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Congressman Leonard Boswell

(#3137)
May 7, 2004

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IOWA PRESS #3137>>

Borg: THE PRICE OF WAR ESCALATES. PRISONER ABUSE DISCREDITS AND EMBARRASSES AMERICA, AS CONGRESS PONDERS A REQUEST FOR MORE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS. COMMENTS FROM MILITARY RETIREE, NOW CONGRESSMAN, LEONARD BOSWELL ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."

 

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS" THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION... GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WHO FEEL PASSIONATE ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THEY WATCH ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION;

AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; AND BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA... THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, MAY 7 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: SPEAKING FOR HUMILIATED AMERICANS, PRESIDENT BUSH AND OTHER AMERICAN LEADERS THIS WEEK APOLOGIZED TO THE MUSLIM WORLD FOR PRISONER OF WAR ABUSE THAT SHOCKED THE WORLD. AS ABUSE OUTRAGE SWIRLED, THE TIMING WAS AWKWARD FOR THE ADMINISTRATION'S REQUEST TO CONGRESS FOR ANOTHER $25 BILLION TO PAY FOR EXPENSES IN IRAQ. MILITARILY AND DIPLOMATICALLY, THIS WEEK'S DEVELOPMENTS FURTHER COMPLICATE THE PACIFICATION AND DEMOCRATIZATION OF IRAQ. OUR "IOWA PRESS" GUEST THIS WEEK HAS EXPERIENCE IN ANOTHER PACIFICATION EFFORT. AT THAT TIME LEONARD BOSWELL WAS FLYING COMBAT HELICOPTERS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA DURING THE VIETNAM CONFLICT. AFTER A TWENTY-YEAR MILITARY CAREER, HE'S NOW IN HIS FOURTH TERM REPRESENTING IOWA IN THE U.S. HOUSES OF REPRESENTATIVES. CONGRESSMAN BOSWELL, WELCOME BACK TO "IOWA PRESS."

Boswell: THANK YOU, DEAN. GOOD TO BE HERE.

Borg: GOOD TO HAVE YOU. AND ALSO WITH US AT THE TABLE: DAVID YEPSEN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST FOR "THE DES MOINES REGISTER," AND KAY HENDERSON, NEWS DIRECTOR FOR "RADIO IOWA."

Henderson: CONGRESSMAN, THERE'S BEEN A DRUMBEAT AMONG DEMOCRATS FOR THE OUSTER OF DONALD RUMSFELD, THE DEFENSE SECRETARY. DO YOU BELIEVE RUMSFELD SHOULD GO?

Boswell: I BELIEVE RUMSFELD OUGHT TO BE FORTHRIGHT AND TALK TO US. AND HE'S -- AS WE SPEAK, HE'S BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE RIGHT NOW. AND I HOPE HE'S FORTHRIGHT BECAUSE I THINK IT'S CLEAR THAT HE'S KNOWN ABOUT THIS. AND FOR THEM NOT TO PASS THIS ONTO CONGRESS AND PARTICULARLY TO THE -- TO THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE THAT I SERVE ON IS WRONG. AND HE SHOULD HAVE DONE THAT. AND SO WE'LL SEE WHAT HE SAYS, BUT I THINK THAT HE BETTER BE FORTHRIGHT TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.

Henderson: LET'S STEP BACK AND ANALYZE THESE PHOTOS AS A FORMER MILITARY GUY. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THESE ARE EXHIBITS OF ISOLATED INCIDENTS, OR DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THIS IS A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM IN THE MILITARY?

Boswell: WELL, IT'S NOT THE ARMY THAT I WAS IN. AND JUST, YOU KNOW, THURSDAY I WAS TALKING WITH TOP MILITARY PEOPLE BEHIND CLOSED DOORS AND SO ON. BUT, YOU KNOW, THEY HAVE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT TO DO THIS. THEY REALLY DO. ANYBODY IN THE MILITARY POLICE -- AND YOU CAN VERIFY THIS RIGHT HERE AT HOME. BUT THEY'RE BASICALLY -- THERE ARE THREE MOSs, MILITARY OCCUPATION SPECIALTIES. YOU KNOW, THERE ARE THE COP, THE PATROLMAN, THE GUY THAT GOES OUT ON THE STREET; THERE'S THE ONE THAT RUNS THE PRISON; AND THOSE THAT INVESTIGATE AND INTERROGATE AND SO ON. AND THROUGHOUT THEIR TRAINING, THEY'RE TOLD THAT THESE ARE THE RULES: YOU TREAT PEOPLE RESPECTFULLY; THESE ARE THINGS YOU DO AND YOU CAN'T DO; AND YOU'VE GOT THE OBLIGATION TO REPORT ANYTHING THAT'S OUT OF ORDER. AND IT WAS A SOLDIER THAT DID THE REPORTS. SO I GUESS WHAT I'M SAYING TO YOU, KAY, IS I JUST HAVE TO HOPE THIS IS A VERY ISOLATED, VERY SMALL NUMBER.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, YOU SERVED IN VIETNAM, AS DEAN MENTIONED. SOME NASTY THINGS HAPPENED THERE. ISN'T THIS WAR -- DON'T WE HAVE TO EXPECT THESE SORTS OF THINGS IN WAR?

