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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Sunday, March 02, 2003


transcript: Face the Nation 3/02/03

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, March 02, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
This is the full transcriptr from Dean's March 2nd appearance on Face the Nation (courtesy Teddy Davis):

SHOW: Face the Nation (10:30 AM ET) - CBS

HEADLINE: Howard Dean and Dana Priest discuss Iraq and Campaign 2004

BOB SCHIEFFER, host: Today we get serious about the coming presidential campaign. We intend to have everybody seeking the Democratic nomination on for a serious discussion of the issues. We begin with Howard Dean. Joining in the questioning is Dana Priest of The Washington Post.

And, Governor Dean, I want to get right to it. Liberal Democrats have, by and large, been very suspicious of our intelligence agencies, of the CIA. They've been reluctant to--to fund those programs. But today, we seem to have a major intelligence coup, and that is the--the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is said to be perhaps the single-most important member of--of Osama bin Laden's group. Osama bin Laden, of course, is the leader, but this man seems to be the brains behind all of these attacks, including 9/11. What do you think about that?

Governor HOWARD DEAN (Democrat, Vermont): I think it's terrific. And actually, I think you're partly right about what you say about the CIA. I think one of the reasons for the intelligence failure before September 11th is that the FBI has, I think, had a leadership problem for some time. The CIA's problem is they were underfunded by Congress for a long time, and that's one of the reasons that I think they were unable to do the things that they--they needed to be--that they needed to be able to do to--to head off September 11th and catastrophes. So I think this is a real coup. I think our intelligence agency ought to be very, very proud of themselves and this is a very big deal.

SCHIEFFER: So--so I would take it that if you were president, you would increase funding for the CIA?

Gov. DEAN: I would.

SCHIEFFER: You think we need to do more, rather than less...

Gov. DEAN: Yeah. I think we really do.

SCHIEFFER: ...with intelligence agencies?

Gov. DEAN: I--I think one of the criticisms that I had of the president regarding the Iraq war is that we're not paying enough attention to al-Qaida and North Korea, which are both--are imminent threats to the United States, and we're paying too much attention to Iraq, which is not an imminent threat to the United States. And I think that--that we need to increase our funding for things like the CIA, for things like homeland security, police, first response people and probably spend a little less attention on tax cuts and on this war in Iraq.

Ms. DANA PRIEST (The Washington Post): In the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is the number one operational control of--of al-Qaida, do you think that it's acceptable to use what we might call unorthodox methods to question him, given the fact that he knows about current operations?

Gov. DEAN: If--if you mean driving hot slivers under his fingernails, yes, that's un--unacceptable. I do think we need to get the most information out of him as we possibly can. And there are lots of techniques we could do that without crossing over the line to torture.


SCHIEFFER: What do you think about the--should the CIA have the right--because as I understand it, Dana, correct me if I'm wrong--the CAI--the CIA has now been given authority to assassinate certain people. What do you think about that?

Gov. DEAN: I think as long as they're not heads of state, that's within--we--we're in a war here. We're in a war against people who murdered 3,000 Americans in the World Trade Center. We have to fight that war everywhere we can. And I think the CIA absolutely ought to have the right to assassinate leaders of terrorist organizations and people who are, in fact, terrorists trying to attack the United States. This is combat. The rules of combat apply, not the rules of peacetime. I think assassinating state leaders is a different matter, and I do not want to go back to the days where we were complicit in some way in the assassination of a democratically elected leader, for example, in Chile. I think that would be a very bad step.

Ms. PRIEST: You mentioned the FBI. There's been still a lot of criticism that they haven't made a successful transformation into an investigatory agency here at home. Do you think that we need to at least consider the creation of a new homeland domestic security apparatus like the MI5 in Great Britain?

Gov. DEAN: No. I think we ought to get the FBI run properly. It hasn't been run properly for some time. And I think Director Freeh was really a disappointment. I'm not a big fan of Director Mueller. I simply think that the culture in the FBI is the problem. Now in our state, we have a very good relationship between the local and the state and the federal folks. But that's not true in a lot of other states. I--I know something about what went on in the Washington sniper case. I thought the FBI was very difficult in terms of their dealings with local law enforcement people. That's not a good thing. That's a cultural problem. We need leadership in the FBI who will change that culture, and I haven't seen that in a long, long time.

