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Special Report Roundtable - May 9

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume


DICK CHENEY, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We believe it's very important to move on the issues before us in a timely fashion and that any undue delay would be difficult to explain and that we hope they would approach these issues with all deliberate dispatch.


HUME: Well, folks you may not think that was a strongly-worded warning, but when it's coming from Dick Cheney that's about as strong as it gets and he was speaking of his sessions over there in Baghdad with Nouri al Maliki and all the other key leaders of the Iraqi political system over there, urging them to get moving on a range of reforms and other issues that people in this city are awaiting action on.

Some thoughts on all this now from Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard; Mara Liasson national political correspondent of National Public Radio; and Mort Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call -- FOX NEWS contributors all.

Well, we know a little bit about what he said the response was, which he said was generally favorable. And we -- this comes as the Democrats try to devise a new way to limit the president's freedom to continue the war over there. Where does it all stand -- Mort.

MORT KONDRACKE, ROLL CALL: Well the vice president is over there telling them to move and meanwhile, the prime minister's national security advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie was in Washington yesterday trying to get members of Congress to be patient. And I -- you know, if they could meet in the middle, a happy medium somewhere, that would be fine, if there were some patience in Washington and some speed in Iraq this might all work out.

There is no patience in Washington. I mean, the more you hear from members of Congress, including Republicans, September is the line, there's going to be a reassessment in September. If it's not going well even Republicans are talking about, you know, forcing a pullout. So, the one thing that Cheney accomplished was that they're not going to take a vacation, the parliament; in they were going to take two months off for the summer. Now they will take, I guess, a week off. And they've got a lot to do. They've been promising that they would get an oil agreement, petrochemical agreement, petroleum agreement...

HUME: A distribution of the oil proceeds.

KONDRACKE: Right, exactly. That they would start moving on constitution reform, they would start moving toward regional elections and stuff like that. And everything is sort of moving but it's all glacial and it's got to start moving fast and show results.

HUME: Kind of like Congress.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: But there's a real -- this is something that the commanders over there have said. There's two timelines, there's the facts on the ground timeline and the Iraqi political timeline, which is moving pretty slow and then there is the patience of Americans in terms of whether the support for this effort is going to continue and that seems to be draining away faster than the Iraqis are making progress.

Just today, Secretary Gates was on the Hill saying that in September he's going to give an honest assessment of the affect of the surge to the president and to the Congress. September seems to be this looming deadline, here.

HUME: Boy, if I'm an al Qaeda plotter in Iraq I'm thinking, I'm going to save my biggest operations for September.

FRED BARNES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Indeed, or sometime in the rest of the year. You know look, this stuff that Cheney was urging them to do, this is for American consumption, consumption in Washington because those are the people who are most upset about the lack of an oil law, and sharing the oil revenues and want to allow some of the people who were thrown out -- some of the Sunnis who lost the jobs in de-Baathification to give some of them jobs back and to have regional elections and to move.

But the truth is contrary to what John Kerry said that they need a political solution to end the violence, they need to end the violence so they can have a political solution. That's the first thing they have to do. They have to beat back the Sunni insurgency.

The Sunni insurgency is not based on the lack of sharing oil revenues; it's based on something quite different. It's based on the desire of the Sunnis to rule their country again as they did for all those years under Saddam Hussein.

Now look, these political steps will help a little, but there's a bigger step that has to be taken and is being taken, and that is first to secure and pacify Baghdad, then Anbar Province and the rest of Iraq. There is -- a military solution isn't the total solution, but it's the solution that has to come first, then you can get this political reconciliation.

KONDRACKE: That's -- what you just heard is reality. Unfortunately, what counts in Washington is benchmarks, achieving benchmarks and the benchmarks are partly political. And even the administration says that the -- that they've got to reach these benchmarks and you know the operation over there, the surge, the whole surge operation is being judged not just on the basis of casualties, our casualties and their casualties and success against al Qaeda and stuff like that, but it's these political moves the Iraqis themselves promised that they would achieve.

HUME: When we come back with the panel, we'll talk about the dispute over the federal response to the tornado in Kansas last weekend. Stay tuned.



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our role as government officials is to work with the state and local folks to get whatever help is appropriate here, whatever help is in the law, to be here as quickly as possible. My mission is to, today, though, is to lift people's spirits as best as I possibly can.


HUME: That's President Bush today in the middle in the town of Greensburg, Kansas, or what little there is left of that town. Completely leveled by the tornado over the weekend. In all, the death toll in the state of Kansas is 12. There's been some controversy over the extent of the federal response or at least the availability of federal assets.

