(Interview with Newt Gingrich, Fox News Channel. Secretary Rumsfeld interview portions originally conducted on May 10, 2002.)
Gingrich: Hello, I'm Newt Gingrich. Welcome to "Not If, But When: America and the Axis of Evil."
President George W. Bush's State of the Union was truly historic. But then it followed an historic attack on the World Trade Center, and on the Pentagon. Now, in his address, the president was to put a face on the enemy. It is, he said, not one nation but three whose governments, whose actions, most threaten America and our way of life.
President Bush (from video): North Korea has a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction while starving its citizens. Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror. Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility towards America and to support terror. States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil arming to threaten the peace of the world.
Gingrich: An axis of evil, but why those three countries? Why only those three? And now that names have been named, what's next? Do we watch and wait, or do we take the offensive and move directly, militarily, to replace those regimes? Do we go after Saddam Hussein once and for all?
In the next hour, I'll discuss those questions with some of America's top minds and most important decision makers. Michael Ledeen was a National Security Advisor, Defense Department consultant, and worked in the State Department under President Reagan. Reuel Marc Gerecht is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. Laurie Mylroie is an author and leading authority on Saddam Hussein. Senator Joseph Lieberman, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate and possible presidential candidate in 2004, and one of the most influential voices on either side of the aisle in Congress. And Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the president's point man for the war on terror, his most visible and articulate Cabinet member since September 11th. Rumsfeld has arguably, among other things, done more for the press conference than anyone in Washington since John F. Kennedy.
I met with Secretary Rumsfeld at the Pentagon recently, and I asked about the president's State of the Union Address, his choice of words and his choice of countries.
Are North Korea and Iran and Iraq really logically lumped together? What is it that they do that makes them logically joined together in terms of our definition of them?
Rumsfeld: Well, what we know about those countries and the other countries on the terrorist list, like Syria and Libya, Cuba, North Korea, is that those are countries that have cooperated with each other. North Korea, for example, has supplied ballistic missile technologies and various WMD capabilities to Iran, to other nations. They cooperate, they each have strengths and weaknesses in the development of these weapons, and they trade them among each other, so all of them increase their capabilities.
We also know that they are nations that have, and because they're on the terrorist list, by definition, they have sponsored terrorism, they've engaged in terrorist acts themselves. We know today, for example, that Iran is funding terrorist organizations that come down from Iran into Damascus, Syria, down into the Baaka Valley, and then down into Southern Lebanon where they engage in terrorist acts against the Israelis, as an example.
Do they belong together? They're different. There's no question that Iran is a different situation from Iraq, and Iraq is different from North Korea. The one thing that is common is the viciousness of those regimes, they way they are repressing their people. It's just different in each way. In Iran, they're being denied a lot of rights. The Iranian people are intelligent, they're industrious, they have a wonderful history. And the thought that they should be under the thumb of the extremists that govern that country is just a crime, it's a shame for those people. They aren't allowed to do the things that most people do that are free people. I'm not going to be naive and hold my breath, but I think that it is not beyond the possibility that the Iranian people could throw off that regime and decide that they do want women to have rights, and they do want the kind of education that will give them opportunities, and they don't want to be stifled in their daily lives as they are.
In North Korea, it's just different. Here is North Korea with the same people that live in South Korea. And the people in South Korea have developed this enormously vital and energetic economy, the people have all kinds of opportunities. And in North Korea they're in prison camps, they're starving. Their GDP per capita, I haven't looked it up, but it has to be something like a 20th of what it probably is in South Korea. And the people are tortured and treated just inhumanly. It is a terrible, terrible life for the North Korean people.
Gingrich: There seems to be, though, a sudden increase in the number of North Koreans trying to find refugee, trying to leave. Is that a new development or is it just that the news media are now picking it up?
Rumsfeld: I think probably it's the news media is picking it up. There are areas in North Korea that are in square miles the size of a major city in the United States that are prison camps, and there is more than one, where these people are sent away, kept in inhumane circumstances. Nearby, outside of those prison camps, are people that are starving, and needless to say, people vote with their feet, and they try to get away, and they get out.
