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Text: Rumsfeld on NBC's 'Meet the Press'


Sunday, September 30, 2001

Following is the transcript of NBC's "Meet the Press," hosted by Tim Russert. Guests: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Sen. Joseph Biden, Rep. Henry Hyde.

RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: Ten days ago, the president promised a military response to the attack on America.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a message for all military: Be ready. I've called the armed forces to alert, and there is a reason. The hour is coming when America will act.


RUSSERT: What form will our action take? Must we reshape our military to win a long, protracted war against terrorism? With us, the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

Then, how do we convince millions of young Islamics not to hate America? And here at home, will we have to surrender some freedoms for tighter security?

Our guests: the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden of Delaware; and the chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Henry Hyde of Illinois. Chairman Biden and Chairman Hyde in their first joint interview.

But first, the man President Bush has put in charge of the Pentagon, the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

Mr. Secretary, welcome.

RUMSFELD: Thank you.

RUSSERT: Nineteen days ago, America was attacked. How hard has it been to resist an immediate and overwhelming massive retaliation?

RUMSFELD: Well, of course, you know, everyone's instinct is the same. When there's an attack like that, you want to respond in kind.

And the reality is that the measured approach, which the president has adopted, is the right one. We need to do it right, and to do that, we've got to get it right.

And I think that the approach of recognizing that there are not big high-value targets, there aren't armies to attack, there aren't navies to attack, there are not lands to occupy and hold. We seek no one's land. And, in many cases, the people of the countries that harbor terrorists are repressed people as well. I mean, we see the starving Afghanistan people today. In many cases, fleeing their country, frightened of starving and the drought.

So what we have to do is to go after the problem where it exists, and that's the terrorists, the terrorist networks, and the countries that harbor those terrorists.

RUSSERT: I went back and read your testimony before the Senate when you were confirmed as secretary of defense and a couple of speeches you gave in February of this year, way before the terrorist attack. And you were warning about the asymmetrical methods used by terrorists, how it is not normal war as we know it.

What are asymmetrical methods? Talk to the American people about that.

RUMSFELD: Well, a conventional way of approaching another country would be to go after an army or a navy or an air force. The terrorists, who are spreading terrorism across the globe, don't have armies, navies or air forces, so they can't contest our armies.

Instead, they look for seams, if you will. They look for ways that we're vulnerable. And, of course, as a free people, we are vulnerable. We're vulnerable to attack on our homeland, because we don't live in a fortress. We don't spend all of our time in fear of these things.

And the examples of an asymmetrical attack would be a ballistic missile--and that's why so many nations are trying to get them--a cruise missile, a terrorist attack, increasingly cyber-attacks because we're so technology-dependent.

And basically, they can use our way of life and our own technologies to attack us. And that means we have to have a heightened sense of awareness and address those types of attacks.

RUSSERT: It's no longer perfect symmetry, army versus army. It's terrorists coming at us, civilians. It doesn't matter anymore.

RUMSFELD: Exactly.

RUSSERT: Must you, will you, reshape the U.S. military in order to deal with that new kind of warfare?

RUMSFELD: Well, there's no question but that the United States military has to be transformed, and that process is under way, and we certainly need to accelerate it. We need to address the problems of defense of our own country, which has never really been a problem.

We've had this wonderful geography, with friends to the North, friends to the South and oceans on either side. Today, because we are a free people, these attacks can come from within.

And there's always been terrorism. But there's never really been worldwide terrorism at a time when the weapons have been as powerful as they are today. With chemical and biological and nuclear weapons spreading to countries that harbor terrorists, one has to recognize the possibility, the probability that at some point these terrorist-sponsoring nations will provide these kinds of capabilities to terrorist networks.

RUSSERT: Probability, you believe there is a strong possibility, probability that there could be a chemical or biological attack on the United States?

RUMSFELD: I guess the way I'd phrase it is that we know of certain knowledge that the nations on our terrorist list have weaponized chemical and biological weapons, and we know that a number of them are seeking nuclear capabilities.

