This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from May 31, 2007.
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Next on SPECIAL REPORT, Fred Thompson quits his TV job, edges closer to a presidential run and talks to Fox News about his plans. President Bush talked about his plans for dealing with climate change. Wait until you hear what one top official says about all that. More protests planned in Venezuela, though things are quiet today. After what Russian hackers did to a neighboring country, how vulnerable is the U.S.? And are there plans for a North American Union that would end the U.S. as we know it? We will find out right here, right now. Welcome to Washington. I'm Brit Hume. Former Tennessee Republican Senator Fred Thompson is clarifying how he plans to proceed in the next several weeks and articulating what his potential presidential candidacy would be about. Thompson also told chief political correspondent Carl Cameron about the plans for his current day job.
CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stop. First thing this morning he was so do done with that.
(on camera): Rumor has it you are no longer on "Law & Order."
FRED THOMPSON ®, FORMER TENNESSEE SENATOR: That's right. I have told them that I won't be coming back.
CAMERON (voice-over): For the former senator to give up that gig means he is back in politics, and wants the lead role.
THOMPSON: I think it is an indication of the seriousness at which I'm looking at the run.
CAMERON: In an exclusive interview with Fox News, he called it a daunting task and plans to file preliminary papers tomorrow for a major kickoff after the Fourth of July.
THOMPSON: We will go into a testing the waters phase. It will allow us to raise some money and build a staff to get out there and really make sure that what we feel like is going on is going on.
CAMERON: He is already tied for third when the national polls are averaged, and turns the GOP race on its head. The front running socially liberal candidacy of Rudy Giuliani, America's mayor, now faces an affable consistent conservative in Thompson, an actual TV and movie star. Giuliani's numbers have dipped nearly a dozen points since Fox first reported Thompson's White House hopes back in March, when his groundswell began.
THOMPSON: I don't think it is much a matter of being dissatisfied with the Republican field, as it is that voters are dissatisfied period.
CAMERON: John McCain, whose fund raising has been lackluster, faces a big threat from Thompson. They will be competing for many of the same donors. They remain friends, but McCain, earlier this year, actually expected Thompson's support. Now the two are rivals. And Thompson says money will not be a problem.
THOMPSON: Well, I was told I had to raise 100 million dollars in order to be in this race this year. So the year is halfway over. So I guess I have that amount in half to begin with.
CAMERON: Mitt Romney is affected too, and perhaps a lot. He is a Mormon, aggressively courting social conservatives, though he was pro-choice just two years ago. Well, Thompson is a southerner and consistently pro-life and conservative. Evangelical leaders are more enthusiastic about his candidacy than any other. And then there is Iraq. One of his last votes in the Senate was for the war.
THOMPSON: I do think it was the right thing to do. Doing it better, doing what we are doing now earlier, all those things; those are legitimate points to make. But in terms of revisiting old history, to the extent that we must do that in American politics today, I think it was the right thing to do.
CAMERON: Thompson does have a few potential liabilities. Among them, he was a lobbyist here in Washington for more than a decade, which can turn off voters. Critics say he can be lazy and undisciplined. It's true he's had success in Hollywood and Congress, and they are no doubt tough, but it is child's play compared to the cut throat nature of the GOP nomination battle Thompson is about to join, Brit.
HUME: Carl, thank you. President Bush, meanwhile, unveiled a long-term strategy on climate change today, urging major nations to agree, by the end of next of year, on a global target for reducing greenhouse gases. The president's remarks came in advance of next week's meeting with the group of eight industrialized nations, where the issue is expected to be high on the agenda. White House correspondent Wendell Goler reports.
WENDELL GOLER, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two days after rejecting European calls to set a limit on global warming, President Bush called for talks on cutting the emissions that cause it.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases.
GOLER: Mr. Bush spoke to a coalition of groups that support U.S. foreign policies a week before the summit of the world's richest nations in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed, in pre-summit talks this week, to let global temperatures rise no more than 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit from where they are now. The chair of the president's Council on Environmental Quality said no, and today he defended the stance.
