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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: TONY BLANKLEY, PATRICK BUCHANAN,
ELEANOR CLIFT, AND MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN

TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2001
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 6-7, 2001

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Military deployment.

The military component of Enduring Freedom, Commander in Chief Bush's anti-terror campaign, is at hand. U.S. intelligence agencies have identified 23 terrorist training camps in Afghanistan to target for military action.

The battle force:

Uzbekistan: Air Force search-and-rescue teams and 10,000 troops of the Army's 10th Mountain Division.

Tajikistan: CIA-supported anti-Taliban rebel forces pushing into Afghanistan.

Pakistan: U.S. fighters and ground troops deploying from Pakistan air bases.

Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and Arabian Sea: four U.S. Navy carrier battle groups assembling.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Turkey: U.S. fighters, spy planes, and refueling planes flying from U.S. air bases.

Total force strength: about 35,000, plus 20,000 Brits and others to come as called.

Question: How does the plan look and how vulnerable are the Taliban, General Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, they're extremely vulnerable. What's going to happen, I believe, is they're going to use American air power to kill the Taliban's armor and artillery and tanks. And then the Northern Alliance is going to get Russian artillery, Russian tanks, Russian armor, and they're going to drive down that road with the U.S. Air Force as their air force.

It's got to be done, John. The Taliban have to be overthrown, because these 23 camps and all of bin Laden's people -- it's the only way we can guarantee that they're going to be driven out of the country.

I will say this. The Talibani air force is going to have a very short but exciting war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many planes do they have?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think they have about -- I don't know how many they got left that works.

(Off-mike comment from panelist.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've got 80.

MR. BUCHANAN: Got 80?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Only 10 are really very good.

MR. BUCHANAN: They won't -- if they -- as soon as they get up in the air, they're finished.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: I agree. I think the Taliban is history, with or without military action. In fact, I think you could almost forget the military action. They're crumbling on their own. There are now defectors, apparently, within the Taliban leadership, and I think the U.S. is counting on sub-leaders in the Taliban faction to change sides, and coupled with the resistance from the Northern Alliance and this exiled former king, that there you have the makings of the next government.

But apparently there's going to be some military action, and that 10th Mountain Division in Uzbekistan is there to give cover to Air Force sorties. So I expect that's going to happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the members of the coalition? Are they getting wobbly? We'll start with Saudi Arabia.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I don't think, regarding the invasion of Afghanistan, that's a critical element. I don't think there's any question that we've got the military materiel to bounce the ground around there. I hope that what we're doing is doing what traditionally is done effectively in Afghanistan, which is massive bribery to the warriors, because it's honorable for them to be rented, and they switch sides, and I hope that our people are down there buying as many of the semi-independent bands who were fighting with the Taliban to switch sides, because after we've knocked out the Taliban, are we going to, you know, chase through the mountains looking for bin Laden? I know we can win in the sense of dominating. The question is, what can we accomplish once we're dominating? And that's where putting together the right coalition to govern is going to be a challenge.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort Zuckerman.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I do think it's the right strategy. There's no way we could find the al Qaeda group on our own. We've got to get the Taliban out, and then to use whomever we put in there to go after the al Qaeda group and bin Laden. I mean, that is such a complicated country, so difficult to find people. It's worse than finding a needle in a haystack. So they have got to be the people who look for them and find them. So that's the right strategy.

There's no -- there's not going to be any issue on the conventional side of this thing, but it is going after the al Qaeda. They're the ones we have to get first, because they threaten us, and they threaten us now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many do we have to kill or capture?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know how many we have to kill or capture. We have to get the entire leadership in one form or another. The fact is that there are al Qaeda people embedded in this country, and we are such an open society, the only offense we have -- a good offense is our best defense against these people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are they going to put helicopters in the air, about five of them, taken them off from the Kitty Hawk, fill them up each with a complement of fully strapped-up soldiers with their gear --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, my guess is --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and bring them in, have a surgical attack, take them out?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, my guess is, look, these 23 camps or schools, they've got to be emptied out by now. These people aren't stupid. They're probably in the cities by now or moving out. And I think what Mort says is exactly right, you got to go in there, replace the government, get the Afghans to help you, and then run through all these camps, run all of these guys to earth, kill as many as you can, run them out of the country, so they've got to form a base somewhere else --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But in and out, back to the Kitty Hawk, no expeditions on the ground.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, no, no.