And we know that they have close linkages with terrorist networks, and that in many cases they have sponsored terrorism. Therefore, it doesn't take a leap of imagination to expect that at some point those nations will work with those terrorist networks and assist them in achieving and obtaining those kinds of capabilities.

RUSSERT: Are we prepared to deal with that, with gas masks, vaccines? Could the American people withstand that kind of attack?

RUMSFELD: Well, I think that the president was right when he said we have to have a heightened awareness, and we have to be aware that this is a possibility, and that we have to do a variety of things, just as we are, for example, to provide greater security on aircraft today. We need to be attentive to our ports.

We need to do a better job of thinking through the kinds of people, terrorists, and the linkages they have, and step up our law enforcement. We need to see that we start drying up the bank accounts of the people that are connected to these terrorists.

It is a broad, multifaceted approach bringing into play all of the capabilities of our government and the capabilities of our governments that are assisting us.

And most important of all, we have to get better intelligence. We have to have the help of people around the world who don't believe in terrorist attacks on innocent women and children, who find it just as offensive as all of us do. And there are many millions of those people, and they need to help provide that kind of intelligence and information.

RUSSERT: Many of the ranking military people who work under you have written a letter asking you to appoint a commander in chief, a CINC, of homeland defense. Will you do that?

RUMSFELD: We will--before that letter was received had been addressing that in the Quadrennial Defense Review work with the senior military and the senior civilian. And we are in the process of adjusting the command structures of our unified and specified commanders. And there's no question but that we will be making some adjustments in that regard.

RUSSERT: Involving homeland defense?


RUSSERT: Let me turn to the situation at hand, the Taliban. President Bush, 10 days ago, gave a speech to the nation and laid out five demands of the Taliban ruling government in Afghanistan:

One, deliver to the United States authorities all leaders of the al Qaeda who hide in Afghanistan. Release all foreign nationals, including American citizens, unjustly imprisoned. Protect foreign journalists, diplomats, aid workers in Afghanistan. Close immediately and permanently every terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to appropriate authorities. And, five, give the United States full access to terrorist training camps.

Have the Taliban met any of those demands yet?

RUMSFELD: Not one.

RUSSERT: What does that mean for them?

RUMSFELD: If you look at Afghanistan, undoubtedly most of the people do not support Taliban. There are factions within Taliban--and there are factions within Taliban that don't support the al Qaeda terrorist network.

What it means is that, unquestionably, the world that's concerned about the al Qaeda network and about people who harbor terrorists--and certainly the Taliban are world-class harborers and facilitators and assisters of terrorist networks--are going to have to do all the things that will be necessary to disintegrate the al Qaeda business plan or terrorist plan or war plan.

And it is not just in Afghanistan. It is in 50 or 60 countries, and it simply has to be liquidated. It has to end. It has to go out of business.

RUSSERT: The Northern Alliance is a faction of Afghan fighters who have been challenging al Qaeda and the Taliban. Would we support the Northern Alliance, bring them into our coalition?

RUMSFELD: There's no question but that there are any number of people in Afghanistan--tribes in the South, the Northern Alliance in the North--that oppose Taliban. And clearly, we need to recognize the value they bring to this anti-terrorist, anti-Taliban effort and, where appropriate, find ways to assist them.

RUSSERT: The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan announced that the Taliban have Osama bin Laden in their control, in their security forces' control, but that they gave him the demand from the Afghan clerics to leave, and he offered no response.

Do we have any evidence that, in fact, the Taliban are telling the truth, that they have control over Osama bin Laden?

RUMSFELD: Well, of course, it was just a few days ago that they said they didn't know where he was. So I have no reason to believe anything a Taliban representative would say.

RUSSERT: Will we be endlessly patient with the Taliban as they try to decide whether to meet our demands?

RUMSFELD: I wouldn't think so. I think that already we're not being patient. We're being measured. We're organizing various elements around the world to try to find ways to freeze their bank accounts, to gather more actionable intelligence so that it will be possible to do the kinds of things that would help to starve and end the terrorist networks.

