updated 11/19/2004 11:29:21 AM ET 2004-11-19T16:29:21

Guest: Paul Levinson, Bob Kohn, Frank Gaffney, Terry Jeffrey, Lanny Davis

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  So I tell you, we can continue building our bridge to tomorrow.  It will require some red American line drawing and some blue American barrier breaking.  But we can do it together. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST:  Former presidents, celebrities and top Clinton administration officials all descended on Little Rock, Arkansas, today for the opening of the Clinton Presidential Library.  The former president was praised from both sides of the aisle.  Will history be as kind? 

Then, is Iran developing a missile system to deliver nuclear warheads?  Secretary of State Colin Powell thinks so.  And if Powell is right, what do we do about it? 

And, were the CIA and “The New York Times” in collusion to oust President Bush before the last election?  We will lay out the evidence for you tonight. 

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

BUCHANAN:  I‘m Pat Buchanan, in for Joe. 

Tonight, the Clinton legacy.  Ex-presidents Jimmy Carter and George Herbert Walker Bush and President Bush himself all today celebrated the life and the career of William Jefferson Clinton at a rainy dedication of his presidential library in Little Rock.  Nary a negative word was heard about the most controversial politician since Richard Nixon, the last president before Clinton to face impeachment. 

Tonight, what is the Clinton legacy?  Was he a failed president, a flawed man with a splendid record of achievement, or the victim of Republican right-wing politics of personal destruction personified by Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich? 

Tonight, we take up these questions with Lanny Davis, former adviser and loyal friend to Bill Clinton, and Terry Jeffrey, editor of “Human Events.”

Lanny, thanks for joining us down there in Little Rock.  A great day? 

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL:  A rainy, great day, but very moving day, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  I think so.  And I listened today.  And it was sort of a day of unity.  We will take care of that a little later, Lanny.

But, seriously, Clare Boothe Luce once said that every great man only has a single sentence in the history books.  Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and reunited the Union.  Ronald Reagan won the Cold War.  Give me the one sentence in the history books that will summarize William Jefferson Clinton. 

DAVIS:  Prosperity in the economy and most importantly respect in the world community. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  What was his single greatest achievement, Lanny? 

DAVIS:  You know, I have been thinking lately that the single greatest achievement is the respect and really love that he achieved worldwide among both Third World people, as well as throughout Western Europe.

And the scenes that I saw last night at the library in a brief movie recounting his career as president, we all forget that in the days of Bill Clinton, when you said the word American in any part of Europe, in any part of Asia, and especially in the Third World, America was a land of promise, a land that people admired and respected, and, indeed, the president of the United States, a person that was loved throughout the world.

And of course, that is not the case, unfortunately, rightly or wrongly, any longer. 

BUCHANAN:  Terry Jeffrey, give me the single sentence of Bill Clinton that will summarize Clinton if you had to force it into a single sentence. 

TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR, “HUMAN EVENTS”:  He was impeached. 

BUCHANAN:  That‘s it? 

JEFFREY:  Yes.  That‘s his legacy.  Yes, sure.  Reagan won the Cold War.  Bill Clinton was impeached. 

That‘s what history will most remember him for, Pat.  I think there‘s a great many other things that people who delve into it will remember.  I think his greatest accomplishment, quite frankly, is, he made it possible for Republicans to win control of the House of Representatives for the first time in about 40 years. 

BUCHANAN:  Forty years. 

JEFFREY:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  Let me just—Lanny, the former president did use the occasion to lament the fact that he didn‘t achieve real peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and to offer President Bush pointed encouragement. 

Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON:  I tried so hard for peace in the Middle East.  I did all I could, but when we had seven years of progress toward peace, there was one whole year when for the first time in the history of the state of Israel, not one person died of a terrorist attack, when the Palestinians began to believe they could have a shared future.

And so, Mr. President, again, I say, I hope you get to cross over into the promised land of Middle East peace.  We have a good opportunity, and we are all praying for you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN:  Lanny Davis, I happen to think that that was one of Clinton‘s finest efforts, what he tried to put together in the Middle East, and I know at the end of his presidency, he was pushing very, very hard.  People said he was looking for a Nobel Peace Prize.  It would not have bothered me if he had gotten two of them if he could have gotten something done.

But he is clearly here, I think, pressing or admonishing President Bush to reengage in the Middle East, is he not? 

DAVIS:  Yes.

And maybe I could suggest even more than that.  Personally, I can‘t say that he had this in his mind, but it certainly was in my mind, that what better person to be an emissary to bring the new leadership of the Palestinian organization with the government of Israel together, as a special personal emissary of President Bush and Secretary Rice after she is confirmed, what better individual than Bill Clinton to serve as that emissary to try to bring peace together in the Middle East?  That would be a great gesture for world peace by President Bush. 

