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Text: Thompson on 'Fox News Sunday'


Sunday, October 14, 2001

Following is the transcript of 'Fox News Sunday,' hosted by Tony Snow. Guests: Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.), Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, Fox News medical analyst Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld, and Fox News correspondents Juan Williams, Mara Liasson and Brit Hume.

SNOW: Anthrax, a terrorist threat or a figment of our fears?


THOMPSON: We are going to err on the side of caution and take steps to ensure safety.


SNOW: We'll talk about the administration's plans with Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

Are there ready cures for killer germs? We'll get a medical opinion from Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld.

And what should Congress do to improve security, boost the economy and win the war? We'll put that to Senator Robert Torricelli.

Plus, Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Juan Williams offer timeless wisdom. This is the October 14 edition of Fox News Sunday.

Good morning. We'll talk with our guests after an update on the war on terror from Fox News correspondents Jim Angle at the White House and Steve Harrigan in Bagram, Afghanistan.


STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, the Taliban is saying that the U.S. has struck a civilian target, a village near the city of Jalalabad. The Taliban officials let some Western journalists in; they accompanied them on a tour of that village. They say they pulled at least 160 bodies out of the rubble, and there could be more.

So far the U.S. saying that they had missed the target, that they had targeted a helicopter that was on the ground with an airborne missile, but that they missed that target by more than a mile.

As far as the Afghan capital of Kabul 15 miles behind me, we saw it hit overnight, the glow coming up; and hit again this morning, a yellowish glow behind the mountains. There were people, local residents here of Bagram watching as well from their rooftops, many of them cheering with each strike.

Finally, a prediction by the foreign minister of the opposition here, the Northern Alliance, Dr. Abdullah. He says that the Northern Alliance will be in the capital by the start of Ramadan, which is just one month away.

Now to my colleague Jim Angle at the White House.

JIM ANGLE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The fear of terrorist attacks moved from the skies to the mail this week with two new anthrax investigations. Five more people in Florida testing positive for exposure to the disease, a second person at NBC with anthrax symptoms, and a host of anthrax scares around the country.

In New York, the FBI announced that a letter sent on September 18 from New Jersey is the one that carried anthrax into NBC headquarters.


(UNKNOWN): It was an anonymous letter, white envelope, postmarked Trenton.


ANGLE: Containing brown granules and a threatening note.

Two letters from Florida with white powder, one to NBC and one to the New York Times, tested negative for anthrax.

Mayor Giuliani emphasized to New Yorkers that the disease is not contagious.


RUDOLPH GIULIANI, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Have some confidence and calm down with the notion that there's some kind of, you know, spread of some kind of disease going on. That is not happening.


ANGLE: Across the country, a Microsoft employee in Reno, Nevada, found a letter returned from Malaysia had been tampered with and called authorities who tested it.


(UNKNOWN): The results are positive for anthrax.


ANGLE: But fear seemed to be spreading faster than the disease. Three airlines called authorities to investigate powder on their flights. A USAir flight was diverted, and a United flight in San Jose was surrounded after passengers thought a man was spreading white powder, which turned out to be confetti from a greeting card.

In a new statement, Al Qaeda tried to feed the fear in the U.S., promising to avenge the war and warning Americans to stay away from planes and tall buildings. The White House dismissed the statement as propaganda as the president met at Camp David with his national security team, some by videoconference.

And in his radio address, Mr. Bush tried to calm any fears.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand that many Americans are feeling uneasy, but all Americans should be assured we are taking strong precautions. We are vigilant.


ANGLE: On the anthrax cases, Vice President Cheney says the only responsible thing to do is to assume they're linked. Officials say there is no evidence of that so far, but that is clearly their suspicion and fear.


SNOW: For more on the anthrax scare and the administration's plans to combat bioterror, we're joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

Also here with questions, Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News.

Mr. Thompson, let's talk about the anthrax reports. Are there any new occurrences that have popped up overnight that we don't know about?

THOMPSON: No, there's not. I checked with CDC immediately before I came in here this morning, Tony, and there are no new things. We received a lot of specimens last night from New York and from the city and also from Nevada and a few other states, but nothing--nothing new.

And the people in Atlanta at CDC are going to be working all weekend to get me a report late tonight or tomorrow about all the analysis of all the reports.

SNOW: Now, early suggestions from your department indicate that the toxins in Florida may be totally unrelated to those in New York or even Nevada. Is that still your point?

THOMPSON: Nothing's been conclusive, and we're going to check all those things out, and we'll be able to tell you as soon as we find out for sure. And that's what we're trying to do. We don't want to speculate. We want to make sure we're absolutely positive.

THOMPSON: And then we're going to give the information to the networks and to all the individuals that are inquiring about it, so that people really know what is true. We don't want to--we don't want to get any false information out there, so we're going slow, but we're going to be darn reliable.

SNOW: Is it possible to figure out the point of origin for the anthrax that seems to have been mailed to various locations?

THOMPSON: Sure it is, but it's going to take some time. You're going to have to--you're going to have to get samples from a lot of different sources. Then you're going to have to make a comparison.