One thing that's happened already is that two countries, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have severed their relationships with the Taliban. There are any number of additional things. There are a number of bank accounts that have been frozen. There are a number of people helping to gather actionable intelligence so that, in fact, things can be done.

And, in addition, we're doing some things on the other side. We are taking very careful steps to remind the world that the United States of America and a number of our coalition partners have supported Muslim states. We helped save Kuwait from its aggressive neighbor, Iraq.

We've helped in Bosnia and Kosovo, and we've helped with humanitarian assistance in Somalia. And there are any number of things that we've done. We're now the largest food donor, $170 million this year, in Afghanistan, for the Afghan people who are suffering in many respects, not from us but from the Taliban.

And we intend to continue humanitarian steps to help the people of the region understand that we do care about human beings and that we are determined to stamp out terrorist networks.

RUSSERT: But if the Taliban do not give up Osama bin Laden, they will eventually pay a price.

RUMSFELD: Well, I would think that that ought to be self-evident at this point, that if you look at the support from across the globe, the world does not believe that violence against women and children in free countries is something that ought to be tolerated.

And we know, all of us know, that it's not possible to defend against terrorism in every place at every time against every conceivable technique. Therefore we have no choice but to take this battle to the terrorists and to find them and to dry up their sources of money and to deal with the people who are harboring them, and that is what we intend to do.

RUSSERT: The president said that Osama bin Laden is wanted dead or alive. Do we have a preference?

RUMSFELD: Well, you know, I don't think about this so much as retaliation or retribution or even justice. I think about it as--I think back to real wars, the goal is victory. The goal is to be able to have dealt with the problems that exist--in this case, the terrorist networks and the countries that harbor them--in a way that we have won, that in fact they are no longer are free to go out and terrorize the world.

How that happens, I think the president's phrase has been, we need to either bring them to justice or bring justice to them. But I think victory is probably a word that is important, because we need to live the way we live. If we're so intimidated and so frightened that we have to alter our way of life, and we're not capable of going out of the house and going where we want and thinking what we want, saying what we want, knowing our children will come home from school, they've won. And we can't let that happen.

RUSSERT: How concerned are we that a large military attack on Afghanistan, the Taliban, would destabilize Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, or destabilize Egypt or Jordan or Saudi Arabia in the Middle East; that a military attack, in fact, could foment Islamic revolution almost worldwide?

RUMSFELD: Of course, this is not an Islamic problem. This is not a problem of Arabs. It is a problem of terrorists, and we need to keep that in the front of our minds.

We also, as you suggest in your comment, have to be careful about secondary effects, and there's no question but that the United States is very interested in seeing that what we do and how we do it and where we do it is done in a way that does not create an instability in a country like Pakistan. And, of course, Jordan is a country that's enormously important to us as a friend. And we need to recognize the sensitivities of the problems in that region, and I think that the president has been very attentive to those concerns.

RUSSERT: A Russian who fought in Afghanistan who's now in their Duma, their parliament, said the other day, a ground operation in Afghanistan is hopeless, particularly with the winter coming upon us. Wesley Clark, who was in charge of our troops in Kosvia, said, ``Americans seemed to have become allergic to close combat.''

How difficult an operation would this be on the ground?

RUMSFELD: I think the idea of thinking that a conventional ground effort in that country, when what you're looking for are needles in a haystack, I think that those kinds of comments need to be given careful attention. I think that, however, unconventional approaches obviously are much more likely and more appropriate than the typical conventional approach of armies and navies and air forces.

Now, what does that mean? Well, it means that if the problem is to rout out those terrorists networks--and if you're dealing with a country that doesn't have high-value targets, that doesn't have armies, navies and air forces, its capital has been pummeled by the Soviet Union to the point that it's rubble and by internal fighting among everybody there--there's not much that they hold dear. They live in caves, they live in tents, they move constantly. And what we have to do is to deal with that kind of an enemy in a way that's appropriate.

