Text: Ashcroft on CBS's 'Face the Nation'
Following the the transcript of CBS's "Face the Nation," hosted by Bob Schieffer with U.S. News and World Report correspondent Gloria Borger. Guest: Attorney General John Ashcroft, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), former American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall, Airline Pilots Association President Captian Duane Woerth, former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga., former defense secretary William Cohen and Tom Friedman of the New York Times.
SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, has the investigation into the terrorist attacks moved overseas? Attorney General John Ashcroft will be here in a special expanded edition of Face the Nation.
It is 19 days after the terrorist attacks. What do we know about the investigation so far? We'll ask the attorney general.
Will new terrorism legislation endanger civil liberties? We'll talk with senators on the Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chairman Pat Leahy of Vermont. And we'll talk with Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
Should pilots on commercial airlines carry guns? We'll ask the former head of American Airlines Bob Crandall and Duane Woerth, the head of the Airline Pilots Association.
And we'll get comprehensive analysis from former Senator Sam Nunn, Tom Friedman of the New York Times and former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen.
Gloria Borger is here, and I'll have a final word on Mayor Giuliani. But first, Attorney General John Ashcroft on Face the Nation.
Good morning again. And we begin with the attorney general.
Mr. Attorney General, thank you so much for coming this morning.
ASHCROFT: Good morning, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: The news out of Pakistan this morning is a report that the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan says that the Taliban does have Osama bin Laden under their control but that he is in a secret place for his own safety. Can you tell us anything about that?
ASHCROFT: No, I can't. That's obviously a report that they're making.
We are very concerned about Osama bin Laden. Obviously he is a person to whom there are very substantial links. The roots of this terrorist both activity and threat are in Afghanistan. We know that not only are the roots in Afghanistan, but we have seen the manifestation of it here on our own soil and followed it as an international conspiracy that's most threatening and seen it wind its way through Europe in planning, training and other things. So this is a very substantial network.
Whether they have him or not, it's pretty clear that the president has stated without any question that those who harbor or protect or support terrorism are considered to be among those who are equally responsible.
BORGER: Mr. General, at the outset of this, everyone seemed to be pointing to Osama bin Laden, all roads seemed to lead to him. Have you now, however, broadened your investigation? And to whom?
ASHCROFT: We've never narrowed the investigation. We have always been open to any information. We haven't made assumptions. And I did make a statement this last week that we did not rule others out.
If you'll look carefully at the face of terrorism in the last several years, there have been cross-reinforcing links between the al Qaeda organization and a number of other terrorist groups. And for us to be exclusively focused would probably be unrealistic.
We want to follow this investigation where the evidence leads us. And the evidence clearly leads us to the roots of this operation in Afghanistan. But we don't want to indicate that there couldn't have been participation by cooperatives and collaborators of a variety of different settings.
SCHIEFFER: Well, Mr. Attorney General, a number of arrests that have been made. Are you anywhere close to filing charges against anybody?
ASHCROFT: We have made a number of arrests. And my number-one job is to keep any recurrent terrorism from striking in the United States. We have arrested and detained over 500 people. We would hope that we would be able to disrupt, interrupt, delay, otherwise impair any additional terrorist activity.
It's clear to me that this conspiracy against the United States, which manifested itself in the attacks of September the 11th, is international, it's well-financed. I don't have any reason to believe that the entirety of those involved perished in the situation. So we're doing whatever we can.
And that's why we're--we've arrested individuals, detained individuals and frankly will do everything we can to make sure that we don't have a reoccurrence.
SCHIEFFER: Well, now you've said you do not believe the ``entirety.'' What does that mean? Do you mean there are some other people still out there?
ASHCROFT: Well, we believe that there is the likelihood of additional terrorist activity. And it is our job to do whatever we can to interrupt it, to disrupt it. That's why the legislative package is so important to us.
SCHIEFFER: Let me just interrupt you just for a second, because I know there have been two men arrested, taken off a train down in Fort Worth. That they had hair dye. They had a large amount of cash. They had box cutters. There's this other fellow who was arrested, I believe it was up in Minnesota, trying to get flight training just to learn how to steer an aircraft. There seems to be a lot of attention tension focused on those three.
Do you, in fact, believe there were other plane hijackings planned? I don't think we've ever quite pinned that down.
ASHCROFT: We have not been able to rule out plans for hijacking additional aircraft. And we don't have conclusive evidence. But certainly we know that there were a number of other individuals who were out of status in terms of their immigration who are involved with very questionable activities, whether they be flight training, whether they be--you know, we talked seriously about crop-dusting aircraft.
