May 17, 2009 -- ABC'S "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS"MAY 17, 2009
SPEAKERS: GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST
SEN. JON KYL, R-ARIZ., SENATE MINORITY WHIP
SEN. JIM WEBB, D-VA.
[*] STEPHANOPOULOS (voice over): Good morning and welcome to "ThisWeek."
Harsh charges from the speaker.
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REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We were toldthat water-boarding was not being used. The CIA was misleading theCongress.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Course corrections from the president...
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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I fear the publication of these photosmay only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detaineeabuse.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: ... and a P.R. blitz from the former V.P.
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FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: We'd successfully defendedthe nation for 7 1/2 years. I believe it was possible because of thepolicies we had in place.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Cheney right? Is Pelosi in trouble? AreObama's choices making us more safe?
That debate, this morning, with two key senators, Republican whipJon Kyl and Democrat Jim Webb. Plus, an expanded powerhouseroundtable with George Will, Democratic strategist James Carville,John McCain's campaign manager Steve Schmidt, Katrina Vanden Heuvel ofthe "Nation," and the former State Department official now joining herfather on the front lines, Liz Cheney -- and, as always, the Sundayfunnies.
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JAY LENO, HOST OF "THE TONIGHT SHOW": She spent eight yearstelling everyone how dumb President Bush is and then, the minuteyou're trouble, "He fooled me!"
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ANNOUNCER: From the heart of the nation's capital, "This Week,"with ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos,live from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue. STEPHANOPOULOS (on camera): Hello again. It has been a weekfull of accusations, confrontation, recalibration and new calls forinvestigation here in Washington -- just another week.
And with apologies for that burst of rhyme, we welcome ourheadliners to this morning's debate, Democratic Senator Jim Webb ofVirginia and the Senate's Republican whip, Jon Kyl of Arizona.
Gentlemen, welcome to you both. And there is so much to talkabout this week. But let's start with that war of words betweenspeaker Pelosi and the CIA. She says the CIA lied about these 2002briefings. Leon Panetta came out on Friday, said, no, they told thetruth.
And former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has weighed in,saying that this is despicable behavior, take a look.
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NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I think she has lied tothe House and I think that the House has an absolute obligation toopen an inquiry. And I hope there will be a resolution to investigateher. And I think this is a big deal.
I don't think the speaker of the house can lie to the country onnational security matters.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Kyl, how big a deal is this and howshould it be investigated?
KYL: Well, it is a big deal, obviously. She is the speaker.And at that time she was the ranking member of the IntelligenceCommittee. And she was one of four people who got the briefings. Andit is pretty clear that Leon Panetta, her former colleague in theHouse from California, now CIA director, totally disagrees with herrecollection of events.
Let's give her the benefit of the doubt and say she doesn'tremember, although that's a pretty important thing not rememberaccurately.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So does it need to be investigated?
KYL: I am less interested in investigating whether her memory orcorrect or she lied about it than I am in the policies that flow fromthe debate that we're having. I am not one who thinks we ought tohave truth commissions and all of the rest of it and keep lookingbackward. I agree with the president. We've got enough on our plate,we need to look forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's the irony here, Senator Webb, as SpeakerGingrich says, investigate. He wants a separate House investigation.Speaker Pelosi says, fine, let's have a truth commission, the one thatSenator Kyl doesn't want. Where do you stand on this? WEBB: I just don't think it's that big a deal. I mean, I thinkwe have selective memories...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... is not a big deal?
WEBB: Well, I mean, they're going to have a fight. But in termsof where the country is right now, where we need to go, there are alot of issues of accountability in terms of looking back as to theconduct of the past administration in a number of areas.
But really, in terms of what we need to be focusing on, let'saccept that torture is inappropriate behavior. And I've interrogatedhundreds of detainees and enemy combatants when I was a Marine inVietnam, torture doesn't work.
Let's all accept that, separate it from these other issues thatwe're talking about in terms of having to resolve issues, likeGuantanamo, and move forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, no truth commission?
WEBB: I think this will resolve itself without something likethat.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's move on to some of the other issues,because President Obama this week did make two significant shifts onnational security policy. He said that the photos of that detaineeabuse would not be released, he would fight that in court.
And he also shifted on the issue of military tribunals, eventhough he had been for them in the past, he heavily criticized theBush tribunals, now he is bringing them back with some reforms.
And let me show you some of the human rights groups' reaction tothese moves by President Obama. The ACLU says: "These militarycommissions are inherently illegitimate, unconstitutional, incapableof delivering outcomes we can trust."
Human Rights Watch: "By resurrecting this failed Bushadministration idea, President Obama is backtracking dangerously onhis reform agenda."
Human Rights First: "Reinventing commissions so deeply associatedwith Guantanamo Bay will merely add to the erosion of internationalconfidence in American justice and provide more fodder for America'senemies."
Now you were also against the commissions during your campaign.Do you support what the president is doing here?
WEBB: I wasn't against commissions per se. I think that -- myview on...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know -- well, let me just interrupt youthere, because I have an AP story from April 2007 where you said -- itsays that you told reporters that detainees should either be declaredprisoners of war or charged in the American judicial system.
