Skip to main content /TRANSCRIPTS



Interview With Richard Shelby and Christopher Shays

Aired November 2, 2001 - 21:00   ET



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The enemy won't rest, during Ramadan and neither will we. We are going to pursue this war until we achieve our objective.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, on the military front, the president warns this is not an instant gratification war.

On the domestic front: a 17th confirmed case of anthrax and a continued state of high-alert.

Joining us from Washington, the vice chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Shelby; from Stamford, Connecticut the chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Congressman Christopher Shays.

From Islamabad Pakistan, a newspaper editor who's writing a biography of Osama bin Laden, Hamid Mir.

And in New York, ABC news correspondent John Miller. He's interviewed bin Laden.

Then, in New York, the prime minister of Romania, Adrian Nastase. He's visited ground zero, helped open the Nasdaq stock exchange. And with him the prime minister of Slovakia, Mikulas Dzurinda. He's running in Sunday's New York marathon.

Plus, perspective on surviving troubled times from the one and only Art Linkletter.

And sounds of soothing from the one and only Art Garfunkel.

And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. I'm Larry King. This is LARRY KING LIVE, and we welcome, beginning the program from Washington, Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, vice chairman of the Select Intelligence Committee. And in Stamford, Connecticut, Congressman Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut, chairman of National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations Subcommittee. This just in, Senator Shelby, the Treasury Department's off site mail facility was ordered closed tonight for environmental testing after an employee there found a suspicious letter with a Trenton, New Jersey postmark. How long is this going to go on and on and on, senator?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: Larry, we don't know. But I think what we've got to do is do what we have to, to get to the bottom of this and protect our people. If they're at the Treasury Department, if they're at the post office, if they are on Capitol Hill, or they are in a TV studio, I believe we've got to get to the bottom of this. And the sooner we find out where this is coming from, who's doing it, the better off we are going to do.

I also know, as you do, that the FBI is very frustrated at this point.

KING: Yes, they are. And Congressman Shays, what's the big problem? Why is it so hard to trace it?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: Well, first, let me just say this is about national security, personal security and economic security, and when it comes to personal security, we're dealing with a very easy weapon. It's the cheapest weapon. It's -- they can kill people for pennies whereas nuclear weapons cost millions of dollars. And it's just very hard to trace things in the mail.

But ultimately, we'll begin to know where it's coming from, and we'll make it harder and harder, but in the short run it's going to be very difficult.

I'd love to just tell you, as well, though, I believe that ultimately we are going to hear reports almost like we hear the weather report or a traffic report. We're going to say, well, there's a problem in Chicago, this today, and a problem somewhere else, and we are going to learn how to deal with it.

KING: Sort of like, Senator Shelby, living like Israel does.

SHELBY: In a sense. You know, I think that's a good analogy, Larry. A lot of us that have been in Israel a number of times have walked around Jerusalem, walked around Tel Aviv, walked around the West Bank. You have that feeling of concern, but life goes on.

And I think if we're alert, we can live through this and we'll get stronger and we'll get to the bottom of this.

KING: Congressman Shays, did you agree with Governor Davis' decision to go public with the threats about the bridges in California?

SHAYS: Oh, yes. I mean, you know, I mean -- and we'll learn how to accept it. It was a specific concern he had, and when people are near the bridges they are going to be paying closer attention to it. And it's probably helpful to at least know it's the bridges and not something else. KING: The tough part, Senator Shelby, is there's no history with this, right?

SHELBY: That's right.

KING: There's no precedent.

SHELBY: This is a work in progress, I believe, as far as America's concerned. We've lived such an open society. We have open markets. We've got a lot of soft targets. But ultimately we are a strong people. And we will not adjust to terror, but we will adjust to living in this kind of a situation. And I believe ultimately we'll thrive .

KING: Congressman Shays, what are your thoughts on it showing up overseas: the Pakistani official reporting two cases there?

SHAYS: Well, I mean, it's just an illustration that what we are facing may not be domestic. I mean, we don't know why it showed up over there. It could be the very people who are sending it.

