Sunday, June 5


JOE BIDEN on This Week with George Stephanopoulos: Iraqis aren't capable or lawfully able (because of the de-Baathification of the military) to train their own troops, we'll have to have patience and get on with it, though we're a year and a half behind. If we leave there'll be a civil war and indeed, some of my colleagues are concerned it's already happening.

The president will probably win Bolton's confirmation, but it will be very close with 45-47 votes against. Bush will probably crow about it as a victory, but I think that would be a mistake. Such a close vote reduces confidence in the administration and in the tough calls in the future, the president will have less credibility.

Darfur: a small force would have a phenomenal impact, 1500-3000 troops would change the whole complexion of the area. We could radically change the number of lives being lost at very little cost. I would include American troops. We should do it now and the Europeans should not be let off the hook. I wrote the president about this 6-8 weeks ago.

Howard Dean's remarks this week about Republicans: Dean's not doing the party any good with that kind of rhetoric. He doesn't speak for me and I don't think he speaks for most Democrats. I hope he listens to the reactions of the majority of Democrats and changes his rhetoric.

BEN BRADLEE: I didn't feel really scooped (about the identity of Deep Throat being revealed), Vanity Fair's not out yet. All the mysteries never are solved, there may be something that I don't know, but the world now knows what I know.

If we start listing the number of people who lied about this you'd have to start with Chuck Colson and Gordon Liddy. I don't know why we have to listen to and believe them, they went to jail.

People talk to journalists for a reason. It's up to the journalist to understand that reason as best he can, and I think we did understand Mark Felt. He was disturbed by what he saw happening in the White House, what was being covered up, and he went public. Who could he go public to? He couldn't go to the Attorney General, who was on his way to jail. He couldn't go to Pat Gray, head of the FBI, his boss, who destroyed evidence (burned letters from Howard Hunt). So I don't know where he could go. I think he made a great choice.

We knew that Woodward had a friend. We knew that he was right. That's the important thing. We knew he was high up in the Justice Department. But the most important thing to the Post was that his information turned out to be right. I didn't ask his identity earlier because I thought I knew enough.

The one thing we got wrong was the $350,000 slush fund being exposed to the Grand Jury. The mistake was that he didn't tell the Grand Jury, he told the prosecutor, and it was $750,000. In 48 hours we made that correction. I think we could withstand the pressure in today's environment. It was pretty tough even back then.

I don't want to get into criticism of the Post today. i've been out of the job for 13 years and every time I read the paper I find something wrong with it. You probably do too. But Len Downey's doing a great job. I think there's some merit to criticism. I think it's fair to say that after Watergate the Post and other media were cowed by "what hath we wrought?" in taking down a president. I think we've backed off and probably shouldn't have.

THE PANEL: Sam Donaldson vs. Cokie Roberts and George Will. Steph: Could the press do the same (re Bradlee discussion) today? Sam: I think they could, but it'd be tough. Remember, the WH tried to bring down the Post. I think the Bush administration would do the same today. You couldn't find a highly placed source like Deep Throat today, not in this White House. Cokie: I like what Bradlee said, we're not in the business of bringing down presidents. Steph: Evolution is back as an issue. 20 states are debating allowing "intelligent design" to be taught in schools. Cokie: I don't see what the conflict is. I don't see why you can't believe in a Creator and evolution both. Sam: The problem is, if you force in secular schools young people to believe in a Creator. Will: It's the mechanism of evolution they don't like; what they want to say is, it's not random, it's purposeful. The problem with intelligence design theory is that it's not falsifiable, it has no place in a public classroom. Sam: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's.


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