RUSSERT: Thus far, you've called up about 40,000 reservists. Will there be a need for more?

RUMSFELD: There could be. It's not clear now. We have calls out for roughly the number that we can see for the period immediately ahead.

RUSSERT: In this new kind of warfare, which is so man or woman intensive, do you believe there will be a need to reestablish the draft?

RUMSFELD: I cannot at the moment foresee that, and I've not made any recommendation to the president with respect to it.

I was one of the original supporters and promoters of the all-volunteer army, along with a couple of strange bedfellows, Milton Friedman and Norman Thomas, back in the 1960s. I think it was the right decision.

We've got a great set of volunteers who get up every morning and voluntarily put their lives at risk, God bless them. And they are--we are able, thus far, to attract and retain the kinds of people we need, and they're first-rate.

RUSSERT: After we are done with al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, hopefully successfully, will we then turn our attention to other states that have harbored terrorists like Iraq?

RUMSFELD: Well, I think that we're already turning our attention to other states. Our focus--I mean, if al Qaeda is one of the terrorist networks that exist in the world--and the president has said that this is a broad-based effort, not simply al Qaeda--and if al Qaeda's in 50 or 60 countries, which we know, then clearly this is not a single-country problem, nor are we thinking about a single country.

RUSSERT: Former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote a letter to Colin Powell saying, why did we not include Hamas and Hezbollah, two terrorist groups, on the list of organizations that we were going to go after in terms of their financial networks? What's the answer?

RUMSFELD: My understanding, they were already on a different list for the same purpose.

RUSSERT: They're not being exempt?


RUSSERT: I want to take you into, I think, the minds of these people who performed this dastardly act on our country.

This was the instruction manual that were found in some of the briefcases of the hijackers: ``The time of judgment has arrived. You have to be convinced that those few hours that are left to you in your life are very few. From there, you will begin to live the happy life. Everybody hates death, fears death, but only those, the believers, who know the life after death and the reward after death would be the ones who will be seeking death. Keep a very open mind. Keep a very open heart at what you are to face. You will be entering paradise. You will entering the happiest life, everlasting life.''

Nineteen men, middle-aged, educated, some with families, willing to take a commercial plane into a building, killing themselves, killing thousands of others. How do we transform that mindset? How do we defend ourselves against people who are willing to die, commit suicide, because they think it will guarantee them an everlasting happy life?

RUMSFELD: Well, there have always been people throughout the history of mankind who were willing to die for a cause. There have always been people who have been at the very extreme end of a way of thinking.

That mindset, that approach does not represent any religion. It does not represent any nation or any group of people. It represents a small fringe group that is determined, dead-ending, to have their way.

We can live in that world. It is not going to be easy, but the United States of America and free people are going to find a way to live in that world. And the way we'll do it is that we will continue over a sustained period of time--the Cold War was not won in a year or two. It was 50-plus years that we were engaged in that. That shows that the people of the world, free people, have steadiness of purpose and are willing to be determined and sustain an effort over a broad front, over a long period of time.

And what will happen is, people, more people than not, will decide that they want to choose sides, and that, when they see something that is wrong and something that is dangerous and something that is suspicious in a country across the globe, they'll tell somebody. And we'll find that information, and they'll give it to us.

And we ultimately, over time, will be able to track down and make life so difficult, so uncomfortable, that people won't want to be in that business, and, second, people won't want to harbor people who are in that business, because it will be so uncomfortable for them to do it.

And we can't do that alone, and we can't do it with only one tool. We'll need a full toolbox.

RUSSERT: The whole notion of competing destinies. During the Cold War, we went to the world and said, we have a better way, the American way, a life of freedom and liberty and capitalism and democracy. And overwhelmingly people said, you know what, you're right. And they rejected tyranny and communism.

USA Today went into one of the schools in Pakistan, a madrasa, where they indoctrinate young kids. And I want to read that to you and our audience and give you a chance to think about it and talk about it.

