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Interview With George Will, Interview With George Mitchell, Interview With Judith Miller, Interview With Bill Kurtis

Aired November 21, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, President Bush talks turkey to the troops. He says the war against terror is going well, but the toughest step is still to come.

Joining us: George Will, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, ABC News commentator; in New York, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. His Mid-East peace plan has been called the road map for both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Then, as anthrax now claims another victim, we turn to Judith Miller of the "New York Times", co-author of the chilling best-seller "Germs."

Also to talk about bioterrorism, Bill Kurtis, anchor, executive producer for A&E's "Investigative Reports."

Plus, it's the start of the holiday season. How safe should you feel?

We will hear from Senator Mitch McConnell, ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations. He traveled with the president earlier today. Congresswoman Jane Harman, ranking member of the Select Intelligence Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security; and Congressman Christopher Shays, chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs, and International Relations.

And we wind it up with Judy Collins, singing "Amazing Grace."

And they are all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: And we begin with a pair of Georges and two of our favorite people. George Will is in Washington. Former Senator George Mitchell is in New York.

George, what's your assessment now of the war so far?



KING: All right, George Will first and then I will call you by your last names. WILL: Well, the war is going well, but the people I talked to in the administration are at great pains to stress that it is not over. And one of them who was speaking to me today using an analogy that will get Civil War buffs arguing, this one and others, say we don't want to be like General Meade after Gettysburg when he let the Confederate army retreat, regroup and fight again. So the question is the easy part in Afghanistan is over and really hard stuff remains.

KING: And your assessment, George Mitchell?

GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: About the same. I think one of the reasons it has gone well is that the president, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and all of the team has been tightly focused, disciplined, well organized. And I think they are -- it well advised to stress that they've got to remain that way tightly focused to get this done.

You know, Larry, there have already been several surprises in this. Just a week or 10 days ago, people were bemoaning the lack of progress then. It was sudden and unexpectedly large, now there may be difficult periods. So it is impossible to say with certainty, but I think they are doing well. And they are specially wise to stay tightly focused.

KING: George Will, too much emphasis on bin Laden or just about right?

WILL: Well, I think it is about right as long as you understand that that is the tip of the al Qaeda iceberg and the al Qaeda iceberg is just a part of this.

The president has been extraordinarily eager to stress the following: That the mission transcends al Qaeda. It transcends September 11. It will extend from Colombia to the Philippines. So there is a lot to be done, but first things first. And as long as you've got the country focused because of September 11, and you've got the country focused on the perpetrator of that, he -- bin Laden comes to the head of the class.

And in that regard, George Mitchell, does that send a lot of mercenaries into the area? That $25 million is a lot of bread.

MITCHELL: It is. And hopefully we will produce results, perhaps, mercenaries from within the area. I think it is important because it has become a huge and symbolic part of this whole struggle. But I agree it is not the end of the road. It is an essential step, but not the last step.

KING: We're covering a lot of bases. George Will, the military tribunal option, which the president -- he wants the option to try non-U.S. citizens in a military court setup with regard to this war. A lot of people have criticized left and right, including your friend, Mr. William Safire, on the right. What do you think?

WILL: I'm not alarmed by this. This is actually traditional. It's been used in almost all of America's declared wars. And we have just sort of stopped declaring wars in modern times and this is a war.

Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington -- probably our three most admired presidents -- used these. The -- it is important to understand, that the president did personally insist that the option be retained to use these on people in the United States, captured perhaps in the United States.

But the main point of this was to prepare for handling unlawful belligerents and war criminals captured overseas, particularly in Afghanistan, where you could have hundreds and even thousands.

KING: And, Senator Mitchell, what do you think?

MITCHELL: I don't agree. I think it was an unnecessary and unwise step. There are precedents but they are not identical. Just in the "Wall Street Journal" yesterday was pointed out that the Franklin Roosevelt example, which George has cited, included appeals to federal courts. That is precluded in the current order.

Secondly, so far at least, it is not clear that any of this would be made public, including the fact of the trials themselves. I hope that on reflection, the president will use this very sparingly. No American or really not many other people are going to object if this is used to try bin Laden were he to be captured -- in the unlikely event he is captured. But it could be used for large numbers of people without anyone ever knowing about it. And I think that is not the right approach. So I hope it is used very sparingly.

KING: And, George Will, did not the Supreme Court admonish President Lincoln for suspending habeas corpus?