Boswell: THESE THINGS HAPPEN. YOU KNOW, I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD EXPECT IT OR TOLERATE IT OR EVER ACCEPT IT. THAT WE CAN'T DO. IT'S JUST UNACCEPTABLE BUT, YOU KNOW, IF YOU ARE THERE, AS SOME OF US HAVE BEEN -- AND THERE'S OTHERS, NOT JUST ME -- WHEN SOMEBODY VERY CLOSE TO YOU HAS BEEN MAIMED OR KILLED AND YOU'VE GOT THEM THERE IN YOUR HANDS AND SO ON, YOU KNOW, IT'S PRETTY HARD TO KEEP YOUR SENSES STRAIGHT FOR A WHILE. IT'S NEVER ACCEPTABLE. IT'S NEVER ACCEPTABLE. IT HAPPENS. IT NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED, CORRECTED, AND THE ASSURANCE TO GO OUT THIS IS NOT THE AMERICAN WAY.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION HAS INDICATED AS MUCH AS $25 BILLION MORE IS GOING TO HAVE TO BE APPROPRIATED TO FIGHT THIS WAR. WILL YOU VOTE FOR THAT OR AGAINST THAT?

Boswell: WELL, I THINK I WILL BECAUSE WE'VE GOT TO KEEP THE TROOPS SUPPLIED AND SO ON, SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN THE RECENT PASSAGE THAT TOOK PLACE THAT YOU MAY OR MAY NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT. BUT THIS IS I THINK AN AMOUNT THAT'S PROBABLY NECESSARY. WE'RE NOT BRINGING THE TROOPS BACK AS FAST OR RETAINING PEOPLE THERE. AS WE KNOW FROM THE IOWA PARTICIPATION, ONE OF THE LARGEST IN THE NATION AS FAR AS OUR NATIONAL GUARD IS CONCERNED, THAT WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT HAVE HAD REPEATED TOURS, BEEN EXTENDED, AND THE COSTS ARE THERE. AND THIS UPRISING, IF YOU WILL OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT, THAT'S BEEN GOING ON IN THE LAST SEVERAL WEEKS NOW, IT COSTS.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, CAN WE STILL WIN THIS WAR? YOU HAD ONE OF YOUR COLLEAGUES, JOHN MERTHA, WHO IS ON THE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, RESPECTED DEMOCRAT, ANALYST OF MILITARY AFFAIRS, SAYS WE CAN'T WIN IT. DO YOU THINK WE CAN STILL WIN THIS THING, OR SHOULD WE GET OUT?

Boswell: WELL, I THINK THAT WE HAVE TO SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. WE MUST. WE HAVE NO CHOICE. THE MEN AND WOMEN ARE THERE. THEY'RE COMMITTED. WE HAVE TO SUPPORT THEM.

Yepsen: EXCUSE ME, CONGRESSMAN. WE DON'T WANT TO JUST KEEP FEEDING THEM INTO A MAW LIKE VIETNAM.

Boswell: DAVID, JUST HEAR ME OUT. HAVING BEEN THROUGH SOME OF THIS, YOU KNOW, WHEN THE TIME COMES TO REMOVE, IF WE HAVEN'T GOT THINGS BETTER THAN THEY ARE, IT WILL BE VERY COSTLY IN MANY RESPECTS, LIVES IN PARTICULAR. WHEN YOU EXTRACT, IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO DO. AND TO BE THAT LAST BATTALION OR REGIMENT THAT'S LEFT IN THERE AS THEY PULL OUT, IF THEY DON'T HAVE SOME KIND OF A PEACEFUL SITUATION WOULD BE VERY, VERY BAD. I TAUGHT THE TACTICS IN THE COMMAND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE, AND THIS IS TOUGH.

Yepsen: SO YOU THINK -- JUST TO BE CLEAR ABOUT THIS, YOU THINK WE CAN WIN THIS WAR.

Boswell: DAVID, I THINK WE HAVE TO STAY ENGAGED AT THIS POINT IN TIME AND SUPPORT THE TROOPS AND BE SURE THAT THEY'VE GOT THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT, YOU KNOW, THEY'VE GOT ALL THE SAFETY THINGS THEY NEED, AND THEY'RE NOT SHORTCHANGED ON ANYTHING. MEANWHILE WE OUGHT TO BRING A LOT MORE NATIONS INTO THIS, AND WE HAVEN'T BEEN VERY GOOD AT THIS, DAVID.

Yepsen: BUT DO THEY WANT TO BE HERE?

Boswell: WELL, THEY'VE GOT MORE AT STAKE THAN WE DO, I'LL PUT IT THAT WAY. THAT'S ALWAYS BEEN MY FEELING. AND WE COULD SPEND THE REST OF OUR TIME TALKING ABOUT THAT, AND I'M SURE YOU WON'T LET ME DO THAT. BUT, YOU KNOW, THERE'S MORE THAT OUGHT TO BE INVOLVED AND SOME THAT WOULD LIKE TO BE INVOLVED, BUT WE SAY, WELL, YOU DIDN'T COME TO START WITH SO THEREFORE YOU CAN'T COME IN ON THIS, AND I THINK THAT'S ABSURD.

Borg: JUST A MOMENT AGO, AS YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT WITHDRAWAL AND THE LAST PEOPLE IN ARE VERY VULNERABLE, A LARGER QUESTION ON THAT: DOES THIS NATION HAVE A LARGE ENOUGH ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY FORCE TO EFFECTIVELY SERVE THE NATION IN ALL THAT THIS NATION APPARENTLY WANTS TO DO?

