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Transcript: Sens. Dodd and Roberts on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published July 10, 2005 / Fox News Sunday
This is a partial transcript from "FOX News Sunday," July 10, 2005, that was edited for clarity.
BRIT HUME, GUEST HOST: Intelligence experts were surprised that the attacks in London were not preceded by the usual increase in what's called terrorist chatter (search). So should Congress focus more attention and money on improving security at train and subway stations instead of relying on surveillance?
For answers to these and other questions we turn to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts (search), and to Senator Christopher Dodd (search), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He joins us this morning from Hartford.
Good morning to both of you.
I want to get to the questions I mentioned before, but first this question: Does this attack suggest that the terrorists are now winning this worldwide war or that they're losing?
Senator Dodd, you first.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, D-CONN.: Well, I wouldn't put it necessarily "winning/losing."
I mean, certainly we've seen events now unfold over the last number of years, and clearly this is an ongoing problem.
But I think what may happen as a result of what happened in Madrid, March 2004, now in London, what happened to the Egyptian ambassador, the assassination of him in Iraq — I'm hoping this will start to build the kind of international support that is absolutely critical if we're going to be successful in this war against these thugs and terrorists, who are, obviously, engaging in the kind of behavior where the innocents lose their lives, as they have in London, tragically, and our own country here, obviously.
So winning, losing in battle terms, I don't think is really the proper way to frame this thing. We've got a lot of work to do. And I thought your questions to Fran Townsend were important. And I regret in a way that there's a reluctance to understand the importance of investing more in these mass transit systems, as well as chemical plants, along the lines of these container ports as well. We've got a lot of work to do.
There was a report by Warren Rudman that came out several years ago now, by a distinguished panel of people, recommending a series of things that ought to be done. We've done very little of those recommendations in the country, and I think we're at risk, and I think people recognize.
HUME: Senator Roberts?
SEN. PAT ROBERTS, R-KAN.: Well, I think we have done a lot. As a matter of fact, what Fran did not mention was that the president and the administration has agreed to implement 70 of the 74 recommendations by the WMD Commission. We've got a brand new director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, and his very able assistant, General Hayden. We're getting better information access. We're working very closely with our allies.
I think you have to detect and deter, and then, if you get into consequence management, obviously you do everything you can...
HUME: What does "consequence management" mean?
ROBERTS: That's exactly what's happening in London: What do you do after the attack?
And so consequently I don't know if we have enough money to guard every subway, every train station, whatever. We need to really focus on that, I would agree with Chris.
HUME: Well, let me put that question back to Senator Dodd then.
Senator, I asked Fran Townsend this question. I'd like to know your thought.
Let's just talk about buses, for example, because there are more of them than there are subway cars or train cars. They're everywhere. People ride them everywhere. How in the world can you make buses safe from bombs?
DODD: Well, I'm not sure you can. I'm not suggesting this thing is going to be airtight.
But, when you're spending, as we did since 9/11, $250 million on all other forms of transportation other than air transportation, roughly $20 billion on air transportation...
HUME: Well, you're talking about at the federal level, though, right?
DODD: That's correct.
HUME: So you're not talking about what may be spent at the local level. You're simply talking about the money that's been earmarked for mass transit...
DODD: I know.
HUME: But isn't there a lot of money being spent, hundreds of millions of dollars, at the local level, and in grants that end up being for this purpose?
DODD: Well, she said that, but I don't think that's the case.
And most of these states are strapped. They're running deficits. The few resources they get to try and improve their transportation systems puts them in an awfully difficult position.
And I'm not sure you can absolutely protect it in every sense, but you can do more, and clearly we ought to be doing more, when you've got roughly 9 billion passenger-miles opposed to the small amount you have on air transportation. It's an imbalance here that needs to be straightened out.
HUME: Understood, but it certainly looks like that on paper, when you look at it. But let me just go back to this question of making buses safer.
Senator, let's suppose you and I had got together, and we had unlimited money; let's make buses safe. What would you do? What specifically would you do to make buses safe?
DODD: Well, I think possibly you could have more resources and personnel, to make sure that these terminals — you've got dogs who are trained to sniff out these kind of materials.
HUME: You're talking about intercity bus lines, right?
HUME: What about the guy getting on the bus, like a guy just did in London the other day?
DODD: Well, like I say, you're not going to stop this entirely.
But, if your question is, "How can you do more to make people feel more secure?" we're not doing enough.
And leaving it up to local people — this is an international problem. As we said after the Madrid bombing — Al Qaeda (search) indicated the transit systems are going to be a target, and Ms. Townsend mentioned that. She's right. We should have responded to that a year and a half ago.