And frankly, we've taken steps to disrupt and to try to make impossible the use of crop dusters for any attack that would be chemical or biological.
But we need the legislation which is before the Congress. And talk will not stop future attacks. Legislation could help us have the tools to interrupt.
SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about that in just a minute, but I want to make sure I understand what you're saying here. You've said you have not ruled out other attacks. Do you mean on the day that these attacks happened or do you mean now?
ASHCROFT: I mean both. Frankly, we believe that there are others--there may be in the country who would have plans, prepositioned, preplanned to do things. Our intention would be to disrupt them.
SCHIEFFER: Still out there?
ASHCROFT: Yes. And they could have been on the day of the occurrence. An investigation obviously is ongoing. It's not complete.
And we think that there is a very serious threat of additional problems now. And frankly, as the United States responds, that threat may escalate. That's why it's important for to us have the tools to fight against terrorism and foreign powers, agents, spies and terrorists.
SCHIEFFER: It would appear from what we know that perhaps two other airliners may have been earmarked for hijacking on the day of the attack. Do you think there could have been more?
ASHCROFT: I'm not in the position to try and assess specific numbers.
BORGER: Mr. General, from what you have done, do you believe that you have stopped impending terrorist attacks?
ASHCROFT: You know, you can never know what you prevent. There obviously are risks and we want those risks to be depressed the risk of further attack. As we increase the tools we have the risk goes down. But if we don't build our capacity to fight terrorism, the risk goes up. And we want to reduce the risk rather than to allow it to remain high.
That's why I'm so intent on working to get quickly an agenda through the Congress. I talked to Senator Leahy this morning. We've worked diligently with Senator Hatch, who has been very aggressive to help us in this respect, along with Senator Leahy. But we need something more than talk. Talk won't stop terrorism. Tools help reduce the risk of terrorism.
BORGER: But what about their concerns? They're talking about an anti-terrorist measure that's pending in the Congress. There are some concerns, obviously, that you'll be infringing on civil liberties, particularly detaining non-citizens who are under suspicion of terrorism. Can you compromise on this in some way to get this...
ASHCROFT: Well, frankly, the only thing we asked for there was that, for people who were illegally in the country and whose status was being already adjudicated in the courts, they were being processed in the system, we wanted to keep them from being released while their case was being completed. So we just wanted those suspected terrorists who are already charged with other violations of the immigration law to be detained on a continuing basis.
This isn't a threat to the civil rights of individuals. This is just saying, while the court proceedings are going on regarding violations of the immigration laws, we'd be able to keep suspected terrorists in jail. I think that's something we ought to be able to do.
And if we can't, I've got to find a way to do that. I don't want to be releasing suspected terrorists onto the streets of United States of America who have been--who are being adjudicated as violators of the immigration laws already.
SCHIEFFER: Well, Mr. Attorney General, is what you're saying here is the reason some of these people are under arrest is not because you think they may have some something to do with this, but because you fear they may attempt to do something now?
ASHCROFT: Well, very frankly, we believe that those who have violated the terms of their immigration status, and they have associations in some way with the group of individuals who were on the airplanes or part of the terrorist network, we think that they present a higher risk, and we have so argued in proceedings.
And we think we ought to be able to keep those people whose immigration status is already in question, is already being litigated. We ought to be able to keep those people in detention.
SCHIEFFER: Well how many of the people you've got in detention would you put in that particular category?
ASHCROFT: Well, we've got a quite a number of them. Now, there are people who are in detention because they have violated state and local laws. There are people in detention because they are on material witness warrants and there are people in detention because they have violated their immigration status.
I would hasten to add that, as a safeguard, each of these individuals is the subject of judicial review, so the judicial branch of government oversees. And if this process--and if there are undue infringements, if there are any unconstitutional activities, the courts can remedy them.
BORGER: Even if you pass what you want to pass in this country, it's very clear from your investigation that in Europe there have been terrorists cells in operation. Do you believe that they, A, are still in operation, and that there's something you can do about it here?
ASHCROFT: Well, very frankly, we need to do everything we can here at home. And to say that we need to have airtight surveillance on spies, terrorists, foreign agents--and that's all we're asking for, that we have the same capacity to surveil them that we do have drug dealers and for organized crime figures--that's something we can do.
Now, there are provisions in the enactment that we've offered to the Congress that would allow us to use information gathered by foreign governments. And I think that information gathered in accordance with the law of foreign governments should be available to us to use against terrorists and spies.
But I call upon the Congress to act quickly. The vice president has said October 5 should be a deadline for acting, and I really believe we need that kind of expedition. Talk will not prevent terrorism. We need to have action by the Congress. We need the tools to prevent terrorism.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. Attorney General, thank you so much for being with us this morning.
