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Interview With Congressman Edward Markey

Aired September 10, 2003 - 15:38   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: And now we want to bring in a member of Congress, a member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. He is Representative Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts.
Congressman Markey, on this day that this new purported bin Laden tape is out, doesn't that make the administration's case easier that they do need additional authority, additional powers to fight the war on terror?

REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, it does, but it does across the board.

The president began by talking about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the nuclear, biological and chemical weapons which the Bush administration contended Saddam Hussein had. Well, we haven't been able to find any of those weapons of mass destruction. And, as a result, they are probably in the hands of al Qaeda or some Baathist group which really wants to harm us at this point in time.

Or, on the other hand, there were never any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the whole war was fought upon a false premise, requiring this additional $87 billion. But if there were weapons of mass destruction, and if the president does in fact continue to say that we have to enhance our security, then why is he and his administration refusing to screen the cargo which goes onto the passenger planes in the United States?

We know that the airlines continue to be at the top of the terrorists' target list. The administration refuses to screen the cargo. We have to take off our shoes. We have to have our computers and cell phones go through the screening.


MARKEY: But, unfortunately, the administration objects to having the cargo which goes on those planes screened. And we know that al Qaeda will exploit a loophole.

But because the airlines and the cargo industry oppose it, the Bush administration refuses to close that loophole.

WOODRUFF: Well, that's a question we clearly need to put to the administration once again.

But let me ask you about what the president is asking for today. He is repeating what Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked for in the past. And that is that, for all terrorists, or suspected terrorists, who are in custody, that there be so-called administrative subpoenas, in other words, that you don't need to go through a judge and a jury to get information, to get documents, that there be -- that there not be -- that it be easier to say, no bail, not to let people out on bail.

What about some of these things? The president is saying, simply extend to terrorists what we already do when we're going after health care fraud, for example.

MARKEY: Well, there is, however, an ability to very quickly go to a judge and to have the judge validate the premise upon which any warrant, any subpoena is issued. And we could close that gap very quickly in negotiations with the White House.

But, again, it's important to understand that the FBI and other law enforcement officials are trying their best to right now ensure that al Qaeda cannot be successful. Offering up additional death penalties for suicide terrorists is just redundant. They will kill themselves in the effort to attack a nuclear power plant or anything else in our country. Adding a death penalty on top really is not a deterrent.

WOODRUFF: But what about...

MARKEY: And so it's important for the American people to know that, while he's spending will $87 billion on Iraqi homeland security, he's only willing to spend an additional $1.6 billion on American homeland security.


MARKEY: And unless we have more policemen, more firemen, more first-responders, then we won't have a sufficient deterrent.

WOODRUFF: Point well made. And I just want to ask you very quickly, though, about the president's point, that if, in going after what he called crooked doctors, one can use administrative subpoenas without going through a judge and a jury, why isn't that appropriate to go after suspected terrorists?

MARKEY: Well, again, I'm not as familiar with the details of it, except to say this, that there is no reason why a special court can't be constructed that the FBI, the CIA or state and local police can't go to immediately in order to ensure that a warrant which is obtained, a subpoena obtained, is based upon probable cause.

And I think that, increasingly, the American people are going to demand that there be a judge which makes decisions that guarantee that there are not fishing expeditions that are being engaged in that are not based on actual factually justifiable conditions that a court can verify.

WOODRUFF: All right, Representative Ed Markey, a member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, thank you very much for talking with us after President Bush's address at Quantico, Virginia, speaking there at the FBI Academy about, among other things, his request for greater powers for the U.S. as it goes after suspected terrorists.

We're going to take a break. When we come back, much more coverage of this video coming in alleged to be Osama bin Laden and one of his top lieutenants -- more right after this.


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