MS. CLIFT: Eleven-thousand people have gone through those training camps in just the last year, so there are a lot of people. But frankly if I were bin Laden, I'd be in the middle of Kabul right now, because the worst thing this administration can do is to kill civilians, and they're trying to make this a surgical attack.

MR. BLANKLEY: A lot of this fighting is going to be --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long is it going to last?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know. A lot of --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many have to be killed or captured?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's going to be done at night mostly, because that's our biggest advantage.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do we have night vision?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, we have night vision right now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do they have -- does the Taliban have night vision?

MR. BLANKLEY: Of course not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, of course not.

MR. BLANKLEY: We'll have Apaches. When they do their rim running, we'll have Apaches set up and shoot over the hill to get them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BLANKLEY: So we have a tremendous advantage fighting both at nighttime and perhaps in wintertime, because we have those abilities to move around that they're not going to have.

MS. CLIFT: I wouldn't necessarily say the U.S. has an advantage fighting in Afghanistan in wintertime. Bin Laden and his people are accustomed to that terrain. This is all new to us. Look at the trouble we had finding Noriega in Panama in the balmy weather.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, look -- look, I don't for a minute think it's going to be easy. All I'm saying is that usually fighting stops in November there, but we have some technological ability to continue to fight beyond November.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The other thing going for us is that the Taliban is very unpopular, so that means we'll be getting a lot of data -- information on the ground. That's the point you made.

Let's say it's going to take a month and we're going to have to kill or capture 20,000. Are those reasonable numbers?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, I think what you do is you -- I think we can take the cities. You knock them over, take the city, install your people, and then we set the timetable for running down these people and running them out of the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I have to disagree with you, however, with regard to Saudi Arabia, because a standoff capability we will have to enlist to accomplish it could well include what Saudi Arabia has. But the other, less than a secret right now, is that Rumsfeld and Bandar, who were on television, are clearly saying that nothing new has been asked, of course.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look -- look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And everything is now "don't ask, don't tell" with them, and it seems to be working. Right?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Of course. Absolutely.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, we're going to get a lot of disinformation, as we ought to, out of all of these governments, including our own. I'm not worried about us being able to bring resources to bear.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No country is more at risk than Saudi Arabia. Thirteen of the terrorists who were killed -- who killed themselves, were Saudis. And I don't think they even know how bad their situation is. They want to get rid of these as much as anybody.

MR. BUCHANAN: John? John?

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but they don't want to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know if you saw the bite that we played of that distinguished foreign minister of Saudi Arabia last week, where he says -- he said, in effect, for heaven's sakes, don't overdo it, because, you know, it will bring about this -- what we're getting at in this exit question.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, you --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to go to this, Pat. Work it into the exit question.

Is the U.S. military being set up? Is Afghanistan really a baited trap? In other words, al Qaeda is deliberately provoking an aggressive strike with the expectation and possible foreknowledge that Islamic extremists worldwide will mobilize and retaliate?

Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Clearly, bin Laden knew we were going to retaliate, and he knew we were coming after Afghanistan. However, John -- and he expects this explosion. I'm not sure it's going to happen if you go into Afghanistan. But in any event, we have got to do this. You've got to run down the Taliban, take them out, and drive him out of the country, at least as a first step.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What are you going to do if Osama bin Laden comes out with his hands up? Are you going to read him his Miranda rights? Is that the first thing you're going to do?

MR. BUCHANAN: Helicopters are going to go in and they're going to read the Miranda rights off the loudspeaker as they go into those mountains, John. We're going to cover the ACLU! (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm serious. What are you going to do? What are you going to do? Are you going to --

MR. BUCHANAN: Shoot him!

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're going to shoot him?

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right there in front of you?

MR. BUCHANAN: What did you do with --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got his hands up.

