Hot Stories for the Week of Feb. 10-14

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, Feb. 15, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: The hot story is, Munich or not? This is a reference, obviously, to the 1938 British decision to let Hitler take Czechoslovakia in the name of peace in our time.


KONDRACKE: Here is the, the appeaser, the -- now is the French, the Germans, the, the Russians, and the, and the Chinese, and here is this smarmy French foreign minister, De Villepin, making the case for his side.


M. DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): The option of inspections has not been taken to the end. It can provide an effective response to the imperative of disarming Iraq. In this temple of the United Nations, we are the guardians of an ideal, the guardians of a conscience. The onerous responsibility and immense honor we have must lead us to give priority to disarmament for peace.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: What we need is for Iraq to disarm. Resolution 1441 was not about inspections. Let me say that again. Resolution 1441 was not about inspections. Resolution 1441 was about the disarmament of Iraq.


KONDRACKE: This time, 2003, the Winston Churchill of the piece of the George Bush, with Tony Blair's assistance, and that obviously was Colin Powell making our case at, at, at the United Nations.

My guess is that where we go from here is that because Tony Blair is, is being battered by British public opinion, that we're going to go for a second resolution at the United Nations, probably with a deadline, probably a couple of weeks. But it doesn't make any difference anyway. If the, if the, the French veto or the Russians veto, we are going to go to war in a couple of weeks anyway.

BARNES: Yes, I agree. And that was well said. The -- and particularly by Colin Powell.

KONDRACKE: Colin Powell, absolutely.

BARNES: And, and you as well. But anyway, at the U.N. Friday, you know, you could really see the U.N. inspectors and the French and the Syrians and the Russians and the Chinese all trying to spring this inspections trap on the U.S. and on, and on George Bush.

You know, you have the inspectors say that they'll -- Iraq hasn't disarmed, but they've promised that they're going to do all these things to play along with the inspectors, and, and then they all gather around and demand that we have inspections that will go on forever.

KONDRACKE: Forever, right.

BARNES: I mean, I mean, they'll be endless, and they will block the United States, and they will allow Saddam Hussein to stay in power. There will be no regime change.

The good news is, I don't think Bush is -- and, and Powell, Rumsfeld, and the rest of the American leaders are going to stand for it. I think Bush's attitude is, The U.N., if we can't live with it, well, then we'll just do fine living without it, and, and move ahead and get regime change. OK.

Hot story number two, terror alert. You know, there've been lots of these alerts called in the United States since September 11, and I think this time they really mean it.

I've talked to people on Capitol Hill who've gone to these classified briefings, and they are shaken. Even some of the people in the administration who think since September 11, we have done very well in thwarting terrorists are very, very fearful now. They're not sure that that will happen again.

At least President Bush is reassuring about winning the ultimate war - - ultimately winning the war against terrorism. Listen to this.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're at war. And the war goes on. We got agencies at every level meeting threats. We got people standing watch 24 hours a day. Perseverance is power in this war. Determination is essential in this war. We will persevere.


BARNES: No, I agree with that. I think we will. But we got some very scary times here. At least we know from this Fox poll I'm going to show you in just a second, that the terrorist attacks will not impede America from removing Saddam Hussein from power.

Look at these numbers. It shows that 66 percent say a terrorist attack would make them more likely to support military action against Iraq.

KONDRACKE: Yes, I agree with all that, except that the budget that President Bush has submitted on homeland security is not a war budget the way, the way he was talking about. It is, it is, it is a reelect George Bush in 2004 tax cut budget.

The -- there's only a 7.8 in -- percent increase for homeland security at a time when first responders, fire and police departments and hospitals at the local level don't have enough equipment, they don't have communications, they don't have search capacity to, to handle a, a, a mass casualty.

Now, there's a lot of times when I don't agree with Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader. But on this point, she was absolutely right. Watch this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: If we're given the choice between cutting taxes for the wealthy and ensuring our nation's security, Democrats have a four-word answer. Fund homeland security first.


BARNES: You invented...

KONDRACKE: Fund homeland security first.

BARNES: I know, you invented...

KONDRACKE: Good slogan.

BARNES: ... you invented that phrase, that's why you like her, her so much.

Let me just cite a couple of figures for you before we go to the ups and downs. One, what the Bush administration has proposed, Coast Guard spending up a third, spending for first responders 1,000 percent increase, $2 billion more for border security. Does that fill all the gaps? No. But it goes a long ways, and it shows there is an emphasis on homeland security.

KONDRACKE: Phony numbers.

BARNES: No, no.

KONDRACKE: Three-point-five percent increase, nominally, for home, for, for first, first responders, for fire and police. But they're taking away money that the, that the fire and police departments used to get under the old budget, COPS programs and stuff like that. So it's only a 1.2 percent...

BARNES: That's....

KONDRACKE: ... 1.2 percent...

BARNES: That's....

KONDRACKE: ... a $2 billion increase.

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