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THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP

HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN

PANEL:
PATRICK BUCHANAN, MSNBC;
ELEANOR CLIFT, NEWSWEEK;
TONY BLANKLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES;
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC

DATE: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2005

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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
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MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Around the World in Eight Days.

A whirlwind globe trot -- 10 cities in eight days for America's new secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

Friday, AM: London; Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Friday, PM: Berlin; Germany's President Gerhard Schroeder.

Saturday, AM: Warsaw; Poland's Prime Minister Marek Belka.

Saturday, PM: Ankara; Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

Sunday, PM: Jerusalem; Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Monday, AM: Ramallah; Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Tuesday, AM: Rome; Italy's Foreign Minister Gianfranco
Fini and Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Tuesday, PM: Paris; France's President Jacques Chirac, and a major address at the Institute of Political Sciences.

Wednesday, PM: Brussels; 25 NATO officials, a working lunch; and European Commission President Jose Manuel
Barroso.

Thursday, AM: Luxembourg City; EU President Jean Asselborn and EU Secretary General Javier Solana.

Thursday, PM: Washington, D.C.

Question: How did Condoleezza Rice do on her whirlwind tour? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: She's a media star, and I think it was a great success, John, all the way around; almost flawless. I think she did a good job in terms of lowering the rhetoric and the volume and the decibel count.

However, every basic problem endures. The United States is not going to sign on to Kyoto protocol. We're not going to sign on to the International Criminal Court. The president of the United States is still angry that Europe is going ahead selling weapons to China.

In addition to that, the Europeans are not coming our way on putting troops in Iraq and they will not support any American military action in Iran. So the fundamental differences across the pond endure, but I think she did a good job of at least beginning a dialogue.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think you're largely right, Patrick, but I think there will be give on Kyoto.

Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, I think the symbolism of having an African-American woman represent this country is terrific, and I do think she sort of presented a different tone for U.S. foreign policy. But you examine her rhetoric and the consequences of it. I mean, she undermined the European efforts to deal with Iran and its possible nuclear capability. Diplomatically she undermined their efforts.

Her comments about North Korea at her confirmation hearing haunted her while she was in Europe, and the North Koreans cited it as reason why they were pulling out of the six-party talks.

So I don't think she solved any problems. She sure looked good and she's very gracious, and there was a kind of an era or a week of good feeling. But I think she's going to have to change more substantively if she's going to make real progress.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We're going to get into those two areas that you cited.

Tony.

MR. BLANKLEY: Well, Pat's basically right. I mean, it was a bravura performance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Bravura.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes. But --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's a gold-medal word.

MR. BLANKLEY: (Laughs.) But it was the easy part. I mean, for instance, she said that she endorsed a unified European foreign policy with the European foreign minister and sort of dismissing implicitly Rumsfeld's playing of one party of Europe against the other, which is wonderful if we can bring Europe online on the great strategic issues we're going to have. If not, then we're stuck with an undivided European policy that opposes us.

So this is no reflection on her, but the fact is that I don't think the president's views or America's interests have changed. And how you finesse that after the atmospherics are over will be another challenge.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't you think that Condoleezza Rice could benefit by and did benefit by a global introduction?

MR. O'DONNELL: Yeah, and she needed it. It was important -- it was a completely symbolic trip, but the symbolism was important. It was important that she did it as quickly as this after her Senate confirmation, basically her first thing out of the gate as secretary of State, and then going to European allies that we've had tensions with it, and she being, in their minds, part of the source of that tension --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you're saying it was principally public relations, not principally substantive.

MR. O'DONNELL: Well, of course. There wasn't anything on the table to discuss.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, let's explore that. Okay, Secretary Rice's key objective on her Europe trip was fence-mending.

SECRETARY OF STATE CONDOLEEZZA RICE: (From videotape.) Our trans-Atlantic partnership will not just endure in this struggle, it will flourish, because our ties are unbreakable. We care deeply about one another. We respect each other.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think this was a turning point, Lawrence --

MR. O'DONNELL: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in George Bush's foreign policy?

MR. O'DONNELL: No, I don't think there was any --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't think so?

MR. O'DONNELL: Not a turn, not even a hint of a turn. It was a speech. It was what she had to say. And it's good. I mean, look, this administration could easily have just waited a couple of months to send her on this trip. They didn't. They said, "First thing is, get over there and start trying to mend these fences."

But Pat's right in that nothing substantive is going to come of it in terms of what we would really like, like some troop help in Iraq. That's not going to happen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Don't forget, Pat, that at the same time she wanted to jump-start the Israeli dialogue --

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and work that deal through. And that deal came through --

MR. BUCHANAN: She's not working the deal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- when she was there.

