Hot Story: Noose tighens around the neck of Usama bin Laden

This partial transcript of The Beltway Boys, October 6, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

TONY SNOW, GUEST CO-HOST: I'm Tony Snow, in for Fred Barnes.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: And I'm Mort Kondracke, and we're THE BELTWAY BOYS.

SNOW: Mort, the big story this week is that the noose is beginning to tighten around Usama bin Laden. The president's efforts to arrange an international coalition seem to be paying off, not only as British Prime Minister Tony Blair trotting around the globe giving speeches that add spine to anybody who might be opposed to the allied effort, in addition the president has dispatched Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the Middle East to try to buck up some of our allies.

Now, the most interesting signals seem to be coming from the Taliban. At times they've sounded like they're ready to fight, and then all of a sudden they pull it back and say, Whoa, we're willing to negotiate if you'll stop being mean to us.

We now know that the allies are massing forces all the way around. And in addition, they've been building a very interesting case against Usama bin Laden. Number one, they've been trying to undermine support for him by portraying the United States as good guys, the president appropriating $321 bill -- million in food aid to Afghanistan, and at the same time presenting a case that persuades people that Usama bin Laden really is the bad guy in this ordeal.

Now, the other day, British Prime Minister Tony Blair presented basically the indictment to members of parliament. He then went to Pakistan, presented it to General Musharraf, the leader of Pakistan. Here's what the general had to say about it.


PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: We exchanged notes on the issue of Afghanistan, on the issue of evidence. I personally also and my government feels that there is evidence which is leading to an association between this terrorist act and Usama bin Laden.


SNOW: Now, the bad news for the Taliban, Mort, is that Pakistan has long been its key supporter, and now it looks as if Pakistan is stepping away and stepping away quickly.

KONDRACKE: Yes, I agree, I think their -- the strategy has been to rattle the Taliban and hope, hope that they will rat out Usama bin Laden, or at least factions will.

The other -- while we're having some success on the war front, unfortunately conservatives in Congress can't stand it that President Bush is making nice with, with, with Democrats, you know, reaching a -- reaching out to them. And, you know, on Tuesday the president had Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt down to the White House and agreed that the stimulus package would be bipartisan.

Then the conservatives went down there and said, Oh, no, you should use your high poll standings, you know, to get all we want. So then he came out with a, with a stimulus package that was heavily weighted toward corporate tax cuts as opposed to giving money to unemployed workers or, or, you know, getting -- cutting payroll taxes and stuff like that.

This is going to -- there's a danger of wrecking party unity, I mean, inter, inter-party unity at a time when it's going to be needed in the crisis.

And also, the Republicans are blocking things in the Senate, won't let anything pass. Here's Tom Daschle complaining about it and Trent Lott's response.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: So I'm disappointed, obviously, that our Republican colleagues have chosen what has been clearly an obstructionist approach here. But that's their choice, and we'll certainly try to accommodate their concerns as best we can. But we've got to get this work done.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: We should be careful how we act, and we should not loose the dogs of deficit spending now and forever.


SNOW: Well, I don't think he's going to get his way, Mort. But I think you're also a little over-hysterical. It turns out the president gave a little bit to both sides. He didn't give Republicans capital gains relief, they wanted that. He didn't give them a reduction in the corporate income tax. Instead, what he did is, he said to Democrats, OK, I'm going to give you more money for worker relief. And you know those tax breaks you wanted for people who don't pay taxes at all? I'm going to give those to you as well.

So the bipartisanship is alive and well. And if Democrats carp too much, they may lose a deal that they dearly want.

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