CNN LARRY KING LIVE
America Strikes Back: Interview With Richard Shelby and Carl Levin
Aired October 19, 2001 - 21:00 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.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, U.S. military action in Afghanistan enters a significant new phase. We'll talk with the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin. He's in Detroit. From Tuscaloosa Senator Richard Shelby, ranking member on the Select Intelligence Committee. In Washington, retired Air Force Colonel Randall Larsen, director of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security. In San Diego, retired Admiral William Owens, former vice chairman, joint chiefs of staff. In Washington, former NATO supreme allied commander, retired General George Joulwan. We'll also get an anthrax update from the surgeon general, Dr. David Satcher.
Then her husband was one of the heroes of Flight 93. Today, Lisa Beamer took the airline trip he never finished.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Our closing musical selection later tonight will feature John Mellencamp live from New York.
Let's start with Senator Carl Levin. He's in Detroit. Senator Richard Shelby. He is in Tuscaloosa.
Senator Levin, what can you tell us about this significant new phase?
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I can't tell you anything more than what you've already reported except it should come as a surprise to nobody. There's been hints about this for the last couple of days.
I expect -- and this is not based on any inside information, because I would not disclose that -- but I would expect that you're going to see a gradual ratcheting up of pressure on the Taliban militarily from a number of different directions. And so this is surely no surprise.
KING: Senator Shelby, ground troops in the north, from the west, where?
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL), VICE CHAIRMAN, SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I can't say where or anything like that, Larry, but I can tell you that this is a measured campaign. This is a step-up, and I believe you'll see more in the days ahead. KING: Do we -- we know it's a small amount, Senator Levin, but they're calling it significant. Is that a contradiction in terms?
LEVIN: No, I think it's not. It is -- what is significant is that now there is an acknowledgement that there are American ground forces on the ground in Afghanistan, that that's going to have an impact both militarily and I think psychologically on the Taliban. But there is going to be a gradual process, I believe, because it's a complicated process. And during this period of gradualism here, as we're tightening the noose, it seems to me a lot of important things can be done, including the gathering together, the coordination, hopefully gathering the support of a number of opposition forces in Afghanistan, so this can truly at the end, when finally the bin Laden operation is destroyed, will be an Afghan operation, hopefully, if possible, supported by us.
I think it really would be, if practical and if possible, it would be desirable for Afghans to be at the least at the tip of this spear, which finally finishes the job, because this would certainly give the total lie to the propaganda that bin Laden is trying to perpetrate, promulgate that somehow or other that this is a war of the West against Islam, which it is not. And one of the ways to dramatize that will be when the Afghan forces get deeply involved in this war with our support.
KING: Senator Shelby, does this mean a taking down somewhat of the air involvement?
SHELBY: I wouldn't think so, because I -- I'm not the one to make those decisions. Secretary Rumsfeld and the chairman of the joint chiefs will make those decision with their people. But I do believe that we're going to step this fight up and we're going to bring it to a conclusion. And that's very important. And as Senator Levin said, we're trying to -- and I believe we'll be successful -- in getting a lot of help from the Afghanistan people themselves and a lot of their people as they see what's going to happen.
We are going to make a difference. We're going to carry it to a conclusion, and we're going to win it.
KING: Senator Levin, Secretary Rumsfeld said today that the military mission will be complete when the Taliban government, the al Qaeda group are gone, that is what this is all about. Gone means, Senator Levin, gone-gone.
LEVIN: I think it's gone surely as we know it. There may be elements, according to Secretary Powell, there could be some elements of the Taliban that could be part of a broader coalition, but not the Taliban as we know it, not the leadership as we know it. But the Pashtunis, the Pashtuns have got to be a major part of a coalition. They are the majority in Afghanistan. It is important that they coalesce with the northern groups and some of the other opposition groups that already exist in Afghanistan so that there's a broad coalition.
That is important in terms of the ultimate success, and it's also important in terms of keeping Pakistan fully on board, I believe.
But one way or another, this is going to end successfully. I think that there is going to be even greater coordination than we have seen so far between U.S. air forces and airpower, and opposition forces on the ground as this unfolds.
KING: If it comes down, Senator Shelby, the Taliban regime comes down, does the United States consult with the U.N.? Do we get into nation-building? What's our involvement post this?
SHELBY: Well, basically, whether you want to call it nation building or not, we're going to have to be involved with our allies in the restructuring and bringing some institutional help to the people of Pakistan. And we're already looking down the road past the Taliban to the government that would come about and the people that would make up the government. I hope we're successful.
