FTN - 9/30/01, Part 3

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COHEN: I do. I think it's clear that this is not a vertically integrated terror company as such. This is something that is underground. It's like your cable network as such and competing networks. It has many, many veins running throughout many parts of the world.

And so it's not just one terror network vertically integrated, it's very horizontally linked, overlapping, in some ways cooperating, and it's separate and apart. So it's complicated. I think you'll see this reach to many different countries where there have, quote, "cells" or operatives who are masterminding or planning more attacks in Europe or in the United States.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Nunn, how secure are Pakistan's nuclear weapons? Is it likely that Osama bin Laden could somehow get his hand on a nuclear weapon?

NUNN: I don't think so at this juncture, but we do have to worry about Pakistan's government being destabilized. We have to listen to them. We have to also understand that there are a huge number of Taliban sympathizers in other parts of that geography, in particular in Pakistan.

I think it's very important that we understand that India and Pakistan even before September 11 already had an unstable type of nuclear relationship.

These are two countries that have fought several wars. They don't have the kind of safety mechanisms the United States and the Soviet Union developed over the years.

And perhaps this is a real opportunity for us to step up, perhaps even with the Russians and the Chinese, and help India and Pakistan put into effect some safety kind of steps so that would greatly reduce them having their own nuclear war, and so that it would greatly reduce any of those weapons or materiels leaking out to the Taliban or anyone else.

I also think it's time for us to recognize that the world situation has dramatically changed. Russia, now, and the United States, for one of the few periods in history, have an almost identical views in this respect. And we can build on that. We can join the Russians in engaging against terrorism, but also particularly against bio-terrorism. There is a huge amount of know-how in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

There is a lot of weapons and materials we need to get under control. And this is really an opportunity to greatly accelerate that effort and to use some of the Russians knowledge, particularly in the biological sphere, to develop defensive mechanisms. So we have a real opportunity here as well as a challenge.

BORGER: Tom, last week USA Today reported that there are already Special Operations units in Afghanistan. Would you be surprised if there weren't right now?

FRIEDMAN: I would be shocked if there weren't. You know, with an above-ground war, basically you fight that with tanks and planes and generals. But with the kind of underground networks that Secretary Cohen alluded to, you fight that with moles and exterminators and special forces, ad maybe even special special forces.

I share Senator Nunn's view that it's great the Russians on our side because they have a lot of capabilities in the nuclear, biological sphere that are important. I'm also glad they're on our side because the head of Russia today is the former head of the KGB. The KGB has all kinds of links to the Russian mafia, to Afghan drug dealers. And at the end of the day, I'm quite confident that, you know, they can be an enormous resource for us by playing in the kind of no-holds-barred, underground war we are going to have to play to track down these people in Afghanistan and outside of Afghanistan.

SCHIEFFER: I want to go back to something Senator Nunn was talking about. And that is the danger that these people may get ahold of some biological or chemical weapons.

You have been talking about that for many years, Senator Nunn. How likely is it that they could obtain these kinds of weapons and use them on this country?

NUNN: Well, in the biological area and the chemical area, those kind of materials are available publicly, because they're part of our commerce. The nuclear area is much more difficult, and we can make it even an order of magnitude more difficult in the nuclear area and we must.

But the hard part, Bob - and no one should say this is going to be easy for anybody to carry out a biological attack. You have to be able to weaponize it. You have to be able to put it in very small particles. You have to guard these living mechanisms against the weather elements, the heat and so forth. So it's not going to be easy.

It's not probable. It's possible. And I know there are a lot of American people thinking about it, saying let's go out and buy gas masks and so forth. I don't think so. I think what we really, as Americans, need to do is understand that our security people are doing their part now. We are alert. We are no longer complacent.

And we need to take our steps to help our economy recover. All of us can go about our normal business. All of us can make the purchases now that we planned over the next six months to a year. All of us can accelerate our trips to New York and other resorts that - you know, we can do our part here because the terrorists were really trying to bring down our economy. And we, as Americans, can help prevent that.

SCHIEFFER: Well, Secretary Cohen, are we in a position to defend against a biological or a chemical attack?

COHEN: We are not there yet. We have developed a program to try to train about 120 cities how to manage the consequence of a biological or chemical or even radiological or nuclear attack. We've got a long way to go.

And I know that Senator Nunn was very much involved in a study called Dark Winter, in terms of what would happen if you had smallpox released in the United States.

But I also want to pick up one point, that I hope that the administration will relook at the decision apprently to cancel a program that was started four years ago under the Clinton administration to help eliminate some 100 tons of plutonium. They felt this may be too expensive a program to continue. This is one area that we really can't afford to cut back on, to make sure that plutonium doesn't end in the hands of the wrong people.

