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CNN CROSSFIRE

Spain, U.K., U.S. to Meet in Azores; Celebrities Weighing in on Both Sides of War Question

Aired March 14, 2003 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala. On the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight: Iraq and a working weekend.

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: This meeting will discuss all final diplomatic options.

ANNOUNCER: What about every one else at the U.N.?

JOSE MARIA AZNAR, PRIME MINISTER OF SPAIN: I hate to work over the weekend, as I hope you do, but, I mean, it is a very serious matter.

ANNOUNCER: Star wars.

NEIL YOUNG, MUSICIAN: We're making a huge mistake.

ANNOUNCER: Celebrities are weighing in on both sides of the war question.

RON SILVER, ACTOR: I don't think it's been a rush.

ANNOUNCER: Ron Silver joins the debate.

Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Live, from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and actor Ron Silver.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CO-HOST: Hello everybody. Welcome to CROSSFIRE.

Tonight, President Bush calls a weekend summit conference to discuss what he calls his final diplomatic options. We will ask if they include anything besides war, war and more war. We'll also set the stage for yet another weekend of demonstrations for and against a possible war in Iraq.

Joining us tonight, though, is a special guest star. The first person in the 20-year history of CROSSFIRE to have sat in both on the left and on the right, actor Ron Silver. He's, by the way, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ron, welcome back.

SILVER: Good for you to be here. Thank you very much.

BEGALA: Mr. Silver, This should be fun. Sort of like Judy Collins, "Both Sides Now."

SILVER: Exactly. I'm obviously encumbered by any sense of Iraq or ideology.

BEGALA: No, you're in an honorable position of liberal on some issues...

SILVER: Yes, that's exactly right.

BEGALA: But conservative on the other other.

SILVER: I hope so, yes.

BEGALA: This will be a fun debate today. Thank you for doing this. I appreciate that.

We're going to get started tonight, as we always do, with all the political news that firsts in 45 seconds, the "CROSSFIRE Political Alert."

As we reported a moment ago, President Bush will, in fact, be boarding Air Force One tomorrow to meet with the prime ministers of Spain and Great Britain. Pretty much the only world leaders who don't hate his guts.

Tony Blair of Great Britain in particular is paying an enormous price for aligning himself with President Bush. Polls show Tony Blair with just a 31 percent approval rating. Some observers fear that a war without U.N. backing could cost Mr. Blair his job. Well, Mr. Bush promised regime change, I just didn't think he meant in England.

Still, our president says he is looking forward to the summit, which will be held on the Azores Islands, which, of course, belong to Portugal. Mr. Bush said, "I've always wanted to meet the Portugallians."

So -- no, he didn't. I made that up.

SILVER: Paul -- Paul -- did you want him to go to Paris to meet the Raelians?

BEGALA: Or the parasites?

SILVER: Might want the parasites.

OK -- President Bush, he can rest easy. He has Jimmy Carter's blessing to go to the Azores summit. Carter, who published an op-ed this week second-guessing Mr. Bush's Iraq policy today issued a statement calling the summit" an opportunity for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis."

Now, Paul, this is particularly direct at you. What is it this flip-flopping president that we seem to have? Bill Clinton gave a speech this week calling for a more relaxed timeline for Iraq to disarm. This is the very same Bill Clinton who in 1998 said, and I'm going to quote this: "What if Saddam Hussein fails to comply and we fail to act or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction? Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will? And, believe me, I guarantee you, some day he will use that arsenal."

That was 1998.

BEGALA: Right. When President Clinton launched airstrikes against Saddam Hussein and the Republican right savaged him and impeached him.

SILVER: And he...

BEGALA: It's nuts.

SILVER: And he also signed the Iraq Liberation Act...

BEGALA: Absolutely.

SILVER: ...which called for regime change. So how -- isn't the Bush policy a continuation of the Clinton administration's policy vis- a-vis Iraq?

BEGALA: No, what it is is it's jacking it up on steroids and taking us into a war that I think we can win without putting our troops in harm's way. Containment worked against the Soviet Union. We achieved regime change there, but we didn't lose any of our soldiers.

SILVER: Very, very different context, but I guess we'll have an opportunity to talk about it tonight.

BEGALA: We'll have a good debate about that tonight.

Well, President Bush, of course, prides himself on being a straight talking Texan who says what he means and means what he says. Well, here's what he said just last week about whether he would called for a vote at the U.N. Security Council.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And yes, we'll call for a vote.

QUESTION: No matter what?

BUSH: No what matter what the web count is, we're calling for the vote. We want people to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. Time for people to show their cards; let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: You bet. Show your cards.

Well, a week later, the Bush administration is saying there may never be a vote at the U.N. Continuing Mr. Bush's poker metaphor, when he said everyone should put their cars on the table, perhaps he was only bluffing. No wonder he's got a credibility crisis all over the world.

Mr. President, if I may use a phrase you're probably familiar with from our beloved Texas, Don't pee on my boots and tell me it's raining. He should just be straight with us.

