**THIS IS AN UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT**
MR. MICHAEL H. ARMACOST: I'd like to welcome you here this
morning. This is the nineteenth in a series of meetings that we've held
since last Fall, dealing with the war on terrorism and particularly the
press treatment of that war. It commenced with a discussion of what we
could learn from coverage of previous wars, and it wraps up this morning
with a discussion of America in the age of terrorism, from people who
have been described as "loyal opposition," but they've often been
counselors to presidents, so they're simply wise men who know Washington
and whose advice is sought always in moments of danger.
The common thread in the series, aside from the subject matter, has
been the fact that the moderators throughout have been our own Steve
Hess, a senior fellow in government studies and a long-time acute
observer of both the White House and the media; and Marvin Kalb, himself
a distinguished journalist, former moderator of "Meet the Press" and
chief diplomatic correspondent for CBS and NBC, but now running the
Washington office of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard.
We're very pleased that two of our speakers this morning are trustees
of Brookings: Lloyd Cutler, who served as counsel to both President
Carter and President Clinton; Lee Hamilton, who served for 34 years in
the House, was a stalwart member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,
and one who presidents both in Republican and Democratic persuasion
turned to in moments of crisis and moments of calm. We're also delighted
to have Harry McPherson, counsel to President Lyndon Johnson; Jim Sasser,
long-time senator from Tennessee and ambassador to China during the
We are pleased to welcome C-Span here this morning. Those who are
watching on C-Span, if you'd like to ask a question to our panelists,
you can send those via e-mail to email@example.com, and the
moderators will try and include as many of your questions as possible.
This event will also be archived on the Brookings website, which
provides streaming audio and video of the event to users who click where
indicated on the main Brookings home page,
www.brookings.edu . You can
also get a full transcript of the event that will be posted on the
Without further ado, let me turn it over to Steve.
MR. STEPHEN HESS: Thank you, Mike.
Marvin and I are really very proud of our architecture as we put
together this program and this panel. It was a very nice bit of symmetry
that our president at Brookings, Mike Armacost, would come and introduce
the first program and now our closing, and we're very grateful to him.
As he's noted also, we started with a program that included, among
others, four distinguished journalists: Ted Koppel, Peter Arnett, Dan
Schorr and Stan Karnow. So there is a symmetry there that we also close
our series, now eight months later, with four distinguished
practitioners of government, because really, the theme throughout has
been the press-government equation at this moment.
Some years ago, I went to give a speech in Athens and had my resume
translated into Greek. And when I got there, I handed it to the person
to introduce me. He was fluent in English, and he looked at it. And he
said, "What's your title at Brookings?" And I said, "Senior Fellow." He
said, "Senior Fellow? Oh, that explains it; it's been translated as
'Ancient Gentleman.' " (Laughter.) So I'm very pleased that we have this
remarkable team of senior fellows here with me.
When we watch again our architecture, you will note this is a city so
divided between Article I and Article II. And you'll note how we have
Article I, the legislature; Article II, the executive: Article I, the
legislatureas Mike pointed out, it was Lee Hamilton, who was the former
chairman, when he was in the House, of the Foreign Affairs Committee,
since renamed, and also the Intelligence Committee; and then Jim Sasser,
who was the senator who was a plumber, chairman of Budget. So we have
House and Senate here.
Jim, of course, went on to be ambassador to the People's Republic of
China. Lee served 17 terms34 years. Jim served three terms18 tears.
Add them together, and we've got 52 yearsmore than a half century of
legislative service to the nation. And then, as Mike pointed out, how
much better could we have than two people who have been counsel to the
last three Democratic presidents? Harry McPherson for Lyndon Johnson and
Lloyd Cutler, our own trustee, as well, for Jimmy Carter, and then, of
course, Bill Clinton.
I wanted, before I turn it over to Marvin for the first questionI
wanted to read just a word or two from a book I really quite love. I
consider it the best political memoir from Washington in my time. It's
calledif you haven't read it, doit's called "A Political Education,"
by a fellow named Harry McPherson.
And it starts with this young man just graduating from law school,
January 31st, 1956. He's driving with his wife from Texas, this old
Buick, to Washington. Just as he's approaching the city, he suddenly
asks himself, "Why am I here?" And he says, "Why did I choose this
experience instead of beginning a law practice and finding a responsible
place in a small community? Partly because I want to find out what goes
on in the counsel of power. Partly because I want to do good. And a
decade after Roosevelt, it still seems as if Washington is the grand
arena for doing good. Partlyperhaps chieflybecause I want to cast a
shadow to feel, however vicariously, that I have affected significantly
events and therefore, exist."
We've got four gentlemen here who have cast a long shadow and have
been involved significantly in significant events. So we're very, very
pleased that this is a way we could end our series.
Marvin, why don't you start with the questions?
MR. MARVIN KALB: Thank you, Steve. That was a very eloquent
opening. Thank you for that. And thank you, gentlemen, for being with
I'd like to start with what is probably a simple and perhaps even a
simplistic question. But the president has spoken about the period of
9/11 on as a global struggle against terrorism. It's a war. The vice
president has said that what happened on 9/11 is apt to be repeated in
the United States. The director of the FBI has said that the kind of
suicide bombing taking place in Israel almost on a daily basis will come
to the United States; he said it's a matter of when, not if.
Now, that to me adds up to a big-time crisis. And the question for
you is, in your judgment, is it the biggest one that the U.S. has faced
in modern time?
Jim Sasser, would you like to start us?
MR. JAMES SASSER: Well, I think it certainly can be described
as difficult times and as a crisis. But I would not put it as the same
magnitude of other crises we've faced during my lifetime. Certainly it's
not the crisis that we faced after December 7, 1941. Someit's been now
what, seven months since September 11th? Well, seven months after
December 7, 1941, the whole country was mobilized. We were rationing
food, rationing tires, rationing gasoline, and millions of young
Americans were being mobilized to fight overseas. I, frankly, doubt that
it ranks as a crisis of the magnitude of the Vietnam War. If we remember
Vietnam, it was the longest war, I think, the United States ever fought.
It went on year after year after year and divided our country very, very
seriously. Perhaps the United States was most divided during the Vietnam
War than it had been since the Civil War.
So I think this is indeed a crisis, but I don't see it as a crisis of
the magnitude that we experienced earlier in the 20th century.
I'll just say one other thing, Marvin, and then turn to my
distinguished colleagues for what I'm sure they cantheir thoughts will
be more penetrating than mine this morning. But this, I think, is really
engraved on the American consciousness because this is the first time,
if memory serves me correctly, since the War of 1812 in which
significant casualties were inflicted upon the American population
within the continental United States.
MR. KALB: Thank you, Jim, very much.
MR. LLOYD CUTLER: Well, I think before we get to enjoy the
appellation of being wise men, we need to remember that the judgment of
historians and journalists, I think, is that the wise men, at least in
the Vietnam War, screwed up. (Laughter.) And Bob Strauss likes to say
that the way you get to be a wise man in Washington is to outlive you
contemporaries and keep your mouth shut(laughter)which Bob was never
good at doing.
