CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Colin Soloway; Interview With Carl Levin; Interview With John Warner
Aired December 10, 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, the hunt for bin Laden heats up. Could he finally be caught? Plus chilling words from the world's most wanted man. Live from Kandahar Afghanistan, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, and with her CNN's Nic Robertson.
From Kabul, the man who interviewed American Taliban fighter John Walker, "Newsweek" correspondent Colin Soloway.
In Washington, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin and the ranking member of that committee, Senator John Warner. What should American justice do with John Walker.
In Washington, Congressman Chris Shays, chair of the Subcommittee on National Security. In Los Angeles, defense attorney Mark Geragos. Back in Washington, Congressman Roberts Wexler, member of the Judiciary Committee, and former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne.
Plus, blues legend himself B.B. King! All next, on LARRY KING LIVE!
We begin in Kandahar with CNN's crack correspondents Christiane Amanpour, and Nic Robertson. And Colin Soloway will be joining us momentarily from Kabul.
Christiane, what's the latest on the collapse of the Taliban? What is the current situation at this moment?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think one can safely say, that the Taliban era is over. Indeed one of their own former officials said we are no longer a political force. There is no doubt that this regime has collapsed, that this is the birthplace of the Taliban, what was in fact their capital, not just their spiritual capital, but where they made decisions, where Mullah Omar really made the decisions that the Taliban enacted in their years of rule, since 1994.
So what's happened is that there has been a hand over of the city, it happened, for most part over the weekend, although the formal surrender was for Friday, and for the most part it is calm although there are some sort of, finalization of exactly who lays down their arms when, but for the most part it is calm. Hamid Karzai, the interim head of this new administration that takes place on December 22 is here in Kandahar. He has been meeting with all sorts of tribal leaders, and things are, things are calm here.
KING: All right. Nic Robertson also on hand in Kandahar.
What about the pockets of defiance from the Taliban? What are the Americans and the Northern Alliance and the others expecting?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are still about 200 Arabs dug in at Kandahar Airport. This was a base of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. We were talking with the military commanders here in the tribal forces, trying to get them out of the airport and they say they are really well dug in. They say that they found supply stores that they -- out at the airport there with things like, ranging from shampoo, to water, to food.
They don't know how long these Arab fighters there can hold out. They say every time they see them at the airport they disappear. They have a trench, an underground bunker network somewhere close to the runway and they just can't get to them. They want to lay siege to them but these fighters have important information, possibly, about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden or other al Qaeda leaders.
Some of those fighters who have been killed, one of the commanders was showing us a passport of one of those fighters. It had shown that he had come from Saudi Arabia just four days before September 11. We could also say from his passport that he had been to Georgia, in the former Soviet Union, on his way to Chechnya about two years ago.
So there is vital information about where these people came from, about their associations with al Qaeda, about bigger al Qaeda structures and movements in the past, so contained in that pocket of resistance of the airport will be vital information about trying to find Osama bin Laden, about trying to put -- trying to find more information about al Qaeda -- Larry.
KING: By the way, the current issue of "Newsweek" magazine out today, has this terrific front cover story: "American Taliban: The Saga Of John Walker." It was written by Colin Soloway. He is in Kabul, "Newsweek" correspondent stationed there. Before we ask about John Walker and we'll get to thoughts of our -- of all three guests, what are they saying in Kabul about the events in Kandahar, Colin?
COLIN SOLOWAY, "NEWSWEEK": Well, it is pretty early in the morning here but I think, people here I think would be relieved to see the Kandahar finished. You know, what we have been hearing is that the Northern Alliance would like to be sending down some more troops out of here to support the units down in Kandahar, but the word that they were getting at least in the past couple of days from the Pashtun -- their Pashtun allies down in Kandahar was that whatever you do, do not send ethnic Tajik units down there.
If you send ethnic Tajik units there, there will be a fight between your Pashtun allies and the Tajiks. If you send helicopters down with Tajik helicopters, we will shoot them down. This is the word that we are getting from officials here in Kabul over past couple days. So it seems that despite the fact that there are advances in Kandahar on the part of Pashtun units from there, they are not eager to see, sort of, forces coming from Kabul, unless they are Pashtun.