ASHCROFT: Thank you.
SCHIEFFER: When we come back, we're going to talk to two people who are key to getting legislation passed, and that is Senator Patrick Leahy and Orrin Hatch, the ranking men on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a minute.
SCHIEFFER: With us now from Burlington, Vermont, the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy. Here in the studio, the ranking Republican on the committee and the former chairman, Senator Orrin Hatch.
Gentlemen, would I say to both of you that the attorney general just laid out some fairly sobering facts for us, or were told a fairly sobering story I would say. And that is, he seemed to be saying a lot of these people who are in jail are not people they suspect of having something to do with what happened during the attacks, but people who may be still planning to do something.
LEAHY: Well, I think the attorney general stated the facts correctly. Obviously a lot of these people that are there they now will find--as they've already found with some--they'll find they're not involved.
But I think that the attorney general and the director of the FBI have been moving very aggressively. I've talked with them virtually every day, sometimes several times a day, and have told him I thought he was doing an extremely good job. They're trying to work this out.
Just as, in the Congress, Senator Hatch and I have been working closely together. I have high praise for Chairman Sensenbrenner and Congressman Conyers in the House as they have tried to resolve differences between members of Congress, oftentimes members in the same party, as we try to bring together legislation that we can present to the president.
SCHIEFFER: Well, are you close, Senator Hatch, to getting together legislation you can all agree on? Because when the attorney general first came up to the Congress, a lot of the things he laid out there were real concerns about perhaps this is going too far.
HATCH: Well, most people don't realize that we don't have the same tools for going after terrorists in our criminal laws today that we have for going after drug lords and drug pushers and sexual exploiters of children and things like that, or the mafia. All we want to do is give the same type of law enforcement tools to our current law enforcement that we use against the mafia and against others who commit high crimes in our society. And it's a very, very difficult thing.
I've suggested that we have to get this bill done by about next Monday. I want to compliment Chairman Leahy and our counterparts in the House. Chairman Leahy has been moving, I think, steadily toward helping the White House and helping General Ashcroft and others to get this done the way it has to be done.
But I don't think we can delay it any longer. Let's be honest with you. If we don't get this done so that we can electronically surveil these terrorists and we can do a number of other things that currently are not permitted under Title 3 of the criminal code, we may find ourselves in a position where we might have another one of these terrorist acts. And I think we've got to do everything in our power. I believe Chairman Leahy and I will get that done.
BORGER: Senator Leahy, then, what is the sticking point for you?
LEAHY: Well, there are far less than there were just a couple weeks ago. I think that the first things that came up--everybody had their own laundry list in there. And I think they found the House of Representatives, where they wanted to move and write a bill last week, they slowed up. A number of key Republicans objected to parts of the bill; a number of key Democrats did. As I said, I think Chairman Sensenbrenner and Congressman Conyers are trying to bring everybody together, as Orrin and I have.
You know, after we had the terrible attack at Oklahoma City, we passed legislation within a couple of months in the Senate. But then it took almost a year before we could reconcile the difference. What we're trying to do is reconcile the difference now.
But there are some things we can do immediately. We've had roving wiretap, for example, as Orrin has mentioned, in criminal cases. We can apply that to these foreign intelligence things so if you make a phone call from a house and go to a disposable cell phone, then go to a friend's phone, then go to pay phone, that we can follow that.
We obviously have to have the same--we obviously have to strengthen the penalties, and we can do away with the statute of limitations on terrorist matters.
SCHIEFFER: What is the problem, though, Senator Leahy, with holding some of these aliens indefinitely? Has the attorney general modified his original request on that?
LEAHY: Well, I think that the--you know, the Justice Department has the power to, even without any new laws, hold people for longer than 24 hours.
I think everybody knows that we're going to have to make sure that we have some kind of a check and balance in there. We don't want to be like countries that we criticize all the time when--if an American goes there, they can hold them without even telling them what they are holding them for. We want to have that kind of check and balance.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator Hatch, what do you see as the main problem before the Congress right now, and what has to be done?
HATCH: Back in 1996 we passed the Hatch Anti-Terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act. Most of these provisions we offered at that time, tried to get them into law at that time. And they were fought, knocked down because of arguments about civil liberties. Well, I just think of 6,000-plus people who have lost their civil liberties because we weren't able to do the things against terrorism that we can do against organized crime. That's what we need to do.
With regard to detention, look, we can detain illegal aliens now who are out of the law, who are not doing what is right. Why wouldn't we be able to detain terrorists and people who we know are connected with al Qaeda and with Osama bin Laden or with other terrorist cells not only here in this country but in other countries as well?