WILL: They did indeed and that was, frankly, unconstitutional. Indeed, you can make an argument, Larry, that the Emancipation Proclamation was itself unconstitutional.

However, this use of military tribunal is far from shredding the Constitution, as Senator Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee said, arises out of the war powers vested in the president by the Constitution. It is conducted under the uniform code of military justice, passed by Congress. So there is an envelopment of law around the exercise of these tribunals.

KING: Without a war, though. We don't have a declared war, right?

WILL: We don't have a declared war, but we didn't have a declared war in Korea. That was a war. We didn't have a declared war in Vietnam and we have a Vietnam War memorial.


MITCHELL: If I could just say, Larry, though, that the Constitution explicitly reserves the power to declare war to the Congress, not to the president. The president has no authority to declare war. KING: Now let's start -- on this phase, let's go to Senator Mitchell. What's the role of non-Afghanistans in the setting up of new government?

MITCHELL: I think it is to encourage and facilitate a process by which a broadly-based government of the people of Afghanistan is in place and the people of Afghanistan are given the right to choose their own leaders.

I don't think it can happen without outside assistance and facilitation, specifically the United Nations with U.S. support and encouragement and of course the U.S. itself. But, I think it has to be broadly based at the outset and a process should be set in place under which, within a reasonable period of time, the people of Afghanistan will themselves decide how they want to organize their government and who their leaders should be.

KING: George Will, the United States and, I believe, 21 other nations have pledged billions in Afghanistan. Does that pledge also give them the right to help set it up?

WILL: Well, you can fall you back on the axiom that he who pays the piper calls the tune. But we have no idea what kind of tune to call, Larry. This is a simmering ethnic, religious, linguistic bouillabaisse over there.

Look, let me give you an analogy. Every four years for about six months, we fled little homogeneous, English-speaking, temperate New Hampshire with poll takers, political scientists, journalists, political consultants all to answer two simple questions: Who will win the two primaries? And we usually surprised. Now we are going to get into this tremendous confusion of Afghanistan and cut across all these divisions and set up a government? Good luck.

KING: We will be right back with more of George Will and George Mitchell -- lots of great guests tonight. And Judy Collins to close it out.

Tomorrow night, a complete musical tribute on Thanksgiving night. We will be right back with the Georges. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will prevail with the combination of good information, decisive action, and great military skill. The enemy -- the enemy hopes they can hide until we tire. But we are going to prove them wrong. We will never tire. And we will hunt them down.




KING: Senator Mitchell, any link between the war in Afghanistan and the Israeli -- the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects?

MITCHELL: It is clear that the conflict is not a primary motivating factor for bin Laden and the leadership of al Qaeda. They are primarily Saudis and Egyptians and their primary concern is the overthrow of those governments.

But it is also clear that it is a huge motivating factor for millions of people in Arab countries in their hostility to United States. So what bin Laden has done has been to try to use it as a recruiting device and as a way to garner support among those people. It made sense for the United States to try to resolve the conflict prior to September 11. Independent of that action, it makes sense do so in the wake of September 11. And that is really just an added reason, so there is that relationship.

I think we could severely undercut the appeal of this bin Laden and future bin Ladens by helping to lead the parties, encourage the parties, to reach a resolution of that conflict.

KING: George, what did you think of Colin Powell's speech in that regard the other day?

WILL: Well, it is not Colin Powell's fault that the following is true, but I think the following is true, that there is sometimes when you give a talk -- and that was one of them -- when what you realize is how little there is to say that is very useful at the moment about a particular problem.

The problem in the Middle East is, basically, that you have an asymmetry here. The Israelis want to end the conflict and their interlocutors want to end Israel, at this point. We still do not have a satisfactory partner for Israel in peace.

Mr. Powell did say one very, very important thing. He said the Palestinians must recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. Now that is that -- we are getting into the terms of art here -- but what that meant was the United States firmly stands against any Arafat insistence on the right of return. That is that anybody who fled in 1948 or is connected to someone who fled 53 years ago would have a right to return. In which case, the Jewish character of Israel would be finished and Israel itself would be, in a sense, liquidated. That was the sticking point that caused the Camp David summit with Barak and Arafat with Bill Clinton to fall apart because Arafat, offered extraordinary concessions by Barak, still would not take them without the right of return.

KING: Do you see any hope in that regard, George Mitchell? I mean, you have been involved in disputes like this. You were in Northern Ireland. Do you see light at the tunnel?