Iraq is a world-class vicious dictatorship -- torture, denial of every opportunity to do anything that free people would be able to do. I look at that situation and think of the fact that here is one of the few dictators on the face of the earth who has used chemical weapons against his own people, people of his own country as well as on a neighbor.
Gingrich: Ambassador Richard Butler, an Australian, who was the head of the United Nations Inspection Team in Iraq said that Saddam was clearly doing everything he could to develop weapons of mass destruction despite the U.N. inspectors. That's been four years without inspection. Is it your estimation that Saddam has continued and has made substantial progress towards acquiring the kind of weapons that really could lead to lots of people dying in one incident?
Rumsfeld: When Desert Storm took place, and the people went in and found out the circumstance of the Iraqi nuclear program, they were much closer to developing a nuclear weapon than anyone on the outside, any intelligence community in the world, had even estimated, including the Israelis and the United States. Saddam Hussein's appetite for these weapons is enormous. We know he's been focusing on them. I would say about the president's speech about the axis of evil, it was a wonderful thing to do because what it did was, it focused world attention on the carnage in those countries, the damage that those dictatorships and repressive regimes are posing on their people, to say nothing of the risks they pose to their neighbors. This is a good thing to do to say to the world, 'look at what's happening in those countries.' It's a terrible thing for those people.
Gingrich: When we come back, we'll hear more from Secretary Rumsfeld, and from Senator Joseph Lieberman. And a panel of experts on the axis of evil.
Senator Joseph I. Lieberman: The three countries that the president named, Iraq, Iran and North Korea, have done some very evil things, and are capable of more evil unless we find ways to stop them.
Gingrich: Nearly two years since his run for vice president, Senator Joseph Lieberman remains a powerful influence both in the Democratic Party and on Capitol Hill. In recent weeks Senator Lieberman has questioned the administration's handling of intelligence data prior to September 11th. Yet, he remains a staunch supporter of the war on terror. In that light, I sat down with the senator at his office recently, and asked for his view on the president's newly declared enemies list.
Do you see the president's concern about the axis of evil being over here, and the war on terror over here, or is it the same problem? How do you assess that kind of a language, and whether it leads us towards a helpful policy?
Lieberman: Well, the axis of evil was brilliant rhetorically. I would say it was not quite right diplomatically. But there was some truth to it. I mean, the three countries that the president named -- Iraq, Iran, and North Korea -- have done some very evil things, and are capable of more evil, unless we find ways to stop them. The reason I think it wasn't quite right diplomatically is because, one, obviously the three countries are not really an axis, they're not joined together in an alliance. But, two, each of them calls out for different responses. I think Iraq is the most immediately menacing country to the security of the United States and the world, because of the hatred that Saddam Hussein has for us, because we know that he has chemical and biological weapons. We have reason to believe that he's developing nuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles, and when he gets a chance to use them against us at home, or overseas, the probability is that he will. So when the president said that time is not on our side, he was right. The sooner we're able to dislodge Saddam the better. North Korea, Kim Jung Il, I think are subject to diplomatic and economic persuasion. But, they're very dangerous. The North Koreans are making ballistic missiles, and weapons of mass destruction. They're selling a lot of this stuff to other countries, they're a danger. The Iranians are the most perplexing, in that they're somewhere in between North Korea and Iraq. Iran probably has the most anti-American government and the most pro-American public in the Middle East.
Gingrich: Like many Democrats and Republicans who concur with the president's axis list in general, Senator Lieberman wonders why not Syria?
Lieberman: It may not be a full-fledged member of the axis of evil, but it's been responsible for some evil itself, and we ought not to give Syria a pass here. You know, after September 11th, the nations of the world rallied around us, there began to be a plausible thought that perhaps this was the moment to bring Iran and Syria into the orbit of civilized nations. They've both been, again, a profound disappointment.
Gingrich: Syria, known to be testing chemical weapons and missiles, home to terrorist organizations, at least four headquartered in Damascus, the capital.
Rumsfeld: They're cooperating with Iran, they're funding terrorism, they're allowing it to transit their country, testing weapons of mass destruction, they are what they are, and it's a terrorist state that has been active in assisting terrorist organizations that cross national borders, going into Lebanon, and attacking Israel, among other things.
