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Bush campaign wants troops home { October 12 2000 }

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MR. BUSH: "we can't put our troops all around the world."
"I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation building."
"But one of the problems we have in the military is we're in a lot of places around the world"

National Desk | October 12, 2000, Thursday
THE 2000 CAMPAIGN; 2nd Presidential Debate Between Gov. Bush and Vice President Gore

(NYT) 16801 words
Late Edition - Final , Section A , Page 22 , Column 1
ABSTRACT - Transcript of second presidential debate between Vice Pres Al Gore and Gov George W Bush; photo (L) Following is a transcript of the presidential debate last night in Winston-Salem, N.C., between Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, as recorded by The New York Times. The moderator was Jim Lehrer of PBS.
MR. LEHRER -- Good evening from Wake Chapel at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. I'm Jim Lehrer of The NewsHour on PBS.
Welcome to this second Election 2000 debate between the Republican candidate for president, Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, and the Democratic candidate, Vice President Al Gore. These debates are sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The format and the rules are those negotiated by representatives of the two campaigns. Only the subjects tonight and the questions are mine. The format tonight is that of a conversation. The only prevailing rule is that no single response can ever, ever exceed two minutes. The prevailing rule for the audience here in the hall is, as always, absolute quiet, please.
Good evening Governor Bush, Vice President Gore. At the end of our 90 minutes last week in Boston, the total time each of you took was virtually the same. Let's see if we can do the same tonight, or come close.
Governor Bush, the first question goes to you. One of you is about to be elected the leader of the single most powerful nation in the world, economically, financially, militarily, diplomatically, you name it. Have you formed any guiding principles for exercising this enormous power?
MR. BUSH -- I have. The first question is what's in the best interests of the United States. What's in the best interests of our people? When it comes to foreign policy, that'll be my guiding question. Is it in our nation's interests? Peace in the Middle East is in our nation's interests. Having a hemisphere that is free for trade and peaceful is in our nation's interests. Strong relations in Europe is in our nation's interests.
I've thought a lot about what it means to be the president. I also understand that an administration is not one person, but an administration is dedicated citizens who are called by the president to serve the country, to serve a cause greater than self. And so I've thought about an administration of people who represent all America, but people who understand my compassionate and conservative philosophy. I haven't started naming names except for one person, and that's Mr. Richard Cheney, who I thought did a great job the other night. He's a vice-presidential nominee who represents, who, I think people got to see why I picked him. He's a man of solid judgment and he's going to be a person to stand by my side.
One of the things I've done in Texas is I've been able to put together a good team of people. I've been able to set clear goals. The goals ought to be an education system that leaves no child behind, Medicare for our seniors, a Social Security system that's safe and secure, foreign policy that's in our nation's interest, and a strong military, and then bring people together to achieve those goals. That's what a chief executive officer does. So I've thought long and hard about the honor and -- of being the president of the United States.
MR. LEHRER -- Vice President Gore?
MR. GORE -- Yes, Jim, I've thought a lot about that particular question and I see our greatest natural -- national strength coming from what we stand for in the world. I see it as a question of values. It is a great tribute to our founders that 224 years later this nation is now looked to by the peoples on every other continent and the peoples from every part of this earth as a kind of model for what their future could be. And I don't think that's just the kind of exaggeration that we take pride in as Americans; it's really true. Even the ones that sometimes shake their fists at us, as soon as they have a change that allows the people to speak freely, they're wanting to develop some kind of blueprint that will help them be like us more: freedom, free markets, political freedom.
So I think first and foremost our power ought to be wielded to -- in ways that form a more perfect union. The power of example is America's greatest power in the world. And that means, for example, standing up for human rights. It means addressing the problems of injustice and inequity along lines of race and ethnicity here at home, because in all these other places around the world where they're having these terrible problems, when they feel hope it is often because they see in us a reflection of their potential. So we've got to enforce our civil rights laws. We've got to deal with things like racial profiling. And we have to keep our military strong. We have the strongest military. And I'll do whatever is necessary, if I'm president, to make sure that it stays that way. But our real power comes, I think, from our values.
MR. LEHRER -- Should the people of the world look at the United States, governor, and say should they fear us, should they welcome our involvement, should they see us as a friend, everybody in the world? How do you -- how would you project us around the world as president?
MR. BUSH -- Well, I think they ought to look at us as a country that understands freedom, where it doesn't matter who you are or how you're raised or where you're from that you can succeed. I don't think they ought to look at us with envy. It really depends upon how our nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us. And our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power. And that's why we've got to be humble and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom. So I don't think they ought to look at us in any way other than what we are. We're a freedom-loving nation. And if we're an arrogant nation, they'll view us that way, but if we're humble nation, they'll respect us.
MR. LEHRER -- A humble nation?
MR. GORE -- I agree with that. I think that one of the problems that we have faced in the world is that we are so much more powerful than any single nation has been in relationship to the rest of the world than at any time in history, that I know about anyway, that there is some resentment of U.S. power. So I think that the idea of humility is an important one. But I think that we also have to have a sense of mission in the world. And we have to protect our capacity to push forward what America's all about. That means not only military strength and our values. It also means keeping our economy strong. You know, in the last -- two decades ago, it was routine for leaders of foreign countries to come over here and say, 'You guys have got to do something about these horrendous deficits because it's causing tremendous problems for the rest of the world.' And we were lectured to all the time. The fact that we have the strongest economy in history today is not good enough -- we need to do more. But the fact that it is so strong enables us to project the power for good that America can represent.
MR. LEHRER -- Does that give us -- does our wealth, our good economy, our power bring with it special obligations to the rest of the world?
MR. BUSH -- Yes it does. Take for example, third world debt. I think we ought to be forgiving third world debt under certain conditions. I think, for example, if we're convinced that a third world country that's got a lot of debt would reform itself, that the money wouldn't go into the hands of a few, but would go to help people, then I think it'd make sense for us to use our wealth in that way. Or to trade debt for valuable rain forest lands, makes eminent sense. Yes, we do have an obligation in the world, but we can't be all things to all people. We can help build coalitions, but we can't put our troops all around the world. We can lend money, but we've got to do it wisely. We shouldn't be lending money to corrupt officials. So we've got to be guarded in our generosity.