NUNN: I agree completely with that.

COHEN: To come back to - on the biological and chemical, don't forget, in Iraq, we have seen that Saddam had in fact weaponized the systems with anthrax, which is one of the reasons we tried to inoculate all of our men and women in uniform against an anthrax attack.

BORGER: Tom, I want to talk to you about the evidence against Osama bin Laden in all of this. There has been some confusion about whether or not the administration is going to present a so-called white paper with the evidence. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, yes, we would. Then a day later the president of the United States seemed to say, maybe we won't.

What's happening here?

COHEN: Well, I can't tell you exactly what's happening within the administration. Obviously there is a debate about how public to go with any of this information, Gloria.

But my general feeling is you can't hit an innocent person in the al Qaeda organization, OK. And that I think it's very dangerous to start opening this up to public debate - what is evidence, what is not evidence? My evidence is that there were two World Trade Center towers with about 7,000 people inside and they're now down and they're dead. And as soon as it was over, Osama bin Laden said, "I didn't do it, but it was sure a great job." That's enough for me. So, I wouldn't really mess around here a lot with habeas corpus.

BORGER: But don't some of the allies say they need it for public consumption within their own countries such as Egypt, for example?

COHEN: I don't really care what they need. I mean, I don't care what Egypt needs, I don't care what Saudi Arabia needs. I care what the United States needs. I see what has been perpetrated against the United States right now. And I wouldn't get real fussy about the evidence.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Nunn, the country seems very unified behind the administration right now, but I'm wondering, if nothing happens for a while, if people don't feel that some progress is being made, can that unity be sustained?

NUNN: I believe it is going to be sustained. This is not like Kosovo or North Korea or Vietnam or any other place, Somalia or otherwise. This is America. We've been attacked here at home. Americans understand that.

The world may think we're not willing to make sacrifices. They're dead wrong on that. We're willing to make sacrifices, we're willing to stick together, we're going to stick together. And I do think it's going to be long-term.

In the long term, we do have to deal with other countries, though. We hav to understand that if these terrorist groups are in 40 to 60 countries, certainly we're not going to go out and invade that many countries. We are not going to be able to succeed in the long run in this whole array of challenges, particularly keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorist groups, without the cooperation of other countries.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think, Bill Cohen, that there's a danger that if people don't feel they're being asked to sacrifice, that that might cause the unity to somehow be less, not as strong as it is right now? Because I know of people who've gone to the World Trade Center and said what can I do to help, and there really was nothing for them to do, and they sent them home. Don't we have to find a way to keep everybody involved in some way?

COHEN: We do, and there are a number of ways that people can become involved.

Supporting the USO, for example, and giving comfort to the families of the men and women who are going over to fight this battle and being sent into the front lines, so to speak, over there. There are a number of ways in which we can sacrifice our comfort and our ease.

And it's an act of leadership on the behalf of the president and his administration and everyone in this country to remind ourselves of what Tom was talking about. We've been attacked. We must rally the American spirit and rout out this evil.

SCHIEFFER: I think we'll end it right there. Thanks to all of you. Thanks very much.

We're going to continue with our expanded coverage on Face the Nation. I'll have a final thought after this short break.


SCHIEFFER: Finally today, after George Washington defeated the British army, Americans were ready to give him whatever power he wanted. He could have become an American Caesar. Instead, he resigned his commission and returned home. Told of Washington's plans, King George said, "If he does that, he would be the greatest man in the world."

I mention this as I think about this idea of postponing the inauguration of New York's next mayor so Rudy Giuliani can stay in office several extra months to oversee recovery operations.

Like most Americans, I'm sure, I've come to admire Rudy Giuliani in these past weeks. He has become an inspiration for all of us, and I would vote for him for almost any office.

But before we change laws to allow elected officials to extend their terms, we should look to our history. We have never changed the rules in the middle of an election. The glory and the strength of America is that when their terms are up, our officials leave peacefully, without coaxing, without force. Our reverence for the law runs so deep that we are the only nation ever to hold an election during a civil war.

Yes, the people of New York must, and can, find a way to continue to use the talents of Rudy Giuliani. But it should be the right way - perhaps as the apponted head of a powerful task force to rebuild the city. Young America, after all, found another job to utilize the talents of General Washington.

And yes, voters should have a chance to do away with term limits - but next time, not this time. Changing the rules in the middle of an election in the election is dangerous stuff. We've never done it, and this is no time to start.

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

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