"We can't just continue to hold people in limbo without chargesfor this period of time and still call ourselves Americans."
WEBB: If I said charged in the American judicial system, I wouldmean under the traditions of the rules of evidence and these sorts ofthings. But my view has always been that we need to move these peopleforward.
We need to find those people who should be held accountable andhold them accountable. And people who have been held inappropriatelyshould be released.
But I don't believe that the situation with people in Guantanamo,as opposed to others who have conducted activities in the UnitedStates are the same. I think that the people who have been held inGuantanamo are being charged essentially for acts of internationalterror, for acts of war, and they don't belong in judicial system, andthey don't belong in our jails.
STEPHANOPOULOS: This is what the commissions...
WEBB: And I don't believe -- I do, I do. But with this caveat,we need commissions like this because there are issues of evidencethat you cannot take care of inside the regular American court system,classified information that might have an impact on how we collectintelligence and those sorts of things.
And there are facilities built in Guantanamo right now that areable to do that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Agreement here?
KYL: Yes. I agree. There are some people that you try, veryfew, some more that you try in the military commissions, and we'vealways had military commissions of one kind or another.
Some that you can't because of the evidence and other factorstry, and if they are the equivalent of prisoners of war, in this case,enemy combatants, you can hold them until the end of the war thatyou're in.
And then, of course, there are those who, on an annual review,you decide can be released. Unfortunately a lot of those that we havereleased because we thought they no longer posed a danger, have comeback to the battlefield and have fought us.
But the president has made some changes in the militarycommissions to give these people some additional rights, and perhapsthat helps to balance the situation. Congress, after all, passed theMilitary Commissions Act.
This would liberalize it to some extent. We'll have to wait andsee whether it liberalizes it so much that they don't work anymore.But I'm happy to see how they work out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You laid out nicely the various groups ofdetainees that the president has to deal with, which, of course,brings us to the question of, what to do with those detainees onceGuantanamo is closed, as the president has called for.
I know this is creating a lot of controversy in the Senatebecause of the possibility that some of these detainees may have tocome to the United States.
And the attorney general, Eric Holder, was asked about this atthe Senate this week, and he said very clearly that no dangerousdetainees will be released in the United States.
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ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't know, whatever quantum ofproof, however you want to describe it, to believe that a person poseda danger to the United States, we will do all that we can to ensurethat that person remains detained and does not become a danger to theAmerican people.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: And is that enough assurance for you, SenatorKyl?
KYL: Well, understand that we've already released those who,after careful examination, we thought didn't pose a danger. And thenumber is somewhere between 30 and 60 who turned out to continue toconduct their activities against us after they were released.
The remaining 240 or so do pose a danger. So there aren't anyleft that can easily be released because they don't pose a danger.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's not exactly true, right? And Iwant to bring Senator Webb in on this, because I know there are about17, I believe, Chinese Uighurs, they are called, who have been orderedreleased by a federal court, they've determined not to be a threat tothe United States.
And the administration has been working on plans to bring them toVirginia. Can you accept them in your state?
WEBB: Well, let me back up for a minute. The answer is no.
WEBB: No. And I'll -- and then let me explain why. But to backit up, the numbers that we've seen in my office are about 800 peoplehave gone through Guantanamo.
The majority of those who have been released, we're down to 220to 240, so the majority of those that have been released have beenreleased to third countries, not actually released out into the open-- you know, to where they can... STEPHANOPOULOS: Just let out the door, right.
WEBB: Yes, right. So we don't know really where they have gone.This other group deserves due process. They deserve, in the rightkind of environment, and I support what the president is doing on themilitary commissions, to have their cases examined, to see whether ornot they should continue to be detained.
The situation with the Chinese Uighurs that you're talking about,on the one hand, it can be argued that they were simply conductingdissident activities against the government of China.
On the other, they accepted training from al Qaeda and as aresult they have taken part in terrorism. I don't believe they shouldcome to the United States.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not to the United States and not Virginia.
WEBB: No, I don't believe so.
KYL: No, I totally agree.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about this, there is also the group thatmight have to be brought to the United States for trial or to bedetained here. And the Republicans in the Senate have put outlegislation -- not introduced legislation that says no detainee shouldbe brought to the United States in any way unless the statelegislature and the governor of the state passes -- signs off on that.
One, do you have the votes to pass it? And, two, will you blockany funding for the closing of Guantanamo without those assurances?
KYL: That was a motion by House Republicans. We're taking upthe bill next week. There will be an amendment that would preclude --it would similar to that, but perhaps not identical.
A similar resolution passed a couple of years ago 93-4 saying,don't bring these detainees to the United States. And my guess isthat none of this supplemental funding will be allowed to relocatedetainees into the United States, that that amendment will be adopted.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Will you support that? Because you support...
WEBB: We spend hundreds of millions of dollars building anappropriate facility with all security precautions in Guantanamo totry these cases. There are cases against international law.
