CNN LARRY KING LIVE
America Strikes Back: Interview With Ted Olson
Aired October 24, 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, he lost his wife, Barbara, on September 11th, then lobbied hard for anti-terrorism measures that the House passed just hours ago. Solicitor General Ted Olson will join us from Washington. With him later Barbara Olson's close friend, Barbara Comstock, director of research for the Republican National Committee.
And then, with anthrax anxiety escalating, the government makes a deal for a 100 million Cipro tablets. Half a world away the American military targets -- pounds targets, rather, in Afghanistan, and warns that the Taliban may be planning to poison its own people and blame the United States. We'll talk with Senator Richard Shelby, vice chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee, and Senator John Kerry of Foreign Relations.
And then we'll assess the ongoing military action with retired General George Joulwan, former NATO supreme allied commander.
And then singer-songwriter Jewel and her touching ballad "Hands."
All next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Barbara Olson's book about the last days of the Clintons in the White House has been published posthumously and we'll talk about that in a little while when Barbara Comstock joins us.
We begin with Ted Olson, solicitor general of the United States, the widower of Barbara Olson.
By the way, before we get to the legislation and other things current, how -- how's the coping?
TED OLSON, U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, I've been very well taken care of by good friends and members of my family, and I have a wonderful job. And I find that if you work hard on -- at your job and don't spend too much time thinking about what happened on September 11th and what it all means, it helps a lot. And I've gotten good advice from people, one day at a time, one hour at a time. And it's very important to do it that way.
KING: We are old friends, so it's hard to call you "General," so forgive me if I say "Ted," OK?
OLSON: Yes, please. It embarrasses -- it embarrasses me when people say the word "General," because the generals are the people that are fighting the war for us. And I don't think that I deserve that title.
KING: OK, you -- there are descriptions of dealing with tragedy, and they say there are parts, when it's denial, and then -- what stage are you? Are you in a stage now?
OLSON: Well, I don't know whether I'm in a stage or not, Larry. I am, as I say, I'm dealing with it one little piece at a time. I accept the fact that this is a terrible tragedy for me, as it is for other people. I also recognize that there are thousands of people that are, not only because of September 11, but because of other circumstances, that have to deal with grief in this way. And I think that I've gotten an awful lot of good advice from people, and I've been smothered by affection from my family and my friends, and many of your viewers, who have written me.
I've been very touched by the way that people have reached out to me to support me, and it's meant a great deal to me. And I also understand that life, you either surrender to this or life goes on. And it's very important -- and Barbara would have insisted upon this, as I would have had our roles been reversed -- to move forward and to do the best you can to live life.
We lived life a great deal. We had a wonderful relationship and a wonderful life together. And I would have wanted her to live life, and I know she would have wanted me to do the best I could.
KING: Anti-terrorism legislation passed the House today 357-66. There was a compromise to it. You fought hard for this bill.
I have no memory of a solicitor general getting involved in promoting legislation.
OLSON: Well, it has happened before, but it's been a long time. I think these are special circumstances. I felt that it was necessary for me and for Barbara and for the other victims on September 11th that I say what I could, because I think people identified with Barbara, and I'm a part of the administration. And I have some expertise on this kind of legislation, and the issues that are involved, the civil libertarian issues and so forth.
These are very modest steps. They aren't the end of the line. These are things that have to be done to give us -- to plug up loopholes that exist in our federal legislation so that terrorists can't get away with the things that they did on September 11.
We owe it, every single one of us in this country, owe it to the people who gave their lives on September 11th to do everything we possibly can, first, to catch the people that did it, and to prevent this from ever happening again. In fact, it's probably more important to prevent it from happening again than it is to catch the people. Our first step has to be to protect the American people that are still living.
KING: Let's run down some of the things. Makes it a crime to knowingly harbor a terrorist no matter what harm -- if a husband -- a wife harbors a husband. OLSON: Well, we have -- a lot of these laws, Larry, we already have with respect to drug smugglers and mafia, organized crime figures and things like that.
KING: You have RICO, right?
OLSON: Pardon me.
KING: RICO for racketeering.
OLSON: RICO, the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act. A lot -- what we have found out is that our laws have been -- are about 20 years behind the times. We can deal more effectively with drug dealers and organized crime figures that run lotteries and numbers rackets and things like that than with terrorists.