MR. LEHRER -- Let's go through some of the specifics now. New question, Vice President Gore. The governor mentioned the Middle East. Here we're talking at this stage in the game about diplomatic power that we have. What do you think the United States should do right now to resolve that conflict over there?
MR. GORE -- The first priority has to be on ending the violence, dampening down the tensions that have arisen there. We need to call upon Syria to release the three Israeli soldiers who have been captured. We need to insist that Arafat send out instructions to halt some of the provocative acts of violence that have been going on. I think that we also have to keep a weather eye toward Saddam Hussein because he's taking advantage of this situation to once again make threats and he needs to understand that he's not only dealing with Israel, he is dealing with us, if he is making the kind of threats that he's talking about there.
The use of diplomacy in this situation has already -- well, it goes hour by hour and day by day now. It's a very tense situation there. But in the last 24 hours, there has been some subsiding of the violence there. It's too much to hope that this is going to continue, but I do hope that it will continue. Our country has been very active with regular conversations with the leaders there. And we just have to take it day to day right now.
But one thing I would say where diplomacy is concerned. Israel should, should feel absolutely secure about one thing. Our bonds with Israel are larger than agreements or disagreements on some details of diplomatic initiatives. They are historic, they are strong and they are enduring. And our ability to serve as an honest broker is something that we need to shepherd.
MR. LEHRER -- Governor?
MR. BUSH -- Well, I think during the campaign, particularly now during this difficult period, we ought to be speaking with one voice. And I appreciate the way the administration has worked hard to calm the tensions. Like the vice president, I call on Chairman Arafat to have his people pull back to make the peace. I think credibility is going to be very important in the future in the Middle East. I want everybody to know, should I be the president, Israel's going to be our friend. I'm going to stand by Israel.
Secondly, that I think it's important to reach out to moderate Arab nations, like Jordan and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It's important to be friends with people when you don't need each other so that when you do there's a strong bond of friendship. And that's going to be particular important in dealing not only with situations such as now occurring in Israel, but with Saddam Hussein. The coalition against Saddam has fallen apart or it's unraveling, let's put it that way. The sanctions are being violated. There's -- we don't know whether he's developing weapons of mass destruction. He better not be or there's going to be a consequence, should I be the president.
But it's important to have credibility and credibility is formed by being strong with your friends and resolute in your determination. It's one of the reasons why I think it's important for this nation to develop an antiballistic missile system that we can share with our allies in the Middle East, if need be, to keep the peace. To be able to say to the Saddam Husseins of the world or the Iranians, don't dare threaten our friends.
It's also important to keep a strong ties in the Middle East with credible ties because of the energy crisis we're now in. After all, all the energy is produced from the Middle East. And so I appreciate what the administration is doing. I hope to get a sense of, should I be fortunate enough to be the president, how my administration will react to the Middle East.
MR. LEHRER -- So you don't believe, Vice President Gore, that we should take sides in this and resolve this right now? A lot of people are pushing -- hey, we, the United States, should declare itself and not be so neutral in this particular situation.
MR. GORE -- Well, we stand with Israel. But we have maintained the ability to serve as an honest broker. And one of the reasons that's important is that Israel cannot have direct dialogue with some of the people on the other side of conflicts, especially during times of tension, unless that dialogue comes through us. And if we throw away that ability to serve as an honest broker then we have thrown -- we will have thrown away a strategic asset that's important not only to us but also to Israel.
MR. LEHRER -- Do you agree with that, governor?
MR. BUSH -- I do. I do think this, though: I think that when it comes to timetables, it can't be a United States timetable as to how the discussions take place. It's got to be a timetable that all parties can agree to, other -- you know, like the Palestinians or the Israelis. Secondly, any lasting peace is going to have to be a peace that's good for both sides. And therefore the term honest broker makes sense. Whether -- This current administration has worked hard to keep the parties at the table. I will try to do the same thing. But it won't be on my timetable. It'll be on the timetable that people are comfortable with in the Middle East.
MR. LEHRER -- People watching here tonight are very interested in Middle East policy. And they're so interested that they want to make a -- they want to base their vote on differences between the two of you -- as president, how you would handle Middle East policy. Is there any difference?
MR. GORE -- I haven't heard a big difference right, in the last few exchanges.
MR. BUSH -- Well I think, it's hard to tell. I think that, you know, I would hope to be able to convince people I could handle the Iraqi situation better. I mean --
MR. LEHRER -- Saddam Hussein, you mean?
MR. BUSH -- Yes.
MR. LEHRER -- You could get him out of there?
MR. BUSH -- I'd like to, of course. And I presume this administration would as well. But we don't know, there's no inspectors now in Iraq. The coalition that was in place isn't as strong as it used to be. He is a danger. We don't want him fishing in troubled waters in the Middle East. And it's going to be hard, it's going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on him.
MR. LEHRER -- You feel that is a failure of the Clinton Administration?
MR. BUSH -- I do.
MR. LEHRER -- Mr. Vice President?
MR. GORE -- Well, when I got to be a part of the current administration it was right after I was one of the few members of my political party to support former President Bush in the Persian Gulf war resolution. And at the end of that war, for whatever reasons, it was not finished in a way that removed Saddam Hussein from power. I know there are all kinds of circumstances and explanations. But the fact is that that's the situation that was left when I got there. And we have maintained the sanctions. Now I want to go further. I want to give robust support to the groups that are trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein. And I know there are allegations that they're too weak to do it. But that's what they said about the forces that were opposing Milosevic in Serbia. And you know, the policy of enforcing sanctions against Serbia has just resulted in a spectacular victory for democracy just in the past week. And it seems to me that having taken so long to see the sanctions work there building upon the policy of containment that was successful over a much longer period of time against the former Soviet Union in the Communist bloc, it seems a little early to declare that we should give up on the sanctions. I know the governor's not necessarily saying that, but you know, all of these flights that have come in, all of them have been in accordance with the sanctions regime, I'm told, except for three, where they notified. And they're trying to break out of the box, there's no question about it. I don't think they should be allowed to.
MR. LEHRER -- Did he state your position correctly? You're not calling for eliminating the sanctions, are you?
