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Sam Brownback, Joe Lieberman, Roundtable

Fox News Sunday

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. Clinton and Giuliani on the campaign trail, next on "Fox News Sunday".

The way forward in Iraq, as viewed by two of the most intriguing figures in American politics, Republican senator and presidential candidate Sam Brownback, a social conservative who has broken with his base over the year, and Independent senator Joe Lieberman who votes with the Democrats but supports the president's new policy to send more troops into Baghdad.

Also, did the White House set up Scooter Libby as the fall guy in the Valerie Plame leak case? We'll get into the courtroom drama with our Sunday regulars, Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.

Plus, our Power Player of the Week wants to let the sun shine in on the way Congress does business, all right now on "Fox News Sunday".

And good morning again from Fox News in Washington. Here's a quick check of the latest headlines. President Bush reassured Iraq's prime minister Saturday the U.S. fully supports the new security crackdown in Baghdad.

But in this country, tens of thousands marched in Washington in protest of the war. Celebrities and a few politicians urged Congress to end U.S. involvement in Iraq.

And even though the first presidential primaries and caucuses are almost a year away, it's getting crowded on the campaign trail. The Democratic frontrunner, Senator Hillary Clinton, made her first trip as a candidate, and former mayor Rudy Giuliani appears closer to getting into the race.

Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron joins us now from Davenport, Iowa.


CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS: Good morning, Chris, where it's sub-zero temperatures outside and standing-room-only here at the Davenport Fairgrounds for Hillary Clinton. She makes her first campaign foray as a presidential candidate to the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa, and Rudy Giuliani, the Republican in the race, is making his first campaign trip as an explorer to the first-in-the-nation primary state of new Hampshire.

And while Mr. Giuliani is still unsure about his presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton is crystal clear.



SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-N.Y.: I'm running for president and I'm in it to win it.


CAMERON: Huge crowds greeted her as did concerns about her electability as a woman and a polarizing political figure. She was keenly aware that her entourage and press corps got in the way of the face-to-face retail politicking Iowans expect.


CLINTON: I want to have this as a one-on-one conversation, just you and me and about several hundred national press people.


CAMERON: She leads national polls but trails in the early test states. At Iowa's Democratic Party headquarters, she was again forced to defend her vote for the Iraq war.


CLINTON: There are no do-overs in life. I wish there were. You know, I acted on the best judgment that I had at the time. And at the time, I said this was not a vote for preemptive war.

And the president took my vote and other votes and basically misused the authority we gave him.


CAMERON: Meanwhile, in New Hampshire, America's mayor made his pitch to the state Republican Party convention.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I think leadership is about vision and performance, and that's what you should look for in whatever decision you make in presidential primaries and presidential elections.


CAMERON: But some Republicans doubt Giuliani's serious about running. He insists he and his wife haven't even set a decision date.


GIULIANI: The time table is, you know, when's the right time and when do you have the confidence and the sense that you have the whole organization put together.



CAMERON: And the Republican field will expand yet again tomorrow when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee formally files his exploratory paperwork to join the race.

And on the Democratic side, from this weekend forward, it's now all about Hillary.


WALLACE: Carl Cameron reporting live from Iowa.

Carl, thanks.

Joining us now from Kansas to talk about the campaign and the war in Iraq is presidential candidate and Senator Sam Brownback.

Senator, you're one of the Republicans who oppose the president's new policy to surge troops into Baghdad. Will you support -- will you vote for -- the resolution introduced by Senator John Warner to state that opposition?

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: That's the resolution that I find most appealing. It's one that talks about a path forward. I think we need to start talking about what we're for and not what we're against.

And that resolution also contains a lot of the Baker-Hamilton- type of thought and language about how we move to a political solution regionally, inside Iraq, and in the countries in the area, and also a political solution here.

Chris, we've got to start getting people pulling together here, Republicans and Democrats, because you can't run a war with one party for it and one party against it. And we've got to win in Iraq.

WALLACE: But let me ask you directly. Are you going to vote for the Warner resolution?

BROWNBACK: I'll be supporting John Warner's resolution. I've stated that to him. But I wanted to be clear, too, on what the conditions are and what I believe we need to do to move forward together to win this in Iraq.

WALLACE: Let me ask you about that, because Defense Secretary Gates said this week that passing this kind of a resolution would embolden the enemy. Given that warning, why would you go ahead and vote for the Warner resolution anyway?

BROWNBACK: I don't see this enemy as needing any more emboldening or getting it from any resolution. They're emboldened now. I was there about two weeks ago in Iraq. I was in Baghdad. I was in northern Iraq, in Arbil. This is a very aggressive situation. But it's also -- you've got a lot of sectarian violence of Sunni and Shia and the Kurds. And I was in the Kurdish area. They were talking about we've got to push and get the Sunni and Shia together.

And I talked with Barzani, the head of the Kurdish group. And he was saying he wouldn't vote for more troops to go in because you've got to first force the Sunni and the Shia to start sitting down and talking about a political accommodation, and that's not happening.

