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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: ELEANOR CLIFT, TONY BLANKLEY,
MORT ZUCKERMAN AND PAT BUCHANAN

TAPED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2001
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 13-14, 2001

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Muslim firewall.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) We are supported by the collective will of the world. The battle is now joined on many fronts. We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: As the first week of Operation Enduring Freedom draws to a close, America's NATO allies have thrown their active military support behind the U.S.-led multi-front offensive. Beyond NATO, there is one component of the international coalition that President Bush knows he must keep on our side; namely, the moderate Muslim regimes. They are the firewall that stops the war against bin Laden from mushrooming into a war against Islam.

So far, the reaction in Islam is mixed. First, the critics: Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan. Second, the middle, lending silent, secret or qualified support; that is, the bulk of the Muslim world: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, the Gulf states, Indonesia, Yemen, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan. Finally, the Muslim extreme risk-takers: Most notably, Pakistan's General Pervez Musharraf and the Palestinian Authority's Yasser Arafat.

Pakistan is rocked by sulfurous pro-bin Laden riots, so much so that Musharraf has purged audaciously Islamic fundamentalists from the top ranks of his general staff and intelligence services, the ISI, and incarcerated three top Jamiat Party fundamentalist clerics.

This weekend, Secretary Powell travels to Pakistan to brace the Muslim firewall, to make sure that everything is on track with this nuclear power, Pakistan, especially needed now since some Taliban military have already fled from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

Question: Let us assume that Musharraf does not make it, that he is ousted by his Islamic radicals. What happens then, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, Arafat and Musharraf have both bet their careers and their lives on the American war against terrorism. If Musharraf is overthrown and radical Islam takes over Pakistan, any victory in Afghanistan doesn't make a hill of beans of difference. You've got 140 million people with atomic weapons and Islamic radicals in charge. You will have an immediate crisis with India. Both have nuclear weapons. The whole war against terrorism, you will have to review it, quite frankly. It would be a first-class disaster for the Western world and the United States.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How likely is it?

MR. BUCHANAN: There's a possibility, although I will say this. I've been surprised that despite the fact they get a lot of attention, that these anti-American demonstrations have been well-contained. As long as Bush is winning this war and Musharraf has bet on an American victory, he doesn't want us to knock over the Taliban, but we ought to knock over the Taliban if we have to. Bush has got to win this war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, Pat outlines a nightmare scenario, because the Taliban is the creation of Pakistan, and if a government replaces them not friendly to Pakistan, then you've got problems.

But John, the way the U.S. is waging this war is to protect Musharraf. In fact, it's rather bizarre that military tactics and strategies are being designed because of Musharraf's vulnerabilities. They're not bombing the outposts around Kabul because they don't want the Northern Alliance to be able to take the capital. They're not directly giving weapons to the Northern Alliance. They're letting Russia do that, so we're keeping our distance.

And the president very pointedly in his press conference invoked the United Nations, talking about bringing U.N. in there to try to put together some sort of government that would be friendly to Pakistan. So the administration has to take into account the horror that you outlined of Pakistan going Islamic -- into Islamic anarchy with the bomb. But the administration is doing everything to guard against that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's possible that a radical Islamist could terrorize in Kashmir, thus to precipitate the involvement of India in retaliation for that act? You got me?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, of course. I mean, that is the problem that exists, that Pakistan, which has been instigating and supporting the terrorism in Kashmir, which is the one Muslim province of India, now is going to be pressured by the United States to back off that a little bit because India is getting angry at that. But if they back off, that's one of the great symbols in Pakistani government that you're a true Pakistani, is that you're committed to Kashmir. So finessing the Kashmirists relates to the ability of Musharraf to maintain himself.

Now, one point, though. Musharraf's purging of various positions was not, in my judgment, a sign of strength. The key example --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, like the head of the ISI, the intelligence.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, that was good, but General Aziz (ph), who had been based in Lahore and had men under him and was of questionable loyalty to Musharraf, he didn't have the strength to fire him. He kicked him upstairs to make him chief of staff, so he layered him between him and some fighting men. That was a sign of weakness on Musharraf's part, not strength. I think it's a misread to see that as a strong point. On the other hand --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, General Blankley, let me ask you this question. Do you think it is essential that India at this time be held in check? Or let me ask you, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, in the first place, there was a suicide bomber who blew up 38 people in Kashmir.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think both India and Kashmir know that this is the time to cool that particular situation, and they're both doing it. Jaswant Singh, the Indian foreign minister, was here. He said whatever he had to say about Pakistan, but he was very supportive of the United States. That relationship is critical to India. So I think they're going to cool it.

