tv Face the Nation CBS April 3, 2011 8:30am-9:00am PDT
>> schieffer: today on "face the nation"-- here we go again. the government is on the verge of a shutdown because congress can't agree on the budget. while across the middle east, anti-government demonstrators again turned out in protest. we'll talk with the senate democratic leader, harry reid, and senator lindsey graham, a key republican in both the budget negotiations and defense policy. it's all next on "face the nation." captioning sponsored by cbs "face the nation" with cbs news chief washington correspondent bob schieffer. and now, from washington, bob schieffer. >> schieffer: and good morning again. the democratic leader in the senate harry reid is with us in the studio this morning.
but before we get to him, the news from overnight. in afghanistan, u.s. commander david petraeus condemned the burning of the koran by florida preacher, which has set off three days of riots in afghanistan and taken more than 20 lives. in libya, nato warplanes continue to target moammar qaddafi's forces. qaddafi shows no signs of leaving, but one air strike went wrong and took the lives of 13 rebels. in yemen, some of the biggest demonstrations yet. hundreds of thousands turned out to demonstrate against the government, which has been an important ally of the united states in the war against terror. and in syria, bashir assad is trying to form a new government in an effort to end another wave of protests that took at least seven lives there. to get more on all this, we go to cbs news correspondent liz palmer in tripoli. so, liz, first, what are you hearing about yemen and syria? >> well, essentially, bob, it's
turned into a game of chicken between president assad and the reform-minded demonstrators. today, he appointed a new prime minister, but the demonstrators think that's just cosmetic. they're hitting the streets again in the thousands. the catalyst is funerals for people who were killed by his security forces yesterday. and so it looks as if the confrontation, if not the violence, is going to continue. in yemen, the president is hanging on to power by his fingertips. we've got competing demonstrations, pro- and anti- government there, and a big dilemma for the united states. because although the president is seen as a despot, he's also an ally in the war against al qaeda. >> schieffer: and of course, where you are in tripoli, it looks very peaceful right there where you are. but that's not the case throughout the country, i'm told. >> weirdly peaceful here in tripoli. this is a city with traffic jams normally. it's like an early sunday morning every single day. out in the east, the fighting has sort of stalled at brega.
u.s. warplanes are coming out of the fight today. nato will continue with the air strikes. it remains to be seen whether a slightly better organized rebel force can actually shove qaddafi's troops out of this key oil port of brega. we should know in another couple of days. >> schieffer: and qaddafi, do we have any idea where he is? >> none whatsoever. he's been conspicuously absent even from libyan television. one of his spokesmen said cryptically, you know, he has offices all over country, implying he may not be here in tripoli. what everybody is wondering is whether the regime is crumbling from the inside, and whether the defection of the foreign minister is just the first of others to come. so far, no word at all on that either. >> schieffer: all right. liz palmer. be careful, liz. thank you so much. and senator reid, i want to ask you first about the situation in afghanistan. our military commander there, general petraeus, was so disturbed by this and the
reaction, the fallout in afghanistan that he sent emails to all the sunday morning shows telling them to please emphasize that he condemns this. now, you have afghanistan president karzai calling on congress to condemn the burning, and to prevent it, he says, from happening again. do you have a response to this? >> of course, this man in florida who burnt the koran, it's a publicity stunt. basically, had nobody in his church anyway. this is an effort to get some publicity for him. he got it. but in the process, 10... 20 people have been killed. religious extremism in any form is wrong. and certainly, all these deaths is wrong. i'm very, very disappointed that this man, who we had some dealings with in january, december, who indicated he wouldn't do anything, then
suddenly-- the publicity had fallen down a little bit, so he decided to do this. it's really too bad. i think people should understand the consequences of what they do under the guise of religion. >> schieffer: will you introduce a resolution to condemn this by the congress? where do you go from here? >> we'll take a look at this, of course. john kerry, the chairman of the foreign relations committee, has been on top of this. he's made many trips to afghanistan. i think we'll take a look at this as to whether we need hearings or not. i don't know. >> schieffer: senator reid, you heard liz palmer in tripoli. the war goes on. american warplanes have created a no-fly zone. we're heavily involved militarily. but as you heard her say, qaddafi is still there. what do we next here? >> well, the people of libya are going to decide, and i think fairly quickly-- whether that's days or weeks, days or weeks-- as to whether they will be ruled by a terrorist, a war criminal, qaddafi, or whether they're going to have a society that's
civilized. i think they've already cast their lot. they want a civilized society. >> schieffer: there's a dispute here in washington about whether the rebels... whether we should now arm them. should we? >> i spoke to the president yesterday about this. president obama. and i think, at this stage, we really don't know who the leaders of this rebel group is. we have others, as secretary gates has said, that can do it more easily than we can. so i think at this stage, let's just wait and see. >> schieffer: syria. this is the big problem. you saw again these demonstrations in syria. do you envision the united states becoming involved militarily there? >> i don't see that. i do think that syria has been really a difficult problem for us for some time. they're working with hezbollah. they have been disturbing what's going on in lebanon for a long period of time. they're in effect a state of iran.