KING: Christiane Amanpour, concerning bin Laden and stories about him being in some mountain cave, how best are we -- is the approach going to be to try to get him? How focused, it is going to be American ground troops? What?
I'm sorry we lost -- we got it now, Christiane, I am sorry, go ahead. AMANPOUR: ... trying to do...
KING: We got you back.
AMANPOUR: I was just saying, it is hard to tell future plans of U.S. ground forces -- mmm, shall I continue?
KING: Yes, please.
AMANPOUR: It is hard to tell the future plans of U.S. ground forces. But as you can see, over the last several days and weeks, the target of most of the U.S. military might has been the so-called Tora Bora cave complex near Jalalabad.
And it is assumed by the U.S. and others, that perhaps either bin Laden and/or his associates may be holed up in some of those caves and the U.S. is certainly dropping some of its most powerful conventional bombs on that area. And now in the last few days, the so-called Eastern Alliance, the anti-Taliban forces on the ground have also been trying to mount an assault, although they have come up against some fairly stiff resistance, nothing that can beat off the United States military might, if you like, but nonetheless, on the ground some tank fire, some mortar fire which has prevented the ground forces of the Eastern Alliance moving into that complex.
But they say they believe that Osama bin Laden and one of his top lieutenants at least, are holed up in an area about four kilometers square around that particular region. On just one other note, Mullah Omar, we also don't know particularly, precisely, where he might be, but speaking to new interim leader, who is in Kandahar now, Hamid Karzai, he again reiterated that he will absolutely hold Mullah Omar to account, bring him to justice, and not let him off the hook, if indeed he finds him.
KING: Nic Robertson, Omar aside and also bin Laden aside, and Mullah aside, whatever, would you not call this at this point, an outstanding victory?
ROBERTSON: It certainly has been a victory so far to vanquish the Taliban. It has been a victory for all those who want to see a more Democratic government put in place in Afghanistan. It has been a victory for those who want to see better rights for women in Afghanistan. It has been a victory for those who want to see education for both girls and boys inside Afghanistan.
The true challenges of this victory, though, are going to be to continue where it started from, to be able to help rebuild Afghanistan, 22 years of war, involvement from many other countries in the region and its affairs. These are the things that are going to prove to be the challenges in a real victory for the people of Afghanistan will be a rebuilding of their country, and one which they can live in freely, one which they can exercise democracy, one which they can exercise their own cultural values, and these things, are the things that are closest to hearts of Afghans -- Larry.
KING: We will take a break and when we come back we will ask Colin about John Walker and what is his current status in the interview he obtained with him. Lots more to come on this editions of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: We are back on LARRY KING LIVE.
Let's go to Kabul and Colin Soloway, the "Newsweek" correspondent, the only person to have interviewed the very famous John Walker. Briefly, Colin, how did you get that interview?
SOLOWAY: Well, it was just good fortune. You know, sometimes you just run into good stories.
I was in the Kawajangi (ph) fortress on Saturday afternoon to actually interview some soldiers who had survived the uprising. And I was trying to get some information on how the CIA agent, Mike Spann, was killed. And when I arrived, the soldiers there told me that actually these guys had come out of the hole. They had come out of the basement area in the compound. And I went over to the trucks where the guys were being held and spoke with some Red Cross officials. And my interpreter ran up and told me, he said, you know, there is an American in the truck. And I think he said there is an American soldier in the truck.
And so I ran over to one of these trucks, an open top cargo truck, climbed up on the back of it and looked in and there was no American soldier. And I looked around sort of puzzled. And a soldier gestured to a young guy who was sitting in the corner of the truck closest to me. And I, you know, looked at him and said you are American. And he said yes and we started talking.
KING: And your overview now at the end of this since we have learned so much and heard from the parents and the like, the father appearing on this show, and you having spent time with him. We learned about the Green Beret talking to him, the CIA guy talking to him. What's the current thinking? What made -- what constitutes John Walker?
SOLOWAY: Well, it is very difficult, I think, for any of to us to say what constitutes anybody. I managed to speak with him for about 15 minutes, and, you know, he seemed to be a very articulate, very intelligent kid.
But, you know, again also a kid who had very strong beliefs and what we have learned from his parents is that, you know, he was a convert to Islam. And, you know, converts tend to be, you know, if you'll pardon the expression, you know, try to be more Catholic than the Pope. And so, you know, he pursued what he thought was the purest version of Islam.
