CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Dianne Feinstein, John Kyl
Aired December 11, 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, an exclusive up-close look at the battle to conquer al Qaeda. What was found in the ruins? And three months after the September 11 attacks, the first indictment is handed down. Live with the very latest from Kandahar, CNN chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
From Kabul, ABC news correspondent Bob Woodruff. In Tora Bora, scene of some of the fiercest fighting so far, CNN correspondent Brent Sadler. And in Washington, he has seen the battles in Afghanistan firsthand, best-selling author, Sebastian Junger.
Then the man in charge of bringing suspected terrorist to justice. In Washington, ambassador at-large for war crimes, Pierre- Richard Prosper. Also, does the latest bin Laden tape prove he helped plan the attacks? We will talk with two senators who have seen it; in Washington, Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Subcommittee on Technology and Terrorism, and with her, the ranking member that same committee, Senator John Kyl.
And we will close it off in Los Angeles, with Lionel Richie singing "From The Heart." They are all next on LARRY KING LIVE!
Starting with christiane amanpour in Kandahar, what's the latest you can tell us, to the minute, Christiane, about the fighting and where everybody is?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here it is calm, and you know, this city has been handed over over the weekend and things are calm. The key issue right now is how the hand over of power is going to go. The leader of the new interim government is here. He is living temporarily in the compound of Mullah Omar, which we got a look at earlier today your time, and it was quite eyebrow raising, if you like, because he was living a lot more comfortably and a lot more plushly than the Taliban would have had to us believe.
So that was really interesting and it is always interesting to get a look inside the lifestyles that have been off limits during, you know, during the time of the regime in power. And, now, we have been able to go through and have a look and get a little bit of a clue as to what perhaps the man Mullah Omar was like.
In any event, for the most part, here it is quite calm. The Marines have their base over at Camp Rhino, which is a little way away from us, but they are also setting up checkpoints, they are seizing and disarming people from having weapons, they are destroying them, and they are trying to sort of keep a grip on what's going on around here and of course, one of the other key issues is to stop any potential al Qaeda or senior Taliban leaders who have melted into the background, if you like, since Kandahar fell, to stop them from managing to escape, at least, on the direct route into Pakistan -- Larry.
KING: Those tape shots are extraordinary. We will ask you more about that in a while. Bob Woodruff of "ABC News" is in Kabul and what can you tell us, the latest there, Robert?
BOB WOODRUFF, "ABC NEWS" CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, not much war here either anymore. Now all eyes are really on the diplomatic efforts.
The U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan has been in town meeting with leaders of the Northern Alliance to discuss what will be this peaceful hand over of government from the Northern Alliance to an interim government led by Hamid Karzai. There will also be a multinational peacekeeping force that will come into town to secure that government.
From what we understand right now, it looks like there will be about a thousand members of that peacekeeping force most likely, led by Britain. Also some Muslim countries will participate in that, among them Jordan, Indonesia, and Turkey. Also, another diplomatic effort; the United States embassy, which has been closed here for the last 12 years, could reopen very soon. James Dobbins (ph) the veteran diplomat from the United States will be here this weekend to reopen what is not going to be called an embassy quite yet.
But this has been completely destroyed, the embassy. I don't know if you have seen pictures inside there, but a mob of Taliban inspired activists went in, in September, and burned down a lot of the buildings in that embassy. Well that could reopen very soon, and also we understand that the commercial flights may be returning to Kabul very soon. The runway is getting prepared, and Arianna Airways says it it may actually start commercial flights very soon -- Larry.
KING: Boy, that is really interesting. In Tora Bora, is Brent Sadler, CNN correspondent. We have some scenes from that area, around the battle. These are excluesive to CNN. The tape will show us miniature moonscape in wake of the battle. Can you tell us, Brent, what we are looking at?
BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, Larry. We were able to get up to this al Qaeda complex, several miles in the White Mountains behind me. And for the first time a close-up examination of the kind of real heavy damage that the almost two weeks of aerial bombardments by U.S. warplanes, B-52s, B-1s and smaller aircraft, bomber fighters have been doing, and really obliterated this area, splintered trees.
And then we got to see for the very first time, some of these much talked about tunnel and cave complexes, and we managed to get inside one of them. We saw abandoned ammunition, weapons discarded, all sorts of literature and identification, photographs. Many of these al Qaeda die-hards are of Arab origin. There as tough as nails as indeed are the Afghan warriors of the Eastern Alliance, who were pushing them out just 24 hours ago.