BUCHANAN:  Terry Jeffrey, what are your thoughts on—it did seem from that that President Clinton was gently saying, Mr. President, push on in the Middle East.  Don‘t let it drop.  There still is an opportunity that we can do it. 

JEFFREY:  Well, I think President Bush would like to do that, Pat. 

Of course, they are waiting to see if they have a Palestinian leader with whom they can do that.  I agree that I think Bill Clinton came very close to making an historic deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  He got the Israeli Prime Minister Barak to actually offer to surrender land, including part of Jerusalem, that no one before that could have imagined an Israeli leader doing it. 

It wasn‘t Clinton‘s fault that it failed.  It was Yasser Arafat‘s fault that it failed.  And that will be Yasser Arafat‘s legacy, that he failed to bring about the creation of a Palestinian state, because, when the Israelis offered him an unimaginable deal at the behest of Bill Clinton, the president of the United States, he didn‘t do it. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, let‘s take a quick look now at the former president‘s economic legacy.  This is what you mentioned earlier, Lanny. 

DAVIS:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  As president, he presided over the longest boom in U.S.  history.  He led the country to its first budget surpluses in 30 years.  He helped create more than 22 million new jobs, and the country experienced the lowest poverty rate in 20 years and the highest homeownership in American history. 

Now, Lanny, that is—there‘s no doubt that‘s an impressive economic record.  It rivals Ronald Reagan.  Some people believe that the Reagan-Clinton years were part of the same long, if you will, 17-to-20-year boom.  Do you think that‘s his greatest achievement, domestically? 

DAVIS:  Yes, I do, but I think, to be fair, the Republicans in the Congress worked with President Clinton to achieve that economy.

But the first two years of his administration, where he did suffer politically because of the health care issue, people forget that not one Republican voted for the balanced budget bill that passed in 1993, where, for the very first time, the deficit was reduced before the Republicans took over the Congress.

And I think the Democrats became the party of a balanced budget, where the Republicans today, even under President Bush, have become the party of deficit spending, troubling a lot of legitimate conservatives.  Maybe even Terry is troubled by the profligate spending and deficits of a Republican administration. 

BUCHANAN:  Buchanan is troubled.

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

Well, let me—all right, Terry, let me ask you that. 

DAVIS:  Even you, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  Listen, you didn‘t read my book, Lanny.  You would have spotted that. 

DAVIS:  I did. 

BUCHANAN:  Terry, as a serious matter, I think what Ronald Reagan did was momentous.  And, of course, it took him until 1983 until the pickup came, the taxes took effect.  But you did then have something like about 17 years until the stock market crashed, sort of, really good years.  You had a couple of mild recessions, but tremendous years. 

And don‘t you got to give Clinton credit for it?  I mean, 22 million jobs—we used to say, 20 million under Ronald Reagan, that‘s phenomenal.  And they say 22. 

JEFFREY:  I do believe you have to give him some credit for it, Pat. 

Part of it is luck and part of it is the fact that he did get that

Republican Congress.  Lanny talked about Hillary Clinton‘s national health care plan, which would have taken 15 percent of the U.S. economy and shoved it under the control of the federal government. 

Bill Clinton was lucky that Republicans were able to defeat that.  He was lucky a Republican Congress came in that thwarted his effort to expand spending, forced him to do welfare reform right before the 1996 election, which his base, Jesse Jackson, rejected and criticized pretty thoroughly at the Democratic Convention that year.

But he does deserve credit in that he came and he met the Republicans on some intelligent fiscal policies in the 1990s, including some tax cuts, at the end of that decade that helped keep the economic growth that Reagan started moving. 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  Could I just jump in real quickly? 

BUCHANAN:  I want to ask you another quick question, though, OK, Lanny?

DAVIS:  OK.  Sure.

BUCHANAN:  It‘s this.

Look, there‘s no doubt that Bill Clinton is a successful politician his entire career.  He won the presidency twice.  That‘s very rare in the 20th century for a Democrat.  But, at the same time, as Terry says, in his first off-year election, he lost control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years, and under him, the both houses of Congress remained under Republican control for the first time I think since the 1920s.

So, in effect, he is a personal success as a political figure, but as a party success, he failed. 

DAVIS:  No.  There‘s a serious issue about what happened to us and still is happening to us in a country with a conservative, I think mostly cultural conservative, drift you identified a long time ago, Pat, that lost us both houses of the Congress, notwithstanding what I think is Bill Clinton‘s greatest political legacy.

And that is, he made the Democratic Party competitive for the first time for the White House and won two terms by repositioning our party as a centrist party.  Terry is correct.  He took on the liberal base of our party, including myself, by the way, on the welfare issue by saying we have to end welfare as we know it.