And he told me he came to Afghanistan to support the Taliban because he believed that they were the only Islamic government in the world that actually provided a true Islamic state. So, you know, he -- his parents told me that -- his mother told me that he wanted to study Arabic in San'a' Yemen because that was the place where people allegedly spoke the most pure version of Arabic. And she speculated, you know, that he wanted to pursue what he believed was the most pure version of Islam. Now, again, you know, we all have strong beliefs, you know, one could argue that perhaps he took his a bit too far.
KING: Is he now, we understand, talking to officials? Do you understand that?
SOLOWAY: Well, that is what we are hearing. We are hearing -- again this is coming out of Washington -- he is being held in the Marine base at Camp Rhino down south of Kandahar and no one has any access to him there except U.S. government officials. But again, what we are hearing out of Washington and what I had heard even in Mazar-e Sharif from some sources was that -- that once he was taken into custody, that he was -- he was becoming more and more talkative, I think. I think as he realized, I think, the seriousness of his situation, he may have realized that he wasn't -- that he was probably going to do himself more good than harm by actually cooperating with officials. And again, there is some question as to exactly what he was doing.
KING: In that regard, Christiane Amanpour in Kandahar, what are you hearing?
AMANPOUR: Well, similarly to what Colin just said, we are only hearing reports from the pool reporters who are with the U.S. Marines and who say that he is being interrogated and that he may or may not be providing useful information on the Taliban and on what went on during those vital years that the U.S. is interested about. And we simply don't know what the future for him is, how he will be dealt with by higher authorities in the United States.
But, I think, from my vantage point where we stand here, Nic and I in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, it's very important to point out something that has been obvious even before the Taliban was vanquished, and that is quite different to what people like John Walker might believe, and that is that they profess the purer version of Islam, it was exactly the opposite of that. It was a distorted, fundamentalist, unreal version of Islam that the most learned Islamic scholars throughout the world who have been denouncing over the last several months and weeks.
And I think one needs to be very, very clear that there were a lot of impressionable young people who came from all over the world to so called fight with Taliban and who are now either dead, cornered or fleeing. And that this ideology is one that has been denounced by most moderate, intellectual and religious Muslims and it is one that is simply beyond the pale of what Islam teaches.
KING: There were many stories over the weekend in much of the American printed press and on television as well, Nic Robertson, about the danger that people such as yourself face. Are you fearful for yourself?
ROBERTSON: We are certainly very concerned when we came into Kandahar because we didn't know exactly what we were going to expect to find along the way. We did know that there was a potential that driving on the main highway into Kandahar that we could have been targeted for air strikes. This is a highway used by the Taliban fleeing Kandahar.
We also knew that there was the potential for running into different tribal groups along the way who might yet -- might not yet be on the same side as the group that we were traveling with. So we did have concerns, but all the information we had -- and we tried to get the best information we could before we left -- all the information we had was that the highway was held by the same group that we were traveling with, then when we got to Kandahar that we would be able to find a safe compound that was heavily defended by this group. That is what we found and we have been able to operate relatively freely and relatively safely since.
But it is a concern, and it is still a concern here. There are a lot of people around with guns and there are still pockets of resistance in the city. So for the next few days, at least, we are going to be proceeding with a lot of caution every time we leave this compound, Larry.
KING: Colin, are you going stay based in Kabul or are you going to move on?
SOLOWAY: Well, Larry, I do as I'm told by my bosses. I have been told that probably for the next week I will be holding down the fort here. We do have people trying to get into Kandahar to join Nic and Christiane, and we have people also up in Jalalabad. So, again I sort of, you know, I get my marching orders and I go, but for the moment, I just came in from Mazar-e Sharif a couple of days ago and so I have been told to hang out here.
KING: How bad, Christiane, is the weather and what are the concerns about the winter coming?
AMANPOUR: Well, it's certainly milder here because we are in south of the country than it is in Kabul or further north. But the weather is important because of what it might do to the people who are the most vulnerable. Seriously, things are much better now that the situation on the ground is much clearer, now that there is the opportunity to bring aid and humanitarian assistance. Things are much better than they could have been if the war was still at a pitched height at this time and if the roads were potentially still closed off.
