THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP
HOST: JOHN MCLAUGHLIN
JOINED BY: MICHAEL BARONE, TONY BLANKLEY, ELEANOR CLIFT AND LAWRENCE O'DONNELL
TAPED: FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2002
BROADCAST: WEEKEND OF JUNE 8-9, 2002
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THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue one: A czar is born.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (From videotape.) America is leading the civilized world in a titanic struggle against terror.
Tonight I propose a permanent, Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security to unite essential agencies that must work more closely together -- among them, the Coast Guard, the Border Patrol, the Customs Service, immigration officials, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: On the merits, is this centralization of responsibilities sound? I ask you, Michael.
MR. BARONE: Well, I think it depends, John. This is an about- face for George W. Bush, who had resisted this kind of proposal before. And I think it depends on whether or not this new agency, if it comes into existence, can preserve and strengthen the culture of units of the government that work well, like FEMA; if it can change the culture of units of government that don't work well, like the Immigration and Naturalization Service; and if -- whether this new intelligence analysis unit that the president has called for becomes an intelligent consumer of intelligence and do they get the information they need from CIA, FBI and other agencies.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: Well, I don't think it hurts to reorganize government every 50 years or so. I don't think it hurts.
But I don't think it necessarily addresses what went wrong before 9/11. The more we learn about the months preceding 9/11 is how much information there actually was out there. The failure was in being able to interpret it. And this -- collecting all of these agencies under one roof, a department that's second in size only to the Defense Department, doesn't necessarily bolster the one area of weakness, and that is the ability to analyze and to coordinate.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, is this a big move?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, it's a huge move. I think the president should be commended for changing his position. This is like FDR -- try something; if it doesn't work, try something else. My sense is that the White House was judging that the current situation was not doing the job.
As far as the timing of the decision -- a lot of politics always goes into timing -- this was in part, perhaps, because of the embarrassments that were breaking; also because the supplemental appropriation is coming up for a vote next week regarding homeland security, and they wanted to get this proposal out there before the Congress went and voted for a lot of things that will be irrelevant come today because of this announcement.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence O'Donnell, what's your view?
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, the agencies that we really wanted the better performance from before September 11th, the FBI and the CIA, are left out of this completely. And so we're going to bring the Coast Guard, who didn't do anything wrong, haven't made any mistakes that we know of, under some other umbrella to make them do what better? There's probably no improvement possible simply by reorganization in any of the agencies that are under this thing. FBI, CIA -- left out of it, reporting to people that they absolutely will have no institutional respect for -- people that they will consider amateurs running over there in Homeland Security, and they will be very reluctant to share with the amateurs what they know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay. Okay, before we advance the dialogue here, let's here a little bit more of the president. Homeland Security's four primary tasks:
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) This new agency will control our borders and prevent terrorists and explosives from entering our country. It will work with state and local authorities to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies. It will bring together our best scientists to develop technologies that detect biological, chemical and nuclear weapons; and to discover the drugs and treatments to best protect our citizens. And this new department will review intelligence and law enforcement information from all agencies of government and produce a single daily picture of threats against our homeland.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question -- and I direct this to you, to pick up from where you left off, Lawrence O'Donnell, a man of great insight, who lives in Hollywood: Is this a de facto demotion for George Tenet, the head of the CIA?
MR. O'DONNELL: Absolutely not. There's going to be now a daily briefing in the future similar to the national security briefing the president gets every day. It'll be the homeland security briefing from the Homeland Security czar, okay? Then, to get what's really going on, the president will talk directly to the director of the CIA and directly to the director of the FBI to find out what they really know.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) What do you think of that?
MR. BARONE: Well, I would disagree with Lawrence in at least one respect: I think there's at least a significant policy of change for the better in operation of some of these agencies if they are in a Homeland Security Department. The argument for that is that if you're the Coast Guard, and you're off in the Transportation Department, you don't think of homeland security as your primary goal, and you'll be more likely to think about it if you're in a Homeland Security Department. There may -- I think that there may be some improvements along the line --
MS. CLIFT: Well, what I --
MR. BARONE: -- (inaudible) -- you can't entirely predict.
