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Elizabeth Dole, Charles Schumer, Arlen Specter, Roundtable

Fox News Sunday

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. Iraqi forces arrest a top Al Qaida leader, next on "Fox News Sunday".

The race is on for control of the U.S. Senate. Will the GOP hold on to its majority or will a Democratic tide sweep them out? We'll talk strategy with the chairmen of the Senate Campaign Committees, Republican Elizabeth Dole and Democrat Charles Schumer.

From immigration reform to judicial nominees to terrorist surveillance, what will Congress do when it comes back this week? We'll ask the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter.

Team Bush goes on the attack against Iraq war critics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: We'll discuss the new White House offensive with our panel, Brit Hume, Elisabeth Bumiller, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams. And our Power Player of the Week, a football legend tackles a big challenge off the field, all right now on "Fox News Sunday".

Good morning again and happy Labor Day from Fox News in Washington. Let's get right to the latest headlines. Officials in Baghdad say they've arrested the number two leader of Al Qaida in Iraq. Hamed al-Saeedi reportedly had direct responsibility for the bombing of a Samarra shrine earlier this year that touched off a wave of sectarian violence.

Iran's President Ahmadinejad told U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan today his nation wants a negotiated solution to the nuclear standoff with the west. But according to Annan, the Iranian leader says he will not stop uranium enrichment before the talks.

And Thomas Kean Jr., New Jersey's Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, says Defense Secretary Rumsfeld should resign. Kean, whose father co-chaired the 9/11 Commission, said Rumsfeld's recent comments about Iraq war critics were, quote, "over the line".

Well, with just 65 days to the midterm elections, some analysts believe Democrats are within striking distance of regaining control of the U.S. Senate. For more on the strategy of both parties, we're joined by the chairmen of the two Senate Campaign Committees, Republican Elizabeth Dole and, from New York, Democrat Charles Schumer.

Senators, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday".

SEN. ELIZABETH DOLE (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Thank you very much.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Good morning.

WALLACE: This week, top administration officials made the war on terror and the war in Iraq the prime issue, comparing it to the fight against the Nazis in the 1930s. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some in our own country claim retreat from Iraq would satisfy the appetite of the terrorists and get them to leave us alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUMSFELD: Some seem not to have learned history's lessons. Can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Senator Dole, which Democrats -- and I'd like you to name them -- which Democrats running for the Senate this year believe that terrorists can be appeased?

DOLE: Well, let me say, first of all, that I think what the administration officials were saying is that this is a very serious situation. They want the American people to realize that these are Islamic jihadists who are literally trying to destroy our way of life, destroy us, and they were raising the level of attention to just how serious it is.

WALLACE: I know, but...

DOLE: And I just want to say -- let me just mention that the tools that are needed to fight the war on terror, such as the Patriot Act -- now, there are a number of the Democrat candidates who are against the Patriot Act -- Sherrod Brown, for example, who's running against Mike DeWine in Ohio. I could name any number of -- Bob Menendez I believe voted against the Patriot Act.

The terrorist surveillance program -- many of the Democrats have raised concerns about this particular tool which enabled -- the same kind of tool enabled the British to come across the plot to bomb airplanes...

WALLACE: Do you think that goes...

DOLE: ... and the bank surveillance act and missile defense system -- the Democrats have been against the missile defense system. WALLACE: Do you think that goes to the level -- and I'm going to give Senator Schumer in a moment a chance to respond. Do you think that goes to the level of what Secretary Cheney called trying to appease the terrorists or what Vice President -- Secretary Rumsfeld called, or what Vice President Cheney called trying to satisfy the appetite of the terrorists?

DOLE: I think that this is designed to raise the attention of the American people to the severity of these Islamic jihadists who are in a holy war, who, as I say, want to destroy us. It's a movement, and it's a very serious matter, and I think that's's what they were trying to do.

WALLACE: Senator Schumer, I'm going to give you an opportunity to respond, but I'd also like you, as you do, to answer the question -- Senator Barbara Boxer, one of your Democratic colleagues, has said that she is going to put in a resolution for a vote of no confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld.

What message do you think that sends to our troops and to our enemies in the middle of a war?

SCHUMER: Okay. Well, first let me answer here, the analogy with World War II is just so flawed. There were many Americans who thought Hitler could be appeased. So did Chamberlain. So did others. Nobody thinks these terrorists can be appeased.

Here's the fundamental difference. The Republican leadership doesn't have a real plan in Iraq. It's worse now than it was before. There seems to be no daylight at the end of the tunnel. And then in the rest of foreign policy, we're worse off with North Korea and Iran, which are gaining in terms of gaining nuclear weapons.