SCHIEFFER: Let me go back to your position on the war. You have been against war with Iraq from the very beginning, and in some ways really set yourself apart from some of the other Democratic candidates by saying you--you simply oppose it.

Gov. DEAN: Well, that's not exactly so. I do oppose it because I don't believe there is any cause for unilateral and pre-emptive interact--intervention in Iraq. Iraq is not an immediate threat to the United States. Al-Qaida and North Korea--North Korea is about to become about to be--I can't believe under a conservative Republican president that he is going to be the one that, quote, unquote, from the old days, "loses North Korea," and allows it to become a nuclear power.

Because, see, we simply refuse to talk to them, which is incredibly foolish. That is a really dangerous situation. The reason I don't believe we ought to go into Iraq unilaterally is they're not an imminent threat, and we set the tone for global military intervention in this world. If we go in, soon--sooner or later, somebody else, perhaps, the Chinese, will say that 'Taiwan is a threat so let's go in,' and 'The United States has done it, so why don't we have the right to do it?' That's the real case to be made against unilateral and pre-emptive action.

SCHIEFFER: Well, number one--and I want to get back to the original question I posed. Number one, it's not unilateral. There will be other nations that will go along with us.

Gov. DEAN: Well, except that we're about to pay $26 billion to the Turks if they'll vote our way. And that--when--when you start paying money to people to come--agree with your foreign policy--I mean, here we're going to pay $26 billion to the Turks and we don't have $5 billion to spend on homeland security, helping states and local governments fight terrorism, there's something the matter with this president's priorities, I think.

Ms. PRIEST: But it--but is the use of the term uni--unilateral a little overblown? We didn't pay the Spanish anything. We aren't paying the Bulgarians anything. There are--are a dozen the count--of countries who agree with the US position on this.

Gov. DEAN: But, the--but, Dana, here's my--the way I look at this. This is the United Nations' job. Saddam is not an imminent threat to us, but he is an imminent threat to nations in that region. He is a bully. He is a tyrant. So the United Nations' job as--as a peacekeeping institution is to make sure that he is disarmed, and he should be disarmed. The United Nations is making progress. The inspectors are making progress. Hopefully, as we sit here talking, they're starting to destroy the missiles that were deemed to be out of compliance. So why not let this pro--this process continue to work instead of waging a war pre-emptively outside the purview of the United Nations?

SCHIEFFER: Well, d--are you saying, Governor, that under no circumstances should we ever take unilateral action? I mean...

Gov. DEAN: No.

SCHIEFFER: we leave the defense of this country to the United Nations?

Gov. DEAN: No, absolutely not. I've never said that, and I don't say that now.

SCHIEFFER: So--so under what circumstances?

Gov. DEAN: If a country is an imminent threat to the United States, I believe we have a right to defend ourselves. Had it--had we known five days ahead of time before al-Qaida blew the World Trade Centers up with planes, we--of course, would have defended ourselves, and s--done everything we could to stop it. If Saddam possesses nuclear weapons, if he has a credible nuclear program, if he's giving weapons of mass destruction to the terrorists, then we have a right, I think, to intervene unilaterally. But n--there's been no good case made for those things. As it is, he is a threat--a regional threat which the United Nations ought to deal with but he is not a threat to the United States. And there are two threats to the United States, al-Qaida and North Korea, which we are not effectively dealing with.

SCHIEFFER: Well--well, let me go back now to the original question that I was leading to. You--you have been against going to war with Iraq, basically. But if war does come, then will you support that action, or will you continue to oppose it?

Gov. DEAN: I think it--a lot of it depends on the circumstances. Certainly you always support the troops in the field. I went down to Paris Island about three weeks ago just so could I look at their operations and look at the kids and have lunch with the kids that--who are Marines. I mean, they don't consider themselves kids but they're 18 and 24 years old, 17 to 24 years old. Those are the kids we are going to be sending over there, ultimately. And, you know, of course, there are some circumstances which we--under which we should do that. But I think we have to do this much more carefully, and be much more thoughtful about what the real dangers are. And Iraq is third on my list, not first or second.

SCHIEFFER: All right. The--the Iraqis have begun to destroy these missiles that earlier this week Saddam Hussein said, 'Number one, we don't have any missiles like that.'

Gov. DEAN: Right.

