Interview on CNN's "The Situation Room"
March 6, 2007
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And joining us now from Burlington, Vermont, the former governor of Vermont, the chairman of the Democratic Party, Governor Howard Dean.
Thanks very much for coming in.
HOWARD DEAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thanks for having me on, Wolf.
BLITZER: You say the president would make a mistake in pardoning Lewis Scooter Libby. Why?
DEAN: Well, the -- that's been done before, as you know, especially around the Iran-Contra times.
The problem is that Scooter Libby now has a -- a great incentive to tell what else was going on in the vice president's office. Don't forget, this is the tip of the iceberg. This is about the president and the vice president trying to discredit people who turned out to be right about the war in Iraq.
And they didn't -- Scooter Libby didn't do this all by himself. The best way that the president has to shut Scooter Libby up before sentencing is to pardon him. I hope that -- that will not happen. I think we need to find out what really did happen when the CIA gave the president reports that said that -- not to trust some of their sources in Iraq.
What really did happen in the vice president's office, when the vice president got CIA reports he didn't like? Did he pass them on to the president? Did he withhold them from the president? There's a lot more going on here...
DEAN: ... than just this.
BLITZER: But the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, says, as far as he is concerned, case is closed. He's not pursuing any other leads. He's not pursuing any other investigations. He says he's done, for all practical purposes. What makes you think this is the tip of the iceberg?
DEAN: Because we know that the president was not truthful to the American people when he sent us to war. And the -- we know that politics consumes this -- this administration.
You know, here, you have a spectacle of the vice president of the United States circling things in newspaper articles that he didn't like, in order to discredit his -- his foes, while our kids, our young men and women in Walter Reed hospital are not getting proper medical care.
This administration needs to stop talking about politics and start doing something about the actual problems that are facing the American people...
DEAN: ... starting with those soldiers in Walter Reed. There's a lot going on in this administration that's about politics, and it's -- and the truth is a casualty in this administration.
BLITZER: Well, it's one thing to talk about politics. But it's another thing to accuse the president and/or the vice president of actually committing a crime. Are you suggesting either has committed an actual crime?
DEAN: We have no way of knowing what happened.
What we do know is that the president sent us to war, and the facts that he told us, when he was sending us to war, turned out not to be true. We don't know why that happened. I will bet Scooter Libby has a pretty good idea how that happened.
BLITZER: But there have been all these presidential commissions, congressional commissions. They have been investigating whether there was any crime, per se. There may have been misjudgments. There may have been mistakes.
But it's -- it's one thing to say that. It's another thing to say there was a deliberate lie and that the president actually committed a crime. DEAN: We don't know.
As I said before, Wolf, we don't know if the president committed a crime or not. It would be interesting to find that out. What we do know is that the -- the vice president's chief of staff has just been convicted of obstruction of justice and lying. And we know that that happened in conjunction with trying to suppress people who were criticizing the war, people who were in a position to know something about the war.
And we do know that the president of the United States gave false information to the American people in the State of the Union addresses and in many other places. And we do know that, in fact, the 9/11 Commission disputed some of the president's statements, such as the idea that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were somehow linked to al Qaeda.
BLITZER: So -- so, Governor...
DEAN: So, we know there's a...
BLITZER: Governor, do you want to see a special prosecutor investigate the president and/or the vice president? Is that what I'm hearing?
DEAN: Well, no, I didn't say -- you are very good with this, Wolf, but I didn't say any of those things.
What I did say is, there is more to come. I think we ought to stay tuned. But I think pardoning -- pardoning Scooter Libby would deprive us of a potential witness at some point.
BLITZER: The president today invoked the name of Osama bin Laden, in saying that Democrats, other critics on Capitol Hill should hold their fire, let this new strategy in Baghdad and the Al Anbar Province work.
Listen to what the president told the American Legion today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For the enemy, it's their plan. They are not debating whether the war in Iraq is worth it.
Hear the words of bin Laden in a message to the American people just last year. He says of Iraq: "The war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right.
What do you say about giving the -- the military, giving the president the chance he says they desperately need to win this war?
DEAN: Well, the fact of the matter is, the president made a huge mistake in getting us into this war. He -- we didn't have to have this: Either you win or we win.
The fact of the matter is, the president sent our troops over there without the proper equipment. They are now in Walter Reed hospital without proper care. The fact of the matter is, the president has said he cares about the troops. The president has said he cares about the war on terror, and we are not doing what we ought to be doing in Afghanistan.
We are not keeping the troops properly equipped when they send us to Iraq. We are not paying for this war. The president sent us another $100 billion bill without telling us how he was going to pay for it.
The fact of the matter is, this is a failed administration. This is failed leadership. And the president can make whatever speech he wants in front of the American Legion. I think we ought to focus on those soldiers in Walter Reed hospital that are not being taken care of, and forget about the politics, for once.
BLITZER: But are you concerned the Democrats themselves in the House and the Senate, they're -- they -- they see it differently. There's no unified Democratic stance on what legislative action should be taken, if any, to try to curtail the president's hands.
DEAN: Wolf, we are unified in the fact that we need to get out of Iraq. And we -- we got elected to do that in 2006.
The American people disagree with the president. They now see the president's misstatements, and they now see what's going on in Washington. They now see that the president cares more about politics than he does about the soldiers that need to be taken care of when they get home.
You know, this president has cut the VA, the Veterans Administration, outlays every year for five budgets in a row. You can't convince me that he is sincere and -- and deeply regretting what's going on in the Walter Reed hospital if he didn't put the money in the budget to take care of these folks properly.
And what the Democrats are going to do is what we promised. We have already added money to the Veterans Administration budgets. We are now going to put a stop to what's going on at Walter Reed hospital. And we are going to put a stop to what's going on in Iraq. We may -- it may be tough for us, because the president is in charge of foreign policy and military policy. We will find a way to get us home from Iraq.
BLITZER: Governor Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic Party, thanks very much for coming in.
DEAN: Thanks, Wolf.
Originally from CNN Transcripts