WALLACE: Let's talk, though -- you say that you think it's critical that we still win the war in Iraq, but as you just pointed out in your first answer, you think it's important to get everybody pulling together.

I want to put something up on the screen that you said this week. "We can't go forward in this country with one party for the war and one party against it, one party for the surge, one party against it. And I think we have to come together here to be able to win over there."

Senator, you even suggest that you might be willing to compromise with the Democrats on putting a cap on the number of troops in Iraq. Is that kind of political compromise any way to fight and win a war?

BROWNBACK: What is key is for us to be able to come together. You're seeing now the first street protest in this country about the war. We can and we will win in Iraq if we can just pull together.

And I think if the president would reach out to the Democrat leadership and ask them not what are you opposed to but what are you for, we can start coming together.

I thought that was the whole purpose of Baker-Hamilton, and I thought it was a good report that we could move together on, but if we can't pull together, we're not going to be able to maintain the length and durability of political will here to maintain a fight over there that's essential -- that's essential -- for us to be able to win.

WALLACE: But sometimes -- and you're talking about running for president, Senator. Sometimes a commander in chief can't compromise. He's got to do what he thinks he needs to do to win.

Let me give you an example. You were among the unanimous Senate members who voted 81-0 to confirm Lieutenant General Petraeus to send him over to be the new commander in Iraq. And yet you now say that you're going to vote for a resolution that would deny him the troops he says he needs to win.

BROWNBACK: I met with General Petraeus over some period of time. He was at Leavenworth, Fort Leavenworth, in Kansas. I had a good meeting with him and a meal with him last fall. We talked about the situation in Iraq at length.

He did not raise at that point in time the need for troop surge. He talked about the need for a political solution. I talked to him about the Sunni and the Shia.

WALLACE: He says now, Senator -- excuse me. He says now...

BROWNBACK: Nobody asked for this.

WALLACE: ... he's for the surge. So you're saying I want to send him over there but...

BROWNBACK: Well, I'm telling you...

WALLACE: ... I don't want to give him what he says he needs to win.

BROWNBACK: I'm also telling you what I have had from conversations from him and from Sunni and Shia leaders who have not asked for or sought this additional surge, or the Kurdish group which is kind of the group in between the two, that are saying that they wouldn't support the surge.

We've got to get together here. And I think that requires us reaching out much more. There are a variety of options that the president reviewed, even the Baker-Hamilton commission reviewed.

WALLACE: Let's turn to the president's state of the union speech this week in which I noticed that he never once mentioned stem cells, abortion or gay marriage.

And afterwards, the conservative Family Research Council issued a video called a lifeless state of the union. Let's watch, sir.


PERKINS: I believe the president failed in challenging the new majority to join him in addressing core family and cultural issues.


WALLACE: Senator, why do you think the president ignored the conservative social agenda in the state of the union? And with the Democrats now in control of both houses, is that agenda on hold for the next two years?

BROWNBACK: Well, I think the president should have addressed it, although it seemed to me in the state of the union message what he was trying to do was to lay out places where there's a bipartisan accommodation that could be reached, and that this isn't one of those, and that that's probably the way -- why he stayed away from it.

I don't think we need to lose any ground. I think it's going to be difficult to make ground on life and marriage and family issues. But I think the president can also say that we're not going to lose any ground and that I'm going to veto bills that would reduce the protection for life or support for marriage or the family.

WALLACE: Senator, let's talk about your campaign for president, because you are now formally in the race as of this last week. You sent out a fund-raising e-mail to fellow conservatives this week, and this was your central message.

"As the only tried and true social conservative seeking the Republican Party's nomination, I'm personally asking for your support. In fact, differing stands on social issues like life and marriage represent the main contrast between the candidates running for the Republican nomination."

Since you raised it, Senator, what are the differences between you, on the other hand, and McCain and Romney and now Huckabee on the other?

BROWNBACK: Well, as I pointed out, as a tried and true conservative, I've been in the Congress or the United States Senate since 1994. I've voted on these issues of life and marriage -- many of the other social issues. I've been a leader on those issues.

I think it speaks for itself that I'm tried and true on these issues and many of the others have looked or been in different positions at different times. Those are going to come out during the race.

We point out at the outset of those that I've been a tried and true leader on these core issues to the base of the Republican Party and also core to America.

WALLACE: But you're talking about -- you say differing -- but, sir, you say differing stands are the main contrast. What are the differing stands that you have with Governor Romney and Governor Huckabee?

BROWNBACK: Well, I think those are going to come out during the campaign. But what I've been pointing out...

WALLACE: Well, we're in the campaign. We're in the campaign, Senator.

BROWNBACK: I've been standing for life all along, and I'll continue to, and I think other people in this race have not stood for life all along.

I've been standing and fighting for marriage as the union of a man and woman bonded together for life. I've fought for those in the Senate, and others have voted differently on those. That's what I'm pointing out.

WALLACE: Well, for instance, are you talking about the fact that Governor Romney's position seems to have evolved since 1994?

