Ups and Downs for the Week of August 15

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", August 20, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let’s take a look at this week’s ups and downs.

DOWN: protest mom Cindy Sheehan (search). She’s got the media’s attention, but some of her radical antiwar comments may come back to haunt her. Here’s just a sample.

"The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush."

Juan, she said that.

Here’s another one.


"We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now."

Here’s another one.

"9/11 was their Pearl Harbor to get their neo-con agenda through, and, if I would have known that before my son was killed, I would have taken him to Canada. I would never have let him go and try and defend this morally repugnant system we have."

And that’s not all. I mean, some of the other things she said, she was against the war in Afghanistan, she said Bush is, you know, invaded Iraq just so he, he could get the oil money for his buddies back in the United States. She said the U.S. went there just to benefit Israel and so on, and on and on and on with these left-wing conspiratorial theories now.

What’s been amazing to me is that some Democrats, and all of the left wing, of course, but some Democrats, some Senate Democrats, Bill Nelson (search) of Florida, who’s up for reelection next year, is one example, have adopted her. And here’s what Senator Bill Nelson say. "Cindy has become a symbol of all the grieving mothers in this country." And he went on to say, "The president should see her." He doesn’t seem to know that President Bush had already seen her back in June, and she came out of that meeting saying kind things about the president. She mainly praised him well.

So where are we? Look, she is a grieving mother, but she’s also exploiting her son, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 after he had reenlisted. He reenlisted in August 2003. If he were around, I am sure if he could speak now, he would disagree with everything that she’s doing. And he’s probably embarrassed by it, and would be.

JUAN WILLIAMS, GUEST CO-HOST: Well, Fred, we don’t know that. And I must say that when he reenlisted, he went for his stay, but then the stay was extended beyond what. And at that point, Cindy Sheehan says that there were communications from him in which he would, had become sort of disinclined to support the president’s policy here.

What you have there, though, is a situation. We have her down this week, because she has become so politicized, and I think she’s made a clear mistake.

BARNES: Right.

WILLIAMS: We agree on that. But you can’t say that she hasn’t become the face of the anti-war movement in this country. And you got to give her props for that.


WILLIAMS: She’s up on that. If it’s a matter of generating media attention if it’s a matter of galvanizing people, you now have rallies all over the country where people are supporting Cindy Sheehan as a grieving mother. And you can’t ever take away from her, the fact is, her son shed blood, he’s an American and he shed blood for this country.

The other thing I think...

BARNES: ... lot about the media.

WILLIAMS: Well, no, because I think, Fred, what you got to look at is poll numbers, you know, and it raises questions about exit strategy. Does the president have one? That’s a question existed before Cindy Sheehan came on the scene. And the answer, for most Americans, is the president doesn’t have one.

Look at these numbers that come from a Gallup poll, 54 percent of Americans say it was a mistake going into Iraq, 56 percent, Fred, say we should withdraw some or all of our troops. Fifty percent bring them home now, or within the year.

Fred, this is an indication that lots of people don’t think that what we’re doing in Iraq right now makes sense. And Cindy Sheehan has come on the scene, and she has become the catalyst, the glue, however you want to think of it. But she represents something in the American mind at that moment.

And all the attacks on her, for statements that she made long ago, they seem petty to me.

BARNES: Come on. This is who she is and besides, there’s another poll that you didn’t mention, and that is, asked whether people agree with her or not, like her, view her favorably. Only 32 percent, after this lavish media lionization of her, lionizing of her, only 32 percent said yes, and 38 percent said no.

WILLIAMS: Because she made a mistake by becoming politicized.

All right, DOWN: Iraq (search). Iraqis missed last Monday’s deadline to approve a new constitution, and could be a nail-biter as to whether or not they’ll meet this Monday’s goal.

Fred, this is really a tough one. The United States, all their allies really need the Iraqis to get together and meet this deadline. But the problem is that you have some major issues on the table. And the Iraqis so far don’t seem as if they’re able to grapple with them.

I think if they miss this deadline, then you, that means you’re not going to have the referendum vote in October, you’re not going to have the elections as now scheduled in December, and that means the American commitment is going to have to continue. That creates even more problems.

I think that this deadline is critical, and I hope that they don’t just so somehow say, We’re going to kick the can down the road, but really deal with these intrinsic issues.

BARNES: And look, they’re such big issues, such as the structure of the government, whether it will be a federal, the Federal Republic of Iraq, or not, or whether it’ll be a big, a stronger central government, how the oil revenues are going to be shared. These are huge issues that can’t be decided in a few weeks. I think they do need to kick the can down. Paper over those things in the beginning here, have the election ratifying the constitution in October, elect a new parliament in December, and then deal with some of these leftover issues.

They can be vague in the constitution for now. After all, as Charles Krauthammer (search) pointed out the other day, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution after it had been ratified, it, it came along later.

So I think they can still, if they just set aside some of these issues for now, they can still make progress here and have a constitution by Monday, OK.

UP: Army intelligence officer Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer (search). He’s blowing the whistle on the 9/11 commission’s glaring omission that a secret military unit identified potential 9/11 hijackers more than a year before the attacks, a key piece of information the commission left out of its report.

Here’s Shaffer talking with our own Catherine Herridge.


LT. COL. ANTHONY SHAFFER, ARMY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Leaving a project targeting Al Qaeda as a global threat a year before we’re attacked by Al Qaeda is equivalent to having an investigation of Pearl Harbor and leaving somehow out the Japanese.


BARNES: Well, they did, there was some word of this. And it’s still up in the air, at least to me. I don’t quite understand how much was given to the 9/11 Commission. But they didn’t put it in their report, and now they say, well, it wasn’t historically significant. It was historically significant.

And the problem was, of course, you had this wall that kept intelligence officers who found out about Mohamed Atta (search) and Al Qaeda, couldn’t tell it to investigators with the FBI.


BARNES: That wall’s been removed.

WILLIAMS: Fred, I think this is a political issue. Really what you’re seeing here is this. I think lots of Republicans are going after the Clinton-era Justice Department under Janet Reno, Jamie Gorelick, and blaming them somehow for not discovering Mohamed Atta before.

But the fact is, we give Anthony Shaffer an up, but his up is or publicity, and simply going out, getting lots of publicity...

BARNES: Not in my opinion.


WILLIAMS: But he’s a down, in my opinion, for facts and documentation, because he has none, he doesn’t have any documentation to back up his claim. In fact, he says Mohamed Atta was in the country, according to these documents, before Atta was actually here.

And there was no wall, by the way, to block communications between Defense Department and FBI. It would have been blocking CIA talking to FBI.

BARNES: All right. I think there was.

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