Aired March 6, 2004 – 19:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Live from Washington, THE CAPITAL GANG.

MARK SHIELDS, HOST: Welcome to THE CAPITAL GANG. I’m Mark Shields, with the full CAPITAL GANG: Al Hunt, Robert Novak, Kate O’Beirne and Margaret Carlson.

Is Jean-Bertrand Aristide coming back to Haiti?

JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE, HAITIAN PRESIDENT: I call it a real coup d’etat, the modern way to have modern kidnapping.

SHIELDS: Claims by Jean-Bertrand Aristide that the U.S. forcibly removed him as president of Haiti and forced him into exile were denied in Washington.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: He was not kidnapped. We did not force him onto the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly. And that’s the truth.

CHENEY: That’s simply not true. I’m happy he’s gone. I think the Haitian people are better off for it.


SHIELDS: President Aristide denied that he had resigned. Quote, “There is a document that was signed to avoid a bloodbath, but there was no formal resignation. I’m not the kind of person to stay in exile. If I have to make a stopover in South Africa, I will, before going back home.”

Bob Novak, will the Bush administration keep the elected president of Haiti from returning to power?

NOVAK: It isn’t a matter of keeping him from returning from power, it’s a question of installing him in power. The only way he ever got back in — he is so unpopular with so many people and creates such chaos — was by the U.S. expeditionary force to go in. That was under President Clinton. President Bush, I am sure, will not send an expeditionary force to reinstall him. Maybe President Kerry, if he’s elected, will do it. The whole idea that — that — this guy was so frightened, he was begging to be taken out of the country. He was afraid he was going to be murdered, and then saying he’s kidnapped is the kind of perfidy and the bloodshed that he caused during his reign.

I just believe that the United States Marines are there to protect U.S. property, and I am distressed that now they’re starting to get into the question of nation-building and trying to create some kind of a political solution in Haiti, when we’ve done such a bad job there for a couple hundred years.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, the — there seems to be little doubt that an offer was made to him that he couldn’t refuse, from the United States and the French…

HUNT: Right.

SHIELDS: … that they would not back him in any way. And now the Caribbean nations have asked for an investigation of what went on. This is beyond just Aristide now. Is it in any way a political problem here?

HUNT: Yes, no, I think it is. And as I tried to explain to Bob last week, the issue was not whether we’d send American military forces in. The question was when. It happened a couple days later. And the vice president may be delighted that Aristide is gone. I think he was a terrible leader. But you know something? He was elected. And that’s…


HUNT: He was elected.

NOVAK: When?

HUNT: He was! By the people. It was…

NOVAK: It was a phony — it was not recognized by the Caribbean countries!

HUNT: Guys, I am sorry. The other — the other people down there — I don’t even care if Aristide comes back, but if we’re going to go and support people like Guy Philippe, who is a murdering thug, far worse than Aristide, then we’re going to just have more and more problems. And Bob, you may not like it, but baby, we’re into nation- building in Haiti, and George Bush is going to do it, the same way Bill Clinton did. They just may pick different favorites.

SHIELDS: Kate O’Beirne?

O’BEIRNE: Look, he got himself overthrown. The only place where he could win a fair election is among the Congressman Black Caucus here. The people of Haiti want no part of him. He’s brutal. He’s corrupt. He’s ripped off one of the poorest countries on earth. It’s to Haiti’s benefit that he’s gone. That wasn’t a fair election. Nobody — nobody thought that he won in any way, shape or form the support of the Haiti people last time he ran. I thought it was amazing to see the Kerry campaign rally to the defense of this Marxist thug, but they did.

SHIELDS: The juntas — are we suggesting that the juntas were preferable?

NOVAK: Yes. Oh, there’s no question they were — they were preferable. They were — there was — private — private property was respected. There was…

HUNT: If you were rich.


NOVAK: No, if you were — if you had any private property — there was — there was — there was less — there was less violence. There was no violence on the streets at that time. But I would — I would say this. If you watched the congressional hearing, where they had the chancellor of the university told how he was beaten by Aristide’s thugs because he — he had political criticism — what I can’t understand is why liberals…


NOVAK: … liberals — would defend this guy!

O’BEIRNE: Right.

NOVAK: I — I — it just — it just staggers my mind! It means that as long as you’re on the left, you can do anything you want!

CARLSON: You know, if there’d been nation-building after Aristide was restored to power after being democratically elected, we might not be in the situation we are in. Aristide went bad. Everything Kate said about him is true.

NOVAK: He always was bad!

CARLSON: He went bad.


CARLSON: And Haiti’s poor turned against him. But Bob, you’re talking about juntas who — who protected people who were in gated communities, who paid off the police. There wasn’t a better life for the people of Haiti when — you know, under prior military…

NOVAK: Well, I’m going…


HUNT: Bob, I’m touched — I am touched by your — by your compassion for the Haitians. I really am.

NOVAK: I’m — no, you should be.

HUNT: And therefore, I am waiting for you to denounce people like that thug, Colonel Cedras, who had death squads… NOVAK: Well, first place…

HUNT: … and killed and pillaged that whole land.

NOVAK: … he was General Cedras…

HUNT: I’m sorry!


HUNT: I demoted him.

NOVAK: But he was — he was…

HUNT: Was he a thug?

NOVAK: He was not a thug. He was — he was…

HUNT: Did he kill people?

NOVAK: He was a very — I don’t believe he killed anybody. I’ll tell you what…

HUNT: You don’t?

NOVAK: You know so little about Haiti. I’m going down there in a couple weeks. You want to go with me?

CARLSON: Bob, I don’t want to go to dinner with you.


SHIELDS: Last word — and a good one it was! — from Margaret Carlson, speaking for multitudes!

Coming up on the second half of THE CAPITAL GANG, we’ll reveal a new anti-Kerry ad and ask is it fair or just dirty politics. “Beyond the Beltway” looks at the guilty verdicts against Martha Stewart. And our “Outrages of the Week.” That’s all after the latest news headlines.