MS. CLIFT: What I find stunning about this is it's been more than eight months since the attack. And the Democrats on the Hill and some Republicans had been calling to give Governor Ridge more authority from the beginning. If the president had gone along with it now, maybe this building or whatever it is would be in place by now. But the notion that we now have to go through all of the paraphernalia on Capitol Hill -- they've only got 30 legislative days, huge turf wars, money wars --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point?
MS. CLIFT: -- 30 legislative days.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What's the point, Eleanor?
MS. CLIFT: What's the point? They're going to have to talk to Bob Byrd. We may end up with a big granite building in West Virginia!
MR. BLANKLEY: Look --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, Eleanor.
(To Mr. Blankley.) I'm going to go to you right after this. I want to hear a little bit more from the president on what he's talking about.
Staffing the Department of Homeland Security.
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) The staff of this new department will be largely drawn from the agencies we are combining. By ending duplication and overlap, we will spend less on overhead and more on protecting America.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: Will the time and energy spent reorganizing, fighting over turf in the new department, jockeying for position in the new department and protecting your own turf in the old departments, with these 169,000 that are going to be drawn from the Coast Guard and all of those other agencies and departments, will that detract from the war on terrorism? I ask you.
MR. BLANKLEY: Look, initially, obviously there will be some confusion. But in 1947, when we did the same thing at Defense -- we took the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, put them in one unit -- they're still fighting 55 years later. But it's a tremendous advance in the efficiency of our fighting capability that we did that in '47. This is an important action. It's going to pay dividends. I'm a little surprised at sort of the cynicism around the table.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Here, you mean?
MR. BLANKLEY: Yeah, this very spot here.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: This is the view shared by Senator Dianne Feinstein. (Laughter.) She said this, all of this, should be -- it is the charter of the CIA since 1947 to be the central intelligence agency. Pull it all together over there.
MS. CLIFT: This is not a bad -- this is not a bad --
MR. BARONE: Well -- (inaudible) -- not domestic intelligence. They're barred from domestic intelligence.
MR. BLANKLEY: You should listen to Senator Lieberman, a prominent Democrat, who has been arguing for this, correctly so, and recognizes that there's a lot of improvement we can gain by having the budget and the agents under control by one secretary.
MR. BARONE: John, I think there's less --
MS. CLIFT: It's not --
MR. BARONE: Go ahead.
MS. CLIFT: It's not a bad thing that the president has proposed.
MR. BARONE: Good.
MS. CLIFT: And a lot of Democrats support it, and it's going to happen, and I think it's fine. The question is, does it really address the gaps in our ability?
MR. BLANKLEY: It doesn't fix all the problems. It addresses some --
MS. CLIFT: It does not. It is way oversold. It gets the president --
MR. BARONE: It's hardly oversold. There -- (inaudible) -- minutes.
MS. CLIFT: It's way oversold. It gets the president ahead of a lot of negative stuff that was out of there that has been taking away from people's trust in government. It gets him ahead of the story; it doesn't get him ahead of the problem.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Does it make -- does it make Bush look good?
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, that's the design of the whole thing. The most important line in the entire speech was, there is no evidence that we would have been able to figure out what was going to happen on September 11th before the fact.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right.
MR. O'DONNELL: That's what the whole speech was designed to do -- to say it's no one's fault.
MR. BARONE: Well, I --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Go no further. Go no further. Let's hear those words right from the president himself. Missed warnings.
PRESIDENT BUSH: (From videotape.) Based on everything I've seen, I do not believe anyone could have prevented the horror of September the 11th.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why did President Bush make this statement?
MR. O'DONNELL: Because he's afraid of having his administration get blamed for exactly that.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, no, no, no, no! That is possibly one reason, but that's not the dominate reason. What is he saying when he says that? He's saying, "I, George Bush, support my FBI and my CIA."
MR. BARONE: True.
MR. BLANKLEY: That's true.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: That's what he's saying. He's taken that position.
MR. BLANKLEY: The polling numbers that came out after all of the attacks on Bush a few weeks ago show that he didn't even get dented. Seventy-five percent is the average polling number from ABC, NBC, all the rest of the major media outlet polls. So I don't think he's on the defensive at all. It's the Democrats who are on the defensive.
MS. CLIFT: I -- I disagree.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Wait a minute, Eleanor.