BROWNBACK: Well, he'll have to stand on his own record. At times he's stated that he's pro-life, and at times he's stated differently. That's something that's going to be coming out during the campaign, and I think that's clear from the outset.

WALLACE: And what about Governor Huckabee?

BROWNBACK: I don't know all of his positions. He hadn't been a candidate when I put that out.

These are also, Chris -- I want to point out these are great people. All these individuals are good people, and campaigns are run on the issues. And that's why I'm putting this forward as issues. But I don't challenge any of their qualifications or abilities. It's a good set of people running in this field.

WALLACE: Well, no, I just asked, because again, you said that the differing stands on these issues are the main contrast.

Let me ask you another question about Governor Romney. Do you think that a Mormon is a true Christian?

BROWNBACK: Oh, I'm not going to get into theological issues, and we don't have religious tests for public office in this country, and we shouldn't have them.

I think people bring their set of values into the public arena and they debate them based them on the set of issues and ideas, not on their faith.

WALLACE: So you don't believe that the fact that Governor Romney is a Mormon should be an issue in this campaign.

BROWNBACK: I don't think it should be. We don't have a religious test in this country for public office. We shouldn't have. It shouldn't apply in this situation either. We don't have a religious test.

WALLACE: Senator, let me just finish up by asking you -- because you say that Governor Romney's position has evolved over the years, but questions have also been raised about your consistency on some of these issues since you first ran for Congress back in 1994.

Take a look at this, if you will. Here's a Kansas City Star article from 1996 about you. "When he first ran, he took a pro-choice position," said David Gittrich, executive director of Kansans for Life. "That was enough to turn social conservatives against him."

And then there's this from the Lawrence, Kansas Journal World. "Kansas Republican Party Chairman Tim Shallenburger said he remembered having a conversation with Brownback in 1994. After the conversation, Shallenburger said he left with the impression that Brownback was not pro-life."

Senator, hasn't your position on some of these issues evolved over the years as well?

BROWNBACK: No, my position has become more clear, but it's not evolved. And you look at the record. Look at how I voted. Those votes are clear. I have a 100 percent pro-life record.

And, Chris, too, look who's led on these issues. Who is the person that you interview about stem cell issues? Who is the person that you -- that's been fighting on partial birth abortion issues? That record is consistently pro-life. I wasn't as clear in my statements at that point in time, but he record is absolutely 100 percent.

WALLACE: Senator Brownback, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for coming in and spending some time with us today. And see you along the campaign trail, sir.

BROWNBACK: Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE: Up next, he won reelection as an Independent, sides with the Democrats, but supports the president when it comes to Iraq. We'll talk with Senator Joe Lieberman after this quick break.


WALLACE: Joining us now, Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democrats' vice presidential candidate in 2000, defeated in his party's primary last August and reelected as an Independent from Connecticut.

Senator, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday".

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Good to be with you, Chris. Thank you.

WALLACE: Let's start with the state of the union. During the speech, I couldn't help but notice that there were a number of times when you were the only one on the Democratic side of the aisle -- and here's one example of that -- to applaud the president's ideas while the rest of them sat on their hands.

Your hometown newspaper, the Hartford Current, actually counted and saw that there were 13 separate occasions when you applauded the president's ideas and your fellow Connecticut senator, Chris Dodd, did not.

Question, do you ever question whether you should continue to maintain your support for the Democratic majority in the Senate?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I made a decision last year after the Democratic primary that I wasn't going to let it end there, and I went on to run as an Independent, and thanks to the people of Connecticut of all parties, I was elected.

So I consider myself today an Independent-Democrat, and I'm staying in the Democratic Party because I believe in the historic principles and commitments of the party to be both progressive here at home and muscular, strong and principled in the world.

I'm a Harry Truman, JFK, Scoop Jackson and Bill Clinton Democrat.

WALLACE: But as you saw, what a lonely figure you were, does that shake your feelings about that?

LIEBERMAN: Here's what it says to me. First off, I think that standing and sitting stuff at the state of the union speech is a silliness and it demeans the process.

But the second point is this. There was a large message from the election last year, and it wasn't just about Iraq. It was about too much partisanship in Washington. The president said afterward he got it. Leaders of both parties said afterward they got it.

And yet we seem to be sliding back into the partisanship. The people understandably want us to work together to get something done for them. And you know, I stood a few times when very few or no one else on my side did because I happened to agree with what the president was saying. Why shouldn't I do that? That's my responsibility.

WALLACE: But let me give you an example of that. The president endorsed your idea, speaking of bipartisanship, for a bipartisan panel that would advise the president on the war on terror. He raised that in the state of the union.


WALLACE: As soon as he did, Senate Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi said nope, there's a bipartisan structure, it's called the committee system.

LIEBERMAN: Yes. Well, I was really disappointed with the reaction of Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to the president's offer or invitation to have essentially a bipartisan war council, and it's a war on terror council.