So as I say, the first time we've got to one of these areas, this was a training camp, quite clearly. We saw targets from a firing range, an exercise area with body training weights, boxing gloves, quite clearly a center of terror up there in the Tora Bora Mountains, now destroyed. And the former al Qaeda occupants dispersed, but still able, it is thought here on the ground, to put up resistance. Although, within the next two hours, we'll find out whether or not the gun barrels of the Eastern Alliance -- that is an old Russian-made T- 55 tank behind me -- whether or not these guns are going to open up in anger again against al Qaeda if they do not agree to lay down their weapons and surrender to the Afghan allies of the United States led coalition.
If they do, they can lay down their weapons. The commanders on the ground here are saying some sort of U.N. mechanism could be put into place to accept a surrender, but there are big problems here, Larry. The al Qaeda fighters are spread cross a wide area of those mountains as you can see behind me, and just communicating with them to coordinate such surrender is a really tall order.
So, an hour, hour and a half or so, commanders on the ground here will contact probably by radio, possibly face to face, with the al Qaeda leadership, and trying to find out whether or not they are going to surrender, or face another onslaught -- Larry.
KING: Sebastian Junger in Washington, the author of "Fire." He also wrote "The Perfect Storm" and he goes where a lot of people fear to tread. He has just returned from Afghanistan. Looking back, Sebastian, and looking at those three reports we have just seen, how does all of this compare to other activity you have covered in the area of battle?
SEBASTIAN JUNGER, AUTHOR "FIRE": Well, I was in Afghanistan a year ago, when it was pretty much a forgotten story. And what I saw was really front line, almost World War I type warfare, heavy artillery barrages, minefields. In Tora Bora this seems to be a different thing now.
And the people that the Eastern Alliance are fighting are, well, they are people with absolutely nothing to lose, and very, very determined in their point of view. Many of the Taliban, particularly the locals, do not have a particularly firm ideology. A lot of the local Taliban really simply were kids fighting in the trenches. The al Qaeda men, of course, a different story, and I think they are going to draw this out as long as they can, and probably, in this endgame, try to make it into Pakistan if they can't defend themselves in Afghanistan on the border there.
KING: Is television, Sebastian, placing a -- giving us a good picture of the bleakness of this place?
JUNGER: Oh, certainly. And you know, it is particularly like that in the south. The first time I went there was in '96, right before the Taliban took over. And it just reminded me of Nevada, these flat, flat plains, very dusty and these brutal mountains. Up north it is different, it is really, frankly, very lovely. The Hindu Kush (ph) , I mean -- I hope to go back there as a visitor one day when the war is over. It is absolutely gorgeous country.
And also, I should add, while we are on that theme, that the people, if you are not fighting them, they are incredibly sweet people. It should be said.
KING: We'll take a break and come right back. As we go to break here is some more of the journalism of Brent Sadler. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADLER (voice-over): Al Qaeda machine gunners spray the hillside.
We are caught in middle of it. Journalists huddle as bullets whiz by. (on camera): This is where the seige of Tora Bora is being won and lost at ground level. Allied coalition forces and Afghan allies on the ground are up against formidable terrain, natural fortifications, which are helping al Qaeda defenders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott is one of our guests tomorrow night.
Back to Christiane Amanpour in Kandahar. More on those incredible tapes you showed us -- were you surprised at the way the Mullah lived, which appears opposite to the way he preached?
AMANPOUR: Yes. Look, we were. Basically what's happening is Hamid Karzai, the new leader, is living there temporarily. And he has got all the local fighters who he had with him billeted in there as well, some for security, some because they, you know, swept into Kandahar with him and they've got nowhere else to go.
And, you know, for the last five or six years, we have heard about this one-eyed, austere, pure, authentic Mullah leading a purist, you know, march back to original Islam. And what we find is that, in fact, this was a man who was in the pay and in, finally, in the control of Osama bin Laden. And this is analysis that we discovered earlier, before we went to this compound, that much more than Mullah Omar and the Taliban controlling Osama bin Laden. As they said, the opposite was true. All sorts of people here in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, the intelligence services there, have told us that it was Osama bin Laden's money and his mercenaries and his need for a safe haven that kept and controlled Mullah Omar.