But I agree very much with Jim, I think that of course nothing would
compare with the Civil War, but I guess none of us, even we wise men,
were around for that. (Laughter.)
World War II, for those of you who remember it, it was the last
popular war. It's the war we all wanted to be in. We knew that the fate
of Western Europe, which is our cultural motherland, was on the line. We
all even wanted combat roles. Elliot Richardson, who couldn't get into
the services because he had some sort of physical defect, actually
volunteered to be a stretcher-bearer and served on Omaha Beach carrying
off the wounded and the deadhe wanted to be in the war that much. And
we all know how Elliot went on later in his life.
World War II, as Jim said, was the war we wanted to be in, and there
were many, many different ways to do it. One way, of course, was to have
an Office of Civil Defense in every urban community in the United
States. I think we had something like 28,000 of them. And we hadapart
from those who were in the armed forces, we had 11 million Americans
involved in civil defense. For those of you who may remember, we all
built bomb shelters in our basements, we bought cartons of tuna fish, we
stockpiled water. We didn't have ATM machines in those days, so we
stockpiled cash. And many people are doing that even today.
But what we have today is unique, unless you go all the way back to
the Barbary pirates, is we have a war with a non-state at a time when we
know we are vulnerable in the homeland. As Jim indicated, we are going
to take casualties in this war; everybody accepts that. And we have to
figure out a way to adjust to what may be something that continues for
the rest of our lives and perhaps the rest of the century.
MR. KALB: Lee Hamilton?
MR. LEE HAMILTON: Oh, Marv, my reaction to your question, I
guess, is we can't really tell at this point whether it's the greatest
crisis since World War II. If events unfold along the lines that the
vice president and the FBI director have predicted, that we're going to
continue to receive casualties or that Americans are going to die on
American soil in the future, then it may very well turn out to be the
gravest crisis the country has confronted because we know there are a
lot of people out there who wish us ill and who want to kill us
becausefor a variety of reasons. But thus far, we've had one very, very
tragic event, and if we're lucky, and if the FBI director and the vice
president are not correct, then I'm not sure it's a crisis that matches
World War II or some of the other events.
It is a crisis for sure in the sense that the American people are
very uneasy. They feel insecure for the first time in my life. All
through my political career, I don't ever recall Americans really
beinghaving a strong sense of physical insecurity, which they do today,
I think, very widely.
It is not a crisis if you think about the things Lloyd mentioned a
moment ago, where the American people back then were asked to make
considerable sacrifices. Today the advice to us is to be proceed with
your life as normally, to get out there and spend money, cut taxes, no
great sense of self-sacrifice there that you certainly had during World
So, is it a crisis equally in World War II and other events? Not yet.
Could be; depends on how events unfold.
MR. KALB: Harry McPherson, you're batting clean-up.
MR. HARRY MCPHERSON: Well, all I can do as a clean-up hitter
is to say I agree with the first three batters. It is different from
anything I've ever experienced. I've lived about six blocks from the
Capitol, which I assume was ground zero in 1962, and I really didn't
worry that we were going to be hit by a missile from Cuba or from
Russia. I didn't think that was going to happen. I was not one of those
stocking cans and bottled water in the basement. It wouldn't have made
much difference in my old brick house on Capitol Hill. It would have
been wiped away in a minute anyway.
In the '60s, later, as Jim was speaking about the Vietnam War as
being tremendously divisive, the crisis was one of spirit, between all
kinds, between the university-educated and the non, between the
better-off and the not-so-better-off, between black and white. It was
reallyit tore us up. It made us extremely distraught in our spirit. But
it was not like this.
Just anecdotally, to follow something Lee said, I do sense in people
I talk to a degree of apprehension that I have not experienced before.
America has always felt, even after December the 7th, that we couldif
we could get our manpower and womanpowerI just saw that wonderful
picture of Rosie the Riveter, that huge, powerful woman getting ready to
go to work and build bombers. That whole spirit was one that made you
feel that this enemy of ours, which was totally outside of us and was
not likely to hit us on our homeland, would certainly be finally rolled
up by American power. But today there is this sense, this apprehension
that the next 24 hours, the next 48 hours may produce something. And
it's because of that unforgettable experience of watching those towers
get hit. It's the sudden staggering shock of violence and death coming
in to America, and our feeling that it can happen again.
And, as Marvin says, looking at Israel, watching the willingness of
young people to take their lives and many others, innocent though the
world might think them to be, that that just seems as if it's something
that is poised to happen here. At least that's something that is very
much in people's minds at the moment.
MR. KALB: Am I right in saying that none of you believes that
the presidentthat this administration is exaggerating the threat
currently facing the U.S.?
MR. SASSER: Well, that's difficult to know. But I do think
that when you have theat the same time you have questions being raised
about the administration's handling of the intelligence prior to 9/11,
and as the Congress begins to talk about perhaps having a commission,
and there's some thought of second-guessing what happened with regard to
information the administration may or may not have had, it's not a
coincidence, in my mind, that a day or two afterwards, you have the
secretary of Defense saying that this will happen again. You have the
director of the FBI saying it will happen again. You have the vice
president saying it will happen againas if they're trying to defense
(sic) themselves in saying, "Now look, we're warning you it's going to
happen again." If it doesn't happen again, well, great. But if it does,
they can always say, "Well, we told you it was coming." So I think
there's an element of sort of politically covering yourself in some of
MR. KALB: Lee, did you want to
MR. HAMILTON: Well, I think the president's successand it's
an important successis that he took the anxiety of the American people,
maybe the fear of the American people, and he channeled that into an
effective response against the events of September 11th. That was a
considerable political achievement, and he deserves credit for that.
I don't think he's exaggerated the problem of security. I don't have
that sense at all. I do think, however, that there is an exaggeration
with respect to the war on terrorism in making it, if he does, a kind of
a single focus of American foreign policy. The war on terrorism is
important. It's terribly important. I don't want to be misunderstood
here. But it cannot be, in my view at least, the sum and the substance
of American foreign policy. There are a lot of other interests out there
that we have as a country, and you must not see all of these interests
through the prism of the war on terrorism.
And I don't know that that's a criticism of the president or not, but
sometimes, when he speaks about the war on terrorism as being the
defining moment of his presidency and dividing the world into the good
guys and the bad guys, the evil and good, I get the sense that we may be
losing sightmay be exaggerating the war on terrorism too much and
losing sight of a lot of other very important goalsnonproliferation,
human rights, environmental concerns and many, many others.
MR. HESS: You are all Democrats, so this question will not
But Lloyd, do you think it would make any difference at all if the
president were a Democrat?
MR. CUTLER: No, and I think it's important for all of us to
remember that the team that has been working on the antiterrorism
efforts and protection of our infrastructureour plants, all of our
military facilitiesis the very same team and has been the same team
since Bush I was president, all through the Carter (sic) administration
and even today.
There are lots of things wrong, I think, with the response. I agree
largely with what Lee has said. But I think the most important thing
that the president has doneand not for political advantage, although he
may gain political advantage from itis to make clear to all of us we
cannot expect from now on, this will never happen again. We're not going
to be hockey or soccer football goalie who is undefeated, untied,
unscored upon for the rest of the century. We're going to take some
hits, and we have to know how to adjust ourselves to deal with those
hits, endure them, keep them from happening again.
