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Text: General Myers on ABC's 'This Week'


Sunday, October 21, 2001

Following is the transcript of ABC's "This Week," hosted by Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts.

Guests: General Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; U.S. Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), Majority Leader; and U.S. Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), Minority Leader.

DONALDSON: The war on terrorism enters a new phase as U.S. troops land in Afghanistan.


MYERS: The mission overall was successful. We accomplished our objectives.


STEPHANOPOULOS: But not without casualties. This morning, in his first interview, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff joins us to talk about the military's goals and the challenges ahead.

DONALDSON: Also this week, anthrax hits Capitol Hill--first the Senate, now the House. How serious is the threat? We'll ask the Senate's leaders, Democrat Tom Daschle and Republican Trent Lott.

ANNOUNCER: That's This Week, featuring George Will. And joining the roundtable, ABC's Linda Douglass. Now from Washington, Sam Donaldson and George Stephanopoulos.

DONALDSON: Welcome to our program. Cokie Roberts is off today. George, it's always good to see you in Washington. STEPHANOPOULOS: Good to be back. Thanks, Sam.

DONALDSON: Well, President Bush is scheduled to leave China this morning, flying back to Washington to consider new developments in the war on terrorism. We have a number of reports on the very latest, beginning with our chief White House correspondent, Terry Moran, who is with the president in Shanghai.


MORAN: Sam, the president has been very busy here building support for the U.S. efforts in the war on terrorism. And one thing has been very clear here tonight, that the partnership between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin has deepened as a result of these talks.


(voice-over): Mr. Bush said the new post-September 11 world made his plans for a missile defense system and for withdrawal from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty all the more important.

BUSH: A cold war ABM treaty that prevents us from defending our people is outdated, and, I believe, dangerous.

MORAN: President Putin indicated he was open to a deal.

PUTIN (voice of translator): And we are prepared to discuss that with our American partners.

MORAN: But it was terrorism that dominated this economic summit, which up until this year was known mostly for the joint photograph of leaders wearing local garb.

Times have changed. Chinese President Jiang read the leaders' joint statement about September 11.

JIANG: We condemn in the strongest terms the attack as an affront to peace, prosperity, and the security of all people.

MORAN: But the statement contained no explicit reference to the U.S. strikes in Afghanistan. The Muslim nations Malaysia and Indonesia blocked any such endorsement.

Still, President Bush said he'd heard broad support for the U.S. here.

BUSH: It was strong, it was steady, and it's real.


MORAN: The president is just about to head home, cutting short an already abbreviated trip which showcased the near-universal but not unconditional support that the U.S. has in the war on terrorism.


DONALDSON: Thank you, Terry. Terry Moran in Shanghai.

A lot of people complained when the U.S. House of Representatives adjourned last Thursday for anthrax testing, and the Senate chose to stay on the job, that the House was overreacting.

This weekend, a House building tested positive for anthrax.

ABC's John Miller has the latest on that. John?

MILLER: Well, Sam, as you know, that's the Ford Building. It does contain a mail processing center. So the real question now is, was that center contaminated by the Daschle letter passing through, or is there another letter out there in that system? That's a question that is pretty urgent and needs an answer before they decide what they're going to do as far as people and where they work.

And of course, there's a lot going on in the investigation, another anthrax letter discovered at ``The New York Post'' late Friday night in New York City, and, of course, the real question is, is this connected to bin Laden and those terrorists, or is this a copycat, or is it connected to yet another terrorist group?

Some of that burns (ph) around the issue is, is this anthrax what they call weapons-grade? Now, that's a finely tuned definition. It basically means that it would have to be highly concentrated. I guess the operating definition is 1 times 10 to the 10th power spores per milliliter. That's an awful lot of zeros, and shows a lot of intensive lab work and milling.

And that's a question that the government is dealing with very gingerly, because if they decide to say it is weapons-grade--and again, administration people don't even agree on the answer to this question--that brings up a series of complicated foreign policy issues, because it suggests it comes from a state sponsor. And, of course, they'll be under pressure to name what state and, of course, what they're going to do about it.


DONALDSON: Thank you, John.

The attention being paid to the U.S. war on terrorism has all but obscured the dangerous situation in Israel, where the battle between Israeli troops and Palestinians has escalated dramatically.

ABC's Gillian Findlay has the latest from Jerusalem. Gillian?