And listen, I say, I realize it's not easy to do all of this, but recommendations had been made years ago about what needed to be done to make sure our systems are safer. We're not doing enough. I think most people agree with that.
HUME: Senator Roberts, there was no warning, apparently, of any kind; nobody had an inkling. And in the days afterwards, it hasn't emerged from anywhere else that there was anything that might have been read as an inkling on this.
How troubled is the Senate, as the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, are you by that?
ROBERTS: Well, we're always troubled when we have an attack like this, and if we're not able, again, to detect it and deter it. And I think that really is the answer. We can spend money on a great many things, and we're going to do that on a proportionate basis.
And I think that the response was a good response by the administration when we went to orange.
You saw the reaction in New York and in L.A. and in Washington, where we thought this could happen. We had the dogs out, so on and so forth. Obviously we must invest more in that regard.
But one of the biggest things we have to do — I just got back from Gitmo as of yesterday, right after the hurricane. And I was tremendously impressed by the terrorist interrogation that is continuing down there on the very positive basis by a very professional group of men and women in uniform. That kind of interrogation is providing 50, 60 percent of the intelligence that we need to stop an attack like this.
Now, we've had general warnings. This follows Casablanca, it follows Madrid. This is synchronized bombing within a very short time period. So now you have, basically, the modus operandi. Now you've got to follow up with all the dots that we can connect to try to get back to the perpetrators.
HUME: All right.
What about that question, Senator Dodd, of Guantanamo? (search) We've had calls from senior members of your party to close it. What effect does this attack have on that idea?
DODD: Well, I think the reason they've been calling for that is not over a venue argument but rather whether or not we're doing the things that we ought to be doing that'll help us get the information, and whether or not we're abusing laws that actually create more problems for us than solve.
HUME: Well, congressional delegations have been there since; everybody including some pretty liberal Democrats feel that — Jackson Lee, just to cite one — have come back and said that this isn't what they'd heard; that it's being very professionally managed now.
Does this end the movement to close Guantanamo, in your view?
DODD: It may very well. And that's, sort of, the issue, not Guantanamo, per se. The venue's really not the issue; it's what happens at these venues.
And if, in fact, things are improving and we're not engaging in the kind of activities we were before, then that's good news. We welcome that.
HUME: Are you more worried about whether we're being too mean to the prisoners down there or are you more worried about the intelligence we're getting from them?
DODD: Well, both. I think, again, you've got to get the intelligence, clearly.
And also we're a nation of laws. And you know, we're about to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials. There were those who wanted to summarily execute the defendants.
There are vast differences between the end of World War II and this, but nonetheless, we stood up and said, "No, we're going to provide a rule of law here."
That helps us internationally build the kind of cooperation we ought to be having. It isn't just our European allies. We've got to get cooperation all over the globe if we're going to win this battle against these terrorists. We're not going to do it if we end up isolating and antagonizing major portions of the world that don't want to help us in this matter. We need their cooperation.
HUME: What does this do, Senator, to the renewal of the Patriot Act, with the restrictions that have been placed on it by at least one amendment that's been adopted in the Congress? Does this mean that amendment probably goes away and the Patriot Act is renewed as is, or not?
DODD: I don't think so. No, that was a bipartisan rejection of that. I think most Americans are uneasy about it again.
I'm sure in the wake of London, there will be people who want to pause and look here. But my view is the Patriot Act is a much better act with that provision out of it than in it.
HUME: So you're prepared to vote for it in the present form?
DODD: Coming out of the House, yes.
HUME: All right.
What about it, Senator Roberts?
ROBERTS: Are you talking about the libraries?
HUME: Yes, well the provision does not, I don't think, specifically say "libraries," but it's been called the Library-Bookstore Amendment.
DODD: You know, libraries and bookstores should not be exempt in regards to our efforts to try to detect in regards to terrorist attacks.
A library today is a chat room. Four of the 19 hijackers got their airline tickets in regards to the bombing of the trade center from a library. Now, interestingly enough we really haven't done much with that. There's only 35 cases that I know of, and I don't know of any library that has ever been asked to participate in this. But they should not be exempt.
HUME: What about that, Senator Dodd?
DODD: The question is not exempting, but how you got the information. And we have safeguards in this country. And that's why conservative Republicans as well as Democrats in the House joined together.
It wasn't exempting libraries and bookstores. It just said how you got that information.
