CNN LARRY KING LIVE
America's New War: Different Ways to Attack Terrorism
Aired September 25, 2001 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will starve the terrorists of funding.
LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE (voice-over): Tonight, President Bush launches an attack against terrorists, freezing their money supply, while terrorist suspect number one 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 of Arkansas, a member of the Armed Services Committee.
And California's Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Then with cropdusters grounded amid fears of terrorism, from Minneapolis, bioterrorism expert, Dr. Michael Osterholm.
And in Belle Glade, 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera): 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, Yassar Arafat.
SHIMON PERES, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: The stories that prime minister has asked that there will be 48 hours of complete tranquillity before I shall meet Arafat. And it is very hard to achieve, because Arafat, too, doesn't control every single person that uses a rifle.
But today we set a date, and once all of us were convinced that Arafat took it 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're 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 it's 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. Was that true?
PERES: It's very hard to make me angry, but there is disagreement, as it may happen in a democratic system, and we settled it out.
KING: How is it working between you, certainly it 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 life. I think it served the people rather well.
For example, the adaptation of the Mitchell Report, which would hardly be accepted by a rightist government, was expected by a union government. And also the nature of our response to terror and violence, our vision about the Middle East, is making advances. 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 the 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 their best sons, won wars, conquered countries, never kept anything for herself, offered always other people freedom, and security, and hope. Today America is living 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 commerce, to drink water. If in this world there will be an intervention of cold, crazy, fanatic people that are using modern equipment in order to kill indiscriminately. We are lucky to have the United States as a leader in reorganizing the world against such a terrible danger from an untold 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. First of all, we view ourselves not as the commander of this struggle, but a 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 American intelligence services all the time. We have the same dangers. And furthermore, we are deeply entrenched. 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 cause for an answer.
You know, there are so many places were crazy, cold, almost insane persons are running their people and endangering their neighbors that we have to have an overall stoppage against him.
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 to 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. I mean, 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 non 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 a 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 Von Essen, as you see a scene 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, the fire commissioner, Thomas Von Essen.
Commissioner, you have a total of 343 men, either deceased or missing, many you knew. How are you handling this personally?
THOMAS VON ESSEN, NYC FIRE COMMISSIONER: Well, I try not to think about it as far as how I'm handling it, you know. Because 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. And I love the guys. I love what we do. So I just keep going and try to remember it's not about me.
It's not about those of us that are firefighters that are trying to do this search, do the rescue. It's about the families of the 343 people that are missing or are already confirmed dead.
KING: Are you assuming them dead?
VON ESSEN: Well, I'm getting closer to assuming that everybody is 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 and the USAR teams, the Urban Search and Rescue teams, the police officers, everybody involved. It's been phenomenal. And I think that the longer that goes on, 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 for you, and the rest of the men and women?
VON ESSEN: Well I think it's -- you know people love the job. This has been an unbelievable tragedy of monumental proportions in the department. Everybody knows somebody. I mean, there's over 6,000 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, you know, they're down. But they'll be back up. They want to help. They want to be there. They want to be involved in the pile.
We have more people that want to be there than we can handle working there. So it's depressing and they're angry. They want to punish people who are at fault. They feel sorry for the families. They're grieving about losing the brothers that they worked with and they love. So there's every emotion you could possibly have is in this mix.
KING: There have been stories, fears, that maybe if they dig to aggressively, that 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 Engineer was brought in and we were assured that it's in good condition and it's monitored every day.
KING: How about a man power shortage in the fire department?
VON ESSEN: Well, I immediately promoted 172 people at every rank, deputy, battalion chief, lieutenant and captain. I wanted to send a message to anybody who thought that the Fire Department of 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 their job, people that are irreplaceable.
They're people who 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 60's and the 70's when we had 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 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. He 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: Yes, Timmy was about as special as you can get in the department. 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 we 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. 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.
FRESNO, CALIFORNIA: Hello. Thank you for taking my call. I wanted to find out from the commissioner, what did we learn from this attack that will provide in the future for prevention of so many firefighters' and policemen's deaths?
VON ESSEN: I mean, we're looking at that now. No one could have known. The size of those planes, the amount of jet fuel that they had, the impact and the collision and the resulting fire, the extreme heat that 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 is 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: You know, it's basic stuff for us. On a two-story building, it's not as dangerous, because you're only going to have 10 people inside the building. You get to be six stories, and then you get to be 20. And there are no elevators in this building. And we couldn't get quickly up to the floor. If we were able to get up quickly and survey the operation, maybe we would have known that the fire was so extensive, the jet fuel was such volume, that we would not have been able to put the fire out, that the building would be in danger of collapse.