FINDLAY: Sam, this is Israel's largest military deployment into lands controlled by the Palestinians in more than seven years, and the Palestinians today are calling it a reoccupation.


(voice-over): In the last four days, Israeli tanks have rolled into just about every Palestinian city in the West Bank. Those the army has not entered it has (inaudible). This has been the result--gun battles, street-to-street fighting.

And funerals. More than 20 Palestinians have been killed since Thursday, half of them civilians. The Palestinian Authority says this is all part of an Israeli plan.

YASSER ABED RABBO, PALESTINIAN MINISTER OF INFORMATION: It aims at reoccupying Palestinian territories and areas.

FINDLAY: But Israel denies that's the intention. The troops are necessary, it says, to prevent more attacks and to pressure the Palestinians into turning over those responsible for the assassination of Israel's tourism minister.

ZIPI LIVINI, ISRAELI CABINET MINISTER: When this will happened, we will leave these areas and hope--hoping that Chairman Arafat will take the steps.


FINDLAY: But again today, the Palestinians are saying that when they find those gunmen, they will not turn them over. They are calling upon the international community to restrain Israel and at the same time calling on their own people to do everything they can to resist Israel's military moves.


DONALDSON: Thank you, Gillian. Gillian Findlay in Jerusalem.

Now let's look at the escalation in the main war against terrorism, the weekend attack into Afghanistan by U.S. forces on the ground.

ABC's Martha Raddatz brings us up to date from the Pentagon. Martha?

RADDATZ: Sam, the air strikes are continuing, but indeed, the most significant event of the weekend was the ground operation in Afghanistan, much of it captured on night vision combat cameras.


(voice-over): Over 100 Army Rangers parachuted in darkness into the heart of Taliban country, Kandahar, dropping from well-armed MC-130s onto two targets, a Taliban-controlled airfield and a compound that Taliban leader Mullah Mohamed Omar is thought to have fled some time ago.

MYERS: We gathered some intelligence, which we're evaluating.

RADDATZ: The Rangers met only light resistance from the Taliban, but there were casualties on the Taliban side. The U.S. suffered no fatalities in the raid, but in nearby Pakistan, two U.S. servicemen were killed in a helicopter accident. The Black Hawk, which was standing by for any rescue assistance that might be needed, crashed on landing. Blinding dust is thought to be a factor.

The overall mission was deemed a success, not only dealing a military blow to the Taliban, but a psychological blow as well.

CORDESMAN: There's been a lot of propaganda that we won't fight on the ground, that we can't deal with the Taliban, that our technology really doesn't work. We proved all of that to be wrong.


RADDATZ: The Army Rangers also left behind pictures of New York City firemen raising an American flag at the site of the World Trade Centers with the signature ``Freedom Endures.''



And joining us now, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers. General Myers, thanks for being with us this morning.

MYERS: Thank you, George. Good to be here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bombing raids last night, the AP is reporting civilian casualties in Kabul, at least five dead, including three women and two children. Can you confirm that?

MYERS: I can't confirm it. But let me say this about civilian casualties. We--the last thing we want are any civilian casualties, so we plan every military target with great care. We try to match the weapon to the target. And the goal is, one, to destroy the target, and two is to prevent any what we call collateral damage or damage to civilian structures or civilian population.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ABC News in Islamabad has also received a report that at least one U.S. military personnel has been injured by a land mine, and several may be missing. How about that?

MYERS: We have no reports of that. So again, I think it goes to show you that some of the reporting we get out of that part of the world is often--fine-ground truth is very difficult and is often exaggerated.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, sir, one more report from the Taliban about last night. They say they downed a U.S. helicopter near Kandahar, and there are maybe 20 to 25 Americans dead.

MYERS: I think that is the Taliban wishing for some good news these days. That is not correct as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, let's go back to the Special Forces operation on Friday night. Tell us specifically, what was their mission, and what did they achieve?

MYERS: As has been reported, they had two objectives. One was one of the Taliban leadership compounds, specifically Omar's compound, and the other was an airfield. And on both of them, we thought there was a pretty good chance that we could find some useful intelligence to meet our overall objectives in Afghanistan, and that is to hunt down Al Qaeda and to help destroy the regime that is supporting Al Qaeda.

And so we hoped to get some intelligence from those (inaudible).

STEPHANOPOULOS: Has that mission been completed, or are there still forces on the ground?

MYERS: Well, I don't want to--I can't go there, George, and let me explain why. Anything that puts our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen at risk, I think we have to be very careful about how we speculate about future operations.

