SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: We owe it to the American people and other freedom-loving countries to bring these killers to justice. And that's what they are. They're terrorists and they're killers. And they will kill innocent people trying to get us to withdraw from the world so they can impose their dark vision on the world.
SIMON: President Bush, speaking from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on Thursday. NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr joins us.
DANIEL SCHORR reporting:
SIMON: And the president reiterated his promise for US forces to stay the course in Iraq. Now in recent weeks, we had cited the statements from a couple of generals in the field who thought that US forces would begin to drawn down...
SIMON: ...in a period of a few weeks or perhaps a few months. Is there some difference in viewpoint here, which ultimately, of course, the commander in chief resolves?
SCHORR: Well, yes, there is some weakening of resolve, surely not on the part of the president. It's true that military officers have started saying, you know, this is not really a war; it's really sort of a great struggle against terrorism, and it's something else and all. We're beginning to sound it--they'd like to find some basis on which they could begin to plan to bring troops back. However, President Bush has refused any time table and there you are. As you suggested, they can talk about it, they can say they would really like to do it, but in the end there's one person who'll make that decision and he seems not at all disposed to.
SIMON: Is the only real time table Iraqis writing and ratifying a constitution and holding elections?
SCHORR: That would help a lot. I mean, they would really like if they do start turning over to the troops that there'd be a real army created there, which is on its way but hasn't really gotten terribly far yet, and then they would like it to be this is a constitution, they've had an election, which would be in December, and this is really time for us to turn it over, God bless you, we're going home.
SIMON: Videotape surfaced this week, played on Al-Jazeera, of Ayman Zawahiri, second in command, if we say `command,' of al-Qaeda, demanding once more that US forces get out of Iraq and other places in the Middle East...
SIMON: ...and certainly singling out Britain, warning of more terrorist attacks against Great Britain. He said the July 7th London bombings were in fact retaliation for British troops in Iraq. The tape does not seem to have its intended effect on Prime Minister Blair.
SCHORR: No, it doesn't. He's given a very tough response, as Britain was already on its way to drawing up some new, tough anti-terrorist rules somewhat like the American US Patriot Act. It would facilitate deporting undesirable aliens, would create a new crime, which is called condoning or glorifying terrorism, make it easier to hold on to suspects without charges having to be preferred.
SIMON: I want to ask you about talks with North Korea, 'cause at some point, obviously, there was some doubt that anything resembling talks would occur, but US and North Koreans have been at the same conference table in Beijing for days and days...
SIMON: ...of multiparty talks about North Korea's nuclear program. As you can read it from this distance, do you see any signs?
SCHORR: Well, the best sign is that they haven't walked out yet. It's a good sign. I think they decided to work through the weekend. The atmosphere seems to be fairly good. Now it's true that Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, who's representing the United States, says of these talks that they are excruciating, but I guess you can call it progress when nobody's storming out of the room.
SIMON: New government came to power in Iran this week, a new government which, in fact, might be even more hard-line than the previous regime. They were extended an offer this week by the European Union about Iran's nuclear program.
SCHORR: That's right. Now they have a new president, whose name I will venture to try to pronounce...
SIMON: You're a better man than I am, please.
SCHORR: ...Ahmadinejad, I think.
SIMON: Very good.
SCHORR: If that's not right, we'll have to settle for it for now. And it is true that he is tougher. The Europeans, however, are coming up and have come up with a big package of goodies, which incidentally would include having them go on with their civilian nuclear programs and now the State Department says the US might go along with that. So they really are making an effort. But the Iranians, on the other hand, seem to be ready to resume conversion of uranium, which gets it ready into a gas which you can use to make a bomb. They postponed that several times; now they seem to be ready to go next week unless--keeping fingers crossed--they decide to wait one more few days.
SIMON: I want to ask you about the Roberts nomination because there were various groups and certainly press accounts that came forward going over his record, various times in his judicial and legal career. I think it's safe to say that in some ways the revelation that surprised most people, often for different reasons, was that when he was an attorney at a Washington, DC, law firm he gave about six hours of pro bono legal advice to a gay rights group...
SCHORR: That's right.
SIMON: ...which was apparently pivotal in helping them win an important decision barring state-sanctioned discrimination.
SCHORR: It looks as though they're going to go through page after page and page after page. But they're dealing here clearly with a very professional lawyer, and when he was doing pro bono work it was pro bono work, and he was advocating a position because that's what he was supposed to do. They have not yet laid a glove on them--they being Democrats, of course--they have not yet laid a glove on him. They're trying to get more papers, keeping their fingers crossed, but as of this point--and if I turn out to be wrong I will deny having said it--I think that Judge Roberts is well on his way.
SIMON: I'm sure no one's listening in August. Don't worry. So we won't contradict you. Let me ask, though, do you see any signs of diminution of support for him in those circles in the country that will be displeased by the news that he gave the benefit of his legal advice to a gay rights group?
SCHORR: Yeah, it's supposed to be a matter of form that if he advocated something or failed to advocate something which gets conservatives very, very wrought up, then they'd step away from him. I don't think they're going to do it this time. They have somebody who is a bona fide conservative. The fact that he had to as an advocate, advocate other positions at times--I cannot believe that at this point they would come out against him and try to torpedo this.
SIMON: The situation in major league baseball has gotten so serious I am driven to ask you a question about it.
SIMON: Rafael Palmeiro of the Baltimore Orioles admitted this week he tested positive for steroids--this, after that seemingly very...
SCHORR: How come you can pronounce Palmeiro and you can't pronounce the...
SIMON: New president of Iran. That's a--you know, that's an excellent question.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: I plead guilty to that contradiction.
SCHORR: Ahmadinejad. Will you do `Ahmadinejad'?
SIMON: Ahmadinejad, President Ahmadinejad. President Ahmadinejad, and...
SIMON: ...I will be saying his name a lot in, I'm sure, the years to come, but I've been saying Rafael Palmeiro's name for quite a few years.
SIMON: And despite the very straightforward and blunt denial that he gave during those hearings before Congress that he had never used steroids, apparently he did. Is the--I hate to use a term like `the integrity of the game' with you, Dan, realizing that there are more important institutions whose integrity we must worry about--but is baseball in trouble?
SCHORR: Well, I think baseball is in trouble, and looking at it from a distance, which I prefer to keep between me and baseball--but looking at it from a distance, I think there is one overriding, overwhelming problem with baseballs and other sports today, and that is the amount of money involved is so great that they are tempted to do things they otherwise wouldn't do. To me the idea of saying, `All I need is to have a little injection of something I get a 5 percent better performance and then get another 5 or $10 million because of my times at bat,' all the rest of it--money is in baseball, as so where else, the root of evil.
SIMON: Thanks very much. Dan Schorr.
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