You know, I talked with the president about this, and he said to me at one point in December when I met with him before -- John McCain and I were going over to Iraq. He said to me you know, it's obvious that we're not going to be able to have the broad bipartisan consensus I hoped we would have on Iraq, but we need to build that consensus on the larger war against the Islamist terrorists who attacked us on 9/11, because this is going to go on for a generation.

The president said do you have any ideas how to do it, and I said why don't we convene a group of senators and congressmen, chairmen and ranking members, with the administration regularly to talk about the war on terrorism.

The president said he wants to get this group together first to talk about an increase in the size of the Army and the Marines. So I hope he does it. I believe if he does, Democrats will come.

Here's the problem, Chris. When the president makes an offer like this, Democrats think back to what they believe, and with some justification, are the times when the White House has been partisan with Democrats. We've got to start thinking less about yesterday, more about today and tomorrow.

And again, remember two things. The public told us last year they want results here, not partisanship. Second, the Islamist terrorists who we are fighting don't distinguish between Americans based on party affiliation. They hate us all. They want to kill us all. And therefore we ought to pull together to defeat them.

WALLACE: Well, you say pull together. In the state of the union, the president said -- in effect, pleaded with Congress -- give my plan, the new troop surge, a chance to work, as he put it. The next day the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted a resolution of disapproval. If that passes, and it seems almost certain that either this week or next week it will pass, do you think it will have any practical effect on the war effort?

LIEBERMAN: Well, it certainly -- and here's my gripe with that resolution. I mean, obviously, I disagree with it. First off, I think the plan that the president has offered with the advice of a lot of people is the best hope we have of stabilizing the situation in Iraq and succeeding so the Iraqis can take over their own country.

And we've got a new commander, General David Petraeus, confirmed unanimously on Friday by the U.S. Senate, which is about to now go ahead, it appears, and adopt a resolution that will condemn the mission that we have just confirmed General Petraeus unanimously to carry out which he said he needs in order to succeed in Iraq.

WALLACE: But my question -- do you think passing this resolution will have a practical effect on the war effort?

LIEBERMAN: In the most literal sense, this resolution will not have a practical effect because it's non-binding, and the president has said he will go forward with what he believes as commander in chief will help us succeed in Iraq.

But I fear, as was discussed by General Petraeus this week, by Senator Lugar, by the retired chief of the Army, General Jack Keane in testimony before the Armed Services Committee -- I fear that while this resolution is non-binding and, therefore, will not affect the implementation of the plan, it will do two things that can be harmful, which is that it will discourage our troops, who we're asking to carry out this new plan, and it will encourage the enemy, because as General Petraeus said to our committee, war is a test of wills, and you don't want your enemy to be given any hope.

WALLACE: You have signed on to a resolution being written by Senator McCain which would set benchmarks for the Iraqis to keep their promises on both the political and military front. If they fail, if you pass this resolution and if the Iraqis fail to meet their targets, what would you do about it?

LIEBERMAN: Well, we'll face that reality when it comes. I mean, this is why I've said, and I believe the president is right to have said to our colleagues, the legislative trains seem to be heading down the track on these resolutions, and I believe they're going to have a collision that's going to hurt our country.

Why don't we step back? The resolution doesn't do anything but express an opinion. Let's give this plan a chance. Let's give it a chance to work. And if, God forbid, it doesn't work to succeed in Iraq, then there will be plenty of time for the resolutions, for the troop caps, for the cuts in funding for support of our troops.

I want to say a word about what John McCain and I and others are doing. We're saying the Biden resolution, the Biden-Hagel, the Warner- Nelson resolution -- these are resolutions that don't have any effect, but we worry that there's a risk that they will encourage the enemy and discourage our troops.

John McCain and I are trying to put together a common ground resolution that can bring people in both parties together to say what we all apparently believe -- maximizing the chances of success in Iraq are critical to everybody, because America has a lot on the line there. All my colleagues agree with that.

Secondly, we need to give General Petraeus and our troops everything they need to succeed. And third, the Iraqis have to step up. And we're going to list in this resolution what we expect them to do. And you know, if it doesn't happen, we'll face that reality then. But it's going to be an awful one.

WALLACE: Let's look ahead to 2008. Are there any Democrats who appear to be running at this point that you could support for president?

LIEBERMAN: Are there any Democrats who don't appear to be running at this point? Look, I've had a very political couple of years in Connecticut, and I'm stepping back for a while to concentrate on being the best senator I can be for my state and my country.

I'm also an Independent-Democrat now, and I'm going to do what most Independents and a lot of Democrats and Republicans in America do, which is to take a look at all the candidates and then in the end, regardless of party, decide who I think will be best for the future of our country.

So I'm open to supporting a Democrat, Republican or even an Independent, if there's a strong one. Stay tuned.

WALLACE: But looking at the three frontrunners -- Clinton, Obama, Edwards -- all of them in varying degrees expressing their opposition to the war and wanting to end our involvement there -- could you support any presidential candidate who you didn't feel was committed to victory in Iraq?

