Hot Stories for the Week of Feb. 24-28

This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, March 1, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Mort, two hot stories this week. One, the arrest of Usama bin Laden's top operative, and then Turkey's rejection of the U.S. using Turkey when we have the war with Iraq. OK.

Hot story number one , Khalid Shaikh Mohammed captured. Mort, this is big. This is very big. I mean, this guy is Usama bin Laden's Don Rumsfeld. He's the strategist. He's the guy who masterminded the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

And after Al Qaeda cells have already been practically wiped out in Europe, this means that...Mideast was left, the Middle East was left, and, and this means they're probably going to be inoperative as well with this guy gone. It's a huge victory. It's very important. It can cripple al Qaeda as the war with Iraq begins probably later this month.

And the guy who really understood it the best was FOX's own terrorism expert, Mansoor Ijaz. Listen to this.


MANSOOR IJAZ, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: And now I think we can safely go and disarm Saddam, because we've got the key guys who were running the show out of the way.


BARNES: Now, Mort, you've heard me say before that I think Usama bin Laden is actually dead. But if he's not, this is the time. Al Qaeda will be demoralized after this arrest. And, and by the way, the guy's going to be sent to the United States from Pakistan.

They will be demoralized. It's not time for another -- the -- another one of these audiotapes that can be easily faked. It's time for a videotape. If Usama's an -- alive, he'll come out with a videotape and we'll all see it.

But he may be dead.

MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, look, I think, I think this is good news. You have to hope that, that Mohammed had not organized something ahead of time with sleeper agents and stuff like that in the United States. But look, his arrest is, is, is, is a good thing for the war on terror.

And I guess you'd say that the other good news of the week was that, that the level of security alert is down from orange to yellow. But, but in other respects, this has not been a good week either for the war on terror or, or for President Bush.

For Tom Ridge's whole duct tape, plastic sheeting scenario was a, was a, a, a fiasco, and people still don't know what to do in the -- in case of a, a, a real terrorist attack, where to get the warnings, what to do immediately afterwards.

And on top of that, now you have President Bush telling the nation's governors that enough...indeed, enough is not being spent on homeland security, but guess who's fault it is, the Republican Congress.

Now, that, that, that doesn't square, square at all. I mean, Bush should have been riding herd on what, what the Congress was doing.

And the news is even worse on the, on the Iraq front, which -- and the other hot story of the day, as, as you mentioned, also bad news, is Turkey's rejection of the idea of letting 62,000 American troops use Turkish territory to establish the northern front in, in Iraq. That means that these troops that have been floating around in the Mediterranean now for weeks are going to have to be shifted back through the Suez Canal and into the Persian Gulf, and, and that's going to delay the war on terrorism.

And I haven't even begun talking -- I mean, the war in Iraq. And I haven't begun talking about the U.N. situation...

BARNES: Yes, I know, yes...

KONDRACKE: ... which is also bad.

BARNES: ...look, we'll get to that. But let me say a couple things.

One, the Turkey thing can be turned around this coming Tuesday. May not, but it can be...potentially can be turned around. And secondly, Mort, look, the stuff about duct tape and plastic sheeting and so on was not a caper. Anybody who can tie their shoes knows what you do with the stuff. You guy it, you have it there in case there's a chemical or a biological attack, and then you put it up, and it gives you a hedge.

It's as simple as that, Mort. I mean, don't act like they dreamed something up. I mean, you would know what to do with it, and you ought to buy the stuff. I've bought it.

KONDRACKE: I'd know what to do with it...


KONDRACKE: ... the problem is, is that people, that people don't...

BARNES: They know what to do with it.

KONDRACKE: ... know what else to...

BARNES: No, no.

KONDRACKE: ... what else to do...

BARNES: No, no.

KONDRACKE: ... and some people...


KONDRACKE: ... and the Web site...


KONDRACKE: ... look, the...official Web site...

BARNES: It's just a bunch of...

KONDRACKE: ... is, is -- doesn't tell you how long to stay in there or anything like that.

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