MITCHELL: Yes, I do, Larry. It'll take history and the perspective of time to sort out the reasons why there was a peace agreement in Northern Ireland, imperfect as it is, but with great progress in the past couple of years.

But I believe the overriding reason was the weariness with war of the members of both societies. Both communities were just sick and tired of the large numbers of people killed, especially the powerful and emotional sight of those small white coffins of children being buried week after week after week.

I think the same thing is occurring and will occur in Middle East. I was struck by the fact that on my last visit there, Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat said to me, in almost identical words, life has become unbearable for the members of our society. And it is unbearable. Israelis have no security. They have fear and anxiety. It is a major decision whether to walk down the street, go to a store, go to a movie, get in a bus or a taxi.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, life is unbearable. Their economy has been just devastated by this conflict. Unemployment is high. They can't move about their own country or the area that they live in, even their own city. And so I think they'll come to the realization that as difficult as our political compromise is, as tough as it is to work it out, it is much better than the continuation of this grinding, dehumanizing, demoralizing conflict.

KING: George Will, we are constantly told it's going to take a long time. Do you think that long time might include going onto Iraq?

WILL: You are talking now about the general war on terrorism?

KING: Yes, back to the war.

WILL: Clearly, something must be done about the most dangerous of the nations. We know that that man, Hussein, loves chemical, biological particularly, and is seeking nuclear weapons. We know he has an arsenal of the first two. We know he will soon, if not impeded, have one of the second.

There is no reason to doubt that he will not use what he has. He has already used, for example, gas warfare against his own people. But how you go about this is a complicated question, requiring an enormous amount of planning. And it has to be quiet planning. You don't advertise your moves in this business. So this is long ways off.

KING: The president has canceled holiday tours. George Mitchell, do you agree with that of the White House?

MITCHELL: I do agree if that was the recommendation, which it was, for security reasons and I accept that. I'm not privy to it now, but I know when I was Senate majority leader, I had access to all such information. And, generally, precautions of this type are appropriate. And my feeling is that if that was recommended for security reasons, as appears to be the case, then the president was wise to accept that recommendation.

KING: George Will, last month you wrote, "Public support for war is sustained by victories." Also -- you also declared that, "as far as economic situation goes, what the country needs is an attitude adjustment, an infusion of confidence." As we approach the holiday season, do you see that infusion? WILL: Well, I think so, Larry. I think if you go all the way back to March 2000 with the bursting of the tech bubble, which took way $5 trillion of paper wealth, that's the equivalent of the gross national products of Britain, France and Italy combined.

You add it on to the post-September 11 weakening of the market, the terrible hit to the transportation industry and the ancillary tourism and other industries, and you see that the economy is still as strong as it is, you realize that a $10 trillion economy has remarkable durability in it. And I do still believe that the best stimulus package you could get is good news from Afghanistan. That Congress trying to tweak the economy with this or that stimulus package, is a relatively minor matter.

KING: How do you see in the holiday season coming, Senator Mitchell? Are you optimistic about the public?

MITCHELL: I heard a economist say just a couple days ago that we would reach bottom just in the past couple weeks. And I'm inclined to think that is true, although I think the recovery will be long and slow, probably some time next summer or fall before we come back. But I have no doubt we will come back, Larry.

The United States of America has confronted many crises, far more difficult and serious than this one, has always emerged stronger, more free and with more broadly shared prosperity. And I have absolutely no doubt the same will be true as at the end of this tunnel.

KING: George Will, you share that optimism?

WILL: Absolutely. The trajectory of American economy is always up with little dips, perhaps, in between. I saw somewhere today, Larry, that gasoline was selling in Atlanta today for 79 cents a gallon. Now that shows up as reduced retail sales in the country. But it is good news.

KING: Yes. Thank you both very much. As always, we will be calling on you again. Have a great holiday, guys.

MITCHELL: Thanks, Larry.

WILL: Thank you.

KING: George Will and George Mitchell.

And when we come back, Judith Miller and Bill Kurtis. And we had another anthrax death today. As we go to break, the president spoke today at Fort Campbell in Kentucky -- the 101st Airborne -- he got a rousing reception. We'll be right back.


KING: Two terrific journalists join us now, one in print and one in the broadcast end. In the print end in New York is Judith Miller of the "New York Times", the co-author of the best-seller "Germs: Biological Weapons in America's Secret War." She's a senior writer at the Times and has been an expert on Mid-East and terrorism for a long time -- covered bin Laden since '93.