If we could have gotten up there faster, maybe we would have known that. But we had to walk up. So it takes time.
KING: Where were you on September 11th, that morning?
VON ESSEN: I happen to see it right from the East River Drive. I was almost on the Brooklyn Bridge and we responded quickly. I was in the lobby of One World Trade Center when ...
KING: You saw it happen?
VON ESSEN: I saw just the 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 had a -- someone had a heart attack or something.
KING: You're a guy -- you're unique as these things go, probably nationally. You were head of the union, right? VON ESSEN: Yes, the biggest and best firefighter 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 of management and union here. The union has worked closely with us trying to help every one of the firefighters' 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 confidence. 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 every day 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 a team spirit, it's camaraderie. It's you get to sit around all day and you know 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 get enough active companies for the amount of people who want to work with them. It's the opposite from any jobs. We get more people who want to work where 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: A 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 as 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 individual maybe shouldn't that have been done sooner?
SEN. TIM HUTCHINSON (R), ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: Well perhaps it should but it was the right thing to do today and I commend the president for doing it. This is war. It's a multifaceted protracted war. And this is the first phase in it. And we've got to as the President said we've got to starve. We've got to dry up resources and know 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 is executive order.
KING: Senator, the President sent a letter, I don't know if you received it yet. It's 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 deployment and pre deployment and pre positioning of troops. And as a member of the emerging threats sub committee I wouldn't want to start speculating about when we might see action. But action we will see. And I think by the positioning of these troops the President has all of his options available to him when he's ready to move.
KING: Senator Brownback did you expect that?
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE.: The President to move to the troops and get them in position?
KING: Yeah, in many areas.
BROWNBACK: Absolutely. If you look at the terrorist threat that we're facing, you can easily look at 10 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 are where bin Laden has been headquartered, where a number of the 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 cosponsored a resolution condemning Taliban. What is it -- what do resolutions like that do? Or is it just verbiage.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE.: Absolutely not. Senator Brownback and I teamed up both when Clinton was President and also when Bush was President over the last several years 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 agreed with us. And we were very proud.
It actually came from the grass roots of my state, women in 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 burqa covered from head to toe, put in jail if you even hear their heal 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 was to defend the American way of life. But I think that that involves, and I think the President has made it clear that involves breaking the network. Breaking the capacity of global terrorism to inflict they kind of pain that they inflicted upon this country.
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 sell structure that's all over the world that allows them -- I think we can do that.
And 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 this buildings. It's in the spirit of the American people, the kind of unity we're seeing in Congress. The kind of unity we're seeing throughout this nation and the wave of patriotism. We can and we will and we must win this for our children.
KING: We'll be right back with Senator -- do you want to add something quickly? Go ahead Senator.
BOXER: Yes, very quickly. I think it's not only the American way of life. I think it's a life of free people everywhere. You know this attack was on our soil. It broke our hearts. It took lives of Americans. It also took lives of people from about 80 countries. So -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 can include some too for the senators. This is LARRY KING LIVE.
Among our guests tomorrow night will be Senator John McCain and Bob Graham, and singer Martina McBride with a note of inspiration as well. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We have developed the international equipment -- 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Senator Brownback you've 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 and it looks into Afghanistan. And it is a tough rugged region, populated by tough and 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 the 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's a southern group that's a good possibility. I've met with some people working with them today to try to get the Taliban out of power. And then work that 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 eight-year-old boy in North Little Rock. And I'll just share a piece of it. This is 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 of 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 PR, whether it's the special election in Arkansas, voters go out, people go out, they show the world and they show terrorist 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 pilots 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's 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's lot more we need to look at with this.
By the way, I think our first focus ahs to be the safety of our people. We're certainly supporting the President as he goes about what's he's 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.
KING: Well said.
BOXER: Because we don't want the terrorists to win this.
KING: Let me get a call in. Valliant, Oklahoma, hello.
VALLIANT, OKLAHOMA: 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 to 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 and 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, you know 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, yeah, go ahead.
BROWNBACK: Yeah 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 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.
To the degree that 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. You know 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 you 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: Let me get one more quick call, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, hello.
LAWRENCEBURG, KENTUCKY: 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: Yeah, I don't know how we could be -- I don't know if angry is the world. But there's a lot of resolve and a lot of determination.
But remember this 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 al 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's probably going to be more loss of life in this war that 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. He 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 of 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 or "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 the 11th. And as soon as that happened it dawned on us that it was kind of odd that that many Middle Eastern people to be coming back for six to eight weeks before there. And asking the particular questions 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 we -- I talked to them -- I actually talked to them very little. We was working and busy and I wouldn't get over and talk to them enough not give them any information or anything. We wouldn't tell them anything about the equipment.