One thing I thought we did in 10, 12 years ago was leave: When the Russians left, we basically left Pakistan and we basically left Afghanistan, and a vacuum occurred. We cannot let that happen again.
KING: Senator Levin, do you expect this to widen to Iraq?
LEVIN: No, not in the short term. I would hope that the dynamic totally changes, however, relative to terrorism. When you look at Afghanistan now, we find that the countries surrounding Afghanistan are now coalescing against the Taliban.
We look at Russia -- there's an opportunity here for a whole new positive relationship with Russia. We look at Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, who are now on our side. Pakistan has clearly thrown their lot in with us. Even Iran has now given an indication that they will assist us if there are any pilots that are shot down in Iran. And there are other ways in which Iran can be helpful, other signals.
So we have the possibility of some real dynamic changes in this world, which would put the squeeze on some of the countries like Iraq, who have been supported by Russia, for instance, or at least not given a tough time by Russia. That can change now if we're successful, and I'm going to say when we're successful in Afghanistan.
So we're going to keep the heat on Iraq, keep one eye on Iraq. But I don't think we should be doing anything at this time but focusing all of our energies on Afghanistan, putting together the coalition, which will end the bin and the Al Qaeda regime.
KING: Agree or disagree, Senator Shelby?
SHELBY: I basically agree. I believe the dynamics will be changed appreciably after the Taliban is overthrown and we get another government in place, help them build this government economically, politically and militarily. And the message is going to go out that there is a different message, there is a different dynamic in the whole area, and it's going to be positive. But it's not there yet. It's not going to be easy. KING: Senator Levin, President Bush was rather strong in his statements about our friendship with China. Is that going to be on the upgrade with all of this?
LEVIN: I think so. China has indicated some very strong opposition now to terrorist activities, and this tragedy, which killed 6,000 of our innocent lives in America, could lead to a very significant strategic shift in the world, and make the countries that have tolerated terrorism or helped assist terrorists -- like Iraq, like Iran, like Libya -- be so totally isolated, be on the outs, no longer being given any support of any kind by China hopefully, no more support from Russia, we could see a very major change in this world, and an anti-terrorist effort that is very coherent, cohesive, comprehensive, which can, I think, change the entire environment against terrorism.
KING: Senator Shelby, would you describe the military operation thus far to this minute as successful?
SHELBY: I would. And even as Secretary Rumsfeld and others have said, we're in to a second, third, perhaps fourth phase now. There will be other phases. But it has been measured. It has been stepped up. And we've got a plan, we're executing the plan, and we're going to bring it to a conclusion. We're not backing away. And we're going to win.
KING: We're going to take a break, and when we come back, Colonel Randall Larsen, U.S. Army retired, will join us and will talk about anthrax. Senators Levin and Shelby will remain. I'm Larry King. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As you all know, I committed American troops to a very important cause in the last couple of weeks, and I did so with the full confidence that our military is the best in the world. The American people have got the full confidence that our military will fulfill its mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now in Washington, joining Senator Levin in Detroit and Senator Shelby in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is Colonel Randall Larsen, U.S. Army retired -- been a very frequent guest on this program -- director of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security. Their Web site, as we remind you, is homelandsecurity.org.
And, Colonel Larsen, would you say now, with the reports today at "The New York Post," a "New York Times" reporter in Rio de Janeiro that we are close to a panic stage?
RANDALL LARSEN, DIRECTOR, ANSER INSTITUTE FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, no. I haven't seen any panic in the streets here in Washington, D.C., Larry, but... KING: But there are people running to emergency rooms.
LARSEN: Yes. And I'm a little bit worried about that.
And, I'll tell you, one of the reasons that I'm concerned about this is -- let me say, a lot of the press have been doing a great job reporting this. But there have some folks who have made great rushes to get their stories out on deadline. This is not some light story about elected officials having little problems and everyone wants to get the first rumor on evening news. This is serious national security business.
And we need to remember that accuracy is much more important than speed. So I have seen some stories in newspapers and on the TV that scared me more than the terrorists have. We have had one person die since the 4th of October of anthrax. In that same period, we have had 1,600 people die in automobile accidents, OK? Anthrax is not contagious. Fear can be.
So we need to keep this under control. And I just have been very pleased with the performance in the last two days I have seen from Secretary Ridge in the press conferences they have been having in communicating to the American public. And this is not a high-tech attack. And that has been something that was misreported here by a major newspaper just a couple nights ago. And they were saying this is military-quality stuff and everything.
I talked to that reporter before they went to file the story. And I said, you know: "Tell me what the particle size. Tell me what the sporulation rate was." And the reporter didn't even know what I was talking about. If you don't have the facts and the details, you need to be careful what you are reporting.