JIM CONNAUGHTON, COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY: We don't think that's a very practical approach, leaving aside other issues with trying to state your goal in temperature. You can't manage the temperature. You can manage emissions.
GOLER: Some environmentalists accused the U.S. of ignoring both the science of global warming and its obligation to deal with the problem. But Connaughton says supports him, noting last year U.S. greenhouse gas emissions declined, even though the U.S. economy grew. He says there were intentional and unintentional reasons.
CONNAUGHTON: The unintentional are we had cooler summers and warmer winters. The intentional are we have a lot more clean power coming on-line.
GOLER: President Bush is been under fire from environmental groups since rejecting the Kyoto Agreement two months after taking office. He says global warming can't be solved without the help of India, the worlds largest democracy, and China, which is building a coal power plant a week. He wants talks at the end of the year involving the 15 countries responsible for 85 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, though the same countries will be at the G-8 summit. Experts like Julianne Smith of the Center for Strategic and International Studies say the U.S. and Europe have fundamental differences over how to deal with global warming.
JULIANNE SMITH, CTR STRATEGIC & INTL STUDIES: Europeans are much more comfortable talking about it, primarily through a regulation lens. Americans are more comfortable looking at technology solutions, looking at innovation.
GOLER: Smith thinks the answer will be a combination of the two, but to make that work, energy efficient technology must be available to countries that don't have the money to develop it. The president says that means opening their markets.
BUSH: If you are truly committed to helping the environment, nations need to get rid of their tariffs. They need to get rid of those barriers that prevent new technologies from coming into their countries.
GOLER: Of course, U.S. and European differences over trade barriers have held up a world trade agreement for six years. And the two sides are thinking in very different time frames on the issue of climate change. The president wants an agreement by the end of next year on how much the world can reduce greenhouse gases by about 2050. The Europeans want to get to work as soon as possible on a replacement for the Kyoto Treaty. It expires in 2012, but they figure they'll need several years to sell the new agreement. Brit?
HUME: Wendell, thank you. The president also melt this afternoon with Iraq's Kurdish president Jalal Talabani at the White House. Talabani stressed the difficulties facing Iraq, mainly the threat posed by al Qaeda and the terrorist cooperating with al Qaeda. But he said Iraq is still determined to meet the benchmarks outlined by President Bush and Congress. President Bush said he was sending top aide Megan O'Sullivan to help the Iraqis meet those benchmarks and promised not to back down against al Qaeda. The number two American commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, say that U.S. military leaders are talking with Iraqi militants about cease fires and other arrangements to try to stop the violence in that country. He says the new approach augments reconciliation efforts by the Iraqi government. Odierno also said he would need more time to assess whether the U.S. military surge in Iraq is working. Top commander General David Petraeus plans to give his assessment to Congress in September based on Odierno's recommendations. The U.S. military is reporting three more casualties in Iraq, making May the deadliest month for U.S. forces in more than two years. A total of 122 have died this month. Two soldiers were killed yesterday by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Another soldier wounded by a roadside bomb north west of the capital died Tuesday. The U.S. military has warned that casualties may increase as the troop surge takes hold in Iraq. Later on SPECIAL REPORT, imagine the United States, Canada and Mexico all joined together to create something called the North American Union. Some think that plan is already in the works. We will get to it. But first, who on Earth could get Jimmy Carter and President Bush's father together these days? We'll tell you later. Stay tuned.
HUME: Fox News has learned that the vice president of the Venezuelan National Assembly has accused the U.S. State Department and the CIA of conspiring with the head of radio Caracas television, which President Hugo Chavez took off the air Sunday to insight the opposition protests that lasted nearly four days. The streets are said to be calm at the moment, but correspondent Adam Housley reports that more demonstrations are coming tomorrow. Hi Adam.