And don‘t forget, Terry, he took on organized labor on NAFTA by coming out in favor of free trade.  Combining that with a balanced budget, which was a traditional Republican program in the ‘50s and ‘60s, when I grew up, Bill Clinton repositioned us to be competitive in the border states and in the South.  And that‘s where I think we have to go back to, that formula that Bill Clinton gave the Democratic Party. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.  All right.  Now, there‘s some truth, it seems to me, what Lanny says.  I think Carter was a bit of an accidental president because he beat the accidental president, Watergate, the pardon, all those things, although Carter was in the South and won all those Southern states.  I think he won 10 in ‘76. 

But isn‘t it true that Clinton did see the Dukakis, Mondale, Carter, 1980 routine and said, look, this ain‘t working and we got to try something new?  And he did, and he did get in the White House, and it is true that the culture was moving in our direction.

JEFFREY:  Without a doubt, Pat.  Bill Clinton was an extremely shrewd politician, brilliant man in that regard.  I believe, as a conservative, that the way he tried to position himself in 1992 was largely fraudulent. 

He tried to mute the Republicans on cultural issues.  George Herbert Walker Bush didn‘t really want to run on those issues.  I think you gave him opening to do it, quite frankly, at the Houston convention that year.  We don‘t know how much Ross Perot‘s vote affected Clinton‘s ability to rise.  A lot of that might have gone back to Bush in the end.  We don‘t know.

BUCHANAN:  You know, Clinton did say in memoirs that Bush would have been better off in ‘92 if he had gone with the culture issues, because it‘s the economy, stupid, was his issue. 

JEFFREY:  Yes. 

Yes, I think—I honestly believe, if they had taken the themes that you pounded Clinton with in Houston in August of 1992 and ran through November with them, Clinton would not be president today.  It also would have pulled people out of Ross Perot‘s camp.  I don‘t think Perot would have gotten the traction he did in the end had Bush run that kind of campaign. 

BUCHANAN:  OK, gentlemen, stand by, because, coming up, we will talk -well, I don‘t think we are going to talk to him now.  I don‘t think we have got the gentleman we expected to have. 

Coming up, we are going to talk about what we got to talk about, and that‘s the Clinton scandals. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Will scandal permanently mar Clinton‘s legacy?  We will talk more about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns..  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Welcome back. 

Earlier tonight, I had a chance to talk to Michael Isikoff of “Newsweek,” the reporter credited with breaking the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  I asked him why he thought President Clinton would take such a dangerous risk while president. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, “NEWSWEEK”:  It was one of the most puzzling questions not just to outsiders, but to many of those closest to him, who had high hopes for his presidency.  And the refrain from so many Clinton supporters in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal always was, how could he be so stupid?  But that also didn‘t shatter their faith in him, because of his political leadership on many other fronts. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN:  Terry Jeffrey and Lanny Davis are still with me. 

And I want to take up this question, Lanny, that, how will these scandals factor into Clinton‘s legacy?  Let‘s take a look at the most infamous, of course.  OK.  Let me—well, we don‘t have the bite there, but it‘s the famous bite. 

DAVIS:  I‘m so sorry. 

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  I have never had...

(LAUGHTER)

BUCHANAN:  You are sorry it didn‘t work, right, Lanny? 

DAVIS:  I‘m so sorry. 

BUCHANAN:  OK. 

But let‘s talk about the exhibits the president got as a former president, exhibits he approved.  Is he trying to rewrite history?  Now, I want to take a look at some of the quotes that are in his library, his presidential library. 

Quote: “The impeachment battle was not about the Constitution or the rule of law, but was instead a quest for power that the president‘s opponents could not win at the ballot box.” 

And another says this: “In this combustible climate, the Congressional Republicans took the politics of personal destruction to a new level, using the subpoena power to investigate Democrats, attack them in a number of public hearings, and attempt to change popular public policies by discrediting the president and members of his administration personally.”

OK, Lanny Davis, is that all there was to it? 

DAVIS:  It‘s a fact that the only issue that ever resulted in a specific assertion against President Clinton that stuck and involved actual conduct related to private behavior.  Whitewater, Ken Starr, zero.  Filegate, so-called, Ken Starr, zero.  Webster Hubbell, Ken Starr, zero. 

The travel office, zero. 

Every time in elementary school, we were all taught that you take a large number and you multiply it times zero, you get zero. 

And to my friend Terry, let me remind you that when you stop at the word impeachment, that‘s like somebody saying, you know, he was indicted, and then you are silent.  And you forget to say, by the way, he was acquitted.  He was acquitted because a 51-vote majority in the Senate could not be obtained after 55 senators wouldn‘t vote a majority in favor of what Terry calls an impeachment, because it was about politics and a partisan vote in the House of Representatives, just as the 1868 radical Republicans will be denounced in American history for a partisan—quote—

“indictment impeachment vote” against Andrew Johnson. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  I agree with you about Andrew Johnson and the Tenure of Office Act and his justified firing of Stanton as secretary of war. 

