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Transcript: Rep. Harman, Newt Gingrich on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published October 02, 2006 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript of the Oct. 1, 2006, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: Well, our interview last week with former President Clinton prompted an outpouring of reaction. Joining us to discuss the fallout, Congresswoman Jane Harman, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Welcome back, both of you, to "FOX News Sunday."
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: Good to be here.
WALLACE: Before we get to the Clinton interview, let's start, as we always do, with the latest news.
It now turns out that, as we said, top Republican House leaders knew for months that Congressman Mark Foley sent inappropriate e-mails to at least one 16-year-old male page.
Speaker Gingrich, did House Republican leaders do all they should have?
GINGRICH: Well, I think if you look at what they actually knew, which was that the family did not want anyone involved and the actual notes were relatively innocuous — there was nothing sexual in those notes. They had him counseled. They had the head of the page program, Congressman Shimkus, talk to him very directly. And I think they thought it was over. The newest incident only surfaced when ABC News interviewed Foley, and he resigned within two hours, or I think the House leaders would have moved to expel him.
WALLACE: But during all those months, they left Foley in the House Republican leadership. They left him as the head of the congressional caucus dealing with exploited children. No second thoughts about that?
GINGRICH: Well, you can have second thoughts about it, but I think, had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would have also been accused of gay bashing. I mean, the original notes had no sexual innuendo, and the parents did not want any action taken.
WALLACE: Well, how would it have been gay bashing?
GINGRICH: Because it was a male-male relationship. And they had no — there was no proof, there was nothing that I know of in that initial round that would have led you to say in a normal circumstance that this is a predatory person. It's very clear — and let me remind you, in 1983, I moved to expel two members for dealing with pages inappropriately, because I do think we have an en loco parentis responsibility. But I think it would have been very hard to have done much more than they did with the first action. And in the second action, had he not resigned, I think they would have expelled him.
WALLACE: Congresswoman Harman, did top Republican leaders in the House act appropriately in this case?
REP. JANE HARMAN, D-CALIF.: Well, I'm a mother of four and a newly minted grandmother. And I don't know all the facts. All I know are the facts I read in the newspaper and some conversation on the floor, which I don't think is adequate. But I think this should be investigated objectively. I think the Democratic leadership should have been told 10 months ago. This was a very serious charge. And just because one page's family doesn't want facts out, I don't think is an adequate reason to do nothing. And I gather that basically nothing was done, except that Foley was warned, and Foley appears to have misled people, obviously misled people, about what he was up to. I mean, it's a human tragedy, not just for him but for all those involved. And I am not comfortable with where we're leaving this. It's not my call what we do next, but more needs to be done.
WALLACE: When you say not comfortable with where they're leaving it, it's going to the House Ethics Committee.
HARMAN: Well, it's going to the House Ethics Committee now. There's been a Republican investigation for 24 hours of Republican activity. I just don't think that that is adequate. And it's not my call what is asked for next, but my view is, as a parent and a grandparent, that we need to do more to create a comfort level for those parents who are sending young pages, children under 18, to serve in the House.
WALLACE: Let's turn to my interview with former President Clinton in which he said that he did a better job fighting Al Qaeda than President Bush has. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
W. CLINTON: If I were still president, we'd have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him. Now, I've never criticized President Bush, and I don't think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is only one-seventh as important as Iraq. And you ask me about terror?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Let's turn to the issue of what both presidents did pre-9/11. We already know about the August 2001 CIA memo to the president that warned him that bin Laden wanted to attack America. But now we have learned, in the new Bob Woodward book, that in July of 2001, CIA Director George Tenet was so worried about an imminent attack — this was just two months before 9/11 — that he met with then-National Security Adviser Rice and felt that she gave him the brush-off.
Speaker Gingrich, does former President Clinton have a point about the Bush administration?
GINGRICH: I think he has a point about the Bush administration; I think people have a point about his administration. But we need to start figuring out how to play the solution game.
We are in a very hard war against people who hate us and want to destroy us. The fact is neither administration has gotten bin Laden. And instead of pointing fingers at each other, it would be nice for President Clinton to give us six or eight solutions. It would be nice for President Bush to admit this is going to be much harder than anybody ever dreamed. Winning this campaign is going to be a long, bitter, difficult problem.
WALLACE: I promise to move forward in a moment, but, Congresswoman Harman, I want to give you a chance to respond to the same question. Bill Clinton had eight years. George W. Bush had eight months.
HARMAN: Well, let's look at the history. It goes over four presidencies. I mean, the first modern terrorist attacks were to the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon, the U.S. embassy in Lebanon, the Achille Lauro, Pan Am 103. Those were all during the Reagan administration.
Then in Bush I, we cut the defense and intelligence budgets because we declared a peace dividend because the Cold War ended. Great achievement. And I'd love to give credit to Reagan and Bush I for that.
Then we start the Clinton years with too-low expenditures, I'm sure Newt would agree with me, both on defense and intelligence. I was elected to Congress then, and my aerospace district in California had lots of triple Ph.D.s out of work.
In the mid '90s, we realized the world was more dangerous on a bipartisan basis, and we start adding to the budgets on a bipartisan basis. We double the counterterrorism budget. We add 20 percent to intelligence. We prevent the millennium plot. Yes, I think Bill Clinton did a lot.