MR. BUSH -- No, of course not. Absolutely not. I want them to be tougher.
MR. LEHRER -- Let's go onto Milosevic and Yugoslavia, and it falls under the area of our military power. Governor, new question. Should the fall of Milosevic be seen as a triumph for U.S. military intervention?
MR. BUSH -- I think it's a triumph. I thought the president made the right decision in joining NATO in bombing Serbia. I supported him when they did so. I called upon the Congress not to hamstring the administration and, in terms of forcing troop withdrawals on a timetable that wasn't in necessarily our best interests, or fit our nation's strategy, and so I think it's good public policy. I think it worked. And I'm pleased I made the decision I made, and I'm pleased the president made the decision he made, because freedom took hold in that part of the world, and, there's a lot of work left to be done, however.
MR. LEHRER -- But you think it would not have happened -- do you think that Milosevic would not have fallen if the United States and NATO had not intervened militarily? Is this a legitimate use of our military power?
MR. BUSH -- Yes, I think it is. Absolutely. I don't think he would have fallen had we not usen force. And I know there's some in my party that disagreed with that sentiment. But I supported the president. I thought he made the right decision to do so. I didn't think he necessarily made the right decision to take land troops off the table right before we committed ourselves offensively. But nevertheless it worked. The administration deserves credit for having made it work. It's important for NATO to have to work. It's important for NATO to be strong and confident to help keep the peace in Europe. And one of the reasons I felt so strongly that the United States needed to participate was because of our relations with NATO. And NATO's going to be an important part of keeping the peace in the future.
Now, there's more work to do. It remains to be seen how whether or not there's going to be a political settlement to Kosovo. And I certainly hope there is one.
I've -- also on record as saying, at some point in time, I hope our European friends become the peacekeepers in Bosnia and in the Balkans. I hope that they put the troops on the ground so that we can withdraw our troops and focus our military on fighting and winning war.
MR. LEHRER -- Mr. Vice President.
MR. GORE -- Well, I've been kind of a hard-liner on this issue for more than eight years. When I was in the Senate, before I became vice president, I was pushing for stronger action against Milosevic. He caused the deaths of so many people. He was the last Communist Party boss there and then he became a dictator that by some other label he was still essentially a Communist dictator. And unfortunately now he is trying to reassert himself in Serbian politics. Already, just today, the members of his political party said that they were going to ignore the orders of the new president of Serbia and that they questioned his legitimacy. And he's still going to try to be actively involved. He is an indicted war criminal. He should be held accountable.
Now, I did want to pick up on one of the statements earlier. And maybe I have heard the previous statements wrong, governor. In some of the discussions we've had about when it's appropriate for the U.S. to use force around the world, at times the standards that you've laid down have given me the impression that if it's something like a genocide taking place or what they called ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, that that alone would not be be the kind of situation that would cause you to think that the U.S. ought to, to get involved with, with troops. Now, there have to be other factors involved for me to want to be involved. But by itself, that, to me, can bring into play a fundamental American strategic interest because I think it's based on our values. Now, have I got that wrong?
MR. LEHRER -- Governor?
MR. BUSH -- O.K., yeah. I'm trying to figure out who the questioner was.
MR. GORE -- I'm --
MR. BUSH -- If I think it's in our nation's strategic interests, I'll commit troops. I thought it was in our strategic interests to keep Milosevic in check because of our relations in NATO, and that's why I took the position I took. I think it's important for NATO to be strong and confident. I felt like an unchecked Milosevic would harm NATO and so it depends on the situation, Mr. Vice President.
MR. LEHRER -- Well, let's stay on the subject for a moment. New question related to this. There have been -- I figured this out -- in the last 20 years, there have been eight major actions involving the introduction of U.S. ground, air or naval forces. Let me name them: Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo. If you had been president, would any of those interventions not have happened?
MR. GORE -- Can you run through the list again?
MR. LEHRER -- Sure. Lebanon?
MR. GORE -- I thought that was a mistake.
MR. LEHRER -- Grenada?
MR. GORE -- I supported that.
MR. LEHRER -- Panama?
MR. GORE -- I supported that one.
MR. LEHRER -- Persian Gulf?
MR. GORE -- Yes, I voted for it, supported it.
MR. LEHRER -- Somalia?
MR. GORE -- Well, of course, in that, again -- no, I think that that was ill considered. I did support it at the time. It was in the previous administration, in the Bush-Quayle administration, and I think in retrospect the lessons there are ones that we, that we should take, take very, very seriously.
MR. LEHRER -- Bosnia.
MR. GORE -- Oh, yes.
MR. LEHRER -- Haiti?
MR. GORE -- Yes.
MR. LEHRER -- And then Kosovo, we talked about that.
MR. GORE -- Yes.
MR. LEHRER -- Want me to do it with you?
MR. BUSH -- . . .
MR. LEHRER -- You want to -- Lebanon?
MR. BUSH -- No, I'm fine, I'll maybe make a couple comments.
MR. LEHRER -- Sure, absolutely.
MR. BUSH -- Somalia. It started off as a humanitarian mission then changed into a nation-building mission and that's where the mission went wrong. The mission was changed. And as a result, our nation paid a price, and so I don't think our troops ought to be used for what's called nation building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight and win war. I think our troops ought to be used to help overthrow a dictator when it's in our best interests. But in this case, it was a nation-building exercise. And same with Haiti. I wouldn't have supported either.
MR. LEHRER -- What about Lebanon?
MR. BUSH -- Yes.
MR. LEHRER -- Grenada?
MR. BUSH -- Yes.
MR. LEHRER -- Panama?
MR. BUSH -- Yes.
MR. LEHRER -- Obviously, the Persian --
MR. BUSH -- With some of them I've got a conflict of interest on, if you know what I mean.
MR. LEHRER -- I do, I do. You're -- the Persian Gulf, obviously.
MR. BUSH -- Yes.
MR. LEHRER -- And Bosnia and you've already talked about Kosovo. But the reverse side of the question, governor, that Vice President Gore mentioned, for instance, 600,000 people died in Rwanda in 1994. There was no U.S. intervention, there was no intervention from the outside world. Was that a mistake not to intervene?