But, Terry, there is more to that than this, and Bill Clinton knows it, doesn‘t he? 

JEFFREY:  Yes. 

First of all, I don‘t think House Republicans wanted to impeach Bill Clinton, Pat.  I think particularly the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee felt they had a duty.  And today—and I know Lanny and I argued about this, I think, back in 1998.

But today, I just pulled up from Facts on File, April 15, 1999, the contempt ruling from U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright, who I think Bill Clinton taught at the University of Arkansas Law School.  And she said, “The record demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the president responded to plaintiff‘s questions by giving false, misleading, and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process.” 

She goes on to say, “In that regard, there is simply no escaping the fact that the president deliberately violated this court‘s discovery orders and thereby undermined the integrity of the judicial system.”  And she goes on to explain what that means. 

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY:  And the question she had as a judge was the same one that the Judiciary Committee had and the House Republicans had.  Can you watch a president in clear evidence obstruct the process in a federal court as president of the United States and then say, this is not even triable as a high crime and misdemeanor under the Constitution of the United States?  And you cannot ignore those facts.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Lanny, let me take that to you this way. 

DAVIS:  Take a breath.

BUCHANAN:  Look—all right, I don‘t need a breath.  Terry has been talking.

But, look, clearly, what he was in effect impeached or indicted for was lying under oath to a federal grand jury. 

DAVIS:  No, no, no, no. 

BUCHANAN:  And obstruction of justice. 

DAVIS:  No, no. 

BUCHANAN:  And that‘s what he was—that is what they impeached him for. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  They sent it to the Senate. 

On one issue, they voted—only 45 senators voted to convict.  In the other, I believe only 50 senators voted to convict.  They needed two-thirds.  You are correct.  He was not convicted.  But he himself, Bill Clinton, does he not feel that he has got to find some way in effect to turn this around in the history books? 

DAVIS:  Can we get factual here? 

Good try, Terry, but, No. 1, it was not lying to a grand jury, Pat.  I think you just misspoke.  You know that it was in a deposition in a case that was thrown out, so meritless that the Paula Jones civil case in that deposition, where the judge was talking about a false statement under oath, was a civil deposition in a case that was thrown out as being meritless. 

And let me also remind you, the reason the American people forgave that false statement under oath is that it was about hiding a sexual relationship.  And every American who knows that particular type of falsehood gave a pass to it.

BUCHANAN:  Right. 

DAVIS:  Because they consider that different than other types of lies that are under oath.

And, finally, let me remind you, that, notwithstanding everything Terry just said and that you just said, the day Bill Clinton left office, he had a 65 percent approval rating, because the American people agree with me that private behavior is a different subject. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  OK. 

Terry Jeffrey, he may be right about 65 percent.  I‘m not sure, but I don‘t doubt it.

DAVIS:  That was his approval rating.

BUCHANAN:  But it‘s 46 percent now.  My understanding is, his approval rating has fallen since he has left office.  Why is that? 

JEFFREY:  Well, I think, Pat, during the emotional debates at the time, people were polarized along partisan lines.  They didn‘t want to see the president of their party impeached.  Some people wanted to see a president of the other party impeached because they didn‘t like him for his policies or whatever. 

I think, as time passes and people become dispassionate about it, I think the facts, like the ones I read from Judge Susan Webber Wright, come forward. 

BUCHANAN:  Right.  

JEFFREY:  Now,, just remember, this is a president...

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me agree with you on that, but let me ask you another question.  Then I‘ll go to Lanny.

JEFFREY:  Yes. 

BUCHANAN:  You know, I remember, in 1993, I think it was Trooper-gate, when “The American Spectator,” I guess.  Is that...

JEFFREY:  Right.   

BUCHANAN:  Yes. 

They came out with all this lurid detail of what Clinton had been up to, chasing around, running around Arkansas.  And I wrote a column, saying, what are we doing here?  Maybe he shouldn‘t have been doing all that stuff.  But when is journalism—when did—I know what they did to John Tower, who was a friend of mine and who also had been fooling around, you know, and had been misbehaving in town. 

JEFFREY:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  They destroyed him on it. 

Is there not—was there not from the beginning some conservatives said, we are going to take this guy down? 

JEFFREY:  Well, yes, I think I agree with you about that story, the Trooper-gate story, Pat. 

And that‘s why I think the House Republicans and the House Judiciary Committee Republicans, this wasn‘t something they wanted to do and it wasn‘t something they started. 