The people that are willing to murder as many people as they possibly can have the ability to do things that we don't have any power to deal with, where we do have with lesser criminals. People that engage in mail-fraud or securities fraud and so forth, we need to have the same power to deal with them that we do with other criminals.
KING: It authorizes roving wiretaps, court orders for any phone the terror suspects might use rather than a specific phone.
OLSON: Well, and that's very understandable. When these laws were passed, we had rotary phones, and people used one phone. Now, we have cell phones, we have car phones. I don't know how many phones you have, but almost everybody out there that is in any business community or anything like that -- and certainly terrorists understand how to do this -- they use cell phones, they switch from one phone to the next. There's disposable phones. So we could get a wiretap order with a judge's approval -- and there's a very, very high standard. I want to reassure the civil libertarian people -- and I'm one of them -- that we have to have a very high standard to get approval to do this.
But we don't want the whole operation frustrated because a terrorist throws away a telephone and picks up another phone and then moves on. So when it says "roving," it means the same individual with the same high standards for approval from a judge to do it, but that we can follow them from phone to phone or location to location.
KING: Some other aspects. It gives the Treasury Department new powers to target foreign nations and banks deemed as money laundering. Makes it easier for U.S. criminal investigators and intelligence officers to share intelligence. Authorizes funds to triple the number of Border Patrol agents on the United States northern border and triple the number of INS inspectors. And allows law enforcement to obtain subpoenas to get Internet records of e-mail transmissions by terror suspects.
Was anything thrown out that you're unhappy about?
OLSON: No. I mean, I think that the administration made certain proposals, and certain compromises were made. But we respect the members of the legislature on both sides of Capitol Hill, the Republicans and Democrats. They were respecting their conscience. They were doing the best that they could to solve this problem, but also respect the freedom of all Americans.
Yes, there were certain compromises that were necessary that the administration would probably have preferred not to have made, but this is an acceptable legislation. We really need it. We need it promptly.
I hope that the Senate will move quickly. Many of the -- much of this legislation is -- is simply plugging loopholes to bring our law enforcement technology into the 21st century and to allow our intelligence agencies to communicate with law enforcement agencies. It was like we had a wall between them before, so that we gained intelligence with respect to intelligence or foreign surveillance operations that we couldn't share with the criminal investigators.
And we know that terrorists are criminals as well as threats to our national security. So two parts of the house need to be able to talk to one another.
KING: As a person sworn to uphold the Constitution, does anything in this give you any pause as to its civil libertarian aspect?
OLSON: No, Larry. In fact, I spent a lot of time looking at this, and I feel very strongly that Americans -- one of the things that makes this country strong, and unfortunately one of the things that makes us vulnerable, is that we believe in civil liberties. We believe -- liberty is the first word -- one of the first words in our Declaration of Independence and it's one of the most important words in our Constitution. We believe in that. We cannot give that away, because that's another way, of surrendering to terrorism.
This legislation, most of which has already been tested in courts with respect to drug dealers and organized crime figures, does not surrender any liberties. It allows us to do the things that we ought to be able to do and we should be able to do had our legislation kept track with modern technology.
So I'm comfortable that this is not an invasion of our civil liberties.
I want to tell the American people that if it was, I would be as concerned about it as other people would be. It is not. It is something that is necessary for us to prevent terrorists that take advantage of the liberties that we give our citizens.
KING: And do you expect it to clear the Senate?
OLSON: I don't know what's going to happen with the Senate. I'm very hopeful that the Senate will move quickly. It has been six weeks now since September 11, and I understand and appreciate and respect the importance of operating deliberately, looking at this from all angles. And I think that the House felt, and I think that the Senate will feel, that they have had a chance to look at it, debate it, and we are not breaking any new ground here.
It my be necessary, next year, to ask for some additional measures, but people will have a chance to look at those more carefully. What we need now is to pass this legislation because we don't dare -- we believe that these terrorists are considering a second and third strike in some ways, we don't know that.
But the possibility exists and we really need this -- these measures as quickly as possible, so that we can prevent that from happening to the American people. And I believe that the Senate will pass this legislation. And the president will sign it. And it will help us. There is no guarantees, but it will help us deal with the threat that exists.
KING: In other words -- tough times.
OLSON: It's tough times but it is also very important, Larry, for us to understand that we have been threatened before. We are a strong country. We are a strong people. We believe in ourselves. We believe in our leadership. And we must live our lives as normally as we possibly can.
