SHOW: CNN CROSSFIRE 16:30
March 25, 2004 Thursday
GUESTS: Rahm Emanuel, Peter King
BYLINE: James Carville, Robert Novak
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
CARVILLE: Congressman King?
REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK: Yes, sir.
CARVILLE: Today Senator Zell Miller said that these hearings were detrimental to America. Do you agree with him?
KING: I think the hearings served a purpose. But I have to say that I think Dick Clarke's conduct over the past week has been shameful. And I have to question his integrity, not his patriotism.
The reason I'm saying that is what he's saying today is so different from what he said a year and a half ago. And the facts don't back up what he is saying.
Listen, I was not one of those people who attacked Bill Clinton for everything he did. I think he did not get enough credit for going into Bosnia. That did stop al Qaeda from moving more into Europe.
In 1998, I did support the attacks in the camps. I think he could have done more. There's also a lot there to criticize. But I realize what a tough issue it is.
And for Dick Clarke to be saying what George Bush did from January 20 to September 4th of 2001, that he was not paying attention to terrorism, was not important, I think that's shameful.
Nothing he said in that-in the previous three years backs up anything he's saying today.
CARVILLE: Can you point to anything, can you help my friends help me out and point to any time that President Bush or Vice President Cheney or Condoleezza Rice ever mentioned the words "Osama bin Laden" or "al Qaeda" or talked about what they were going to do? Can you help us out? You'll get a free copy of my book.
KING: First of all...
NOVAK: He doesn't want a free copy.
KING: I don't want any copy. Give me the book anyway.
CARVILLE: OK, I'll be glad to.
KING: James, be serious about this.
CARVILLE: I'm very serious.
KING: So am I.
CARVILLE: How many times you think they mentioned tax cuts for oil companies?
KING: James, this is a very serious issue. The fact is from January 20 through September 4 there were any number of meetings held, as Dick Clarke himself said a year and a half ago.
The Bush administration continued everything the Clinton administration is doing, plus they increased spending 500 percent for covert activities, starting dealing with Pakistan and Uzbekistan and turned around their policies. There were real, substantive steps.
Would that have been enough? I don't know. But to say they're ignoring terrorism is absolutely untrue. It's disgraceful. It's shameful. People like you are perverting this issue.
NOVAK: Congressman Emanuel, the height of this controversy and the most outrageous thing that Dick Clarke said was that the attack on Iraq was hurting the war on terrorism. And I would like to get the response to that by the Democratic vice presidential nominee of the year 2000, your man, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and let's listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I just can't believe it. There's no evidence of it.
I know that the administration after September 11 was very focused on uniting the country and then going on to strike back at al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
And we had some very important, and constructive moments of non- partisan, national unity after September 11. And I don't want to rewrite that history. That was important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOVAK: Now, is that-is that honesty and patriotism? Why Joe Lieberman didn't do well in the primary elections?
EMANUEL: Joe is entitled to his view. I happen to think that a lot of people in the military and in our national foreign policy establishment to this country, both in government and out of government, happen to agree with Dick Clark's position.
It is Dick Clarke's view that the war in Iraq diverted resources right at the crucial time when we had al Qaeda and specifically Osama bin Laden on the run.
And if you don't think that, then your subscription to the newspapers has ended about a year ago. We've had this debate in the country, and a lot of people believe that. In fact, many men and women in the leadership, the military believe because we were tied down in Iraq, we couldn't keep the resources...
EMANUEL: That's right. And General Shinseki told you it's going to take 200,000, was fired for telling his view. The fact is, we just recently sent troops over to Afghanistan that had prior to that been in Iraq and tied down. That is a dedication of resources.
CARVILLE: Congressman King, Vice President Cheney, the president's No. 1 go-to guy was placed in charge of two task forces. One on energy and one on terrorism. Just guessing, which one do you think met more often, the one to give tax breaks to oil companies or the one to try to stop al Qaeda?
KING: The fact is when it comes to terrorism it was President Bush that met every day with the director of Central Intelligence who he kept on from the Clinton administration, which I think showed his interest in the issue and his bipartisanship.
Now listen, I could take a cheap shot by saying that Bill Clinton never met with his own CIA director. But he had a different way of doing things. President Bush did meet with George Tenet every day. If that doesn't show a commitment to countering terrorism, I don't know what does.