These aren't people who were in the United States, committing acrime in the United States. These are people who were brought toGuantanamo for international terrorism. I do not believe they shouldbe tried in the United States.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet back in January, you supported thepresident's decision to close Guantanamo.
WEBB: I think Guantanamo has become the great Rorschach test ofhow we feel about international terrorism. We should, at the righttime, close Guantanamo. But I don't think that it should be closed,and in terms of transferring people here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but I -- I just want to press this onemore time, because, actually, in January, on January 23rd, you saidthe president has given a reasonable timeline here in sorting thisout. You no believe it's reasonable?
WEBB: Well, no, I don't, actually. You know, having sat downwith my staff and gone through the numbers in detail, and looking at,you know, the facilities that have been built there, and coming to thepoint where I have to, you know, personally weigh in on this in adetailed way, I think what we're doing is the right way.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you will not support funding for closing downGuantanamo?
WEBB: We should close down Guantanamo at the right time. Ithink what has happened is Guantanamo has become the issue rather thanhow we process these people who were detained there.
Let's process them the right rules of law, the right due process,within the constraints of how we have to handle these cases, withmilitary intelligence and that sort of thing, but the facility isthere at Guantanamo to do it. And then close it down.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So the January deadline should be relaxed. Thepresident should not meet that January deadline. You don't believeGuantanamo...
WEBB: I think we should -- you know, I think we should defer tothe judgment of the administration who is looking at this. I think weall are moving toward the right direction. But we shouldn't becreating artificial timelines.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the administration said January.
WEBB: They've said a lot of things and taken a look and saidsome other things. So let's process these people in a very carefulway and then take care of it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me come back to you, Senator Kyl.Yesterday, President Obama appointed the Republican governor of Utah,Jon Huntsman, to be ambassador of China.
A high profile governor, he had been looking at a presidentialrun. Are you disappointed that he took this job?
KYL: No. He's a very capable guy. He speaks Mandarin Chinese.He had a post in Singapore similar to this in the past. He is veryexperienced. He is knowledgeable about trade issues. And I thinkit's great to have a highly qualified person like that.
And to the fact that the president reached out to appoint aRepublican is a good thing. I'm not at all disappointed. It's, Ithink, good for the United States.
WEBB: I'm chairman of the East Asia Subcommittee on the ForeignRelations Committee, I'm happy to take a look at his qualifications.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Webb, Senator Kyl, thank you both verymuch for your time this morning.
Straight to the roundtable now. So as our panelists take theirseats, take a look at Robert Gibbs from Friday's press briefing,showing just a little bit of exasperation after a week of taking a lotof heat from both sides.
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ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You started out onMonday wondering why we were being so opposite of George Bush in allof these questions. And on Friday, I'm answering questions about, whyare we so much like George Bush on all of these questions?
I'll let you guys discern what inflection point -- what period ofdays that all changed.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we'll let the round table discern whatperiod of day that all changed.
Let me bring them all in right now. I've got George Will asalways, former State Department official Liz Cheney, Steve Schmidt,John McCain's former campaign manager, James Carville, Democraticstrategist, also the author of "40 More Years, How the Democrats WillRule the Next Generation". Making George Will laugh. And KatrinaVanden Heuvel of "The Nation" magazine.
George, let's begin with the decisions President Obama made thisweek. He decided not to allow the release of these photos of detaineeabuse. He decided to reinstitute military commissions. You saw therea lot of human rights groups upset. Jim Webb apparently not all thatupset as a Democrat. How significant are these shifts and are theythe right moves?
GEORGE WILL, COLUMNIST: Well, they come after he essentiallyaffirmed warrantless wiretapping and escalated in Afghanistan. So youcan see why a certain faction of the Democratic Party is unhappy.
On the other hand, he has changed his mind on the photographs,but he's changed his mind by keeping a promise. The promise he madeduring the campaign was I will always consult with my commanders. Heconsulted with the commanders who said among other things, the 10 daysafter the Abu Ghraib photos were released, there was a spike ofviolence in Iraq. They strongly urged him not to release these and hewon't.
Now there is a court involved in this and the court has so farsaid that under the Freedom of Information Act, they have to bereleased. He can appeal that, he can lose, and he can then say I didmy best and the photos come out.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That good enough?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, "THE NATION": Obama was elected in partto correct the illegal shameful policies of these last eight years.I'm interested in the military commission's decision. Because hesided ...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you support him on the photos?
VANDEN HEUVEL: I don't. And I think they will come out and Ithink Obama could've set a clean break by saying we will never allowthese policies to happen again. They should be released to acommission. That's what I think he should have said if he wanted toelide the full disclosure. But on the military commissions, he sidedwith the military over his Justice Department, which weighed in andsaid that the federal courts have a long and good tradition ofsafeguarding the government's national legitimate interests as well assafeguarding intelligence information and the due process of suspects.