KING: Senator Levin, do you agree with what Colonel Larsen is saying?
LEVIN: Very much so.
We have just simply got to be commonsensical and calm. The most important thing we all should remember is that, even if one is exposed -- and that is rare -- even for those people that are exposed, antibiotics do the job. It is that direct. It is that simple. It should give everybody confidence. And we all ought to go about our business in a commonsensical, calm way, and not in any way be distracted by scare stories or horror stories or headlines.
KING: But, Senator Shelby, it hit your majority leader.
SHELBY: Well, I can tell you, I believe, Larry, that people need to be calm. I'm one, as you know, that has been tested twice for exposure. The results have been negative twice.
And I have been telling people all along that anthrax is not that contagious. There are a lot of things out there that would be, but this is not one of them. And should we be concerned? Yes. But should we panic and hide and run? No. Let's don't do that, because everything is going to work out. I have confidence, Larry, in our basic investigative tools, the FBI, the postal people, that they are going to find out who is doing this. And this is going to help calm a lot of the stories that are coming out today.
But we do need to know and we need to put an end to it.
KING: Colonel, when you did your dark winter scenario, your bioterrorism simulation, smallpox was one of the ingredients, right?
LARSEN: That is correct. That was the primary agent used, yes.
KING: Do you fear that now?
LARSEN: No, I don't, because -- we chose smallpox because that was the worst-case scenario, the least likely scenario. We wanted to over stress the system so we could have some lessons learned to see what we needed to work on for some other sort of biological attack. The purpose was not to make it realistic. It was a very unrealistic scenario, but it was a good test of the system.
Now, we are making a lot more smallpox vaccine right now. And so people have asked me, "Well, hey, if it is not really a threat, why are we making more smallpox?" Well, my answer is pretty simple. How many people do you know had their houses burned down last year? I don't know anybody. But I still pay my homeowners insurance. And that is really what this smallpox vaccine is going to be: homeowners insurance, Larry.
KING: Would you vaccinate more people -- by the way, is the Senate -- Senator Levin, are you vaccinated for smallpox? There were stories around that the Senate and the military are vaccinated.
LEVIN: No, not since I was kid. And, apparently, that vaccination doesn't last as long.
But I really agree with the colonel. This is an insurance policy. When we get enough vaccine, a decision will be made whether or not we all ought to be inoculated simply as protection against an extraordinarily unlikely event. This is the most difficult of all substances to obtain by any terrorist. It is only located, we think, in two locations: one in the United States, one in Russia -- very secure, very safe.
I just think that the scare stories should be saved for Halloween night, and we ought to just simply do things in a commonsensical way, and listen to scientific people, listen to the medical people. We are told that, for instance, -- back to anthrax -- that antibiotics, we have lots of them. More than one type will work -- and just go about our business way.
KING: Is it odd for you, Senator Shelby, that there wasn't talk about anthrax before September 11, and now suddenly we are seeing it? I mean, does it -- do the dots connect?
SHELBY: Well, they do. There has been talk about. A lot of the military people have been inoculated against it, and all. For years, we have been dealing with it. But it has never spread to the public domain like it has.
I believe this. What we've got to do, Larry, is listen to our public health officials, the people who know a lot about contagious diseases and chemical and bioterrorism. And if we do this, at end of the day, we are going to be OK. We are going to have that insurance. And I believe that our public officials, the people for the Centers for Disease Control. The head of the Centers for Disease Control I believe is Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, that you had...
KING: He's been on, yes, twice.
SHELBY: ... on CNN several times. I thought he was one of the most informative and one of the most calming influences I have seen on television.
LEVIN: And the majority leader, Senator Daschle, I've got to say, with 30 people in his office who were exposed, was extremely calm, because he knew that antibiotics would do the job.
KING: All right, Colonel Larsen, what do you do with -- are we contradictory here when we say, "Don't worry, but be cautionary; do this, but watch that"?
LARSEN: No. No. I mean...
KING: Are we are creating two bouncing balls?
LARSEN: No. Every day in this country, about an average of 112 people die in car accidents. So we are going to say
KING: No. But if we learned that there were implants put into the car and the cars were careening off the road based on something put in the gas tank, yes, we would be concerned.
LARSEN: Yes. Yes.
But the important thing is, it's like wearing our seat belts. And that's just showing good caution. And so we need to be alert. I don't think the threat to this nation is from biological warfare right now. I think five to 10 years down the road, we need to be taking it very seriously, doing a lot of research and development now to prepare for that.
What I'm most concerned about today are car bombs, suitcase bombs. Someone just told me they found some C-4 in a locker in a bus station Philadelphia or something.