And that money we saw, part of it, the evidence, was spent on a huge sprawling complex, again by Afghan standards, built for Mullah Omar. And we saw things like chandeliers, beautiful crystal chandeliers, in the mosque, mirrored walls. It's a very sort of kitschy, if you like, colored pastel painting of the mosque. It's not in the tradition, necessarily, of this place. It is much better than most other people around here get to live in. And, you know, things like every single room having air conditioning, and the cow shed -- the cattle shed which was specially built, had ceiling fans, electric ceiling fans. And I mentioned this not just to point out some trivia, but the most -- the majority of the people of Afghanistan don't have electricity or clean running water. So, while you can say that leaders always live a better more comfortable life than the people they, you know, they say they are leading, that kind, that level of disparity from somebody who is known and whose following came from the reputation of being very humble and very simple, and it was just surprising and it gave a good clue and a good insight into what really might have been going on.
KING: Bob Woodruff in Kabul, there are many -- I know the Defense Department, everyone keeps saying and warning of possible other dangers. But to many other Americans, this looks like a slam dunk. Has it been to that point thus far, a slam-dunk?
WOODRUFF: In terms of the dangers, Larry? I'm not sure I quite understand.
KING: In terms of the way the war is going.
WOODRUFF: Oh, I think everybody is very surprised how quickly this has been accomplished, the ends of the war. It really depends I think on which time perspective you take. I think if you took it from three months ago, there was a perception that perhaps, the U.S. could bomb the Taliban and they would collapse rather quickly.
But as the bombing continued and the Taliban did not collapse, a lot of people thought this would go on and on and on. And then when it suddenly did collapse, I think people were very surprised by the speed at which it happened. You know, the Northern Alliance came in and took Kabul in relatively short order after the Taliban left. In fact, I was talking to some Northern Alliance intelligence officials just last night, and they said when they were waiting outside of Kabul, they were -- their main leaders were still very -- still asleep. When the Taliban left, they had to wake them up and then tell them, look, the Taliban have actually left Kabul. We need to get in there right now. It took them by surprise.
KING: Brent Sadler, why is Tora Bora so tough? Why there?
SADLER: Well, here because it is home turf to Osama bin Laden. This is where he learned how to fight against the soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 80's with, of course, American CIA help and support. He knows this area very, very well, gully by gully, mountaintop by mountaintop. And he could well have moved even closer to border with Pakistan, which is behind me. We know that the Pakistani authorities sent helicopter gunships and troop reinforcement several days ago to try and cut off any possible escape by bin Laden or his die-hard associates up here to block that border escape route. And it is about an hour plus now to when this surrender ultimatum is supposed to kick into place. We heard just before coming on air, Larry, the sound of what I think was C-130 battleships firing, spraying, the mountaintops, possibly trying to just clear out any remnants of al Qaeda up there close to eastern force positions. And just also before coming on air, there was just a huge orange fireball behind me. Again, U.S. air activity. But as I look in the day break skies here, no U.S. warplanes out at the moment and we are going to have to wait to see what happens once the Eastern Alliance start getting their act together this morning and start communicating with al Qaeda to find out what's going to happen.
Now, what about Osama bin Laden himself? Could he be out there somewhere? Yes, they still say there is a chance. That is the Eastern Alliance commander's viewpoint, perspective. But where he could be? Could he be in a cave? Could he be holding out to the last? It is impossible to say. They think if his body is up there, they bring it down. If he hands himself over, they would take him captive. But I think this is going to be a long, long period, probably several more days, even longer perhaps, to find out if bin Laden is here. And if he is here, to winkle him out. Back to you, Larry.
KING: Sebastian, you have told us, and a lot of people have told us, about how wonderful the people are. Is it a contradiction to describe how wonderful they are and to then see how fierce fighters they are?
JUNGER: Apparently not. They are -- they have a long tradition of being great, great hosts. They are very poor. If you are with them, they will give you their food. You can stay at their homes. I mean, a hospitality that is almost embarrassing, almost painful for a visitor.
One point last year, I was caught in an artillery -- Taliban artillery barrage on a hilltop, very frightening situation. And these kids, and they really were kids -- 17, 18 years old, were literally protecting us with their bodies as these shells came down. Just a tremendous example of bravery and generosity that I think I will remember my whole life.
KING: Yet a faction of them can also be fanatic and fierce, correct?