But it is not an easy matter trying to bring sustenance to a country the majority of which depends almost entirely on humanitarian assistance. And that is going to be a big challenge for the international community, which is one reason why they are talking about a multi-national force to come in and make sure that at least humanitarian routes are open and that most desperately needed assistance reaches the people who need it, this winter especially.
KING: Thank you all very much. Christiane Amanpour, Nic Robertson in Kandahar; Colin Soloway in Kabul, his front-cover piece is in the issue of "Newsweek" now out.
When we come back, Senator Carl Levin and John Warner, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Armed Services Committee of the United States Senate. Don't go away.
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, in Washington, Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Senator John Warner, ranking member of that committee, Republican of Virginia.
The new bin Laden tape, Senator Levin, sources tell CNN that Wednesday is the target date for the administration to release it. What do you hear?
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: Well, I think that they want to release it if they can without jeopardizing sources. And providing it has total credibility, it would not be helpful if that tape is released, and had any suggestion, that in any way, it was not the original tape. And was not totally credible, because that would undermine the whole point of that tape, which is to provide the additional evidence that bin Laden was behind all of this. But, if it's totally credible, and if it cannot be contested in terms of its translation.
And if it does not, in any way, jeopardize sources or in any way let bin Laden signal through the use of words, to his people, what he wants them to do next it would it be very helpful, not just for the American people, but for the world to see him again, because the more people see him, it seems to me -- the more it's clear, just exactly what he is and what he stands for.
KING: Before we ask Senator Warner's opinion, Senator Levin, how would we know if he's signaling?
LEVIN: That's what some of the experts are trying to figure out, I think, right now, as to whether or not there's any way some of the people who decode, and who are experts in that -- are trying, I think, figure out exactly that. It's not an automatic and it's not obvious to many of us, but it hopefully could be discerned by them.
KING: Senator Warner, Senator Shelby, who saw the tapes, said -- quote -- "What I saw is an acknowledgement by Osama bin Laden in his own words, and his own gestures of his involvement and foreknowledge of the 9-11 attacks." Should we see the tape?
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: Larry, I take the view that first the president, right on down are very carefully analyzing, as Carl said, the various options here. I would add one more. And that is does releasing the tape enhance the safety and ability of the American forces fighting in that country? And our allies, or does it put them at further risk or greater risk? I hope they evaluate that.
Seems to me, bottom line, at least, as Greta said in a previous piece, here, we should release the transcript of it. And let everyone read it for themselves.
KING: Yes. What's wrong with, that Senator Levin that seems to satisfy all sides, wouldn't it?
LEVIN: It might, but sometimes the pictures are very powerful. I think the more people see bin Laden, the more it is obvious what a fanatic he is. And I think that that's good for the world, just to see exactly what this man is, not just to read his words. But, again, we have to be very cautious that we do not in any way set back our own cause, in a number of ways, which it could be set back unless it's careful.
KING: Let's turn to the John Walker matter, and Senator Warner what do you make of it? I mean, we've had some -- the president seemed to call for compassion. The other night, Senator Hatch called for some compassion and understanding, what do you think of this puzzle?
WARNER: Well, I'll give you a short answer. I brought with me a copy of the Constitution, tonight, and the founding fathers put it in here, and it's the only crime that they wrote up specifically in the Constitution. And that is treason against the United States, when you provide aid or comfort to the enemy. Clearly, he's done this, and frankly I think we ought to just say in the old days, throw the book at him. Whether he should be charged with treason or otherwise, giving him due process under the laws of the United States, and let the chips fall as they may.
I hope we don't make a big deal out of it, and detract attention away from really the courage being shown by the men and women of the armed forces, today, in bringing -- I think -- a successful conclusion, consistent with the objectives laid down by the commander- in-chief, our president in this operation in Afghanistan.
KING: Senator Levin, what if he cooperates as has been rumored? Other Taliban people who are cooperating are being let go.
LEVIN: Well, if he cooperates that's going to be considered presumably by the Justice Department as to how to proceed against him. And they should look at all the facts, and if he is committed a crime they ought to prosecute him, if he's working with us, and helping us they ought to take that in consideration in the way they prosecute him.