Insofar as educating the public and the journalists about what went
wrong, we have to be very careful we don't educate al Qaeda and bin
Laden as well, so that they can see what we missed and what we could
have done and make sure that we won't be able to do it again.
MR. HESS: Lloyd, clearly we've reached the point where the
public does expect some more explanation before we're getting it by leak
rather than through government on things that at least someone in the
government knew or didn't act upon before September 11th. And so we've
started a little fire storm about how we go about getting this and
what's the proper vehicle, if you will.
And it strikes meand here I ask guidancethat something rather
strange is happening. Historically, a president asks for a blue-ribbon
commission, whether it's Pearl Harbor or what have you, and doesn't want
Congress butting in. Here is a president who suddenly says, "Oh,
Congress really should be the arm; I'm totally against the commission
idea." On the other hand, Congresswhich very much likes the idea of
investigating, it's in the Constitution and so forthat least some of
them, John McCain, Joe Lieberman, say "Oh, no, no, the proper way is
through a commission." So we have this interesting role reversal for
people who can tell us what's going on as well as what would be the best
Lee, as a former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, what can an
intelligence committee do well for us now, and what perhaps are they not
the proper agency?
MR. HAMILTON: Well, on the debate do you have the
investigation done by the congressional intelligence committees or do
you have an independent commission, my view would be that you do both.
They're not mutually exclusive. And I think both can add a certain
perspective to it. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
The intelligence committees obviously have the authority to act, but
in a sense, they're part of the problem, too. After all, it's been eight
months since September 11th, and only in the last day or two have they
come forward with the idea of having an investigation, a hearing. Where
were they in the preceding eight months? If they had the information
that has come out in recent daysI presume they did not, but if they had
that information, and they may havethey certainly should have acted
upon it, and they should have connected the dots, just as the executive
branch should have done. So if they did not have the information, then
there are problems in the flow of information from the executive branch
to the intelligence committees.
The intelligence committees are only in existence in the House of
Representatives for another few months. They go out of business. The
whole institution goes out of existence in October. I don't think that's
long enough to do a thorough investigation. On the other hand, they've
got some very capable people on those intelligence committees and I
think a lot can be discerned.
But the problem here is, in my view, a systemic problem in the
government, and the task is not to assess blame, but the task is, how do
we make this complicated intelligence system function better so that we
diminish the chances of missing warning signals that were present,
apparently, prior to September 11th? I think that the problem is so
complicated that both are needed to get a better understanding of what
happened here; and a little redundancy and a little duplication really
doesn't bother me very much.
MR. CUTLER: Yeah, I would add to that, that while I think both
are needed and both will probably occur, that neither is important
compared to the need to restructure the system, as Lee was indicating.
There is no doubt, from what we now know, that the system as a whole,
the whole system of inland security, the office of inland security, the
commission that's been created on inland security missed something. And
it's the system that has to be repaired, and that's what we should be
concentrating all of our efforts on and get rid of "Who shot John?" as
quickly as we can and move on to the really important business.
MR. KALB: Harry McPherson, do you think that that is a
realistic aim, given both the threat and the very nature of American
politics, the competitive, vital spirit of the free press desirous of
having as much information out there as possible? How do you see that
balance between the public's need to know what, if any, kind of fault
exists in the system, and this is a free country, we ought to know?
MR. MCPHERSON: Well, it's true, when President Kennedy was
assassinated, Johnson was told by a number of people that he must
appoint a commission, and he determined, probably with Abe Fortas as his
principal adviser, that he should go to the very top in terms of
acceptance among the American people. If you go to the man who is the
wise figure who presides over the judicial branch of governmentEarl
Warren. Warren thought it was a terrible idea because he might have
toat some point he might have to hear a case involving someone coming
up from that. And Johnson said, "I know that's bad. You'd have to recuse
yourself from that. But ityou have to do it, you have to serve the
nation because no one else will have that standing."
And the Warren Commission, despite all the criticism that has been
aimed at it, probably much of it justified over the years, and despite
the fact that many Americans can't believe that Oswald acted alone, the
commission was invaluable in bringing to the knowledge of the American
people most of what could be known about the assassination; among other
things, that it was not a Russian plot and that it was not a plot by any
foreign power. There's stillthere may still be issues that are not
clear, but most people, most Americans, I think, have been able to live
through the last 40 years with some confidence that Lee Oswald was the
man who shot Kennedy and that this was not an act of war against
So I think it can be done and I think it needs very much to be done.
I think we need a commission to look at this. We have some very fine
people who served in the FBI and the CIA. Many of us here on the panel
have many friends in those agencies. But it's not going to do to have an
inside game of a committee, congressional committee, looking at this.
We're going to need some very serious folks from around the nation,
people with high credibility among their fellow citizens to look at this
and then to tell the American people, to the extent it can be told
without compromising security, what happened. And then to make some
recommendations; it would be fine with me if they made some
recommendations in a secure character and did not reveal them to our
country, as well as a number of more general, generic ones. But I think
we do need that kind of big-time team.
MR. HESS: Let me ask about that, though. Joe Biden has
saidand he opposes the commission. He said, "Independent commissions
take on a life of their own." You've all served on these sorts of
commissions. It's easy tothe reason presidents appoint them so often is
people say, "Don't just stand there, do something." So they do
But really, in effect, what do you see the commission doing, from
your own experience? In a way, wouldn't you get the same sort of
thingthis is an idea of Mort Abramowitz of having the Intelligence
Committee, which already is in business, has the staff, has the
security, and so forth, having them appoint an outside, high- level
advisory committee, particularly since the president opposes this idea.
Is there anydoes that make any sense?
MR. KALB: Jim Sasser.
MR. HESS: Jim?
MR. SASSER: I think we have to realize here that the
Intelligence Committees in both houses may not come to this with
entirely clean hands themselves. I mean, there is some question, if the
intelligence community had information that might be useful, did the
Intelligence Committees themselves have it?
And then I alsowe have to, I think, face facts, and the facts are
now that this Congress is so highly partisan; everything is seen through
the prism of partisanship, that I think it's going to be very difficult
for the Intelligence Committees to make a balanced investigation.
I agree with Lee. I think the Intelligence Committees can go ahead
with their investigation, but I think we need an independent, blue
ribbon commission that's appointed in a bipartisan, non-partisan way, to
investigate the intelligence apparatus of this country.
Now, we've had a lot of intelligence failures. The most glaring, I
think, is the failure of the intelligence community to predict the
collapse of the Soviet Union. I well remember Pat Moynihan making
statements on the floor of the Senate, why in the world did not the
Central Intelligence Agency, with a budget of $30 billion, most of it
allocated to the study of the Soviet Union, how did we miss the fact
that it was on the verge of economic collapse?