SCHIEFFER: It seems to me that a lot of this is very detailed. It's very complicated. Perhaps only lawyers would really understand the differences in some of the proposals. But I think the bottom line to me this morning is, hearing you and hearing Senator Leahy, it seems the Congress is much closer to coming to an agreement today than it was, say, a week or so ago.
HATCH: Well, in 1996 we weren't. Today I think we can. We've to get this done, I think, into the hands of the president by October 5. That's what the president has asked for, that's what John Ashcroft has asked for. If we don't do it, we risk the whole country or at least having another incident that could cost the American people very, very dearly.
SCHIEFFER: I'm very sorry, I'm going to have to let it go.
SCHIEFFER: OK, go ahead.
LEAHY: Bob, we also have to look at a lot of things. There's a huge amount of information the FBI and Justice Department have now. We have to ask, why weren't translators hired long ago? We have to start doing some of those pragmatic things. No law is going to change the fact if you have information in your files that might have prevented some of these things and it was overlooked. We've got to do a far better job of that.
HATCH: Well, but these laws will change. They will give them the tools necessary to be able to do a much better job against anti-terrorists and other types of criminals that were affiliated with terrorists.
SCHIEFFER: All right. I'm sorry...
LEAHY: Translators in the first--I'd hire a few translators in the short term.
HATCH: Well, they're in the process of doing that.
SCHIEFFER: I'm sorry, gentlemen, I must end it at that point. We'll be back in just a minute with more on all of this.
SCHIEFFER: With us now from Florham Park, New Jersey, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.
Senator Lieberman, it is my understanding that you want to introduce a new legislation to create an agency to address home security. What's that all about?
LIEBERMAN: That's absolutely right, Bob.
I apologize for the sore throat first.
The most important national security challenge that we have now is to defend our homeland. We have never had to do that before in our history, but now we know we must. And it cannot be done best by just having somebody coordinate the agencies that are involved in homeland defense.
It is clear that our guard was down before September 11. I did a hearing last week on airline security, and the looseness of the system before September 11 was awful. We're going to tighten that now, but we've got to tighten every other system of homeland defense to prevent, protect and then respond if there's another attack.
And I think that means giving--creating a separate agency and giving the director of it budget authority and line authority and therefore accountability. If you just, as the White House, with all respect, seems to be doing, create another adviser to the president, there's no guarantee that that person will be able to protect us and force the federal bureaucracy to protect us better than they did before September 11.
BORGER: Senator Lieberman, you just heard the debate before you between Senators Hatch and Leahy. Do you believe that we are moving too quickly on legislation affecting civil liberties?
LIEBERMAN: I do not, Gloria. I think it's critically important to adopt this legislation and resolve our differences, because there is a clear and present danger to the security of the American people at home.
Let's remember that we were not only attacked on September 11. We were actually invaded before September 11 by these terrorists who abused the freedom that America provides in planning and preparing for these attacks. And I want to give the attorney general and law enforcement throughout this country every opportunity and power to stop that from happening again.
Now, obviously, we want to protect freedoms, but we do get to a point where we cannot cover every worry about law enforcement in America misusing a power we're going to give them.
And we have to trust the attorney general, the FBI, local prosecutors and police. They're on our side. And so long as there's judicial review, if they abuse our trust, then those who are the victims of that abuse will be able to go to court. And if they truly abuse our trust in this wonderfully open society, we'll change the law and reduce the powers that we've given to them.
But I think it's time now to pass this legislation. I think Pat Leahy and Orrin Hatch can work it out, and I think we ought to try to do it as soon as we possibly can.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator, hold that thought for just a moment, and we'll be back.
SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with our expanded edition of Face the Nation, Face the Nation page two. We've been talking to Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.
Senator Lieberman, part of what's going to happen on Capitol Hill next week is the Congress is going to have to start thinking about some kind of a stimulus package for the economy. Number one, do you think a stimulus package is necessary? And number two, what are your ideas on what it should be?
LIEBERMAN: Yes, Bob. This economy was going into recession before September 11. Obviously we have a crisis of confidence, consumer confidence, particularly now, that has put us more toward a recession.
I think we do need a stimulus package, but it's very important to remember two things: First, we have the strongest economy in the world, so the American people should not lose confidence in our economic future. And ultimately the private sector will bring us out of this. We can give them a little help, though.
Second, whatever we do, we shouldn't spend so much on tax cuts or a stimulus that we take our government so far into deficit that we raise interest rates that make it hard for the Federal Reserve and Mr. Greenspan to keep interest rates low, which is probably the best thing to get the economy going.