``At the Haquania (ph) madrasa, a student who said he has just attended one of bin Laden's training camps pulls out a training manual called `the encyclopedia,' which U.S. officials say is used at the camps in Afghanistan. `Listen, American, and listen well,' says Hussein Zayef (ph), 21. He reads from page 12 of the manual. `Bomb their embassies and vital economic centers. That's what I will do to you and your country. I will get your children. I will get their playgrounds. I will get their schools, too. I will get all of you.'

``Tempers then flair. Several students begin yelling at once, pointing their fingers and gesturing loudly. One yells out the name of Mohammed Atta, an alleged bin Laden associate believed to have hijacked one of the two jets that crashed in the World Trade Center. Another says he will kill more than Atta. A third student then unfolds a picture of the Sears Tower in Chicago. `This one is mine,' he says.''

Two-thirds of the people in large parts of the world are under the age of 18. How do we change their mindset? How do we get inside the heads and hearts of those children and tell them not to hate America, there is a different way?

RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, the idea they hate America, I think, is wrong. I think that, first of all, there isn't a big ``they.'' This is a very small population of terrorists and people who are of that mindset. It doesn't represent the majority of any country. It doesn't represent the majority of any religion. It's a small fraction.

And hate, there have always been haters in this globe. We've known that. Do they hate America? I suppose they do hate freedom. They hate our culture. They hate Western culture. It isn't just the United States. It's a way of life.

But mostly what they hate, I suppose, is any infringement on their extreme beliefs, whether it comes from us or another country; whether it comes from a free system or a different dictatorial system than theirs. So I think that to personalize it is probably wrong.

And how do we do that, how do we deal with that problem? Well, we engage in the competition of ideas, and competition of ways of life. I mean, our way of life obviously provides the best for the most people. And we see that. Anyone looking down from Mars sees that the countries that are providing the greatest opportunity for people are the freer countries.

RUSSERT: Let me take you back to September 11. You were in your office in the Pentagon. You were aware that two planes had hit the World Trade Center. And suddenly you felt, heard an explosion at the Pentagon. What did you think?

RUMSFELD: That a bomb had gone off. The whole building shook. And I was receiving my morning intelligence brief. And it just felt like it was a bomb. So I looked out the window, could not see anything. And I went down the hall until the smoke was getting too bad, and then went outside and could see. An eyewitness walked up to me, a lieutenant colonel I believe in the Air Force or Army, and he said he saw an American Airlines plane crash into the first and second floor of the Pentagon, just around the corner from our office.

RUSSERT: I have been told that you were--it was suggested strongly that you evacuate the building and you said no.

RUMSFELD: Yes, that's right.


RUMSFELD: Well, I had good communications there. I was disturbed about the idea of being away from communications for a short period. So I sent my deputy out to an alternative site. And I knew that we were separated. Therefore, the control of the defense establishment would be assured if one of us stayed there.

The only point where--the smoke got so bad at some point, and there had to be other people that stayed with me. And it became difficult for them at one point, and we were close to having to evacuate the building. And they were able to get some air-moving machines and keep an isolated portion of the building near my office in a command center free enough of smoke that we could stay through it.

RUSSERT: Did you ever imagine that, as the secretary of defense, that your building, the Pentagon, would be attacked by a terrorist using an American commercial airline?

RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness no. Never would have crossed anyone's mind that a commercial airline--usually a hijacker who takes an airplane, of course, wants to get someplace or wants to make a statement or wants to go on television or wants to hold hostages. But this is a distinctly different behavior pattern than we've seen previously. And now it, obviously, is something we have to be attentive to.

RUSSERT: As the man in charge of the Pentagon, are you concerned about the re-opening of National Airport, which is right next door?

RUMSFELD: As the man in charge of the Pentagon, I've got to be concerned about a lot of things, and that's one of them. But clearly there is so little time anyone would have--airplanes flying in and out of National go right by my office. They go right by the Pentagon. They go very close to the White House. They go within not too great a distance from the Capitol. And it is a relatively minor, minor course correction to end up crashing into one of those buildings.