And we're going to be able to give people the--hopefully, relatively soon, as much information as we positively can prove.

SNOW: Is it possible that the powder that has been mailed has been stolen from a U.S. lab?

THOMPSON: It's possible.

SNOW: Are there any reports of thefts?

THOMPSON: None that we have, but that doesn't mean that somebody couldn't have walked out with a vial or some kind of a specimen and grew it, and then used that as a basic, because, you know, a lot of people have written in and asked for samples or some ways to conduct tests on anthrax. And a lot of laboratories have. And, you know, it's been possible that some has been misapplied, misappropriated.

SNOW: Do you think that's the most likely scenario at this point?

THOMPSON: Who knows? That's speculation. We're going to check out everything we possibly can, Tony.

We want to make sure that the American public gets exactly the correct information. We don't want to speculate. We want to make sure what we have is correct information, so that people can rely upon it.

HUME: Mr. Secretary, we've had an airplane overnight held at San Jose Airport, a big scare,...


HUME: ... and it turned out that what was present was confetti.

THOMPSON: Confetti, right.

HUME: Isn't there now the great danger that these little envelopes that brought anthrax powder that so far have made one man desperately ill--he died...


HUME: ... tragically. But everyone else who has come into contact with this stuff, so far as we know, is safe and in no danger. And isn't it the case that the greater danger right now is the size of this scare, rather than the size of this attack, if that's what it is?

THOMPSON: There are a lot of people in America that are afraid, and understandably so, because bioterrorism has never hit America before, and people are afraid, you know, of the unknown. They don't know about anthrax, they don't know about botulism, things like this. So they're afraid.

But what we're trying to do is, we're trying to make sure that we follow up on credible information and make sure that we can give that information to the public. We don't want to speculate, but there are a lot of false rumors, false starts out there. And we've got to be careful that people understand that, if there's anything really suspicious, they should notify the local authorities, the health departments, and get that information to us, so that we can do an analysis on it.

HUME: Now, all of the worry so far has been about anthrax. Do you have any reason to believe that any other kind of disease has been sent, communicated or otherwise spread in this country?

THOMPSON: None whatsoever. And we--Brit, we are looking at all possibilities, as soon as we hear of something suspicious.

What we do--and I want people to understand this--is, we have told all the state health departments and the local health departments, if you find something suspicious, get it to your state health departments, get it to the laboratories, and then send us immediately the same information, so we can check it out.

And we're sending some of our wonderful doctors from CDC into hospitals in states that have something suspicious. We're examining the specimens, to make sure that there isn't anything out there. And so far we haven't found anything.

HUME: But has this scare, over one confirmed serious case of anthrax, has this not empowered anybody who might want to take a bottle of--take a can of baby powder, and put some of it in four or five dozen envelopes and send it somewhere, and paralyze wherever the destination is?

THOMPSON: There's always that possibility, and that's why we have to be so vigilant and careful, you know, and to tell people, if there are any hoaxes out there, and if anybody's trying to, you know, to get even with somebody, that they're going to be prosecuted. Because we do not want to increase the terror factor, the scare factor in the American people. So we're going to prosecute these individuals.

But they're--how do you prevent it? It's almost impossible.

HUME: Now, you've spoken of available 2 million doses of medication to deal with anthrax. That's...

THOMPSON: For 2 million people...

HUME: Right.

THOMPSON: ... to treat them for 60 days. So there are a lot more than 2 million doses.

HUME: All right. Now what about other diseases that might be communicated in this way? What about smallpox, for example? What about some of the other diseases? How well-equipped are we to deal with those should an outbreak of any of those occur?

THOMPSON: We have 15.4 million doses of vaccine for smallpox. We have 2 million doses right now, over 2 million doses--to treat 2 million people for 60 days for anthrax. We have 400 tons of pharmaceutical supplies of all kinds of antibiotics spread out throughout the United States--a push package.

We have just reached an agreement with OMB to go into Congress this week and ask for an extra billion dollars to increase the amount of purchases for all of these supplies, just to make sure that Americans of all--any place in this world--country are going to be protected.

HUME: The smallpox vaccine, though, is a preventive, not a cure. So if you have it, it's too late for vaccine.

THOMPSON: No, if you have it, if you get to it soon enough, the vaccine will still work.

SNOW: You mentioned just a minute ago antibiotics. A lot of people are making a run on Cipro and other things. Now, my understanding is, A, if you take it and you don't need it, you risk some sort of toxicity, toxic reaction.


SNOW: Number two, you can create germ-resistant strains of whatever.

Is your advice to people not to go out and get antibiotics?

THOMPSON: Absolutely. I mean, we have enough dosages to take care of everybody. We're treating a thousand people in Florida. We're going to be treating several hundred at NBC in New York. If you need it, we're going to be there.

And we've been--we've shown from all indications that we're able to move very rapidly. We're able to move the supplies into New York City within seven hours after the September 11 terrorist attack. And we'll be able to do that any place in the country.