But you know, I'd also love to say that Senator Shelby is right on target. We're joining the rest of the world, though, in dealing with problems that they've had to deal with for years.

We've kind of been insulated. We've focused on ourselves. And I think we are going to do something that is very important: We're going to focus on the rest of the world and realize how the rest of the world impacts us.

KING: Before we talk about the war, let's talk about aviation security. Senator Shelby, you and 99 other Senators voted 100 to nothing to pass an aviation security bill that puts a lot of it under federal aegis. The House disagreed and voted for another bill.

Do you expect a good compromise bill to come out of it?

SHELBY: I hope so, and the sooner the better. There are differences between the bill -- the two bills, the House and the Senate. Ultimately, though, what we're interested in is the safety of the American people and how do we get there. Do we get there with federal workers, do we get there with federal standards, is it somewhere in-between? I think if we have the standards we can make sure that we have the proper workers.

KING: How did you vote on that, Congressman Shays? And what are your thoughts on a compromise?

SHAYS: I voted for the House bill. I think it's about safety and it's about professionalism, and I don't think that only federal employees are professionals. I mean, we can talk about how people got through the gates with contracted workers, but we can talk about how people got into this country with federal employees. And it would be unfair to both federal and contract workers to blame them for what happened. The bottom line is we have a very good bill in the House. I think we'll work out our differences with the Senate, and I think the president will sign a bill real soon.

KING: Do you really think, Senator Shelby, it's going to come together? There are some people on the doom side who say you're not going to get a bill.

SHELBY: Well, I think we will get a bill, because the American people are going to demand it. And once both parties and both Houses are in this conference, they'll realize this. And I believe there will be some giving and taking, but ultimately we're going to get a good bill.

SHAYS: And Larry, the bottom line is both bills are so similar. I mean, we have federal marshals. We want to protect the cockpit doors. We want to have federal supervision. I mean, there's very little that divides the two bills.

The House bill has one provision, though, that I think the Senate bill didn't have that I think is important, and that is we need to have a deadline for checking for explosives that go into the belly of airplanes, the luggage that's stored. And right now, we're not checking for that.

KING: We don't have the equipment to check for it?

SHAYS: Well, we have the equipment. It's just that the airlines have been reluctant to move forward. And so we're going -- we're going to make sure it happens. It will be a federal oversight program, and it's going to take a year or two to do, but it will get done.

KING: By the way, we'll be taking calls for Senator Shelby and Congressman Shays.

Let's move to things overseas. Any thoughts of this, for both of you -- start with Senator Shelby -- on the U.S. Special Forces helicopter crash landing in Afghanistan Friday, after encountering severe weather. The crew was rescued by another helicopter. There were injuries, but no one dead.

SHELBY: Well, things like this are going happen. We're going to be in this for the long-haul. President Bush has told us, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has told us many, many times. And there will be casualties.

I'm glad there were no casualties here. We lost a helicopter. We didn't lose any troops. But ultimately, we will lose some troops, because the fighting will get tough. The winter's coming. And we're going to be determined to see this through.

KING: Congressman, the president said today Ramadan, that doesn't mean anything. We go on fighting. Do you agree?

SHAYS: Right, because we have a holy cause and the holy cause doesn't end because of a particular holiday. I mean, we may not have as many attacks, but we're going to attack targets where we find them.

I mean, this is a race with terrorists to shut them down before they have a better delivery system for chemo and bioweapons, before they get nuclear waste, which they can even getting from hospitals, and before, heaven forbid, they get a nuclear weapon, which we have a concern they may have.

KING: What's your assessment, Senator Shelby, of the military action thus far?

SHELBY: Well, I wished it were progressing faster than it is, but there is a plan. I believe we have to be measured. This is -- this is a tough country. It's not going to be easy at all. Winter is coming on. We might be there longer than we think. But ultimately we will prevail.

KING: Congressman Shays?

SHAYS: Larry, both Senator Shelby and I, and other members, get to visit -- particularly with our committees -- our military. We have extraordinary forces, special forces, regular forces. They're risking their lives for us as we speak.