Gingrich: When we come back, our think tank team of experts will have its say on America and the axis of evil.
Michael Ledeen: The common denominator of our enemies in the Middle East is tyranny, the terror masters are all tyrants.
Reuel Marc Gerecht: I think it's imperative the United States allows everyone to see in the Middle East that we are going to track bin Laden down whether it takes months or it takes years, that we are not going to relent.
Gingrich: In out last segment, the Secretary of Defense, and an influential Democratic senator both agreed that in addition to President Bush's axis of evil of Iran, Iraq and North Korea, Syria could easily be included as a terrorist supporting state.
Ledeen: So we have to get back to the basic mission, which is bringing down the various tyrannies.
Gingrich: Michael Ledeen is a former White House national security advisor, he would add Syria and more to the evil axis list.
Ledeen: The common denominator of our enemies in the Middle East is tyranny. The terror masters are all tyrants. So Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, and Iraq are all tyrannies. And I believe until these tyrannies are brought down we will continue to have terrorism.
Gingrich: So you would include Syria and Saudi Arabia with Iran and Iraq?
Ledeen: Yes, I think those four countries. You can't any longer -- maybe it was possible once upon a time to pick them off one at a time. Right now Iran, Iraq, and Syria are bundled. They've all been talking to one another, they've all been making contingency plans, each has made promises to the other two, if you're attacked we'll do this. So they're all ready to go. So wherever we start now, we're going to get all three at once.
Gingrich: But, why Saudi Arabia, America's chief Arab ally in the Gulf War, and sponsor of the most recent Middle East peace plan?
Ledeen: The Saudis finance all the terror. The Iranians design it, the Iraqis support it, and the Saudis finance it. And the Saudis are the producers of the basic non-Shiite doctrine. There are two schools of Islam, so there are two kinds of terrorism, there's Shiite terrorism and Sunni terrorism. Wahabi terrorism, Wahabi terrorism is Saudi, it's a Saudi invention, it's a Saudi product, it's preached in Saudi mosques, it's spread around the world in Saudi textbooks, even in the United States. We know, for example, that, what's it's called, the Saudi Islamic Academy of Fairfax, Virginia, uses textbooks printed in Saudi Arabia, and they teach the same kind of hate that we read every day in the newspapers about what the Saudi newspapers are printing. Kill the Jews, kill the Christians, be a martyr, go to heaven, 72 virgins, the usual.
Gingrich: But, whether it's Saudi Arabia or Syria, Iran, or Iraq, the consensus among all the analysts we spoke to seem to be, those states that support terrorism in the Middle East threaten America as well.
Ledeen: Once you move beyond Iraq you're going to have to look at Iran, you're going to have to look at the Hezbollah and Syria, because when we talk about terrorism in general what we're really talking about is Islamic radicalism. And that the terrorist threats that come elsewhere are really quite small compared to that which issues forth from the Middle East.
Gingrich: So you mentioned Syria, which was not on the president's axis of evil list, how would you compare Syria with Iraq, Iran, and North Korea?
Ledeen: Syria is more of a host. Once upon a time Syria was more of an engine of terror, I don't think that's the case now. Syria has got very real political concerns, the primary concern is maintaining control of Lebanon. Now, one of the factors in that control is the relationship with the Hezbollah, which is the militant Shiite group, which is in the southern part of the country, actually it goes all the way to Beirut. I think the Hezbollah are now what you might call the preeminent holy warriors of the Middle East, with the possible exception being Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda. The Syrians, if they wanted to, could clamp down on Hezbollah, but I don't think they want to because it would cause them a great deal of domestic unrest inside of Lebanon. And also, I think the Syrians fundamentally agree with the Hezbollah, and that is they'd rather not have Israel exist. And Hezbollah churns up, keeps the temperature up, and works to Syria's advantage.
Gingrich: In your mind you would not see Syria as being the same kind of active threat that you would see, say, Iraq being?
Ledeen: No, Syria does not have the resources to be. Only Iraq and Iran, those are the two preeminent countries of the Middle East, Turkey excepted. And those are the ones who really drive terrorism, they drive it internationally, and certainly vis-a-vis the peace process, with the Israelis and Palestinians.