MR. BUCHANAN: She is not working the deal. The Palestinians elected Abu Mazen on the grounds that he wanted to stop the violence and go into negotiation. The intifada, because of the suicide bombings, has failed. Sharon wants to talk to this man.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think of the timing? She was there when it came together.

MR. BUCHANAN: No, they went and had their own thing at Sharm el-Sheikh after she's gone. Sharon --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But it was announced when she was there.

MR. BUCHANAN: Sharon and Abu Mazen are going to work this deal, and I think the Palestinians are going to find out they're going to go partway down the road and then it stops.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, it was --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, she launched from there right into Europe, and the Europeans loved that deal-making between the two leaders, one in Palestine and one in Tel Aviv.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's another area of difference. The fundamental difference -- the Europeans want us to push Ariel Sharon into a big deal. The president of the United States is never going to do it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, at the same time -- this goes to your point, Eleanor; very sharp point, by the way -- that Secretary Rice was touring Europe, something else was happening in Geneva, Switzerland. The British, the French and the German diplomats were trying to work a deal with Iran. If Iran gave up its uranium enrichment program, the European Union -- three, the three members -- would give them guarantees of economic cooperation and security assurances; no military action, in other words.

In the middle of this, Secretary Rice admonished Britain, Germany and France to get tough with Iran. She said, "The Iranians need to hear that if they are unwilling to take the deal, really, the Europeans are giving them, if they are unwilling to live with the verification measures, then the Security Council looms. I don't know that anyone has said that as clearly as they should to the Iranians." So she's admonishing them. That goes to your point.

Does her appearance to be lecturing impair her healing of the trans-Atlantic alliance?

MS. CLIFT: Basically saying that while she's on European soil was humiliating her European hosts, who were trying to work this very delicate deal, and basically --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it that bad, really?

MS. CLIFT: Yes, yes -- and basically signaling to the Iranians, why would they want to give up their nuclear program, because they know that this country is bogged down in Iraq, not getting any other help. The military option is not there on the table at this time. They have every incentive to move ahead as aggressively as they can --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MS. CLIFT: -- with whatever nuclear option they have.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's as bad as she says it is?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. Look, I mean --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really? First of all, could you not argue, since we said earlier this month that we would not join the European three -- and the reason given, I think, was we're going to play good cop and bad cop, and Condoleezza Rice is going to be the bad cop and you guys are going to be the good cop, and she's going to go over and do what she did. So they were ready for it. There were no surprises in any of these moves. True or false?

MR. BLANKLEY: Not only were there no surprises. The president, in his State of the Union address, virtually laid down an ultimatum to Iran to get rid of their -- he was very specific about what they had to do. Other than the time schedule, there was nothing left. If she had said anything less than she had said, it would have been inconsistent with what the president said the week before.

MR. BUCHANAN: The president has a terrible problem, which is this. Number one, the Europeans don't want to see military action. Secondly, if they're forced to go to the Security Council, you've got the Russians in there and the Chinese in there, who may say no. That leaves it to George Bush to hit them with the big stick. The problem is, we can't invade. And you start striking those nuclear facilities, you may not take them out but you will have Iranian support for a Shia uprising against the Americans in Iraq.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She said flatly, by the way, that there are no plans for military action against Iran. I want to go further --

MR. BLANKLEY: On the agenda.

MS. CLIFT: Right now.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the agenda.

MR. BLANKLEY: There was a qualifier.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, no plans now. She's not saying forever.

MR. BLANKLEY: There could be another agenda in the pocket.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But she was making a point. And there are no plans, and you know that and I know that.

MR. BLANKLEY: I don't know that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I know that.

MR. BLANKLEY: Sy Hirsch doesn't think so.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Sy is Sy, and I respect Sy, but I happen to have my own knowledge of this.

I want to ask you a question. Did she embarrass herself in any other way?

MR. O'DONNELL: No, she didn't --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She used the word "totalitarian" in connection with whom?

MR. BLANKLEY: North Korea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: In connection with the Iranians.

MR. BUCHANAN: The Iranians --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She said the government is totalitarian. She gave it to a group and they froze.

MR. BUCHANAN: "Totalitarian" means Hitler/Stalin. It means war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: And they thought she should not have used that.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: I agree with her. And frankly, I think --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You agree with her?

