GUESTS: COLIN POWELL, Secretary of State; Senator JAY ROCKEFELLER, (D-W.Va.), Vice Chairman, Senate Intelligence Committee; Senator CHUCK HAGEL, (R-Neb.) Senate Intelligence Committee; DAVID BRODER, Washington Post; ROBERT NOVAK, Chicago Sun-Times; DAVID YEPSEN, Des Moines Register; MODERATOR/PANELIST: Tim Russert - NBC News
Copyright 2003 National Broadcasting Company, Inc, all rights reserved.
Please credit any quotes or excerpts from this NBC television program to “NBC News’ Meet the Press.”
MR. TIM RUSSERT: (Joined in progress) ...Republican Chuck Hagel.
Then, Howard Dean zaps his opponents...
FMR. GOV. HOWARD DEAN, (D-VT): The best my opponents can do is ask questions today that they should have asked before they supported the war.
MR. RUSSERT: ...and soars in New Hampshire polling. Dick Gephardt holding on in Iowa. With us, David Yepsen of The Des Moines Register, Robert Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times and David Broder of The Washington Post.
And in our MEET THE PRESS Minute, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, fervent anti-Communist leader, is dead. She appeared right here 45 years ago.
But first, early this morning in Baghdad, a brazen attack on the Al-Rasheed Hotel, where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying. He is safe. Also in the hotel at the time of the attack was NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski, the only American TV correspondent traveling with Wolfowitz. Mik joins us now live from Baghdad.
Jim, what happened?
MR. JIM MIKLASZEWSKI (Correspondent): Well, Tim, we’ve been traveling with Secretary Wolfowitz for the past couple of days, and we got up at about 6:00 preparing for another tough schedule ahead when, about 10 or 15 minutes later, the first round struck the hotel. Then shortly after, another and then a third, and we thought surely that must be it. But they came again and again and again. So briefly, it felt as if it would never end. Jim Long, the NBC cameraman, and I went out into the hallway, down the hall. One room was so damaged that the entire door and its frame were blown off, and inside, it was just a mass of rubble. We called into the room several times, “Is anybody in there?
Are you OK?” It was completely dark and there was water pouring down from busted water lines, and as we started to walk away, Steven Hays of Weekly Standard said, “I hear moaning.” He waded into the debris and found a seriously injured man who was then pulled out. And I’ve got to tell you, if Steven hadn’t heard the moaning, I’m not sure that he would have made it. Tim.
MR. RUSSERT: Mik, this was an attack at sunrise, a brazen attack, clearly well-planned and targeted towards a hotel where the deputy defense secretary of the United States was staying. What are American officials saying about that?
MR. MIKLASZEWSKI: Well, right now they’re not saying much of anything to try to link this in any way to Secretary Wolfowitz’s visit. But the attack, the rockets impacted, as many as 10—I counted them, 10 separate impact points on the side of the hotel, the same side of the hotel where Secretary Wolfowitz was staying. We did see him a short time later, didn’t get a chance to talk to him. He appeared to be shaken, but was clearly OK.
You know, and when-this was very interesting, Tim, because when the rocket attack stopped, we got the camera, pointed it out the window and we searched the landscape there for where the attack may have been coming from. We saw some smoke to indicate that was the origin of the attack, but there were no people. There was nobody running, nobody driving away in cars. Some soldiers were rushing to the area. And we found out later that this really was a sophisticated device. It was made to appear to look like a generator, but it had a multiple launch rocket system. And it could have been much worse, because when the U.S. military got to the scene, despite all the rockets that had hit the hotel, they found 11 rockets that failed to fire.
MR. RUSSERT: Mik, this is the third day of Secretary Wolfowitz’s trip. Yesterday you broadcast some pictures, which we’ll show you as well this morning, which showed that on the streets of Baghdad and throughout the country, many of the citizens came up, embraced him and treated him in a very positive way.
MR. MIKLASZEWSKI: That’s right. We were in Kirkuk in the north. Now, it’s no surprise that people there don’t like Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless, security was tight, and once Wolfowitz waded into that crowd in the market district there, it was clear that he didn’t need it. People there did embrace him, and Wolfowitz engaged in several conversations, not only about the economy but the ongoing threat to the country. And it was a very positive trip overall for Wolfowitz so far after two days. He was very warmly greeted just about everywhere he went.
But at each stop, you got a sense that there are serious problems that still remain here, Tim, and at each stop, whether they be civilian, whether they be members of this new Iraqi force that Wolfowitz says the U.S. has to speed up in training and fielding such a force so that the Iraqis can defend for themselves, everyone there said-and it should come as no surprise-that they still need more help here and they still need more money.
MR. RUSSERT: Mik, you take good care of yourself. Be careful.
Joining us now, the secretary of state, Colin Powell. Your reaction to this brazen attack this morning.
SEC’Y COLIN POWELL: Well, first of all, I deplore it and I regret the loss of one American life and others who were injured. I’m glad Paul Wolfowitz and Jim and the others are safe. But Jim’s report kind of says it all. There are many good things going on in Iraq. The people did embrace Paul Wolfowitz. Over the last 24 hours in Baghdad we opened one of the main bridges connecting one part of the city with another part of the city, and we’re extending the curfew so people can stay out longer.