And you're absolutely correct, Tony. People should not buy Cipro and start taking it. There are some side effects to it, and people should be aware of that. And if you start taking it now, if in fact you did get involved with anthrax, then it may not be as effective. So you need to wait till you actually come in contact, if you ever do.

And let's look at it, you know. We've been dealing with anthrax now for two weeks. We have one case in Florida. We have two exposures in Florida. Five more that are being tested right now, and one in NBC in New York.

SNOW: OK, a couple of points of clarification. On anthrax, it seems to be assumed around the country that nobody ever comes into contact with it. In normal years, how many people do you think come into contact with anthrax spores?

THOMPSON: Well, we've had only 18 confirmed cases in the last several years. And so it's very rare.

HUME: That's confirmed cases of the disease. He's talking about just exposure to it.

SNOW: They used to call it wool sorter's disease because people naturally came into contact with anthrax spores.

THOMPSON: I don't know and I can't speculate. But, I mean, it's naturally occurring in animals, in the blood of animals. When animals die, the bacteria gets involved and spreads. And some people come in contact with it. I don't know how many.

SNOW: A lot of us had smallpox vaccinations when we were kids up until the mid to late '70s. Would those people be safe at this point?

THOMPSON: Doubtful. You're supposed to get a booster within 10 years after you have the original shot. And since we stopped--discontinued giving the smallpox shots in 1972 and 1973, it's very doubtful. But you do have a residual, maybe a 15 to 20 percent.

SNOW: OK. One last, I want to give Brit a chance at some more. Imminent threats, do we have any?

THOMPSON: No. I checked this morning and we have no imminent threats. We have a lot of chatter out there but we have no imminent threats of any chemical or biological attack at this time in America.

But the president and all of us want everybody to be very vigilant. We want you to--if you see something suspicious, you know, be vigilant about it. If you get a package that doesn't have a return address, if it's leaking, if it's got some wires, if it's oblong, if it's got a return address different than the postmark, be careful. Contact somebody from the postal department and let's check it out.

Let's just be a little bit more vigilant than we ever have before but let's not do anything out of the ordinary. Let's continue to do our routine operations of our lives.

HUME: Mr. Secretary, I know you don't know for sure, but do you suspect that these anthrax instances through the mail were terrorism?

THOMPSON: We don't know but, you know, a cynic can say that it's possible. We're exploring all of the evidence, we're working very closely with the FBI, but we have no conclusive evidence at this point.

HUME: I understand that, but what do you suspect, sir?

THOMPSON: Well, what I suspect, you know, you've got to suspect that it's possible.

SNOW: It's possible--if somebody's sending anthrax spores, obviously they want to hurt somebody. That would be terrorism.

THOMPSON: That is correct. It certainly could be.


THOMPSON: But it is an act of terrorism. I mean, sending anthrax--is it the Al Qaeda? We don't know. But it certainly is an act of terrorism to send anthrax through the mail. I mean, that's what's so...

SNOW: It could possibly be a domestic source as well.

THOMPSON: It could be a domestic source. It could be somebody holding a grudge. It could be somebody saying, you know, I waited all this time, now I'm going to be able to do something, you know, really radical, and be a copycat kind of a situation. We don't know. But we're checking it out. We're cynical, as a lot of people are.

I just want people to--I want Americans to know that we have on alert 7,000 medical professionals divided up into 90 teams that we can move anyplace. We have 400 tons of medical supplies that we can move and be able to respond to any kind of a thing. So Americans should feel comfortable. They should be vigilant, but they should feel comfortable about conducting their ordinary lives.

SNOW: OK. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, thanks for joining us.

THOMPSON: Thank you very much.

SNOW: Up next, Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld tells what you need to know about the anthrax threat.


JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I want a stress that anthrax is not contagious and is imminently treatable.



SNOW: How does one get anthrax, and how do we fight it? Here from New York with answers, Fox News medical consultant Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld.

Also here, our panel, Brit Hume and Mara Liasson and Juan Williams of National Public Radio. And the first question goes to Mara.

LIASSON: Dr. Rosenfeld, there's a lot of confusion about Cipro, the antibiotic that's used to treat anthrax. Could you tell people whether they should run out and start taking it now if they're worried about anthrax or not?

ROSENFELD: No, they shouldn't run out and start taking it prophylactically.

I have given some Cipro prescriptions to my patients, and this is what I tell them: If there is evidence that there's anthrax in the community and/or if you're suddenly surrounded by people with severe flu symptoms in the setting of an anthrax possibility, it's reasonable, I think, to take two Cipros and then see a doctor in an emergency room. Do not continue to take the Cipro prophylactically. Because if you take it for long enough, there's a possibility of developing resistance for when you need it.

But I think it's entirely reasonable, both from an antibacterial point of view and from a psychological point of view, that if you think you may have anthrax--we can go into what the symptoms are--and there are people around you with similar symptoms, and there's talk about anthrax, for example, in Boca Ratan and so on, then you take a couple of Cipro, 500 milligrams twice a day and get help. If, in fact, it is anthrax, then the two Cipro that you've taken may make a difference.

LIASSON: But there is a danger if you took a full dose of it, that it wouldn't work next time?

