organization that has been able to plan simultaneously some major nuclear or biological or chemical attack. But it's something we have to be concerned about down the road and allocate our resources to it.

BORGER: Senator Hagel, should the American public expect all of this to take years?

HAGEL: Oh, I think we are in for a long-term commitment here. How many years?

None of us can answer that. But yes, the answer to your question is yes. We need to understand this is a long-term commitment that the civilized world is going to have to make.

BORDER: Senator Shelby?

SHELBY: I agree with Senator Hagel. It has to be long term. It can't be a quick response. That won't work. It's going to take a big commitment of money and resolve - resolve is it. And we've got to do it. Otherwise, we're waiting for the next attack.

SCHIEFFER: All right, gentlemen, thank you so much for bringing this perspective to us this morning.

We'll continued with our expanded coverage on Face the Nation after this short break.


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