But, I think it's wise for us to get all the facts, and for the Justice Department to weigh all the facts before we reach any conclusion. He may have committed an act of treason, he may not have. But there are certain constitutional rights, Senator Warner's right in raising the Constitution. There's a certain presumption of innocence that American citizens have, and he is an American citizen still. His activities are incredible, unbelievable probably totally un -- indefensible, but I don't want to prejudge it -- reach any conclusion unless we have all the facts.
WARNER: Could I add one little observation? I wonder how he feels, sitting there, with those Marines and looking into the eyes of those brave individuals -- his own age group -- and prosecuting this war with courage, and commitment. I just wonder how he feels, I hope somebody asks him that question.
LEVIN: Well, the Marines want him out of there...
LEVIN: ... as quickly as possible, and I don't blame them.
KING: Yes. All right, Senator Warner, what about the tribunals? Vice President Cheney said, over the weekend, that people are getting a little hysterical over all of this, there's going to be an Armed Services -- your committee -- holding a hearing Wednesday. We understand Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld might testify, what do you make of this whole argument?
WARNER: Clearly, the Constitution, again, gives the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief the authority to establish these tribunals. Our president's going all the way back, certainly Lincoln used it, other presidents have used it.
And the bottom line is, and I'm confident, Larry, that our president, having been the chief architect of this campaign against terrorism, and indeed allowing our country to take the lead in it, and also to bring about what I anticipate will be a satisfactory conclusion, he has gained the confidence of the world. Indeed, watching these operations of our military, we are not going to lose that by doing anything wrong or that appears to be unfair in conducting these tribunals, which our president has a perfect right to do and should do.
KING: Senator Levin?
LEVIN: There is a role for military tribunals. They have had a place in our history, when somebody commits an act of war against us, and then violates the rules of law, the rules of war, it seems to me that there is a place for a tribunal. But, the procedures have got to be very carefully spelled out, it's got to be given a lot of thought, because if we don't do this right, we could end up hurting ourselves in a number of ways. First of all, we want to act consistently with our own values, which is fundamental due process. But secondly, if we don't do this right, we may find that other countries will not extradite the terrorists to the United States for trials. In fact, Spain has already suggested that if we have an irregular procedure, that three people or four people that they hold may not be extradited here. We want to get our hands on these people. And indeed, to do that, even with our allies, we are going to have to have procedures, which satisfy our allies that they are fundamentally fair.
And, also, it's very important that we do this right, and very carefully, because we have objected to other countries setting up military tribunals, and then trying U.S. citizens, in those tribunals, without giving some fundamental protections to our citizens being tried in military tribunals abroad. So is there a role for them? There is, but there's a lot of questions which need to be asked and to be answered.
WARNER: Quick point...
KING: Does Senator Levin's...
WARNER: ... Larry?
KING: ... point concern you, Senator Warner?
WARNER: No. I think that the Congress has a role in this, not necessarily to write a law, but as our committee will do this coming Wednesday, and perhaps we'll have successive hearings, review the criteria and the regulations that are going to be established by the Department of Defense, they have the responsibility, in consultation with the Department of Justice. And in that way Congress will make an important contribution to ensure the very points that Carl Levin makes, will be incorporated in the process of these tribunals.
KING: Let me take a call...
LEVIN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Department of Defense welcomes this dialogue and discussion, by the way, a lot more than the attorney general appeared to, because it is important that the discussion take place about this issue. And then -- that we proceed carefully, thoughtfully, but that we proceed against people who have committed violations of the laws of war against us.
KING: Let me take a call. Tampa, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry, my question for your panel is how do they feel about Britain's statement that they would not hand over Osama bin Laden if we plan on executing him for these crimes regarding the role on September 11?
KING: Senator Levin? Senator Warner...
LEVIN: Well, what they've said is that they will hand him over to us, but not extradite him to the United States. They'll just turn him over to us somewhere else, so that we can have a military tribunal for him in some other place, perhaps on a ship. But I don't think they've reached the conclusion at all that they wouldn't turn him over to us. It's just that they would not use their courts to extradite him to the United States.
KING: Yes, Senator Warner. Are you ready, Senator Warner, to spend billions to rebuild Afghanistan? Is that our responsibility?