SILVER: Let me ask you a question, Paul. You're not mocking the president for giving peace yet another chance or trying to help Tony Blair or trying to use diplomatic means? He's been at the U.N. for over six months now. When President Clinton went into Kosovo, I think they did the end run around the U.N. because you knew Russia would veto it. So President Bush has already been there for six, seven months giving diplomacy a shot.

BEGALA: Well, what I think it's doing is showing his incompetence. He shouldn't have gone -- "Napoleon said, If you say you're going to take Vienna, take Vienna." What I don't like are the bellicose statements he makes that then he is unable to back up.

SILVER: Isn't he working off resolution 1441, which, as far as the way I read it is, he has all of the capacity to do it within the resolution moving.

BEGALA: Absolutely. He has a perfect legal right to attack. It just would be unwise. I don't think he needs the second U.N. resolution, but he does. So he sets this goal for himself and then he fails. It's a monstrous debacle.

SILVER: Let me talk about this guy I like a lot now.

Maryland Congressman Lenny Hoyer (sic) is a liberal like me, but the No. 2 Democrat in the House is standing on principle instead of mere partisanship. Hoyer has announced he supports a war to disarm Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. He says, "If the United Nations won't act, simply waiting for the consequences is not an acceptable alternative. Action in the face of defiance" said Hoyer, "and the time to act is close at hand."

Now that's a very refreshing and realistic view and not likely to sit well with his boss, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. So we'll see if it's going to cost him. For now, Congressman Hoyer, congratulations.

BEGALA: Stenny Hoyer is a great guy.

SILVER: Second-in-command in the House.

BEGALA: There's gutsy people on both sides of this debate and I admire that you point out the Democrat who is for it. Lots of good Republicans -- Anthony Zinni, who serves President Bush, today as a special envoy of the Middle East

SILVER: Senator (UNINTELLIGIBLE) is not...

BEGALA: ...who was a four star general.

SILVER: That's right. That's right.

BEGALA: ...thinks it's a terrible idea.

SILVER: That's right.

BEGALA: So there are principled people on both sides.

SILVER: It doesn't have to do with parties, although I think the Democratic Party is going to have a tougher time with this issue. After voting to give the president the authority that he needs and now they seem to be hedging the bets. But, we can talk about that too.

BEGALA: If -- if the president does what he did in the last election, which is politicize national security, which I think would be regrettable. We'll have to wait and see what he does.

Well, "The Guardian" newspaper of Great Britain reports this week that Vice President Dick Cheney is still receiving up to a million dollars a year in deferred compensation from Halliburton, the oil field services firm he led after he served as defense secretary in the first Bush administration.

While Cheney ran Halliburton, of course, the firm had overseas subsidiaries which sold oil field equipment to Saddam Hussein as recently as 1998. A clear violation of the spirit, but not the letter, of American legal sanctions against Saddam.

The Pentagon this week released a list of just five corporations that would be eligible to bid for $900 million in government contracts to rebuild Iraq after we destroy it in Mr. Cheney's war. Halliburton is one of the companies invited to bid. Now, the vice president's office, we should note, told "The Guardian" Mr. Cheney had nothing to do with those Pentagon contracts.

I just wish that while he ran Halliburton Dick Cheney had chosen to have nothing to do with Saddam Hussein. Shameful.

SILVER: I have nothing to say about that.

BEGALA: It's not illegal, but I think it's wrong.

SILVER: Oh, you know, every body's sanctions were so porous and all. France is so complicit. Russia with Lukoil and France with Totalfina Elf and China is supplying them weapons. Every body -- hat's why sanctions don't work. That's why containing it doesn't work. That's why deterrence doesn't work.

BEGALA: But I hate to see an American corporate leader who was the defense secretary in the last war and running the sanctions and treating Saddam Hussein like a trusted, valued customer.

SILVER: He probably has connections in D.C.

BEGALA: I guess he does.

SILVER: OK. Thanks to the media's one-track obsession with Iraq, you probably haven't heard about the progress being made in solving one of the world's longest running crises -- the Middle East. The Palestinians have selected and are just about to confirm a new prime minister, Mamood Abas (ph). President Bush today said that the minute Abas is confirmed he and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will present the Palestinians and Israelis with what he calls "a road map for peace." It's a sequence of goals and negotiations aimed at reaching a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict by 2005, including the creation of a Palestinian state.

Now think of this: no more war there. No more refugee crises, terrorism or despair. Both sides are going to have a road map. And all they have to do now is follow it.

BEGALA: Well, look, I think there's a lot to offer in President Bush's road map.

SILVER: I do too.

BEGALA: There are a lot of good ideas.

My problem is he's spent a lot of time in the rest stop instead of on the road. He has ignored the Israeli-Palestinian problems except from time to time, when he jumps in. I worked for President Clinton, who brought us closer to peace than any one. We couldn't get it because Yasser Arafat walked away from the deal of his lifetime.