KING: In Philadelphia.
LARSEN: Yes. So, yes, that is what we should expect. We are really disrupting the terrorist operations. The FBI is doing a great job at home. The military is doing a great job overseas. But the attorney general said there are still a couple hundred in the country. They are going to fall back on what they know best. And those are simple explosions. So we do need to be alert.
KING: Would you agree, Senator Levin, that the average citizen, the average guy in the street is more concerned about the biological than the taking of an airplane?
LEVIN: Yes, I do.
And I think that the biological threat is a real one. I'm just saying that the anthrax exposure that we have had can be contained and contained with antibiotics. But the colonel really makes an important point here. We've got to keep a focus on terrorists and the likely means that they will use to attack us.
And that is that items that he talked about. These are car bombs, trucks, ships and those kind of things. Just because we think that anthrax is easily contained and controllable -- which it is with antibiotics -- doesn't mean that we should be naive about the terrorists trying to attack us in this country. Those efforts are going to continue. And we should focus the majority of our resources, it seems to me, on where the likely terrorist threats are, rather than worrying about where the attack is with the anthrax envelopes, which are -- you can deal with, with the antibiotics.
KING: Senator Shelby, is there enough antibiotics around?
SHELBY: Well, I hope it is. I basically trust our public health people to deal with it.
I believe, in the years ahead, we are going to be more prepared. I believe this brought the attention of real potential for bioterrorism to the United States of America. It's resonating in the Congress and it's going to be out there with the people. The people are concerned about it. They're concerned about the immediate and in the future. And if we deal with the immediate and think about the future and do something about it, we can protect our people.
KING: Colonel Larsen, going to get worse before it gets better?
LARSEN: It may, but I'll tell you the Americans I'm most worried about tonight, Larry, and those are the ones flying F-18s and F-14s and B-1s over Afghanistan, the folks that are flying C-17s and dropping food to a lot of hungry people over there right now. And now there's reports that we may have some troops on the ground. Those are the Americans I'm concerned about, and I think the best way for America to support them is to go about their jobs, go to work, go to football games tomorrow, and carry on with our lives, and support the troops, Larry.
KING: Thank you all very much. Senators Carl Levin, Richard Shelby and Colonel Randall Larsen of the ANSER Institute. When we come back, Admiral William Owens, United States Navy retired, former vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and General George Joulwan, former NATO supreme allied commander, two of the top military folks around. We'll get their thoughts, and later John Mellencamp will do our closing musical number. And we'll also check in with the surgeon general. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM RIDGE, DIRECTOR, HOMELAND SECURITY: Every day, the Office of Homeland Security is looking to enhance or improve our prevention capability and our response capability, our borders and our ports of entry are tighter, our airports and aircraft get progressively more secure. As reported today, Reagan National Airport is now expanding its flight operations to include more flights. And our water supply, power plants, dams, and other critical infrastructures are being guarded and strengthened as well.
Many of these new security measures are clearly visible, but many, many more are not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE from San Diego, Admiral William Owens, United States Navy retired, former vice chairman of the joint chiefs, former commander of the Sixth Fleet, was senior military assistant to Dick Cheney when Cheney was secretary of defense. And in Washington, General George Joulwan, United States Army retired, former NATO supreme allied commander, former commander in chief of the U.S. European command.
This item in: A special forces operation involving U.S. combat troops is under way in Afghanistan. Sources have confirmed to CNN a modest number of troops are involved. It's called a significant new phase. The president on a visit to China had a one-hour brief video conference with his national security team Saturday morning China time to be briefed on the operation. What do you make of it, Admiral Owens?
RET. ADM. WILLIAM OWENS, FORMER VICE CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Well, you know, Larry, I think it is an important new phase in this operation. Clearly, we have the ability to control the skies, and we have the ability to catch these guys on the ground, these Taliban, al Qaeda forces by surprise. We want them to feel like we are in charge, and this is the beginning of a phase where we can operate where we want to and surprise them, be in and out quickly, and start to tighten that noose around their necks.
So I think this is an important next phase, and I think it's one that will lead to success in the tactical sense on the ground here in Afghanistan.
KING: General, what's your read?
RET. GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, a little bit different. I think what you're going to see is special operating forces that will be working with the Taliban -- excuse me -- with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban in a way to provide actionable intelligence for air and other assets to be used.
These special forces, I've used them in Bosnia, very effective. They are small teams that provide good communications, good intelligence. They can provide artillery. So I think you're going to see that.
You're not going to see, as we saw in Desert Storm, tanks at this point rushing across the desert, but small teams operating to gain this intelligence and to make the opposition forces more effective.