I'm amazed that some of the press has said that, you know, they should be able to go on these missions. That's real chutzpah. I mean, this is a long effort. It may take years.

KING: We'll take a break and come right back. We'll include phone calls for Senator Shelby and Congressman Shays. We'll be talking to people who know Osama bin Laden.

Tonight, Art Linkletter is going to offer some thoughts. And Art Garfunkel is going to provide us with a bridge over troubled waters. All that ahead. Don't go away.


BUSH: We face an enemy. An enemy the likes of which we have never seen before. An enemy without a government. An enemy that has tried to hijack a great religion. An enemy that is so evil that those of us in America can't possibly comprehend why they do what they do. But it will be an enemy that will be defeated.



KING: We're back with Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, vice chairman of Select Intelligence Committee and Congressman Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut, chairman of National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations Subcommittee.

We are going to include some phone calls. Cincinnati, hello.

CALLER: Hello. KING: Yeah, go ahead.

CALLER: Yeah. In my opinion, the media overdramatizes problems like anthrax, they make people more scared. What can we do about this?

KING: Senator Shelby.

SHELBY: Well, I'm not sure they overdramatize it, because I believe that the media is trying to report what's going on and trying to let the American people know what's going on, and let the American people be concerned but not to panic. I believe the American people need to know what's going on in Washington, what's going on at the Treasury Department, at the post offices, at these TV studios, because I think it is more than just an alert.

KING: Congressman Shays?

SHAYS: Well, anthrax is deadly. We thought originally, when we were trying a vaccine for a military that if you inhaled the anthrax, you were dead. The good news in anthrax is you can still inhale it and if we catch it soon enough, we can cure you. The bad news is, though, it's much more potent than we ever imagined. It doesn't take 10,000 spores; it may take a few hundred.

KING: So, you agree, Congressman Shays, it is a big story and a story that deserves the coverage it is getting, or not?

SHAYS: It is a gigantic story.

KING: What do you make of those who are saying, well, you know, 2,000 people die a day in cars?

SHAYS: Well, I think that's true, so we have to realize that you are going to see casualties but we want to prevent them, just like we want to prevent automobile accidents. You know, this is fairly low intensity right now. It is very possible that you are going to see more anthrax coming in to many more places, to not just government institutions but to private homes, and the good news is that we have had chance to kind of get our act together, and we are getting better at dealing with it.

KING: New York City, hello.

CALLER: Hi, I would like to ask the congresspeople what is being done to safeguard the subways, particularly in New York City, given that we have a lot of underground and under the tunnels, but also in other cities. I -- here in New York we are very nervous, more so about underground, underwater, under tunnels, more so than the elevated.

KING: Good point. Senator Shelby?

SHELBY: I don't know the specifics, but I have a lot of confidence in Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki and the police and everybody else up there, because I have seen them work, I have been to ground zero, and I know what they have been through and what they are undergoing. I have to believe tonight that those subways are being protected, and they should be.

KING: Congressman?

SHAYS: I can just say that we are taking samples of the air, in some cases every eight hours in some cities. There may not be uniformity from city to city, and we are learning how to do that better, but, you know, anthrax takes a while, so if we can determine that early on, we can catch where it's coming from.

KING: I guess you mean about releasing it in the subway stations?

SHAYS: Yes, exactly.

KING: To Springfield, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Hello. I would like to know why we are -- the air war is going so good, why must we send ground troops in there now?

KING: Senator?

SHELBY: Well, I don't believe that you can win just with air strikes over there. We have not sent massive ground forces in there. I hope we won't have to. We have special operations there, we are supporting the Northern Alliance, and we are going to support anybody that will help us in this situation, I believe. But air alone I do not believe will bring conclusion to what we want in Afghanistan.

KING: Congressman Shays?

SHAYS: Well, I mean, it's very possible you will see bases of operation for our special forces where they may go by plane to certain locations and back, but my understanding is that some are hunkered down in caves down deep and they -- we may have to go after some of them. But this is not my area of expertise, I have to confess.

KING: Ellijay, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Senator Shelby, after the capture or the death of Osama bin Laden, what is next on the agenda? Where do we go from there?

