Menu

Transcript: DNC Chair Howard Dean on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a partial transcript of the Sept. 10, 2006, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace:"

CHRIS WALLACE, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST: Joining us now to look at what's happened since 9/11 is the head of the Democratic Party, former Governor Howard Dean.

And, governor, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."

HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIR: Thanks for having me on, Chris.

WALLACE: Let's start with the same question I asked Secretary Rice. Five years later, where are we in the war on terror?

DEAN: I think we're in trouble. We have not pursued the war on terror with the vigor that we should have because we've gotten bogged down in this civil war in Iraq. What we ought to be doing is going after Usama bin Laden full-scale. We ought to capture him, we ought to kill him — or kill him. And then we need to fight the terrorists which blew up the World Trade Center and killed 3,000 Americans.

WALLACE: Now, you say that we're in trouble. How do you explain the fact that, five years after 9/11, there has not been another attack on the U.S. homeland?

DEAN: Look, there has been improvement. I mean, we've done some things that we should've done, in terms of improving our intelligence and so forth.

But we proposed, the Democrats proposed, port security money, rail security money, airport security money, chemical plant security money. The Republicans turned it down. There's a lot of politics in this.

We need to do a much better job.

There was an article in the paper today — I'm sure you saw — that Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld said, "We don't want a post-war plan for the reconstruction of Iraq," and then he threatened to fire any general who proposed one.

We are not paying attention to what needs to be done. Today, or this week, northern Pakistan was written off by President Musharraf of Pakistan. They have now a treaty that they won't go — or an agreement with the tribes that they won't go in and enforce their jurisdiction.

You know, Afghanistan is turning against us, and that is where the fight on terror is. That's where Usama bin Laden is. Usama bin Laden has not been captured five years later. That's a big problem.

Click here to visit FOXNews.com's Sept. 11 center.

WALLACE: Let's talk, because you talk about the things that haven't been done. The White House, the Republicans counter that your party won't give the president the powers he needs to fight the war on terror.

Let's take a look at the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, because after it was revealed last December — and let's put it up on the screen — "The Bush administration's secret program to spy on the American people reminds Americans of the abuse of power during the dark days of President Nixon and Vice President Agnew."

Do you really compare protecting the American people to Watergate?

DEAN: No, I compare protecting the American people to — what the Bush administration has done to protect American people to some of the abuses of power that Nixon and Agnew were doing, which was listening in on Americans.

Here's the problem...

WALLACE: There's a big difference, though, isn't there, governor? One was for political gain; the other, even if it you think it's being done wrong, is to try to protect America.

DEAN: Well, unfortunately, as you said in the last section, there's mission creep here. We think it's a great thing to spy on Al Qaeda; of course we should spy on Al Qaeda. The problem is that's not just all they've been doing. It turns out they've had a broad-brush program so they can listen to everybody's phone calls if they want to. And they have.

And now there's a protection set up to do that. You could do all the things the president is doing and still obey the law under the Constitution if you simply went and got a warrant. In fact, there's a provision in the law that says you can get a warrant after the fact.

So there's nothing the president can't do within the scope of the 1976 law that — where he needs additional authority. And the Democrats have said they'll give him additional authority. But we've got to obey the law under the Constitution.

The Constitution is all that stands between us and the people we're fighting against.

WALLACE: There are a couple of points here. First of all, I have had General Michael Hayden, the former head of NSA, now the head of the CIA, on this program. He says that in the NSA warrantless wiretap program, they never wiretapped, eavesdropped on a communication or a phone call unless there was probable cause to believe that it was terror-related. That's point one.

DEAN: If that's the case, why not go and get the warrant?

WALLACE: Well, all right. Here's the question. The administration's argument is that they don't need to get a warrant and that, for reasons that they won't tell us, that they can't get a warrant.

Arlen Specter...

DEAN: Which the courts now said is illegal.

WALLACE: Well, one court has said it's illegal.

DEAN: That's right, one court has said it's illegal.

WALLACE: Arlen Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has got legislation in which the White House would go to the FISA court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, that is the expert on this, the court you talk about, to review judicially, independently, whether or not this was a legal program. And the White House says it will go along with that legislation.

DEAN: Well, then we may have the makings of a deal. We'll have to — I haven't seen the specific legislation.

Here's what the Democrats want out of this. The Constitution is set up so that not one branch has all the authority, so that if one branch has to do something to defend the United States of America, i.e. the executive branch, they have to check before they start spying on ordinary Americans. That's the whole purpose of the FISA court.

That's all we want. All we want is to make sure that we don't slide toward an imperial presidency, which is what the Nixon-Agnew problem was. And if there was...

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: ... an independent judicial review...

DEAN: That's correct. Then I'm very interested in that. I think you might get some Democratic support for that. Let's see what's in the Specter bill. I don't want to speak for Congress. I don't know what's in the bill. But that's basically what we're looking for, is judicial review.

WALLACE: Aren't you Democrats playing with political fire here?