KING: And General, what kind of troops are they?
JOULWAN: You're talking about our troops, these are very small, well-trained, highly well-trained. America should be proud of them. They're the best we have. They are very good at what they do. They're language trained. And they, in my opinion, have been there for sometime trying to establish this rapport with the opposition leaders.
So I think they could provide the actionable intelligence, and if we have to bring in larger numbers of U.S. forces for specific operations, these are the ones that will provide the good intelligence, the eyes and ears on the ground. And that's what they provide, but they're small, seven- to 10- to 12-man teams.
KING: Admiral, do you expect the Navy to remain involved? Will planes still be taking off from ships? Are the air attacks going to continue?
OWENS: Well, I think the Navy will stay involved, Larry. This is obviously, though, a joint activity. This is, as George Joulwan said, special forces on the ground. We are organized against the Taliban. We're organized jointly against the Taliban.
The Navy will be a part of it, but you know, we're seeing lot of very interesting things happen in this campaign. We're seeing Army helicopters, operating off the deck of an aircraft carrier. I think this is the first time that's happened in decades.
We're seeing a great emphasis now on these unmanned drones, the Predator, with real capability to see what's going on, on the ground, to pass that information to the special forces. And we're seeing a lot of the joint activities coming together with new technologies, new technologies of high bandwidth interfaces among these various platforms. And it's a little bit of a glimpse into a future kind of warfare that is very relevant for this new world.
And of course, the Navy is involved with those carriers. They're important. But this is a joint activity.
KING: General, isn't the technology superiority way in favor of the American forces? JOULWAN: Absolutely.
KING: Like night and day.
JOULWAN: Well, but, look, I've made it a rule, never underestimate your enemy. And we have to understand that this is a different enemy than we faced in the past. And we have a lot of high- tech and great advantage in many areas.
But in the end, I think it's going to require some sort of ground action, whether that's by the opposition northern and southern alliances, some action on the ground, and that time is coming. And that will be low-tech in many cases.
We can provide a lot of information, but in the end it's going to be those sorts of ground elements that will provide success in the end. So I think we have to be very careful, even though we have a lot of high-tech and very important systems, that we don't -- that we don't underestimate the enemy we're facing.
KING: Let's take a call. Boca Raton for Admiral Owens and General Joulwan, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. How are you?
CALLER: Good. I have a question. One of the gentleman on the panel before, prior to just a little bit ago, mentioned that there were about three or four phases that had already gone through to attacks on Afghanistan. And I was wondering of the three or four phases mentioned, how many do there intend to be approximately or do we have any idea?
KING: How long is it going to take, Admiral, to get rid of the Taliban? That's what Rumsfeld said is the goal.
OWENS: Yeah. I think it is a long-term campaign, Larry. I think that is the goal, to get ride of al Qaeda and to get rid of the Taliban. This -- we have to be prepared. As George Joulwan said, there's a lot of uncertainty on the ground. We can use a lot of this new technology and make a difference. But we have to just hang in there. We have to persevere. We have to be there until it's finished. And we don't know how long it's going to take. We may go into phase three and four, and it may take a lot longer than we may think.
But I think the administration has been warning us that this is a long-term campaign, not only in Afghanistan, but the other bin Laden organizations in dozens of countries around the world. So we have to get ourselves ready.
Our men and women in the military are ready. And I think America has to be ready as well, to support them and this effort that will take a long time. KING: General, we hear long-term. We know about the size of Afghanistan, the size of the United States, the difference in military power. What is the big problem, militarily, we face?
JOULWAN: Well, I think the key to me is that the center of gravity, as we'd like to call it, for the Taliban is its military. And so the challenge is going to be to disrupt, to find, to fix and destroy the Taliban military. And by doing that, I think you eliminate the Taliban.
It's like taking hay away from the haystack and to find the needle. If that needle is bin Laden, you've got to strip away the Taliban and strip away the military of the Taliban. And that's the phase we're going into now.
To answer to the lady's question for the operational commander, he has several phases in here, to try to get at this objective, that I think they're trying to get at, which is eliminate the Taliban and Bin Laden. And we're going through the air superiority phase. We're now going through targeting, I think, the Taliban military. And that's going to take eyes and ears on the ground. And the best eyes and ears on the ground are going to be our special forces.
The final phase will be some sort of, I hope, civil military integrated staff that would come in and restore some form, whether it's the democracy or government in Afghanistan. And that's a long way off.
KING: Algonquin, Illinois, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Do we have security measures in place to make sure that Osama bin Laden has not left Afghanistan? Or do we know that he has not left Afghanistan?