SHELBY: Well, that is a good question, because I think what we've got to do is go wherever the terrorists groups are. That is what President Bush said he would do. I believe we would have to do this, otherwise we'll just be waiting here back home for the next strike. We need to eradicate these terrorist groups, wherever they are. If we failed to do it, we are just waiting for the next.

KING: Let's cover a couple of other bases. Congressman Shays, on the home front and the anthrax and the fear of smallpox, what's your feeling with regard to the latter?

SHAYS: Well, we are working right now to develop a new vaccine, but it will have to go through a process of -- of -- that is going to have to -- a new vaccine will have three phases to go through. It will take a number of years. We have a supply right now that we can dilute and still know it is effective, and so we can go to a site if there is an outbreak, but it is going to be difficult. If it's a massive outbreak, we'd have problems, but we don't think it would be massive.

KING: Safe to say, Senator Shelby, that this thing domestically is going to get worse before it gets better?

SHELBY: Well, I hope it won't get worse, but it could get worse. But I believe that we are going to be better prepared for it. This is -- we are dealing with areas that we have never gone to before, that is the terrorist fight, and whether it's CDC, whether it's the police, whether it's FBI, whatever it is -- and the American people, ultimately -- we are going to learn not to live with it, we are going to learn to not panic and be concerned, and we are going to win.

SHAYS: And Larry, we are getting better each day at this. I mean, we are learning more every day, we are focused like never before, and you are going to see efforts to not just deal with this militarily but diplomatically. There is a whole group of people who are -- that the terrorists are appealing to, and we need to appeal to them.

And I'd love to say one other thing: This -- the Nazis of the '30s, I see the same parallel now, and we need to see Saudi Arabia and Egypt stand up to these terrorists, not be silent, not play both sides. They've got a choice to make, because we're dealing with a terrible ideology that has no tolerance for others' views.

KING: Senator Shelby, what do you make of the 5.4 percent unemployment?

SHELBY: Well, it's a big spike. It's the biggest rise in a long time over a month. It shows that there has been a lot of layoffs, that our economy is hurting, and what the terrorists attacks have exacerbated that. But this economy -- I don't know if it's bottomed out yet, but it will come back, because we have strong fundamentals.

KING: To Jasper, Alabama, hello.

CALLER: For Senator Shelby and Congressman Shays, in the event that the airline industry continues to suffer, would either of you consider a bailout similar to the one given to Chrysler around 20 years ago?

KING: Congressman?

SHAYS: Well, I mean, I would consider it. What happened with Chrysler in the end was that we made money off the deal. But, you know, there are so many areas that we could bail out, and I'm not -- I'm not eager to see us move forward in that direction.

KING: Senator? SHELBY: Well, we have already helped the airlines with legislation recently. We are hoping that this will carry them over, because the airline industry is very important to our economic well- being.

KING: We thank you both very much, always good seeing you. Have a great weekend. Senator Richard Shelby and Congressman Christopher Shays.

When we come back, Hamid Mir in Islamabad, Pakistan; John Miller in New York. Hamid is writing a biography of Osama bin Laden. John Miller has interviewed him. And they are next. Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now from Islamabad in Pakistan is Hamid Mir. He is the editor of "Ausaf," that's a Pakistani newspaper, and he is writing a biography of Osama bin Laden. And in New York, John Miller, ABC News correspondent, who interviewed Osama bin Laden in May of 1998.

Hamid Mir in Islamabad, have you ever met Osama bin Laden?

HAMID MIR, EDITOR, "AUSAF": Yes. I met him many times. In March '97, I interviewed him, and then again in May 1998. I was in Afghanistan to interview him, and then during the interview we agreed to write a book, and then I spent many days with him -- three days.

KING: So this is a book -- kind of an authorized biography that he is writing -- he is cooperating with you on the book?

MIR: You see, when I was interviewing him, during the interview we started a debate on the issue of his hatred against the Americans. So the interview prolonged for six hours, and then I told him that it is very difficult for me to summarize the book -- to summarize the interview in a newspaper interview. If you are agree, I can write a book. But I put a condition that you should ignore my critical observations, and he agreed with the condition that I will not distort the facts. So that's how we agreed to write a book.