MR. BARONE: (Inaudible) -- my turn. I think that the -- I think there's been -- you know, the press has overemphasized or has over- anticipated Bush being in trouble on this. I don't think he is. I mean, if you look at the poll numbers and other things, people do trust him on this. I think that most Americans are of the opinion that we would have had to have been exceedingly lucky, as well as assiduous, on the basis of the information that existed before September 11th, to have stopped those attacks. So I don't think there's really a problem there.
A lot of reporters go look at Bob Woodward's mansion and they think, "If I could start a Watergate, it would be a great life." But this ain't one.
MS. CLIFT: His personal ratings are high. What's come down is people's faith that government can keep them safe. And this is Bush's FBI and Bush's CIA now, and as long as all those recriminations are out there, at some point they become his problem. So he is trying to act to preempt that, and smartly so.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Not everybody, however, wants to protect the FBI, notably Coleen Rowley.
Listen to this:
COLEEN ROWLEY (Special Agent/Chief Division Counsel, FBI, Minneapolis, MN): (From videotape.) We have a culture in the FBI that there's a certain pecking order, and it's pretty strong. And it's very rare that someone picks up the phone and calls a rank or two above themselves.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Why is Rowley such a media sensation?
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, it was her leaked letter to the director of the FBI that developed front-page stories, cover stories in news weeklies, revealing the horrible inadequacies of the FBI. She's now come to town, been given whistle-blower protection. The director says she's wonderful. And so she got this whole thing rolling and she's a real hero.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: She's talking about the layers and layers and layers of bureaucratization --
MR. BLANKLEY: At the FBI.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- within the FBI, the encrustations that occur. She says she's eight levels beneath the head of the FBI; there's no way she could contact him. So do we have an ossified agency?
And then we get Mueller on the scene, and what does Mueller say the big problem is? Computers. Computers. Maybe the big problem is the quality of personnel who are working at the FBI, who don't recognize the importance of a Phoenix memo.
MS. CLIFT: Yeah.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know if you saw Diane Sawyer -- Diane -- excuse me --
MS. CLIFT: Feinstein.
MR. BLANKLEY: Feinstein.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: No, not Dianne Feinstein. The female -- wonderful female journalist on "60 Minutes." She'll never forgive me.
MR. BARONE: Diane Sawyer. No, no, no, no.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: "Sixty Minutes." But anyway, there was this expos‚, really, of the FBI and the way it handled an Iraqi terrorist or near-terrorist, and how he was returned to Iraq. I mean, the situation --
MR. BARONE: Well, there's also, John --
MR. O'DONNELL: One of the FBI's problems is, it's always lived with a reputation greater than it deserves.
MR. BARONE: The FBI -- (off mike). Yeah.
MR. O'DONNELL: And so whenever you find its mistakes, they always loom larger than they might otherwise --
MR. BARONE: John, the FBI is an investigative agency. Another thing that the FBI and CIA are suffering from is the backwash of the changes that were made to the agencies back in -- 25 years ago. Basically, what -- the message that people at the middle levels of those agencies got is that if you accuse somebody of terrorism or something, you may be in trouble. It's better to avoid trouble, don't grant the search warrant, don't do something that somebody might attack as racial profiling, like looking at Arab guys going to pilot school.
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to -- the person I was thinking of is Lesley Stahl, and I apologize, Lesley. But let me make this -- put this question to you. Have you lost confidence in the FBI?
MR. BARONE: I have less confidence than when I knew some of these things, because it doesn't seem to have gotten --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: But you have not lost confidence in the agency?
MR. BARONE: It does not -- I did not --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Have you lost confidence in the bureau?
MS. CLIFT: Well, I think the FBI does a great job in criminal investigations. They have proved themselves inadequate in terms of counterterrorism. And actually, what the president should have done is to have created a new counterterrorism unit, perhaps, removing that from the FBI. That might have made sense.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So you have not completely lost confidence in the FBI?
MS. CLIFT: Not completely, no. I think they've -- they're not suited for fighting terrorism --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Clearly the president, however, has -- you know, I think he sees failure at two major agencies. So he's creating a third agency to correct the failure, which --
MS. CLIFT: But --
MR. O'DONNELL: Which will also fail.
MR. BARONE: Not --
MR. BLANKLEY: As a former state prosecutor, my view of the FBI was always a little lower than the average person's. And so no, I have not lost confidence, given I didn't have a high one.