CARVILLE: Congressman, I asked a question. What met more, Dick Cheney's task force on tax breaks for the energy companies or the one on terrorism?
KING: James, that is a stupid question. The fact is...
CARVILLE: Why is it a stupid question? I don't understand why it's stupid.
KING: Because it took the Clinton administration eight years to come up with an anti-terrorism policy. Within seven months, the Bush administration came up with a policy.
But let me say something about Iraq, if I could. I agree with Rahm. I think we can't have a legitimate debate about Iraq. But what's wrong for Dick Clarke to do is say that it was wrong for Rumsfeld or Wolfowitz to bring this up after September 11.
I remember meeting with Jim Woolsey three days after September 11 and he thought Iraq was involved.
NOVAK: OK, next in "RapidFire" we'll ask our guests if the 9/11 hearings are helping or hurting the war on terrorism.
And right after the break, a tape said to come from an al Qaeda leader threatens a key player in the fight against terrorism.
CARVILLE: It's time for "Rapidfire." So you can't blame us for asking short questions and expecting short answers. We're talking about the 9/11 blame game with Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois and Republican Congressman Peter King of the great state of New York.
NOVAK: Rahm Emanuel, what about your old friend Zell Miller saying that these hearings and all this abuse of the president hurts America around the world in the war on terrorism?
REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: Every hearing we've ever had to evaluate a national crisis in America has strengthened America for the future and I disagree.
CARVILLE: Congressman, do you think that Condoleezza rice should testify publicly so the families can understand what she was doing or not doing at this time?
REP. PETER KING ® NEW YORK: She's a great public servant. I believe in the separation of powers. She's testified for four hours. She'll testify as long as she has to in private. Again, remember all the times executive privilege was claimed during the Clinton administration and seriously there's a constitutional basis for it. I support it. She will cooperate completely. You cannot have a presidential adviser testifying before a congressionally mandated commission.
NOVAK: Congressman, do you believe, you're a sophisticated guy, do you believe watching these hearings that Dick Clarke has a problem with this African-American woman Condoleezza Rice?
EMANUEL: Say that again?
NOVAK: Do you believe that Dick Clarke has a problem with this African-American woman Condoleezza Rice?
EMANUEL: No, no. Bob, give me a break. No. No.
CARVILLE: Congressman King, give us three factual errors contained in the Clarke book.
KING: Well, actually, the main one is first of all saying that there was a Clinton plan. There was no Clinton plan.
CARVILLE: Factual error in the book.
NOVAK: That's a factual error.
CARVILLE: No, that's a conclusion. Factual error in this book.
KING: I would say it's wrong for him to say that it was inappropriate for the president to raise Iraq. Let me ask you. You tell me one thing...
CARVILLE: That's an opinion.
NOVAK: Wait a minute. This is "Rapidfire."
CARVILLE: I think it was stupid to go into Iraq. That's my opinion. That's my opinion. It's the stupidest thing we ever did.
NOVAK: Congressman Emanuel, why didn't President Clinton, when he had the gunsights of the country on Osama bin Laden, pull the trigger?
NOVAK: After the Cole incident.
EMANUEL: Bob, he did as Peter mentioned earlier, he threw cruise missiles at him when we thought we had him. We had him a couple of times. One of the things that hasn't been said in this show, on 12/31/99 we stopped the terrorist act here in America.
NOVAK: We're out of time. I'll have to brief you on it sometime. Rahm Emanuel, thank you very much. Peter King. Next, just who was President Bush calling in this picture?
CARVILLE: We have our political differences but I'll say this for President George W. Bush, once he leaves government he might find a future as a comedian. Here's a snippet of his slide show at last night's White House-excuse me, Radio and Television Correspondents dinner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This one was taken a couple of months ago. I had just gotten word that Howard Dean had lost Iowa.
CARVILLE: Here's another. The president said when he was impersonating North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, calling John Kerry to say, you're my guy.
NOVAK: As a matter of fact, Kim Jong-Il, they're very close. He's very close to Kerry.
CARVILLE: Yes, absolutely. You've got to believe it. Terribly close to him, just like a whole kind of other people are close. From the left, I'm James Carville, that's it for CROSSFIRE.
NOVAK: From the right, I'm Bob Novak, join us again next time for another edition of CROSSFIRE. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" starts right now. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com