Gingrich: But, are Iran and Iraq the same kind of terrorist state?
Ledeen: Well, Iran is a different case, because I think Iran is, in many ways, it's the most politically advanced of all countries in the Muslim Middle East. There is really a democratic movement in Iran. The clergy is very much aware of it, to some extent the clergy is a product of it. And there is no doubt -- I mean, every time, for example, the United States -- U.S. soldiers get near the Iranian border, in the case of Afghanistan, before that in the case of the Gulf War, the domestic temperature in Iran starts to rise. It almost starts to boil. We start seeing pro-American demonstrations. I think that if the United States were to go into Iraq, and to work to establish a democratic system inside of Iraq, the repercussions inside of Iran would be enormous, and I suspect they would even be immediate.
Gingrich: And you expect them to be Iranian, that is, that it's the local people, not an American intervention, or an American involvement, but actually that the younger population is just dramatically pro-democracy, and anti-dictatorship?
Ledeen: Absolutely. I think the clerical regime has been a wonderful antidote for the Iranian infatuation with Islamic radicalism, with Islamic militancy, with clerical dictatorship. I mean, they have lived it now since 1979 and they don't like it. And I would suspect that if, in fact, the United States could ratchet up the pressure outside of the country, certainly in Iraq, that you would see tremendous pressure develop inside of Iran, for more significant change, and you would see the reform movement which I think people then correct identified with President Khatami, which is in fact more a product of that reform, of that movement, he is by no means the cutting edge of it, you would see that reform movement gain tremendous speed. And it would not be unlikely that you would see what I would call productive turmoil inside that country in the movement for a greater democratic system.
Gingrich: You know, there are reports that there are riots on a regular basis in Tehran and other major cities, are those primarily just in reaction to soccer matches, or do they have an underlying political/cultural significance?
Ledeen: No, they're not. I mean, soccer matches are interesting, because whenever you have a soccer match what you have, essentially, is a large group of young men to get together. And that's what the regime fears most, because up until the death of Ayatollah Khomeini they could largely depend upon the young men as being the base of their regime, they can no longer. They fear soccer matches because you get a group of young men together, and in fact their emotions come forward. And it is representative, I think, of the country as a whole. And certainly if they cannot maintain the support of young men, then they know very well they may not be able to control the support of these same type of young men who serve in the army, who serve in the Revolutionary Guard corps, and the other organizations that allow the clergy to rule the country.
Gingrich: In the case of Iran, you really see us more in a diplomatic, psychological, political offensive, trying to ally ourselves with younger Iranians, rather than in the kind of military operation that we might need, say, in Baghdad.
Ledeen: Absolutely, I think the only justification for a military strike against Iran, and even then I think it would be a limited one, if you were to catch the Iranians, again, in some type of terrorist act against the United States. In that circumstance I think you should respond, the United States should respond, and respond forcefully, because if you don't you'll send the wrong signal to the Iranians.
Gingrich: But, like Gerecht, Ledeen feels it would take little more than a taste of democracy to fuel a regime change in Iran, even if it came from across the border in Iraq.
You think if the United States moves to replace Saddam we would actually face a confrontation with Iran?
Ledeen: Yes, automatically. Don't believe for a second that the Iranian people would permit the Iraqi people to be free and not be free themselves. They couldn't put up with that.
Gingrich: So what would the Iranians do?
Ledeen: They would rise. They're probably going to rise anyway. Right now Iranian leaders are talking about insurrection. And the editor of a newspaper recently shut down in Tehran gave a speech a couple of days ago in which she said the scenario of the Soviet Union is about to be now repeated in Iran.
Gingrich: But the rising would be against the ayatollahs, not against the United States?
Ledeen: No, it's against the ayatollahs.
Gingrich: So would you expect the ayatollahs to attempt to confront the United States if we started to take out Saddam?
Ledeen: Yes, they have to, because the first sign of success of the United States in Iraq would generate exactly their death scenario in their own country. So they have to.
Gingrich: So our military preparations have to take into account the potential of both a Syrian and an Iranian coalition with Iraq.