Even Afghanistan -- their great victory is now seeming to deteriorate. Karzai is weaker. The southern part of Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban who allowed Al Qaida free rein.

So when you don't have a good policy, that's the major difference. They think they can bring up these old chestnuts that they used in 2002 and 2004. But the fundamental difference is that Americans are not happy with the policies that are going on.

Everyone says -- every poll says that the vast majority of Americans, Democrats and Republicans, think we need a change in direction in both Iraq and in foreign policy. So that's why...

WALLACE: Senator Schumer...

SCHUMER: ... they're covering up. Now, as for the question about Rumsfeld...

WALLACE: Okay.

SCHUMER: ... the bottom line is this. Bill Clinton said it well, that we can be both strong and smart when it comes to foreign policy and the war on terror. We have seen a lot of strength from this administration, but not too much in terms of smarts. And with Democrats, they'll get strength and smarts.

WALLACE: Okay.

SCHUMER: And I think what many Democrats...

WALLACE: I'd like you to answer the question if you could, Senator Schumer. Will Democrats push this resolution for a vote of no confidence in Rumsfeld? And what kind of message does that send to our troops in the field as well as our enemies?

SCHUMER: The message that it sends is very simple. It says that our policies are not going well, and it's not just Democrats that have called for Rumsfeld to step down. You just had a major Republican candidate do it yesterday.

And the reason is not that we shouldn't fight a strong war on terror, but Rumsfeld's not doing a very good job of it.

WALLACE: So you're going to push for a resolution. Yes or no?

SCHUMER: I believe there is a lot of sentiment to push for such a resolution, indeed.

WALLACE: I'm going to switch...

DOLE: You know, if I could just say...

WALLACE: Go ahead.

DOLE: ... just this point, that obviously war is hell. And while mistakes have been made -- I mean, no war is executed perfectly. War is hell. And I think we need to keep this in mind as we discuss these issues.

WALLACE: Senator Dole, I want to turn to another area. We could fight Iraq and the war on terror for this entire segment. But I want to turn to another key area in the race for Congress.

Republicans control the White House. They control the Senate. They control the House. And yet in the last two years, you've failed to act on Social Security reform, on immigration reform, on high gas prices, on ethics reform. On those specific issues, isn't that a record of failure?

DOLE: Let me just point out, you've got to look at the entirety of the record, no question about it.

WALLACE: No, no. I want to look at those four issues. Those are -- among other things, immigration reform and Social Security reform were the president's two top legislative priorities.

DOLE: Well, the Social Security -- the Democrats refused to come to the table. They simply would not sit down and talk about the issues. The president came forward with a strong proposal.

WALLACE: But you're the majority. You didn't even pass a bill out of committee.

DOLE: And the Democrats just absolutely locked arms and said we are not going to -- we're not going to come to the table, we're not going to discuss this.

WALLACE: But again, you have the majority. You didn't even pass something out of committee.

DOLE: Well, I want to -- I'd really like to talk about the broader picture, because I think there's been a great record of success.

WALLACE: But what about these issues?

DOLE: When the Democrats were -- well, I'm going to...

WALLACE: That's my question.

DOLE: Immigration -- the bill that came out of the Judiciary Committee, the first bill -- the leader of the -- the minority leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, would not permit but three amendments. Now, that is absolutely ridiculous that you would not have more than three amendments to a major piece of legislation.

Then finally when there was -- and of course, we wasted days and days on that. Then the bill that was before the Senate -- there were amendments which would have made that bill palatable, but they were turned down by the Democrats.

And imagine -- this defies common sense -- that illegal immigrants would be given Social Security. That really defies common sense.

WALLACE: All right. Let me move, if I can -- forgive me. I do have to move on to Senator Schumer here, because Democrats as well refused to come up -- as Senator Dole pointed out, Senator Schumer, Democrats refused to come up with any plan to deal with Social Security.

You continued to block any drilling for new oil in ANWR. Also, your Senate leader bragged last year about killing the Patriot Act. Haven't Democrats over the last two years basically been obstructionists?

SCHUMER: Not at all. What we're trying to do is get the policies back in sync with what America wants. And again, most Americans -- Democrats, Independents, even moderate Republicans -- want a new direction.

Nobody wanted to privatize Social Security. And that's why many Republicans went against it. You're right, Chris -- Democrats didn't block it.

On immigration, overwhelming majority of Democrats supported President Bush's plan. And it was the Republican minority in the Senate that -- a minority of the Republicans in the House, rather, that refused to go along.

Now, we stand for a whole lot of things that the American people want. Should we be given the chance after November 7th? Here's what we're going to do. We're going to have real security. We're going to double strike forces and make homeland security much better.

We're going to have energy independence, a real energy plan that breaks dependence on big oil and goes after price gouging and finds alternatives. We're going to make college tuition deductible.