RUMSFELD: That means that the problem is almost impossible to deal with from the air. What one would have to do is to deal with it from the ground.

And I personally am hopeful that Washington National will be opened. I think that it would be a shame if we had to alter our behavior. When we do that to any great extent, the terrorists win.

And I think the way to deal with that is by proper training of people on the ground, protection of aircraft, air marshals, and dealing with it the way the United States government is in the process of doing.

And I don't know what the president will decide with respect to Washington National. But I think that, if we're able to deal with the problem on the ground, we have the best chance of seeing that that type of thing does not happen again. And that's a lot easier fix than trying to deal with it from the air.

RUSSERT: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, we thank you very much for your insight and time this morning.

RUMSFELD: Thank you.

RUSSERT: Coming next, can we change the hearts and minds of those who want to harm America? And will we now lose some of our own freedoms and civil liberties in order to combat terrorism?

Senator Joe Biden, Democrat, Congressman Henry Hyde, Republican, chairmen of their Senate and International Relations Committee in the Senate and House, they are next on Meet the Press.


RUSSERT: And we are back.

Chairman Biden, Chairman Hyde, welcome both.

Chairman Hyde, let me start with you. How difficult has it been to resist calling for an immediate and massive military retaliation after September 11?

HYDE: Well, we've gotten calls in our office from people who want to nuke Afghanistan and lesser remedies, but it hasn't been too difficult for me because I've understood, as Don Rumsfeld so well said, this is not going to be a conventional war with armies that clash by night. This is clandestine. This requires special operations. And I'm very interested in not having leaks reveal our sources and methods, which I think would harm our effort. So I haven't found it a struggle to resist bombing immediately.

RUSSERT: Senator Biden, how complicated is this?

BIDEN: It's real complicated, Tim. What is interesting to me is, I must admit I've been surprised about two things: One, and I say it bluntly, I've been surprised and pleased the way the administration has handled this. They have been measured, they have been thorough, they have been patient.

And interestingly enough, the American public gets this. The American public gets it. This isn't--it's like you always kid. You know, we sell those mass cards after mass, you know, like I did. You know, people get it when they're walking out. They get it. They don't understand exactly what's going to happen, but they know it's different. They're not angry.

As a matter of fact, I find most of the people--there is exceptions--most of my constituency is saying, just do it right, just get it right, just get it right. And it's kind of fascinating to me.

RUSSERT: Taliban ambassador to Pakistan said today that they have, the Taliban have, custody of Osama bin Laden. They have not yet met any of the five demands placed on them by President Bush. How patient should we be with Taliban?

BIDEN: We should be as patient as it takes us to be in the position to be able to execute whatever it is we're going to do and do it thoroughly.

And, as Secretary Rumsfeld said, and Henry and I were sitting there listening to him, saying that we don't want collateral damage that causes us more difficulty, as long--we don't want to create more bin Ladens. We don't want to be in a position where we're viewed by the--this as being, you know, a war against Muslims or against the Islamic world.

And so I think it's, as the president said, at our time and our choosing, but there will be a time, and it will be chosen.

RUSSERT: Chairman Hyde, let me show you something from the Christian Science Monitor too, that theme I talked to Secretary Rumsfeld, and Senator Biden just touched upon.

And that is this: ``From Jakarta to Cairo, Muslims and Arabs say that, on reflection, they're not surprised by it''--the terrorist hijackings--''and they do not share Mr. Bush's view that the perpetrators did what they did because they hate our freedoms. Rather, they say, a mood of resentment toward America and its behavior around the world has become so commonplace in their countries that it was bound to breed hostility, even hatred.

``And the buttons that Mr. bin Laden pushes in his statements and interviews--the injustice done to the Palestinians, the cruelty of continued sanctions against Iraq, the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, the repressive and corrupt nature of U.S.-backed Gulf governments--win a good deal of popular sympathy.''

Do you think there's any truth to that?

HYDE: Well, yes, I think there is that mood out there, envy of the United States and its successes. But I think it's up to us, it's up to the leaders, it's up to the world press, the forces for education to indicate that these terrorists are a threat to every regime in the world.