WARNER: Quick follow up on Carl. Britain's our closest ally. And I'm confident we'll work it out to the satisfaction of both governments. Are we willing to spend billions to re-establish the infrastructure in Afghanistan? I think the United States should not have the major role in doing that, but we should have somewhat of a proportionate role. For example, there are many countries in Europe, indeed the nations that are bordering Afghanistan, should help re- establish the infrastructure, I mean, the buildings, the schools, the government, the housing, and so forth, so that Afghanistan can once again join the world community as a peaceful and constructive nation.
KING: Thank you both very much. As always, Senators Carl Levin and John Warner.
LEVIN: Thank you.
KING: We'll be calling on you frequently. It's always good to see you.
As we go to break, before we meet our panel discussion on the Walker matter, the funeral was held today for Johnny Michael Spann, the first U.S. combat victim in this war, buried in Arlington, the CIA agent. Here's a little of that. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to tell you that my husband is a hero. But Mike is a hero not because of the way that he died, but rather because of the way that he lived. Mike was prepared to give his life in Afghanistan because he already gave his life every day to us at home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, in Washington, Representative Chris Shays, chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security; in Los Angeles, Mark Geragos, the well-known defense attorney; also in Washington, Congressman Robert Wexler, Democrat of Florida, member of the Judiciary Committee; and Cynthia Alksne, the former federal prosecutor.
The question to debate, what to do about John Walker, the American fighting with the Talibans.
Congressman Shays, we'll lead off with you. What to do?
REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R-CT), NAT'L SECURITY SUBCOMMITTEE CHMN.: Well first let me say that we talk about him being a young man, but so are our forces in Afghanistan. And frankly, so are the terrorists who knocked down some of those planes,
So the fact that he's a young man is irrelevant. On the surface, you know, he has supported the Taliban. They are supporting the terrorists. And on the surface, I judge him as a terrorist, but time will tell. And frankly, I don't have anything more to add than that. I mean, that's -- I consider him somewhat a distraction to the other issues we're faced with.
KING: Mark Geragos?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, I think the Vice President had it right yesterday when he was saying you need to get more facts. Virtually, the six crimes that the Department of Justice released today, the possible crimes that he could be charged with, whether it was treason, or whether it was a conspiracy to commit murder, or enlisting in a foreign enemy, all of those things require basically an intent element. You've got to know what the intent is.
And I think that's why they're debriefing him now. They want to find out exactly what it was. Is this a kid who was, ideologically, led astray or is this somebody who actually had embraced the Taliban, had a terrorist purpose, and knew that Osama bin Laden was there and was giving aid and comfort?
KING: You're saying we're discussing this too soon?
GERAGOS: Well, to some degree, until we know more of the facts, we really can't decide what's going to happen or what's the appropriate thing to be done here.
KING: Cynthia Alksne, what do you think?
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think there's three basic choices. One is to have Bush extend the order and put him in front of the military tribunals. And the second is to charge him with treason or some lesser-included offense in federal court. And then there's a third option. And that is to go to actually a military court, essentially a general court-martial and charge him with aiding and abetting the enemy under article 104, and have a regular trial, a regular essentially court-martial trial. Federal rules of evidence would apply. He would have the right of appeal.
All his due process rights would be protected. But you couldn't create, as sort of an O.J. Simpson 2 kind of spectacle, and lift him up to be a larger player in this war on terrorism than he really is. And I think that's probably what I think is the best place, you know, where he belongs, but as we all know, we'll wait and see what facts are.
KING: And Congressman Wexler, your thoughts?
REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D-FL), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, Larry, I agree with my colleague, Mr. Shays. His age is immaterial. The fact is he went to Afghanistan and he participated in the war against the United States. And he should be treated in that fashion.
But Larry, I think the far more important issue that Mr. Walker's situation raises is one that maybe we're not yet ready to deal with. And that is, yes, Mr. Walker's only one apparently that went over to Afghanistan to fight against us, but there are hundreds if not thousands of American citizens and people who are here legally who are raising money, and contributing to the assets of terrorist organizations, that want to do great harm to America, in some cases to our allies, whether it's England, India, Israel or the like.
And if we're in a war on international terrorism, we need to understand that part of the enemy is based right here in America. And we need, not just with Mr. Walker, but to have a system that works to ferret him out and try him and convict him in the most serious of fashions.