WALLACE: All right. Senator Schumer, again, you know, I'm not trying to cut you off, but we want to talk about a variety of things very briefly.

DOLE: If I could just briefly say that the Democrats -- a lot of people have said you know, they have no alternatives, no ideas, it's just obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, attack, attack.

Chris, they have an agenda. They just can't talk about it. It's sort of like the Trojan horse. I mean, the American people wouldn't buy it if they talked about it. The Trojan horse -- you know, they take over.

If they were to take over the Senate, which they will not, then they would unfold what their agenda is -- high taxes. Right away you'd get taxes going up. You'd get judges who would threaten our values. If you don't like...

WALLACE: All right. Just on those -- very briefly...

DOLE: ... if you don't like the law, we'll just change it.

WALLACE: ... on those two issues, Senator Schumer, how do you respond, on taxes and judges?

SCHUMER: Well, the bottom line is yes, we have an agenda. It's what the American people want. It's lower gas prices. It's college tuition deductibility. It's making the costs of prescription drugs lower. It's not the things that Senator Dole mentions.

We've put together a plan. Democratic leaders Reid and Pelosi, packed by the overwhelming majority of the House and Senate...

WALLACE: Senator Schumer...

SCHUMER: ... have done it, and -- wait a second, Chris. Give me a chance to answer.

WALLACE: Well, I think you've had a chance, sir.

SCHUMER: That's what we will do.

WALLACE: OK.

SCHUMER: And the American people want it. And the only reason that we are so far ahead in so many of the polls is they don't like where President Bush is taking America. They don't like the rubber stamp...

WALLACE: OK. Senator Schumer...

SCHUMER: ... Republican Senate. And they want a change in direction.

WALLACE: I'm going to try...

DOLE: Prescription drugs, energy policy...

WALLACE: OK.

DOLE: When they were in, they didn't get it. We did.

WALLACE: Let's talk some math here, guys. And let me put up where the race stands right now. And you're the guys that are working on this all the time.

Democrats hold 18 of the Senate seats that are up this year, including one Independent. Republicans hold 15. And the Democrats need a net gain of six for a majority. As things stand now, we see seven Republican seats in these states that you see there with competitive races.

Senator Schumer, you have to win six of those seven, or even more if you lose any of your Democratic seats. Isn't that a pretty tall order?

SCHUMER: It is a tall order. There's no question about it. But the wind is at our backs. The American people are not happy with the direction the president is taking America in. That's Democrats, moderate Republicans, Independents.

They want real change. We offer that change. Right now, Chris, we are ahead in five seats where we're challenging Republican incumbents. We're close in three others.

And, yes, it's a hard bill to take back the Senate. We're confident we're going to pick up seats. And if all the stars align correctly, we could take back the Senate.

WALLACE: OK.

Senator Dole, let's look at the map involving your race. According to the latest polls, these four states are in play. These are Democratic seats.

Given the math here, the fact that they have to pick up six of seven, and if they lose any of those then they have to pick up even more, is there any way you can lose control of the Senate?

DOLE: We're going to remain in control of the Senate. In fact, I'll put a wager on this with Chuck. I want him to take me out for a really nice dinner here if they take control of the Senate.

SCHUMER: Hey, Elizabeth, I will take you out for a dinner, win or lose.

WALLACE: All right. Let me ask you -- we'll let you both play prognosticator here. Republicans now control the Senate 55-45. When all the votes are counted on election day -- Senator Dole, you go first -- what will the breakdown be?

DOLE: Well, I'm just going to say we're going to control the Senate. We will remain in control of the Senate.

WALLACE: And Senator Schumer?

SCHUMER: We will pick up a significant number of seats. If the stars align correctly, we will take back the Senate. We have nine seats in play now.

WALLACE: All right. And finally, Senator Schumer, on another matter, you have gone after the White House and Karl Rove for years for allegedly leaking the name of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

You said it appears likely that he, Rove, was the source of the leak that outed her, that he no longer deserved the benefit of the doubt. You talked about him having to give back his security pass.

Now that it has been established that it was not Rove, it was Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state at the time -- that he was the primary source for the story, Senator Schumer, do you owe Karl Rove and the White House an apology?

SCHUMER: No, absolutely not. I mean, first of all, it has been determined not only that Armitage mentioned it, and that hasn't been fully determined yet, but that Rove did as well.

And let me tell you, again, whoever did it, for whatever reason, the act of putting the name of somebody who risked their life for the country and the people who helped that person is a dastardly act.

And there hasn't been a real apology from the White House. There hasn't been a real study as to how it happened and what to do to prevent it.

