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The McLaughlin Group

Host: John McLaughlin

Panel:
Pat Buchanan, Author and Columnist;
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek/The Daily Beast;
Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner;
Mort Zuckerman, U.S. News & World Report

Taped: Friday, April 26, 2013
Broadcast: Weekend of April 27-28, 2013

Copyright © 2013 by Federal News Service, LLC, 1120 G Street NW, Suite 990, Washington, DC 20005-3801 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, LLC. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Transcripts Database or any other FNS product, please email info@fednews.com or call 1-202-347-1400.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN: Issue One: Digesting Dagestan.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: (From videotape.) We've been able to reset relations between the United States and Russia in a way that is good for the security and the prosperity of both of our countries. We're cooperating on nonproliferation, on nuclear security, on intelligence, on counterterrorism.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: President Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia agreed to join forces on counterterrorism, specifically against Chechen terrorist Doku Umarov and his al-Qaida- affiliated Caucasus emirate. Umarov's Caucacus emirate is in the North Caucasus, a region of Russia between the Caspian and Black Seas that includes the Russian republic of Dagestan.

After this agreement was reached, Russian intelligence then asked the FBI to investigate Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen, the elder of two brothers charged with carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people, two Americans and a Chinese national, and wounded 260 on April the 15th.

Tamerlan was age 26 when he was shot and killed four days after the marathon by police in Watertown, Massachusetts, where he and his brother Dzhokhar, age 19, had sought refuge.

OK, back to Russia's request in 2011. The FBI fulfilled the Russian request and interviewed Tamerlan and found nothing suspicious. But the Russians were not satisfied with the FBI nothing-suspicious report. So the Russians then asked the CIA to look into Tamerlan's background, especially any links to radical Islam. So the CIA added Tamerlan's name to its terrorist database.

Tamerlan's parents watched all of this from Dagestan, the Russian republic, where they were interviewed late this week over there by the FBI. The FBI's finding: 15 months ago, January of last year, Tamerlan visited Dagestan, where he stayed some seven months and then returned to the U.S. That was July of last year, nine months before last week's Boston attack. This seven-month stay by Tamerlan in Dagestan has led U.S. terror experts to speculate on what happened to Tamerlan while in Dagestan.

Here's one informed view. Quote: "While it is too early to tell, I suspect that Tamerlan was radicalized in the U.S. but used his months in Dagestan to receive the military training and bomb-making skills needed for the Boston attacks," unquote. So says Glen Howard, the president of the Jamestown Foundation, a D.C.-based think tank founded to help Soviet dissidents.

Question: Was there a lack of follow-through by the White House on the potential threat from Chechen terrorism following our deal and our understanding with Medvedev? Pat.

PAT BUCHANAN: I don't think we can blame it on the White House, John, but clearly the Russians knew something about Tamerlan when they got in touch with us. They had some information -- we don't know exactly what it was -- enough to go to the FBI and then go to the CIA. And they believed that Tamerlan was connected with Chechen terrorists somehow, in some way.

And the idea that after all this he goes to Dagestan, which is aflame with sedition and terror, and stays there for six or seven months and is not in touch with some kind of terrorists, I mean, that boggles the mind. And the question is, why, when he came back, did the American intelligence not look into this and follow up on this? And there's a number of occasions in Boston where the guy acted strange.
And so clearly, all along the line, the ball has been dropped. It's not the White House's fault, John, but it is in the security establishment.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.

ELEANOR CLIFT: Well, acting strange does not necessarily mean that you're a terrorist. And I think, based on what the FBI discovered in their interview with Tamerlan and their investigation, they couldn't find anything. And they went back to the Russians, and the Russians refused to provide any hard information, which is not unusual. I don't think these two intelligence agencies are that close. And so the Russians probably knew more than they were saying.

There does seem to be some murky third figure here who's been identified only as Misha, who may have had something to do with radicalizing the older brother. But frankly, you know, I don't know that you can necessarily lay blame at any of these particular focal points, because the two brothers didn't do anything wrong, didn't do anything illegal until they built that bomb. And you can break up a cell once it's operating in real life. But if people are going to radicalize, self-radicalize over the Internet, it's a huge challenge for our intelligence agencies in following the --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan Ferrechio.