LIEBERMAN: Well, you make a decision based on a whole range of issues. But obviously, the positions that some candidates have taken in Iraq troubles me. Obviously, I will be looking at what positions they take in the larger war against Islamist terrorism.

Here's where I am and maybe why it's -- I am genuinely an Independent. I agree more often than not with Democrats on domestic policy. I agree more often than not with Republicans on foreign and defense policy. I'm an Independent.

WALLACE: And we've got less than a minute left.


WALLACE: Joe Lieberman grew up in John Bailey's Connecticut, Democratic vice presidential nominee. You're saying you might vote Republican in 2008.

LIEBERMAN: I am, because we have so much on the line both in terms of the Islamist terrorists, who are an enemy as brutal as the fascists and communists we faced in the last century, and we have great challenges here at home to make our economy continue to produce good jobs, to deal with our crises in health care, education, immigration, energy.

I want to choose the person that I believe is best for the future of our country. What I'm saying is what I said last year and what I think the voters said in November. Party is important, but more important is the national interest. And that's the basis that I will decide who to support for president.

WALLACE: Senator Lieberman, thank you. Thanks for coming in.

LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE: Please come back. Always a pleasure.


WALLACE: Up next, our Sunday regulars on the fight in Congress over the president's new plan for Iraq. It's the White House versus Democrats and some Republicans, too. You won't want to miss this.



SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, R-NEB.: I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line on this. What do you believe? What are you willing to support? What do you think? Why were you elected? If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes.


WALLACE: That was Republican senator and Iraq war critic Chuck Hagel urging his fellow senators to take a stand this week.

And it's time now for our Sunday regulars who always take a stand, Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News, and Fox News contributors Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard, and Juan Williams, also from National Public Radio.

Well, it was quite a week on Capitol Hill. First, we had the president in the state of the union saying give my plan a chance. A day later, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says no and approves a resolution disapproving his plan.

And then we had the full Senate by an 81-0 vote approving, confirming, Lieutenant General David Petraeus to be the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq while disapproving the plan that he has been an author of.

Brit, what do you make of it all?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON MANAGING EDITOR: Well, it's Congress at its least inspiring, I think. You have a combination of Democrats who oppose the war looking for a way to say so, and Republicans terrified by what happened in the last election looking for a place to hide and some cover.

And so you see this combination of voting for a resolution to disapprove it and then whooping through unanimously the person who helped draft it and whose theory about the war is the one being put into effect. It's obviously a contradiction.

I would say there's one exception to that, and that's poor Chuck Hagel, who seems to -- who's getting grandiloquent about voting for a legislatively meaningless Senate resolution and calling it courage. That makes you kind of sad.

MARA LIASSON, NPR: Well, there are going to be a lot of different competing measures. One of the big questions that has been kind of hanging over this whole debate even before the president gave his speech was how many Republicans -- how much Republican support he would lose.

And what you're seeing now is kind of the bazaar is open and there's all sorts of entries into the resolution competition. Some of them are going to be tougher than others. Now we hear John McCain is drafting his own.

WALLACE: Along with Joe Lieberman.

LIASSON: Along with Joe Lieberman. And so there are going to be a lot of places for Republicans to park themselves. You know, I expect the majority, vast majority, of Democrats will vote for the Biden-Levin resolution. But now you're going to have a whole bunch of other ones.

And as a practical matter, as Senator Lieberman said, this is not going to affect the surge one bit. It's going to go forward, and whether or not the president is politically successful is completely dependent on what happens on the ground in Iraq.

WALLACE: Bill Kristol, are you inspired by the spectacle up on Capitol Hill?

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, I loved that Chuck Hagel sound bite we showed where he said if you want a safe job, go sell shoes. Selling shoes is a lot riskier job than being a Republican senator from Nebraska.

And I want to say, in defense of shoe salesmen -- and I hope they'll appreciate that I'm speaking for them here -- they're contributing much more to the public weal than a lot of our senators are today. No, this is Congress at its worst.

John Warner -- there's a great puff piece about my senator from Virginia on the front page of the Washington Post saying what do they want us to do in the Senate, do nothing? That's absolutely right. Absolutely right.

Support the troops. Appropriate the funds. Encourage them. Let Dave Petraeus have a chance to win this war. Don't pass a meaningless resolution that, as Joe Lieberman said -- on the one hand, it's non- binding so it's meaningless, but symbolically, it could only encourage our enemies.

JUAN WILLIAMS, NPR: Well, but you know, at the same time, doesn't the Congress have an obligation in a democracy to participate and to allow the will of the people in terms of midterm elections and the like to be reflected in terms of national policy?

KRISTOL: Yes. That's what legislation is for.

LIASSON: Cut off funding.

KRISTOL: Cut off funding. Pass laws.

WILLIAMS: The question here, then, is one that's political, and I think that's what we saw with General Petraeus this week, is that they feel look, this man's going out to fight a war and it would be anything but supportive to start nitpicking at him when you really want to take -- fire at the president.

HUME: What do you call a resolution?