JUNGER: Yes, that is right. Once they identify an enemy, they are tremendously tough fighters. The Russians -- I'm sure you know -- the Russians came in, within three or four days, they took all of the roads and all of the cities in Afghanistan in 1979. Ten years later, they were still losing men and they finally pulled out having completely failed to control Afghanistan. It is a little bit of what you -- a little bit of what you see going on in Tora Bora right now.
KING: Christiane, how do you feel about this? Is it a dichotomy?
AMANPOUR: Well, you know, not necessarily. These people for the last 20 years have been fighting. But they also are, as Sebastian said, very hospitable, you know, when they're not fighting.
But the point I think in terms of the speed with which this has happened, I think it is very important to know that, obviously, the fight still goes on against al Qaeda and to eventually root out terrorism and that will be a long, complex struggle. But in terms of the Taliban, they are vanquished. They are no longer a military or a political force in this country. That has taken precisely 60 days. That is less time than it took for the Serbs of Milosevic to surrender in Kosovo. That was 78 days of bombing.
So this campaign, from my perspective, has gone much faster than perhaps some people expected in Washington. And it, perhaps, there was quite a lot of myth and hyping about the Taliban's military strength before this campaign began, that is again to distinguish it from al Qaeda and the, you know, the tenacity of the terrorist operation which still needs to be rooted out. But in terms of the Taliban, the war has gone much, much faster I think than anybody imagined.
KING: As we go to break, we'll see some of the reporting of Bob Woodruff of ABC News. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODRUFF: The Taliban's military forces are facing threats from outside and from opposition forces inside the country. And Afghan refugees who have fled the country say the Taliban is moving its fighters away from less populated areas to Afghanistan's major cities.
Today, Taliban leaders indirectly admitted they now know where Osama bin Laden is. After days of saying they had no idea where he had gone, they said today they had finally succeeded in delivering him the message that he leave the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's take a call for our outstanding panel of journalists. San Jacinto, California, hello.
CALLER: How you doing?
CALLER: This for Brent Sadler. I want to know if he personally thinks that Osama bin Laden is hiding up there in Tora Bora.
SADLER: Difficult to say. There has been no visual identification or proof presented in the past few days. We were picking up last week, several reports that he had been seen on a horse going through the forests, a tall man riding a horse. This is what front line fighters were telling their commanders of the Eastern Alliance. But is he up there? It is anybody's guess, but we know this is bin Laden's home turf. We know that al Qaeda defenders, whose fortifications have started to crumble, well, well organized and still haven't given up this fight yet, they still haven't surrendered, so it is still possible.
KING: Bob Woodruff, what's the morale like of both Americans and anti-Taliban?
WOODRUFF: Well, it seems to be very good. Certainly the Northern Alliance here, morale is ecstatic. These guys took this city. They have taken most of this country in a short period of time. They are now running this place. There is a little bit of concern, certainly not so much on the war side but on the political side now, what's going to happen next, because they are going to have to hand over the reins of power to another interim government that they don't completely control here.
But, you know the Americans, I have spoken to some special forces people here and obviously they thought that this went extremely well, but as Christiane pointed out, the really, the big war that they are concerned about is not so much getting the Taliban out of here, but eliminating al Qaeda not only from this country but from face of the earth.
KING: Sebastian, in your journeys is Afghanistan a place where you can see a light at end of the tunnel? Is there is hope for this country? JUNGER: Well, I think if we look backwards we can see light. In the '70s, Kabul was a very cosmopolitan sophisticated city. There was a great medical university there, great universities, a very civilized place. There is no reason that can't be rebuilt. What we have to do is keep our focus. After the military phase of our operation ends, hopefully successfully, with the capture or death of bin Laden and al Qaeda, we have to keep our focus on Afghanistan so that the chaos that characterized the place in the early 90s does not come again, providing refuge for maybe a future bin Laden.
It is absolutely critical that we follow through for years and years to come, but it can be done. I have to -- I have to believe it can be done.
KING: Christiane, any talk there of the three month anniversary today of the twin towers and the Pentagon?
AMANPOUR: Well, certain people obviously are aware of it, but in terms of the future people are very very...
KING: OK, we kind of lost our signal. I will ask it of you, Bob Woodruff. In Kabul did they discuss today, the anniversary?