MS. CLIFT: -- pursuit.

SUSAN FERRECHIO: Well, I know, just up on Capitol Hill this week, talking to lawmakers, there's some conversation about this idea of, you know, the lack of sharing of information between agencies, that this may have played a part in this dropping the ball about discovering what these brothers were up to.

I know that there's lots of conversations about what did the FBI know, what did the CIA know, what did Homeland Security know, why didn't they share this information with each other, did they know when he was leaving the country. There was misinformation about the fact that Homeland Security thought they didn't know whether they tracked him leaving Russia, then coming back in, and they did know.

There's all kinds of -- I think there are people also trying to cover for themselves, too, at this point, because obviously there's blame going around about who should have known about this. I mean, these guys were walking around at the marathon. No one was keeping an eye on them. Yet the Russian government was warning about them.

You know, somebody, I believe, dropped the ball at some point. And I think it may eventually come down to this inability of our agencies to share information. This is what led up to some of the problems on September 11th, 2001. And I think we're going to hear more about it now with this case.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There's a question raised about how Dzhokhar -- he's the person in question -- should be put on trial.
Should he be put on trial as a criminal defendant or as an enemy combatant?

MORT ZUCKERMAN: I don't think he would be an enemy combatant. I'd certainly put him on trial for -- as a criminal defendant.

But I want to go back to the point of not informing people. It has now come out that the police in Boston did not inform the police in New York that he was expected to come to New York, and this was his next journey. And they had basically said that. And the police are up in arms in New York for not being informed about something like this. If he had come to New York and there had been another incident or --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the reason they were not told?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They just didn't tell them, you know. And usually --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You mean they were caught up in the --

MS. CLIFT: Well, they were captured by them.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, but nevertheless --

MR. BUCHANAN: (That was the next day ?).

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- nevertheless, this was the next stage. Who knew how many people were involved in this thing? And one of the things you always do -- the one department should have informed the police in New York. And they're up in arms over it, and rightly so, as far as I'm concerned.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but it was hardly an organized plan. They just decided to do it in the car. Then the car didn't have enough -- didn't have enough gas in it. I mean, that is -- the two --

MS. FERRECHIO: The question --

MS. CLIFT: Excuse me -- the two bumblers. They had no exit plan at all. And then they thought, we have to get rid of these bombs, so they throw --

MS. FERRECHIO: (Inaudible) -- the pressure cooker.

MS. CLIFT: -- they throw the pressure cooker out the window of the car.

MS. FERRECHIO: They could have just as easily gotten to Times Square and set it off there. This question of whether they're enemy combatant, whether he's tried as an enemy combatant -- I think the real question is whether or not the FBI should have had more time --

MR. BUCHANAN: Right.

MS. FERRECHIO: -- to use -- to question them without having a lawyer present. Now, they were cut off. They had several hours left to do it. He was becoming more lucid because he was recovering from his injuries, providing more information. That questioning was cut off when a judge showed up --

MS. CLIFT: He's an American citizen.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Let me make --

MS. FERRECHIO: -- with a lawyer -- with a lawyer. Here's a lawyer. He stopped talking. They lost precious time --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the --

MS. CLIFT: He's an American citizen. And anybody who's watched "Law and Order" or "CSI" knows you're entitled to a lawyer and entitled to remain quiet.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the enemy combatant versus being put on trial as a criminal defendant is the following. The advantage is the interrogation could have gone on for days if he were being tried as an enemy combatant, for weeks, even months, as long as necessary --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible.)

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- for investigators --

MR. BUCHANAN: No, John --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- to feel certain that he had revealed all that he would reveal.

MR. BUCHANAN: Not tried -- questioned. You declare him an enemy combatant; you can question him. But since he's an American citizen, committed his crime on American soil, he's going to be tried in American court, not in a military tribunal.