MR. BUCHANAN: What did you do with Che Guevara when we found him?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, let me --

MS. CLIFT: It's my turn --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor. Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Go ahead. I'm sorry. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: First of all, if bin Laden does come out, he's a warrior and he's given his sons orders to kill him. It would be wonderful if we could capture him alive and put him on trial in The Hague --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: -- in the World Court for crimes against humanity.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, you want an explosion in the Islamic world? You've got it! (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: Well -- wait a second. If you're talking about explosions in the Islamic world, I think the Taliban is on its way to collapse without military action. And --

MR. BUCHANAN: I'm not talking about the Taliban.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor --

MS. CLIFT: I believe the -- this administration has shown its strength --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Every man is entitled to his day in court. Correct?

MS. CLIFT: I know. Will all these --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is that what you're saying?

MS. CLIFT: And we have four armchair generals here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We want to bring him to justice, don't we?

MS. CLIFT: I want to hear what he has to say. I don't know that we gain anything, necessarily, by killing him. But he's got to -- we're not going to get him alive.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, which is it with you --

MS. CLIFT: We're not going to get him alive. That's wishful thinking.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You said he's going to be killed at his own request or he's not --

MS. CLIFT: Probably. Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't think that's true. I think he realizes what an exhibit he would be and how he would inflame the Arab world and how we would be playing right into the purport of that question.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, look.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Could you --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'll do my best.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, the problem is going to be -- and I think the mistake that maybe the Taliban and bin Laden is making is they don't think we can arrange for a credible government to be -- replace the Taliban. I think that's the test. If we do that successfully -- not put in our guys, but put in the right people who speak the right languages, the right tribal languages, then this is not a trap for us that we can't exploit for our own advantage.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's he -- who are you going to -- are you going to give him a lawyer, if he does come out? According to Eleanor --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I think -- no, I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think he would hire, you know, Plato Cacheris or -- (laughter).

MS. CLIFT: It's not going to happen, John.

MR. BLANKLEY (?): We are clearly in a war paradigm, not a legal paradigm. He will not survive capture.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that mean -- he's not in a legal paradigm? Does that mean that there's no rules of justice that obtain?

MR. BLANKLEY: Absolutely. It's in war, and he's going to be shot.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Whose war? You can't have war against an abstraction. Terrorism is an abstraction. You've got to have -- you can only have war between one state and another state. What are you, playing word games?

MR. BLANKLEY: No -- I don't think I'm playing word games. The president said it's a war. We believe it's a war. We're sending the military in. And he's not going to get arrested, he's going to get killed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So, kill on sight, right? Is that what you think?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look. Let me tell you, if we capture bin Laden, there will be so many terrorist attacks to try and force his release. They'll be capturing people -- Westerners, Americans -- all over the place and saying, okay, we've got 50 of your people, now release bin Laden. The last thing in the world we want is to have bin Laden as a captured --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we put on trial the terrorists that bombed the World Tower in 1993.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Believe me -- and look what's happened now, okay? That group is still around.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Those people are still here.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because the underlings are the only ones that get hit.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. We have to kill bin Laden. We need to dispirit the enemy by having defeats inflicted upon them so they don't look triumphant as they have for the last couple of years.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're putting yourself right on the same level as bin Laden himself. Are you not?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'm not --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shooting him in cold blood, assassinating him. He's not even the --

MS. CLIFT: Look, come on, in cold blood?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Cold blood?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, it's like capturing a terrorist behind enemy lines, out of uniform. Bam.

MS. CLIFT: Well, just so there's not -- the goal of this administration is to get bin Laden, to kill him, and to kill his top deputies. I support that. Just so there's no mistake here. (Laughter.) You're not going to have him walking out --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, what is this, the big back-off, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: No, no, no! I support that.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: But on the other hand, if there were a way -- if he were to survive, which I don't think -- it's not going to happen, it's a fantasy, I would send him to the Hague.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Eleanor should go into ballet, the way she can minuet that out, eh?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I mean, I think they're two interesting positions and they're a little bit difficult for me to reconcile. I mean, but let me just say, we have no choice here. We are in a war.

MS. CLIFT: I think it's what the president said, dead or alive. (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We are in a war. Let me tell you what he means when he says dead or alive. He means dead, okay? There's no question about it. He's the last person we want to have captured.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clearly, the lesser of two evils is to slay him --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in any way before any kind of a pseudo- or real legal proceeding. However --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I would amend that slightly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- what is the answer to my question? Is this a baited trap, do you think?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I do not. A, we have no choice, as Pat says.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We have no choice.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We have to do it as well as we can.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And it's not just, as you said --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But you want prudence to obtain, do you not?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely. It's not just the lesser of two evils. It's the evil of two lessers. We do not have good choices here. So we have to pick the least bad choice. We have no choice but to go after them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Words to live by, "the evil of two lessers." Thank you, Mort.