WALLACE: But, Senator Schumer, it apparently was -- you say a dastardly act, and you've talked about it as being a crime. The fact is the federal prosecutor, Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald, looked at it for months and decided to let Armitage go, did nothing.

As a matter of fact, he let Karl Rove go and said he was not guilty of any crime.

SCHUMER: OK. First of all, we do have an indictment here of someone not telling the truth. And second, it's a dastardly act. It didn't meet a criminal standard. And I always said I had full faith in Prosecutor Fitzgerald, and whatever he said in terms of the criminal standard I would abide by, and I always have.

But that doesn't take away from the fact that it never should have been done.

WALLACE: All right. Senator Schumer, Senator Dole, thanks so much for talking politics with us today.

DOLE: Thank you.

WALLACE: I've got to say, you guys really went at it. Thank you so much.

Up next, Senator Arlen Specter on the tough fight ahead in Congress over immigration reform, judicial nominees and terrorist surveillance. Stay tuned.

WALLACE: With less than a month of work before Congress adjourns for the election, there are still a number of key issues to be resolved. For more, we turn to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter.

Mr. Chairman, the president made comprehensive immigration reform one of his top legislative priorities, and yet Republicans in the House and Senate basically talked past each other all summer.

What are the chances that you are going to get a compromise on immigration reform before the election? And if you don't, isn't that a serious failure?

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: If we don't, it is a serious problem. And that's one of the factors which is going to push us to get comprehensive reform. I've talked to the president about it. We now have bills from both the House and the Senate.

We talked past each other, but that's not unusual. And now we're going to go into conference, and I think we can reconcile our differences.

WALLACE: So you're saying that there is going to be a conference between the House and the Senate on immigration reform this month.

SPECTER: Chris, it's not entirely up to me, but my first call on Tuesday morning is going to be to Chairman Sensenbrenner, and I'm going to say to him Jim, let's sit down and talk. We've both got bills. Everybody agrees it's a gigantic problem. The president wants it done. The American people want it done. Let's do it.

WALLACE: Well, Senator, some of your Senate colleagues who oppose comprehensive reform have added an amendment to the defense spending bill which would pay for hundreds of miles of barriers along our southern border.

If that were to pass, wouldn't that mean that, in effect, we'd have enforcement only and that the guest worker program and the path to legalization would be dead?

SPECTER: No, not necessarily. That's one bill. That's one provision. But you can have fencing, you can have border security, and still move ahead to more comprehensive reform.

Look, Chris, we've got 11 million undocumented immigrants. We have to work out a plan to accommodate them. The president and Speaker Hastert want a guest worker program. There's a lot to be done.

And you put the clue on the table with your initial question. Republicans control both houses and the White House. It's a major national problem. If we don't move toward solving it, we're not doing our job. And I think that's the paramount concern.

WALLACE: But just to follow up, Senator, you know that there are a lot of members of your own party in the Senate and there seems to be a majority in the House who think it's better politics not to pass a comprehensive package.

SPECTER: Well, sometimes politics has to battle policy. Sometimes politics has to battle good government. And my instinct is if we Republicans want to maintain control of the House for sure, you better move ahead on immigration reform.

And we have tight races in the Senate. If you want to show the American people we can govern, we better move ahead.

WALLACE: Senator, let me turn to judges, and I hope you'll be just as frank on this one. The president re-nominated five conservative choices for the federal appeals court. We've got them up on the screen there.

Is there a realistic chance that any of these five will be confirmed in the month before you adjourn, or is this really more about politics and firing up your conservative base?

SPECTER: Now, Chris, you asked me to be brief and responsive. Now you want me to be frank, too? I will be frank with you. I think it's tough, very candidly.

But the president has resubmitted those names, and I'm chairman, and we're going to handle them in regular order, and they're all going to be on the executive calendar for next Thursday. We're going to move -- we're going to move right ahead.

Nominee Smith is embroiled in a controversy between a couple of states. I think we can get him confirmed. Mr. Wallace is far back in line, but he's entitled to a hearing.

WALLACE: Let's put up his picture. This is Michael Brunson Wallace. I should say he's no relative. The American Bar Association found him to be unanimously not qualified.

Senator, again, being frank, doesn't he have a pretty steep climb to confirmation?

SPECTER: I think he may have a steep climb, but let me remind you about the Constitution, Chris. I know you're concerned about the Constitution. The Constitution doesn't say the American Bar Association confirms. The Constitution says the Senate confirms.

And we'll consider what the American Bar Association has to say. We'll consider what a lot of people have to say. And then we're going to consider him in committee. Is he a lock to be confirmed? Absolutely not.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about one other controversial nominee, and that is Judge Terrence Boyle. There have been allegations, as you know far better than I, of a conflict of interest, that he ruled in several cases involving companies in which his family held stock. Doesn't that nomination, Senator, have big problems?