MR. BUCHANAN: No, I agree with --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Their criticism?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, my criticism of her and the president is this. Enough hectoring. When you make a threat, make it once, make it twice, but don't make it every day.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, we've got to get out.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make --

MS. CLIFT: She said nothing that would encourage an Iranian reform movement. And also, they're smart enough to know that the president is shooting blanks this time because of Iraq.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is what she said --

MS. CLIFT: And we don't have the military capability.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me ask you this question. This is what she said to justify her use of the word "totalitarian." She said, "I used that word, and I changed it from 'authoritarian' to 'totalitarian' because the election in Iran was flawed."

Do you think that's enough justification --

MS. CLIFT: So was ours. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: --- to go to "totalitarian" ---

MR. BLANKLEY: No, but look --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- in the light of her mission?

MR. BLANKLEY: It's a theocratic oligarchy. Whether you want to call it "authoritarian" or "tyrannical" doesn't make a lot of difference.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Totalitarian."

MR. BLANKLEY: But she --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She says it's got Nazi overtones.

MR. BLANKLEY: No, there are lots of tyrannies other than Nazi and communist. But my basic point is, she is George W. Bush's secretary of State, not Jimmy Carter's. She can't go there and misrepresent what her president's policy is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean, the president says --

MR. O'DONNELL: The president doesn't have a policy.

MR. BLANKLEY: She'll pay a price --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president --

MS. CLIFT: Iran has an elected government. Unelected mullahs may have too much control --

MR. BLANKLEY: Which is not connected to the authority to govern.

MS. CLIFT: And the fact that they had a flawed election -- what about Saudi Arabia and Egypt and all the other flawed elections? This singles out the wrong people.

MR. BUCHANAN: The president is losing credibility, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why?

MR. BUCHANAN: He's losing credibility because he threatened the axis-of-evil nations -- "You don't cross that red line and get nuclear weapons." The North Koreans have crossed every red line. They say, "We've got them." We have done nothing.

If the president keeps these threats up and we don't do anything, I think he's going to damage his credibility.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, we're winding up here. To assist you in determining whether Condi's charm offensive worked, here are three stills of key meetings with world leaders: One, Mahmoud Abbas -- hold that there. You got it? Two, EU Secretary General Solana and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Asselborn. Three, General Solana pays tribute.

Exit question: How would you rate the charm offensive?

MR. BUCHANAN: I give her an A in the charm offensive, John. I think it worked very well. But I get back -- the substance and the problems all endure.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You rate her how high?

MR. BUCHANAN: I give her an A.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: An A?

MR. BUCHANAN: Mmm-hmm. (Affirmative response.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: She's fine on charm. But when she met with the French intellectuals, all the questions were pre-screened so that they were pro-American questions. That was bad enough when President Bush did it on the campaign trail. She shouldn't be afraid of French intellectuals.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You hear that?

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, you know and I know that if she made one faux pas, then they would say what the columnists said; there would be more universal realization -- not realization, but belief that she is really putting lipstick and powder and rouge on President Bush's opinions -- that's why she's there -- but underneath it all remains as aggressive and pugnacious as ever.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, look. It's a charm offensive, but it's more than that. She's more than charmed. She impressed people. She spoke in French and Russian.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, what do you give her?

MR. BLANKLEY: I give her an A for what she did here, although I think that she's got huge mountains yet to climb.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's an A? Is that a 10?

MR. BLANKLEY: No, it's a 9.3. (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you give her?

MR. O'DONNELL: I've seen Tony be very charming to Eleanor in the Green Room, and they don't agree on a thing. (Laughter.) So there's no --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you give this woman?

MR. O'DONNELL: Look, she did everything right on stage in this completely stage-managed tour.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Was it a good -- it was a good opening gambit.

MR. O'DONNELL: A nice little tour with no substance.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No substance? Do you think it indicates anything about the marriage between Europe and the United States?

MR. O'DONNELL: It indicates that the Bush administration is trying to take Europe more seriously than it has in the past.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So she was on a public diplomacy mission, was she not?

MR. O'DONNELL: Which is the job. I'm not criticizing that. That's her job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'll put it on a 10 scale. I'll give her an eight, because there were a couple of little flubs in there; not great.

Exit question again, second one: If you could give the secretary of State one piece of advice, what would it be? Pat Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: Stop hectoring allies and stop threatening adversaries. I mean, we've done it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's on the table. You don't need to repeat it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, you just repeated the hectoring thing. Apparently you're into repetition and you're denouncing it at the same time.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: I would advise her to move off the "You're with us or against us" and to learn to love ambiguity.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think she should guard against -- not that she's violated it much yet -- guard against giving false expectations that there's going to be a shift in our foreign policy.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think?