MR. BUSH -- I think the administration did the right thing in that case. I do. It was a horrible situation. No one liked to see it on our TV screens, but it's a case where we need to make sure we've got a, kind of an early warning system in place in places where there could be a ethnic cleansing and genocide the way we saw it there in Rwanda. And that's a case were we need to use our influence to have countries in Africa come together and help deal with the situation. The administration, it seems like we're having a great love fest tonight, but the administration made the right decision on training Nigerian troops for situations just such as this in Rwanda. And so I thought they made the right decision not to send U.S. troops into Rwanda.
MR. LEHRER -- Do you have any second thoughts on that based on what you said a moment ago about genocide and --
MR. GORE -- I'd like to come back to the question of nation building, but let me address this question directly first.
MR. LEHRER -- We'll do that --
MR. GORE -- Fine. We did actually send troops into Rwanda to help with the humanitarian relief measures. My wife, Tipper, who's here, actually went on a military plane with General Shalikasvili on one of those flights. But I think in retrospect, we were too late getting in there. We could have saved more lives if we had acted earlier.
But I do not think that it was an example of a conflict where we should have put our troops in to try to separate the parties for this reason, Jim. One of the criteria that I think is important in deciding when and if we should ever get involved around the world is whether or not -- if our national security interest is involved, if we can really make the difference with military force, if we've tried everything else, if we have allies. In the Balkans we had allies, NATO, ready, willing and able to go and carry a big part of the burden.
In Africa we did not. Now we have tried -- our country's tried to create an Africa crisis response team there and we've met some resistance. We have had some luck with Nigeria but in Sierra Leone. And that, now that Nigeria's become a democracy, and we hope it stays that way, then maybe we can build on that. But because we had no allies and because it was very unclear that we could actually accomplish what we would want to accomplish by putting military forces there, I think it was the right thing not to jump in, as heartbreaking as it was. But I think we should have come in much quicker with the humanitarian mission.
MR. LEHRER -- So what would you say, governor, to somebody who would say, ''Hey, wait a minute. Why not Africa? I mean, why the Middle East? Why the Balkans but not Africa when 600,000 people's lives are at risk?''
MR. BUSH -- Well, I understand. And Africa's important. And we've got to do a lot of work in Africa to promote democracy and trade. And there are some -- the vice president mentioned Nigeria. It's a fledgling democracy. We've got to work with Nigeria. It's an important continent. But there's got to be priorities. And Middle East is a priority for a lot of reasons as is Europe and the Far East, and our own hemisphere. And those are my four top priorities should I be the president.
It's not to say we won't be engaged. Nor trying -- nor should we -- work hard to get other nations to come together to prevent atrocity. I thought the best example of a way to handle a situation was East Timor when we provided logistical support to the Australians; support that only we can provide. I thought that was a good model. But we can't be all things to all people in the world, Jim. And I think that's where maybe the vice president and I begin to have some differences. I am worried about overcommitting our military around the world. I want to be judicious in its use. You mentioned Haiti. I wouldn't have sent troops to Haiti. I didn't think it was a mission worthwhile. It was a nation-building mission. And it was not very successful. It cost us billions -- a couple of billions of dollars and I'm not so sure democracy's any better off in Haiti than it was before.
MR. LEHRER -- Vice President Gore, do you agree with -- with the governor's views on nation-building, the use of military, our military to -- for nation-building as he described it then defined it?
MR. GORE -- I don't think we agree on that. I would certainly also be judicious in evaluating any potential use of American troops overseas. I think we have to be very reticent about that.
But look, Jim, the world is changing so rapidly. The way I see it, the world's getting much closer together. Like it or not, we are now, the United States is now the natural leader of the world. All these other countries are looking to us. Now, just because we cannot be involved everywhere and shouldn't be doesn't mean that we should shy away from going in anywhere.
Now, both of us are kind of, I guess, stating the other's position in a maximalist extreme way, but I think there is a difference here. This idea of nation-building is kind of a pejorative phrase, but think about the great conflict of the past century, World War II.
During the years between World War I and World War II, a great lesson was learned by our military leaders and the people of the United States. The lesson was that in the aftermath of World War I we kind of turned our backs and left them to their own devices and they brewed up a lot of trouble that quickly became World War II. And acting upon that lesson, in the aftermath of our great victory in World War II, we laid down the Marshall Plan, President Truman did; we got intimately involved in building NATO and other structures there. We still have lots of troops in Europe.
And what did we do in the late 40's and 50's and 60's? We were nation-building. And it was economic. But it was also military. And the confidence that those countries recovering from the wounds of war had by having troops there, we had civil administrators come in to set up their ways of building their towns back.
MR. LEHRER -- But you said in the Boston debate, governor, on this issue of nation-building that the United States military is overextended now. Where is it overextended?
MR. BUSH -- Well --
MR. LEHRER -- Where are there U.S. military that you would bring home if you become president?
MR. BUSH -- Well, first let me just say one comment about what the vice president said. I think one of the lessons in between World War I and World War II is we let our military atrophy. And we can't do that, we've got to rebuild our military. But one of the problems we have in the military is we're in a lot of places around the world and I mentioned one and that's the Balkans. I'd very much like to get our troops out of there. I recognize we can't do it now, nor do I advocate an immediate withdrawal. That would be an abrogation of our agreement with NATO. No one is suggesting that, but I think it ought to be one of our priorities to work with our European friends to convince them to put troops on the ground. And there is an example. Haiti is another example. Now there are some places where I think, you know I supported the administration in Colombia. I think it's important for us to be training Colombians in that part of the world, our hemisphere is in our interests to have a peaceful Colombia. But --
MR. LEHRER -- I was just going to -- the use of the military. Some people are now suggesting that if you don't want to use the military to maintain the peace, to do the civil thing, is it time to consider a civil force of some kind that comes in after the military that builds nations or all of that? Is that on your radar screen?
MR. BUSH -- I don't think so. I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. I mean we're going to have kind of a nation-building corps from America. Absolutely not. Our military is meant to fight and win war. That's what it's meant to do and when it gets overextended, morale drops. Well, listen, I strongly believe we need to have a military presence in the Korean peninsula not only to keep the peace in the peninsula but to keep regional stability. And I strongly believe we need to keep a presence in NATO. But I'm going to be judicious as to how to use the military. It needs to be in our vital interest. The mission needs to be clear and the exit strategy obvious.