I also remember the intelligence failuresand I expect Lee does as
wellsurrounding the Gulf War. The intelligence coming out of one agency
was just simply mush; there was nothing to it. It was on this hand and
on the other hand. And then you had another intelligence group telling
you that the Republican Guard, the Iranian Army personnel were the
equivalent of our NATO troopsas tough as the Germans were in NATO, as
tough as our 7th Army was in Germany. It turns out we went through them
like a knife cutting through hot butter. They were telling us that we
might expect casualties up into the thousands. Ten-thousand body bags
were FedExed to the Middle East, and we suffered minimal losses there,
And then I saw intelligence reports coming across my desk as
ambassador to China. And some I knew were exaggerated. We won't get into
the reasons why they were, but I think Lee Hamilton is right; there is a
systemic problem, in my view, in the intelligence apparatus in this
country. And it needs to be investigated by a blue-ribbon, nonpartisan,
bipartisan commission, in my judgment.
MR. KALB: And you think the president ought to be calling for
MR. SASSER: Well, I think the commission ought to
becertainly, the president should not be resisting. And I think the
president of the United States has as much to gain as anyone else by
having a thorough going look at the various intelligence apparatus.
You've got the CIA. You've got the FBI. You've got the variousDefense
Intelligence, you got Navy Intelligence, Army Intelligence. You've got
thewhat are the otheryou got three or four other agenciesNSAand
there's aone of the most glaring problems, I think, is the failure to
share intelligence information brought about by bureaucratic rivalry or
just not having the proper liaison between the agencies.
MR. KALB: Lee, you wanted to come in on that.
MR. HAMILTON: Well, we all know that in this town there are
commissions, and then there are commissions. And it makes an awful lot
of difference who you put on the commission and the attitude that the
people on the commission approach the topic. It's terribly important,
vitally important that you get people on the commission who are
forward-looking; who are not aimed at assessing the blame on a
particular person or agency, but who are genuinely committed to the idea
of trying to improve the complicated intelligence system. The attitude
is terribly important.
The second thing I want to say, with regard to a congressional
investigation, is timethe House of Representatives comes into session
on Tuesday night, and it leaves Thursday night. That has been the
pattern all the way up until June. It is about ready to move into the
appropriations season. That's the busiest time for the House and the
Senate. Both committees have very heavy responsibilities that have
nothing to do with an independent investigation. And I can just tell you
for sure that when the hearings start, the bells will start ringing to
interrupt them. And the time pressure on them, re-election coming
upCongress has to quit early Octoberis formidable. And those people
who do not like the investigation for whatever reason will use that time
as a lever to cut short the investigation one way or the other. And so
I'm all for the committees doing it, but you've got to recognize, I
think, some of the practical problems they confront here in approaching
Now, the commissionI can go on and on about thisis not the answer,
necessarily. It depends on the quality of the people. It can be slower,
it can take more time. It would, hopefully, be somewhat less partisan.
It wouldn't have the clout that members of Congress have. They can do
something about it. And whether or not the commission's recommendations
carry any weight depends on the quality of the people on the commission
and the quality of the staff that puts the report together.
MR. CUTLER: One of the odd things is, we have people in the
administration, or formerly of the administration, well-trusted, like
Brent Scowcroft and like Warren Rudman and Gary Hart, who have written
reports on the subject of dealing with terrorism and how the
government's response should be structured that are really ready to go,
and the administration just hasn't made up its mind on how to implement
them. As I understand it, there already is a joint committee staff
report that they are about to review.
MR. KALB: You know, that study that was put out by the Hart-
Rudman commission, on the day that it was put out, it was not reported
in the New York Times nor on, I believe, three of the major networks
that night. And none of this can happen, it seems to me, without the
involvement of the American people. One of the shock values that took
place with 9/11 is that the technology exists today so that everything
is right there in front of you. Imagine Pearl Harbor with current
And so there's a study that was done by a reporter for the Editor and
Publisher magazine. He went out and talked to the nation'sthe editors
of the nation's major newspapers and asked the question: "We're eight
months after 9/11 now; did you guys have enough reporters there to cover
"Eight months. What have you done to prepare for the next 9/11?"
And the shocking answer was, with the exception of The Washington
Post, "Nothing, because we don't know what it is that's going to happen,
so we have no idea where to put our troops, the reporters."
In your sense now as you look back upon it and the importance of the
press in serving as the middle-man between the government, in your
decision-making days, and the people, what should be happening now? Did
the press do us a favor by not focusing on terrorism on that day when
the Hart-Rudman report came out? I can't imagine that it did.
MR. HAMILTON: Marv, what I detect among people is, they want
to know what they should do in their personal lives. You put out a
warning by the vice president or by the FBI director and say, "We're
going to be hit," and it raises the level of apprehension. But if you go
out and talk to people in Indiana and you ask them about it, they said,
"Okay, we're going to be hit; but what do I do in my family? What kind
of steps do I take?"
So one of the things the media has to do and one of the things the
government has to do is to try to help people, ordinary people living
ordinary lives, get through this crisis and tell them what they do in
their lives. That's what's meaningful to them. And I don't think either
the government or the media is doing a good job of that, although I
think generally the media has done a pretty god job explaining the war
But what I find is just this personal apprehension. People want to
know, "Okay, we've got this crisis, we've got the problem; what does
that mean for me and my family? What steps do I take to make ourselves
MR. KALB: Harry, what kind of stories could the press be doing
now that would take care of that kind of anxiety?
MR. MCPHERSON: I really don't know. My wife asked me yesterday
what my plans were for her and our son in case there's an attack on
MR. CUTLER: Well, what did you tell her? (Laughter.)
MR. KALB (?): Share the advice with us. (Laughter.)
MR. MCPHERSON: I really drew a blank. I suggested that she
start driving into upper Maryland, and I would try to pick him up at his
school in downtown Washington and head out. But who knows? I mean, none
of us knows what
MR. KALB (?): (Inaudible.)
MR. MCPHERSON: We don't know, really, we don't know even what
to ask the government to tell us. And there was in England, in World War
II, of course, there were evacuation plans, and the government was very
careful in telling everybody what to do. Everyone had a role to play.
It's hard to see that in this kind of a threat, in this threatened
situation. It's very difficult to see how the government could publicly
announce plans for the public to follow. I sure hope that the government
is doing a lot of planning that can be put into effect quickly.
MR. KALB: Maybe we ought to be more sympathetic with the
government as it attempts to figure out what is the best way of handling
MR. CUTLER: The real irony is that with all these people
wanting to help and wanting to know what to do, we at the same time have
an enormous need for people to do the medical cleanup, to perform the
roles of auxiliary firemen, police. We could probably deploy millions of
people into units. We would need to train them to get them ready. And so
far as I can tell, we don't have any such plans right now. We have
people wanting to work who have no work to do related to fighting
MR. SASSER: I think Lloyd Cutler is on to something there,
because shortly after 9/11, Tom Friedman of The New York Times had a
number of columnsmaybe not a number, but one or two, anywayin which he
was lamenting the fact that he felt the administration in general and
the president in particular had missed a rare opportunity to harness
this enthusiasm of younger Americans and to harness this feeling of
patriotism and being together and "united we stand," et cetera, et
cetera, and channel it into some sort of national service, preparing for
medical emergencies and that sort of thing.
