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Transcript: Sens. Breaux and Hagel on FNS

Following is a transcribed excerpt from Fox News Sunday, Sept. 29, 2002.

TONY SNOW, FOX NEWS: Good morning, and welcome to Fox News Sunday. Here is the latest from Fox News.

Israeli forces pulled back this morning from Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah. The Israeli government says those not wanted on terrorism charges, including Arafat, are free to go, but Israel will arrest as many as 50 suspected terrorists if they attempt to leave.

Paramilitary police in Turkey confiscated about 35 pounds of weapons-grade uranium Saturday. The material was found in a lead container under the seat of a taxi. Two men were arrested. Investigators believe the material was smuggled from an Eastern European country and that it may have been destined for Iraq.

And Representative Patsy Mink, who served in Congress for 24 years, died Saturday in Honolulu of viral pneumonia. She was 74 years old. She recently won a Democratic primary, and her name will appear on the November ballot. If, as expected, she wins posthumously, voters will have to select a new member of Congress in a run-off election.

The war on terror turned political this week. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle took umbrage with President Bush's criticism of the Senate's handling of homeland security legislation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of American people. And people are working hard to get it right in Washington, both Republicans and Democrats. See, this isn't a partisan issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Senator Daschle appeared in the well of the Senate, where he delivered an uncharacteristically angry rebuke of the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DASCHLE: That is outrageous. Outrageous. The president ought to apologize to Senator Inouye and every veteran who has fought in every war who is a Democrat in the United States Senate. He ought to apologize to the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott fired back immediately.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

U.S. SENATOR TRENT LOTT (R-MS): Who is the enemy here, the president of the United States or Saddam Hussein?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: What's next on Capitol Hill? We'll ask two of the most influential players in this drama, Democratic Senator John Breaux and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.

Gentlemen, let's start with breaking news. I want to combine a couple of stories. Number one, the discovery of 35 pounds of weapons- grade uranium in Turkey. It evidentially was acquired somewhere in Eastern Europe and destined either for Syria or Iraq. Nobody knows for sure.

Secondly, when asked this weekend about a possible new U.N. resolution regarding weapons inspection, this is what Iraq's vice president had to say. He said of those inspections, "The stance on the inspectors has been decided, and any additional procedure that aims at harming Iraq will not be accepted." That was Taha Yassin Ramadan, the vice president.

Senator Hagel, you've said in the past that you have some reservations about whether we have sufficient urgency now to go after Saddam Hussein. Do these developments change your point of view?

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-Neb.): Tony, I've never really said that, that the question is whether there's sufficient urgency to go after Saddam. Saddam's a threat, he's a problem. He threatens not just the region, but the world.

The urgency of the threat is part of the question, but more to the point is, I think, the effort that the president has been making, the secretary of state, the last two weeks. If we are to deal with Saddam, and we must, that requires a coalition of common interests, just as we did in 1990 and 1991.

This man is dangerous. I think the news story that you just recited regarding uranium being picked up in Turkey once again shows the importance of working with our allies' law enforcement and intelligence.

And the military option is one, but we surely, the United States, don't want to invade Iraq with just one other nation or alone. It's going to require a tremendous amount of effort and cooperation, not just replacing him if that's the way it is, but afterward.

SNOW: If Saddam Hussein actually had fissile materials, the United States still should wait for a coalition to act?

HAGEL: Well, the intelligence doesn't show that, Tony, and I don't think we should get into what-ifs. The fact is, we need a solution. Let's continue to work the high diplomatic ground, as the president is, as he did before the U.N., and we will find a solution here.

But this is going to require coalitions. We can't just unilaterally move on these issues because there is something that comes the next day. Again, I say your story about the uranium in Turkey is a perfect example of how are going to need cooperation. We do need to deal with Saddam, that isn't the issue.

SNOW: OK, Senator Breaux, when it comes to weapons inspections, given what we've heard from Iraq, given the history of Iraq, are weapons inspections going succeed under any circumstances that you can foresee?

SEN. JOHN BREAUX (D-La.): Tony, I think that what they said today through the vice president, that they were not going to let us, for instance, go to the palaces, reminds me of the old Al Capone story with Elliot Ness, and Al says, "You can inspect my business anywhere you want, just don't go in the back room where the girls and the gambling happens to be."

He's saying, "Look, you can come inspect, but I will tell you where you can go, when you can go and under what conditions you can inspect our country," and that's not acceptable.

I mean, the United Nations said, "Number one, you have to allow inspectors; number two, you have to destroy your weapons of mass destruction." And I think just the opposite is happening. I think not only is he not destroying his weapons of mass destruction, he's building more, both in biological and chemical weapons and their delivery systems, as well as this story on uranium.

And this shows that this is a very dangerous part of the world. He's trying to buy aluminum tubing in order to construct nuclear weapons. He's a very serious threat.

SNOW: What would you like to see the U.N. do?

