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Public Statements

CBS "Early Show" - Transcript

Interview

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HARRY SMITH: What does the surprising victory for the militant group Hamas in the Palestinian elections mean for the Middle East peace process? Democratic Senator Joe Biden was over there monitoring the election. He's with us this morning.

Good morning, sir.

SEN. BIDEN: Good morning, Harry. How are you?

MR. SMITH: Very well. Is it possible to watch this happen with your own eyes, possible to love the election and hate the outcome?

SEN. BIDEN: Absolutely. You know, one election a democracy doesn't make, and that seems to be the mistake we're making throughout the Middle East. We think if you hold an election in a Muslim state that all of a sudden that means you have a democracy. It's far from it.

MR. SMITH: The president said yesterday (we?) absolutely will not deal with Hamas. The Israelis have said the same thing. We pour hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinians. So does the European Union. Does this money get cut off now?

SEN. BIDEN: I think it does, Harry. I've spoken to some of the Europeans. I've spoken to Mr. Wolfensohn, former president of the World Bank, who's there for the so-called quartet -- that is, the Europeans, the Russians, the United States -- the day of the election. And the fact of the matter is, you cannot pour millions and hundreds of millions of dollars into a group that, in fact, calls for the destruction of an ally, or for any country, for that matter.

MR. SMITH: What about this? Hamas -- there's some sense, some people say, because this election took place, because they ran on sort of a good-government platform, not about hating Israel, not about attacking Israel, that they may pacify, to a degree -- I know this is almost sacrilege -- but they may pacify to a degree because of this.

SEN. BIDEN: Well, you know, Hamas has a tough choice to make now, Harry. The Palestinian people -- the sad irony is the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, by clear majorities on both sides, want a two-state solution. All the time I was there, all the banners I saw that were read for me by our staff who speak Arabic, not a single one mentioned the destruction of Israel. Not a single one talked about the peace process. They talked about corruption. They talked about mismanagement.

So the irony is, the Palestinian people, at the highest level of wanting to settle with Israel, voted for the worst guys to do the settling. Now they have to make a decision, Hamas. Are they going to try to govern, or are they going to disappoint the very people who elected them? And who knows what path they're going to take? I just don't know.

MR. SMITH: I guess that's -- the whole world is watching right now. Let's jump on to a couple of other subjects, if you will.

SEN. BIDEN: Sure.

MR. SMITH: Your colleague, Senator John Kerry, is interested in putting together a filibuster to block the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Do you want to help him out?

SEN. BIDEN: No. I think that a filibuster is not likely to bear any fruit here. We already have four Democrats who've announced they're going to vote for Judge Alito. That gets it down to a pretty slim majority. I think we should make fulsome statements as to why -- in my case, why I think Judge Alito should not go on the bench. He gives much too much power to the presidency, thinks the president can go to war without the consent of Congress, et cetera. But a filibuster, I think, is not likely to occur. But who knows? I mean, one man can generate a filibuster.

MR. SMITH: All right. Yesterday the president continued to defend wiretapping without warrant. He says -- here's the question of the morning. Should the laws be changed to accommodate it, or is this, in fact, a breach of the Fourth Amendment?

SEN. BIDEN: I think the law should be changed, depending on -- look, Harry, we don't know exactly what they're doing. We don't know the extent of it. And the bottom line for me is, under no circumstance should a president ever have such broad authority that it can't be reviewed by the court, by some dispassionate party here. And so the idea that by having the court review what the president is doing, that somehow we're going to aid and abet the enemy, I find to be difficult.

I was part of writing that FISA law, as they call it, that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. And it's all done in secret. There's no access to the public to know what case the government makes before that court. And I think it's a bit of a stretch on the part of the president. We're about to have hearings on that, and we'll know better hopefully in a couple of weeks.

MR. SMITH: All right, Senator Biden, we thank you, as always, for your time this morning; do appreciate it.

SEN. BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you.


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