WILLIAMS: No, we're talking about the president. We're talking about the president. They're willing to have a resolution...

HUME: Oh, I see. So Petraeus can have the troops, in their view -- it's OK for Petraeus to have the troops but not for the president?

WILLIAMS: No, it's OK to support Petraeus and to say very clearly that -- and this is a political calculation, Brit. I don't argue with that. It's a political calculation on the part of Democrats to say we want to be very clear with the American people, we're supporting the troops. But at the same time, they're opposed to this policy, and that's what they're saying.

I think that's what you're hearing from Republicans as well.

HUME: But they're also, it seems, supporting the general whose idea this is, and permitting -- now, look. It is common practice for senators to block nominees. It happens all the time. And it happens for the pettiest of reasons sometimes.

Now, here's a big issue. And this is a big nomination. This is the guy who's in charge of putting this plan into effect, who is 100 percent for it, and says he needs reinforcements to do it. And they're saying godspeed. You heard them all saying that very word, godspeed, but...

WILLIAMS: But here's the thing. Didn't Mara just say this surge is going forward no matter what?

HUME: I understand that.

WILLIAMS: They can't stop the surge, Brit. General Petraeus is going there and going to conduct this, and our young people are going to be on the line no matter what.

WALLACE: Guys, guys, we need to clear this up, and I think here's the way to do it. Senator John Kerry, who announced this week that he is not going to run for president but weighed in on this whole issue from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland -- he said that we have to be less involved in regime change, more involved, more committed, to diplomacy. Let's watch.


SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-MASS.: I've never seen our country as isolated as much of a sort of international -- for a number of reasons, as it is today. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Mara, does that help clear it up?

LIASSON: Well, it certainly helps. I mean, look. John Kerry took himself out of the running, as everybody expected he would, this week. He decided to run for another term in the Senate.

And now he's free, I think, to say whatever he believes and not have to worry about how it's going to play politically because he doesn't have a future outside of the state of Massachusetts, and I think, you know, that's what he thinks.

KRISTOL: Well, there was a day when United States senators did not go abroad and call the United States an international pariah.

I suppose it's just now we're all citizens of the world and hey, you know, you express your opinion on the floor of the Senate, you pass non- binding resolutions because, as John Warner says, we've got to express our opinion, as if they don't have serious responsibilities, and you go abroad and you accuse your own country of being an international pariah.

WILLIAMS: Why can't you -- I don't get this. But, Bill, you're a guy who believes in opinion, in freedom of speech. You saw the marchers yesterday, thousands -- tens of thousands of people, and you want the Congress to sit silent like they shouldn't say anything?

KRISTOL: I was a nobody in the mid-'90s. I was out of government. I went to conferences in Europe. I wasn't a big fan of Bill Clinton. I would not criticize the Clinton administration's foreign policy in Europe. That's not right to do if you're an American.

WILLIAMS: Isn't it the case, though, that if you go to Europe today, that, in fact, the opinion of the United States -- the United States is held in very low esteem because of our policies and our failure to involve...

WALLACE: An international pariah?

WILLIAMS: I don't know about international. I can tell you that in Europe, the public opinion of the United States is very low. This week...

WALLACE: Not Iran, not Osama bin Laden, not Al Qaida...

WILLIAMS: I'm talking about U.S. policy.

WALLACE: I understand, but he says that the U.S. is an international pariah.

WILLIAMS: He's a United States senator, Chris.

WALLACE: I know, but...

WILLIAMS: So he's talking about something...

WALLACE: ... is an international pariah?

WILLIAMS: I don't know about pariah. But I'd say that the esteem that we are held in overseas has gone down markedly. I don't think there's any question that that's a fact.

HUME: No, but it's in a tough war that needs to be fought by hard and determined people. It is hopeless to think that Europe is going to like you. Besides that, is it really fair to John Kerry to argue, Bill, that when he's in Switzerland, he's away from home?


WALLACE: Cheap shot.

But, Mara, let me ask you, because there has also been some developments on the situation on the ground in Iraq. Maliki, the prime minister, is at least talking about political reconciliation, allowing Baathists back into the government -- some of them, about passing an oil bill that would split the revenue. The militias and Sadr City are talking about lying low.

Is it possible -- is it possible -- that this could actually work?

LIASSON: Look, General Petraeus said, what, it was hard but not hopeless -- something like that. I mean, yes, it is -- of course, it's possible. I think it's very hard to find people who are optimistic about it working. But if those things weren't happening, it would be even worse.

Now, as far as the militias laying low, that's not necessarily a good thing. They're just going to wait for the U.S. to go after the Sunnis and then they'll -- when that's cleaned up, they'll come back.

But sure, if Maliki is serious and he really is going to -- round up the Mahdi Army folks and keep them rounded up -- they haven't yet passed the oil law -- yes, they're talking about it. Parliament looks a little dysfunctional there, and of course, there are so many people, including members of parliament, who have left the country because of the security situation, but yes, those things are good signs and hopefully there will be many more of them.