ROSENFELD: I don't think so. I don't think a full dose would do anything next time. I think in order to develop resistance to Cipro, you've got to take it over a period of time. If you take two as a false alarm or four as a false alarm, that is not going to cause resistance.

WILLIAMS: Now, Dr. Rosenfeld, let's talk about other antibiotics. What about, let's say, being a concerned parent, should I horde penicillin or doxycycline or anything else in addition to Cipro?

ROSENFFELD: The alternative to Cipro is doxycycline. There are some doctors who think that it's even more effective. You've got to be careful with doxycycline because it's in the tetracycline family, and it should not be used for any length of time by pregnant women or by children. It can cause discoloration, permanent discoloration of the teeth. So I prefer Cipro. Penicillin is also effective in anthrax.

WILLIAMS: And would you suggest that families get gas masks?

ROSENFELD: No. I tell you, there are all kinds of gas masks for different challenges. And for a gas mask to work, you've got to be wearing it in advance. When you get it--in Israel, for example, if they get a warning of an attack, everybody puts on gas masks on and waits. You can't walk around the United States wearing a gas mask.

Most of these substances are odorless and colorless, and you can't tell that you've been exposed. If you've breathed them in and then put on a gas mask, it's futile.

Also, the gas mask has to really fit very tightly. There are all kinds of gas masks.

And I would wait, before getting a gas mask, I would wait for a government directive saying, listen, we have credible information that there will be mustard gas or phosgene or chlorine or sarin or any of the other things for which you may need it, and then get it. I would not get a gas mask now.

HUME: Dr. Rosenfeld, perhaps you could give some advice for mail handlers. Powderized anthrax looks like what? Does it look like sugar granules?

ROSENFELD: Looks like talcum powder. I've never seen it, but from what I have heard, it looks like talcum powder.

And as far as handling mail is concerned, I think that you shouldn't--if anything, you should look at the postmark first of all. If the postmark says Trenton and the return address on the envelope is Malaysia, then there's something wrong.


And if the package is distorted, there are things sticking out it, discolored and so on, if it feels funny. I mean, when I get a letter, it doesn't feel like powder you know.

HUME: But how concentrated?

ROSENFELD: You've got to use your common sense.

HUME: Well, how concentrated would the powder have to be? Would it be an amount so that if you held the thing up to the light, you might be able to see it? Or would it just be a bit of it on the surface of the contents of whatever document or whatever's inside. How much does it take to be a danger?

ROSENFELD: I don't think holding it up to the light--I think you have to open it. If you see powder there, you know, run. Don't pick it up to see how fine it is. Don't sniff it to see what it smells like.

HUME: Yes, above all, don't sniff it, right?

ROSENFELD: If you see--if you open up any envelope that's--I mean, when people send me a letter, they don't send me powder. They send me a letter. And if you see powder in a letter, that's alarming. You should keep away from it. Leave the room, shut the door, and call the FBI.. And if you're lucky, within two weeks, they'll come and get the letter.

SNOW: Dr. Rosenfeld, within two weeks--what is the incubation period? I mean, you pick it up. You've got some on your hands. Suppose you have a cut, because as I gather to get cutaneous anthrax, you also have to have some break in the skin. If you wash your hands, you're OK.

ROSENFELD: I said--my comment about two weeks was meant to be humorous. Because when NBC notified the FBI that there was a letter with powder, it took them two weeks to get it. Now, so that has nothing to do with the incubation period.

The incubation--you can get anthrax within two or three days after exposure or anywhere up to 40 days. It depends.

The cutaneous form is--I've got to make clear again that the inhaled form and the cutaneous form are the same bug. But the anthrax spore--they tend to clump together. When they clump together, they can affect the skin--a breaking in the skin, and you get the skin form, which is very treatable. It's very common in--not very common. But many people, animal handlers, have had anthrax over the years.

The inhaled form is the same thing, but the spores are very fine and very small. You need to inhale about 8,000 to 10,000 of them in order for them to get deep into your lung, from there into the bloodstream, where the bacteria form a toxin, a poison, that can poison you. It's the same bug, different composition.

SNOW: All right. Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld, thanks for joining us.

When we come back, we're going to have congressional response to terror. What should people on Capitol Hill do?


(UNKNOWN): Our goal is to defeat terrorism, remain who we are, retain the best about ourselves, while defeating terrorism.



SNOW: Congress has a full plate when it comes to post-September 11 legislation. Among the unfinished items, airport and airline security, economic stimulus and defense reform.

Joining us from New York to discuss these issues and more is New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli.

Senator Torricelli, earlier today we had Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson on. He says the administration is fully prepared to deal with anthrax and other biological threats. Are you confident in the administration's ability to handle these things now?

TORRICELLI: I think the administration has a workable plan, and has been stockpiling resources. The Congress is going to give them more resources. Of course, time is helpful in increasing the stockpiles.

I think the greater challenge is now with the states and the local health services. I convened a meeting with Governor Corzine of leading hospitals in New Jersey, to go over with them again about their plans with the personnel that was assigned, their own stockpiles. And I hope that members of the Senate and governors around the country do the same thing.