What worries me is that I think these governments, by and large, can stay in power. But below them, I think the masses of the people, the people on the streets, are still very hostile to the West, very hostile to the United States. And that's not going to go away. And what is happening in terms of the military efforts against the Taliban is just going to intensify that. We have a long-term problem there. We don't know what the answer to that is. But supporting these governments who are not considered that legitimate by the people on the streets is going to be a long-term problem for us.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is your considered opinion? Do you think Pakistan will hold?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Because if it doesn't hold, the game may be over.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No, I think it will hold. It will hold -- it may not hold -- if we have a five-year war, it may not hold.

MS. CLIFT: Right.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: But at least through this period of the next six months to a year or whatever it is, two years that President Bush referred to, I think they'll hold for that period.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is the situation scary?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, of course it's scary, I mean, because all these governments are so unstable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's very scary because of that particular pivotal point, Pakistan.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, let me --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: It's not the only pivotal point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, but that's where the firewall is.

All right, let's move on a little bit, Pat. You can work your trenchant remarks, insightful as they are, into your response to what we're going to get into now.

MR. BUCHANAN: All right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The first week of the war in Afghanistan, I think we will all agree on this set; that is, the opening phase went well. Agreed?

MR. BLANKLEY: Agreed.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good. And there were no world upheavals. But there were new biocriminal acts in the United States. Describe those please, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, we had in two places now, maybe a third, anthrax in envelopes that were opened by people. And in one case you had somebody who died from it. There's somebody in New York now who today was revealed to have tested positively, working for NBC News, although the anthrax itself, or at least what was in that envelope, did not test positively.

So nobody quite knows how to connect all these dots. But I'll just put it this way. We have had, I think, 17 cases of anthrax in this country in the last 100 years. We've had four in the last two weeks. So at the very least, as they say, I'm nervous. I may not be panicked, but I'm nervous. And I'll bet you the law enforcement people are really nervous.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there a common thread here, namely, it was, what, Media Enterprises in Fort Lauderdale -- what's the name of that company?

MR. BUCHANAN: All of them --

MS. CLIFT: American --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: American Enterprise.

MR. BLANKLEY: NBC and --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: NBC, New York Times, CBS possibly.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't know about any others. But certainly what you have is somebody mailing out --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why would a terrorist want to go after the press when the press is its life blood? Do you understand? The message gets out there --

MS. CLIFT: I don't think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute. Let him finish.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I'll give you the reason. Okay? You attack the press, you'll get more press from the press for attacking the press than you would when you attack anybody else.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this could be not related to the terrorists, that these are grudge acts done under the cloak of bin Laden taking the rap at an opportunistic time for a criminal to revenge himself or herself?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Anything is possible. But not too many people have access to anthrax. I mean, this isn't something that you go into your local drug store and have a signed prescription with three renewals. I mean, this is really a serious issue to get ahold of anthrax and start sending it around.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Anything cooking at the Daily News?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Only extraordinarily good editorial.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And publishing.

Exit question: Describe in six words or fewer how you think the military operation is going. Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Six words? It is going according to the president's plan.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what kind of an answer is that?

MR. BUCHANAN: Six words. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, I see.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's exactly the way --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That is a positive rating, if we can use that --

MR. BUCHANAN: How is the war going? The president is very cautious in the way it's proceeding. They're doing it exactly right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you like the way --

MR. BUCHANAN: Eleanor's point is well-taken. We don't know what to do about the Taliban north of Kabul. But eventually the president is going to have to break through and finish off the Taliban, whether Musharraf likes it or not.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And you approve of the president's handling of it.

MR. BUCHANAN: I approve 100 percent of it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: Short-term objectives achieved; long-term uncertain. And I just want to say, on the anthrax, I don't know that I would start with bin Laden as the prime suspect. There are lots of people who might want to do this. It does not seem to make sense --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, are we on the terrorist (flank ?) or we are on the grudge act?

MS. CLIFT: I'm on the criminal grudge act, I think, is more likely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MS. CLIFT: And I just think the country needs to calm down --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you speak for your magazine or do you speak for Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: I speak for Eleanor Clift on this show, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay.

MS. CLIFT: And I think our leaders owe us a duty to help us calm down instead of alarming us with these open-ended alerts that don't seem to have anything we can do about it.