We must be careful but we must not give in to the fact that there have been threats to us. We can not give into the fear that these people hope to induce in us. We must enjoy our lives. We must live our lives as close as we can to a normal way and I believe in that.
And I have done everything that I possibly can to show the people around me, the people who work with me, my family, and friends and so forth that it's important for us to enjoy our lives and to do the things that we enjoy doing, and not to be overcome by this or consumed by this.
KING: Our guest, Ted Olson, he'll remain with us.
And we'll be joined by Barbara Comstock, a close friend of his late wife, Barbara -- research director for the Republican National Committee with the publication of the new book, "The Final Days: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House."
Back with the -- continuing with Ted Olson and Barbara Comstock right after this.
KING: Joining us now in Washington, with Ted Olson, the Solicitor General of the United States is Barbara Comstock, close friend of the late Barbara Olson and a research director for the Republican National Committee.
And the book is "The Final Days: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House." It is debuted as No. 4 -- it will be on the November 4 "New York Times" nonfiction list and already at No. 2.
Barbara, there was some question about publishings, wasn't there?
BARBARA COMSTOCK, UNITED STATES SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, the publisher had talked to Ted and the family. And Ted, in turn, talked with family and friends and all of us and it was unanimous. And I think Ted put it best when he said he could not live with himself if terrorists were allowed to silence Barbara. So he went forward with the book.
There's also been other memorials for Barbara. We have the Barbara K. Olson Memorial Scholarship at Cardozo Law School, where Barbara went to law school. And that's going to be for a woman to go to law school. And, an envelope is in the book so people can contribute to that.
There's a lecture series in her honor, it's by the Federalist Society.
And the Landmark Legal Foundation has set up a chair, a legal chair, in her honor.
KING: Was there any question, Ted, about publishing due to the fact that it is Barbara and it can be awfully tough?
OLSON: Well, yes.
I thought about it for a week because under those circumstances the emotional upheaval that one is going through, you don't want to make any quick decisions. But, as Barbara said, I talked to her and other friends of Barbara, and her family.
But I know Barbara better than -- Barbara Olson better -- than anybody in the world. We were extraordinarily close. This was Barbara's book. This was Barbara's work. Barbara believed, as Edmund Burke did, that the way for evil to triumph is for good men or women to remain silent.
Barbara believed in speaking out. When she had something to say, she wanted to say it. She had -- she -- when she felt that power had been abused, she thought that she had an obligation to speak.
It would have been incomprehensible to Barbara for terrorists to put a silence to her voice or to stop her work. She would have -- I don't know what she would have done to me. But she wanted -- she would have wanted this book published.
There's another thing, Larry, if I have a moment or two to say it. That people believed in Barbara. Your viewers particularly, were inspired by Barbara. I think she was on your program more than any other of your guests except for one.
Barbara sent a signal to people that you can be what you aspire to be. You can engage in dialogue with respect for your opponents and with grace and style. You can be articulate and you can be clear, but you can do it with poise and with a smile. And she meant so much to so many people. I have heard from so many of your viewers, that wanted to hear from her, and for me to cut her off from them would have been inconceivable to me. So at the end of the day, it was not a hard decision. People wanted to hear and continue to hear from Barbara. And I'm very grateful that we've had a chance to do it this way.
KING: Barbara Comstock, are you surprised at its success?
COMSTOCK: Oh, not at all.
One of the last lunches that we had had before September 11 was with Barbara and a number of our girlfriends. And we were talking about the book and of course we all expected that it would be flying right up there the way is. And, as Ted said, Barbara was such a passionate person. I mean, she was passionate, first of all, about Ted and her family. She was passionate about her work.
I mean, everything she did was with gusto. There was a great story written about her, unfortunately, one she didn't get to see, but it was called "life of the party." And that is what Barbara was. I mean, she was great -- showing the picture from our office where we first worked. I mean, she was a party wherever she was. I mean, when she left the room, there was just a lot -- there was less oxygen there.
And, as you know, she just was a delightful person to be around and...
KING: We loved her. And I was very proud that you put my quote on the cover.
OLSON: Yes we did.
KING: ... about how much we cared about her,
But, Ted -- in fairness -- Hillary Clinton is the junior senator from New York. New York is the city hit the hardest by all of this. She has performed, at least to the credit of most people -- give her a lot of credit -- for how well she's done with this, dealing with the people.
Do you think maybe that looks a little bad to come out with a book so critical of her in a time of wanting?
