WEB EXCLUSIVE: ‘Crossfire’ begins GW broadcast

Posted 6 p.m. Sept. 18-CNN’s “Crossfire” began a week of live broadcasts from GW Monday with debate on U.S. military preparedness and hate crimes against Muslims and Arab-Americans after last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks that left New York City’s World Trade Center in rubble and the Pentagon crippled.

Bill Press, co-hosting “Crossfire” with Tucker Carlson, set the tone last night for the five shows, which have transformed from the traditional political debate format to a forum with experts on terrorism and prominent government figures taking student questions.

“What we’re looking for tonight . is a really good debate about what we’re going to do,” Press said on Monday’s show.

Hosts, panelists and the student audience joined to sing the national anthem while CNN showed a Major League Baseball game in Philadelphia before “Crossfire.”

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), Los Angeles Times reporter Robin Right, former Federal Emergency Management Association Director James Lee Watt and former CIA Director James Woolsey harshly criticized what they called a lack of U.S. preparation for recent attacks and the possibility of future strikes.

“No one had ever contemplated such a(n) . attack on innocent people,” Allen said.

Right said U.S. intelligence failed to communicate known threats of terrorist attacks and take preventative action immediately Tuesday.

Woolsy said U.S. efforts to deal with potential biological and chemical weapons attacks stops short of the necessary training of firemen and other first-response personnel.

“We have the plan, but we’re still not equipped,” Woolsy said.

Questioned by an Arab-American GW student on U.S. efforts to curb hate crimes toward Arab-Americans since the attacks, Allen said, “We do need to make sure there is protection.”

U.S. officials cite Middle Eastern Islamic fundamentalists as the leading suspects in the investigation.

“There is nothing in Islam . that encourages suicide actions or the killing of innocents,” Right said.

The panelists, with input from student questions, debated the possibility and potential success of a general war against terrorism, particularly in Afghanistan.

Allen said an intelligence war was imminent and an “altercation” was possible between the United States and the Taliban, a ruling Islamic militia in Afghanistan.

Right countered, saying the “logistical difficulties in attacking Afghanistan is unprecedented” because the country lacks a physical infrastructure, including roads.

Whatever action the United States takes, Allen said students will be happy to know he doesn’t “see any reason for us to introduce the draft.”

Senate Minority Leader Dick Gephardt from Missouri will discuss terrorism with students tonight in the Jack Morton Auditorium in the Media and Public Affairs building.

Director of Media Relations Gretchen King said Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) will appear on the show tomorrow evening. She said although tickets for the shows are sold out, students can fill spaces in the audience.

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