People are on the streets, there is life returning to the city, but we still have a dangerous situation, as we saw again in this attack and other attacks where there are remnants of the old regime and some terrorists who do not want to see democracy, do not want to see the people enjoying a better life.
And so we have much work ahead of us and we will not shrink from this work. We’ll have to get the security situation under control at the same time we’re moving forward on reconstruction and at the same time we’re moving forward on creating Iraqi security forces-a new military, police forces, border patrols, militias. All of that’s going to be necessary to put down this threat.
MR. RUSSERT: Well, Mr. Secretary, if you just look at the numbers, it appears that the security situation is getting worse. General Sanchez, the ranking man on the ground for the U.S. military, said there are now 35 attacks a day. During the war, in March and April, we lost 143 Americans; since May, when the president said major combat was over, we’ve lost 208 Americans; 1,111 Americans have been wounded since May. How are we going to get control of this country from a security standpoint?
SEC’Y POWELL: Well, we’re still in the conflict. And I don’t think the president ever sought to minimize that. And there are no major battles taking place. We are in this insurgency sort of situation where people strike and run, and it’s a much more difficult security environment. As General Sanchez says, the number of incidents have been increasing. And what we need is more security throughout the country. But that security really has to come not just from American or coalition troops, but from bringing up these Iraqi forces that Paul Wolfowitz and all of us have been talking about, the kinds of forces I just touched on, a new army, police force, people who know the neighborhoods, know who shouldn’t be in a particular place, and will have better access to the kinds of human intelligence you need to deal with these sorts of threats. So it’s a challenging period that’s ahead of us, but I’m also confident in our ability to deal with it.
MR. RUSSERT: General Sanchez said that the resistance is well-organized. You heard Mik talk about the sophisticated attack this morning. Here is some video that leaders of the resistance released, proudly showing a picture of Saddam Hussein. This is how bold they are now. How can it still be at that level and here we are in October?
SEC’Y POWELL: Because there are still people who do not want to see happen what is happening, and that is that this regime really is gone. And they can hold all the pictures up they wish to of Saddam Hussein, but he is not coming back in person. Of this I am sure. And we knew this would be a challenge, and that’s why we have kept a large force present there, and that’s why we are accelerating the development of Iraqi forces.
MR. RUSSERT: But we were told prior to the war we would be greeted as liberators, and this resistance, at this level, was largely unexpected, wasn’t it?
SEC’Y POWELL: We didn’t expect it would be quite this intense this long, but Paul Wolfowitz was greeted as a liberator when he went north. I was greeted as a liberator when I went north, and in the parts of the country that I visited about a month or so ago. People are pleased, happy, throughout the country, that Saddam Hussein is gone. Do they wish to see total sovereignty restored to Iraqi leaders?
Of course they do. Do they hope the Americans will leave soon? Sure they do. But they also know that right now we are the source of security and we are the source of reconstruction efforts. And so we will get through this period and we will stand up a government that the Iraqi people can be proud of, a government that will lead this country into a future that is based in democracy and living in peace with its neighbors.
MR. RUSSERT: As you well know, the president asked Congress for $87 billion for Iraq, 20 of that
87 would be designated to reconstruction, the other for military work. Your goal was to raise $56 billion from around the world. The 20 from the United States. You went to a conference in Madrid.
You got $4 billion in grant pledges, $9 billion in credit, if you will, or loans. You’re still very short of the money necessary to reconstruct Iraq.
SEC’Y POWELL: There’s-that’s not exactly right. We did not go to Madrid where the conference was held to raise $56 billion. This is something the press has put out. And it’s not right. $56 billion is the total amount that the U.N. and other agencies, World Bank, have determined Iraq will need over a period of time. There are many ways to deal with that need; $33 billion you just touched on. What the United States is prepared to do in grants and other kinds of loans made available at Madrid. Iraq will also be a source of funds for its own reconstruction. Beginning in the year 2005, we believe, and are quite confident, the oil revenues in addition to operating the government and the country will provide $5 billion a year toward reconstruction. And so in this period through ’07 there’s at least $15 billion of oil revenue that will be added to the 48 and we’re up close to 50. Other countries have not been heard from.
And it doesn’t mean that every single item on that $56 billion list of needs will be dealt with in the first three years. So this conference in Madrid was very successful. There were people who were writing it off, only a few billion dollars would come forward as a result of the conference. The conference came together. The international community came together. And $13 billion, some grant, some loans.
World Bank and IMF were the biggest contributors, but they’re banks. They give loans, not grants.
MR. RUSSERT: The French, the Germans, the Russians, nada, nothing.
SEC’Y POWELL: They chose not to give any funds above what minimum assistance they may have provided in one form or another. I hope that as they reflect on the success of that conference and on the needs of the Iraqi people and on what their interests might be in the future, they would be more willing to make a contribution in the future.
MR. RUSSERT: The administration will not go back to Congress for any more money for reconstruction for Iraq?
