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"Fox News Sunday" - Transcript

Interview

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Location: Delaware


"Fox News Sunday" - Transcript

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MR. HUME: Late in the week, the Bush administration made its first formal comments about Iraq's 12,000-page weapons declaration. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the document was part of a pattern of deception.

BEGIN VIDEO CLIP:

SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL: It should be obvious that the pattern of systematic holes and gaps in Iraq's declaration is not the result of accidents or editing oversights or technical mistakes. These are material omissions that in our view constitute another material breach.

END OF VIDEO CLIP.

MR. HUME: So, what happens next? For answers, we turn to the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Senator Richard Lugar, who is joining me here in the studio, and from his home state of Delaware, the incoming ranking Democrat, Senator Joseph Biden. Good morning, and welcome to you both.

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MR. HUME: Senator Biden, what's your assessment of that?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): I agree completely.

And I think you'll find that the French and some of our reluctant suitors will agree also. I think the administration is handling this the right way, stating this is another material breach, building the case. Saddam once again has severely miscalculated.

MR. HUME: Now -- what do you expect the administration course to be now? I mean, is war now inevitable, in your judgment, Senator Biden?

SEN. BIDEN: No, not necessarily, but it's getting a heck of a lot closer. I just got back from Iraq and Qatar, and Tommy Franks is ready to go if he has to on the call of the president. I think that you see the response both on the -- on the record and off the record from the French. The Russians are still reluctant, but I think you'll see the administration playing this out, continuing the inspections, making demands based upon what was excluded, through the international agencies -- the IAEA and the U.N. inspectors. And my guess is Saddam is -- this is his last chance. He either decides to pony up or he's going to be out. And I'm -- I'm quite frankly afraid he's going to miscalculate once again and I think we'll get a clear support from the U.N. to use force.

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MR. HUME: I want to ask you both about, sort of on the broader subject on the war on terrorism, comments made this week by your Senate colleague, Patty Murray of Washington, who is, of course, a member of the Democratic leadership. She was speaking to some students out in her home state and she said of Osama Bin Laden, quote, "We've got to ask why this man is so popular around the world. He's been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that."

Senator Biden, what do you think of that characterization of Osama Bin Laden by a member of the United States Senate, a member of the Democratic leadership?

SEN. BIDEN: Well, knowing Patty, I know she didn't mean it the way that came out. I assume what she was trying to say to those high school students was that the reason why he's popular in various parts of the world is, along with the Saudis, they've built 70,000 madrassas and they did go in there -- did go in there with our help and millions of dollars to, you know, kick out the Russians, et cetera. But I think it was -- I would hope if she had a chance to rephrase it she would -- she would change that. The idea that Patty Murray thinks we should pattern ourselves after Bin Laden is not -- I don't believe she thinks that at all. I think it's a very bad choice of words.

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MR. HUME: Senator Biden, what both you senators are saying remind me a little bit of the immediate reaction to what Senator Lott said. Different issue, of course. Different arena. But a forgiving attitude toward a colleague who you feel, perhaps with some empathy, may have slipped up. But I wonder if a slip-up of this kind, portraying this man as a humanitarian benefactor and going on to say the United States, in effect, is not, is something that can be tolerated in a member of the leadership.

SEN. BIDEN: Well look, Brit, the fact is that as Dick just said, there are millions of dollars that have been funneled, tens of millions of dollars that have been funneled through charities to people who think Bin Laden is the person who is funneling it to them is responsible for them getting it. And -- and so that is -- that's factual. Now, whether or not the idea that he is a charitable person does not go along with that. But the notion that we have been trying to cut off, by definition, these so-called charities that are being funded to the tens of millions -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- is a reality. And so the fact is in some parts of the world he is viewed by some people as --some very uninformed, ignorant people in deep trouble -- that he is -- he is being charitable. Like, I just got back from Northern Iraq. It's not Bin Laden, but you ride through Northern Iraq and -- and which I did for about 11 hours on the road -- and the bottom line is you see these magnificent, beautiful mosques in all gleaming white, looked like tile and marble. And I said "Where the hell -- heck did they come from?" "Well, that's the Saudis are building these mosques up here." And there -- (inaudible) -- people by extremists, of the Wahabi Sunnis faith. And so it's hard for those people in those areas to distinguish between propaganda and mind- bending, you know, propaganda and generosity. And as Dick said, we -- we've been fighting for a while in the committee to get more focus on this whole notion of public diplomacy, getting our story out there --

MR. HUME: All right --

SEN. BIDEN: -- and we're just not doing that.

MR. HUME: Senator Lugar, let me move you on to another issue -- South Korea. New election. This President Roh Moo-hyun -- there you see a picture of him -- seems eager to, even more eager, perhaps, than his predecessor, for some sort of rapproachment with the North at a time when we're basically trying to confront the North, to some extent, about nuclear weapons and other weapons programs. What about that election? What does that do to our diplomacy there? And what should we be doing?

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MR. HUME: What about that, Senator Biden? Your chairman-elect seems to feel that basically the administration is on the right track. Do you agree with that?

SEN. BIDEN: Your outgoing chairman thinks that too. And the bottom line here is that the key point that Dick made is that we have to be talking. We cannot stiff-arm everyone out there, and I think the president is on the right path. This is a greater danger immediately to U.S. interests, at this very moment, in my view, than Saddam Hussein is. We're talking about them being able to, if they lift the seals on this -- these canisters -- they're going to be able to build four to five additional nuclear weapons within months. If they begin that reprocessing operation, that's within a year. And the idea that we can just say, "Look, we're not going to talk to you at all until you do the following things" -- a little like Ariel Sharon saying "I'm not going to discuss anything until there's not a single solitary death in Israel" -- it is a non-starter.

And so I think the president's absolutely right reaching out to the new president. And I think the new president of South Korea is going to have a bit of an epiphany himself in this holiday season, realizing when confronted with the facts, just how dangerous his neighbor to the north is. But we've got to talk. We cannot let this get out of hand.

MR. HUME: Senator Lugar, we've got a major crisis in Venezuela. Very near our borders. A situation where our relations with the president down there appear to be all but non-existent at this point. What is the proper course on that issue?

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MR. HUME: -- can this country be in the position of going down there and saying -- telling these people when to hold their election?

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MR. HUME: And are you prepared to move ahead with the administration's nominee?

SEN. LUGAR: Well, they've not made one yet. But I strongly advise that they make a very good one, because we really need help there. The president needs help, Secretary Powell needs help, so that we do not get into these situations, sliding along without a proper United States representation.

MR. HUME: What about it, Senator Biden?

SEN. BIDEN: I'm going to -- we're going to ruin each other's credibility. I agree completely with Dick Lugar here. This is -- we've been holding the OAS's coat. The president of Colombia has been making a good effort. We have to ratchet this up, and we need someone of significant stature --

MR. HUME: Well, Otto Reich is the nominee --

SEN. BIDEN: -- in that position.

MR. HUME: Otto Reich has been the nominee.

SEN. BIDEN: Otto Reich will not be -- Otto Reich will not be, in my humble opinion, does not fill that bill and could not be confirmed.

MR. HUME: Well, he's been serving in the position. You believe that he couldn't be confirmed. Is it your belief, Senator Lugar, that Otto Reich, who has been the president's choice, cannot be confirmed?

SEN. LUGAR: Well, I've indicated that I don't think he has the votes in the committee, and I think that the president and Secretary Powell understand that.

MR. HUME: All right. Thanks to both of you. Senator Lugar, Senator Biden, nice of you to be with us.

SEN. LUGAR: Thank you.

SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much. And happy holidays.

MR. HUME: And the same to you as well.


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