SCHIEFFER: Then he said, 'No, under no circumstances,' he told Dan Rather, 'would we destroy them.' Now they have begun to destroy them. Is that progress or is it, as the president said, just the tip of the iceberg of a problem here?

Gov. DEAN: Bob, I think it's big progress. Look, Saddam is not a nice man. He is a liar, he's all the things that the president says he is. But if we can win this war of disarmament without actually sending our kids over there to die, then I think we're far ahead of the game. It does take some patience. And I wish we had a little more patience in Iraq and a little less patience in--a little willingness to negotiate in North Korea. We are--we are in the middle of a full-blown crisis in North Korea and the president refuses to even admit so.

SCHIEFFER: Well, are you suggesting we take military action against North Korea?

Gov. DEAN: No, I'm su--I'm suggesting we start to talk to them. I mean, you...

Ms. PRIEST: Well, what happens if that doesn't work and they go ahead with their nuclear processing?

Gov. DEAN: Then we...

Ms. PRIEST: Can you imagine an unilateral pre-emptive strike on North Korea's missile system?

Gov. DEAN: That could--we--we could be forced into that. If they develop a missile that can reach the coast of--the West Coast of the United States, which they are in the process of doing--such a missile has been tested on the ground but never fired--we would have a very serious--much more serious problem than we have with Iraq because then they would become an imminent threat to the United States of America and to our people.

Ms. PRIEST: Would you say the same for Iran, whose nuclear capability is very sophisticated...

Gov. DEAN: We...

Ms. PRIEST: ...much more so than Iraq?

Gov. DEAN: Yes. We have to be much--very, very careful of Iran. One of my criticisms of this president is because we have no oil policy of any kind here, other than drill in the national parks, we--he is beholden to the Saudis and the Iranians. The Saudis and the Iranians and the Syrians are funding most of the terror in the Middle East, and this president has not been willing to confront that, probably because we have no oil policy. Absolutely, Iran is a--a very serious danger.

Ms. PRIEST: So again, you could consider pre-emptive strikes against the Iranian nuclear program?

Gov. DEAN: Look, you never rule in or out anything, but when America is threatened imminently with a--by a foreign power, then we have a right to defend ourselves. I do not believe that is the case in Iraq. And I do believe that al-Qaida and North Korea are imminent threats...

Ms. PRIEST: You--you've said that...

Gov. DEAN: ...and we're going to have to deal with that.

Ms. PRIEST: ...Iraq does not pose an imminent threat, but isn't by the nature of the threat--small vials that can kill thousands of people--isn't it going to be particularly difficult to d--to figure out when the threat is imminent? In fact, it might be too late by that time?

Gov. DEAN: You know, that's always the judgment call you have to make, and it's a very tough judgment call, but Saddam has had these weapons for 10 or 12 years. We have--it--I--I said before, one of the criteria for Saddam being judged as an imminent threat is if we find that he's giving weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. We have not--I have not seen the secretary or the president make a convincing case for that. If there were a convincing case for that, yes, then Saddam would be an imminent threat.

SCHIEFFER: Final question. And here's the part that concerns me about what I hear you saying today. You're talking about this not a threat. It's a--but how can you trust Saddam Hussein? He--he's now saying he doesn't have any of these weapons.

Gov. DEAN: No one...

SCHIEFFER: I mean, his--his word is not worth a nickel...

Gov. DEAN: Bob, we--absolutely.

SCHIEFFER: we found out this week.

Gov. DEAN: That's absolutely right. No one is going to trust Saddam Hussein. Anybody would be an idiot to trust Saddam Hussein. We need to continue to put pressure on him, have inspectors. I actually thought--that the Germans made a suggestion to increase the number of inspectors--inspectors by 300 percent. I think those are very good in--a very good suggestion. We are making progress with Saddam. He is a liar. He's a terrible person. But if we don't have to pre-eminently--pre-emptively attack him, we're much better off.

SCHIEFFER: All right. We have to end it there. We'll invite you to come back another time...

Gov. DEAN: Thanks very much.

SCHIEFFER: talk about domestic issues, but I thought it was important to get your thoughts on...

Gov. DEAN: Thank you. I appreciate it.

SCHIEFFER: ...on the news of the day. Thank you very.

Gov. DEAN: Thank you, Bob.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.