MR. BLANKLEY: I can go for 10 or 12 words, under the circumstances, rather than the six words.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You'll be granted a waiver --

MR. BLANKLEY: Thank you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in view of your lovely threads.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.) Thank you. I think the military is going very well. On the other hand, I'm not sure that it relates directly to the strategic objective. I think we are in for a fairly long period of tightening the noose. And I would point out that earlier in the week it was announced we had air supremacy over Afghanistan, and later in the week it was announced that there was still some threat from anti-aircraft. So I'd be a little cautious about the complete success so far.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they did take down, what, two drones?

MR. BLANKLEY: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Look, I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How's he doing?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think the deployment of the military force was first-rate and I think the execution to date has been first-rate. I don't think anybody can find fault with it. And if two drones get shot down -- I mean, there's never been sort of an innocent war. People always on both sides get hit. And drones, by the way, these drones are going at 30,000 feet. They're not going to at 60,000 feet. And they're the ones that are vulnerable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is that so far, so good.

On the anthrax question, I think that the points made by various administration officials should be echoed by the president. This is a season for citizen involvement and citizen monitoring, unpleasant as that can sometimes be, and erroneous as it can sometimes be, and as troublesome. But this is clearly a situation that could get out of hand, correct?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Absolutely.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: When we come back, is there a seismic shift now going on in U.S. policy towards the Palestinian issue?

(Announcement.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Palestinian state.

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) The idea of a Palestinian state has always been a part of a vision, so long as the right to Israel to exist is respected.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Bush's apparent tilt toward Arafat drew an immediate rebuke from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Upon hearing this, Sharon warned Bush not to pressure Israel with such comment; that building an Arab coalition to fight terrorism was comparable to Neville Chamberlain and Europe's appeasement of Adolf Hitler in his territorial ambitions on the Sudetenland on the eve of World War II.

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER ARIEL SHARON: (From videotape.) Do not try to appease the Arabs on our expense. This is unacceptable to us. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terrorism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Secretary Powell telephoned Sharon and expressed President Bush's displeasure. And early this week, Sharon apologized for his remarks. But many believe that, invective aside, Sharon's words reveal an insight into a vast realignment of the Middle East geo-political theater, owing to the dynamics of the large Muslim dimension of our multi-front anti-terrorist offensive.

Okay, at week's end, President Bush repeated his statement that the future Palestinian entity would be, quote, unquote, a "state."

PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) I believe there ought to be a Palestinian state, the boundaries of which will be negotiated by the parties, so long as the Palestinian state recognizes the right of Israel to exist and will treat Israel with respect, and will be peaceful on her borders.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Twice now, Bush has publicly declared his support for a Palestinian state. Is this just rhetoric to hold the coalition together, or is he truly committed to Palestinian statehood? I ask you, Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, I don't think this is just rhetoric. I think the reason why Sharon reacted so strongly was that this plan, which was going to be released before September 11th and was leaked, I believe, to the Boston Globe, was not prepared with the consultation of Israel, and as a result -- which normally American announcements are. And that's what I think justifiably scared Sharon into his outburst. I think there is a danger, from the Israeli point of view, of a peace that, if not imposed, would be an awful lot of pressure which we certainly could bring to bear on Israel, given our support in their military and the spare parts, to try to reach an agreement.

MS. CLIFT: A Palestinian state is the price of support from Egypt and from Jordan. And I think the administration is going to use this opportunity to try to bring about this situation. It's going to take a lot of hand-holding of Israel and the prime minister there, and I would expect that the administration is going to name some sort of an envoy to deal with that so that Sharon can be assured that the U.S. is not walking away from support. And there isn't a thing the president said that anybody in Israel should disagree with.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, here's the problem. Sharon and the Israelis expected a very close U.S.-Israeli relationship -- we're going to go hunting terrorists together -- after September 11th. What happened is Mr. Bush builds a coalition, and it is now clear that he is going basically with the U.S.-Arab approach in the war against terror.

And that's going to mean United States, I believe, has given commitments that we're going to really leverage Sharon and the Israeli government so that they have a Palestinian state along the lines of the Taba agreement and Camp David. And let me tell you, Sharon will not only resist this. The resistance in the United States on the Israeli lobby, from Congress -- I don't think the president realizes the kind of battle he is undertaking if he moves down this road. But I think he's got to move down it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Sharon --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't think that's the president's policy at all.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Sharon was trying to activate Israeli supporters by the tough rhetoric, which appears -- do you think the rhetoric backfired?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, I don't think the rhetoric was entirely appropriate, but I think his point was -- it was not just based on the sort of leak of the possibility of a Palestinian state. He himself had said several weeks earlier that he expected a Palestinian state. That's not the issue. The issue is, how do you get there from here? Okay? And there are several things.