When we come back, is the CIA beyond repair?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Deadly lapses.

(Begin video segment.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: I've got a lot of confidence in the CIA. (Applause.) And so should America.

(End video segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, sir, not all Americans share your confidence. Rather, many believe that the U.S. intelligence apparatus as a whole, led by the CIA, has repeatedly failed to foresee and warn us of terrorist attacks in which thousands of people, most of them Americans, died and more were wounded.

(Begin video segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: 2001, Manhattan, Washington and Pennsylvania, September 11, some 5,800 killed, thousands more wounded, tens of thousands more left homeless or jobless, and if you include the stock market, hundreds of billions of dollar in damage. Islamic extremists.

2000, Yemen, a suicide-boat attack on the USS Cole in port kills 17 American sailors, wounds 38. Islamic Extremists.

1998, car bombs at U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam kill 224 people, wound thousands. Islamic Extremists.

1996, Saudi Arabia: truck bomb at Khobar Towers military housing complex in Dhahran kills 19 American service members and wounds hundreds. Islamic Extremists.

1995, car bomb at U.S. military headquarters in Riyadh kills five American service members. Islamic Extremists.

1993, car bomb under the World Trade Center, the same site as September 11, kills six and injures hundreds. Islamic Extremists.

1988, bomb aboard Pan Am 103 explodes killing 270 people on the plane and on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland. Islamic Extremists.

The foregoing does not include 1999, Belgrade, Serbia: U.S. planes erroneously bomb the Embassy of China based on intelligence provided by the CIA, creating a diplomatic flare-up that may have played a role in the Chinese near-downing of the U.S. spy plane EP3.

1998, India and Pakistan both test nuclear weapons, followed by the CIA's admission that it knew nothing about either until their announcements.

The biggest, and most incredible failure is that the CIA was given carte blanche to pursue Osama bin Laden in 1998, and has been unable to find him after three years of trying.

Question: Does the CIA deserve the blame for its current condition?

Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: Sure, they deserve part of the blame. But, John, there are plots that they foiled -- the millennial foil, the plot to blow up airliners over the Pacific, the plot to blow up the L.A. Airport.

Having said that, this is still a massive screwup. But this is a plot that was apparently hatched in Germany. It was carried out with incredible cunning. It was a high concept plot using very low-grade resources. And it is very difficult to penetrate these cells. We don't have Arabic speakers, and these groups are so tightly run that penetrating them -- it's not like penetrating the Ku Klux Klan in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, you sound like --

MS. CLIFT: So there are lots of excuses, but there are things that can be done, and we need to go back to using the so-called "dirty assets."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She sounds like George Tenet. That last point is an interesting one -- the dirty assets. Let me get in with this.

Long time coming. Ambassador Paul Bremer has been intimately acquainted with U.S. intelligence for more than 20 years, serving as counterterrorism chief in the Reagan administration, and chairing a special congressional commission. Just last year, Bremer blames a gross deterioration of the CIA on policies and laws that have handcuffed field agents and their superiors, specifically the ban on using informants of unsavory character.

PAUL BREMER (former counterterrorism chief): (From videotape.) The testimony we heard was unambiguous, unanimous, and conclusive -- unambiguous, unanimous, and conclusive -- and it was that these guidelines, whatever their intention, had the effect of putting a chilling discouragement on people in the field from recruiting terrorist spies.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that's an important point that Eleanor made, and that Bremer made?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think it's a critical point. I mean, it is -- we've restricted the CIA, we imposed constraints on the CIA, we want to put the CIA under greater political control, we cut the resources of the CIA. I think under George Tenet, in fact, they've expanded the envelope. They've done as much as they can. They need -- they're now allocating another $700 million to $800 million to it. So I think we've got to empower the CIA both financially and operationally, and it is not George Tenet's fault on this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I am happy to report that the two principals on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, whom I had the privilege of interviewing, said to me yesterday -- I'm talking about Bob Graham from Florida, and I'm talking about Senator Shelby from Alabama, the chairman and former chairman -- they both said that legislation is being introduced to remove anything like a ban on the use of anybody of any character, practically, any character, but particularly terrorists who can help -- join us and help us with information.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look, look, in --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No choirboys.