MR. O'DONNELL: I had no confidence in the FBI to lose. Look, I'm from Boston, where we just convicted an FBI agent for being a participating member in organized crime for the last 30 years. There's no surprises here for me.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I don't know. My confidence in the FBI has been shaken for some time. Their powers of analysis, their unwillingness to accept responsibility --
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. O'DONNELL: When should we ever have been confident? In the glorious J. Edgar Hoover days? What was there to be confident in?
MS. CLIFT: (Chuckles.) You know --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Okay, another McLaughlin Y-2-0 moment to mark our 20th anniversary year. The date: June 1989, 13 years ago this week. The place: Tiananmen Square, Beijing. The event: China's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators -- hundreds believed to have been killed -- and American president's response.
(Begin video segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The question I ask you is, has Bush gone far enough? Number one, should he have pulled back the ambassador? Number two, what about technology transfer?
MORTON KONDRACKE: No, I think --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And number three, what about removing the preferred trade status from China?
MR. KONDRACKE: Look, I think what he wanted to do was to try to affect the future conduct of this regime. Now if the future conduct of this regime gets as bad as it could be, then he's going to do all those other things.
JACK GERMOND: Yeah, but --
MR. KONDRACKE: He had to keep something in the reserve.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So what does he do? He slaps them on the wrist? Is that what you're saying?
MR. KONDRACKE: Economic sanctions.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What would Ronald Reagan have done under these circumstances?
MR. KONDRACKE: I think he would have made an eloquent speech --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So George Bush now emerges as the "Realpolitician." That's what he's doing. This is Realpolitik.
LARS NELSON: He's trapped by his old pal, Deng Xiaoping. Henry Kissinger's been supporting Deng Xiaoping. They call him a tragic figure. Now you find out he's a mass murderer. Now what do you do?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Where are the conservative principles, and where is the conservative ideology of George Bush, by reason of which he got elected? Where is it? Where is it demonstrated here? He's not acting like Ronald Reagan!
FRED BARNES: Look, of course he's acting like -- Mort is exactly right; this is exactly what Ronald Reagan would have done. You think the president, so he can do some moral posturing like some of the journalists in town, is going to throw away the China card?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What you don't understand is that the --
MR. BARNES: John, that's ridiculous!
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Chinese government has declared war on the people of China. And it behooves us to get on the side of the people of China!
(End video segment.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: O'Donnell, what did you think of that?
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, they're big shoes to fill, I must say.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: (Laughs.) When we come back: Did Treasury Secretary O'Neill get caught up in road-tour fever, thanks to Irish rock star Bono?
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue 2: Where the Streets Have No Name.
(Music: "Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2.)
The nameless, dusty streets of Ethiopia, the mud huts in Ghana, Catholic AIDS shelters in Kenya and South Africa -- this odd couple, rock star Bono, front man for Irish band U2, and his unlikely partner, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, saw all of this on their road show in Africa. The two went to Africa in search of solutions to the continent's litany of problems. Bono believes an African turnaround begins with economics; wealthy nations must immediately forgive Africa's foreign debt.
BONO: (From videotape.) They've got old debts that should be canceled. It's the start of the 21st century. It's time for a fresh start. And it's time also to give them, you know, fairer trade rules. It's not been a level playing field up to now.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Remarkably, Secretary O'Neill at the end of the trip said he is open to debt forgiveness. But O'Neill says it is just part of the answer; much of the blame for miserable African conditions can be pinned on African governments.
TREASURY SECRETARY PAUL O'NEILL: (From videotape.) Africa is a continent of entrepreneurial enthusiasm. That's what I saw. But these individuals have no chance of success without governments that fairly enforce laws and contracts, respect human rights and property and fight corruption.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: African countries have more than just corruption and foreign debt to worry about:
- AIDS scourge, with more than 30 million Africans with full- blown AIDS or testing HIV positive
- Poverty -- the poorest continent on Earth with an estimated 300 million living in hopeless destitution.
- Unsafe drinking water, with some 1.5 million Africans dying each year from waterborne diseases
- Health care, with tens of thousands unvaccinated, un- inoculated, despite existing drugs.
After seeing African poverty and misery up close on his trip, O'Neill said this:
SEC. O'NEILL: (From videotape.) I have to say this was the most intense 12 days I've ever experienced. I can't describe all the emotional moments during this trip.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: So, did O'Neill get caught up in Bono road-tour fever?