ADAM HOUSLEY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Brit. She was defiant. She was belligerent. And, as you mentioned, she claimed that the USA, through the State Department and the CIA, is backing the unrest here in this country. The video you've seen, of course, over the last five days continues. While the streets have been calm today, at night, at least the last two nights, is when students continued to clash in smaller pockets with the military and police force here. Desire Santos Amaral says that the U.S. is inciting violence and protests the last five days with the RCTV. Of course, RCTV was a television station that was shut down on Sunday night, which really started all of this. She also played two supposed telephone calls that didn't sound—sounded rather fake, I should say, over the airwaves, claiming that was evidence of the issue. That comes as we spoke with the head of Global Vision today. They were called, in fact, by Chavez, the enemy of the motherland. Alberto Ravell runs Global Vision. He answers the question, is this uprising a threat to President Chavez's power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERTO RAVELL, GLOBAL VISION GENERAL MANAGER: This is the beginning of the end of the popularity of Mr. Chavez in Venezuela and worldwide? I think that the people here are starting to—they are not afraid anymore. They are going into the streets. They are speaking open.
HOUSLEY: Brit, two of the main opposition leaders are now back in the news. The first one, Manuel Rosales, ran against President Chavez in the last election. He came out yesterday in support of what's going on here. Some people are saying that was a couple of days too late. The other name that came out last night is Oscar Perez (ph). He is someone who has been revered by many in the movement here. He was arrested last night with his sister. We have been told he was beaten up a bit. We have not yet been told why he was arrested. All this comes, also, as we've been told, that the students and the professionals here in the city stay in touch through Facebook, the online site. Brit?
HUME: Wow, OK, Adam, thanks very much. Very interesting. The latest opinion polls indicate that much maligned immigration reform bill doesn't have anything close to majority support among the public. But that does not necessarily mean it won't make it through the Senate when lawmakers go back to work next week. Congressional correspondent Major Garrett has an update on its progress.
MAJOR GARRETT, FOX NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Capitol is quiet this week, but the country royals with debate over the Senate immigration bill. One of its most ardent foes, South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint told Fox in a phone interview he expects the Senate to approve the compromise next week.
SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: It sounds like it will go through. The Senate is somewhat insulated from the American people. I think that is why there is a disconnect, a loss of trust, a loss of credibility.
GARRETT: One South Carolina paper said DeMint would filibuster the bill, but DeMint told Fox he doubts he can find the 40 votes necessary to stymie the measure.
DEMINT: My hope is once senators went home and talked to their constituents, they might come back with a different perspective, realizing that a lot of people are frantic about this, and they feel like Congress is getting ready to sell them out.
GARRETT: Supporters of the Senate compromise also believe it will survive a raft of amendments and scrutiny.
FRANK SHARRY, NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM: It is likely to get to more than 60 votes in the Senate it needs next week. I think the president has been outspoken in favor of it. I think that's helpful. I do think it's going to have a tougher go in the House of Representatives come July.
GARRETT: DeMint said President Bush's speech Tuesday attacking bill opponents galvanized grassroots opposition. DEMINT: The president's speech just made them more angry because they don't feel like he is showing respect for those who have legitimate concerns about the bill and our immigration problems.
GARRETT: The latest Rasmussen poll show 26 percent support the Senate immigration bill; 48 percent oppose it; and 26 percent are not sure, identical numbers to a Rasmussen survey taken a week ago. Among independents, only 22 percent support the Senate bill; 57 percent oppose it. That is a higher level of skepticism than found in Republican or Democratic ranks. Only 16 percent said the Senate bill would reduce illegal immigration in one year; 41 percent said it would increase it; 33 percent said there would be no change; 11 percent were not sure. Bill supporters say these and other poll numbers obscure deeper support for the component parts of the immigration compromise. SHARRY: Tougher border security, get tough on employers, and a path of eventual citizenship for folks here. Two thirds or more support all of those elements. It says to me that the public is cynical about Washington's ability to solve problems, yet desirous of a comprehensive reform package.