The first thing that he insists upon, and that the American government accepts, is the end to the violence. And the second thing is, as you heard the president say, is, "Look, this is going to be negotiated between the parties. It's not going to be imposed. It's going to be negotiated between the parties." So I think those are the essential elements that, in fact, will -- and that's the reason why I think Eleanor is right.

MS. CLIFT: What Israel is afraid of is that this war gets expanded and there's a war with Iraq, and they know that they would be in the crossfire. And that's what they're terrified of. And they're also scared there is going to be leverage brought on them by the U.S. and Europe: "Pull back on those settlements; Palestinian state." That's the endgame.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know, on that point of Iraq, the Brits have said they won't follow us into Iraq.

Okay, Arafat's extreme hazard. Another extreme risk-taker in the unfolding anti-terrorist saga is Yasser Arafat. "We don't want crimes committed in the name of Palestine. It is true that there is oppression, terrorism and killing in Palestine daily, but this doesn't justify or give cover for anybody to kill or terrorize civilians in Washington and New York or any other place." So said Yasser Arafat through his information minister.

In addition to this crossing of the Rubicon with words, Arafat's Palestinian police crossed it with action. They opened fire on a crowd of radical Islamic Palestinian students marching in support of bin Laden. In a cloud of tear gas and bullets, three were killed by the Palestinian police, more than 50 injured.

Arafat's support for the Bush offensive was not lost on Bush.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) I was pleased to see that Mr. Arafat is trying to control the radical elements within the Palestinian Authority, and I think the world ought to applaud him for that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Arafat deserves the world's applause, Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he certainly deserves the president's. What Arafat has done, John, he's bet his career and his life that the president is going to deliver for him. His objective --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he in danger?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, he is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is he in danger of being assassinated?

MR. BUCHANAN: I believe that -- look, I believe his life is on the line. If they don't deliver something for him, I think he's gone. And then it's Hamas versus Sharon, which is what Hamas wants and Sharon wants. Mr. Bush has got himself into quite a box, and I don't see how he's going to get out of it.

MS. CLIFT: This is a moment of truth for Arafat. If he goes too hard on the extremists, he gets replaced or assassinated. But he can't sit on the fence. And he seems to have, by default, sided with Bush and the U.S.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: There's something missing from this equation. Last year he was offered 97 percent of the West Bank, control of the Arab sectors of Jerusalem, basically sovereignty on the Temple Mount, and turned it down. We are not talking about what you are talking about. Clinton delivered for Arafat. Clinton basically was the spokesperson for a Palestinian state. And Arafat turned it down.

(Cross-talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question. We've got to get out. We've got to get out.

MS. CLIFT: A new world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit question: Do you think that there are forces at work over which the parties really have lost control, and that what is happening in the Middle East is that a massive shift, a geopolitical shift, is taking place, and what will emerge is a de facto new policy towards Israel to meet that shift? Do you know what I'm talking about?

MR. BUCHANAN: I know exactly what you're talking about.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What am I saying?

MR. BUCHANAN: What you're saying clearly is that Mr. Bush is going to move closer to the Arabs and he's going to put pressure on Israel to deliver a Taba-plus agreement.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this kind of a gestalt, an engine that has its own power almost independently of actions taken by Bush?

MR. BUCHANAN: I don't know if the president is aware of where he is headed, because the amount of pressure to deliver what he's indicating he may deliver would take his presidency --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Are we not going to be in the debt of these Muslim countries who have come forward and put their national lives on the line?

MS. CLIFT: The biggest realignment is with Arafat, and we're seeing that. And in terms of the Muslim countries, they're taking one position, their people may be taking another.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MS. CLIFT: The U.S. has to engage differently with Arab countries, obviously.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think Sharon was actually prophetic, that there is a movement that is so massively geopolitical?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's possible. But there are many rotations of the story before we get to the end of the game. And remember at the end that Israel has been sharing an alliance of principle with us for 50 years, and we don't know how the Arabs are going to play out their game. Keep in mind also that bin Laden --

(Audio break.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We are not going to be so committed, in my judgment, to these Arab governments, in part because they are so unstable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's the devil? Is Arafat the devil?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. The Egyptian government is an authoritarian government with very little popular support.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, come, come, come, come, come.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: The Saudi government has very little popular support. A lot of these Arab governments are very weak because the people of the street are really radicalized against the West.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Mort, if you don't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mort, Mort --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: And we are not going to go so far down the road that we'll have to --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Our command and control is due to the willingness of the Saudis to accept us.

