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America's New War: President Bush Strikes at Terrorist Finances

Aired September 24, 2001 - 21:00   ET



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will starve the terrorists of funding.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight President Bush launches an attack against terrorists, freezing their money supplies while terrorist suspect No. 1 is linked to a call for Muslims to fight an American invasion. Joining us from Tel Aviv, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. From New York, where hundreds of his firefighters died at ground zero, New York City Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen. In Washington, Republican Senator Tim Hutchinson, a member of the Armed Services Committee. California's Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Then with crop-dusters grounded amid fears of terrorism, from Minneapolis, bio-terrorism expert Dr. Michael Osterholm. And in Belgrade, Florida, Willie Lee. Did he talk to some of the terrorists?

And from New York, the voice of "God Bless the USA," musician Lee Greenwood. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

This just in, by the way, President Bush has sent formal notification tonight to Congress to deploy U.S. combat forces to, quote, "a number of foreign nations" and said additional deployments are under consideration. He said it is not now possible to predict the scope and duration of these deployments and the actions necessary to counter the terrorist threat. "It is likely the American campaign will be a lengthy one," the president wrote. Earlier today, I spoke with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in Tel Aviv. I asked the former Prime Minister when he will meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.


SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: The story is that the prime minister has asked that there will be 12 days of complete tranquility before I shall meet Arafat, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because Arafat still doesn't control every single person that uses a rifle.

But today we settled it, and once (UNINTELLIGIBLE) convinced that Arafat (UNINTELLIGIBLE) seriously and gave the proper orders to his troops and announced his position against terror in the Arabic language and reduced seriously the level of violence, we feel the time is right to meet, and we are going to meet soon enough.

KING: And how soon might that be?

PERES: Actually, I thought already about tomorrow morning, but Arafat is traveling to Syria. So upon his return from Syria we shall meet.

KING: So certainly within the next few days.

PERES: Yes, in the next couple of days or so.

KING: There were reports that you were angry when Mr. Sharon asked you not to meet. Is that true?

PERES: It's very hard to make me angry, but there were disagreements, as may happen in a democratic system, and we settled it out.

KING: How is it working between you, certainly on, might be said, on the left of center, and Sharon on the right of center? How are you working together?

PERES: Personally, we go on very well. Ideologically, we are far away from each other. Nationally, we need a union government to serve our people in an extremely difficult period of time. So we keep postponing our differences that we don't have to solve immediately for a future date, and we try to arrive to a consent, which is of urgency in our lives.

I think it serves the people rather well. For example, the adaptation of the Mitchell Report that would be hardly accepted by a rightist government was accepted by a union government, and those are the nature of our response to terror and violence, our vision about the Middle East is making a gentler place. It is not totally to the liking of myself and not totally to the liking of Mr. Sharon, but I think that people are rather happy with this performance.

KING: Do you think, Mr. Foreign Minister, that America's putting together this coalition of states is going to work?

PERES: I think the whole world owes America. In the 20th century, the United States went to fight abroad, sacrificed some of your best sons, won wars, conquered countries, never kept anything for herself; offered always other people freedom and security and hope.

Today, America is waging a new battle. It's an entirely new experience. You know, until now we have armies without enemies and we have dangers without armies. We have to get ourselves organized in order to meet a terrible danger that really is endangering each and all of us. We shall not be able to fly, to walk, to come out, to drink water if in this world there will be an intervention of cruel, crazy, fanatic people that are using modern equipment in order to kill indiscriminately. We are lucky to have the United States as the leader in reorganizing the world against such a terrible danger of untold an dimension.

KING: In this hunt for bin Laden, is your famous Mossad -- that's the Israel version of the CIA, I guess -- are they working with us?

PERES: Yes, we are (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we see ourselves not as the commander of this struggle, but the soldier in it -- a loyal soldier -- and we shall do whatever we can to really answer the needs of the high command of the new confrontation, of the new battle. But we cooperate with the American intelligence services all the time. We have the same dangers. And furthermore, we are deeply in friendship, and we feel very easy and very much at ease and comfortable in cooperating with the United States of America.

KING: Do you believe that Saddam Hussein is somehow involved?