GARRETT: I talked to the pollster Scott Rasmussen about that theory today. He said he agrees. But he said, in the end it doesn't matter at all, because, in his opinion, all this debate about the immigration reform bill is white noise until voters are persuaded that border security will actually be achieved. And he said he has proof of that because, in a poll last week, he inserted what he calls an absurd question. After telling respondents about 11,000 border patrol agents on the border now, he said would you support or oppose hiring 100,000 more. Forty four percent, Brit, a plurality, said they want 100,000 more border patrol agents on the U.S.-Mexico border, probably knowing privately that is impossible. Rasmussen says that's proof that voters will say or do and embrace anything to achieve border security. Brit?
HUME: Major, thank you. There are not many people who could bring together Jimmy Carter and President Bush's father, given what Mr. Carter has said about the current President Bush lately. Billy Graham did it today though. Former Presidents Bush, Carter and Clinton joined hundreds of others in Charlotte, North Carolina to dedicate a museum that traces the evangelist's life in ministry. All three former presidents called on Billy Graham for council, as other presidents had before them. The 27 million dollar complex is set to open Tuesday, and will be free to the public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV BILLY GRAHAM, EVANGELIST: This building behind me is just a building. It's an instrument. It's a tool for the gospel. The primary thing is the gospel of Christ. Pray that God will use this to speak to many people who come through this facility. And I need your prayers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: Billy Graham today in Charlotte, North Carolina. Next on SPECIAL REPORT, will the United States of America become a thing of the past? We'll tell you why some think we are headed for a North American Union. But first, the husband of one of the Iranian Americans suspected of espionage speaks out. We'll tell you what he had to say next. Stay tuned.
HUME: The State Department now confirms that a fourth Iranian American is being held by the Tehran regime in the same prison as the other three. There have been no responses to request for access to the detainees, and their families are increasingly worried. One family is speaking out. Correspondent James Rosen reports.
JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jailed in Evin Prison north of Tehran since May 8th, Iranian American intellectual Haleh Esfandiari has been denied visitation by her mother and lawyers. Her family doesn't know whether the scholar with the Woodrow Wilson Center faces formal charges, whether she's been receiving the medicine she needs, nor whether she's being subjected to the prison's notorious interrogation abuses.
SHAUL BAKHASH, DETAINEE'S HUSBAND: I am concerned about Haleh's both mental and physical health.
ROSEN: Shaul Bakhash likened the case of his wife, who holds dual citizenship, to that of 15 British sailors and marines held captive in Iran this spring and released after two weeks.
BAKHASH: The Iranian government should act towards its own nationals in the same way it acted toward the British sailors, and treat them with the same regard and consideration.
ROSEN: Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian American consultant to a non profit established by billionaire George Soros, was thrown into the same prison May 11th, supposedly after being implicated by Esfandiari. Likewise, Parnaz Azima, an Iranian American reporter for U.S. funded Radio Farda, has been prevented from leaving the country since January. Today the State Department confirmed Ali Shakeri, an Iranian American peace activist, is also being held at Evin, and was in Iran, like the others, on strictly private business.
THOMAS CASEY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: These are people that don't pose a threat or a challenge to the regime.
ROSEN: The arrests appear to some a deliberate response by Iran to a 75 million dollar U.S. campaign, portions of which are covert, to promote democracy inside the repressive Islamic republic. That policy came in for slight criticism today by the head of the Woodrow Wilson Center, who suggested that suspicious in Iran about foreign academics and activists derive in part from uncertainty over whether the Bush administration is pursuing regime change there.
LEE HAMILTON, WOODROW WILSON CENTER PRES: I think the public record would show that there are public statements made both ways. And that has muddied the waters.
ROSEN (on camera): Hamilton also called for Esfandiari case to be put on the agenda at any future talks between the U.S. and Iran. But the State Department effectively ruled that out. In Washington, James Rosen, Fox News.