We just--it's a time simply to catch our breaths, review this, in case this gets any worse.

SNOW: Do you have any indication that the anthrax that's being spread around the United States in various places, at least in Florida or New York or Nevada, that that may come from Iraq? There have been some press reports, particularly this morning out of London, that point a finger toward Iraq.

TORRICELLI: I think, Tony, there's just no way to know that at the moment. Indeed, the threshold question, of course, is, is this coordinated with the terrorist activities from September 11, or is this simply people now acting on their own volition who are taking advantage of the situation to add to further hysteria?

My guess is we find that out relatively quickly, as they look at the anthrax itself, and seek down evidence from where it was sent. But I'm not sure it's helpful to speculate at the moment, since we know so little.

SNOW: The New Yorker reports that our Central Command--the CENTCOM, that is, the military outpost that is running our operation in Afghanistan, had a beat on Mullah Omar, the head of the Taliban, the other day, and decided not to do it on the advice of a judge advocate general.

Do you know, A, if the story is true? And, B, if it is, does it bother you?

TORRICELLI: It would bother me a great deal. I have been in sessions in the Congress, without going into sessions that are not otherwise public, where the question has been put directly to intelligence and military officials that, do they understand that, in our interpretation of the law, the law after all being passed by this Congress, we are telling you directly, our interpretation is, under these circumstances and indeed under far less aggravating circumstances months ago, there is no prohibition to the United States attacking any of these individuals, including if it takes their life, given the fact that we are involved in national defense, in people who are either committed felonies or harboring those who did.

SNOW: And in this particular case, if the military waved it off, what would the congressional response be?

TORRICELLI: I think, if the military is continuing--I would have no reason to believe this is the case--but if there is anyone still arguing that there's a prohibition in law from taking the life of any of these people because of the ban on targeting foreign leaders, that would be disturbing because that is not an accurate reading of the law.

There may be policy reasons to not do so at this moment, there may be intelligence reasons for not doing so. But the laws of the United States are not a barrier at the moment in any targeting of individuals in Afghanistan, as far as I'm concerned. And I've been told that the administration accepts that interpretation.

SNOW: Along those lines, the president has said repeatedly Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. Do we really want him alive?

TORRICELLI: Well, you know, I don't know that Osama bin Laden being in an American courtroom to speak his piece and further raise the martyrdom is helpful, but I'll leave that judgment to the president, whatever serves the national interest.

I suspect, however, there's very little chance of him coming in alive. The chance of him being consumed in this is overwhelming. And I think it is suspected that he already understands that in the end he's going to die in this enterprise.

SNOW: There's a lot of talk about a successor regime to the Taliban in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance is trying to press on toward Kabul.

As you know, the Northern Alliance has been quite at odds with the government in Pakistan. There is also a Pashtun plurality, it's the largest minority group, or the largest group within Afghanistan, who quite often oppose the Northern Alliance.

My question to you is, should we be trying to assemble a successor regime right now?

TORRICELLI: I think it would not be responsible militarily to watch this unfold knowing that perhaps inevitably the Taliban will collapse, an enormous vacuum will be created, without some concept of the government to follow.

If indeed there is not some government in waiting, some general framework, we're going to lead not only to a vacuum with a renewed civil war, which can create a nesting ground for future bin Ladens, but can create a Russian, Pakistani, Indian, even Iranian rivalry, with proxy forces inside Afghanistan.

Indeed, the press has speculated that there has been some hesitation to have Northern Alliance forces advance at the moment because there is not yet a concept of a successor government.

TORRICELLI: If that is accurate, it is good policy. There needs to be something assembled here to deal with this situation.

SNOW: So we should be willing to suspend ground operations, if they are in the works, until we get a successor regime, no matter how long it takes to figure out that successor regime?

TORRICELLI: Well, we're speculating here, but remember, there are two forms of ground involvement.

I do not think, when the administration is ready to use special forces to actually get to bin Laden and Al Qaeda, there's any reason to hesitate. That should proceed when the administration thinks that militarily the air strikes have created the right environment.

But I suspect there is an argument that, in the advance on Kabul and the collapse of the Taliban from the Northern Alliance and other forces--the Northern Alliance is not alone--that, there, I think the timing is important. After all, we don't want one group taking Kabul and excluding all others. That creates new ethnic rivalries, or has any of these other powers on the outside thinking that there's a threat to their governments, be it India or Iran.

So there I think the timing is important, that there's a credible government to follow. And probably some reason for some hesitation, if only briefly.

SNOW: Senator Torricelli, the House is going to have a board of inquiry to look at our intelligence failures. You're going to do that in the Senate, too, correct?

TORRICELLI: Well, Tony, I think it's absolutely essential. It has now been a month since the attacks in New York and Washington. Three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States government had already begun an inquiry to determine how our military had failed in intelligence. Indeed, similarly, after the Kennedy assassination, the Challenger accident and other problems in the 20th century, we created boards to take a step back.