So, specifically, I think we ought to give the 35 million Americans who work and pay payroll taxes but did not get a rebate earlier this year exactly the same rebate that everybody else got.
Secondly, I think we ought to not fall for the easy answer on the business stimulus and give some sort of across-the-board capital gains cut, or even a corporate tax cut.
I think we ought to focus in on tax incentives that will help business invest again and create jobs and growth. And that means investment tax credits, particularly geared to small businesses, and particularly to help them buy computer hardware and software, attach themselves to the broadband. Those high-tech sectors were the ones that drove us down toward the recession. We now have to help them forward.
And I'd try one more thing. I'd accelerate depreciation for businesses that invest, making it more likely that they will and create growth.
I'd also try a different kind of capital gains tax cut, one that said to people who invest in new businesses in the next year, if you hold that investment for a couple of years and you then sell your stock, you don't pay any capital gains. And that's a way not to encourage people to sell their stock that they own now and therefore drive market prices down, but to get money to entrepreneurs to create new growth and new jobs.
Bottom line, I think a little bit of a fiscal stimulus, tax cuts as I've described. And the natural power of the American economy to recover will bring us back next year.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Senator Lieberman, we're going to let you rest your voice a little bit now. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: We're going to turn now to another aspect of this story, and that is the airlines and airline safety.
Joining us from Gloucester, Massachusetts, the former American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall. Here in the District, here in our studio, Captain Duane Woerth, president of the Airline Pilots Association.
Gentlemen, the president of course laid out his proposals last week. He talked about increased security in the airline cockpits. He talked about sky marshals on airplanes. He talked about federal supervision of the baggage screeners in airports.
I'll start with you, Mr. Crandall. Is that enough?
CRANDALL: No, I don't think it is, Bob. I think there's been a lot of enthusiasm, and I think you've got to give the president credit for focusing on this problem.
But what I think we need is an integrated security system from stem to stern. We need to start by integrating the reservation systems with the CIA and the FBI and the anti-terrorism intelligence. Then I think we've got to have, at the screening point, uniformed federal employees carefully trained, well-paid. We've got to find a way to search or X-ray every bag that goes into the belly. We've got to secure the ramp area, that is the area where the airplanes are parked. And, finally, we've got to focus on in-the-air security, which is things like cockpit doors and air marshals and, under appropriate conditions, armed pilots.
When we do all of that as an integrated whole, then I think we'll have the security we need, and we've got to do it forever.
The president said it's going to be a long war. It is going to be a long war. We've got to make the airways safe, so we can revitalize the economy. And that's what I hope we'll move forward with doing.
SCHIEFFER: What would you add or subtract from that, Captain?
WOERTH: Well, I would support everything Mr. Crandall said. I've submitted 21 items to both the Senate and the House of immediate-action items which were included in his list, and nine long-term issues.
We believe that integrated system has one level of security. Every small airport, cargo has to be treated with the same equivalence that we do to passenger terminals. That could have been a FedEx or a UPS airplane. Every part of our aviation community has to have the same level of professional security.
BORGER: Mr. Crandall, if were you a pilot right now, would you want to carry a gun?
CRANDALL: Yes, I would. I'd want to be--I'd want to go--many pilots have military backgrounds. I'd want to freshen my training, but yes, I would want to carry a gun. I wouldn't ever want to use it, and I would hope that all the elements of our security system would keep the airplane safe. But as a final resort, as the last resort, I think a trained professional pilot who knows how to use a gun and who can defend the airplane and the people on it and the people to which that airplane might be directed is a step we ought to take.
BORGER: Mr. Woerth, before September 11, the prevailing theory among pilots was that, if you found yourself with a hijacker on an airplane, you ought to cooperate with the hijacker.
BORGER: Do you now have to kind of rewrite the book?
WOERTH: We have to completely rewrite the book. That was the previous thinking. And for the threats we knew, that was right. I mean, most hijackers were despondent, they wanted political asylum. They wanted something. They weren't skilled, assassin, suicidal people. We have to rewrite everything. And if we don't do radical differences, we won't improve the system.
BORGER: So is it OK for pilots to solicit vigilantes among passengers, as some have been doing?
WOERTH: Well, I think the captains have taken control of the ship like they had to. Until all these activities are put into place, until we have the federal marshals, until the security system is more integrated and solid, a captain's been doing what they're paid to do. They've taken charge. They work with their crew which includes the flight attendants. And a lot of them have been telling the passengers in a calming manner--I've had good reports from the passengers that they are comforted by their captains in charge of this airplane and he knows what he's going to do.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. Crandall, do the airlines have to accept some of the blame here? Because, after all, it's the airlines--they were in charge of the security up until now basically and were pretty much taking it to the lowest bidder.