The claim was early made by some politicians, Democrats in particular, that said that because of the Iraq war that the state of Kansas, the National Guard did not have the gear it needed to get in there and do what needed to be done. And in addition to that, there was this claim by Barack Obama at a fundraiser last night in Richmond, Virginia.


SEN BARACK OBAMA (D-IL) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This week there was a tragedy in Kansas, 10,000 people died, an entire town destroyed.


HUME: Well he was right about the entire town being destroyed, but of course, a dozen people died in the whole state. He said he was -- the 10,000 faux pas was over the fact that he was tired and he said, you know, "I may get weary from time to time and I'll make mistakes." I guess people can decide for themselves how reassuring they find that, but in any case here we go again, or do we, on this business of disaster relief and the adequately of Washington's response -- Mort.

KONDRACKE: Well, Katrina it ain't. And, you know, there was the build-up and you started seeing the newspaper stories, "is Kansas another Katrina," especially because the Governor Sebelius was criticizing the National Guard response and her lack -- alleged lack of supplies. However, she had an interview and now says we're OK, you know, it's just if we have another catastrophe in the state we might not have enough, but for now we've enough and further more that the FEMA response was quite swift -- so, Katrina it's not.

LIASSON: Yeah, and a couple of days ago she give an interview to NPR where she was -- I think she gave FEMA a grade of A- or B+, but something pretty good, and she said the response had been good. What's she's saying is if we have another incident, we're not going to be able to respond to that. But...


...the governor apparently have complained about this. The fact is the resources are stretched as they would be in a war and even Secretary Gates today said the concerns of the governors are legitimate concerns and we're willing to sit down and work with them.

I mean, I don't think it's that shocking that National Guard equipment would be depleted when so much of it is being shipped overseas.

BARNES: Well, she said that magic -- those magic words -- those magic three words: wars in Iraq. And so, you know, immediately Harry Reid started to salivate and other Democrats around the country and in Washington saying it's all Bush's fault because of the war in Iraq and it doesn't appear to be the case. She seems to have changed her story. FEMA worked OK here, I mean, this is small...


LIASSON: I don't thing she ever was accusing FEMA of...

BARNES: But she was saying that because National Guard equipment was in Iraq, that the -- that some members of the Kansas National Guard, there wasn't enough equipment. Well, it appears, you know, they had 350 Humvees and it seemed like they had plenty of equipment. Now look, if this had been Wichita that had been wiped off the face of the earth, they probably wouldn't have had enough equipment, but it was a small town. And it looks like they did fine.

HUME: If it had been Wichita, it probably wouldn't have wiped out the whole town.

BARNES: And Brit, if I said something incorrect, it's because I'm tired.

HUME: Well what about that?

LIASSON: That -- well, that, I don't know, he made a mistake and he corrected it...

BARNES: It wasn't played much. I looked in the Washington Post, the New York Times, I didn't see any...

LIASSON: He corrected it -- he corrected it pretty...

HUME: Now wait a minute, is that a satisfactory response, though, that says I'm going to people get tired and mistakes? Is that? Do you want that -- I mean, is that -- are people going to look at that and say...

LIASSON: I think people misspeak all the time.

BARNES: I know, but he's running for president, he's almost toe-to- toe with Hillary Clinton and believe me, you've heard me harp on this before, but if there were some Republican front-runner or near front-runner you'd hear about it for days and days.

KONDRACKE: Oh, I completely...


BARNES: ...major newspapers in the country.

KONDRACKE: Oh, please!

BARNES: Well, maybe Roll Call had it.

HUME: Well, it happened in the evening, might happen after early deadlines.

KONDRACKE: Look, if he stuck to it, I mean, like Gerald Ford stuck to the idea that Poland was a free country or something like that, then there'd be a problem. You know, what is remarkable, is that there aren't more terrible mistakes made by these candidates. They are bopping across the country, you know, non-stop. You get jet lagged just going once in awhile, but these guys are going back and forth all of the time. They don't get enough sleep, they're raising money...

HUME: Well, what do you think he meant to say when he said 10,000 people that died? Ten people that died?

KONDRACKE: No, I think he meant to say 1,000 people died...

LIASSON: No, no, no, he had...


KONDRACKE: I think he had big -- he had something wrong in his head. He had clearly something wrong -- how do I know what he meant to say?

BARNES: Are you really accepting the excuse that this happened because he was tired?


BARNES: You are?

LIASSON: You think he meant to say that? That he really believed 10,000...


KONDRACKE: Just for that I'll give Rudy Giuliani a pass on one, too.

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