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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview with Mike Farrell, David Silverstein

Aired June 19, 2003 - 19:36   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, coalition including Methodists, Evangelical Lutheran, the NAACP, the National Council of Churches and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, launched an ad campaign today slamming President Bush as a, quote, "misleader," end quote and calling on Congress for an independent investigation of the president's claims about Iraq before the war. The claim stems from America's inability so far to find the weapons of mass destruction that President Bush had posed an imminent threat to America, thus justifying the U.S. invasion.
Actor Mike Farrell is an outspoken opponent to the war, he joins us tonight as a supporter of the new ad campaign. David Silverstein for the Defense of Democracies and joins us from Washington.

Gentlemen, I appreciate you joining us.

Michael let me start off with you. There are some who say there has not been enough time to find any WMD, if in fact they do exist.

Why call for this independent investigation now?

Why not give the administration more time?

MIKE FARRELL, ACTOR ACTIVIST: Well, the administration indicated from its claims before the war that it knew exactly where the weapons were, what the weapons were, what the quantities were and why our national security was under threat. It seems clear that the administration was misleading the people and it seems to us that an independent commission to look at the statements of the administration, to look at the intelligence that is according to Admiral Stansbury (ph) been skewed by the administration and used for political purposes. All of this, it seems, ought to be analyzed, ought to be investigated and if people are not telling the truth in order to launch the United States into a war -- excuse me, a war for purposes other than those that were stated to the American people, it ought to be known.

COOPER: OK. David, Mike says it's clear American people were misled. Is it to you?

DAVID SILVERSTEIN, DEPUTY DIR., FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Not only is it unclear, what is clear is this is simply a partisan smear and an attempt to go after the president because people like Mike simply don't like him and they don't like one unfortunate fact. The mantra that he was repeating before the war, sanctions and inspects will work and war won't. I'm sorry, Mike, war worked and the sanctions failed and we know that for a fact because right now Saddam is gone. The Iraqi people have been liberated and a threat to the region and American interests throughout that region has been eliminated as well. If it upsets you to move on, I think that's unfortunate. But the fact is this president, much like the previous president who also tried to eliminate Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, when he bombed their sites in 1998 in Iraq, this president succeeded and he succeeded winningly.

COOPER: Mike this, ad claims that President Bush labels him a quote, unquote, "misleader." If he did mislead the public, what do you believe was his motive for this.

FARRELL: I think his motive is clearly laid out from 1992 with the Wolfowitz document on through '96 and on through 2000 and 2001 when the people who are charting the policies for the administration have articulated a desire to set up America as an empire. America's first strike capacity would be to be used to demonstrate American...

SILVERSTEIN: What colonies exist...

FARRELL: I'm sorry, to use America's superiority to demonstrate to anybody and everybody in the world that we will simply not allow anybody to rise up to a position that could conceivably be a challenge...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: David, go ahead.

SILVERSTEIN: I was going to say, there are an awful lot free people in the world right now who are grateful...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: I'm sorry.

FARRELL: There are many people who are grateful for American power and justly so, fortunately most of the people who are grateful for American power are those who have seen it used justly and honestly, used with candor and used for good purpose.

COOPER: Let's go back to the call for this independent investigation.

David, there are some who say why not have an independent investigation -- why not?

SILVERSTEIN: Sure, it doesn't bother me in the least. I think the fact of the matter is there were only two months out of the war that there's an awful lot of places in a country the size of California where weapons of mass destruction can be hidden. And the fact is that there was a great deal of cooperation with the Syrian regime. We don't know if there are weapons of mass destruction produced by Saddam and his henchmen that are currently in Syria. All of that needs to be revealed. And you know something, we could use an investigation, but let's give it a little time and let's give this president some credit. He liberated an entire people. And if you don't think that's important, Mike, I'm sorry, there's no pleasing you.

COOPER: Mike, let me put another question to you. Let me put another question to you.

Why this call for an independent investigation?

There's a commission in Capitol Hill looking into this, why you have no faith in elected officials to examine this?

FARRELL: I have much faith in certain elected officials, but I think what we see in the Congress today is a tendency on the part of members of the leadership in the Congress to slant things in favor of the administration. What I think...

SILVERSTEIN: Does that include Tom Daschle?

COOPER: Mike, let him finish his thought.

FARRELL: I think the American need and deserve is a clearly independent commission made up of people that everyone understands are bipartisan and fair, who can examine the evidence that has been presented and can be presented either under subpoena or otherwise so that we can determine if the truth has been told and if our troops were put in harm's way with cause.

COOPER: Got it.

And that if whether or not in fact there was a threat to America's national security.

COOPER: David, final thought.

SILVERSTEIN: I wonder what mike would say if that investigation was held and the report came out and said that weapons of mass destruction did exist, Saddam was a threat and that President Bush acted wisely in eliminating that threat from America, from America's regional interests and so on.

FARRELL: If you want to pose a hypothetical question. I'll give you a hypothetical answer.

In the event that which commission is composed and does it's investigation, I'll be happy to abide by a fair and honest response.

COOPER: Mike, do you believe there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

FARRELL: I don't see request evidence of it. I see evidence on the contrary of intelligence having been twisted and misused for political reasons.

COOPER: And David, do you think they are there or once were there and have been ended? SILVERSTEIN: Think they are not only there somewhere in hiding, but more importantly, I think we had them. That he had the wherewithal to reconstitute them quickly because of the scientific infrastructure in place. And things like the 8,500 liters of anthrax toxin that was revealed by Iraqi scientist in the mid '90s or the nuclear program that was revealed by Iraqi defectors, scientist against working this programs, we know that these things existed at one point in time...

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: We are going to leave it there. We are going to leave it there. Difference of opinion. We appreciate you joining us.

SILVERSTEIN: War worked and sanctions didn't.

COOPER: All right. Appreciate you joining us. Mike Farrell, David Silverstein, thank you very much, interesting discussion.

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