There isn't a country that can't be overwhelmed by the same sort of conduct. And so, we should make common cause with the rest of the world, the civilized world, in resisting this.

But I think our relationship with Israel is fomenting a lot of this hate, but that doesn't mean we should yield to it. I think we can appeal to the civilized world to join us in routing out terrorism. There'll always be arguments and conflicts, but we all ought to agree this is unacceptable.

RUSSERT: A radical Muslim cleric, Senator Biden, in London had this to say, and let me put it on the screen, Mr. Abu Hazma (ph): ``The motivation is everywhere, with the current U.S. administration. When a president stands up before the planet and says that America comes first, he's only preaching hatred. When a president stands up and says we don't honor our missile treaty with the Russians, it's only preaching arrogance. When he refuses to condemn what's happening to Palestine, he's only preaching tyranny. American foreign policy has invited everybody, actually, to try to humiliate America and give it a bloody nose.''

That's the kind of the mindset that's popular in some Arab circles, suggesting that, well, we don't support the terrorism but we understand why people would go to that extent.

BIDEN: You know, Tim, I think your son and mine are going to write about, 30 years from now, about this period in world history, where there was a fundamental transition that took place that, as in every other time it's occurred in modern history, nation-states have taken a while to catch up to the changes.

The wall went down. We became the sole superpower. We inherited a world that was very complicated. We haven't figured out exactly what to do with it, and all of a sudden these things explode.

For example, I just mention one thing, because I know this is short. There is really very little, if no, democracy other than Israel in all of--from the Mediterranean to India. And why? There's resentment built up in those communities and those countries because we have historically supported those folks who run those countries who aren't democratic rulers. There's bound to be problems that flow from that. That's just one example. It's going to take time to transition that.

RUSSERT: But what's our alternative? That's where we get our oil from.

BIDEN: Well, no, no, no. That--you are correct. It is not anything we can do quickly, but we have to transition. We have to transition.

Just like we had discussions on this program, you and I, what about the transition from Gorbachev on, we have to transition. We can't just pick one winner. And it's going to take time, it's going to take time. But we'll get through this.

HYDE: Tim, if I could just...

RUSSERT: Please.

HYDE: ... add to what Joe has just said, the hateful comments that you just told us about don't take into consideration the good things America has done for Islam. The rescue of Kuwait, the formation of Desert Storm, the Kosovo and Bosnia and Somalia all were to help and save Muslim people. We are the greatest contributor of food aid to Afghanistan in the world.

Now, why not mention those things? Because they don't want to and they hate America. I think it's all part of the Middle East lineup, but the United States has a proud record of humanitarian aid to people and to Islam around the world, and that story needs to be told.

BIDEN: We've not told it very well. We don't blow our own horn very well. The idea that Saddam Hussein would win the public relations war anywhere in the world when he's starving his own people, when he has all the revenues he needs--he's building palaces and biological weapons--is bizarre.

But we are so accustomed to doing what we do, thinking people will understand. It's part of this changed dynamic. We don't have anybody to bounce off. We don't have the Russians, the Soviets, to bounce off, automatically being the good guys. We've to make our case in a way that we haven't before.

RUSSERT: A public information campaign worldwide...

BIDEN: Exactly right.

RUSSERT: ... about what we've done and why we do it.

BIDEN: Exactly right. We have Radio Free Europe. There should be Radio Free Afghanistan, Radio Free Pakistan, Radio--I mean, literally, literally we have to make our case.

RUSSERT: Once we're done with the Taliban and al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, successfully...

BIDEN: And we will be.

RUSSERT: You're confident of that?

BIDEN: I am confident of that.

RUSSERT: Do you care if we take him dead or alive?

BIDEN: I don't care how it happens as long as it's a victory. In other words, like Rumsfeld said, I'm not looking for vengeance, but I'm looking for the end of this environment that he is able to manipulate. That's what I'm looking for.

RUSSERT: Should we then go after Saddam Hussein, Chairman Hyde?