I think that it was a mistake. And I think what he's done,President Obama, is made it harder for some of his supporters tosupport him. And he will need them. He will need them in the fightsahead. And he can't -- my final point, he cannot evade any longer theneed for full true transparency and accountability. The momentum fora commission, a nonpartisan independent commission is so powerful atthis stage.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not sure that's true. If you heard thosesenators today ...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Well, we're not just inside the Beltway, George.I think there is interest in this country as more and more comes outif he's going to pursue what he wants to pursue in terms of hisagenda.
LIZ CHENEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I would imaginelistening to Katrina that you would agree, then, that the presidentought to declassified the memos the vice president's asked for, so theAmerican people can see the effectiveness of this program. And Ithink the president deserves some credit for coming to the right placeon military commissions and on the photos. But I do think it givesthe American people some pause to sort of have watched the stops andstarts here. The president on Guantanamo second day in officeannounces it's going to be closed before I think he had a realunderstanding and a handle on what the alternatives would be and howdifficult it would be.
And with the pictures, I think also, you saw again, anannouncement they would be released, and then having to walk thatback, and even an admission, frankly, that he hadn't looked at thepictures before announcing they'd be released. And I think on issuesthat have to do with national security and war and peace, the Americanpeople would like to see a little bit more consistency in terms oftheir commander-in-chief.
STEPHANOPOULOS: George, the White House is obviously sensitivethis charge on flip-flopping, but does it matter if you're going toend up in a place where you are going to get a lot of support?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: First of all if you saymy generals said I shouldn't release, it would cause a spike and thepresident says, OK, I won't release it. I think as George pointedout, that was something he said during the campaign. We would beawfully uncomfortable as Democrats if he were releasing these picturestomorrow and it was these things that General Petraeus and SecretaryGates and the new commander coming into Afghanistan, GeneralMcChrystal, would've said let's don't do this. So let me tell you, as a Democrat I'm very happy that he decidedto listen to his commanders. And it may very well be that as it windsits way through the courts the courts will release them anyway. Idon't know.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be, and maybe part of the calculationis they are going to come out eventually. But we're at a criticaltime in Iraq now as troops are moving out of the cities, we're headingtowards elections. And Afghanistan, the timing here did matter.
CARVILLE: It did. And again, you would not want to be presidentand have the secretary of defense and your top commanders come backand say we advise against doing this. That would make meuncomfortable and I'm a pretty good Democrat.
CHENEY: Those same people advised against doing it before theWhite House publicly announced they would release the photos. It's alittle disingenuous to say he made the decision based on what themilitary commander ...
VANDEN HEUVEL: But it's also buying the military argument --It's buying the military argument that the release of these photoswill increase violence. These photos, Guantanamo, Bagram, that hasbeen the cause for anti-Americanism and our actions, our policies inescalating in Afghanistan.
CARVILLE: I agree with you. We became infatuated with torture.We should've never done that. However, and the reason you have thesephotographs is because they exist. Having said all of that, if thesegenerals come in and you're the president and he says -- they say youshouldn't do it right now.
VANDEN HEUVEL: You don't envy ...
CARVILLE: I don't envy the decision, but I'm more comfortable asa Democrat with him making this decision than another decision.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Steve, he's also facing, we saw with the senatoras well today, some more controversy over Guantanamo. And this wasthe next big political controversy that's going to be coming down thepike for the president. He said he wants Guantanamo to close,Democrats in the House say they're not going to fund it. And nowappears the Democrats in the Senate are going to say exactly the samething and what you've got above all is a huge consensus developing inthe Senate that no one wants a detainee in their own state.
SCHMIDT: Well, there are a lot of very dangerous peoplecommitted to kill Americans that are housed at Guantanamo Bay. It wasa very irresponsible decision to announce the closing of theGuantanamo Bay prison before he had any idea where the detainees therewere going to go.
The decision he made this week was the right decision. Katrinasaid he bought the military story. When an American militarycommander says you're going to get soldiers killed if you releasethese photos, commander in chief made the prudent decision, he madethe right decision, and he deserves credit for it here.
More and more, though, you see over this course of his youngpresidency him adopting policies that he criticized on the campaign,because now he's in the real world. He's leading our country and weare a nation at war. And he is making decisions, thankfully, that areresponsible with regard to the security of the country and the livesof our men and women.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One of the things you see is the president ispretty unsentimental about it. He's showing unsentimentality. He'salso showing great flexibility, which is, you know, useful in apresident, but he is getting criticism on this Guantanamo issue fornot giving his own party cover. I mean, he's got his secretary ofdefense saying we're going to have to bring some of them into theStates. He's got his attorney general saying we're not going to letany dangerous people into the States, but we might have to allow somedetainees here, yet he's been relatively silent.
WILL: Well, you know, the supermax prisons in our country arefull of Americans who have killed Americans and are perfectly safe.So the idea that we can't find a place to house these very few peoplewho are really dangerous strikes me as preposterous.
And I don't think the country minds it when a president changeshis mind. It indicates that he's looking at the evidence.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I agree with George on the supermax. But yousaid, George, that the next big controversy is Guantanamo. The nextbig controversy is the mounting evidence showing that torture was usedto extract evidence to create a link, a false link between SaddamHussein and Al Qaida. That is a crucial area of investigation andanther reason...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me try to get a little bit more context hereand we'll let Liz respond.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me just explain to the viewer what Katrinais talking about, a little more context on what she's talking about.