SPECTER: Well, I think it does have big problems. When you have a judge who has ruled on cases where there was stock of his own involved, yeah. He has given an explanation, that they were minor, that they were oversights, but there are a number of them. But let's consider that. Again, it's a matter of an evaluation and a matter of judgment, but I think that Judge Boyle ought to have an up or down vote in the Senate. Chances are, candidly, Chris, he'll be filibustered, but so far as I'm concerned, as chairman, I'm going to move them right along one at a time and let the full Senate make its judgment.

WALLACE: Senator Specter, finally, you've been very critical about the president's NSA terrorist surveillance program in which in some cases the NSA eavesdrops on communications without going to the courts for a warrant.

As you well know, a federal judge recently last month ruled that unconstitutional. Are you going to pass legislation this month before you go home authorizing that NSA warrantless wiretap program to continue?

SPECTER: I think we have a pretty good chance, Chris, but it's a matter of getting it out of committee. And so far the debate has been very, very extended.

Listen, the tradition in America is to have judicial review before there are warrants. There's no doubt that the current program violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But the president says he has inherent power, and he may.

But we will not know that until it is before a court to weigh the seriousness of terrorism -- and it is very, very serious -- against the intrusion to privacy. And that, too, is serious.

The Detroit federal judge said it was unconstitutional, Chris, but this is a matter which is going to have to be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States.

The legislation which I have proposed and the president has agreed to says not that we're going to bless the president's program and affirm it, but that it's going to be submitted to a court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, for the traditional test as to whether it is constitutional.

WALLACE: Senator, finally, I assume that you have read about Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's speech that he made this week that we've been talking about earlier in the program.

When you raise questions, as you do here, about the legality of some of the tools that the president is using to fight terror, have you failed to learn the lessons from the 1930s about appeasing terrorists?

SPECTER: Chris, I was after the terrorism issue since the '80s. I wrote the Terrorist Prosecution Act of 1986. And on the Judiciary Committee, we've had tough oversight hearings as to terrorism. I believe it's a major problem.

I led the fight to bring back the Patriot Act, which gives the law enforcement officials real tools. But while I'm very much concerned about terrorism, I'm also concerned about constitutional rights. And there's no doubt that we can have a judicial determination.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the final word. And my bill will move this issue along the track to get that judicial determination. And if the court says the president's gone too far, we're going to have to modify the program.

We do not want a country which does not appropriately recognize civil rights and constitutional rights. And we can protect ourselves at the same time.

WALLACE: Senator Specter, we have to leave it there. We want to thank you for being both frank and succinct today and sharing part of your holiday weekend with us.

Up next, our Sunday panel on the latest effort by President Bush and other senior officials to build back support for the war in Iraq. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq, so the United States of America will not leave until victory is achieved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: That was President Bush on Thursday making the case of why winning in Iraq is so important to the war on terror.

And it's panel time now for Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News, Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times, joining us for the first time. Welcome, Elisabeth.

ELISABETH BUMILLER, NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you.

WALLACE: And Fox News contributors Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Juan Williams from National Public Radio.

Well, for at least the third time in the last year, the president is making a series of speeches along with his top advisers trying to shore up support for the war in Iraq.

Brit, what do you make of this latest defense, and especially about the controversy over the speech by Secretary Rumsfeld?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON MANAGING EDITOR: Well, it seems to me there are two major problems the president faces. One is that people, as the polls indicate, do not believe that Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. They see it as perhaps related, but nonetheless distinct.

His argument for prosecuting the war in Iraq and for staying there is heavily dependent on the idea that this is a central fight in the war on terror. That's problem one. Whether he can surmount that with speeches is not clear.

The second problem, of course, is that the public's patience with this conflict is ebbing, and perhaps ebbing faster now that the situation in Baghdad principally seems not to be getting any better just by various efforts.

The public will be patient with the war as long as they're confident that the strategy that exists is one that will win the war. I think people are unclear about that now, and I think that's what's hurting, and I think the Rumsfeld speech, it seems to me, is, you know, a related argument. Whether the public will buy that is also unclear.

BUMILLER: The interesting thing about that is that the president talked in Salt Lake City about victory, but he has never actually defined victory in a way that's very meaningful to Americans.

I mean, last fall he talked about victory in the first series of speeches, and he said this should be a democratic Iraq, part of the world of nations, you know, an ally of ours. Well, that's decades away. And the problem is that for most Americans, victory means the troops coming home, and he's not talking at all about that right now.

WALLACE: Bill?

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: No, I don't think a democratic Iraq is decades away. They have a democratically elected unity government, actually.