And in Chicago, Bill Kurtis, the award-winning anchor and executive producer of A&E's "Investigative Reports." Earlier this month, he had a terrific show, a chilling hour-long documentary called "Bioterrorism." In January, "Investigative Reports" will present a portrait of a terrorist, focusing on Mohamed Atta.

Judith Miller, we've had our fifth death today, a 94-year-old woman. It's puzzled everyone. No one thought she had it. There were no risk factors that she had. And it was inhalation anthrax. What do you make of it? It's a sad case, but this is No. 5.

JUDITH MILLER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think, Larry, the disturbing thing is that nobody, at this stage, knows what to make of it. This is one of these ominous mysteries that plagues us in this episode.

We simply don't know how a 94-year-old woman who rarely went out, except to go to church or have her hair done, go to the library, could have come in contact with enough anthrax to give her inhalation anthrax that has now killed her, unfortunately. It is not known.

KING: Bill, is this still a story where on a scale of 10 we are only at about four in knowledge?

BILL KURTIS, A&E "INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS": I think so, primarily because the law enforcement agencies have come up zero on this.

But, you know, we will know a lot tomorrow. We should have the DNA. And whether or not the strain there in Oxford matches that in Washington. I also heard that she has two weeks of mail in the trash. They will be able to go through all her letters.

But, Judith, let's think out of the box here for a moment, because the next popular television show -- or maybe they are here already -- is going to be this detective, medical detective, like "Quincy" of old. There are about five naturally occurring cases of anthrax in the United States every year, about 5,000 worldwide. They come from livestock, cattle, sheep and goats. It used to be known as the "wool workers disease" because they would work with the hides and get the anthrax that way.

If it is not a strain that we see in Washington, if they don't turn up anything in the letters, maybe a longshot -- very, very rare -- it comes from that other source.

MILLER: Well, it could be, but that is highly unlikely because what this woman had was inhalation, or pulmonary, anthrax. And the cases that we do see tend to be cutaneous or skin anthrax. And, you know, I just don't think there is any indication that this woman was around anything that could have done this in a natural setting. She didn't live near a wool-sorting sheep -- you know, she didn't go around sniffing the earth.

KING: This for both of you, we will start with you, Bill. Why -- and I know you try to cover this in the show, but sometimes you run into dead ends -- and it was a great show, by the way, and we are looking forward to the next one on Atta -- why can't we pin the source here?

KURTIS: It is possibly domestic. It took us years to find the Unabomber. This person, whoever is putting this anthrax in the envelopes, probably has access to a library, a clean room, or he is dead because they did it once and then went away. So, he has cover.

What surprises me is that no one has come forward to say this is rather unusual, this is difficult here and there is a strange guy that you should look into.

KING: Judith, what's your thoughts.

MILLER: Well, I think that it took 18 years for that to happen with the Unabomber.

KING: And he had to be turned in by his brother.

MILLER: And he had to be turned in by his brother, once enough information was out into the public so that someone recognized this character.

And I think that the point of the FBI profile that the FBI issued last week was to give people a sense of the kind of person that they were looking for and in the hopes that somebody would say, "Gee, I know a disaffected scientist who may have access to a lab." I think they were actually seeking clues in this case. And the FBI has been working flat out with medical investigators.

This kind of investigation is enormously difficult, time consuming and I think there is a kind of natural impatience we all have. We want a solution to this. But, really, these investigations take time and we are going to have to be patient. I think the question now is is this woman who died in Connecticut the end of the phase of anthrax letters that we saw or is she the beginning of a second wave of attacks? And that has to be the question that plagues -- no pun intended -- investigators tonight.

KING: Bill Kurtis, are we in a state of hoping it is a wacko?

KURTIS: I think everybody is. You'd hate to think that the al Qaeda had this network and capability to get us a second phase of this. Everybody wants it to go away. I would like to think it was one-time shot, mailing them all out at once, myself.

But, again, time is going to give us answers. You have to run down leads, thousands, thousands, of leads, to try and find where the strain came from. And that may lead us to the person who has it.