MR. GORE -- Well, I don't disagree with that. I certainly don't disagree that we ought to get our troops home from places like the Balkans as soon as we can, as soon as the mission is complete. That's what we did in Haiti. There are no more than a handful of American military personnel in Haiti now. And the Haitians have their problems but we gave them a chance to restore democracy, and that's really about all we can do. But if you have a situation like that right in our back yard, with chaos about to break out and flotillas forming to come across the water and all kinds of violence there right in one of our neighboring countries there, then I think that we did the right thing there.
And as for this idea of nation-building. The phrase sounds grandiose. And you know, we can't be, we can't allow ourselves to get overextended. I certainly agree with that, and that's why I've supported building, building up our capacity. I've devoted, in the budget I've proposed, as I said last week, more than twice as much as the governor has proposed. I think that it's in better shape now than he generally does. We've had some disagreements about that. He said that two divisions would have to report not ready for duty and that's not what the Joint Chiefs say. But there's no doubt that we have to continue building up readiness and military strength. And we have to also be very cautious in the way we use our military.
MR. LEHRER -- In the nonmilitary area of influencing events around the world, the financial and economic area, World Bank president Wolfensohn said recently, governor, that U.S. contributions to overseas development assistance is lower now, almost than it has ever been. Is that a problem for you? Do you think -- what is your idea about what the United States' obligations are? I'm talking about financial assistance and that sort of thing, to other countries, to poor countries.
MR. BUSH -- Well I mentioned third-world debt.
MR. LEHRER -- Sure.
MR. BUSH -- That's a place where we can use our generosity to influence in a positive way -- influence nations. I believe we ought to have foreign aid. But I don't think we ought to just have foreign aid for the sake of foreign aid. I think foreign aid needs to be used to encourage markets and reform. I think a lot of times we just spend aid and say we feel better about it and it ends up being spent the wrong way. And there are some pretty egregious examples recently, one being Russia where we had I.M.F. loans that end up in the pockets of a lot of powerful people and didn't help the nation. I think the I.M.F. has got a role in the world. But I don't want to see the I.M.F. out there as a way to say to world bankers, 'If you make a bad loan, we'll bail you out.' It needs to be available for emergency situations. I thought the president did the right thing on -- with Mexico and was very strongly supportive of the administration in Mexico. But I don't think I.M.F. and our -- ought to be a stop loss for people who ought to be able to evaluate risk themselves. So I look at every place where we're investing money. I just want to make sure the return is good.
MR. LEHRER -- Do you think we're meeting our obligations properly?
MR. GORE -- No, I would make some changes. I think there need to be reforms in the I.M.F. I've generally supported it, but I've seen them make some calls that I thought were highly questionable. And I think there's a general agreement in many parts of the world now that there ought to be changes in the I.M.F. The World Bank, I think, is generally doing a better job.
But I think one of the big issues here that doesn't get nearly enough attention is the issue of corruption. The governor mentioned it earlier. I've worked on this issue. It's an enormous problem. And corruption in official agencies like militaries and police departments around the world, customs officials. That's one of the worst forms of it. And we have got to, again, lead by example and help these other countries that are trying to straighten out their situations find the tools in order to do it.
I just think, Jim, that this is an absolutely unique period in world history. The world's coming together, as I said. They're looking to us. And we have a fundamental choice to make: Are we going to step up the plate as a nation the way we did after World War II, the way that generation of heroes said, O.K., the United States is going to be the leader. And the world benefited tremendously from the courage that they showed in those postwar years.
I think that in the aftermath of the cold war, it's time for us to do something very similar, to step up to the plate, to provide the leadership on the environment, leadership to make sure the world economy keeps moving in the right direction. Again that means not running big deficits here and not squandering our surplus. It means having intelligent decisions that keep our prosperity going and shepherds that economic strength so that we can provide that leadership role.
MR. BUSH -- Let me comment on that.
MR. LEHRER -- Sure.
MR. BUSH -- Yeah. I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be. We can help. And maybe it's just our difference in government, the way we view government. I mean, I want to empower people, I don't -- you know, I want to help people help themselves, not have government tell people what to do. I just don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you. I think we can help. And I know we've got to encourage democracy in the marketplaces.
But take Russia, for example. We went into Russia, we said here's some I.M.F. money. It ended up in Viktor Chernomyrdin's pocket, and others. And yet we played like there was reform. The only people who are going to reform Russia are Russians -- they're going to have to make the decision themselves. Mr. Putin is going to have to make the decision as to whether or not he wants to adhere to rule of law and normal accounting practices so that if countries and-or entities invest capital there's a reasonable rate of return, a way to get the money out of the economy. But Russia has to make the decision. We can work with them on security matters, for example, but it's their call to make. So I'm not exactly sure where the vice president's coming from, but I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying, we do it this way, so should you.
Now, we trust freedom. We know freedom is a powerful, powerful, powerful force, much bigger than the United States of America, as we saw recently in the Balkans. But, maybe I misunderstand where you're coming from, Mr. Vice President, but I think the United States must be humble and must be proud and confident of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.
MR. LEHRER -- Let's move on. No, let's move on.
MR. GORE -- Far be it for me to suggest otherwise.
MR. LEHRER -- First, a couple of follow-ups from the vice presidential debate last week. Vice President Gore, would you support or sign as president a federal law banning racial profiling by police and other authorities at all levels of government?
MR. GORE -- Yes, I would. The only thing an executive order can accomplish is to ban it in federal law-enforcement agencies. But I would also support a law in the Congress that would have the effect of doing the same thing. I just, I think the racial profiling is a serious problem. I remember when the stories first came out about the stops in New Jersey by the highway patrol there. And I know it's been going on a long time. In some ways this is just a new label for something that's been going on for years. But I have to confess that it was the first time that I really focused on it in a new way. And I was surprised at the extent of it. And I think we've now got so many examples around the country, that we really have to find ways to end this.