They just have a horrible problem with an insurgency and a potential - - and sectarian militias which might be getting out of control and which we're trying to prevent from getting out of control and actually, we may be preventing in Baghdad from getting out of control. There's been a little improvement in the last few weeks now that we've sent more troops into Baghdad.

But you know, it is about deeds, not about speeches at this point. And it may be that things will look a little better in the next two months in Iraq and that in the broader fight against Islamic fascism, if we're still permitted to use that term -- though the president has backed off from it, I noticed -- whether we're making progress or not.

I think that's where -- the American people would like to win in Iraq. They know that winning in Iraq is important. I don't think that's really - - it's hard to convince people that winning is better than losing when you're fighting a war again terrorists and against Islamic jihadists who are trying to kill us elsewhere and they're trying to take over the Middle East.

So it's not hard to convince the American people that we should win. What they're worried about is that we don't have a strategy to win, and that will be proven on the ground.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR: To me this is all about politics this week, these speeches. I think the administration feels they have a choice. They can either talk about the war in Iraq or not talk about the war in Iraq, and they're choosing now to talk about the war in Iraq as we approach five years out from 9/11.

And they would like to draw a connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq and try to say to the American people these are connected, even though the president says he never said it. I think Vice President Cheney and many others tried to make that connection. And so now what they're saying is well, you know what, these Democrats are defeatists, these Democrats would -- the president says they'd cut the funding if they take control of Congress, and if they cut the funding, that leads to withdrawal. The terrorists win. I think it suggests somehow that the Democrats are with the terrorists. I mean, that's ineluctable.

And yet it seems to me offensive because people are legitimately critical of a policy that has not brought us victory and has kept us in Iraq for how long, so many deaths, and we spent so much money. And the question now is for what, if they're in civil war, according to a report of our own generals, Bill.

KRISTOL: The Democrats are defeatists. I mean, they don't think we can win the war.

WILLIAMS: The facts don't bother you.

KRISTOL: It's a fact. They think -- most Democratic critics of the war want to reduce our profile there and get out. They don't think it's rational. They don't think there's a reasonable strategy for victory. That's, I suppose, a defensible argument. Maybe we won't win the war. And if we're not going to win, maybe we should get out earlier. But that is...

WALLACE: Wait, wait. Let...

BUMILLER: But how do you define winning the war? What does that mean?

KRISTOL: A democratic government in Iraq, a unity -- with the country remaining united, with some federalism, with the insurgency under control in the sense of not being able to destroy the country or, you know, launch a larger sectarian civil war, no weapons of mass destruction, no aggression against neighbors.

And that's quite possible, incidentally. I think it was very possible three years ago and I think it remains possible.

WILLIAMS: So what we should...

KRISTOL: But if it's not possible, fine. Then people can make that argument. But it is literally what defeatism means. What defeatism means is...

HUME: And not only that.

KRISTOL: ... you think you can't win.

HUME: Look at leading spokesman in the House of Representatives for the Democrats on this issue. It's Jack Murtha, unmistakably. Jack Murtha is for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

Now, you may call that a strategy for victory. I don't think most Americans would. That is a strategy of retreat. And you don't win by retreating. And the other thing, of course, is if you withdraw in the face of an enemy, which an important component part is a terrorist enemy -- indeed, even Al Qaida -- how in the world is that in any sense anything other than appeasement?

WALLACE: Let me throw one more thing into the hopper here, because I think it's fair to say that the greatest damage that was done to the president this week wasn't from the Democrats or Jack Murtha. It was from the Pentagon's own quarterly report on the situation in Iraq.

And let's take a look at some of the numbers. The Pentagon said that Iraqi casualties were up 51 percent over the last three months. The number of weekly attacks jumped to almost 800. And the report, the Pentagon report, said sectarian violence is now the core conflict.

Elisabeth, that certainly can't help the president make his case.

BUMILLER: Absolutely not, which is why you saw him talking this week for the first time about -- in much more dire terms than usual about the consequences of failure. That was really striking.

He talked about if we don't fight them on the streets of Baghdad, we're going to fight them on the streets of our own cities. He had generals backing him up on that. And that is what the Democrats would say is basically the politics of fear.

That's also linking -- I mean, you know, he can't -- the first set of speeches were much more positive, and he can't do that...

WALLACE: He talked about the strategy for victory in his first speeches.

BUMILLER: Right. He had the document out. He can't do that anymore. So he has to now warn about the terrible consequences of withdrawing too soon.

HUME: Once again, Chris, we're down to this question of whether people believe we are at war, really at war, or engaged instead in some kind of a war in name only, some kind of a -- kind of a war where you -- like a war on cancer, a metaphorical war, or a real war.

In a real war, terrible things happen. The enemy behaves in ways that are unpredictable and often successful. You have terrible setbacks. Operations that should take a short time take a long time, and sometimes the other way around.