they get their orders from iran. so this country is not really a country of its own. i think the sooner there's some stability there, the better off we are. now, i hope reestablishing a new cabinet will help. but i don't see us getting involved in it militarily. >> schieffer: let's talk about what's happening here in washington. congress, senator, has been in session since january. and unless you can find some way around it, the government will have to shut down at the end of this week, because you can't agree on a budget. can you avoid a government shutdown? >> you know, we throw numbers around here. that's good, we need to do that. but this is more than numbers. this involves people. what they did to hr-1, this bill that did such mean-spirited things not in the... not to cut the debt, but send an ideological message. for example, little kids-- head start-- these are the poor little children around the
country, little boys and girls who want to get a head start. that is, being able to, when they go to school learn to read and write and do a little bit of math. cutting benefits to homeless veterans. >> schieffer: yes. >> these are the kinds of things that have received a lot of publicity... >> schieffer: but can you avoid the government shutting down? >> the republican leadership in the house has to make a decision whether they're going to do the right thing for the country, or do the right thing for the tea party. the tea party-- you see, they spent weeks organizing here. the day came for their demonstration a couple days ago. they didn't have thousands of people there. they didn't have hundreds of people. they had tens of people. if you really stretch it, you might have had 150 people there. the tea party is not looked at very strongly around the country. the only attention they get is in the house of representatives. and they shouldn't be getting that attention. >> schieffer: what i mean is, are you saying that speaker boehner and the republicans who have been here for a while are afraid of the tea party? is that what's going on here?
>> that's a pretty good choice of words. the answer is yes. the tea party is dictating a lot that goes on in the republican leadership in the house. they shouldn't. it shouldn't be that way. we've agreed on a number. let's work to get that number done. you know, we realize that the country needs to do something about spending, and the long- term benefits to doing something about the deficit are significant. but we don't have to reinvent the wheel. we, during the clinton years, reduced the debt. for four years, we paid down the debt. we know how to do this. but we don't do it on the backs of middle class americans. >> schieffer: you said you've agreed on a number. that is, a number of how much to cut from the current budget. >> that's right. >> schieffer: that's what you're talking about. what is the number? >> bob, the other thing... it's $73 billion. but also remember this. what the hr-1 does, what the house is trying to do is send out a message, "we're going to balance the budget."
but they're doing it with about 10% of the budget. you can't do that. these are the domestic discretionary programs. let's assume, for purposes of our discussion here, that we eliminate everything. that is, we get rid of all the courts, the bureau of land management, the forest service, the immigration and naturalization, congress-- everything. still wouldn't balance the budget. we need to look at the long-term impact that our spending habits have created. why do we need to continue giving tax breaks to the oil companies? the former head of shell oil said he didn't think that was appropriate anymore. agriculture is making more money now than they've ever made. let's take a look at a some of those. >> schieffer: let me go back to my original question. do you think at the end of this week the government is going to be shut down, or is it going to be operating? >> i always look at the glass being half full. i think we can work this out. it's so easy to do. just really, in washington
terms, a few dollars short of being able to do this. it's a question of how we do it. we can't do it on head start. we can't do it at the program for little kids. we can't do it on homeless veterans. we can't do it on programs that was developed by president nixon. the legislation introduced by the first president bush when he was in congress. that's the title 10. all those programs have not contributed to the debt. let's work on programs that contribute to the debt. >> schieffer: what does the president... does the president need to become more involved? what would you like... what would you like to happen here? what can make this happen? what does speaker boehner have to do here? >> the president has been heavily involved. every day that i'm working, we have with us the head of the office of management and budget. we have rob neighbors, who was a long-time appropriations chief clerk in the house. we work with the president on a daily basis. he gets a briefing every day. i talk to him. i talked to him yesterday. i talk to biden. they're heavily involved here.
what my friend john boehner needs to do is say what's the best thing for the country. we all know the best thing for the country is to work something out on this. it's so easy to do. but we have to have a fair share of other programs-- not just these programs that hurt middle class and the poor in america. >> schieffer: all right. mr. majority leader, thank you so much for being with us this morning. >> sure. >> schieffer: when we come back, we'll talk to lindsey graham who is a republican. he may have some different ideas about this. in just a minute.