SEC’Y POWELL: There are no plans whatsoever to ask for anymore supplemental money. Now, in our normal budget request for the upcoming years, there may be some sums in there for our needs in Iraq, but in terms of a big, shall we say, slug of money for reconstruction efforts, the $20 billion in the
’04 supplemental is all we’re asking for.
MR. RUSSERT: As you know, a big debate about weapons of mass destruction. They have not been found. You had talked leading up to the war about aluminum tubes that Saddam may have been using to reconstitute his nuclear program. No evidence of that. People now refer back to February of 2001, when you made a comment about Saddam and his capability, and I’m going to show it to you and give you a chance to talk about it. “Frankly [the sanctions] have worked. [Saddam] has not deployed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.” It appears you were right back then in February of 2001, and yet the American public and the world was told something much different leading up to the war, that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that were a risk to our country and the world. You thought otherwise in February of 2001.
SEC’Y POWELL: In February of 2001, take the last sentence first. He did not have significant military conventional capability to threaten his neighbors ‘cause we dealt with that in the first Gulf War. What I said in the first part of that phrase does not say he had none. I did not think he had a significant capability but he did have a capability. And everybody agreed with that assessment.
Foreign intelligence sources agreed with it. The previous administration, President Clinton and his administration agreed with it. The United Nations agreed with that assessment year after year, resolution after resolution. And the information we presented earlier this year and the presentation that I made before the United Nations on the 5th of February of this year was the best judgments that were made by the intelligence community, all members of the intelligence community of the United States coming together, and it was a judgment that was shared by a number of other countries around the world.
On the aluminum tubes, our agencies still have an open mind as to what they are. And when I made my presentation, our judgment was that they were usable for centrifuge purposes but I also noted that there was a difference of opinion on that issue. And I think as Dr. Kay finishes his work and as the Senate and the House complete their intelligence work and George Tenet finishes his own internal assessment of how they did it and what the assessment looked like, we’ll get to the truth of this.
MR. RUSSERT: If, in fact, the intelligence was wrong, we should know that and find out why.
SEC’Y POWELL: If the intelligence was wrong and people knowing it was wrong presented it as right, that is bad, but that is not what happened. I’m absolutely convinced that the assessments we were given by the intelligence community reflected their best judgment based on the information they had available to them. And before I gave my presentation on the 5th of February of this year, I sat out at the CIA with George Tenet sitting next to me and his deputy John McLaughlin on the other side of me and all of their analysts who are responsible for this material and we went through what they knew, what they believed and how they had put that information together.
MR. RUSSERT: If their best judgments were wrong, we should find out why.
SEC’Y POWELL: If their best judgments were off, let’s find out why they were off. Maybe they were on. We will know the truth to all of this in due course.
MR. RUSSERT: Your colleague at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, wrote a memo which has been leaked. And I want to refer you to it. “With respect to global terrorism, the record since September 11th seems to be: We’re having mixed results with al-Qaeda.” He goes on to say, “Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrases or schools and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?” And he went on and added this. “It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.” Now, that is a much different public presentation than we had been hearing from the Pentagon and from other administration officials about how difficult the war on terrorism, specifically Iraq, is. It is going to be costly, long, as he says, slog.
SEC’Y POWELL: The president made it clear from the very beginning that this was going to be a long, hard campaign against terrorism. If you go back to the president’s speeches after 9/11, he made it clear that it wasn’t going to be simply going after the Taliban and that would take care everything.
All we had to do was knock out the Taliban in Afghanistan. He said it was a global war against international terrorism and we had to be prepared to fight it for a long period of time. And, yes, it is expensive.
We are killing terrorists. We are rolling up huge components of the al-Qaeda organization but not all of them. And we do have to concern ourselves with the fact that there are still terrorists being recruited and trained who will come after us. And so we are in for a long, hard test of will and we have to be prepared to meet that test, we and our friends. We’re not alone in this. We have many coalition partners. The president met with many of them during his Asian trip last week. I met with many of them during my trips.
MR. RUSSERT: North Korea: The president is now saying that he’d be willing to tell the North Koreans we will not attack them militarily. We would have, in effect, diplomatic relations. We would have economic aid and assistance provided. They, in turn, would stop developing their nuclear program. Based on their previous record, how can you trust the North Koreans?
SEC’Y POWELL: We would only enter in an agreement that can be verified. The president has made it clear since the beginning of this situation last year that he had no intention of invading North Korea, no intention of attacking North Korea, and North Korea listened to these assurances and we’ve been doing diplomatic dances for the last year, and in the last several days after the president once again reaffirmed his position with the President Hu Jintao of China and other leaders in Thailand last week, the North Koreans have responded, at least through their press agency, as well as being in touch with U.S. officials last Friday, to suggest they wish to pursue the ideas that the president has put on the table. I think this is a positive development, and we’ll be discussing it with the other parties in the sixway talks.
MR. RUSSERT: Are you close to an agreement?
SEC’Y POWELL: Well, I wouldn’t-I’d never go that far with this account. But I think this is a step in the right direction, and it is acknowledgement that the president’s diplomatic policy is now starting to bear results.