You have great victories. You have important defeats. And it drags on for a while. A lot of people get killed. That's what happens in a real war, and that's what's happened in all real wars.

In this particular case, if you don't believe we're really at war, then this whole operation in Iraq seems like a misbegotten military adventure. If you do believe...

WILLIAMS: But the way that you're framing it, Brit, is stay the course or you don't believe we're at war. Why can't it be that you believe we're at war with terrorists and the way that this war has been conducted so far has been unsatisfactory -- in fact, it's been a failure -- and let's look at some alternative strategies that may include things like...

HUME: Withdrawing the troops.

WILLIAMS: ... saying wait a second, we have a civil war here, we don't want American soldiers in the midst of civil war.

Is it possible that we should allow for this country to be divided differently? Is it possible that we would look at different strategies involving different forces and have different ends...

HUME: No.

WILLIAMS: ... so that we define victory in some other way than thinking we're going to kill all the terrorists and force democracy on Iraqis?

HUME: But, Juan, at the end of the day, when you're fighting an enemy who's shooting at you, you've either got to defeat the enemy or let the enemy win. If these...

WILLIAMS: What if they're shooting at each other?

HUME: ... these alternative -- if they're shooting at each other, then Americans are not in any great danger, then, are they? And if you think about it in any historic terms, these casualty rates, as regrettable as they are -- and they're regrettable, indeed -- are quite low for Americans.

So when you get down to it, all these alternative strategies that you're talking about amount to one thing: Retreat.

WILLIAMS: We're fighting these guys longer than we've been fighting Nazis. I mean, that's, you know, a problem.

WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break here. But when we come back, the surprising role of this mystery man in the Valerie Plame CIA leak story. Our panel breaks it all down in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: On this day in 2004, Russian troops stormed a school in the city of Beslan while armed Chechen separatists held hundreds of children, teachers and parents. Following a fierce battle, forces found more than 300 hostages dead.

Stay tuned for our Power Player of the Week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH WILSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: The smear campaign launched from the West Wing of the White House is just ethically unsupportable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: That was former Ambassador Joe Wilson back in July of last year accusing White House officials of trying to punish his wife, then-CIA Officer Valerie Plame, for his criticism of the president's Iraq policy. And we're back now with Brit, Elisabeth, Bill and Juan.

Well, after years of investigation and press speculation, we finally found out who apparently was the original source of the leak that Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson's wife, was the -- was, in fact the wife of Joe Wilson. I'll get it straight here. And you see the cast of characters there. No, it wasn't Karl Rove. No, it wasn't Scooter Libby, the vice president's former chief of staff. It was former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

Let's break this down into a few areas, Bill Kristol. What does it tell us about Colin Powell, the then-secretary of state and his then- deputy, Rich Armitage, that they apparently let the White House twist in the wind for years when they knew that it was Armitage, not somebody at the White House, who had originally leaked Valerie Plame's name and identity?

KRISTOL: Well, it might be that Fitzgerald asked them not to speak publicly. I think he has asked other people involved in the case not to speak publicly. And in which case I would then say I don't think Powell and Armitage have covered themselves in glory, but on the other hand, what was Fitzgerald doing? He knew before he began his investigation who the source of the leak was.

WALLACE: Go ahead.

HUME: Well, look.

WALLACE: We're going to get to Fitzgerald in a minute, but let's talk about the State Department.

HUME: But let's talk a minute about Armitage. In the early phases, it might indeed have been so that he had asked people not to comment on their grand jury testimony. That's merely a request from a prosecutor.

You have an absolute legal right to discuss your own grand jury testimony. It's an absolute legal right. So that doesn't entirely excuse Armitage. And it certainly doesn't excuse Armitage now.

I mean, the investigation is all but complete. Armitage knows he's not going to be indicted, although he was the original source of all this, and now it's been out for a week that he was the one. He has a lot to explain. He has said nothing.

His former boss, Colin Powell, has said nothing. They have continued to allow these allegations to stand and only somebody else's information about them has begun to put this to rest. WALLACE: Elisabeth, let me move forward to the next player in this drama, and that's Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, who we now learn that when he took over in December of 2003 and began this investigation, he already knew, because Armitage had already told federal investigators that Armitage, not the people in the White House, was the original leak.

BUMILLER: But without saying anything -- I mean, first of all, I just want to say I'm opposed to all leak investigations. As a reporter in Washington, I like leaks. I don't care what kind they are. We like leaks. That's how we find things out. And so let me just say that.

But secondly, to answer your question, I think there were other people who had talked to reporters, and that was what he was after, was, you know, it turned out Karl Rove did talk to reporters, Scooter Libby did talk to reporters. And that's what he was looking for.