KING: And John Miller, as a man who has interviewed him, are you surprised that bin Laden would agree to that?

JOHN MILLER, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: No. I think bin Laden has always been very deliberate about trying to get his story told. I think that's the very reason that we were allowed to come see him. I think at that time he had a very specific message he wanted to get out, and I think he wanted to introduce himself to the American public.

He certainly made great efforts since then to keep his face in the news and to get his positions out. I mean, you note that after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, once the air war began in Afghanistan he had a videotape that was pre-recorded, already prepared that was sent out to Al-Jazeera, knowing that the whole world would see it. So, no, this is very calculated, and in some ways brilliant.

KING: Hamid Mir, is he brilliant? Is he very intelligent? How would you describe him intellectually?

MIR: My observation is different. You see, he is a good fighter. He participated in a war against Soviet Union and he showed his courage and bravery in that war. But during my conversations with him, I don't think that he is a good orator, he is a good scholar. He is convincing on some points when he says that American troops should be expelled from Saudi Arabia, because there is no war going on in Saudi Arabia. He is convincing when he says that the United Nations have double standards for the -- for the Libya, Iraq, Sudan and Iran, and for Israel.

But he is not convincing and brilliant and intelligent when he tries to explain his hatred against America in the light of Islam, because Islam don't permit us to kill the innocent people. So, you must go through his statement, which was released on the night of 7th of October. In that statement, he said that some Muslims destroyed America, and that he put the responsibility on the Muslims. I think this not -- this was not an intelligent move, because he created problems for the Muslims.

KING: John, can you understand where parts of the world consider him the ultimate example of evil, and others a total hero?

MILLER: Well, I certainly can understand that, we have certainly been able to identify it. It is -- I think as Hamid points out, it's equally interesting that -- that even in Islam, there are parts of that world that consider him a hero, and large scads of that world -- greater scads, I believe, that consider him evil.

KING: How -- he does very well, John, in PR, doesn't he?

MILLER: Well, he does. And when I used the word "brilliant," I don't necessarily mean that Osama bin Laden himself is personally a genius. Like any leader, like the president of the United States, he has a lot of advisers around him. He has got Ayman Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor, and he has got others who have a pretty good understanding of world politics, of the media, and I think you have seen a series of very savvy media moves on the part of the bin Laden machine.

And I think some of that, from a PR standpoint, if could you actually use a term like that in the context of jihad, has been very effective.

KING: Where, Hamid, does he go from here? Assuming he continues to avoid capture or killing, do you think he is still involved with terrorist activities in the United States?

MIR: You see, I don't think that he is a genius. He can fight in the mountains, he is a good fighter in the mountains. He is an expert of guerrilla warfare. He accepted during my interview, one of the interviews, he accepted that he is involved in the killing of 18 American soldiers in Somalia in 1993. But he denied his involvement in all the other events.

I think he is a hero by default. He is not hero because of his ideology. He is a hero because of some issues, and issues are not created by him. The issues are created by the international community, and maybe by the American government.

And we are overestimating him. He is not a genius. I think he was in the mountains from last many years, he was not -- he was stopped to use modern equipments of communication, he was not able to communicate with his people outside the world. So I don't think that he can mastermind these kind of highly sophisticated operations. We are overestimating him.

KING: John, do you think we might be overestimating him?

MILLER: No, I think the opposite. And I understand that my esteemed colleague spent much more time with bin Laden than I did, but I think if he had a chance to debrief the people who have been trained in his camps, they talk about the type of training, the level of sophistication they received, instructions they were given to go out and to remain in their cells and wait for instructions.

How do you talk about overestimating a guy if you accept the United States' position that he is the mastermind of these latest attacks, who managed to topple two buildings, killing 6,000 people, two symbols of the Western economy and the symbol of U.S. might, the Pentagon, attacking that which was a defended position, and creating such havoc, causing the stock market to drop, injuring the U.S. economy, costing us billions and billions of dollars in future costs, and to say that this was a plot designed to utilize the very sophisticated weaponry of box cutters and plane tickets? That you have to say is sophisticated in its very simplicity. No, I would not underestimate this man in any degree.

KING: We will be calling on both of you again. Thanks you so much. Hamid Mir in Islamabad, John Miller in New York, always good seeing you.

When we come back, the prime ministers of Romania and Slovakia will join us. They are both in New York. And then, one of the icons of American entertainment industry, Art Linkletter, he has been around forever. We would be certainly interested in his thoughts as life goes on in times of peril.

Speaking of times of peril, our musical performance tonight will be in the hands of Art Garfunkel.

That's all ahead. Tomorrow night, a major program on LARRY KING WEEKEND, all about aviation security from the standpoint of pilots, and flight attendants, and air traffic controllers, and the people who run government, and passengers. We will be right back.


OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): We must use punishment to keep evil away from Muslims, Muslim women and children. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To understand bin Laden's hatred for America, you have to put the U.S. in the context it is seen by many Muslims.

BIN LADEN (through translator): Americans impose themselves on everyone who believes in his religion and his rights. They accuse our children in Palestine of being terrorists. Those children who have no weapons and have not yet even reached maturity.



KING: Joining us now from New York, Prime Minister Adrian Nastase. He is prime minister of Romania. He opened the Nasdaq stock market today, visited ground zero, he has met with top U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell. And Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda. He is prime minister of Slovakia, he is running in the New York marathon this coming Sunday, and he will visit ground zero tomorrow.

Prime Minister Nastase, what is the position of Romania in this war on terrorism?

ADRIAN NASTASE, PRIME MINISTER OF ROMANIA: Romania decided to act as a very strong and a de facto ally of the United States and of NATO. And that's why our reaction was very quick, and we decided to support, to give all the necessary facilities -- air, ground, maritime. I have signed in Washington a very important document giving also facilities for American troops in Romania, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) agreement. We are then decided to do whatever we can to support the fight against international terrorism.

KING: And what, Mr. Prime Minister of -- Mr. Prime Minister Dzurinda of Slovakia, is your country's position?

MIKULAS DZURINDA, PRIME MINISTER OF SLOVAKIA: Slovakia is bending on the same side of the United States and their allies. Immediately after this attack on the 11th of September, we have decided to open our air space for the aircraft of the United States and NATO. We are very strongly supporting all activities of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) democratic coalition in this difficult fight against terrorism, and we are ready to share our part of responsibility in this fight.

KING: Prime Minister Nastase, Romania is a classic example of needing nation-building. Do you think Afghanistan can start again?

NASTASE: Well, Afghanistan is a country which is now trying to find its own way, trying to get out of a very complicated situation, but it's very clear that while the people there are prisoners now to a situation in which they become the target of an international fight against them.

I think that Romania, with all its potential, can be a very important partner, and I'm very sure that through all the discussion that I had here in the United States we have found an excellent way to support with our potential a general fight against terrorism, being side by side with the United States and the members of the alliance.

KING: Ambassador Dzurinda (sic), of course, both of your countries were former Soviet satellites. What is your read on the current relationship between the United States and Russia?

DZURINDA: Yes, we are very happy that during this difficult time there is something like new wind from Moscow. For one side, it is necessary to be realistic, speaking about the potential membership of Russia in the NATO. And on the other hand, it is good when President Putin is very strongly standing on the side of the United States.

During this time, it is necessary to create very broad international community. The broader the better. So I believe that Russia now is an ally of the United States and the democratic world coalition.

KING: Prime Minister Nastase, are you concerned that maybe so much attention is placed here that attention will be diverted from other things that require importance?

NASTASE: Well, it's a very good question. Indeed, in the Balkan area, there have been a lot of things in the last years, happened a lot of things, and there are still open questions and complicated issues in Kosovo in Macedonia. We had recently in Bucharest a very important conference on southeastern Europe. Some of the countries -- most of the countries in Europe and the United States understood that there should be an economic solution for the problems existing in the area.