But I do agree that they should not have stopped the interrogation. This guy was delivering an awful lot of information. And the judge walks in and Mirandizes him right on the spot --

MS. FERRECHIO: And brings a lawyer.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- where these guys --

MS. FERRECHIO: And brings a lawyer with him --

MR. BUCHANAN: Yeah, brings a lawyer --

MS. FERRECHIO: -- which is very unusual.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- when they're getting all this information out of him.

MS. FERRECHIO: Instead of saying, do you need a lawyer, he says, do you need a lawyer? Here's one for you. So he immediately stopped talking. They completely lost --

MR. BUCHANAN: The judge interfered with the investigation.

MS. CLIFT: Well --

MR. BUCHANAN: Exit question: How big an embarrassment is this for President Obama?

MR. BUCHANAN: I think it's -- I really don't think -- believe you can blame President Obama. It's underneath him. It's the FBI. I agree with Susan that basically this is a lack of coordination in all these agencies, a lack of follow-up. Something went wrong that was supposed to go right after 9/11.

MS. FERRECHIO: And what's disturbing is, after 9/11 --

MS. CLIFT: It's not -- excuse me. I think we're going around the circle here. (Laughs.)

I don't think you can fault President Obama on this. But you can look -- maybe some of these procedures can be tightened up. But again, self-radicalized over the Internet, which is what this appears to be, the lone wolf, this is very tough to find out until they actual commit their crime.

MR. BUCHANAN: Don't bring this type of guys into the country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Susan.

MS. FERRECHIO: Self-radicalized over the Internet until he traveled overseas doing God knows what for seven months. And I think -- I don't think we can assume --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MS. FERRECHIO: -- he self-radicalized over the Internet. It's way too early for that. But a lot of these answers we may never get because, as Pat and I were saying, they stopped the questioning at a really critical moment.
And it's questionable whether they should have done that.

MS. CLIFT: He was brought into the country when he was how old, six years old, as part of his family --

MR. BUCHANAN: He was 26 years old. He was a teenager.

MS. CLIFT: I'm talking about the younger brother, who I thought we were talking about. Well, the other one was a teenager, so you would have kept him out then? I mean, I don't know what kind of immigration laws you're going to draw, Pat --

MR. BUCHANAN: They're bringing their parents in from the most explosive region in the country --

MS. CLIFT: They were given --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- which has undergone slaughter.

MS. CLIFT: They were given political refuge.

MS. FERRECHIO: And the Obama administration did stop with a certain policy that would have provided more scrutiny for people who are from countries where there's a lot more terrorist activity. That policy is now not in play anymore. And one wonders whether it would have (come in handy ?).

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You know that the Russians are holding their games in Sochi. Sochi is about 200 miles west of this whole area.

MR. BUCHANAN: It's on the Black Sea.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: On the Black Sea.

MR. BUCHANAN: Right next to Ingushetia, Dagestan, Chechnya.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Now, 200 miles is about as far as Washington is from New York; not too far. Do you think that any of this is going to play out, perhaps? Does he have -- does Putin have to be concerned about locating the games in Sochi? Which I have visited, by the way.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah, I doubt it. I have a feeling that there will be enough both police and special police coverage to -- that they will not have to worry about it. They've got plenty of underground and undercover --

MR. BUCHANAN: (Inaudible) -- they overloaded it, John.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yeah.

MR. BUCHANAN: They've got guys on the ski slopes --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MR. BUCHANAN: -- from the FSB, which is the old KGB, going down with the skiers.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Right.

MS. CLIFT: You know, and Putin, I think, has a little claim to say I told you so, because he's accused the West of romanticizing the Chechen fighters. And the Chechen fighters do have a cause. The Russians have been brutal in putting them down. But the Chechen fighters are pretty brutal too, although I really don't think what happened --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How many --

MS. CLIFT: -- in Boston had anything to do with Chechen independence.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: How big -- how big is the number of Chechen radical Islamists, such as we have seen? How big is that number?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We don't know.