Let me use the analogy--it's a simple one, but today we're going to--some of us will be probably watching NFL football. I doubt if a coach is going to give away his game plan for today before he executes that plan.

I think the American people understand why we have to keep the details of our operations confidential.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But if the mission were completed, you could talk about it.

MYERS: Well, again, as we've said before, some of these missions that we're going to do in the military are going to be visible, some are going to be invisible. The visible ones, obviously, we can talk about, the invisible, sometimes we'll talk about them, but not all times. And yesterday, after that particular mission, we did reveal some of what we did.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things you said yesterday is that you wanted more time to evaluate the intelligence you picked up on the mission. What more have you learned?

MYERS: Again, I can't--I don't know that we have taken that intelligence to the analysts who really have to look at it yet. So we're in the process of doing that, so I can't tell you at this point.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There's some reports that you've made some progress in pinpointing the location of Osama bin Laden, in fact, a report in ``Newsweek'' this morning says that intelligence sources say it's been narrowed down to a 20 mile-by-20 mile sector in Afghanistan.

MYERS: Well, we--as we look for the Al Qaeda leadership, and for that matter the Taliban leadership and their command and control facilities, we find them essentially in larger areas than that. We have not been able to pinpoint exactly where all these command and control facilities are. We continue to look.

I would be delighted if we could find it in a 20-by-20 mile square, but I'm not going to comment on that. That gets into sensitive intelligence matters. We do continue to use all means that we have at our disposal plus the means of other governmental agencies to try to locate the command and control and the leadership.

STEPHANOPOULOS: If U.S. forces encounter Osama bin Laden, are they supposed to kill him on sight, or try to capture him first?

MYERS: Well, U.S. forces operate under the laws of international--international laws of conflict, and obviously one of the targets there is the command and control and the leadership. If--but as you know, the U.S. armed forces are also humane. So we're--it depends on the circumstances. Excuse me, George.

But if it's a defensive situation, then, you know, bullets will fly. But if we can capture somebody, then we'll do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think Osama bin Laden will survive this war?

MYERS: I don't know for sure. I do know that--you know, we've been at this military business now for just over two weeks. The military is only a small piece of the overall effort. And the goal right now is to try to bring down Al Qaeda and to try to bring down the Taliban, who support them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What's left of the Taliban and Al Qaeda after two weeks?

MYERS: Well, in terms of the Taliban, we have taken down the air defenses, so we pretty much have free rein over the country. That is not to say they still don't have manned portable surface-to-air missiles, they don't have antiaircraft guns. But we basically can range freely over Afghanistan.

We've hit a lot of their military facilities, their tanks, their artillery, their vehicle support facilities, and some troop concentrations. And Al Qaeda, we've hit a lot of their training camps, so they won't be doing any training in the near future in Afghanistan.

So we're trying to posture ourselves to continue to squeeze out Al Qaeda and to diminish the Taliban's influence.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you feeling any time pressures? Winter is approaching, also the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Will that affect your planning in any way?

MYERS: As the president said, this is going to be a very, very long campaign, and I think the one thing that we all must bear in mind is that we're going to have to have patience if we're going to be successful in this campaign. So, no, we're not feeling pressure. We're trying to do the right thing. We're doing it in a very measured way.

It may take till next spring, it may take till next summer, it may take longer than that in Afghanistan.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about beyond Afghanistan, and widening out the battlefield? There are some reports you've started to prepare targets in Iraq. Is that true?

MYERS: This is a global war on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. So it's--Afghanistan is only one small piece. So of course we're thinking very broadly. I would say, since World War II, we haven't thought this broadly about a campaign. And it's not just the military piece, it's the rest of the instruments of national power that the United States and our friends and allies will bring to this problem.

So we're--the military piece is just one part of it. Other things are going on all the time, the financial piece, the justice piece, the law enforcement piece, and so on.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But let me show you--some people are worried about the scope of that war. And let me show you something from a retired colonel, Richard Dunn, of--the former head of the Army think tank. He said, ``You can go and kill every one of their terrorists and hang bin Laden in front of the White House, and you still haven't solved the problem. You've probably created hundreds of new terrorists. So you could win tactically, and lose strategically.''

How do you respond to that?