MR. O'DONNELL: No, he got caught up in the reality of human suffering. When it is proximate, when you are meeting these people in their huts, it's a very different experience than when you're reading papers on it here in Washington.
And I think it's a very, very smart move for O'Neill and for a Republican administration. You would expect this of a Clinton kind of presidency. But for O'Neill to go there with Bono does this administration absolutely no harm; there's no firm commitments made, and it looks like they are open to a very reasonable case.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, the president also increased foreign aid by $10 billion, and he went over there -- O'Neill did -- to find out where he could best distribute this aid.
Do you think it was a successful mission?
MS. CLIFT: Well --
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, I mean, it was a successful mission at a PR level, though it was -- technically, for O'Neill it was unsuccessful, because while he was away, the White House stole the Secret Service and the Customs Bureau from his agency. (Laughter.) So he probably wishes --
MR. BARONE: I don't -- I think that's okay.
MR. BLANKLEY: But at a more serious level, the suffering is immense, and we need to be able to provide it, but where the governments are so corrupt --
MR. BLANKLEY: Most, not all, Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: No, no. Yeah. Zimbabwe is a government-created tragedy, and if we forgive the loans, I don't know that it will benefit the people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: You're saying with corrupt dictators, whether it's Mugabe or whomever, that obviously aid is not going to work.
Now, what about tying the aid to some kind of improvement in conditions?
MR. O'DONNELL: They've always tried to do that.
MS. CLIFT: They always try to do that. But, you know, listen, they incurred this debt because were funneling billions of dollars to them as part of the ideological war against communism. So I think now they can't get out from under the debt, and I think we bear some responsibility to lift the debt so they can at least begin to put their house in order. They have no chance now and --
MR. BARONE: Yeah, John, there are a number of real problems there. Bono is right in saying there's great human suffering and if we can alleviate it by spending money, we have a moral responsibility to do so.
Secretary O'Neill is right when he says, look, we shouldn't do what we have sometimes done in the past, which is to lavish aid on corrupt dictators, cleptocrats, crackpot socialism schemes that never had a chance of working, that has accumulated this debt in many cases as a result of that. That's not a good idea.
We should do things like safe drinking water, the basic fundaments. And we should encourage those countries which are showing respect for rule of law, that are showing respect for private property, that are not on crackpot socialism schemes or a bunch of dictators.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well stated.
Let me ask you this, a quick exit question. So are we to conclude that debt cancellation or forgiveness, debt cancellation or forgiveness for Africa is a good idea?
What do you say?
MR. BARONE: I say yes. Nobody's ever going to collect on it.
MS. CLIFT: It's a good idea, and the U.S. ought to use its voice within the IMF and the World Bank.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A good idea?
MR. BLANKLEY: On a case-by-case basis, yes.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Good idea?
MR. O'DONNELL: It's an impossible debt to collect.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: So it's a good idea?
MR. O'DONNELL: You have to forgive it.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And Bono deserves a lot of credit. It was a great idea.
We'll be right back with predictions.
MR. BARONE: Most House Democrats will follow the lead of Dick Gephardt, the minority leader. Excellent speech this week in which he indicated willingness to support military action in Iraq.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Eleanor.
MS. CLIFT: In the turf-building contest that the president has initiated, Congress will have to create more commitees to deal with homeland security.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Actually they may create less. But the one area of the proposal that may be modified substantially, and perhaps well, will be in the intelligence area, where I believe the new department will be given more intelligence capacity.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Lawrence.
MR. O'DONNELL: More important than any of this, the San Fernando Valley will secede from the city of Los Angeles. (Cheers.)
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Really?
MS. CLIFT: What about Hollywood?
MR. O'DONNELL: Hollywood, I'm not so sure.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Democratic Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey will be faulted by the Ethics Committee for bad judgment. But he will not be charged with influence peddling.
Next week, Ariel Sharon comes to Washington to sit down with POTUS. Bye-bye.