PERES: I don't have information, but he has his own crimes which calls for an answer. You know, there are so many places where crazy, cruel, almost insane persons are running their people and endangering their neighbors that we have to have an overall strategy against it. Saddam Hussein is one of the greatest killers, and a smart one, around us. He endangers his own people. He endangers his neighbors. And he will not stop being a danger because this is his nature, and this is his position.

KING: And your meeting with Arafat, you hope to produce what?

PERES: Well, I hope that Arafat will peacefully divorce completely violence and terror. And if we can achieve something without violence -- even fighting violence -- it's much better than to use rifles and guns.

I think Arafat has learned that he has to make a choice. He cannot have terror and legitimacy at the same time. And if he wants to maintain his international legitimacy, he has to give up terror completely, like in a no-smoking room, you cannot enter with a smoking cigar. So in a world that fights violence, you cannot enter with a gun hidden behind you.

I believe Arafat will, I hope, learn the lesson and I hope he shall bring an end to the violence peacefully, rather than again by exchange of fire day and night. He took it until now rather seriously. He has to invest more of his authority, of his control. But there is a beginning of the hope that I wouldn't put aside.

KING: Thank you very much, Mr. Foreign Minister. Always good to see you.

PERES: Thank you very much, Larry.


KING: In a moment, we'll talk with the Fire Commissioner of the City of New York, Thomas Van Essen as you see a seen of Ground Zero in that embattled city. We'll be right back with the Fire Commissioner. Don't go away.


KING: We now welcome to Larry King Live from our studios in New York City, Thomas Von Essen. Commissioner, you have a total of 343 men either deceased of missing, many you knew. How are you handling this personally?

THOMAS VON ESSEN, NEW YORK CITY FIRE COMMISSIONER: Well, I try not to think about it as far as how I'm handling it. You know, I'm going to just keep going. I've got a job and I've been in the department 31 years. I was a firefighter. I'm still a firefighter, really at heart. I love the guys and I love what we do. So just keep going and try to, try to remember that it's not about me. It's not about those of us that are firefighters that are trying to do the search, do the rescue. It's about the families of the 343 people that are missing or already confirmed dead.

KING: Are you assuming them dead?

VON ESSEN: Well, I'm getting closer to assuming that everybody's dead. I think the families are getting closer to that. The phenomenal effort that all the firefighters from all over in addition to my guys, the effort that the construction workers have given and the USAR teams -- the urban search and rescue teams -- the police officers, everybody involved has been phenomenal. I think that the more, the longer that goes one, the more the families are getting closer to the realization that chances are very, very slim that anybody's going to be rescued or saved.

KING: How about morale? Is that difficult fore you? Are the rest of the men and women?

VON ESSEN: Well, I think it's, people love the job. This has been an unbelievable tragedy of monumental proportions in the department. Everybody knows somebody. I mean there's over six thousand people that are lost, so everybody in this city knows somebody who was there or a family member of someone who was there or a connection. But my guys, they're down, but they'll get back up. They want to help. They want to be there. They want to be involved in a pile. We have more people that want to be there than we can handle working there. So, it's depressing. They're angry. You know, they want to punish people who are at fault and they feel sorry for the families. They're grieving about losing the brothers that they work with and they love. So there's every emotion you could possibly have that's in this mix.

KING: There have been stories, fears that maybe if they dig too aggressively the ring, the concrete ring could collapse and parts of the Hudson River could come in. Is that true?

VON ESSEN: Well, we were concerned about that in the beginning. There is a wall that holds back the Hudson River. The Army Corps of Engineers was brought in and we were assured that it's in good condition and it's monitored everyday.

KING: How about a manpower shortage in the fire department?

VON ESSEN: Well, I immediately promoted 172 people, at every rank: deputy, battalion chief, lieutenant, captain. I wanted to send a message to anybody who thought that the fire department in the city of New York was dead that that wasn't the case. That we're wounded; we're severely wounded. We've lost a tremendous amount of people with great experience that really loved our job. People that are irreplaceable. The people that went through very busy years, years ago. An unbelievable cadre of top-notch chiefs that their experience is unmatched anywhere because they worked through the sixties and the seventies when we had a fire that no one in the world had. So we've lost a who's who in the fire department. You pick up the list and it's just horrible. Especially for somebody like me who's been in the department for so long and knows so many people. But we'll be back. We'll rebuild and we'll train and we'll be back.