OWENS: Well, I think that's really a good question. I think all of us would like to know that and the American public. And I suspect that our many intelligence organizations and the President, Secretary of Defense, the National Security team knows a lot more about this on a day-to-day basis.
But my guess is that it's hard. We're doing everything we can with all the resources that the military and the various agencies have at hand, to know where he is, but it's never certain. I'm sure that there could be surprises.
I do think here, though, that Secretary Rumsfeld's statements are very important. He didn't mention today that I heard Osama bin Laden. He talked about the Taliban and the al Qaeda organization.
The goal here is not just Afghanistan. It is really that organization, that network around the world. And we have to take that network down. That's what this is about. And I think that's what's critical, not just the location physically of Osama bin Laden. But clearly, we're looking at where he is, because he is a leader of their team, of their organization. And we are trying to find him. I'm not sure we know quite a lot about that.
JOULWAN: I think he's still in Afghanistan, but regardless, you want to take down not just bin Laden, but as has been said, this sanctuary that has been a sanctuary for terrorism, its camps, its training. I'm concerned if bin Laden is taken out and someone else comes in, and the apparatus is still there, you're going to be faced with this problem years down the road.
So it's a much larger objective than just bin Laden, but I think he's still there. And I think -- I don't know this for fact, but I think our intelligence agencies have a pretty good idea that he's still in Afghanistan.
KING: Let's take another call. Hamilton, Texas, hello.
CALLER: Yes, sir.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: I was just wondering, you know, 10 years ago, we helped out Osama bin Laden. So how do we know that in 10 years the Northern Alliance isn't going to become another bin Laden?
KING: Yes. What do we know and when do we know it, admiral? That's true. We did help bin Laden against the Russians.
OWENS: Yeah, you know, I think it is a part of the world we're all learning a lot about. And one of the things that seems to me is to do just as the administration is doing now, to assist the Northern Alliance, but also remembering what Senator Levin said. It is the Pashtun, the 40 percent of the 26 million people, who are generally in the southern part of Afghanistan, that we have to bring into this fight.
So it's not just one element, the Northern Alliance. It's many other of these tribal cultures and tribal leaders. And we need to leave in place, it seems to me, the culture of the leadership of the tribes, balanced against one another. That's the way it has been for hundreds of years, before the Taliban arrived. And not necessarily to leave a new dominant force there that can be negative.
KING: General, what problem does winter bring?
JOULWAN: It's a big problem. I had to face this in Bosnia when we had to do winter campaign in December of '95. It is a challenge. And I think that what we're seeing between now and perhaps four weeks from now, I truly believe there has to be some success on the ground before winter sets in.
That doesn't mean everything stops, but it really slows you down. And the same thing, some issue has to be made with Ramadan, which begins on 17. We have to take into it consideration. Whether it stops our operations or not, I doubt that. But it is something that has to be taken into consideration. I think winter and Ramadan are two issues that need to be made. So political decisions, and as I said the other day, that I think are our military actions are ahead of our political decisions right now.
KING: We'll be calling on both of you again. By the way, do both of you miss being in the hunt? Admiral and general, do you miss being part of the decision-making here?
OWENS: I do, Larry.
KING: Do you, general?
JOULWAN: Yes, I do, but we got some good troops out there. I know many of these commanders, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Our country's in good hands.
KING: Thank you both very much, Admiral William Owens and General George Joulwan. When we come back, the Surgeon General of the United States. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The military role will be over there, when the Taliban and the al Qaeda are gone. Gone. I mean that's what this about. The United States has said that it's going to take the effort to the terrorists. And the terrorists are in -- among other places, are in Afghanistan. And that is what this is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Dr. David Satcher, the Surgeon General of the United States, a return visit. Late item breaking, "The New York Times" is e-mailing employees, telling them that their reporter in Rio de Janeiro has received an envelope of some kind, that's tested positive for spores. What do you make of that, Dr. Satcher? We've just learned of it and probably you are, too.
DAVID SATCHER, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: I am just learning of it. And I think it means that the attacks continue. And we have to continue to be vigilant. It's sad, but I think as long as these threats and the takes continue, we have to continue to maintain high alert in the public health system, but also in our individual lives.
KING: What can you tell us about the situation in New Jersey and at "The New York Post"?
SATCHER: Well, as you know, we have just learned today that the person at "The New York Post" was indeed positive. She had been taking antibiotics. And therefore, the original tests were negative. But using a special test of a biopsy, the CDC determined today that she was indeed positive for anthrax.