Interesting in this case so far we have not done so. We're giving more money to the same institutions, giving them more power, relying upon them, as I suppose inevitably we must. But while doing that, we also need someone to step back and give the American people something to which they are entitled, and that is a fair and honest analysis.

SNOW: Senator...

TORRICELLI: Did your country let you down, what happened, and what are we going to do to correct it?

SNOW: Senator, you've come under some criticism for what was known as the Torricelli principle. It was in response to American undercover activities in Central America. You wanted to make sure that the people who were doing operations passed a certain kind of character muster.

Have you rethought that position in the light of what happened on September 11?

TORRICELLI: Actually, Tony, it didn't require that people who work for the CIA or other intelligence pass a character test. Indeed, they're free to hire anybody they want. You can't capture terrorists without hiring terrorists, and you can't break drug cartels without hiring some drug runners.

What was required is that the hiring of these people be approved by the CIA itself in Washington. We had people in the field making these decisions. And sometimes, as in the case that you mentioned, it involved hiring someone who had murdered American citizens, much to the surprise of the CIA and the president of the United States.

You can't run an intelligence agency with people in the field making those decisions and not telling headquarters.

In the case you mentioned, the CIA director and the president of the United States were asked about it and were uninformed. We want approvals in Washington.

Now, apparently, the House is moving in a different direction. I hope the Senate keeps that rule. The CIA has made clear that at no time was there a request to hire anyone to infiltrate a terrorist organization where it was denied by the director of CIA.

I think the rule as written, in my judgment, should stand.

SNOW: Final question, do we need better human intelligence? In other words, do we need more spies on the ground?

TORRICELLI: This has been a problem for 30 years, Tony. And I suspect, if we had this board of inquiry, that's one of the things they're going to decide.

But it shouldn't come as a surprise. This goes all the way back to the Iranian Revolution. We've learned the limits of what electronic surveillance can do. Groups like the Taliban and Al Qaeda and the drug organizations have to be infiltrated. People have to be put in place. In a strange way, we have to do what they are doing to us, put people there years in advance, allow them to receive trust, not unlike what our country has done with drug organizations within our own borders, even organized crime in our own borders.

It is tough, it is dangerous, it takes years, but there's simply no alternative if you're going to gain information about these terrorist networks.

SNOW: All right, Senator Robert Torricelli, thanks for joining us.

TORRICELLI: Tony, thanks for having me.

SNOW: Up next, some stories you won't find on any other Sunday program, and our panel.


BUSH: They think they might find safe haven. Not if we think they're there.

BUSH: And we've got them on the run.



SNOW: Let's check out some unheralded stories we found this week below the fold.

The September 11 atrocity now has afflicted the fine arts. Scott Ian reports he and his musical colleagues may seek a new moniker for their metal rock group Anthrax. Says Ian, it's as though it's 1937 and I'm a band leader named Freddy Hitler. Maybe we should change the name now. A friend suggested Basket of Puppies.

Meanwhile, Americans have received long-awaited guidance from Richard Gere. The actor says terrorists, quote, ``Are creating such horrible future lives for themselves because of the negativity of the karma.'' He adds, ``It's all of our jobs to keep our minds as expansive as possible. If he can see them as a relative who's dangerously sick and we have to give them medicine and the medicine is love''--well, you get the idea.

Several news services this week published a photo showing protesters brandishing placards bearing the likeness of Osama bin Laden. And if you look a little closer, you see the Burt is Evil face that enjoyed brief notoriety on the Internet. Well, now Dino Ignacio, creator of Burt is Evil has penned an apology to the Children's Television Workshop. After disavowing violence and tackiness, he adds, ``While I support Sesame Street and CTW in their efforts to remedy this act, I implore them not to pursue legal actions against myself or my hosting affiliates.''

And finally, this from the world of the rich and famous. Donald Trump, evidently believing his hair likes the aerodynamic lift required to break a long fall, is considering the purchase of a speciality parachute. He wants some way to leap from the top of his suite at the Trump Tower should he come under assault. The American Parachute Association says, not so fast. ``Amateurs who try such stunts,'' it says, ``probably will put the perish back in parachute.''

And now it's panel time for Brit Hume, Mara Liasson and Juan Williams.

I guess that's a good way, Brit, of kicking off the whole talk about anthrax. People are panicking. And yet at this point, somebody was--one of our colleagues was pointing out the AIDS quilt, when they did an AIDS quilt, it covers half of Washington. If they did an anthrax quilt, it would be about this big right now.

HUME: So far--I mean, it's terribly sad that that man died down in Florida. But everybody else who has come in contact with this stuff so far as we know, is safe. And I would have to say that if this is the terrorist anthrax attack, it's pretty feeble.

LIASSON: Yes, it sounds like anthrax is a manageable threat. The scarier things are the things that haven't happened yet--smallpox, which is highly contagious and could become an epidemic pretty fast. I think that so far anthrax is something that, from everything we've heard, is treatable. If you don't inhale it, it's even more treatable. And even if you do, it's curable.

WILLIAMS: Well, it sounds to me like at this moment there is a lot of panic in the air, a lot of panic in the news media, in the newspapers. Every five seconds a report on the TV about it.