Then we have eight months, nine months of Bush. And this July 10 memo you just mentioned, Chris, is news to me, the July 10 meeting, and it's something we should explore. I mean, that is as close to a smoking gun as I can imagine. Condi Rice did nothing, and she was told by two senior terrorism officials that their hair was on fire.
WALLACE: Let's move if we can, because I know you want to, Speaker Gingrich, to the present, because there's plenty in the Bob Woodward book about that as well.
He reveals that, this May, the intelligence division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a secret assessment of the situation in Iraq to the president and all the top officials. And let's put it up on the screen: "Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase the current level of violence through the next year."
But two days after that secret Pentagon report, which said that, in fact, the situation could get even worse in 2007, the Pentagon sent a public report to Congress, and let's put part of that up on the screen, in which it said: "Appeal and motivation for continued violent action will begin to wane, to reduce, in early 2007."
Speaker Gingrich, is the president misleading the American people about the situation in Iraq?
GINGRICH: Well, I think what you just said — and Jane may want to comment — I think what you just reported was two Pentagon documents. I mean, I think there's a genuine intellectual fight under way inside the government among professionals over the way ahead. And I think one group is saying, "Stay the course. Hold things steady. This will all work." And the other group of equally serious professionals is saying, "This is much harder than you think it is. You had better rethink your entire strategy."
This is a genuine fight in the intelligence community and a genuine fight at the State and Defense departments. And I think the president, in that sense, has two different camps in the government today over how to do this.
WALLACE: Congresswoman Harman, how do you explain this disparity between the private intelligence estimates that the top officials in the Bush administration are getting and what they're putting out, in this particular case in a report to the Congress and public and statements that the president has made?
HARMAN: Well, first of all, I want to applaud Newt for saying in 2003 that an occupation of Iraq was a bad idea. He criticized Jerry Bremer, who was then there and our Coalition Provisional Authority, for following the wrong strategy. He turned out to be right, as he sometimes is.
The intelligence is not in equal piles. The intelligence is overwhelmingly negative and has been since the military effort ended. We didn't have a post-war plan. We've made incredible mistakes. And stubbornly, this president sticks to stay the course.
He says there are only two options: stay the course or cut and run. The right option is change the course, protect our troops on the ground. It's almost reckless endangerment, Chris, to have these kids there and have the intelligence say so clearly that they're in harm's way.
WALLACE: But I'm asking a different question, not the question of what the policy should be. How do you explain the fact that the public statements do not reflect the private intelligence?
HARMAN: Well, I think that there's an evidence-free zone in the White House and the top levels of the Pentagon. Regardless of what the intelligence says, regardless of what some of their key inside advisors say, they say something different in public.
WALLACE: All right. I'm going to ask you a question, though, about the situation, Congresswoman Harman. President Bush went after your party and, in fact, you personally the other day. Let's take a look. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The party of FDR and the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut and run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But, Congresswoman, this week Congress passed a bill authorizing the interrogation and prosecution of terror detainees. And I want you to take a look at the vote count. Let's put it up on the screen. In the House, 82 percent of Democrats, including you, voted against that measure. In the Senate, 32 of 44 senators opposed the measure.
Doesn't the president have a point when he says, "Every time I ask for a tool to fight the terrorists, whether it's the Patriot Act, whether it's warrantless wiretaps, whether it's this bill to handle terror detainees, most Democrats, including yourself, oppose it"?
HARMAN: Let me respond: Bring it on. Article 1, section 8, of the Constitution says Congress shall regulate captures on land and on water. Members of Congress, including me, for five years have been talking to this White House about drafting fair and balanced legislation to deal with this problem. We're all for detaining these guys. We're all for prosecuting them. And I am for, if it's under strict limits, with clear oversight by Congress, treating high-value detainees differently.
But this bill, with the exception of the one piece that John McCain negotiated, is a power shift from Congress and the courts to the White House so that they can do whatever they want. We've just ratified their blank check. And I think it's irresponsible, and I think it's probably unconstitutional.
And they did it in the last week of Congress to put Democrats and some conscientious Republicans in a box so they could cut their 30-second spots for the election.
WALLACE: So, Speaker Gingrich, have they, in fact, put Democrats in a box? And is this now back to the Karl Rove playbook, they're "soft on terrorism"?
GINGRICH: First of all, this was all in response to a Supreme Court decision called Hamdan, in which the administration had to get something passed or they had no authority.
Second, there's a genuine, legitimate disagreement between those people who believe that this is a vicious, brutal war and requires wartime rules and those people who believe you can handle this as a criminal justice matter and have procedures that are more like the criminal justice system.
That's a very significant difference of approach, and it tends to fall into the two parties — not totally. I think Senator Lieberman, for example, voted for the administration bill.
But the challenge you have I think is going to get worse. There's a French professor today who is in hiding because there are Web sites that show his home and that urge people to go kill him because he wrote an article that criticized Mohammad. Now, we're going to find ourselves in the next four or five years looking at bills involving civil liberties we never dreamed of because our enemies are going to give us no choice.
And I just think we have to confront — I mean, Jane's right. This is a very important debate about the future of the country. There are two very different approaches to how to do it. And I think what you saw was an honest reflection of the difference between the two parties.
WALLACE: We're going to have to leave it there. Speaker Gingrich, Congresswoman Harman, I want to thank you both for coming in and talking with us today. Pleasure, as always.
Sunday—we’ll get the latest on the battle over Trump’s cabinet picks and a preview the first orders of business for the 115th Congress from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It’s a Fox News Sunday exclusive.