WOODRUFF: Well nothing yet so far. I mean even yesterday, no one is really talking about it. They are not marking it that way. They have much more -- important anniversary, I suppose, amongst the Northern Alliance people here, the fall of Kabul, and certainly, you know, the death of Massoud, which happened, the leader of the Northern Alliance, happened two days before September 11. So September 9 to them is really the much more important anniversary to the Northern Alliance, people here. But they marked this. This is, without September 11, the Northern Alliance knows full well that they would not have taken control of this country. They fought here for years to try to get back Kabul, to try to get Afghanistan back under their control, and they know that without September 11, without the Americans coming in with a full force of bombs, they would not have been able to get their country back, and certainly they are very grateful to the Americans for that.
KING: Christiane, do you agree?
AMANPOUR: Yes, in fact I was sitting last night with Hamid Karzai, the new interim leader, and I was sitting in his room and he was surrounded by all sorts of tribal leaders and people who have come to his support.
And one of those people had been in the United States, and had lived for a long time in the United States. And he said, we first of all, acknowledging that September 11 was a historic and watershed date for Afghanistan, and he hoped for the world to root out this kind of terrorism.
But he said, for us, this combat, the fact that we have pushed the Taliban back,the fact that the world is looking at us, that the U.S. promised to help, that the United Nations, the international community has promised to help, that we are now sitting in this room for the first time in 20 years, and gathering ourselves together to look for the good and to work for the good of Afghanistan.
He used these words, "it is almost too good to be true." And then he said, he quoted, and this may be interesting for your American viewers, he quoted John F. Kennedy. He said, for us, as we sit here, this historic moment, it is not about what our country or what our world can do for us. It is about what we, Afghans together, can do for our country now, seizing this opportunity to move forward.
And they were just -- there was this state of excitement, and anticipation, and eagerness, and they really know that this is it. This is the moment. And if this passes and if they fail, then perhaps there won't be a chance for a long, long time. This is a new generation of leaders that are preparing to take over Afghanistan. And they know that this moment is one that they have never been offered before and they may never get again.
KING: Rossland, British Columbia -- we will take another call, hello.
CALLER: Hello. My question would be, why, after the treatment that the women and children, most especially, in Afghanistan received at the hands of the Taliban, do they allow them to disperse rather than round them up and deal with them in a more harsh manner? Thank you.
KING: Brent, want to take that?
Brent -- OK, you want to take it, Bob?
KING: Bob, did you hear the question?
WOODRUFF: Well, yes. I mean, first of all, the ones that are being rounded up right now are mostly what the Afghans look at as the foreign fighters, the al Qaeda fighters, the Arabs and the Chechens and the Pakistanis that have come. And she is right. You know, a lot of the regular Taliban have been allowed to meld back into society and go free, for the most part.
The people that -- of the Vice and Virtue Ministry, the ones who went around and enforced these laws against women, and as she said, children, Abu bel Maruf (ph) they have been, for the most part, to the extent that they have been caught, they have been rounded up and arrested.
But Afghans have been allowed to return to their society. The Afghans don't look at the members of the Taliban who are Afghans really as criminals in this case. They believe that they were manipulated by the outsiders, the foreigners, and those are the ones that they feel are the ones that need to be put in jail, and ultimately dealt with. But the Afghans have been allowed to be let go for the most part.
KING: Thank you all very much, Christiane Amanpour, Bob Woodruff, Brent Sadler and Sebastian Junger, appears through the courtesy of "National Geographic." And he did that great special for ABC as well.
As we go to break, before we meet Pierre-Richard Prosper, the ambassador at-large for war crimes, and Senators Feinstein and Kyl, and then closing it out with Lionel Richie, we'll show you scenes commemorating the three month anniversary around the world. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
Joining us now in Washington is admiral -- is Ambassador Pierre- Richard Prosper. He's ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues at the State Department. With him is United States Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Subcommittee on Technology and Terrorism, Democrat of California, and Senator John Kyl, a ranking member of that committee, Republican of Arizona.
The senators will hop in a couple minutes but I want to spend those minutes first with the ambassador. What is your role?
PIERRE-RICHARD PROSPER, AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE FOR WAR CRIMES: Well, Larry, my role is to essentially advise the Secretary of State on what our response to be to atrocities as they're committed in times of conflict. And particularly with the events of September 11, my role is to advise and work within the government on issues related to bringing the perpetrators of the September 11 events or terrorists to justice. And as you know, particularly in military War Crimes Commission that the President has ordered.
KING: Now you served as the war crimes prosecutor for U.N. International Criminal Tribunal. And you successfully prosecuted the first ever case of genocide under the '48 Geneva Convention, correct?