>> schieffer: now from the campus of clemson university in south carolina, senator lindsey graham. senator graham, want to start with this... what senator reed just said. he suggested... i asked him, i said, are speaker boehner and the mainstream republicans, the people that have been around a while, just afraid of the tea party. he said that's a pretty good choice of words. are you afraid of the tea party? >> no, i think they're an important part of the republican
coalition. but our democratic friends should be afraid of the public. how did you lose the house in such overwhelming numbers? how did you lose so many senate seats? it was about spending, the size and scope of government, rejection of "obama care." so our friends in the house, speaker boehner, who replaced speaker pelosi, is doing what the american people want in the last election-- trying to reduce the size and scope of the government, which is a goal shared by the tea party. but you can't account for the last election based on a narrow view of america. americans as a whole are very upset about the size and scope of the federal government. we're trying to reduce spending, and our democratic friends are hanging on to old ideas that every time you try to reduce spending, you're being cruel and mean. what's cruel and mean is to pass this debt on to future generations. >> schieffer: senator, let me ask the same question i asked senator reed because i know you're heavily involved in some of these negotiations. do you think next sunday we'll be talking about the government
being shut down, or will you have found some sort of a way to get together some? >> i think we'll get together. i think there are enough red state democrats who do not want to take this fight any further. they do want to be seen as reducing spending. we're talking about 12% of the budget. harry is right about that. the 2012 budget, on the republican side, will be talking about reducing the size of government by trillions, not just billions. i think we'll find consensus. we've already reduced spending by $10 billion. the two c.r.s we passed cut spending more than any congress in the history of america, in terms of rescission. i think we'll find common ground there. there are enough democrats out there who understand they need to be on the right side of reducing the federal government, and we'll find a number that we can all agree on. >> schieffer: i want to get to this afghanistan thing. general petraeus today condemned the actions of this florida preacher who burned the koran. you heard what senator reid said. is there anything that actually can be done along this line? >> you know, i wish we could find some way to hold people accountable. free speech is a great idea, but we're in a war.
during world war ii, you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy. burning a koran is a terrible thing, but it doesn't justify killing someone. burning a bible would be a terrible thing, but it wouldn't justify murder. but having said that, any time we can push back here in america against actions like this that put our troops at risk, we ought to do it. i look forward to working with senator kerry and reid and others to condemn this, condemn violence all over the world based in the name of religion. but general petraeus understands better than anybody else in america what happens when something like this is done in our country. and he was right to condemn it. i think congress would be right to reinforce what general petraeus said. >> schieffer: we saw the report from liz palmer-- turmoil all across the middle east this morning. is it time to arm the rebels in libya and go directly after qaddafi? >> well, i think it's time to go
directly after qaddafi. if you had tow missiles given to the reels in libya, they could fight the tanks in addition to air power. but this strategy that president obama has come up with, i think, is not going to defeat a determine enemy. the question is, is qaddafi determined? the strategy is confusing to the american people. only 21% believe president obama has a clear view of how to handle libya. it's demoralizing to our allies, particularly people on the ground that we're trying to helm. i think it's encouraging to our enemies. so this strategy is going to lead to a stalemate. we should be taking the fight to tripoli. you don't need ground troops, but we should take the air campaign to tripoli to go after qaddafi's inner circle. they live like kings. go after them and their propaganda machine. the way to end this war is to have qaddafi's inner circle to crack. to do that, go after them directly. >> schieffer: you say what we need to do is air strikes on qaddafi and his people? >> absolutely. i think he's an international war criminal.