END OF REGULAR SEGMENT PBS SEGMENT FOLLOWS
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Issue three: Udderly Moving
WILLIAM BRENCICK (U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Kenya): (From videotape.) Your generous spirit caused you to respond and consecrate the gifts that you gave us today for the people of New York.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: The Masai are the ones who gave those gifts. Many of the Masai live in huts not quite tall enough for them to stand up in. Few of their villages have electricity. These Masai living in a remote corner of Kenya bordering Uganda and Tanzania had not heard of last September's terrorist attacks until last week. But when they did, that tiny band of Masai tribesmen living in that distant corner of Africa wanted to help the terror attack victims by sending a gift of condolence. They wanted to give these Americans 14 cows.
Now, cows to the Masai are sacred, the center of life, the highest order of gift a Masai can give, ranking with children and with land. In their religion, God entrusted man with the care of his cattle. On behalf of the American people, the State Department's acting U.S. ambassador to Kenya graciously accepted the gift of the 14 cows. Then came second thoughts. The U.S. said transporting the cows back to the states would be difficult, but thanks for the gift anyway. We'll sell the cows and use the money to buy locally made jewelry that can easily be transported. Then came third thoughts. What a slap in the face to the Masai. A tribe with precious little in the way of material goods yet still willing to share their most prized possessions with the 9/11 people who grieve so much.
Question: Should the Masai cows be brought to America? I ask you, Tony.
MR. BLANKLEY: Well, yes. I wrote in my column on that this week.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What was the impact?
MR. BLANKLEY: Hundreds of calls to the -- or many calls to the State Department. By 3:00 in the afternoon, they changed their policy and announced that they were not going to sell the cows. They have not yet agreed to bring them here, so they probably need to hear from the public once again.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Should the cows be brought here and presented, say, to the National Zoo, or, possibly, the president, himself, might put 'em on his Crawford ranch-ette.
MS. CLIFT: (Laughs.)
MR. O'DONNELL: Well, there's a bunch of complex issues here and -- (chuckles) --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Like what?
MR. O'DONNELL: In bringing African cows into the United States.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is so complex?
MR. BLANKLEY: We can get a waiver because of -- (inaudible).
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What is so complex?
MR. O'DONNELL: There's the disease issue, possibly.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Disease issue?
MS. CLIFT: I know of a wonderful place where they can go. I think Tony Blankley lives on a substantial plot of land. He houses peacocks, many cats.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: He's got five peacocks. How many cats do you have?
MS. CLIFT: Fourteen cows would be perfect!
MR. BLANKLEY: I have 10 cats, but I'm not looking for more members of the family. But perhaps grazing them briefly at Ground Zero for a few weeks, then a few weeks in the South Lawn of the White House and then to the zoo, I think, where they could be used --
MS. CLIFT: I wouldn't submit those animals to Ground Zero.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you think it's proper to bring the cows to the United States?
MR. BARONE: Well, there are health issues that have to be addressed here, and I would assume that they can be addressed here. But I would very much like to see them brought to the United States and for us to try to think of an appropriate way to thank the Massai people.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What would think we should do?
MR. BARONE: I -- you know, there are some possibilities of putting them on an open-range situation --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: -- by buying some land to ensure they're preserved?
MR. BARONE: The United States owns more than half of the West, John. We can find some land --
MS. CLIFT: Yeah, but --
MR. BARONE: -- and we can find an area that has a climate that's appropriate to these particular cattle.
MS. CLIFT: It's hard enough -- they're a gift to the people of New York. It's hard enough to keep a dog or a cat in New York.
MR. BARONE: Governors Island --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get --
MS. CLIFT: What we ought to do is give these cows to poor people who can make a living at 'em and give them in the spirit --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: We've got to get constructive ideas out O'Donnell. I want you to think about that.
MR. O'DONNELL: The Bronx Zoo. The Bronx Zoo.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: What about just --
MR. O'DONNELL: (If they're going ?) to New York, then they should go to the Bronx Zoo.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, we could disperse 'em among many metropolitan zoos. Can we not?
MS. CLIFT: No. They like to live together, and they like to live together in open space. You can't put them in a zoo. They should stay where they are. (Laughs; laughter.)
MR. BLANKLEY: How about giving them to the Chicago Bulls?
MR. BARONE: We should also perhaps try and replicate and teach Americans something about the Massai, who are an interesting group of people and obviously a generous one.
MR. BLANKLEY: Any safe place in America where --
MR. BARONE: Perhaps we can put them in some appropriate place --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: And they're great looking cows. We ought to add that.