PROSPER: That is correct. I did that between '96 and near the end of 1998.
KING: All right, are these -- do you support the views of the President and General Ashcroft and the like, that tribunals fit here?
PROSPER: Yes, I do. What the President has done is he has created an option. If you recall, right after the events of September 11, the President said that he will use all tools at his disposal to combat terrorism. That includes military tools, diplomatic, economic, and legal tools.
After reviewing the events as to what actually occurred, the President formed the conclusion that we are in a state of armed conflict, the state of war with al Qaeda organization, at least since September 11. And during the course of this war, the al Qaeda organization and bin Laden have attacked the civilian population, have used unlawful means and essentially have committed war crimes.
With that, all that in mind, a war crimes commission by -- ordered by the President is appropriate and available for this situation.
KING: Now these are called rules of war. But what about those who say there is no declared war?
PROSPER: Well, it's clear that al Qaeda has declared a war against us. If you go back to the statements issued by bin Laden, starting a decade ago, you look at the attack that the al Qaeda organization issued against our service members in Somalia, the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the embassy bombing in Kenya, the embassy bombing in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, the Cole bombing last year, and then you add to that the events of September 11 at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, the plane tragedy in Pennsylvania and the response by the Congress in international community, it's clear that this was an armed attack against the United States. And it is a state of war.
KING: All right. If civilians are killed in all wars, what becomes prosecutable with regard to killing civilians? For example, if bombing the Twin Towers -- if going into the Twin Towers is prosecutable, would Pearl Harbor have been -- would rather Hiroshima been prosecutable if Japan had won the war?
PROSPER: Well, what's prosecutable in this case is the intentional targeting of civilian populations. And this is what the al Qaeda organization has done. And I think what we need to do is you focus on the organization itself. And it has one single purpose. And that purpose is essentially to commit crimes, to commit war crimes against the American public.
KING: I see. So that makes it different from wars where Germany dropped bombs or America dropped bombs in time of a declared war?
PROSPER: Well, when we drop bomb in times of declared war, and it is a lawful combat, if you will, because states are allowed to wage war, that's part of the process. Here, you have, a private entity that has waged war, an illegal war, against the United States.
KING: Very well stated. Is the case against Osama bin Laden airtight?
PROSPER: Well, the case -- I can say the case is building. The case is good. As you know, he's already indicted for the events -- for prior events. And as you know, there's a recent videotape that is currently within the administration, is being studied, that adds further information, sheds further light as to his guilt and responsibility for September 11.
KING: So if he were captured, he would be tried under the correct circumstances as you see them, he would be tried where, and by whom?
PROSPER: Well, right now the President will make the decision. The President has created the option. One option is to go through the federal court system that we have in the United States. The other option is the military commission that he authorized earlier in November, November 13.
What will essentially happen is that the facts of the case will come up to the President. He'll weigh numerous factors, including issues of national security, classified information, the security of our jurors, bailiffs, and court personnel. He'll factor all those in and probably some other information and make the appropriate decision at that time, as to which form a bin Laden, or any one else should be tried.
KING: Senator Feinstein, are you in agreement with everything the ambassador has told us?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), TECHNOLOGY & TERRORISM SUBCMTE. CHMN.: Well, pretty much, Larry. I have a slightly different take. We didn't really pass a declaration of war. What we did was authorize the President to use military force to those who committed the 9/11 episode, and wherever that would take us, with respect to this group of terrorists.
A declaration of war is usually declared against a country. Now we think this has equal standing, but we don't know for sure. I mean, I'm one of those on the Judiciary Committee that believes that the appropriate thing for us to do is to legally authorize this option that the ambassador spoke about, which I think is a legitimate option for the President to have. I think, you know, the military tribunal for a major figure in a terrorist network that has done what this network has done, is a very positive option, in the sense it may save people's lives. It's swift. You can lay out in the resolution, the standard of proof, whether the trial should be open, if in fact when it's closed for classified or intelligence data, and so on and so forth.
But I think the administration would proceed on stronger grounds if it did have this authorization. And I believe there's solid support to enable the President to proceed along these grounds.
KING: Before I ask the ambassador if he needs that, does he think he needs that, Senator Kyl, what are your thoughts?
SEN. JON KYL (R), RANKING MEMBER, TECHNOLOGY & TERRORISM SUBCMTE.: I don't think the President needs it. I think his executive authority is clear as commander in chief of the armed forces. And while I think it would be fine for Congress to provide a backup authority for that, I fear what would happen were we to undertake that responsibility.