The good news, of course, is that she has been on treatment now for several days. KING: Big difference Dr. Satcher, between exposed and infected, right?
SATCHER: Very big difference. To date, there have been, as you know, seven people infected, documented to be infected. One died of inhalation anthrax. Another person is diagnosed with inhalation anthrax. And the other five have cutaneous anthrax, which is a very treatable disease, by the way.
But I do want to say one thing, Larry about exposed. And this is especially relevant to the situation on Capitol Hill. There are several people who were presumed exposed, because they were in the area of the fifth and sixth floor near Senator Daschle's office on Monday. And they will be treated for the full 60 days, not because they necessarily had a positive nasal swab test, but because the environment has tested positive. And therefore, we have to assume that they were exposed. And that's how we protect people.
KING: Antibiotic update. Do we have enough? I know that Senator Schumer has called upon the government to let the generic companies make the generic version of Cipro before the time has run to where they can make it in 2003. Do you agree with that or what?
SATCHER: Well, I think there are some legal issues involved there. But let me comment on the issue of whether we have enough. We feel that we have enough antibiotics. As you know, we now have enough to treat two million people for the full 60 days. And within the next 30 days, we should have enough to treat 12 million people for the full 60 days.
And our scientists, who project in terms of these kinds of attacks, would believe that that should be more than enough. However, we are in discussions that could in fact lead to an increase in that number. But we now have plans...
KING: Oh, possibly...
SATCHER: We now have plans that would provide up to 12 million people for 60 days. And that should be available within next 30 days or so. But these discussions are ongoing. And the pharmaceutical companies, I think, are being cooperative and trying to be very supportive in making sure that we have the antibiotics that we need.
KING: Cipro is very expensive. Would you say unequivocally that any American who gets anthrax or needs anthrax testing or needs the antibiotic will get it?
SATCHER: Well, yeah, but not necessarily Cipro. I think -- you know, what we do is we start everybody on Cipro, for the most part. And then after it's very clear that they're sensitive to other drugs like penicillin, doxycycline, then we put them on different drugs.
So they don't have to necessarily just stay on Ciprofloxacin. They can be changed to other drugs, doxycycline or amoxicillin drugs later on. And many are changed. So we're not just relying on Ciprofloxacin. KING: And those other drugs are less expensive?
SATCHER: Less expensive, but can be very effective against anthrax. And the only concern we have is whether in fact they are sensitive or resistant. And so, once we determine that they are sensitive, then people can be changed from Cipro to other drugs. And in many cases, they will be.
KING: What do you make of this apparently run on emergency rooms all over the country? Anybody who has any symptom. And I know New York City is reporting that health centers are overcrowded.
SATCHER: Well, there is a lot of anxiety throughout the country. There is terror. And so, we're trying very hard to reassure people, for example, that we can deliver the antibiotics when they're needed.
But I understand that many people are concerned. And that concern is probably going to continue for a while. I think the more we talk about this, and the more we educate people about the appropriate things to be concerned about, that will diminish somewhat. But this is a very tense time. So I think we understand how people are reacting.
And it does put a lot of pressure on the health care system. And that's why we had the conference with physicians all over the country yesterday. And I understand over 50,000 participated in that conference, talking about the role of the provider on the frontline.
KING: Dr. David Satcher, the Surgeon General.
Let's now go to the Pentagon, where our Pentagon chief Pentagon correspondent Jamie Mcintyre is standing by.
What's the latest on this troop movement, Jamie?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Larry, we've just finally got official confirmation from the Pentagon of this special operations mission conducted in the overnight hours in Afghanistan involving more than 100 special operations troops, including U.S. Army Rangers, went in by helicopter to conduct an operation against an unspecified target inside Afghanistan.
We're being told about it now because we're told all of the helicopters have cleared Afghani airspace after completing this mission of several hours. A U.S. official telling CNN that in fact an operation has taken place tonight involving U.S. special forces and Army Rangers.
There was a report apparently of two of helicopters crashing in Afghanistan. A U.S. official told us that they're not aware of any reports of any helicopters crashing in Afghanistan. But they are giving no word at this hour of whether there was -- the United States took any casualties, whether it took any prisoners, or exactly what the operation involved.
There will be a more complete accounting of what happened in this first venture of U.S. ground troops into Afghanistan at a Pentagon briefing, in all likelihood tomorrow morning. But at this hour, the Pentagon has not made any official announcement, but a U.S. official telling CNN, that the operation has been completed, an operation that was of several hours duration against an unspecified target in Afghanistan -- Larry.
KING: And where, Jamie, are they now?