But I know that it takes consistent, involved, committed presidential leadership and we've not had it. We had it today.

SILVER: The context now developing seems to be the context that allowed the first George Bush to get everybody to Madrid, which started the Oslo process. You have a conflagration in the Middle East that allowed the players, geostrategically, to mix it all up. We had Madrid and we had Oslo. So perhaps now the timing is exactly right.

BEGALA: It is. It's very hopeful. I actually think that going into Iraq and deposing an Arab leader the U.S. largely alone, very few Arab allies certainly, is just the wrong thing to do. It's exactly what Osama bin Laden and the terrorists want us to do. It's not what the many very decent Palestinians who want to have a state and could live in peace want. But we'll see if it works out.

Well, the president, of course as we mentioned before, is packing for a little spring break trip down to the Azores. In a minute we will debate whether we can get away with Tony and Jose Maria will break the diplomatic deadlock or just help the president work on his tan.

And, perhaps coming to an anti-war rally near you, a little star power. We'll will debate whether their famous faces obscure their message. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. President Bush holds an emergency summit in the Azores Sunday to discuss the final diplomatic options with the leaders of Great Britain and Spain. The three countries have thus far been unable to marshal sufficient support in the U.N. Security Council to pass their resolution calling for the use of force in Iraq.

Is most of the world on the side of the evildoer or has George W. Bush simply bungled the most important diplomatic mission of his presidency? In the CROSSFIRE tonight, former CIA Director James Woolsey and former Congressman Tom Andrews, now director of the Win Without War Coalition.

Thank you very much. All right. Jim, our president is going to meet with the only two guys that were for him, practically. The prime minister of Great Britain, the prime minister of Spain. Why isn't he going to Santiago, Chile to meet with President Lago, who's got an idea, or to Russia to persuade his friend Putti-Poo? Why is he going to preach to the choir in the first place?

JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: He's got 18 European governments that have signed pretty well with him against France and Germany and Belgium.

I think all this is about is trying to provide cover for Tony Blair. This would not be the second resolution, this would be the 18th resolution in 12 years that has said Saddam is in violation of the cease-fire agreement that temporarily halted the war in 1991.

It's not necessary to have another resolution. I think it makes the U.N. sort of look irresolute to keep trying. But the president is trying to protect Tony Blair. That's what I think this is all about.

TOM ANDREWS, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: The interesting thing is is that Tony Blair is not alone. There's not a single government who is supporting so-called the United States who isn't facing a majority of its population, in some 90, 95 percent of its population that are bitterly against this invasion.

WOOLSEY: Appeasement was very popular in the 1930s.

ANDREWS: Well, we're not talking appeasement.

WOOLSEY: Well yes you are. You are talking precisely appeasement.

SILVER: The parallels, I would just like to jump in here, the parallels with the conversations that went on in the '30s are striking. Up between '33 and '37 if you listened to Stanley Baldwin, if you listened to what they said about Germany, about rearming, that's there's no proof for it, that actually Germany had some legitimate grievances going back to Versailles, it was exactly the same arguments. And by 1945 I believe they wished they had listened to Winston Churchill that said let's go to war in 1938.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS: That would be -- that would be a great argument if it had any relevance to what's actually being debated and what the issue is. We're not -- first of all, we're not talking about appeasing anyone. We're not talking about rolling over and letting Saddam Hussein have his way. Not at all. We are talking...

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS: If you're going to quote figures, let's quote some other figures. Let's quote 95 percent of the weapons of mass destruction of Saddam Hussein were identified and destroyed. That's more than -- during the...

WOOLSEY: That is simply false. That is absolutely outrageously false. You don't know...

ANDREWS: Can you at least accept this? At least accept this, that those weapons inspectors during the 1990s destroyed more weapons of mass destruction, identified and destroyed more than our entire military did during the Gulf War.

WOOLSEY: After tipped off by defectors who left the country which is what the inspectors are now trying to do and the Iraqis won't let them do. Inspectors trying to question people in the country means the people who get questioned get killed.

ANDREWS: And, Mr. Woolsey, you know as well as I do that defectors are an important part of NEVILLE: is entire process of investigating, finding information.

But the point is those weapons of mass destruction were destroyed and here's the other point. Hans Blix who was directing this effort has said to the United Nations and said to the world, look, we are identifying...

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS: Listen, we can debate semantics all we want, we can debate politics all we want. But right now as we speak those Al Samoud 2 missiles are being destroyed. As we speak...

(CROSSTALK)

WOOLSEY: ... the anthrax and the nerve gas and there are thousands of gallons of anthrax and hundreds to thousands of tons of nerve gas which has not been...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: How did Saddam Hussein get the precursor for anthrax?

WOOLSEY: Anthrax -- anthrax grows in a lot of cow pastures. You don't need to...

BEGALA: We know for historical fact that President Reagan, tilting our policy towards Iraq and against Iran, authorized anthrax and bubonic plague to be sold to Saddam Hussein. We know, just so we have the history on the table, right, Jim.