MYERS: Well, I think the first thing we have to do, and I'm going to try to stay in my lane, which is the military lane, I think we can have an impact on the ability of Al Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations to train. I think we can have an impact on their ability to obtain weapons of mass destruction. And if there's any doubt, since September 11, the terrorists crossed a threshold of the use of weapons of mass destruction.

And I think we can have an impact on all those things I just mentioned. And George, I think we can bring down the threat to not only ourselves but other freedom-loving peoples.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But how will we know when this war is won? Vice President Cheney says it might not end in our lifetime.

MYERS: I think that may be correct. I think this is going to be a long, hard-fought conflict, and it will be global in scale, and it won't be, as I mentioned earlier, it won't be just military. It's going to be all the instruments of our national power with our friends and allies.

And the fact that it could last several years or many years or maybe our lifetimes would not surprise me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, we saw the first U.S. casualties on Friday night, and there's also the possibility of prisoners of war. And some people have said that what could happen, knowing the Taliban, is that they would take the prisoners of war and force them to broadcast statements, anti-American statements.

And I want to show you something from George Wilson. He's a respected military analyst. And he says, ``The Pentagon should liberalize the Code of Conduct so that service people who are broken don't feel guilty for the rest of their lives for giving the enemy more than their name, rank, serial number, and date of birth.'' Do you agree?

MYERS: I think we've taken a hard look at the code of conduct in the past, and I think we've given instruction to our armed forces that would not put them in that situation.

But you bring up a very good point. This is a dangerous war. Those two individuals who gave their lives the other evening, it was obviously very tragic. But the armed forces of the United States and the armed forces of our friends and allies, I think, are prepared to do that for this very important battle. This--we have no options here. This is a war we must win if we want to maintain our freedoms.

STEPHANOPOULOS: General, it's also been a difficult start for your new mission. Did you ever imagine your first three weeks would be like this?

MYERS: No, I never imagined it, but I tell you, when you raise your right hand and you take the oath of office and you swear to defend and support the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, it's pretty clear that--I mean, surprised, yes, but not totally surprised. This is what we do, and this is what the American people expect of their armed forces. And we're prepared to do that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: General Myers, thank you very much.

MYERS: Thank you, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: When we come back, the leaders of the Senate, Trent Lott and Tom Daschle, one minute.


DONALDSON: Joining us now are the two leaders of the United States Senate. From New York, where he is at the moment, Tom Daschle, who is the Democratic leader. Welcome, Senator Daschle.

DASCHLE: Thank you, Sam, good to be here.

DONALDSON: And sitting with us, Trent Lott, the Republican leader of the Senate. Welcome, Senator Lott.

LOTT: (inaudible), good to be back with you.

DONALDSON: Both of you joined the other leaders in the House to support this military program in advance. Any reservations, Senator Daschle, now that it's been executed?

DASCHLE: None whatsoever, Sam. I think we're doing exactly the right thing. I think this has been a very prudent exercise. We've taken it very deliberately. And I think we have the support of our international allies. So I think all in all, we feel very good about where we are right now.

DONALDSON: Senator Lott, what about this first raid into Afghanistan by U.S. ground troops?

LOTT: Well, I agree with what Tom had to say. I do support, we do support what's taking place. We knew that there'd have to be a point where we would have troops on the ground, at least operational troops. And actually it looks to me like they're a little bit ahead of schedule and making good progress.

DONALDSON: General Myers, when asked by George Stephanopoulos about whether Osama would be taken dead or alive, walked down the middle of the fence. Senator Lott, would you rather see him dead or alive?

LOTT: Oh, I don't know that that's for me to say. I noticed the general didn't want to respond directly to that. I guess it'll depend on what the circumstances are of where they get him and what he does. If he resists, then I assume he'd be taken dead. But the important thing is to get him and as many of his leaders as possible and then deal with terrorism on a broader sense.

I keep reminding people, it's not just about bin Laden, it's about a broader question.

DONALDSON: But Senator Daschle, I want to ask you the same question. Some people say to try to bring him to trial would not only be impossible but also would elongate his ability to try to be a martyr. Better have him dead. What do you think?

DASCHLE: Well, Sam, I think Trent is right. I don't think we ought to stay focused--We're at war, and we're working in self-defense right now. We've got to do all that we can. So I don't think the issue is dead or alive. We'll take him whatever--however we can ensure his capture.

But I think the real essence of the question is, how do you stop terrorism? How do you deal with Al Qaeda? How do you deal with this international network? He is just the first of a series of people that we'll probably have to confront.