But, I mean, at some point you have to wonder about the position the U.S. government is in. President Bush, Tommy Thompson on this show today, Attorney General Ashcroft--it's clear they want to warn the American people of any imminent threat, but at the same time this kind of generalized warning is doing nothing but stirring anxiety.

And I understand that they are in a difficult position. But I think they have to take responsibility and somehow reassure people, because panic does no one any good.

LIASSON: Right. And the generalized threat makes you wonder if one of the reasons they issued it was merely to cover themselves in case something did happen so they wouldn't have been seen as asleep this time.

HUME: I don't doubt, Tony, that they had some intelligence that they found credible about this general threat.

SNOW: Yes. But let's just bring--because we're speaking of the fact that the attorney general sort of in the middle of the week issued a general threat saying, ``We don't have any specifics, but people ought to be on high alert.''

HUME: For the next, quote, ``several days,'' which is a pretty expansive term.

You hear Senator Torricelli eager to convene a board of inquiry into what happened. Can you imagine how long it would take for the officials affected--involved to be before that board of inquiry if they had a general threat and didn't announce it and something happened? I mean, there is a certain cover-your-butt aspect to all of this. But under the circumstances and given the witch-hunts that sometimes develop after something terrible happens, it's pretty understandable.

SNOW: The other day Jim Leher had an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney. And he was saying to the vice president, now, look, you guys are telling us to be calm, but there are threats. And it looks as if we're going to have the seemingly competing messages coming from the White House for a long time.

LIASSON: Oh, I think we are. I mean, that's what this brave new world that we're in is about. I mean, it goes back to the day that President Bush announced--went to Florida--I'm sorry, went to Chicago, and told everybody to get back on planes. At the same minute at the Pentagon they were announcing that generals now had authorization to shoot down civilian airliners if they thought they were hijacked.

I mean, look, this is part of the difficult war that we're in right now.

HUME: That's the point. We're at war. And when you're at war, your country's in danger. Our country's in danger. People have reason to be afraid because we now know that the war can reach our shores. I don't know that there's much left to say about it.

WILLIAMS: Well, what there is left to say is that you have to have, on the part of the American people, if we are to conduct our business as the president has advised us--in other words, go on as normal, attend sporting events, go to church Sunday morning, send our children to school with some sense of security--I think it would be helpful if we knew exactly what we were up against and what we should do and shouldn't do.

WILLIAMS: As a consequence, at the moment, no one knows, and there's this kind of generalized anxiety in the air. And so people aren't going to restaurants. For instance, I saw this morning in the paper, business in downtown Washington has just disappeared. People aren't going to the museums.

HUME: Think of countries that have had a lot of terrorist attacks. Think of Israel. Think of even Great Britain where terrorist bombings occur with some regularity. Life somehow manages to go on, not necessarily as normal or as comfortable as it would have been in the United States, but life does go on.

If we're going to prevail in this thing and not be terrified by every few specks of pumice powder that arrive in an envelope, we're going to have to get used to this. This is what life is going to be like. You're going to have to be careful, you're going to have to be vigilant and you're going to have to go on. And we can't have this sort of hand-wringing panic and gross over news play every time some little thing happens that threatens, in the end, a grand total so far of one person.

LIASSON: Well, life is going to have to go on, and, as Brit said, it's going to get a lot more similar to life in Israel or life in Europe or life in Europe during the '70s, actually, when there were a lot of terrorist activity.

But one thing that is different is in those countries, there were a lot more police presence. If you traveled in those areas during that time, you saw more guns on the street, and they were held by soldiers or by police. That hasn't happened here yet.

And I think that what we're in right now is this lag time between the government trying to gear up, to put in place new laws, new precautionary measures, and that just hasn't happened yet.

WILLIAMS: Well, the government, on the one hand, says, we want more power. We want people to sacrifice their civil liberties. We want powers to even detain people, to track people, to do all the rest. We want powers to do this, powers to do that. But at the same time, there's this generalized threat, we don't know exactly what it is. That's what's concerning me.

Brit describes it as, look, we're at war and people have to get used to the idea we're at war, and I think that's exactly right. And I think the panic is overstated, we agree on that.

But when it comes to the ability of the government, Tommy Thompson, John Ashcroft, to act in a manner that's reassuring and specific, I find them lacking.

SNOW: All right.

LIASSON: I think that they can't be any more specific than they are. And they're deathly afraid of saying nothing in case something happens.

SNOW: Now, you mentioned just a moment ago the fact that there seems to be a slow reaction time. There have been complaints this week from pilots and flight attendants that the baggage handling really hasn't improved all that much, and they're unhappy about it.

LIASSON: Well, a lot of people are worried about that. I think that in terms of what happens inside the plane's cabin, the American people themselves have solved that. We saw that in Pennsylvania right away. That didn't happen--that didn't take a new law. It didn't take anything. It took passengers deciding that they would take matters into their own hands if there are hijackers with knives.

Now, baggage is something completely different. Only the airlines can take care of that for us. And there is a concern about checked baggage. After Pan Am 103 blew up, they instituted a new rule to make sure that no one got on a plane who wasn't matched with a bag--or at least no bag got on a plane that wasn't matched with a person.