(CROSSTALK)

WOOLSEY: The Middle East going back many years is a pretty good illustration of Winston Churchill (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that the Americans always do the right thing but unfortunately only after they've exhausted all other possibilities.

Backing Saddam in the Gulf -- in the war with Iran was, I think, a result of the takeover of our embassy in '79 and the fact that people were very, very anti-Iranian. It was not a good idea, but that's in retrospect. People make mistakes but it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that the Congressman, I think, is quite wrong when he says 95 percent of the weapons have been destroyed.

There are huge stocks according to the inspectors and everybody, of anthrax and nerve gas.

BEGALA: Jim, if you're right, well I'll defer your expertise. Then the question arises, why hasn't he used them? Either he's a nice guy which we both agree he's not. Or he's been contained and deterred successfully for 12 years, right?

WOOLSEY: He hasn't been contained from producing them. He hasn't been contained from developing ties with terrorist groups.

The thing that's different in these current circumstances is rogue regimes who have used, a rouge regime here, who's used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and against the Iranians, who has ties to terrorist groups and who has thousands of tons of gas and things like anthrax is a threat in a different way than the rather stodgy Soviet Union was.

(CROSSTALK)

SILVER: See if you recognized this and who might have said it. "Resolving conflicts, standing up to brutality and aggression without rushing into war is and always upon will be the most difficult course, but it is always the right course. That course, giving peace every possible chance to work before rushing in to war."

Rushing into war is mentioned four times, I'm sure you recognize who said that. That was you on the floor of Congress in 1991. Now we're hearing the same thing about rushing into war.

Is there not some sort of reflexive response when Americans start to exercise its power in almost any event because when you look back in your two terms in the 102nd and 103rd, you were trying to knock down military budgets, you were closing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bases and this and that.

Is there perhaps some other agenda driving this? This is not unique, this rushing into war this time. It's going back 12 years.

ANDREWS: Listen, Ron, let's not talk about military bases in 1994 and 1995. I thought this was -- is this the History Channel? I didn't realize what we were talking about here.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS: Let's talk about the crisis that we're facing right now.

First of all, no one is appeasing Saddam Hussein. We're talking about taking -- listen, no, no, hold on. Hold on.

BEGALA: Wasn't it appeasement in 1983 when Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons against the Iranians and Donald Rumsfeld went to suck up to him on behalf to on Ronald Reagan? Was that appeasement?

WOOLSEY: I don't know that Rumsfeld sucked up to him. I mean, it was the policy of the United States government to support -- well, to support...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: ...in this war between Iraq and Iran.

You had -- basically, you wanted both to lose, I think, in the war in the 1980s. The United States supported Saddam in that war. That's true. But, you know, in the full light of history, we get to look back and say Gee, we wish we hadn't of done that.

But it doesn't have any thing to do with the fact that he has all of these hundreds of thousands of gallons and tons of chemical and bacteriological weapons now. The Congressman is just wrong when he says 95 percent of those weapons have been destroyed. Nobody who is an expert in this area believes that.

BEGALA: Thank you for the comment.

I'm going to ask Tom Andrews to hold that response for just a minute. When we come back, I'm going to ask our guest to respond, actually, to a brand new poll just released today that asked our fellow Americans when it is that we're justified to throw the first punch in a war. The results may surprise you.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. You know, despite scrapping virtually all of his public schedule to phone foreign leaders, President Bush reports no progress yet in his effort to real support for a resolution in war in Iraq.

We are talking with former Central Intelligence Agency Director Jim Woolsey and former Congressman Tom Andrews, the director of Win Without War.

Ron, you want to pick up with Tom.

SILVER: Yes, if you want to comment on what we were talking about before the break, you are welcome to and then I have a question for you.

ANDREWS: Ron, my goal is to be able to make a complete point in this debate. And let me just make a complete -- that's my goal.

Let me...

SILVER: This is CROSSFIRE. What do complete points have to do with CROSSFIRE? It doesn't matter whether it's a good point or not.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS: Can I at least make it?

SILVER: Please, go right ahead.

Let me just quote. You know, we talk about -- Is it 90 -- is it 85, 90, 95 percent that we destroyed?

Listen, we've got a situation here in which the international community is united right now. We're united behind a process that takes Saddam Hussein, looks him in the eye, and say, We are going to look for every single weapons of mass destruction, we're going to contain you, we're going to disarm you. There's no way that even if he wanted to use whatever weapons of mass destructions he wanted to use now, he is not going to be able to use them under these circumstances.

Now when might he use weapons of mass destruction? Well, according to the CIA, in the testimony provided to the Senate, this is what they said: "Should Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he might decide that the extreme step of assisting Islamic terrorists in conducting a weapons of mass destruction attack against the United States would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him."

So if he's contained right now, he's not going to use those weapons of mass destruction.

SILVER: Tom ,we have an ideology enemy out there.

