Ups and Downs for the Week of August 11-15

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This is a partial transcript from The Beltway Boys, August 16, 2003, that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order the complete transcript.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: OK. Let's go to the ups and downs.

DOWN: Candidate spouse turned conservative commentator turned liberal activist Arianna Huffington

KONDRACKE: She's quickly relegating herself to the fringe of recall candidates with her over-the-top public appearances administration interviews and now she's got to explain why she barely paid any state or federal income taxes for the past two years.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Well, if you watch this piece of tape that's coming up here, you'll watch her horn in on, on Arnold, and, and, and his wife, Maria Shriver (search). Look at her horning in there just to get in the photo-op. She's…I mean, that's ridiculous.

But here's the bad part. I mean, she entered the race by attacking fat cats who don't pay a fair share of their taxes. I mean, here she is, she's got a $7 million house, she makes all this money, has a huge company, many employees, doesn't pay any. There's a word for her, phony.

KONDRACKE: Yes, well, I, I think, look, if she were a conservative, you would think that...

BARNES: Oh, no, I wouldn't.

KONDRACKE: ... her tax avoidance...

BARNES: No, I wouldn't.

KONDRACKE: ... strategies were…

BARNES: No, no.

KONDRACKE: ... smart.

BARNES: No, I wouldn't...

KONDRACKE: Yes, yes, you would.

BARNES: ... no, no, I wouldn't.

KONDRACKE: I, look, but, but I have a feeling that Arianna is heading for an audit...


KONDRACKE: ... because it seems to me...


KONDRACKE: ... that what she's doing is...deducting her entire order to avoid taxes.

BARNES: Yes, yes, Mort, I'm not headed for an audit, though. OK.

UP: The FBI and CIA

BARNES: After catching heat for previous intelligence failures, the FBI (search) and CIA (search) come up with two big gets this week. The FBI, by foiling a plot to shoot down an American airliner with a shoulder-fired missile, and the CIA by nabbing al Qaeda's top strategist in Southeast Asia.

Here's Bush Thursday on the capture of that operative.


PRESIDENT BUSH: He is no longer a problem to those of us who love freedom. And neither are nearly two-thirds of known senior al Qaeda leaders, operational managers, and key facilitators who have been captured or have been killed.


KONDRACKE: Well, the CIA's capture of Hambali was big.


KONDRACKE: On the other hand, the CIA, the FBI's sting against this Indian arms dealer, Lakhani, strikes me as being really hyped. I mean, first, Lakhani was not al Qaeda. He was not al Qaeda connected. And he's, if he's an arms dealer, how come he didn't recognize that the, that the Stinger missile, the…the SAM missile...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... that they were selling to him was a phony?


KONDRACKE: I mean, he, you know, so I don't think that this guy was all, was all that big.

But the whole episode does suggest... and remind us all...


KONDRACKE: ... how vulnerable air -- commercial airliners...


KONDRACKE: ... are...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... to, to missiles of this kind, and, and, and the Bush, the Bush administration (search) ought to drop its opposition to equipping the airliners with antimissile devices.

BARNES: The airliners, the airlines themselves are…are free to put those things on if they want to. They'll have to pay for it. The…and, and, and nobody said that arms dealer was smart…he was a smart guy, and, and should have recognized what the SAM missile really was. OK.

The FBI tried to turn this guy so they could use him as a lure to flush out al Qaeda agents who might want to buy surface-to-air missiles. And, and my understanding is, they couldn't do this because the story was going to come out, because the BBC (search), a great friend of America...

KONDRACKE: …yes, right, exactly.

BARNES: ... was going to, was going to...


BARNES: ... release it.

UP: Liberia, barely

KONDRACKE: Dictator Charles Taylor (search) is history, and a major humanitarian effort is under way, thanks to the U.S. Marines and Nigerian peacekeepers.

BARNES: I mean, you know, despite weeks of criticism from you...


BARNES: ... from me and you…

KONDRACKE: Exactly, and I'm... not finished, either.

BARNES: Yes, I know, I, but I'm going to talk first here. I think Bush handled this thing very well, very patiently. Is President Taylor out? Hey, he's gone. There…nation wilding…building will now begin in, in Liberia, starting in Monrovia. There hasn't been any humanitarian disaster there... no, the food there hasn't been, the food is pouring in and so on. African leaders seem to be happy. And here's what's important. No American soldiers have been killed. The president successfully avoided a Somalia while having the right result occur, Mort.

KONDRACKE: We are...

BARNES: …it's as simple as that.

KONDRACKE: We are the United States of America...


KONDRACKE: ... the most powerful country on earth. We have just driven out Saddam Hussein, for heaven's sakes...


KONDRACKE: ... and…eliminating a ragtag force...

BARNES: Yes, we did.

KONDRACKE: ... and…yes, but we could have done it a lot sooner with a lot less Liberian loss of life, a lot less Liberian suffering if we'd done it with power...a lot earlier.

BARNES: No, we can't do this everywhere. We do that, what you're calling on…areas that are of strategic importance…importance to the United States. This, Liberia's of some historical importance, and we're going to have to help them recreate a nation. But, but not massive, but not through massive force.

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