KRISTOL: No, they are good signs. I mean, I sat in on some of the, you know, discussions two months ago when some of the people on the outside, not in government, were trying to think through how to do this.

And they would be -- I think given where people thought things would be today, there are more positive signs than one might have expected. The threat of the surge is working.

One of the leaders of the Shia -- one of the most bloodthirsty leaders of one of the Shia sectarian militias seems to have fled to Iran because he is worried. And people will say oh, well, he'll come right back in. Well, fine.

Let him try to come back in two or three years from now when the whole situation on the ground is different, when we've been able to tamp down the violence enough that the government's been able to get a hold, et cetera.

So I've noticed the critics of the surge are already sort of saying well, OK, maybe it will work in the short term, but not in the long term. Two months ago they were denying that anything could help even in the short term.

WILLIAMS: Well, let's hope it works in the short term. I hope it works altogether. I hope it solves the problem. I think the worry is that even by your measure that not enough troops are going in, they won't be there long enough in order to stop it. Am I right?

KRISTOL: Well, Bob Gates actually was very encouraging on that, though. He's going to accelerate the surge, he said, and he also made clear that if Petraeus needs more troops, he'll send them in.


KRISTOL: So I'm encouraged that the administration is not low- balling it as much as they seemed to be three or four weeks ago.

WILLIAMS: Right, but even you have this concern. So that's why people have limited, you know, hope for these prospects.

But the larger concern this week was about involvement with Iran, because we have a second aircraft carrier group going out there, arresting Iranian agents. What happens if Iran escalates their efforts? Are we going to then spread this war into Iran?

WALLACE: That question is just going to have to lie there unanswered. We have to take a break here.

HUME: You ran out the clock, Juan.


WALLACE: You've been waiting a week for that, haven't you? But it was a good line.

Coming up here, inside the Scooter Libby CIA leak trial. The prosecution goes after Libby while Libby points fingers at the White House. Stay tuned.


WALLACE: On this day in 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven astronauts on board, including teacher Christa McAuliffe. The accident happened less than two minutes into the flight.

Stay tuned for more from our panel and our Power Player of the Week.


WALLACE: That's Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney on his way into court this week for the start of his trial in the CIA leak case on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

And we're back now with Brit, Mara, Bill and Juan. Well, we got our first big surprise in the trial in the opening statement when the lead defense lawyer, Ted Wells, said that Libby had worried that people in the White House were trying to set him up, to scapegoat him, in order to protect presidential advisor Karl Rove.

Brit, what do you make of the allegation and how does that help Libby's defense?

HUME: Well, it's not clear unless it seeks to portray him as an outsider in the Bush White House, an institution that the lawyers representing Libby may feel is not popular with a jury in Washington, D.C.

Beyond that, it's sort of a meaningless thing because, after all, Rove was very much a focus of the investigation, although never officially a target, and Libby got caught as a witness in saying something -- I don't think he was ever originally much of a focus of the investigation.

And of course, one wonders now why there even was an investigation that went on as long as it did when we now know that the prosecutor found out very early on who was the leaker to Bob Novak, and it wasn't any of the people who have been pursued so ardently. It was somebody in the person of Richard Armitage, who was not.

That aside, I think it's too early to say what the progress of the trial is. It looked like the defense scored some points on the prosecution witnesses by showing how their recollections had differed over time. And then the prosecution appeared to score some points, perhaps, with witnesses who talked about the level of preoccupation in the Cheney operation with this whole issue that the leak was about. So it looks to me like, you know, it's early on.

LIASSON: Yes. On the one hand, this is -- for people who are into this stuff, it's kind of interesting, lots of intrigue and backbiting and internal feuding in the White House. But as a defense for perjury, if you're going to have to -- the defense has to prove that he didn't do this on purpose, not that he lied -- that he misrepresented the facts to the grand jury, but that he did it on purpose.

And they're going to try to claim that he was -- he forgot, or he just wasn't -- couldn't remember the sequence of events, and there was nothing malicious about it. And maybe all this other stuff just adds to the incredible sense of confusion about this case that makes it easier for them to argue that.

But you know, Libby's been contradicted by Kathy Martin and some other witnesses.

WALLACE: And we should say, Kathy Martin is...

LIASSON: She was a press aide in the vice president's office. The prosecution is trying to establish when he learned about Valerie Plame's position at the CIA, which contradicts some of the statements he gave to the grand jury.

KRISTOL: No, I don't think that's the case. Libby never said he didn't learn about this from Vice President Cheney or that Kathy Martin didn't stick her head in on Air Force Two and in the course of a much longer discussion of Joe Wilson and the National Intelligence Estimate say and incidentally, one reason he went over there is that his wife works at the CIA.

Well, that's the entire Kathy Martin testimony that's supposed to contradict Libby. Libby never denied that those things happened. He said that three months later he couldn't remember who first told him about it because she, Mrs. Wilson, Valerie Plame, was not a major part of their effort.

The effort was to discredit Joe Wilson and his claims that Cheney had sent him over there, et cetera, which is perfectly legitimate...