KING: Congressman Shays, in all honesty, when you get this kind of publicity, can he be treated fairly?
SHAYS: I don't know. But I think, actually I do know. Yes, he can be treated fairly, I mean, he'll be discussed a lot in the press, but the press isn't going to convict him. But my concern is that he will become the issue. And he's not the issue.
The issue is there are terrorists who are set to use chemical and biological agents against us, get radioactive material for a dirty bomb, or heaven forbid, get a nuclear weapon. I mean, that's the issue that we, as a country, have to be focused on, and not Mr. Walker.
KING: I spoke to his attorney, Jim Brosnahan.
KING: Who tells me that they will not let him contact Mr. Walker.
GERAGOS: Which I don't think normally you would be screaming up and yelling, upside down, I mean beside yourself. In this case, it probably is appropriate and probably his best hope right now, is that somehow something that he provides is going to turn out to be useful.
The Vice President said again yesterday that there -- his reports are there has been useful information that he's provided. I can't help but believe that this young man has got some information that's extremely useful to the intelligence community in terms of what was going on internally and everything else.
An after all, if he's going to be ultimately prosecuted by the federal government, that is something that's going to either spare him or at least mitigate any kind of charges that they bring against him. But you know, at some point, Brosnahan is going to demand and he should be given access to this young man.
KING: What boggles the mind, Cynthia, I guess is we can understand anyone being attracted to another faith. And Muslim is a very popular faith in this world. What do you think would take it to the extreme of an extremist group like the Taliban?
ALKSNE: Well, I don't have any idea. It does boggle the mind. And what's going to happen in the next couple days and weeks, we're going to find out from the intelligence, whether or not for instance, this is the how facts could change, whether or not he was involved in the death of the CIA agent who was buried at Arlington today. And that would obviously make a huge difference in his case. So we'll find out, you know, what was the level of his commitment. What was his intent? What did he know about what had been happening in the United States, since September 11, because I understand there hadn't been really contact with his family after September 11. And it's hard to know what he knew. And that just is going to have to shake out in the weeks to come.
KING: Let's touch some other bases. Congressman Shays, you have any concerns over General Ashcroft and the abuse of power?
SHAYS: No, I don't have any real concerns. I think his position has been accurate on making the arrests when we made the arrests. We shut down a number of the cells. Because they go from offense to defense, I think that the wiretapping law needed to be reformed. I mean, that's clear. And I think the tribunals will have to be used in limited instances with some oversight from Congress.
But when we did the trial in the Twin Towers, we disclosed that we were tapping into the satellite phone conversations of bin Laden. And he stopped having those conversations. I wonder if we still were able to tape those conversations had he not stopped, would we have been able to prevent the destruction of the Twin towers.
KING: Ashcroft, then what's your thought, Mr. Geragos?
GERAGOS: Well, clearly, there's two areas that I have an immense disagreement. One is the -- what I call the eavesdropping although it's not really eavesdropping, because you're giving advance notice to an attorney that, you know, the conversation between he and the clients being listened to, and the military tribunals, to a great degree.
And I also have a real problem with just the consistency, the idea that the FBI wants to get at the Insta check system, and wants to find out exactly who's trying to get guns and who's not being able to, and that somehow we're erecting these false little walls, if you will, that we won't divulge that information. That appears to me to be real inconsistent.
KING: Let me get a break and we'll come back with more. We'll include your phone calls as well. And don't forget B.B. King closes things out tonight. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For those who see this tape, they'll realize that not only is he guilty of incredible murder, he has no conscience and no soul, that he represents the worst of civilization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Cynthia Alksne, should we see the bin Laden tape? ALKSNE: I don't know if we need to see it. I think it's helpful to read the transcript, an accurate transcript, but I don't necessarily think we need to it. I do think we need to help convince everybody around the world that he actually was involved in these deaths. And I think that advances our case, internationally.
KING: Congressman Wexler, what do you think?
WEXLER: I'm very cautious, Larry, about providing bin Laden with any opportunity to speak to any large audience, whether it's his message or whether it bolsters our case against him, I just don't trust it enough to say that we ought to just carte blanche give him an opportunity to speak.