OLSON: Well, I think that the Clintons are both very much political people. They engage in political debate and political dialogue.
Barbara believed what Barbara believed. Her first book, which was a critical appraisal of Senator Clinton, was attacked by some parties and some sides, but was -- there was never anything inaccurate found in that book.
Barbara believed that if power had been abused, it was time to speak out about it. And what Barbara wanted to talk about were some of the things that occurred in the last few weeks of the Clinton administration, some of which have been reported and some of which have not been reported. But none of it has been collected in one place.
Barbara believed that the American people -- and you know, one of the things that President Bush said at the Pentagon a month after the terrible tragedy -- unspeakable events of September 11 -- is that Barbara and the other people that were killed that day were killed because they were Americans.
One of the things that makes us Americans is the First Amendment. The First Amendment means that we speak out. We speak out with robust vigor with respect to the issues that we believe in. Barbara believed in that. I believe the Clintons believe in that.
And yes, it's critical, but it's a part of our political process. And I have no apologies about that.
These were things that Barbara wanted to say, and I could not allow her to prevent her from saying that.
KING: And Barbara, therefore, you would also defend those few Americans who are speaking out against some of the actions taken by the government since September 11th.
COMSTOCK: Oh, certainly. And I've been doing some talk radio shows, and hearing from, as Ted said, Barbara had so many fans. And I think going forward, it really meant a lot to people to continue to hear from Barbara. And she was a hero for so many people.
And I think -- you know, I know for me she was a role model to work with, and she was always engaged. You know, I think to the last moments of her life she was trying to right wrongs and see what she could do. And I think that's a lot of the spirit that drove her book.
And that's why when I've been talking to people and talking to radio hosts and hearing people on the radio call in, they understood that and they really (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And I have to say, I've even had Democrat friends of Barbara's -- and I know Ted has, too -- reach out and talk to us about how much they admired her. Even if they didn't agree with anything in the book, they understood her passion and her commitment, and they had that same spirit, and they respected that.
KING: Passion -- the passion comes right through. Ted, do you drive by the Pentagon at all?
OLSON: Well, I do on my way to work every day. And I will say this: that before we leave this subject, one of the things that so many of your viewers, Larry, have written to me, and so many of those letters, they're passionate, beautiful letters. And I can't tell you and your viewers how much I appreciate them. But so many of them used the word -- there were many words that they used: passion, articulate, conviction, principled, feisty. But the word that I see over and over again is "smile."
Barbara smiled because she enjoyed being a part of this process. She loved being on your program. She loved to talk to people. She loved the people that she debated with. She loved the intellectual exchange of ideas. And she had the most beautiful smile, and she meant it.
And people understood how genuine that was, and I wish I could duplicate it. But I mean, when she smiled, she sent a warmth out throughout the entire United States, actually throughout the world, since you're seen so many places.
And that's the message -- there it is.
KING: There it is.
OLSON: That's the message that Barbara had, and that's why it's so important for her voice to be out there, her smile to still be out there.
KING: It sure is. Thank you both, Ted and Barbara Comstock. Always good seeing you.
COMSTOCK: Thank you.
OLSON: Thank you so much, Larry.
KING: The book is "The Final Days: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Last Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House." It's published posthumously by Barbara Olson. And then the November 4th edition of "The New York Times" it will be No. 2 nonfiction list.
When we come back, we'll be joined by Senators Shelby, John Kerry and your phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE -- and we'll be including your phone calls -- both in Washington, Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, member of the Foreign Relations Committee, a decorated Vietnam veteran.
Last night, Senator Shelby, on this program Tommy Thompson said that he would get Cipro to come down under a buck a bill for the government. He got it down to 95 cents. That went through today. Same time, we have a second case of skin anthrax at "The New York Post."
Is our anxiety overdone?
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL), VICE CHAIRMAN, SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think there's a lot of anxiety, but I hope there's not any panic out there. I don't see panic.
Larry, I have always said we need to be alert. We need to be concerned. But we do not need to be panicky. And how we get that, I think, get that way -- in other words, stay constant and be concerned and not panicky -- I think will depend on the messages from our leaders in the health field and also in the political field.
KING: Senator Kerry, Maureen Dowd in "The New York Times" brilliantly expressed the thought of mixed messages here. What? You're saying, be normal, but be aware. Be aware of what? Do what? Watch the mail? Wash your hands?