KING: Judith, it's hard to be a democracy. Your paper, the Times, reported today, an extraordinary story, on this -- on germ warfare and this Utah gun show with this guy from Nebraska who's got a book out that tells you how to -- he hates the government and he tells you how to make and deliver anthrax. And apparently, the book is reliable. MILLER: Well, apparently so. But, I do know when the Times submitted some sections of the book to law enforcement people, they wouldn't comment on it. And neither would the Army lab and the other people, investigators who were working in this area. And I think that, in and of itself, is a reflection of the sensitivity of these kinds of developments.

Sure, Larry, there are lots of odd people in this country. But I think there is a line that we have to be very careful of crossing in moments like this. And, that is why the "New York Times" wrote the story that it did.

KING: Bill, do you have any personal fears? Do you watch your mail? Are you Bill Kurtis: super careful?

KURTIS: As a matter of fact, we called in the FBI for one young man, who -- maybe he's young, maybe he's not, we could not trace the address. It was from the area around the first letter in Florida. We received a...

KING: That went to you?

KURTIS: It came to me. And it turns out -- and, you know, I'm sure Judith gets a lot of these letters, too -- the people who just want to give you information. And in the television business, you know how that is.

Well, I started looking at the detailed information and can make no sense of it. So I actually faxed him back to try and find -- and sure enough, he then sent me twice as much material, but leading nowhere, essentially.

KING: Judith, you had your scare. Have you fully recovered from your powdered letter?

MILLER: Yes, I have, which turned out to be just powder and that's probably why I fully recovered. But I know that the Times and other newspapers -- and I'm sure Bill as well -- all of our organizations have now instituted screening for mail. It slows things down considerably. So if you are going to give us tips or send us news, don't try the mail. I would suggest another way at this point.

KING: Now, Bill's show...

KURTIS: I can't believe that e-mail hasn't gone through the roof. I mean, my e-mail stocks.


KING: Now, Judith, Bill's show included the -- a lot about the major Soviet impact into bioweapons and their research facilities. But you ran a story on Monday that the United States is publicly accusing now, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria of violating the Germ Weapons Ban Treaty. So why do we even talk to these people? Why do we talk to Syria if that is true? MILLER: Well, you talk to them in the hopes of getting them to stop. And I think one aspect of the decision to -- quote -- "name names" was the administration's determination that it hasn't been enough to quietly talk to these nations about their programs, that they show no signs of stopping.

But I think, Larry, there was also another reason for that decision to name names. By the way, not all names were named. There were some countries that the United States suspects of having a program that weren't named.

But I think partly it was aimed at deflecting some criticism that has arisen, of America's policies in this area. The Bush administration made a decision not to accept an agreement that had been negotiated, that was supposed to strengthen the treaty. And I think that the administration wanted to deflect criticism of that decision.

KING: Bill, when does "The Portrait of a Terrorist" air?

KURTIS: Next week on Monday on "INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS," 10:00 your time. And we want to know still how could someone just give up his way in the world and dedicate himself to the deaths of so many others, Mohamed Atta?

KING: Thank you both very much. Judith Miller and Bill Kurtis, two of our favorite people. Happy holidays.

MILLER: Happy holidays.

KURTIS: Same to you. Thank you.

KING: When we come back, Senator Mitch McConnell -- he went with the President today down to Kentucky; Congresswoman Jane Harman and Congressman Christopher Shays. Speaking of the President in Kentucky, here he shares the Thanksgiving feast with the servicemen. We'll be right back.


KING: Welcome back to the Thanksgiving eve edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

We now welcome in Washington, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information -- went to Kentucky with the President today.

Congresswoman Jane Harman, also in Washington, Democrat of California and a ranking member of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security. And at home in Connecticut in Stamford is Congressman Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut, chairman of the Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations.

What was that like today, Senator Mcconnell, with the President and the troops?

REP. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), RANKING MEMBER, FOREIGN OPS BUDGET COMMITTEE: Well, it was thrilling to be there. Of course, the 101st now, Larry, as a result of Steven Ambrose's book and Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's "Band of Brothers" series on HBO is one of the most famous outfits in America. And so there they were, the 101st, the Screaming Eagles. The President got a warm reception. It was a perfect day. Couldn't have been better.

KING: Did you go down with him and come back with him on Air Force One?

MCCONNELL: Yes, I did. And it was really a great to see these youngsters. They're so dedicated. I mean, when you have an all- volunteer army. I'm constantly amazed and sort of reassured about the future of country that these youngsters are willing to serve, anxious to serve, and prepared to do their duty.