WALLACE: I mean, let's -- I'm sure some people -- some of the listeners, I'm sure, are wondering. I mean, what's going on here is that Joe Wilson, ambassador, writes this column in which he says that he was sent over in part by the vice president to check out whether or not Niger had been dealing with Saddam Hussein in uranium.

And the vice president wanted to push back on that, and in the course of this process brought out the fact -- the fact was brought out, I should say -- that Valerie Plame, then working for the CIA, maybe sort of as a nepotistic thing, had sent her husband on over.

So the question becomes when did Libby first know and who was he told by -- no, and who was he told by that Valerie Plame was, in fact...


KRISTOL: No, lots of people knew Valerie Plame was the wife of Joe Wilson. Rich Armitage knew. Many people at the CIA knew. They talked about -- Ari Fleischer is going to testify tomorrow and was given immunity for some reason.

WALLACE: Former White House press secretary. KRISTOL: Right, knew. The question is a narrow perjury question for Libby, about whether he lied in October and subsequently...

HUME: Whether he lied or forgot.

KRISTOL: ... or whether he forgot the sequence of people telling him about this.

Everyone knew at some point clearly that there was a wife who wasn't a major focus of their efforts. But the broader picture -- and you can't judge a perjury trial from the outside. Who knows? We'll see what evidence there is.

But you know, the broader picture is the whole thing, to me, is a total outrage. I mean, the fact is many people talked about Joe Wilson and about Mrs. Wilson to the press. One was indicted, Scooter Libby. Why? Why?

I think because he was a strong advocate for the war and was the closest aide to Vice President Cheney. Ari Fleischer is the president's personal press secretary. He's at the same level in the White House as Scooter Libby. They're both assistants to the president. Ari Fleischer, in some ways, is closer to the president than the vice president's chief of staff.

I was a vice presidential chief of staff and I sure wasn't this close as Marlin Fitzwater was to President Bush. Ari Fleischer shows up, says gee, I think I might have inadvertently said something. He's given immunity right away.

Fitzgerald said I just gave it to him right away, didn't even know what he was going to testify to. Ari Fleischer gets immunity and Scooter Libby gets prosecuted?

WALLACE: All right.

WILLIAMS: But then that means that you have to think that the prosecutor has become totally politicized...

KRISTOL: Yes, sir.

WILLIAMS: ... and a tool of people who are opposed to the Bush administration and opposed to the war.

Well, I think that his record would indicate that that's -- he's not that kind of prosecutor.

HUME: Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

WILLIAMS: But let me finish the point. Let me finish and say that the problem here is given the charge that he faced, what we heard this week is that the vice president was orchestrating an effort to rebut the notion that he had either sent Joe Wilson there or the kind of claim that the war was based on this misleading information, that they were trying to build this up, and that he clearly had engaged Scooter Libby in this task, assigned him to do this task. And so the idea that then Libby comes forward and says you know what, it's just a matter of flawed memory, I was so busy with the war on terror, I didn't have time to really focus on this thing, it just skipped my mind -- well, that seems less plausible now given what Kathy Martin has testified.

HUME: Juan, all that may be so or may not be so. However, it is almost inescapable to conclude that this vaunted prosecutor, who is a very impressive man, Patrick Fitzgerald, labored long here, long after he knew who the original leaker was that he was assigned to find and track down, and brought forth a mouse.

WILLIAMS: Well, that's true.

HUME: These charges...

WILLIAMS: That's fine. But you're arguing a case that is long gone, Brit. Brit, forget about it. That's water over the dam. We are in the midst now of a serious case, and the man is being charged with lying to a grand jury.

HUME: We are in the midst of a not-very-serious case. What we're in the midst of is charges brought against somebody for crimes alleged to have been committed after the investigation began and in the course of the investigation. The investigation produced no crime.

WILLIAMS: OK, so what you want to charge is prosecutorial misconduct.

WALLACE: Wait, wait. No, Mara, go ahead.

LIASSON: Perjury is a crime.

HUME: Poor discretion.

WALLACE: Mara, go ahead.

LIASSON: Perjury is a crime. Perjury is a crime.

WALLACE: Juan, wait a minute.

Mara, go ahead.

LIASSON: I'm not disputing anything you're saying about the bigger picture, but the fact is so many of these trials -- Martha Stewart, any number of them -- it's not the actual crime. It's what you say to a federal prosecutor.

WALLACE: And if you're a federal prosecutor and you believe that a witness has lied to FBI agents and to a grand jury repeatedly, it's a crime.

HUME: It is a crime, Chris. And prosecutors every day are presented an array of instances in which they can see a crime. They prosecute a few of them. It is what is called prosecutorial discretion. It is a critical part of the job, which charges to bring and which charges not to bother with. Here, clearly, when you look at the scope of what he was supposed to be investigating, is a case where he brought forth something not very major.

WILLIAMS: Yes, but you're not arguing this case. Get back in this game.

WALLACE: All right. But do it next week. Thank you. See you all next week.

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