ANDREWS: But at the point in which the invasion occurs, not only do we kill innocent Iraqis, put our soldiers in harm's way when they don't have to be, inflame the most volatile region in the world and might see regime change in countries like Jordan or Pakistan, for example, and all of the consequences that would result from that.

OK, here's the alternative. Here's -- so here's the -- so this is the alternative. We can take aside, we can take an approach to disarming Saddam Hussein, that you may not like, it may not be fast enough or robust enough, but it is within the international community. It's working. Those weapons are being destroyed as we speak.

Or we can risk all of those great tragedies to us, to the Iraqis and to the international community. To me it's a no-brainer.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Let me get your response because the CIA -- your successor, George Tenet, has testified that the risk at home goes also goes up a lot if we have a war in Iraq.

And I'm just wondering -- well, that's a mere statement, not a question. I'd feel a lot better at night if you were in charge of homeland security, instead of two Republican political hacks who Bush put in charge, Governor Ridge and Congressman Hutchinson. What is he -- why is he playing around with our homeland security?

WOOLSEY: What the Congressman read from was the front end of Tenet's letter. The end of the letter talks about ties between Iraq and al Qaeda going back 10 years and it talks about al Qaeda being trained by Iraq in -- quote -- "poisons, gases and explosives."

What we have here is a situation that steadily gets worse. Under some circumstances, yes, if we go to war in the Middle East, I think it may be more likely for a period of time that weapons of mass destruction will be used by Saddam, then let's say, today. But the problem is over the long term, this gets worse and worse and worse, he develops more sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. He develops more and more ties with terrorist groups.

And there's no way you can stop the world and get off and freeze it as of now. You have to deal with the world either in which he's getting stronger or a world in which he is removed and I think the president is on the right track.

ANDREWS: But, you know, the only way...

SILVER: Can I ask you a question? Are you at all ever concerned that you might be wrong. And if you're wrong, it could be catastrophically wrong? Are you ever concerned about that? And are you.....

ANDREWS: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Right now...

SILVER: You are protecting and perpetuating a regime that everybody knows is monstrous and in its barbarity. Why don't you want to get this guy out? Were you happy that Milosevic went out? Are you happy he's on trial? If you are, then what's good enough for Slobodan is certainly good enough for Saddam.

ANDRES: SO, let's indict him. Let's indict him. Let's do to this guy what we did to mMlosevic, but the point is this.

But the point is. Do I think I'm wrong to...

WOOLSEY: What we did to Milosevic was deposing, by force.

ANDREWS: Do I think I'm wrong sometimes? Of course.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS: I'm going to try to make this point. I'm going to try to make this point.

SILVER: You can make a couple.

ANDREWS: The first -- your question is a fair one and the question is, If I'm wrong what are the consequences? Could I live with those consequences?

But look at -- right now, Ron, he is going nowhere. That is Saddam Hussein.

SILVER: He doesn't have to.

ANDREWS: He is -- hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. He is contained -- even if he wanted to use those weapons of mass destruction, he is not going to use them,. So he is not an imminent threat to his neighbors or to the United States.

But here's what happens if you're wrong, Ron and we attack and we kill innocent Iraqis, we inflame this region, we take -- and this is probably most important of all. If we're going to take on terrorism, with all due respect, we're going to have to do it not just as the United States, but as an international community.

And I can't think of a more potent weapon -- a more potent weapon for Osama bin Laden than -- I can't think of a more potent weapon for Osama bin Laden than to be able to take and use this as a recruiting tool for a whole new generation of terrorists.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: We're going to pick this up. James Woolsey and Tom Andrews, hang with us. In a minute, we're going to ask our guests if there's any justification to the administration's claim that a war with Iraq is necessary to preempt a terrorist attack.

And later, we'll ask why liberal anti-war celebrities aren't treated with the same respect, perhaps, as Republican actors who sometimes (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BREAKING NEWS 19:33)

BEGALA: Actor Robert Blake -- we've got breaking news right now. We'll come back to our debate in a moment. Actor Robert Blake has been freed on bail. You see him here leaving the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Bond was posted this morning, but he was not released until just now. The judge set the bail for Robert Blake, who is accused of shooting his wife Bonny Lee Bakley.

While out on bail, of course, Mr. Blake will have to surrender his passport, he'll have to stay in a residence. He will be monitored with an electronic device all because of the order of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lloyd Nash. The Bakleys family said that they were shocked at the decision to release Mr. Blake on bail. He's about to give a statement. Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take it easy. Speak up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back up. Back up

QUESTION: Is he going to talk?

ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR: Hold on. Give me a cigarette.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take it easy.

QUESTION: Mr. Blake, are you going to see Rosie?

BLAKE: I'm OK.

QUESTION: Mr. Blake, are you going to go see Rosie?

BLAKE: I'm OK. I'm going to go sleep for three or four days. This is not my day. It's not the father's day. This is god's day. He's never let me down in my life. I never thought I'd make (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the cement box, but I'm here.