HUME: The problem with that is that the only so-called leak -- and I don't believe that for any meaningful purposes there ever was a leak. I think Armitage's so-called leak was entirely innocent. But the fact is the only one that made a difference without which none of this would have happened was the Armitage comment to Novak.

Novak was the one who revealed the identity of Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson's wife, as being CIA. That was the only one that had any consequential effect. Other reporters heard about it but they never did anything with it because it didn't occur to them or it didn't happen.

So the only effective release of this information that made a difference was that one. Once he knew how that one had come about, the investigation, in my view, should have been over.

WALLACE: Let me move on. Let me move on, Juan, and I'll bring you up here to the next player in all of this, and that is Joe Wilson, the aggrieved husband of Valerie Plame.

In an editorial this week, the Washington Post, which ran with the story just as much as anybody else did -- in this editorial, the Post said, "It now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson, her husband."

Question: Where does Joe Wilson's credibility stand now?

WILLIAMS: His credibility -- first, you know, saying that somehow that Iraq had not been seeking yellowcake uranium in Niger turned out to be wrong, and so that's at the base of his credibility. I think that hurts, because he in the piece made the suggestion somehow that he had undermined the basis for the pre-war intelligence as it was being gathered by the White House.

But to come back to something Brit was saying, if, in fact, the White House -- and the White House had a White House Iraq group, and Scooter Libby, Lewis Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, was on that group. If he asked for a memo intending to rebut Joe Wilson's charges because the administration was concerned about what Joe Wilson had to say and viewed it as a threat to the basis that they were going to war, and then that memo gets to Armitage and Armitage sees it, Armitage possibly learns from that memo that Valerie Plame is a CIA operative, and then says it coincidentally to Novak...

HUME: Juan, the prosecutor investigated that. He didn't find that. If he had found that, presumably, there was a deliberate leak, a malicious leak of some kind, he would have been prosecuted for it. He didn't.

WILLIAMS: I didn't say that it was a leak. I said he commissioned a memo intended to rebut Wilson. It circulates. Armitage sees it. Armitage in passing references this to Novak.

WALLACE: All right, guys.

WILLIAMS: But the point is that the White House -- you can have two things happening at one time, Brit. You can have the White House going after their critics at the same time that Armitage says this in passing to Novak.

HUME: Well, look. The White House...

KRISTOL: Rebutting your critics is a legal thing to do.

WILLIAMS: Correct.

KRISTOL: And this was criminalized. Scooter Libby has been indicted for something that was not a crime and for a...

WALLACE: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: ... he was not responsible for.

WALLACE: Now, that brings us -- thank you very much, Mr. Kristol -- the final player and the person who's really been punished, the only one so far who's really been punished in this whole thing, Scooter Libby, the vice president's former chief of staff, because he's the one who's been charged and now has to pay huge legal fees trying to defend himself on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury.

KRISTOL: Bush was not told by Powell or Armitage who the source of the leak was. Ashcroft appointed an independent counsel who got totally out of control. He had to indict someone, I suppose he felt, in December of 2003, which never should have happened.

Bush should pardon Libby. He should do it now. It would be fantastic. The Democrats would go crazy. We could have a debate for two months about whether once you criminalize what was a totally innocent attempt to respond to, as Juan said, a mendacious critic of the administration -- it's really an outrage that the one guy indicted here is Libby.

And the outrage is that criminalizing works, you know? I mean, he was forced to leave the White House...

BUMILLER: But we are still talking about disclosing someone's identity that -- it's still in the gray area possibly being a crime. So I think it's not...

KRISTOL: No. Has Libby been charged with that crime? No. There's no underlying...

HUME: No one has.

KRISTOL: ... crime.

HUME: No one has been charged.

WALLACE: But he has been charged with lying to a grand jury. And if he lied to a grand jury...

KRISTOL: And the things he allegedly forgot about are much less consequential than what Richard Armitage forgot. Richard Armitage forgot for three months that he had talked to Novak.

He forgot for two years that he had talked to Bob Woodward three weeks before he talked to Novak. Richard Armitage has not been indicted, and he shouldn't be. The idea that Libby is indicted for less serious...

WILLIAMS: Die he lie or didn't he lie?

KRISTOL: No, he didn't lie, in any serious meaning of lying before a grand jury.

HUME: One last -- there are a couple of other players that remain unmentioned.

WALLACE: We've got 20 seconds left.

HUME: And those are leading members of the news media who continued to take Joe Wilson's charges seriously even after they had been discredited by the Senate Intelligence Committee and others and who have stayed on this story, believing there was something there, all this time until now.

WALLACE: We're going to have to leave it there. Thank you all, panel. More to discuss. See you all next week.

For more visit the FOX News Sunday web page.

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