KING: Now let's touch some bases. Congresswoman Harman, are you concerned on this Thanksgiving eve about homeland security or do you think things look pretty peaceful for the weekend?

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well I hope they'll be peaceful. There's still the anthrax scare. And we don't know where that's coming from. I think our country is better protected than it was a few months ago. We're on higher alert. And all of our systems work better, but the coordination is still missing. I still think Tom Ridge needs statutory authority.

KING: Congressman Shays, in that regard your opinion on that? And how does it look to you?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R-CT), NAT'L SECURITY SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, Tom Ridge has the support of the President. He's right next door to him. He's working overtime to learn his job. Eventually, he'll want some budgetary authority. And eventually, he'll probably recommend that we reorganize the government, but he doesn't need that now.

KING: And what do you make about the immediate times ahead? Do you feel safer?

SHAYS: Do I feel safer?

KING: Yes.

SHAYS: I feel safe. I feel that we are totally focused on this government. Every committee of Congress is looking at their job in terms of what we do to face these terrorists. We are doing well in Afghanistan, but I want to point out, this not a war in Afghanistan. This is a war against terrorism. And Afghanistan is just one part of it. We will have to go into Iraq. We will have to have inspections. We will have to follow the terrorists wherever they go and wherever they train.

KING: Senator, a lot of people are flying tonight. I think it's the busiest night of year. Do you have any concerns?

MCCONNELL: No. Of course, those of us who serve here in the Congress are frequent fliers. I think it's safe to fly. I feel confident doing it. And I think people who are flying are rolling with the punches. I think they view the enhanced security as necessary and only an inconvenience that people are willing to adjust to.

I think the sooner we get back in the air, and get back to normal, the more it will be clear that the terrorists have absolutely failed in every way to alter our lifestyle. In fact, what they've done by this horrendous act, that overreached so much, is produce what I never thought I'd see in my lifetime is this enormous unity in our country, and really, support around the world for a cause. It's a remarkable thing.

KING: You still see it in the Senate too,?

MCCONNELL: Well, we're going to have our differences on domestic policy. But after all, that's what a free country and a democracy is about. We haven't repealed political debate. And we're having some political debate. But on the foreign policy and the war, there is still remarkable unity. And I think that is going to hold up.

KING: Congresswoman Harman, the new aviation security bill will have the Secretary of Transportation with us other night, Mr. Mineta's going to have to select someone to be a deputy secretary, pretty much running the show. Do you think that's going to come very soon? And what kind of person are you looking for?

HARMAN: Oh, I sure hope it comes soon. It took Congress much too long to pass that bill. And we got stuck in an ideological fight that America wanted over. And it should have been over.

It should be someone very competent, who knows how to hire federal employees real quickly. They're going to be extraordinary powers if people don't measure up. They can be fired under this bill, which is a good thing and it sunsets in three years.

But I want to mention, Larry, that we've still left out a bunch of workers out there who were laid off after September 11, both airline and airport workers. They've gotten no relief from Congress. I was at a food services plant in my district yesterday. And one- third of the airline food that used to be purchased before September 11 isn't. They've laid off 4,000 workers nationwide. And I think the airlines are cutting excess capacity that existed before September 11. And it's really punishing workers. And that's going to keep our economy from recovering quickly.

KING: Congressman Shays, do you agree with that?

SHAYS: Well, I'd like the bill we passed, but the bill we passed was a better bill than the Senate bill. The Senate had both the Justice Department and the Defense Department, excuse me the transportation department, in charge. It didn't have any requirement for checking for explosives in the belly of an aircraft. So I think the Senate bill was good. We improved it. And I think the compromise was even better. So I just don't agree with Jane that it took us too long. I think we spent the time we needed to get it right.

KING: Senator McConnell, on anthrax: The Russell Building is being looked at down at the Hart Building, of course. Do you have concerns in that area? We had the lady die today.

MCCONNELL: Well, look, this anthrax attack, it's very unfortunate that some people were lost to it, but as a major act of terror against our country, you'd have to consider it a failure. I mean, they are not going to succeed in stopping the mail.

We're going to figure out -- we're in the process of figuring out already how to irradiate the mail and restore confidence in people that the mail can be safely delivered. Whoever this was, is a murderer. And we're going to find them. And we're going to prosecute them. But I don't think this anthrax attack, in any grand scheme, was a very successful attack on the United States.

KING: Jane, do you think it's a failure?