I saw a report down in Fort Worth, down in your home territory, where one of those security agencies was recruiting in a homeless shelter. I don't know how far they got with that or where that went, but it just is kind of one of many anecdotes about how lax the security had become.
CRANDALL: Bob, I think you would find that everybody in the aviation community feels very badly and is ashamed of the lax standards of security.
But I do want to make this point. The federal government has always been in charge of aviation security. They made the rules. The aviation industry, the airlines, myself, have long agitated to have the federal government take it over with federal employees, ideally uniformed and armed employees. It is the federal government itself that farmed it out to the airlines, who in turn farmed it out to the lowest bidders.
That was a mistake, and that is why I said earlier, we have not gone far enough. This is a federal policing, home-defense function. Let's put it where it belongs. Let's put it to a professional agency. Let's not have people on minimum wage screening our airplanes. That makes no sense.
SCHIEFFER: And let's talk about National Airport, the only airport in the country that has not reopened, the airport here in Washington. Do you think, Mr. Crandall, and Captain Woerth, can it be reopened?
WOERTH: I would say absolutely yes.
WOERTH: Well, go ahead, Bob.
CRANDALL: I'm sorry, Duane.
Yes, I think it can be re-opened. Keep in mind, Bob, that the airplane that was used in this horrible thing on September 11 came from Dulles. That's only about two minutes' flight time away from the principal buildings of government.
I think when we put a properly integrated security plan in place, when we have the right kind of air-to-ground communication, that we're going to have adequate warning of any airplane that might be subject to aberrant behavior, and there is no reason why we cannot and should not open National Airport and open it promptly.
WOERTH: National Airport should be opened at the earliest possible time.
SCHIEFFER: And it can be done safely?
SCHIEFFER: All right. Gentlemen, thank you so much.
We'll continue our expanded coverage on Face the Nation after this short break.
SCHIEFFER: Well, we're back with this expanded edition of Face the Nation. We're going to talk with our panel of roundtable guests in just a minute, but before we do that, we want to check in with CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey, who is in Pakistan this morning.
SCHIEFFER: Well, joining us now from Atlanta, Georgia, former Senator Sam Nunn. Here in our studio, former Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen and Tom Friedman of the New York Times.
Well, let's talk a little bit about what Allen Pizzey just said. Bill Cohen, what about this report? And how would you assess it, that the Taliban says, yes, well, yes, we do know where he is, but we're keeping him in a secret place?
COHEN: Well, you may recall on this very program we went through this last week, in which first they said, ``Show us the evidence and we'll consider releasing him to you.'' Then they said they didn't know where he was. Now they say they know where he is. I think it's on-again, off-again, depending upon how threatened they feel, in terms of their own existence, as a force in Afghanistan.
So I would take it, at this point, with--cum grano salis, a grain of salt, and just continue to do what the president was doing.
SCHIEFFER: Sam Nunn, as a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and someone who's dealt with these issues for many, many years, what do you make of this report this morning?
NUNN: Bob, it certainly seems to me that the president's on the right course. We have people in Pakistan that are communicating with the Taliban. They know clearly what our demands are. We're not going to have a court of law present all the evidence to them. We certainly can communicate through the Pakistan leadership, as we're doing. So I think the president's on the right course.
SCHIEFFER: Tom, would it be in our interest if we captured Osama bin Laden dead or alive? Which would be better?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think that the Bush administration would like him dead or dead, basically. The last thing that I think the administration wants is Osama bin Laden in their hands, which would immediately make every American ambassador, every American multinational, every American citizen abroad a potential target for hostage swaps. I think it would be a huge hornet's nest if they brought him in alive.
At the same time, you know, on this Taliban matter, I would say, Bob, I think the Taliban are never going to say they're going to turn him over. I mean, that's just not going to happen. They may say, we're never going to turn him over there, I mean, and give us a little indication where he is. But they're going to go down saying, ``We never turned him over.''
And as Secretary Cohen said, every time we tighten, you know, the noose around this country, it seems to get their attention a little bit more. One thing we learned from Kosovo, people don't like to get hit by the United States. And I think that applies to the Taliban, too.
BORGER: Secretary Cohen, it seems that this investigation has truly expanded abroad and may now in fact may be focused in abroad. There is an Algerian pilot in London that we are trying to extradite. Some people believe he has been at the center of these terrorist cells.
Do you believe that, in fact, there's a whole other army of terrorists in waiting in Europe right now?