MR. RUSSERT: It’s a breakthrough?
SEC’Y POWELL: I’m reluctant; I try not to hyperbolize things. We are still in for long days and nights of discussions and negotiations but I think this is a very positive step forward.
MR. RUSSERT: I think you are uniquely qualified to talk about the following. You were chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. You also now are our chief diplomat, trying to tell the world that this is not a crusade, a war against Islam. I want you to respond to this, if you would. “Over the last two years, General William “Jerry” Boykin spoke of Islamic extremists hating the United States because, ‘We’re a Christian nation,’ and added that our ‘spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.’ He said that President Bush is in the White House because ‘God put him there,’ and that ‘we in the army of God have been raised for such a time as this.’ This discussing a U.S. Army battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia, Boykin told an audience, ‘I knew my god was bigger than his. I knew that my god was a real god, and his was an idol.’”
SEC’Y POWELL: General Boykin is a man of faith, and I respect his faith, but however, as the president has said, we are not involved in a war against Islam. We are not placing our god against anyone else’s god. We are all sons and daughters of one god, and so these kinds of expressions I don’t think reflect the president’s policy, certainly do not reflect the administration’s policy.
MR. RUSSERT: Should he stay his current position?
SEC’Y POWELL: Secretary Rumsfeld is the one who will make that judgment, and I believe he has the inspector general looking into General Boykin’s statements.
MR. RUSSERT: Secretary of State Colin Powell, as always, we thank you for your views.
SEC’Y POWELL: Thank you.
MR. RUSSERT: Next up, Iraq: Was faulty intelligence used in making the case for war? Two key members of the Senate Intelligence Committee weigh in: Democrat Jay Rockefeller, Republican Chuck Hagel. They are both coming up right here on MEET THE PRESS.
MR. RUSSERT: More on Iraq with Senators Rockefeller and Hagel, plus our political Roundtable, after this brief station break.
MR. RUSSERT: We are back.
Senators, welcome. Senator Rockefeller, I’ll start with you. This brazen attack this morning, Al- Rasheed Hotel, where Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz was staying. Thirty-five attacks a day on Americans, some 1,000 injured since May 1, when major combat was supposedly over. What’s going on?
SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER, (D-WV): You had a major war, we won that. Then you go into counterterrorism. We’re doing reasonably well on that. But then the counterinsurgency is what we’re now in, and that is the fight for the hearts and the minds of people. And frankly we’re not doing particularly well. I don’t think we have enough troops there, but more importantly, I don’t think the right kinds of troops to do counterinsurgency.
Look at what the British did in Basra. They took their helmets off. They haven’t had that many incidents down there. They’ve gotten into the hearts and souls of people more. And the point about getting into hearts and souls is not just calm country, but it’s also, that’s the way you get the intelligence that leads you, for example, to Saddam Hussein, and I think it’s about time we really found him.
MR. RUSSERT: Where do we get the troops from?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I don’t know. I mean, that’s the great impossible question. We’re all over the world with our troops, but the question is if you’re talking about Iraq, and the question is “Do we have enough and are they the right kind?” I think the answer is probably no, even though they’re doing every possible thing they can.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Hagel, it’s been a very bloody month. Do you have any sense how many Americans we’ve lost or injured?—and talk about that.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, (R-NE): Well, the numbers that I was provided by the Pentagon on Friday-I had requested from Secretary Rumsfeld more than a month ago some numbers. How are we classifying those numbers? Over 900 maimed or injured. By my calculations, we’ve probably seen about 150 wounded, maimed in the last 30 days. So it’s a little foggy here. The Pentagon needs to do a better job than they are. They need to pay attention to this. The American people need to know about the costs here. We should have known more about the risks before we went in. That’s partly the Congress’ fault, in my opinion, but the fact is we are having a number of our young people maimed and wounded now, and we will continue to play it that way.
I would also add to your question regarding “Where do we get the troops?” The sooner we get the Iraqi troops their standard army revitalized, brought back onto the field, the sooner we’re going to be able to address this. There’s only one way out of Iraq for America and that is working with our allies to get the Iraqis in a position where they can defend themselves and govern themselves. And we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t have that as the primary focus.
MR. RUSSERT: You voted for the war resolution, as did Senator Rockefeller. You said since then, however, that Congress is treated like a nuisance and that we gave the president more range, more flexibility, more latitude than any president since Roosevelt and that may have been a mistake. Talk about that.
SEN. HAGEL: Well, first, I think every American understands in a time of crisis when our national security is challenged, we do move toward giving our president more control, more latitude. It certainly happened with Franklin Roosevelt in World War II. Unfortunately, it happened with Johnson during the Vietnam War as a result of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, 1964. But, at the same time, we have a constitutional responsibility to question, to probe, to work with the president. We are a partner of the president’s.
You know, Teddy Roosevelt once said that patriotism is not about standing by your president or elected officials. It’s standing by the country. And we, I think, fail our country when we don’t ask the tough questions. That’s where I think the Congress over the last two years has really fallen short of asking these tough questions. How long will-is it going to take? How many troops? How much money? Who is going to govern? Give us the plan, give us the numbers. And we allowed the administration to go into this without getting some very solid answers. This is imperfect. This is imprecise. This is complicated and difficult. We know that. But this is our watch, too. This isn’t just a presidential show.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you regret your vote?