And I think that Romania might be an excellent and a very stable partner of the United States and the members of the alliance, of the European Union, in trying to deal with solutions in the Balkans. I think it is very important also to understand that now a solution for the southern flank of NATO would be very important, and a bridge from the center European members to Turkey, through Romania and Bulgaria, might be an excellent solution for the decision which will be taken in Prague next year.

KING: Ambassador Dzurinda (sic), you are going to run in the marathon on Sunday. By the way, do you do this a lot?

DZURINDA: Oh, yes. I will run and I will participate in the Sunday's marathon in New York. This is my hobby. Usually, I do one marathon a year. This year, I resigned at first, because I was very busy in my office. But after the 11th of September, I completely changed the view, and I decided to run in New York.

I want to be with people of America. I want to be with people of New York. I would like to express the solidarity of people of Slovakia with people of America, with people of New York. I know that people of New York want to do the rebuilding of this beautiful town, and I know that if we want to do the rebuilding of this beautiful town, it is necessary to do the rebuilding of spirit of people, and this is my target, to help to rebuild the spirit of New Yorkers.

KING: Thank you both very much. Prime Minister Nastase of Romania, Prime Minister Dzurinda of Slovakia. Welcome to our country, and have a good time, and thank you very much for being with us.

And Art Linkletter is next. Don't go away.


KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, always good to have him with us, one of America's best-loved broadcasters, Art Linkletter. And he has lived through a lot of tough times, depression, World War II, Cold War, deaths of two children. Any thoughts on people coping with anxiety in a time like this?

ART LINKLETTER: Yes, it is unavoidable. It is overwhelming. It is so persistent. Everything is uncertain. I have been through the Great Depression. On your show a few minutes ago, we heard there is 5 percent unemployment. We had 25 percent, one out of every four was out of work in 1929 to 1938 or '9, and I was a hobo riding the freight trains. So I saw them, coming from everywhere, looking for jobs. We went through it. And then...

KING: But nothing like this.

LINKLETTER: Nothing like this, but it was a rough time. Then came Pearl Harbor. We were stunned, almost like this. We came through it. Then of course, have come things like in Los Angeles, the terrible earthquake.

I have great confidence in the American people. We have a strength that we forget about because we are so preoccupied in the interim between these disasters with all the great excitement of living in the greatest country in the world. And then, when we are called upon to show our strength, we show it! And I think it's showing right from the top down, from the president on down.

KING: A man as optimistic as you, is he thrown when he sees men's inhumanity to man?

LINKLETTER: Yes, but I have seen a lot of it. When I was working with WorldVision, I was in the Congo, I was in Haiti, I was in the DC-3 flying into the Cambodia during the Phnom Penh. I have seen indescribable things happen, and so I have seen it all. Never to the extent that I saw it when I was awakened that morning by one of my grandchildren who was looking at television and saw the terrible crash of those airplanes, and they always call me, they always want to know if I'm there at home.

KING: Is grandpa OK?

LINKLETTER: Yeah, grandpa OK.

KING: What was your first reaction?

LINKLETTER: Disbelief. I thought it might be one of those Mars things with Wells. But then, we have seen it so it often since then, and it is a continual reminder that causes anxiety, self-doubt, sadness, anger that the American people express. And then, of course, the wonderful indomitable spirit of the American people. They come back. I get it as I see it on the streets here in Los Angeles.

For instance, I stand in line, big, long lines at the airports, because I fly to my speaking dates. Nobody is jumping the line, nobody is irritable, nobody is angry. You don't see any of the road rage. I haven't had a finger to me when I have crossed up somebody in the last month!

KING: So, that -- does that part surprise you, by the way, or not?

LINKLETTER: No, it doesn't. The American people have a kind of resilience that we forget about. Because it comes from so many places. Many of them come from despair in their own countries, before they became citizens here.

KING: How about something like anxiety over anthrax?

LINKLETTER: Well, one of my secretaries, Barbara, is opening my mail with gloves on. Now, nobody is after me. Of course, my offices are in the Flint building. There may be somebody after him. I don't know why.

