Share


THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

JOINED BY: ELEANOR CLIFT, PATRICK BUCHANAN, TONY BLANKLEY, AND LIONEL BARBER

TAPED: FRIDAY, MAY 14, 2004
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF MAY 15-16, 2004


(C) COPYRIGHT 2004, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1919 M STREET, N.W., SUITE 220, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20036, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.

FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.

FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
-------------------------


MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: Chain of command, continued.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): (From videotape.) Part of the defense that we're going to be hearing about in these court-martials is that the people that we're charging are going to say this system that we see photographic evidence of was at least encouraged, if not directed, by others.

MAJ. GENERAL ANTONIO TAGUBA (prisoner-abuse investigator): (From videotape.) Sir, I would say that they were probably influenced by others, but not necessarily directed specifically by others.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, General, if you believe Private First Class Lynndie England, who appears in some of the Abu Ghraib photos, the military guards were both influenced and directed.

PFC LYNNDIE ENGLAND (MP guard at Abu Ghraib): (From tape.) Told to stand there, give the thumbs-up, smile, stand behind all the naked Iraqis in the pyramid, take the picture.

BRIAN MAASS (Denver CBS affiliate reporter): (From tape.) Who told you to do that?

PFC LYNNDIE ENGLAND: (From tape.) Persons in my higher command.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Does PFC England's account have the ring of truth? Yes or no? Pat Buchanan?

MR. BUCHANAN: Well, this is the sweetheart of cell block 10, John. Yes, in --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What does that mean? Does it have the ring of truth?

MR. BUCHANAN: That means she's quite a young lady. Here's the thing.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about does it have the ring of truth?

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes, in this sense. In part it does. Clearly, there were parts of -- much of what she did was voluntary, but much of what she did, the posed stuff with the collar and the leash, this was clearly set up, and it looks like it was set up by people in command of her. I doubt if she thought it up herself. So my guess is she was told to do this and she, in effect, was following orders for part of it, but part of her antics in that cell block were all volunteer, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, will the military ranks close -- will the military close ranks now and try to bill this to the lower echelon?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think General Taguba was actually more forthright in the report than he as when he testified on Capitol Hill, because he took it up to the brigadier level. He named, I think, a full colonel. I mean, he took it up the chain of the command in his report.

I think what we have now is the "bad apple" theory versus the "they told me from high to do it." And if you can constrain it to seven rogue soldiers, it's a much more containable scandal. But there is no reasonable person that will believe that these young people acted on their own. And the climate was set from the very top saying we don't have to abide by Geneva, the rules have changed after 9/11. And specific rules of engagement were established at the Pentagon and by the administration. So, yes, the chain goes way up.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is this a different type of military investigation inasmuch as it has the Senate watching, and in the Senate we have Lindsey Graham, with his estimable history of having been an Army prosecutor; you have John McCain as the other end of the line, who was a POW himself and his history; and then you've got Chuck Hagel; and these military-backgrounded senators are not going to be missing very much, so that may keep this investigation going and on track?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, I have reason to suspect that the pictures were originally leaked to CBS and to The New Yorker precisely to get world and congressional attention so that the courts-martials would not be limited to the lower ranks, and those have been spectacularly --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who leaked it?

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't want to give a name because I'm not sure yet, but --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it Taguba?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. Inconceivable. But -- look, but the larger point is that there's no doubt that there's been an establishment of a protocol for interrogation much higher than these people there. And there's no doubt that the people at this level were given some kind of guidance, and they were also terribly, you know, unmanaged. They acted in unacceptable ways, but there was -- doubtlessly been some guidance that was misapplied by these people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How far up the chain of command is this going to go, Lionel? Will it hit the top military brass? Will it hit also the civilian at the top?

MR. BARBER: Well, I think you've certainly got to ask questions about Ricardo Sanchez, who is the field commander. I think, second, General Myers, who is overall chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff. These are the people at the top who were overall responsible for the policy regarding detainees, regarding who was being sent to supervise these prisoners. Plainly, the numbers and the quality of personnel was completely inadequate.