MCINTYRE: Well, we are told that the helicopters have all cleared Afghan airspace. So they are presumably on their way back to their base, which we were just told was in the region. We're assuming that that's the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, which is in the Arabian Sea.
KING: So the troops have accomplished what they set out to accomplish, and they've gone back?
MCINTYRE: Well the U.S. -- no one has characterized the success or failure of the mission at this point. They simply told us it's been completed, that the troops are now out of harm's way, and that they'll have a further assessment for us later about exactly what it was all about.
KING: So at this moment, there are no ground troops present?
MCINTYRE: At this point, there are ground troops in other parts of Afghanistan, but these combat troops that went in have come back out.
KING: Thank you, Jamie, as always.
KING: Jamie Mcintyre at the Pentagon. When we come back, Lisa Beamer. Her husband was supposed to fly from Newark to San Francisco. He died in a plane field in Pennsylvania. She made that trip today. We'll talk to her, and then John Mellencamp will close us out musically. We'll be right back.
KING: By now you all know Lisa Beamer. Her husband, Todd, one of heroes of United flight 93, flying from Newark to San Francisco, died in the crash in Pennsylvania, as he and other passengers took the plane down. Lisa made that trip today. It's now flight number 81. How did it go?
LISA BEAMER, TOOK HERO HUSBAND'S FLIGHT: It went great. I'm here and I'm safe. And that is what I expected when I woke up this morning. So it was a good flight.
KING: Were at all nervous?
BEAMER: No. You know, I have that six weeks to kind of think through what happened on that flight, and kind of come to some amount of peace in terms with it. And no, I wasn't nervous today. I think it's probably one of the safest times to fly that we've had in recent history.
KING: Why did you make this flight?
BEAMER: I actually...
KING: It's now, by the way, flight number 81, right? They're never going to use 193 again?
BEAMER: Right it's flight 81. And I actually had an opportunity to come out to San Francisco today, to meet with actually the some of people that Todd was coming to meet with on the 11th at Oracle, which is the corporation where he worked, and introduce them to the foundation which we've established and in Todd's name, and give them an opportunity to partner with us in funding that, which they are going to do, which is exciting.
The foundation has a couple different pieces to it. One of which is a passion for me. I have three little children who are left without a dad at this point. And there's quite a few other people, due to the September 11 tragedy, in my position. And these children have long-term needs. Even just providing health care for them over the next 18, 20, years is going to be significant financial strain on many families.
And you know, after the publicity dies down and these children still have needs, we want to be able to kind of help meet those. And we hope that there's not future terrorism like this. But if there is, that victims are also taken care of.
And there's another important piece for me in that Todd loves to mentor youth. And that was a passion for him. And we want to help be involved in programs that will raise up people to make wise decisions like Todd did.
KING: That's great. And you have a foundation web site. It's beamerfoundation.org, right?
BEAMER: That's right.
KING: Beamerfoundation.org. She flew the flight today that her husband was making. She met with the Oracle people. They're going to cooperate in the foundation. I understand there was a report that GTE phones on the backs of the seats were covered up, to spare you the reminder of talking to the GTE operator. True?
BEAMER: Yes they were. United has been helpful many ways. And they thought that that might be a little bit emotional for me. And the flight actually went very smoothly. And like I said, I felt very safe the whole time and felt like I had had enough time to process what happened to be able to do that today.
KING: The amazing Lisa Beamer handled this superbly. She flew today. The flight is now flight 81, no longer flight 93. It's beamerfoundation.org. Thank you, Lisa.
BEAMER: Thank you, Larry. KING: When we come back, singer, songwriter, rock idol, one of the major figures in American music over past couple decades, John Mellencamp. Don't go away.
KING: John Mellencamp joins us from New York. What a 25-year career he has had. His new album is "Cutting Heads." He'll perform tomorrow night at that big Paul McCartney get-together, the concert for New York City, a five-hour extravaganza.
You looking forward to that, John?
JOHN MELLENCAMP, SINGER: Yes, I'm excited about it. All THE people playing are people that I grew up listening to. And it's going to be, you know, quite a few different people I think that. Mick Jagger's going to be playing with The Who. So there's going to be a lot of combinations. It's exciting, yes.
KING: And we're excited to hear this song. This is a song from the album "Cutting Heads." India Arie will joining you on the vocal.
KING: It is called "Peaceful World." And I think the public's going to be hearing this for the first time. John, I salute for you all you have done for American music over the years, and for being part of this tomorrow night.
MELLENCAMP: Well, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
KING: Here's John Mellencamp with India Arie and the new release "Peaceful World."
(MUSIC, JOHN MELLENCAMP SINGING "PEACEFUL WORLD")
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