SEN. HAGEL: No, I don’t regret my vote. I gave a speech an hour before that vote and I laid out why I was voting, and I also said at the time that we couldn’t do this alone. We were going to have to have the United Nations, we were going to have to have the allies. I think the vote was right. And, by the way, I might add one thing here, Tim, that resolution we voted on was a far different resolution than what the White House wanted us to vote on.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Rockefeller, do you regret your vote in favor of the war?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: If I had known then what I know today about the intelligence or maybe the lack of proper intelligence, if I suspected that there might have been a predetermination to go to war, regardless of the United States, United Nations Security Council, I probably would have voted differently.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you...
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: And I want to explain that.
MR. RUSSERT: Please.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I think the central question here is, frankly, “Was there a predetermination to go to war on the part of the administration led by Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and that group?” Or was there faulty intelligence? And whichever the answer is, it’s not a good answer. Because we put our soldiers in harm’s way, we’ve lost a lot of people, injured a lot of people, and my question really is: “Did we do justice by the American people by not taking a little bit longer, by not waiting longer for that national intelligence estimate, which was hurried up so quickly, and which was very much in favor of going to war?” So we haven’t-we really don’t know whether it was a wise decision to go to war or not. Right now it does not appear so.
MR. RUSSERT: You are the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in the midst of looking at this very issue of intelligence, whether it was hyped, whether it was faulty. This was a headline from Dana Priest’s story in The Washington Post. “The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is preparing a blistering report on pre-war intelligence on Iraq that is critical of CIA Director George Tenet and other intelligence officials for overstating the weapons and terrorism case against Saddam Hussein according to congressional officials. The committee staff was surprised by the amount of circumstantial evidence and single-source or disputed information used to write key intelligence documents...”
What can you tell us about that? Are you finding single-source or disputed evidence that was hyped or molded to fit a case for war?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I think there’s a possibility that was the case. We had three ex-CIA officials who had retired and, therefore, were free to speak. They indicated that a number of the analysts that were interviewed-and this was not just recently but also over the years-that they had with them officials from the CIA, the General Counsel’s Office, Congressional Liaison Office, and that served as kind of a threat to them or as an intimidation to them, would they say everything they really felt. My own view is that people-we don’t know the answer to that question yet. I mean, that release came-I was disturbed by that because we don’t have the report. It’s still being written. George Tenet and the intelligence community have asked both Pat Roberts and myself to be able to come before the Intelligence Committee and give their side of all of this, and they said that’ll take several days to do.
They deserve that chance. I think there was faulty intelligence. They went on weapons of mass destruction from no real use on nuclear weapons, which is the main cause for going to war, preemption, to reconstruction. Now, how did they move from one to the other in such a short period of time? It’s disturbing.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask each of you: Do you believe there’s a shift of emphasis from questioning whether the president hyped the intelligence to the intelligence communities for what they found and is there a political motivation for shifting the emphasis?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: It’s possible there is and there may not be, but it is happening. And you’re quite correct about that. I mean, it’s like one group wants to say, “It was the intelligence community’s fault,” and the other group wants to say, “Well, the White House was causing the intelligence community to shift their product.” I mean, the main thing is the intelligence community didn’t give the direction for the United States to go to war, and secondly, what we have to find out: Were there other sources of intelligence coming out of the Defense Department or other places that were being run separately, quite apart from the knowledge of the CIA or the State Department to get the kind of intelligence that they wanted to hear which would allow them to make a “predetermined” decision to go to war.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Hagel, you’re on the Intelligence Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, you’re a Republican, but based on everything you’ve seen and heard, do you believe that intelligence was manipulated or hyped by the administration? And, two, do you believe faulty intelligence was provided by the intelligence communities?
SEN. HAGEL: First, I don’t believe faulty intelligence was provided by the intelligence communities.
This is an imperfect process. It’s an imperfect business. It’s imprecise. It’s a matrix of many dynamics, analysis than is in place, and the ultimate outcome is a process of that analysis. Second, it is too early, in my opinion, to answer that question straight up yes or no simply because we don’t have all the pieces. Just as the vice chairman has said, we’ll get those pieces, and when we get those pieces, we’ll say it straight just as Chairman Roberts has said.
One last piece of this, Tim. We should always ensure-and the American people must understand that when you commit a nation to war, and that’s intelligence and that’s all the dynamics of the pieces of that commitment, that this is beyond partisanship, always must be, and it’s not about party loyalty either, whether you vote with the president or against a president on something as big as this. This is not just about war and intelligence today, but it’s about the consequences of where this is going to end up for America’s role, position in the world in the next 10 years. So I think that’s important that that be part of the mix on this intelligence debate.
MR. RUSSERT: Excuse me, Senator Rockefeller, front-page story in The New York Times today says that the commission looking into the events of September 11 headed by former Republican Governor Tom Kean of New Jersey not getting the information they need and may subpoena the White House. What’s your sense of that?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: My sense of it is that on the Intelligence Committee, we’re going through some of the same problems. A lot of the documents that we’ve requested from the Department of Defense, from the White House and the National Security Agency, we do not yet have.