Boswell: WELL, DEAN, YOU'RE GOING DOWN THE TRACK THAT I STARTED GOING DOWN JUST IN THAT LAST INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE MEETING. I WAS SITTING THERE LISTENING TO THESE PEOPLE TALKING, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN THINGS STARTED TAKING SHAPE IN MY MIND. AND I'M GOING TO FOLLOW THIS SOME, BUT WE'VE GOT BASICALLY ABOUT 1.4 MILLION IN OUR STANDING FORCE NOW. DURING VIETNAM AND KOREA, IT WAS LIKE 3 MILLION. AND BEFORE THAT, THERE WERE ABOUT 2.5. SO WE'VE DRAWN DOWN. A LOT OF TECHNOLOGY. DRAWN DOWN, DRAWN DOWN, DRAWN DOWN, RELYING MORE ON THE GUARD AND THE RESERVES, WHICH WORKS EXCEPT TO THE POINT WHERE MAYBE IT GETS TO BE TOO MUCH. AND THEN WHAT DO YOU DO? BUT I THINK THERE'S AN ARGUMENT TO EXAMINE THAT LEVEL. NOW, CIVILIAN CONTRACT... DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY CIVILIAN CONTRACT PERSONNEL ARE IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ?

Borg: DO YOU?

Boswell: FIFTEEN TO TWENTY THOUSAND. CLOSER TO THE TWENTY.

Borg: DOES THAT BOTHER YOU?

Boswell: IT BOTHERS ME IN THE SENSE THAT WE'RE OVER THERE NOW -- AND THE TRUCK DRIVER INCIDENT; YOU REMEMBER THAT JUST RECENTLY. BUT PEOPLE EVEN IN THE PRISONS AND THROUGHOUT AND SO MANY DIFFERENT CATEGORIES, CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS ARE DOING THAT JOB THAT SOLDIERS USED TO DO. SO TO JUSTIFY AND TO MAYBE MASK, I DON'T KNOW, THE NUMBERS, THE COSTS, AND OUR FAILURE TO BE ABLE TO GET ACCOUNTABILITY FOR SOME OF THE MONEY PREVIOUS SPENT, I THINK I'M STARTING TO SEE SOMETHING THAT MIGHT BE SHOWING SOME LIGHT HERE, BECAUSE THAT SOLDIER THAT WAS DOING THAT JOB FOR 30, 40, WHATEVER THEY GET PAID, DEPENDING ON THEIR RANK, IF HE LEAVES AND COMES BACK UNDER CONTRACT, THEY'RE MAKING 100,000.

Borg: DO YOU WE NEED, THEN, JUST TO ANSWER DIRECTLY YES OR NO, A LARGER ACTIVE DUTY FORCE?

Boswell: WELL, UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, I THINK YES.

Borg: AND THROUGH THE DRAFT?

Boswell: I DIDN'T SAY THAT. I DON'T THINK WE NEED TO GO WITH THE DRAFT. THE ENLISTMENTS ARE UP. NO. I WANT TO BE CLEAR: LEONARD BOSWELL DOES NOT THINK WE NEED A DRAFT AT THIS TIME.

Borg: LET ME GO TO 9/11 AND THE INTELLIGENCE FAILURES THERE. WHAT WOULD LEONARD BOSWELL, CONGRESSMAN, IF YOU COULD DESIGN THE NATION'S INTELLIGENCE SYSTEM NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU PROPOSE?

Boswell: WELL, I'M WORKING ON THAT. I'M PART OF THAT RIGHT NOW, DEAN, AS I HAVE BEEN FOR THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS. AND I CAN TELL YOU ONE THING, THEY'RE TALKING TO EACH OTHER, THEY'VE GOT JOINT HEADQUARTERS TOGETHER SO THAT EACH ELEMENT -- THE MANY DIFFERENT PIECES OF INTELLIGENCE ARE SHARING AND TALKING. AND AS I PUSHED TO DO THAT -- AND I CAME FROM A POSITION OF BACKGROUND WHERE I COULD PUSH, AND I HAVE PUSHED ON THAT. BUT, YOU KNOW, IN MY EXPERIENCE AND MAYBE OF SOME OF YOURS TOO, YOU KNOW, IF YOU HAD A CLEARANCE ON A NEED TO KNOW -- I MEAN YOU COULD HAVE A SECRET CLEARANCE AND YOU COULD HAVE A SECRET CLEARANCE, BUT IF YOU'D LIKE TO KNOW KIND OF WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT BUT YOU DIDN'T HAVE A NEED, YOU COULDN'T ACCESS IT, SO WE HAD THIS NEED TO KNOW. I THINK WE'VE GOT TO MOVE TO THE MENTALITY OF SHARE, PARTICULARLY ON THIS WAR ON TERROR. WE'VE GOT TO BE SHARING. THAT WASN'T GOING ON GOOD. AND IT'S GOING ON A LOT BETTER, I CAN TELL YOU, AND I WILL KEEP PUSHING TO MAKE IT BETTER.

Yepsen: SPECIFICALLY, DO WE NEED A NEW INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, LIKE BRITAIN HAS MI5 THAT DOES NOTHING BUT DOMESTIC TERRORISM?

Boswell: WELL, I'M COSPONSORING A BILL TO ASK FOR A NEW AGENCY TO MAKE SURE THAT WHAT I'VE JUST SAID COMES TOGETHER AND THE COORDINATION IS THERE AND THE SHARING IS THERE AND WE DON'T HAVE SLIP-UPS WHERE SOMEBODY KNOWS SOMETHING BUT WE NEED TO KNOW IT OVER HERE. AND ONE OF MY FEARS IS -- AS I LIVE OUT HERE IN DES MOINES, IOWA, IF THEY HAVE SOME INFORMATION THAT THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT WHEREVER, BUT THE THREAT IS HERE, THAT OUR FIRST RESPONDERS AND OUR POLICE AND OUR MEDICAL PEOPLE AND FIRE PEOPLE, THEY HAVE TO HAVE THE INFORMATION. IF THEY DON'T HAVE IT, THEN THEY CAN'T DO THEIR JOB, AND THEY'RE GOING TO BE THE FIRST ONES ON THE LINE.

