Ups and Downs for the Week of July 19 - 23

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", July 24, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Welcome back to The Beltway Boys in breezy Boston.

Let's check out who's up and who's down this week.

DOWN: Former Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger

He's facing a congressional inquiry and potential jail time for lifting several top-secret documents from the National Archives. Here's Berger Tuesday.


SANDY BERGER, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Last year, when I was in the archives reviewing documents, I made an honest mistake. It is one that I deeply regret. Everything that I have done all along in this process has been for the purpose of aiding and supporting the work of the 9/11 commission. And any suggestion to the contrary is simply absolutely wrong.


MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Well, in order for Sandy Berger to go to jail, you'd have to prove criminal intent.

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: And it's very difficult for me, with a guy like Sandy Berger, who's basically an honest and hardworking public servant, to believe that, that he intentionally meant to hide or destroy any kind of documents, let alone commit espionage. I mean, that is certainly out of the question.


KONDRACKE: But mishandling classified information is serious, and my guess is that this spells the end of Sandy Berger's foreign policy career.

BARNES: Yes, but inadvertently took them home? He couldn't have inadvertently have taken them home. I don't know what he was up to...

KONDRACKE: He meant mistakenly.

BARNES: Look, he does have some things I think he rather you not know about and me not know about and everybody not know about. And, and some of them turned up in the 9/11 commission report. And one was that, that he had, on four separate occasions, rejected plans, blocked plans to either capture or kill Usama bin Laden, the head of al Qaeda, four separate times.

KONDRACKE: Yes, but...

BARNES: Imagine if, if one of those had, had worked, we wouldn't have had 9/11. Now, I'm not blaming him for 9/11, but it's interesting to know what decisions he made as Jimmy -- as Bill Clinton's national security adviser back in the 1990s ...

KONDRACKE: Yes, but, but, but, but none of those had anything to do with the documents that he was alleged to have...

BARNES: No, no, no.

KONDRACKE: ... to have pilfered.

BARNES: No, of course ...

KONDRACKE: I mean, it's a different -- separate issue.



UP: The 9/11 Commission

Despite all the grandstanding, the 9/11 commission has produced a final report with recommendations, some of which the White House is taking a serious look in at adopting. Now, I mean, I think that's significant, that the...


KONDRACKE: ... that President Bush basically praised the commission. And I think it's a signal accomplishment in these days of absolute raw partisanship to get a bipartisan commission to come out with a unanimous recommendation like this.

And some of the recommendations, I think, are, are valid. I mean, or, or one of their points is especially valid, and that is, to, to focus on the, the abominable job that the, that the Congress did...


KONDRACKE: ... in overseeing the intelligence community. I mean, everybody knew how bad the intelligence community performed...

BARNES: Yes ...

KONDRACKE: ... but Congress...

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: ... really deserves the knock. And I think they're, they're fundamentally right about having to have an intelligence czar who is in top, on top of everything, and, and can coordinate the activities and knock heads if, if necessary.

BARNES: Yes, right.

KONDRACKE: And I think that's going to get done.

BARNES: Well, well, I'm not for that, but, you know, I was very down on this commission, and I'd have argued for a down arrow until the report came out. And you're right, it was a good report. It was evenhanded. It was not partisan. And, and it turned out, it turned out extremely well.

Now, the commissioners now say they're going to go barnstorming around the country -- that's a helicopter, by the way, flying over -- they're going to go barnstorming around the country to build up support for the recommendations.

They don't need to do that. You pointed it out. The president has reacted, Congress is going to start moving in August on this. So they've done their job, basically. OK.

DOWN: Former Ambassador Joe Wilson

Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the British government say Iraq did in fact seek uranium in Niger, contradicting Wilson's earlier comments to reporters. Wilson now says he was misquoted, but he still hasn't squared the following statements. Here's statement number one, what he told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Quote, "I never claimed to have debunked the allegation hat Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa," the, the, unquote. And here's number two, it's on page 334 of his book, "The Politics of Truth," Wilson writes, "My government had refused to address the fundamental question of how the lie regarding Saddam's supposed attempt to purchase African uranium has found its way into the State of the Union address. I had to raise it publicly in my own words."

I mean, look, the man has spent the last the last year trying to debunk the president's statement in his 2003 State of the Union address that Saddam had been seeking this stuff in Africa, uranium in Africa. He didn't say Niger, by the way. That's all he's done is debunk it. Now he says he wasn't trying to debunk it.

The truth is, he, I mean, he also says he's being smeared by right-wing Republicans. He's not being smeared. He's being held accountable for the statements almost all of which were untrue that he's made over the last year.

And who has, and who has shown that those statements were untrue? It's not a bunch of right-wing Republicans, it's the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrats and Republicans, and the Butler report for England.


BARNES: That's who's undermining him.

KONDRACKE: Right, well, he also, he also claimed originally that his wife had nothing to do with recommending him for this job.

BARNES: Yes, yes.

KONDRACKE: The Senate Intelligence Committee...

BARNES: Right.

KONDRACKE: ... has a, has a, a, quotes from a memo in which she did exactly that. Now, the, the, the title of this book is called "The Politics of Truth." I think everybody should take it back to Barnes and Noble and say, I want a refund. ... this is all about.

BARNES: Luckily, I had the wisdom not to buy one of that book. All right.

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