MR. RUSSERT: Why?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: I don’t know why, but we’re going to get them one way or another. And Governor Tom Kean and his commission is obviously-you know, if they’re trying to subpoena the president’s daily brief on intelligence, you know, what he has every morning very early, I would think that would be pretty hard to get. But there’s so much interaction between the NSC, the CIA, the State Department, DOD, CIA, we have to get-and I’ve requested-from nine different speeches what led up to those speeches. And one of them frankly: Why was George Tenet sitting right behind Secretary Powell at the U.N. speech? What was his purpose for being there?
MR. RUSSERT: Didn’t Colin Powell request that?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Probably. It doesn’t take away my question.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe the White House is stonewalling in providing information to your committee and to the 9/11 commission?
SEN. HAGEL: I hope not. They have an opportunity to come forward with the requested documentation. It’s definitely in their interest, certainly in the interest of this country. Americans and our allies across the globe must have confidence in our leadership. They must trust our processes, and that certainly includes our intelligence communities’ results.
MR. RUSSERT: You said something interesting about John McCain to The New York Times the other day. And let show you and our viewers, put it on the screen. “Surely not a day goes by that Senator McCain doesn’t think ‘If I was in that situation as president, I think I could do a better job.’”
Do you think John McCain would be a better president than George Bush?
SEN. HAGEL: Well, I supported John McCain. I was co-chairman of his presidential campaign committee, and that isn’t all I said, by the way. I said some other things there, too, about McCain.
Sure, anybody who runs for president is a credible presidential candidate, as experienced and effective as John McCain, has to think every day “I would have handled this a little differently.” As to your question would it be better than George Bush, I’m not going to get into the speculation. I supported George Bush; I’ll support him again. I’m co-chairman of his campaign in Nebraska. I’ll vote for him, I’ll help him get re-elected.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Rockefeller, are there any Democrats who have the national security background to take on George Bush in 2004?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Yes, I think there are some, and I think Wesley Clark has it. I think John Kerry in the same way that Chuck Hagel has it because he’s been through some tremendous wartime...
MR. RUSSERT: You think foreign policy, national security will be a large issue?
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Yes, and I think it should be because I think the central question here is was there a predetermined decision to go to war or was it faulty intelligence, or part of both? But you cannot put-you cannot risk the lives of young Americans over bad decision-making.
MR. RUSSERT: Senators Rockefeller and Hagel, we thank you for your views.
SEN. ROCKEFELLER: Thanks, Tim.
SEN. HAGEL: Thanks, Tim.
MR. RUSSERT: Coming next, Dick Gephardt leads in the Iowa caucuses; Howard Dean leads in New Hampshire. What does that mean for the other seven Democratic presidential candidates? Our political Roundtable is next, right here on MEET THE PRESS.
MR. RUSSERT: And we are back. Welcome, all.
David Yepsen, out there in Iowa, let me start with you, show you the very latest poll on Iowa, potential attendees at the caucus less than three months away. Dick Gephardt, 22; Howard Dean, 21; John Kerry, 9; Edwards, 7; Clark, 7; Lieberman, 5.
David, is that pretty much how you see it?
MR. DAVID YEPSEN: Yes, it is, Tim. I think it’s a very close race. It’s margin-of-error stuff.
Gephardt has come up nicely here in the last few weeks of the campaign. Howard Dean took an early lead in the summer largely because of the war. But it’s a Gephardt-Dean battle right now. Senator Kerry is in a good third-place position. And the important thing to remember, Tim, is one of the highest numbers in any of these polls are the undecideds. A lot of undecided Democrats yet.
MR. RUSSERT: Have the attacks on Howard Dean by Dick Gephardt suggesting Dean’s “weakness”
on Medicare, quote-unquote, have they cut as an issue?
MR. YEPSEN: I think they have a little bit. I think Governor Dean rode the anti-war sentiment like a rocket. I mean, he rallied everybody who hates the war. And as the economy comes back as an issue in the minds of many of these Democrats, I think that the issues of Medicare, for example, start to come to the fore as well. Tim, on caucus night, about 74 percent of the people who go to the caucuses will be over age 50, a third of them will be over age 65. Medicare is a bread-and-butter issue to these voters.
MR. RUSSERT: Let me share with you, David, and David Broder and Bob Novak on our panel here in Washington, the latest New Hampshire polling results we have. First, the Zogby poll that shows Howard Dean skyrocketing to 40 percent; John Kerry, from neighboring Massachusetts, 17; Wesley Clark, 6; John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Lieberman you can see. Another poll a few days earlier had it a little tighter: Howard Dean, 25; John Kerry, 19; Clark, 11; Lieberman, 8; Gephardt, 7; Edwards, 4.
Which has now led to this: Howard Dean going on the airwaves talking about the war and talking about his opponents. Let’s watch and come back and talk about it.