KING: And Willie, one employee at the airport has identified Mohammed 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 the FBI showed me those pictures I couldn't pick out any of them and say that I definitely -- they were definitely there just simply because I didn't pay attention to them when they came up there.
Now this man that works there, he's worked for me off and on for 20 years. And very trustworthy. And as soon as he's seen that picture, he says this man's been on the airport twice. And he even remembered the day because it was his sisters birthday. And we was trying to get away from the airport. And he kept holding him up there, asking him questions about airplanes and the first thing and then another. And he had to just about run -- 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: I guess you thought about that as soon as you heard about all of this?
LEE: Yeah, we heard about it but it would be even -- it would be very difficult for somebody to take one of those airplanes.
LEE: Well the airplane is not -- the turban engines are not easily started. I mean you just don't turn a key on like you do an automobile or ordinary airplane. You've got a process ap to go through to start them.
KING: Thanks, Willie. Thanks, again. We've got limited time. We'll call on you again. Willie Lee, both the stories get 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, Dr.?
DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM, BIO-TERRORISM EXPERT: Absolutely. In fact, there have 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 OS Technology (ph) Assessment to look at what would happen if that plane could effectively -- put out roughly 120 pounds of anthrax over the city of Washington, D.C., and with that they concluded that there would be up to 1.4 million deaths. I think we have to be careful not extrapolate that kind of result to say that what would happen 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 in a suit case. I mean 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 of the panic buttons. Any time we have an outbreak in this country there's a certain sense of panic and fear. And I think that's what the terrorists are trying to broil upon here, in terms of not only inflicting morbidity and mortality but understanding the fear.
And remember, with the biologic weapon, unlike the kind of situation where you had 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 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 governmental officials understand that the response to a biologic agent is going to be very, very different than response to a chemical or a bomb agent.
KING: Obviously. Let's get a call in to Dr. Osterholm. Niagara Falls, hello.
NIAGRA FALLS: 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 re-vaccinated if the need arose?
OSTERHOLM: Well actually you've combined really several important points in one questions. First of all, for smallpox, 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 the case of myself and others, if you were vaccinated more than 20 or 30 years ago which is 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 world wide basis, we have never been this susceptible with smallpox going all the way back to antiquity.
The problem is we didn't start quick enough. And we are a long ways from having an adequate vaccine supply. We know that. We've 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 of these other agents. Was he wrong?
OSTERHOLM: Right. Well you know actually I have a great deal of respect for Senator Kerry, and I think he's one of the real nations leaders.
But one of the problems we have, Larry, is Senator Kerry was 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 that they will occur by themselves will be very serious situations.
KING: So then the King here is way upgrading information and understanding of who's bringing it in and how to stop them, right?
OSTERHOLM: We've go 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 O'Hare air traffic control tower with tin cans and strings.
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, respond to these other things, who in turn can respond quickly and identify when smallpox is occurring.
We need laboratories that can quickly identify it so that we can actually surround it quickly. And it frankly is going to be that early response that is' going to keep the whole country from having serious problems. And right now that's a point we have to get across as being missed unfortunately.
KING: You've stated it well. And we're going to ask you to come back again. Thank you, Dr.
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.
We now welcome to, Larry,King Live the renowned country and 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, MUSICIAN: It was very emotional. I was very anxious, I had an anxious moment as I walked on stage. 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? Am I -- you know is this the right thing to do? And suddenly this outpouring from the audience of flag waving and people jumping up and singing along with me, which was a wonderful feeling to know that I was doing some good.
KING: How did you come write that now historic song?
GREENWOOD: You know it was another plane crash. I wrote this song in 1983. And when a Korean airliner was shot down in Russia, 007, it was an atrocity that needed to be answered. And I put the pent to the paper. But it wasn't the first song I ever wanted to write about America, but I knew it was a positive moment. And it 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. Since this occurrence of September 11th. 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 everybody else 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 back to Tennessee for a moment. And then Iowa, we had a veterans' affair which was extremely moving. Then we went to the Rockies, sang at 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're so much aware, Larry,of what's going on. And I must compliment the media on what a great job you all have been doing. And to make sure we get all of the information country wide, worldwide.
KING: And you're I understand 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 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've heard this message from many of the people who are running our country.
And I think us as role models need to do that 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. 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. Is it difficult journalistically as an anchor, reporter to just cover one story all of the time?
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