Look, what happened in London is terrible. There needs to be a sense of solidarity and coming together to try and win this battle against terrorism. But not at the price of our civil liberties, not at the price of our Constitution. Then you give terrorists a far greater victory than they've ever achieved in London or, in fact, in New York on 9/11.
So we've got to be careful about this. It doesn't exempt them. It just says when you go and you've got to be a lot more judicious and careful about it than just the wholesale examination of what books people are taking out of a library or bookstore.
That's not a radical idea.
HUME: Senator Roberts, is there any evidence there's been a wholesale examination of the books that people are reading?
Let me go back to Gitmo.
And, Chris, I want you to go down there. I just went down with Senator Hagel.
This is unprecedented in terms of a country that has men fighting terrorists, and how we are treating those terrorists as we interrogate them, and still getting valuable information that could help in regards to Casablanca and also Madrid and also London.
ROBERTS: Now, let me just say they have a Muslim menu down there of 113 dishes. So they're being fed very, very properly. I saw them playing soccer. I saw them playing ping-pong. I saw them playing — what was the other one? I think it was volleyball.
There are some who are not really cooperating.
We strictly observe with reverence all of the prayer calls, five times a day, 20 minutes. And in regards to the health care, my word, they have better health care than many of my small communities in Kansas.
All of the interrogation is positive. And, Chris, it's carrots, not sticks.
HUME: What do you mean, "positive"?
ROBERTS: It is carrots, not sticks. We are treating people humanely. There have been 10 investigations. Two are still pending.
It's a paradox of enormous irony that the young men and women down there who are getting very rough treatment from some of these detainees — and I don't call them "detainees," I call them "terrorists" — throwing excrement at them and everything else. They are more worried about what's happening in Congress in regards to their future than they are the terrorists.
DODD: Well, Pat, I don't know what the argument is here. I'm not disagreeing with you.
Obviously this didn't come up out of thin air. We've had problems in the past.
If, in fact, they're being corrected, then I welcome that. And that's the good news...
ROBERTS: They are not being corrected, they have been corrected. And I urge you to go down there and, you know, talk to the people involved.
DODD: Well, they weren't before, and you and I both know that.
ROBERTS: See it for yourself. See the intelligence.
DODD: Well, fine, I welcome that. That's great news, Pat. That wasn't always the case and you know that.
HUME: Let me just try both of you on this one final question.
Is the lesson of what happened in London that Iraq is a distraction and made this possible? Indeed, was a source of retaliation? Or is the lesson that you have to fight terrorists everywhere including Iraq?
Senator Dodd first.
DODD: Well, absolutely you have to fight it everywhere.
And, obviously, the rationale for going to Iraq was very different than the rationale for going to Afghanistan. We've got 10,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Usama bin Laden, we rarely hear his name anymore being mentioned. Al-Zarqawi you hear.
I'd like to see us pay as much attention to that, maybe put more resources into Afghanistan, more military on the ground, really go after these people.
We seem to be more on the defensive than the offensive, in my view. And I'd like to see us do a lot more, actually really go after this guy in a wholesale way. I think it would be a far greater use of our resources and our time than we are spending certainly today in Afghanistan.
HUME: Senator, didn't the authorizing resolution for Iraq specifically and repeatedly mention the connections from Saddam Hussein's regime to terrorism?
DODD: No, no, it didn't. You and I both know, Brit, the rationale for there was weapons of mass destruction.
Having said that, what clearly is what got us there, and where we are today. And I'm not going to sit here and quibble about where we are today.
We've got to stay the course, in my view. It's important we remain there. We do a job there. We've got to build more support for what's going on there.
But let's be honest about all of this. Usama bin Laden is in the hills and mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He's not in Baghdad. And that's the guy that's still organizing most of…
HUME: Senator, you're the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. To your knowledge, is that where Usama bin Laden is?
ROBERTS: There's a lot of speculation, you know, where he is. But it's a large area in between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Pakistanis don't go there and the Afghans go there. There is a statement made by somebody that the last Caucasian there was Alexander the Great.
These are mountainous areas where an organized military attempt would be very self-defeating. You have to get there with the best intelligence possible. We're still working it just as hard as we possibly can.
But even if you got Usama bin Laden, and even if you got Zarqawi, there's this idea, "Well, if those two go down, then we've won a big victory."
We've taken out 80 percent of the Al Qaeda leadership. We know that because we have a lot of them down at Gitmo, and we are interrogating them.
Now the next generation has come up. And so it's a network within a network, and that's why this is a global terrorist threat. And if London didn't prove it, I don't know what will.
HUME: Senator Roberts, Senator Dodd, thank you both for joining us.
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