BUCHANAN:  Right.  

BUCHANAN:  They did not initially go after him on Trooper-gate, right.

JEFFREY:  It was something that was put on their doorstep.  And it may have begun with that story in this pursuit of Bill Clinton.

BUCHANAN:  Right.  

JEFFREY:  But it then went into a court case where a young lady who had, in fact, been an employee of the state of Arkansas, did, in fact, sue the president of the United States.  The Supreme Court said she had the right to do that. 

In the process of that, he did what Susan Webber Wright said he did. 

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

JEFFREY:  Now, that kicked over the process...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Exactly. 

All right, now, Lanny Davis, let me ask you.  Look, nobody went after Clinton other than in the media and denouncing him for all the nonsense going on back there in Arkansas.  But Janet Reno appointed all—the independent counsel or the special prosecutors.  They investigate.  They roll this monster up to the Hill.  The Republicans are told, in effect, that lies have been—this is a civil suit, and he is lying and he‘s suborning perjury.

And so they had to make the call.  And are you saying—do you believe that all those Republicans just said, well, let‘s just get Clinton? 

DAVIS:  No. 

BUCHANAN:  Or do you think they said, look, we don‘t want this distasteful duty, but it‘s been given to us, and it may not be popular, and we got to do it?

DAVIS:  Look, first of all, you two guys are a couple of intellectually honest conservatives who are willing to try to apply consistent standards. 

Pat, when you were at the Nixon White House, you defended Richard

Nixon, and, to some extent, you were right about the excesses.  And it took

20 years for President Clinton and other former presidents at the Nixon

funeral to really talk about the greatness of Richard Nixon.  It‘s only

four years and—maybe five—since Bill Clinton went through this whole

mess on Monica Lewinsky, and yet his rehabilitation in the public opinion -

·         and I don‘t know what data you are looking at—but I certainly know—well, I certainly believe what you saw today demonstrated in the words of President Bush I, in the words of Jimmy Carter, and especially in the words of President Bush today, that Bill Clinton is extremely well regarded both as a president, as a world leader, as an innovative leader, and as a human being. 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  And today‘s testimony is that the Monica Lewinsky stuff is over. 

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me ask you a quick question. 

Clearly, he wants to be rehabilitated.  But looking down the road ahead...

DAVIS:  No.

BUCHANAN:  All right, let‘s not use that word. 

DAVIS:  Don‘t use it.

BUCHANAN:  He would like to be restored to his former—the way he was held by the American people.  What do you think—quickly, in about 15 or 20 seconds...

DAVIS:  OK.

BUCHANAN:  ... is ahead for him that will enable him to do it?  Jimmy Carter has done the Habitat For Humanity.  Richard Nixon must have written half-a-dozen or close to a dozen books on foreign policy.  What is Bill Clinton going to do? 

DAVIS:  No. 1, HIV and AIDS and reaching out to people who are hurting around the world from that horrible disease.

BUCHANAN:  All right. 

DAVIS:  And No. 2, again, I hope the Middle East as an emissary to bring the parties together.  There‘s nobody better than Bill Clinton.

BUCHANAN:  All right, let me take that.  What about President Bush—if Clinton would take it, what about him naming Clinton to that? 

JEFFREY:  I think the problem is that you can‘t trust him, Pat.

I think, if you could trust him, you could do it.  In a position like that, you have to trust this guy.  Let me say this.  Ronald Reagan, I think, was the greatest president of the 20th century.  It came down to character and conviction and depth that that man showed.  I think Bill Clinton‘s all along—and it‘s going to be the problem in his rehabilitation—is an apparent lack of depth.

And I think that‘s what people see in Clinton is—he‘s a very smart guy.  He‘s a very fluent guy, an excellent speaker, lacks depth of character. 

DAVIS:  Boy, two different perspectives on that last comment.  I‘m sure you‘ve...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  All right, Lanny, we know you have a different perspective.  We want to thank you.  Enjoy the parties tonight, Lanny.  Thanks for coming with us. 

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS:  Thank you, Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Terry Jeffrey, thanks for joining me tonight.

Coming up, Iran says it‘s not developing nukes, but could they be lying?  Colin Powell thinks so. 

We‘ll talk about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Colin Powell said Iran wants a nuclear missile program.  I will ask our next guest if the bombing of Tehran should begin in five minutes. 

But, first, let‘s get the latest headlines from the MSNBC News Desk. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all.  Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.

BUCHANAN:  Welcome back. 

An Iranian dissident group says Iran is trying to create a nuclear missile, and Secretary of State Colin Powell apparently agrees, telling reporters—quote—“I have seen intelligence which would corroborate what this dissident group is saying.  And it should be of concern to all parties.”