KING: Today was the funeral of Timothy Stackpole, who was severely burned on the job in '98. He could have retired, came back. You rode with him on the truck on his first day back. He left a wife and five children. I know you don't want to personalize this, but that had to be terrible for you.

VON ESSEN: Yeah, it's -- Timmy was about as special as you can get in the department. You know, you have so many really wonderful, wonderful guys. Timmy was special. He was over and above most of the people you'll meet in your lifetime. Not just in the department. He cared so much. His dedication, his will to live and to teach and train and operate safely was just phenomenal. No matter what assignment you gave him, he had burns up both legs. He had a knot of scar tissue on his ankle that he worked with and it was definitely uncomfortable and hurt all the time, but it didn't bother him. He never complained. He couldn't wait to go to work. He couldn't wait to train the guys. Always talked about safety. Always talked about drilling and making the firefighters better. And the family, the whole bit. He was one of a kind.

KING: Let's take a call for the commissioner. Fresno, California with Commissioner Thomas Von Essen of New York City. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, thanks for taking my call. I wanted to find out from the commissioner what have we learned from this attack that will provide in the future for prevention of so many firefighters and policemen's deaths.

VON ESSEN: I, we are looking at that now. No one could have known the size of those planes, the amount of jet fuel that they had. The impact of the collision and the resulting fire, the extreme heat that there was there. I guess if you were going to Monday morning quarterback this fire, you would say that we have to get our guys out quicker. But they rescued an awful lot of people and that's what we do. We go into buildings that everybody's running out. We try to help them get out. We try to put out the fire. That's what we do.

KING: They're running out. You're running in.

VON ESSEN: Yeah, that's. You know it's basic stuff for us. In a two-story building it's not as dangerous, because you're only going to have 10 people inside the building and you get to be six stories, you get to be twenty. There's no elevators in this building. We couldn't get quickly up to the floor. If we were able to get up quickly and survey the operation, maybe we would've known the fire was so extensive, the jet fuel was so, was such volume that we would not be able to put the fire out, that the building would be in danger of collapse. If we could've gotten up there faster, maybe we would've know that, but we had to walk up.

KING: Where were you on September 11th, on that morning?

VON ESSEN: I happened to see it right from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Drive. I was almost on the Brooklyn Bridge and we responded quickly. I was in the lobby of 1 World Trade Center...

KING: You saw it happen?

VON ESSEN: I saw just smoke coming out of the World Trade Center. I figured it was a plane, but I never dreamed it was a commercial airliner. I figured it was some private plane, that maybe someone had a heart attack or something.

KING: You're a guy who. You're unique in, as these things go. You're the head of a union, right?

VON ESSEN: Yeah, the biggest and best firefighter's union in the country.

KING: And then you were appointed to the top position in management by Rudy Giuliani. Has that been a difficult balance or is there no such thing now as management and union in a calamity like this?

VON ESSEN: There's no issues with management and union here. The union has worked closely with us trying to help every one of the firefighter's families that they could. We have our battles and I'm considered tough on training and safety and I push them harder than some people think they should be pushed, but it's for reasons that I think it's about them. It's about their level of efficiency and safety and competence. That's what they need to keep them prepared to make them realize that no matter what kind of a unit you're in, no matter what it does everyday, you could be called to something like this and you've got to know what you're doing.

KING: What kind of person becomes a firefighter?

VON ESSEN: It's a great group of people. They love helping people. They love, I compare them to the fun you have when you're in high school. It's team spirit. It's camaraderie. You get to sit around all day and say the Commissioner doesn't know what he's doing. It's just like being back in high school, blaming your father for everything.

KING: But you like danger, too, right?

VON ESSEN: Yeah, it's exciting. We can't, we can't get enough active companies for the amount of people who want to work in them. It's the opposite from many jobs. We get more people who want to work when it's busy, than people that want to work where it's slow.

KING: Commissioner, I salute you. We'll see you in New York next week. And as a way of closing out with you, this is a tribute for you, Commissioner, and your hardworking crew. Thanks, watch.


VON ESSEN: I need you all to go out there and to help us do the very best we can to get our guys.