But clearly, I think we've got to do what we have to do, because we are at war.

DONALDSON: The first of a series of people, Senator Daschle, senator--General Myers also talked about a broad campaign in which the military was thinking broadly. And, of course, Iraq is in everybody's mind. What about Iraq? Should we go after Saddam Hussein now?

DASCHLE: I don't think we ought to reveal what we're going to do, frankly, Sam. I think it's very important that we be sensitive to all the plans. As the general said, one of the things we can't do is to ensure that they know what our plans are, just as you would in a football game, we're not going to do it here either.

We've got to take this thing one step at a time, and we're doing exactly the right thing as far as I'm concerned.

DONALDSON: Senator Lott, what about Iraq?

LOTT: I think we'll have to take it one step at a time, and we'll deal with the situation in Afghanistan. Part of it will depend on what Saddam Hussein does. If evidence leads back to him with regard to the Twin Towers or, you know, anthrax or anything else, that would affect what we do.

But this is a step-by-step process, but it won't end just with Afghanistan. We're going to have to deal with terrorism in a lot of places around the world over the next few months and perhaps even years or more.

DONALDSON: All right. Let's move now to Capitol Hill, where anthrax was found this past week. No one knows that better than Senator Daschle, since the letter came to his office. And several people in his office, in a next-door office, and among Capitol police we exposed to anthrax.

And ``The New York Post,'' once the Senate stayed in the next day, on Thursday, and the House went out, had this--said, ``Wimps--the Leaders Who Ran Away From Anthrax.'' And it had a picture of the House leaders.

Senator Daschle, was that fair?

DASCHLE: Well, Sam, I think we've got to be concerned for the public safety, not only of our staff but all the public who enter and leave each of these buildings. I think the House made the decision as they saw it at the time, and I don't fault them one bit.

As you know, anthrax spores were now discovered over the weekend. So clearly, I think the caution we're both trying to demonstrate has proved to be the right thing. I think we've got to be cautious. And we're going to make these decisions on a day-to-day basis, as they did last week.

DONALDSON: Do you fault the House, Senator Lott?

LOTT: No, I thought that article, that headline, was very unfair and a disservice to the House of Representatives. The circumstances were different in the House and the Senate. I think way too much has been made of this. But the House made that decision, and now they appear to be vindicated with that decision. There has been anthrax found in one of the House office believed mail rooms, in the Ford Building.

And now, you know, you've got to look at, well, where did that mail go from there?

We're dealing with a new situation. We're trying to deal with it rationally. In the Senate we were a couple days, unfortunately, ahead of the House, because we had already been dealing with it for a couple days. We knew more about it being in Tom's office, and it was more in a contained situation.

The House was clearly uncertain, but had reason to suspect that probably mail would be coming to them too.


LOTT: So there is no big rift there.

And this is so small, when you think about what we're dealing with on a national...

DONALDSON: Senator Lott...

LOTT: ... basis and an international basis.

DONALDSON: ... it is small, I think I agree with you. But I want to press one more time, because the House leaders have just met, madder than hornets, members of the House. They say that there was an agreement with the Senate leaders that everything would shut down. They went over there and did that. You all then stayed open.

And let me show you a couple of comments, just a couple. Here's Jim Moran, who's a Democrat. He says, ``You've got about 100 wanna-be presidents over there, and they want to be able to thump their chests and say they're sending a message to the terrorists. The House did the responsible thing.''

And J.C. Watts, a member of the House Republican leadership, said, ``There's a difference in being symbolic and in being stupid.''

Was there a deal, Senator Daschle, and did you sort of snooker them?

DASCHLE: I don't think we ought to go back and rehash all of that, Sam. There may have been a misunderstanding about what the circumstances were. We had a breakfast meeting that morning.

But that's not the issue. The issue is, how can we coordinate our effort in the next several days to do the maximum in protecting safety but ensuring that this democracy goes on?

I think we've both have agreed that, at least right now, we expect to be in session on Tuesday. That's subject, of course, to whatever new information may be provided in the next couple of days. But we're doing the right thing.

I think we're acting prudently. We want to ensure that democracy goes on, but we're going to protect our staff. We're going to try to protect the public as well.

DONALDSON: Senator Lott, unless you really want to add something to that, I'd like to move on to the next.

LOTT: I think enough has been said about it. I agree with that. The rhetoric did get a little hot, unfortunately, on both sides. But we're dealing with very serious issues about terrorism and terrorism as a whole, and that's what we should be focused on.