And second, as Tony says, the military was told -- these people in the prison were told to set the conditions for interrogation, and that meant resorting to interrogation techniques which were --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, would that lead to Stephen Cambone, who is the deputy undersecretary for military intelligence?

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me suggest that there are two different standards. Regarding the establishment of the policies -- if the policies are right or wrong -- that's going to go up to a very high level.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm.

MR. BLANKLEY: As far as misconduct is concerned, responsibility will go to the highest person who had actual knowledge and either was negligent or malfeased in applying it. But it's going to be actual knowledge which will cap the responsibility regarding the particular events, but it will go as high as the policy formers --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well --

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. BLANKLEY: -- regarding a judgment of whether the policy is valid or invalid.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a very piercing distinction.

Okay, the Donald.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) Mr. Secretary, you are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror. You are doing a superb job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That was President Bush's ringing endorsement of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld in Washington on Monday. On Thursday, in Baghdad, during a surprise town hall meeting, Mr. Rumsfeld addressed the troops.

SECRETARY OF STATE DONALD RUMSFELD: (From videotape.) I've stopped reading the newspapers. (Laughter, cheers, applause.) It's a fact: I'm a survivor! (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was this a political masterstroke by Rumsfeld, or does it have a down side? Eleanor Clift?

MS. CLIFT: Well, it was smart to get images of him surrounded by cheering troops because then it looks like the morale is great in Iraq. But I want to remind you that in 1968, after Lyndon Johnson dropped out of the presidential race because he was driven out because of his disastrous war policy, he could still go to military bases and get cheers from troops. So I wouldn't read too much into this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that he looked a little bit arrogant while legislators here in Washington --

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it sound at all, especially with the newspaper remark -- and also at the outset he said it's much better here in Baghdad; it's much nicer than being in Washington.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think it was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was that kind of a taunt to the Congress? Was he a little too lighthearted?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think he looked --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is it like Howard Dean where his remarks played beautifully in the live audience, as it did with the press and troops with Rumsfeld --

MS. CLIFT: No.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, you got it wrong. It looked confident.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- but in other audiences it didn't play that well at all? What do you think, Lionel?

MR. BARBER: I certainly don't think that some of the senior senators would have been happy with that remark. But that's not the point. The real point is that you cannot think in all honesty that an extended photo op near Abu Ghraib and before the troops is going to take this story off the front page. It's not. The investigation is going to go on.

MR. BUCHANAN: Rumsfeld has survived, John.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's not intended to take it off the front page.

MR. BARBER: Well, what was it intended to do?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It was a morale booster.

MR. BLANKLEY: It was a pivot moment where Rumsfeld regained his confidence and reestablished the message throughout the military that we're going to push forward; we're not going to roll over and play dead for the politicians.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also addressed the troops.

GEN. RICHARD MYERS (chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff): (From videotape.) As you look up at our chain of command, you couldn't have better leadership, and I'm talking about our secretary of Defense and our commander in chief. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Was Myers trying to make a political point, meaning he intended his comment to be an endorsement of Bush five and half months before the election?

MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.)

MS. CLIFT: No --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I ask you, Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: This was a grace note and it was well done and very well received. It shows the president's very popular.

On Rumsfeld, the president made a terrible mistake last week when that White House aide leaked out that he'd taken Rumsfeld to the woodshed. They've come back for a week, and they've done an excellent job of it. And Rumsfeld, frankly, did an excellent job there. He is not going to resign.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. BUCHANAN: Tony is right. He's regained his footing, and this thing is cooling down.

MS. CLIFT: It is damage control.

MR. BUCHANAN: It is damage control, and it worked. It worked.

MS. CLIFT: And the administration has not been in the least humbled. And the part that's missing --

MR. BUCHANAN: They shouldn't be.

MS. CLIFT: The part that's missing is they haven't reassessed a disastrous policy. And the country is catching on to the fact that they don't have workable plan, and it's reflected in the declining poll ratings.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But I want to ask you a question, and that relates to what we heard -- just heard from the general. Army regulation says, "A soldier on active duty will not use his or her official authority or influence for interfering with an election, affecting the course or outcome of an election, or soliciting votes for a particular candidate."

Now what General Myers said was, "As you look up at our chain of command, you couldn't have better leadership, and I'm talking about our secretary of Defense and our commander in chief. You couldn't have better leadership."