We are shaken, but we are not defeated.

There are millions of people who have to go to sleep tonight. Who always go to sleep knowing that the fire department of the city of New York is ready to protect them. They need to have that security.



KING: Major panel on aviation tomorrow night. Let's welcome to Larry King Live Senator Tim Hutchinson, Republican of Arkansas, member of the Armed Services Committee. Senator Brown, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, Republican Foreign Relations Committee who has traveled by the way to Afghanistan is an expert on the region and who passed a resolution two years ago with Senator Boxer condemning the Taliban. And also with us is the co-author of that resolution, Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, member of Foreign Relations. Senator Hutchinson, what do you make of the cutting off of the flow of money to terrorist organizations and individuals and maybe shouldn't that have been done sooner?

SEN. TIM HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: Well, perhaps it should've, but it was the right thing to do today and I commend the president for doing it. This is, this is war. It's a multi-faceted, protracted war. This is the first phase of it and we've as the president said, we've got to starve. We've got to dry up resources and though that's only part of it, it's a very important part of it and I think it was an important step in expanding that power today through his executive order.

KING: Senator, the president sent a letter -- I don't know if you received it yet -- to all members of the House and Senate that he is deploying forces in many areas. Did you fully expect that?

HUTCHINSON: Absolutely. I think we're seeing a lot of deployment and pre-deployment, pre-positioning of troops and as a member of the Emerging Threats Subcommittee I wouldn't want to start speculating about when we might see action. But action we will see and I think by positioning these troops, the president has all his options available to him when he's ready to move. KING: Senator Brownback, did you expect that?

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: That the president moved the troops to get into position?

KING: Yeah, many areas.

BROWNBACK: Absolutely. Absolutely. If you look at the terrorist threat that we're facing, you can easily look at ten countries and probably target in and focus in on five to seven real quickly. Now, I think probably what the president is going to do, and I don't know this, but that he's going to focus in on Afghanistan. We need to deal with that target because that's the area where Bin Laden has been headquartered, where a number of terrorist camps are located, but that you may see us quickly pivot and target at another area or region as well, fairly soon thereafter or even possibly at the same time. Although I think it will probably be one target at a time.

KING: Senator Boxer, along with Senator Brownback you co- sponsored a resolution condemning Taliban. What is it, what do resolutions like that do or is it just verbiage?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Absolutely not. Senator Brownback and I teamed up both when Clinton was President and also when Bush was President over the last several year to essentially ask our colleagues and they did agree with us to pass a resolution that said do not recognize the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan because they've never been elected. Don't allow them to be seated in the United Nations and both Democratic administrations and Republican administrations agree with us and we were very proud. It actually came from the grassroots of my state, women of my state, who knew of the plight of women, the way they're treated by the Taliban. Or I should say mistreated, not even treated with an ounce of dignity. Having to wear a Burka covered from head to toe, put in jail if you even hear their heels click on the ground and Senator Brownback was very open to working with me and I'm really proud of our alliance on this. I think it was bipartisan before that was even in fashion.

KING: Senator Hutchinson yesterday Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said the prime goal is to -- he said it this morning in fact -- the prime goal is to defend the American way of life rather than eliminating extremist violence all together. Do you agree with that?

HUTCHINSON: The goal is to defend the American way of life, but I think that that involves, I think the president has made it clear that involves breaking the network, breaking the capacity of global terrorism to inflict the kind of pain that they inflicted upon this country on September...

KING: But you can never eliminate violence entirely, can you.

HUTCHINSON: You cannot, but you can break this network. You can break the infrastructure, the cell structure that's all over the world that allows them to -- I think we can do that, but this is a war that we can win. The Taliban and Bin Laden simply does not understand the greatness of America. It's not in these buildings. It's in the spirit of the American people. The kind of unity we're seeing in Congress. The kind of unity we've seen throughout this nation. The wave of patriotism. We can and we will and we must win this for our children.

KING: We'll be right back...

BOXER: Larry can I break in here.

KING: Senator hold on. You want to add something quickly, go ahead Senator.

BOXER: Just very quickly. I think it's not only the American way of life, I think it's the life of free people everywhere. You know this attack was on our soil, it broke our hearts. It took life of Americans. It also took lives of people from about 80 countries and I really appreciate what Colin Powell is doing and the president in trying to unite the world against terrorism.

KING: Let me get a break and come back with more. If you have a phone call, we'll (UNINTELLIGIBLE) some too for the senators. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Among our guests tomorrow night will be Senators John McCain and Bob Graham. And singer Martina McBride will be here with a note of inspiration as well.


BUSH: We have developed the international financial equivalent of law enforcement's "most wanted list." And it puts the financial world on notice: If you do business with terrorists, if you support or sponsor them, you will not do business with the United States of America.



KING: Senator Brownback, you have been there. What can you tell us that we haven't seen already about Afghanistan?

BROWNBACK: We've seen a lot of the images, and I don't know if there's much additional that I can add. I was in Peshawar -- that's been a year and a half ago, on looks into Afghanistan. And it is a tough, rugged region populated by tough, rugged people.

I think the key thing for us to look at here is the philosophy of draining the swamp, rather than wading in and trying to kill a snake one at a time. We need to get with the alliances that are trying to dislocate the Taliban and work with them -- the Northern Alliance, and I think there is a southern group that's a good possibility. I met with some people working with them today to try to get the Taliban out of power and then work with that new group to go in and to get at these base camps, and hopefully at bin Laden and his lieutenants in the organization.

KING: Senator Hutchinson, how long do you think -- do you think American patience will last a long time, if this takes as long as the president says it will take?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think that's the great test. We've gotten awfully used to immaculate wars, painless wars, and this is going to be one that involves not just inconveniences, but sacrifices. But I've got confidence.

If I could, I received a wonderful letter from an 8-year-old boy in North Little Rock, and I'll will just share a piece of this -- to the president, but he said I could read it. "Please tell me what I can do. I love America. My mom and dad let me stand in the front yard and wave my flag at all the cars that pass by, but I want to do more." Signed Lance. And I think that's the spirit of the American people, and whether it's the New York mayoral election or whether it's the special election in Arkansas, voters go out, people go out. They show the world and they show terrorists that democracy works, that freedom works and that we will prevail over terrorism.

KING: Senator Boxer, what did you think of the money given to the airlines?

BOXER: I supported it. But I have to say, there's a lot more we need to do. I also sit, in addition to foreign relations, on the commerce committee, as does Senator Brownback, for that matter. And we sat through a day-long hearing on what we need to do to make sure people get back into those planes. And I've taken a position, really, saying that we ought to put air marshals in every flight. I think if we did that and we also make that -- the pilot's area in the cockpit really a fortress, which is what they want, we will be able to overcome this and get people back into the airplanes.

Because let me tell you, Larry, it is 15 billion and everyone says we're coming back. We haven't taken care of the poor workers, the people that used to check us in at the curbside. These people all have families. There is a lot more we need to look at with this, by the way. I think our first focus has to be the safety of our people, and certainly supporting the president as he goes about what he is going to do.

But we also have to worry about our dislocated workers and getting people back into those airplanes, and visiting those restaurants again. We've been in a period of mourning, I agree with that. But we've got to get back, because we don't want the terrorists to win this.

KING: Well said. Let me get a call in. Valiant, Oklahoma, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I wanted to ask if -- we're all worried over here about them using chemical warfare on us. Are we planning on using any kind of chemical or biochemical warfare when we go after Afghanistan?

KING: Senator Hutchinson, would we use it?

HUTCHINSON: Well, it's like the question that's often asked, about whether we would use nuclear weapons. I'm not going tie the hand of the president of the United States, but I don't think this kind of war lends itself, or should lend itself to that kind of approach.

I think you're going to see a lot of special operations, special forces, building coalitions, working with resistance groups, using a lot of resources in intelligence -- that's the kind of war this is going to be. And so while you don't rule out conventional warfare, you don't rule out other things. And I certainly wouldn't want to take these kinds of things off the table for the president. That's not what I think you're going to see. You're going to see a lot of intelligence work and a lot of special forces work.

KING: Senator Brownback -- go ahead.

BROWNBACK: If I could jump in on this, I think it's very important for us to work with the resistance in those countries, because to the degree that this is something that we can work with, people that are already opposed to the Taliban -- and believe me, there are a lot of people in Afghanistan, and certainly in neighboring areas, that are opposed to the Taliban. The degree we can work with them, then it becomes less of "it's the United States versus a certain region of the world," or seen as the United States versus Islam, which this is not.

This is us against terrorism. But the more that we can have people there that are opposed to the Taliban take over and move this through, far better this is going to be of a long-term solution.

KING: Senator Boxer, any concerns over the loss of civil liberties?

BOXER: Of course we need to make sure that we don't lose the freedoms that we have. In other words, that's when the terrorists win, too. And so we have to be very careful. We have to go after these people --unfortunately, many of them are in our country. There are cells. We have to -- I'm very willing to go pretty far, but let me tell you, not to lose our way of life. Because that would indeed be a victory for the terrorists, and we will not allow that to happen.

I really believe in the Congress. As we have done so far, it's been an amazing thing. I've been around a long time. I have never seen the Senate or the House, for that matter, with so few political bones in anybody's body. And I think we can see this through, protect our way of life. Yes, we have to make some changes. There's no question about that. Give our law enforcement some more tools, but we can do it right, without giving up our freedom.

KING: One more quick call. Lawrence Berg, Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: Yes. God forbid there was another terrorist attack on the country. How would that beef up the retaliation efforts?

KING: Senator Hutchinson, would that get us madder -- if that's possible?

HUTCHINSON: Yes, I don't know how we could be -- I don't know if angry is the word, but there's a lot of resolve, a lot of determination. But remember, this is war. And so I think as Americans we have to anticipate that there will be future terrorist attacks in our country, and we need to do all we can, whether it's chemical, biological or the kinds of attacks we saw September 11th, to provide security and protection for the American people. But there are probably going to be more loss of life in this war that we're fighting against terrorism.

KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be calling on you again. Senators Hutchinson, Brownback and Boxer.

When we come back, Willie Lee. He runs a crop dusting business in Belle Glade, Florida and he was suspicious about some people who wanted to learn about flying those planes.

And Dr. Michael Osterholm, who's an expert on what we just talked about, the use of chemical weaponry -- wrote a book called "Living Terror."

And then later, Lee Greenwood joins us. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now in Belle Glade, Florida is Willie Lee, general manager of a crop-dusting business based at the airport in Belle Glade. He says that small groups Middle Eastern men came by every weekend for six to eight weeks before the attacks to learn about his planes.

And later, we'll be joined by Dr. Michael Osterholm, the bio- terrorism expert and author of "Living Terror."

But, Willie, did you notice something strange about it, when they were coming by every weekend to ask about crop dusting?

WILLIE LEE, MANAGES CROP DUSTING BUSINESS: Well, we didn't pay much attention to it until September 11th, and as soon as that happened, it dawned on us that it was kind of odd for that many Middle Eastern people to be coming by for six or eight weeks before there and asking the particular questions that they were asking.

KING: Like? Questions like what, Willie?

LEE: Well, fuel capacity of the airplane, what kind of fuel it burned. How much liquid you could carry in it, how big the hopper was, and the range of the airplane. And, "are they hard to fly?" Questions like that.

KING: They took photos as well?

LEE: Well, there was a couple of them a time or two had a video camera, but we never let them get around the airplane. In fact, I talked to -- I actually talked to them very little. We was working and busy, and I wouldn't get over there and talk to them enough, or give them any information or anything, and wouldn't tell them anything about the equipment. KING: And, Willie, one employee at the airport has identified Mohamed Atta as one of the men. And they believe that Mr. Atta was at the controls of the American Airline plane that went into the World Trade Center. Did you recognize him when you saw the pictures? We're showing it now.

LEE: I did not. When they showed -- when the FBI showed me those pictures, I couldn't pick out any of them and say that they were definitely them, just simply because I didn't pay attention to them when they came up there.

Now, this man that works there, he worked for me off and on for 20 years, and he's very trustworthy. And as soon as he seen that picture, he said, "This man has been on the airport twice." And, he even remembered the day because it was his sister's birthday, and he was trying to get away from the airport and he kept holding him up there, asking him questions about airplanes and first thing and then another. And he had to just about run him -- he said he just about had to run him off the airplane. He kept wanting to get in the airplane and he wouldn't let him in.

KING: And I guess you thought about that as soon as you heard about all this?

LEE: Yeah, we heard about it, but it would be -- it would be very difficult for somebody to take one of those airplanes.

KING: Why?

LEE: Well, the airplane is not -- the turbine engines are not easily started. I mean, you just don't turn the key on like you do an automobile or an ordinary airplane. You got a process you have to go through to start it.

KING: Thanks, Willie. Thanks for joining us. We've got limited time. We'll call on you again. Willie Lee -- boy, the story's getting interesting and more interesting.

Joining us now in Minneapolis is Dr. Michael Osterholm, bio- terrorism expert, author of the book "Living Terror." Could you do things with crop-dusting planes, doctor?

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, BIO-TERRORISM EXPERT: Absolutely. In fact, there have actually been a number of studies looking at what the impact would be with a crop-dusting plane. And in one study conducted in 1993 by the Office Technology Assessment looked at what would happen if that plane could effectively put out roughly 120 pounds of anthrax (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the city of Washington, D.C. And with that, they concluded there would be up to 1.4 million deaths. I think we have to be careful not to extrapolate that kind of result, to say that that's what would have happened here, but clearly, it's within the realm of possibility.

KING: How do you react to the fear of something like that, that could be transported in a suitcase? What do you do with that fear as a person, as an individual? OSTERHOLM: Well, first of all, infectious diseases in general tend to push all the panic buttons. Anytime we have an outbreak in this country, there is a certain sense of panic and fear. And I think that's what the terrorists are trying to go upon here, in terms of not only inflicting more mortality, but understanding the fear.

Remember, with a biological weapon, unlike the kind of situation where you head an airplane into a building -- as horrible as that is, we went into what we call consequence management right away. We were able to get to recovery right away. With a biologic agent, you will have a period of time from its release until the time people start getting sick, which, depending on the organism, may be two days or two weeks.

But then you may have cases that will not actually develop illness for anywhere from several weeks to possibly several months later. And it's that fear of having been infected, and that's one of the reasons why the public health community is trying so hard to have government officials understand that the response to a biologic agent is going to be very, very different than a response to a chemical or a bomb agent.

KING: Let's get a call in for Dr. Osterholm. Niagara Falls, hello.

CALLER: Hi. As a member of the baby boomer generation, who was immunized as a child against smallpox, is that immunity still good, or would we have to be revaccinated if the need arose?

OSTERHOLM: Well, actually, you've combined really several important points in one question. First of all, for smallpox, a disease that was basically eradicated in the late 1970s, and something we never thought we'd have to worry about again, is unfortunately a potential agent. We know it's in the hands of those who might use it. This is a horrible disease. It kills about 30 percent of the people that get it.

In your case, in case of myself and others, if you were vaccinated more than 20 or 30 years ago, which was the last time we vaccinated, most of that immunity is worn off. For those born since 1972, none of them have been vaccinated except very few military and some medical researchers. So, on a whole worldwide basis, we have never been this susceptible to smallpox, going all the way back to antiquity.

The problem we have is we didn't start quick enough, and we are a long ways from having an adequate vaccine supply. We know that, we're very concerned about that, and we have to develop ways between now and 2004 to actually get through one of these, should it happen.

KING: Senator John Kerry said on this program the other night, though, that antibiotics, except for smallpox, treat all these other agents. Was he wrong?

OSTERHOLM: Actually, I have a great deal of respect for Senator Kerry. I think he's one of the real nation's leaders, but one of the problems we have, Larry, is Senator Kerry is well misinformed on this issue, and unfortunately, he gave out a sense of calm that is not there.

Just because you can treat anthrax with antibiotics -- which, by the way, we don't have enough if we had a large attack in this country -- doesn't mean you still won't have hundreds of thousands of people potentially dying. So that we know that if you have signs and symptoms of anthrax, it's already too late to begin treatment in most instances. So that while we have antibiotics for these diseases, do not mistake the fact that these will be absolutely horrible, and that the mere fact they will occur by themselves would be very serious situations.

KING: So then the key here is way upgrading information and understanding of who's bringing it in and how to stop them, right?