Imagine what it is like for someone to be singled out unfairly, unjustly and feel the unfair force of law simply because of race or ethnicity. Now that runs counter to what the United States of America is all about at our core. And it's not an easy problem to solve, but if I am entrusted with the presidency it will be the first civil rights act of the 21st century.
MR. BUSH -- I can't imagine what it would be like to be singled out because of race and stopped and harassed. That's just flat wrong. And that's not what America's all about. And so we ought to do everything we can to end racial profiling. One of my concerns, though, is I don't want to federalize the local police forces. I want to -- obviously in the egregious cases we need to enforce civil rights law. But we need to make sure that internal affairs divisions at the local level do their job and be given a chance to do their job. I believe in local control of governments. And obviously if they don't there needs to be a consequence at the federal level. But it's very important that we not overstep our bounds. And I think most people -- most police officers are good, dedicated, honorable citizens who are doing their job, putting their lives at risk, who aren't bigoted or aren't prejudiced. I don't think they ought to be held guilty. But I do think we need to find out where racial profiling occurs and do something about it and say to the local folks, get it done and if you can't, there'll be a federal consequence.
MR. LEHRER -- And that could be a federal law?
MR. BUSH -- Yeah.
MR. LEHRER -- And you would agree?
MR. GORE -- I would agree. And I also agree that most police officers, of course, are doing a good job and hate this practice also. I talked to an African-American police officer in Springfield, Mass., not long ago who raised this question and said that in his opinion one of the biggest solutions is in the training. And not only the training in police procedures but human -- human relations. And, and I think that racial profiling is part of a larger issue of how we deal with race in America. And as for singling people out because of race, you know, James Byrd was singled out because of his race in Texas. And other Americans have been singled out because of their race or ethnicity. And that's why I think that we can embody our values by passing a hate crimes law. I think these crimes are different. I think they're different because they're based on prejudice and hatred, which gives rise to crimes that have not just a single victim but they're intended to stigmatize and dehumanize a whole group of people.
MR. LEHRER -- You have a different view of that.
MR. BUSH -- No, I don't, really.
MR. LEHRER -- On hate crimes laws?
MR. BUSH -- No. We've got one in Texas and guess what. The three men who murdered James Byrd. Guess what's going to happen to them? They're going to be put to death. A jury found them guilty and -- it's going to be hard to punish them any worse after they get put to death. And it's the right cause so it's the right decision.
Secondly, there is other forms of racial profiling that goes on in America. Arab Americans are racially profiled on what's called secret evidence. People are stopped. And we got to do something about that. My friend Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan is pushing a law to make sure that, you know, Arab Americans are treated with respect.
So racial profiling isn't just an issue with local police forces. It's an issue throughout our society. And as we become a diverse society, we're going to have to deal with it more and more.
I just -- I believe, though -- I believe, sure as I'm sitting here, that most Americans really care, they're tolerant people, they're good, tolerant people. It's the very few that create most of the crises. And we just have to find them and deal with them.
MR. LEHRER -- What, if you become president, governor, are there other areas, racial problem areas, that you would deal with as president involving discrimination --
MR. BUSH -- Sure.
MR. LEHRER -- -- again, you said Arab Americans. But also Hispanics, Asians, as well as blacks in this country.
MR. BUSH -- Let me tell you where the biggest discrimination comes: in public education when we just move children through the schools. My friend Phyllis Hunter's here. She had one of the greatest lines of all lines. She said, ''Reading is the new civil right.'' And she's right. And to make sure our society is as hopeful as it possibly can be, every single child in America must be educated, I mean every child. It starts with making sure every child learns to read, K-through-2 diagnostic testing so we know whether or not there's a deficiency, curriculum that works and phonics needs to be an integral part of our reading curriculum, intensive reading laboratories, teacher retraining. I mean, there needs to be a wholesale effort against racial profiling, which is illiterate children.
We can do better in our public schools. We can close an achievement gap and it starts with making sure we have strong accountability, Jim, one of the cornerstones of reform and good reform is to measure. Because when you measure you can ask the question, do they know? Is anybody being profiled? Is anybody being discriminated against? It becomes a tool, a corrective tool. And I believe the federal government must say that if you receive any money, any money from the federal government for disadvantaged children, for example, you must show us whether or not the children are learning. And if they are, fine; and if they're not, there has to be a consequence.
And so to make sure we end up getting rid of the basic structural prejudice is education. There's nothing more prejudiced that not educating a child.
MR. LEHRER -- Would you support a national hate crimes law?
MR. BUSH -- I would support the Orrin Hatch version of it, not the Senator Kennedy version. But let me say to you, Mr. Vice President, we're happy with our laws on our books. That bill -- there was another bill that did die in committee, but I want to repeat, if you have a state that fully supports the law, like we do in Texas, we're going to go after all crime, and we're going to make sure people get punished for the crime. And in this case, we can't enhance the penalty any more than putting those three thugs to death, and that's what's going to happen in the state of Texas.
MR. LEHRER -- New subject, new question, another vice-presidential debate follow-up. Governor, both Senator Lieberman and Secretary Cheney said they were sympathetically rethinking their views on same-sex relationships. What's your position on that?
MR. BUSH -- I'm not for gay marriage. I think marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman and I appreciated the way the administration signed the Defense of Marriage Act. I presume the vice president supported it when the president signed that bill and supports it now. But I think marriage is a sacred institution. I'm going to be respectful, for people who may disagree with me. I've had a record of doing so in the state of Texas. I've been a person that would have been called a uniter, not a divider, because I accepted some, I accept other people's points of view, but I feel strongly that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
MR. LEHRER -- Vice President Gore?
MR. GORE -- I agree with that, and I did support that law. But I think that we should find a way to allow some kind of civic unions. And I basically agree with Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, and I think the three of us have one view and the governor has another view.
MR. LEHRER -- Is that right?
MR. BUSH -- I'm not sure what kind of view he's ascribing to me. I can just tell you, I'm a person who respects other people. I respect their -- one day he says he agrees with me, then he says he doesn't, I'm not sure where he's coming from. But I will be a tolerant person. I've been a tolerant person all my life. I just happen to believe strongly that marriage is between a man and a woman.
MR. LEHRER -- Do you believe, in general terms, that gays and lesbians should have the same rights as other Americans?