MS. CLIFT: I don't know what their numbers are, but it's not Chechen so much. It's Dagestan, and it's been infiltrated by al-Qaida.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You think -- these were not lone wolves by any means.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We don't know. I mean, somehow or other, they got radicalized. We don't know exactly how it happened. There are all kinds of different versions of it. The one thing -- as I say, the one thing that I think is absolutely clear, and this is incomprehensible to those of us who live in New York City, that the police in Boston did not inform the New York City police --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, that whole section is --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: -- that they might be going there.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- known as mobster central. They're mobsters over there.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, right. It's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We know that.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: It's an embarrassment to the USSR.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And we know that Sochi is 200 miles away.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think that they're going to just run out of steam when Sochi comes along?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No. But all I'm saying is that one of the things that Putin is capable of is putting enough, shall we say, people -- police officers in civilian clothes. So he'll cover that area like a blanket. I don't think that's --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I drove through part of it. And you know what they told me to do?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: What?

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Keep your windows closed, keep your doors locked, and keep on moving; don't stop.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, but they saw somebody who looked dangerous, John, and yourself. Of course, I don't blame them.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Two: Immigration Reform.

A bipartisan group of senators, the so-called gang of eight, unveiled its 844-page proposed immigration overhaul last week. Now Congress is out next week. So the 435 members of the House of Representatives and the 100 senators go home to their districts and their states and can explore this sensitive and wide-ranging legislation with their constituents.

There's welcome news. Highlights of the bill include giveaways to major industries. Silicon Valley gets a 300 percent increase in H- 1B skilled worker visas. Agribusiness gets a third of a million workers a year. Blue-collar employers, like meat-packing plants, get 185,000 more workers over four years, and automatic increases thereafter.
As for the 11 million illegal aliens in the U.S. today, the bill grants them conditional legal status and a path to citizenship.

What's the cost? The official estimated cost to taxpayers over 10 years: $17 billion. In fact, the Heritage Foundation currently estimates the true 10-year cost at $2.6 trillion -- a trillion being a thousand billion.

The last measure to control immigration and create legal status for undocumented workers was the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. That's 27 years ago. That law legalized 2.7 million aliens. One million of these legalized aliens went on to become citizens.

The principal economic impact was to raise incomes for immigrants, up as much as 13 percent. The 1986 immigration amnesty, by the way, caused a wave of follow-on immigration, a 400 percent surge, from 2.7 million illegal aliens then to 11 million now.

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Senate may not move as fast as President Obama wants.

Question: Will Boston's marathon bombing slow down the momentum of U.S. immigration policy and procedure reform? Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: It already has, John. But I believe the bill is going to pass the United States Senate. So many people are out front on there. But Marco Rubio, who is the key player for the Republicans, is being bashed and was being bashed savagely by conservative talk radio, conservatives before this. I think he'd like to pull back on it.

What's going to happen, it's going to pass the Senate and then it's going to go over to the House, where it's going to go into Mr. Goodlatte's committee, and he's going to break it apart into security, amnesty and all these other various parts. And I think that's where it's going to be killed. And I don't think it's going to -- it'll have to go to conference, and you're not going to get the amnesty, Eleanor.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor, hold on.

The Republicans -- there are eight people on this committee. Republicans are Rubio, Florida; Jeff Flake, Arizona; John McCain, Arizona; Lindsey Graham, South Carolina. Those are the Republicans. The Democrats are Dick Durbin, Illinois; Robert Menendez, New Jersey; Chuck Schumer, New York; and Michael Bennet, Colorado. And I think Schumer is acting as the chairman of this group.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes, he is.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go ahead, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Well, Senator Schumer and Senator McCain met with reporters last week, and basically McCain said if they pass this bill, it's not going to add a single Republican vote, but it'll get the Republicans back on the playing field where they can compete. You can't compete in a country where Hispanics are going to become a majority in some states and are such a crucial voting bloc. So there's political incentive on the Republican side. Americans for Tax Reform just did a poll among Republicans only, two thirds of Republicans support this bill as it's described.

You call it amnesty. I don't call it amnesty if you have to pay back taxes, you have to pay some pretty hefty fees, and it's 13 years before you can become a citizen. But this does legalize people, gets them out of the shadows, and strengthens our defenses, frankly, if you know who is in the country as opposed to just having people in the shadowy position.