Henderson: WELL, LET'S TALK ABOUT THOSE FIRST RESPONDERS. THERE'S BEEN AN ANALYSIS OF HOW HOMELAND SECURITY DOLLARS HAVE BEEN SPENT, AND IT SHOWS THAT IN THIS STATE, IT'S GONE PREDOMINANTLY TO RURAL AREAS AND PLACES LIKE DES MOINES, WHICH HAVE A BIGGER POPULATION BASE, HAVE BEEN SHUT OUT OF SOME OF THAT MONEY. DO YOU THINK THAT THE MONEY HAS BEEN SPREAD ABOUT APPROPRIATELY?

Boswell: WELL, I DON'T KNOW, KAY, AND THAT'S A FAIR QUESTION. AND I HAVE BEEN LOOKING INTO IT, AND I'LL CONTINUE TO DO SO. BUT ELLEN GORDON IS ONE OF THE BEST IN THE NATION, IN MY OPINION. SHE'S VERY, VERY GOOD. YOU KNOW, I'VE HAD A LOT OF MEETINGS WITH HER AND OTHER PEOPLE INVOLVED IN OUR HOMELAND SECURITY RIGHT HERE AT HOME IN DES MOINES. IF WE HAVE A CRISIS HERE IN DES MOINES, WHICH, YOU KNOW, COULD EASILY BE A TARGET, WELL, WHERE ARE WE GOING TO GO FOR HELP? AND THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES, THEY'RE GOING TO RUSH HERE AND WE'RE GOING TO NEED THEIR HELP. NOW, I'M NOT TAKING AWAY FROM THE FACT THAT WE NEED TO HAVE HERE IN THE POPULATED AREAS TO BE READY. AND OF COURSE, AS YOU KNOW IN DES MOINES, WE'VE GOT THE FULL-TIME FIREFIGHTERS, THE FULL-TIME POLICE FORCE OF SIZE, AND A LARGE SHERIFF DEPARTMENT AND SO ON AND, OF COURSE, THE HOSPITALS, THE FIRST RESPONDERS. SO I THINK THE RURAL AREAS NEED TO BE SHARING IN THIS. NOW, TO MEASURE WHETHER THE BREAKDOWN IS JUST RIGHT, I'M KIND OF ENTRUSTING THAT TO ELLEN GORDON NOW, BUT WE'LL BE TALKING.

Henderson: ALSO THIS PAST WEEK, GOVERNOR VILSACK EXPRESSED CONCERNS THAT IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY, A VETERINARY MEDICINE GROUNDBREAKING INSTITUTION, WAS NOT EVEN CONSIDERED FOR A HOMELAND SECURITY PROJECT WHEREBY RESEARCHERS ARE TRYING TO DEVELOP VACCINES FOR ANIMAL DISEASES THAT CAN BE TRANSMITTED TO HUMANS. DO YOU SHARE THOSE CONCERNS AND HAVE YOU TALKED TO ANYBODY ABOUT IT?

Boswell: OH, YEAH, BUT MAYBE IN A DIFFERENT WAY THAN JUST HOMELAND SECURITY. AS YOU KNOW, THE ANIMAL DISEASE CONTROL OPERATION GOING ON, THE USDA THING, WE'VE ACTUALLY -- WE'RE PUTTING THAT BACK IN SHAPE, AND WE MADE A GIANT STEP ON THAT IN THE LAST TWO, THREE, OR FOUR YEARS IN WHAT'S NEEDED TO BE DONE. AND THAT'S GOING ON. AND THAT'S VERY MUCH OF A CONCERN BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, WE PROVIDE -- WE EXPORT 30 PLUS PERCENT OF OUR AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT OUT OF THIS STATE. AND SO DO WE HAVE A PART IN FEEDING THE NATION AND THE WORLD? ABSOLUTELY. SO I'M CONCERNED ABOUT THAT, BUT MAYBE THEY DIDN'T GET A PIECE OF THIS LAST APPROPRIATION BUT THERE'S A LOT GOING ON THERE IN THAT LABORATORY THAT'S GOOD AND IT NEEDS TO CONTINUE.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, I WANT TO SWITCH GEARS TO THE ECONOMY. I HEAR DEMOCRATS COMPLAIN A LOT ABOUT THE BUSH TAX CUTS. BUT YESTERDAY THE LABOR DEPARTMENT CAME OUT WITH A NEW REPORT: 288,000 NEW JOBS IN APRIL; PAYROLLS HAVE INCREASED FOR EIGHT STRAIGHT MONTHS; MANUFACTURING JOBS UP 21,000 IN APRIL; UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FELL. AREN'T THE TAX CUTS WORKING?