MR. BUSH -- Yes. I don't think they ought to have special rights. But I think they ought to have the same rights.
MR. GORE -- Well, there's a law pending called the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. I strongly support it. What is says is that gays and lesbians can't be fired from their job because they're gay or lesbian. And it would be a federal law preventing that. Now, I wonder if the -- it's been blocked by the opponents in the majority in the Congress. I wonder if the governor would lend his support to that law.
MR. LEHRER -- Governor.
MR. BUSH -- . . . question . . .
MR. LEHRER -- Well, but it's a logical --
MR. BUSH -- Well, I have no idea. I mean, he can throw out all kinds of -- I don't know the particulars of this law. I will tell you, I'm the kind of person, I don't hire or fire somebody based upon their sexual orientation. As a matter of fact I'd like to take the issue a little further. I don't really think it's any of my -- you know, any of my concern what, how you conduct your sex life. And I think that's a private matter. And I think that's the way it ought to be. But I'm going to be respectful for people. I'll tolerate people. And I support equal rights but not special rights for people.
MR. LEHRER -- And special rights -- how does that affect gays and lesbians?
MR. BUSH -- Well, it'd be if they're given special protective status. And that doesn't mean we shouldn't fully enforce laws and fully protect people and fully honor people, which I will do as the President of the United States.
MR. LEHRER -- New subject in question, Vice President Gore. How do you see the connection between controlling gun sales in this country and the incidence of death by accidental or intentional use of guns?
MR. GORE -- Jim, I hope that we can come back to the subject of education because the governor made an extensive statement on it and I have a very different view than the one he expressed. But that having been said, I believe that -- well, first of all, let me say, that the governor and I agree on some things where this subject is concerned. I will not do anything to affect the rights of hunters or sportsmen. I think that homeowners have to be respected in their right to have a gun if they wish to.
The problem I see is that there are too many guns getting into the hands of children and criminals and people who for whatever reason, some kind of history of -- of stalking or domestic abuse, really should not be able to get guns. I think these assault weapons are a problem.
So I favor closing the gun-show loophole. In fact, I cast the tie-breaking vote to close it, but then the majority in the House of Representatives went the other way. That's still pending. If we could get agreement on that and maybe they could pass that in the final days of this Congress.
I think we ought to restore the three-day waiting period under the Brady Law. I think we should toughen the enforcement of gun laws so that the ones that are already on the books can be enforced much more effectively. Some of the restrictions that have been placed by the Congress in the last couple of years, in the last few years, I think have been unfortunate.
I think that we ought to make all schools gun free. Have a gun-free zone around every school in this country. I think that measures like these are important. Child safety trigger locks on a mandatory basis and others.
MR. LEHRER -- Governor.
MR. BUSH -- Well, it starts with enforcing the law. We need to say loud and clear to somebody, if you're going to carry a gun illegally, we're going to arrest you, if you're going to sell a gun illegally you need to be arrested, and if you commit a crime with a gun there needs to be absolutely certainty in the law. And that needs to -- the local law enforcement officials need help at the federal level. Need programs like Project Exile, where the federal government intensifies arresting people who illegally use guns. And we haven't done a very good job of that at the federal level recently. And I'm going to make it a priority.
Secondly, I don't think we ought to be selling guns to people who shouldn't have them. That's why I support instant background checks at gun shows. One of the reasons we have an instant background check is so that we instantly know whether or not somebody should have a gun or not. In Texas, I tried to do something innovatively, which is that, you know, there's a lot of talk about, you know, trigger locks being on guns sold in the future, I support that. But I said, let's -- if you want a trigger lock to make your gun safe, come to, come and get one for free. And so we're distributing in our state of Texas for free. I think we ought to raise the age at which a juvenile can carry a handgun from 18 to 21. I disagree with the vice president on this issue. I don't -- he's for registration of guns. I think the only people who are going to show up to register or get a license, I guess licensing, like a driver's license of a gun, the only people who are going to show up are law-abiding citizens. The criminal's not going to show up and say, hey, give me my I.D. card, it's the law-abiding citizens who'll do that, and I just, I don't think that's going to be an effective tool to make the, keep our society safe.
MR. LEHRER -- All right, so, on guns, somebody wants to cast a vote based on your differences, where are the differences?
MR. GORE -- Well, I'm not for registration. I am for licensing by states of new handgun purchases --
MR. LEHRER -- What exactly, what's that mean?
MR. GORE -- A photo license I.D. like a driver's license for new handguns. And you know, the Los Angeles --
MR. LEHRER -- Excuse me, you would have to get the license, a photo I.D. to go in and before you could buy the gun?
MR. GORE -- Correct. At the time --
MR. LEHRER -- All right. And who would issue the --
MR. GORE -- The state. I think states should do that for new handguns, because too many criminals are getting guns. There was a recent investigation of the number in Texas who were given concealed weapons permits in spite of the fact that they had records and the Los Angeles Times spent a lot of ink going into that. But I am not for doing anything that would affect hunters or sportsmen, rifles, shotguns, existing handguns.
I do think that sensible gun safety measures are warranted now. Look, this is in the aftermath of Columbine and Paducah and all of the places around our country where the nation has been shocked by these weapons in the hands of the wrong people. The woman who bought the guns for the two boys who did that killing in Columbine said that if she had had to give her name and fill out a form there she would not have bought those guns. That conceivably could have prevented that tragedy.
MR. LEHRER -- Back to the question about the differences on gun control. What are they, governor, from your point of view, between you and the vice president?
MR. BUSH -- Well, I'm not for photo licensing. But let me say something about Columbine. And listen, we've got gun laws. He says we ought to have gun-free schools. Everybody believes that. I'm sure every state in the union's got them. You can't carry a gun into a school. And there ought to be a consequence when you do carry a gun into a school. But Columbine spoke to a larger issue and it's really a matter of culture, it's a culture that somewhere along the line we've begun to disrespect life. Where, for a child can walk in and have their heart turn dark as a result of being on the Internet and walk in and decide to take somebody else's life.