And I would also ask you, John, let's call them undocumented immigrants. Illegal aliens, I think, is a rather offensive term. (Laughs.)

MR. BUCHANAN: Undocumented Democrats.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They are both illegal --

MS. CLIFT: Well, actually --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- and they're also aliens.

MS. CLIFT: Actually, Senator Schumer said --

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

MS. CLIFT: He's accused of doing this just to get --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, this is not a birthday party we're having here.

OK, our last immigration bill was passed 27 years ago, in 1986, when our gross domestic product growth was about 8 percent. Today, on the threshold of this new immigration policy, with its new procedures, 14 million Americans are unemployed. What's the impact of that?

MS. FERRECHIO: The Republicans are in a really tough spot right now, because if -- in the last election, part of the reason they lost is they lost the Hispanic vote very badly. However, they support this measure, we pass this measure, there are going to be tens of millions more Democratic voters, at least, for generations to come, at the very, very least, perhaps longer than that.

But what are they going to do? I agree with Pat. I think part of this will have to do with cost and jobs. I think it's going to get to the House, and they're going to start talking about the fiscal implications of this and they're going to talk about what this is going to do for wages for Americans.

I know there's at least one study coming out that's going to show this is going to drop wages for our lowest-income workers. So it's not going to be helpful for people who are already struggling right now to bring in workers who are going to lower wages for everybody.

MS. CLIFT: These people are already here. (Laughs.)

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Excuse me a second. I just want to say one thing. It's not 14 million people. There are 24 million people in America who are either unemployed, working part-time, or have given up looking for work. We have the worst unemployment conditions we've had in several decades. And so this is going to be a very difficult time to bring in a lot of people who are going to be competitive with these people, who are either out of work or can't get full-time work.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think --

MS. CLIFT: Well, this --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- immigration reform is going to be slowed down by the unfortunate events, seriously unfortunate events, of the Boston Marathon?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: I think -- I don't know that it'll be much slowed down. I think it will be slowed down, because it's going to take up a lot of the oratory on this bill when it gets to the various houses. And I think it's relevant on one level --

MS. CLIFT: There's a broad coalition in support of this bill. It includes business. They want the agricultural workers. They want the Silicon Valley --

MS. FERRECHIO: They want the cheap -- they want the cheap labor.

MS. CLIFT: -- the agriculture people.

MS. FERRECHIO: That's what they want.

MS. CLIFT: You've got --

MR. BUCHANAN: John --

MS. CLIFT: You've got a lot of people. The only people who don't want this are House Republicans.

MS. FERRECHIO: That's not true.

MS. CLIFT: And --

MR. BUCHANAN: All right, John --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: That's not --

MS. FERRECHIO: That is not true.

MR. BUCHANAN: To your point, John, because these fellows were from Chechnya and the Caucasus, and because a lot of the Middle Eastern folks are responsible for it, people are going to start taking a look at where the immigrants are coming from and should we really go to areas --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Mm-hmm. (Acknowledging.)

MR. BUCHANAN: -- that are horribly inflamed and where anti- Americanism is great --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat --

MR. BUCHANAN: -- and be bringing in folks willy nilly from these regions. And it's time we thought seriously --

MS. CLIFT: I don't think we're bringing in anyone willy nilly, Pat.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat, the Tsarnaev family lived here for a while.

MS. CLIFT: It's hard to get into this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They received asylum due to the Chechen wars. The family lived largely on welfare. The mother has an arrest record for shoplifting and skipped bail. Tamerlan was denied citizenship because of a domestic-abuse offense. Even before the bombings, these were hardly model immigrants. Now, that's pretty tough, Eleanor.

MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but it stops --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But is that the background --

MS. CLIFT: -- well short of looking at them and saying they're going to commit a terrorist act. I think you can't connect the dots here so easily.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, it hasn't helped the advance of the immigration legislation.

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MS. FERRECHIO: No. I think we've crossed a new threshold here.