There were some reports this week that the vice president'soffice actually back in 2003, in April of 2003, I believe, sent somesort of word to Iraq that a detainee in custody should be waterboardedin order to get information to establish whether there was aconnection between Iraq and Al Qaida, or more information on weaponsof mass destruction. Your response.
CHENEY: Well, two things. It's easy to sit here inside theBeltway and say gosh, no problem to put terrorists in Colorado. And Ithink, frankly, the people in Colorado would have something to say tothat to object.
On this particular allegation, you know, nobody who is talkingabout this in the press has any knowledge of specific detaineetreatment. And you saw the CIA yesterday come out and say absolutelyunequivocally waterboarding was not used to establish this kind of alink.
VANDEN HEUVEL: I have not seen...
CHENEY: Well, you should...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But I want to press one thing there, becausethere was a report -- no, but you explained one part of it. I justwant to ask you to explain another part of it. The report, though,that the vice president's office did ask specifically to haveinformation about Iraq-Al Qaida connections presented to thisdetainee, do you deny that?
CHENEY: I think that it's important for us to have all the factsout. And the first and more important fact is that the vice presidenthas been absolutely clear that he supported this program, this was animportant program, it saved American lives.
Now, the way this policy worked internally was once the policywas determined and decided, the CIA, you know, made the judgmentsabout how each individual detainee would be treated. And the vicepresident would not substitute his own judgment for theprofessionals...
STEPHANOPOULOS: No one in his office either?
CHENEY: ... at the CIA. So I think it's very important for usto look at exactly what the facts are. And the facts are that threepeople were waterboarded. The people that, you know, claimed to havebeen waterboarded in these articles are not any of those people. AndI think, frankly, you've also got to look at the source of some ofthese allegations, and one of the big sources is Colonel Wilkerson.Now, Colonel Wilkerson gets coverage because of his associations withGeneral Powell.
STEPHANOPOULOS: His former chief of staff.
CHENEY: And has made a cottage industry of out, you know,fantasies about the vice president...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he's not the only one reporting it, butit's good to get your answer.
We're going to have to take a break right now. This roundtable'sgoing to continue after the break. The Pelosi-CIA showdown. Who willwin? How much trouble is the speaker in?
STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll be right back with the roundtable and the"Sunday Funnies."
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QUESTION: Madam Speaker, just to be clear, you're accusing theCIA of lying to you in September of 2002.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER: Yes, misleading the Congressof the United States, misleading the Congress of the United States.
Everything that I received, we were not told that -- in fact, wewere told that waterboarding was not being used.
No, I wasn't -- I was informed that a briefing had taken place.Now, you have to look at what they briefed those members. I was notbriefed that. I was only informed that they were briefed but I didnot get the briefing.
So, yes, I am saying that they are misleading -- that the CIA wasmisleading the Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi under fire but notbacking down one bit in her Thursday press conference. Let me bringour roundtable back in to talk about it. George Will, Liz Cheney,Steve Schmidt, James Carville and Katrina Vanden Heuvel.
And, George, I love the way that Dan Balz of The Washington Postanalyzed this. He said: Her performance -- "The speaker'sperformance in the Capitol was either a calculated escalation of along-running feud with the Bush administration or a reckless act by apolitician whose word has been called into question."
WILL: The Bush administration is gone and people addicted toattacking it really have to get over that. Her charges are so shrill,so specific, and so grave that they turn something that was arguablyadvisable, a truth commission, into something that's becomingmandatory to find out whether or not we can trust the CIA. That's avery serious charge she made.
CARVILLE: You know, seven years ago, the CIA says something.She says -- and she and Senator Graham and Senator Rockefeller saysomething. I just -- I don't think that Democrats really want to beat war with the CIA. We had that, you know, before and that's notparticularly productive.
I think that she and the CIA director should sit down and theyshould as best as we can determine this is what happened. It wasseven years ago. I'm a little bit like Senator Webb. I mean, wecould...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But then why go the extra step and say theylied?
CARVILLE: Well, you know what -- and I love the speaker, she's agreat family lady and everything else, I probably wouldn't have donethat, OK?
CARVILLE: I just -- you know what I mean? It raises to thelevel of some kind of a -- "she has got to resign" or this or that.No, I probably -- if I would have been there I would have probablysaid, look, I have a very different recollection or something alongthose lines.
This is something that happened seven years ago. There's somesupport that they didn't tell us. There is some support that they didtell her. But she and Leon Panetta are from the same part of thecountry, they're from the same political party. It seems to me thatsomebody could sit down and say, this is our version of it or whateverand we need to get a better way to do this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it doesn't look like the Republican Party isgoing to let that happen.
SCHMIDT: No, look, I think if you watch that news conference, Imean, she couldn't have looked worse, totally not credible. I thinkwhat's totally exposed here is her partisan witch hunt against formerBush administration officials.