And so gun laws are important, no question about it. But so is loving children and character education classes and faith-based programs being a part of afterschool programs. Somebody, some desperate child that needs to have somebody put their arm around him and say we love you and so there's a, this is a society of ours that's got to do a better job of teaching children right from wrong. And we can enforce law, but there seems to be a lot of preoccupation on, not necessarily in this debate, but just in general in law, but there's a larger law: Love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. And that's where our society must head if we're going to be a peaceful and prosperous society.
MR. GORE -- I also believe in the golden rule. And I agree with a lot of the other things that the governor has said. We do have a serious problem in our culture. Tipper and I have worked on the problem of violence and entertainment aimed at children. She's worked on it longer than I have. But I feel very strongly about that. And if I'm elected president, I will do something about that.
But I think that we have to start with better parenting. But I don't think that we can ignore the role played by guns. I mean, the fact is that there -- even no state wants them, there are guns in some schools. And the reason it's so difficult for schools to control that is because in recent years there has been a flood of cheap handguns that are so widely available that kids are finding ways to get a hold of them.
And I think that if you look at the situation as it exists here in the United States compared to any other country in the world, it seems to me pretty obvious that while we respect the rights of hunters and sportsmen, we do need some common sense gun safety steps to stem this flood of guns that are getting into the wrong hands.
MR. BUSH -- Yeah, no question about that. But there's -- also needs to be strong enforcement of the law. Some kid who feels like they can -- doesn't matter where the gun comes from. It could be a cheap gun, expensive gun. What matters is something in this person's head says there's not going to be a consequence. So in my state we toughened up the juvenile justice laws, we added beds, we're tough. We believe in tough love. We say if you get caught carrying a gun, you're automatically detained. And that's what needs to happen. And we've got laws. If laws need to be strengthened, like instant background checks, that's important.
MR. LEHRER -- New question.
MR. BUSH -- O.K.
MR. LEHRER -- New question.
MR. BUSH -- As I was saying.
MR. LEHRER -- Both of you, governor, both of you have talked much about Medicare and health care for seniors. What about the more than 40 million younger Americans who do not have health insurance right now? What would you do about that.
MR. BUSH -- Well, I've got a plan to do something about that. It's to make health care affordable and available this way: First, there are some who should be buying health care who choose not to. There --
MR. LEHRER -- Some of the 40 million.
MR. BUSH -- Some of the healthy folks, you know the young kids say I'll never get sick; therefore I'm not going to have -- don't need health care right now. And for those, what I think we need to do is to develop an investment-type vehicle that would be an incentive for, for them to invest. Like medical savings accounts with roll-over capacity. In other words, you say to a youngster, It'll be in your financial interest to start saving for future illness. But for the working folks that do want to have health care, that can't afford it, a couple of things we need to do: One, we need more community health centers. I've put out money in my budget to, to expand community health centers all around the country. These are places where people can get primary care. Secondly -- and they're good. They're very important parts of the safety net of health care. Secondly, that you get a $2,000 rebate from the government if you're a family of $30,000 or less -- it scales down as it gets higher -- that you can use to purchase health care in the private markets. It's -- it'll be a huge down payment for a pretty darn good system if you allow -- also allow -- convince states to allow -- allow states to allow the mother to match some of the children's health insurance money with it, to pool purchasing power. And to make health care more affordable, allow business associations like the National Federation of Independent Business or the Chamber of Commerce or the National Restaurant Association to write association plans across jurisdictional lines so that small businesses have got the capacity of national pooling to drive the cost of insurance down. I think that's the very best way to go. It empowers people. It trusts people. It makes it -- and it's a practical way to encourage people to purchase health care insurance.
MR. LEHRER -- Vice President Gore?
MR. GORE -- It's one of my top priorities, Jim, to give every single child in the United States affordable health care within the next four years.
I'd like to see, eventually, in this country, some form of universal health care, but I'm not for a government-run system. In fact, I'm for shrinking the size of government. I want a smaller and smarter government. I have been in charge of this reinventing government streamlining project that's reduced the size of government by more than 300,000 people in the last several years and the budget plan that I've put out, according to The Los Angeles Times, again, the way these things are typically measured, as a percentage of the G.D.P., will bring government spending down to the lowest level in 50 years. So I want to proceed carefully to cover more people. But I think that we should start by greatly expanding the so-called child health insurance, or CHIP program, to give health insurance to every single child in this country. I think it's intolerable that we have so many millions of children without any health insurance. So it's one of my top priorities.
Now, I know that we have some disagreements on this and I'm sorry to tell you that, you know, there is a record here, and Texas ranks 49th out of the 50 states in health care, in children with health care, 49th for women with health care, and 50th for families with health care. So it is a priority for me, I guarantee you. I'm not aware of any program -- well, I'll just leave it at that. I think it ought to be a top priority.
MR. LEHRER -- Governor, did the vice president -- are the vice president's figures correct about Texas?
MR. BUSH -- Well, first of all, let me say he's not for a government-run health care system -- I thought that's exactly what he and Mrs. Clinton and them fought for in 1993, was a government-run health care system that was fortunately stopped in its tracks.
Secondly, we spent $4.7 billion a year on the uninsured in the state of Texas. Our rate of uninsured, the percentage of uninsured in Texas has gone down, while the percentage of uninsured in America has gone up. Our CHIPS program got a late start because our government meets only four months out of every two years, Mr. Vice President. May come for a shock for somebody who's been in Washington for so long, but actually limited government can work, in the second-largest state in the union. And therefore Congress passes the bill after our session in 1997 ended, we passed the enabling legislation in '99, we've signed up over 110,000 children to the CHIPS program. For compa

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Letterman shows bored boy during bush speech { April 1 2004 }
March 2005 approval rating lowest of bush presidency
President bush pardons cocaine dealer { December 21 2005 }
Prevpres buttout
Pro bush supporter drives over american flags
Reunion yale frayed ties { April 21 2003 }
Sister in law denies bush cocaine use { September 9 2004 }
Some dispute bush account of 73 charity work
Study of conservatism psyche { August 13 2003 }
Support strong yet tax cut doubts { May 14 2003 }
Taped conversations reveal w bush marijuana use { February 20 2005 }
Turkey trip to baghdad { December 4 2003 }
War is peace

Files Listed: 105


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple