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Fox News Network

SHOW: FOX SPECIAL REPORT WITH BRIT HUME (18:00)
February 27, 2002 Wednesday
HEADLINE: Political Headlines
BYLINE: Brit Hume, Carl Cameron, Jim Angle, Catherine Herridge, Bret Baier

BRIT HUME, FOX HOST: Next on SPECIAL REPORT, a senior Democratic senator appears to blame the Bush administration for the 9-11 attacks. The president presses for a vote on the Pickering nomination, or does he? And Fed Chief Greenspan says the recession appears to be over. All that after the other headlines.

(NEWSBREAK)

HUME: Welcome to Washington. I'm Brit Hume. In what may be the harshest political outburst since the September 11 terrorist attacks, South Carolina Democratic Senator Ernest Hollings, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, appeared today to accuse the Bush administration of actions that helped lead to the 9-11 attacks.

The senator has made a series of factually questionable statements on the Enron case as well. And, as chief political correspondent Carl Cameron reports, it was in the context of further Enron accusations that Hollings made his remarkable charge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARL CAMERON, FOX NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an extraordinary news conference, Democrat Fritz Hollings accused the Bush administration of trying to keep offshore tax havens legal to help Enron, which had over 800 of them. Hollings said the Clinton administration tried to restrict them, but the Bush administration changed course, and it may have helped Usama bin Laden finance the September 11 attacks.

Specifically, Hollings cited White House Economic Advisor Larry Lindsey and the Bush administration's opposition to closing the tax havens.

SEN. ERNEST HOLLINGS (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: The administration with who? Larry Lindsey. Larry Lindsey was the $50,000-a-year consultant for Enron who was running around saying that it was unconstitutional to try to close down these things. And so they immediately, at this time last year, closed down the Larry Summers (ph) effort. And you had 9-1-1.

CAMERON: But the fact is, the 9-11 money has been carefully traced by the FBI and did not go through offshore tax havens. Hollings then renewed his criticism of the Justice Department's investigation of the Enron collapse, and misidentified Attorney General Ashcroft as the energy secretary.

HOLLINGS: When a president comes in and appoints a secretary of energy who had to recuse himself on account of his conflict of interest...

CAMERON: Hollings also delivered an extraordinary double-barreled swipe questioning the motives of both the president and the former Enron executive now serving as Mr. Bush's secretary of the Army, Tom White.

HOLLINGS: They were trying to get Army business, so he takes the vice president of Enron, puts him in as secretary of the Army. And his first concern wasn't for the troops. His concern was for power contracts.

CAMERON: Hollings defended his charge by claiming that White's plan to save tax dollars by having the Army buy energy from private firms was really a payoff to energy interests.

HOLLINGS: Well, that's the first thing he announced. He's had -- he has got a wonderful military record, but he has got an even better moneymaking record, over $100 million at Enron. So he came in and he said, "We have got to deregulate faster so we can get the business for Enron and the likes of Enron."

CAMERON: But as Army secretary, White has never advocated deregulation and denies doing any favors for Enron.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMERON: The Pentagon and the Army declined to comment on Hollings' attacks on Army Secretary White, saying the secretary will testify on the Hill tomorrow, Thursday, and address those issues then.

The White House, citing a number of inaccuracies in Hollings comments, said, quote, "It has begun to make him look less than serious, someone who should not be taken seriously." And Republicans in the U.S. Senate said it was pathetic, and they didn't even think it was necessary for them to react, Brit.

HUME: Are Democrats trying to in some way reign in Hollings in these statements he's been making?

CAMERON: Most of the time what they've done, in this case and in previous opportunities when Mr. Hollings has said things that are rather controversial, they have said, "Well, he keeps his own counsel." Senator Hollings' staff today said that they stand by and he stands by everything that he said at the news conference, Brit.

HUME: Including the stuff that connected the Bush administration, Larry Lindsey and all that, to the 9-11 terrorist attacks?

CAMERON: They make the argument that some of those offshore tax havens are occasionally used by terrorists and drug traffickers, and that's what Senator Hollings was suggesting in this case..

HUME: All right, Carl. Thanks very much.

 

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