HYDE: I think Saddam is at the heart and soul of an awful lot of the world's difficulties and our difficulties. He has led a charmed life, mostly because of our unwillingness and the world's unwillingness to do any damage to a place like Baghdad with its treasures and that sort of thing. But sooner or later, I think Saddam is going to have to be gotten.

RUSSERT: Senator Biden, you agree?

BIDEN: I disagree slightly. I think sooner or later, and it's going to come sooner, the world is going to decide that Saddam can no--this is the worst--the worst thing that ever happened to Saddam is that airplane crashing into--the second one crashing into the World Trade tower, because he can no longer be viewed as someone who has only targeted that one group, one person, benign in all other ways.

He's the one that has these biological and chemical weapons. He's the most likely source of them for terrorist organizations in the future. I think you're going to see a galloping consensus about isolating Saddam more and eventually, if he steps out of line, going after Saddam. Won't just be us.

RUSSERT: Let me turn to civil rights, civil liberties. Attorney General John Ashcroft has made some proposals to help us in this country deal with terrorism, and I'll put them on the screen:

Roving wiretap authority, so it goes to the person not just from phone to phone, because terrorists use cell phones and throw them away on a daily basis. One-stop shopping for court orders. Wider (ph) access to electronic information. Disclosure of some Internet communication. Broader power to detain immigrants.

Chairman Hyde, do you have a problem with any of those?

HYDE: Only the last one. I think all of them are simply bringing our laws into the modern era. There have been technological advances made, particularly with cell phones and that sort of thing and the Internet, and we haven't brought our anti-terrorist laws up to date. So modernizing them is very important.

There is a problem with detaining people without charges and for indefinite lengths of time. And Joe knows, as do I, that that is under negotiation right now and probably will be shaped up to be satisfactory to almost everybody.

RUSSERT: You were both chairmen of the judiciary committees of the House and Senate. Senator Biden, do you have any problems with the Ashcroft proposals?

BIDEN: I introduced the terrorism bill in '94 that had a lot of these things in it.

The devil's in the details. For example, you talked about the Internet. We can get a (inaudible), we can go now, if you are in the mob, and we can find out who you called--not the content of the conversation. We can get your telephone log. Well, they want to be able to get essentially that log off the Internet.

It depends on--the difference here is whether just getting what web sites you hit and the content of what you got. You hit, that's OK. They want to find out what books you read, that's not OK.

So the devil's in the details here, and we're working those through.

But I think the administration, quite frankly, has been fairly restrained. I have been very pleased that they haven't gone overboard. The big one is the indefinite detainment of an alien here illegally because deportation could take so long to have them in jail.

And we should have something in effect, like a speedy-trial kind of provision, that required them to be held only a certain amount of time and then released and/or the deportation matter taken care of.

HYDE: As I understand it, they're negotiating over seven days as a definite length of time.

RUSSERT: Are you confident there will be a bipartisan agreement on this?

BIDEN: I am confident there'll be a bipartisan agreement.

RUSSERT: Sandra Day O'Connor, Supreme Court justice was in New York the other day and gave a speech, and she said we are likely to experience more restrictions on our own personal freedoms than has ever been the case. Do you think that's true?

BIDEN: I hope not. I don't think we have to. I truly don't believe we have to. I think, if we do, if we allow our civil liberties to be constrained, then these guys have won. They've won in a way that exceeds their expectations.

We will be inconvenienced more. I make a distinction. When I say this, people at home say, well, Joe, we're going to be held up at the airport. That's not your civil liberties. That's like waiting on line to buy, you know, hot dogs. I mean, it's an inconvenience and wish you didn't have to do it, and there is going to be inconveniences.

But any of our fundamental civil liberties, I do not think we have to yield on.

RUSSERT: We're going to have to take a quick break.

We're going to be right back with more of our conversation with Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Affairs Committee, Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, right after this.


RUSSERT: Senator Joe Biden, Democrat, Congressman Henry Hyde, Republican--more of their conversation right after this.


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