Boswell: WELL, THAT'S CERTAINLY A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, DAVID, AS FAR AS MORE JOBS AND SO ON. I'M GLAD YOU HAD THE FIGURE ON -- I KNEW ABOUT THE 288. I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THE MANUFACTURING, BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, JUST HERE IN IOWA JUST A FEW DAYS AGO, WE HAVE FROM NEWTON MANUFACTURING 170 OR SO JOBS LEAVING AND PLUS THE OTHERS THAT HAVE LEFT. AND THERE'S A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT -- I TRAVEL AROUND AND I'D INVITE YOU ALL TO DO THE SAME THING. THERE'S A LOT OF CONCERN OUT THERE FOR UNDERPAYING JOBS. YEAH, THEY'VE GOT A JOB BUT IT'S IN FAST FOOD OR THIS OR THAT OR THE OTHER. AND SOMETHING ELSE WE DISCOVERED BY DOING OUR WOMEN'S WORKSHOP, KAY, IS THAT THERE'S A LOT OF KIND OF MIDDLE -- THIS IS IMPORTANT -- THIS IS GERMANE TO WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT -- THAT THEY HAD EXECUTIVE JOBS AND GOOD PAYING JOBS AND THE DRAWBACK TOOK PLACE AND THEIR UNEMPLOYMENT HAS RUN OUT. THEY'RE NOT BEING COUNTED, BUT THEY'RE OUT THERE. AND THERE'S A BIG NUMBER OUT THERE THAT ARE NOT BEING COUNTED, AND I THINK THAT NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT TO THE TABLE, AT LEAST, WITH THE FORTHRIGHTNESS TO BE PART OF WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, WHERE DO WE GO NOW ON TRADE ISSUES? YOU'VE ALWAYS BEEN KIND OF SITTING ON A RAZOR'S EDGE HERE. YOU'VE TRIED TO SUPPORT FREE TRADE, AND YET YOU'VE GOT A LOT OF LABOR UNIONS IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY THAT WANT MORE RESTRICTIONS ON TRADE. WHERE DO WE GO NOW ON THIS WHOLE QUESTION OF OUTSOURCING JOBS?

Boswell: WELL, I THINK WE'RE -- FIRST OFF, ON THE OUTSOURCING SENSE, SUCH THAT YOU'VE HEARD IN THE CAUCUSES IT WAS BROUGHT OUT, AND THE PEOPLE OF IOWA AND ACROSS THIS NATION FINALLY GOT A LITTLE BIT OF EDUCATION THAT THIS IS A BIG IMPACT. IF WE LOSE OUR MANUFACTURING IN THIS NATION TO THE POINT THAT IT'S BEEN FLOWING OUT, I THINK WE'RE IN TROUBLE DOWN THE ROAD FOR OUR KIDS AND OUR GRANDKIDS. SO WE NEED TO ADDRESS THIS AND, YOU KNOW, THERE'S SOME THINGS THAT'S BEEN SUGGESTED TO PUT SOME RESTRICTIONS ON THE PEOPLE HAVING THEIR MAILBOX OFF SOMEWHERE ELSE AND THEN DOING THEIR WORK HERE BUT THEY DON'T HAVE TO SHARE IN WHAT KEEPS THIS COUNTRY STRONG. SO I THINK THAT NEEDS ATTENTION. IT'S STILL FAIRNESS AND I HAVEN'T CHANGED ON THAT. YOU KNOW, CHILD LABOR GOES ON IN THIS WORLD. IT SHOULD BE STOPPED. AND IF WE'RE GOING TO BE PLAYING ON THIS WORLD COMMUNITY -- AND THAT'S KIND OF WHERE WE'RE AT; WE'VE GOT TO HAVE A BALANCED, FAIR PLAYING FIELD -- THEY'VE GOT TO HAVE THE SAME RULES TO DO WITH ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH CARE, IN THE SENSE OF WORKERS NOT BEING EXPOSED TO ALL THE DANGERS. YOU GO SOME PLACES IN THE WORLD, AND YOU SAY, MY GOSH, DO THEY REALLY WORK HERE, BUT THEY DO.

Henderson: LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME SPECIFIC JOBS. JOBS IN KNOXVILLE; THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION IS RESTRUCTURING. IT CLOSED DOWN THAT HOSPITAL IN KNOXVILLE. DO YOU THINK THAT'S THE APPROPRIATE REACTION TO RESTRUCTURING, TO CLOSE THAT HOSPITAL AND ESTABLISH CLINICS?

Boswell: NO. THAT HOSPITAL HAS HAD A LOT OF MONEY SPENT DURING THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS, KAY, AND A LOT OF THAT PROPERTY IS IN EXCELLENT SHAPE. THEY'VE GOT A REPUTATION, PARTICULARLY IN THE MENTAL HEALTH AND OTHER AREAS, WHERE THEY'RE ONE OF THE BEST IN THE NATION. WE'VE GOT TROOPS, MEN AND WOMAN NOW THAT ARE IN A CONFLICT AND THEY'RE COMING BACK. AND IF YOU DON'T THINK IT'S A SERIOUS MATTER, STOP INTO BETHESDA OR STOP IN LANSCHOOL OVER IN GERMANY, AND THOSE FOLKS ARE FLOWING BACK HERE IN LARGE NUMBERS. AND WE'RE GOING TO NEED THAT SO THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO DO THAT. AND I'M GOING TO CONTINUE TO RESIST THAT. WE COSPONSORED AND WE GOT IN LAW THAT THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO COME -- 60 DAYS FOR CONGRESS TO REVIEW THIS, AND WE'RE GOING TO DO OUR BEST TO MAKE AN ISSUE OF THIS. THIS IS NOT THINKING AHEAD AND I DON'T LIKE IT.

Borg: YOU'RE SAYING THIS IS NOT A DONE DEAL THAT KNOXVILLE WILL CLOSE?

