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Special Report Roundtable - September 11

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When we think of them, it will always be with a special feeling of empathy and sorrow. We will always understand the pain of their families, and our nation will forever look with reverence upon their place, this place, where their lives ended. Nine-eleven is a day of national unity. The memories stay with all of us, because the attack was directed at all of us. We were meant to take it personally, and we still do. Take it personally.


HUME: Two distinct moods from vice president Cheney's remarks out at the Pentagon earlier today, one emotional, the other stern in tone. Some analytical observations from on this day now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the "Weekly Standard"; Mort Kondracke executive editor of "Roll Call"; and Mara Liasson, national correspondent of National Public Radio, FOX NEWS contributors all.

I don't know about all of you, but I could -- this day -- this -- we've had five of these anniversaries now. This one seemed -- the whole thing seemed more vivid to me than it had on any of the others. And looking back as we do now over the past five years, what strikes you most - - Mara.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, I think what strikes me is just how America was changed. I think there's a big debate about exactly how it did and what should happen next, but I think that 9/11 is a day of national unity, I think Cheney is right on that. And I think it is being celebrated today. And five say big anniversary, I think, there is a difference between today and all the other anniversaries.

But it was a day of national unity, and it was a day when the country came together. I don't think it's as together now. But it's -- you know, I think life has changed in many ways, but also life has stayed the same. We haven't been attacked again. Now that is a result of some of the changes that the government has made, but also this country has not been as vulnerable over the five years as Europeans and people in other areas have been.

MORT KONDRACKE, "ROLL CALL": I simply cannot get over this ABC movie, which I watched last night. It is the most mesmerizing.

HUME: The docudrama.

KONDRACKE: The docudrama, the "Path to 9/11" it is so worth watching. I don't know if the people want to TiVo the president or TiVo the "Path to 9/11" the installment two, but it is devastating about the inability of the country to envision what we were going to go through, and portrayals of the savagery of the enemy, in graphic terms. I mean, we all sort of know it, but we -- but to see it well dramatized is phenomenal.

And you know, I'm afraid that we've lapsed back into a belief that we can not protect ourselves as well as we need to. I mean, the fact that the -- that people would be crowing about the National Security Agency spying program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

HUME: You mean complaining about it?

KONDRACKE: Complaining about it. When in event after event after event that things that ought to have been done pre-9/11 were not done, we were not protecting ourselves well enough. This is the whole argument. We know that those people are out there, that they want to do us -- they want to kill us all, if they possibly can, and for us not to -- we don't have to give up the Constitution, but we have to give up our freedom and we do have to protect some of our targets more better, the idea that I think we have forgotten 9/11, I really do I think we think we're not at war.

FRED BARNES, "WEEKLY STANDARD": We are at war. That's one of the things we learned on 9/11 that we were at war. The war had been going on against the United States after 9/11 we began to fight back. Pretty high cost, 3,000 Americans dying.

But it really did -- it didn't change everything, 9/11 didn't, but it changed a lot. I mean, our politics now after 10 years with, Charles Krauthammer once called, "a holiday from history," in which, you know, the Soviet Union and communism fell in 1991 and then that 10 years before 2001 was an era where the United States, I think, most of us believe weren't seriously threatened. Though, there were terrorist attacks, and if you were tuned into intelligence, you knew that there was this fever, this religious fever sweeping across Islam and picking up young men and turning them into bloodless terrorists, in different countries around the world, and it's still -- it's still expanding in some extent in England and other countries like that.

But it changed politics and made national security, the most important issue again, and our foreign policy, it made fighting the "War on Terror" the centerpiece and the pursuit of Democracy around the world being one of the chief tools in fighting that "War on Terror," believing that Democracies are not going to be terrorists, and so the U.S. has changed, it's not -- I read these newspaper stories, and they go into the point of how much has it changed your personal life, you know, if you live out in the suburbs somewhere, in the city. Well, and not much unless you take airplane flights and you run into a lot of security into the airplane airports, but that's not the point. It's the bigger thing that have changed not the petty parts of life.

KONDRACKE: I think we've lost our sense of invulnerability. I mean, the United States, except for Pearl Harbor had never really been attacked before, and that wasn't on the -- in the continental homeland, I mean, this is something completely new, and think about how much worse it could be if the enemy acquires "weapons of mass destruction," which surely they are working on.

LIASSON: Yeah, and look, you know, you say that we lost ourselves to invulnerability, that means we have changed. I mean, not that people forget that we're at war. I think a couple things that have happened, one is al Qaeda itself has been crippled, yet the threat of Islamic terrorism has grown, because many al Qaeda members as we've killed or captured, I think more have sprung up to take their place.

