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CNN Talkback (1/16/03)

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Amy talking about the Administration’s escalating drumbeat for war.

TRANSCRIPT:
NEVILLE: We are talking about the discovery of empty chemical warheads in Iraq and whether they suggest Iraq has something to hide. With us now is Cheri Jacobus, a Republican consultant and former spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. And Amy Goodman, a talk show host on the Pacifica Radio Network. I want to welcome both of you to TALKBACK LIVE.

AMY GOODMAN, PACIFICA "DEMOCRACY NOW": Hi Arthel.

CHERI JACOBUS, GOP POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Thank you.

NEVILLE: Cheri, I’ll start with you today. Is this the body of evidence needed to push forward an invasion?

JACOBUS: Well I think this certainly helps the case. The president I think has been very good about speaking regularly to the American people. We’ll hear more obviously at the State of the Union Address from him.

It’s not a smoking gun. We don’t need just one smoking gun. But this certainly helps alert the American people of what the dangers are out there and that perhaps Saddam Hussein is not someone we should be giving the benefit of the doubt to.

NEVILLE: So Amy, you talk to the American people all the time. Do you think this sort of evidence and discovery would persuade those in doubt that in fact military action is needed?

GOODMAN: No. In fact, there’s a major protest planned for Washington on Saturday, and if it’s anything like the one on October 26, between 150,000 and 200,000 people went to Washington. So those plans are certainly — people are very geared up. But I think what’s most interesting about these shells is hearing that they came to Iraq in the late 1980s.

If you look at the U.S. support for Saddam Hussein through the 1980s, the fact that Rumsfeld actually met with Saddam Hussein in 1983 and 1984 as an envoy for Reagan, and helped to normalize relations with Saddam Hussein when they knew he had used biological weapons. What Bush is looking for is a pretext. It’s as simple as that.

NEVILLE: And you’re saying this is not a pretext.

GOODMAN: I would say that he would seize on it. The U.N. inspectors are not. They are asking that they would be able to — be able to continue to do their inspections in a reasonable way with a reasonable amount of time. Now Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, wants to give another report to the United Nations in March, at the end of March. And I think he should be allowed to do that.

NEVILLE: In March.

JACOBUS: I’d have to take issue with the term "reasonable." The fact that Hans Blix wants to keep pushing this back and pushing this back, he is overstepping his boundaries in terms of what his job description is, and I think he’s compromising his own mission and his credibility by doing so.

NEVILLE: How so, though, Cheri? He was sent there to do a job. He’s saying, look, I need more time.

JACOBUS: He was sent there to do a job and he is asking for more time to go with an old resolution. We have Saddam Hussein, who has been thumbing his nose at inspectors and resolutions for a decade now. I think that for Hans Blix to — Hans Blix is getting too involved in worrying about what the ramifications will be of the results of his inspections.

It is not his job. He will not be the person to declare war. He does not decide what happens if he finds more material violations. And he is too concerned with the result. It is his job to go in there and conduct the inspections and really nothing more. And I think that’s where we’re getting into a situation where he’s trying to be the detective, the judge, the jury, the sheriff, the whole nine yards.

GOODMAN: Hans Blix is carrying out the mission that he was told to follow through on by the United Nations. It’s not only the November 8 resolution, but it’s one in 1999 that explained exactly the approach that U.N. weapons inspectors are supposed to take. They are going to report to the United Nations on January 27. Then Bush will give his State of the Union Address. Then he has another 60 days where he has to file a report for a suggested plan that the U.N. should take.

NEVILLE: Right.

GOODMAN: He is simply following the mandate that he has been told to follow.

NEVILLE: Amy, hang on for me there.

JACOBUS: These are old resolutions.

NEVILLE: Cheri, hang on for me. I want to go now to California. I have a caller calling in. Your name is Martin (ph). Martin (ph), go ahead. Do you think that these shells, this is a pretext for war? It’s time for military action?

MARTIN: Yes, I do think that we should go to war and quit playing around with this guy. Because if we found those empty shells, what makes you think he doesn’t have anything else hidden away that he can use on our people if we do go to war? I think we should just go in there and take care of business and quit playing around.

NEVILLE: OK. Thank you very much, Martin (ph). Go ahead, Amy.

GOODMAN: You know I just have to say that we have to use what is happening in North Korea as an example of the — really what Bush is looking for. In North Korea they have thrown the weapons inspectors out. In North Korea, the U.S. said that they are developing nuclear weapons. But Bush said that we have to deal with North Korea diplomatically. Yet he takes a very different approach when it comes to Iraq.

NEVILLE: So why is that?

GOODMAN: Well, I think it’s a small word, a three-letter word.

NEVILLE: Spelled O-I-L?

GOODMAN: And it’s called O-I-L. It is very straightforward. And I don’t think that can be contested.

NEVILLE: Cheri, hang on. I have a question for you. I’m out of time here, but I do have a final question for you, Cheri. And that is, if in fact there is military action, do you think the U.S. would have to go it alone?

JACOBUS: I would hope not. And this president, this administration, has been very good at pulling together allies and coalitions at times when we think that it’s really almost impossible. I think, ultimately, the world will be with us. But, you know, he’s making his case, he’s going to continue to make his case.

We’re not at the end yet. And it’s not supposed to be easy. So I think he’ll do it. But if we have to go it alone, I think we can. I just hope we don’t have to.

NEVILLE: Boy Cheri, your e-mail mailbox is going to be loaded with e-mails. All right. Cheri Jacobus and Amy Goodman, thank you both for joining us here today on TALKBACK LIVE. Do appreciate it.

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