HARMAN: Well, I think bioterrorism remains a big threat. Anthrax may not be because it is not contagious and we've learned how to deal with it.

KING: Right.

HARMAN: Although our system again of coordinating between the Centers for Disease Control and the Army labs and our first responders still need work. But there are other threats, small pox, plague, other more contagious diseases, that we still could be subjected to.

We need a major investment in our public health systems. And congress next week I believe, at least the House, is going to try to take up a bioterrorism package, which includes some funding for improving the CDC. That's something I've been sponsoring and coordinating our public health response.

We shouldn't be cutting back on Medicaid reimbursements in 14 states. That's how they fund trauma centers in California and elsewhere. And I think that's real bad move at this time.

KING: Congressman Shays, I know this an area of expertise for you. Do you think the bioterrorism vis-a-vis anthrax has been, as Mitch McConnell called it, a failure?

SHAYS: Well, I don't think we've failed. I mean, I think we're going to get attacks all the time. Oh, it's they failed?

KING: Yes, they failed.

SHAYS: They failed to disrupt us. We're going to deal with it. It's like sand in the gears. I mean this precious lady who died, we need to understand how that happened, but we're going to have more attacks like this.

But we have automobile accidents. We lose 40,000 people a year. We will lose some people, in these attacks.

KING: We'll be right back with our guests on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When wronged, our great nation has always been patient, and determined, and relentless. And that's the way we are today. We have defeated enemies of freedom before. And we will defeat them again.



KING: Judy Collins still to come.

Let's touch some other bases. Senator McConnell, you introduced the Secretary of State in Louisville on Monday. Were you impressed with that speech? And what's your view of the current standing of that crisis in the Middle East?

MCCONNELL: Well, I think the Secretary of State made an outstanding speech. And clearly, Larry, what he had in mind was to try to jumpstart that stalled process one more time, seemingly this endless conflict.

What the Secretary of State said that was new, I thought, was the appointment of General Zinni to sit down with both sides and try deal with the security issues first. You know, in the past, they have reached these understandings. And then the security apparatus is not there to enforce the understanding.

So I think what Colin Powell is going to try to do this time is to get the security apparatus in place first, in the hopes that that will allow enough confidence to be built, to go forward.

And of course, he laid out the parameters, the ultimate deal, which would include, of course, a Palestinian state, and Israel's right to exist, which implies no right to return. I mean, everybody knows that that's going to be the final parameters of the deal. It's a great speech. And we're glad he chose to make it in Kentucky.

KING: In Afghanistan, Congresswoman Harman, are you -- they keep telling us it's going to take long time. Does that long time include expanding that war, do you think?

HARMAN: Well, we don't know yet, Larry. Remember the war is not just military. And we have to help in some way, as Senator Mitchell was saying earlier on your show, with the development of a really broad government, which I hope includes women as participants. Women are peacemakers in Afghanistan. It's important that they be part of the government, just as they are part of our government. But I wanted to say, I'm more pessimistic on the Middle East. I thought the Powell speech was excellent, however, we've tried the security angle before.

We had George Tenet there, both in the last administration and early in this one. And nothing good happened. Iran and Iraq are becoming more dangerous. There's still proliferation from Russia, to Iran, in terms of at least of nuclear help with a nuclear missile capability. And I think the President may have missed an opportunity last week with Putin, to insist on nonproliferation from Russia to any dangerous rogue states.

KING: Let me get in a call before we have a question for Congressman Shays. Ottawa, hello?

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: My question is, as the holiday season begins, what do you think is the most important message that you can give to North Americans?

KING: Let's go with Congressman Shays to start on that. What is the most important message?

SHAYS: Well, I mean, this is a time of extraordinary gratitude. And I think it's important to point out that this battle with terrorists is not about malice. This is too important to talk about it and think about it in those terms.

This is a race, with a terrorist to shut him down before they get chemical and biological agents -- better delivery system before they nuclear waste or a nuclear weapon. And what we need to do is we need to shut them down, but be grateful that we as a nation, have the ability to be united and fight this war and not let it up.

KING: Detroit, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I would like to know what's being done regarding security at the busiest time of the year for shopping, particularly, Friday, the busiest day of the shopping, you know, the whole year? And some of the largest malls in the country, which most of them are big. There's a lot of people. How is security? I'm concerned.

KING: That's right, Senator McConnell, the malls will be jammed on Friday.