Boswell: NO. IT'S A MAJOR STEP BECAUSE OF WHAT THE SECRETARY HAS DONE. BUT THERE'S A 60-DAY PERIOD AND IT'S BEEN SIGNED THAT THE CONGRESS HAS GOT TO REVIEW THIS AND HAVE OPPORTUNITY, IF THEY WILL, IF THEY'VE GOT, YOU KNOW, THE WILL TO DO IT, TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. SO, YOU KNOW, I'M HOPING THAT WITH OUR TWO SENIOR SENATORS AND MY CONCERNS THAT WE WILL ADDRESS THIS. NOW, WE'LL HAVE TO SEE WHERE IT GOES, BUT I'M NOT HAPPY ABOUT THIS AT ALL.

Yepsen: WHAT ARE THE ODDS? IT'S MY UNDERSTANDING CONGRESS HAS A VERY LIMITED ABILITY TO TRY TO STOP THIS. IT'S LIKE A BASE CLOSING THING. IS IT LESS THAN A 50/50 CHANCE?

Borg: THIS IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT THAN A SECOND BASE CLOSING. THIS IS VETERANS HOSPITAL CARE FOR RETURNING --

Yepsen: I UNDERSTAND BUT I'M JUST TRYING TO GET AN IDEA FROM YOU WHAT THE CHANCES ARE THAT -- OF KEEPING THIS. IF I'M SITTING IN KNOXVILLE, IOWA, WATCHING THIS PROGRAM, WHAT ARE THE ODDS THIS HOSPITAL IS STAYING OPEN?

Boswell: ALL I CAN SAY TO THE PEOPLE IN KNOXVILLE -- AND I'M LOOKING RIGHT AT THEM NOW -- IS THIS IS VERY SERIOUS. WE'VE KNOWN THIS. THERE'S BEEN THIS THREAT HANGING OVER US. BUT KNOXVILLE HOSPITAL DOES A GOOD JOB FOR VETERANS, AND I'M GOING TO DO MY BEST TO KEEP IT IN PLAY.

Yepsen: TWO OTHER BILLS THAT ARE BOTTLED UP IN CONGRESS, AN ENERGY BILL, AND A TRANSPORTATION BILL, HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION BILL. WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS ON THOSE TWO PIECES OF LEGISLATION?

Boswell: WELL, I DON'T KNOW ABOUT THE ENERGY BILL, FIRST. I VOTED FOR IT. IT GOT SOME PIECES IN THERE THAT I WANTED. AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK IT'S MOVED FORWARD, BUT IT'S STILL CONTROVERSIAL. THERE'S THOSE FROM THE OIL PATS, THEY WANT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MTBE. WELL, THAT'S UNACCEPTABLE.

Yepsen: SO IS THAT A LOGJAM YOU GUYS CAN BREAK?

Boswell: I DON'T KNOW. YOU KNOW, THE MAJORITY HAS THE SAY OVER THIS RIGHT NOW, AND THEY'RE NOT MOVING IT. IT'S BEEN SITTING THERE FOR QUITE A WHILE. IT NEEDS TO MOVE BUT I THINK IT'S KIND OF INTERESTING, DAVID, AS YOU THINK ABOUT THE ENERGY SUMMIT THAT TOOK PLACE A COUPLE YEARS AGO, NOBODY, AS FAR AS I CAN TELL YET TO THIS DAY, FROM THE ALTERNATIVES WERE AT THE TABLE. AND SO HERE WE HAVE THIS GREAT RELIANCE ON OPEC NOW AND WE'RE OVER 50 PERCENT OF OUR ENERGY COMING FROM THERE AND WE'RE STILL NOT PUSHING THE ALTERNATIVES.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT THE HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION BILL?

Boswell: WELL, I -- YOU KNOW, I'M AN ETERNAL OPTIMIST. SOMEBODY HAS GIVEN SOME BAD ADVICE. THIS IS PAID FOR. YOU, YOU, YOU, AND ME. EVERY TIME YOU BUY A GALLON OF GAS OR A GALLON OF DIESEL, YOU'RE PAYING INTO THAT TRUST FUND. THE MONEY IS THERE. THE MONEY IS THERE. THERE'S NO NEW FEE, NO NEW TAXES. THAT OUGHT TO COME BACK AND BE USED FOR THE PURPOSE THAT IT'S DESIGNED FOR. AND THE NEED IS THERE. AND FOR EVERY BILLION THAT'S SPENT, THEY SAY THERE'S 47,000 JOBS, HIGH-PAYING JOBS. NOW, WE TALK ABOUT STIMULATING THE ECONOMY ALONG WITH THE NEED. THERE'S NO SENSE WHY THIS IS BEING MESSED WITH, THAT I CAN TELL, FROM ANYBODY'S POINT OF VIEW. THE COMMITTEE SPENT ALL THESE YEARS WORKING IN THERE GETTING READY FOR THIS TO HAVE SOME HELP FOR SOME VERY NEEDED PROJECTS RIGHT HERE IN THE DISTRICT. SO I KNOW THAT COMMITTEE AND WE WORK TOGETHER GOOD. I DON'T THINK THERE WAS A DESCENDING VOTE.

Borg: CONGRESSMAN, YOU ALSO OPERATE A FARM, SO YOU HAVE SOME INSIGHT THERE. DO YOU THINK THE COMPARATIVELY FAVORABLE CORN AND SOYBEAN PRICES NOW ARE GOING TO JEOPARDIZE THE FUTURE FARM PROGRAM AND URBAN SUPPORT THAT'S NEEDED?