MR. BLANKLEY: In '95, when Senator Torricelli and Senator Dodd and many others made this complaint about it --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Dodd, Torricelli, and who? Leahy?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know about -- he may have done. I'm not sure.

Look, here's what Deutch, who was then head of the CIA, did. He said that yes, we can only hire them if the case officer gets all their superiors to sign off, including the deputy director of operations, the legal counsel to the CIA, and the director of the CIA. As a result, no case officer ever made that request. Bureaucratically, they knew -- they were telling them, "Don't do it. You can't do it."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I was told --

MR. BLANKLEY: And the whole tone of this -- of the agency has been shifted from a can-do to a cover-your-bottom mentality.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. BLANKLEY: That's the cultural problem.

MR. BUCHANAN: And John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Patrick?

MR. BUCHANAN: There's a point being missed here. We lost 6,000 people for a reason. A lot of airheads have supported open borders in this country to the point where we got 30 million foreign-born, 11 million illegal aliens wandering around this country. Any foreign intelligence service that doesn't have a hundred saboteurs, spies, assassins, and bombers in this country ought to be shut down for incompetence. We have left our borders wide open, John --

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and then we go around, and we blame the FBI and the CIA, which got a few thousand guys, when the politicians in this country have left us naked as Americans. There's never been --

MS. CLIFT: Wait. Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're saying it's not only the CIA, it's the entire security system, including the FBI --

MR. BUCHANAN: John -- John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and our immigration and other policies in the country.

MR. BUCHANAN: This country is going to go through something in this war or terror it's never gone through. We have never been more vulnerable than we are right now, and it's not the fault of the CIA and the FBI alone.

MS. CLIFT: Right. Look, the focus is on -- but the focus was on not letting illegal workers in, and I just want to be careful that we don't let some of your ideas, Pat, which have been virulently anti-immigration, now take hold because we're worried about terrorism.

MR. BUCHANAN: I'd like to stop things like what happened in New York.

MS. CLIFT: I agree with that.

MR. BUCHANAN: If you got 11 million people here illegally --

MS. CLIFT: Your ideas go beyond that.

MR. BUCHANAN: There's 11 million people here illegally, and they ought not to be here, and it's not the fault of the CIA or the FBI.

MS. CLIFT: Most of those 11 million are law-abiding.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about the handling of illegal aliens, as Patrick points out?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, look, we have a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are you sympathetic with that point of view?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't share quite that point of view. But I do think there is an issue here, and that is in terms of the immigration watch, you know, and who handles that. You know, it's a very complicated system. The CIA is not responsible for who goes -- they can make recommendations. The INS, frankly, is another agency that needs to be reviewed in terms of the procedures, in fact to put people on these watches.

MR. BUCHANAN: Well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: So that -- it is a part of the overall system that we have that has broken down, because nobody assumed that this could happen.

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Every layer --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We have now had a wake-up call the likes of which we have never had before.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Every layer of the security system failed.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: How long will it be to repair -- will it take to repair America's CIA, formerly an elite group, now a bureaucratic mediocrity, at best?

MR. BUCHANAN: It's going to take a couple of years. But as we're doing it, John, we're going to suffer because of the decisions that have been taken. The enemy is inside the gates already.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, how many years?

MS. CLIFT: I think it's under way, and it's going to happen a lot faster than certainly Pat is predicting.

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, it's going to be five to 10 years. You've got to start hiring analysts who are of a proper quality of scholarship. You've got to start hiring these agents. That's only the beginning of the process. It takes a long time.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We're looking at several years, particularly to penetrate these cells. I mean that is the most critical thing we can do, is to get preemptive intelligence and act preemptively. That's going to be years in the making. But in the meantime, I think we'll be able to transform things much more rapidly, in terms of at least having a much more aggressive and proactive CIA.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want to clean house over there?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I don't think we ought to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why not? Not now, but as -- when this current matter is settled.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think we have probably the strongest CIA director we've had in a long time in George Tenet. He is absolutely a first-rate operator and a first-rate leader, and I think he is -- deserves our support. He just has been there for the last couple of years, if you recall. A lot of the problems go back a lot earlier. We need to give him the resources and the operational flexibility. He will deliver. And there are a lot of successes that happened --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you want to keep Tenet?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't have any objection to Tenet.