MR. O'DONNELL: Because we've delegated negotiating with the Iranians to Europe, she should not say a single thing about it that the Europeans don't want her to say. Now, if they want her to say something really tough to back them up and play tough cop, that's one thing. But if she's doing it on her own, it's extremely reckless.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She also brought up the Security Council, the United Nations, much ahead of them. They have not decided on that, the EU three.

I think a little bit of the United States goes a long way, and that's because of our power. I think that what she should do and the administration, including the president, is to understate rather than overstate. I think we should carry --

MR. BUCHANAN: Stop hectoring, in other words. (Laughter.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I think we should speak softly and carry the big stick.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right. Exactly.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's all the great powers should do, because a little bit goes a long way.

Issue Two: North Korea and the Bomb. North Korea, for the first time, has admitted publicly it does have nuclear weapons. Furthermore, North Korea says it plans to build more. Also, the Stalinist state is now refusing to participate in six-party talks with Japan, Russia, China, South Korea and the United States.

"We have manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration's ever more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle us in the DPRK." So says the foreign minister of Kim Jong Il.

Secretary of State Rice in Luxembourg downplayed the North Korean rhetoric.

SECRETARY OF STATE RICE: (From videotape.) We have, for some time, taken account of the capacity of the North Koreans to perhaps have a few nuclear weapons.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Secretary Rumsfeld was not quite so nonchalant.

DEFENSE SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD: (From videotape.) Given their dictatorial regime and the repression of their own people, one has to worry about a weapon of that power in the hands of leadership of that nature. I don't think that anyone would characterize the leadership in that country as being restrained.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Is North Korea bluffing? Eleanor Clift.

MS. CLIFT: I don't think so, because we were monitoring their nuclear activities. We had cameras on their plutonium rods. So they have gone, under the Bush administration, from the capability of one to two bombs to eight to 12. And if they don't have the eight to 12 now, they're one turn of the screwdriver away. I don't think they are bluffing.

And the fact that Condoleezza Rice calls them an outpost of tyranny -- she's right, but the consequences of those words are to undermine the diplomatic effort.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. "Cool It." International Atomic Energy head Mohammed ElBaradei questioned Mr. Bush's premise that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. "There's a lot of talk about 'Somebody believes that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.' We cannot work on the basis of belief. We have to work on the basis of fact. If people have information on the basis of which they are coming to the conclusion that this is a weapons program, I'd like very much for them to share with us. We should not start thinking about any other options until we exhaust the political-diplomatic verification option."

Months before the start of the Iraq war, Mohammed ElBaradei stated flatly that Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons and no nuclear apparatus. Hans Blix, chief U.N. weapons inspector, said that if he had three more months to continue his inspections, it would have shown that there were no chemical and biological weapons of any kind in Iraq.

What about that? Don't these two men, Blix and ElBaradei, have established their bona fides on telling the truth?

(Cross-talk.)

MR. O'DONNELL: More than anyone else in the world on this subject.

MR. BLANKLEY: Let me make --

MR. O'DONNELL: They were right.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They were right about Iraq. That was before the war he said there were no nuclear weapons.

MR. BLANKLEY: John, let me make a point. ElBaradei and the U.S. government are not saying different things. ElBaradei --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're not?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. ElBaradei is saying there is no unquestioning evidence that they intend to make nuclear weapons out of the technologies they have. We say the technologies they have are susceptible to being turned into nuclear weapons, and we suspect their motives.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, wait a minute. I could play you videotape of the president where he goes beyond that.

MR. BLANKLEY: What I'm saying is we don't claim that they've got them yet and he doesn't claim they're not trying to get it. He said there's no evidence --

MR. BUCHANAN: John, what is happening --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is the same thing that happened getting us into the Iraq war.

MR. BLANKLEY: Sorry, but that's the reality.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, Tony is right in this sense. Look, they have yellow cake. They've turned it into uranium hexaflouride. They've run part of it through some of these centrifuges. And that is the way you enrich uranium. You enrich it that way for nuclear power plants, and ultimately to 90 percent for nuclear weapons. There is no evidence they have a massed centrifuge operation or that they are going for nuclear weapons yet.

But the United States is right to be nervous, because they have put various things off-limits. They did a lot of things in secret when they didn't have to. And so I think the Iranians don't have the bomb, but we are right to be nervous. I think ElBaradei has done a great job.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's done a great job.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think he has.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They both have. They're both right. But what gives with -- is the assumption that we're going to jawbone this, hit it very hard, because what harm does it do? Even if they don't have the nuclear weapon, even if they don't want to have it, even if they're bluffing and they just want to make like North Korea could be doing --

MR. BUCHANAN: There's fears --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me finish. What harm does it do? Well, the harm it does, of course, it destabilizes the European effort in both theaters, or the group of six.