Boswell: OKAY, BUT THIS IS SUCH A KEY THING ON THIS TRANSPORTATION, DEAN. I MEAN THAT IS SUCH A STIMULUS TO OUR ECONOMY AND IT'S SO NEEDED THAT I JUST WANT TO CLOSE ON THAT POINT, DAVID, TO YOUR QUESTION THAT I CAN SEE NO RATIONALE TO DELAY THIS. I CAN'T SEE IT FROM ADMINISTRATION, FROM THE MAJORITY PARTY. I DON'T -- SOMEBODY IS GETTING SOME BAD ADVICE AND IT NEEDS TO STOP AND WE NEED TO MOVE IT. NOW, BACK TO AGRICULTURE. WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO TALK ABOUT ALL THE RAMIFICATIONS THAT ARE IN AGRICULTURE AND THE RIGHT KIND OF PRICE FOR THE INPUT COSTS AND SO ON AND SO ON AND SO ON. BUT, YOU KNOW, WE'VE GOT TO EAT AND THE AMERICAN PRODUCER AND THE FOOD, THE SAFEST FOOD, THE MOST PLENTIFUL AND SO ON HAS GOT TO BE PROTECTED. WE ALL HAVE AN INVESTMENT IN IT, WHETHER YOU LIVE IN IOWA CITY OR DES MOINES OR WHEREVER.

Borg: RIGHT. MY BASIC QUESTION, THOUGH -- AND WE'RE SHORT ON TIME -- IS IF PRICES ARE GOOD, FARMERS ARE GETTING ALONG AND MAKING SOME MONEY, DOESN'T THAT ERODE THE URBAN SUPPORT THAT YOU NEED FOR A STRONG FARM PROGRAM?

Boswell: WELL, I WILL ARGUE THAT IT SHOULDN'T BECAUSE, AGAIN, WE ALL HAVE -- WE ALL HAVE INVESTMENT IN THIS FOR OUR OWN WELL BEING AND THE FUTURE, THE GROWING POPULATION, YOU KNOW. THE SURPRISE, WE WENT PAST 6 MILLION IN THE WORLD. WE'RE HEADED ON OUR WAY TOWARDS 12 AT A BREAKNECK SPEED. WE'VE GOT TO HAVE FOOD PRODUCTION AS A HIGH PRIORITY. IF WE HAVE THE LEAST AMOUNT INVESTED OUT OF YOUR PAY AND ANYBODY ELSE'S THAN ANYPLACE IN THE WORLD, WE'VE ALL GOT A VESTED INTEREST IN HAVING GOOD, PLENTIFUL, SAFE FOOD. WE DO THAT HERE VERY WELL, SO I THINK THAT ALL OF US OUGHT TO HAVE A VERY BIG CONCERN IN KEEPING THAT FARM COMMUNITY OUT THERE HEALTHY. AND IF IT TAKES US TO PUT SOME SUBSIDY HERE, SUBSIDY THERE, THAT'S OKAY BECAUSE IT'S A MARKET THAT GOES LIKE THIS AND, YOU KNOW, IT TAKES -- I WENT THROUGH A TERRIBLE BLOW IN THE '80S, AND KAY REMEMBERS THAT FROM DOWN WHERE SHE COMES FROM. BUT IT TAKES YEARS TO RECOVER. SO IF YOU HAVE A COUPLE GOOD YEARS, THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU'VE GOTTEN BACK HEALTHY.

Henderson: LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR FUTURE. IS THIS YOUR LAST REELECTION CAMPAIGN?

Boswell: NO.

Henderson: LET'S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING THAT SPEAKER HASTERT SAID WHEN HE WAS IN TOWN LAST WEEK. HE SAID THAT --

Boswell: ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THE SPEAKER THAT WAS OUT HERE CAMPAIGNING WHEN HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN BACK THERE MOVING THE TRANSPORTATION BILL BECAUSE --

Yepsen: YES, THAT'S WHO WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.

Henderson: YES, I'M TALKING ABOUT HIM.

Boswell: SAME SPEAKER?

Henderson: HE SAID THAT DEMOCRATS HAVE WRITTEN YOU OFF. THAT WAS HIS VERBIAGE.

Boswell: WELL, THINK ABOUT THIS -- THINK ABOUT THIS, KAY. JUST THINK ABOUT THIS. I'M ON THE SPECIAL INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, VERY PRIME IN THIS TIME OF OUR HISTORY, VERY PRIME. I'M ON THE TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE COMMITTEE. AND THE 45 BILLION -- MILLION, EXCUSE ME. I WISH IT WAS BILLION. THE 45 MILLION FOR HEAVILY NEEDED PROJECTS RIGHT HERE IN THIS DISTRICT WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THERE IF I WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THERE. I DON'T THINK SO. I'VE WORKED ON IT FOR THE WHOLE TIME. AND THEN THIS AGRICULTURE THING, WE CAN TALK ABOUT THAT QUITE A BIT TOO, BUT I HAD TO GET A WAIVER TO BE ON THAT. SO LEADERSHIP DECIDED THEY WOULD GIVE ME THE WAIVER SO I COULD BE ON MORE COMMITTEES THAN I NORMALLY WOULD BE ON. I JUST REFER YOU TO THE LEADERSHIP ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE, TALK TO NANCY PELOSI AND TALK TO STENY HOYER AND SEE WHAT THEY SAY BECAUSE THEY PUSHED ME REAL HARD TO TAKE THESE RESPONSIBILITIES. I'LL BET YOU THAT MR. HASTERT GOES ABOUT, WHEN HE'S RECRUITING, SAY IF YOU'LL COME -- I'M FROM ILLINOIS AND WE'RE AN AGRICULTURAL STATE AND IF YOU'LL COME, I'LL SEE IF I CAN'T PUT YOU ON THAT AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE. I THINK IT WAS POLITICAL AND THAT'S ALL IT WAS.