QUESTION: How does it feel...

BLAKE: I have had an exquisite life. I've had incredible highs. I've had terrible lows. But I'm still here and I wouldn't change my life for anybody's in the world. Thank you.

QUESTION: Will you take the stand?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. Back it up.

BEGALA: That was actor Robert Blake thanking god for his release on bond. A source close to god informs me that, in fact, Blake himself posted bond and the lord had nothing to do with it.

Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We'll come back to our debate on Iraq.

The Bush administration is arguing that a war there is necessary to prevent a possible terrorist attack on the United States. But former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman had a pretty different view. She noticed that Japan once used the doctrine of preemption against the United States. It was called Pearl Harbor. We're talking with former CIA Director James Woolsey, and former Congressman Tom Andrews, director of Win Without War.

Jim, before we got hijacked by Robert Blake, the Vietnam Veterans of America Federation did a poll and they asked the American people -- it just came out today. It's an independent poll. And by two to one, nearly, by 62 to 33 percent, they believe that a first strike is not justified. In fact, it's not in the American tradition.

WOOLSEY: This isn't a first strike. There's no need to use a doctrine of preemption here. The Gulf War in 1991 was halted by a temporary cease-fire, and Saddam is clearly in violation of the terms of that cease-fire with massive amounts of chemical and bacterial weapons and the other programs.

Seventeen U.N. resolutions say that he's in violation of the cease-fire. There is no need to use this doctrine of preemption. If one wanted to use it in other circumstances, I think this world that we are now in of rogue states with weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorist groups is a different world than the world that the U.N. was born into in 1945 and just thereafter.

And furthermore, I don't think there's any reasonable argument that one can only go to war legally with the authority of the U.N. Security Council. That authority has been granted exactly twice, exactly twice. And since the U.N. was founded nearly 60 years ago, there have been between 100 and 150 wars, depending on how you count.

France rampages around West Africa all of the time. They never think of asking the permission of the U.N. Security Council.

(APPLAUSE)

WOOLSEY: So, you know, this is the...

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Congressman Andrews here.

ANDREWS: You know the only way that the essence of the United Nations, the reason that it exists, that principle should live and breathe. The fact that we should have a war -- I mean -- excuse me -- a world ruled by law, a rule of law and not the rule of war. It is incredibly important now more than ever for us to be able to work with the international community. Terrorists are in 60 countries around the world.

There is no way, despite the fact that we're the largest and most powerful militarily and economically country in the world, there is no way that we can defeat terrorism unless we do it in a cooperative way with the entire international community through the United Nations. And if we don't do that...

BEGALA: That will have to be the last word. Congressman Tom Andrews, former congressman from Maine, Jim Woolsey, former CIA director, thank you both for a terrific debate.

We are heading into another weekend, of course, of demonstrations and protests around the country. In a minute, we will ask if the celebrities in those protests are helping or hurting their cause.

Later, a congressman takes his foot out of his mouth just long enough to give us the Quote of the Day. You're watching CROSSFIRE on CNN, my friends, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Organizers of a huge anti- war demonstration planned for this nation's capital tomorrow are hoping for 20,000 marchers. Anti-war demonstrations are also planned in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and several European countries.

A number of celebrities have been conspicuous in the anti-war movement, but does their presence and star power serve to overshadow the protesters' arguments? Stepping into the CROSSFIRE from Los Angeles, actor and anti-war activist James Cromwell. Mr. Cromwell, thank you for joining us.

(APPLAUSE)

Of course, we are joined by Ron Silver, another actor who disagrees with you on this side. I want to begin the debate with you, though, Mr. Cromwell. Why so often when I see -- I find there are more celebrities than experts debating this. Do motives enter into it?

Why do we so often impugn motives instead of arguing merits? People on the left say this is a war for oil. People on the right say you're not patriotic. Why is that?

JAMES CROMWELL, ACTOR: Well, it's a lot easier to impugn somebody's motives, because of course you don't know what their motives are. If you have to deal with the facts, it makes it very much more difficult.

BEGALA: Well I hope in this debate we can do that. Ron, you've been a victim of the same thing. People attacking you because of your views.

SILVER: Well, I wouldn't call it a victim. I don't fell like a victim. I think it's a healthy expression of views, and I'm sure that everybody has a great deal of integrity and expresses themselves in what they feel.

It's a pretty critical issue. And as you know, it flows every way. You have Democrats feeling this way, Republicans against the war. Democrats for the war. So it's not a a convenient thing to break it down on party labels.

BEGALA: Right. Well let me try and see if I can break it down a little bit more. There's a group out, a bunch nitwits and morons, called Citizens Against Celebrity Pundits. They've gathered 94,130 signatures of people who can't even write their own names.

They think, Mr. Cromwell, that you and Mr. Silver don't even have a right. They say you're interfering with the defense of our country. How do you respond to these jokers?

CROMWELL: Well, I recommend they read the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees the right of every person to express their opinion.