KYL: We are not unified. It takes us a long time to do anything. I think you'd see a lot of squabbling, a lot of quibbling. And that's not what we need at this point. We need a decision to be made and to march forward. And since the President has that authority anyway, I'd rather get on with it and not turn it over to the Congress.
KING: Who's right, ambassador?
PROSPER: Well, the President is clearly acting within his authority as commander in chief. And when he made that decision, he had all these legal principles in mind, and went forward to create this option.
KING: We'll be right back with more on this really extraordinarily interesting topic. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't forget among the guests tomorrow night, Minority Leader of the United States Senate, Trent Lott. And closing out the show tonight, the terrific Lionel Richie. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In time, perhaps, we will mark the memory of September 11 in stone and metal, something we can show children as yet unborn to help them understand what happened on this minute and on this day. But for those of us who lived through these events, the only marker we'll ever need is the tick of a clock at the 46th minute of the 8 hour of the 11th day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All of our guests have seen the bin Laden tapes. Senator Feinstein, what do you think?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I think the tape is very dispositive. I think there are things on the tape, both Senator Kyl and I saw it today, as members of the Intelligence Committee. And we were told we could discuss it, as long as we didn't compromise any sources and methods.
For me, at one point in the tape, bin Laden states that Mohamed Atta was the leader in the United States. That was very dispositive to me, that he is culpable, that he was a leader, so much in terms of the organization of the event, that he knew who was the leader in the United States.
Second point was that some of them, the hijackers did not know the full extent of the mission prior to boarding the plane. That to me was also dispositive. And I think emotionally, the pleasure that clearly the group that -- with which bin Laden was talking got out of the disaster and the tragedy and the horror to see people sort of smirking over it, frankly, really raised my dander. I found it very hard to endure.
But some have said it's a smoking gun. Whether it is or not, it comes very, very close to it. And I'm hopeful that it will be released tomorrow.
KING: Senator Kyl first, what did you think of it? And second, do you think it will released?
KYL: Yes, I think it'll be released. I think it was chilling. They're bemused at what they wrought. They discuss it in such an informal, almost offhanded way. He's clearly bragging, trying to impress the person that he's talking to, displaying his knowledge of everything that occurred. It's more than damning. It is dispositive in my view.
There are about five key things that he stays in there that clearly put him knowledgeable before the event. He turns radio on a little while before it's supposed to happen. And then when one of his buddies says, "Wow, that was really great," he says, "Wait, there's more to come."
And then, as Senator Feinstein said he talks about Mohamed Atta being the leader of the group, that there are more of these people in the United States, about the poor souls that -- I shouldn't call them poor souls. They murdered Americans, but these people that entered the airplane didn't know that they were going to their death by this act. And they actually joked about that.
It was just a chilling thing. But it's clear when you see it, assuming the translations are accurate, and I'm convinced they are, that he was a mastermind and participant in this before it occurred.
KING: Now Mr. Ambassador, I said you saw it. You read the transcript, right?
PROSPER: Well, I read the transcript again today before coming here. And even the transcript itself is very descriptive as to the conduct of bin Laden. And what I draw from it is that this is a man with a depraved heart and a complete disregard for human life. As was stated, he takes great pleasure in the events of September 11. And clearly, was knowledgeable as to the circumstances surrounding it.
KING: What do you make -- I'm sorry, go ahead, Dianne.
FEINSTEIN: I was just going to say one other interesting thing. At one point in the tape, he points to the -- uses his hand...
KYL: Yes, I was going to...
FEINSTEIN: And he says there was the expectation that the planes would hit and only take off the top part of the building, but because of his connection with his father, who had a large construction building, he suspected that the damage would be more because that the fuel would melt the steel, and therefore, very well could take down the building. So it was obvious to me that he had given a great deal of thought to exactly what was happening, how it would happen, and what the result would be.
KING: What do you know, ambassador, about the indictment today of Mr. Moussauoi, the Moroccan?
PROSPER: Well, what is important is that the indictment was issued here in the federal court for his involvement with the terrorist activities that have taken place. It's a case that, at the current moment, will be processed through the court system in Virginia. But there's been some speculation as to whether or not this case will be brought before a military commission. But this case has been in the process in the federal system. And the Attorney General is doing his job by proceeding forward on it.