I mean, it seems like you're saying everything's OK, but it's not OK.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, I read her article, and as always, I mean, she is brilliant and she sort of knocked it out of the ballpark with that contradiction. The contradiction does exist, Larry, to some degree. But I think when you really analyze it, Americans can sort through this.
For instance, the odds of any one American winding up with anthrax at least at this point in time, given where we stand, is anywhere from 1 in 300 million to 500 million. The fact is that every American gets up every day, and you've got far more risk, I regret to say, being the victim of a car accident or some other kind of accident or another incident of life that causes pain and costs. That's a reality.
And I think for most Americans, they're not in the line of threat. If you look at what has happened here, they've been targeting the White House, the Congress, the media, those who have the ability to do exactly what is happening, to spread fear.
So I think we all of us have to put this in its proper perspective. Obviously, the loss of those postal workers hurts everybody, and it came as something of a surprise, because up until this point nobody believed, the science didn't say, none of the advisories suggested you got it in the transfer. We now know better, and this is a moving target for all of us.
But I think every American should -- and this is not a contradiction -- be wary in the sense that you look at your mail. I suppose a lot of Americans will say, well, I'm not going to open any of my bills now, and a lot of bills won't get paid.
But I mean, the fact is you can tell the difference between a letter that you really don't know where it comes from and one that is normal in the course of business.
KING: Yeah, but Senator Shelby, isn't part of this the mystery of it all? I know the car attack -- the car crashes are a good example. However...
SHELBY: We're used to them.
KING: ... if in a lot of those crashes, you found cut wires and no one could explain why cars were veering off the road, you'd have massive anxiety.
SHELBY: I think you're right, Larry, on that example. But I do believe, as John Kerry has said, that the American people will sort through this. Will we get used to this? No, we shouldn't. We shouldn't become complacent. We should stay concerned. But we should not just say, well, gosh, we're all going to get -- contract some form of anthrax. We're not in reality.
But we are on more than alert. We are concerned. And I believe sooner than later -- and it has to be sooner -- that we're going to settle down and we're going to go on and do the business that we do every day of America.
KING: Senator Kerry, when we say other things are going to happen -- and a lot of principals say this every day, look for something else to happen -- are we setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy here?
KERRY: No, because the reality is we know that there were other personnel involved in al Qaeda. We know that there are so-called sleepers in this country. We know through the intelligence network and through advisories that we get from other countries that people are going to try to do things. Does that mean that they will be successful? We don't have the answer to that, Larry. The fact is, a number of high profile incidents were interrupted were intercepted prior to September 11. We actually stopped many things from happening.
I talked to the CIA director George Tenet maybe two months before that event and he told me firsthand how concerned he was about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and the possibilities of something happening. They were working overtime then. Now we have this incredible international dragnet. And we are prosecuting an intense voracious effort against the al Qaeda, they are on the run. And the intensity of the global effort, I think, is something they have never had to contend with and the world has never seen.
So my hope and I think the hope of all of us is that if we will be steady, if we will simply continue to do our jobs and understand this moment of history. This is a war. But it is a different kind of war from anything our forefathers knew. Already, there are more casualties in this country, than there are overseas. And we need to face the fact that until we've sort of stripped away the ability of people to engage in this activity, we are going to have to continue to live somewhat differently.
The victory for us, I mean for every American, the victory is day-to-day. We need to prove to people, that we are not going to be deterred, that as a generation or even generations, because we are all involved, we can rise the way those before us did and you know, live the kind of life that Americans are proud of.
KING: Senator Shelby, the antiterrorism bill passed the House. We just spoke to the solicitor general about it. He supported it strongly. Is it going to pass easily in the Senate?
SHELBY: I hope so. The sooner the better, said before, and a lot of us believe that we do need to give the tools to the Justice Department, of course that includes the FBI, to do whatever they need to do to win this terrorist war. I believe that they're hands have been tied in a lot of areas. The sharing of information is going to help a lot. That is just one aspect. But, the sooner the better. The president said today he would sign it as soon as he got it. We ought to go ahead and get it to him.
KING: Senator Shelby, do you have any fears in the area of civil liberties?
SHELBY: Well, I don't have any fears, but we are all interested in civil liberties, I know I am.