HUME: We're going to take a break here. When we come back, we'll look ahead at the president's address tonight and we'll ask the question of why is that political unity that was there for so brief a period of time now gone. Stay tuned.



CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The truth is that neither this country nor the international community had really organized itself to confront this threat. It was simply getting bigger and getting more virulent and it was really time to confront it. I think the good news now is that even though we haven't finished the job, we have at least really begun the job now of rooting out extremism.


HUME: Secretary of State Rice today on what she considers the progress that we've made in dealing with the terrorist threat. This comes as a time when, as we noted, the nation is poised to remember. No political discord in the air today, but the air at all other times, and for some years now, has been filled with it as intense as it ever was before, at a time when there is -- you know, it's been poisonous. Why did it get so poisonous, so seemingly quickly after the 9/11 attacks?

KONDRACKE: Well I mean, look, Iraq was a big part of it, and the Iraq debate began before the 2002 elections. It -- Iraq was not used.

HUME: Two or four?

KONDRACKE: Two. Two. It was not used politically in the 2002 election, but homeland security was and terrorism was, and it -- I think the administration made it political. They seized the -- the Democrats wanted to have a Homeland Security Department. The Bush administration was against it, then the Bush administration flipped, when the Democrats showed the slightest lack of willingness to enact a Homeland Security Department the way he wanted to with a civil service rules he wanted to.

HUME: The president.

KONDRACKE: The Republicans leapt on them and made them all to be seen as weak on terrorism and it seems to me that was the beginning of the polarization.

BARNES: (INAUDIBLE) did force 11 votes, because they wanted -- because some puny little union wanted certain rules to be changed. I mean.

LIASSON: Yeah, but the argument.


BARNES: No, no. No, no. Here's what you had -- here's what you had, Mort. Had you a huge national security issue and you had Democrats wanting -- voting on the basis of some little work rooms. I mean that's -- I mean, who was paying attention.


LIASSON: Fight over that.

BARNES: Here's the problem, Brit. There was never unity. There was only unity in sorrow, there was never unity in strategy.

LIASSON: I disagree with that. The Patriot Act was passed by overwhelming majorities says. If you would ask Democrats today, they would say, of course, we want a Department of Homeland Security. What the attack was in the 2002 campaigns was that they are for terrorists because they won't vote for this particular version of this department.

BARNES: I never heard that.

KONDRACKE: They were weak on terrorism.

LIASSON: They were weak on terrorism. OK. They had pictures of them next to Osama bin Laden.

BARNES: They were quibbling.

LIASSON: Ayah, they quibbled. But quibbling is what the legislative process is and you could have either come to a compromise on it and passed it with a lot of unity or used it as a wedge issue. And I think that.

HUME: So, that's the source of it all, huh?

LIASSON: I think that's one thing. I think there were a lot of other forces driving the parties apart, and I agree with Fred that those forces existed before 9/11 and...

HUME: Let me posit another possibility. America was united, as Fred said, in grief, or at least at a time when it was wounded. The recovery was astonishing when you think about. I mean, the war in Afghanistan was waged, despite the fact that there's still some resurgence over there, it has succeeded. It's not the al Qaeda stronghold it once was. The economy, is sliding into recession at the time went into recession and came out, and has recovered and has been remarkably strong, although there are things about it to criticize, as there always are, but in terms of crippling the country it never happened. The country sort of.

LIASSON: You mean the terrorist attack didn't cripple the country.


HUME: It didn't. And other things have come along and have failed to, as well.

LIASSON: But it takes a lot.

HUME: But if the country had not recovered as effectively, things would not have seemed normal enough for people to figure they could back to business as usual, which is political infighting.

LIASSON: It wasn't like World War II when every -- when there's a draft and every draft-aged man is over there fighting, sure.

KONDRACKE: Look, before 9/11, the country was polarized by the 2000 election, and it reverted to form, but...

HUME: It was polarized before the 2000 election.

KONDRACKE: But Bush gave his enemies a lot to beat him up with including Iraq. Now it's surely not all Bush's fault. The Democrats were -- hated to him to begin with because -- for cultural reasons if nothing else, but there was a lot of ammunition that he distributed.

BARNES: They hated him more after they lost two straight elections. The got whooped. And now, here's the problem with the Democrats that is coming across, I think to people and that is that they don't believe in the "War on Terror," they think the "War on Terror" is merely a Bush political strategy, and I think people are recognizing that.

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