Well, that doesn't matter anymore because we know that these terrorists are happy to blow themselves up along with everybody else. That has to be dealt with.

There is legislation--there is a measure in the new airline security legislation that deals with that, but I don't know if that's been instituted in the airlines yet.

SNOW: Another interesting story this week, Alawei bin Talal (ph), a Saudi prince, was in New York, and he toured ground zero. This is a fellow that's got far-flung business enterprises in the United States, so there's a fair amount charitable giving.

There you see him meeting with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. He offered $10 million.

Afterward, he didn't really say but one of his spokes people issued a press release saying, ``Well, you know, we don't like America's policy toward the Palestinians,'' at which point Rudy Giuliani, after a little bit of prompting said, ``Well, I don't want the money.''

LIASSON: Well, it was more than that. He said this is one of the causes of this. In other words, he linked the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians to the terrorist attack. And that, I think, was what was so offensive. And what Mayor Giuliani said was that he was trying to establish some kind of moral equivalence between the way the Palestinians are treated...

HUME: It was a particularly disgusting example of the behavior of Saudi Arabia, a government which I think is now almost totally compromised.

What the Saudis have in their midst, they practice a very harsh form of Islam in Saudi Arabia, the same strain from which Osama bin Laden derives his particular crackpot version of Islam. And the Saudis have the possibility of serious trouble within their own countries from Islamic militants.

So what they do is they basically play this double game. They deal with the West. They're supposedly friends of the West. They have American forces on their soil protecting them. At the same time that they--that they sympathize loudly with the Palestinians, condone terrorists and, so far as we can tell, supply a lot of terrorists, at least from citizens in that country, a lot of terrorists with a lot of money.

This is a compromised regime. It walks a fine line. I wonder whether in the end the United States is not going to have to deal, yes, with Iraq, yes, perhaps even with Iran, but with Saudi Arabia as well.

WILLIAMS: I would agree. President Bush, at the news conference this week, said that he was pleased with the cooperation coming from Saudi Arabia.

But I think that their treatment of their own people and the fact that they have encouraged this kind of fundamentalist vision of Islam to their own benefit has now generated this terror throughout the world. And they refuse to deal with it. They refuse to reform their own country.

And I think future American cooperation's going to have to be based on the idea that that royal family will engage in some democratic reforms of that country.

LIASSON: That's a larger problem, and it deals with Egypt, too.

LIASSON: I mean, the places where these terrorists came from, they didn't come from the poorest countries in the region, and they weren't poor people. They came from Saudi Arabia.

WILLIAMS: Osama bin Laden's no poor man.

LIASSON: That's right--or from Egypt. I think that is a really big, diplomatic, political problem for the United States. What's it going to do about the forms of governance there?

But even on a much smaller level, or much more immediate level, Saudi Arabia hasn't cracked down financially in the way that the United States has.

HUME: And don't anybody ever forget their failure to cooperate in the Khobar Towers bombing investigation.

SNOW: All right. Brit, Mara, Juan, thanks.

Let's check out some mail now.

Some viewers take issue with the way Fox News spells Osama bin Laden's first name. Rhonda Means (ph) writes, ``The name is Osama, not Usama.'' Sue Schearhouse (ph) agrees: ``Fox is the only place I've seen bin Laden's first name spelled with a `U.' I find this upsetting because that puts `USA' at the beginning of the beast's name. Please fix it.''

Well, when it comes to the proper pronunciation of foreign names or places, Fox News defers to the State Department, which seeks to provide the most accurate English-language renderings. The State Department calls bin Laden Usama, but sometimes it also calls him Osama. So, it's ambiguous.

And Bruce Bruner (ph) complains, ``I've noticed lately that you can't see the Canadian flag out of the window. Do you blame Canada for the attacks? As a Canadian, I can assure you we deplore this heinous act of terrorism as much as you do.''

Dear Bruce, please keep your tuke on. The flag's there at the Teamsters' headquarters, and when the wind blows just right, you can see it.

Folks, be sure to let us know your thoughts about Fox News Sunday by e-mailing us at

And when we come back, my parting thoughts on good versus evil.


SNOW: You probably noticed that President Bush is describing our present war in unusually stark terms. Dispensing with diplomatic double talk, he calls it a battle between good and evil.

He's right. Only evil people slaughter others for political purposes and set themselves up as God's agents.

The president's war plan calls for putting evil to the sword, but it also calls for putting goodness to the test.

Now, I've heard a lot of folks snicker about his suggestion that children each donate a dollar to kids in Afghanistan, but there's a great deal of wisdom in the idea. We don't often enough teach kindness, let alone practice it. And generosity is the touchstone of the American spirit.

At the Civil War's end, Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural declared, ``With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and all nations.''

Well, that ought to remain our aim today.

And that's it for today. Stay tuned to this Fox station and Fox News Channel for the latest on the war on terror. And remember to start your Sundays right here on Fox News Sunday.


© 2001 The Washington Post Company