Ledeen: Yes, I think that's automatic. I think there's no escape from that. If we had continued right away, after Afghanistan, when they were all uncertain and living in dread in Baghdad, and Damascus, and Tehran, I think probably we could have chosen one of the three and done it. But, not any longer, we've waited too long.
Gingrich: That ends our first half of "Not If, But When, America and the Axis of Evil." When we return after the news, how to deal with our bitterest enemy, Saddam Hussein and Iraq, and the danger of more terror here at home.
Laurie Mylroie: It's inconceivable that the events of September 11 were carried out by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda alone. There was a state involved in terrorism on that scale -- that state seems to be Iraq.
Gingrich: Welcome back to our report on America and the Axis of Evil: Not If, But When. As you heard in the first half-hour, there is some debate over which countries to add to the list, but there's no debate over the three countries currently on the axis of evil. North Korea, Iran and Iraq, all are major supporters and funders of terrorism worldwide, all three dabble in weapons of mass destruction, each regime is a dictatorship brutal to its own people and fiercely anti-American. But, of the three, one regime, one despotic leader stands out.
Mylroie: There has been continuing Iraqi involvement in terrorism.
Gingrich: Laurie Mylroie is considered to be one of the world's leading experts on Saddam Hussein and his terrorist ties, ties which she says links Saddam directly to September 11th.
Mylroie: It's inconceivable that the events of September 11 were carried out by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda alone. There was a state involved in terrorism on that scale, and that state seems to be Iraq. The Czechs are saying, until this day, that Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the hijackers in the United States, met at least once in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence agent. There was a training camp for terrorists just south of Baghdad where terrorists were trained to take over -- hijack airplanes using knives and things like that. And there are even satellite photos of that airplane sitting in the terrorist training camp in the middle of nowhere. An airplane has to be in an airport because it needs some runway to take off and land. But that airplane is just sitting there, there's no airport anywhere around it.
Gingrich: So, you see a major investment by Saddam and the Iraqis in developing a relationship with terrorists, and training them and supporting them?
Mylroie: Since the Gulf War, Saddam has lived for revenge against the United States. And he's been taking out that revenge by acts of terrorism. He's been working with Islamic militants, including Osama bin Laden. They are up-front, they provide the cover, the foot soldiers, the ideology. Iraqi intelligence provides the training, direction and expertise.
Gingrich: And, as Saddam continues to fund and train terrorists, his stock among Arab leaders seems to be rising.
Mylroie: I think, in large part, they are afraid of him. They recognize that Saddam is capable of doing terrible things to them. If he did that to the United States, what might he do to them. I think that's part of it. I think another part of it is that the Saudis really aren't the best of allies. It's not clear that they want a democratic regime in Iraq. They might -- they do see it as a threat to their own quasi-authoritarian, if not authoritarian rule, and it may be their judgment that they would prefer to live with Saddam Hussein under sanctions with weapons inspections than to see an effort at democracy in an Arab country.
Gingrich: Some people argue that the road to Iraq lies through Palestine, and others argue that the road to Palestinian-Israeli peace lies through replacing the regime in Iraq. How do you weigh that? I mean, what should the U.S. priorities be?
Mylroie: It has to be removing Saddam Hussein. After all, you know, it was the Gulf War and the apparent victory in 1991 that paved the way for the Madrid conference, and the peace negotiations that followed. Of course, those peace negotiations led to nothing. But it is by removing radical regimes in the Middle East that one will create a climate in which it is easier for Israel and the Palestinians to talk to one another.
Gingrich: If you were advising the president and his choice was to make a higher priority of finishing up al Qaeda or going after the Hussein regime in Baghdad, which would you place as the higher priority for American safety?
Mylroie: I would think we'd be able to do both of them, because the longer we wait -- we want to wrap up al Qaeda as much as possible, but at the same time the longer we wait to go to war with Iraq, the longer Saddam Hussein has time to produce more biological/chemical weapons, even nuclear weapons. He's working on a bomb right now as we speak.
Gingrich: And there is the issue of sanctions and inspection, the means by which some continue to say we can isolate and contain Saddam without having to topple him.