And while I disagree with some of the policies, particularly withregard to waterboarding, sincerely the vice president and otherssincerely believe these were the policies necessary to keep thiscountry safe, which was kept safe for seven-and-a-half years. And I think the ludicrousness of we're going to try to prosecute,we're going to try to haul people before congressional committees. Imean, you look at the committee hearings on the auto companies, it'sinconceivable to me what the circus looks like when we start toinvestigate the intelligence agencies in a time of war.
VANDEN HEUVEL: Hey, guys, this is about truth and torture.Illegal, immoral, wrong torture. This is not a political footballgame. I'm not here to absolve or condemn Nancy Pelosi. I'm saying weneed to use this time to get to the truth of what a party in power in2002, with all of the power in the world did in terms of briefings,insufficient, incomplete briefings on a range of issues, WMDs, 9/11Commission, Iraq.
We need to use that. We need to declassify the briefingsmaterial and not cherry-pick as your father, Liz, wishes to do, isreleasing...
CHENEY: My father doesn't wish to cherry-pick -- no.
VANDEN HEUVEL: He just wants two documents. But we need a truthcommission with General Taguba. That is my proposal. The man who ranthe Abu Ghraib report. Have a military man oversee and have realpower to get to the truth of what we need to do to move forwardresponsibly.
Steve, to bury this will tarnish and undermine and subvert thejustice and power of this country...
CHENEY: Katrina, there is absolutely actually no confusion onour side of this issue. On our side of this issue, you know, you cansay you agree or you disagree with the policy, but these were policiesthat kept the country safe.
The vice president, as an example, has been very clear in sayingabsolutely I supported these policies.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but...
CHENEY: No, but you let her go, George. You've got to let mefinish.
The vice president has been absolutely clear in saying these arethe right policies.
CHENEY: Now the people who seem to be confused are, you know,the Nancy Pelosis of the world who supported it but then they didn'tsupport or who were really offended by it but they made no response toit. So I think it's very important here to be clear about what thefacts are and in fact what happened.
CARVILLE: George, absolutely stunning finding and in line forfour more years where Democracy Corps asked the American people,sometimes it you want to know an answer, best thing is ask thequestion. We said when it comes to national security policy, do youthink President Obama is doing better, worse or about the same asPresident George W. Bush? Very fair question. The results werestartling. Fifty percent said President Obama, 25 percent saidPresident Bush. We're living in a world where twice as many peoplethink that this administration is doing a better job on the signatureRepublican issue. This is somewhat of a -- this represents -- thisis, again ...
CHENEY: It depends which polls you quote. No, but, James, thereis a Rasmussen poll out that that says 58 percent of the Americanpeople polled believe that the release -- I'll show you my polls toobelieve that the release of the interrogation memos actually made usless safe so you can quote a whole range of polls on your question,James.
CARVILLE: Liz, this is just fact.
CHENEY: That's right. I'm telling you the response here.
CARVILLE: Twice as many people think that this president, on thequestion, who is doing a better job of keeping the nation safe, sowhat is clearly working is that this, quote, offensive, this talkradio offensive that somehow or another Obama is keeping us less safeis blowing up in their face and I'm all for letting the offense go.
CHENEY: I know you've been in the Seychelles but what's going onin the United States in the last week really bears little resemblanceto what you just said.
CARVILLE: Again, this poll was conducted ...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Last week has been a coordinated campaign ...
CHENEY: Last week is actually the American people saying, wait asecond, we do not want a president who is going to dismantle thethings that kept us safe without studying them and thinking aboutthem. And when the White House announces they're going to releasepictures then turns the decision around and says, we're not releasingthe pictures that tells you that the American people who are speakingout are actually having an impact ...
CARVILLE: Can I repeat this ...
WILL: Surely ...
CARVILLE: Fifty percent President Obama ...
CHENEY: In your poll. Which poll, James?
So, James, my poll says 58 percent of the American peopleactually believe we're less safe.
STEPHANOPOULOS: George Will in first and then Katrina.
WILL: Surely the point is smaller than this cosmic questionwe're talking about our national safety is did the CIA lie to Congressand if not, is the speaker, the third person in line to be presidentof the United States, is she truthful at this point? Now, SenatorMcCain was he says briefed on waterboarding and vehemently, his word,protested. Jane Harman who replaced Nancy Pelosi as ranking Democraton the Intelligence Committee says she was briefed and wrote a strongletter of protest. Let's find out what -- who is telling the truth,the CIA or the speaker.
CARVILLE: Senator Graham, who takes copious notes, says that hewasn't as did Senator Rockefeller as did Senator Feinstein. I'm allfor -- it is imminently conceivable that seven years ago people havetwo different memories of a meeting. That's not outside the realm ofpossibility. But we can -- just like we need to find out if torturewas used to extract confessions to talk about links between al Qaedaand Saddam Hussein which we know that al Qaeda had nothing to do with9/11.