DR. DEAN: A hundred and thirty thousand troops in Iraq with no end in sight and a price tag that goes up daily. And the best my opponents can do is ask questions today that they should have asked before they supported the war. I opposed the war from the start.
MR. RUSSERT: Howard Dean, David Broder, on the air about the war. Clearly he’s using that issue, but you write in this morning’s Washington Post he’s using other issues as well.
MR. DAVID BRODER: Well, he’s-New Hampshire is a culturally liberal state, and the striking thing in the poll that I was writing about is that by a 4-to-1 ratio, the people who will vote in that Democratic primary in New Hampshire favor the civil unions legislation that Governor Dean signed in Vermont. It is an extremely liberal electorate, and I think this has as much to do with cultural issues as it does with the war issues. As you pointed out last week, when we were talking a week ago, the voters in New Hampshire in the Democratic primary say that they would prefer a candidate who supported the war resolution rather than one like Governor Dean who opposed it.
MR. RUSSERT: Bob Novak, your take on Howard Dean?
MR. ROBERT NOVAK: I still believe that he is the anti-Bush, and that is why he is where he is. I don’t believe I have ever seen, even in regard to the way the Republicans felt toward Clinton, the hostility, the anger toward George W. Bush by Democratic voters, and particularly Democrats who will vote in the primaries. And I think the genius of-there’s a lot of elements of technical mastery in the Dean campaign, but the strategic concept was not on the war, not on civil unions but on being so fervently anti-Bush. Now, he is also making pains to separate himself from the other candidates. I thought these so-called negative ads were about the mildest negative ads I’ve ever seen. Hardly- doesn’t even mention his Democratic opponents by name.
MR. RUSSERT: So...
MR. BRODER: What he said in that ad, Tim, is exactly what Senator Hagel said on your program this morning. We should have asked more questions before the war.
MR. RUSSERT: He has the message that is resonating with the Democratic base. He has the money.
He outraised his opponents by 3-to-1 in the latest quarter. Does he have the momentum, Bob Novak?
Is he on the way to the nomination?
MR. NOVAK: Well, I thought he had more momentum about three weeks ago. You know, you can’t time these things exactly. I think he’s got some momentum, but I think Dick Gephardt is a player now.
He does have tremendous labor union support. If he wins-he has to win the Iowa caucuses. I asked his campaign manager the other day, “Does he have to win?,” and he says, “Well, he has to do very well.” Very well ain’t going to do it. He has to finish first.
If Gephardt finishes first in Iowa, it doesn’t knock out Dean, by any means, but it means that he is a big player. If he can win in Michigan coming up in the next round, possibly win in South Carolina where he has got-he’s going to get the support of Congressman Clyburn, the African-American congressman.
I think Gephardt is a real player.
MR. RUSSERT: David Broder, if Dick Gephardt is able to win the Iowa caucuses, Howard Dean keeps his lead, wins New Hampshire, the race begins to winnow out, it heads down South, out to the Midwest, does it become then a one-on-one race pretty much?
MR. BRODER: Not necessarily because there is also a possibility at that point that one of the others, Clark or Edwards or Lieberman, can inject himself into the race. They are, all of them, dependent on what happens in that first round where they’re not going to be that competitive. But there is a possibility for them that they could get in at that second round.
MR. RUSSERT: And you’d add John Kerry to that list as well?
MR. BRODER: I would, of course, yes.
MR. RUSSERT: David Yepsen, General Wesley Clark and Senator Joe Lieberman have decided they’re going to, in effect, take a pass on the Iowa caucuses. How is that playing out there? I can figure that one out. But will it dilute the impact of the Iowa caucus?
MR. YEPSEN: Well, it could, Tim. Certainly, if the two of them go on and win the Democratic nomination, it will end the Iowa caucuses as a significant political event. Other candidates have tried to bypass Iowa in the past. President John McCain did so. President Ernest Hollings in 1984.
President Al Gore in 1988. It’s just not a strategy that’s worked. We understand why both Senator Lieberman and General Clark have opted for this strategy. Joe Lieberman wasted time and didn’t get out here to campaign. General Clark got in late; didn’t have time. So we’ll just have to see, Tim. I think their departure just simply prolongs the inevitability or the length of the nomination process.
People are going to want to see how these two candidates perform later on in the campaign schedule.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Joe Lieberman, Bob and David, ahead in all the national polls. He was the VP nominee in 2000. And he was considered to be someone who if Al Gore didn’t run would have a leg-up on the nomination. His own home state newspaper, the Connecticut Post, wrote this on Tuesday.
“Lieberman’s trailing in the polls. His fund-raising efforts are mired in the middle of the Democratic pack of nine candidates. He’s struggling to get a foothold in the upcoming first Democratic votes in New Hampshire and Iowa. If there’s no turnaround in fortunes soon, Lieberman and his top officials should seriously consider quitting the race, returning to full-time duty in the upper chamber of Congress representing Connecticut.”
