Four Washington "Wise Men" Discuss America in the Age of Terrorism


Democrats Discuss Bush Admin. Policy at the Brookings Institution
The Brookings Inst. hosts a panel of Democratic Party nat'l security experts
discussing Bush administration policy in addressing terrorism. Panel: Lee
Hamilton, former Chairman, House Select Cmte on Intelligence; Lloyd Cutler,
former Counsel to Presidents' Carter & Clinton; Harry McPherson, former
Counsel to President Johnson; Jim Sasser, former US Ambassador to China.
Moderators: Stephen Hess & Marvin Kalb.
Watch from Wednesday, May 29, 2002   (Length: 90 min.) (site down)

The Overview:
Four Washington "Wise Men" Discuss America in the Age of Terrorism

A Brookings/Harvard Forum
Press Coverage and the War on Terrorism
The Overview: Four Washington "Wise Men" Discuss America in the Age of Terrorism

Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Falk Auditorium
The Brookings Institution
1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.



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 Clinton administration.

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, 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, . You can also get a full transcript of the event that will be posted on the website.

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 legislature—as 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 terms—34 years. Jim served three terms—18 tears. Add them together, and we've got 52 years—more 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 question—I 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 called—if you haven't read it, do—it'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. Partly—perhaps chiefly—because 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 us.

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. Some—it'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 can—their 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.

Lloyd Cutler?

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 dead—he 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 had—apart 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 because—for 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 being—having 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 War II.

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 really—it 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 could—if we could get our manpower and womanpower—I 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 president—that 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 the—at 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 again—as 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 these statements.

MR. KALB: Lee, did you want to —

MR. HAMILTON: Well, I think the president's success—and it's an important success—is 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 sight—may be exaggerating the war on terrorism too much and losing sight of a lot of other very important goals—nonproliferation, human rights, environmental concerns and many, many others.

MR. HESS: You are all Democrats, so this question will not surprise you.

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 infrastructure—our plants, all of our military facilities—is 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 done—and not for political advantage, although he may gain political advantage from it—is 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 me—and here I ask guidance—that 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, Congress—which very much likes the idea of investigating, it's in the Constitution and so forth—at 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 way.

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 days—I presume they did not, but if they had that information, and they may have—they 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 government—Earl Warren. Warren thought it was a terrible idea because he might have to—at 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 it—you 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 still—there 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 America.

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 said—and 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 to—the reason presidents appoint them so often is people say, "Don't just stand there, do something." So they do something.

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 thing—this 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 any—does 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 also—we 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 failures—and I expect Lee does as well—surrounding 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 troops—as 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, thank goodness.

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 that.

MR. SASSER: Well, I think the commission ought to be—certainly, 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 various—Defense Intelligence, you got Navy Intelligence, Army Intelligence. You've got the—what are the other—you got three or four other agencies—NSA—and there's a—one 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 time—the 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 up—Congress has to quit early October—is 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 it.

Now, the commission—I can go on and on about this—is 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 technology.

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's—the 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 9/11?"


"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 on terrorism.

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 more secure?"

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 downtown Washington.

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 this.

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 terrorism.

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 columns—maybe not a number, but one or two, anyway—in 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 appropriated —

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 were—in 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 really—I'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 to—you fellows particularly who were in the White House, did you—were 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 our enemies.

Now we have an administration who we all agree—I certainly agree with you—is 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 idea?

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 administration—except 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 they're taking.

MR. KALB: Right.

MR. SASSER: And I think —

MR. KALB: And what I'm arguing, Jim —


MR. KALB: What's wrong with that?

MR. SASSER: Well, I think—you 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 I've seen.

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 press—it's CBS that brought out the notion that the president had some—at least some modicum of warning about—that 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 patriotism—out of concern that they may be labeled unpatriotic.

MR. SASSER: Well, Marvin, I mean, I've had at least two reporters tell me—and I'm sure other members of the panel may have heard this, as well—that 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 fired—or never appointed—summarily.

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: Well—but they're not —

MR. : When you say it's —

(Cross talk.)

MR. HESS: They're plants—they'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 House—they'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: —like—some of it sounds to me like politics as usual. And the argument could be made—and I think some of you are making it—that we are in a new time now, that this terrorist threat raises the whole level to—it 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 being—feel that they will be called unpatriotic if they really make a—I mean, here is—we've got—we've got hundreds—who 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 them—every now and then, somebody appears as a subject of a story in the paper who was—has been in jail for six months, he's got no charges against him whatever, and he's not being told—his lawyers, his family, nobody's being told anything about him. I don't recall any period quite like this. It is—perhaps we had—when 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 asked—go 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 do—and we don't understand it perfectly—the 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 are—leaks 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 be—you can't put out in the public domain.


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 severe—it 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 alarming.

MR. HESS: Can—there'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're—if 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 base—a 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's—director 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 back—I'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 would—could go before—the head of it could go before the Congress.

MR. HAMILTON: Well, the major reason for supporting the idea of a department—and I don't know that you need to call it that—is to give the director of it the money and the staff and the clout that he needs.

Now, the question you raise—What 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 agencies—I think probably more than that—that deal with terrorism in some aspect. And —

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 report—it was a very sobering report—you were mentioning that earlier—in 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 devastating—perhaps more devastating than what happened on September 11th.

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 finger—their fingers, I guess I should say—on this problem of the loose nukes. And we all agreed—Lloyd, what was it—30 billion? More? Substantial.

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 a—we'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 direction—not 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. KALB: Yes, in the back?

Q: Thank you. My name is—(inaudible). I work for a Turkish TV channel. My question is, we learned—you 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 to—and 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 some—to some degree against the allegation they neglected to warn the American public.

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 the—say, "Don't let them win; buy an SUV." And my question would be, is, what as Americans we stand for and how we're being—the 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 the—the 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, becomes—and 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 made—one, 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 question.

MR. SASSER: Well, we expect that from your brother, after all, Marvin.

We—who 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 is—and 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 understanding.

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's—of all of the forces at work—we talk about the press and the independent commissions, the intelligence committees—what 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 should—the Democratic Party should be at this point.

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 being—speaking 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 security—I 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 as—I 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 Navy—Henry 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 security —


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 security—the domestic security—(inaudible)—close are they connected with international security than former eras? Two—sorry—I'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 enemies—do 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 mean—yes.

MR. KALB: Okay. Thank you very much for the question.

Who would like to try that—the "axis of evil"—linking it to the broad definition of the president's foreign policy?

MR. HAMILTON: Well, my view is that there—the president's problem in—early on in the war on terrorism—and that phrase was used at the State of the Union address—the president's problem was building a momentum behind the war on terrorism. That's a political problem—developing 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 who—Sean 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.)


FACT: Prior Knowledge of 9-11

Coleen Rowley's Memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller

Back to 9-11 Attack on America

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