SHELBY: Absolutely. And whether you are a conservative or a liberal, a moderate or whatever, politically, but, I've looked at the bill. I believe that security is very important, and by the way, as most of you know, there is a sunset in a lot of aspects of the bill. I haven't seen all of the details, but I will look at it. But where we will be visiting this all along, and to see what it does, and does it give the tools to Justice Department.
KING: I have to take a quick break but Senator Kerry, quickly, do you have any complaints about the bill?
KERRY: I have a few concerns, but I think we are going to work them out. I think the fact that there is a sunset protects the long- term interests, Larry. There is something I'd like to raise, but I will raise it after the break.
KING: OK, we will take that break and we will come back and we will also include your phone calls and get the senators' thoughts on the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Take some of your phone calls, too. You are watching LARRY KING LIVE. By the way, former secretary of state James Baker will be one of our guests tomorrow night. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Except for Pearl Harbor we have never really been hit before. And yet on September 11, this great land came under attack. And it is still under attack as we speak. Anybody who puts poison in mail is a terrorist. Anybody who tries to affect the lives of our good citizens is evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We are back with Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Kerry of Massachusetts. Going to take a couple of calls. But you wanted to add something quickly Senator Kerry?
KERRY: Larry, I really wanted to point out something that I think is important, and perhaps you will share the sense of it. But, you know there has been a lot of talk on Capitol Hill about bipartisanship, and our efforts to work together. And for the most part we really have. But a couple of things have happened in the last days that I find extraordinarily disturbing and almost a breach of that spirit.
One is the stimulus package that passed in the House today. It really is so weighted, so extraordinarily weighted towards the corporate sector and towards investments that have been previously made. I mean IBM gets $1.4 billion. Energy companies get hundreds of millions of dollars for investments already made.
And the fact is there are a lot of heroes in this country, police officers, firemen, post office workers, who don't get the benefits of this. A stimulus package is a package that helps people to help the economy now, not rewarding past investment.
And I think that we really have a responsibility to do better. The second thing I want to say is airport security. The most important thing we need to do in the country is provide security, security so people will have confidence to fly, security so our nation is stronger, that is where a stimulus package should be spent, and we haven't passed airport security yet.
KING: Senator Shelby, want to comment on that?
SHELBY: I do on the stimulus package, especially. I believe what's coming out of the House is going to have to be looked at very closely if not redone. I know a lot of economists have already weighed in on the stimulus package that came out of the House. A lot of them don't think a lot of it, and we should look at it very closely to see what we really need to do to help the working people of America that is going to really stimulate economy and not give away a lot of stuff that we shouldn't do in the first place.
KING: Senator Shelby, I believe a lot of conservatives spoke against that today, did they not.
SHELBY: Absolutely. There are a lot of concerns about what passed the House today on both sides of the aisle.
KING: Let me get some calls in. Bayville, New Jersey, hello.
CALLER: Hello. My question is for Senator Kerry. We have been hearing an awful lot about cutaneous anthrax exposure, and inhalation anthrax exposure and what to expect. But I haven't heard anything about ingestion exposure. What's being to protect our foodstuffs against taint and what can we expect to be the symptoms of such a thing?
KING: Good question -- John.
KERRY: That is a very legitimate question. It is the third type of anthrax. There is that potential, obviously. And very little of our food is inspected. This has been a subject of considerable discussion on the Hill. Senator Kennedy today proposed a very significant increase in our budget to help the inspection process, and the preparation of our entire health system to respond to the potential of these threats.
It is going to be very costly. But most of us think we have to do it. And that is precisely the direction -- I mean that is, when I talk about a stimulus package, ought to include those kinds of security issues. Airport security, train security, transportation, food, those are the issues.
KING: Senator Shelby you agree on the food issue?
SHELBY: Absolutely. Food we have an open society. We have traded on that, we have built on it. We have prospered from it. But we've got to look at every aspect of what we do today and see how we can secure it in a more thorough way.
KING: Baltimore, hello.
CALLER: Yes. My question is: Because of what's happening, is there any way the U.N. can force Iraq to let them in to check their weapons to see if they have anthrax or any other, you know, chemicals or...
KING: Can the U.N. bring that pressure? Senator Kerry, you want to take it first.
KERRY: The United Nations was engaged in that. We had this entity called UNSCOM which was inspecting -- the Clinton Administration, and the United States were the principal enforcers of that effort. Other nations began to weaken in their resolve. Ultimately, we backed off and I regret that.