MR. CUTLER: They've actually picked up on the Clinton
AmeriCorps idea, but they haven't carried it out. They haven't
MR. SASSER: Yeah. Well, we get a lot of rhetoric, but not a
lot of action.
MR. CUTLER: It's on a very small scale.
MR. HESS: You know, there's another aspect, since this whole
series revolves around the question of government and the press, and
something else has been happening with the press where I think you
gentlemen can particularly throw some light on it; and that is, a sudden
surge of leaks. Partially this firestorm right now comes because David
Martin of CBS got some sort of leak on the president's daily brief of
August 6th and what he knew about that, there was some sort of leak out
of the FBI about the Phoenix memo, and so forth.
Now, leaks may have a bad reputation, but they do have sort of a
lubricating role in this society, in this culture, about how government
responds, what government is doing, what government is hiding, how
Congress picks up on it.
What's happening here now? Speculate a little, gentlemen, because
you've had so much experience. Is this a good thing, a bad thing? And
can it be stopped? Should it be stopped? Is this now government by leak?
MR. CUTLER: It's really deja vu all over again. Every
president I can remember tried to stop leaks. Remember, even JFK
cancelled his subscription to the New York Herald Tribune. It never
works, and I guess that we're all very lucky that it doesn't.
MR. MCPHERSON: I don't recall an administration in my time
that was more obsessed with keeping material out of the public eye than
this one. I don't recall any one that has been so buttoned up and in all
of its agencies, starting at the White House, than this one.
I mean, we werein the Johnson White House, in the Kennedy White
House, in the Carter White House, people talked a mile minute, everybody
did, to the despair of the president and of many of his aides. Everybody
wanted to let on what was going on. I was an absolute sucker for Evans &
Novak as long as they would take me to a French restaurant across the
street, I felt that I was obliged to pay for my lunch by giving them
what they wanted. (Laughter.)
In any event, this one is reallyI'm sure they must get some kind of
awards for tight-lippedness.
MR. KALB: But, Harry
MR. HESS: Is this a bad thing? Go back toyou fellows
particularly who were in the White House, did youwere you in error as
you think back about how free-flowing you were with the information you
have? We started with the importance of this information and the fact
that there were people out there who were very interested in it who were
Now we have an administration who we all agreeI certainly agree with
youis the most tight-lipped I've ever seen. I rather think that it's
going to come around and bite them in the neck because reporters have to
feed their children, and when they have an opportunity, they'll get back
at that them.
But in the meantime, in these first nine months, was that such a bad
MR. KALB: Well, turn that around for second. Turn that around
for a second. If the administration is right that this is a new kind of
war, that we are dealing with a new kind of enemy, this is not state to
state, these are terrorist groups operating against states and against
people, who is to argue, then, with the administrationexcept you
all(laughs)who is to argue, then, with the administration's case that
we can't put out the kind of information that you might have done in the
Johnson administration because the threat is entirely differently?
MR. SASSER: I think that's the precisely the approach that
MR. KALB: Right.
MR. SASSER: And I think
MR. KALB: And what I'm arguing, Jim
MR. SASSER: Yeah.
MR. KALB: What's wrong with that?
MR. SASSER: Well, I thinkyou said, yourself, that we have a
right to know certain facts. And this is supposed to be a democracy. And
in a democracy, you need to have an informed electorate. Now that's the
ideal. I think we miss that by quite a bit, quite frankly. But ideally,
at least the elites ought to be informed. I mean, those who read the New
York Times, for example, as opposed to those who watch the soap operas,
who don't care. But I think we have a right to know certain basic,
fundamental facts. And this administration is the most buttoned-up that
And Harry, I think they were buttoned up prior to 9/11. And I think
they're using 9/11 as a pretense for battening the hatches even tighter.
And my sense is that the press ought not to tolerate it. They've got an
obligation to get in there and dig it out, and I think they will. And I
think they're working at it.
Now it's the pressit's CBS that brought out the notion that the
president had someat least some modicum of warning aboutthat there
could be something like 9/11. So I
MR. KALB: And Dan Rather, who is the main anchor at CBS News,
has stated that he fears that the press is buttoning up itself out of
concern about patriotismout of concern that they may be labeled
MR. SASSER: Well, Marvin, I mean, I've had at least two
reporters tell meand I'm sure other members of the panel may have heard
this, as wellthat they don't want to be too inquisitive or critical of
the administration, or they'll be accused of being unpatriotic.
MR. CUTLER: Now I don't really see how you can maintain that
argument. If you were a reader of The New York Times or The Washington
Post, they are getting leaks. They are seeking leaks. They are reporting
leaks. You have to go all the way back to the Bay of Pigs, when Scotty
Reston had some advance information which he was talked out of using,
and he's regretted it for the rest of his life.
I really think the press is doing what it's supposed to be doing, and
it is literally impossible to stop leaks. LBJ, as Harry will tell you,
thought he had a monopoly on leaks. Anybody else who leaked would be
firedor never appointedsummarily.
MR. KALB: And that's part of my point. A lot of these leaks
are deliberate. It is information that the administration wants out and
gives it to The New York Times, The Washington Post, because they got
the biggest circulation.
MR. HESS: Wellbut they're not
MR. : When you say it's
MR. HESS: They're plantsthey're plants. If the administration
gives it out, itself, unofficially, it becomes a plant. And that's okay.
MR. CUTLER: Yeah. Lower-level somebody who's lost a
bureaucratic fight leaks that he lost it
MR. KALB: Right.
MR. CUTLER: to try to build public support for his position.
And the people who come in to the White Housethey're not like a team of
General Electric managers who've worked together for 20 years. They come
from different state campaigns. They all think they deserve to be at
least chief of staff, the deputy chief of staff. And the one thing they
will never do, because it's so embarrassing to them, is to admit that
they don't know the answer to a question. So you always give an answer,
even though it may be a wrong one. (Laughter.)
MR. KALB: Yeah. Some of this sounds to me
MR. SASSER: (Laughs.) So right.
MR. KALB: likesome of it sounds to me like politics as
usual. And the argument could be madeand I think some of you are making
itthat we are in a new time now, that this terrorist threat raises the
whole level toit should raise the whole level of discussion to a much
higher plateau. Do you sense that that is the discussion taking place in
Washington today, that we are at a new level of discussion? Or is it
simply a new topic, but at the same level?
MR. MCPHERSON: Well, I think, as Jim was saying, I think we
are in a time when the press and other inquirers are beingfeel that
they will be called unpatriotic if they really make aI mean, here
iswe've gotwe've got hundredswho knows how many?thousands of people
who are under restraint right now in America and we don't know beans
about it. We don't know anything about these people. Some of themevery
now and then, somebody appears as a subject of a story in the paper who
washas been in jail for six months, he's got no charges against him
whatever, and he's not being toldhis lawyers, his family, nobody's
being told anything about him. I don't recall any period quite like
this. It isperhaps we hadwhen the German POWs were brought back to the
mid-continent in World War II, nobody knew what happened to them. But
they were soldiers and they were prisoners of war, and there are all
kinds of rules that have to do with that.