Do you think that was equivalent -- the endorsement of John Kerry? I mean -- excuse me -- of the president, and to the exclusion of Kerry? (Laughter.) He didn't say -- well, go ahead.

MR. BUCHANAN: Kerry's also good --

MR. BARBER: For all his qualities, Kerry is not the commander in chief, leader. The real -- something much more important that General Myers said this week is when he told the Congress that there is no chance of a military defeat in Iraq, but no chance of a military victory. That was actually a much more interesting political statement --

MR. BUCHANAN: That is exactly -- that goes to Eleanor's point --

MR. BARBER: -- which goes to the transition and what is going to happen on the ground in Iraq.

MR. BUCHANAN: This is the big thing, John. This is the big thing --

MR. BLANKLEY: Wait, wait, wait --

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Tony.

MR. BUCHANAN: This is the big thing, John. And Eleanor's right. This war is reaching something of a turning point now, and this present thing is part of it. But we're coming to a statement where you get the general saying, "We can't win it with the forces we got. We're not going to lose it." Something new and different's got to be done, and I think it's got to be done by November.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, the human toll. U.S. military dead in Iraq: 777. U.S. military medical evacuations: 21,150, an estimate. Iraqi civilian dead: 15,200, an estimate.

Exit: How does Rumsfeld survive? Or does Rumsfeld survive? I ask you.

MR. BUCHANAN: Rumsfeld has made a decision, I believe now, that he's going to stay. The president wants him to stay. They're not going to let anybody out of the stockade before November, and they shouldn't, for political reasons. (Laughter.)

MS. CLIFT: Right. Karl Rove has made the decision that if you're going to keep the base happy, you have to show clear, confident leadership. And Tony's still happy; that's the barometer.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: I'm not happy right now.

MS. CLIFT: And if Rumsfeld goes, Bush goes. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, obviously Rumsfeld's going to survive.

But this is a total misrepresentation of Myers' statement. Obviously there is no military solution, in the sense there's got to be a political solution. We understood that a year and a half ago. He wasn't saying that the military wasn't up to the military part of the job. He was merely saying that the military can't win it; you've got to have a complete political process. So to take that statement out of context and make it sound like some sort of desperate statement by the --

MR. BARBER: It wasn't a desperate statement, Tony. It was a statement of reality --

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it's not only a statement of reality --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hold on, Tony. Let him finish.

MR. BARBER: (Inaudible) -- far different from the "Mission accomplished" -- (inaudible) --

MR. BLANKLEY: No, no, no. Look, the --

MR. BARBER: Rumsfeld --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to move on.

MR. BLANKLEY: This is ridiculous.

MR. BARBER: Rumsfeld will stay, because the president is too weak to fire him.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Rumsfeld, I believe, will stay.

When we come back: Will Kerry surprise us with his vice presidential pick?

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue two: Screening room of horrors.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D-CA, House minority leader): (From videotape.) It's really a very sad day when Congress is called to see such photos.

SENATOR BILL FRIST (R-TN, Senate majority leader): (From videotape.) Very, very appalling.

SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): (From videotape.) The military dogs and the victim lying on the floor, near a pool of blood.

SENATOR BILL NELSON (D-FL): (From videotape.) Disgusting, and it is disappointing.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE PENCE (R-IN): (From videotape.) Revulsion and disgust and genuine sadness.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In a private and ultra-secure viewing this week only for members of Congress, photos and videotape of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse were screened. They may never be made public. Members on both sides are saying the release of the photos may further imperil U.S. troops and U.S. citizens.

In fact, the gruesome videotape showing the decapitation of American worker Nick Berg makes this point, enforced by the statement read by his killers. (Reading over footage of Nicholas Berg and his captors and the Arabic version of the following.) "We tell you that the dignity of the Muslim men and women in Abu Ghraib and others is not redeemed except by blood and souls. You will not receive anything from us but coffins after coffins, slaughtered in this way."

Question: Was the decapitation of Nick Berg a revenge killing, Lionel?

MR. BARBER: No. This is pure propaganda from the part of these people who committed an atrocious act. They had Berg in captivity for some time, and I don't think there's any connection between the two. Those who believe that there is a connection and believe that propaganda are completely wrong.

MR. BUCHANAN: Also -- (inaudible) -- John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Is there something else you could appeal to? Namely, an earlier decapitation --

MR. BLANKLEY: Danny Pearl.

MR. BUCHANAN: Danny Pearl.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- which was not a revenge -- which was not stated as a revenge killing.

MR. BARBER: Whoever is doing PR --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Daniel Pearl.

MR. BUCHANAN: That's -- this --

MR. BARBER: Whoever is doing PR for al Qaeda really needs to get another job --

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. Al-Jazeera refused to run it.

MR. BARBER: -- because this kind of action and the way the propaganda was put across will actually just increase the resolution of all Americans in the war in Iraq.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, this destroyed what they had going for them, with everybody focused on this prison. Then they do this horrific act, and the contrast is dramatic. Americans are shamed by this squalid behavior, and these guys are proud of beheading somebody. And frankly, it's horrible for Berg, but it could not have been better for the president's war cause.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did the abuse of prisoners in Al (sic) Ghraib prison boost the standing and the propaganda -- was it a propaganda victory for Zarqawi, Eleanor?

MS. CLIFT: The prison photos?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes.

MS. CLIFT: Well, that has signaled the Iraqi world that the Americans really are not liberators, that we are a brutal occupying army, and I think that's going to be very difficult to recover from.

I must say there are a lot of questions about Mr. Berg, and his parents of course are suing the U.S. government and Don Rumsfeld. He was captured by the Iraqi police, the police force we created, apparently because he has an Israeli stamp on his passport. And he was held in an American-run prison facility and interviewed by the FBI and not released in a timely fashion. So, doesn't make me have a lot of confidence in the Iraqi police force either that we're creating if they're willing to arrest somebody for this, having a wrong passport.

MR. BLANKLEY: What does that have to do with the fact that the terrorists cut his head off?

MS. CLIFT: I'm not approving of that at all.

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, good. Okay. I just want to make sure.

MS. CLIFT: I am just saying there's a lot more questions to be asked about Mr. Berg and why he --

MR. BLANKLEY: It's always "yes, but."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You see, well, Zarqawi can now present himself as the avenger.

MR. BUCHANAN: Oh, no.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Of course he can. That's --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, this was so stupid of them. I mean, they have everything going for them, then they go out and do this horrific, squalid, murderous act and everybody looks at them and says, my lord, maybe Mr. Bush has a point.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Were any of that group --

MR. BUCHANAN: Even the Iraqis must see --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Granted that Abu Ghraib is very --

MS. CLIFT: That doesn't excuse what the liberating army did.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me! Granted that Abu Ghraib is very regrettable, but is all this outrage misdirected?

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK): (From videotape.) I am also outraged that we have so many humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons, looking for human rights violations while our troops, our heroes, are fighting and dying.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: should we be outraged that military prisons are subject to humanitarian inspections by do-gooders, do you think, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, look, I think what Inhofe said had to be said. Things were going overboard. I mean, we ought to condemn what went on there, but people are politicizing it and putting it on the front page day after day after day. And he's saying wait a minute, this was a little group of people that did squalid acts, and to compare the United States to this other side is wrong.

MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.) I don't think it's just a little group of people who did squalid acts. I mean, I think our government is responsible. But this is setting up the debate for who's losing Iraq, and the side that wants to support the president is going to say it's the liberal namby-pamby do-gooders who are tying the military's hands, and we need these techniques because they're so awful on the other side. I mean, that's what's being set up out there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does he think that the International Red Cross should not inspect the prisons?

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And if that happens, what do we say about, say, John McCain when he was interviewed by the International Red Cross?

MR. BLANKLEY: The Wall Street Journal ran a very good editorial this week in which they questioned whether the Red Cross leadership is becoming politicized in a way that other left-wing groups are and are no longer reliable reporters of fact, which they've traditionally been. So there's a real political question as to whether you can any longer trust the International Red Cross.

MS. CLIFT: When you go after the Red Cross, what's next? The Little Sisters of the Poor?

MR. BLANKLEY: PDA.