Yepsen: SPEAKING OF POLITICS, CONGRESSMAN, I'M HEARING SOME CRITICISM FROM YOU IN TAMA COUNTY FOR YOUR INTERVENTION IN THAT DISPUTE AT THE CASINO THERE. SOME OF THE NATIVE AMERICANS THERE ARE UPSET; YOU SIDED WITH THE WRONG GROUP. ARE YOU IN POLITICAL TROUBLE IN TAMA COUNTY OVER THE --

Boswell: FIRST OFF, LET'S CORRECT THE RECORD. I DIDN'T SIDE WITH ANY GROUP. I WAS ASKED A QUESTION FROM A CONSTITUENT. I GOT HIM AN ANSWER. I WENT TO THE BUREAU AND SAID WHO DO YOU RECOGNIZE. THEY SAID SO. I PASSED IT BACK AND I STEPPED BACK. THE CONSTITUENT HAD THE RIGHT TO ASK WHO THEY RECOGNIZED FOR AUTHORITY, SO I FOUND OUT FOR THEM AND TOLD THEM. THEN I STEPPED BACK BECAUSE I REALIZED IT WAS A FAMILY THING AMONGST THOSE THAT LIVE OUT THERE WITH THEM, AND I STAYED OUT OF IT EXCEPT TO ENCOURAGE QUICKER DECISIONS TO GET THEM BACK TO WORK AND SO ON. OF COURSE, I DID DO THAT, AS WELL AS DID SENATORS HARKIN AND GRASSLEY. I DID THE SAME THING THEY DID, BUT I DIDN'T TAKE SIDES ON THAT. I JUST TRIED TO PROVIDE A SERVICE THAT WAS ASKED FOR.

Henderson: QUICK ANALYSIS ON YOUR PART. HAS THE KERRY CAMPAIGN MADE SOME MISSTEPS? THE PRESIDENT, POLLS SHOW, IS BECOMING MORE AND MORE UNPOPULAR, YET MR. KERRY IS NOT GAINING GROUND.

Boswell: WELL, I DON'T -- YOU KNOW, I DON'T KNOW. WHO KNOWS? I THINK THAT KERRY DEMONSTRATED DURING OUR CAUCUS PROCESS AS HE JUST CONTINUED TO GROW AND TO GROW AND GROW AND GROW -- AND I SEE THAT GOING ON AS I WAS OUT AND ABOUT, AND I'M SURE YOU FOLKS DID TOO, THAT HE HAD A GOOD STRONG MESSAGE. BE IT A CHANGE OR BE IT A DIFFERENT APPROACH, AND SO I DON'T KNOW. I WOULD NEVER SAY HE'S IN TROUBLE, AND I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE A CLOSE RACE. I'VE ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT AND THAT'S GOT YET TO DEVELOP. AS YOU KNOW, THIS TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY HAS BEEN SPENT TRYING TO DESCRIBE WHO HE IS. WELL, NOW HE'S GOT RESOURCES TO DESCRIBE HIMSELF, AND WE'LL JUST HAVE TO SEE HOW IT WORKS OUT.

Yepsen: WE'VE GOT ABOUT THIRTY SECONDS LEFT, CONGRESSMAN. SHOULD THE VIETNAM WAR AND SERVICE IN VIETNAM BE AN ISSUE IN THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN? JOHN MCCAIN SAID THE OTHER DAY WE PROBABLY OUGHT TO CALL A HALT TO THE WAR. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?

Boswell: WELL, I JUST KNOW THAT I WAS THERE IN VIETNAM THE SAME TIME KERRY WAS, AND HE HAD A DANGEROUS MISSION ON THOSE SWIFT BOATS ON THE MEKONG RIVER AND I SUPPORTED THOSE BOATS AT TIMES. I KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT IT AND THERE'S NO QUESTION IN MY MIND ABOUT HIS VALOR, HIS COMMITMENT, HIS SERVICE TO THE COUNTRY, OR THE RISKS HE TOOK.

Yepsen: IS PRESIDENT BUSH'S SERVICE IN THE NATIONAL GUARD INAPPROPRIATE, WRONG?

Boswell: NOTHING WRONG WITH THE NATIONAL GUARD. NOTHING WRONG WITH THE NATIONAL GUARD. AND I'LL SAY THIS: SINCE THAT TIME, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE GO TO THE NATIONAL GUARD, THEY KNOW THAT THEY MAY BE GOING TO THE BATTLE FIELD. AND WE'VE GOT THE GREATEST NATIONAL GUARD COMPONENTS WE'VE EVER HAD --

Borg: CONGRESSMAN, WE HAVE TO DISCHARGE YOU. WE'RE OUT OF TIME.

Boswell: BUT I'M JUST GETTING STARTED. [ LAUGHTER ]

Boswell: THERE'S MORE YOU NEED TO KNOW. [ LAUGHTER ]

Borg: ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," WE'LL LOOK AT STATE PARTY POLITICS, SPECIFICALLY THE JUNE PRIMARY ELECTIONS, THE STATE AND NATIONAL PARTY CONVENTIONS AND, OF COURSE, THE NOVEMBER GENERAL ELECTION. WE'LL BE QUESTIONING IOWA REPUBLICANS' EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GENTRY COLLINS AND HIS DEMOCRATIC PARTY COUNTERPART JEAN HESSBURG NEXT WEEKEND: 7:30 FRIDAY, SUNDAY AT NOON. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

 

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