BREAUX: I think they have to come up with a resolution that says immediately you have to allow unfettered inspections. No time-out areas, no saying "You can't go to the palaces." The palaces are not just a summer home, it's 1,000 buildings. We have to have absolute, total access.

And then, whatever we find, if we find he's in violation, they have to be a justification and an authorization of the use of force.

I don't want to do it by myselves. I mean, I'm like Chuck Hagel on this, I think that we ought to have a coalition of our allies in there with us and not have the United States do it by ourselves.

SNOW: Well, at this point, as I understand it, Senator Hagel, we actually have more than two countries. As a matter of fact, the Germans have been unique in saying "We don't want to participate," but on the other hand, we didn't ask them. They've got troops in Afghanistan.

The French have raised question, but there are stories, for instance, that the Turks are on board, that maybe Qatar will enable the United States to use airstrips, that there are a number of nations that are quietly on board already. Is that your understanding?

HAGEL: Well, I don't know how on board they are formally or officially, but that goes back to the point I made. This is a result of Secretary of State Powell, the president working the diplomatic tracks, going to the United Nations, placing it before the United Nations as the president should do.

Let's remember something here, this a United Nations issue, not just a U.S. issue. The resolution we're talking about defending are United Nations resolutions.

SNOW: All right, which gets us to the point, if the United Nations doesn't act on this, is it irrelevant, as the president has said?

HAGEL: Well, I think if we run the diplomatic track, as we are now, and in the end we cannot get a Security Council resolution, then the United States has exhausted all the means, diplomatic means and channels, and then we'll make a call. And if, in fact, we find at the end of the day that the Brits, and the Turks and others are with us, then we'll have the option to do that.

But that also, Tony, goes back to the resolution that we are now working with the president on in the Congress, finding accommodating language here that shares the burden of responsibility, not just the president taking that on, but the Congress. We have a role in this, too.

So in the end, if we don't get a U.N. resolution, and I think we will, then we can work with the president, coming together with allies who will do this. It may be a Kosovo kind of a coalition.

SNOW: OK, quickly, and then I want to let Senator Breaux talk a little bit, too, but do you think the U.N. has to act before the Senate can act?

HAGEL: No, I don't. I think the tracks are working together. I think it's not critical one way or the other.

SNOW: Senator Breaux, there's been some talk of making this the first item -- that is, an authorizing resolution. When do you expect to see an agreement and action on that?

BREAUX: In the Congress, I think we ought to do it sooner rather than later. I think that there's some good news out there, in the sense that the four leaders -- the speaker of the House and Mr. Gephardt and Trent Lott and Tom Daschle -- are supposed to meet tomorrow to talk about it.

I would like to see the president involved in these talks with the Congress. I mean, he obviously plays a major role in what type of resolution is going to go through the Congress.

There's nothing wrong with the four leaders of the Congress sitting down with the president and trying to craft a resolution that doesn't pass with 51 votes. This is something that should pass almost unanimously.

SNOW: Harold Ford of Tennessee, a member of the House, has suggested the president come and speak to a joint session of Congress. Would you like that?

BREAUX: We don't want to get into a situation like Vietnam, for instance, where we had a house divided, the Congress was divided, the American people were divided.

BREAUX: I mean, there's a coalition of Americans that has to be put together, as well as a coalition of our allies overseas.

And anything the president can do to meet with the congressional leaders to address a joint session of Congress to bring about unanimity I think would be very important and very positive.

SNOW: Senator Hagel, Senator Edward Kennedy gave a speech Friday talking about the war. One of the arguments he made was that he doesn't think that we quite have the goods yet to go to war. Let's listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNEDY: The administration has not made a convincing case that we face such an imminent threat to our national security that a unilateral, preemptive American strike and an immediate war are necessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Is Senator Kennedy right?

HAGEL: Well, the way he frames it, he's right. But that isn't exactly the situation. We're beyond the unilateral dynamic of this now. As you noted, the Brits are with us. There are others who have quietly said that they will be with us, and I'm sure there will be a number that will publicly come on over the next couple of weeks.

So I think Senator Kennedy's speech was a perspective that was important, but I think we're beyond that now.

SNOW: Do you expect to see action soon?

HAGEL: When you say soon, you mean...

SNOW: The next six months.

HAGEL: Oh, I think it's very likely that sometime after the first of the year we may well be militarily engaged in Iraq.

SNOW: All right, Senator Breaux, there was some heated rhetoric this week on the floor of the Senate. Your majority leader, Tom Daschle, said the president ought to apologize for having said that he was impatient with the Senate. You heard the quote. You also heard the sentence almost immediately after where he says, "This is not a partisan thing. It's Democrats and Republicans."

Did Senator Daschle go too far?

BREAUX: I think that it was an unfortunate set of circumstances, and I think that that is not the best way to reach an agreement, by accusing members of the Senate. And I think most people thought he was talking about Democrats in the Senate.

SNOW: But he never used the word "Democrat." It doesn't appear in the text.