MS. CLIFT: Please. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, but, John, Inhofe said basically let's put this in perspective, and he was right to do so, you know, Eleanor, because this isn't --

MS. CLIFT: That's not his objective.

MR. BUCHANAN: As we've said last week, this isn't My Lai. It's not Nagasaki. It's awful, yes, but it's not being put in perspective.

MS. CLIFT: And it compromises the way Americans will be treated when they are held around the world.

MR. BLANKLEY: Oh, do you think --

MS. CLIFT: And we allegedly are better than the rest of them. We --

MR. BLANKLEY: Do you think the terrorists were going to treat us nicely and follow the Geneva Accords until last week?

MS. CLIFT: Well, okay, all right, so you're going to stoop to their level and that makes it better? (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: No. You just -- wait a second. You just said that now our prisoners were be treated poorly because of this. But you know what these terrorists do with our prisoners, they slit their throats, and they were doing it before this, they'll do it after, until we kill all of them --

MS. CLIFT: There are more -- you can't label everybody under terrorists. There are lots of governments around the world that play by the rules --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three --

MS. CLIFT: -- and if we want them to play by the rules, we have to start it.

MR. BLANKLEY: They're never going to play by the rules.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me! Excuse me!

MS. CLIFT: So all the rules are gone? All the rules are gone? I don't think so.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Excuse me, Eleanor!

Issue three: Who's Kerry's veep?

Criteria: One, major league readiness -- able to compete right away in the major leagues, prime-time ready, step on the stage and don't miss a beat, no on-the-job training.

Number two, heartbeat away test -- with resume satisfying the "heartbeat away from the presidency" test, especially on national security.

So, three, foreign policy experience needed.

Four, national political experience needed -- no governors-only types need apply.

And five, Cabinet experience or, six, sterling military credentials, like five-star general, Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander. And all important, seven, do no harm. No skeletons.

Assumption: In this presidential election, any small error might cost John Kerry the race. So, in picking a vice president, he must, above all, play it safe.

Who's your candidate, Pat?

MR. BUCHANAN: My guess is he would love to have John McCain as vice president, because if he did, I think he would win the election. But I think he's probably going to come down and take Richard Gephardt of Missouri because he's the -- he brings something to him and he doesn't bring any problems.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I've been telling you, Pat, he's got to go ethnic, and that means the Hispanic vote. How about a Kerry-Menendez ticket?

(Begin videotape clip from "John McLaughlin's One on One.")

REP. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): I've sat the last 12 years on the International Relations Committee. I'm the ranking Democrat on the Western Hemisphere Committee, traveled vigorously across the world.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Could you compete head-to-head with Dick Cheney in a debate?

REP. MENENDEZ: I certainly believe I could. We understand that that means not just about pursuing terrorists abroad, but protecting ourselves here at home, which the administration has not done a good job on in the ports of the country, still in the aviation security of this country, certainly in our first responders, which I constantly deal with. And I was a mayor, I had executive functions, I dealt with those individuals. I was a state legislator in both houses. I've been here 12 years, I have dealt with international relations, I have dealt with homeland security, and I don't have a Halliburton to worry about.

(End videotape clip.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Menendez is a Democrat from New Jersey, Democratic Caucus chairman, the third-ranking Democrat in the House leadership, the highest ranking Hispanic in congressional history. The only Hispanic ever elected to a leadership position in either chamber by either party.

What do you think of Menendez?

MR. BARBER: An interesting figure. Definitely out of the box, but totally improbable.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. BARBER: He -- you need somebody with more experience, more electricity. The Kerry campaign at the moment is just sort of --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You get too much electricity, that current can also short-circuit you in the first position. You know that. That's happened before. You don't want them to be out there with too many lights on.

MR. BARBER: Yeah, well right now, it's dark in the Kerry campaign, John -- (laughter) -- and that's why my thing -- I think you need Senator John Edwards.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who's your candidate, quickly?

MR. BLANKLEY: Gephardt. Because the Kerry strategy is to be available if people reject Bush --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Gephardt.

MR. BLANKLEY: Gephardt is safe and solid and he might carry Missouri.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He fills all of the criteria, no question, but is white bred. All white bred.