I think that many of us felt we never should have backed off. We gave Saddam Hussein two years plus during which he has built up a supply. We believe maybe even everyone of his 50 palaces contain some of these kinds of weapons. I think when the timing is correct we must reinvigorate the focus on Iraq, but we don't want to confuse it with the target of what we are doing in Afghanistan now, absent an absolute smoking gun about his involvement in September 11.
KING: Speaking of that, Senator Shelby, General Joulwan will be with us in a couple of minutes.
What's your assessment thus far of the military operation?
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL), VICE CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, what I have been briefed on and what I hear, OK, but we haven't gotten there yet.
What we have been doing -- we have been doing things in a measured way. The Secretary of Defense has told us that. But what I worry about is the winter coming on, Ramadan is coming on, the Taliban is beginning to disperse all over -- around the country. I hope that, in the next three or four weeks, we can step it up.
KING: Senator Kerry, how do you think it is going?
KERRY: I believe we need to turn the heat up. I think it is very, very important to make progress, to at least take Mazar-e-Sharif in the next days.
Prior to the winter setting in, I think we need a foothold in the country in order to properly pursue Osama bin Laden. I think we have some issues with how broad the activities can be with Ramadan. But I would not let Ramadan interfere with the fundamental mission as long as the targeting is very careful and we are focused on Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.
KING: Senator Powell testified today at Capitol Hill in the House committee. And Israel was a big topic of discussion.
And one of the things they were saying, Senator Shelby, is do we speak with two voices when we say we will take it out on terrorists, but Israel should not?
SHELBY: Well, I think we should first speak for ourselves. I mean, we're a close ally. We have great connections and affection for Israelis.
But right now, I think, we should do what's in our best interests. And I believe that Israel will play a big part because they've been loyal to us we've been loyal to them a long time.
KING: So you don't think we should tell Israel to not take out acts against Palestinian suspects?
SHELBY: Well, it's hard to tell anybody what to do in their own neighborhood when people are killing each other every day, because I think Israel will do ultimately what it's in their best interests.
KING: Senator Kerry, is this a case of "do as we say,not as we do?"
KERRY: Not at all.
People forget, Larry, that Israel, during the Iraqi war, withstood 39 Scud attacks and never responded. Israel stepped up to the plate and made some of the most extraordinary concessions through Prime Minister Barak at Camp David. And Arafat simply couldn't bring himself to step over the line to make peace.
And during all of that time, it is important to note that Osama bin Laden was planning this attack. It had nothing to do with peace in Israel. It had nothing to do with the Palestinians.
And so I think Israel -- we understand after September 11, better in this country, what Israel has been living with for a long time. It is important for Mr. Arafat to reign in the terrorists and to provide at least seven days of uninterrupted peace so you can move into the Mitchell process and begin to get back to some kind of ultimate understanding.
KING: Thank you both very much. As always, we will be seeing you soon -- Senators Richard Shelby and John Kerry.
When we come back, General George Joulwan -- he's been an invaluable part of this program. The former NATO supreme allied commander will get us his update.
And then our closing musical number will feature Jewel. Don't go away.
KING: Joining us now from Washington, General George Joulwan, the United States Army retired, former NATO supreme allied commander, former commander in chief of the U.S. European Command and former Army Ranger. He's been an invaluable help to this program on an almost nightly basis.
How do we assess the military operation, 18 days in, General?
RETIRED GEN. GEORGE JOULWAN, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, I think you heard the two senators in the previous segment, Larry, talk about the need for some sort of success. I think that the first 18 days or so of the operation have gone fairly well.
But I believe now what has to happen is some success here before winter sets in. We've talked about this before. We are seeing some hit-and-run raids that were done by the Rangers. I really think now the Northern Alliance has got to show some success, whether that's at Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat or Kabul.
KING: Ramadan: Do we fight or not?
JOULWAN: That is always a good question. Let me give you my perspective from the operational commander's viewpoint.
I would prepare two plans. One that says -- that's going to get the go ahead, and carry on with the fight. But he also has to have something in this playbook that says if the political decision is made, that he has to scale back. He has got to be prepared and have to anticipate to do that.
Personally, I think he will fight on. But it is important to get successes here before that date so that you have options that you can use. Maybe the ground option, if it's successful with the Northern Alliance, let the Northern Alliance fight on. These are people in that country. They're the ones that have a stake. That may be an option we may want to pursue.
KING: Is the Taliban tougher than we expected?
JOULWAN: I don't think so.