This sequestering of a large number of people and a pulling down of
the curtain whenever one is askedgo ask John Ashcroft any question
about them and you might as well be taking to that backboard back there.
You don't get anything, absolutely zero. And nobody is able to press it
any further. It's just they have decided that they can live it out by
putting up that kind of wall.
MR. HAMILTON: Let me make this observation that runs a little
counter, maybe, to the other panelists. There are reasons to keep many
things secret. It's important to recognize that there are national
security secrets, there are operational secrets, there are sources and
methods secrets that are a very important part of the national security
of the United States.
Now, the problem comes, I think, when this administration, or any
administration moves to the point where they say, "Trust us, we can
handle this problem. We know the full facts; you don't know them." And
so I think a healthy skepticism is always important for members of
Congress, for the American public, and certainly for the media. We would
not understand today as well as we doand we don't understand it
perfectlythe problems in the intelligence community had it not been for
these leaks that Steve was talking about a moment ago. Those leaks are
very, very important to us.
There is an attitude in the national security community, whether it's
in this administration or any administration, that says, in effect, "We
can handle this. Just let us handle it and everything will be all
right." I don't think we should accept that attitude. Now, where you
draw the line I think is always difficult. And the question of leaks in
Washington areleaks are inevitable in Washington; you're not going to
stop them, and nor should you, I think probably
MR. SASSER: But I think there is a civil liberties problem
here. Now, yes, there ought to be a rule of reason, Lee, I agree with
you 100 percent on the question of certain things should beyou can't
put out in the public domain.
MR. HAMILTON: Yeah.
MR. SASSER: I think we would agree with that. But Harry
McPherson is talking about something very fundamental here, and that is
about the deprivation of civil liberties outside of what we perceive to
be the rule of law. Now, we may look back on these days that have
occurred since September the 11th years from now and compare them to the
taking of the Japanese and putting them in concentration camps,
Japanese-Americans, after December 7, 1941. Or we may compare it to the
Palmer Raids of the 1920s. Amnesty International is doing that already.
And I don't see this crisis as so severeit is a crisis, but I don't see
it as so severe that we should have a wholesale suspension of civil
liberties. And I think we're seeing that in some areas, and it's
MR. HESS: Canthere's one other subject that Marvin and I
would like the judgment and the wisdom of the panel before we turn the
questioning over to the audience, and that is how the government should
organize itself on homeland security. Brookings, by the way, I highly
recommend its new book, "Protecting the American Homeland." And I want
to just do a paragraph that says, from that book, "There are two basic
approaches to organizing the federal government for homeland security:
First, a single agency, either an existing department or a new one, can
be designated to take the lead in preventing, protecting against and
responding to a terrorist attach. A second approach focuses on
interagency or intergovernmental coordination in which a single entity,
most likely located in the White House, coordinates the myriad of
agencies responsible for different aspects of homeland security and
brings them together at work as a team."
Now, clearly the president has chosen that second approach, the NSC,
National Security Council, model. Many in Congress are now suggesting
the first approach. I think this is a question that will have more
attention in the days ahead, and we would like to have you give some
thought and tell us a little about how you come down on that.
MR. HAMILTON: The important thing from my standpoint is that
the homeland security director or coordinator or whatever his title is
have clout, budget and staff in order to get things done. I tend to
favor the department. If you'reif the war on terrorism is of long-term
duration, then we had better begin to organize the federal government in
such a way to deal with the long-term threat. And that means you have a
department of government; you have accountability to the Congress; you
have a budget; you have staff and all of the rest of it. So that's my
personal preference here.
But it can still work effectively if you give a statutorial basea
statutory base to the position that Tom Ridge has today. We all of us
know Tom Ridge. He's a very good choice for the position, an outstanding
American, a great governor. And yet I think he's got an impossible
situation, because he doesn't have authority.
Now the point they always make is that he has access to the
president. Well, there are thousands of people that have access to the
president of the United States.
MR. CUTLER: Most of them are stronger than he is. (Laughter.)
MR. HAMILTON: That's right. And Lloyd makes a good point
there. When Tom sits down with the secretary of Defense, the vice
president, secretary of State, he'sdirector of the FBI, he's dealing
with some pretty big hitters in this town. And so I think if you're
going to have a strong, effective, homeland security, you need to
strengthen that position far beyond it.
And let me add to this that I'm a bit of a skeptic with regard to
interagency cooperation. I know that it's necessary from time to time,
but interagency cooperation means nobody's in charge, basically, and
that's not the way you get things done in this government. The only way
you can get things done in a federal government is if the president of
the United States says, "This is a priority. It's got to be done." And
you structure yourself according to the president's views
MR. CUTLER: Can I tell an anecdote about clout?
MR. HESS: Yeah.
MR. CUTLER: I agree fully with Lee. That is, there was a
fellow named Roger Lewis, who was the secretary of the Air Force, who
went out to become the CEO of General Dynamics. And General Dynamics,
you may remember, was created by Henry Crown and Lester Crown, who were
in the sand and gravel business in Chicago, and they had the wit to see
that defense industries were a good investment.
And each of the departments of General Dynamics, like Electric Boat,
like Convair, where they made the missiles, was run by some retired
admiral or Air Force general who really had a duchy of his own; he ran
it the way he wanted to. And Lewis went out, after he became CEO, to
Convair where they made the missiles in San Diego. And he was on the
executive floor and the resident admiral said to him, "We have an
executive barber shop. Wouldn't you like to get a hair cut or a shave?"
And Lewis said, "Why do you have an executive barber shop? You don't
need that. We don't need it. And when we go to the Pentagon to get our
overhead allowances approved, it will be singled out and criticized.
It's a terrible idea."
And six weeks later Ridge came backI'm sorry, Lewis came back again
and he was walking by himself on this executive floor. He went past the
barber shop and there was the barber still cutting hair and shaving
executives. And he walked in and he fired the barber personally. And
that news ricocheted all over the General Dynamics duchies, and from
then on, everybody knew who was in charge. (Laughter.)
And I keep saying that what Tom Ridge needs is to find a barber and
fire him. (Laughter.)
MR. : With the president backing him up!
MR. HAMILTON: We ought to get
MR. HESS: Lee and others, I want to follow up because the idea
of the department, which you seem to favor, there is obviously a
follow-up question. There are 40 or more parts of government that have
something to do with homeland security. And unfortunately, the ones that
have the most to do with homeland security, perhaps, like the Pentagon
or the FBI or the committee for disease control, have a lot of other
things to do that haven't got anything to do with homeland security.
What would you put in it? How would you create a department that would
do what Congress seems to be inclined to do at this? In part, because if
you had a department, then they wouldcould go beforethe head of it
could go before the Congress.
MR. HAMILTON: Well, the major reason for supporting the idea
of a departmentand I don't know that you need to call it thatis to
give the director of it the money and the staff and the clout that he
Now, the question you raiseWhat do you leave in; what do you leave
out?is very, very difficult. You would not put the Department of
Defense into it. You would not put the FBI into it. You probably would
not put the CIA into it. But there are, as you say, 40 or 50 agenciesI
think probably more than thatthat deal with terrorism in some aspect.