COHEN: I do. I think it's clear that this is not a vertically integrated terror company as such. This is something that is underground. It's like your cable network as such and competing networks. It has many, many veins running throughout many parts of the world.
And so it's not just one terror network vertically integrated, it's very horizontally linked, overlapping, in some ways cooperating, and it's separate and apart. So it's complicated. I think you'll see this reach to many different countries where there have, quote, ``cells'' or operatives who are masterminding or planning more attacks in Europe or in the United States.
SCHIEFFER: Senator Nunn, how secure are Pakistan's nuclear weapons? Is it likely that Osama bin Laden could somehow get his hand on a nuclear weapon?
NUNN: I don't think so at this juncture, but we do have to worry about Pakistan's government being destabilized. We have to listen to them. We have to also understand that there are a huge number of Taliban sympathizers in other parts of that geography, in particular in Pakistan.
I think it's very important that we understand that India and Pakistan even before September 11 already had an unstable type of nuclear relationship.
These are two countries that have fought several wars. They don't have the kind of safety mechanisms the United States and the Soviet Union developed over the years.
And perhaps this is a real opportunity for us to step up, perhaps even with the Russians and the Chinese, and help India and Pakistan put into effect some safety kind of steps so that would greatly reduce them having their own nuclear war, and so that it would greatly reduce any of those weapons or materiels leaking out to the Taliban or anyone else.
I also think it's time for us to recognize that the world situation has dramatically changed. Russia, now, and the United States, for one of the few periods in history, have an almost identical views in this respect. And we can build on that. We can join the Russians in engaging against terrorism, but also particularly against bio-terrorism. There is a huge amount of know-how in Russia and the former Soviet Union. There is a lot of weapons and materials we need to get under control. And this is really an opportunity to greatly accelerate that effort and to use some of the Russians knowledge, particularly in the biological sphere, to develop defensive mechanisms. So we have a real opportunity here as well as a challenge.
BORGER: Tom, last week USA Today reported that there are already Special Operations units in Afghanistan. Would you be surprised if there weren't right now?
FRIEDMAN: I would be shocked if there weren't. You know, with an above-ground war, basically you fight that with tanks and planes and generals. But with the kind of underground networks that Secretary Cohen alluded to, you fight that with moles and exterminators and special forces, and maybe even special special forces.
I share Senator Nunn's view that it's great the Russians on our side because they have a lot of capabilities in the nuclear, biological sphere that are important. I'm also glad they're on our side because the head of Russia today is the former head of the KGB. The KGB has all kinds of links to the Russian mafia, to Afghan drug dealers. And at the end of the day, I'm quite confident that, you know, they can be an enormous resource for us by playing in the kind of no-holds-barred, underground war we are going to have to play to track down these people in Afghanistan and outside of Afghanistan.
SCHIEFFER: I want to go back to something Senator Nunn was talking about. And that is the danger that these people may get ahold of some biological or chemical weapons.
You have been talking about that for many years, Senator Nunn. How likely is it that they could obtain these kinds of weapons and use them on this country?
NUNN: Well, in the biological area and the chemical area, those kind of materials are available publicly, because they're part of our commerce. The nuclear area is much more difficult, and we can make it even an order of magnitude more difficult in the nuclear area and we must.
But the hard part, Bob--and no one should say this is going to be easy for anybody to carry out a biological attack. You have to be able to weaponize it. You have to be able to put it in very small particles. You have to guard these living mechanisms against the weather elements, the heat and so forth. So it's not going to be easy.
It's not probable. It's possible. And I know there are a lot of American people thinking about it, saying let's go out and buy gas masks and so forth. I don't think so. I think what we really, as Americans, need to do is understand that our security people are doing their part now. We are alert. We are no longer complacent.
And we need to take our steps to help our economy recover. All of us can go about our normal business. All of us can make the purchases now that we planned over the next six months to a year. All of us can accelerate our trips to New York and other resorts that--you know, we can do our part here because the terrorists were really trying to bring down our economy. And we, as Americans, can help prevent that.
SCHIEFFER: Well, Secretary Cohen, are we in a position to defend against a biological or a chemical attack?
COHEN: We are not there yet. We have developed a program to try to train about 120 cities how to manage the consequence of a biological or chemical or even radiological or nuclear attack. We've got a long way to go.
And I know that Senator Nunn was very much involved in a study called Dark Winter, in terms of what would happen if you had smallpox released in the United States.
But I also want to pick up one point, that I hope that the administration will relook at the decision apparently to cancel a program that was started four years ago under the Clinton administration to help eliminate some 100 tons of plutonium. They felt this may be too expensive a program to continue. This is one area that we really can't afford to cut back on, to make sure that plutonium doesn't end in the hands of the wrong people.