BREAUX: Well, he wasn't talking about his Republican Party colleagues in the Senate.

But, I mean, the point was made that there were some senators who are not concerned about the security of the United States.

I've been in Congress, Tony, for 30 years, and I have never known a Republican or a Democrat that has not been interested in the security of the United States.

It was unfortunate, because he's seeking cooperation from Democrats, and this gave many Democrats a reason to say, "We're not going to cooperate."

SNOW: Well, but you also had a number of Democrats, for instance, openly accusing Dick Cheney of saying something he never said. And it was based on a Washington Post story that was reciting a headline that never appeared in the newspaper, only on a website. I mean, this works both ways.

BREAUX: Well, I think what happened -- I mean, both sides need to lower the rhetoric. I said, like my daughter sometimes puts our three grandchildren in a time-out period. It's time to put the Senate in a time-out period as far as name-calling and questioning whether who's loyal and who's not.

Everybody in that United States Senate is a loyal American who's concerned about the security of America, and we should move to the next step.

SNOW: Senator Hagel, Senator Daschle also said the president ought to apologize to all war veterans. You're a war veteran. Do you think he really needs to apologize to war veterans for what he said?

HAGEL: No, I don't. I think John Breaux has it exactly right. The environment that we are now living in is way too highly charged with too much political rhetoric on both sides. Both sides need to stop this and get it down and focus on the reality and responsibilities that we both have.

SNOW: Senator Breaux, you're a key player now in the homeland security debate. You have offered an alternative earlier this week. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said, "No, we don't like that."

Do you foresee any bill coming out of the Senate before you guys pack up and go home?

BREAUX: Tony, it's not going to be easy. We've had three cloture votes. In other words, let's stop debate and get down and vote this thing out of the Senate. All three have failed. I don't want to have a 50-50 tie vote on something as this important and have Dick Cheney come down and break the tie.

We're trying to craft a compromise that can get 80 or plus votes. Right now, we're deadlocked on this. Joe Lieberman came up with the idea of homeland security. It's the right thing to do, but you have to be careful when you talk about rights of Americans being removed. You have to be careful.

SNOW: Well, but as Senator Zell Miller said, Senator Hagel, you also have to be careful about the rights of presidents being removed. Again, I'll ask you, do you think you're going to get a bill?

HAGEL: Well, I would agree with John. I hope we do, and it should be a strong bipartisan bill, but we are deadlocked.

And I think it is important here that we keep focused on existing authority and flexibility that a president of the United States has ever since unions became part of the federal government in 1962 and when Jimmy Carter codified that exemption for national security reasons in 1978. We certainly don't want to make the president's hand weaker or give him less flexibility and authority in, of all departments, the homeland security department.

So, these things are very important, especially for the future. And it doesn't make any difference if it's a Republican or a Democrat president.

SNOW: Let me quickly get your reactions to a couple of comments made today. Jim McDermott, member of the House of Representatives, said today from Baghdad that he believes President Bush may have misled the American people. Senator Hagel?

HAGEL: Oh, I think that's a considerable overstatement. I didn't see the statement, but I don't think the president has misled anybody.

BREAUX: That would be an overstatement, Tony, on my part. I think the real answer is, we've seen evidence in our briefings that he's not only not destroying his chemical and biological weapons, he's doing just the opposite.

BREAUX: He's building them and increasing their delivery capability, as well as buying all the aluminum tubing he can possibly find. And we know what that's used for. It's to use to build nuclear weapons. He's moving in the wrong direction, the exact opposite direction of what we'd like to see him do.

SNOW: OK, I'm going to give you a little hotfoot here. Let's talk about Senator Robert Torricelli. You recall, Senator Bob Packwood was kicked out of the Senate for chasing girls around the desk. Now you have Senator Torricelli. Here's a guy who's admitted to having accepted improper gifts. Now more and more evidence coming out that the problem is far worse than he has admitted to. And he hasn't denied any of these things. He's merely questioned the motives of those.

Do you think he can effectively serve as a senator?

BREAUX: I think he's been very effective for New Jersey. He's a real fighter for New Jersey. I mean, you can grab...

(CROSSTALK)

SNOW: Well, but no, I'm asking about -- you understand the question about ethics. Bob Packwood got run out of rail. Is it worse to be chasing somebody around the desk than to be accepting gifts from somebody for whom you do favors in return?

BREAUX: Well, obviously neither one is appropriate, Tony, but, you know, he's been before a court, and the court decided that there was not enough basis to prosecute. He's been before the Senate Ethics Committee. They have issued their ruling. The decision now really is left to the people of New Jersey.

SNOW: Do you agree?

HAGEL: The decision is up to the good people of New Jersey. And I think the question was appropriately put to my friend Senator Breaux. That's the problem in his party, and the people of New Jersey will have an opportunity to express themselves, as they should.

SNOW: Chuck Hagel, John Breaux, as always, thanks for joining us.

BREAUX: Thank you, Tony.