MS. CLIFT: No, it has helped, because --

MS. FERRECHIO: You've crossed a new threshold here.

MS. CLIFT: -- you want more transparency and you --

MS. FERRECHIO: You know what? We've crossed a new threshold here. For years now, since the September 11th attacks, nothing has happened here. And now a bomb has gone off in a crowd. Everyone is going to be --

MS. CLIFT: Actually, we've had several --

MS. FERRECHIO: -- thinking about what can happen next.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue Three: Dazed and Confused.

FORMER REPRESENTATIVE PATRICK KENNEDY (D-RI): (From videotape.) Adding marijuana to alcohol and tobacco is like putting gasoline on the fire.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Patrick Kennedy is against making marijuana legal. He compares the burgeoning marijuana industry to what he calls big tobacco and big tobacco's earlier heavy-monied campaign defending adult tobacco usage.

The legality or illegality of marijuana is a confused and confusing matrix. Let's start on the federal level. The Federal Controlled Substances Act makes the use of marijuana a federal crime. Despite that federal injunction, many states have and are moving ahead with their own laws legalizing marijuana. And that worries Patrick Kennedy, former Democratic congressman from Rhode Island and son of the late Ted Kennedy.

The District of Colombia and 18 states have now legalized marijuana in varying degrees for medicinal use or for recreational use, or by decriminalizing the possession of the drug in small amounts. The list: Alaska, California, Colorado, D.C., Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington.
In December of last year, President Obama was asked what he thought of the November 2012 referenda in the states of Colorado and Washington wherein voters in the majority voted yes on the legalization of recreational marijuana. Obama said there were, quote- unquote, "bigger fish to fry." He also said this.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From videotape.) It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that, under state law, that's legal.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The president's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, talks tougher on states' rights on marijuana usage. Quote: "No state, no executive, can nullify a statute that has been passed by Congress," unquote.

Question: Does President Obama have the option of choosing which federal laws to uphold and which to disregard?

MR. BUCHANAN: No.

MS. CLIFT: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Let me just say no, John. Look, this is the old John C. Calhoun nullification and interposition. No state law can invalidate a federal law. Federal law trumps state law in this area. Now, as a matter of policy, you may not, you know, really run around enforcing it vigorously in the states like Colorado, but you cannot invalidate a federal law that --

MS. CLIFT: Well, it's called prosecutorial --

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What do you think should be --

MS. CLIFT: -- discretion.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should there be a law of the land on marijuana?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, we had a civil war over this issue, whether the states had their, you know, rights to interpose their own laws and beliefs against the federal government.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the danger of marijuana being an escalator drug if that's what the real danger of it is.

MS. CLIFT: There's such a thing --

MR. ZUCKERMAN: One of the dangers.

MS. CLIFT: -- called prosecutorial discretion. And so the administration is not going to aggressively pursue these cases. And we learned in California that you can't get juries who are going to convict people because of recreational marijuana use. And what's behind this -- it's moving very quickly -- you have people who smoked marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s, older people today, and then you've got younger people, libertarians. And so we're reaching a tipping point on this issue. And the notion that it is criminalized just seems nonsense to most people.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The state of affairs in Colorado -- adults over 21 may buy up to an ounce of pot at a time, grow two plants, and consume pot openly. They may not drive if impaired. A state sales tax of 30 percent has been proposed, but that is not yet settled. What does that tell you, Mort?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Well, it tells you that they're probably going to be able to implement it in Colorado. But I happen to be opposed to this kind of introduction of the legalization of any kind of drugs like this. They lead to a lot of things, as you said.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: They're escalator drugs.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: We don't need this as an additional component to all the problems we have in this country.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has anyone ever called you an old fogy?

MR. ZUCKERMAN: Yes.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Forced prediction: Guantanamo Bay prison will be shut down by January 1 of next year.

MR. BUCHANAN: No way.

MS. CLIFT: I wish yes, but no.

MS. FERRECHIO: No.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: No.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The answer is yes.

Bye-bye.

(C) 2013 Federal News Service

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