MR. HESS: (Inaudible)Coast Guard.
MR. HAMILTON: Yeah, there are lot
MR. HESS: (Inaudible.)
MR. HAMILTON: There's broad agreement on a lot of things that
should go in there: Customs, the INS, Coast Guard, the Department of
Agriculture, inspection operations. You can make a list, probably, of 30
or 40 that I think would strengthen the ability of the U.S. government
organizationally to deal with the question of terrorism. And you would
have some agencies that would be hard to determine whether it's in or
out. But the net result is going to be that you're going to have a
person with power to act.
MR. KALB: Gentlemen, thank you. I think with the time that we
have left, which is about 18 minutes, I'd like to get some questions
from the audience. Please identify yourself, ask a question, and then
we'll get an answer.
Yes, please. And there's a microphone coming your way. Thank you.
Q: Ken Coudair-Brothers (sp).
Q:uestion relates to the risk of a nuclear device being
detonated in the United States. And the reason I bring that up is, in
the Rudman-Hart reportit was a very sobering reportyou were mentioning
that earlierin which the congressmen really quite soberly say that
there will be serious attacks in the United States in the future that
may involve weapons of mass destruction, and
MR. KALB: Please ask your question, because we don't have
Q: I'm sorry. Yeah, my question is, do you agree that there is
this risk? Or is this overstated? And if it is a risk, do you believe
that the administration's actually working very hard around the
perimeter to avert this in ways that we can't see?
MR. KALB: Thank you.
Who would like to take a crack at that?
MR. HAMILTON: I believe it is a risk. I believe it is the most
serious risk to the national security of the United States that the
so-called loose nukes would get into the hands of the terrorists. And
certainly, the result of that, if detonated, would be
devastatingperhaps more devastating than what happened on September
I was on the Hart-Rudman commission. We agreed that Americans would
die on American soil far before September 11th. And it was a unanimous
view of all of the commissioners with very different perspectives. Now
"What do you do about it?" is a very tough question. But the biggest
problem in the world today is Russia. Lloyd Cutler headed up a
commission at the Department of Energy with Senator Baker that put his
fingertheir fingers, I guess I should sayon this problem of the loose
nukes. And we all agreedLloyd, what was it30 billion? More?
MR. CUTLER: We thought 30 billion could usefully be invested
in getting control of the Russian nukes, helping them literally to guard
the nuclear material they had and helping them literally to count the
number of weapons and quantities of highly enriched uranium and
plutonium that they had(which they ?) haven't even done yet.
MR. HAMILTON: This is awe're not putting nearly enough
resources into trying to collect, analyze, account for, secure these
weapons. And I think it's a major flaw presently in our national
security policy. A lot of members of Congress, I think, agree with what
I've just said, and I think the administration is moving here in the
right directionnot quickly enough, from my standpoint, but they're
moving in that direction.
MR. HESS: Secretary Abraham is moving in that direction.
MR. KALB: Thank you very much.
MR. HAMILTON: Yes.
MR. KALB: Yes, in the back?
Q: Thank you. My name is(inaudible). I work for a Turkish TV
channel. My question is, we learnedyou were talking about leaking
stories. And someone leaked to the press that the president of the
United States knew on August 6th that al Qaeda was preparing some kind
of an attack in the United States. And then, after that, we were
bombarded by the terror alerts. My question is, how shall we think about
these terror alerts? Do you think that they know more and not share it
with the public? And since 9/11, I believe people are disturbed enough
to think what next can happen, so what is the purpose of these terror
alerts? Thank you.
MR. KALB: Jim?
MR. SASSER: Well, I'll take a crack at that. I think I said
earlier that I think a lot of these terror alerts that emanated from the
administration since the allegation that perhaps the administration had
some inkling or some prior warning of something similar to the attack
that took place on 9/11, since that disclosure, since that revelation,
then we've had this whole rash of statements coming from high-level
officials about attacks. And I think the conclusion is almost
irresistible that all of these statements are simply a reaction toand a
defense mechanism against the earlier disclosure that perhaps they
didn't react to warnings that they had had earlier. And so now they can
say, "Well, you asked for warnings, now we're giving you warnings." And
so then if an attack occurs, they have defensed themselves in someto
some degree against the allegation they neglected to warn the American
I don't think that these warnings that they've given are very
meaningful. I think about all they do is alarm the American public. But
that's the way it goes.
MR. KALB: Thank you.
It's on this side. Yes?
Q: My name is Clint Benning (sp). A couple of you briefly
touched upon thesay, "Don't let them win; buy an SUV." And my question
would be, is, what as Americans we stand for and how we're beingthe
critics would say that we're being treated as consumers rather than
citizens. And my question being, is, what do you guys say to the critics
that would say that we are violating our own ideals and our own way of
life more than any terrorist has?
MR. KALB: Thank you. Thank you.
MR. MCPHERSON: Well, it's always been a dilemma, how to be
safe without being repressive. We don't have in America what some
countries have, a lot of countries, including a lot of our friends; We
don't have an internal intelligence apparatus. I was very aware of this
in the '60s, when there were riots in Detroit and a number of other
major cities, and there were some rumors that maybe some Communists had
played a role in stimulating some activists into starting these riots in
the cities. And when you turned around and tried to see what the truth
was, you realize that the intelligence apparatus for a president, the
internal intelligence apparatus, the one inside America, is composed of
bureaucrats, politicians, business guys, labor leaders, citizens who
come in, many of them, with an ax to grind, to tell thethe mayor says,
"Things are pretty tough in my town and we need another $100 million of
federal money to help us out." Well, that's not what you would call an
objective intelligence analysis of what's going on in that town.
But it's always been difficult for us as a nation, and we've largely
chosen not to empower anybody, any agency, including the FBI, with the
reach to invade all of our lives to the extent that they are invaded in
many other countries, even in democracies.
MR. KALB: Thank you, Harry. Thank you.
Q: I'm Bernard Kalb, Marvin's kid brother.
Q:uestion: Each of you in varying degrees has been critical of
what you regard as the shortcomings and the failures of the
administration to act to confront the terrorist challenge. The question,
therefore, becomesand that point of view is shared by millions of
Americans. The question becomes, how can you mobilize your criticism to
put pressure on the government to take these steps? We sit here today
listening to a dissection of the shortcomings. How do we get the
government to do more? How do you mobilize coast-to-coast impatience to
bring that pressure on the government to act to take care of the points
you've madeone, two, three, four, five and six? What to do to translate
your impatience into active policy?
MR. KALB: All right. All right, now that's a fantastic
MR. SASSER: Well, we expect that from your brother, after all,
Wewho wants to answer that? (Laughter.)
MR. HAMILTON: Well, I think you're beginning to see the
process work. After September 11th, there is a rally around the
president, rally around the flag; patriotism asserts itself. We're all
very, very reluctant to make any criticism because we genuinely want to
see the president succeed in the war on terrorism. And that remains, I
think, our overwhelming feeling.