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a white bred --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's time for Kerry to relieve his white-bred, Boston Brahmin, aristocratic image and he should go ethnic. True or false?

MS. CLIFT: Well, I agree with most of what everything was said here, and if it's Menendez, John, I heard it here first and only here. (Laughter.)

I would just add Wesley Clark to the list. I think he's made a resurgence with the war looming --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, Wesley Clark could not obey his civilian authorities while he was serving in the United States military.

MS. CLIFT: He -- well --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Would you want someone who wouldn't obey you if you were president? I think not, Eleanor. Would you like Blankley as your vice president?

We'll be right back with predictions.

MS. CLIFT: I wish some of the soldiers in the prisons didn't obey! (Laughs.)

(Announcements.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There could well be an electricity black-out this summer. Will this Congress give us an energy bill?

Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: If there's a black-out, yes.

MS. CLIFT: No, they can't agree on anything. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, Democrats in the Senate are going to kill it.

MR. BARBER: No, the big energy companies are too big and too powerful.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Incredibly, no.

Bye-bye!

(PBS SEGMENT)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue four. We are not alone.

The truth IS out there: UFOs -- Unidentified Flying Objects -- flying in the night sky over Mexico. The Mexican Air Force shot this video last March: strange bright lights, in rough formation, zooming near an Air Force jet, and at one point actually surrounding the jet.

MEXICAN AIR FORCE PILOT: (From videotape.) "Son diez, once objectos."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "They are 10, 11 objects," radios one pilot.

MEXICAN AIR FORCE PILOT: (From videotape.) "No sabemos que estamos viendo."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "We do not know what we are seeing."

The mysterious objects were shot with an infrared camera while the Mexican Air Force plane was out on patrol for drug trafficking activities.

In April, Mexico handed over a copy of the video to investigative journalist Jaime Maussan who has been investigating UFOs for a decade.

"This is historic news. Hundreds of videos of UFOs exist, but none had the backing of the armed forces of any country. The armed forces don't perpetuate frauds," says Maussan.

Mexico's Defense Department has reached no conclusions on the objects.

Do you think Jaime has a point, namely that with the army attesting to this, we've got to take it seriously?

MR. BARBER: Well, I'd always seek corroboration from the British armed forces and American armed forces before giving this any kind of credibility. My one conclusion --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're slurring the Mexican armed forces?

MR. BARBER: Well, I'm not sure what time of night this was taken and what --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, is that essential?

MR. BARBER: Well, it may be dependent on condition of the pilots. I mean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We know it was dark. What?

MR. BARBER: It -- depending on the condition of the pilot.

The real point here is that this could present a serious immigration problem for this country. (Laughter.) I mean, all these people -- how many aliens are there on those unidentified objects?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's okay to be frivolous about this matter, but I have interviewed, on my other sterling program, the "One on One" show, where Congressman -- Chairman Menendez appeared, many scientists of great repute, from NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and others. And they say that on balance, when quizzed by me on whether there is rational -- what is their best guess as to whether there is rational life in space, they all say yes. The probability is yes, because there's such a vast, limitless ocean out there. The probability is yes.

So are we to rule all of this out and just all "Ha, ha," or should we take it somewhat seriously? I ask you.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, Sherlock Holmes said that one should not exclude things that one doesn't understand, that there are things in the universe beyond our knowledge. So I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But that was Aristotle who said that.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I guess Holmes was cribbing from Aristotle. But I think one should keep an open mind, although it's unlikely, in any given moment, that in fact it's a UFO.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, if this is the Mexican air force running down drug runners, John, I think the boys might have been imbibing some of the contraband. (Laughter.) I mean, I thought it was an ethnic joke when you started talking about this.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think those were our Drones out there, spying on these guys in the plane?

MR. BUCHANAN: It could have been the Americans surrounding them and having a lot of fun.

MS. CLIFT: Well, if it's rational life, why would they hover over the Gulf of Mexico? Wouldn't they find more interesting (sites/sights ?) elsewhere? (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Hey, you know, what's rational to earthlings may not be rational to non-earthlings.

MS. CLIFT: I see. Okay. (Laughter.) #### END_