You know, I think back to 2002 when it was the Democrats who came up with the original idea for a Department of Homeland Security and then got in a fight with the White House over the issue of collective bargaining rights, and, as a result, the Republicans were able to tar Democrats in that election — effectively got some Democrats, like Max Cleland, out — as being soft on terror.

If you block, or if you're seen as blocking, the NSA warrantless wiretaps or military tribunals, don't you run the risk of exactly the same thing happening in 2006?

DEAN: Well, you know, I think the Republicans have some risk here too. Bill Clinton tried to expand wiretap authority, and the Republicans all wouldn't give it to him when he was president of the United States. So there's always politics, and you always have to watch politics on both sides.

What the Democrats want here is not politics. We think the president has played too much politics.

You know, the president got rid of the CIA unit that was supposed to track down Usama bin Laden. Then in the last three weeks, he's stepped that up again.

We think there's a lot of politics in this. We think there's a lot of politics in the president's speeches — one every day on terrorism. They think they can't win the elections unless they talk about terrorism all the time. We think we ought to talk about a new direction for the country.

So there's always the risk of politics. But in defending the United States, the best thing to do is do what you think is right. We want to get the terrorists. We think the civil war in Iraq has become a distraction to getting the terrorists. And we do want our Constitution and our laws to be upheld, because that, as I said before, that's what stands between us and the people we're fighting against.

WALLACE: Let's talk about Iraq, because I've been looking at what you have said over recent weeks, months, years about U.S. troops in Iraq, and I'm trying to figure out where you stand. Let's take a look at this.

In December 2005, you said, "Bring the 80,000 National Guard and Reserve troops home immediately."

This August, you said, "I think that most Democrats would agree that we ought to be out of there by the '08 elections."

This week, you said, "I'm with George Aiken, the wonderful Vermont senator, who once said about Vietnam, 'Declare victory, and get out."'

At various points, you've called for getting out in 2007, getting out in 2008, getting out immediately. You can set the record straight here today on "FOX News Sunday." When do you think that all U.S. troops should be out?

DEAN: Those, actually, quotes are all part of the same piece. The person who proposed getting the National Guard and Reserve troops out was actually a former Reagan defense official named Larry Korb. They have a plan to redeploy our troops, which I think is still a solid plan.

I'm sure I did say at one point we could be out by the end of '07. That was probably a year and a half ago. Clearly the times have gone by.

WALLACE: When, right now, do you think we should get all the troops out?

DEAN: The bottom line here is the Democrats think we shouldn't be in Iraq and the Republicans want to stay there forever, it seems to me, to leave this problem to the next president.

We think, as a party — and I'm speaking for the party now — we think we shouldn't be in Iraq, and we don't think we can withdraw our troops precipitously. I have also said...

WALLACE: So when would they all be out?

DEAN: I have said as an individual, there probably is a consensus that we could leave Iraq and be out by the end of 2008 in the party. But that doesn't encompass every single party position.

And there is a plan that is widely accepted by both moderates and liberals and conservatives in the Democratic Party that allows us to do that. And that plan was put together by a former Reagan defense official.

Look, 60 percent of the American people think we shouldn't be in Iraq. They think it was a mistake. And I am one of those people.

WALLACE: And you don't see any problem if we pull out — you say we shouldn't be in Iraq — so if we just pull out of Iraq over the course of the next two years?

DEAN: We have to have a phased redeployment. The first thing is, bring the National Guard and Reserve home.

The second thing is, we're not doing the job in Afghanistan. We don't have enough troops in Afghanistan. That's where the real war on terror is. That's where Usama bin Laden, five years after he killed 3,000 Americans, is still holed up. The Taliban is resurging. You know, I admire Secretary Rice, but she is wrong about what's going on in Afghanistan. Things are significantly worse in Afghanistan today because we don't have the manpower.

There is a fascinating article in "The Washington Post" today which says that President Bush pulled out the special ops forces who were chasing Usama bin Laden so he could put them in Iraq. That is exactly why the Democrats think Iraq is a mistake. It is hurting our attack on the war on terrorists.

WALLACE: We have about 30 seconds left. On a related subject, you piled on Karl Rove and the White House pretty good about the Valerie Plame leak case. Let's put up what you said.

You said, "The president should fire him." You said, "There's no question that Rove was the one that leaked the information about the CIA agent's name."

Governor, now that we've learned that Rove wasn't the one who leaked the name, that in fact the original source of the leak was Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, are you going to give Karl Rove an apology?

DEAN: Absolutely not. I still think he should be fired. Karl Rove discussed the name of a CIA agent at the time of war with a reporter. You're not supposed to do that. And President Bush said that he would fire anybody who did. He did not do that.

Look, we need a new direction in this country. We need a new direction to defend America. We need a new direction in the war on terror. We need to stop the Republican war on middle-class Americans who are having trouble sending their kids to college. We need a new direction.

That's what the election is about: Are we going to have a new direction in this country, or are we going to keep doing what we're doing? And I think the path we're going down is a big mistake.

WALLACE: Governor Dean, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you.

DEAN: Thank you.

WALLACE: Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

DEAN: My pleasure.

Click here to visit FOXNews.com's Sept. 11 center.