OSTERHOLM: We've got to try to stop them. But the other part, Larry, is that right now in this country we run our public health system as if we were trying to run our air traffic control towers with tin cans and string. In many states there are only one or two people who are involved with surveillance or understanding how often these diseases occur. What's going to be happening is, we're going to need a public health infrastructure --people actually in the public health world that respond to West Nile Virus, responded to other things, who in turn can respond quickly in identifying smallpox as occurring.

We need laboratories that can quickly identify it, so that we can actually surround it quickly. And frankly, it's going to be that early response that's going to keep the whole country from having serious problems. And right now, that is a point we have to get across that's being missed, unfortunately.

KING: You stated it well and we're going to ask you to come back again. Thank you, doctor.

OSTERHOLM: Thank you very much, Larry.

KING: Dr. Michael Osterholm from Minneapolis, bio-terrorism expert, author of "Living Terror." And earlier, Willie Lee of Belle Glade, Florida, general manager of that crop-dusting business.

Lee Greenwood is next. A reminder: Senators John McCain and Bob Graham will be with us tomorrow night. We'll be right back with Lee. Don't go away.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, the renowned Country & Western singer, Lee Greenwood. He performed yesterday at Yankee Stadium, doing his famous "God Bless the USA." What was that like, Lee, to be part of that scene?

LEE GREENWOOD, COUNTRY & WESTERN SINGER: Well, it was very emotional. I was very anxious. I had an anxious moment as I walked onstage. Of course, President Clinton was behind me and Mayor Giuliani and the governor of New York and Oprah Winfrey, and a huge contingency of wonderful people who were there for the -- all for the right reasons. And I had this anxious moment like, am I being reverent enough? You know, is this the right thing to do? And suddenly this outpouring from the audience of flag-waving people jumping up and singing along with me was a wonderful feeling. You know, to know that I was doing some good.

KING: How did you come to write that now-historic song?

GREENWOOD: You know, it was another plane crash. I wrote the song in 1983. And when Korean Airliner was shot down in Russia, 007, it was an atrocity that needed to be answered and I put the pen to the paper. But it wasn't the first sing I ever wanted to write about America, but I knew it was a positive moment and was time to write something like that. I really wanted to make sure that America had heard the feelings of people who needed to be proud again.

KING: It sure stuck. And since this occurrence of September 11, you must have received hundreds of invitations to go everywhere and sing this, right?

GREENWOOD: Yes, sir, and I've done the best I can to get around. I actually was sequestered in Los Angeles, with everything who wasn't able to fly. I haven't been home yet.

I actually flew from -- with a private aircraft to get out of Los Angeles. We canceled most of our shows that weekend, like everybody else did, out of respect to the people who had perished. We flew to Michigan and then Tennessee for a moment, and then Iowa, where I had a veterans' affair that was extremely moving. Then we went to the Rockies game and I sang the national anthem and "USA" and "God Bless America," and it was, again, an outpouring of people who just were -- I mean, everybody watches the TV so much. They are so much aware, Larry, of what's going on. And I must compliment the media and what a great job you all have been doing, and to make sure we get all the information, country-wide -- worldwide.

KING: I understand you're going to visit military facilities in the next few weeks?

GREENWOOD: Yes, I am. I'm going to do as much as I can. I think it's really necessary. We all have to be strong. As Mayor Giuliani said, the best thing you can do for New York is to get out and go see a show, spend some money, get back to life as normal. I heard this message from many of the people who are running our country, and I think us, as role models, need to do the same thing. We have to show an air of confidence at this point and make sure the rest of the country gets that from us. Because everybody has this fear in the back of our minds about what might happen and what's going to happen as we begin the war on terrorism.

KING: Lee, you've inspired millions of Americans. And as we leave you, we're going to hear your song over a montage of events of yesterday, and we thank you very much, and continued good luck.

GREENWOOD: Thank you, Larry.


GREENWOOD (singing): From the lakes of Minnesota to hills of Tennessee, across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea, from Detroit down to Houston and New York to L.A., pride in every American heart and it's time we stand and sing...

I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me, and I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, because there ain't no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA! Sing it!

And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me. And I gladly stand up next to you, and defend her still today, because there ain't no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA!




KING: Stay tuned next for a CNN Special Report with Aaron Brown and Jeff Greenfield. This is now Aaron Brown's permanent time spot, following this program every night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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