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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview with Blanquita Collum, John McIntire

Aired June 9, 2003 - 19:35   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So let's think about it. To suggest that U.S. officials exaggerated Iraq's threat is to make a staggering accusation that American citizens were misled to justify a war. Liberation itself was never the war's main selling point in the U.S. so there is very heated debate on this which brings me to my next guest. Radio talk show host John McIntire and Blanquita Collum, host the syndicated BQ View from Washington.
Both of you appreciate joining us.

Blanquita, I want to start of with you. First, let's talk about this report today, the two high ranking al Qaeda members saying that they did not have links, operations ongoing with Saddam Hussein.

Does that shake your confidence at all in the use of intelligence by this administration?

BLANQUITA COLLUM, BQ VIEW: No, not at all. It didn't shake my confidence because they have given us information that has been misguided in the past and we know that as a few days ago, British intelligence let us know that the scientists they spoke to in Iraq had suggested they were conducting some of their own weapons development in their own private residences. So, when you think about it, we have a group of about 1,500 people called the survey group looking now for 3,000 sites. They've only looked into 230 sites. I think to determine that we have not found anything and in a country the size of California is a bit premature.

COOPER: Let me bring in John.

John, let's talk about this al Qaeda thing and Broaden it out a little more as Blanquita has already done.

Does this influence you one way or the other?

JOHN MCINTIRE, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: No, doesn't shake my confidence at all because I never had any confidence in the Bush administration from the moment they stole the election. I was somewhat skeptical of them for obvious reasons. There has never been any definitive proof, that there is a connection between al Qaeda and Iraq and there is certainly no proof that Saddam had anything do with September 11, yet the Bush administration shamelessly promoted that notion. And because of the fog of war and we all had the bejesus scared out of us by September 11, most of us bought it. COOPER: Do you think the administration knew? I guess there are two different I was of looking at this. If you take your argument, you could say, well, they knew they were misleading, again this is your argument, or they themselves were misled by faulty intelligence.

Which do you think it is?

MCINTIRE: Are they inept or out and out liars, I'm not certain. But it is not a pretty picture either way. We know the president said in the State of the Union Address, that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. Even Condoleezza Rice, yesterday in the Sunday talk shows, conceded that's not true. So is that a lie because they were inept and used faulty British intelligence or...

Blanquita, go ahead.

COLLUM: That's ridiculous.

MCINTIRE: That is ridiculous about it?

COLLUM: It is ridiculous first of all because the intelligence let us know frankly that there were chemical weapons there. I mean, even if certain military groups under Iraq's regime and Saddam's regime had a chemical weapons manager who was managing chemical weapons.

Blanquita, let me -- let me specifically ask you, you know, last week "U.S. News & World Report," had this report out about some of the intelligence that the White House was giving to Colin Powell before that -- his speech at the U.N., some of which he frankly said was bull and he threw up his papers, according to the "U.S. News & World Report," and I'm not going to go ahead and talk about this, they said the U.N. -- I don't believe it. That is the context which John is talking.

COLLUM: Maybe. You have a lot of intelligence, obviously. But you'll have to cipher through. Think of all the intelligence that we get on a daily basis. Some you'll reject and some you will not. We do know that intelligence did monitor phone calls, for example, with more increasing information that Osama bin Laden was contacting Saddam Hussein. Granted they didn't like each other. But, you know what, they had weapons they certainly could have used.

And when you talk about weapons of mass destruction, like anthrax, you get a bar of soap that contains -- the size of a bar of soap that contains anthrax, it can literally kill thousands of people. So, consequently, We knew they were producing it. And needless to say, it is the enemy of my enemy is my friend, I wouldn't be so quick to write that off. I mean, right now he's making these statements and, frankly, you're talking about Iraq, which is no infrastructure. If you had any idea how difficult it is, I just had one of my sources coming back from Iraq saying you don't know how difficult it is even for the military to communicate with each other.

COOPER: John, how important do you think this argument becomes? don't you think the American people will accept U.S. involvement in Iraq, U.S. war in Iraq based on the aftermath, based on the liberation of the Iraqi people?

MCINTIRE: I'm afraid the American people are satisfied with the so-called liberation of the Iraqi people, although we don't know if it will be a U.S. puppet government or an Iranian style bureaucracy or an absolute disaster as it appears to be now. I'm hoping once the fog of war lifts, they'll realize it is important that even if it is better, even if the people of Iraq are better off, you can't go to war based on a lie, you can't go war based on a false premise. That's a dangerous precedent and this guy is a dangerous president.

COLLUM: Anderson, you're making a big mistake here in trying in such a short period of time when so many places have yet to even been...

MCINTIRE: He needs to stop throwing hissy fits and offer proof. We need -- no more spin, no more there were phone calls between Saddam. We need proof. Somebody give us some proof.

Blanquita, final thought.

COLLUM: The proof is yet to come. But frankly, you know, for the Democratic party to try to sit around and try to find something to discourage the American people's belief in what they have done here.

MCINTIRE: They have that in George Bush.

COLLUM: Come on, thousands of people, you know, were killed by that brutal regime. And you talk about human rights issues, what the president and the military did should be heralded and not discouraged.

COOPER: Let's leave it there. Blanquita Collum, John McIntyre, thank you.

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