MS. CLIFT: Maybe it makes Bush feel good to be provoking an argument with Iran. But his policies in that area -- he has created a country, Iraq, that is now sympathetic and friendly to Iran and could well become a satellite state of Iran --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to get this in --

MS. CLIFT: -- which empowers Iran, does not weaken it.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Intrigue at the IAEA. The neoconservatives in the U.S. government want Mohammed ElBaradei out, it has been reported. "Too soft on Iran," they say. But the rest of the world wants ElBaradei to stay where he is, including our former ambassador to the IAEA, John Ritch, who worked with ElBaradei up close and personal, I believe for seven years.

Quote: "The Bush people who want ElBaradei to be a dog on a leash are myopic. Even if he accepted that role, he wouldn't be of value to anybody, including the United States, because he would immediately lose his standing."

Question. ElBaradei gave us good advice before the Iraq war. Why should we not believe that he can do it again? That's an exit question. You.

MR. BUCHANAN: I think we ought -- it's the third term for him. And I know Bolten and the people don't like him, the neocons. I think we ought to stick with the guy, because I believe he's got enormous international credibility. And if he says Iran is working on a weapon, I think it will be tremendously helpful. He does have independent credibility.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You don't want to see ElBaradei out, do you?

MS. CLIFT: No. And right now he's making it hard for the Bush administration to exaggerate and amplify the urgency of the threat posed by Iran.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Shall we say the Bush administration or shall we say the neoconservatives in the Bush administration?

MS. CLIFT: Well, yeah. But they go right to the top. I would think Bush and Cheney are in agreement with them. (Laughs.)

MR. BLANKLEY: Look, if ElBaradei's reluctance to make a finding that is not completely provable one way or the other results in Iran actually getting nuclear weapons, then we have a bigger problem. You know, I appreciate the fact that you want to have someone who is credible there to the international community, and he is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony --

MR. BLANKLEY: But we can easily pass by an opportunity to close this down before they have the weapons.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Who do you think has the better on-ground intelligence in Iran -- the British, the French and the Germans, or our CIA, on the basis of what we know in the Iraq war and how we got into it?

MR. BLANKLEY: I think the Russians --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Russians.

MR. BLANKLEY: -- probably better than --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Russians are probably feeding us, too, what's going on in Iran.

MR. BLANKLEY: I think the Russians --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why can't we start to believe somebody else instead of our own fault-riddled intelligence?

MR. O'DONNELL: In the words of David Kay, we were all wrong. Our information, the American intelligence on this, is the worst in the world. ElBaradei is proven right in this subject arena. You can't get something as right as he got it in Iraq and then say, "Let's get rid of that guy."

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Screen This.

Pennsylvania supreme court justice Thomas Saylor
Jr. was stopped last week at the Harrisburg International Airport for carrying a two-inch-long knife on his key chain. Saylor was told he must put the knife in his checked baggage or make other arrangements. When Saylor returned to be screened a second time, an X-ray machine detected a knife inside the judge's carry-on bag.

Police say Saylor told screeners that he hid the knife inside a shoe inside the carry-on because it was a gift from a friend and he didn't want to lose it. Now Saylor could be
fined up to $6,000, and the county prosecutor is reviewing
whether Saylor's case warrants criminal charges.

Question: Should the prosecutor throw the book at the judge? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Yes. This is a seriously dumb act on the part of this jurist, even after he's been told, "Don't bring the knife on the plane," to put it in --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think he irritated the screeners enough -- (inaudible) -- all of this?

MR. BUCHANAN: Look, he shouldn't have done it, John.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why couldn't they cut him some slack?

MR. BUCHANAN: Why? Why, just because he's a judge?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's a case of clear judicial indiscretion.

MR. O'DONNELL: What's the crime? What did he do that was so bad? We know the guy is not a hijacker. We know he's not a criminal. He had no criminal intent with this little toy of his. What did he do that was so bad?

MR. BUCHANAN: Make an example out of him.

MS. CLIFT: How about community service, three months as a TSA screener?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A forced prediction because of time. Tony Blair has won two consecutive elections. Will he win a third if he stands?

MR. BUCHANAN: Blair wins it; no tough competition.

MS. CLIFT: Yes, in part because there's no good competition.

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes. The question is, do the Tories come in second or not?

MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, he'll win.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is no, he will not win. Happy Valentine's Day. Bye bye.


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