HUME: Yesterday we told you how hackers had crippled Estonia's Internet service with an onslaught of denial of service attacks. Those attacks are on the wane now. But for the United States, the question becomes, just how vulnerable is our country to such cyber terrorism. National security correspondent Jennifer Griffin has a look.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN, FOX NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the kind of attack that makes Pentagon planners lose sleep at night. They are calling it the battlefield of the future, cyberspace. Dr. Lani Kass was born in Israel. She now heads the U.S. Air Force's cyber warfare task force.
LANI KASS, USAF CYBERWARFARE TASK FORCE: You can be locked out. You can be shut down. You can be paralyzed and nobody died.
GRIFFIN: Recent cyber attacks in Estonia got her attention. On April 27th, the former Soviet republic, now a NATO ally, came under attacks, bombarded by hackers. It got so bad the parliament's computers shut down for 12 hours, and one of its main banks closed. The attacks followed a decision by the Estonian government to move a Soviet era war memorial. Riots broke out among ethnic Russians living in Estonia. Estonia's ambassador to the U.S. blamed the Russian government for the cyber attacks.
JURI LUIK, ESTONIA AMBASSADOR: It originated from Russia. We can prove that it originated various sources, government sources included.
GRIFFIN: The Russian official whose computer the attack was traced to denied any responsibility. Article Five of the NATO treaty says an armed attack on one member is an attack on all. It is unclear about cyber attacks.
ROBERT HUNTER, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO NATO: This is clearly something that all the NATO allies have to take very seriously. Even if there were no treaty, we would have to take it seriously.
GRIFFIN: Two years ago, the U.S. Air Force, fearing an electronic Pearl Harbor, set up a strategic command to deal with cyber warfare. Hacking attacks into the U.S. Naval War College got their attention, as did an anti-satellite missile test carried out by China in January, a style of attack that could potentially blind the
U.S. KASS: This is why we are taking this so seriously.
GRIFFIN: China has 119 million Internet users. Some of them have broken into Pentagon computers in the past. But it is the non-state actors, such as al Qaeda, that have U.S. planners worried about a digital 9/11. Brit?
HUME: OK Jennifer, thank you. A 27-year-old man, described as one of the world's most prolific spammers, has been arrested. Robert Alan Soloway is accused of using networks of so called zombie computers, machines being used without their owners' knowledge, to send out millions of junk emails. It is the first time federal prosecutors have used identity theft statutes to prosecute a spammer for taking over someone else's Internet domain name. Soloway could face decades in prison, but prosecutors say they have not yet calculated what sentencing range he might face. We'll take a break here to check with our sponsors and give you the headlines. When we come back, the top man at NASA apparently didn't get the memo about the president's new global warming policy. We'll explain what he said next on the Grapevine. And that other report on the North American Union later.
HUME: After 9/11 the U.S., Canada and Mexico began the Security and Prosperity Partnership aimed at beefing up security on the borders without halting commerce. But some conservatives see it as a grand conspiracy by President Bush and others to erase our borders with Mexico and Canada and surrender our sovereignty to something called the North American Union. Chief Washington Correspondent Jim Angle reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Bush administration Is merging our sovereign independent nation that our ancestors fought for, and are giving it away.
JIM ANGLE, FOX CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is a fervent belief among some conservatives that President Bush is planning to dissolve the borders of Canada and Mexico as part of a secret effort to form what is called a North American Union.
JEROME CORSI, WORLDNETDAILY COLUMNIST: I call it is a stealth process. That's why I say the president is engineering, as it were, almost a coup d'etat, almost a change of government into a regional structure.
SEN KAREN JOHNSON ®, ARIZONA STATE: It is going to negate the sovereignty of the United States of America. And it certainly has grave concerns for our constitution, as well.
ANGLE: Those who subscribe to this idea use words like "unconstitutional" and even "treason" to describe what they see as an effort to create here something like the European Union with a single currency.
MICHAEL MEDVED, SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Losers, lunatics, demonic demagogues.