I think they have this religious fervor that I think they are hanging on to. But they are not. The Northern Alliance is not as well organized. It's a separate groups of tribes. We need to give it some help to make it successful, but I truly believe that the Taliban fighter can be beaten.
But it is going to take a coordinated effort and you must demonstrate some success here. If you demonstrate that success, I think it will have a telling effect on the Taliban military. KING: What do you say, General, to those people who say, "Look at our size. Look at our might"?
Why is -- what's the major military problem here?
JOULWAN: Again, if I can, my experience is -- much of it is in two areas. One is the structure of our military, for many years, has been at the high end of the spectrum, how to fight two major regional wars simultaneously. Many of us have been urging for a much broader interpretation. After September 11, I think we are going to see that.
However, we are faced with a military that has been based on what I call Cold War thinking. It is changing, it's transforming, but it's been slow.
The second is, to me, political decisions. Political decisions have to be clear in what you want that military to do. And I think we are seeing this give-and-take, particularly on support, for the Northern Alliance or not, and how far you want it to go. So we could have the strongest military in the world, we are facing a different type of enemy. It's going to require different tactics and strategy.
But in the end, Larry, we will prevail. I guarantee it.
KING: Russia did not.
JOULWAN: Russia -- much different.
I have talked to many of the Russian generals and how they have carried out that fight. I think that we are in a much better posture than the Russians. I think we have learned a great deal from the Russians. I personally have spoken to Russian generals that were with me in Bosnia. They told me of the mistakes they made. We are not making those same mistakes.
I think we have carried out a good campaign so far. Now we've got to ratchet it up, take it to next level and get some success on the ground.
KING: The Navy Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem said today at a Pentagon briefing that the information he has is that the Taliban may intentionally poison some of the types of food we are sending in, and blame it on us.
JOULWAN: You have to expect that. And we...
KING: They kill their own people, in other words?
JOULWAN: ... civilians will be placed around targets, but Larry, we must maintain our focus, our priority. Let's not get sidetracked. We are fighting a two front war. One here in the United States is one, as well as in Afghanistan. We have to maintain our priority and our focus. And if we don't, then the terrorist gains that initiative. You've got to take the initiative away from the terrorists. And the way you do that is go after the Taliban military, which supports the Taliban, which supports bin Laden. That is your focus. Iraq, others, could come later. Let us not lose sight of what we need to do. And in the global sense, our allies can help us as we try to rid al Qaeda cells from around the globe. That is the priority and we can't lose that. And I just hope we don't.
KING: General, we have 30 seconds. Is there going to be a victory day or not?
JOULWAN: Victory, I think, will come. When that day will come, but we -- whether it is Afghanistan, that will not be the end of it, Larry. We have to understand we are in a different fight. It is going to go on for a long time. But we will prevail.
KING: General it is always great hearing from you.
JOULWAN: Good talking to you, Larry.
KING: You are succinct and on the money. General George Joulwan, the former NATO supreme allied commander. You are watching LARRY KING LIVE. We end every program every night since September 11 with a musical upbeat of note to hit the mood. You won't see it any better than we are going to see in a couple minutes when Jewel joins us live right here in studio. That is next. Don't go away.
KING: She is just in from Australia. It is a great pleasure to welcome Jewel to LARRY KING LIVE. She is the singer-songwriter and author. A new album coming next month called "This Way." But the song she is going to sing tonight is "Hands."
That is from your last album, right?
JEWEL, SINGER: Correct.
KING: How did this all come about?
JEWEL: A radio station in New York actually did a version where they put President Bush speaking over it and people calling in when they had seen the towers fall, and it just sort of became an anthem, I guess in New York.
KING: Where were you on September 11?
JEWEL: Camping. I didn't know it happened until 12th.
KING: No kidding?
KING: Where did you learn it?
JEWEL: I learned it driving out, we saw a ranch with its flag at half-staff, and we started driving through these mountain country cities and saw all the flags out.
KING: Thanks for coming, Jewel.
JEWEL: Thank you.
KING: We would like to dedicate this song to Jenny Ann Mefeo (ph). She was burned over 90 percent of her body in the attack on the World Trade Center. She clung to life for 41 days at New York's Weill Cornell Burn Unit. That is the medical facility this program took you into last month.
Yesterday Jenny Ann Mefeo lost her courageous battle for survival. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and her friends. Here is Jewel.
(JEWEL SINGS "HANDS")
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