MR. NOVAK: Well, I never thought that Senator Lieberman was going to be the nominee. I thought that his apparent lead in the polls was strictly a matter of name identification. And, I think, Tim, he had a lot of support from Republicans. Republicans said he would be the best person in the race-I mean, Republican politicians. That’s always a kiss of death when people from the other party say you’re good because he is more moderate. He’s moved to the left to try to get those primary voters, but I think they see through him. He is not their kind of Democrat that they would like to vote for. I don’t think he ever was a viable candidate and I don’t believe he is a viable candidate now.
MR. RUSSERT: David.
MR. BRODER: Senator Lieberman comes out of the Democratic leadership conference, which is the same place that Gore and Clinton came out of. There’s nothing about his ideology that makes him unelectable, but he is an urban politician. And the fact that the early contests are not in states that have urban centers is really a disadvantage for him.
MR. RUSSERT: General Wesley Clark entered the race late, made a big splash when he did, soared to the top of the national polls, raised a little bit of money. And yet in Iowa and New Hampshire, he’s still trailing significantly. What is the future of his candidacy if he doesn’t do well in at least New Hampshire?
MR. BRODER: I think he almost has to find his way to third place in New Hampshire if he’s going to be a player when the contest moves south and west. I just don’t know what his potential is. He’s having a struggle at this point both with his voice and with his message. But the thing that strikes me, Tim, I was out in Wisconsin talking to Democratic voters, they have no idea in Wisconsin who these people are. This race is still unformed and largely to be determined.
MR. NOVAK: You know, the Park Avenue liberals who thought that Wesley Clark was a gift from the almighty, a general, good-looking, smart general who was a liberal, but they’ve been very disappointed. He turns out to be a not very good candidate and he doesn’t have very good handlers.
Now, besides getting out of the Iowa race, he said this week trying to lower expectations that he’s standing fourth in New Hampshire. If he is fourth in Iowa or a poor third, I think he is absolutely finished. I think he always was a long shot. I think he’s even a longer shot now.
MR. RUSSERT: David Yepsen, did General Wesley Clark have more potential in Iowa than he’s giving himself credit for? Could an anti-war general have played out there in the caucuses?
MR. YEPSEN: He could have, Tim, and there were certainly a lot of people who were interested in his candidacy, but he just didn’t want to commit the time here. I talked to Senator Harkin who said that a candidate even at this late stage could come in here and still do well. He’d have to spend probably 30 days. Well, a candidate just doesn’t have that much time in the 100-some days between now and the caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. So, yes, General Clark could have done something but he got in late. And I think Howard Dean has really captured the energy of the anti-war movement.
MR. RUSSERT: Take a few seconds on Gephardt vs. Dean in Iowa-Dean,the anti-war candidate.
Gephardt voted to support the president on the war. He says that he would have handled things differently but he still stands by that vote. How is that going to break down in terms of Democrats in Iowa who will get up and go to those caucuses?
MR. YEPSEN: Well, that’s the $50,000 question, Tim. Howard Dean is attracting big crowds, lots of new people at his events. If he can get these people to show up on January 19, he will win the Iowa caucuses, hurt Gephardt, get a bump in the polls in New Hampshire and perhaps dispatch Kerry there.
That’s certainly what the Dean people are hoping, but Congressman Gephardt has a lot of support from the labor movement, as we’ve mentioned, and those are the people who traditionally show up. So at this point in the game, with this many undecided voters, I wouldn’t want to hazard a prediction, but that’s the battle sort of between the traditional Democrats and some of the new Democrats energized by the opposition to the war.
MR. RUSSERT: David, here we are talking about the Iowa caucuses. They are less than three months away. Those contests are fully engaged. We may have a Democratic nominee selected long before the vast majority of American voters know who he is.
MR. BRODER: That’s right, and that’s by design. Terry McAuliffe wanted to move the schedule forward because he thinks that President Bush is going to have all that money the Democrats better have a nominee and begin to fund-raise for that nominee.
MR. NOVAK: And a lot of people then that I talked to in the Democratic Party thought that Chairman McAuliffe made a terrible mistake on that, it’s too fast and they may rue the day.
MR. RUSSERT: To be continued. Thank you, all.
Coming next, our MEET THE PRESS Minute. Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, wife of the Nationalist Chinese president, 45 years ago right here on MEET THE PRESS.
MR. RUSSERT: And we are back. In 1949 the Communist Party took over what was referred to as mainland China. Madame Chiang Kai-Shek fled to Taiwan where she attempted to lead the resistance.
She appeared on MEET THE PRESS September 21, 1958, when she was 60 years old.
(Videotape, September 21, 1958):
MADAME CHIANG KAI-SHEK: They thought that the communists meant what they said and especially the peasants, the farmers, the agrarian reformers, if you remember. Since then they have learned to their sorrow that everything the Communists ever told them about bettering the way of life was a lie, and now they’re realizing it and they do not like the Communists and they want to get rid of the Communists, and therefore because of their suffering, they are crying out to us.
MR. RUSSERT: On Thursday, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek died at the age of 105. She was living in New York City. And to this day, as the world well knows, China remains a Communist state.
We’ll be right back.
MR. RUSSERT: That’s all for today. We’ll be back next week. If it’s Sunday, it’s MEET THE PRESS.
Bills and Chiefs: get ‘em.
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