Gerecht: Well, I mean, I think sanctions could have possibly been an argument up until 1995, at least you could have entertained the idea. But when Hussein Kamal, Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, defected to Jordan we suddenly learned the vast quantity of material that he had been successfully hiding from sanctions -- from inspections, and the sanctions regime had already been in place for four years by that time. I think one has to be -- it's fairly delusional to believe that we are going to be able to devise a system that is really going to give us that confidence level to be sure that Saddam Hussein is once again not fooling us, and is able to, in fact, clandestinely construct weapons of mass destruction. I mean, he has an enormous amount of money now. The oil exports in Iraq are about where they were before the war started, the Gulf War started. It is -- he has sufficient funds now to operate a fairly extensive clandestine system. And I think if we couldn't catch him in the past, I don't see why now we would be that much better, or he would be that less efficient and dumber.
Gingrich: Essentially, you think those that argue for continued sanctions and more intense inspections are just kidding themselves about the difficulty of policing this particular dictatorship?
Gerecht: Yes. I think if we're honest with ourselves, the reason we talk about inspections, the reason we talk about sanctions, it's a way of avoiding war.
Gingrich: When we come back, was September 11th just the beginning, is more terror on the way?
Rumsfeld: The fact that we have friends on the north and the south, and oceans on either side was a wonderful buffer for us for a great many decades. It no longer is. We saw that on September 11th.
Gingrich: There's no way to measure the pain and loss that America had on September 11th. But even as we track down the terrorist leaders, there is genuine concern here at home. Is more pain on the way? Will there be more attacks? I put those questions to our team of experts.
When you think about weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, or nuclear, you think about the programs that Iran has, the programs that Syria has, the programs that Iraq has. Should the average American be genuinely concerned that these kinds of weapons could be used here in the United States, or is that a very unlikely prospect?
Ledeen: I'm concerned. So it's fine with me if average Americans are concerned. I'm certainly concerned. Every day when I get home I say, 'boy, that was a lucky day because nothing happened.' I'm very concerned. And I'm concerned, it's not just weapons of mass destruction. You know, Semtex, plastic explosives are terrific weapons of mass destruction. They excel at that. And you know as well as I do that there are all kinds of places here in Washington where you could load a car up with plastic explosives, drive it in front of some monument or some office building and blow it up. We're not detecting those things. We're not ready for that.
I'll give you another one. I flew on a corporate jet the other day, coast to coast, five stops, five different airports. No hint of security, not even a policeman anywhere. And we know these people have money. They can certainly go out and rent a corporate jet plane, walk onto the plane with suitcases full of whatever they wanted, bombs, explosives, and so forth, kill the pilot, take over the aircraft, and there they are. We're not ready for that. We're not doing anything.
Gingrich: Should we be worried about weapons of mass destruction in our own cities? Is that a realistic threat that we should actually be concerned about, or is it a fantasy by those who want us to build up the defense budget?
Mylroie: It is a realistic threat, and we should not forget the anthrax in the letters that were sent to Senators Daschle and Leahy. That material is quite dangerous. Personally, it seems to me far more likely that that material was produced in a foreign laboratory than by some American scientist, deranged American scientist, in his attic. And I tend to think that of the foreign laboratories that might have produced that anthrax, the most likely is Iraq.
There is a real prospect of unconventional terrorism in the United States. And as we move to take down Saddam Hussein, it will grow more real. However, if we don't take him down, it exists also.
Gingrich: And according to Marc Gerecht, if we're waiting for proof that an even worse attack could be coming, we have it in writing.
Gerecht: If you look at al Qaeda documents that have been seized in Afghanistan, there is no question that they have been aiming at trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction. It would appear that they haven't been terribly successful. But, I mean, this is an ongoing effort that goes back at least ten years. And I think since September 11th we would be foolish to believe that a terrorist group such as al Qaeda, and the Middle Eastern states who I suspect have probably, certainly have some type of liaison relationship with al Qaeda, that is Iraq and Iran, and may have in fact provided aid to them, it would be foolish to believe that in the future they would not use those weapons if they could get their hands onto it. And September 11th definitively proved that, yes, they can strike us right in the heartland.