ANGLE: Michael Medved, a conservative pundit ridicules these arguments as madness. MEDVED: Nobody favors a North American Union. The people who come out of these rocks, underneath, which they've been scurrying, cannot find -
cannot identify a single voice in our government, in our politics, or in our media who seriously wants to merge the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
ANGLE: The debate is about the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or SPP, an effort announces in Waco in March 2005 by the leaders of the three nations to try to improve border security while removing barriers to legitimate trade. Working groups are trying to synchronize policies on everything from trade rules to managing cross border diseases such as the avian flu or influenza. But some see something far more nefarious.
CORSI: That's more than a dialogue, as the spp.gov website shows. That's a shadow government in full operation, below the radar, and not fully disclosed to the public.
ANGLE: The man some call the godfather of the North American Union, though, says the whole effort was simply a search for how to efficiently deal with 500 million legal border crossings every year, as well as massive trade.
ROBERT PASTOR, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Last year there was $926 billion in trade among the three countries; it's the largest amount of trade among any three countries in the word.
ANGLE: And he said none of the changes people fear could possibly go into effect without the passing through Congress.
PASTOR: All of these require the assent of Congress in all three countries. All of them would entail a very large debate in three countries. None of this could be done by stealth.
ANGLE: Some other conservatives aren't charging treason, but do have questions. Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch got some documents on the SPP through the Freedom of Information Act.
CHRISTOPHER FARRELL, JUDICIAL WATCH: With little or now oversight, there are folks who will run amok, that they will exceed their authority, that they will go too far.
ANGLE: Michael Medved argues that buying into such nonsense, as he put it, does nothing but discredit conservatives. But Jerome Corsi wants a congressional investigation and a few in Congress agree. Meanwhile an administration official says rumors about a North American Union are completely false, that all that is going on is nothing more than an effort to coordinate better with our neighbors—Brit.
HUME: Well, we'll keep an eye on this, Jim, thanks very much. CIA director, Michael Hayden, says his spy agency is now younger and taking more risks than before 9/11 thanks to a hiring boom in recent years. Nearly half of the CIA workforce has been brought on since the terror attacks. Hayden tells USA Today that the young force makes for an agency with "more language skills and cultural diversity." He says he is now requiring some intelligence analysts to work in the field along side spies. And he says he's trying to keep the agency out of the news, both as subjects and as sources. New Hampshire Democratic Governor John Lynch has signed civil unions into law, up there, giving gay couples many of the rights and responsibilities that married couples have. The law goes into effect in January, will recognize civil unions from other states if they were legal in the states where they were performed. New Hampshire joins Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Maine, California, and Washington State, and allowing either civil unions or domestic partnerships. Oregon also joins that list in January. Up next on SPECIAL REPORT, Fred Thompson says he hasn't made up his mind about a run for president, but he sure sounds as if he has. The FOX all-star will assess a potential Thompson candidacy, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: .there's a desire for someone to come in and run a different kind of campaign and a different message and address some of the issues that our country is facing. It is a daunting challenge. It takes a while to get your team together and get up and running, but we're taking the steps necessary to put us there if we make that decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: And as he also indicated, he took about the first half of this year off as a declared candidate and indeed isn't one yet, but he's running third in some polls. So, some thoughts on the potential candidacy of Fred Thompson now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard; Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call; and the syndicated columnist, Charles Krauthammer—FOX NEWS contributors, all. Charles, a lot of conservatives are very excited about the possibility of a Fred Thompson candidacy. Should they be?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, right now, he's like the New York Yankees. On paper they beat everybody, but then they actually have to go out and play the game. Now, on paper, he's got everything. He's an affable personality, he's easy on camera, easy to like. And in terms of his positions, he appeals to conservatives in a way that the top three candidates don't. Giuliani has a problem with guns, gays, and abortion. McCain has a problem with immigration and he's intensely disliked because of the campaign regulation. And then Romney is OK on the major issues except two years ago he wasn't. So, Thompson OK on all of this stuff. But his problem, I think, is that, you know, — well, we heard him say we have to get a different message. I saw a line in the Daily Tennessean which says he's been trying out his messages and speeches. Well, Ronald Reagan did not try out his messages. He had his message, he knew his message, he believed in his message. He was a conviction politician. Thompson is not, it's not a critique, I mean, he was—he was eight years a senator and you can't name a bill or an issue or an idea that he actually promoted. It's OK to have an affable, likable conservative who doesn't have a burning idea, but that's not a Ronald Reagan.
MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: I completely agree with that. Carl Cameron asked him during this interview, what would you say of your years in the Senate, what was your top accomplishment? And Fred Thompson said "leaving." And they laughed, of course, but that's pretty close to the truth. I mean.
HUME: He didn't really like the Senate.
KONDRACKE: Well, he didn't make much of a dent there. He did run for the office, he held it six years. His highest opportunity, greatest opportunity was to lead this investigation of the 1996 Clinton alleged campaign scandals involving payoffs from Chinese interests and stuff like that...
HUME: Well, it was contributions alleged to have come from the Chinese government sources.
KONDRACKE: OK, yeah. But, Thompson was flummoxed in that investigation by John Glenn, who was not notoriously brilliant in legislative maneuvering, but he managed to outfox Fred Thompson. So, you know, there's just a lot of questions here about what does the guy stand for? It's not—just not enough to be none of the above.
FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yeah, I agree with that and yet Fred Thompson is running the greatest noncampaign campaign I've ever seen. Here we are talking about him, Carl Cameron interviewing him, story about him on the front page of the New York Times.
HUME: Lead story of this newscast.
BARNES: We have a piece on him practically every issue of the Weekly Standard. I mean, this guy—why announce? This guy is running a great non-campaign campaign. Look, but what he is doing is this: He is raising tremendous expectations for him when he comes in. And I think it's going to be very hard to meet these expectations. He is, as Charles said, he is very likable. I've got three tests that's one of them. The second one is will he excite people. You know, most candidates don't excite people. And it's possible he will. And the third one is he interesting. And that's basically, does he have a different message? Does he have something to say? Is he—I mean, what is there. I mean, he hasn't.
HUME: In other words at this point you see him as a blank canvas on which people are writing their own hopes
BARNES: No. Not necessarily a blank canvas, but I mean, here's a guy that needs to say something interesting. Ronald Reagan was interesting. This guy—I mean, I haven't heard him—if he's been saying wonderful and interesting things in his speeches around the country, word of that hasn't sifted back to me, anyway...
HUME: All right, let's ask this question quickly: A, will he get in, and, B, how likely it is he will win?
BARNES: Yes and I haven't the slightest idea.
KONDRACKE: I agree with that. I think he's got a fair chance to get the nomination.
KRAUTHAMMER: He's going in and I give him two to one odds.
HUME: Against or for? Two to one is against.
KRAUTHAMMER: In a field of four, it's not bad.
HUME: No, that's not bad.
All right, up next, a cause for celebration in Lebanon as the U.N. takes up the case of the country's murdered prime minister. This is a big deal, but why? We'll find out next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: By adopting this resolution the council has demonstrated its commitment to the principle that there shall be no impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon or elsewhere. Those who killed Rafik Hariri and so many others will be brought to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: So the U.N. is now going to investigate the death of Rafik Hariri, who, as you heard Zalmay Khalilzad say, he's the former prime minister of Lebanon who was murdered, it is believed a murder instigated by Syria, last year. Now, the question is, you know, people are saying this is a big deal. Charles, is the U.N. doing this a big deal or not?
KRAUTHAMMER: It is.
KRAUTHAMMER: Because of our commitment here. It's an important commitment, a dangerous one and it's late. It's late because of the democratic wave in Lebanon crested two years ago. The U.N. investigation started back then, Syria was very weak. The Syrians were tossed out of Lebanon, but in the intervening two years Syria has had a comeback. There's been a weakening of democracy in the area. We've been weakened in Iraq. Hezbollah has been strengthened in Lebanon. You've al Qaeda in the Palestinian camps. The government is under attack.