(APPLAUSE)

CROMWELL: We live in a free country, and that is the country that terrorists attacked. And the terrorists will win if we allow our rights to be taken from us by pressure groups who do not want to hear opinions that don't agree with theirs.

BEGALA: Ron, do you think you have a right? You are on the Council of Foreign Relations, as well as being an actor.

SILVER: Right, but obviously I'm sitting here. When people ask me to come on and be interviewed and they ask me to share my thoughts, I do it. And I'm very privileged to do it, because I think there are a lot of people out there that are just as passionate, just as knowledgeable, if not more, that don't have the opportunity to express themselves. Once you guys stop asking us to do it, we fade into the background.

BEGALA: Well, what is it though about -- I frankly do believe it's coming more from the right than the left. That they want us to tell you that you don't have a right to speak out on the war. Mr. Cromwell, doesn't have the right -- and it comes from, you know, bloated blowhards like Rush Limbaugh who doesn't have any more expertise. He's not on the Council of Foreign Relations.

But, Mr. Cromwell, let me ask you, though. On the merits, what's your plan to disarm Saddam Hussein, if not war?

CROMWELL: Well there is a plan in place, there is a resolution. The resolution is supported by the United Nations. The plan is working.

Saddam Hussein is contained. He will be disarmed, and it will be at a far less cost than what it would be if we declared war and went into Iraq. If we go into Iraq, not only will it eviscerate the United Nations, and it will alienate us from our allies, who we will desperately need to fight terrorism, but it will also hand the terrorists probably the best recruiting idea that they could ever hope for.

Plus, the cost of this war is not being explicated to the American people. There are states in this country that are near bankruptcy, and they're being told by the federal government that there's not enough money for education. All of the time while we can spend billions and billions of dollars in a policy which the -- in the "Los Angeles Times" today -- put the lie to the argument that there would be an outpouring of democratic sentiment in the Middle East if we went into Iraq and imposed democracy.

First of all, it's a very poor way to impose democracy. And, secondly, it will not work in that area. (APPLAUSE)

SILVER: Jamie -- may I call you Jamie?

CROMWELL: Sure.

SILVER: Explain something to me. Because there's a certain inconsistency and confusion that I sense. During the '90s, humanitarian intervention was embraced by liberals, and there was certainly preemption. It was going into a country and it was not respecting their sovereignty, and it basically laid the foundations for the present administration's policy about going in and changing regimes.

It happened in Kosovo. His boss bombed Kosovo for 78 days without the U.N. There were no protests then. There have been no protests from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on so many different issues.

Do you think there is, perhaps -- and I don't want to impugn motives -- some political element involved now? If President Clinton had made the case that George Bush is making, that this is too dangerous to live with, we cannot live with this possibility of being wrong and we have to go in, or if it was President Gore, do you think the community would be out in the streets and as much up in arms?

CROMWELL: I absolutely do, because I don't think the case would have been made any better by a Democratic administration than it is by the present administration. I don't believe it has anything to do with politics. I think people are going on to the street because they are not convinced that this is the most effective way to contain not only Saddam Hussein, but all weapons of mass destruction. And that the real problem, which is the problem of terrorism, is not being dealt with by attacking Iraq.

That is a problem which we all recognize. It's of utmost importance to the people of America, and it has to be handled. And to try to continue to profess this lie that there is a connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorists who were responsible for September 11th is egregious in my mind.

Those happened to be mostly Saudis. That you never hear any complaint about the Saudi government and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that still teach hate. Hate that's taught all over the world.

BEGALA: We are almost out of time, but I do want to ask you. Why the duct tape on your shirt?

CROMWELL: Billions of dollars for a war in Iraq to no purpose, and what to protect American citizens? Duct tape.

BEGALA: James Cromwell, actor and anti-war activist, thank you very much, sir. Ron, thanks for a spirited debate. But you're staying with us.

The reviews are in. And a little bit later we'll let our viewers fire back about actors in Iraq, including one viewer's thought on Ron Silver's position. He'll be here to fire back as well.

But next: a Democratic congressman gets our Quote of the Day for the second time this week. A new trick. Stay tuned.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Virginia Democratic Congressman Jim Moran has been through a tough couple of weeks. He's got nobody but himself to blame, of course.

It started on March 3rd at a meeting in Reston, Virginia, when Mr. Moran declared, "If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this." His remarks, of course, were condemned as anti-Semitic, and today Congressman Moran resigned his post with the House Democratic leadership.

He's still a member of Congress, but he's left the leadership. His explanation for that action is our Quote of the Day. He said, "I step down from my leadership position today to demonstrate the acceptance of my responsibility for insensitive remarks I recently made." Not a moment too soon, Ron.

SILVER: I agree.

BEGALA: Now here's the test, though. Howard Coble is the chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Homeland Defense and Terrorism. Howard Coble is a Republican from North Carolina. He said that it was good that we interred the Japanese in the second world war.