Rumsfeld: When we were dealing with conventional weapons only, we knew what the risks were. And lots of people can be killed by conventional weapons, but the reality is that multiples of those can be killed with unconventional weapons, weapons of mass destruction. Here we are in a country where people live close together, where they travel all over the United States, and to the extent a biological weapon is used in a way that infects people and they carry that, why, the risks are sizeable.
Does that mean that we ought to stay up all night worrying about that? No. What it means is that we ought to recognize that reality, that the fact that we have friends in the north and the south, and oceans on either side was a wonderful buffer for us for a great many decades. It no longer is. We saw that on September 11th. We saw that people are able to -- in our free society -- people are able to get into our country, live among us with hostile intent, and then find ways to do substantial damage. To the extent they link up with countries with, for example, chemical and biological and radiological capabilities, then the risk to us and to other free countries is much greater.
Gingrich: And if this kind of talk, these warnings, seem exaggerated, Senator Lieberman says, don't dismiss them.
Lieberman: Unfortunately, after September 11th, nothing is inconceivable, no matter how horrific. And, you know, we have to both combine a renewed sensitivity, defensiveness, willingness to think about the previously unthinkable and defend against it, with a commitment not to have these terrorists destroy our way of life by making us terrified, and inhibiting us from enjoying American life as we've traditionally enjoyed it. So there is a combination. So, once you see a group-coordinated effort to fly planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the idea that we've been warned about for a long time of weapons of mass destruction being brought into the United States and let loose here, or exploded here has to be put within the range of the plausible. And that's why we're all so focused on homeland security now.
Gingrich: When we come back, we'll wrap up our report on America and the Axis of Evil. What is the road ahead in the war on terror?
Lieberman: In some senses, this will be one of those cases where eternal vigilance will be the price of liberty, because there will always be the danger that there are more terrorists out there.
President George W. Bush (from video): But, it has only begun. This campaign may not be finished on our watch, yet it must be, and it will be waged on our watch.
Gingrich: In many ways America is still reeling from September 11th. But, now we've declared war on terrorism, we know our enemies, Taliban, al Qaeda, bin Laden, and those who fund and support terrorism. For America, what's the road ahead on the war against terrorism, what's next?
Rumsfeld: It's an important question, and of course, the country needs to know that. The president, in my view, has set the direction correctly. He has focused the world and the American people on the reality that we are in a totally different security environment than we'd been in prior to September 11th. The immediate task is to deal with the completion of the work in Afghanistan, the tracking down to the extent it's possible the al Qaeda, and the Taliban, seeing that they're not able to gather in large groups, and destabilize the Karzai interim authority, see that humanitarian workers are able to move around the country with reasonable security, and that's the first task.
The second task is to face up to the reality that there are terrorist networks elsewhere in the world. They exist, they've been well trained, terrorists have. There are a number of countries that work closely with them, and are on the so-called terrorist list. And the reality is that those countries have been working very hard to develop weapons of mass destruction. To the extent that there, over time, is a link up between the global terrorist networks, who have demonstrated that they're willing to kill thousands of innocent men, women, and children, by flying airplanes into the World Trade Center, and into the Pentagon, where we are today, to the extent those folks link up with the countries that have weapons of mass destruction, we will be looking not at thousands of people dead, but tens, or potentially hundreds of thousands of people dead. So our task, as the United States, it seems to me, is to work with our friends around the world who have been so cooperative so far in the war on terrorism, and see that we continue to put a great deal of pressure on countries that have weapons of mass destruction that are on the terrorist list.
Gingrich: Of course, as September 11th made all too clear, U.S. intelligence needs a make over.
How would you create a 21st century intelligence system for the U.S.?
Gerecht: I think you're going to have to fundamentally change the structure at least of the clandestine service. I think when we talk about the intelligence community and the battle against terrorism, at least in the field, what we're talking about is the clandestine service, which is more formally known as the director of operations. I think you have to shift, alter the structure completely. I mean, right now most offices in the clandestine service serve overseas with what they call official cover, in official U.S. facilities. That doesn't work, it didn't really work in the Cold War, and it certainly doesn't work when you have enemies such as Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda. You are going to have to go where they live, and that is not on the diplomatic circuit.