If I could go back a second, Larry, with respect to the Attorney General. As a staunch Democrat, I have stood with the President. I have stood with Attorney General every time they've asked for additional powers. I think they're right. The military tribunals are necessary.
But the problem is part of this is the request by the Attorney General to trust him. Because there are a lot of loose ends in the order that requires the military tribunals and the other things. And when the Attorney General came to the United States Senate, and basically said to those people who had the audacity to criticize him, that they were in fact aiding and abetting the enemy, that's a real problem. He undercuts his case. He cheapens himself. And he cheapens the office, which he has an extraordinary privilege to serve. That's the problem with the way the Attorney General's handled this.
KING: Congressman Shays, do you think we should see the bin Laden tape?
SHAYS: No, we shouldn't see the tape. I think the transcript would suffice.
What troubles me about the issue of the tape is this was the last act of war, the most recent, but we can go back to the taking of our embassy employees in Iran. We can talk about Cole. We can talk about the bombing in Beirut. We don't need to tie any one individual to what happened in 9/11. It's been -- acts over a course of 10 years. And that's what we're really responding; 9/11 was the final straw. Unfortunately, it should have happened a lot sooner. We should have acted a lot sooner.
KING: Mark, what do you think?
GERAGOS: You know, the interesting thing about what's been reported on the tape is that supposedly he talked nonchalantly or almost in a deprecating way about some of the hijackers, in that they didn't know they were going to die. They thought they were along for a ride.
I think that would be an incredibly effective thing to be shown internationally, not here in the U.S., but internationally at least, so that people could see that even with the very devotees of him, that he was just using them and it's just -- this guy is the incarnation of evil. That's something that I think should not be left to -- for these people not to see.
KING: What's the harm in seeing it, Cynthia?
ALKSNE: Well, the harm in seeing is it continues to give him a platform. And the harm is that you never know if he's sending signals or not. That's the advantage of just -- of submitting a transcript only. I mean, you know, I'm very nervous about giving him any kind of platform to speak to people, because I think he's very scary. But you know, I would defer to the people with specialties and intelligence.
KING: Bob Wexler, do you have any doubts? I mean, I know you don't want it shown, but don't we know more? The more we know, then the less we know?
WEXLER: Well, that's true, Larry, but we Americans, for some reason, have this overriding desire to constantly try to prove ourselves. September 11 and bin Laden's association with September 11 speak for themselves. We need to do what's in our national interest. And that should be our only criteria. If it helps our national interests to show the tape, if that's what the President and the military people decide, fine. But at first glance, I wouldn't think that it would.
KING: Thank you all very much. Congressman Chris Shays, Mark Geragos, Congressman Robert Wexler and Cynthia Alksne.
We always close our programs, well we have been since September 11, on a up note in providing some special musical entertainment. No one is more special than the guy who's going to closing it out tonight. The incredible B.B. King is standing by in New York. He's next. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. And momma and her kerchief and I in my cap had settled down for a long winter's nap. When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter...
KING: Standing by in New York is B.B. King, the blues legend performing "Please Come Home for Christmas." This song is from a Christmas celebration of peace. It's B.B.'s first ever Christmas album. And he's giving all the donations, everything that comes in from this album, will go to the famed city of Hope Medical Center. B.B. has diabetes, 100 percent of the proceeds go to that institution, world renowned for biomedical research. And that's where synthetic insulin was discovered, by the way, at the city of hope.
B.B., what took so long to do a Christmas album?
B.B. KING, SINGER: Larry, I guess the time just wasn't right at the time. But finally the company and my manager said "go" and here we are.
L. KING: And I salute for you giving all the proceeds, as you are, to the city of Hope, a great institution. I'm very familiar with. And I congratulate you on doing that. And I thank you so much for being with us. Here is the one, the only, B.B. King and "Please Come Home for Christmas."
(MUSIC, B.B. KING, "PLEASE COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS")
KING: Hope you enjoyed tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE. One of our guests tomorrow night, Sebastian Junger. He wrote "The Perfect Storm". He has written an incredible amount of bestsellers. And he goes where the action is. Sebastian Junger, one of our guests tomorrow night.
NEWSNIGHT is next with Aaron Brown, who's just had the pleasure of being along with B.B. King there in New York City. Aaron is next -- Aaron.
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