MS. CLIFT: He was sounding the alarm on terrorism repeatedly on Capitol Hill. Nobody was listening.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think there are a lot of people, including some lawyers, in that building who have to go.

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think you ought to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not Tenet?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't think you should scapegoat people --

MR. BLANKLEY: I think right now -- this is a come-as-you-are --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not now. We're not talking about now. When the current contretemps is over.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think eventually there's going to be --

MS. CLIFT: It's not going to be over. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: -- leadership change at the top, yes. Eventually.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How long will it take to get bin Laden? Quickly.

MR. BUCHANAN: He will be confirmed dead by New Years' Eve.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Before the temperature falls below zero in Afghanistan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony?

MR. BLANKLEY: Unless we're lucky, more than six months.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I think it's going to take two or three months to get him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Answer -- one month.

Bye-bye.

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PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS

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PBS SEGMENT

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three, Back in Business.

(Begin video segment.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: There is really no greater symbol that America's back in business than the reopening of this airport. (Applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As flights resumed in and out of Ronald Reagan National Airport this week after being closed for 22 days, the nation's capital appeared one step closer to normalcy. But normalcy is still quite a ways away. The very things that lured people to live and work in the 200-year-old city -- the State Department, the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court -- they're now looked upon as terrorist targets. Washington is a city on the defense.

Were it not real, it would seem like a movie: Aircraft circling the city all night, droning away, military units patrolling land and water, bomb squads, civilian gun sales, gas masks distributed to Congress members and their staffs. DC is almost in war-mode. Despite the concern, public officials are confident that the city will bounce back.

DC MAYOR ANTHONY WILLIAMS: But our way of life is going to prevail and we're going to continue on.

(End video segment.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Cannot the case be made that terrorists are unlikely to use the same suicide tactics twice, therefore closing Reagan National Airport in the first instance was an overreaction, yes or no? Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, it wasn't an overreaction. It's impossible not to have done what they did. I think it was correct to open it up again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did you hear the logic of the question?

MR. BLANKLEY: I understand the logic of the question, but the logic of the answer is that you can't ask somebody who's been -- has responsibility for an event like that not to take actions. I mean, it's just intuitively, they couldn't have done it. They made the right decision to open up. But on the other hand, I don't think we're returning to normal. I think the whole concept of returning to normal doesn't make sense. Maybe there'll be a new normalcy, but it'll be with a mentality that we've now inherited, horribly, from September 11th.

MS. CLIFT: Well, and our leaders have this difficult position of encouraging normalcy at the same time telling us that the likelihood of more attacks is inevitable and that if we do respond militarily, as one member of the administration told the Senate Intelligence Committee, that the percentage of retaliation that we would expect to experience is 100 percent. Now that's hardly comforting.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, tell me about financial or economic normalcy, especially in the light of the president's stimulus package. What do you see?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, the president's stimulus package is going to help, or at least a stimulus packages will help. But I think we had an already weak economy that suffered a hammer blow by reason of the events that began with September the 11th, so I think we're in for a longer, deeper recession than most people are thinking about. I don't think we'll pull out of it through virtually all of next year. It's going to take a long time to come out of this particular economic hole.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You really don't believe in pump-priming, do you.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, you know, we put $38 billion into the economy in August through the tax rebates that had the smallest effect. Only 18 percent of them spent the money. Just because we put money into the economy through the federal government doesn't mean it's going to be spent. And yet that is what we need. We have to build up consumer demand in order to get the economy moving again.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would it be better to accelerate the onset of income tax cuts, rates?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I think we have a balance here. I would frankly accelerate fiscal stimulus to the economy now and try and balance it up by cutting off some of the fiscal stimulus we planned for after 2005, because we can't unravel the fiscal side of the economy because it'll tank the long-term bond market.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When will we have a serious rebound.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: In a year and half to two years from now.

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