NUNN: I agree completely with that.
COHEN: To come back to--on the biological and chemical, don't forget, in Iraq, we have seen that Saddam had in fact weaponized the systems with anthrax, which is one of the reasons we tried to inoculate all of our men and women in uniform against an anthrax attack.
BORGER: Tom, I want to talk to you about the evidence against Osama bin Laden in all of this. There has been some confusion about whether or not the administration is going to present a so-called white paper with the evidence. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, yes, we would. Then a day later the president of the United States seemed to say, maybe we won't.
BORGER: What's happening here?
COHEN: Well, I can't tell you exactly what's happening within the administration. Obviously there is a debate about how public to go with any of this information, Gloria.
But my general feeling is you can't hit an innocent person in the al Qaeda organization, OK. And that I think it's very dangerous to start opening this up to public debate--what is evidence, what is not evidence? My evidence is that there were two World Trade Center towers with about 7,000 people inside and they're now down and they're dead. And as soon as it was over, Osama bin Laden said, ``I didn't do it, but it was sure a great job.'' That's enough for me. So, I wouldn't really mess around here a lot with habeas corpus.
BORGER: But don't some of the allies say they need it for public consumption within their own countries such as Egypt, for example?
COHEN: I don't really care what they need. I mean, I don't care what Egypt needs, I don't care what Saudi Arabia needs. I care what the United States needs. I see what has been perpetrated against the United States right now. And I wouldn't get real fussy about the evidence.
SCHIEFFER: Senator Nunn, the country seems very unified behind the administration right now, but I'm wondering, if nothing happens for a while, if people don't feel that some progress is being made, can that unity be sustained?
NUNN: I believe it is going to be sustained. This is not like Kosovo or North Korea or Vietnam or any other place, Somalia or otherwise. This is America. We've been attacked here at home. Americans understand that.
The world may think we're not willing to make sacrifices. They're dead wrong on that. We're willing to make sacrifices, we're willing to stick together, we're going to stick together. And I do think it's going to be long-term.
In the long term, we do have to deal with other countries, though. We have to understand that if these terrorist groups are in 40 to 60 countries, certainly we're not going to go out and invade that many countries. We are not going to be able to succeed in the long run in this whole array of challenges, particularly keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorist groups, without the cooperation of other countries.
SCHIEFFER: Do you think, Bill Cohen, that there's a danger that if people don't feel they're being asked to sacrifice, that that might cause the unity to somehow be less, not as strong as it is right now? Because I know of people who've gone to the World Trade Center and said what can I do to help, and there really was nothing for them to do, and they sent them home. Don't we have to find a way to keep everybody involved in some way?
COHEN: We do, and there are a number of ways that people can become involved. Supporting the USO, for example, and giving comfort to the families of the men and women who are going over to fight this battle and being sent into the front lines, so to speak, over there. There are a number of ways in which we can sacrifice our comfort and our ease.
And it's an act of leadership on the behalf of the president and his administration and everyone in this country to remind ourselves of what Tom was talking about. We've been attacked. We must rally the American spirit and rout out this evil.
SCHIEFFER: I think we'll end it right there. Thanks to all of you. Thanks very much.
We're going to continue with our expanded coverage on Face the Nation. I'll have a final thought after this short break.
SCHIEFFER: Finally today, after George Washington defeated the British army, Americans were ready to give him whatever power he wanted. He could have become an American Caesar. Instead, he resigned his commission and returned home. Told of Washington's plans, King George said, ``If he does that, he would be the greatest man in the world.''
I mention this as I think about this idea of postponing the inauguration of New York's next mayor so Rudy Giuliani can stay in office several extra months to oversee recovery operations.
Like most Americans, I'm sure, I've come to admire Rudy Giuliani in these past weeks. He has become an inspiration for all of us, and I would vote for him for almost any office.
But before we change laws to allow elected officials to extend their terms, we should look to our history. We have never changed the rules in the middle of an election. The glory and the strength of America is that when their terms are up, our officials leave peacefully, without coaxing, without force. Our reverence for the law runs so deep that we are the only nation ever to hold an election during a civil war.
Yes, the people of New York must, and can, find a way to continue to use the talents of Rudy Giuliani. But it should be the right way--perhaps as the appointed head of a powerful task force to rebuild the city. Young America, after all, found another job to utilize the talents of General Washington.
And yes, voters should have a chance to do away with term limits--but next time, not this time. Changing the rules in the middle of an election in the election is dangerous stuff. We've never done it, and this is no time to start.
Well, that's it for us here on Face the Nation. We'll see you next week right here.