Joining me now, Frank Gaffney, president of the Center For Security Policy. 

Frank, thanks for coming on. 

FRANK GAFFNEY, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY:  Nice to be with you, Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  What is your take on what you heard Colin Powell say?  I guess it was broadcast everywhere this morning, “Washington Post,” and all over, when he was down there in Chile. 

GAFFNEY:  I think he is saying the obvious. 

What we see are various manifestations of a country, a regime run at the moment by totalitarian what I call Islamofascists bent on obtaining the ultimate weapons of mass destruction and the means with which to at least threaten their use, if not actually to effect their use. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  

GAFFNEY:  We have had lots of evidence of the parts of the program, some of it the International Atomic Energy Agency, the so-called watchdog group, has tripped across or otherwise ferreted out. 

BUCHANAN:  Right.  

GAFFNEY:  Some of it, they have missed.  Some of it‘s been reported by this People‘s Mujahedeen, a terrorist group of rather dubious background, but nonetheless some good sources. 

BUCHANAN:  Right.  

GAFFNEY:  Some of it is inferential, like Secretary Powell‘s assessment of this nuclear missile.

But put together, I think it‘s unmistakable what they are about.  And we are kidding ourselves.  Mostly especially the French and the Germans and the British are kidding themselves if they think they are going to be able to talk the mullahs out of it. 

BUCHANAN:  Well, my understanding is, they have got an agreement with the Iranians to let them see all the fissile material, all the highly enriched uranium, if they have got any of it, and to let them take a look at it and let them—and to stop producing any more of it.

And no one I know of claims they have enough material for a bomb, let alone the ability yet to weaponize it, which is to reduce the bomb to a size you could put on the top of a missile.  So is this Iranian group, you think, and maybe even Colin Powell, just rattling sabers at the Iranians right now? 

GAFFNEY:  Well, again, Pat, you may be right.  Let‘s just say for the purpose of discussion you are right, that, at this moment in time, what we think they have, what they have told us they have, what they are willing to show us they have is insufficient to constitute a nuclear weapon of a size and configuration to fit on that missile. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.   OK.

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  But that is just a snapshot in time.  It‘s not going to last.  It‘s not the ultimate objective, for sure. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.  OK.  All right, tell us, what is the ultimate objective? 

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  We don‘t even know if that is right.  My point is...

BUCHANAN:  What is the ultimate objective? 

GAFFNEY:  Yes. 

Well, I suggested a moment ago I think the ultimate objective on the part of these mullahs is to have the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, nuclear weapons and the means to wield them. 

BUCHANAN:  What do we do? 

GAFFNEY:  I would just suggest to you—but, Pat, here‘s the point.  I don‘t think there‘s any reason to believe that a government that has spent as much money and as much time and as much effort hiding what it is doing in this area is going to come clean just because the French, Germans, and the Brits have decided they are going to give them peaceful nuclear technology. 

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  What does this sound like, Pat?  This sounds an awful lot like the 1994 foolish agreement the Clinton administration made with the North Koreans, a bait and switch that wound up leaving them with nuclear weapons capability. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  OK, look, I in part agree with you.  I can‘t believe that the Iranians are building intermediate range ballistic missiles, all the money and the technology and everything that goes into that, to be able to hurl a 1,000-ton conventional warhead at some country that might retaliate with nuclear weapons.  So that sounds reasonable. 

GAFFNEY:  Right. 

BUCHANAN:  Now, let me ask you this.  If the Iranians are doing this, and if the European deal is unsatisfactory, and we believe they are moving to nuclear weapons, what exactly should Bush do in his second term? 

GAFFNEY:  I hope that it will not be necessary to use military force against Iran.

That shouldn‘t be ruled out, because it may well prove to be the only thing that will prevent this situation from metastasizing further.  My hope and preference would be for the U.S. government to be using every tool at its disposal right now to help the Iranian people do the same thing we would like to see done, namely, a revolution there that overthrows these mullahs, much as the previous regime of the shah was overthrown by the people of Iran in 1979. 

BUCHANAN:  OK. 

Now, I want to read you a neoconservatives‘ checklist, Frank, that you put out on the 5th of November.  And correct me if I‘m wrong.  You said, in the next term, or the second term, of George Bush, we need to effect regime change in Iran and North Korea.  We need to thwart Germany and France.  We need to confront China‘s fascist policies.  We need to fight worldwide Islamofascism, and we need to fight anti-American regimes in Latin America. 

My question is, why isn‘t Syria on the list, Frank? 

GAFFNEY:  Well, I think you have done some selective rendering of my words.

But let‘s just say that that‘s a reasonable set of circumstances this president is going to confront and, frankly, John Kerry would have confronted, too.  Syria is another country that should be on that list.  And if I overlooked it, forgive me. 