We'll be right back with predictions.

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Exit: Is Palestinian statehood in America's national security interest and in Israel's national security interest?

MR. BUCHANAN: A Palestinian state is a necessary condition of peace but not a sufficient one.

MS. CLIFT: It's the inevitable endgame. It depends how much blood, real and political, will be shed to get there.

MR. BLANKLEY: It won't happen, but it would be in both Israel and America's interest to have it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Statehood won't happen?

MR. BLANKLEY: Not in the foreseeable future.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I don't believe it will happen. I think it's in the interest of both countries, but not in the interest of Jordan, because I think Jordan then gets swallowed up by the Palestinian state.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You are absolutely right with regard to the forepart of your question. It's in the national security interest of both Israel and America; Jordan, we'll wait and see.

Bye bye.

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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Homeland security.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) I've given Tom and the Office of Homeland Security a mission to design a comprehensive, coordinated national strategy to fight terror here at home.

GOV. TOM RIDGE (Assistant to the president for homeland security): (From videotape.) While the effort will begin here, it will require the involvement of America at every level.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president and his new homeland security director state their goals firmly. But how firm is the infrastructure underneath Director Ridge? Here's the problem: Homeland Security is an office, not an agency. That's a big difference.

GARY HART (former co-chair, commission on national security): (From videotape.) We believe this should be a statutory agency. We believe this agency should have budget authority. Our commission strongly believes that any lesser or more tenuous solution will merely perpetuate bureaucratic confusion and diffusion of responsibility. No homeland czar can possibly hope to coordinate the almost hopeless dispersal of authority that currently characterizes the 40 or 50 agencies or elements of agencies with some piece of responsibility for protecting our homeland.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Gary Hart, former senator from Colorado, co-chaired the blue-ribbon commission on national security in the 21st century. Six months ago, after three years of study, that commission urged the creation of a homeland security entity, but explicitly stated that that entity should be an agency, not an office.

Director Ridge will be housed in a West Wing office. His budget to date is $25 million. He has two deputies, but they report not only to Director Ridge but also to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Question: Should Ridge heed Hart's advice and fight to create an agency? I ask you, Mort.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes. I think it is absolutely inadequate to the task at hand to have just some czar, another layer of bureaucracy, trying to use informal ways of controlling a lot of these agencies and focusing their efforts. We have huge problems facing this country in terms of domestic security, and I think you absolutely must do as was recommended by that commission.

MS. CLIFT: Yes. (Inaudible) --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Before you get hysterical about the agency idea, why should he devote himself to turf wars, creating another bureaucratic agency? Why doesn't he be a troubleshooter, move from agency to agency, and then do it the way Jack Welch did when he took over General Electric?

MS. CLIFT: Because --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Let me explain to you the difference between Jack Welch and Tom Ridge. Jack Welch could fire every son of a gun who worked for GE, and, by the way, did that to a considerable degree. I think 100,000 people were let go as he streamlined the company. Now, you let me know when Tom Ridge can fire 100,000 people in the government and I'll agree with you.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you understand what I mean by troubleshooting it rather than becoming a bureaucratic chieftain?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah. In an ideal world, he should be an agency. He should have a big budget. I think there are some important things he can do even without the statutory authority. There's a --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Or budget.

MR. BLANKLEY: Or budget, right. There was a wonderful study done regarding how to deal with biochemical aftermath by the National Guard. It's about a $3 billion program. An awful lot of loose ends can be pulled together. He can do a lot of that with a bit of money and presidential backing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think, Pat? You've lived in the White House for much of your life.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's a mistake and he can't do it with what he's been given.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You want him to have an agency, a staff?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I don't. I think it was a mistake. He ought to be an adviser to the president.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think Congress needs to give him a little statutory heft. But he's close to Bush. I think we're looking at the ticket for 2004. And so I wouldn't underestimate what he can do.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many times can he knock on Bush's door?

MS. CLIFT: A lot.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got a few bites at the apple. He can't keep going back and back, can he?

MR. BUCHANAN: Bush --




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