CHENEY: Al Qaeda had to do with 9/11 ...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Can this table agree that we need a commission toinvestigate -- to investigate the full range of abuse, misuse ofintelligence, in addition, what we've seen over the last week, Liz,and we may live on different planets is a coordinated campaign todistract attention from the true architects of a torture campaignwhich has made this country less secure, I think that is what millionsof Americans have seen and the polls, which show that President Cheneywho has given interviews ...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Vice president ...
VANDEN HEUVEL: Oh, I'm sorry. I always thought of him aspresident. Has given interviews to the compliant media is now 56 GOPinsiders think he's doing damage to the Republican Party. What doesthat suggest?
CHENEY: Well, Katrina, I really appreciate your concern for theRepublican Party and I think you and I do live on opposite planets butI do think that it's the case that the American people, you know, whenPresident Obama first came into office, he was asked do you agree withVice President Cheney's advice that you ought to take a long, hardlook at these policies and at the intel and what we've learned beforeyou make changes. He said I actually do, I agree with that. Day two,he comes into office and he doesn't just change the policy but hereleases to the terrorist, to the enemy the list of the techniquesthat we used so those techniques are now out there in the legal memos,they're out there for the terrorists to train to. Then he comes inand says, listen, we're going to prosecute potentially people whoworked in the Bush administration who worked very hard to keep thenation safe. Now, in my view that's un-American. That's notsomething that's ever happened before in this nation.
SCHMIDT: It's Banana Republicanism is what it is.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he's pretty much taken that off the table,the prosecution...
CHENEY: Yes, but come on, George, to even suggest it, I don't hehas taken it off the table.
VANDEN HEUVEL: When is democratic accountability bananarepublicanism?
SCHMIDT: ... thousands of Americans murdered in Lower Manhattanand across the country by these attack, anthrax, the belief that moreattacks were imminent.
The public officials in the Bush administration who worked tokeep this country safe, you may disagree with the policy, but to wantto do these prosecutions, to haul people before the congressionalcircus up here is nonsense.
And at the end of the day, at the end of the day, the presidentmade the right decision, in my view, to stop the practice ofwaterboarding. There are profound issues facing this country. Weought to move forward, not look backward. There is an obsession onthe left with get Bush, get Cheney, get Bush administration officials,the Democrats now run this city and they should leave it in the past.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to go to the politics just a little bitbecause Katrina talked about that National Journal Insiders Poll where57 percent of Republicans say they don't think it's helpful.
And I know you probably believe what your father is doing ishelpful, obviously. But I want to get Steve as John McCain's formercampaign manager, I know a lot of your former colleagues, Republicanoperatives, think it's not that helpful to have a former vicepresident coming out this early in this way. SCHMIDT: It doesn't matter. Dick Cheney will never be on aballot again for national office. What you've seen him be able to do,though, is to put great attention onto an issue and to impact thisissue in a very marked way over the last week.
The party doesn't have a leader right now and the party is notgoing to have a leader until we have a nominee. And so there's a lotof voices in the party and I think he has been a voice in this countryon issues since the late 1960s and he has every right to speak out.
CARVILLE: I don't have a problem. He's the former vicepresident. He wants to go out. He can speak all that he wants to,just like Rush Limbaugh can speaks all that he wants to. There is adebate in the Republican Party. I think it is a good debate. And thevice president, Rush Limbaugh -- Rush Limbaugh says we ought to kickJohn McCain and Meghan McCain out of the party, good riddance toSpecter. I'm sure it's going to be -- Monday, it's going to be goodriddance to Huntsman.
I think it is healthy for the country for the vice president tobe out there. I'm all for this. I don't have an objection to it atall.
STEPHANOPOULOS: George, has that brought a smile to your face?
WILL: Yes, I'll be you are all...
WILL: It's campaigning 101 to define your opponent. And yourside thinks it is advantageous to define the opposition party as DickCheney. Pro-Cheney, anti-Cheney, doesn't matter because a risinggeneration of new Republicans are coming along and by the time we getinto another election they're going to be the story.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet, one new -- one member of that risinggeneration, Jon Huntsman, has decided he is going to join Obama'steam.
WILL: Sent to China. And that may be a tribute from the Obamaadministration to the political potential in Mr. Huntsman. I don'tknow. He also speaks Mandarin Chinese. He would be a goodambassador.
CHENEY: I would like to say something about the next generationof Republicans. Look, it seems to me that, you know, our opponentslike to spend a lot of time talking about who is up and who is down.
The future of the Republican Party is going to be built based onsubstance. And a key part of that substance is a strong nationaldefense. And what you see all across the country today, frankly, arethe rise of conservative groups, people who say, I'm not Republican,I'm not Democratic, but I'm conservative.
And they've got a set of core beliefs, strong national defense,belief in the Second Amendment, individual liberties, low taxes,limited government, those are the things that this party has longstood for and that made America great.
The national security piece of it is one in which the vicepresident has, in fact, been very effective in the debate over thecourse of the last two weeks, not just in influencing public opinionbut, frankly, in influencing the Obama White House.
So I think, you know, it's great for me to sort of hear James andKatrina talk about, you know, where they think the party is going. Infact, I think that the Republican Party has got to stay true to thosecore principles. And when it does, I think we'll be back to winningelections again.
VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, I certainly respect your father's rightto go out and speak to the nation. I think those who disagreed withthat have a kind of royalist mentality, that the vice president shoulddisappear. I think two of the great speakers of our time have beenVice President Gore and ex-President Jimmy Carter.
However, what he's doing, it seems to me, is a kind of politicalsuicide mission for the Republican Party with the Republican Party ashis collateral damage. You talk about an evolving generation. Thatgeneration will find it harder, in my view, if the party is so alliedwith a failed and disastrous Bush-Cheney administration.
VANDEN HEUVEL: But my last point is, I do think there is energyin the Republican Party in an interesting area, which islibertarianism. George Will, smile or not, but I do think Ron Paul isnot the right messenger.
But it was surprising that before Obama took off that a lot ofyoung people found in Ron Paul's message, again, not the rightmessenger. But that's where you may see the strength.
On the other hand, the demographic shifts in this country speakto what Steve Schmidt spoke to when he spoke in defense of gaymarriage and the need for a party to accommodate and be a big tent andnot self-marginalize, which it has done.
CHENEY: ... give me time to respond to this.
CHENEY: Look, at the end of the day, what the vice president isdoing is not about politics. And it's fascinating and interesting forall of us who care about politics to make these analyses.
At the end of the day, what he's doing is standing up because hebelieves that this country is less safe if we dismantle thesepolicies, and because he believes it's wrong for an administration tocome in and prosecute...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... helping the Republican Party?
CHENEY: Absolutely. No question.
CARVILLE: (inaudible) losing the next generation. And thegeneration coming up, the Republicans have all 32 percent of the younggeneration. The big problem that the party faces, and that's one ofthe reasons I think that people want to, 66-32 voted Obama over McCainin this election. That was -- even John Kerry carried younger voters.
As these younger voters come to the system, the Republican Partyis going to have to think of a way -- I think that they will -- toaddress these voters and these concerns. Right now, they're not doingit. And, therefore, as a Democrat, I -- I wouldn't -- and it wouldn'tbe any good -- but I don't think anything that this vice president isgoing to say, maybe he doesn't think is political, but if you're aformer vice president and you attack an incumbent president, it is byits nature political.
WILL: The secret of the Republican revival are the seeds sown byDemocratic policies -- inflation and all the rest -- and I suggestthat one day, "40 More Years" will be a title as memorable as the booktitled "Dow 36,000."
CARVILLE: George, you and I won't be here for this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Couple of minutes left, and I want to -- asGeorge is selling your book for you, I want to talk about thepresident today. He's going to be going to Notre Dame, facing a lotof protests on campus, George, from those who say he shouldn't behonored in this way by a Catholic institution. WILL: Well, the wrong principle is to say that whenever aspeaker speaks at a university, the university is necessarilyendorsing what he says or what he stands for. No one wants that.
On the other hand, the question is not what Mr. Obama will saytoday, but what Notre Dame says by inviting him. It goes against theguidance issued in 2004 by the bishops, reaffirmed this week by theprotests from Cardinal George of Chicago and Cardinal Dolan of NewYork, saying that on a matter this important, on abortion, it is wrongfor a Catholic university to muddy its message, because inviting thepresident suggests that the issue is not all that important.
CARVILLE: I think that what -- if it is that important -- andI'm not the best Catholic in the world, but I consider myself aCatholic -- what they need to do is get the faculty and make sure,like say, a constitutional law teacher there that would teach that Roev. Wade is settled law, and that person has got to go. I mean, that'smuch more of an effect than anything like that.
I also found it interesting that the valedictorian, the youngwoman that's going to Harvard, to medical school said that she votedfor Obama, that she was completely -- didn't agree with him onabortion. But if Notre Dame wants to get serious about this, I thinkthey can go down and find -- I bet you there are a lot of pro-choicefaculty members that might even be some that are in law school andfind out what these people are doing.
SCHMIDT: As a Catholic, I agree with James completely on this.It always drove me nuts when President Bush was in office, he wasinvited to a commencement speech --and I'll defend the right of anyoneto protest in this country, absolutely on anything -- but I think wedo too much turning our back to each other in this country. He's thepresident of the United States. And that's an office that ought to betreated with respect. The university invited him, and I think heought to be able to go and say his piece. And, you know, it'sdiscouraging to me that you see, you know, time after time, let's turnour backs on each other, let's walk out of this stuff, and there's toomuch of that in this country.
VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, the protesters are more Catholic thanthe pope, the Catholic bishops more Catholic than the pope. This isan unwelcome intrusion of religion into academic life. This is amoment for people to listen to a president who is a listeningpresident on the whole issue of abortion. It should be a decisionbetween a woman, her family and her doctor, not the government.
And I think that there is a hypocrisy here. Where were theseCatholic bishops on Iraq when the pope denounced it, or when George W.Bush, who presided over more executions as governor and thenpresident, was invited to speak? So there's hypocrisy and a doublestandard.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm afraid that is all we have time for today.