But as you move beyond phase one of the war, which was the fight
against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the objectives and the
implementation of the war on terrorism becomes a little more less clear,
murkier, and you begin to see some problems in the conduct of the war on
terrorism. Harry was talking a moment ago about these detainees, which
isand Jim, too, I think, and it's a serious problem with regard to
anyone who's concerned about civil liberties. And you also begin to see
that there are choices or alternatives that can be made on the military
side, the political side, the humanitarian side, the intelligence side,
the civil liberties side of the war now. All of this is beginning to
come out now and to circulate and people are getting a better
I think the process is working, although working slowly. So what do
you do about it? Well, you have to get these matters out into the
public. You have to begin to discuss them and criticize the president.
The president should not be above criticism in his conduct of the war on
terrorism. That doesn't make any sense in a democratic society. You have
to be, in a sense here, both a partner and a critic, and it's not always
easy to carry out those two roles. You want the president to succeed,
you want the country to succeed in the war on terrorism, but at the same
time, you see things in the war on terrorism that you think run counter
to your sense of values and you have to speak out on them and see if
others agree with you on it. You're beginning to see that process in the
Congress and in the country.
MR. HESS: We can carry that forward. I want to add, we once
called this panel, and then changed the name, "The Loyal Opposition." We
are going to be in a congressional election very shortly. So my question
is, as a sidebar to Marvin's
MR. KALB (?): Bernie.
MR. HESS: I mean to Bernie'sof all of the forces at workwe
talk about the press and the independent commissions, the intelligence
committeeswhat should be the role of the Democratic Party as we move
closer and closer to a very significant election? After all, the Senate
is only divided by one vote, and the House by five. Give us your
assessment of where they shouldthe Democratic Party should be at this
MR. SASSER: Well, could I just sort of partly respond to your
question and partly respond to Bernard's question. I think that Lee
Hamilton is entirely correct, in the sense that there needs to be some
examination of the administration's policy by the loyal opposition. And
it is, I think, almost undemocratic for, when the Senate majority
leader, Mr. Daschle, asked a reasonable question about the intelligence
information prior to 9/11 and how can we go about making it better, for
him then to be accused of beingspeaking in incendiary language, I think
was one of the words used; it was demeaning and beneath his position for
him to ask these questions, I think that allegation was made, as well.
And I think the Democrats and the Democratic leadership needs to
press forward, continue to ask questions, but ask them in a sense of
goodwill, in a sense of cooperation, state that we all have a stake in
the administration or the president's success in the war on terrorism,
and then perhaps move forward and introduce legislation to create the
apparatus around the chairman of homeland securityI forget what his
title is, but the
MR. KALB (?): Director.
MR. MCPHERSON: The director of homeland security. Introduce
legislation to create an apparatus around him, fund it, and get him to
come over to Congress to testify. He ought to come tell the chairman of
the Senate Appropriations Committee, that controls the purse strings,
what homeland security is all about and how he intends to react to it,
and try to build a bridge of cooperation here. And that's not going to
be done by total discouragement of any questioning of the
administration. And I think the press has got a role to play here,
Bernie. I mean, the press needs to, I think, point the finger and say,
"Look, we all want to work together on this, but it's not unpatriotic or
incendiary simply to ask some questions."
MR. KALB: Lloyd Cutler.
MR. CUTLER: Marvin, could I add that the president could take
a leaf from Franklin Roosevelt? And asI think even before Pearl Harbor,
as the war in Europe was looming, he picked two Republicans to be the
secretary of War and the secretary of the NavyHenry Stinson and Frank
Knox. I would think nothing could be more useful at the moment than for
President Bush to pick Lee Hamilton to be something or other.
(Laughter.) And with Lee Hamilton having the job of organizing homeland
MR. HAMILTON: Sure.
MR. CUTLER: we'd all be very well off. I think that's one
other thing we need to remember.
MR. KALB: Well, I think we have time for one more question.
Gentleman right here. Yeah.
Q: Emilie Zagant (ph), from(inaudible).
I want to ask, in the new era, American securitythe domestic
security(inaudible)close are they connected with international
security than former eras? TwosorryI'm a little nervous. Now
domestically, people are discussing (some civil ?) freedom and national
security. (Internally ?), your country's support, you have half-hearted.
And some(inaudible). Do you think Bush administration goal set "axis of
evils" and countries to want to help mass destructive weapons of
enemiesdo you think this goal is appropriate foreign policy aim?
MR. KALB: Whether the president's goal in citing the "axis of
evil" is a proper goal for the United States
Q: I meanyes.
MR. KALB: Okay. Thank you very much for the question.
Who would like to try thatthe "axis of evil"linking it to the broad
definition of the president's foreign policy?
MR. HAMILTON: Well, my view is that therethe president's
problem inearly on in the war on terrorismand that phrase was used at
the State of the Union addressthe president's problem was building a
momentum behind the war on terrorism. That's a political
problemdeveloping a consensus. And I think, on the positive side, the
"axis for evil" (sic) helped in that sense. It helped build political
momentum towards building a consensus worldwide and in the country
towards the war on terrorism. I think that the phrase itself doesn't
have much operational impact. We don't really know what the president's
strategy is. There are a lot of questions that come up when you use a
phrase like that. It puts a lot of people at unease.
So I see some positive aspects to the phrase, and I see some negative
aspects to it as well, just because it raises a lot of questions about
what we're going to do about these countries that we put into this
category of "axis of evil." And that ambiguity, I think, is not good for
American foreign policy.
MR. HESS: Well, I don't think we could have ended any more
eloquently and grandly than with this panel of Lee Hamilton, Harry
McPherson, Lloyd Cutler and Jim Sasser. We're very grateful to you for
coming with us and sharing your views with us and with all of the
listeners on CSPAN.
Since this is our 19th and last session, Marvin and I would like to
thank a few people. We couldn't have run these without them. First of
all of course would be Ron Nessen, the director, vice president of
communications here, our co-conspirator in all of this, and his staff. I
hate to mention them, because I'll probably miss some, but particularly
Robert Dabrowski, Colin Johnson, Marcia MacNeil, Jennifer Kurz.
The two people who did the most, our webmasters, Fred Dews and Gary
Harding, who are quite wonderful. The person who did all of our digital
broadcasting and kept a record of that, Ed Berkey. Our own personal
assistants, Dan Reilly and Mike Barry. We have a young man from Oxford,
Eldon Limm (sp), who we've invited to be with us to take a look at all
of these transcripts and decide whether there's a book there somewhere.
The people at the Foreign Press Center who allowed us to have two
programs with them, particularly Jeff Brown and Peter Kovach over there.
And the crew whoSean Meehan (sp) and his crew who always get us here
and set us up and who are superb helpers in the Governmental Studies,
where they do the logistics for this under Paul Light, Susan Stewart,
Gina Russo, Elizabeth McAlpine.
We've been very blessed with all of these people behind the scenes
who have made this such a very successful program. We thank them all.
I'm sure the minute I say good-bye I'll remember six other people I
should have remembered. But thank you all.
It's been a fascinating time, Marvin. We'll have to think about that
for a while.
MR. KALB: We ought to come back and do this again. (Chuckles.)
MR. HESS: Come back and do it again. Okay.
MR. KALB: Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
(END OF EVENT.)