Why in the hell is he chairing an important committee on homeland defense, when he thought it was good to inter the Japanese, one of the worst crimes that the American government ever committed, and Jim Moran rightly steps down? Shouldn't Howard Coble step down, too?

SILVER: You want me to speak to him?

BEGALA: Yes, call him up. By the way, if you want to hear his side of it -- and I'm sure you do; we all do -- Congressman Moran will be discussing his controversial comments on Monday on "LARRY KING LIVE." An exclusive interview with the king of talk 9:00 PM Eastern. You will not want to miss that.

And next, one of our viewers fires back a theory about why President Bush is spending the weekend on some remote islands in the middle of the ocean. You'll be interested to know. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. Time now for Fireback. And, boy, you fired back a lot of e-mail about, of course, Iraq and foreign policy. Neil Elam in Charlotte, North Carolina, writes, "Bush's latest attempt at diplomacy in the Azores should be called the 'Fantasy Island Summit.' It's probably the only place these leaders can go to escape massive demonstrations against the war in Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

BEGALA: That's an interesting title for it.

SILVER: You know, again, I can't understand people scorning the president for trying to make diplomacy work. And he's trying to talk to as mean people as he can. He's been on the phone. He's traveling to the Azores; I don't think he's ever been there before.

BEGALA: I have to say, it's been -- actually, I do disagree, though. I think it's been halfhearted, clumsy, and incompetent. His father met personally with Mikhail Gorbachev and got the Soviets and the Russians to support us in Iraq. James Baker went to Turkey three times to get (ph) the Turks.

This guy just sits at home. And now he's going to meet with the only three people who are with him already. I mean I just -- I think he could do more.

SILVER: OK. "I think that it is right for Bush to go to war with Iraq, because if we don't act now, he'll make the first move." Mel from Sharpsburg, Maryland.

I'm not sure that he'll make the first move, but I'm desperately afraid that he'll make the last move. And I don't want to see that happen.

BEGALA: Saddam Hussein? That's right. But, again, the question is...

SILVER: You don't want to do that. You don't want to be wrong on this one. You don't want to be wrong with his connections.

Look, he had Abu Nidal was a guest there, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) has been there. Al Ansar (ph) in the Kurdish area in the north. You know what? We made a big mistake by not connecting the dots prior to 9/11. Don't fault us now for connecting dots.

BEGALA: As somebody who lost friends in 9/11, I thought it was an obscenity when eight times the president raised 9/11, which Iraq -- Iraq, we may need to go to war, we may not. But it had not a damn thing to do with those 3,000 people murdered. And George Bush should keep his arguments separate.

(APPLAUSE)

SILVER: I'm not talking about Iraq being connected to 9/11. I'm talking about them being part of a swamp which breeds this Islamic fascism, and they are all networked.

BEGALA: That's right. And our argument is whether a war will help breed more terrorists or stop them. And that's where the debate ends and begins.

Mike McClung in Fairfax, writes -- Fairfax, Virginia, right here -- "I really believe that Mr. Sheen" -- Ron's colleague on "The West Wing" -- "deserves an honorary Emmy award. To play a character on 'The West Wing' who comes across as a great president and then speak out on things he knows nothing about really requires talent."

I suppose you could say the same thing about George W. Bush, but that wouldn't be fear. And I...

SILVER: I got him elected, you know? I got him elected on the show.

BEGALA: Do you have political arguments on the set?

SILVER: Marty has a tremendous amount of integrity. And this is not a newly-found thing. It's going back for his entire life. And I respect his opinions and I disagree with him.

BEGALA: But do argue it out on the set?

SILVER: No, we don't talk -- we talk about movies, girls. You know.

OK. "I never realized how incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable Ron Silver is regarding the unfortunate inevitable war. He answers questions and doesn't dance around them like so many others. Nothing wishy-washy about him. I stand by his opinions 100 percent" -- Mom. No, I'm sorry.

Margaret, are you married, Margaret?

BEGALA: No, seriously, you do. This is why celebrities on both sides need to engage if they're informed citizens like Ron is. And I'm glad you're doing this.

Yes, sir? What's your question or comment?

MIKE BETT: Hi. This is Mike Bett (ph) from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I just want to know what will happen on the credibility of U.S. foreign policy if the U.S. does not act and Hussein is left in power?

BEGALA: That's a great question. It may well be that we're too far committed. You know there's an old saying in Texas, if you come to a wall and you're not sure you can climb over, you should throw your hat over it.

I think our president has committed us irrevocably to war. It breaks my heart, I think it's wrong. I think it will be a disaster for our country long term. But I think he's left himself no way to back out. He's committed us and I think it's a tragedy.

But you make a good point, because our credibility is shot. He's made a lot false promises.

SILVER: Well Saddam has brought us to this war, not President Bush.

BEGALA: From the left, I am Paul Begala. Thanks for joining us on CROSSFIRE. Good night.

SILVER: And from the liberal left, but the right of center, I'm Ron Silver.

BEGALA: Join us again for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

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