DONALDSON: Cipro is one, of course, the main antibiotics to deal with anthrax. Bayer has the patent on it. Canada has decided to break that patent and have some generic drug made immediately. And I think you and Senator Kennedy and others are suggesting that maybe that should be done here. What's your thought?

LOTT: Well, you know, we're looking at this whole area now of what we do with bioterrorism. And we've got Dr. Bill Frist, our senator from Tennessee, working with Senator Kennedy to try to come up with a bill that we hopefully can at least take a look at next week.

As far as this patent, we need to make sure that antibiotics are available. This is not the only antibiotic that will do the job, as I understand it, in dealing with anthrax positive exposure. But I do think we should make sure it's available. I'm hesitant to start breaking patents. And...

DONALDSON: Are you going to introduce a measure along those lines?

LOTT: I probably will not. But we'll take a look at it next week.

We're dealing with new territory, Sam. There's no way we could have done some of the things two months ago that we're now doing. And we're having to answer questions as we go along, very serious questions. We don't want to start changing patents, changing laws, unless there is very significant reason to do so. And I hope to make some decisions on that next week.

DONALDSON: Gentlemen, the Office of Management and Budget director, Mitch Daniels, at the White House, says what the Congress is doing, trying to load up the stimulus bill to help the American economy, is terrible. Let me just quote some of what he says about that.

He says that ``It's the target of opportunistic spending sortees (ph) masquerading as emergency needs.'' Because the Congress heads towards $100 billion, the administration wants $65 to $75 billion.

Senator Daschle, where will Congress come down on this?

DASCHLE: Well, I hope we come down very close to what the administration has proposed, Sam. I think they're right. I think we've got to be concerned about racking up more public debt and threatening the possibility of a higher, long-term interest rate.

We can do this. We've got to take it very prudently. We've got to be concerned about exploding deficits. But I think if we fall in that $65 billion range, I think we'll do what the administration suggests and I think we will provide the kind of stimulus the economy needs.

DONALDSON: Senator Lott, members of both parties are loading up this bill, are trying to load it up with these extraneous matters. They're saying, you know, it's not this bill it was another bill, in which one member said that peanut subsidy is something we need with our troops in the field. The wool and mohair subsidy may be on another bill. How do you feel about this?

LOTT: There'll be a lot of innovative ideas that will be suggested. But I hope that, as Senator Daschle and I did last week on the terrorism bill, we said stop. If it doesn't relate to terrorism, we're not going to do it here. I hope we do that on the stimulus, too.

There will be some spending that's necessary. We do have an unemployment compensation issue, displaced workers. We're going to have address that. But the main thing we want to do is make sure it has an immediate effect, that it doesn't have a negative long-term effect, and that it has a stimulative effect. And we'll try to work through that.

We've worked through some very tough situations. People talk about all this bipartisanship. Isn't it wonderful and so easy. It is good, it's not easy, but we continue to work together and do the right thing for our country.

DONALDSON: Well, we're out of time. But, of course, I always try to steal another minute. I'd like to do that on airport security. The Senate passed, without a dissenting vote, an airport security bill that would federalize all screening workers. The House has taken it off the calendar, the House GOP leadership.

LOTT: As a matter of fact, Sam, I understand they're going to probably deal with it next week. I voted for the bill, it passed the Senate. But clearly, that is not my preference. I was voting to get it on through the process, get it into conference.

DONALDSON: But you said the president signed it if it comes out that way, wouldn't you?

LOTT: Well, I would hope that we would look more at how we're going to do this. I think that the bill that passed the Senate probably goes too much into a quantum leap into federalization of the system. Let's take a little longer look at the public-private arrangement, maybe give a little more flexibility to the administration. But once again, the main thing is to listen to the good ideas but get it done.

DONALDSON: All right. Senator Daschle, very quickly, your views, sir?

DASCHLE: I think Trent is exactly right, Sam. Obviously, we have to be careful, we have to be deliberative. But we've got to get this job done.

I just saw an article again this morning where we're still not where we need to be with airport security. This bill or something like it will help a lot, and we ought to do it soon.

DONALDSON: Senator Tom Daschle, the majority leader in the Senate, Senator Trent Lott, the Republican leader, thank you very much both for being with us. As I always say, please come back.

LOTT: Thanks, Sam.

DASCHLE: Thank you, Sam.


© 2001 The Washington Post Company