KING: Senator Feinstein, what do you make of the charges made in some Republican camps that what the Democrats are doing is making General Ashcroft the target this fall?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I don't see it that way at all. As a matter of fact, I thought the Attorney General did very well before the Judiciary Committee. I thought he explained his position.
You know, this man is the number one prosecutor in the United States. He represents the people. He's there to be tough. The times call for someone to be tough. And I don't have a problem with it at all because I thought he did very well. He expressed his point of view.
We all don't expect to agree on all things about this. But I think on the committee, the Judiciary Committee, there is a general acceptance of the concept of the military tribunal, the rationale behind it. And I think we felt that the discussion and debate was healthy, because it causes people to think about different aspects of it, like for example, the standard of proof. Should it be a preponderance of evidence or beyond a reasonable doubt or clear and convincing, which is between the first two? I mean, I think that's a legitimate subject for discussion. KING: Senator Kyl, with all the horror of this and the incredible inhumanity of the crime, is it possible for bin Laden, anyone to get what might be called a fair trial?
KYL: Yes, I think it is. That's the way that we set up our own Title 3 court systems. That's the way the military commissions will be set up. He will be given his due.
Now if it's a military commission, the type of proof that's offered will be a little bit different than in some cases. This particular videotape, for example, may or may not be admissible in a regular court. But if I were the prosecutor, I'd sure want to use to it to demonstrate bin Laden's guilt.
He may argue that that's not fair. But remember that in virtually any other place in the world, the question -- you'd hang first and then the questions would be asked later.
So I think when you ask that question about a fair trial, just stop and think for a moment. Name the one country in the world, that if you wanted a fair trial, you'd want to have them set up the rules. It's the United States of America. That's the way we do it here.
KING: You bet.
Mr. Ambassador, in cases like this, is the prosecution always favored because of the horror of the crime?
PROSPER: Well, I wouldn't say the prosecution is always favored. There is a burden that comes with the responsibility of putting the case forward. And that is, presenting a credible and persuasive case, particularly in the case like this when the international community will be watching. They'll be watching every step, every piece of evidence.
If it's in the military commission portion of the proceedings, maybe closed, but still at end of the day, people will analyze the process to see if it was fundamentally fair. And based on my experience with the international tribunals when I was there...
KING: That's what I mean.
PROSPER: ...we felt a tremendous amount of pressure to really, to do the right thing, because not only would we be judged in a court of law, but would be judged by history as well.
KING: And the military tribunal disciplined enough that they could put away a personal emotion?
PROSPER: Definitely, because what -- one of the advantages of a military commission is that the judges sit both as trier of fact and law.
PROSPER: So you may have a panel of three judges who are experts in their fields, experts at evaluating evidence, who will be able to sit there objectively and listen to the case, as it's put forth by the parties.
KING: Thank you all very much. I'm out of time, but we'll have you back. We thank you all very much. Senator Jon Kyl, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper, ambassador- at-large for war crimes issues at the State Department, his first appearance on this program. We hope will be the first of many.
As we go to break before Lionel Richie, scenes from ground zero.
KING: We end each evening with a musical message of high hopes, we hope. The great Lionel Richie joins us tonight, the wonderful entertainer and recording artist. He was in Europe at the time of September 11. He's going to do a song from his first solo album called "Just Put Some Love in your Heart."
How'd you pick this one?
LIONEL RICHIE, SINGER: It was actually designed to be a prayer at the end of a song at the end of the album. And all of a sudden, it only ended up to be one verse. And I said I'll leave it at that. I won't do a second verse. And it worked out perfectly.
KING: So when we asked you to come, you said this would be perfect one?
RICHIE: It was not designed for this at all, but it's perfect for the part because it's actually what the world needs right now is a big dose of love.
KING: And where were you, Lionel when September 11 happened?
RICHIE: Leaving Germany, coming through Heathrow Airport on my way to Sicily. I received a phone call and it said turn on the television. And that was the end of it, amazing.
KING: Ladies and gentlemen, the wonderfully talented good friend Lionel Richie will close it out tonight with "Just Put Some Love in your Heart," a prayer.
(MUSIC, LIONEL RICHIE SINGS "JUST PUT SOME LOVE IN YOUR HEART")
KING: I hope you found tonight's program as informative as I did and that you enjoyed Lionel Richie's terrific closer. Tomorrow night among the guests will be the Minority Leader of the United States Senate, Trent Lott of Mississippi.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com