Gingrich: So a different kind of agent, or a different kind of service?
Gerecht: A completely different kind of service, and I don't see that developing. I mean bureaucracies are very, very tenacious creatures, and the clandestine service is a very well established bureaucracy with its own prerogatives and privileges. So, I think the odds of this are not good. And if you look at what's been going on since September 11th, the intelligence community has been flooded with funds. And money is good, but money is not the key here. What has to take place in conjunction with that is serious reform of how people are actually sent overseas, the type of officers that are recruited to go overseas, so that you have a much better chance of actually meeting a terrorist, actually meeting people who know terrorists, so that the United States is not completely dependent upon liaison services. Take, for example, in Afghanistan, essentially if the Pakistanis didn't tell us what was going on in Afghanistan we had very little information of what was going on there. That should not have been the case. We should have had other networks, our own means of determining what was going on inside of that country, and not have been so dependent upon the Pakistanis. That was really inexcusable.
Gingrich: It's almost as if there was a window from September 11th, and for a period there was remarkable clarity, and President Bush was stunningly clear, and we were moving forward in Afghanistan, we were moving decisively, and the president was clearly committed to taking the risks necessary. Now, it's almost as if we have slid back into a pre-September 11th muddle.
Ledeen: I think that's right.
Gingrich: What then breaks us out of the muddle?
Ledeen: Any day the president decides to do it, because the American people certainly support it. The American people have not gotten muddled. The American people have remained as clear and as consistent as they were September 12th.
Gingrich: So is it the nature of the bureaucracy in this city to be in a muddle? How does the muddle occur?
Ledeen: The muddle comes because a great part of the State Department doesn't want a war, the uniformed military doesn't want to fight a war, never wants to fight a war, and the advocates of waging this war are few and far between. And you have a much greater political mass against it.
Gingrich: There is this whole issue of both world opinion, but also opinion, for example, among our European allies. And it does seem that immediately after September 11th we had enormous support, but that to some extent it's frayed. How do you think America, as diverse and complex as we are as a country, how do we communicate better with the world, so that people in democracies around the world have a sense of common purpose, rather than wondering what we're doing?
Lieberman: That's a big question, and it's an important one. Look, we obviously have to communicate better to the Arab world, to the Islamic world. And we're taking steps to do that, because the picture that a lot of people in Islamic countries have of the U.S. is not one that we're painting, it's being painted by our enemies. Obviously, we'd do well to reach out and try to bring human rights, and more trade, to Islamic countries, so their standard of living goes up. I came up with a conclusion that surprised me, which is that one of the best things we could do to undercut the extremist forces in the Arab and Islamic world was to try to get as many Islamic countries as possible to join the WTO, because their economies are so closed, and if they open them, and we open them through the WTO they can do better.
Gingrich: Senator Lieberman, as you know, the country had a very strong sense of purpose after September 11th, the president described where we had to go in winning the war against terrorism, and then as recently as the State of the Union he described an axis of evil and talked about it. You've studied all these things, you've been a real leader in the Senate on what a responsible foreign policy would be. How do you see as the road ahead for America in winning the war on terrorism?
Lieberman: The key point is persistence. Your question is a very good one, because we were all shaken, and infuriated, and unified after September 11th, and the president gave us strong and principled leadership, we went forward, we organized, we responded in Afghanistan, defeated the Taliban, we disrupted the al Qaeda, but as we've been saying all along, and there's a danger we'll forget, this is not a typical war, not only in the way in which we were attacked, but in the way in which we'll have to defeat our enemies. This will go on for a long time. And it will not end, as others have said, with a signing of a peace treaty on a battleship somewhere. In some senses, this will be one of those cases where eternal vigilance will be the price of our liberty, because there will always be a danger that there are more terrorists out there.
Gingrich: That concludes our look at America and the axis of evil. I hope we haven't so much raised the alarm as indicated there is a road ahead, that America is ready and willing, that it isn't if, but when, and that we Americans will get the job done.
Until next time, this is Newt Gingrich.
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