MCCONNELL: Well, I think all the business people are -- have a heightened sense of security. Everybody is more alert than they have been in the past. But I do think it's important for us all to keep things in perspective.

As someone said earlier, you're much more likely to be in automobile accident in this country. We lost 800 people in my state last year than we are to be victims of a terrorist attack. But everybody is more alert, all across the board. I think people are more aware of this, and doing more to prevent it.

KING: Jane Harman, is it mixed signals to ask people to be alert, be normal?

HARMAN: Yes, it's hard for people to do both. And I think this comes back to my point about Governor Ridge and his need for statutory and budget authority. We need one message in this country. We can't have these new alert warnings, on the one hand, and then have people say be normal.

I just wanted to point out, Larry, in response to the last caller, that you and I come from Los Angeles. And these terrorists are trying to hit our icons, you know, our entertainment and other areas, or at least we think so.

And we have done great job in L.A. under leadership of Sheriff Lee Baca and our LAPD in protecting L.A. And so far, nothing has gone wrong. So I would send a message that our first responders are great. Our fire and police services are really at the ready.

KING: I didn't get Congressman Shays' thoughts on the war and whether he thinks it will expand possibly even to Iraq.

SHAYS: Well, I think it will expand. I think it has to expand. I think that it's absurd to think that we would have not been able to continue the inspections and assume that somehow he's not going to be involved in chemical, biological or a nuclear effort.

I mean, he's very much involved in all of those things. We need to say the searches, the inspections will take place. And if you're not going to allow them to, then we have to step forward and make sure that we that we go in and end his activities.

The point I'd make to you is that terrorists aren't in (INAUDIBLE), nor is our terrorism. We have to go at the countries that sponsor these terrorists. And it's just not Afghanistan.

KING: Do you agree with that, Senator McConnell, that it's not just bin Laden here and it's not just one person? It's terrorism.

MCCONNELL: Absolutely. But of course, it's important to finish the first chapter of this book. And the first chapter is in Afghanistan. We need to end this, part of it successfully. Thereby convincing some of our weak-kneed, occasional allies that we'll finish the job.

And then, we'll move on from there. It may or may not be Iraq next, but I agree with Chris. We're going to have to deal with Iraq sooner or later.

KING: Congresswoman Harman, too much emphasis on bin Laden alone? HARMAN: I think the President's making the case right. It's not just bin Laden. It's not even just al Qaeda. It is, as former director of Central Intelligence Jim Woolsey says, draining the swamp, not just the terrorists, but those who feed them and those who clothe them and those who house them.

I think that message is out. I just want to urge us to keep an international coalition in place. That's helpful. It doesn't have to mean we have to back down from what we think are our priorities, but this kind of team building is what we're going to need later in the world to help deal with the intractable poverty that breeds the terrorists in the first place.

KING: Congressman Shays, quickly, Governor Ridge told us the other night there's always going to be a director of homeland security. Do you agree?

SHAYS: Yes. That's my answer.

KING: Yes.

Thank you all very much. A very happy holiday to all of you. Senator Mitch McConnell in Washington, also in Washington, Congresswoman Jane Harman. And in Stamford, Connecticut, Congressman Christopher Shays.

Tomorrow night, we're going to have a major program of all the highlights or most of the highlights of our musical endings that we featured since a couple of days after September 11. Great shows coming over the weekend as well, as we stay on topic.

Our closing musical number tonight will feature the voice of a belle, the incredible Judy Collins. She's next. We'll be right back.


KING: Joining us now in New York is an amazing talent, the wonderful Judy Collins, singer, musician, song writer, guest on this show. She's sung at a number of memorials. They asked you to do a lot since the 11th?

JUDY COLLINS, SINGER: Yes, you know I'm a New Yorker. I think the whole world is a New Yorker.

KING: Yes.

COLLINS: And I sang for the memorial for the Aon Corporation first at St. Patrick's. And then I sang for the wonderful Cantor Fitzgerald group that had their memorial in Central Park.

KING: Yes, wow.

COLLINS: You know, they're so hard. They're so difficult, but there is a lot of healing that goes on with that music.

KING: Speaking of healing, Judy Collins will close it for us tonight with "Amazing Grace" -- Judy.

COLLINS: Thank you, Larry.



KING: Is that something or what? Tomorrow night, a full musical tribute on Thanksgiving night and then back live on Friday.

We turn it now over to Aaron Brown. He'll host "NEWSNIGHT" in New York. And a very happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Aaron.




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