This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", Nov. 27, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: I’m Fred Barnes.
JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST CO-HOST: And I’m Juan Williams, in for Mort Kondracke.
BARNES: And hot story number one is clash of titans. Now, I don’t mean the clash of the two Viktors, the candidates in the presidential election in, in Ukraine last Sunday. There was Viktor Yushchenko (search), who actually won the election, and the then Viktor Yanukovich (search), who stole the election from him.
I’m talking about two real titans, President Bush and President Putin of Russia. Now, one of them is going to emerge the winner in this struggle over whether Ukraine’s going to be a democracy or not.
You know, Anne Applebaum of The Washington Post wrote that at stake here is whether we’re going to have a new iron curtain, one that would divide the U.S. and Western Europe and even the old satellites like Poland and Romania on one side, and on the other side, a new authoritarian Russian empire that would include Ukraine and some of the other countries, parts of Russia that have become independent.
You know, Putin has told everybody, stay out of this flap over the Ukrainian election.
WILLIAMS: Yes, right.
BARNES: Putin, who actually went in and campaigned for Yanukovich. Bush is not doing that, obviously. He sent a letter to Putin. He spoke out yesterday, Friday, against Putin. But even stronger were the words of Secretary of State Colin Powell. Listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: We cannot accept this result as legitimate. If the Ukrainian government does not act immediately and responsibly, there will be consequences for our relationship, for Ukraine’s hopes for Euro-Atlantic integration, and for individuals responsible for perpetrating fraud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BARNES: Now, that’s real tough talk, you know, nothing about just, you know, strong disagreement or something. That, I mean, the U.S. has really intervened here. And, at stake is Bush’s crusade for democracy around the world, not just in Iraq and the Palestinians, but in the Ukraine as well. And the question is whether Ukraine will develop as a country that looks to the West and actually has ties to the West economically, ideologically, strategically, or whether it will slip back into the Russian empire, where its history is somewhat tragic.
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, it’s really telling me, Fred, that Lech Walesa, the former Polish president, is there. He has said this, these elections were fraudulent. It reminds me that really what we’re looking at here is a remnant of the Soviet bloc. And what we’re looking at is this breakup continuing.
And what you had, I must say, also at stake is President Bush, a man who said that he looked into Vladimir Putin’s soul and saw a partner.
WILLIAMS: I think he must be, now having to take a second look. Because what we see in Putin is a man in Russia who has been controlling Russian media, impeding the flow of capital in Russia, because he doesn’t like that capital to flow to any of his political opponents, and a man who’s used the power of government to put his operatives, his minions, in positions of power.
And now he’s exported those very politics to the Ukraine, and he’s tried, so much so to influence it that as you said, he went and campaigned for the sitting authoritarian government. And now they have used their media, they’re using their controls of capital in the same way, as a model of exactly what Putin is doing in Russia.
So the question is, will the United States, will President Bush, see this now as a opportunity to stand up to Vladimir Putin, something that he has never done. I think that’s the real challenge here.
BARNES: Well, he’s off to a good start.
WILLIAMS: All right. Hot story number two, intelligence reform. And we’ve got Republicans versus Republicans. On one side, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the majority leader in the Senate, Dr. Bill Frist, and the speaker of the House, Denny Hastert, as well as the head of the 9/11 commission, Tom Keane.
And so what you’ve got is they’re on one side, saying it’s time for intelligence reform, versus a little constituency, a core group of Republicans in the House, who say, You know what? There’s no need for intelligence reform at this time, and raise all sorts of problems with immigration, raise problems over the intelligence, the delivery of intelligence matters to the military.
Here’s Duncan Hunter (search).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. P. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: When we’re in a shooting war, and you’ve got your own military leadership saying they are concerned that this bill will not be good for the troops, you’re going to have people who care about the men and women in uniform. That means lots of Representatives, mostly Republican but a lot of Democrats too, and our leadership, saying, Let’s hold on, let’s take another look at this thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Now, Fred, it’s not only Republicans versus Republicans. You’ve also got people inside the Bush administration versus the president of the United States. And I’m talking here specifically about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Let’s take a look at the secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We had discussed this matter internally. They knew our positions, the White House, and it had been as things evolved, people were opining on this and talking about that. And they were fully aware of the chairman’s position, just as I was. And we also were fully aware of the requirement that a uniformed military personnel, when they’re asked by the House or the Senate committees their views, would give them their honest views. And he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, it seems to me like this is a veil, Fred. Because what we see the defense secretary doing is putting the onus on the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers (search). But the fact is, what we’ve got here is an old-fashioned Washington turf fight, and a turf fight that comes with budgetary control, because, you know, 80 percent of this intelligence money that would be now under the control of the new national intelligence director, the so-called NID would be coming out of the Defense Department.
WILLIAMS: And so you see that, I think, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld doesn’t want to give it up, but can’t stand up at a time when all these, all this cabinet shuffles thing, can’t stand up to the president on this matter.
BARNES: Juan, is there anything that makes you happier than Republicans fighting Republicans?
WILLIAMS: That’s good news, isn’t it?
BARNES: Yes, maybe even people in the administration fighting each other, maybe that makes you happier.
I thought The Washington Post editorial of a couple days ago had it exactly right, and it said this, "The legislation’s failure strikes us as a benefit. A better solution would be to pause, let these, this election year stampede subside, and urge a new Congress to try it again."
Look, this is important legislation, the reform of the intelligence community. Everybody’s in favor of it. It just depends on how you do it.
WILLIAMS: But, Fred.
BARNES: And look, President Bush has already implemented through executive order about 70 percent of it or more, including important things like hiring, ordering the hiring of more spies, actually human intelligence. That’s what really matters.
Now, and I don’t think Bush really cares this much about it. If he really did, he could call together, he could bring these Republicans up.
WILLIAMS: Now, now I hear the truth coming out of your mouth. He can’t care, because he’s not pushing. But where, Fred, where is the urgency?
BARNES: I’ll tell you why he, look, Juan, you have to remember that this piece of legislation is all about bureaucratic reshuffling.
WILLIAMS: No, no, no.
BARNES: It’s not about in no way would impede Al Qaeda or any other terror. It’s purely bureaucratic.
WILLIAMS: You’re too far inside the Beltway.
BARNES: No, I’m not.
WILLIAMS: You’ve forgotten what happened on 9/11 (search) in this country.
BARNES: Juan, that’s the difference.
WILLIAMS: No, I read it. Let me just say this. After 9/11, this country realized that our intelligence had not done a good job of tracking terrorists, as a whole. And this reform was intended to get all our intelligence agencies, all those agents, on the same path, working to stop terrorists. And if you’re going to get caught up in the politics and who’s got the money.
BARNES: Not the politics.
WILLIAMS: It's just a matter of covering up for the embarrassment of a Republican-controlled House, a Republican- controlled Senate and Republican president unable to deliver on intelligence reform.
BARNES: Juan, do you know what the word "filibuster" means?
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