BUCHANAN:  All right.  

GAFFNEY:  That is another country that is contributing to the destabilizing of Iraq and pursuing weapons of mass destruction...

(CROSSTALK)

GAFFNEY:  ... and I believe problem to our interests and those of our friends in the region. 

BUCHANAN:  OK. 

Frank, look, you know we are tied down here in Iraq.  In Fallujah, we‘re apparently successful.  But it appears we don‘t have enough troops in Iraq for what—the mission we want to accomplish.  How in heaven‘s name can the United States threaten all these countries or carry out—let‘s take Iran and North Korea—carry out the threats with the kind of forces we have in place now?

And do you seriously think the president of the United States is headed in that direction, or do you think he is headed in the direction of trying to turn over power and authority to the Iraqis and turning around and getting out? 

GAFFNEY:  Well, two quick points, Pat. 

You and I, I think, would have agreed a while back that we should not be dismantling our forces, leaving us with what we have today.  I know you and I agreed back in the Reagan administration with President Reagan‘s strategy of using those who had as much at stake as we did in resisting particularly those operating on the basis of a hostile ideology, at the time, Soviet communism, to do what we wouldn‘t have the forces or the desire to do ourselves. 

That, I think, is a strategy that ought to be used today.  But just as importantly—and I know, again, you get this, Pat—we need to confront the ideology itself, not just think of narrowly waging war through military means.  We are not doing nearly enough as a country to try to strike at the core of what this hostile ideology of today is, a totalitarian one that has supplanted now, unfortunately, that of the past, the fascisms, the Nazisms, the communisms of the past, with a sort of Islamofascism today. 

I think that, using wars of ideas and using people who share our values or at least aspire to have them, like the people of Iran, the people of Syria, for that matter, maybe even the people of North Korea, we can do things that don‘t require military force and yet will achieve very, very important strategic objectives that, frankly, we can‘t live without addressing in this term of President Bush. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  OK. 

Frank Gaffney, as always, thanks very much for your insights. 

Now, if “The Times,” “The New York Times,” buried a story like that one about Iran inside the paper, what did they put on the front page yesterday?  A story about the new CIA chief telling his employees to back Bush.  The problem:  That‘s not exactly what he said. 

That story is next.  So don‘t go away.

ANNOUNCER:  Tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge:  Which former president actually worked in his own presidential library?  Was it, A, Harry Truman, B, Gerald Ford, or, C, Richard Nixon?

The answer coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  In tonight‘s SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY challenge, we asked: 

Which former president actually worked in his own presidential library? 

The answer is A.  After his library opened in 1957, Truman spent nearly every weekday greeting visitors and guiding tours.

Now back to Pat.

BUCHANAN:  Was the CIA working clandestinely to oust George Bush from the White House? 

Senator John McCain thinks the agency tried its best. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  The leaks that came out of the CIA damaged the president‘s reelection.  You can only view them as such, and there were several.  And I have never seen anything quite like it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN:  I am joined now by Bob Kohn.  He‘s the author of “Journalistic Fraud: How The New York Times Distorts the News and Why It Can No Longer Be Trusted.”   Paul Levinson is also here.  He‘s the director of media studies at Fordham University. 

Bob Kohn, to oust the president, the CIA would have needed help from the media.  Do you think the agency got that help? 

BOB KOHN, AUTHOR, “JOURNALISTIC FRAUD”:  Well, you know, I am not privy to the conversations between “The New York Times” and the people who leaked this information from the CIA.

But looking at it forensically, that is, taking a look at the front page and the pages—and the editorial page of “The New York Times,” a case can be made that they were colluding to go after President Bush.  This is an organization, the CIA, that its very foundation is secrecy.  And when it leaks information, it‘s just undermining its own mission. 

And the mission right now is, we are in a war, OK?  Its mission is to fight a war.  So if this were occurring during World War II, and if the War Department was leaking information to “The New York Times” to embarrass for political reasons the Roosevelt administration, I would think “The New York Times” would be reporting this to the administration and there would be firing squads. 

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  All right, Paul Levinson, it‘s not only John McCain, who, of course, was strongly for the war.  Robert Novak, the columnist, who was an opponent of going into Iraq, is saying the same thing. 

His sources are telling him CIA people are out everywhere going after the president during the campaign.  And I want you to look now right now at the front page of yesterday‘s “New York Times.”  The headline read “Chief of CIA Tells His Staff to Back Bush.”  But Porter Goss‘ memo tells employees to stay out of politics and tells them their mission is to—quote—“provide the intelligence as we see it and let the facts speak to the policy-makers.”  He does also add, “I also intend to clarify beyond doubt the rules of the road.  We support the administration and its policies in our work as agency employees.  We do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies.”