But anyway, people are reacting to it according to their internal uncertainties. Some people are making the best of it. John Wooden has a great, great statement that he makes philosophically, our great basketball coach.

KING: The best.

LINKLETTER: He says: "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." And that's a time for us to remember to make the best of it. And that's what I'm doing. I'm encouraging people in my lectures.

As a matter of fact, it might interest you to know one of the casualties that people wouldn't think of is in my business today, lecturing. A great many meetings have been called off.

KING: I have seen it myself.

LINKLETTER: Because people won't fly -- as you talk, too. And I had a call today from a lecture I'm going to give in Michigan at a university next week, and they said, "we would like to change the title of your talk to 'laughing with Linkletter.'" I said, "all right." They said, "we kind of feel that maybe we should have a little fun, a little optimism, rather than talking about Alzheimer's, or leprosy, or aging, or the problems of the economy."

KING: Hard to laugh, though, isn't it?

LINKLETTER: No, it isn't, because people are ready to laugh. I have been talking for the last month, I was talking as far away as Athens, Greece two weeks ago, in Istanbul, Turkey, five days after the thing happened. But here in America, I don't know.

KING: We have always been able to laugh. LINKLETTER: We laugh. Of course, you don't make fun of anything that has been going on. I still tell my kids stories and people laugh at that, because what is so serious, when a little girl, I say to her, "anybody ever asked you to marry them?" A little 5-year-old girl, she says, "once, but I told them that I might get another offer."

KING: Do you ever have a fear of flying?



LINKLETTER: I have been flying millions of miles, so have you. I flew...

KING: Not as many as you.

LINKLETTER: I flew four days after the big crash happened, and I have great confidence. In fact, I personally think -- I was on the board of Western Airlines for 23 years, and flying tiger line, I have seen a lot of aviation. The best time to fly is after a disaster, because everybody is on the alert. The pilots are being more careful, the security is better, everything is better. And I don't think that their fingers of terror go into every place. It just is impossible. And I think I'm going to be all right.

KING: How old are you now, Art?

LINKLETTER: I'm 89. So, I have beaten the life game.

KING: You sure have.

LINKLETTER: They can't scare me. And I have got a seat in heaven, because my father was a Baptist minister.

KING: You've got it all right. I wish you everything you wish yourself.

LINKLETTER: Thank you.

KING: One of the good guys, Art Linkletter, the host of "People Are Funny" and "House Party," best-selling author and public speaker, 89 years young, for his thoughts on this tragedy.

When we come back after the break, Art Garfunkel will join us, and you know what he's going to do. He is going to -- we always end every show each night on a musical note, and Art is going to sing the brilliant "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." Art Garfunkel is next on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: Singer, actor, one of the brilliant people in the American music business, Art Garfunkel, is going to perform "Bridge Over Troubled Water" for us.

How did this song come about?

ART GARFUNKEL, SINGER: Well, it is Paul Simon's great song.

I believe he said he wrote it for me. And I remember coming over to his house and hearing him do it in falsetto and thinking what a nice, flutey falsetto he has. It would work for him as well. He said, "No, I wrote it for you." And I said let's go.

KING: Why does that song -- and it so applies for what we are going to do tonight -- why does it work?

GARFUNKEL: It has tenderness built into it. It has a lovely melody. It has some amazing leaps of melody that are tricky business for a singer. But after it leaps, it floats down. So it's like a posture of strength and then it's tough and it's tender.

KING: And you are going to hear it right now. He's one of my favorite people. And each night, we close our show with a special musical piece and this could be right at the top of the list.

Here's Art Garfunkel, at our studios in New York, and the brilliant "Bridge Over Troubled Water."



KING: To learn more about upcoming guests, you can log onto our Web site:

Tomorrow night, a major program on LARRY KING WEEKEND, all dealing with airline security.

Aaron Brown's daughter's will be bat mitzvahed tomorrow in New York City. So, Aaron, believe it not, gets a night off.

And who is there to stand in? Who else? Another of our men around the clock. To host this special report in Washington, my man, Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.




Back to the top