HUME: In Lebanon?
KRAUTHAMMER: In Lebanon. And this resolution is a way to have a trial of those who killed the opposition leader and a way of supporting the government. But the problem is the government is now a lot weaker. So, we are committing ourselves here, under article seven of the U.N. charter.
HUME: We, being the United States?
KRAUTHAMMER: We and France and others, essentially, the West. We're committing ourselves under article seven, which means including the use of the military. And the question is the Syrians are going to react to this because this trial will be about Syria. It'll be about a Assad, it's going to be a way to try to indict him. And that's why Syria has resisted it. Syria is going to instigate more attacks and more terror and more Hezbollah threats. And ultimately it'll come to a question: will America and France defend this government militarily, if it comes to that? And that's the open question.
KONDRACKE: Well, look, I think this is the U.N. doing something right for a change and surprisingly the Russians and the Chinese did not veto. They could have vetoed this. And it is an article seven move which does involve the possibility of sanctions or, as Charles says, military intervention if that's necessary. The.
HUME: So, what is exactly going to happen now as a result.
KONDRACKE: There is going to be—there are people in jail. (INAUDIBLE) for months, including some Lebanese generals and security agents of the Syrian government who are.
HUME: Well, who's going to put them on trial?
KONDRACKE: The United Nations is going to have a tribunal, that's going to be a—and it's going to be an international trial with a lot of dignity and international standing. The Syrians hate the idea. They're going to be exposed. I think this is a—it's a fabulous move. And if and when these people are convicted it will put the onus on Syria where it belongs. And I think people like Nancy Pelosi will have to think twice about, you know, cozying up to the Syrians when they're finally convicted of having killed a leader of—an opposition leader of a neighboring country.
BARNES: Well, she should have known better in the first place. I mean, the U.N. investigators had already concluded that the Syrian government was not only responsible for the Hariri killing, but those of 14 other anti-Syrian Lebanese who were scholars and journalists and politicians. And Syria has gotten away with those. Syria has literally gotten away murder and more than murder. We know that Syria's funneling al Qaeda killers into Iraq and now they are doing it into Lebanon as well, funneling al Qaeda into there and they have gotten away with it. And I think they believe they are going to get away with it again with this tribunal, just by ignoring the tribunal, boycotting it. But the truth is that's not going to work. We'll see how the western media covers this. I mean, this can be something of great importance. But it does need to have what's going on there telegraphed to the world, including Nancy Pelosi.
KRAUTHAMMER: But Brit, justice requires a trial, but also a police that is going to enforce the verdict and that's what's going to be at issue here. Syria is going to resist this, is going to try to instigate new attacks in Syria to destroy.
HUME: In Lebanon.
KRAUTHAMMER: I mean, sorry, in Lebanon—and bring it down and ultimately destroy any effectiveness of this trial. And the issue for the United States and France is going—are we going to stand up when those challenges are issued and when the terrorism increases and when the government, a coup against it, is going to be planned. And that's going to happen.
KRAUTHAMMER: There has been an ongoing attempt to try to—Hezbollah has been demonstrating this al Qaeda connected terrorist group is waging war against the Lebanese army.
KRAUTHAMMER: This will increase it.
KRAUTHAMMER: Well, it will and, but so far the West is holding together behind Siniora's government.
HUME: That's it for the panel, but stay tuned because Tiger Woods was in town and we'll find out his ultimate ambition and that's next.
HUME: Finally tonight, he is the most recognizable athlete in the world dominating his sport like perhaps no one else today. So when Tiger Woods comes to Washington, there's one question he is bound to get.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Are you thinking even now about running for the presidency one day?
TIGER WOODS, GOLFER: Hell no.(LAUGHTER) No, no, no, no. No. No! Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUME: No Fred Thompson (INAUDIBLE) — and that's SPECIAL REPORT for this time. Please tune us in next time, in the meantime more news is on the way—fair, balanced and unafraid.
Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. EST.
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