Now, do you think what “The New York Times” did, the way they represented that, as though Porter Goss was saying, you know, we are basically, virtually an arm of the Bush campaign, do you think that was fair?

PAUL LEVINSON, DIRECTOR OF MEDIA STUDIES, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  Well, you know, I am getting tired of people beating up “The New York Times” because it‘s too liberal.  In fact, there are some examples of “The New York Times” making mistakes on the other side of the issue. 

For example, in the past election, there was a huge discrepancy between the exit polls right up until the actual votes were counted and then the votes that were counted.  And with the exception of Keith Olbermann on MSNBC‘s own “COUNTDOWN” show, there‘s been almost nothing about that in the media, including almost nothing in “The New York Times.” 

So, does that mean “The New York Times” is biased in favor of the Bush administration?  I think what we have in reality is media like “The New York Times,” all media, make decisions on a daily basis about what they think the most important stories are to cover. 

KOHN:  Well, let‘s take a look at one of those...

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Bob Kohn, go ahead. 

KOHN:  Let‘s take a look at one of those decisions. 

The very day, yesterday, on the front pages of “The Times,” they made a decision to place the story about this memo that Porter Goss sent to the staff of the CIA, and then slanted it to make him look like he was politicizing the CIA.  Well, what story was on page four of yesterday‘s “New York Times”?  It was the story about Iran secretly developing a nuclear weapon, in opposition to the negotiations that the European countries are doing right now. 

Which is more important, OK? 

(CROSSTALK)

LEVINSON:  Well, I don‘t know. 

If the CIA is in disarray, and if our Central Intelligence Agency is not working the way it‘s supposed to, and if there‘s a political aspect of it, in which it‘s feeding the president and the American incorrect information, in many ways, that‘s just as important as what is reported to be going on in Iran. 

KOHN:  That‘s right.  That‘s right.  And if you take...

LEVINSON:  So, “The New York Times” was right to have a front-page story about the CIA.

KOHN:  But why don‘t we see a front-page story about the Clinton administration?  Here...

(CROSSTALK)

LEVINSON:  The Clinton administration?  Why should they...

(CROSSTALK)

LEVINSON:  ... that story?  That‘s yesterday‘s news. 

KOHN:  No, it isn‘t yesterday.  Well, it‘s today‘s news. 

In the Clinton Library, there is no exhibit saying how I screwed up the CIA during my eight years in office, OK?  That‘s what the story is. 

LEVINSON:  You perhaps have some agents in the CIA who you are talking to and giving you that information.  There‘s no evidence whatsoever that Clinton screwed up the CIA.

(CROSSTALK) 

LEVINSON:  In fact, under the Clinton administration, we had no September 11, and we didn‘t have the kind of intelligence failures we had, which have put us in this situation we‘re in right now. 

BUCHANAN:  But, Paul, come on.  Paul, come on.  We had the first World Trade Center hit.  You had the Cole bombing.  You had the embassy bombings, and you had eight years.  And you went up until about nine months before 9/11. 

LEVINSON:  Bush was on watch on 9/11.

(CROSSTALK)

BUCHANAN:  Wouldn‘t you agree that even Clinton, I think would say, we really didn‘t do as much as we should have done, we really didn‘t think something like this was going to hit, we really weren‘t prepared, would he not? 

LEVINSON:  Well, yes, I am sure Clinton would say that. 

But Bob Kohn was saying that, why doesn‘t “The Times” have front-page stories now about the failure of the Clinton administration and the CIA?

(CROSSTALK)

LEVINSON:  ... story should be about the current president and the

CIA.

BUCHANAN:  Hold it, gentlemen. 

Final thoughts with my guests in just a minute. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Comments or questions about tonight‘s show?  Just send us an e-mail to Joe@MSNBC.com

SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BUCHANAN:  Bob Kohn, Paul Levinson, 15 seconds each.

Do you believe “The New York Times” was using its news columns to influence the outcome of the election and defeat George Bush? 

Go ahead, Paul. 

LEVINSON:  Absolutely not.  They were reporting the facts as they saw them.  That‘s what all the media were doing in their news columns. 

KOHN:  Pat. 

BUCHANAN:  Bob Kohn.

KOHN:  Yes, Pat, “The Times” admitted they were doing it. 

In today‘s “New York Times,” in the corrections page, it said that it misconstrued that article.  And if you take a look at the editorial page today, they didn‘t even read their own correction. 

BUCHANAN:  OK.  Bob, Paul, thank you very much. 

“HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS” is up next. 

Good night. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2004 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2004 FDCH e-Media, Inc. (f/k/a/ Federal Document Clearing House Inc., eMediaMillWorks, Inc.), ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and FDCH e-Media, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,