i don't believe he's a legit legitimate leader of the libyan people. his inner circle is in a bit of disarray. they would be in more disarray if we take the fight to tripoli. the strategy should be to help the rebels help themselves. to take the best air force in the world and park it is outrageous. when we call for a no fly zone we didn't mean our planes, so tomorrow the american air force is out of this fight. and as much as i respect our nato allies you take a lot of capacity off the table by grounding our airplanes. that's going to make this war go longer. i want it to end quickly with one goal in mind: replacing qaddafi by something that will be better. i'm confident that what you see in the arab world, bob, is a good thing if we manage it well. these people throughout the arab world are saying, "enough to tyranny. enough to despots. he with want a better future, a future that we can recognize and associate ourselves with." >> schieffer: senator, you know, when a story like this happens--
and we have two big stories now, the situation in japan and in libya-- it tends to overwhelm the rest of the news. a lot of things that would be getting coverage don't get coverage. one of those is iraq. i am told that you're concerned about what's happening in iraq right now. why so? >> well, i'm deeply concerned. we're inside the ten-yard line in terms of finishing the job in iraq. in 2011, all troops are supposed to leave iraq, american troops. i do not believe the state department can carry on their mission of helping the iraqi government and people reconstitute their society to help them build a civil society without american forces there to provide security, air power, logistical support for the iraqi army. this idea of being pushed, that we'll have a state department army, i will not vote for that. i will not support that. we need american troops in 2012-
- 10,000 to 15,000 left behind in iraq to provide security to our people who are helping the iraqi people maintain air superiority to have an edge against iran and to make sure that the iraqi army continues to develop. >> schieffer: you say a "state department army." you're going to have to explain that. what are you talking about? what is the plan here? >> well, here's the back-up plan. if all military forces have withdrawn from iraq in 2011, the state department has come to the congress and said we're going to need over 50 mine resistant vehicles. we need a fleet of helicopters and thousands of private security guards to protect us as we go to the four conflicts in iraq to do our job to help the iraqis build a civil society out of a dictatorship. i think that is a losing formula. i do not believe the state department should have an army, that that that's not the way to provide security to our state department. if we're not smart enough to work with the iraqis to have 10,000-15,000 american troops in iraq in 2012, iraq could go to hell. there are fights between kurds and the arabs. >> schieffer: i'm sorry.
i find this hard to believe. are you talking about we're going to arm our diplomats and put them in these kinds of vehicles that people are driving around in iraq now? >> you've got it, bob. we're going to have private security guards providing security. i think american soldiers and the iraqi army should provide security. we're talking about helicopters, a fleet of helicopters so they can get around to the four consulates spread throughout iraq. we're talking about mine resistant vehicles bought by the state department. a mini-state department army. we've never done that before. that will fail. i'm urging the obama administration to work with the malaki administration in iraq to make sure that we have enough troops, 10,000-15,000 beginning in 2012, to secure the gains we've achieved, to make sure iran doesn't interfere with the iraqi sovereignty, and to develop this country. we can't do it with a state department army. i will not support that. this is a defining moment in the future of iraq. and the obama administration has
the wrong strategy in libya, and in my view, they're going down the wrong road when it comes to iraq. >> schieffer: well, i find all of it hard to believe. we have about 20 seconds, senator. i want to go back to make sure i understand what you said about libya. you're ready to give missiles to the rebels there? >> i think tow missiles... i'm ready to look at arming them to help themselves. we need american air power back into the site. we need to take the fight to tripoli. go after his inner circle. that's the way to end this war decisively and quickly. the strategy we have is going to lead to a stalemate. it needs to change. help the rebels, take the fight to tripoli. get this thing over with. qaddafi must go. it would be a disaster to keep him in power. >> schieffer: you certainly made some news this morning, senator. i'll give you that. thank you so much for being with us. i'll be back with a final word in just a moment.
after all these years and a long dispute, richard nixon's friends and the national archives have reached an agreement that will allow the nixon presidential library to mount an exhibit that tells the real story of watergate. that's good. it will give the library much more credibility. and that the dispute went on so long is not all that out of the ordinary, in historical terms. as long as there has been history, humans have tried to rewrite it. the pharaohs often defaced the statues of their predecessors as they sought literally to erase them from history. whoever happened to be in power in the old soviet union tried to rewrite that country's history to cast themselves in a better light. but for all the effort, it has never worked. the truth always outs. the best public relations, the heaviest spin, can never trump bad policy. and bad p.r. can never trump good policy. the nixon presidency is a prime example.
nixon's disregard of the law and the constitution was disgraceful. that is part of his legacy and his apologists cannot change that. yet, nixon was far ahead of his party and american public opinion when he made his courageous opening to china and his arms control agreements with the soviets. those were monumental achievements and will be remembered as such, whatever his critics say. so i'm glad the nixon library did what it did. truth, telling it straight, is still the best way. back in a minute.