January 8, 2004 | Broadcast

Paula Zahn Now

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I’m confident of what I presented last year. The intelligence community is confident of the material they gave me. I was representing them. It was information they presented to the Congress. It was information they had presented publicly. And they stand behind it. And this game is still unfolding.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, on to other news now. Secretary of State Powell’s reaction to a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, it says Iraq had long ago ended its banned weapons program did not have weapons of mass destruction and was no immediate threat to the U.S. Also the U.S. has now withdrawn a team looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

So is the game still unfolding, as Secretary Powell says it is, to getting Saddam Hussein, does it make it all worthwhile?

Or does it mean American soldiers giving their lives for a lie?

In Washington we’re joined by former congressman, Tom Andrews, who now heads the group, Win Without War. And Clifford May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Welcome gentlemen.


ZAHN: Tom, I’m going to start with you this evening.

Why do you think this team that was scouring Iraq has left the country?

TOM ANDREWS, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, “WIN WITHOUT WAR”: Well, clearly they’re leaving the country and we’ve heard that David Kay, who heads the inspection process, is planning to resign, because they haven’t found the massive weapons of mass destructionn that the Bush administration alleged that was there.

They said that there were hundreds of tons of chemical and biological weapons, reconstituted nuclear weapons, dozens of scud missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles that had the capacity to deliver these weapons. None of it turns out to be true.

And it turns out that not only were we wrong, but as we learned from the report released today, that there was intelligence reports that this administration did not reveal to the American public.

It misrepresented existing intelligence reports to the Congress, and to the people of the United States, not including critical facts that would have presented a completely different picture than the ones that — than the one that the Bush administration described.

So this hurts the credibility of the United States. Obviously we were dead wrong, and we deceived The American people, the Congress and the world in the process.

ZAHN: Being dead wrong is one thing but Cliff, that’s a pretty powerful charge that Tom is making, that the U.S. public was deliberately misled.

Were we?

CLIFFORD MAY, PRESIDENT, DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES FOUNDATION: I’m sorry, but it’s a false charge. I know Carnegie and Tom were against this war before. They’re against this war now. They’ve made these charges before. They’re making these charges now. It’s simply not true. We have the same CIA now that we had under Clinton.

We have the same intelligence estimates that we did under Clinton. The one difference is that after 9/11, it was probably a good idea — Tom might disagree — to look at rogue dictators threatening us, and who were developing the capability to have weapons of mass destruction that they could give to terrorists with whom they were conspiring.

Now a year ago this was well understood. Almost exactly a year ago, “The New York Times” had an editorial and the editorial said that it makes sense to make the world safer, that President Bush’s top priority is to eliminate Iraq’s ability to create biological and nuclear weapons. By the way Saddam did have these chemicals. He used them. He had biological weapons, we know that from UNSCOM, including anthrax. Well, what we don’t know is what he did with them. Did he destroy them illegally and secretly?

That’s a possibility and we don’t know.


ZAHN: Tom, you were saying, it’s not a question of what he did with them. You don’t believe the premise of what Cliff is saying is true at all?

You don’t think these weapons ever existed?

ANDREWS: Listen, we know they existed.

MAY: Thank you.

ANDREWS: And we know that they were destroyed and eliminated by the U.N. weapons inspection process.

MAY: Not at all.

ANDREWS: And we know what the U.N. weapons inspectors found with the resources…

MAY: Tom.

ANDREWS: The legal resources, wait a minute. It took 15 months, $900 million, 1,400 inspectors. We couldn’t find anything more than those U.N. inspectors found. But what’s very important to note here is that we’re lowering the bar in this debate, if you’ve noticed, Paula. We’ve gone from massive weapons of mass destruction, hundreds of tons of it, to, well, maybe they had weapons programs. Now maybe they had weapons programs capabilities. At this rate, if we just find…

ZAHN: Hang on. Cliff, here’s a question I want to ask you. Tom made this pretty clear right off the top. You had nine months of intense searching by the U.S. Government without results. Now you have this 400 member–essentially a search team–leaving the country.

MAY: The search team, just like the inspectors, were not really detectives. We have right now…

ZAHN: But what were they?

What were they doing there?

MAY: They were there to take what there was and destroy it.

ZAHN: So you don’t think — what you’re saying, they didn’t expect to find anything?

MAY: No, they hoped they would, but we may not. Some of the weapons we’re talking about could be stored in a garage. Absolutely small. We have right now 10 miles worth of documents that we need to go through to find out more about what Saddam was doing and what he had. The idea that we could have waited, and we should have waited, and let the sanctions continue, which people like Tom are saying are causing Iraqi children to die, and see what happens.

See if Saddam did develop these biological weapons, which he was trying to develop. His son-in-law said so, UNSCOM said so. See if he used the chemical weapons again. See if he could — by the way after 1999 he was still importing weapons, material, and equipment for nuclear weapons.

Now, he didn’t assemble them. Look I want to make one other point, it was Saddam’s obligation, it was part of the cease-fire of 1991 that he had to disclose and show all the weapons, everything on the list, and he had to be transparent. He defied every U.N. resolution. We have to understand that. All Saddam had to do really is what Gadhafi is agreeing to do now, saying I don’t want these weapons. I am giving them up. I’m showing you everything I have. He defied us.

ZAHN: Tom, lets go to the final point that I think is interesting to balance this whole segment, and that is, the accusation that Iraqi scientists deliberately misled U.S. Government officials in telling them that weaponry existed that simply did not.

Do you buy that?

ANDREWS: Listen, there was a lot of deception that went on. But the fact of the matter is, that the intelligence community of this country, and certainly of the United Nations, found that we were not under a direct threat. Cliff is right, Saddam Hussein is a bad guy.

There are many bad guys in the world. They have lots of dangerous weapons. But we don’t kill hundreds of Americans, thousands of innocent Iraqis, take hundreds of billions of dollars of our tax money to go after something when we had a system in place that was not only discovering those weapons and destroying them, but containing this tyrant…

ZAHN: I need to move on to break some news. Just very quickly.

MAY: Tom, at what point did the Taliban become a direct threat to us? Was it on September 9 or September 10? We can no longer have rogue dictators who threaten us, who try to kill us, who then have weapons and…

ANDREWS: This invasion has strengthened al Qaeda. It’s recruiting people.

ZAHN: OK, gentlemen. Tom Andrews, Clifford May, I hate to cut you off there, but we have to go back to Georgia. Thank you, gentlemen, for your time.