SHOW: PAULA ZAHN NOW 20:00
September 27, 2004 Monday
Transcript # 092700CN.V99
HEADLINE: Presidential Candidates Prepare For Debate; Interview With Senator Orrin Hatch
GUESTS: Orrin Hatch, Bill Carrick, Mike Murphy, Chuck Todd
BYLINE: James Carville, Tucker Carlson, Judy Woodruff, Candy Crowley, William Schneider, Paula Zahn, Dan Lothian
ZAHN: And joining me now to respond to Senator Kennedy's charges, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who serves on the Select Committee on Intelligence.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Nice to be with you, Paula.
ZAHN: First of all -- thank you -- let's review what Senator Kennedy said, that the greatest threat to the United States now is a nuclear 9/11 and that by going into Iraq that the Bush administration has exposed America to this terrible threat. Your reaction?
HATCH: Well, what did Kennedy want to do, just wait until they attack us here or did he want to take this to them offshore, where we have been having them on the run ever since?
Bin Laden's hold up in northwestern Pakistan, Zarqawi is doing everything he can to be absent and to not get caught. And, of course, we have been keeping them under pressure all over the world. And we have been an awful lot of interrupting their finances, their money, their banking, and of course their organizations all over the world. But what were we supposed to do, just wait until they strike us here in our country? I don't think so.
ZAHN: I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here, sir. Are you accusing the senator of aiding and abetting the enemy by making this kind of explosive statement?
HATCH: Well, let me say this.
Kennedy used the illustration that he was glad that George Bush wasn't president during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That was the perfect -- that's the perfect all-time illustration of the doctrine of preemption. His brother used it. They called it a quarantine, but it was really an embargo, which is an act of war. The fact of the matter is, we preempted the Russians, and I give John F. Kennedy full credit for it.
But now that we're preempting the Osama bin Laden people and others by going to war both in Afghanistan and Iraq, there seems to be a lot of criticism about it.
ZAHN: So you're tying both of these wars together. But do you believe that the war in Iraq has made the world a safer place?
HATCH: I don't think there is any question that getting hold of Saddam Hussein, who certainly had the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and who had used them against his own people, was a very important part of it. And anybody who doesn't know that hasn't looked at Steve Coll's book called "Ghost Wars," where Osama bin Laden was in Sudan and was aided by none other than Saddam Hussein.
Plus, al-Zarqawi came from Osama bin Laden up in Afghanistan. When we took them down in Afghanistan, a lot of these terrorists fled Afghanistan to come to Iran and then into Iraq. And al-Zarqawi is the perfect illustration. Now, either we can take it and just sit back and let them attack us or we can go after them. And that's what President Bush is doing and I think he's done a pretty good job so far.
ZAHN: But, Senator, even members of your own party think the result is just the opposite, that this has actually seeded the terrorism movement.
HATCH: I don't think so.
ZAHN: And let me share with you something that President Musharraf, one of our key allies, the president of Pakistan, told me on Friday when I posed that very direct question. Let's listen together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Is the world a safer place because of the war in Iraq?
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: No. It's more dangerous. It's not safer, certainly not. I would say that it has ended up bringing more trouble to the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: As you just heard at the very end, the president saying it ended up bringing more trouble to the world. Do you discount what the president just said completely?
HATCH: No, not at all. There's no question that the terrorists had been building and growing and being financed by many in the Arab world for years and all of a sudden they've exploded, no question about it.
But where do you want them to explode, in the United States of America or over there? On the other hand, you have got to dispute what they're saying, because, look, do you think that Libya, Gadhafi would ever have given up his weapons of mass destruction had it not been for the forthright efforts by George Bush and the coalition of 32 nations?
Actually, Bush has spoken more before the United Nations than any president in history in the first four years of his administration.
ZAHN: But, Senator, finally tonight, even the Bush administration's chief weapons inspector has just shared a report with us that shows that there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. Doesn't that change all of this?
HATCH: Well, I'll tell you one thing. We are going to find out where they went and what happened to them.
Now, there's no question he had weapons of mass destruction. There's no question that he had the capacity of making them. There's no question that he had the teams in place to make them, also no question that he used them against the Kurds in the north and against the Iranians during the Iran war. The fact of the matter is, is that everybody in the world, including people in the United Nations, believed that he had them at the time this war began.
So to in retrospect go back and say, well, we haven't found them, therefore, there was no cause to go into Iraq I think is a mistake. I've tied in Sudan. I've tied in Afghanistan. There's no question that there were ties to al Qaeda. And even though there may not be direct efforts by al Qaeda in Iran, we've got to suspect that there could be and we have got to do what we can to protect our people and the rest of the people in this world.
ZAHN: Senator Orrin Hatch, we have got to leave it there this evening. Thanks for your time.
HATCH: You bet. Nice to talk to you.